Arizona gov says he will not certify results until all lawsuits are settled

Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey today announced that he will not certify the results of the state’s presidential election until all the lawsuits involving issues in the count are settled.

In Arizona specifically, the Trump campaign and state GOP filed lawsuits in Maricopa County in a bid to block officials from certifying the election results due to alleged voter irregularities and improprieties.

“There are legal claims that are being challenged in court and everybody on the ballot has certain access rights and remedies and if they want to push that they are able. Once those are adjudicated and the process plays out, I will accept the results of the election,” the Republican governor said in a news conference on Wednesday.

Based on Ducey’s generally spineless leadership, I have no confidence in his announcement. I think he is playing us. He has done less than nothing to really make sure the vote is accurate, even though it is in his power to do so. For example, he could call the legislature back in session so that its Republican majority could get involved. He has refused to do this, keeping them out of the game. Moreover, his administration apparently chose the questionable Dominion election software used to count the vote, despite questions raised about it from many sources for years.

What I think he is doing is making it seem he cares. Then, when he folds like a house of cards to an untrustworthy recount, he can claim he was there for us. All hogwash.

The only saving grace to his announcement is that if no certification occurs before December 14th, the lack of Arizona’s electoral votes might force the decision into the House of Representatives, where the Republicans will have the votes to keep Trump president. If the Democrats wish to avoid this, they should be moving heaven and Earth to clear up any issues and thus settle the lawsuits.

Not surprisingly, I do not see the Democrats doing this. Instead, they are working to block any audits or proper recounts. Makes one wonder what they might be trying to hide.

With Americans under attack where are Trump and the Republicans?

For me, the most distressing part of the panic over COVID-19 has not been the rules, the mandates, the nullification of the Bill of Rights, and the shut down of normal life, all of which have been terrible, wrong-headed, and a disaster for our country.

What has distressed me the most is the gutless response by the nation’s so-called conservative Republican politicians. All of the panic and harsh rules and economic damage has been designed by the Democrats to hurt the reelection chances of Trump. Little of it has anything to do with stopping the virus, and in fact most are nothing more than symbolic gestures that can accomplish nothing.

Despite this, Republican elected leaders have acquiesced to the Democrats demands, almost across the board.

Consider my own state of Arizona. My governor, Doug Ducey, is Republican. Republicans also have majorities in both houses of my state legislature. Yet, they have either let the Democrats run the show, or have acted in ways that are indistinguishable from the worst dictators in New York and New Jersey. First Governor Ducey imposed and then extended a lockdown that has bankrupted many businesses in the state. Then, as he began to loosen that lockdown he ceded his power to the generally Democratically-controlled local governments, letting them impose their own odious rules in place of his. The result is that in most big cities in the state, the lock down did not really end, but got tightened with new rules mandating masks.

Yesterday he reinstated part of his lock down for another thirty days. And like Democratic governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey, the new rules he imposed [pdf] were arbitrary and capricious, and will thus have little if any effect. Bars, gyms, indoor movie theaters, and water parks have to close until July 27th. Government and community pools however can stay open. So can restaurants, shopping centers, clothing stores, and many other venues that previously were considered “non-essential.” He also banned any gathering of more than fifty people, but exempted political demonstrations and religious services.

And why did he do this? It appears there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks! That means (oh no!) the number of people either hospitalized or dying might skyrocket, and overwhelm the hospitals!
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Ducey extends Arizona shut down two weeks

Fascist: Republican Arizona governor Doug Ducey today announced a two week extension of his so-called “shelter-in-place” order, what is really a house arrest for the general population and a shut down of business that is putting one quarter of the population out of work.

Ducey’s new edicts call for some businesses to begin opening sooner, but with many restrictions. Restaurants however will be locked down until May 12. The edict also said that “no county, city, or town may issue orders, rules, or regulations that conflict with the executive order.”

I wonder if there might be some pushback from local authorities in some areas, as has been seen in other states, especially because of this minor detail:

One in four small businesses in Phoenix could be gone for good, according to the city’s economic director. It could take six years to recover all the jobs that have been lost. “Seeing that 20% to 25% of our small businesses won’t be here when this is over is terrifying for me,” said Christine Mackay, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Phoenix.

What does Ducey care if one in four people are out of work? He made himself look good, and now can preen himself as a hero.

To me, he looks like a jackbooted thug. May he roast in hell.

And I dare him to send some police storm troopers to my house to arrest me for saying so.

Arizona Governor Ducey to delay end of lockdown?

According to this article, Republican governor Doug Ducey is delaying any action relating to ending his “shelter-in-place” order that is bankrupting one quarter of Arizona’s industries and putting that many people out of work.

The reason? He apparently has a financial interest in keeping the emergency going for as long as possible.

Insiders tell NATIONAL FILE that Ducey might not be a trustworthy leader in the cause of re-opening the state economy. Ducey is delaying setting a firm date on re-opening the state, citing safety concerns while testing is underway. Ducey presides over legislature-approved state emergency spending and also a portion of his state’s $1.5 billion from the federal government.

Ducey also…

…sits on the Board of Governors for an institute that is accepting state health department funding to conduct Coronavirus testing in the state of Arizona. That institute happens to be an affiliate of a nonprofit that is working to develop a Coronavirus vaccine that is not expected to begin clinical trials until late 2020.

In other words, as long as the emergency lockdown is maintained, Ducey is in a position to funnel money to this institute that he also is on the Board of Governors.

This is unconscionable, especially because the shut down is bankrupting private businesses across the state. Worse, it is par for the course.

When I called the local Republican office here in Tucson, they told me that Ducey is working closely with Senator Martha McSally (R-Arizona), which might also explain his position. One of the reasons McSally lost to Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema in 2018 is because the two are both pretty liberal. For conservatives there really wasn’t any point in voting for McSally, so many stayed home. This is also why she is presently trailing in polls to Mark Kelly, her Democratic opponent for the 2020 election. McSally doesn’t offer an alternative to the big government, Washington swamp politics that now dominate. She is part of it, as is Kelly and Sinema.

As apparently is Ducey as well. I have made several calls to his office, expressing my outrage over the shut down, all to no avail. They say they will call back, but never do.

And our political class wonders why they got Trump. This is why, and if they don’t change their behavior we will get more, and it will be far worse than Trump ever was.

Democrats in VA and AZ issue a warning: “We will oppress you if you elect us!”

They’re coming for you next: Much has been made of the onerousness gun control laws passed by the Democrats in the Virginia state legislature this past week.

When it became clear that the Democrats were going to pass such laws, having gained control of both the legislature and the governorship, 95 counties and cities in the state made it publicly clear they would not enforce these laws, announcing that they were now second amendment sanctuary counties. Then, more than 22,000 Virginians gathered in protest at the statehouse, peacefully but forcefully declaring their opposition to these proposed laws.

None of that mattered to the modern Democrats now in charge in Virginia. They passed the laws, one of which gives the state “the authority to confiscate certain types of magazines that are considered ‘high capacity.'” I don’t know how they think they will enforce that confiscation right, but since they think it appropriate and just, don’t be surprised if they impose new laws to strengthen their ability to do so, including the right to do house-to-house searches.

Most of the the discussion about this story has been focused on the opposition to the laws themselves. I want to focus on what it tells us about the modern Democratic Party. You see, these fascist actions — which do nothing to reduce violence or crime while making law-abiding citizens criminals — are being planned by practically every local Democratic Party operation across the nation. All they require to make them law is to obtain power, as they have in Virginia.

My proof? Consider the comparable gun control law proposed yesterday by the Democrats in the Arizona state legislature:
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Crested Saguaro

Crested saguaro

Today I took the morning off to do a hike with Diane and friend Susan. I did this mostly because other caving-related conservation work on recent and future weekends has made it impossible for me to go hiking with my wife. Since she hikes with Susan on Fridays, I decided to join them.

We went to Tucson Mountain Park, on the west side of Tucson, to do one of the more well known trails. The photo to the right, taken by Diane back in 2016, shows the spectacular crested saguaro she discovered in plain site on that hike but had gone unnoticed by us for years.

Everyone knows saguaros for their classic western look that makes it the state wildflower of Arizona. Normally they have a central post that sometimes has one or more arms extending from it. For normal saguaros the tops of the central post and the arms are almost always symmetrical and rounded.

However, in rare cases (about 1 in 10,000) something strange happens and a saguaro begins to grow wildly at its peak, or even along its entire length. Such freaks are called crested or cristate saguaros, and only about 2,200 have been found throughout the saguaro range in the southwest. When you find one it is always with a sense of triumph and wonder.

We began to look for crested saguaros during hikes around 2015, after a friend had shown us two on a nearby hike that we had done frequently without ever noticing this wonder of nature that was right before our eyes. Thus Diane’s discovery to the right in 2016. Today we went back on that same hike and found it again. It had not changed in any way in the past four years that I could tell when comparing pictures. Regardless, it is one of the wildest crested saguaros I’ve ever seen.

No one really knows why this happens. My theory today, in looking at this one, is that it was on drugs.

How one region’s space industry represents the world

bumper sticker

On October 2 I attended for the first time a monthly meeting of the Arizona Space Business Roundtable, an informal gathering put together by Stephen Fleming of the University of Arizona’s Strategic Business Initiatives and designed to allow the various space businesses of southern Arizona to network together as well as highlight what they are accomplishing to themselves and to others.

This particular meeting involved the presentation to the business community of a study that looked into the potential growth possibilities for space within the Tucson region. The study had been financed by the University of Arizona, several local venture capital companies, and the local county government, and had found that southern Arizona’s most likely source of space business in the near future would revolve around the need to track and monitor the large number of satellites expected to be launched in the coming decades. This would also involve substantial military work, as well as related space junk clean-up duties. The study also found that the southern Arizona space industry is well suited to provide much of the growing support services that future space missions, both governmental and private, will need. You can read more about the study’s results and the meeting at this Arizona Star article.

What struck me most about this gathering and the space industry of southern Arizona, however, is how much it resembles the regional space industries in numerous other places throughout the United States and the world. In fact, during a panel discussion after the presentation Fleming specifically asked the panelists — made up of several local companies (Vector, Worldview, Paragon) and two venture capital companies — what other regions in the U.S. posed the most competitive threat to southern Arizona. The panelists quickly listed Denver-Boulder, Silicon Valley in California, Huntsville in Alabama, the Space Coast in Florida, and New Mexico. They also made it clear that this list was not complete.

All of these regions are presently prospering and, more important, growing. All see a bright future in space, and all are aggressively competing to grab as large a market share in this future as they can. Even more significant, there appears to be more than enough business to go around. With numerous new countries pushing their own space efforts (China, India, UAE, Great Britain, Luxembourg, to name only a few), and both the American government as well as private companies attempting their own missions to the Moon and beyond, the possibilities appear endless. A lot of government money and investment capital is presently being poured into space, and numerous regions throughout the world are reaching for that money and the future profits it will bring.

And all of these regions are stock full of numerous independent and private companies and individuals, all pushing their own ideas about how space should be explored and conquered.

There are many aspects of the present charge to explore and settle the solar system that I do not like and believe will actually hamper and slow that exploration and settlement. Nonetheless, this charge is happening worldwide, and with amazing and increasing vigor. Even the worst proposals, such as NASA’s Gateway project, are going to eventually lead to new space technologies and capabilities that will sooner or later make it possible for the human race to routinely travel throughout the solar system.

It appears that the next two decades will lay the groundwork for the next few centuries of space exploration. And much of that groundwork will take place out of sight of the general public, with small companies located in regions like these. As with all great endeavors, the structure is that of a pyramid. At the top is the leader (such as SpaceX) that everyone watches and admires. Below it however is a vast subculture that provides the foundation for that leadership, even as it pushes upward to compete against it.

These are exciting times. I suggest if you love space you climb on the rocket now, before it picks up so much speed it will be beyond your reach.

How I spent the past two days

Black Canyon

I must apologize for the lack of posting the past two days. Diane and I have been up in northern Arizona staying at a friend’s cabin, hiking each day. The picture on the right shows Diane (right) and Jan Jantzer, whose house we have been staying, on today’s hike in Black Canyon, a canyon near Heber that is known by locals but is off the radar for most everyone else. Quite beautiful, especially because the recent rain has brought out the wildflowers. In addition, a forest fire about a dozen years ago cleared everything out, leaving behind a scattering of blackened tree trunks, many fallen logs, and open ground on which new growth has blossomed.

The canyon is also different in that it is wide and open, with sloping grassy walls interspersed with rocky cliffs. Most canyon hikes aim for high vertical walls and sculptured rock. Black Canyon instead was focused on the vegetation. As I said, very beautiful, and another example of why I left the crowded eastern United States for lovely Arizona.

I must add that the general news this week is so insane and filled with hatred that I needed a break.

Normal posting shall resume momentarily.

Arizona legislature about to pass law voiding 1st amendment at colleges

We’re here to help you! An effort at the Arizona state legislature to protect student free speech rights has produced a bill that expressly voids the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The original bill language read:

“A university or community college shall not restrict a student’s right to speak, including verbal speech, holding a sign or distributing fliers or other materials, in a public forum.”

Combined with subsequent language in the bill describing the way universities can implement reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, the original provision was perfectly appropriate. However, after emerging from conference committee, that language now reads:

“A university or community college may restrict a student’s right to speak, including verbal speech, holding a sign or distributing fliers or other materials, in a public forum.” [Emphasis in original]

You really can’t make this stuff up. The article at the link notes that, based on the Arizona legislature’s track record, the change is likely the result of a “drafting error.” Bah. Either this group of lawyers and politicians in Arizona are complete fools, don’t know how to read or write, or they really do intend to shut down free speech.

Arizona’s Court of Appeals sides with Pima County on space balloon deal

Arizona’s second highest court has agreed with Pima County and approved a deal the county made, without competitive bidding, with the space balloon company World View.

In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel acknowledged the purpose of competitive bids is to ensure that the county — and, by extension, the taxpayers — gets the most money for the property. But Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing for the court, said that does not apply when the real goal is not immediate income but longer-term economic development.

The Goldwater Institute, which brought the suit that claimed that the deal violated the state constitution because the lease was signed without competitive bidding, has said it will appeal to Arizona’s Supreme Court.

Hunting Javelinas

A javelina

This past weekend I participated on my third hunt, the second in which I was carrying my own weapon with the possibility of making my own kill. (For my first hunting experience I only came along as an observer.) The goal was to find and shoot a javelina, a boarlike wild animal whose range covers the southwestern United States down into Central America.

The hunt itself was what Arizona Game and Fish calls a HAM hunt, specifically limited to the use of handguns, archery, or muzzleloaders. This means that the only long gun you can use must be loaded through the muzzle one shot at a time, use black powder, and function somewhat like an old-fashioned musket. My weapon of choice was the 1911 pistol I use for bullseye competition, with a red dot scope, a customized left-handed grip, a carefully adjusted trigger, and in general carefully adjusted to be as accurate as possible. With this gun, shooting 45 caliber ammo, I can hit the black bullseye 50 yards away shooting one-armed about 70% of the time. At shorter distances, using two hands, I can easily group my shots in a space less than a few inches across. (Such accuracy on my part is actually not very impressive. Among bullseye shooters I am about average. The public’s general belief that pistols are not accurate beyond 20 feet is simply wrong. Practice, make sure your gun functions as it should, and you will reliably be able to hit your target at 50 yards.)

Since I really have no knowledge about hunting, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this without some help. My mentor this weekend was a local friend, Gary Kessinger, who has been hunting for decades, has a number of record kills, and routinely comes home successfully from his hunts. When I mentioned to Gary my desire to learn more about hunting and see how it is done, he gladly offered to guide me through the process. He hadn’t hunted javelinas much in the past few years, but decided to get his own license or tag so that he could shoot one himself.

As I told Gary on Saturday morning, I am essentially a babe in the woods, and would do whatever he suggested. My attitude was that I was the equivalent of a 10-year-old on his first hunt. Anything I accomplished well would be a success, even if it was merely learning how to spot javelinas on a distant hillside using binoculars.
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Pima county files motion to dismiss World View lawsuit

In the heat of competition: The Arizona county government that made a deal with the space tourism balloon company World View to help them build their launch facilities in Tucson has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute that claims the deal is illegal.

I don’t know if the deal was illegal, but I suspect that even if it was the county will win and the deal will go through. Too much money at stake.

World View gets incentives to settle in Arizona

The competition heats up: The space tourism balloon company World View has obtained $15 million in subsidies from an Arizona county to base their operation in Tucson.

Today’s go-ahead from the Pima County Board of Supervisors represents an initial step toward setting up the tourist operation. The supervisors voted to invest $15 million, backed by future tax revenue, to build the spaceport. World View would lease the facility from the county over a 20-year term to pay back the investment. The facility would include a launch pad, headquarters building and manufacturing facility, World View said.

Increasingly it looks like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is being left in the dust as other companies move forward with their own plans.

Big fire in the mountains above Tucson

At sunset tonight I went out into my back patio to enjoy the evening air and noticed smoke trailing off from the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. Taking a closer look with binoculars I discovered a major forest fire blazing on the front range of the Santa Catalina mountains, about a thousand feet above the city.

To give the layout, our home is on the west side of town, on a hill that overlooks the city. The Santa Catalina Mountains border the north side of Tucson, about ten miles away. (Below the fold is a short video showing the mountains and the smoke, taken today from the west side on one of the overpasses above the interstate, slightly south of my home. The video shows a view similar to what I can see.)

The fire, dubbed the Finger Rock fire after the canyon in which it started, was originally ignited by lightning last week, smoldered for a week, then re-ignited today and is spreading fast. While Diane and I watched this evening we saw the flames leap across from Pontatoc Ridge to the opposite wall of the adjacent valley, Ventana Canyon, which Diane and I last hiked in 2013. I saw flames that were easily 100 feet high.

We have hiked on Pontatoc Ridge. That trail is certainly badly damaged or destroyed. The lowest parts of the fire now appear to be burning at about 500 feet above the nearest homes in the foothills below. When it jumped into Ventana Canyon it appears to move uphill, so at the moment no one’s home is threatened. This is a very very rugged area. It will be difficult for fire crews to get there, no less work to control the blaze.

As the evening progressed and darkness set in the extent of the fire became easier to see, as the flames now stood out in the darkness through the smoke. Though the Forest Service seems sanguine about it, this is not a trivial fire. It threatens the entire front range of the Santa Catalinas, which is one of Tucson’s major recreation areas. Worse, it is close enough to the city that it poses a threat to the homes in the foothills.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Supreme Court voids local sign ordiance

Some good news: In a 9-0 ruling the Supreme Court struck down a local Arizona town’s ordiance that restricted a church’s right to post signs about its upcoming events.

What is most encouraging about this ruling is that all nine justices agreed to it. This suggests that there is a strong majority on the court that supports freedom of speech, and will not look kindly at the Obama administration’s effort to impose its will on the speech and activity of religious and conservative organizations.

Arizona county to ban employees who smoke

Put ’em in concentration camps! Pima County, which includes Tucson, Arizona, is considering banning the employment of any smokers.

Already employed smokers will be charged 30 percent more for their health insurance. The regulations will apply only to government employees.

I say, why waste time with this nonsense. Anyone who smokes is obviously the scum of the Earth, and should be rounded up and sent to camps, either to be re-educated, or to be killed if they can’t reform themselves. America is now an enlightened place, where freedom and individual responsibility have been replaced with the much deeper wisdom of the state!

When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”

We have consensus! When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”

Only 5% of those polled thought stronger gun laws were necessary.

The irony here is that the story at which this newspaper poll is being taken is about a protest by a Tucson gun control group. They might be noisy, but these gun control protestors are very much in the minority, despite any claims they might make.

The best (and worst) concealed carry states for 2013.

The best (and worst) concealed carry states for 2013.

I am happy to report that my state, Arizona, is number one. And not surprisingly, the states from which I fled, New York and Maryland, are 46 and 43 respectively.

I strongly believe that where a government respects the right of its citizens to possess and bear arms, freedom will be strongly defended. Take a long look at these rankings. That the most heavily regulated blue states tend to be near the bottom and the less regulated red states tend to be near the top lends weight to my belief.

In a negotiated settlement, Arizona police will pay the widow of Jose Guerena, murdered during a SWAT raid, $3.4 million.

In a negotiated settlement, Arizona police will pay the widow of Jose Guerena, murdered during a SWAT raid, $3.4 million.

The police settled because they knew that if the case had ever reached a jury, they would have lost hands down. I feel for the widow, as she probably had to settle now because she couldn’t wait the years necessary for a full victory in court.

An Arizona nursing student was suspended from school and called a bigot because she requested one of her classes be taught in English.

An Arizona nursing student was suspended from school and called a bigot because she requested one of her classes be taught in English.

The student, Terri Bennett, 50, initially complained in April to school officials because she said the Spanish-dominated discussions in her class room were preventing her from learning, Townhall reported. The college nursing program director, David Kutzler, then allegedly called her “a bigot” and an expletive, and suspended her.

She has sued. The article also notes that the Arizona constitution requires schools to use English.

A Republican has announced he is running for the Congressional seat in Arizona being vacated by Gabrielle Gifford.

A Republican has announced he is running for the Congressional seat in Arizona being vacated by Gabrielle Gifford.

As it turns out, I moved from Steny Hoyer’s (D-Maryland) district in Maryland to Gifford’s district in Arizona, so this is an election I will have a say in. Time to start learning something about the candidates, as the primary is now set for April 17 and the special election for June 12.

Tucson school system loses $5 million in funding because it has refused to dump ethnic studies

The Tucson school system has lost $5 million in funding because it refuses to close its Mexican studies program.

“The assertion that TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Program was designed and implemented only to promote cultural diversity and a greater understanding of the role of Mexican Americans in this nation is inaccurate and incomplete,” Huppenthal stated today. “Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program courses, curriculum and classroom materials have been found to (1) promote resentment toward a race or class of people; (2) be designed primarily for the pupils of a particular ethnic group; and (3) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

In other words, this leftwing program was designed to promote hatred of whites and America within the immigrant Hispanic community, all good reasons for the local liberal, blue-state Democratic politicians of Tucson to want to support it, no matter the consequences.

Arizona’s ethnic studies program have been ruled illegal

An Arizona court has ruled that Arizona’s ethnic studies program are illegal.

Kowal’s ruling, first reported by The Arizona Daily Star, said the district’s Mexican-American Studies program violated state law by having one or more classes designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment and advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating students as individuals. The judge, who found grounds to withhold 10 percent of the district’s monthly state aid until it comes into compliance, said the law permits the objective instruction about the oppression of people that may result in racial resentment or ethnic solidarity.

“However, teaching oppression objectively is quite different than actively presenting material in a biased, political and emotionally charged manner, which is what occurred in (Mexican-American Studies) classes,” Kowal wrote. The judge said such teaching promotes activism against white people, promotes racial resentment and advocates ethnic solidarity.

This is not a First Amendment issue. The Arizona state legislature, elected by the citizens, passed a rule stating that ethnic studies programs cannot focus on only one ethnic group. The Tucson school system cannot therefore expect funding from the state if it chooses not to obey that legislation.

Underground exploring today

No posting today, as I am leaving home at 6:30 am with several cavers for a day trip to a cave in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona. The drive one way is about three and a half hours, so doing this as a day trip will likely break what I like to call Zimmerman’s law: “The cave time must exceed the drive time.”

However, when I first visited Tucson last winter and mentioned I might move here, the local cavers asked if I’d be interested in being the cartographer of this particular cave and help them get a project started to survey it. Three previous attempts to survey it were never completed, so no good map exists. And since I have recently completed two significant cave maps of two important West Virginia caves (see monographs 3 and 4 on this page) and am without a map project at the moment, how could I say no? Tomorrow’s trip is my first visit to the cave in preparation for getting the survey project off the ground in January.

Anyway, I will be back late, and will return to the computer on Saturday. For everyone, have a Merry Christmas weekend!

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