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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 52,048

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All right, just stop it! This is getting ridiculous.

All this fell since 5:00 p.m. yesterday.

Current candidates aside, what are the merits and weaknesses of open vs closed, caucuses, etc.?

Are changes to the primary schedule necessary? Could they be enough to fix our primary process? Does it need to be fixed?

Why closed primaries? Why open?

Are caucuses inherently more or less democratic than primaries?




As a related topic, what means and methods are available to rank-and-file Democrats to promote changes to the nominating process?


Why all the unreasonable demands? You can't really expect unicorns, rainbows or fair elections.

Now quit whining. Sheeeze.

How I Spent My 81 Day Time Out – Part 4: There's No Place Like Home

After visiting South Dakota as chronicled here and here, and Colorado as chronicled here, Crystal Dancer and I headed back to Wisconsin.

Ten hours later we skidded into Omaha, which was in the middle of an ice storm. Fortunately we got to our hotel without incident, enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant, got some sleep and headed out again in the morning. Roads were cleared by then and we were thankful for our good fortune - good weather and good roads for nearly all of our 2,687 mile trip.

Back home we turned up the heat, and the water heater, and noted that the river behind our house was still frozen solid ...



The worst of the brutal cold was long gone, but a substantial part of winter was still ahead of us. Not to worry, we had an activity planned that warmed the cockles of our hearts - campaigning for Bernie. We joined a local group planning a march and rally to help drive up Bernie's vote count.



What a great group of people we joined. Our two dozen regulars include ...

Nine women over age 60
Six men over age 60
Four women between 21 and 60
Two men between 21 and 60
One woman under age 21
Two men under age 21

The three youngest members are all still in high school, and they've been terrific. After hosting multiple voter registration drives at their local school they expanded their efforts to other area high schools. I'm both amazed by and proud of these young Americans. They're awesome.

We now have nearly 1,000 people who have RSVP's to participate in the march and rally. Not bad for a town of just over 6,000!

We had a big sign printed to help further drive up the numbers ...


Last Saturday we had a sign-making party. One of our members donated $400 for printing. Thanks Tom!

We had the signs printed locally and bought bundles of (made in the USA) 4' lath ...


... and set up an assembly line operation. One person would fold the printed poster in half, a second would staple the sides and bottom edge, leaving a space in the bottom middle. A third person would insert the lath while a fourth would staple the sign to the lath.

This handy jig made aligning the lath in the sign quick and accurate ..


A power stapler made the stapling fast and easy ...


We now have hundreds of signs ready to give to marchers ...



We also had thousands of door hangers printed and have more than enough volunteers to hang them! Here's one of our organizers punching out the holes in the door hangers. His name is Dimitri Martin (no, you're thinking of Demitri Martin) and he just announced that he's running for Wisconsin State Assembly for District 40! Go Dimitri, Go!!!


Last night Crystal Dancer and I also attended another Bernie event in nearby Stevens Point, hosted by someone actually from Bernie's campaign. I was delighted to see more than 60 folks show up for this despite the short notice. Even better, a dozen of us volunteered to host phone banking sessions and almost everyone who attended signed up to participate in phone banking. A great turnout, and an exceptional level of participation for our great candidate. Go, Bernie, Go!!!

So, all in all, being back in Wisconsin is great. Bernie supporters abound and nothing beats the Dairy State!


(Disclaimer: The cow in this picture no longer stands in this spot. I wonder where she ended up.)

How I spent My 81 Day Time Out - Part 3: Getting High in the Rockies

After leaving South Dakota, as chronicled in Part 1: The South Dakota Badlands in Winter and Part 2: Wild Asses Licked My Car, Crystal Dancer and I headed south for Colorado. Heading south through Wyoming we saw antelope and - a real treat for us midwesterners - cowboys on horses using dogs to herd cattle. Too cool for school.

Once in Colorado, we visited my son, daughter-in-law and grandkids. We had lots of fun catching up with them and even more fun visiting some great Rocky Mountain destinations. First up: Red Rocks Park, home of the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a rock structure near Morrison, Colorado, 10 miles west of Denver, where concerts are given in the open-air amphitheatre. There is a large, tilted, disc-shaped rock behind the stage, a huge vertical rock angled outwards from stage right, several large outcrops angled outwards from stage left and a seating area for up to 9,525 people in between. The amphitheatre is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, Colorado and is located in Red Rocks Park, part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. Source.


This incredible facility was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. Thank goodness for those damned socialists!



My son "performed" at Red Rocks! Woo Hoo!


We hiked the Trading Post Trail, a 1.4 mile loop. Not far nor difficult terrain, but at 6,400 feet elevation us flatlanders definately noticed the thin air. Spectacular rock formations are the norm ...

















Then it was on to see the incredible vistas of Golden Gate Canyon State Park. No camera can do justice to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains ...





The next day we made a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We did the 0.8 mile hike around Bear Lake, elevation 9,450. Talk about getting high! Even this short hike sucked the air out of us old flatlanders, but we loved every minute of it.



The treeline is at about 11,600 feet ...









All-in-all, a wonderful place to visit. Every American should see the Rocky Mountains at least once in their lifetime. Put it on your bucket list if you haven't been.

And stay tuned for Part 4: There's No Place Like Home

Bernie event in Stevens Point, Wisconsin Monday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Organizing to help Bernie win. Even will be held at the Econo Lodge, 5110 Main Street in Stevens Point.

If you're in the area, please join us.

Oh Great, New illnesses associated with Agent Orange X-post from GD

from my email ...

Last week the Institute of Medicine released a new report on Agent Orange. We wrote a story about it and we have two points we want to highlight for you. We also have a small request.

“Significant gaps in our knowledge”

First, the committee concluded that even after 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, there’s still not enough Agent Orange research underway, especially related to potential health consequences for the children and grandchildren of vets who were exposed. "Although progress has been made in understanding the health effects of exposure to the chemicals,” the committee members wrote in the report, there are still “significant gaps in our knowledge.” We wrote a story about this. Check it out: http://propub.li/1Mnt5vm

New illnesses associated with Agent Orange

Second, the report moved three illnesses from “inadequate or insufficient evidence” of Agent Orange association to “limited or suggestive evidence” of Agent Orange association. Those illnesses are:

Cancer of the urinary bladder
Parkinson’s-like neurological disorders (only Parkinson’s disease is covered now)
Hypothroidism (under-active thyroid)
The IOM has previously found a similar level of evidence for an association between Agent Orange and hypertension and stroke.

These illnesses are not currently covered by VA and the department will have to decide whether to adopt them. The VA also doesn’t compensate vets with hypertension or who have had a stroke, despite previous IOM reports linking those conditions to Agent Orange. The VA is not bound by the committee’s recommendations. The researchers listed more than 30 past suggestions — including calls for additional government-led studies — that apparently haven’t been pursued by the VA or other agencies. These illnesses lead to our request...

Do you have any of these illnesses? Please get in touch.

You might be able to help us out with our next story. We want to know if you have any of the above illnesses (hypertension, stroke, bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like neurological disorders, hypothroidism). And, if so, have you tried to get AO benefits from the VA? Were you denied? Tell us about it by replying to this email. We’re looking into this issue.

And, as always, thank you for filling out the survey. If possible, please share the survey with any vets, their family members or their children who you think haven’t filled it out yet. All you have to do is send them this link and ask them if it is something they could do: http://propub.li/1QYtRnM. If you’ve already done this or you don’t know anyone, that’s OK. Thanks again.

Best,

Terry Parris Jr.
ProPublica

Charles Ornstein
ProPublica

Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot

Oh Great, New illnesses associated with Agent Orange

from my email ...

Last week the Institute of Medicine released a new report on Agent Orange. We wrote a story about it and we have two points we want to highlight for you. We also have a small request.

“Significant gaps in our knowledge”

First, the committee concluded that even after 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, there’s still not enough Agent Orange research underway, especially related to potential health consequences for the children and grandchildren of vets who were exposed. "Although progress has been made in understanding the health effects of exposure to the chemicals,” the committee members wrote in the report, there are still “significant gaps in our knowledge.” We wrote a story about this. Check it out: http://propub.li/1Mnt5vm

New illnesses associated with Agent Orange

Second, the report moved three illnesses from “inadequate or insufficient evidence” of Agent Orange association to “limited or suggestive evidence” of Agent Orange association. Those illnesses are:

Cancer of the urinary bladder
Parkinson’s-like neurological disorders (only Parkinson’s disease is covered now)
Hypothroidism (under-active thyroid)
The IOM has previously found a similar level of evidence for an association between Agent Orange and hypertension and stroke.

These illnesses are not currently covered by VA and the department will have to decide whether to adopt them. The VA also doesn’t compensate vets with hypertension or who have had a stroke, despite previous IOM reports linking those conditions to Agent Orange. The VA is not bound by the committee’s recommendations. The researchers listed more than 30 past suggestions — including calls for additional government-led studies — that apparently haven’t been pursued by the VA or other agencies. These illnesses lead to our request...

Do you have any of these illnesses? Please get in touch.

You might be able to help us out with our next story. We want to know if you have any of the above illnesses (hypertension, stroke, bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like neurological disorders, hypothroidism). And, if so, have you tried to get AO benefits from the VA? Were you denied? Tell us about it by replying to this email. We’re looking into this issue.

And, as always, thank you for filling out the survey. If possible, please share the survey with any vets, their family members or their children who you think haven’t filled it out yet. All you have to do is send them this link and ask them if it is something they could do: http://propub.li/1QYtRnM. If you’ve already done this or you don’t know anyone, that’s OK. Thanks again.

Best,

Terry Parris Jr.
ProPublica

Charles Ornstein
ProPublica

Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot

How I spent My 81 Day Time Out - Part 2: Wild Asses Licked My Car

The southwest corner of South Dakota is a cornucopia of natural wonders. Badlands National Park, as I chronicled in Part 1: The South Dakota Badlands In Winter is absolutely amazing. After leaving there, Crystal Dancer and I drove to Keystone, SD in the Black Hills where we stayed only minutes from Mount Rushmore. One of the nice things about this winter trip (late January) was the fact that very few other visitors were out and about. We saw only two other vehicles all day in Badlands National Park and were the only guest at our hotel one of our two nights in Keystone; there was one other couple there the second night.

Similarly, there was literally only one other couple at Mount Rushmore when we visited...





Crazy Horse is another "must see" destination in the Black Hills. It's very cool, even if it won't be completed in my lifetime ...



After leaving the Crazy Horse Memorial, we visited Wind Cave National Park. While all the photos I took in the cave are worthless, it is an incredible place to visit, and well worth the $5 fee for a tour. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov/wica/index.htm Again, travelling in winter proved advantageous - only one other couple (with two toddlers) were on our tour. The guide said that summer tours typically had 45 people along.

One note about the tour: While describing the cave the tour guide mentioned that some of the rare "boxwork" formations were created "a very, very long time ago." I asked what a "very, very long time" meant and she indicated it meant some 30 million years. Later, when I was able to speak to her privately I asked if her choice of words was in deference to the sensitivities of fundamentalists. She answered in the affirmative before I even finished the question. Shame on the National Park Service for this pandering.

After leaving Wind Cave, we travelled a bit farther south to Custer State Park and drove the Wildlife Loop Road. This 18 mile stretch of blacktop winds through the 71,000 acre park and is certainly well named. The $20 fee is worth every penny.

This prairie dog town was right alongside the road. Locals warned us to not pet the prairie dogs as they carried bubonic plague. I'm not much of one for petting rodents anyway, and the threat of Black Death was plenty to keeep me away. Still, the little guys are cute ...



But what I really wanted to see were bison. Lots of bison scat was apparent but we drove several miles before seeing one, and that one was on a far hillside and I only confirmed it was actually a bison by using binoculars. Still, I saw one! WooHoo!!!

Then we rounded the next curve. No rollerskating here!


Here's a big one ...


Mama and calf ...


Red rocks in the Black Hills ...


Cresting the next hill, we saw something we didn't expect at all ...


The "begging burros" of Custer State Park are feral donkeys that have taken to begging for food from visitors. They also have keen noses ...



... and smelled the salt that had accumulated on my vehicle over the 1,000 miles we had travelled from Wisconsin. They made a beeline for the car ...





These bison ignored us as I weaved my car slowly past them on the road ...



Rounding the next hill there was one more incredible sight for us - a herd of elk crossing the road ...


When our car approached, the herd split up but this big boy re-crossed the road, rounded up the rest of his herd and moved them across the road with the others. Then he turned and kept an eye on us ...



Worth noting that we saw only one other vehicle the entire time we were in the park. Winter touring can be hit-or-miss with the weather (we were lucky) but certainly gives one a chance to see the sights while avoiding the crowds. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Oh yeah, I had donkey slobber on my car until I found a carwash ...



Stay tuned for Part 3 - Getting High In The Rockies

How I Spent My 81 Day Time Out – Part 1: South Dakota Badlands in Winter

Last December 29th I laid my 50,000th post on DU - http://www.democraticunderground.com/10027482411 - noting, in part, that the primary battles that were dividing DU were an indicator of healthy debate. Little did I know that within two weeks I would rack up four new hides, leaving me out in the cold DU-wise. What to do? Time for a vacation!

So, as the coldest air of the winter moved into northeast Wisconsin, Crystal Dancer and I headed West. First stop: The South Dakota Badlands.

We left home at 5:00 a.m. with the temperature mark at minus 16F. Twelve hours later, we turned off I-90 and onto Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway (SD 240), a 31-mile loop through the National Park. We had just enough daylight left to get a feel for the place. The cold air was now east of us and we were enjoying balmy temps in the upper 30’s.

The next morning, we ate breakfast early and returned to the park. Temps were again in the 30’s and the fog was so dense we couldn’t see more than a few yards.



We went back into Wall, killed a couple hours and then tried it again. While there was still plenty of fog, it only made the scenery more magnificent. Additionally, hoar frost covered everything making the entire park into ice-art.





Nearly immediately, we spotted the first of many mule deer. This group was quite close to the road …


These bighorns were a bit farther away. Glad I had my binoculars …


The fog gave the badlands an eerie and magnificant look, beyond the incredible sights they normally provide …






By mid-day, the fog was clearing, blue skies were appearing and the stark contrasts of the badlands were enough to take my breath away.







We covered the Scenic Loop three times, stopping at the park office to acquire our lifetime National Park passes (a mere $10 for seniors), stopping to do some hiking and stopping many, many times to take photos. We had snowshoes along, but there wasn’t enough snow to need them.







By late afternoon, the fog was creeping back in, settling in the valleys. While we were stopped to take pictures some locals appeared with tripods and long lenses, saying they had never seen the badlands like this. A rare and treasured moment.







Stay tuned for Part 2: Wild Asses Licked My Car
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