Really Big Numbers

We have had a lot of rain of recent. Day after day after day, more rain. We had more rain yesterday, and were under the threat of a possible tornado, which thankfully did not develop for us, but folks in Miss. and Ala. got hit. Unfortunately at least 1 reported dead.

I have been too close to three tornadoes in my lifetime and I can speak of the terror of an F3 (at that time, with the revised Fujita scale it would have been an F4) on the ground, tearing shit up, only an eighth of a mile away. They speak of the roar of an angry freight train, that’s what I heard, but what you feel is the vibration permeating your body, and the winds pummeling your surroundings. We were lucky. Didn’t take me long to get sidetracked did it?

The big numbers I want to throw at you is a result of the rain. Not in inches, but the volume of water forecast to be released through the dam on the Tn. River near us. The forecast for 2/27/19 is 430,000 cfs (cubic feet per second.) That’s a pretty big number but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

There is roughly 7.5 gallons of water in a cubic foot. Which according to my trusty calculator equals the sum of 3,225,000 gallons of water, Per Second! Try to wrap your head around that for a moment.

Now I don’t know how Olympic swimming pools became a standard for water measurements, but an Olympic pool holds 660,253 gallons of water. Again using my trusty calculator, 3,225,000 gallons per second would be filling 4.9 ( I rounded up from 4.88,) which is almost 5 Olympic swimming pools, Per Second!

More big numbers incoming! With 60 seconds in a minute that would add up to 193,500,000 gallons per minute. Or roughly 300 Olympic pools per minute.

With 60 minutes in an hour, we get, 11,610,000,000 gallons of water per hour. Or 17,500 Olympic pools per hour.

With 24 hours in a day, we get 278,640,000,000 gallons per day. Or 422,020 Olympic pools per day.

Wow.

I use this website linked below a lot, even now that I’m officially retired from diving out there, just because I used this information so often, it is a part of my lifestyle now. It shows me water temps, and current flows for both the Tn. and Cumberland rivers, (or Ky. Lake and Lake Barkley respectively) both of which I worked extensively. This is my source 🙂

https://www.explorekentuckylake.com/weather.htm

 

 

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Religion, Essential Oils, Home Schooling, Anti Vax, and Crank Magnetism

Having some custom home finish skills from what seems now like a previous lifetime ago, a glorified painter, a master of a caulk gun, a glazer of windows, and an airless paint sprayer gunslinger, is an old skillset that has managed to stay with me. I get a phone call every once in a while for a job. I don’t advertise, I have plenty to keep up with already at home, but I will take a job now and then just to earn a little extra dough.

I had a job some time back, a huge house that the couple had saved up to build. It was their dream home, and it was massive. I was thrilled to be a part of helping someone achieve their dreams and I poured my soul into the work I did there. But… it should be known they are devout x-ians. Which isn’t so unusual in these parts, but that affliction often avails itself to other oddities.

The lower level of this house is 3000 sq ft, by itself. The upper level another 2000 sq ft or so, plus a large basement. When I got there the walls/ceilings had been painted, there was a coat of paint on the trim, but it was thin, so my job was to caulk it all up and put the finishing pizzaz to it. Well, I was there for a while. This is a big house and I’m working solo, they had 9 ft ceilings, 2 large staircases, a window transom over every major doorway, and more doors to do than I can remember, it took a while. So as it worked out I was there through the Thanksgiving holiday. They have a lot of family, who all came to visit, and I was privvy to some hair raising conversations.

I already knew they were hyper religious, which isn’t that unusal here, but I soon became aware the grandkids were all homeschooled. I was like “wow!” I didn’t know they were that religious. Now I know that home schooling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but far too often it is because people want their kids to believe that the Flinstones was a documentary. They use materials from the likes of AIG to teach the kiddies that man coexisted with dinosaurs, and other nonsense such as a 6000 year old earth and how everything in the bible is 100% factual. How this B.S. is legal at all is beyond me, but it is a fine example of people living in some sort of an alternate reality.

Enter Essential Oils. The lady there was big into the essential oil thing, she is apparently one of the higher up distributors, as she goes to out of state meetings a lot, and seems well versed in essentail oil quackery. Quackery? I’m afraid so. The claims made by those distributing essential oils read like any other quack category as they claim to cure almost every malady known to science and they also rely on bashing modern medicine and appealing to the new age types by hyping it all as natural healing techniques long forgotten, and they do bemoan how they are unfairly dismissed by modern medicine. I won’t go into every claim made by the essential oil scam, it would be a long post on its own. I will leave a link or two though, and Google is your friend. There are some good links to follow from this fist link liste here:

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/doterra-multilevel-marketing-of-essential-oils/

https://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/aroma.html

A convesation I overheard at this residence, involved one of the family members talking about the prospect of putting their kids in a public school and they would have to present shot records or they would have to sign some waiver that excluded them from such a satanic activity. So we can add anti vaxxers to the list.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem. Crank Magnetism. Crank Magnetism is a term, and I quote from Wiki:  “coined by physiologist and blogger Mark Hoofnagle on the Denialism Blog in 2007 to describe the propensity of cranks to hold multiple irrational, unsupported or ludicrous beliefs that are often unrelated to one another…”

Essentially once you open yourself up to to believeing in one nonsensical claim, the reality is you may be predisposed to let other crank ideas reside in your head. Add to that the alternate reality propped up by the far right and its propaganda arm Fox News, and the sort of total morons who espouse their idiocies on the radio or youtube, such as Alex Jones/Rush Limbaugh, plus the fact we now have a president that totally believes in these alternate realities AND makes up his own, we are left facing, with a growing concern about a wholesale attack on fact based reality itself.

It seems to me that the idea is to promote so much of this kind of shit that it blurs the line between evidence based reality and the alternative reality they want to create. The problem is there are more than enough mouth breathing morons out there to support this nonsense. It is the zombie that never dies.

I’m going to go one step further and lay the blame of Crank Magnetism right at the feet of religion. Nothing, and I mean nothing, opens up the door to believing in complete nonsense as religion. It is the gateway drug to Crank Magnetism.

I saw it all in one house…

The only thing I can think of to combat this issue is ensuring a proper education for every child coming through the education system, and some sort of pushback from holders of a fact based reality. Which is pretty much the blogging community I know here, and the multitude of others like us out there in internet land. In other words, keep up the good work 🙂 We need it. Fact based reality needs it.

 

 

 

 

Fish Who Pass The Self Aware Test?

I finally had some time to browse one of my old haunts, Science Daily, and this story caught my eye. It appears that a species of a cleaner fish, and I quote: “cleaner wrasse fish (Labroides dimidiatus), responds to its reflection and attempts to remove marks on its body during the mirror test — a method considered the gold standard for determining self-awareness in animals.”

Which for anyone who might be aware of the self aware test, or MSR (Mirror Self Recognition,) you may find this intriguing.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190207142234.htm

For those not familiar with the self aware test referred to, basically you use a mirror that the subject can see themselves with and let them get accustomed to it being there. Then you put a mark on the subject. If they respond with curiosity, or attempt to remove the mark in some manner, or show some signs of stress concerning the mark, or a combination of these behaviors, this would count as a positive result.

Now as with any scientific study, there are always counterpoints to be made, and they had a good writeup here outlining the potential issues with this certain test. As far as I can tell, and no one will mistake me for the smartypants who would know better, I’d call the outcome of this test at the very least, very interesting.

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000021

I have read about dolphins who responded to the self aware test in a fairly convincing manner. But they are known to be highly intelligent. The cleaner wrasse fish I’m farily certain isn’t as brainy as the bottlenose dolphin, but then again who knows? The biggest issues from that last link amounts pretty much to “we need to tweak the test for better results, and eliminate any false positives by subjects conditioned to these tests.” But it is a solid read, if you are into that sort of thing 🙂

 

Edit: I just saw a writeup at this link that adds another perspective to the mix.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-self-aware-fish-raises-doubts-about-a-cognitive-test-20181212/

Old Diver Tales

I was commenting on Jims blog here:

https://jimoeba.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/knots-and-logs-ancient-wisdom-vs-faith/

…and the topic of fog came up. So I commented about a situation I got caught in once. Thought I’d reproduce it here as a post. Just in case there is someone who might find it interesting, and who perhaps may have missed Jims great post. This is pretty much the comment I made at Jims blog, but have modified it a bit for clarity/punctuation and added another lost in the fog entry:

I was working on an overcast, rainy-ish day once. There was some decent current running that morning, I came up from a dive and the rain had stopped but I could see a bit of fog forming. I didn’t think much of it, I was fairly close to an island chain, and the riverbank true wasn’t far behind the islands. I supposed even if a light fog moved in I would still be able to see the islands and from there get back to my truck using the treeline along the river bank. So I made another dive. I came up and was completely socked in with heavy fog. I mean I could barely make out the bow of the boat from the stern. I was like “oh shit.”

I decided I’d try to find the islands, but I needed a waypoint to start, I figured I’d toss out the anchor and let the current pull the boat tight and I’d have S as my starting point. (The Tn. river flows S->N) Welp, they had killed the current at the dam and the anchor did not pull tight after 10 mintues, the dreaded dead friggin water. (As a diver on the bottom, the current is a handy way to know your direction, and most of us learned pretty quick if you pull your boat in the direction of the current, the current pushes most of the silt you stir up, behind you, making for at least some visibility dependent on the depth you were working. Sometimes on a really calm day with little to no wind, and you get a dead current situation, you can get pretty lost on the bottom, an irritating situation to work in.) Anyway… So much for a starting point, the current or lack of it was no help. So I headed off in the direction I thought, might, get me to the islands, and they weren’t more than 250 yards from my location. Let me tell you something, no matter how straight you hold the steering, you will soon be hitting your own wakes, as you are going in a damn circle. There is nothing so disconcerting as being lost in the fog. I should mention the creepy factor is pretty high too 😉

Well I realized this wasn’t going to work, motoring around in circles is a quick way to get nowhere. So I tossed out the anchor and killed the engine. And I pondered my situation, I still had one bottle of water left, and a couple of snacks I hadn’t eaten at lunch. It looked like this could be supper lol. Well as I sat there I began to hear what sounded like a towboat moving slow in the river channel. I waited till it got closer, used the sound of the engines as a waypoint, and I’d crank my engine, run a little way in the direction I thought I remembered hearing the towboat, then I’d stop, kill the engine, get a new waypoint in my head and try again. I worked as a deckhand on towboats in my days prior to becoming a commercial diver, so I knew 2 things. 1: The towboat has radar and he can navigate via the river bouys. And 2: He can tell I’m coming.

By the time the towboat emerged from the fog I was basically right alongside, and the captain apparently had a man there to see what was up, I raised my yelling voice loud enough to be heard over the idling diesels in the towboat, and asked the guy one simple question “which way are you headed?” He replied “South.”

Which was good for me, my truck was in that direction, So I told the guy I was going to follow along for a while. So I followed along with the towboat till we reached a bend in the river that brought us closer to the river bank true, and lo and behold I could make out the trees along the bank through the fog. From there I followed the the treeline, which conveniently rolled right around inside the bay I had launched from, and took me straight to my truck. I ate a hot supper that night after all.

Next day I had a compass in my boat, and have not been without one since. I should mention I had an old diving compass with me for many years, the damn thing got waterlogged, and I never got around to fixing my lack of a compass problem. It’s fixed now 🙂

Fog is a strange animal indeed. It takes away all of your reckoning abilities and leaves you, well, lost in the damn fog. I was lucky that day, more often than not a towboat will tie off and wait out the sort of fog we were in… I know that because there was a time I was the deckhand who had to drag a ladder out to the head of the tow, climb down the ladder to a muddy riverbank, dragging a huge ass lock line (a 2″ rope) or a steel wire rope to a sturdy tree, or group of trees, and tie off the tow. Every once in a while there were man made tie offs out there, but usually not when you need them. But as a deckhand, being tied off in the fog generally was enjoyable, it meant you were getting paid to do diddley 🙂

There was another time I was lost in the fog on the river. This was very early in my diving carreer. I was working for a guy then (George), he had the boat, all of the necessary gear, and all I had to do was show up and go to work. We worked on a 50/50 basis. I could generally average around $200 to $250 a day then (split between us), so it was a convenient arrangement. It should be noted that after almost 2 years of working for this guy, I had saved up enough $ to get my own boat/gear. Anyway…

We set out one morning, I had met up with George at the crack of dawn, his house was just down the road from mine, and we set off to town to gas up and get some breakfast. Our typical daily routine. We got to the river by 7 AM and launched the boat despite the fact that the river was entirely socked in with fog. The decision to head out fell to George, I had seen heavy fog on the water as a deckhand, and knew it wasn’t exactly cupcakes and tea out there in the fog. George was confident he could navigate our way to a place we had been working that was pretty productive with shell, so we set off. Georges plan was to follow the tree line till we got there. Well, after several hours of being completely lost out there in the fog, an eerie, hair on the back of your neck raising eerie, the sort of feeling that makes you wonder if you are even still on the same damn planet, the fog began to lift. We found ourselves deep in the back of a bay we couldn’t even recognize at first, nowhere near where either of us had a notion we might be. We finally got to our spot but had missed most of the morning due to being lost. So it was a slow day for the wallet, and a lesson learned. Well not completely learned because this happened way before the I got lost in the fog, old diver tale above this one.

So, keep a compass in your boats folks, you never know when you will need one. A compass is your only hope in the fog. Otherwise it is a Stephen King -ish kind of freaky out there lost in the mists of the fog. Although I suppose a GPS might still be able to work in fog, for the cost of a compass, I wouldn’t count on it.