Algorithms and Victor Hood – What’s That All About?

The newly published author, Victor A. Hood, is better known to followers of his blog as Al Hood. His work can be found at:  The Cvillean – The adventures of little read writing Hood.

Al recently published an autobiography, “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” I wanted to purchase it. I knew it was being sold by Amazon,  but wondered if it would show up in a ‘Google’ search. I started with the author’s name and the name of the book. The search engine came back with  some books, including ones about Robin Hood, some obits, a type of range hood… but not what I was looking for.

Next I went to Amazon.com and looked in the book section for “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” Amazon told me I had used too many words, so they showed me 2000 results for a search for the words ‘so thats all’. Al’s book was fifth in the results. The first four books were about preaching, teacher leadership and sex education for youth.

I then tried searching in Amazon for Victor A. Hood. While Al’s book did come up on the top of this list, Amazon asked me if I meant to search for Victoria Hood. That was an interesting suggestion because in Al’s book, he noted that his mother had hoped he would be a girl. She had already picked out a name: Victoria.

Searching and Algorithms – What’s that all about?
The results we see when we search for anything is decided by an algorithm. This is a set of instructions with certain conditions that will deliver a pre-defined result. The people who write these algorithms influence what you are going to see. A Google Spokeswoman unintentionally confirmed this by saying:

We do today what we have done all along, provide relevant results from the most reliable sources available.
– Google Spokeswoman in response to a WSJ article in 2019 –

“The most reliable sources available”  – someone is deciding for you what the reliable sources will be.

Now the Government Wants to Decide What you will See
The Canadian Government has introduced Bill C-10, the internet streaming tax. The primary goal of this bill, as stated by Openmedia.org, is:
… expanding Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet… In addition to the taxes… C-10 would grant the CRTC the right to set quotas for how much of a streaming platform’s content must be CanCon (Canadian Content), and to require… apps, websites and search results to make CanCon appear more frequently and prominently within the service.

The Canadian Government deciding what you should see. What could possible be wrong with that?!?

For more about Algorithms, click these links to my posts:
Math and Number Quotations
Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

Lest We Forget

Calgary’s Field of Crosses

Each year, from November 1 to 11, over 3400 Memorial Crosses are placed in a park along Calgary’s Memorial Drive. Each cross represents a soldier from Southern Alberta who died in active duty during Conflicts and Peacekeeping Missions from 1899 to the Present.

Calgary Alberta
Field of Crosses, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary Alberta

Vine, Henry W

The Car Guy and I walked the length of the park to reach our destination at the east end of the Field – the marker of Henry William Vine, my grandfather’s brother.

World War One

Henry William signed his Attestation Papers for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in September 1915. He was 17 years and 1 month old, and likely lied about his age in order to enlist. The family story is that a woman handed him the white feather of cowardice, and that is what compelled him to join.

Henry’s unit, the 49th Bn, arrived in France on March 26, 1916. Henry reported to base slightly wounded in June, 1916 but remained at duty. He was wounded again on September 15, 1916, apparently a gun shot wound to the right elbow. His third encounter with the enemy was his last. He was reported missing after action at The Somme, and presumed dead on October 4, 1916. His body was never found, making him one of just over 11,000 Canadian soldiers with no known grave.

The Battles of the Somme were launched by the British. On July 1, 1916, in daylight, 100,000 inexperienced, over burdened, inadequately supported men climbed out of their trenches and advanced shoulder to shoulder, one behind the other, across the cratered waste of “No Man’s Land”. 57,470 British soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing on that first day.

In late August 1916, the Canadians moved to the Somme where they took over a section of the front directly in front of the village of Courcelette. By autumn, rains had turned the battlefield into a bog and the offensive came to a halt. The line had moved forward only 10 kilometers.

A completely accurate table of World War One losses may never be compiled, but it is estimated that 8,500,000 soldiers died as a result of wounds and/or disease. It has also been estimated that 13 million civilian deaths were attributable to the war.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McRae, December 8, 1915
Doctor serving with the Canadian Artillery

Fall Harvest – The Race is On

Alberta has 21 million hectares (52 million acres) of agriculture land that is used for farming and ranching. Wheat, barley, canola, oats, rye, dry peas, lentils, flax, dry beans and potatoes are the primary crops.

An Alberta Harvestpast and present.

Alberta Irricana Pioneer Acres

Irricana’s Pioneer Acres hosts an annual Farm Days which features working demonstrations of  the farm equipment that would have been used by our grandfathers and great grandfathers. This photo shows a wagon, a stationary thresher machine (which separates the grain from the straw and chaff) and a grain truck. The thresher is powered by a tractor (not shown).

Today, harvesting is done by self propelled Combines that cut the crop and threshes it. The combine doesn’t even have to stop moving to transfer the grain to trucks.Alberta Canada

This is one of three combines that harvested the quarter section behind our place yesterday afternoon. It was a dusty day for everyone within a mile of the action (but probably not for the driver!)

Farming has always been a risky business and that is no less true today than it was in the past. In terms of absolute number of fatalities, farming is the most dangerous occupation in Canada.

Safety in his business means getting the word “hurry” out of everyone’s vocabulary. I’ve never seen a crop that didn’t get taken off the field. But I’ve sure seen cases where we had to bury someone when there was still a crop in the field.
– Brent Lee Johnson –

I ran the photo of the combine through Topaz Studio. The first photo is my favourite!

What crops are grown in your part of the world? 

Blanche Russell Rock Houses

A few years ago, after a visit to the Grand Canyon, we drove east on Hgw 64, then north on Hgws 89 and 89A. We crossed the Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge, and were on final approach to the Vermillion Cliffs when we were surprised to see some mushroom shaped rocks that looked like a group of Smurfs had built houses under them.

Arizona

We stopped to investigate  and quickly realized they really were ‘Tiny Houses’. A worn and badly damaged sign nearby told the story of  Blanche Russell  and her husband William (Bill), whose car broke down in the area in about 1927 (or maybe 1920)…

Arizona

The pair took shelter under the mushroom rocks over night. Blanche liked the area so much that she bought the property and built permanent structures. She lived there for about 10 years and operated a business.

Arizona

Arizona

Arizona

When I looked online for more information about the Blanche Russel Rock Houses, I found a number of  ‘folklore’ stories on several sites:

“Around 1927, Blanch Russell’s car broke down as she traveled through this area. Forced to camp overnight, she decided she liked the scenery so well that she bought the property and stayed. The stone buildings under these balanced rocks were built shortly after that in the 1930’s.”
http://arizona.untraveledroad.com/Coconino/HouseRock/56SSign.htm

“The Old Cliff Dwellers’ Lodge (Blanche Russell Rock House) is located on 89-A in Marble Canyon, AZ…  Blanche built a meager lean-to against the largest rock of many… and gradually built a life by serving food to passer-bys visiting the Grand Canyon. Guests of particular interest included Mormons traveling the nearby Honeymoon Trail to the temple in St. George, Utah.”
https://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=5326

“Blanche Russell was a successful dancer in a series of sophisticated theatrical productions called The Ziegfeld Follies. Blanche left the limelight when her husband Bill was diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis… They immediately purchased the land and constructed a unique rock house which they later converted into a roadside trading post. The structure was built with stacked rock against a large fallen boulder… The original home remains on the property today… They started serving food to travelers and later found themselves running a full-scale restaurant, trading post and even selling gasoline. The area became so popular, travelers began to refer to the area as Soup Creek or House Rock Valley… After a decade, the Russell’s grew tired of the desolate desert and sold the land to a rancher named Jack Church, who later turned the restaurant into a bar. It wasn’t but three years later when he sold the establishment to Art & Evelyn Greene.”
http://theproperfunction.com/the-cliff-dwellers/

“According to author Kay Campbell, who wrote a booklet about the Cliff Dwellers lodges, (Cliff dweller’s old and new: A history of the rock “village” on Highway 89A near Lee’s Ferry – 1998) the Russells sold water they took out of nearby Soap Springs and also sold pigeons out of a coop they kept at the site.” (This booklet is listed on Amazon, but is not available for purchase.)
– This site is no longer available: archive.azcentral.com/travel/arizona/features/articles/archive/0928cliffdwellers –

“By the 1930’s, their full-scale restaurant evolved to include a trading post, both of which are just a stone’s throw further down the road. The little settlement, known as Soup Creek or Houserock Valley, included several attendant outbuildings.”
https://frametoframe.ca/2014/10/blanche-russells-rock-houses-marble-canyon-arizona/

Jack Church, who added his own personal touch by turning the restaurant into a bar during World War II. In 1943, third owners, Art and Evelyn Greene, purchased the land. They kept the old dwelling, which then consisted of eight buildings and a gas generator.”
http://www.kitchensaremonkeybusiness.com/2012/05/may-20-2012-rock-houses.html

In 2001, Sandy Nevills Reiff interviewed Evelyn Greene for  the Northern Arizona University. The Greene family established trading posts, restaurants, and motels in the region. Evelyn’s recollection was that  Blanche Russell and her husband had come from New York in about 1920 or 1921. (She says the exact dates are in their archives, which are at ASU.) Evelyn says that Blanche and her husband set up a small business by the road side. Since the husband couldn’t do much in the way of helping, they would ask their customers to help them lay blocks and rocks to  make the buildings.
http://archive.li.suu.edu/voices/archive/transcripts/greenetranscript.htm

The only verifiable source facts I could find about the Blanche Russell story were  William Russel’s Death Certificate and the Patent for the land:

According to an Arizona State Board of Health’s Certificate of Death, William Pat Russel of Soap Creek, Coconino County, died July 27, 1936 of chronic myocarditis and mitral regurgitation. He was born on May 10, 1864 in Boston Mass, and was 72 years old when he died. He worked at a Service Station. He was married to Blanche Russell (nee Dodge) of Cameron Arizona. His father was Wm. Russell Sr. and his mother was Mary Sheets. He was buried in Flagstaff.
http://genealogy.az.gov/

The Bureau of Land Management holds the document that shows Blanche A. Russell, the widow of William Russell, was issued the Patent for 400 Acres of land on 1/11/1939.

The Bureau of Land Management also shows that Art Greene acquired 40 acres of Blanche’s property (039N – 006E SE¼SE¼ 28) on 4/21/1955.
https://glorecords.blm.gov/search/default.aspx

The Arizona State University Libraries Archivist was kind enough to look through the Greene Family Collection for me. The only relevant item he found was a negative photostat copy of a 1930’s application for homestead by William Russell for the land Cliff Dweller’s Lodge occupies. (That application was denied by the federal government.)

Google Maps for the area:

Google Map – Blanche Russell Rock Houses (Cliff Dweller’s Stone House)
Google Map – Blanche Russell Rock Houses (Cliff Dweller’s Stone House)

So many questions, so few answers about a woman, who by all accounts, was a remarkably resourceful and adventurous person!

Wouldn’t you love to know ‘the rest of the story’!

Bourton-on-the Water

Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in the Cotswolds Area of Gloucestershire, England. The houses and shops in the village are constructed of the yellow Oolitic limestone that is found in the surrounding hills. Cotswold stone is easily split into blocks and is quite weather-resistant.

The Cotswold hills cover an area that is about 40 miles across and 120 miles long. It is an extremely popular tourist destination.

thatch roof house

A peek over just about any hedge or stone wall will give you a glimpse of why at least 117 buildings within Bourton-on-the-Water have been listed as Grade II or higher. This designation means the building has ‘special architectural or historic interest’. The building’s owners have to apply for consent to do most types of work that affect their home.

hedge

A peek inside this wobbly hedge! I sure wouldn’t want to be the one who keeps it trimmed.

In old age, and having been sprained by the weight of snow over the decades, the hedges now wobble along, imperfect, but full of vegetable dignity…
– Description of Walmer Castle Hedges, Heritage Magazine Issue 48 –

Vine House

A peek at the house behind the Ivy. English Ivy is the most prevalent self-clinging climber found on walls in England, though some ornamental ivy types are also used.

In 2010, English Heritage released the results of a study to determine whether Ivy was beneficial or detrimental when it grew up the sides of buildings. Their research suggested that as long as ivy was not rooting into the wall, there were numerous positive benefits.

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Peek.

RCMP – Law, Order and the Musical Ride

In 1867, Canada became a nation. This year (2017) is Canada’s 150th Birthday!

Mounties, dressed in red serge, are often seen leading local parades on Canada Day (July1st). There are 680 RCMP Detachments across Canada.

Six years after the Dominion of Canada was formed, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force and gave it the task of maintaining Law and Order in the newly acquired western territories of Canada. The force acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP). By 1886, the NWMP’s first riding school was established in Regina and in 1887, the horses and riders performed mounted precision cavalry drills on several occasions. It wasn’t until 1901,  though, that the drills, choreographed to music, began to be performed for the public.

In 1920, the name of the force was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Today, the Musical Ride consists of 32 riders (plus one leader) in scarlet jackets on beautiful black horses. The RCMP has bred and raised its own horses since 1939. The Ride tours throughout Canada and internationally between May and October.

RCMP Musical Ride at the Calgary Stampede – 32 horses and riders in an orderly line-up!

More Canadiana – Best Canadian Puns, Jokes and Observations.

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Order.

Idaho and Utah – Driving By the Numbers

Our trip home from Arizona to Alberta took 5 days (April 29 to May 3, 2016) to cover a distance of 2600 km (1650 miles).

Arches National Park Utah
This year we drove Sadie, a 2002 SL500 convertible that gets 10 L/100 km (28 mpg) and loves to gallop along at 129 km/h (80 mph) on the I-15.

Your car knows

One of our fuel stops was in Monticello, Utah – elevation 2,155 m (7070 ft) where Sadie dined on 91 octane. I bought 1 bar of dark chocolate fuel for myself – our glove compartment had 0 gloves and 0 candy bars.

 

M129E1

804 km (500 miles) later, we were in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We stopped at the Army Surplus Warehouse (after Sadie got some more gas, and I refilled the glove compartment with chocolate.) There are many interesting things for sale there, including an M129 leaflet dispenser that is 2.28 metres (7.5 ft long) and 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter. Its empty weight is about 52 kilograms (115 pounds) and when loaded with leaflets it weighs about 100 kilograms (225 pounds).

This leaflet bomb is apparently left over from the Vietnam War.

Leaflet propaganda is still being used, with one of the more recent examples being in Syria (population 18.5 million people) where the military hoped to deter possible ISIS recruits from joining in 2015.

Iraq was another conflict were PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) leaflets were used. About 19 million were dropped in Iraq prior to ground combat. 31 million were dropped during the fighting. Also, the U.S. bombarded Iraqis with e-mails and cell phone calls.

We probably get upwards of 5 phone calls a day from Telemarketers based in the United States. (Canada’s National Do Not Call List is very effective, and we are thankful for that!) Can you imagine what it would be like to be bombarded with leaflets, emails AND phone calls?!

This week I looked for Quotations about Numbers and found:

Managers and supervisors with large numbers of people under them – each with his own ideas – must sometimes feel like Charles DeGaulle, who once lamented, “Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese.
– Author Unknown –

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can. That’s almost $7.00 in dog money.
– Joe Weinstein –

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Numbers

Vibrant Willys Coupe at Barrett-Jackson

Willys-Overland Motors produced the Willys Americar from 1937 to 1942 – either as sedans, coupes, station wagons or pickup trucks.

The coupe version is very popular with the hot rod set, and this beautiful 1941 Willys Custom Coupe wears vibrant metallic pearl and royal ruby pearl paint. With extensive chroming from front to back, this car sparkled under the lights at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2016.

Willys-Overland’s biggest claim to fame is the famous 4×4 “Willys” which was chosen by the War Department as its light utility vehicle of choice. The “Jeep”, as it would become known, was based on the original Bantam design of the Willys company.

A Willys Americar would have cost about $630 in the early 1940’s. As a hot rod, this one sold in 2016 for $80,300. In 2015, the same car sold at Barrett Jackson in Las Vegas for $110,000. What goes up, must come down, they say…

Have you ever taken a big ‘hit’ when you sold a car?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Vibrant

Oil Field Dodge and Stalking John Dillinger – 1920’s Dodge Brothers (Video)

The Oil Field Dodge was the star of a Dodge Brothers promotional film that was apparently filmed in Texas in the 1920’s. (The piano music in this video is “New Walk” by Dave Hartley, released 2006.)

The vehicle used in this video would probably have been produced after March of 1919 (when a four­ door enclosed sedan was introduced into the Dodge line) and before the 1924 model year when the wheelbase was extended to 116 inches, louvers were placed on the hood, and the entire car was given a lower appearance.

Oil Field Dodge
1919 Dodge
1924 Dodge
1927 Dodge

The Dodge Brothers (John and Horace) began building motor cars in 1910. Initially they manufactured and assembled Model T’s for the Ford Motor Company. In 1913 they began designing their own car, and on November 14, 1914 the first Dodge Brothers vehicle rolled off the assembly line. In just three years Dodge became the fourth largest American automobile manufacturer. By 1919, the company was producing about 106,000 vehicles per year and in 1925 they sold their one millionth car.

The Dodge Brothers both died in 1920. In 1925 the Dodge heirs sold the firm to New York investment bankers Dillon, Read & Company for $146 million. Dillon then sold it to Walter P. Chrysler in 1928 for $170 million.

DH 4 Door Sedan movie ‘Public Enemies’
1931 Dodge

This 1931 Dodge 4 door sedan was owned by Hurley County, Wisconsin, Sheriff Frank J. Erspamer. The original purchase price of the car was $950. In 1934, the Sheriff supposedly accompanied the FBI to the Little Bohemia Lodge where the outlaw John Dillinger was.

The car sold at the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona for $19,250.

Last, but certainly not least, is The Car Guy’s Dodge Dakota:

While it probably could not navigate the mud like the Oil Field Dodge, and it certainly isn’t used to hunt down famous criminals, last month it started (without being plugged in) when the temperature was -30C (-22F).

I’ll be glad to reply to or dodge your questions, depending on what I think will help our election most.
– George H. W. Bush –

If you can’t Dodge it, Ram it.
– Author Unknown –

Belgium – WWI Memorial – A Brooding Soldier

Canada entered World War I as a colony and came out a nation…
– Bruce Hutchison, Canadian Journalist –

We’ve been to Europe a number of times. (I know that sounds like a big deal, but we were living in England at the time.) On one of our trips we visited a number of  WWI cemeteries and monuments in Belgium and France. I was looking for a cemetery that contained soldiers who had died on the same day that my Grandpa’s brother, Henry, had been reported missing in battle. (Read In Flanders Fields for the story of my family in WWI.)

Near St. Julien we found the Canadian Memorial of The Brooding Soldier.  The bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier with folded hands resting on arms reversed was carved from an 11 metre high piece of granite. It appears to be meditating about the battle in which his comrades displayed such great valour – a battle where the Canadian, British and French Armies met an enemy that launched the first ever large-scale gas attack.

Each fall I am reminded of that visit to Brussels and the St. Julien Soldier when I see the drooping heads and leaves of my sunflowers. The first light dusting of snow makes the large flower head bend – a Brooding Sunflower.

A heavy frost assaults, but doesn’t quite kill.

But as the weather gets colder, the sunflower admits defeat. Winter wins another war.