Points Of View

The first noise heard is the glee-filled yells of the children.  Then the familiar scents of fried foods, the sweetness of cotton candy and the tartness of home-made lemonade drift toward you on the sultry summer air.  You will pick up the calls of the barkers tempting you to try whatever challenge or oddity their booth offers. In the distance the roar of racing cars resonates.  Depending where you wander the faint whiff of barnyard odors and the soft sounds of animal conversations might float to your nose and ears.

For one hundred sixty-one years the Ingham County Fair in Mason, Michigan has welcomed visitors.  Having attended numerous times as a child and later as a chaperone for children, the excitement has never faded.  County fairs and their larger counterpart, state fairs (Michigan State Fair) celebrate the end of the summer and the accomplishments of many individuals.  In Billy and Goat At The State Fair (Alfred A. Knopf, June 30, 2015) written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino a friendship is challenged.

Billy and Goat were
the best of friends.

They were not best friends because they shared the same interests.  In fact if the phrase opposites attract were illustrated in a dictionary, portraits of Billy and Goat would be featured.

Billy liked to fix the tractor,
and Goat like to ride it.

It's safe to say, Billy's idea of fun was to read about it but Goat would rather be doing it.  In a search for excitement Goat found exactly what he wanted.  He made sure Billy knew about it too.  A huge billboard was being hung announcing the state fair.

Part of the sign announced a Best-Goat Competition.  Billy was thrilled.  Goat could hardly wait to attend.  When they arrived at the fair Billy could not believe how enormous it was.  It was intimidating.  Goat wanted the truck to stop immediately.

When the livestock tent was located Billy felt relief.  Goat decided to get free and see the sights.  It seemed like wherever Billy looked Goat was one step ahead.  Nearly in a panic Billy finally found his friend....on a gigantic float in the parade.  Truth be told, Billy was enjoying this as much as Goat was.  The rest of the day and into the night the two friends were inseparable.  Did someone say roller coaster?


Dan Yaccarino announces with his first sentence about the strength of the relationship between Billy and Goat.  He then proceeds to tell us more about their likes and dislikes defining their personality types.  Ever so slightly Yaccarino begins to set us up for the fairground chase when we realize each one is excited to attend the fair for entirely different reasons.  Billy wants calm and the competition and Goat wants wild exploration.  Here are two sample sentences.

They shared corn dogs.
(Goat thought the sticks
were delicious.)


On the matching dust jacket and book case Dan Yaccarino, in a back to front, edge to edge, illustration introduces us to Billy and Goat against the backdrop of the state fair.  We can already see how their relationship works.  Billy is looking straight at the reader, proud as punch with his ice cream cone.  He seems to have forgotten Goat will tend to do the opposite of what Billy expects.  Notice how the use of limited color in the background makes Billy and Goat stand out from the general hubbub.

An idyllic pastoral scene with the barn, farmhouse and Billy carrying a book with Goat following behind spans the entire opening and closing endpapers.  When we turn to the title page, an open- mouthed Billy is chasing that scamp Goat running away with Billy's book.  In the first part of the narrative, when Yaccarino wants us to pause we are greeted with a two-page image for emphasis.  As he makes a comparison or wants to show the passage of time, smaller illustrations will be grouped together.  During the chase he shifts to single page illustrations and two pictures to a page to create more tension.

With curved lines and dots, Yaccarino has the adept ability to convey on their faces the exact moods of Billy and Goat.  Rendered in brush and ink on vellum and Adobe Photoshop, simple elements work in combination to depict more intimate moments in contrast to larger expanses at the fair.  Yaccarino works humor into his story best during the chase.

One of my favorite illustrations spans two pages on a background of white.  Silhouettes in purple of Billy and Goat begin to wind their way on a dotted path through the fairgrounds past the merry-go-round, the Ferris wheel, floral and vegetable exhibits, a pie-eating contest, games, a maze and other rides until they find the livestock tent.  It gives an overview of the state fair but also offers sneak peeks at places figuring into the tale later.


Hand this book, Billy And Goat At The State Fair written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, to those looking for a way to open a conversation about events during the summer, to those wanting to see how opposite personalities can work to benefit a friendship and to those who enjoy laughing.  Readers can appreciate the use of a conjunction to separate a term but connect two characters in companionship.  How can you look at the front dust jacket and book case and not smile?

To learn more about Dan Yaccarino please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  At the publisher's page for this title you can see interior views.  This book is reviewed by teacher librarian Travis Jonker on his blog, 100 Scope Notes.

AEHF Achieves Initial Operational Capability

7/31/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- General John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, declared Initial Operational Capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system on July 28.  This significant achievement reflects superb collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Advanced EHF also includes International Partners from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

The AEHF system is a joint service satellite communications system that provides survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets.  AEHF provides 10 times the throughput and a substantial increase in coverage compared to the 1990s-era Milstar satellites currently in orbit.

"Achieving AEHF IOC is a great accomplishment for the team. We're proud to deliver an unparalleled leap forward in protected communications capability for both our nation's senior leaders and also our warfighters in the field," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center's commander.

With the IOC declaration, the Air Force's 4th Space Operations Squadron is now operating the AEHF system, supporting warfighters around the world.

The first AEHF spacecraft was launched on Aug. 14, 2010; the AEHF-2 spacecraft was launched on May 4, 2012; and the AEHF-3 spacecraft was launched on Sept. 18, 2013.  The Air Force will continue to expand the AEHF constellation to meet the demands of the DoD and the warfighter.  AEHF-4, AEHF-5, and AEHF-6 are projected to launch in 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively.    

Media representatives who would like to interview a subject matter expert or learn more about the AEHF system should send an e-mail to: smcpa.media@us.af.mil or call (310) 653-2367/2369/2377

Nick Clegg should have accepted a role on the Lib Dem front bench



Tim Farron asked Nick Clegg to serve on the Liberal Democrat front bench with a portfolio covering Europe, foreign affairs and defence. Nick Clegg turned the request down.

I think Nick was right and Nick was wrong.

Some say that by declining to serve under him, Nick is giving Tim some space as the new leader. But with the Liberal Democrats down to eight MPs, we cannot afford to lose someone with Nick’s experience of government.

 And the country cannot afford to lose his talents. It is by no means certain that David Cameron’s foolish referendum will be won by the pro-EU side. So that cause needs every eloquent advocate it can find.

When I tweeted this the other day, a lot of people told me that Nick had been in the front line of politics for five years and suffered a lot of unfair criticism.

Yet somehow I feel that if Nick’s strategy had worked and we had held the balance of power after the last election, he would have been happy to continue in government.

I sent a second tweet saying that there was a danger that people would see Nick as saying: “If I can’t be deputy prime minister then I’m taking my bat home.”

On reflection, people may now have better things to do than ponder the motivations of Lib Dem MPs. So let me try another metaphor.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
Having sailed his ship into the iceberg, Captain Clegg has a duty to take his turn at the oars of the lifeboat.


Little Gems

Between Little Gem posts follow
 us on Facebook and Instagram

Market Harborough is the best harborough



Thanks to solarpilchard on Twitter for this extract from Simon Evans Goes to Market.

Homophobic Monk guilty of harassing lesbian witches

The Leicester Mercury has the latest on the Homophobic Monk:
A monk has pleaded guilty to harassment after getting into a war of words with a pair of lesbian witches. 
Damon Kelly, 53, from a Catholic group calling themselves the Black Hermits, delivers leaflets campaigning against homosexuality and other things he regards as sins. 
When a lesbian couple living in Clarendon Park, Leicester, received his leaflet one of them stopped Kelly further down the street and confronted him and tried to hand him back the leaflet. ... 
The woman's partner joined her outside and defended the couple's sexuality and pagan beliefs. The court heard both parties were quoting scripture at other. 
Mr Chapman said an "aggressive and fanatical" Kelly told the women: "You know we used to burn people like you. 
"I'm doing God's work."
A fortnight later Kelly delivered a letter to the two women. It described "witches, gays, lesbians and sex-changers" as being part of the "devil's madness".

As Kelly has taken a vow of poverty he cannot be fined, so the court adjourned the case for three weeks to assess whether Kelly is fit for unpaid work.

I shall just add that should you want to look for lesbian witches in Leicester, then Clarendon Park is the place to start.

The Laughter Side of Life

For several summers days were spent in anticipation of a sighting.  Plans were made to work or read in front of the cottage so the dock on the river was never out of view.  Whenever she (could have been a he) was spotted spirits were immediately lifted.

There was playfulness in every movement.  This otter of the river enjoyed having an audience.  I could have watched for hours.  On April 29, 2014 author illustrator Sam Garton sent I Am Otter (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) into the world.

HI!  I am Otter.
No one really knows where I came
from.  Otter Keeper says that he found
me in a box on his doorstep one day.

As is the case with most youngsters Otter is small and slightly frightened of Otter Keeper but this is soon remedied with the formation of a fast friendship.  Teddy, courtesy of Otter Keeper, becomes of member of the household.  The trio has loads of fun together, particularly on Saturday and Sunday.

When Mondays roll around Otter performs every trick in the book to ensure Otter Keeper stays to play instead of going to work.  Constantly on the move and thinking Otter decides he and Teddy need a job too.  They are going to open a toast restaurant.

Soon it is plain to see this business has problems which are obviously Teddy's fault.  Reservations, the cost of toast and incorrect orders lead to customer complaints which in turn lead to customers being forced to leave.  Teddy is out of a job and Giraffe is the new chef.

As if Otter does not have enough worries, Otter Keeper comes home.  Getting everyone out of sight is highly difficult.  There is no time to clean up the mess.  Hide!

Unfortunately Otter Keeper finds Otter, orders a tidying up session and requires all the guests to be returned to their proper places.  In his defense Otter places the blame for this disaster on Teddy.  Where IS Teddy?  Oh, no!  There is no time to rest, Teddy must be found.  A sleepless night tells a tale with more than one ending.


Sam Garton must be part otter as his narrative clearly depicts the frisky nature of these charming creatures.  In the character of Otter we see an inventive personality with endless energy.  By having the story told from Otter's point of view, humor builds as the story progresses.  The disparity between the words and images are sure to generate multiple laugh-out-loud moments.


Digitally created using Adobe Photoshop all the illustrations, beginning with the matching dust jacket and book case, radiate the exuberance of Otter.  We know Otter will be cooking with his pals.  The tie hanging on the "O" signifies his stint as restaurateur.  The pale yellow background draws our attention to the vibrant full color palette.  On the back, to the left, we see other companions, toys, of Otter's along with a sign reading

tost
restrant
open ----->

The blue on Giraffe becomes the background color for the opening and closing endpapers (foreshadowing?).  On the title page Garton begins the story with a box left on the doorstep of Otter Keeper's home.  A crisp white is the canvas for all of the images.

The size of the visuals is a reflection of the text.  They are placed on single pages, two, three, or five to a page, toward the bottom, off to the left or right or for emphasis across two pages, edge to edge.  They are in direct contrast to and enhance the narrative.

Every single detail, of which there are many, heightens the hilarity; Otter wearing a helmet while drive a motorized car with Teddy as a passenger, Otter wearing glasses and a party hat singing karaoke, or Otter throwing Otter Keeper's clock in the goldfish bowl to stop time.   Otter's expressions especially when interacting with the inanimate toys are laughter-inducing.

One of many favorite illustrations is for the phrase

Some of the customers
complained and had to be
asked to leave the restaurant.

We see a window on the outside of Otter Keeper's home open.  Two clay pots are on the sill.  A garbage can, overflowing, is beneath the window along with a broom.  Toys are being tossed out of the window.







This year on May 5th, the second book in the series Otter in Space (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) was released to readers.  An outing with Otter Keeper and Teddy does not end with the return home.  Ever creative Otter is ready for a new adventure.

On Sunday, Otter Keeper took me
and Teddy to the museum.
The museum is the best place ever!

A dinosaur skeleton, a large life-like bear, classic artwork and artifacts are all intriguing but the section dedicated to space is Otter's favorite place.  Interactive exhibits are a treat for this on-the-move otter.  At the gift shop an armload of goodies to take home is reduced to a single item by Otter Keeper. The toy space ship is nifty but what's a rocket without a moon rock.

On Monday, Otter, Teddy and Giraffe all agree a moon rock is needed.  Otter thinks and thinks and thinks some more.  Like a blast into outer space, the perfect plan pops into Otter's head.  Teddy and Otter are going to get a moon rock from the moon.

A list of necessary steps is made and followed.  Space suits are fashioned and training is started.  Teddy is having a hard time with keeping the gear on and problem solving but does a smashing job with antigravity (washing machine).  It seems Giraffe is selected to be mission control.

Totally focused and clearly task-oriented Otter builds a spaceship destined to land on the moon or the nearby slide.  The results of the journey are not as expected but our fearless astronaut is not to be deterred.  A moon rock must be secured for the return to Earth.  Otter Keeper in none too happy about this newest discovery but Otter always has a plan.  You'll be triply surprised.


The way the mind of Otter works through the words of Sam Garton is a constant source of comedy.  His viewpoint appreciates the wonder found in everyday things; things others take for granted.  The simple sentence structure will appeal to younger readers (and those fortunate enough to read these aloud).  Here are a couple of sentences.

We saw a huge dinosaur skeleton
and met Teddy's cousin.
We looked at old paintings,
made before crayons were invented.
In a museum, even boring things
become interesting if they are
old enough.


Like the title text on the first book, when you run your fingers over it, you will feel the raised letters.  The shaded blue sky on the matching dust jacket and book case signify a journey in the making.  The attire worn by Otter, Teddy and Giraffe will certainly create smiles and questions.  To the left, on the back, Otter is reading a book titled Outer Space to Teddy as they sit on a hill.  The hue in the word Otter is used as the color for the opening and closing endpapers.

Beneath the title page text, we see Otter's backpack, the toy space ship, crayons, a museum guide and Teddy's backpack.  A charming two-page picture, for the verso and first page, features the museum, surrounding trees and decorated enclosure with Otter Keeper, Otter and Teddy standing in front ready to begin their tour.  Rendered in Adobe Photoshop the placement and size of the images supply pacing to complement and enhance the story.

As in the first title, Otter and Teddy wear attire as if they are small children.  When traveling in the car, Otter has a car seat and Teddy is securely fastened in a seat belt.  This will delight readers of all ages.  Another source of smiles is the writing of Otter.  Words are spelled as they sound but not necessarily correctly.

There are so many illustrations I adore in this title (as in the first one) but one of my favorites is of Otter and Teddy taking a lunch break before making the space suits.  The two are seated together on the floor.  Teddy is propped against the toy space ship with Otter feeding him strawberry jam with a spoon.  Otter is eating slices of toast and snacks while reading a comic book...upside down.  His water cup with a straw is close at paw.




Get ready for giggles and grins when reading I Am Otter and Otter in Space written and illustrated by Sam Garton.  A singular point of view and an ingenious spirit will endear readers to the character of Otter.  Hand these books to readers who love to laugh; life is too short not to enjoy it in the same spirit as this charming creation of Sam Garton.  Otter Loves Halloween hit shelves in book shops on July 21, 2015.  I can hardly wait to get a copy.

To learn more about Sam Garton and his work, please visit his website by following the link attached to this name.  There are two websites dedicated to Otter, I Am Otter, an updated blog and I Am Otter from the publisher. 

Enjoy this video about Sam Garton and some of the gathered tweets from Twitter. 






Rescuing the train involved in the Chilham derailment



What happened to the train derailed at Chilham after the passengers were rescued? I hear you ask. This video explains:
Surely working of the year! On Sunday 375703 and 375612 were working a late evening Charing Cross - Ramsgate service when on the approach to Chilham, 375703 hit 5 Cows and Derailed, the Breakdown Crane came from Bescot to re rail the unit, and 66723 dragged them from Chilham - Canterbury west on Monday the 28th. 
Then in the small hours of this morning [30 July] Thumper Power cars from Hastings Diesels unit 1001 were dispatched to collect the damaged units from Canterbury West - Ramsgate EMU Depot. At Approx 0130 this morning, we see 1001 Hauling 375703 and 375612 into Minster working 1Z99 Canterbury West - Ramsgate EMU Depot using emergency coupling.
The person who posted this on Youtube is so excited because the two powers cars hauling the train are from a preserved class 201 (or "Thumper" from the noise their engines make) set that was withdrawn from British Rail service as long ago as 1986.

More about my derailment hell elsewhere on this blog.

Six of the Best 527

Adam Ludlow analyses Labour's pensioner problem.

"In the 1930s many British aristos found themselves unable to keep their right arm vertical. Like their fellow nobs in France, Prussia and Spain, they clung to fascism as an antidote to democracy and in the hope of keeping their loot." Glen Newey puts that photo of a young Princess Elizabeth giving a Nazi salute into historical context.

Jenny Uglow goes round the Eric Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and finds the artist modern, English and strange.

Mrs Slocombe in space? Surely nothing could go wrong. Well, to judge by Come Back Mrs Noah’s repeat appearances on ‘worst sitcom’ lists, plenty did. This late-seventies comedy was one dud note in the otherwise much-admired comedy careers of writer producers David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd." Louisa Mellor surveys 11 science fiction situation comedies you may well have forgotten.

East of Elveden visits Crowland and John Clare's Helpston.

The remains of terracing in back gardens; grassy banks that reveal the extent of an earlier, much larger stadium; a forgotten East End stadium that could accommodate 120,000... Derelict London takes us around some of the city's long lost sports grounds.

Meteorological Moments

For those whose livelihood depends on the weather; farmers, fishermen, builders of bridges, roadways and homes, or airlines, railroads and other forms of transportation (to name a few) accurate forecasts are vital.  Some rely on generations of folklore, observations of the natural world, to predict daily, weekly, seasonal or yearly shifts in patterns.  The National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, depends on the expertise of climatologists and meteorologists, highly technical equipment and computer programming in order to provide the best, most up-to-date and extended weather information.

Having lost count of the number of times

Red sky at night, sailor's delight
Red sky in morning, sailor's warning

has been uttered in my presence and having witnessed the veracity of this lore, I've often wondered if there is a scientific basis for these occurrences.  Author Kathleen V. Kudlinski and illustrator Sebastia Serra answer this question among many others in Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! (Dial Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, July 7, 2015).   Let's go back to 1500 B.C.

Long, long ago, before people knew anything about the weather, even mighty Sumerian warriors were frightened by wild storms. 

They were certain their weather god, Enlil, was in a bad mood.  It was thought dancing might make him happier.  Today there is a scientific explanation for lightning and thunder involving jumping water droplets inside a cloud.  Spanish explorers took home the beliefs of the Taino Indians as to the cause of the killer storms they encountered.  If only those who ridiculed their frightening tales knew the truth of hurricanes.

A learned scholar in Greece taught the four elements, earth, air, wind and fire, as the cause of weather.  Now we know the sun, land forms, natural disasters and human transformation of the land figure prominently in forecasting.  You will be surprised to know how he did play a part in naming the science of weather.

Not dragonflies but water and dust can foretell a storm.  A drop in air pressure, indicating a shift in weather, measured by a barometer works best.  The ancient belief of the weather being generated all the way to the stars we now know to be untrue.  Our atmosphere only goes so high.

Climate changes have happened over the course of thousands of years in the past.  Today, people's lifestyle choices are speeding up the process at an alarming rate.  Global warming is generating uncommon weather worldwide.  Scientists will continue to collect, monitor and dispense gathered data to understand weather.


By presenting weather first in a historical context, Kathleen V. Kudlinski sets the stage for using her title phrase as a connection to disclosing the truth as we know it today.  She seeks to introduce the most interesting points about the past and explanations of the present.  Of particular interest is her opening the discussion about current climate change and global warming in light of those events in the past. Her sentences are conversational and easily understood by the intended audience. Here is another sample passage.

People have never liked being surprised by the weather.  So they searched for ways to predict it in advance.  The ancient Chinese thought that if a dragonfly was seen flying up and down instead of sideways, it meant rain was coming.
Boy, were they wrong! 


Rendered in pencil and computer graphics Sebastia Serra begins our weather journey by combining the past with the present on the matching dust jacket and book case.  This illustration crosses the spine to continue on the back to the left.  It's a wild storm with funneling winds off the coast of a community from the past.  As then yields to now, the wild weather gives way to a sunny day.  The prominent shade of blue on the jacket and case is used on both the opening and closing endpapers.  The barometer held by the girl on the front is shown in better detail on the title page.

With a page turn Serra takes readers through the four seasons on the verso and dedication pages.  As on the jacket and case his use of vibrant colors with animated characters, human and animal, supplies us with lively images.  Most of his visuals cover two pages.  At times he chooses to place a smaller picture within the larger whole.  There are some single page pictures, edge to edge or framed in white, assisting readers in pausing during the narrative.

His images are brimming with details creating entire worlds or a specific moment, altering our perspective as the text dictates.  Your eyes go to the image, read the text, and then go back to examine the story told in the illustration.  Humor appears when you least expect it.

One of my favorite pictures is of the classroom engaged in listening to a presentation about the water cycle.  The arrangement of the desks, the decor, the diversity of the students and the blend of a chalk board with a computer screen is in sync with the text.  The student with a stop watch, timing the seconds between lightning and thunder during the storm, shows a high level of interest.  This classroom exemplifies the entire book, lively and informative.


Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! written by Kathleen V. Kudlinski with illustrations by Sebastia Serra is a science book with high appeal to all readers.  Everyone who reads this will leave knowing something new.  It entertains, explains and invites us to explore more about our weather and climate.  At the conclusion of the book a time line is listed along with two websites for gathering more information.

To become acquainted with Kathleen V. Kudlinski and Sebastia Serra please follow the links embedded in their names to access their respective websites.


I truly enjoy adding my blog post to the list of others at Kid Lit Frenzy each week.  I continue to be thankful to educator Alyson Beecher for hosting the 2015 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.  Make sure you check out some of the other titles.  There are some outstanding recommendations this week.


John Pugh defends the study of philosophy



There has been some grumbling of Twitter about the appointment of John Pugh as the Liberal Democrats' education spokesperson on education.

I too hope that he will not take us back to the days when our education policy consisted solely of Phil Willis complaining that every new initiative would lead to a "two-tier service".

This is because, then as now, we already have a two-tier system: between the state and private sectors - and frequently within the state system too, policed by house prices. The question is what we do about this, not how we can defend the status quo.

But, being a philosophy graduate myself, I was encouraged to find a 2009 article by John, written at a time when Liverpool University was proposing the closure of its philosophy and politics departments.

He wrote:
As philosophers would say, studying has both intrinsic and instrumental value, and this is true of all intellectual academic disciplines. Yet this is increasingly being forgotten. 
The past 10-20 years have seen the rise of philistinism and technocratic short-sightedness. The forces controlling education have increasingly forgotten that intellectual learning is valuable and important for its own sake, and not simply to the extent it boosts economic productivity. Ironically, those forces have simultaneously failed to see that the intellectual skills acquired from academic study are amongst the very best methods of equipping people with the capacity to be productive.

Repairs to the railway at Chilham

The rail replacement bus from Canterbury West to Ashford went past Godmersham village hall, where they looked after us on Sunday night, and then the site of the derailment.

What I didn't realise at the time was that it took place on a low embankment. That, added to the fact that there was not a train coming the other way at just the wrong time, made me realise that I may have a luckier escape than I realised at the time.

Anyway, these photographs from the Network Rail Media Centre show the work that has taken place to rescue the train and repair the track and bridge at Chilham.

I have also added a photo of my "Ticket to Cow Hell".

Credit: Network Rail
Credit: Network Rail
Credit: Network Rail
Credit: Network Rail

Team Black Jack takes command of newest GPS satellite

by 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


7/27/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Space Wing's 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons accepted command and control of the tenth Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite here July 24.

The Space and Missile Systems Center's GPS Directorate, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, remained in control of the satellite during an on-orbit checkout period before the hand-off to 2 and 19 SOPS.

"We're extremely honored to accept command and control of the tenth GPS IIF satellite," said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS commander. "The phenomenal team from the Space and Missiles Systems Center, 45th Space Wing and 19 SOPS were pivotal to this successful launch."

Lt. Col. Sam Baxter, 19 SOPS commander, explained the importance of his team's role in transfer operations.

"Satellite Control Authority transfers are proud moments for Team Black Jack," said Baxter. "Nineteen SOPS has lead responsibilities for launch and checkout operations of new satellites. Our civilians and Airmen leverage their years of experience and expertise to configure the satellite for its final operating configuration."

Upon completion of the transfer, the majority of 19 SOPS' operations are concluded, while 2 SOPS continues satellite operations.

Beyond its essential capabilities for the military, GPS is a worldwide utility that provides highly accurate positioning, navigation and timing services for people all around the world.

Additionally, the U.S. and global economy rely on space and cyberspace to enable such vital activities as banking, weather forecasting, transportation, global commerce and farming/agriculture.

"Today's GPS constellation is the largest and most robust it has ever been," said Capt. Aaron Blain, GPS analyst flight commander. "With a constellation composed of 40 satellites and four different models, it is both a challenge and a privilege to operate and maintain."

The members of 2 and 19 SOPS operate the largest Department of Defense satellite constellation via the Master Control Station and a worldwide network of monitoring stations and ground antennas.

"2 SOPS' continuing objective is to ensure GPS remains the gold standard for global space-based navigation and timing by providing highly reliable and accurate GPS signals to users around the world," said Benson. "We look forward to continuing to provide our mission partners and global users with the most accurate position, navigation and timing signal available in the history of GPS."

DoD Releases Report on Security Implications of Climate Change



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2015 – Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries, according to a report the Defense Department sent to Congress yesterday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee requested the report in conjunction with the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015, asking that the undersecretary of defense for policy provide a report that identifies the most serious and likely climate-related security risks for each combatant command and the ways those commands integrate risk mitigation into their planning processes.

Fragile States Vulnerable to Disruption

The report finds that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.

“The Department of Defense's primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world,” officials said in a news release announcing the report’s submission. “This involves considering all aspects of the global security environment and planning appropriately for potential contingencies and the possibility of unexpected developments both in the near and the longer terms.

“It is in this context,” they continued, “that the department must consider the effects of climate change -- such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones and more frequent and intense severe weather events -- and how these effects could impact national security.”

Integrating Climate-Related Impacts Into Planning

To reduce the national security implications of climate change, combatant commands are integrating climate-related impacts into their planning cycles, officials said. The ability of the United States and other countries to cope with the risks and implications of climate change requires monitoring, analysis and integration of those risks into existing overall risk management measures, as appropriate for each combatant command, they added.

The report concludes the Defense Department already is observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, the Arctic, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America, officials said.

Summer fun at the Richard Jefferies Museum


I visited the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate in Swindon myself back in 2009 when holidays were easier - my mother's health was better and you didn't get derailed.

Tempest Endurance

For every moment of our lives together Xena has been my barometer.  If a weather change is coming her behavior is directly affected.  As she ages her movements are slower when a front is on its way.  Her nose will lift skyward as if she can smell the shift.

If bird song dies away you can be sure a storm is advancing.  A light breeze will still as the air gets heavy.  Over in the Wetlands:  A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story (Schwartz & Wade Books, July 14, 2015)  written by Caroline Starr Rose with illustrations by Rob Dunlavey takes readers on a striking tour of a vital ecosystem.

Over in the wetlands
where the silky mist weaves,
Dragonfly lights on a slender reed.

By all appearances everything is well in the bayou but the wind softly speaks otherwise.  As the speed ever so slightly increases a crab family moves.  Varieties of birds continue to feed in shallow water but the ripples have become waves.

A mother gator carries five babies toward a hidden hole.  As clouds move toward the wetlands so do fish seeking safety in deeper water.  A hurricane is approaching landfall as winds grow wild.

Turtles scramble toward security.  Graceful egrets lean low in shelters of green.  It's as dark as night within the blowing trees.  They and the wind, an eerie orchestra, create a haunting melody.  It seems as if this fierceness will go on without end.

The harsh hurricane finally fades.  Mothers and babies play, glide, bask and settle as sunset red colors the now still waters.  As stars shine and reflect Dragonfly glides.


With every reading the writing of Caroline Starr Rose takes us deeper and deeper into the Louisiana wetlands teeming with flora and fauna.  Her word combinations are a true sensory experience.  If we close our eyes and listen to her narrative we are transported.  As the storm intensifies we are acutely aware of an ever-growing tension due to the shift in her sentence structure.  Her use of punctuation creates a nearly musical rhythm of life before, during and after the hurricane.  Here is another sample passage.

Wind-whipped waves
smash up debris.
Turtles swim for safer seas.
Dark clouds snarl, press down the skies.
The hurricane grumbles,
the hurricane writhes.


Portions of interior illustrations are placed on the front and back of the matching dust jacket and book case.  Each, the egrets and the diving fish, portray a growing sense of unease in the wildlife.  Their movements are indicative of the impending storm.  Shades of teal and wetland green are used on the opening and closing endpapers.  Tiny, almost imperceptible, wavy lines stretch across both, row after row.  It's an interesting texture much like the changing water of the bayou area.

A paler, muted shade of green supplies the canvas for the verso and title page.  A narrow oval picture of the bayou and Dragonfly is placed between the text on the right.

Rendered in watercolor ink, pencil, paint, collage, and Adobe Photoshop  

the images span edge to edge across two pages.  Rob Dunlavey heightens the words of Caroline Starr Rose.

We feel the humidity, feel the changing air, hear the crabs crawl, hear the splash as pelicans dive, gaze in wonder at mothers and babies, watch the shifting sky colors and clouds, and hear the roar of the hurricane as it wages a windy war on the wetlands.  Varied perspectives bring us near to the animals or depict the vastness of the area.  A blend of fine, flowing lines, hues prominent in the region in all kinds of weather and naturalist-like details on the animals and plants draw readers to Louisiana.

One of my favorite pictures is the first one.  Against the backdrop of the trees, water, reeds and leaves of the bayou we zoom in on Dragonfly resting.  One wing is dipped to make ripples on the otherwise smooth surface.  It is most definitely the calm before the storm.


Over in the Wetlands:  A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story written by Caroline Starr Rose with illustrations by Rob Dunlavey is a breathtaking look at a habitat probably not known by others except those living near to the area.  It's a tribute to the strength and adaptablility of both the flora and fauna.  It's a plea for preservation.  At the end an Author's Note further explains the wetlands of Louisiana including five websites for more research.  On the opposite page more information is given about the highlighted animals.

To learn more about Caroline Starr Rose and Rob Dunlavey please visit their websites by following the links embedded in their names.  They both have an online presence in other venues.  At the publisher's website you can view more interior illustrations.  When I read Caroline Starr Rose's post at Nerdy Book Club  today about this book, I knew I had to write a post.  A four-page printable discussion guide is located here.

Rogers: NSA, Cybercom Need Partners to Aid Cybersecurity



By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2015 – U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency have capabilities critical to helping the nation’s public- and private-sector entities during and even before a cyberattack, but both agencies need partners to do so, Navy Adm. Mike Rogers said recently.

Rogers, commander of Cybercom and director of NSA, was speaking July 24 at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, during a discussion moderated by David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. The admiral also took questions from the audience on war, crime and security in cyberspace.

Cybercom is especially interested in trends in cyberattacks and cybercrime -- even those occurring in the private sector -- because the U.S. government has designated 16 areas in the private sector that have implications for the nation’s security, Rogers said.

These include energy, transportation, financial services, food supplies and communications, and may be especially vulnerable to cyberattack because they use open-source software or hardware, third-party utilities and interconnected networks, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Defend Industry, Defend the Nation

“What DoD said was, we believe that the nation is going to be turning to us to help defend it in the midst of a potential crisis and as a result we will generate capabilities that we could potentially apply, if directed, against portions of those 16 segments,” he said.

The DoD Cybersecurity Strategy that Defense Secretary Ash Carter released in April quantifies the kinds of private-sector attacks DoD will respond to as “cyber events of significant consequence,” Rogers added, making the point that “the government is not signing up to” defend everything.

In the end, the admiral said, “it is all about our ability to create partnerships. It is the ability of the private sector and the government to team together to generate better outcomes for the nation, not just for us but our allies as well.”

Another important part of the strategy involves help from NSA.

Warnings and Indications

“We have said that NSA will use its foreign intelligence mission to generate insights as to what key cyber actors around the world are doing,” Rogers said.

The idea is to get ahead of the problem by getting insights at the point of origin rather than waiting for the attack, the admiral said. These insights could provide indications and warning to the government and the private sector before the attack originates, Rogers said.

“This is what you're going to see,” he said, referring to what NSA can tell a private-sector company that will share the right kind of data, “this is how you can best structure your defense to defeat it.”

Between NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Rogers said, “we try to do all of that with the private sector.”

But he reminded the audience that Cybercom is just one part of a broader enterprise, naming the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI as two of the command’s biggest partners on cyber defense.

Critical Partnerships

“One of the reasons why the partnership is so important -- using NSA resources to monitor and guard U.S. networks -- that's not our mission,” Rogers said, “and it's against the law … but on the other hand I do want to create a partnership where we're able to share information with each other.”

An example, he said, was the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in November 2014 sponsored by North Korea.

After the hack, Sony went to the U.S. government for help, he said, and the government determined that the hack was a criminal act.

The FBI was designated as the lead agency, Rogers said, “and the FBI turns to NSA and says, ‘We could use your analytic help, will you partner with us in working with Sony?’”

The admiral said Sony cooperated completely with the government during the investigation.

“We said, ‘In order to generate the insights we need, here's the kind of detail we need.’ Sony did everything we asked. We were able as a result to generate insights relatively quickly about what we were seeing,” he explained.

But Rogers was frustrated with the situation.

“This [cooperation] is great,” he said, “but the horse was out of the barn … Why can't we have this kind of dialog prior to the attack?”