The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

A Trump Lexicon, Seventh Edition


Our president uses language in unusual ways, a mix of babble, Orwell’s NewSpeak and nonsense. His recent bad weeks have once again spawned a stream of new and unusual terms. Newer terms and phrases are towards the top. It’s tempting to wait and see what new phrases appear as the pandemic proceeds, but WC will…

Black-crowned Night Heron headed to the rookery; Snake River Canyon, Idaho

Watching Commuter Traffic


WC was off the grid the last few days, which explains the absence of a blog post yesterday. It wasn’t exactly a hardship post: Banbury Hot Springs, which has a very nice RV camping area and private hot spring-fed, jacuzzi-jetted hot tubs, which are very thing for a geezer’s sore muscles after schlepping a camera…

The Electromagnetic Spectrum explained

The Stupid Is Strong: COVID-19 and 5G


The United States has no monopoly on stupid. There have been dozens of cell phone tower arson events in the UK and mainland Europe. Why are Europeans burning cell phone towers? Because the arsonists think the cell phone towers are spreading COVID-19. So the nut jobs are burning cell phone towers to prevent the spread of…

Pickup Truck, Rural Idaho, 2019

Understanding WC’s Pessimism


Several readers have accused WC of being a pessimist recently. Subject to the observations in this post, which WC will get to in a moment, the accusation is untrue. Rather, WC is a realist. Any realist is at least mildly pessimistic, as a side effect of just how dismal reality can sometimes be. Here’s a…

Laurie and John DeWitt, Hell's Canyon, Idaho, September 2016

R.I.P. Laurie DeWitt, 1952-2020


WC lost his sister-in-law, his brother’s wife, Laurie DeWitt, yesterday. She was a sweet, smart, wonderful woman and the world is a poorer and darker with her gone. She fought a six year battle with lung cancer that had spread throughout her entire body before it was even discovered. Throughout that struggle, she showed unimaginable…

November 2002 Quake Fault Trace Crossing Richardson Highway

Now This Was an Earthquake


On November 3, 2002, just a little after noon, WC was upstairs at his home in Fairbanks, working on his email. Mrs. WC was downstairs doing chores. The whole house gave a very strong, sudden and sharp jerk. There was a pause. And then continuously, for two minutes and 18 seconds, the house thrashed around…

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans, circa 1640

“E pur si muove” (“And yet it moves”)


Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was tried by the inquisition, charged with suspicion of heresy. He was forced to recant his theory that the Earth orbited the Sun. Catholic Church dogma said the Sun orbited the Earth. Legend has it that after he recanted, while still in the presence of the Inquisitor, he muttered, “E pur si muove“ (“And yet…

Source: 5/14/20 Barry Arm Landslide Working Group Letter

The Barry Arm Problem


WC has written before about this summer working on the R/V Acona for the University of Alaska’s Institute of Marine Science. One of the research projects involved a trip to Lituya Bay, in the northwestern part of of Southeast Alaska. In 1958, an earthquake and consequent landslide created what was then the largest tsunami –…

Sora, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie, Idaho

Sora Sighting


WC has written about Sora before, and the difficulties of photographing them. Sora are rails, a clade of birds that are famously secretive. Sora are probably the most widely distributed of the North American rails. You hear them much, much more often than you see them. The Sora takes its name from one of its…

Yellow-breasted Chat, Blacks Creek, Idaho

A Road Trip to Prairie


It’s not a prairie; it’s another victim of Idahoans’ tendency to name any modest-sized, nearly flat spot a “prairie.” In fact, Prairie is in the middle of Smith’s Prairie, a volcanic caldera, the same caldera that is believed to have produced the basalt flows that dammed the South Fork of the Boise River. The “prairie”…

Donald Trump answers a question about hospitals and frontline healthcare workers reporting shortages of masks and coronavirus tests. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

It’s Beyond Embarrassing


It’s beyond embarrassing. It’s humiliating. What Timothy Eagan, writing in the New York Times has called “the lethal ineptitude of President Trump” has brought the United States to the point that other countries pity us. We were the leader. Now we are the bad example. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in…

Chukar, Little Salmon River Canyon, Idaho

Birding Notes: Chukar


Chukar are an introduced game bird. Native to Eastern Europe and Southern Asia, they were introduced in more than 40 states, more than a million birds. The Idaho introduction came in 1933, and breeding populations are established in the southern half of Idaho, except in the middle parts of the Snake River Plain. They are…

Buried and then partially exposed gravel bar, Salmon River Canyon, Idaho

Geology 101: How Conglomerates Happen


A lot of sedimentary rocks are composed of other sedimentary rocks. But no rock is more obviously composed of other rocks than conglomerate.1 Geology’s technical language is both an annoyance and sometimes lovely. The language can be a barrier to understanding. WC’s geology text described conglomerate as A coarse-grained clastic sedimentary rock that is composed…

Shawn O'Shea-Grantham was arrested in 2016 for a decade-long pattern of sexual abuse against children. (ADN archive)

Tales from Wasilla: Shawn O’Shea-Grantham


Even by the sometimes bizarre standards of Wasilla, Shawn O’Shea-Grantham was a very strange person. O’Shea-Grantham comes to mind because she died last week, back in prison for violating the conditions of her probation. She was proof, if we needed it, that sexual abuse isn’t always committed by men. In her sick world, she thought…

Corona virus particle. Credit: technologworks.com

Knock, Knock


Knock, knock. Who’s there? Corona. Corona who? And that’s the point, isn’t it? The failure of the federal government – the failure by the Executive Branch of the federal government – to provide adequate coronavirus test kits in the face of the pandemic, means we don’t know who may be infected with the virus. Because…

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Dealing with Quarantine: Brewer’s Dictionary


The late Terry Pratchett wrote the Foreword to the 16th Edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. He said, It was my introduction to mythology and ancient history and a lot more, too, because Brewer’s is a serendipitous (see page 1063) book. In other words, you might not find what you are looking for, but…

Department of Modest Victories: Trump Loses Again


Donald Trump is obsessed with undocumented immigrants to the United States. Egged on my the various scumbags he has surrounded himself with, he has repeatedly staked out extreme positions, even anti-Republican positions, in his effort to act out his obsession. One example would be his reaction to sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city is one that…

Remdesivir molecular structure

Call It a Hopeful Sign


It’s Remdesivir. It’s not a magic bullet. It doesn’t cure COVID-19. It’s certainly not a prophylactic for COVID-19 (although we can expect President Trump to claim it is). What it does do is reduce the amount of time for recovery. By about 30%, based on a limited clinical trial. Remdesivir was developed as a treatment…