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In August 2016, I left the Appalachian Trail to sell my house and purchase an Airstream 25FB travel trailer which I describe as living in a tunnel.

This is the post excerpt.

My name is Thomas Buzas, also known by the trail name Apa. This blog covers my travels, experiences, and impressions since August 2016, and back to 2010 covering four trips cross country, to Alaska and 1,600 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I’m fairly boring, but I do interesting things.

We’re all preppers again.

One of the haunting memories of my childhood was my father from a family of twelve children surviving the Great Depression saying, “You don’t know what it’s like to go to bed hungry.” We always had a store of food in the basement: a freezer half a cow and pig, bushels of vegetables: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peas, and carrots blanched and frozen each fall. Neighbors tended large gardens, the produce of which they spent days canning. Large batches of tomatoes steamed in sweaty kitchens. Cabbage turned into sauerkraut; cucumbers became pickles; vegies, garden salads; and peppers pickled.

Few of these skills were passed on, those that were soon forgotten, as my generation relied on just-in-time delivery to freshly stocked supermarkets and stores and cheap frozen fruits and vegetables. Oh, we did set aside supplies for a few days against hurricanes when we lived in Florida, not when we moved north.

A few years ago, the TV series Doomsday Preppers was a hit for a while. Typically, a show covered three families revealing the calamity they feared and their preparations. Being a reality entertainment show, the subjects were treated half-seriously, the line between reality and script obscured as they stumbled through their preparations and stockpiling of supplies.

Everyone knows about the dated lifestyles of the Mennonite and Mormons storing food. In older days, women oversaw the house, especially the stores of foods and goods, dispensing what they deemed suitable, stretching supplies to the next harvest, giving rise to the archetypes of stingy versus frivolous women. In one epic Greek poem, a legendary figure wanting to give a gift to his guest asked his wife for permission, what could he give? In medieval times, the wife wore the keys to storerooms on her belt. When most of the men in the Donner party died, the survivors, predominately women and children but some men from a few families, their wives and mothers were credited.

With power outages crossing California, environmentalist blocking pipeline construction creating winter natural gas shortages in New York and New England, and now the coronavirus, the CDC is extending their recommended storage to two weeks of storage up from three days before Katrina to a week after. What next, a month’s worth against a zombie apocalypse? Our lazy respite from the old ways appears to be over.

No need to panic, practice prudence and prepare. Remember a community will survive better than an individual, and everyone hates a bandit.

Climate

Valid Climate Change Models

We are interested in climate change for two reasons: 1) to adapt to changes occurring naturally and 2) to control the detrimental effect we humans might have on climate. Personally I believe in climate change and the effect of humans on climate as the historical record supports those beliefs, but cannot support the extreme measures some have proposed. One should use alternative energy sources, when it makes economic sense, and if one wishes, when it does not. Society may offer subsidies, but the case for large scale changeovers has not yet been made. Other issues, such as diseases, malnutrition, immunization, water quality, waste management, and so forth, have more proven urgency and benefit.

While I’m not a climate scientist and don’t pretend to be one, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t question the science behind large scale economic and climate interventions. For instance, contrary to popular believes in ancient times no one believed in the Earth was flat, while everyone knew the Sun revolved around the Earth. “Hey, I can see the ship appear over the horizon top down,” versus “I’m standing still, the sun is moving.” Until poor born-too-soon Galileo disagreed, whose case he lost because he couldn’t provide the proof that would emerge too late for him 200 years after his death. Now I’m no Galileo trusting in my theories, I require some proof of what might turn out to be true, or not.

Not being a climate scientist, I cannot asses the internal workings of their models. There are, however, two things which I can question: 1) the time frame considered, and 2) the factors included.

The first purpose to predict natural changes requires a longer time series than the second purpose to control our influence. There should be some overlap when humans had little effect, probably not all the way back to the advent of agriculture, several thousand years seems reasonable to establish a model covering natural change before human interference became significant. Modeling shorter time periods, such as couple hundred years, makes me suspicious that the influence of natural factors has not been established.

Here are some things scientists have proposed that might influence climate.

Lone Term Factors: We should be cautious when comparing current climate to that of very distant times under different conditions.

  1. The Milky Way. Our solar system rotates around our galaxy every 250 million years, passing through areas of dense and sparse electro-magnetic fields, radiation, dust and who knows what else. This influences the number of cosmic rays that penetrate our atmosphere, producing clouds which influences the temperature of the Earth. Time scale, millions of years, perhaps tens of millions. The link between cosmic rays and cloud formation is well established, as is the link between cloud cover and the reflection of solar energy, water vapor being the most important greenhouse gas.
  2. Tectonic change – The original unified land mass, Pangea, broke up pieces creating continents and islands separating waters into oceans and seas, connected by straits thereby altering wind patterns and ocean currents, influencing climate, probably huge initially, but now slower incremental change. Time frame, again millions of years. Very different conditions.
  3. Massive volcanic activity – The collision of tectonic plates produced cataclysmic volcanic activity, such as the Deccan planes, the rise and fall of mountain ranges etc. Time frame – millions of years.

There may be others, of which I am unaware.

Ongoing Shorter-Term Factors

  1. Ongoing Volcanic activity emits varying amounts of greenhouse gases and particulate matter. Time frame constant.
  2. Rogue Volcanoes – sporadic eruptions such as Krakatoa inducing the year without a summer are thankfully short-lived, if significant. Time frame- years.
  3. Ocean life – miniscule ocean creatures make shells using carbon die, sink to the bottom, sequestering carbon, and creating limestone. The amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere over hundreds of millions of years is unbelievably large. Time frame constant.
  4. Ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream are part of a larger system of ocean currents taking decades to circulate.
  5. Other Chemical processes – warming and cooling of the ocean absorbs and releases other greenhouse gases, such as methane deposits
  6. Milankovitch cycles –
    1. Our wobbly Earth spins like a top slowing down while rotating around the sun in a path that alternates between an ellipse and circle over 95,000 years. The amount of solar energy received varies reportedly as much as 20% between summer and winter depending in the shape. Currently the path is almost a circle producing a difference of 6%.
    2. The tilt of the earth varies between 21.5 and 24.5 degrees over 41,000 years accentuating and dampening the seasons. Note that the tilt cycle at 41,000 years is not in sync with the 95,000 year cycle of eccentricity. Consequently, sometimes the northern hemisphere will lean towards the sun when close, and sometimes away. Currently the north pole tilts away from the sun in summer. Because the northern hemisphere has more land than the southern hemisphere, which carries differences in the load of solar energy carried versus rejected thereby influencing climate.
    3. Over 23,000 years the Earth wobbles pointing towards Polaris or Vega. Currently our summer occurs when the earth is almost at its farthest from the sun, in another 10,500 years summer will occur when the earth is closest to the sun, producing warmer summers and colder winters. Thus we should expect gradually warming summers and colder winters.
  7. Solar cycles – NASA published a report relating a .2% change in solar output to 25% of recent temperature change.
    1. Most of us are familiar with the 11-year sunspot cycle. Contrasted with the visibly dark sunspots of relatively low solar output are invisible hot spots of high solar output. The absence of sunspots is associated with low solar output. Some periods are more extreme in a cycle of 350-400 years.
    2. Solar physicist Valentina Zharkova has related the movement magnetic fields of the two solar north poles and two solar south poles influencing the magnetic field of the solar system, varying cosmic ray penetration with consequent cloud formation, temperature changes and so forth. This is an evolving area of research.
    3. While the earth rotates around the sun, the sun rotates around the center of the solar system which is not located at the center of the sun. The sun rotates around this center in a circle with a cycle of 2,100 years moving closer to earth and away while the earth is likewise moving closer and further away. Again, out of sync, so sometimes there will be more solar energy delivered and sometimes less. The next 500 years, the sun will move closer to the earth during summer, and further away in the winter, making summers warmer in the northern hemisphere and colder in winter, vice versa in the southern hemisphere, cooler summers and warmer winters.
  8. Solar Irradiance – are all the wavelengths imparting energy included.
  9. Humans effects – burning of wood, coal, gas, and oil; practice agriculture and husbandry; emergence of megapolis, and so forth.

To my knowledge, current climate models assume solar input is constant and cover short time periods rather than the thousands of years that IMHO would appear exhaustive given the major climate changes since the last Ice Age and the advent of civilization. Much work remains to be done.

As to the factors listed above, Judith Curry https://judithcurry.com/2020/02/13/plausible-scenarios-for-climate-change-2020-2050/ considered four major factors in great detail:

  1. Man Made Emissions
  2. Solar variations
  3. Volcanic eruptions
  4. Decadal-scale ocean circulation variability

Curry appears to have completed the most comprehensive review of factors influencing climate in the near term.

New Directions

Settling down after 10 years. Going to post factual based commentary. For instance,

Obama wants credit for the Trump boom. Consider, 1) on average the stock market yields 10% a year; 2) the number of people working usually increases with each passing year; and 3) similarly wages usually increase year over year. Arguably every prior president could claim the successes of the following president as being due to him setting up his successor for success. The question is how much more or less accurate?

IMHO at his time, Obama is about 60% accurate. And here is why: when to start and end  data series is a contentious issue. Generally I think it best, given seasonality, to start and end on the same month and day and of some equal significance, meaning in case of presidential terms, election day,  inauguration day, around the first budget (the first year budget is passed, or not passed, thanks Congress, under the prior president.), those are the three fixed date options that I can think of.  The answer may differ according to the measure of economic performance. For instance, the stock market is forward looking, hence, election day is probably better than inauguration day or the first proposed or passed budget, whereas wages and employment numbers might be better delayed post election. Note I use BLS statistics, results vary a little depending on which variation one selects, but to no consequence on the conclusion.

The return on the Dow starting with Obama’s election day is 8.8% (including the 350 point bump on election day, fair to include because Obama was expected to win) compounded annually, for Trump, 3 years 16%, the ratio is 55%. Employment is up 100,000 a month on average for Obama, 188,000 a month for Trump 55%, Similarly wages 55% Obama versus Trump. Side issues – blue collar up more under Trump than Obama, but income inequality is a separate issue. Why not unemployment rates? Two reasons, unless things have changed, unemployment only counts those actively looking for work and those ending unemployment benefits aren’t counted either.

Running the numbers for the Dow starting with inauguration day, produces Obama 12% or 75% of Obama but the market fell after Obama’s election and surged following Trump’s. Suggesting the market viewed Trump’s election more favorably than Obama’s. I find it hard to believe that the president-elect has no effect on the market while the lame duck president continues to do so. Thus I favor starting to track on election day. Employment numbers January to January are 120542 versus 182192, a ratio of 66% and for average wages 62%.

Even the the difference between 75% and 100% on the Dow is substantial: over 3 years, 1.406 compounded versus 1.560, or 15.4, a full year’s growth. (1.12 for four years is 1.574). Extrapolating (will be interesting to see if the Trump boom can continue), 8 years of Trump would equal 10.6 years under Obama. The employment and wages ratios, 66% and 62% versus 75% are more consequential than the Dow differences once compounded.

What about the recession Obama inherited? That is tricky issue. The market tanked in Obama’s second year, after his budget and the trillion dollar stimulus fiasco. Could a better president have avoided that? I don’t know, Reagan didn’t. His recession was in the second year of his presidency as well.

In conclusion, the numbers vary somewhat depending on the day you choose to start, but Obama’s economy was 55% of Trump’s by multiple measures on my preferred choice, the day of election, and approximately 66% on January. Split the difference, 60%.

Family name – Buzas

Origin of the Family name – Buzas

There are two viable explanations, and a third ridiculous explanation. Many family names were acquired recently, often derived from an occupation, location, such as an estate, or family member, such as Johnson. Hence,

  1. Hungarian – buza means wheat in Hungarian, similar words refer to wheat or wheat products across the steppes to Mongolia and in Turkey, and, I am told, for millet in Persia. Also, buza, boza, etc. refer to a weak fermented broth brewed from grain. A farmers’ market is called Buza Plac. There are villages, rivers and mountains in the region named Buza and variations thereof. Buzasi means ‘from Buza.’ Thus a person of Hungarian ancestry may have acquired their family name from wheat or locations named Buza, Buzas, or similar.
  2. Historical records indicate the name Buzes for a Thracian general. Linguists believe buza is the Thracian word for goat. Perhaps location names may refer to areas where goats are kept. However, there are no records to support this speculation. The earliest, the name Bouseos is applied to the current Buzau river around 376 AD, which would during the time of Roman occupation. In this regard, the closest Latin word would be “bus” for ox. Thus it is possible that some families derive their name from these locations predating the recorded presence of Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians (the areas occupied by the Thracians, Getae, and Dacian peoples). Buza, Buzes and variations are not names for any tribes in the area or in historical records before 300 AD.
  3. The Romanian word for lip is buza or buze, as in Czech. The Bulgarian word for cheek is buza. It seems unlikely that a family name would derive from the word for lip or cheek. Equally unlikely that a river or mountain would be named for a lip or cheek.

Presently, I conclude the family name derives from either the Hungarian word for wheat or locations named Buza, which have been named for goats, oxen, wheat or other unknown reasons.

A note on genetics, language, and culture. The DNA of eastern Hungary, Romania and surrounding areas are remarkably similar. Thus, any claims to genetic heritage are to be shared equally. Also, the Thracian-Dacian language and culture disappeared before the current cultures of Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians emerged. Establishing a claim as the rightful inheritors of a cultural legacy would require a high level of proof and exclusivity. Good luck.

Creative writing

“Victory Girls” is one of the site I follow regularly. Every Friday they post a picture as a 100-word fiction challenge. Here is my response:

“Hurry, the night show is starting.”

“I hope it’s not an opera again.”

“I still don’t understand how they do it, lights and music from the sky.”

“Isn’t it wonderful, Grandma?”

‘Yes, it is dear.”

“Did they have anything like this when you were a girl?”

“Well, we had a light shows at theme parks, but, no, nothing like this.”

One week near Chattanooga

A week outside Chattanooga. My brother had been told Chattanooga had a reputation as a tough town, but I have seen no reason. There are indications of poverty.

I ate out a couple times, my favorite and only recommendation: Purple Daisy Picnic Café where I had the pork sandwich, and a cup of pork and some beans. $10 with drink.

Walks/Hikes: First a no-name trail, near where I’m staying. There were two ways up, the easy way following blazes or the side trail which was a track with many rocks and roots, fallen trees, etc. I went up that way for about 45 minutes before coming back down.

Next day, Glen Falls, a 2-mile arc starting from the roadside, down 250 feet to the falls, back up to the roadside in 1 mile, then turn around a repeat for your 2 miles and 500 feet about an hour. It rained Tuesday,  so I took a day off.

Rested, I took on the 1100 foot in 1.8 miles ascent of Lookout Mountain, starting at the Kiddie Trail up to Sunset Rock, then turn around and back down. The Kiddie Trail was in part more brook than trail and I got nicked by some thorns before deciding to just stomp through the water. I stopped many times to commune with nature, that is, wait for my breath to catch up. It was my first real hike since Montana. The view from Sunset Rock is impressive, the city laid out below, country and hills beyond.

Emboldened, I followed the 10-mile Bluff Trail, 1,200 feet, which is very easy apart from the .6 mile 600 foot climb at the turnaround point. I made really good time 4.3 miles in 1:45 or about 2.5 miles an hour, including stops for pictures and to look around. That .6 section up and down took almost 40 minutes – a doleful 1.6 miles an hour going up – slope does matter. On the way back, I stopped to explore crevices and promontories and to chat with rock climbers. I was alone almost the entire day, until the last mile and half back when work and school let out. Ended up taking almost 5 hours. Got some tips on good hikes in the area. I use the All Trails app, but find it best to supplement with the opinions of local hikers.

Starting the Bluff Trail, I had to smile, at meeting the stereotypical expert hiker asking me if I had enough water and such. I know the type well, having been that guy myself many times. Perhaps it was my new hiking outfit, a bright blue thin wool hiking shirt and crisp still-has-the-crease hiking pants. If he had looked at my shoes, worn well through Maine, Ohio, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, more and they’re not worn out yet – I like my Lowa hiking shoes. ….. Or, if he had looked at my beat-up hiking poles. He meant well. He was concerned for my well-being so I was polite. Thanks, but yes, I did have enough water and so forth.

I enjoyed the Bluff Trail very much. It reminded me of so many places along the Appalachian Trail below the ridge line, arcing down from a high spot of hard rock down and into the mountain where softer eroded and back up to hard rock again. I finally got my trail mojo on the Bluff Trail. During the climb to Sunset rock, I hadn’t gotten into the rhythm of hiking, uncertain of my footing. On Bluff Trail, whether longer, or less steep, I began to pay less attention to my feet, picking out placement paces ahead, building speed as I hiked, breathing more easily, seeing more, enjoying the hike more.