Monday, September 30, 2019

Alexander Butterfield, SMS Hack and Charlie Turns Eleven!

Nancy Pelosi made her move last week to begin a formal impeachment inquiry into the admitted criminal actions of Donald Trump*. I don't see that she had any choice, not if our Constitution (specifically, Article II, section 4) is still a thing to be upheld and revered.

There was very little public support for Nixon's impeachment when news of Watergate began to appear in the press in the fall of 1972. It wasn't until the Senate Watergate hearings in the summer of '73 that public sentiment toward Nixon began to erode. He may well have finished out his term had it not been for the reluctant testimony of Alexander Butterfield, a Deputy Assistant to Nixon.

It was Butterfield who oversaw the installation of a secret voice-activated tape recording system with its many hidden microphones in Nixon's Oval Office and elsewhere that Nixon used to surreptitiously record his conversations with others. Without the tapes, the case against Nixon may have evaporated, leaving his supporters to assure us that he was an honorable man, in the same way that Trump* still enjoys solid support from his base after effectively obstructing the Special Counsel's investigation of him.

It's no surprise to any of us who are looking at the current administration objectively that Trump* effectively worked with the Russian government to help scuttle Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign just as he again (admittedly) was trying to work with another government, this time the President of Ukraine, to try and foil Joe Biden's presidential campaign. And for this, he will be impeached in the House of Representatives. I don't have any delusions that the Republican-led Senate will muster the 2/3 majority needed to convict him—that's very unlikely unless an Alexander Butterfield type witness takes the stand and provides damning testimony that can't be ignored.

Or unless a whistleblower decides they've seen enough.

And that appears to be what has happened. I hope and I pray that this is the beginning of the end for this most corrupt occupant of the White House, and his enablers—specifically, U.S. Attorney General William Barr. And when this chapter in our country's history is over, it's also my hope that his enablers in conservative media will finally be seen as the propagandists they are.

And it should be noted: this is so much worse than anything Nixon did.

This isn't sour grapes for having watched my candidate lose the 2016 election. It's about ensuring that our candidates, no matter the party they represent, aren't reaching out for help to those who would most like to see us fail as a nation. And it's about not holding fledgling democracies hostage by withholding aid in exchange for dirt on your political opponent. We have to be better than that, and this.

Switching gears.

I received a group text SMS message from a friend last week saying:

Friend 1: Hey, guys you thnk I can Borrow 2k

Friend 2: Need some new wheels...?

Me: Ha! That's a good guess!

Friend 3: Stock? Gambling debt owed to the mob?

Me: Bail?

Friend 1: Bail

Friend 1: I'll explain later

Friend 1: Can somebody zelle it to me? Rbcu is acting weird

Me: I'm worried that Friend 1's phone has fallen into the wrong hands.

Friend 3: His phone is at his house (inserts map image showing the phone's location).

Me: Roger that.

My friend's phone was in his possession but someone else had somehow hacked it and was sending out texts trying to scam others into sending money to an online account. A fraud report has been filed with the Burnsville police. Be careful out there!

And this sweet boy turns 11 today! In the months since losing Toby, Charlie has become my little shadow, not letting me out of his sight for long when I'm around. Tammy would take him to the dog park at Cleary Lake in the weeks after Toby's passing but without Toby along, Charlie would only sit and howl and didn't want to walk the park's trails. That's not like him. Instead, we now take him to the dog park at Alimagnet Park where there's a section for smaller dogs. He loves going there and sniffing the other pups.

The Chimney Rock loop was what was served up last Saturday morning. A fun route indeed! C'mon along...

That's all I've got.



* Denotes an illegitimate president.




Sunday, September 15, 2019

16 Years, and Mark Prairie Has Left the Building

Next month will mark 16 years that I've been journaling in my blog. I suppose that's quite a while. I kept a journal for the last three years of my four-year enlistment in the Navy so when I learned about blogs, it seemed like a natural fit for me. I dove right in.

One of the main reasons I maintain my blog is to someday be able to look back on my life that was and recall more vividly memories that would otherwise likely be forgotten over the years. Something I wasn't expecting when I first began making entries here was the way in which my blog would become a place where I could sort through my thoughts—a form of therapy, actually. I've benefited from writing in it.

I've spent several hours this past week going through my blog and updating links that point to our website where I've uploaded hundreds (maybe thousands) of miscellaneous photos over the years. I'm going to allow our site to go dark when it expires next year so I need to redirect links from my blog to a new host for my photos: Google Photos—it's something I should've done years ago.

Tammy has been busy working on craft projects for the mentally challenged people she works with through her cousin's organization. Her latest project is a gnome head. She prepares the pieces for each gnome and includes a set of instructions so they can be assembled with the help of an aid. This most recent project is so cool. I think it's one of her finest.

Mark Prairie held his retirement party last Wednesday at Celts in Farmington. It's been too many months since I've made a Wednesday afternoon appearance for a beer with the guys, so I couldn't miss this one. It was a very nice time chatting with people and seeing many faces I hadn't seen in a while. Mark turned 56 recently and that's the end of the line for controllers. We're forced into early retirement at that age. He was happy to be done. I look forward to seeing him on the links yet this year. Wishes for much happiness in this next chapter of your life, my friend.

I was intending to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather we're experiencing with some gravel riding this weekend but a couple of monkeys on my back got the better of me. I did yard work all day yesterday and followed that up today with 5 hours of power washing our driveway and deck. And I got a coat of sealer on our driveway. I'm glad to have those jobs done and the monkeys off my back.

YouTube is making it easier to safely upload videos with copyrighted background music such as the cycling videos I like to create. Go to this link and type in the name of the artist or song you're considering using. It will tell you what if any restrictions are associated with a particular song. I've had a limited number of artists I could safely use that I've relied on but now I can greatly expand what's available to me.

I'd taken down (from YouTube) some Super 8mm family videos I'd edited years ago for fear they would count as a strike against my account due to their background music. I've uploaded them again now that they've been given the all-clear. One of my favorites is embedded below. It begins with footage of my grandmother dancing in a white sweater and red shoes. At the 1:05 mark of the video my late Aunt Jean appears as the lyrics, "some may come and some may go" are sung. I edited this to make it appear that she's waving goodbye. She left us much too soon from a heart attack in her early 50s. I can be seen with my younger brothers playing in the snow toward the end of the video. This would've been around 1968.



And here are two ride videos since the last time I was here.

That's all I've got



Tuesday, September 3, 2019

4 Years, Mission Accomplished and D2D 2019

Today is the 4th anniversary of my mother's passing and the 4th anniversary of my retirement from the FAA. It's also the 4th anniversary of a hearing exam that showed I'd regained hearing in my left ear; hearing that I'd completely lost for more than a week and was told by one doctor that I'd never recover. It was the single most emotional day I've ever lived, the way those three significant events intersected at once.

It's been 8 months since Tammy's hip replacement surgery. One of her recovery goals was for us to be able to go to the State Fair and for her to be able to walk pain-free. Mission accomplished! We got to the fair earlier than ever, at 7:00am and didn't leave until Herman's Hermits had finished their show at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell 15 hours later. We had such a nice time.

Here's a link to some Instagram photos and videos from our day.

The Red Eye Memorial is no more. The golf tournament for retired air traffic controllers is more than two decades old but interest has waned in the past few years and Ken has decided to shut it down. 24 of us met last Tuesday for the last time at Fountain Valley Golf Course. Storms chased us off the course for 20 minutes but otherwise, it was a great day to be on the links. Our other tournament, The Sick Leave Open, is still going strong.

The annual Dawn to Dusk ride (in its 23rd year) is in the books and we couldn't have penciled in a better day (weather-wise) for it. The temp and humidity were very comfortable with a mostly cloudy sky and a light tailwind to help us home. Perfect! This was my 2nd year riding this event with the guys from Silver Cycling.

Here's a link to our ride on Strava.

I had some hesitation going into the ride, fearing I didn't have enough long rides to my credit the past few months to carry me through the later miles of Saturday's ride. I did so many more long-distance efforts in preparation for last year's D2D and felt I needed a similar training regimen this year. I was wrong. My longest training ride was 146 miles (235 km) and that was plenty. I'll remember that for next year should I decide to toe the line once again. Plus, I think my Tuesday night gravel rides enhanced my training a lot. I push myself for those 2+ hours more than any other time of the week on my bike.

To be honest, tho, preparation for D2D was a bit of a monkey on my back, never feeling like I'd totally committed to the training and having some quiet doubts about being fit enough for it. And what about the weather on the day of the ride? Will we be fighting a strong headwind on the way home, and will it be stormy? Will I be able to get at least a few hours of sleep the night before the ride? A 4:00 in the morning wakeup isn't what I'm used to anymore. But in the end, it all came together nicely. I rode strong and I learned that I can get by on a lot fewer training miles than I thought. That's good to know when I toy with the idea once again of whether or not to add my name to next year's list of riders.

That's all I've got.