Book Review: The Math of Life and Death: by Kit Yates

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The Math of Life and Death: 7 Mathematical Principles That Shape Our Lives by Kit Yates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Kit Yates takes us through a journey of the mind to look at the uses and misuses of mathematics in today’s world. The same math that lets your computer run rings around the old library card catalogue for research on some topics, can just as easily take you down a rabbit’s hole of false misleading data and information and manipulate how you think or act without your knowing that you are acting on false assumptions or twisted information.
The author points out quite bluntly that one of the worst things we can do with mathematics is to blindly trust that it will give us the best answer or that the person presenting the mathematics is using their math in a proper manner. He points to the use of math in criminal law which can as easily convict due to misconstrued analysis as it can acquit a seemingly irrefutably guilty party. The illusion of certainty that comes across when we are presented with a string of numbers can just as easily flumox our minds as it can enlighten them. This is especially true when we don’t want to appear to be ignorant in a public arena.
I as especially enlightened by the chapter dealing with specificity in medical testing and our faith that the tests always show the correct results, when in fact there is ample evidence that at times even such things as fingerprints and DNA testing that are relied upon in courts and in the medical profession, are not always infallable. Additionally, I also enjoyed the descriptions of “the prosecutor’s fallacy” in which the mear way in thich the same statistical numbers are presented by a prosecutor can lead to very different conclusions by the jury as to whether an accused is judged to be guilty of innocent.
Thankfully the author used diseases other than COVID-19 to discuss how epidemiologists have used mathematics to guide their recommendations for public health decisions for outbreaks of diseases like like measles, polio, and HIV. He also frames his analysis of the statistics of the dangers of crimes in a manner that enlightens us once more to the facts that we are more likely to suffer criminal actions from those whom we know, those who are of our own racial makeup, rather than what the pundits and poiticians may say about who are the most dangerous groups of people to watch out for.
An excellent book. Read it slowly and go back to things you aren’t sure of and read them again. The 25 pages of references at the end of the book is well worth checking out if you desire further reading or want to look at any original sources. Enjoy!

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Book Review: “The Portland Laugher” by Earl Emerson

The Portland Laugher by Earl Emerson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Earl Emerson has written a complex serial killer mystery with a whole lot of interesting connections to different parts of Seattle and Portland. The nice thing about authors who pick areas outside of New York, Chicago, San Farancisco or L.A. for their novels, is that you are tempted to go get a map and find out a little bit more about another big city where crime can take place just as easily and conveniently for a killer as in one of the big ‘4.’ This book has all the trappings of a really great movie storyline. I liked all the familial connections in the ‘Laugher’ and I likes the back and forth transitions: from the hospital bed to the street, from the inner city offices to the small neighborhoods in Seattle, and from the love/friendship/hate triangle that exists between the leading characters. I felt the ending was a bit contrived, although it was exciting and our hero wins out in the end, although I should think he has a few nightmares still about all of the twists that get him into tight places with the hunt for this serial killer of two cities.

Enjoy the “Laughter”! Ha! Ha!Ha!

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Book Review: Coming Back Alive! by Spike Walker

Coming Back Alive: The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Ever Attempted on Alaska’s High Seas by Spike Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Autor Spike Walker has done an amazing job of chasing down, interviewing and documenting the fishermen, coastguard members and family of the survivors of three of the most amazing rescues and rescue attempts by the Alaskan Coastguard. The helicopter pilots, swimmers and hoistmen who man the H-60 Jayhawk machines in hurricane force winds with waves topping a hundred feet as boats sink beneath the fishermen below them are under terrific stresses both emotional and physically to save those in the waters below them who were either brave enough, crazy enough or stupid enough to ply the waters outside the normal fishing grounds in search of mother lodes of fish swarming at certain times of the year off the Alaskan coasts. Following their modern day motto of “You have to go out, and you have to come back”, the Coastguard push the very limits of their machines and human strengths, intellect, ingenuity and endurance to carry out rescues in situations beyond the ken of ordinary persons. Spike Walker’s superb writing allows you to follow the lives of wives and families, and hear the stories from all sides of the picture as rescuers fight to maintain positions, altitudes and communications, wives and families wait for any notification of rescues, and the men in the water fight to ward off hypothermia in the most deadly seas on earth. Enjoy the action and love the characters. They are human in all respects.

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Book Review: Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, entrepreneur, and Spy By Allen H. Mesch

Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy by Allen Mesch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Allen Mesch has chosen a virtually unknown, yet quite important ancestor to research and follow through life in this biographical and historical work of excellence which only adds to his already formidable work as an historian.
Who would have though that a man from New Hampshire, graduate of Dartmouth College and apparently destined to become a lifelong lawyer practicing in the state of Maine, would elect in 1849, at the age of thirty-six, to take his wife and three children two thousand miles across the country to settle in The Republic of Texas and open a practice in Clarksville.
From what could have been a simple beginning and lifelong small town legal practice, Ebenezer Allen’s contacts, personality and command of the legal system catapults him into the stratosphere of Texas politics and the struggle for Texas to stay liberated from Mexico and be entered into the United States so that it becomes the seventh slave state to secede from the Union.
The resume of the man is impressive: Attorney General of The Republic of Texas under Presidents Sam Houston and Anson Jones, Secretary of State under Jones, and helps usher in the entry of Texas to full statehood in 1845.
Leaving politics, Allen then forges a new pathway into Texas history in forming the Galveston and Red River Railroad Company and even has the first engine owned by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad named for himself following a return to the political scene of Texas as Attorney General under Governor Peter Bell.
As Texas moves into the Civil War as a Confederate state, Allen becomes a member of the Galveston Commission on Public Safety, is appointed to the Confederate Engineer Bureau where he presents a key military invention of an underwater mine to the military.
With things apparently going well for Allen and his work with the Confederate government, hints arise that he may be selling military information and secrets to the United States government.
Allen’s sudden demise in 1863, gives credence to the high probability of his assassination as a spy.
Readers of detail and highly knowledgeable to Texas History as well as those persons withing to build a detailed knowledge of the communications between the government of Texas and the United States will be able to follow all the fine research within this tale of a man who was instrumental in many of the key governmental decisions made by the presidents and governors of Texas between 1844 and his death in 1863.

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McBee Pioneers on Oregon Trail – 1852

Brief History of the Pioneer McBee’s (MaGBee’s) and (MacBee’s) in North America and on the early Oregon Trail – 1852

By Richard H. McBee Jr.

Basic ref.: Out of the Wilderness by Janice Mercer, Illustrated by Helen Scott, Clinton Press, 1973

Originally from Scotland in the area of Lochbar as a part of the MacBean Clan and later Eastern Invernesshire. The whole  clan migrating somewhere after the end of the “1745” rebellion to America aand parts unknown to escape English persecution of the Scots. Name change appears to have occurred enroute to the America’s.  Arrived through the Port of Philadelphia to the State of Maryland they took up land in Halifax County, Virginia. Originally Quakers by religion, but gave up the faith at the time of the revolutionary war.

  1. William (I) MaGBee (McBee) (b. 17–  – died 1758? Halifax County, Virginia). His will from the Parish of Atrium is in The Halifax County, Virginia, Book “0” p. 58 was attested to by William in 1758 (witness Richard Davis). The will was exhibited in Halifax County Court on March 10, 1759 by his wife Susanna MagBee for probate following his death. Sons James and Mathias co-executors, other children:  Son – Vardry Magbee, Son – Samuel Magbee, Daughter – Elizabeth Magbee (Howard), Daughter – Mary Magee (Austin)
  2. James MagBee (McBee) married and moved to The Carolinas with brother Vardry and his wife prior to the revolutionary war.  James had a number of children, one being Thomas McBee.
  3. Thomas McBee (I) married Rachel Riley and moved to Ohio. They had nine children, Elizabeth, Margaret, James, David, William (II), Levi, Thomas (II), John, and Henry. Thomas McBee passed away in Ohio. In 1835, the boys and their mother, Rachel Riley McBee left Canton, Ohio and went to St. Louis, Missouri by boat. From there they settled 12 miles east of Hardin, Missouri.  The river crossing at that point was called McBee Landing. They planted their crops in spring and then the river flooded with the spring thaw waters from the Rockies and they were driven into the hills, so then in late 1835 they moved to just South of Millville, in Ray County, Missouri. It was during this time from 1835 – 1852 that the McBee’s helped a number of Mormons who had come to Missouri escape from the raiders who were raiding and burning their houses and fields, trying to drive them out with several massacres in 1838-39 in Ray county.
  4. William (II) McBee: Born Nov. 18, 1801 in Frederick County, Maryland, died 11 April 1862, and is buried at Wagner’s Butte, Benton County, Oregon. He married an Elizabeth Milligan on June 12, 1828 in Stark County Ohio. Record are confused on her birth/age:  born March 8, 1813 or (1803) from either Pennsylvania or Ohio she died 27 or 29 January, 1898, in Benton County, Oregon. Her headstone at Wagner’s Butte says Elizabeth – 29 January, 85 years making 1813 more likely. Their children were: Rachel, John W., Thomas, George, Elizabeth, William Henry, Joseph, David, James P., and Nancy McBee
  5. Oregon Trail Journey (1852): A large number of the members of the McBee Clan left Ray County, Missouri on April 1, 1882 to cross the plains to Oregon. According to the experience written by Caroline Beeman (nee’ McBee by Levi, brother of William (II): The caravan was composed of approximately 15 teams of oxen most owed by the McBees. The families included:
  6. Matriarch – Rachel Riley
  7. William (II) McBee- son + wife Elizabeth (Milligan)
  8. Levi McBee, son of Rachel: died of Cholera May 1852 in Ft. Kearney, Nebraska + wife Elizabeth (Ream) died of Cholera May 1852 Ash Hollow, Nebraska near the Platte River. Children: Henry died in Ash Hollow, Nebraska, Survivors: Barbara Ann, Isaiah, Caroline, Mary Pauline, and Rebecca
  9. Thomas (II) McBee- son

John W. McBee(My great Grandfather) – son of Thomas (II).

  • There may have been other families along as this is about the same time the Grubbs clan (of which Josephine Grubbs, age 5 at that time, was a part) went across on the Oregon trail. Josephine Grubbs was apparently from one of the 5 “Civilized” tribes and had apparently attended a Carlisle School (Although the records seem to have been lost, but I wonder about this as her age would probably preclude that unless it was in Oregon at a later date.). Her family also left for Oregon in 1852 and she later married my Great Grandfather,  John W. McBee in Oregon.
  • Remaining behind in Missouri were three McBee brothers: David, James, and Henry.
  • Oregon trail Passage synopsis of descriptions: based on the stories of Isaiah McBee born 9 Feb., 1840 to Levi McBee and Elizabeth Ream McBee in “An Illustrated History of Klckitat, Yakima and Kittitas Counties: with an outline of the Early History of the State of Washington,” Chicago: Inst. Publ., 1904, p. 421; and Story as told by Caroline McBee born 19 Feb., 1842, Married Rufus H. Beeman, Roseburg, OR., 24 Feb., 1856 as described in: “The Descendents of Thomas Beeman of Kent, Conn.” By Gwen B. Bjorkman, 1971.

Caroline and Levi McBee both children of Levi and Elizabeth McBee both traveled with their parents on the McBee Clan wagon train from Ray County, Missouri. Departing between 9 February, and April 1, 1852, the McBee’s traveled the trail having been lured by descriptions of the wealth of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Levi owned two teams, the other McBee families all owned one or two teams of oxen themselves. Levi was elected Captain of the caravan. The family was plagued by illness so that after crossing the Missouri, they reached the Platte and shortly thereafter Levi was struck suddenly with Cholera near Ft. Kearny, Nebraska, where the caravan had stopped for several weeks. He died within 24 hours. After the wagon train resumed its progress, Elizabeth, Levi’s wife, was also stuck with Cholera near Ash Hollow, Nebraska and died. Left behind were her seven orphans, two of whom died further along the route.  For dry camps they had to carry water for the oxen and often walked a number of miles to reach waterholes. Fires were made from sagebrush or buffalo chips on the plains.  The matriarch, Rachel Riley, was buried somewhere south of the Black Hills of what is now South Dakota. The Wagon train came by way of Ft. Boise reaching the Cascades before winter. The orphans decided to stay in The Dalles, while the rest of the McBee wagon train went on to Portland. Choosing to go to Portland by river, they made rafts which broke up in the rapids near what is now Cascade Locks, Oregon. They lost many things. In the spring of 1853, Caroline and the other orphans who had remained in The Dalles, carried their packs 5 miles to the port area only to find that the ferry only went once every two weeks. A Mr. McNall invited the orphans to stay with him and when they went onto Portland, Caroline stayed behind to help McNall’s wife look after their baby. The steamboat Captain, a Mr. Wells had his wife coming to Oregon, and she stayed with the McNalls as well and invited Caroline to go on to Oregon City with her. Caroline accompanied her to Portland and met her brother-in-law Mr. Edward Chambreau( b. 1821, d. 1902) who had married Caroline’s sister, Barbara Ann McBee (b. 14 Sept., 1837, d. 15 Apr. 1927) on 13 December, 1852 in Forest Grove, Oregon.

  •  John W. McBee, My great Grandfather,  (the son of Thomas McBee and Rachel Riley), two versions which I am trying to track down:
  •  According to the “Index and Vol. of Genealogical Material in Oregon Donation Land Claims,” published by the Genealogical Forum of Portland, Oregon, Inc.,  John W. McBee arrived in Oregon in 1852 and states: “John McBee: Vol. 1, #1224, Marion County, 310 Acres, born 1819, Stark County, Ohio: arrived Oregon, 1 October, 1852; Settled Claim 8 February, 1853; m. Sarah Matheny, 13 July, 18454/46 Ray County, Missouri.”
  • According to “Out of the Wilderness” p. 4, Oak Leaf, John W. McBee was married twice, once on 31 October, 1855 in Marion County, Oregon to Almira Elizabeth Mathena born in Indiana and died 1868.
  • Somewhere along the line, apparently John W. McBee’s first wife died and he then remarried Josephine Grubbs. See p. 5 of “Out of the Wilderness,” under “Parents of Henry Burton McBee: John Wesley McBee born 9 February 1831…. Married Josephine Grubbs born May 9, 1847 in Niles, Michigan and died 21 September, 1893. The parents of Josephine Grubbs were: John Grubbs, b. 7 Jan., 1801, Pittsburg, Penn., and Susan Austen, b. Mar. 10, 1814 in Castle Gate, England.
  • Note: there is  a further reference to land owned by John W. McBee in “Out of the Wilderness,” to wit: “ They had a land claim of 170 acres Number OC 3958 and settled his claim 15 September, 1855 (Vol. 2, Genealogical Material in Oregon Donation Land Claims) p. 336 – Vol. 27 Oregon Historical Society Quarterly – McBee Island and McBee Slough, West Bank of Willamette River, South of Corvallis named for J. W. McBee pioneer settler.”
  • Henry Burton McBee and Elmer Frances McBee (My Grandfather) apparently both were sons of John W. McBee and Josephine, Grubbs in this second marriage. Somewhere in my own family papers is a testimony by two of Elmer’s elder brothers that testifies for court records that they had been old enough to remember his birth to verify its date for legal purposes
  • My father, Richard H. McBee, b. May 5, 1916 in Eugene, Oregon, d. Jan. 23, 1995 in Hood River, Oregon was sure that his grandmother, Josephine Grubbs was ½ Native American and had been adopted into the Grubbs family after she had attended a Carlisle School somewhere. No records exist for her and no pictures of her seem to be in the Grubbs family collections that have a name to verify anything and my father’s inquiries met a dead end when he was informed by the government that the records for many of the Carlisle schools were destroyed by fire. So this apparently goes nowhere unless someone in that gene pool has Native American DNA that can be traced back to her, or her mother or father which sounds unlikely.

I hope that this short history goes out to enough McBees to help those who are still true Genealogists to trace some further information which might lead to opening up the connection to the California McBees and the Washington McBees, all of whom with this surname probably came out on this Wagon train.


Orienteering: USA 2021 Nationals – CROC Medalists

This was a great year for getting back to orienteering after the 2020 hiatus caused by the COVID-19 virus. CROC, our Columbia River Orienteering Club came together and was able to send 7 persons to compete in the USA National Competitions.

Unfortunately we were still unable to have the full North American Championship meet to confront our nemesis, Canada, from the North is the woods of central California. But! That said, we had a wonderful reunion or world class cross country and urban orienteering specialists from as far away as Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, and even a couple Canadians who sneaked over the border with their compasses, to chase through the buildings of Sierra College in Rocklin, CA on the sprint, hoping to collect the hidden controls in the fastest times possible for their age and ranking groups. Then from an altitude of 1000 ft we ascended to the 7000 ft. slopes outside of Truckee, CA for the Middle length event which was a chase through the woods at Little Truckee Summit in the gray smokey air blown in from the Dixie Fire, raging 100 miles away in upstate CA. Finally, the third race, the long, at Sagehen Pass, north of Truckee gave us nearly clear skies to run a grueling bunch of races through fast Sugar Pine and Manzanita forest with old logging roads and occasional clearings and boulders to confuse and distract runners. The four day meet ended with a team relay event at the Southern Tahoe High School campus with teams vying for individual and team scores. A huge thanks goes out to all the members of the BAOC (Bay Area Orienteering Club) of the San Francisco area who have spent almost 4 years making high quality maps, dealing with COVID restrictions, Forest Service fire restrictions, the need to plan for the North American meet which has now been postponed for another two years, and a gazillion frustrations as last minute fires and smoke hazards caused postponements and changes of venue. WELL DONE BAOC!!

CROC walked away with 7 medals from the events, which for our small club feels like a really great achievement.

Here’s a picture of our medalists at the Pizza feast held at the Northstar Resort between Tahoe and Truckee.

Left to Right: Richard McBee (Bronze Medals, age 75+ in Sprint, Middle, and Silver Medal in Long)

Pamela Jill McBee (Gold Medals, age 75+ in Sprint, Middle and Long)

Alex Myachin (Bronze Medal, age 50+ in Middle)


Book Review: Beyond the bone, by Reginald Hill

Beyond the Bone by Reginald Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Reginald Hill caught my attention and my interest with just the name of his heroine Zeugma, when, in the first sentence of Chapter number 2 of the book, he uses a zeugma to describe the March day in which she finds a skeleton. The British witticisms throughout the book are also a tribute to the author’s keen sense of humor when writing about the murders in descriptions of finely tuned prose. The story begins with the finding of the skeleton, but soon begins to revolve around a fresh murder and the disappearance of Zeugma’s mentor and guardian, Leo Pasquino. Into the complicated picture come Lakenheath, a real estate broker, the mysterious Egyptian family, the Upas, and a strange man who goes by the single word moniker of Crow. Crow dashes across the moors accompanied by his dog Twinkle and lives in a rebuilt stoneage hovel out on the undeveloped land of the county known as the waste. Readers may find that they get halfway through the first half of the book questioning whether there is actually a complex mystery story here, or whether we are just dealing with a series of unrelated incidents. In the latter half of the book, the plot begins to gel and Zeugma has to fall back on her training from Whitethorn girl’s school in order to stay alive and solve the final mystery. Definitely not what I expected and the book is certainly entertaining and well worth the read.

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American Choice: Vaccintation Methodology

Americans are lucky in having a choice with Vaccination Methodology for COVID-19!

We get to do it one of two ways:

A. By Modern Medicine or B. By COVID


A great time for a chance to think about the different ways we view the world around us!.

A. I’ll take a sore arm and fever for 5 days. or B. I’ll risk being flat on my back for 2-6 weeks+ death.

A. I’ll put my faith in modern medicine. or B. I’ll put my faith in my inherited DNA.

A. I can outwit Natural Selection. or B. I want to test myself against Mother Nature.

A. I think COVID-19 is killing many people or B. I think people are just dying from other causes.

A. I got vaccinated for the common good. or B. Nobody can make me get vaccinated.

Most of the rest of the world doesn’t have these same choices they only get the COVID-19 option.

They are really lucky if they get this and not this

Make the right choice for the world and our Community

This is not the time for us to Be me — me — me centered and selfish!


Book Review: “With These Hands” by Louis L’Amour

With These Hands by Louis L'Amour

With These Hands: Stories
by Louis L’Amour
Richard Jr.‘s review Jun 08, 2021  ·  edit
it was amazing bookshelves: human-interest, short-stories

A refreshing set of short stories from an author whom I had stereotyped as a writer of Westerns. Now I find that his life included work as a seafarer, WW2 veteran, world traveler, boxer and much more. The man draws on his experiences world-wide to create these glimpses of life, adventure, trials and tribulations and war in short stories that will keep you entranced for many and evening. i fond it best to read and absorb one story at a time, rather than binging on the whole book all at once. My favorite in this compendium is “Voyage to Tobalai” a true to life story of a tranp steamer and her cargo braving the East Indies as the Japanese surge through the area and attempt to pull an ambush on American warships. This is a book to read—set down—cogitate—read—set down—cogitate— in order to feel the fullness of L’Amour’s amazing skills and powers as a writer.

Book review! – “The Sentinel” by Lee and Andrew Child in a new tab)

The Sentinel by Lee Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the whole book! A new twist for Jack Reacher! Getting into the Technological Age! Well…. Maybe only a little bit…… It’s a great theme – Ransom Ware – against corporations and towns, a good old Jack is still capable of taking on 4 guys in a rough and tumble and come out on top. That old fashioned MP training must be pretty danged good! This is the kind of stuff that modern Americans need to be fearful of a lot more than we imagined. No reason to buy a gun, just getting that computer into a virus and hacker free status and keeping it there can be a full-time job for a lot of people. They still call me occasionally with the old “Is that Mr. Richard?” “This is Microsoft and I see you have a computer problem that I can help you fix” Hmmm, says I, “I’m out working in the garden and the computer hasn’t been on for hours” – Click! Read it, you’ll enjoy the whole book! Nice to see Lee Child’s younger brother getting into the same line of writing!

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