Saturday, April 27, 2019

Bea is Gone And I Deal With Lamp Oil And Candle Lights

Bea has been gone to Germany for what feels like almost a week, though it’s just 4 days ago I brought her to the airport. Ever since she left, it has been pouring down, or at least it was drizzling all day. The weather has been gruesome to say the least. When Bea landed in Frankfurt she was met by 26C and extremely muggy weather, while we just another snow shower yesterday.

I could hear the storm raging around our house, when I was still in bed. But then I wondered why it was so extremely dark in the hallway. Usually we have a night light on downstairs and it helps finding my way down the stairway. Well, entering the kitchen I quickly found out why the night light wasn’t working. We had a power outage. Amazingly, this was the only outage we’ve had all winter. By now the ground has thawed out and with all that water in the soil tree roots have lost their hold. The nightly storm had probably blown a tree across the lines and voila..left us in the dark. Now, this time of the year day light comes early, and it shouldn’t be a big problem. However, the sky was very dark because of heavy rain clouds.

I made my breakfast on the woodstove, made toast and boiled coffee water. Not as quick as the coffee maker or microwave, but the old technique still works. I found the petroleum lamp and a few candles and let the storm be storm. It rained heavily as well and there was no use to let Dixie be outside for any extended period of time.

Checking the internet on my cell I found the page of the power company. Supposedly they can’t fix the problem until about 4pm

This is gonna be a day with lots of naps on the couch. Can’t even read a book, cause it’s so dark outside.

For lunch I made myself a nice tomato soup on the woodstove and slept some more afterwards. I must really say that Dixie is a very nice dog. Instead of flying off the walls, she is just following what I do – sleeping – and she seems content with that.

Weather for tomorrow seems much better, with sun most of the day, but the long-term forecast speaks of rain every day from May 4 – May 10. If that means there will be no drought this spring it would be something good coming out of this.

Nope, it wasn't the wind knocking over trees. It was a rather drunken idiot hitting the power pole at 4:30am. One can only guess what kind of party he's been at.

Power was restored after 12 hours. It came back at 4:10pm.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

When The Steeple Came Down

We have all watched in horror when Notre Dame of Paris burned yesterday. The sheer force of the developing fire attacking such a historic structure known as the Must-Visit in Paris and the heart of France moved many people to tears. It is the feeling of a tremendous loss, and the uncertainty about whether this magnificent building from the 13th century can be rebuild. 

French President Macron as well as Paris mayor Ms. Hidalgo have already given statements that the Cathedral will indeed be rebuild. But the re-construction will most certainly take decades and many of us will not live the day that Notre Dame will be reopened.

To me, it was the moment the iconic steeple fell that my thoughts went to 9-11 and the moment Tower 1 of the World Trade Center came down. It simply struck fear deep into my body. I guess it is the moment of realization of a huge disaster, when we feel shaken to the bones.

And it was a moment of relief as we learned that the fire at Notre Dame was not the act of a vile terrorist, but an accident.

In 1976 I traveled through France, and though I never got to visit Paris, I have seen many of the architectural master pieces of Gothic and also Roman-style Cathedrals and Basilicas of the country. They represent European heritage and each of them has played a role in history. We know that early European history houses a terrible cruelty, much of which was imposed through the Catholic Church, Emperors and kings on common people, which ultimately led to thousands seeking peace in a new continent - America. But it was also a time when the arts of constructing awe-inspiring buildings reached a zenith, which we still have a hard time to understand how they did it.

Europe has already pledged to help the French to rebuild their landmark. Poland has promised to send experts in historic reconstruction, Money has been pledged.
Notre Dame will rise again, bearing witness of the willingness to prevail.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Electric Cars Are Not The Answer

The Wiener Zeitung Die Presse reports on a consumer who has been driving an electric car for just over a year and is charging it in his garage. 

The newspaper: "But just a few weeks ago, the first shock came: The network operator sent a bill for under one thousand Euros, (USD1,300) for the extra power takeout, because the family man was suspected of burdening the power grid with his electric car more than agreed. Everything is legally covered and not an isolated case, it says from the E-Control organ. "

The case is unlikely to be an isolated case - and it will not be confined to Austria. Electric cars like the Tesla can not be meaningfully used without a quick-charging device. The press has found that a fast charger takes as much power out of the grid as six houses in two to three hours". The boss of the Austrian regulation E-Control, Andreas Eigenbauer told the newspaper: "Whoever needs six times more than the average, will have to pay for it in the future." Since this problem poses world-wide, it can be assumed that the regulators in all countries are pondering similar plans. Studies from Germany show that if only 20 percent of electric cars use fast chargers, the network load will double.

Monday, April 8, 2019

April, April Does What's His Will

If I told you that we just had the most beautiful weather on Sunday and that temps rose to above 50F and that I threw off my winter-style long-johns because it was just too hot, well then you would think that spring had arrived north of the border and you would start planning your vacation in Canada. 
              Above: Weather for today, Monday April 08

Well, let me tell you, you would have different thoughts today. That is if I tell you that we have an effing snow storm going on outside. It started right after noon and it will continue through the entire night with falling temperatures. And it gets even better as we will have to "enjoy" more snow Tuesday night onto Wednesday. So much fun!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Truth And Nothing But The Truth! Really?

On Tuesday, during a sit-down with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Donald Trump said something that wasn't true. About his own father.
"My father is German -- was German," Trump said. "Born in a very wonderful place in Germany, so I have a great feeling for Germany."
Fred Trump was, of course, born in New York City. (His father, the President's grandfather, was born in Germany.) It's an easily checkable fact, but this is at least the third time that Trump has claimed that his father was born in Germany when he, well, wasn't.
Why does he do it? Because facts have always been a fungible thing to Trump. He has, throughout his life, bent them to fit the narrative he is telling about himself. For most people, getting something factually wrong -- especially in a public setting -- is disconcerting and embarrassing. Trump doesn't have that gene. Facts are whatever he wants them to be. And they can change, depending on his own circumstances. He tells himself a story of his life in which he is always the hero, always the winner, and then repeats that story over and over again. He doesn't care if objective facts get in the way.

That is troubling, but not terribly hard to understand. What is more difficult to wrap your head around is why Trump's towering record of distortions and falsehoods seem to have zero effect on either a) his willingness to keep lying or b) how people perceive him. Those two ideas are intertwined, of course -- he lies because he feels he can do so without penalty -- and I have a few theories about the seeming total lack of concern among many people for a President who has said more than 9,000 false or misleading things in his first 802 days in office.
1) It's baked in the cake: It's not as though Donald Trump started bending (and breaking) the truth when he was elected President. He spent much of the 2016 campaign doing almost exactly what he has done as President: Exaggerating, distorting and, at times, flat-out lying. And voters got that! Just 33% said he was "honest and trustworthy," according to exit polling in 2016. But even then, a number of them didn't seem to care. Almost two-thirds of voters (64%) said Trump was neither honest nor trustworthy, but of that group, one in five voted for Trump anyway!
The reality is that lots of voters -- especially those who voted for Trump -- never thought he was an honest guy. They knew he was lying about things -- from the extent of his wealth to his many alleged golf championships to bigger issues like his conduct with women. They didn't care. Or, more accurately, they cared about other things more.
2) All politicians lie: Time and time again during the 2016 campaign, when confronted with Trump's record of false statements, voters would tell reporters some version of this: Sure, Trump lies. But all politicians lie! At least he's honest about it! Yes, that makes very little sense -- particularly because Trump wasn't honest about all the times he didn't tell the truth; he refused to acknowledge them at all.

But what voters were saying -- even if they were saying it in a somewhat convoluted way -- was that Trump was so different, so weirdly transparent about his willingness to say anything and do anything to win that they kind-of believed he was genuine. Even if they knew he wasn't, by any traditional standard, honest. And that mattered because it differentiated him from the way people saw all other politicians: Liars but so smooth at it that you never knew. Always trying to pull the wool over your eyes, to serve you food they got from the trash can and tell you it was from a five-star restaurant. Trump's lies were so over-the-top, so -- in a way -- laughable, that people found (and find) them endearing in an eye-roll-y, did-you-hear-what-he-said? way.
3) Many people don't trust the media: Trump didn't create distrust in the media. In 2016, just 32% of people told Gallup that they thought the media reported the news "fully, accurately and fairly." (That number, in late 2018, had risen back to 45%.) What Trump did do is weaponize the lingering distrust in ways we've never seen before. "Fake news" has become ubiquitous in the culture -- as an ironic punchline for some, sure, but nonetheless ubiquitous.
The rise of Fox News -- and its near-monopoly on conservative mind-share in the country -- has dovetailed with Trump's ascent and created both a political and economic model by which convincing people that the media isn't just unfair but is purposely not telling the truth is monetized for gain. Where we are in this country is that if someone at CNN says the sky is blue, a big chunk of Trump supporters will shout "fake news" while high-fiving. They revel in the idea that the mainstream media is totally obsessed with Trump, suffering from a severe case of TDS ("Trump Derangement Syndrome"). They don't even engage with the facts because those "facts" are coming from a messenger (the media) that they believe is dismissive of their way of life and their beliefs and will do anything -- including lying about the truth -- to accomplish some set of pie-in-the-sky liberal goals.
But the simplest reason for why Trump lies (and lies) is because he can. Because he faces no real penalty for his near-constant fabrications (22 a day!) and in some circles is rewarded for sticking it to the hated media and political classes. Is all of that not only depressing but worrisome when it comes to the future of our democracy? You bet it is.