This is the Month to start reading “Rough Enough”

Rick Book Cover new jpeg  February 1865, 150 years ago was when 17 year old Richard Clow reenlisted as a regular for three years in the 56th Mass. Volunteer Infantry. That one month during which he signed up, spent two weeks in a holding camp during the frigid winter of 65, (18 degrees or more below zero) and then was transported in the filthy stinking hold of the ship Demolay to Petersburg, VA set the stage for his baptism under fire on the front lines at Fort Hays.  His letters home to his sisters have always been an inspiration to me. Trying to tell what has been happening, while not sharing all the really gruesome details which his sisters would not have been able to understand back in Boston. His observations on the battlefield, close encounters with death, and his own hopes and dreams for the future all come out over the ensuing months leading up to Lee’s retreat to Appomattox, Lincolns death and finally demobilization in July of 1865, well after the final battles had become history. Read the book to get an understanding of what a young soldier did and saw, in comparison to what the officers we all hear about did or didn’t do. It gives one a broader understanding of the whole span of the war and the persons deeply involved in that conflict.

Here’s my stats for the year – hoping to do better in 2015 – see below 2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2018 Joint North American and Canadian Championship Orienteering Meet in the Yukon’s Negative Terrain

The week of August 17 -24, 2018 was an amazing international competition for Orienteerers from North America and Canada to compete on some of the finest negative orienteering terrains in the world. To say the least, this is extremely challenging terrain to nagigate, especially when one considers that much of it is covered with aspen and black spruce trees which obscure vision for any long distance.

Here’s Jill with our Club Banner at the meet! (Cold? 100F in Hood River, OR,  50F in Whitehorse, Yukon!)


The terrain is classed as “negative” because it has numerous giant potholes which go down rather than up like knolls from the surrounding land which was leveled by ancient glaciers.    In the picture below is an example showing a small hill or knoll about 15 meters high in the upper portion of the picture with the circular contour lines forming a hill. On the hill are several depressions which are shown as circles with the small hash mark pointing to the downward section.

Canadian Middle 001 (2)

Looking at the lower portion of the picture to the right of the “6” you can see a depression or deep glacial pothole in which the contours go downwards for about 15 meters below the surrounding land.  Obviously, you want to run around these holes rather than waste energy trying to cross them since they often have deadfall in the bottom. Note how similar the two land forms look on the map, knoll and pothole, with the sole exception of the hashmarks on the pothole’s contours.

The full week’s schedule of events for the 700 plus participants can be seen at the NAOC/COC Schedule .

The Columbia River Orienteering Club (CROC) from the Portland, Oregon area was represented by 10 members of the organization. Here are 9 of the members all together! With your’s truely dead center. Left to Right we have Aandy, Tony, Jill, Rick. David, Julie, Debby and Ken in line with Virginia down in front. Yeah! Team!


Our 10th member was Alison Crocker who is on the US National Elite Women’s Orienteering Team. She didn’t get in the photos beacuse she had to compete and then get back home to her new baby! You can see the International Orientation Federation results for Alison Crocker, IOF Ranking for Alison Crocker  here. Alison’s successes in the Middle and Long races for the elite women, helped push the US team results up enough to defeat the Canadians from retaining their long held ranking as the North American Champions. Yes! Our U.S. team got the silver cup!


CROC’s other medalling member was Virginia Church who won a gold and silver medal in the women’s age category of over 75 years of age. Well done Virginia! Here she is for the Silver presentation.


Great Orienteering and great fun although the courses were tough and you can see all of our results and the pictures of everyone here if you like.  Pics and results






Scientific American on Noisy Dominance. Chimps mimic Humans or is it vis versa?

I had to laugh, midway through the first article in the latest Scientific American: Special Issue for September 2018, entitledHumans – Why we’re unlike any other species on the planet.

Author Kevin Laland mentions an observation about innovations in hmans and animals and uses one example of this as primatologist Jane Goodall’s observations of a young chimpanzee, code named Mike, who had devised a noisy dominance diplay that allowed him to rise rapidly to the level of alpha male status in his troop.  Mike apparently according to Goodall, Jane Goodall’s observaions on Mike, noted that Mike had learned to clash two empty kerosene cans together in order to intimidate rivals.

So what pops into my head? You got it! When did this observation occur and who might have picked up on it in the Human world and put it to good use? I try to research this a bit, Goodall on Chimpanzee Communication, and find that Jane Goodall drew some anolgies between all of her Primate work (Humans are Primates) and political figures and ways of intimidating opponents so that they win or move up substantially on the status scale. How interesting to see  journalist’s quote back during the last primary campaign before the first debates Quote source: “In the October issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows takes an interesting look at what the presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — the first of which happens next Monday — will be like. Nestled within that story, which serves as a history lesson on televised presidential debates, is an observation made by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Fallows recalls a conversation he had with Goodall just before Trump clinched the GOP nomination. “In many ways, the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Goodall told him. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays — stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

Which came first? The Chicken or the egg? Did some enterprising young politicical advisor see Jane Goodall’s notes and transfer this idea of disruptive interference to his candidate’s political campaign?


Was this methodology already prevelent in Humanity as seen in the bombastic shouted interruptions and displays we see, used by certain commentators on certain TV shows?

Draw your own conclusions. Whatever they are, be sure to read some of Dr. Goodall’s comments on current political dramas including her analysis of POTUS.

ref 1:About the President

ref 2: Yvanka Trump Quotes Jane Goodall – women power

Have a great day! And, remember to read the other 104 pages of the Scientific American articles on HUMANS!

Book Review:Isaac Asimov’s Caliban, by Roger MacBride Allen

Isaac Asimov's Caliban (Isaac Asimov's Caliban, #1)Isaac Asimov’s Caliban by Roger MacBride Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t read a really good sci-fiction book for a long time and this one is definitely top of the line! Having grown up on the early I-Robot and other novels of the 50’s and followed Asimov’s work as a fan for years, I was glad to read a book that could still bring back the intrigue and interest of complex humanoid robotics of that earlier era. The real question within the book is still very appropriate for our own times: What will happen when one day we create a robot with a brain complex enough to think on the same levels that we do and we then let that robot do whatever it wants without the restrictions of Asimov’s three Laws of Robotics. With Caliban we get to explore that idea both from the perspective of humans as well as from the brain of the super thinking robot, Caliban. We also get to think about what happens to human societies when they either become completely dependent or independent of robot servants and slaves. The clash of the two human cultures, the threat of a planetary ecological collapse and the hunt for a murderous rogue robot all play out well in this fast moving, very thoughtful novel. I am hopeful of reading more of author MacBride Allen’s works. Enjoy a fast well written read!

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Defense against Anti-Terrorism: Rules for Making Plastic Guns

Dear Readers                                                                                                     29 July, 2018

Today I wrote to our President, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Greg Walden on the subject of printable plastic guns and international terrorism.

Below is the gist of my writing. We know these guns already have existed since 2013 and that more will come into existence, but with no serial numbers and no onus on the owner, producer or manufacturer to help our security people I.D. the guns we are headed for really nasty stuff perpetrated by terrorists on our airlines, in our governmental and corporate offices and with repeated challenges to our already embattled law enforcement.


Plastic guns whether they be computer printable plastic guns or assembly line plastic guns are a threat to our National Security of the United States of America. In the hands of terrorists they can breach any airport security and also breach security of our government offices and the officials that make our country work.

Plastic guns can be controlled, and this can be done with some very explicit laws which do not infringe on any 2nd amendment rights to bear arms.

The laws need to be very strict and need to be on the books before any further plans for these weapons are released onto the internet. We must stay ahead of the game on international terrorism.

Included in the law should be the following:

A. It is a Class A Felony to produce, possess or own a plastic gun that does not conform to all of the following: 1.All plastic guns must have an embedded non-removable metal ID which if removed will make the gun inoperable.2. The embedded ID must have the legal name of the manufacturer and a unique I.D. number.3. The unique I.D. and name of the manufacturer must be registered with the F.B.I. at the time of production.

B.  It is a Class A Misdemeanor to not store plastic guns properly. 1. All plastic guns must have a trigger guard in place when they are not in use. 2. All plastic guns must be stored in a gun safe when they are not in use.

C. It is a Class A Felony for the manufacturer of any plastic gun to give, loan, or sell any plastic gun to another person without complying with all of the following: 1. A record of all plastic guns given, loaned or sold to another person must be reported to the F.B.I. at the time of the above described action. 2. The full legal name of the person(s) to whom a plastic gun is given, loaned or sold must be given to the F.B.I. at the time of such action.

D. It is a Class B Felony for the owner or user of a plastic gun which is lost or stolen to not report this loss or theft to the F.B.I. and local law enforcement agencies within 24 hours of the loss or theft.

E. Failure to abide by the above procedures with any plastic gun shall make the owner and/or possessor of the plastic gun liable to punishment under the Anti-Terrorism laws of the United States of America to the full extent.

We need to get on with controlling these very dangerous weapons before they go public, not play catch-up.

Thanks for listening.

I hope you too will act to get Congress and the President to do something before next Wednesday and the blueprints all go viral.


Book Review: Tsotsi by Athol Fugard

TsotsiTsotsi by Athol Fugard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Athol Fugard has captured the true essence of disenfranchised criminal African youth in the townships of South Africa during the Apartheid era. The descriptions of the daily life of Tsotsi, the leader of a small criminal gang and his compatriots is, in many ways, similar to Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flat.” It is also similar to the stories of the “Garri Boys” of West African cities; Young men who lost their tribal customs and values when they were abandoned in or migrated to the cities. The book also reminds this writer of Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

The members of the gang under Tsotsi’s leadership act as his conscience, planners, and executors of daily robberies and murders in the African township. There is no conscience involved in the acts, only the necessity of doing them on a daily basis in order to perpetuate the flow of money needed for food and drink. In robbing and murdering the members of their own township, the gang members revel in seeking out the weak, less fortunate or unsuspecting members of their own kind. In so doing, the gang helps perpetuate their own miserable lifestyle. Instead of directing this anger towards their white oppressors, the gang, by its violence, gives the white population its justification for continuing the oppression of Apartheid. The lack of any social conscience in Tsotsi, and the shutting out of his own memories of family and feelings for others leads to a crisis within the gang that changes everything.

In one violent outburst, Tsotsi vents his anger on the most educated and likable member of his gang. When he realizes what he has done, a twinkle of conscience creeps into Tsotsi’s mind and keeps popping up despite all his efforts to push it back into a comfortable corner of his brain and ignore it. With this awakening comes a desire to seek out any remnants of his earlier life prior to running away and joining a gang. He begins a quest to reestablish contact with his past. In a cascade of new conscience driven actions, Tsotsi adopts an abandoned child, finds that he has taken on responsibility and pays the price for caring about other human beings.

A chapter a night is enough to cogitate on with this book. Read it slowly and think about how it relates to our lives today.

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True Heroes of our own time: The Rescuers in Thailand

.   My praise and prayers go out to the teams of Rescue operators in Thailand as they seek to pull all of the lost soccer boys and their coach from two weeks of entrapment in a water filled cave.

Recent News: Rescue underway in Thailand

What’s happening on the ground: video of Rescue Work

From personal experience; there is not much that is scarier than crawling through a worm-hole passage of a cave with a stream of water flowing under you. All the while, as you push your back-pack and canteen in front of you, you know you’re in a one way passage for 100 or more feet. You can’t turn around if the water starts to rise because of rains in the mountains 10 miles away. All you can do is keep moving to get to the next “room” and pray. Your prayer may not do you any good against the elements, but is cools the heart rate and calms your nerves a bit as you keep pushing forward into the blackness illuminated only by your self contained light source.

The men who are going in and out of that cave in Thailand daily to carry in oxygen, and now pull kids out are men of steel both in nerve and physical strength. They know the ‘cost’ of screwing up. I applaud their work. They are worthy of the highest honors that can be given to humans. They are agreeing to give up their lives if necessary, to give hope and assistance to others who are in dire life threatening straights. That’s what it means to be a hero.

They have my prayers for a safe completed rescue operation.

“Suffer the Little Children”: Condoning Governmental Child Abuse?

This is my response to the government and officials of The United States of America, separating infants from their parents who are seeking refuge in our country, putting those infants on trial in our court rooms and sending them back to a life in their former country without their parents:

At what point are our congressional majority leaders and president and their officials held accountable for ‘child abuse’ or higher crimes when they condone doing to children what would be considered abduction and or kidnapping refugee children in order to threaten other refugees from coming to our country?  How can this placement of children and families under duress after they have fled opression in their own country be condoned? At what point will a judge be brave enough to tell our country that putting babies and infants on trial in our court system with no advocacy and representation is anything but criminal? At what point will it be considered legal for state officials to intervene when ICE officials break state laws about the handling, housing and caring for children in those particular states? At what point will an ICE employee who refuses to obey an order which according to The United Nations is a crime against humanity, be protected and allowed to refuse to obey an illegal order? At what point will international law put out a warrant, as they have done against other leaders who condoned crimes against humanity and arrest our leaders who strut so boldly about making America safer by imprisoning children?

This is a slippery slope and as Americans turn their backs on the innocent children who will suffer from these acts, we must realize how ordinary persons in many countries around the world have previously allowed tyranny to proliferate because they refused to stand up and say, “This is WRONG!”

There must be a better way, and it is up to our national leaders and the people in it who determine our government to direct our misguided leaders to do the right thing. The oppression of human rights and taking ouranger out of children is no the way to do it. We generally call that ‘Child Abuse’ whether it is the kid left in the overheating car, or the kid burned with cigarettes, or the kid taken by a mobster to hold for political or monetary ransom.

An important man once said,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. …” (Ref; NRSV)

Alexander Hamilton: On the Subversion of our United States Republic – 1792

  • Our Founding Fathers understood Exactly the weakness in our Constitutional System. Why?   Because they had just rebelled against a government that was governed by a man who preferred chaos to calm discussion and organization (See our Declaration of Independence from the national archives) Transcript of Declaration of Independence Read the whole thing carefully in case you’ve forgotten some parts.
    Now read this section of Alexander Hamilton’s Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration of the United States in 1792

    “The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

    Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”

    If you want Hamilton’s whole rant on the government and debt and making problems for itself at that time, here’s the full 1792 text link: Hamilton’s Full Objections to the Government 

    Wow —  prophetic?

Book Review: Home by Harlan Coben

Home (Myron Bolitar, #11)Home by Harlan Coben

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I generally like author Coben’s writing, but this particular book just didn’t fit with my style. It’s not a page-turner. The plot seems quite disjointed, bouncing back and forth between my favorites and an occasional explosive action scene, coupled with a down-home explanation of the background surrounding the original kidnapping. The storyline: tracking down of 2 young men nearly ten years after their boyhood kidnapping and possible sale to child molesting pimps in England is a winner of an idea, but the plot doesn’t stick to the story and gets lost in little side stories which don’t help the overall plot. Our investigative heroes, Myron Bolitar and Win do not seem to be in the reader’s central vision enough to pull together what could be a really fast go-get-em chase. The initial impetus collapses when arch-villain Fat Gandhi broker’s a deal and things diffuse onto the ho-hum college campus and co-ed dorms. Win and Bolitar make an exciting and deadly team, but in this case, they need a bit more juice to hold up the excitement end of the book to make it what I would call a first class “thriller.” The love affair between Therese and Myron doesn’t seem to sparkle for me. Their affair gets the old “sorry for the cock block” once too often from the interruptions that are constructed, rather than being natural. I liked the ending and will pick up another of author Coben’s works for airplane reading. Hopefully, next time, I won’t put it down in favor of a jet-lagged film.

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Book Review: No Man’s Land by David Baldacci

No Man's Land (John Puller, #4)No Man’s Land by David Baldacci

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is not the Author’s best work by far. The thesis behind the novel is excellent and I was absorbed with that once we got to the actual story. The first 200 pages are very slow in setting up the story. In fact, so slow, that this section of the of the 479-page novel could have been covered with more concentrated action in about 50 pages without losing anything. I found myself skipping through the boring parts. After those first 200 pages the pace picks up and our protagonist, John Puller and the apparent arch-enemy, Paul Rogers, get down to business near Ft. Monroe and the affairs of secret building “Q” on that base. I would have liked a better description of Rogers’ bone and muscle enhancement job as well as the brain manipulations done by the mastermind Claire Jericho to make Rogers into a warped human super warrior, but that was not to be. Other than the initial boredom factors, my main reasons for downgrading an author as strong as Baldacci were his flaws in what should have been simple technology and physics. First, in a tale in which someone can take over the ignition, steering, and acceleration of your car to the point of causing a fatal crash, one would think that having Puller use his cell phone and computer to do research and to contact big brother, Robert, would be a dead giveaway on locating our hero to knock him off. This never happens and it isn’t until about p. 400 that our author acknowledges the easy traceability of cell phones. Yet, having noted the flaw, he never goes back and has Puller using a landline, library computers and other more clandestine methods to conceal his whereabouts. The second error which really floored me was the author’s lack of understanding of the basic physics of water pressure on a sunken car and that by letting the water rise above the door level, one can quite easily open the car door and simply swim to the surface. The hilt of a Ka-bar knife is also pretty efficient at breaking a windshield on a car if necessary in an emergency of doors not opening. Even so, I still enjoyed the read and will continue to go back to those older well thought out novels by Mr. Baldacci and look for more fertile efforts. All in all, I like his style of writing.

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Book Review: ‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn

The Alice NetworkThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here’s an award-winning level of a story by an author who has done an amazing amount of research on the women who ran and participated in, the spy newwork of occupied France during the both WWI and WWII. Although author Kate Quinn has filled in a lot of gaps in the historical record with her fictional character, Eve (Mme. Le Francois), her depictions of the other members of the spy network from their true memoires is amazing. The reader can feel the tension of the characters in their clandestine border crossings into Belgium, and their constant fear of recognition and capture. The courage and determination that flows between euphoric moments when a prime piece of information is overheard, followed by the depths of despair as the British Command ignores vital clues to troop movements or the attacks is handled extremely well. Author Quinn has also done a magnificent job of alternating chapters between the two main characters, Eve and Charlie and in ending each chapter with a ‘hook’ that keeps the reader moving on to the next chapter consecutively, rather than trying to skip ahead for clues that will lead to the mysterious collaborator, Rene Bordelon. It’s a tale of love, hate, terror, revenge, courage and betrayal in which the author makes the characters come to life and show both the worst of human behaviors and the very best. It will go down as one of my all time favorites.

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Book Review: “Picture Me Dead” by Heather Graham

Picture Me DeadPicture Me Dead by Heather Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Picture Me Dead” although I felt that I could have chopped out the central 100 pages and still had a great read at 323. The boathouse to apartment play between Ashley and Jake is too much back and forth for me. I got a bit bored out in the middle of the book. Fortunately, if you feel ennui sneaking in, or you start to yawn, just skip to the next love making scene. You’ll come away with new learning! The “Prologue” really pulls you in at the start of the book. Then the love-hate cycle between Ashley and Jake make for a good fallback in between the intrigue of the mystery. I kept wondering if Ashley was going to drop out of the Police academy. The author obviously came up with a better solution. Everglades scenes and the death on the motorway scene are a bit contrived, but lay the groundwork for other things to come in the book. My wife was totally absorbed with the book. It took me ten days to do the reading of the 400+ pages while she only took two days, so there you have it ladies, it gets a higher rating from the gals, but that’s OK because men have been getting all the good parts in books for eyars and now it looks like some smart tough women are stepping forward in novels to equalize the filed. A very good book, enjoy the reading.

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