Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cumberland Island, Georgia






I just got back from another trip to Cumberland Island. It is a barrier Island off the coast of Georgia. There are no road or bridges to it so you have to get there by boat. My wifes family had a small house there in 1970, unfortuneately the Federal Government established a wilderness area right where their house was. The law passed in 1972 and was retro-active to include their house but not those built 1 month before. Those were built by the Rockafeller families....go figure. Beth and I were married there in 1989 and started going back about 8 years ago and every year it is one of the highlights of that year. We go over and stay in a house behind the dunes with the greater extended family...the Van Cleves, Baumans and Weldon ( there are alot of cousins) and various friends come and bring their kids ( Inghams, Stiefels and Ely's). So much for the peace and quiet. It is an amazing place to explore the old history of the coastal south, get the kids outside and away from the books and leave my phone at home.
When they dredged the Intercoastal for the Sub base at Kings Bay they put the spoil on the south end of Cumberland. This is a great place for an amateur palentologist since you can find large sharks teeth (Megalodon) , Mammoth bones and fossilized whale, dolphin and manatee bones. Everyone else gets a kick out of looking at the wild horses....I on the otherhand look at horses for a living. I guess it would be like a Gynocologist going to a strip club.....nothin' new.
We also make a trip up to the middle of the island to see Plum Orchard, it's a Greek Revival mansion that was built for one of the Carnigee children in 1888. It is also where Beth and I were married...101 years later. There are restoring it so that people will be able to tour the entire house...it will be worth the trip. The sad news is that virtually all of the current house owners will be kicked off by the Government in 2010. To me it makes no sense as many of these people
live there and commute to work in Fernandina and just destroying these homes is such a waste.
While I can see the taking of property for roads, ect......this is just big Government spending more money to depopulate an area so that only a limited few can see it. " Any Government capable of giving you everything you want , is also capable of taking everything you have".

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Horse sense &Sensitivity- Painting Day






Jacksonville Episcopal High School requires all of their students to do some form of community service each semester. This morning Horse Sense and Sensitivity , (a local organization that provides therapeutic horse back riding for kids with disabilities) had a painting day and the Episcopal Lacross team came in mass. As can be expected when you get a bunch of teenage boys together on a Saturday morning with white paint and brushes.....it was interesting. Let me say what a great group of kids they were. They worked hard (actually getting most of the paint on the fences) and there was absolutely NO complaining. It was really refreshing to watch when so much of what you see in the news is just the opposite. Keeping HS&S operating of great personal satisfaction but more importantly it provides an incredible service. When you can take a child that has to spend most of their time at wheel chair level and allow them the feeling of getting up on a horse and being taller than everyone else.....well, thats something special. Today these boys did a good thing. They helped maintain a facility that is in my opinion one of the more important ones in North Florida.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bird Flu-Update, Vet falls ill


The recent outbreak of the H5N1 flu in Britain has many worried. There is a new twist to the tale. The Government Veterinarian that did the diagnostics on the infected turkeys (160,000 turkeys)
has shown signs of respiratory infection. While it is unlikely that he was infected with the H5N1 since he was wearing full protective gear....it is an odd coincidence. If the results of the current testing shows H5N1 then this outbreak it a major leap for the virus. This would mean a significant mutation allowing much greater infectious capabilities. There are 10 significant mutations that must take to match the Flu pandemic of the early 1900's, at least 3 of these have occurred already.
They are taking significant steps in Europe now, but it is very hard to control the wild bird population. This one is worth watching. In a separate development, cat owners are being advised to keep their pets inside to protect them against bird flu if they live near wetland areas populated by ducks and wild birds.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Global Warming- Scientific Method and History


There has been a great deal of talk in the press as of late about Global Warming and as a devote follower of the Scientific method....I'm a skeptic. The Scientific method has 4 parts. 1. Observation-observe a phenomenon or problem 2. Hypothesis- derive a hypothesis to explain the phenomena 3.Prediction- logically predict how the hypothesis will perform using past and present events 4. Experimentation- perform experiments and analyze data to prove or disprove your hypothesis. Most of what I hear today stops with steps 2 . No one has used step 3 to explain warming after prior ice ages or experimentation to show that man is causing each of these global warming periods.
So here we are 1. Is the Earth getting warmer? I think the answer is yes. We are now in a warming period coming out of the "little ice age" a cooling period that followed the "Medieval Climate optimum" It's important to note that this occurred prior to the development of the internal combustion engine. The earth is now in the 2nd interglacial period which are about 100,000 years apart. 2. Is human activity causing this warming? The idea that man effects the weather is not new. Our history is replete with the sacrificing of our fellow man or woman( in the case of the proverbial virgin) to appease the weather God. In 1896 a Swedish scientist published a new idea. As humanity burned fossil fuels such as coal, which added carbon dioxide gas to the Earth's atmosphere, we would raise the planet's average temperature. In the 1970s scientists said that the accumulation of CO2 , dust and smog would actually block out sunlight and start Global Cooling. Today we have come full circle again and the thought is that the internal combustion engine is causing an increase in CO2 that produces the so called "Hockey Stick" graph showing a change in temperature linked to human activity. In this study going back 1000 years it shows a dramatic warming in the 20th century. "The term "Hockey Stick" was coined by the former head of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Jerry Mahlman, to describe the pattern common to numerous proxy and model-based estimates of Northern Hemisphere mean temperature changes over the past millennium. This pattern includes a long-term cooling trend from the so-called "Medieval Warm Period" (broadly speaking, the 10th-mid 14th centuries) through the "Little Ice Age" (broadly speaking, the mid 15th-19th centuries), followed by a rapid warming during the 20th century that culminates in anomalous late 20th century warmth (Figure 1). Numerous myths regarding the "hockey stick" can be found on various non-peer reviewed websites and other non-scientific venues". If you carry this study back past 1000 years you get into the medieval warm period and the graph falls apart.
I think there is a great deal of money involved in this research and you have to go along to get the funds. If we look at this with a logical mind you have to agree that the earth has cooled and warmed many times over the millennia and will continue to do so. If an event occurred in the past and was unassociated with the point of your hypothesis then you have not met all of the requirements of the scientific method. Lastly, does CO2 contribute to global warming."Approximately 99.72% of the "greenhouse effect" is due to natural causes -- mostly water vapor and traces of other gases, which we can do nothing at all about. Eliminating human activity altogether would have little impact on climate change". CO2 levels are mostly dependant upon solar activity and the graphs comparing sun spot activity with CO2 levels mirror each other. I for one am very concerned about pollution, however, I think it's local pollution that is the problem. If we pick up after ourselves and treat this earth as a steward of what God has given us then we will all be much better off. By not acting on how we feel and instead on scientific fact is a good start. This will allow modern society to channel our efforts in a meaningful direction.