Tanners’ Houses in Strasbourg



I took this photo on my recent cruise on the Rhine River.  According to our guide, the houses were, during the 16th to 18th centuries, owned by tanners who dried the hides on the sloping roof tops.  The architecture seems well suited to that task.


Our New President is so thin skinned that he muzzles our free press

Protecting our Dear Leader’s Huge Ego

Spicer handpicks media outlets for briefing, excludes CNN & others

US News 1 hour ago
Press Secretary Sean Spicer called off the standard televised press briefing, instead opting for an invite-only “gaggle.” Outlets like CNN, the NY Times, LA Times and Politico were barred from speaking with Spicer, while Breitbart and OANN were allowed in.
For such a thin skinned erstwhile President, he verbally assaults anyone who criticizes him.
One would have thought he would have thought this through before running for President since every preceding, in my lifetime, holder of the oval office has faced constant criticism.  If erstwhile President Trump is unhappy, he should resign and Vice President Pence, a real politician, take over the oval office.
Our Dear Leader would be almost suitable for the office if, rather than try to impress us with his first 100 days, would engage his brain before running off and causing attacks, and vetoing highly qualified advisors such as Elliott Abrams solely because he was critical of our great Himself.
He is becoming increasingly like a wanna be dictator.  Perhaps this is why he is such great friends with Putin.
Regrets to Sean Spicer.  He must really need the money to be the mouthpiece for this sorry administration.  Kellyann Conway must have known  better than to take the job.
A while back Spicer said that stifling the press would created a dictatorship.  I guess this now makes our Government a Fascist dictatorship.

Will the Real President of the United States Stand Up Please.

It is beginning to appear that Mike Pence is the Darth Vader (Dick Cheney) of what is supposedly the Trump Administration

Why might I say this?  Several reasons and I think many people add more.  For instance, President Trump was, in terms of abortion in favor of freedom of choice.  What caused his new-found epiphany?  Clearly Pence is in charge on this issue.

Who is for legislation either banning or cutting back freedom of assembly and encouraging state legislation that, in one case, would allow drivers to run down and kill protesters as long as the action was unintentional.  In clear English, they will allow their supporters to kill people at will.  I believe our Dear Leader is sufficiently thick skinned to use his twitter account for revenge rather than having people killed.  I think Pence is behind this.

Vice President Pence is actually the largest threat to Freedom of Religion in my lifetime.  He has become the first American Ayatollah seeking to impose his version of Sharia Law on American women.  Actually, he should be best buddies with the Muslims as he would, if and when he gains the power, treat women the same way as they.

I think many people wish to have Trump impeached.  That would be a disaster because Pence would be much worst in terms of personal freedom.  Pence would not wish that to happen because he would rather Trump be found at fault for everything that goes wrong in this country.  President Trump is the king without clothes.

Senator McConnell said they would not be able to control President Trump.  That is much less than candid.  The are controlling our already lame duck President through Vice President Pence.

I think Mr Trump could actually be one of the better presidents of my lifetime if his managers and handlers  would let him be himself.  While he is solely out for himself and his family he is more of a Democratic than an Ultra Conservative Republican.  Left to his own devices, we could work out a decently amicable economic arrangement with China and Mexico, but the hard liners, including Steve Bannon ( the Herman Goering of the Trump Administration) keep pressing him to act increasingly angry, possibly leading my and our country into what will have been an avoidable armed conflict.

I find it interesting that our Dear Leader is going after Mexico.  This reminds me of Mussolini going after hapless Ethiopia at the beginning of the last world war.  Mussolini was a bully.  My fear is that President Trump is a bully which could also lead us into an avoidable war.

Enough has been written about the Immigration Chaos in publications such as the Huffington Post that I feel no need to add to what has already been said; except that I feel it necessary to congratulate the Federal Judge in Seattle who stayed its implementation.  Of course, the Administration’s mouthpiece said the Judge was second guessing our leader.  Mr. Spicer, as should President Trump, should really spend some time reading and learning about the constitution.  That is why we separation of powers in this country.  I fear that citizens of the United States of America can only rely on the Judicial Branch since our elected Congressman and Senators are too afraid of President Trumps twitter account to take any effective action.  They wish to preserve their salaries and generous pensions and access to bribes and kickbacks and book deals that are the best way to avoid limitations on political campaign contributions.  I wish to be clear that it is not just republicans that are guilty, many if not most of them slop at the public trough.  My personal plan is to vote against every incumbent candidate until I find something resembling an honest politician.  I believe it easier to find a virgin in Las Vegas than an honest politician.

I also fear that this country, as is the case of Russia and was the case in Hitler’s Germany, is becoming a Plutocracy: where our President and Cabinet together with our large corporations run the country.  President Trump said he would drain the swamp in Washington.  Thus far, he has made it even more murky.  Most of the members of his cabinet represent large corporate interests such Corporate Finance Firms and large oil and gas firms.

I am surprised that Mr. Tillerson would agree to report to anyone, including the President of the United States.  It seems his sole goals are to reduce or eliminate environmental regulations and roadblocks and be in a position to negotiate huge deals and concessions with Russia and across Asia.  My guess is that once this happens, he will resign and count the money he has gained while being Secretary of State.  Of course, everyone knows that our new Secretary of State is there to procure relief from regulations on the banking industry.  You know the people in that industry.  Many of them should have gone to jail after the 2008 housing collapse.  The bankers do not care.  American taxpayers will take the loss while their bonuses continue unabated.

I do belive President Trump’s head and heart are in the right place regarding immigration and the Terrorism Threat.  I am sure he, as would most people living in our country, would not want a 9/11 on his watch.  I think he should get advice from someone other than the xenophobic Steve Bannon who should not ever be a member of our Security apparatus or even an advisor to our president.

Here’s to the success, prosperity and safety of President Trump and the United States of America.  I pray that he will seek better advisors.

this pussy bites back

A Charmed Life

I am pissed.
I am royally pissed that Helen Clarkwas not elected the new UN Secretary-General.
A lifetime of exemplary service for her country and now as head of the UN Development Programme rendered her the perfect candidate plus the UN is meant to remain neutral at all times, how more neutral can you be than a New Zealander. And yes as I have said before here I am completely bias – she is my fellow country woman and a twitter friend (I even taught her what the word ‘slay’ means in today’s young peoples’ speak) – but it wasn’t all pie in the sky on my part, I was duped and that is the real reason I am pissed.

When this race began one of the criteria laid out was that a woman ‘should’ take charge for the first time. This then was hyped up by the media…

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When will the Republican Party Leadership Grow a Pair?

We now have a Commander in Chief who, in my opinion is the Narcissist in Chief. His fragile ego won’t let him get past the fact the Democratic candidate had the majority of the popular vote.  Now he demands an investigation to find out how many Democratic votes were fraudulent, emphasizing voters registered in multiple districts. What have we learned?; At least two members of his family are registered in multiple jurisdictions as is his Press Secretary and Treasury Secretary. There should be an investigation of voters for both candidates.

He is now proposing a $15 Billion dollar wall on the Mexican Border.  With bribes, cost overruns, and kickbacks normal in most big construction projects, the wall will likely cost in excess of $30 billion.  Then our president tells us he will make Mexico pay for the bridge using a 20% tariff.  Anyone having a most basic understanding of economics knows that the cost of a wall, which most people do not want, will be paid by American consumers buying goods from Mexico.  And why build a wall and create hard feelings with one of our largest trade partners.  Moreover, current statistics show that illegals from Mexico have been declining for years. It is in our economic and state interest to help Mexico grow its economy.  Our President lacks common courtesy and decency with respect to the President of Mexico.  Mexico’s President’s demeanor has been elegant especially in view of the Donald’s treatment of him and his populace. I also worry that a wall might be used by a future despot to keep people in as the Russians did in East Berlin.

On to the subject of “Alternative Facts”. Kellyann Conway is becoming the Joseph Goebbels in the Donald’s white house. As a highly educated and intelligent person, she must really need the money and or enjoy the adrenaline rush of power to work for this President, who doesn’t know if or when he is saying things that are not true. Alternative Facts are lies. She knows it and is creating an environment where words become meaningless. I really feel for the Press Secretary who,in my opinion, must spin yarns that he must know are often untrue

I agree that we need careful vetting of all immigrants because the greatest threat to our nation is extremists and not just those from the Middle East.

Our voters (a minority of them) elected a person who, according to the Economist Magazine, answered when asked for two words to describe the then candidate replied, arrogant and blowhard.

So where is the so called Senior Republican leadership? They are mostly free traders and surely will regret ceding Asian Economic power to China now that our Fearless Leader has withdrawn our nation and peoples from that trade pact. Do they really want someone like the Donald having the nuclear launch codes and appointing generals who he believes will do his bidding? Are they prepared to have our people go into an economic and personal depression as a result of his uninformed economic policies. Will they finally step up and reign him in? Let’s hope they finally grow a pair and take appropriate action.


Cassini’s Rendezvous with Saturn

Cassini’s Grand Finale, Part 1: Ring-Grazing and Turbulence

Long-lived space mission starts a bold last-dance with gas giant Saturn

Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech and Space Science Institute

It’s hard to believe that the Cassini mission arrived at Saturn and its moons in July 2004. It’s even harder to imagine that this remarkably successful machine explorer now has less than a year of life ahead of it.

Around September 15th, 2017 the 2,000 kilogram orbiter will plunge into Saturn’s upper atmosphere – a destructive end that will yield new data, but also ensure that our visit to this system runs little risk of contaminating pristine environments like that of icy moon Enceladus.

But before that, Cassini is performing a magnificent last waltz with Saturn. Starting with a series of 20 pole-crossing orbits that also dive through the space just outside Saturn’s main rings (the so-called F-ring orbits) Cassini will later shift to a set of 22 orbits that bring its closest approach nearer and nearer to the gas giant – actually within the rings. This animation shows the two orbital families in green and blue respectively.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

At this time Cassini is in the midst of its 2nd ring-grazing orbit (green orbit). Already this trajectory has enabled the mission to capture some of the most detailed images of Saturn’s north pole that we’ve ever seen. These show the great hexagonal shape in the upper atmosphere – a possible consequence of turbulent flow between gas masses circulating at very different speeds.

Our understanding of this structure is still incomplete, but the hexagon has persisted since at least the time of the Voyager flyby in the early 1980s. Each side of the hexagon is about the size of the Earth.

Cassini image of Saturn’s northern polar region. Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech and Space Science Institute

These polar shots are also quite reminiscent of Juno’s recent imagery of Jupiter’s poles. The great bands of circulating atmosphere that many of us associate with gas giant planets, devolve into a peppering of small structures that look cyclonic in nature.

Different wavebands of light reveal just how strong a feature the polar hexagon is. In the images below (left to right) are Cassini data in violet (420 nanometers), red, near infrared (728 nanometers), and the infrared. These probe different depths and compounds in the atmosphere.

Four wavebands, northern pole. Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech and Space Science Institute

It’s a great start to a grand finale. Expect to see much more over the coming months.



A Great Place to Visit in New Mexico

El Rancho de las Golondrinas “The Ranch of the Swallows” is located near I25 and is closer to Santa Fe than Albuquerque.  It dates from the early 1700s and was an important stopping place along the famous Camino Real, the Royal Road, that went from Mexico City, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This historic ranch, opened in 1972, serves as a living history museum which is dedicated to the history, heritage, and culture of 18th and 19th Century New Mexico.  The museum is part of the vision of the Curtin-Paloheimo family.  In 1932 the ranch was purchased by Leonora Curtin and her mother.  Ms Curtin is also known for founding the Santa Fe Native Market to save and reestablish traditional craft forms and techniques, and to provide a local artists a source of income during the Great Depression.  After marrying her Finnish husband Yrjo Alfred (YA) Paloheimo in 1946, they shared the vision for the outdoor living history museum.

Both Leonora and Y.A. devoted themselves to transforming the property into a place where visitors could physically engage with the rich culture of the region and become immersed in the history of New Mexico. Existing historic buildings were restored, period structures were erected and historic buildings were brought in from other sites around New Mexico. Today,the museum has grown into New Mexico’s premier living history museum. It promotes and preserves the Hispano heritage of Northern New Mexico, while at the same time building a better understanding of the lasting influence of Hispanos in the Southwest and the rest of the country.


A local weaver at the ranch –  photo by Richard Boysen

Each year, the ranch hosts festivals.  You can view the festival calendar on the ranch’s website (El Rancho de Las Golondrinas.com).