Thursday, July 02, 2009
You may recall a year ago I had told of an incident that had occurred when I untarped my pasture mower deck, expecting a snake to be underneath, found none, but unbeknownst to me was the fact that there had been one curled up in the folds of the tarp and, when I lifted it off the machine, the bugger fell at my feet.* I didn't realize he was there until I felt him slide along my leg.
An interesting feeling.
Well, this year I was ready. I took my camera with me when I went to uncover my mower. That's how sure I was that there was a snake lurking. There is always a snake lurking underneath the tarp (they're big on warmth and seclusion).
Here are some photos I took.
Tarp being slowly lifted, revealing something black curled up and happy:
A closer look reveals ...
I wanted my mower. He wanted it too. Thus the look I got when I tried to nudge him:
This last photo gives you an idea as to how long a black rat snake can get. This one is six feet, give or take. Next year I'll bring a tape measure.
I finally coaxed the little guy off the mower, only to have him slither underneath and go up and wrap himself around the blade.
So I took him for a ride. After about 75 yards of bouncing along, he plopped onto the ground and, when last seen, was heading south.
Beautiful little creatures, aren't they?
- - -
* Sorry about the awful sentence structure. I've only had 1 and 1/2 cups of coffee so far.
** Before you write, no, I don't wash and wax my mower.
*** Click on the images to enlarge them.
Virginia residents decry Appalachian Power plan to raise rates
Just wait till Boucher's energy tax kicks in and utility rates double. Then they'll really howl.
We'll see if they still have complaints on Election Day, 2010.
Federal Agencies Could Add 120,000 Area JobsHow is it that the government always seems to prosper no matter how bad things get out in the real world?
By V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post Staff Writer
The federal government and the contracting industry are among the few sectors in the area creating jobs. For instance, according to the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, the Defense Department is looking for 50,000 contracting and acquisition officers as part of President Obama's plan to reduce outsourcing. The Department of Veterans Affairs is hiring 17,000 doctors, nurses and others to work in VA hospitals as Obama seeks to improve services for veterans. The Social Security Administration, which already has hired 5,800 people this year, is planning to fill 5,500 more positions next year. And the FDA is seeking to fill up to 600 positions, including inspectors and contract officers to staff the new Center for Tobacco Products.
"I think the level of attention we're seeing on federal hiring is unprecedented," said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, which helps the federal government find qualified candidates. [link]
The Roanoke Times, May 6, 2007:
Editorial: The consequences of failureWhat the cowards at the Times meant at the time, of course, was for the government of George W. Bush to send the military into headlong, precipitate retreat. An orderly one, if at all possible.
We have come to the painful conclusion that Iraq is a lost cause. Further expenditure of blood, lives and treasure will not lead to victory.
Though President Bush seems psychologically incapable of the act, it is time for everyone else in the United States to recognize the inevitable: The occupation of Iraq is an utter, irredeemable failure. We cannot win there militarily or politically.
Further expenditure of blood, lives and treasure will gain the United States nothing. Nor will it gain anything for the Iraqi people, who have seen only chaos and bloodshed from this intervention.
Unless the American people are willing to support a generational commitment to Iraq -- along with the trillions of dollars and reinstitution of the draft required to sustain it -- our continued presence there only delays the inevitable day of reckoning.
The logical course is clear: The United States should start planning now for an orderly withdrawal of troops. [link]
"We have come to the painful conclusion that Iraq is a lost cause. Further expenditure of blood, lives and treasure will not lead to victory."
On Tuesday victory was declared in Iraq.
And it was duly noted by the Roanoke Times, if ever so grudgingly:
Editorial: Iraq's sovereignty dayEven though NOTHING.
The future of a nation is in the hands of Iraqi's leaders and its people.
As American troops completed their withdrawal from Iraqi towns and cities on Tuesday, congregating mostly in forward operating bases where they can be called upon when needed, the Iraqi people expressed jubilation tempered with caution and doubt about whether their security forces can handle the responsibility that's been handed to them.
Despite those reservations and an uptick in violence recently, the mood was undeniable as Iraqis celebrated a new national holiday, National Sovereignty Day.
Marchers shouted, "America has left! Baghdad is victorious!"
[S]ome will say that Tuesday marked a day of vindication for former President Bush's much-maligned surge -- even though ... [blah blah blah] [link] [my emphasis]
George W. Bush, despite the worst efforts of anti-Americans like those who suck oxygen at the Roanoke Times, goes down in the history books as having won a hard-fought victory over a previously dangerous and intractable foe. A victory that proved to be vital to our national and international interests.
How the guys at the Times must be gnashing their teeth over this circumstance. "We Won! Darn it."
I ask that those of you who remained steadfast, who didn't waver, who didn't cut and run like all those Democratic sheep in Washington, rejoice with me. And sing George Bush's praises.
Firm in his beliefs.
Firm in purpose.
Firm in his execution.
He stayed the course and made America proud.
He made America a safer place.
Here's to you, Mr. President.
As for the small people at the Times, an apology would be in order. And a moment for reflection. Where would Iraq be, where would the USA be, if one of your heroes - say, Barack Obama - had been at the helm when 9/11 occurred?
A demoralizing thought, isn't it?
Reflect. And learn from your mistakes.
As only he could have done it, Orson Wells on Julia Ward Howe. Both great Americans:
470,000 soldiers, Americans all, righted a grievous wrong; and gave up their lives in doing so. They did indeed die to make men free.
We owe them ...
The two auto companies that went into bankruptcy and became dependent - in one way or another - on the United States government to keep them afloat, GM and Chrysler, were down 33% and 42% respectively in sales in June, compared to a year ago. This from the New York Times.
Toyota and Nissan saw staggering declines in sales of 32% and 23% too.
But then there's Ford Motor Company. Down only 11%.
Are Americans patriotic enough to "buy American" but aren't foolish enough to buy problems?
You be the judge.
1) You're insane.
2) You're a dachshund.
Shirley Healy, like many sick Canadians, came to America for surgery. Her doctor in British Columbia told her she had only a few weeks to live because a blocked artery kept her from digesting food. Yet Canadian officials called her surgery "elective."
"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.
We saw this in Canada, where we did find one area of medicine that offers easy access to cutting-edge technology -- CT scan, endoscopy, thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, etc. It was open 24/7. Patients didn't have to wait.
But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Animal care is the one area of medicine that hasn't been taken over by the government. Dogs can get a CT scan in one day. For people, the waiting list is a month. [link]
Canadians have Obama-style government oversight of the human health care system. And it's a mess. But capitalism and that evil profit motive drive the pet health care industry.
Thus available treatment is abundant, effective, and quick.
Yet America seems to be clamoring for waiting lines and rejected heart treatments that might make the difference between life and death.
Sometimes I wonder if too many of us don't fall into the category of number (1).
I'll bet more than a few of you spoke to your computer monitors, saying, "Around $48 a ton."
That being the case, and knowing that your livelihood depends on that price remaining high enough to bring you a steady, modest income but not too high to drive customers to other sources of fuel, it would seem to be easy enough for you to grasp what Congressman Rick Boucher has done to you when he voted in favor of that coal tax last Friday.
Here are the hard numbers. Read and weep:
The Costs of the Cap-and-Trade BillA 100% tax on the coal you mine.
By Robert Zubrin, Special to Roll Call
On June 25, the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate stabilization act, which would institute a cap-and-trade system to restrict Americans’ carbon emissions. While proponents of the bill have sought to argue that the costs of such a system would be negligible, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the bill proposes a massive and highly regressive tax on the U.S. economy, and could potentially cause not only extensive business failures, unemployment and privation within our borders, but starvation among poorer populations elsewhere.
But that is not even the worst part of it. As a result of the markup of carbon costs, a lot of those working families will be out of work and unable to pay their existing bills, let alone new ones. Consider: Burning one ton of coal produces about three tons of CO2. So a tax of $15 per ton of CO2 emitted is equivalent to a tax of $45/ton on coal. The price of Eastern anthracite coal runs in the neighborhood of $45/ton, so under the proposed system, such coal would be taxed at a rate of about 100 percent.
In the 220 years of our republic, there may have been worse pieces of legislation enacted by Congress than the Waxman-Markey bill, but none readily comes to mind. The Senate needs to take a stand and stop this disastrous act from passing into law. [link]
Who's going to want coal if the price essentially doubles?
Now you understand why they're doing this.
Next time Boucher comes around glad-handing for your votes, assuming he ever shows his face in Southwest Virginia again, you might ask him about this.
A 100% tax on coal. And he supported it.
For the love of God.
Rumors this morning became reality:
Marines Deploy on Major MissionTakin' it to 'em. As only the Marines can.
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post Staff Writer
Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, July 2 -- Thousands of U.S. Marines descended upon the volatile Helmand River valley in helicopters and armored convoys early Thursday, mounting an operation that represents the first large-scale test of the U.S. military's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.
The operation will involve about 4,000 troops from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which was dispatched to Afghanistan this year by President Obama to combat a growing Taliban insurgency in Helmand and other southern provinces. The Marines, along with an Army brigade that is scheduled to arrive later this summer, plan to push into pockets of the country where NATO forces have not had a presence. In many of those areas, the Taliban has evicted local police and government officials and taken power.
The operation launched early Thursday represents a shift in strategy after years of thwarted U.S.-led efforts to destroy Taliban sanctuaries in Afghanistan and extend the authority of the Afghan government into the nation's southern and eastern regions. More than seven years after the fall of the Taliban government, the radical Islamist militia remains a potent force across broad swaths of the country. The Obama administration has made turning the war around a top priority, and the Helmand operation, if it succeeds, is seen as a potentially critical first step. [link]
Godspeed, fellas. And may the angels walk with you and protect you from all harm.