Veterans Day - November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is when we recognize the sacrifices and personal commitment made by each and every one of our US Military Veterans. Not only did they enlist into a rigorous lifestyle in the service of our country, but they often (too often) found themselves in harm’s way on their various missions for the good of the nation. We thank them and ask God to bless our veterans, past, present and future.

We’ll be celebrating the holiday with them in mind.

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Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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All Hallows’ Eve

halloween.pngOur little Arizona house is located on an unpaved access (can’t really call it a road although it’s passable for most vehicles) which is about five hundred feet from the nearest paved road. In addition to there being no real road, there are no street lights, either. That means that not many kids (zero so far in eight Halloweens here) venture into the dark desert to go trick or treating. After all, there are all kinds of potentially unfriendly nocturnal critters that habit these parts including javelina, cougar, coyote and others.

So we’re expecting to get NO visitors on this night, which is fine with us. There are a few children that live in our area, but their folks take them to lighted, less rural areas for the evening.

When we lived in Torrance, we would get a steady stream of kids, most of whose parents brought them to our nice neighborhood from their crappy ones. We got tired of that and cut them off for several years before moving here.

In late October and early November in the year 2000, Damsel and I were in Rome; I was there for conferences with our business partner on a satellite project and Damsel came with me. While I was in meetings, she toured with one of the other wives who spoke Italian and was familiar with the environment.

One of the things that was interesting was the Romans were into Halloween just like in America which was surprising to us. The difference is that many of them also celebrated “Tutti Santi” - All Saints Day on November 1st. We watched Pope John Paul II celebrate the mass in St Peter’s on TV from our hotel room. We headed back to America the following day.

We had many other good Halloweens in the old days, often hosting costume parties for family and friends. Good memories, but we don’t miss all the late night activity and possible morning after blues.

We hope that those of you who will be celebrating have a safe and sane time. Enjoy!

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New Stuff: HP Win 10 Laptop and Savoy Patriotic Holster

New Laptop New Savoy Holster

First, regarding the laptop, we have been begrudgingly having to admit that our old machine is slow and cumbersome in the current market of faster on-line stuff. The memory in the old machine has to continuously cycle stuff around most of the time, thereby slowing everything down. There are a bunch of utilities and programs that I no longer need nor use, which slows things further. The time to upgrade has come.

The new laptop as described by the seller is a 2019 HP 15.6″ FHD IPS Touchscreen Laptop Computer, 8th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-8250U up to 3.4GHz (Beat i7-7500U), 8GB DDR4, 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD, 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1, Bluetooth, HDMI, Windows 10. I purchased it through Amazon last week.

I have started migrating apps and files to the new platform on the “test bed” (literally the bed in the guest room) and integrating new peripherals to take the place of my antiquated setup in the office. The progress is steady, but with glitches and work-arounds as dictated by the new cyber environment. I’ll get there, but it will be a while before I change out the old laptop system.

Next, the new holster arrived today after a lengthy lead time of over fourteen weeks; I ordered it late last June from Savoy Leather Works. It is a custom made holster and magazine pouch for my Glock 30 Subcompact .45ACP pistol (I used to call this gun “FAT MAN” and the other Glock 26 “LITTLE BOY” on the old Minstrel Blog).

Damsel took the photo above right of me displaying the beautiful Patriotic American Flag and Three Percenter art work. It will take me a while to get it broke in. Although the holster has both IWB and Open Carry options, I figure to wear it for special occasions as an open carry combo. Why would I want to conceal the fabulous artwork?

You may click on either image to enlarge.

UPDATE 20191102: Added a 21″ external HDMI LED Monitor to the “test bed.” I will probably start moving the new stuff to the office next week and phase out the old laptop and display as soon as I get all the important stuff loaded to the new system.

Test Bed Updated

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Arizona Rated #1 For Seven Years In A Row

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Email from Arizona Citizens Defense League:

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Arizona rated best state for gun owners - again!

For the SEVENTH consecutive year Guns and Ammo magazine has rated Arizona as the #1 state for gun owners. The ratings are published in their November 2019 issue. Click here to view a copy of the ratings.

States were measured by the following criteria:

  • Right To Carry
  • Treatment of “Black Rifles” (ARs, AKs, etc.)
  • Treatment of NFA firearms
  • Castle Doctrine
  • Miscellaneous issues like preemption statutes, laws and rules that fall outside of the other rated areas, as well as the availability of places to shoot

Arizona’s seventh year #1 rating is primarily because of what AzCDL has accomplished. Prior to AzCDL’s involvement, Arizona’s CCW system was onerous and discouraged applications. Permits were only good for 4 years and required training, testing and additional fingerprinting to renew. Court cases narrowed the interpretation of open carry to a point where the only way to safely openly carry your firearm and avoid arrest was by having a CCW permit. In self-defense situations, the burden of proof was on YOU to prove your innocence – after you admitted to the “crime.” Firearms preemption was Balkanized. Castle doctrine and “no duty to retreat” laws were weak.

AzCDL was created by a handful of activists in 2005 who didn’t like the status quo. By 2010 we achieved Constitutional Carry. CCW permits are now optional and the process to obtain a permit is more realistic. Arizona permits are recognized in the majority of states. Arizona is also one of the few states that recognize all permits from all states – again thanks to AzCDL.

Because of AzCDL’s efforts, you are now “innocent until proven guilty” when defending yourself. Firearms preemption has been strengthened. We were even successful in getting the Arizona Constitution changed to protect law-abiding citizens from law suits when they defend themselves. Visit our Accomplishments and Why AzCDL web pages to learn more about what AzCDL has accomplished.

We are proud that AzCDL’s efforts, with the support of our members, have again garnered this high rating for Arizona from such a prestigious publication. However, from our perspective, there is a lot more that needs to be done to make Arizona truly a free state when it comes to honoring your constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. With your continued support we can achieve that goal.

End of AzCDL email.

For reference, here are the top five states followed by the bottom five:

1. Arizona
2. Idaho
3. Alaska
4. Kansas
5. Oklahoma

47. California
48. Hawaii
49. New Jersey
50. Massachusetts
51. New York *

* We know there aren’t 51 states, but for the purposes of the survey, the District of Columbia (ranked #46) is included as it’s own entity.

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Queen of the Night Cactus Fruit

Queen of the Night FruitNow that the hottest days of Summer are over, we find ourselves in our so-called fifth season, “Second Spring.” This is when we get another wave of cactus flowers opening, blossoms on our rosemary shrubs and ripening fruit from summer blooms.

Last summer, several of our cactus flowers opened. Among them the Queen of the Night (peniocereus greggii) rescue cactus in our courtyard which had two flowers open. Now, those two flower stalks have become cactus fruit as shown at the right. After pollination overnight, the flowers wither and eventually fall off, leaving the flower stems which enlarge to become the cactus fruit.

More about P- Gregii from The University of Arizona - namely cultivation of the cactii:

Peniocereus greggii can be propagated from either seed or short stem cuttings. Once established this species is known to have large tuberous roots that are similar to potatoes. Generally this plant species likes to grow around or under desert ironwood, creosote bushes, and other desert shrubs that can provide shade, support and concealment. This cacti species only flowers once a year at night (usually in June or July) and for the rest of the year it appears to be dead. The following morning at sunrise, the flower dies. Unlike other cacti, P. greggii is not self-fertile and has widely separated individuals as a result. These flowers are cross-pollinated by hawk moths. P. greggi also typically has a slow growth rate, uses little water and does well in full sun, or partially shady environments. These cacti are also hardy plants, suffering damage at temperatures below 10° F.

Be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph above to see a couple of the Damsel’s excellent photos in the Cap’n Bob Image Viewer.

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Waxing Gibbous Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon

I had a notion this evening to grab my camera and take a photo of the waxing gibbous moon shining overhead at 85% illumination. Again, as I did taking the photo of the emerging crescent moon last week, I did not use a tripod and remote shutter release, but rather I propped myself and the camera up against one of the porch pillars out in the courtyard. I used the automatic program shutter priority along with some post-processing to get the result seen above.

The Camera Settings were:

  • Camera - Canon Rebel EOS SL1
  • Program - Shutter Priority
  • Shutter Speed Set To 1/4000 sec
  • F Stop - 5.6
  • ISO 6400
  • Lens - Canon EF 75-300 set to 300mm Focal Length

Other than shutter speed, the camera automatically picked the other settings. In the post processing, I used my IRFANVIEW utility to crop the image, to enhance the gamma setting and eliminate the chromatic aberration caused by the cheap Telephoto lens. I would really like to get a better lens, but they are somewhat cost-prohibitive for as often as I have a need for one. I do have a camera adapter for my little Matsutov-Cassegrain telescope, but that, like a bunch of other things only comes out when I am highly motivated. Maybe the motivation will come one of these nights.

After I took the photo, Damsel and I stepped out to the courtyard to enjoy a nearly overhead pass of the International Space Station. The weather is starting to cool off a bit and we wore outer garments for the first time since early spring. This evening, the temperature plummeted to the low 70s which we consider quite cool. I know, I know, it’s snowing up north, and lots of snowbirds are already in town because of it.

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