Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Twin Peaks, Ghost Towns, and Cities of White, Gold, and Green

A lone cylindrical (water?) tower with a whimsical message painted on its side stands sentinel outside the ghost town of Montgomery City, California near the Nevada border in a rugged and rain shadowed land. I found this image on Flickr.

Montgomery City is located near the far more famous and well-preserved California 19th gold mining era ghost town of Bodie. It is also located just west of Boundary Peak (pictured at left), the 13,140 foot* mountain that is the highest point in the State of Nevada and that also straddles the California border.

*This is an approximate height. I have found numbers ranging from 13,141' to 13,147' elevation. Also, Boundary Peak is probably a sub-peak off of somewhat higher Montgomery Peak located in California.

Indeed, here is a picture of Boundary and Montgomery Peaks -- I'm not sure which is which -- but they are essentially the same mountain with Boundary Peak a sub-peak off of Montgomery Peak.

About 100 miles to the southwest in the rugged, arid wastes of the Nevada high desert is the semi-ghost town of Scotty's Junction. It is located at the western edge of the sprawling Nellis Air Force Base with its Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) -- formerly the Nellis Air Force Range and home to the UFO-enthusiasts' fabled "Area 51" (Groom Lake).

Abandoned ruins around Scotty's Junction, Nevada.

Scotty's Junction really doesn't have much of a population. It is located about 16 miles south of the actual town of Beatty, Nevada, which has a population of approximately 1,000.


Never Ending Blog Entry ...

I started this entry yesterday evening and worked on it in the wee hours of this morning (3AM - 5AM) after I got home from a Friday night Nellie's trip, but I was too tired and I'm trying to finish it now. I have not, not, not forgotten my planned entry of excerpts of Salon writer Patrick Smith's recent pieces -- indeed, I am planning to add another literary quality third one (despite the title):Who needs UFOs?.

However, I need to relate some other items in this entry ...


In Memoriam

My friend LP's mom (B.) passed away early Friday (yesterday) morning at a hospital in suburban Maryland after years of prolonged bouts of illness and poor health.

She was 83 years old.

B. was born and raised in England and was there during World War II before coming to America in the 1940s with LP's dad, who was a World War II vet and who is originally from the D.C. area.

A picture from a visit that LP and I took to the Glenwood Cemetery here in Washington, D.C., last summer on July 10, 2011.

I never met her -- indeed, I've never met any of LP's family in the 10 years or so I've known him, but this is not the time or place to go into it. As it is, the funeral will likely just be for the family.

I actually need to call LP -- understandably his phone was off yesterday but I've not made enough of an effort to reach him.


In Memoriam (Part II)

In addition, Etta James died yesterday. She was 73. Here is her obituary.

Here she is about five years ago singing her signature song At Last. This YouTube clip occasionally stalls.


Washington & Washington Weather

Last night there was a semi-significant winter weather event here in the D.C. area with a mixed bag of precipitation starting with a period of moderate snow followed by sleet and freezing rain.

Here is a map from the Sterling LWX NWS web page showing the advisories as of about 9PM EST last night.


This was the 10PM Jan. 20, 2012 automated snow forecast for the region that more or less verified.


There was on average 0.5" to 2 inches of slushy snow area-wide even as surface temps flirted with the freezing mark, so the ground was quite slushy with puddles. This was followed by some freezing rain that coated things, esp. metal surfaces, in a light sheen of granular-feeling ice.

Here are some views from earlier tonight while walking east on U Street, NW, from 16th to 9th (i.e., from my place to Nellie's).

Snowy night in the city of electric dreams, 14th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:32PM, Jan. 20, 2012.


Snowy night on the U Street Corridor,, 13th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:35PM, Jan. 20, 2012.


Snowy night, 12th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:37PM, Jan. 20, 2012.


The view from the eastern edge of the upstairs deck at Nellie's on a snowy night looking east at Florida Avenue, NW, as it runs "diagonal" off of U Street (which sort of dead ends here for a period), Washington, D.C., 1:10PM, Jan. 21, 2012.

The "Ananda Corporation" sign that I mentioned in my Jan. 15th entry is visible just above the green traffic light, the "I" in "Corporation" still blown out.


As for snowfall amounts, as I said, there on average 0.5" to 2.0" -- REGARDLESS of what is the "official" Washington, D.C., measurement at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), location of a snow board that doubles as Satan's hot plate.


Speaking of snow, it did just that in Seattle, Washington this past week ...

... the heaviest snowstorm since November 1985 (at least as measured at Sea-Tac International Airport) hit the Seattle / Puget Sound area this past week. Officially at Sea-Tac, 9.6" fell between Jan. 15th and 19th, 2012 while Olympia received 14.2" of snow.

The rare sight of shovel-able snow on the ground outside the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, Jan. 18, 2012.


Having lived in Seattle one rainy winter, and more generally having paid attention to the weather for many years, I can tell you that MASSIVE amounts of snow (as in dozens of feet of snow) fall in the Cascades and even the Olympic Mountains.

Aerial view of snow-blanketed mighty Mount Rainier at sunset.


The Paradise Ranger Station on the southern flank of Mount Rainier at about 5,400 feet gets on average 641 inches -- that's 53.4 FEET / 16.3 meters -- of snow a year and in one year recorded what was for a while the PLANET EARTH-WIDE RECORD at 1,122 inches (93.5 feet / 28.5 meters / 9 stories) of snow (1971 - 1972).

But it is rare for the snow level to drop to sea level (1,500' to 2,000' elevation is the usual lower limit) simply because the air off the Pacific is too warm at that latitude. In fact, Sea-Tac Airport gets on average 5.9" of snow per year (based on the 1981 - 2010 30-year average).

Things are now back to normal with temps above freezing and winter time rain, rain, rain in the forecast ...

The NWS forecast panel for the grid-point forecast of downtown Seattle issued last night and valid for Jan. 20 - Jan. 24, 2012. 


Political Update ...

Today is the South Carolina Crazy House GOP primary and I am really hoping that the suddenly resurgent megalomaniac Newt Gingrich wins over the corporate sociopath multi-millionaire Willard Mitt Romney.

I loved Gingrich's John King smack down at the debate last night -- even if it is from Gingrich, the man who invented post-modern era slash-and-burn politics of personal destruction. King is a useless media sort (the TV version of The Washington Post editorial board and the other "pearl clutchers"). Doofus King gave Gingrich such an opening -- may have helped him to win South Carolina, especially since no one does chimerical liberal media victimization / grievance better than the rightwing fundie base of the Southern neo-Confederate GOP.

As for Willard Mitt Romney -- Mr. "Carried Interest" Multi-Millionaire -- I'm not sure if he's more of a clueless dope, someone's dark parody of "The Man," or just a fraudulent shell encasing a sociopath.

Building on what others wrote, Ed Schultz had a funny satirical segment on his show last night about Romney's claim to be "someone who has lived in the real streets of America" --asking the street in front of which multi-million dollar beach side mansion, alpine resort, or secluded woodsy villa that would be??

This is the same Mitt the Idiot who variously has declared during these times of chronic high unemployment, economic anxiety, and general distress, "Corporations are people" ... "$10,000 bet?" ... "I like being able to fire people."

Unlike his dad, this Romney probably can't release his tax returns, or at least not multiple years' worth -- otherwise everyone across the political spectrum would be hit over the head with the fact that Romney likely doesn't even pay at the 15% capital gains tax rate but probably closer to ZERO thanks to his Cayman Island / offshore tax dodging games.


Notes from the Department of I-Hate-Mark-Wahlberg

Delusional Mark Wahlberg Fantasizes About Being 9/11 Action Movie Hero

Mark Wahlberg managed to out jackass even himself by his vulgar and silly comments about how the 9/11 attacks would have been (partially) avoided because he would have single-handedly taken down the hijackers and then safely landed the jet. This outburst during an interview prompted because Wahlberg was supposed to be on one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center but was not.

Wahlberg, a 4'2" tall combo action figure doll, made the comments to Men's Health for its February 2012 edition, and has since wisely apologized (for career purposes), although he is also now blaming the reporter.

Mr. "Say Hello to Your Mother For Me" reminds me a bit of Wall-P in that he has to stand on a highchair to see over a lectern yet manages to exude a searing arrogance and whose erect posture reminds me of one of those big male kangaroos in Australia -- such as this male Eastern Grey Kangaroo pictured at left -- chest all puffed out.

And even if the reporter "set him up," it doesn't matter -- Markie Mark Wahlberg is just fun to hate on.


From the Department of Let the American Eagle Soar

I received in the mail yesterday my W-2 form for 2011 income and I earned ... drum roll ... $59,632.87 in 2011 as listed in box 1 (wages), or alternatively, $60,050.35 in 2011 as listed on box 3 (Social Security taxable wages). The difference has to do with a medical flexible spending account we have. 

Either way, this is actually the most I've ever earned and compares as follows to recent years:

2011: $60,050 (rounded)
2010: $43,093 (tax return AGI, rounded)
2009: $12,430
2008: $28,874
2007: $49 (yes, $49)
2006: $10,348
2005: $14,062
2004: $12,531
2003: $45,911
2002: $40,110
2001: $12,314
2000: $6,244

1999: $5,729
1998: $22,076

1997: $6,836
1996: $1,088
1995: $944
1994: $1,111
1993: $1,131
1992: $708
1991: $2,069
1990: $209
1989: $1,771
1988: $270
1987: $386
1986: $1,823

1986 - 2011 Income Total: $332,167

Figures for 1986 - 2009 are from my annual Social Security earnings statement.

Of note, 2011 is the first year since 2008 that it does not include ANY nightmare 1099 "independent contractor" income from the Tokyo turkey farm in Bethesda, an intellectual sweat shop engaged in a sort of low-rent, cheap corporate espionage where I worked as a regular job in 2008 and then switched to an independent contractor in 2009 and finally ended there in 2010 when I got my present job.

Looking at my income, well may you ask how did I live for the 2000s and 1990s?

Yes, you may ask.

For starters, his is why I have $224,000 in student loan debt -- having been profoundly stupidly, if not outright mentally retarded-wise, in school for THREE masters degree program -- plus $40,000 in discharged credit card debt in 2002 and another $10,000 or so in credit card debt (on which I have settled wholly or in part on four of the five debts and is down to about $6,200 including one unresolved amount of $3,100) plus a final $4,000 I owe to LP.

Adding it all together comes to about $278,000 on top of the combined $332,167 or $613,167. In addition, I was not actually living on my own until about 1992, so you can subtract out those years.

And there you have it. Oh, and for you vicious, self-righteous, libertarian types, I've been totally supporting myself with just my income and no additional debt for the past 3 years.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- frickin' Wall-P earns this ENTIRE amount in one year, and You-Know-Who was given that much in tips in about five years' time, maybe less.

Actually, one of the reasons I have such Wall-P antipathy was his vicious reaction to my turkey farm job situation back in 2008 / 2009. I worked every bit as hard as his corporate legal yes-men self and earned one-tenth the amount, and at a dinner once all he could do was spew in that rapid-fire monosyllabic, know - it - all way about why I needed to stay.


Rent Control

Lastly, my new 2012 rent figure -- for the period March 2012 - February 2013 -- arrived today (on the same day as my W-2 form), and it increased by $40 corresponding to a 2.2% CPI for the rent control period May 1, 2011 - April 30, 2012 plus the extra 2.0% or 4.2%.

This brings my rent from the current $1,014 to $1,054 -- not that bad. 

Plus it covers all utilities, and I am fairly centrally located within a half mile of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

OK, that really is all. My next planned update will be on Monday or Tuesday.


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