Ted’s Remarks About Stuff
October thru December, 2018

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Dec. 31, 2018

Total blood moon lunar eclipseI was looking up information for the Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20-21, 2019.  It is being called a “super wolf blood moon” eclipse.

This eclipse will be visible in virtually all of North, Central and South America (see Eclipse Map).  It will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from earth until May 2021.

Rare 'super blood Moon' eclipse to put on
stunning display in January: What to know

I also happened to run across a page with a descriptive slideshow (15 slides) showing where and when the planets in our solar system can be best viewed during 2019.  Sometimes I like to get away from city lights and check out the sky to see such things. 

When, Where and How to See the
Planets in the 2019 Night Sky

Dec. 29, 2018

The CenturyLink problem, that caused widespread internet and phone outages for almost two days this week, seems to have been discovered and resolved.  A notice sent to CenturyLink’s “core customers” stated the following: “Root Cause: A CenturyLink network management card in Denver, CO was propogating invalid frame packets across devices.

I don’t really understand what that means, nor how it could have caused such a huge number of outages across the country.  I just hope nothing like that happens again.

Report: Huge CenturyLink outage caused
by bad networking card in Colorado

I suspect that CenturyLink is reluctant to admit publicly what caused the problem.

CenturyLink outage that hit 911
service spurs FCC investigation

Dec. 27, 2018

Numerous states, mostly in the western U.S., experienced widespread internet and phone outages late last night and today.  The outages continued for many hours and were very inconvenient for tens of thousands of people.  Even numerous 911 calls were unable to get through.

Even for people whose internet service was working properly, online access to numerous websites was not possible during the outage.  One provider being adversely affected was CenturyLink, but other providers had problems as well.

CenturyLink problems  Outage map
15-second slideshow

So far, the cause of the problem has not been identified by CenturyLink or any other provider that also was affected.  Hopefully, the mystery will be solved soon, and this will not be a recurrent problem.

Dec. 26, 2018

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed had its highest point gain ever today, surging 1,086.25 points.  The Dow was up 4.98% to 22,878.45, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 4.96% to 2,467.70.

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,878.45.  Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,467.70.

Still, even with this big jump today, the DJIA is down 7.4% and the S&P 500 is down 8.3% for the year.  Today’s big rally, after significant declines so far in December, may not be an indication of ongoing increases.

Dow surges over 1,000 points,
biggest single-day gain in history

Also today, I went to WalMart and got 75.94 oz. (4.75 lb.) of 50%-off Christmas clearance candy.  The large bag of Hershey’s miniatures is for a good friend; it probably will take him until next Christmas to eat all of it. 

5-second slideshow

Dec. 25, 2018

15-second slideshow

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate this holiday.  I celebrate the birth of Jesus during the week of the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot.  You can see my Sep. 24 entry for more about that.  Also, see History of Christmas.

Regardless of when the virgin birth of Jesus was, He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of those who acknowledge that we are sinners and ask God’s forgiveness for our transgressions.  We understand that Jesus came and took the penalty that we were due.  In case you have an interest, you can see My Beliefs and Faith for more of what I believe.

Dec. 23, 2018

Someone forwarded me the following in an email:

Happy Birthday to everyone everywhere!  We are all 2018 this year, as soon as our actual birthdays take place.  This year, everyone in the world is the same age.  It is a very special year, and it happens only once every 1,000 years.

Your age + your year of birth = 2018.  Try it and see.  This is true for everyone in the world, and it will not happen again until the year 3018.  So...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, world!

Well, the premise that this occurs only every 1,000 years is false.  It occurs EVERY year.  It makes me wonder if the person who originally sent that out is completely ignorant, a practical joker, or a scammer.

For example, consider people born in 1960.  On each of their birthdays that year, and for the rest of the year, their age in years is 0.  So the following equation applies: 0 + 1960 = 1960.  After their birthdays in 1990, this equation applies: 30 + 1960 = 1990.  In 2010, this equation applies: 50 + 1960 = 2010.

So the same simple arithmetic applies to every year of their lives, following their birthdays in those years.  Thus, 2018 is by no means a special “happy birthday to the world” year.  Duh.  But in case your birthday happens to be today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you! 

Dec. 22, 2018

Very early this morning, a partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government was announced.  The House recently had approved a bill providing at least $5 billion for continuing construction of the southern border wall.  However, last night the Senate did not pass the bill.

If there is a compromise, it may not happen until the Senate reconvenes on Dec. 27.  Federal employees probably are the main ones to be affected by the partial shutdown, either by not getting paid or by being furloughed.

Senate adjourns through Christmas with
government partially shut down — live updates

Dec. 20, 2018

President Trump has decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.  Essentially, he has declared victory over the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria.

For me and for many others, that is a surprising and unexpected decision.  It blindsided lawmakers and the Pentagon.  U.S. allies are stunned.  Britain and France warned today that the fight against jihadists in Syria was not finished.

Kurdish fighters, backed U.S. troops, have been tackling Islamic State jihadists for a few years.  Thousands of those Kurds are thought to remain in Syria.

Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said the president’s decision was unwise and puts the Kurds “at risk.”  Graham added, “I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region and throughout the world.”

President Trump Defends Decision
To Withdraw U.S. Forces From Syria

Dec. 19, 2018

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) started off great this morning, increasing 381.70 points up to 24,057.34.  However, after that, it slid down 733.68 points, closing at 23,323.66 points.  The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 1.54% to 2,506.96.

That was a net decrease in the Dow of 1.49%.  It is a decrease of 13.06% from the record DJIA high of 26,828.39, well into correction territory.

The significant decline today began soon after Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, announced that the base interest rate would increase 0.25%, from 2.25% to 2.50%.  This evidently made many investors very nervous, causing a sell-off in the market.

President Trump has criticized the bank for this year’s hikes.  He has called for a slowdown and is blaming the Fed for recent sell-offs on Wall Street.

However, the Central Bank has signaled a slowdown in interest rate hikes for the new year.  It is lowering its forecast to just two hikes in 2019 instead of the previously planned three hikes.

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,323.66.  Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,506.96.
Dec. 17, 2018

Today, stocks sunk to their lowest levels in 14 months.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed down 2.11% to 23,592.98, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 2.08% to 2,545.94.

Among other things, many investors seem to be increasingly worried about a planned interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.  They seem to feel that it could be more than the market and the economy can take.

The Dow is down about 12.06% since its all-time high close of 26,828.39 on Oct. 3.  That is greater than a “correction,” which is 10%.

The Dow has had two-day losses of greater than 900 points.  Both the Dow and the S&P 500 may have their worst December performance since 1931, during the Great Depression.

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,592.98.  Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,545.94.

Dow dives 500 points as
stocks close near 2018 lows

Dec. 16, 2018

Catriona Gray: Miss Universe 2018The Miss Universe 2018 pageant took place in Bangkok, Thailand, tonight.  There were 94 contestants from around the world who participated.

Steve Harvey was the pageant’s host.  The final 3 contestants were Sthefany Gutierrez (Miss Venezuela), Tamaryn Green (South Africa) and Catriona Gray (Miss Philippines).

At the end, the judges chose Miss Venezuela as second runner-up, Miss South Africa as first runner-up and Miss Philippines as Miss Universe.  The winner wore a red dress because at age 13, her mom had a dream that she would become Miss Universe in a red dress.  She and her mom cried when they saw each other after the competition.

During the first question and answer round, Catriona Gray was asked about the legalization of marijuana.  She responded, “I’m for it being used for medical use, but not so for recreational use.  Because I think if people will argue, then what about alcohol and cigarettes?  Everything is good but in moderation.”  I generally agree with that, although I do believe that a lot of people are allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes when they do not really need to do so.

Philippines contestant Catriona Gray
named Miss Universe

For the first time ever, a transgender contestant was included in the Miss Universe competition.  This was Ángela Ponce, the first transgender recipient of the Miss Spain title.  Ponce said that it was more important to be there than to win.

Although Ponce did not win the competention, this reminds me of Rachel McKinnon, the transgender man who won the Women’s World Cycling Championships in Los Angeles in the 35-39 age bracket.  That event took place exactly 2 months ago today, on Oct. 16.

In that competition, the third-place winner, American cyclist Jennifer Wagner, tweeted, “I was the 3rd place rider.  It's definitely NOT fair.”  I have to agree.

Transgender Man Who Says He's a Woman
Wins Women's World Championship

Dec. 15, 2018

I last organized my vitamins and supplements into individual compartments on June 30.  Each day, I have taken the following: a daily multiple; vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E; magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, fish oil, saw palmetto, glucosamine/chondroitin, iron, turmeric curcumin, Probiotic 10 and hyaluronic acid.

168 days of vitamins Individual vitamins

This supply will last for 24 weeks (168 days, which also happens to be the same number of hours in a week).  Keeping them in the refrigerator prevents them from losing their potency.

I began taking my last supply of vitamins on July 1.  I will begin taking my new supply of vitamins tomorrow (Dec. 16).  These will last me until June 1, 2019 (unless there are days that I skip taking them).

Dec. 13, 2018

BitcoinsMultiple bomb threats were emailed to thousands of companies, schools, hospitals, news organizations government agencies and individuals throughout the U.S. today.  Out of precaution, many places were evacuated.

Each robo-email warned that there would be a bomb explosion within the recipient’s building unless a ransom payment was made of $20,000 in Bitcoins.  However, no explosive devices or any other credible evidence has been found that any of the emails were authentic.  The threat is widely considered to be a hoax.

Bitcoin Bomb Threat Emails Spark
Evacuations Nationwide

Dec. 11, 2018

In the Oval Office of the White House today, President Trump and Vice President Pence met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.  The press was allowed to attend the beginning of the meeting.  Several topics were discussed, including security of the southern U.S. border and building a border wall.

There already have been sections of the border that have been fortified or where portions of wall have been built.  As a result, there has been a significant decrease in illegal immigrants crossing over in these locations.

Trump said, “If we don't have border security, we’ll shut down the government.”  There is a deadline of December 21 to decide whether there will be a partial shutdown of the federal government—if Trump does not get the funding votes that he wants from the House and Senate—or if the government will remain running without interruption.  A 16½-minute video of the public portion of the meeting can be seen at the beginning of the following article:

Trump clashes with Pelosi, Schumer on border
security in explosive Oval Office meeting

Nancy Pelosi has said that she and many other Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive.”  Chuck Schumer has said that money for border security should not include the concrete wall Trump has envisioned.

Maybe they, and other Democrats, should watch the following 5-minute video, showing how there were countless progressive Democrats (including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Jerry Brown and others), in past decades, who absolutely spoke in favor of sealing the southern border and stopping the constant influx of illegal immigrants:

Dec. 10, 2018

Today, the Supreme Court rejected appeals by Louisiana and Kansas.  Those states were seeking to end public funding to Planned Parenthood through the Medicaid program.

By doing so, the high court left intact the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling for Louisiana and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling for Kansas.  These rulings prevent the two states from stripping government healthcare funding from local Planned Parenthood affiliates.  The cases from the two states did not challenge the constitutionality of abortion itself, though.

The vote was 6 justices against the appeals and 3 justices for the appeals.  The 3 dissenting votes were Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas.  Those three justices thought that the Supreme Court should have heard the appeals by the states.

Justice Thomas accused the majority of “abdicating” its duty for political reasons.  Interestingly, the newest justice on the high court, conservative Brett Kavanaugh, voted with the majority. 

Perhaps Kavanaugh was a “no” vote because of the fierce opposition from the left during his nomination hearings.  Liberals felt that if he became a Supreme Court justice, he would lean toward overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Supreme Court deals blow to two states’
attempts to cut Planned Parenthood funding

Dec. 7, 2018

Pearl Harbor National Rembrance Day

Today is the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  President Roosevelt referred to it as “a date which will live in infamy,” as indeed it has.

This attack caused the United States to enter World War II.  Had that not happened, Adolf Hitler probably would have won the war, and the world would have been a completely different place.

The youngest survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor are now in their 90s.  Today, about 20 of them joined dignitaries and others in commemorating the attack at the Pacific National Monument in Hawaii.  The attack occured 77 years ago today.

Pearl Harbor ceremonies will go on --
without 5 remaining survivors of USS Arizona

William Barr
William Barr
Heather Nauert
Heather Nauert
In other news, President Trump has announced that he will nominate William Barr as the next U.S. Attorney General.  He previously served as the 77th U.S. Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush.

If confirmed, Barr will replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned exactly one month ago on Nov. 7.  Sessions was replaced, temporarily, by Matthew Whitaker.

Trump also will nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.  If confirmed, Nauert will replace Nikki Haley, who will be departing at the end of the year.

Trump taps William Barr for attorney general,
Heather Nauert for UN ambassador

Dec. 5, 2018

The funeral of George H. W. Bush, the 41st U.S. President, took place today at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  He passed away on Nov. 30.  His son, George W. Bush, delivered a eulogy for his father.

President Donald Trump and his wife, along with former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives, attended.  Trump has declared today as a National Day of Mourning for President Bush.

Former President George H.W. Bush Honored
As 'Great And Noble Man' In State Funeral

The funeral service, lasting under 3 hours, can be viewed below:

Bush’s body has been flown to Texas.  He will be laid to rest tomorrow, Dec. 6, in College Station, TX, at the Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  He will lie alongside his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3.

Dec. 4, 2018

Dutch citizen Emile RatelbandI’ve been hearing for almost a month about a Dutch guy, Emile Ratelband.  He petitioned the Dutch government to allow him to be able to change his age, legally, from his biological age, 69, to the age of 49, which he feels like and wants to be.

This change would have allowed him to reduce his age by 20 years on all of his legal documents in the Netherlands.  Ratelband also said that, among other things, this age change would get him more responses on social media.  He said, “When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer.  When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”

The Dutch court has refused his request.  “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly,” the court said in a statement to the press.  “But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships.  This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications. ... Rights and obligations are also attached to age … for example, the right to vote, the right to marry, the opportunity to drink alcohol and to drive a car.”

I agree.  I refer to someone like this a “COTU” or “Center of the Universe.”  The majority of COTUs are totally self-centered, feel that they are above the law and seem to see themselves as “gods.”  Interestingly, the following article says that Ratelband referred to himself as a “young god.”  (The article has only one typo in the first paragraph, saying that he wanted to change his age to “45” when it should be 49.)

Man Who Claimed He Was “Trans-Age” And Demanded The
Government To Change His Age Has His Petition Rejected

Dec. 3, 2018

Lighting of Hanukkah candlesThis the first full day of Hanukkah, which began last night, Dec. 2, after sunset.  There are Hanukkah Blessings to say for eight nights as menorah candles are lit.

15-second slideshow

The first day of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is the 25th day of the Hebraic month of Kislev.  Most likely, this is when Jesus, the Light of the world, was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Nine months later He was born at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles = Sukkot, which is when God came to “tabernacle” with us in human form.

Since life begins at conception, then it would seem that Jesus was the Light who entered the world (John 3:19) on the Festival of Lights.  Speaking of the Messiah and Savior Jesus to come, God said this:

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”  This is what the LORD says—the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:6,7)

Jesus, who was Jewish, observed Hanukkah = the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22,23).  I feel that Jesus’ millennial Temple probably will be dedicated during Hanukkah after He returns.

Dec. 1, 2018

41 President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush: 1924-2018
Former President George H. W. Bush passed away late last night, Nov. 30, at the age of 94, in Houston, TX.  He was the longest-lived president in American history.

Bush was the 41st President (1989-1993), as well as the 43rd Vice President to President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).  He also had been Director of the CIA (1976-1977).

Bush’s wife Barbara passed away on Apr. 17 of this year.  They had been married for 73 years (1945-2018), which was the longest marriage of a “first couple” in U.S. history.

George H. W. Bush spoke his final words in a phone call with his son, former President George W. Bush.  In their conversation on speakerphone, George junior told George senior that he had been a “wonderful father.”  George senior’s reply—and final words—were, “I love you, too.”

Bush will lie in state at the US Capitol before a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  A second memorial service will follow at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

He will be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.  He will lie alongside his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.

George H.W. Bush, 41st president
of the United States, dead at 94

Nov. 30, 2018

A major 7.0 earthquake struck this morning just 7 miles north of Anchorage, AL, the state’s largest city with about 300,000 people.  It took place at about 8:30 a.m. local time, and the shaking lasted for up to a minute.

Numerous aftershocks have occurred, including a 5.7 quake, centered in Anchorage, about 5 minutes after the main shock.  Some reports have rated these tremors as 7.2 and 5.8, respectively.  Many more aftershocks are expected to occur for months.

A tsunami warning was issued but later was canceled.  There was extensive damage to roads and buildings, as well power outages, in Anchorage and in smaller surrounding towns.

Back-to-back earthquakes shatter
roads and windows in Alaska

After a major earthquake on the Ring of Fire, it is not uncommon for a swarm of other major quakes to occur on the ring over the next few weeks, such as the big swarm from July 28 to September 10 this year.  Hopefully, this will not be the case now.

Nov. 27, 2018

After being in Marin County for exactly a month, I flew back down south today.  It was cloudy all the way.  A nation-wide weather map showed clouds throughout all of California.

When I fly, I always sit by a window because I like to take photos of things on the ground.  Since I couldn’t see the ground on this trip, I took pics of the clouds and sky instead.

15-second slideshow

Nov. 26, 2018

We had smoky air in No. CA from Nov. 8 to Nov. 21, when rain finally began washing away the smoke.  It sure is nice to have clear air and to be able to see bright blue skies again.  Sometimes there are a few clouds, but there is not even a trace of smoke.  More rain is supposed to be coming soon.

My friend has a hummingbird feeder above his back deck.  One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is a “king” hummingbird that often sits on top of the feeder.  He immediately chases away other hummingbirds that try to come get a drink.

The “king” is more likely to be sitting there when the air is clear.  When the air was smoky, I didn’t see him too much, and more of the other birds were able to come around and drink.  Maybe he has asthma or something.

Now that the air is clear, he is back sitting on his throne much of the time.  Yesterday, he even buzzed around my head when I walked past the feeder.  Weird...I didn’t realize that I looked like a hummingbird.    One of my favorite songs from decades ago is “Hummingbird” by Seals and Crofts.

15-second slideshow

Nov. 25, 2018

California border crossings Illegal migrants clash with law enforcement near the US-Mexico border in Tijuana.
This afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) closed the U.S./Mexico border for about four hours at San Ysidro, CA, south of San Diego.  This was after about 500 migrants overwhelmed police blockades and rushed toward the border.

The CBP said the migrants threw projectiles that struck several agents.  Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents’ safety.

Tijuana’s mayor has called on the Mexican government and the international community for help.  Mexico’s Interior Ministry has said that those identified as having tried to illegally cross from Mexico into the United States will be processed for deportation to their home countries.

Nov. 23, 2018

This is “Black Friday” when there are many great deals on shopping.  However, Barry and another friend and I had no interest in shopping, so we went wine tasting at Pezzi King winery.  We last were there on Sep. 6.

As usual, every wine sample was very tasty.  Barry bought two cases of 12 bottles each.  Because he is a “Royals Club” member, he got a 35% discount on all of it.


30-second slideshow

Nov. 22, 2018

This is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  Our first president, George Washington, issued a General Thanksgiving Proclamation.  Its focus is on the Almighty God, to whom we all should be thankful for both good and happy times, as well as bad and sad times.

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In his instructions to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul wrote the following:

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24)

On this special day, the prominent phrase that Paul wrote is, “give thanks in all circumstances.”  For many who are going through difficult and trying circumstances, this is not easy to do.  Spiritual maturity enables us to understand that we should give thanks even for the thorny and challenging things in life.

It is hard for us to understand why we should be thankful for the terrible things that happen to us, and to others close to us, along this journey of life.  We must realize, though, that we cannot understand the infinite Mind of God, nor can we comprehend His plans and purposes for our lives.  It is in obedience and in faith that we thank God for all things.

Today, let us remember that God is in charge and in control of all situations.  He allows us to go through hard times to strengthen us and to cause us to depend on Him—rather than on ourselves or other people—even more.  It is one of the greatest lessons we can learn before Jesus returns to rule and reign, when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Nov. 21, 2018

Here are recent statistics for the destructive Camp Fire in No. CA and Woolsey Fire in So. CA:

Camp Fire  Woolsey Fire
  • Location: Butte County
  • 153,336 acres burned
  • 80 percent contained
  • 81 fatalities confirmed,
    870 unaccounted for
  • 18,421 structures destroyed
    (13,778 residences, 514 commercial
    and 4,129 other buildings)
  • Location: Los Angeles County
    and Ventura County
  • 96,949 acres burned
  • 96 percent contained
  • 3 fatalities confirmed
  • 1,500 structures destroyed,
    341 damaged

It is raining now in No. CA and is the first big rain storm of the season.  I heard the first rain drops here in Marin County at about 2:30 a.m. (I am a very light sleeper).

Heavy rain in No. CA during the next few days could help crews battling the devastating Camp Fire.  However, it also could complicate recovery efforts by bringing big mudslides, since there is very little vegetation in scorched areas to soak up the rain.  Here is a rain forecast from yesterday:

Nov. 19, 2018

My friend Barry will be returning this evening after scuba diving in the Philippines for 2½ weeks.  Another friend and I will be picking him up at the San Francisco airport.

I harvested some tomatoes and basil from his vegetable garden yesterday, in case he might want to make some pasta sauce after he gets back.  Later, I went back and added a few green bell peppers and jalapeño peppers to the veggie batch.

Before he left, he told me that the garden would be producing vegetables well into November.  He sure was right about that! 

5-second slideshow

Nov. 17, 2018

Huge wildfires in Northern California have been continuing since Nov. 8.  Sadly and regrettably, the Camp Fire has caused the greatest amount of destruction and loss of life of any fire in the state’s history.  Although the air quality in the region varies from day to day, it was particularly bad in the Bay Area yesterday.

According to AirVisual yesterday afternoon, San Francisco had worse air quality than any of the most polluted cities in the world.  It was the worst on record for the city.  The Air Quality Index (AQI) was a whopping 357.  Even when the air is foggy, which it often is, it never is as gray and murky as it has been recently.

San Francisco has worst air quality in
the world due to smoke from wildfires

Below are two photos of San Francisco.  The clear one was taken before the fires began, and the smoky one was taken a few days after the fires started.

San Francisco, clear and smoky

Where I am in Marin County right now, the smoke is at least as bad as it is in San Francisco.  It has been this way for 11 days, and I am really tired of it.  I am thankful to God that the fires have not made it here, but I feel sad for the immense amount of loss of life and devastation caused by the fires.


25-second slideshow

President Trump came to California today to meet with Governor Brown and Governor-elect Newsom.  They visited fire sites in both No. CA and in So. CA.

Nov. 16, 2018

SI unitsThere is a set of seven SI base units.  These are the basic units of measure from which all other SI units can be derived.  The basic units and their physical quantities are:

  • the metre (or meter) for the measurement of length,
  • the kilogram for the measurement of mass,
  • the second for the measurement of time,
  • the ampere for the measurement of electric current,
  • the kelvin for the measurement of temperature,
  • the candela for the measurement of luminous intensity, and
  • the mole for the measurement of the amount of substance.

Today, the General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting in Versailles, France, had an interesting vote.  There was a unanimous vote for the Redefinition of SI base units (SI = International System of Units).

After reading most of the latter page—including the Redefinition section and the Impact on base unit definitions section—I am somewhat confused as to why the redefinitions of these units really needed to be made.  It seems that, over time, this potentially could cause complications in the measurement systems of all the nations that use this system.

In any case, some of the base units are included on my Measurements & Conversions page.  So I have added a “note” near the top of that page, notifying visitors of today’s Redefinition of SI base units.

Nov. 15, 2018

Several thousand migrants from Central American countries have been traveling for weeks through Mexico, headed for the U.S.  It seems that most of them are coming from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.  Many are hitching rides on trucks and buses.

In recent days, the first wave of several hundred reached Tijuana, MX.  The shelter system there to house migrants has reached its capacity, but more continue to come.

A fight broke out yesterday between residents of Tijuana and Honduran migrants.  The Mexican residents were yelling to the Hondurans, “Go home!  We don’t want you here!”

Also yesterday, over a dozen migrants were arrested near San Diego for attempting to cross the U.S. border illegally.  This probably will be followed by the illegal entry of thousands more migrants.

About a dozen members of migrant caravan arrested
for trying to illegally cross US border, source says

Nov. 14, 2018

Members of the new 116th Congress voted today for members to fill various leadership positions.  The new Speaker of the House still has not been selected but must be named by Jan. 3, 2019.  Most feel that this position will be filled by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was the Speaker from 2007 to 2011.

Senate  House
Majority Leader: Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Majority Whip: John Thune (R-SD)
Minority Leader: Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Minority Whip: Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  Majority Leader (Speaker): ???
Majority Whip: Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Minority Leader: Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Minority Whip: Steve Scalise (R-LA)

Nov. 13, 2018

The huge fires still raging in No. and So. California, which began last week, have been extremely destructive and deadly.  Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has reported that one of its transmission lines suffered an outage about 14 minutes before the Camp Fire in No. CA started.

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has reported that a substation experienced a problem near the location where the Woolsey Fire started.  Stock prices of both electric companies have fallen substantially.  Investigations are ongoing.

Investors flee as PG&E faces
scrutiny over cause of Camp Fire

Governor Jerry Brown continues to blame the cause of these wildfires on “climate change,” as he has done for CA wildfires in the past.  Yet, experts say that overcrowded forests, as well as a great abundance of dead wood and brush, are the primary reasons why there continue to be so many wildfires.

In 2016, there was a vote on Senate Bill 1463 in the CA Legislature.  This bill would have given local governments more say in fire-prevention efforts, through the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), by adopting maps of fire hazard areas around utility lines.

There was absolutely no opposition to the bill, which was passed unanimously by the state Legislature.  The vote in the Assembly was 75-0, and the vote in the Senate was 39-0.

However, when the bill reached the desk of Governor Brown, he vetoed it.  He claimed that the PUC and CalFire already were doing what the bill would have provided.

CA Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoed Bipartisan
Wildfire Management Bill in 2016

Nov. 12, 2018

Whenever I’m here in Marin County, I like to listen to the KSFO Morning Show on the radio most mornings.  It can be heard online at KSFO Radio in San Francisco, airing from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.  There is no need to click on anything on that page; the sound should begin soon after the page loads.

The hosts of the Morning Show are Brian Sussman and Katie Green.  I enjoy their humor and conservative views.

Today, which continues the observation of Veterans Day, they took some calls from veterans and friends/relatives of veterans.  Those discussions were informative, and many of them were very moving.

Brian and Katie provided updates on the huge wildfires continuing to burn in No. and So. CA.  For one thing, the so-called Camp Fire in Butte County—which burned to the ground virtually all of the city of Paradise—has been classified as the most destructive wildfire in California history.

Also, having caused 29 fatalities so far, it ranks with the 1933 Griffith Park Fire as being the deadliest fires in state history.  However, the Camp Fire fatalities probably will exceed 29, since there are 228 people unaccounted for.  If so, it will become the deadliest blaze ever in the state.

CA Governor Jerry Brown—who will be succeeded by Governor-elect Gavin Newsom on Jan. 7, 2019—continues to blame human-caused “climate change” as the primary reason for the wildfires in the state.  In reality, the main problem is the poor forest management, and Brown and Newsom do not want to take the blame for that.

Devastation as deadly California
blaze tallies grim stats

Where I am located right now, I’ve almost always been able to see distinct details beyond the Petaluma River.  For the past several days, though, this has not been the case because it has been so smoky.  Furthermore, the smell of smoke is so strong that I need to wear a mask when I take Lulu dog for her walks.


25-second slideshow

Nov. 11, 2018

Today is the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day.  World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Veterans Day is an official public holiday in the U.S.  Because today is Sunday, then the holiday also will be observed tomorrow, Nov. 12.

15-second slideshow

To all the vets out there:  Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your faithfulness.  Many of you have paid an extremely high price for my freedom, and I appreciate that.

If you are an American, remember Veterans Day.  Fly your flag if you have one, today and/or tomorrow, and thank a veteran.

Nov. 9, 2018

Along with wildfires in No. CA, there also are wildfires in So. CA.  The Woolsey fire, fueled by high winds, is devastating portions of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

One of my favorite cities, for decades, has been Malibu.  I had friends there in the 1980s and 1990s, and and I drove up from Orange County to that beautiful coastal city fairly often.  Today, there was a mandatory evacuation of the whole city, as well as of nearby Calabasas and Agoura Hills.

Hollywood Takes Cover as
Woolsey Fire Burns In Malibu

Numerous Hollywood celebrities have had to evacuate their multi-million dollar homes, and many of the homes have burned.  Several of them are listed in this article:

Kim Kardashian, Alyssa Milano and more
celebs forced to evacuate due to Woolsey Fire

California really needs some rain.  The rainy season typically is during the winter months, but it can begin in November.  I wish it would hurry up. 

Nov. 8, 2018

I’ve been here here in Marin County for almost two weeks, and the weather has been nice.  Also, the air has been clear—until today.

Early this afternoon, I noticed the smell of smoke in my friend’s house with many of the windows open.  When I went outside, I could smell the smoke strongly, so I shut all the windows.

Looking toward the Petaluma River, I barely could see anything beyond the river, due to all the smoke.  Below, the first 3 photos were taken on Oct. 28 (the day after I arrived here), and the last 3 photos were taken this afternoon.

15-second slideshow

On TV and online, I discovered that there are wildfires in a couple of nearby counties, and the wind is blowing the smoke this way.  Then I found a map showing several shaded areas in No. CA that are under fire weather warnings and watches.

Much of Marin County, just north of San Francisco, is in a shaded area.  It is very dry here, so that makes me kind of nervous.  I hope nobody around here drops a lighted match or cigarette on the ground.

Fire Weather Warnings/Watches in No. CA

Nov. 7, 2018

There are too many results from yesterday’s midterm elections, across all 50 states, to list here.  Also, although most of the results are final, many election outcomes are still pending.

Two things are certain.  Republicans have gained at least 2 seats in the U.S. Senate and have retained control of the Senate.  However, Democrats have gained at about 40 seats in the House of Representatives, which is more than enough to put the House under Democratic control.

It is assumed, by most, that Nancy Pelosi will become the next Speaker of the House.  If so, she will replace Speaker Paul Ryan, who will resign from Congress on Jan. 3, 2019.

Here in California, the issue I have focused on the most is Proposition 6.  Regrettably, that important proposition on the state ballot was defeated yesterday.  This means that the increases in fuel taxes and vehicle fees, enacted in 2017, will remain and will continue to increase each year.  The election results of this and other propositions can be found here:

Election 2018: Which California propositions
passed, and which didn’t make the cut?

Furthermore, California’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, has won the state’s gubernatorial race.  There seems to be a general concensus that he will govern even further to the left than Jerry Brown.

In other news, the U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, resigned today, Nov. 7.  Reports say that this happened after President Trump asked him to do so.

Trump has named Matthew Whitaker, a federal prosecutor and Chief of Staff at the Justice Department, as the acting Attorney General.  There are rumors that the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, also will be leaving soon.  I’m not so sure about that; time will tell.

Jeff Sessions Forced Out As Attorney General
After Constant Criticism From Trump

Nov. 6, 2018

15-second slideshow

Democrats retake control of House, Republicans expand
Senate majority as midterms leave power split in Washington

House Projection: Dems Gain Control

Nov. 5, 2018

On tomorrow’s ballot in California is Proposition 6.  A main supporter is John Cox, the Republican candidate for governor of the state.

An overall “yes” vote on Proposition 6 would do two simple things:

  • repeal fuel tax increases and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017, including the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA), and
  • require voter approval (via ballot propositions) for the California State Legislature to impose, increase or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees in the future.

However, many supporters of Proposition 6 have pointed out that the following phrase is in the first portion of the title of the proposition on the state ballot: “ELIMINATES CERTAIN ROAD REPAIR AND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING.”  They have pointed out that this was done on purpose to deceive voters into voting “no” on the measure.

Look past the deceptive labeling on Proposition 6

Supporters of the proposition also have pointed out that CA Attorney General Xavier Bacerra was instrumental in having this description of Proposition 6 placed on the ballot.  They also have indicated their desire to recall Becerra over what they consider to be a misleading ballot title.  If Proposition 6 is declined by voters, I expect to see a “recall Bacerra” movement to ensue.

Prop 6 Supporters Threaten Recall of
Attorney General Over Ballot Title

Nov. 4, 2018

Gasoline pricesGasoline prices in California are ridiculous.  Yesterday, I saw two gas stations where regular (the least expensive) gas was $3.99 per gallon.  In some places, it is higher than that.

This mainly is due to the passage of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) by the CA State Legislature on Apr. 28, 2017.  It raised gas taxes and vehicle license fees in hopes of generating over $5.4 billion each year for road and bridge repairs in the state.

In past years, the state government has spent a great deal of money, which was allocated for transporation infrastructure, on other projects.  There is little doubt, in the minds of many Californians, that the same will happen to the added gas taxes and license fees.

The gasoline tax went into effect a little over a year ago on Nov. 1, 2017.  The increased vehicle registration fees began on Jan. 1, 2018.  State Senator Josh Newman, from the 29th Senate District, was the deciding vote in passing SB 1.

In Fullerton on May 11, 2017, I attended an event to launch a recall campaign against Senator Newman and also to have the gas and car taxes repealed.  Indeed, five months ago on June 5, CA voters removed Newman from his Orange County-based Senate seat.

Josh Newman is Recalled, Ending
Democrats’ Supermajority in State Senate

Next, on Nov. 6, a vote will be taken on Proposition 6.  I encourage a “yes” vote by Californians, which would repeal the gas and car tax hikes created by Senate Bill 1.

California Proposition 6, Voter Approval for Future Gas
and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative (2018)

Also, I’m hoping and praying that, on Nov. 6, people nationwide will vote for candidates who revere the U.S. Constitution, who greatly value human life (including in the womb) and who are living in the Light of our Lord and God in their lives.  I want to see this country growing closer to God rather than continuing to drift further away from Him, as the latter will have calamitous and disastrous ramifications.

Nov. 3, 2018

Most of the United States will “fall back” to Standard Time early tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 2:00 a.m.  I like the following clock because it is accurate to the second, plus it can be adjusted to any time zone: http://time.gov/HTML5.  Except for Hawaii and Arizona, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed tonight.

Some people prefer Standard Time because they typically get up early and like it when the sun rises an hour earlier.  Personally, I prefer Daylight Saving Time because I like the extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day.  I wish Daylight Saving Time could continue year-round.

At Olive Tree Ministries today, Jan Markell, Michele Bachmann and Phil Haney talked about how the U.S. is experiencing a great deal of anarchy, rebellion and lawlessness.  It is leading to an increasing amount of violence in the streets, and there probably are a great many things worse to come.

This nation seems to be distancing itself more and more from God and His laws.  All of this seems to be a foreshadowing of the end-time lawlessness and defiance predicted in the Bible.

Today’s audio program, lasting 57 minutes, can be heard here:

Defiance: The Consequences of Government as God: Audio

Nov. 2, 2018

A friend in So. CA asked me if I felt any of the swarm of small earthquakes in No. CA early this morning.  I did not.

The quakes took place near Monterey Bay, but none of them was very large. Here are the magnitudes and times:

 4:58 a.m.
5:01 a.m.
5:10 a.m.
5:22 a.m.
 7:15 a.m.
7:27 a.m.
8:19 a.m.

Small earthquakes in the Monterey Bay area

I heard on the radio that small amounts of shaking, but no damage, were reported in San Jose and in Santa Cruz.  I don’t think that any shaking was felt in San Francisco, and I am north of that in Novato right now.

Small quakes, especially in a swarm, can be foreshocks of large quakes, though.  These quakes today were not too far from the epicenter of the huge 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a whopping magnitude 6.9.  It was felt throughout the Bay Area and caused a tremendous amount of damage.  So I hope nothing like that happens while I’m here.

Nov. 1, 2018

I’ll be taking my friend Barry to the San Francisco airport tonight.  He’s going to the Philippines to scuba dive for about 2½ weeks.

He needed to go to the bank to get some cash for his trip, and he also needed to stop by the dive center to pick up something to take on his trip.  He knew that I like to get 50%-off Halloween candy, so he also offered to take me to Rite Aid for that.

On the way, we made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s.  For one thing, I like their free food samples.  I also needed a couple of bananas (which they sell for only 19¢ each), and he wanted to try a bag of Ghost Pepper potato chips.

We both like very hot/spicy food, and the ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world.  Although the chips were very tasty, they were only a little bit spicy.  I told him there probably was only about 1 molecule of ghost pepper on each chip; he laughed and agreed.

At Rite Aid, there was a large section of half-priced Halloween candy.  I just wanted one bag of dark chocolate candy but could not find any.  Since I like chocolate and peanut butter, I got a 10.2-oz. bag of Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins for $2.35.

After I had paid for it, crazy Barry put the bag on a plate held by a Halloween witch.  He said that I needed to tell her “trick or treat” if I wanted my candy back.  I just grabbed the bag and ran before she could cast a spell on me.  Thank goodness she did not have a broom and could not chase me.

At the dive shop, there was a bowl of Halloween candy on the counter for customers.  I took a small package, and a couple of employees encouraged me to take more, saying they did not want to be tempted to eat more of it.  So I took three more little packages.  Half-priced candy is great, but 100%-off candy is even better.

Back at Barry’s, he harvested a nice selection of vegetables for me from his garden.  I probably will eat all of it before he gets back from his trip.  I never get tired of fresh veggies. 


30-second slideshow

Oct. 31, 2018

Happy Halloween for those who are into it.  I’m not; it’s just another ordinary day to me.

My friend wanted to take his dog Lulu in the car, which she loves, and for a walk in the Rush Creek Open Space Preserve here in Marin County.  He said they hadn’t gone there for at least a month.  I hadn’t been there with them since Mar. 26, 2016.

We got there just as the sun was about to set, so a lot of the landscape wasn’t well-illuminated.  It was a nice walk, although my camera doesn’t take great photos if the light isn’t very bright.

Lulu is about 16 and doesn’t walk nearly as far as she used to.  So we didn’t walk the entire trail.




50-second slideshow

Oct. 29, 2018

A couple of days ago, I flew up to No. CA.  I was here for 5½ weeks in August and September.  My friend Barry flew me up here back then to watch his house and his dog, Lulu, while he was scuba diving in Indonesia.  Again, he has flown me here for a month while he goes diving in the Philippines.

After eating breakfast early Saturday morning, I did not eat again until after I got here that night.  When we got to Barry’s house, I was happy to see that he had prepared an extremely tasty dinner.  He should be a chef in a world-class restaurant.

Also, in his kitchen, I saw lots of vegetables from his garden.  One of the things I love about California is the long growing season.  He said that the garden should continue producing fresh vegetables well into November...great!

Last time I was here, it was smoky and hazy most of the time, due to wildfires in No. CA.  Now I am glad to see that all the smoke and haze are gone.

I also was excited to see a deer in the front yard yesterday morning.  He stood there for awhile, watching me wave at him.  I wish he would have let me get close enough to pet him. 


25-second slideshow

Oct. 28, 2018

The Boston Red Sox are the World Series champions after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight in game 5.  Congratulations, Red Sox!  The game lasted 9 innings.

The final score was Red Sox 5, Dodgers 1.  Here are the scores for the final game tonight and the runs, hits and errors for all of the innings:

Red Sox 5, Dodgers 1 in the final game of the 2018 World Series

In the series, the Red Sox won 4 games and the Dodgers won 1 game.  Here are a few stats for the 5 games:

Tuesday, Oct. 23
Game 1 — Los Angeles at Boston
9 innings
8    4

Wednesday, Oct. 24
Game 2 — Los Angeles at Boston
9 innings
4    2

Friday, Oct. 26
Game 3 — Boston at Los Angeles
18 innings
3    2


Saturday, Oct. 27
Game 4 — Boston at Los Angeles
9 innings
9    6

Sunday, Oct. 28
Game 5 — Boston at Los Angeles
9 innings
5    1

Oct. 27, 2018

Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PAA very evil, appalling and horrific mass shooting occurred this morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  The man believed to be responsible for the massacre is Robert Bowers, 46.

According to 911 dispatchers, the suspect opened fire shortly after entering the synagogue and later fired at first responders.  In the shooting, 11 people were killed and 6 were wounded (including 4 officers) by the suspect.  Bowers reportedly had multiple firearms, including a high-powered rifle.

The Department of Justice announced that Bowers has been charged with 29 counts, including using a firearm to commit murder and obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs.  He was taken into custody after reportedly opening fire on the Jewish congregation during Shabbat (Sabbath) services.

Authorities say the full motive of the shooting is not known.  The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.  According to the leader of the Anti-Defamation League, it was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history

The eleven deceased victims of the Tree of Life shooting were identified as the following:

Rose Mallinger, 97
Melvin Wax, 88
Sylvan Simon, 87
Bernice Simon, 84
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Daniel Stein, 71
    Irving Younger, 69
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Richard Gottfried, 65
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
   Pittsburgh synagogue massacre
leaves 11 dead, 6 wounded

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed that he was “heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue today.”  He also said that “the entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead.”  We all should feel the same way.

Oct. 26, 2018

The bomb scare suspect has been arrested.  He evidently had mailed several potentially dangerous packages to Democratic leaders and celebrities for three days, including today.

The suspect is Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida.  A van owned by Sayoc, in which he had been living for about six years, was discovered and taken by law enforcement after he was arrested.

Fortunately, no one was harmed by his homemade explosives.  If found guilty of these crimes, Sayoc could be sentenced to at least 56 years in prison.

Bomb Scare Suspect Arrested

Oct. 24, 2018

Explosive deviceSeveral suspicious packages addressed to notable Democratic progressives were intercepted by the Secret Service today.  The packages had distinct similarities.  Fortunately, none of the packages exploded nor reached those to whom they were addressed.

Packages were addressed to the homes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to John Brennan at the New York City Time Warner Center (where CNN is located and was evacuated), to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz at her Florida office, and to Congresswoman Maxine Waters in Washington, DC, among others.

All of this follows the discovery of a pipe bomb in the mailbox of George Soros near his suburban New York City home two days ago.  That package was taken by a federal bomb squad to another location and detonated.

President Trump has called these acts of terrorism despicable and has said that “a major federal investigation is now underway.”  Vice President Pence has condemned the attempted attacks and thanked the Secret Service for their quick response.  There are ongoing investigations attempting to discover the origin or origins of the dangerous packages.

Explosive devices mailed to Obama, Hillary
Clinton, others prompt security scare

$1.6 billion estimated Mega Millions jackpotIn other news, last night there was one winner of the gigantic $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot.  It was the largest lottery jackpot ever won by one person, although it was the second largest actual jackpot ever (topped only by the $1.596 billion Powerball jackpot on Jan. 13, 2016).

The five regular numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70.  The Mega ball number was 5.  The Megaplier multiple was 3x, on winnings less than the jackpot, for those who paid the extra $1 (in states where it is allowed).

The ticket was purchased in South Carolina, which is one of the few states where a winner can remain anonymous.  Other states where this is true are Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.

Mega Millions $1.6B winner in South
Carolina can claim prize anonymously

Oct. 23, 2018

$1.6 billion estimated Mega Millions jackpotThere was no winner of the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot on Oct. 19.  Tonight, the jackpot is expected to reach $1.6 billion.  If so, it will be the largest in history.

Prior to this, the largest lottery jackpot in history was the Powerball jackpot on Jan. 13, 2016.  That jackpot was $1.596 billion.

The drawing will be at 8:00 p.m. PDT = 11:00 p.m. EDT.  However, it’s a good idea to get your tickets early because the lines of people can get long as the deadline approaches, especially for such a whopping big jackpot.

If you have not played before, see the How to Play page.  In states that offer the “Megaplier” option, I recommend doing that for an extra $1 (above the regular $2 ticket price) in states that permit it.

By the way, I do not recommend any type of gambling, including the lottery, at least on a regular basis.  It is a waste of money and, in the long run, is bound to be a losing endeavor.

There is a very small chance of winning the jackpot, but anything is possible.  The calculations of the probability are pretty interesting:

No one has won the Mega Millions jackpot,
and it's ballooned to $1.6 billion — but if
you do the math, that's not surprising at all

Oct. 21, 2018

On Oct. 15, President Trump had a phone conversation with Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.  The topic of discussion was Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2.

Trump reported that bin Salman denied that he had any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.  However, there are many who doubt that this is true.

Today, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir had an exclusive interview with Bret Baier at Fox News.  Al-Jubeir said that 18 individuals have been detained in Saudi Arabia to be questioned about their role in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.  An 11-minute video can be viewed at the beginning of the following article:

Bret Baier grills Saudi foreign minister over
death of US-based columnist in consulate

Oct. 20, 2018

Pertaining to weather forecasting for the U.S., the terms “El Niño” and “La Niña” are somewhat confusing to me.  It is said that El Niño events are associated with a warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific; whereas, La Niña events are the reverse, with a sustained cooling of these same areas.

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that, most likely, an El Niño weather pattern will be forming within the next month and extending through early Spring of 2019.  If so, then this probably has ramifications for certain types of weather in different parts of the U.S.  Time will tell if their predictions are true.

El Niño Looks 'Imminent'—
Here's What That Means For You

Oct. 19, 2018

$1 billion estimated Mega Millions jackpotIn tonight’s Mega Millions lottery jackpot, the jackpot will be at least $1 billion.  That is a record high for a Mega Millions jackpot.

This $1 billion jackpot is the second-highest lottery jackpot in history.  The highest ever was a Powerball jackpot, in January 2016, for $1.586 billion.

I hardly ever play the Mega Millions lottery, and when I do I play only one ticket for $2.  In some states (not in CA), there is the option of paying an extra $1 for a “megaplier,” which multiplies non-jackpot wins by a certain amount from 2 to 5.

Because the jackpot is so huge tonight, I went ahead and bought 3 Mega Millions tickets just for the heck of it.  Of course, I’m not expecting to win; the chance of winning the jackpot is only about 1 in 302.5 million.

The drawing will be at 8:00 p.m. PDT = 11:00 p.m. EDT.  I think tickets must be purchased an hour or two before the drawing...not sure about that.

Mega Millions jackpot swells to record $1 billion

Oct. 18, 2018

Soometimes I like to look at the National Weather Service (also known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA).  This continental U.S. map shows the expected high temperatures for today in various places:

Expected high temperatures across the U.S. on 10-18-18

Oct. 15, 2018

Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Mohammed bin Salman
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Back on Oct. 2, Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  He has not been seen since then.

Turkish authorities have said they have evidence proving that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents.  However, officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, have claimed that Khashoggi was alive when he left the consulate building and that they do not know what happened to him.

Now, it seems that Saudi Arabia has prepared a statement disclosing that Khashoggi was killed as “the result of an interrogation that went wrong.”  They say that this was part of an operation intended to abduct Khashoggi and transport him back to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier today, President Trump held a 20-minute phone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Trump said that the monarch adamantly denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

There is no way, as of yet, to know if this is or is not true.  However, it is interesting to note that Salman appears to have a sketchy record on human rights.

Mohammed bin Salman: The dark side
of Saudi Arabia's crown prince

Oct. 13, 2018

President Trump with Andrew and Norine BrunsonPastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkey yesterday after being detained for two years.  Today, after being returned to the U.S., he met with President Trump and prayed for him in the White House.

Brunson and his wife, Norine, were Christian missionaries in Turkey for 25 years.  He was arrested in 2016 and accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Turkey.  Even though he had rejected all of the allegations, he and his wife were under house arrest since then.

Prior to that, Brunson had served 20 months in a Turkish jail.  He could have faced up to 35 years in prison.  His supporters have said that the charges against him were absurd.

Trump placed sanctions and tariffs on Turkey earlier this year.  It was an attempt to pressure the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to release Brunson.  Today, Trump re-emphasized “no deal” was made with Turkey for Brunson’s release, but his release demonstrated good will that could repair the strained relationship between Turkey and the U.S.

Andrew Brunson prays, offers praise
for Trump in Oval Office visit

Oct. 12, 2018

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw a rock at Israeli forces along the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza city on October 12, 2018There have been numerous attacks by Palestinians at the Gaza/Israel border since “Palestinian Land Day” on Mar. 30.  They always claim that these are “peaceful protests,” but they are not.  As a result, there usually are numerous injuries and some deaths.

Today, it happened again.  Around 15,000 Palestinians gathered along the border.  Grenades and bombs were hurled at Israeli forces, and tires were burned.  Several fires were started near Israel communities by incendiary balloons launched over the border.

After a bomb blew a hole in the fence, several Palestinians went through and ran toward Israeli soldiers.  As a result, 7 Palestinians were killed and at least 252 were injured.

In recent weeks, the riots have increased from weekly to sometimes nightly and daily events.  The Islamist terror group Hamas, which actively calls for the destruction of Israel, is the primary impetus perpetuating the Palestinian riots and attacks.  There really is no end in sight.

IDF kills three Gazans who blow hole
in fence, cross border, run at troops

Oct. 11, 2018

A potential suicide bomber, Paul Rosenfeld, has been arrested in New York by the FBI.  He is accused of buiding a 200-pound explosive device in the basement of his house and planning to explode it on the National Mall on Election Day, Nov. 6.  He intended to kill himself in the process.

Rosenfeld embraces the political theory of “sortition.”  Rather than selecting government officials by voting for them, sortition advocates that they be selected randomly.  By exploding the bomb and himself, he intended to draw people’s attention to sortition.

Paul Rosenfeld: ‘Sortition’ Supporter
Charged in Election Day Suicide Bomb Plot

Oct. 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael made landfall as a category 4 storm (just short of a category 5) at about 12:10 p.m. on the Florida Panhandle.  Many reports have said that this is the most powerful storm to hit this portion of Florida since 1851.

The eye, with 155 mph sustained winds, came on land just northwest of Davis Beach and Mexico Beach and southeast of Panama City.  Then the eye passed directly over Tyndall Air Force Base.  Hundreds of thousands of people already have experienced power outages.  Michael will maintain hurricane-force winds as it passes through Georgia today and tomorrow.

Then, as a tropica storm, Michael will release damaging winds and flooding rain on South Carolina and North Carolina, both of which were soaked and flooded by Hurricane Florence beginning last month on Sep. 14.  Also, tornadoes may be forming along the east side of the storm.

Supercharged hurricane threatens
Florida with 150 mph winds

Hurricane Michael: Waterlogged Carolinas Brace for
Flash Flooding, Possible Widespread Power Outages


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DJIA decline of -831.83 points or -3.15% S&P 500 decline of 94.66 points or -3.29%
In other news, today the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had the third greatest point drop ever: -831.83 points.  There also was a significant point drop in the S&P 500 index: -94.66 points.

The decrease in the DJIA was topped only by declines of –1,175.21 points and –1,032.89 points.  These took place on Feb. 5 and on Feb. 8, respectively.

Several possibilities have been given for this decline.  Fears of rising interest rates, higher bond yields and slowing global economic growth have been proposed.

Some also have suggested that a sell-off is taking place as part of an “October surprise” prior to the Nov. 6 mid-term election.  Potentially, this could be part of a “blue wave” in an attempt to move the U.S. House and Senate to the left.

Dow plummets 830 points
in worst drop since February

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped –831.83 points today, the third greatest point drop ever.

Oct. 8, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh officially was sworn in twice, as the next Justice of the Supreme Court, two days ago at private ceremonies.  However, President Trump was not in Washington, DC, at the time and was unable to attend either event.

Today, though, Trump officiated at a public swearing-in ceremony in the East Room of the White House.  Each of the eight other Supreme Court justices were present, along with Kavanaugh’s wife and daughters.  Trump introduced all of them.

Former Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement paved the way for Kavanaugh to replace him, administered the judicial oath for a second time.  Then Justice Kavanaugh gave a speech.  The whole ceremony took just over 30 minutes and can be seen here:

In case the video is unavailable, you can watch it here:


Oct. 6, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as the 114th Supreme Court Justice by former Justice Anthony KennedyThis afternoon, Judge Brett Kavanaugh received a 50-48 vote in the U.S. Senate to confirm him as the next justice on the Supreme Court.  The “yes” votes included 49 Republicans plus Joe Manchin (D-WV).  The “no” votes included 48 Democrats.

Although Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh, she voted “present” (rather than “no”).  Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) was attending his daughter’s wedding in Montana, but he would have been a “yes” vote.

A couple of hours later, Brett Kavanaugh signed the necessary papers and then took the constitutional oath of office privately, administered by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.  His wife, Ashley, and two daughters, Margaret and Liza, stood nearby.

Following that, Kavanaugh again took the oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh is replacing.  He now is the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh sworn in as 114th Supreme Court
justice, hours after Senate votes to confirm

This diagram of the members of the Supreme Court (including Anthony Kennedy, retired) shows the spread from the most liberal to the most conservative members:

Supreme Court Justices from most liberal to most conservative

Oct. 5, 2018

In a cloture vote this morning, the U.S. Senate voted to end the debate on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.  This means that no more than 30 more hours of Senate floor debate can take place before a final vote will be made.  Therefore, the vote today advances the final confirmation vote to the entire Senate, probably tomorrow afternoon.

Today’s vote was 51 for and 49 against cloture.  The 51 “yes” votes included 50 Republicans plus Joe Manchin (D-WV).  The 49 “no” votes included 48 Democrats plus Lisa Murkowski (R-AL).

Senate advances embattled Supreme Court
nominee Brett Kavanaugh to a final vote

After the vote, as part of the floor debate and remarks, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke for a little over 44 minutes.  I was very impressed with everything she said—following the initial yelling and shrieking by protestors, which was extremely annoying.

Her ultimate confirmation vote was in question, but the final words in her speech were, “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”  Later, Joe Manchin (D-WV) also said that his would be a “yes” vote.

Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) has said that she will vote “present” (not “yes” or “no”) for Kavanaugh’s final confirmation vote.  This will enable Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana tomorrow and not have to be in Washington, DC, to vote “yes” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Presumably, then, Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice, as soon as tomorrow.  After that, I expect those who oppose him to go into an angry—and very possibly violent—fit of unhinged rage and fury, even worse than what we have seen so far.

Oct. 4, 2018

I heard on my car radio that this is National Taco Day.  Although I do not eat a lot of red meat, I do like tacos, especially with very hot/spicy sauce.

So I drove to a nearby Taco Bell, where the price of 4 tacos was $5 (+ tax).  They were really good, especially with their super hot Diablo sauce.  Yummy! 

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Oct. 3, 2018

In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 26,800 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.20% to 26,828.39, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.07% to 2,925.51, not a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 26,828.39.  Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,925.51.

FEMA Presidential AlertIn other news, FEMA’s first alert test test of the national wireless emergency system took place today.  About 225 million electronic devices across the United States wailed and buzzed at 2:18 p.m. EDT = 11:18 a.m. PDT.

A tone sounded similar to that of an Amber Alert or flood watch warning.  The subject of the alert said “Presidential Alert” and the text read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”  A second alert on television and radio broadcasts went off at 2:20 p.m. EDT = 12:20 p.m. PDT.

The system test is for a high-level “presidential” alert that would be used only in a nationwide emergency.  It is being completed in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission.

FEMA tests 'presidential alert' to
225 million electronic devices

Oct. 1, 2018

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas NevadaThs is the first anniversary of the deadliest mass shootings, committed by a single individual, in modern U.S. history.  It took place from 10:05 to 10:15 p.m. in Las Vegas, NV, on Oct. 1, 2017.

The number of people killed from gunshot wounds was 59 (including the shooter, Stephen Paddock), and 851 others were injured from gunfire and the resulting panic.  The exact motive of the murderer is still unknown.

This morning, a memorial sunrise ceremony was held at 6:30 a.m. at the Clark County Government Amphitheater.  There were 58 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy.

Tonight at 10:01 p.m., the lights of the Strip will go off.  At 10:05 p.m. the names of the 58 deceased victims will be read.

Las Vegas shooting: Memorial events mark 1-year anniversary
as massacre motive still shrouded in mystery

Every Oct. 1, I’m always reminded of the 5.9 Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987.  It commonly was called the “Shocktober 1st earthquake.”  The quake was felt throughout southern California and southern Nevada.  Today is the 31st anniversary of that event.

The quake happened at 7:42 a.m., just as I was finishing breakfast before going to work.  The epicenter of the quake was about 40 miles from my house in Irvine, which rocked for several seconds.  There was no damage to my property, though.  The quake was felt throughout southern California and southern Nevada.

I was watching the morning news out of Los Angeles.  A few minutes after the main shock, there was a small aftershock, which I did not feel in Irvine.

I remember watching two of the news guys, Christopher Nance and Kent Shocknek.  They got freaked out due to the shaking and the swaying lights, caused by the aftershock, and jumped under their desk.  You can watch a short David Letterman video where he talked about it and then showed a video of what happened:

I also felt a strong aftershock three days later, registering 5.3 to 5.5 and doing more damage to the L.A. area.  Then life went on as usual.  Here is a video, under 5 minutes, showing damage from the initial quake on Oct. 1 and from the aftershock on Oct. 4:

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