Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sir James Clark Ross

You probably haven't heard his name before. He was an explorer. He explored the Arctic on four voyages under Admiral Parry; and later led his own expeditions into the Antarctic.
Ross was employed on the magnetic survey of Great Britain. He was also tasked with discovering the magnetic south pole, and discovered/named many features and bays in Antarctica. Ross ice shelf and the Ross Sea are among things he first identified (later named for him).

Ross was a fanatic recorder, recording tidal, astronomical, and meteorological observations. He sailed to The Isle Of The Dead not far from Point Arthur (Tasmania)with the purpose of providing a benchmark. These are excerpts from his journal, made in 1841..

"The fixing of solid and well secured marks for the purpose of showing the mean sea level of the ocean at a given epoch was suggested by Baron von Humboldt..." (Another traveller, and hero of mine)....
"My principal object in visiting Port Arthur was to afford a comparison of our standard barometer with that which had been employed for several years by Mr. Lempriere, (the Deputy Commissary General) and also to establish a permanent mark at the zero point, or general mean sea level as determined by the tidal observations which Mr. Lempriere had conducted with perseverance and exactness for some time; by which means any secular variation in the relative level of the land and sea, which is known to occur on some coasts, MIGHT AT ANY FUTURE PERIOD BE DETECTED, AND ITS AMOUNT DETERMINED."
Ross gave Lempriere laborers and specific instructions to cut this mark in the exact spot which his tidal observations indicated as the mean sea level of the ocean.
July 1st 1841 the mean sea level mark was made. Careful present day observations put mean sea level, over a century and a half later, more than 4 inches below Ross's mark.
Thanks for the effort, Mr. Ross, but you wasted your time. Science ain't based on keen observation anymore. When your ice shelf seasonally recedes, it's due to our industrial greed. If you ask your average Joe, they'll insist the oceans have significantly risen in spite of the benchmark you provided.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Job!!

It's been a bit stressful here at SDFD of late. We're already 22 fire stations short in San Diego to meet NFPA standards, and now they're cutting back more. In the 23 years I've worked in Emergency Services in San Diego, there has always been overtime available.
Now they are putting a stop to overtime.
It's kid of foolish, really---they can cover three budgeted positions with two people. It costs a little in overtime, but saves a lot in eliminating a postion you'd have to pay more retirement/benefits/insurance for. All they see, though, is how much a fireman made---not how much time he was at work or the money he brings in from other agencies doing single resource work.
We never set up our finances to be dependent on the OT, but it would really affect our short and long term plans if the OT completely dried up. (It really won't completely dry up...I still teach downtown, and attend monthly Airops meetings, HazMat drills, Paramedic CE, Etc)
Still, AnnaMarie and I talked about it, prayed about it, developed fall back plans, decided to wait and see how things go.
Today I got a call from Washington D.C.....This position wouldn't really affect my current job, would mean more paid travel, and be a way to serve outside the small San Diego pond. There are still some hoops to jump through

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feast of the Epiphany 2010

A family tradition we, and some of my siblings, uphold is celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany. For us, it marks the end of the Christmas season. (It represents the 12th day of Christmas)

AnnaMarie starts cooking a few days before. The reason she looks extra happy here is, she's in her favorite spot. Nothing to do with the half full Corona on the counter.

Dinner, as usual, was excellent. We've found that if you're inviting lots of people that don't know each other, pack them in close and new friends are made.

The whole point, though, is the Epiphany. We have a set of short readings that explains the significance of the event. THe readings are stuffed into numbered balloons. If you are of reading age, you pop your balloon in turn, find your reading, and read it to everybody.
The Magi were probably Zoroastrians from the East. Wise men from the oldest known monotheistic faith reading the stars to recognize the significance of Christ's birth and the dawn of a new religion. Kind of fitting, then, that we invite families of different faiths to attend. Couldn't find any Zoroastrians though.

With the serious business over, it's time for the white elephant gift exchange/stealing. My favorite gift was Lauren's 'Whack-A-Mole'. A Catholic Priest is visiting our parish, his first trip out of the Philippines. He seemed to have a very good time and fully understood gift-stealing. I wonder if he thinks this is a tradition all over America?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Project update Jan 2010

Finally got a day off work, done being sick, caught up at home, Christmas now the domain of Dicken's first ghost. Before I start hand digging the foundation, there's a site inspection to get past. All the disturbed soil had to get covered with straw, for one thing.

The heavy rains caused a large section of the dug-out upper wall washed out before I could get stone work done, so I had to re-dig that all out. The dirt all got wheelbarrowed down to some low spots that needed filling prior to putting the straw down.

The straw bales started the day as something to be king of; later they were rearranged into a fort. They lost interest by the time I needed to cut them open and start scattering.

Ran out of straw, daylight, energy, and bare dirt all at the same time.

Friday, January 1, 2010

More fun at the George's

The Georges hosted us for our last family outing of the year. We arrived before lunch, and Rob gave Patrick some pointers for cooking meat with fire. Celeste is as gracious a host as you'll ever find. Hayley played video games with Patrick. We all played 'bananagrams', which Rob consistently won after learning the rules. After an excellent and nutritious lunch, some of us returned to the bloody parrot for some sort of 'dungeons and dragons' type game. It was new for my kids....Kept us occupied while Celeste and AnnaMarie got caught up. The other cheap thrill was playing with the wall mirror. Good for some giggles