Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The tile guys showed up with the wrong tile (dang it!), and getting the right tile is going to add a week onto the project. They did get the underlayment (a kind of concrete board) in place, doing a very nice job. The guy in charge was particularly skilled at cutting perfectly straight edges in the concrete board with a small, hand-held, battery-powered saw that used a 3" diameter diamond blade. If I tried that the result would be ... not good. He made it look ridiculously easy, but in a conversation with his sidekick I discovered that though he (the sidekick) has been trying to do it for a year, he still can't make a straight line. It reminds me of watching the masons at work, doing things that they made look easy, but when I tried it I got nowhere at all.
Today I'm mostly going to concentrate on getting lights up in Debbie's indoor agility arena, though I have a few other little things to do as well...
A few years ago, when another of the Doolittle Raid survivors had died, I was shocked to learn that many of my colleagues at work had never heard of the Doolittle Raid. It's not as though it was ancient history – it happened in 1942, just ten years before I was born. It was one of the most memorable stories to emerge from the American side of WWII, and was the subject of a wildly popular book and movie, both titled “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”. How could any American not know about it?
Worse, those few colleagues of mine who did know the story were all immigrants. Several Estonian colleagues knew about it in considerable detail, having been educated in primary school about this bit of American history – in the Soviet Union. A colleague who hails from Australian knew about it, as did another who immigrated from Israel. It seems that everybody except Americans knows about it!
Monday, March 30, 2015
I've been ordering a major power tool roughly every ten days, trying to space out the arrivals a bit so I have time to unpack, assemble, clean, align, and test each one. Generally they take a week to ten days to arrive. However, my careful plans have been waylaid by shipper errors, missing parts, and so on – and now this coming Friday three of them are scheduled to arrive on the same day. On three different trucks, naturally. It's going to be a bit of a zoo around here on that day!
I had to make a Home Depot run yesterday, and while there I picked up the parts I need for a handrail for the stairs up to the second floor of the barn, and also the parts for a second floor electrical sub-panel. I'm going to put a 50 amp sub-panel up there more for convenience than anything else. I doubt I'll need even 15 amps, but wiring the office and second floor lights will be easier when the circuits are all pulled from a (closer) second floor panel rather than the main panel on the first floor. This has an interesting consequence: the main panel on the first floor is a big one (20 positions/40 breakers), but I'm only going to be using about 7 or 8 of those positions. The vast majority of the circuits in the barn will be pulled from either the sub-panel in the wood shop or the second floor sub-panel. Looks like I over-bought that main panel :)
Sunday, March 29, 2015
She walked up and tied her old mule to the hitching post. As she stood there, brushing some of the dust from her face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.Now that's what I call a measured and well-considered answer!
The young gunslinger looked at the old woman and laughed, "Hey old woman, have you ever danced?"
The old woman looked up at the gunslinger and said, "No, I never did dance. Never really wanted to."
A crowd had gathered as the gunslinger grinned and said, "Well, you old bag, you're gonna dance now," and started shooting at the old woman's feet.
The old woman prospector – not wanting to get her toe blown off – started hopping around. Everybody was laughing. When his last bullet had been fired, the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon.
The old woman turned to her pack mule, pulled out a double-barreled shotgun, and cocked both hammers. The loud clicks carried clearly through the desert air. The crowd stopped laughing immediately.
The young gunslinger heard the sounds, too, and he turned around very slowly. The silence was almost deafening.
The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old woman and the large gaping holes of those twin barrels. The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old woman's hands, as she quietly said, "Son, have you ever kissed a mule's ass?"
The gunslinger swallowed hard and said, "No ma'am. But ... I've always wanted to."
He excelled at attempting home improvement projects, outsmarting rabbits, annoying the women in his life and reading every book he could get his hands on.Do go read the whole thing...
He thought everyone could, and should, live on a strict diet of salmon, canned peas and rice pilaf, and took extreme pride in the fact that he had a freezer stocked full of wild game and seafood.
His life goal was to beat his wife at Scrabble, and although he never succeeded, his dream lives on in the family he left behind.
I haven't tested the band saw yet, or done the final alignment, as I haven't connected it to power yet. I'll have to run to Home Depot today for a few components, and then I'll do those last things...
Saturday, March 28, 2015
the whole thing...
Reminder: the TSA's vast, expensive, intrusive, obnoxious security apparatus has caught exactly zero terrorists trying to get on planes.
Does anyone other than me think there might be a cost/benefit problem here?
Makes you proud to be an American, no?
I'm not sure what motivated the Air Force to act in a sensible manner, but it's surely a welcome development...
Friday, March 27, 2015
Last night (way past my bedtime!) was the shareholder's meeting. It was a much more interesting experience than I expected it to be. About 50 people showed up. These are all people who live in or around Paradise, so that's actually a substantial fraction of the total population! Most of them have known each other for many years, and of course most of them attend church together in one of the (four) local LDS wards. This made for a lively and congenial meeting.
The meeting's process was recognizable to anyone familiar with formal shareholder or Board meetings – but really just barely recognizable. The President struggled mightily to stay on track and make sure the right stuff got into the minutes, but it wasn't easy for him. The audience of shareholders was, I think, largely ignorant of the formalities beyond making and seconding a motion. Much of the business was approved by acclamation (a show of hands, absence of opposition) instead of by actual vote. The only actual votes came toward the end of the meeting, when new Board members were being selected. There were four openings, but only two of them had multiple nominees. To vote, the Board handed out blank Post-It notes, and we scribbled our name, the number of shares we were voting, and the name of the candidate we were voting for. Then they retired to another room to tote up the vote and check the share count. It wasn't exactly the procedure you'd see in even a small public company :) But it worked. The four new Board members were duly elected and welcomed on board. The fellow I came to vote for won his seat, much to his delight.
On my short drive home, I reflected on how this Board meeting illustrated the differences between the culture here in Paradise and where we used to live in Southern California. I can't imagine this short, cheerful meeting with it's loose attention to formality ever working in California – not even in the relatively small community of Jamul that we were part of. The closest experience I have to compare it with was a couple of meetings held in Jamul to discuss the (then proposed) Jamul Indian Casino. That was a much larger room full of people who were mainly strangers to one another. There was much mistrust and suspicion, and little shyness about openly voicing it. Absolutely nothing was accomplished, other than a couple of local politicians being able to get their statements in the paper. We left much unhappier than we arrived. Here, by contrast, several contentious issues were discussed in a friendly manner, solutions proposed, courses of action agreed upon, and everyone left with smiles on their faces (and, most of them, with a donut in their hands). It was part social event, part business, and 100% effective.
I love this place!
Yesterday I took delivery of my band saw – a 17" monster from Grizzly. It came in a wooden crate on a pallet, which I was able to drive right to it's location in the woodshop with the tractor. Very convenient, that was.
Yesterday we also got a big furniture delivery, one we've been waiting for with bated breath. The shipment included our dining room table and chairs, a dresser and chest for our bedroom, and a dresser and end table for the guest bedroom. They're all beautiful pieces. I'll post some photos after it gets light enough to take them...
It will be fascinating to see what happens with this. It's sort of the next stage after the reforms starting in the '70s have made the stock market more accessible to ordinary people unsophisticated in the art of equity investing...
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Nearly half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males in the U.S. are arrested by age 23...Do you find that as startling as I did? I've only known a few people who have ever been arrested, and several of those are not even American. Are the arrest rates much higher today than when I was in my early 20s?
I couldn't find any authoritative data on that question, but I did find several sources that dramatically cited increased arrest rates (250% to 600%, depending on who you want to believe) starting in the late '60s and early '70s – right when I reached that age. That immediately led me to suspect the war on drugs, so I went looking for data on that, and I found it.
Of the over 11 million arrests last year, 13% were directly for drug abuse. Note that this data is for arrests, not people. Some people were arrested multiple times in the year. What's not uncovered by this data is how many of the other crimes related to drugs in some way (generally by users desperate to come up with the money for another high-priced dose of illegal drugs). The dramatic increases in other crimes coincident with the war on drugs suggests that the related crime rates are very high indeed.
That same report gives the overall arrest rate as 3.7% of inhabitants per year. Even if you figure a very high average number of arrests – say, 2 per arrested person per year – that works out to more than 1% of the population being arrested every year. That's really hard for me to wrap my brain around, given how few people I know with an arrest record.
Maybe half my friends are hiding something...
A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country.
Well, there's a very simple answer. Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low. The reason for that is purely geographical. Our oil is located in:
Alaska, California, Coastal Florida, Coastal Louisiana, Coastal Alabama, Coastal Mississippi, Coastal Texas, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas
Our dipstick is located in the White House!
No? Didn't think So.
The model I have uses a four-row spiral carbide cutter head, which is new to me. All the planers I've ever used had tool steel cutter blades; this one uses lots of little square carbide “chips” like the one shown at right. These chips are just over 1/2" square, and can be rotated (“indexed”) to used any one of the four sides as the cutting edge. Wood run through this planer has a subtle pattern showing in the planed face, just barely visible but definitely “feelable”. A couple of passes with 400 grit sandpaper and it's gone, though. This seems a very small price to pay for all the advantages: no sharpening (yay!), easy (and inexpensive) “blade” replacement, and no subtle alignment or calibration issues.
The painters will be here today to paint my office and the baseboard for Debbie's agility court. Hopefully the tile floor will go into my office early next week...
I think having a standard browser scripting language – even if it's only a de facto standard – is a very good thing indeed. It feels a bit overdue, as if the railroads had just now agreed on a standard track gauge, or pipe manufacturers had just agreed on standard diameters and threads. Browser scripting language was already almost at that point – but there was this behemoth out there (Google) declaring their intention to upset that particular apple cart.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Early in the afternoon I had some excitement: my planer arrived! I spent the rest of the day removing it from its wooden crate, getting it onto the floor, and starting to assemble it. It's a kit, of course, just like all the other tools I've purchased. It's another beast of a machine – almost 700 pounds of steel and cast iron. The manual was packed inside a cardboard box, which in turn was inside the planer itself. I wrestled the planer off the pallet it was shipped on, onto the barn's concrete floor. That was challenging to do by myself, because of the weight, but I didn't see any safe place to lift it with the tractor. After I got it onto the floor (and rested for a bit), I unscrewed the side panel on the planer, pulled out the box, opened it, got the manual, and started reading about unpacking and assembly. First thing it says: lift the planer off the pallet with a fork lift, using the built in extensible lifting bars. Dang it! The manual is available online; I could have read it before I even uncrated the machine. Next time I get a heavy machine in here, that's exactly what I'm going to do...
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
My builder showed up today to make the “hatch” doors. He made them out of foam panels with aluminum covers – strong, lightweight, and very good at keeping out the cold air. Finally, this evening the drywall guys showed up to finish the last of the work on my office. It's now all ready to paint. Progress!
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Answer: oh, hell yes! I've now got nearly 300 documents scanned, stored, and indexed. It takes very little effort to do this – less effort, in fact, than storing them in a file cabinet with any sort of organization. Best of all, still, is the fact that I can search them just like I can google the web. I find myself now routinely referring to receipts and other records, where before I did so only as an absolute last resort – because it meant manually searching through piles of paper. Another benefit I hadn't really appreciated before actually doing this: my records are now all backed up offsite, into the cloud...
Saturday, March 21, 2015
On the way out, I walked by our willow tree (at right). Its leaves are now about an inch long, and the flowers look like they're just about ready to pop out. Soon we'll hear the buzz of busy bees as we walk by it!
Friday, March 20, 2015
With his tractor, of course :) I tied a wooden beam to the motor and impeller assembly (the green bit near the very top). I drove my tractor into the woodshop, then used the forklift on the loader to raise it up, driving forward very slowly at the same time to make the fork traverse an arc. It worked surprisingly well, and not much in the way of muscles were required.
Once I had it standing upright, I attached the final bits: the HEPA filter (the big cylinder on the right), the hoses and muffler (above the HEPA filter), and the short piece of hose attaching the chip and sawdust barrel (cylinder on wheels below the cyclone cone), and then I was done. Next step for the beast is to get power wired for it, find a way to lash it to the wall without making the entire wall vibrate, and then get the ducting up to connect it to the various machines. I've discovered that the lead time for the ducting is several weeks, so that's not going to happen instantly...
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Yesterday Debbie had a doctor's appointment in the morning. The doctor she was to see is a physical rehabilitation specialist at the largest local hospital; the appointment was a followup from the emergency room visit she had a couple weeks ago. All very ordinary, the kind of thing we've been through quite a few times in the past.
In those past experiences – mainly in the San Diego area – we'd get to the office 15 or 30 minutes before our appointment, do some fiendish paperwork, then wait for the doctor to actually see us. Generally that would happen quite a bit later than the actual appointment, sometimes hours later. We'd experienced this so many times that we knew to come equipped with things to read, to while away the time.
That's not what happened yesterday morning. Instead, we were handed a very small pile of paperwork, some of which was actually entertaining (we had fun with a section asking about our “social life” and how Debbie's injury affected it). We finished with that in under five minutes, sat down, and about a minute later a nurse came back to take us to the exam room. Wow! Then she figured out that Debbie needed some more X-rays, so Debbie got dressed up in one of those spiffy hospital gowns (with a bonus pair of bloomers), and hauled off for X-rays. I wanted to take photos, but Debbie threatened me with a painful death if I did. So I settled down with my Kindle, figuring (based on past experience) that I had at least 45 minutes or so to wait. Four minutes later, Debbie was back in the exam room with me, X-rays finished. A minute or so after she got dressed, the doctor came in to see her. He'd already reviewed the history and X-rays, and immediately started the exam. The exam was thorough and unhurried, with even some time for small talk – a most unstressful and even pleasant experience. In the end had an uncertain diagnosis, but thought it likely that all she needed was some physical therapy – and we were done.
We walked out of his exam room just under one hour after we walked in the door. In that time we were put into the hospital's record system for the first time, had Debbie's history taken, got X-rays, saw the doctor, and got a prescription for physical therapy, pre-cleared by our insurance company. I don't know what your medical experiences have been like, but compared with our own past experiences, that's simply remarkable.
But the surprises weren't finished. We decided to make the physical therapy appointment (with a different clinic in the same hospital) right away – Debbie was really eager to get started. It's a big hospital, with some construction going on, so we were confused about where to go. We asked at a physical rehab clinic we saw a sign for, and were told where we should go. Then the receptionist asked us if we knew how to get there – and when we said “No!”, she promptly got up and led us on a five minute walk through two floors of the hospital to get us to the right place. A few minutes later, we had her first appointment scheduled – for later that same afternoon.
illiotibial band. Treatment is some simple physical therapy, and the prognosis is complete recovery within 4 to 6 weeks. We've both been through excellent physical therapy before (though Debbie more than I), but this experience still stood out for the physical therapist's competence, persistence (Debbie's injury was hard to diagnose, and both the doctor and the physical therapist thought it might be a meniscus tear initially), and easy, encouraging manner. Once he figured out what the problem was, we settled on a course of treatment, and left to get it all scheduled.
The fellow who scheduled Debbie's PT appointments was a college student, and he mentioned that he'd spent two years in Lithuania. That caught my attention immediately, as Lithuania is one of the Baltic states, quite close to Estonia, which I know very well. We ended up having a great conversation about our mutual experiences there while we got Debbie all set up for PT.
An hour and a half after we walked in the door, we were walking back out to our truck. To get there, we walked through the physician's parking lot, and something struck me: amongst the 50 or so doctors' cars, there was exactly one car that could qualify as a “luxury” car – an older Mercedes. All the rest were perfectly ordinary cars and pickup trucks – an assortment of Toyotas, Chevys, Fords, etc. There wasn't a single Porsche, BMW, or Maserati on the lot.
Presumably, after we've lived here long enough, these sorts of experiences will stop surprising us. I wonder what it would feel like to go back to California at that point? Not good, I suspect...
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I took possession of this house last April 3rd, just under a year ago. Though sometimes it seems like we're making slow progress, when I think back to what this house was like when I moved in and started “camping”, it's obvious we've actually accomplished quite a bit this past year...
Monday, March 16, 2015
This morning I stumbled across a discussion about another such problem: uniformly distributing random floats in [0,1] given a source of random bits. I knew, vaguely, that it wasn't exactly trivial – but it's definitely more challenging than I'd have guessed!
All of the data structures it discusses are far older than that paper, and I've implemented many of them. In the late '70s I wrote a Basic interpreter that used a buffer for each line of the program. In the early '80s I wrote a text editor (in Pascal!) that used what the paper's author calls a “piece table” data structure that included a snapshot feature (not discussed in the paper, but an obvious enhancement).
I got the idea for that last by reverse-engineering a '70s program by MicroPro called WordMaster (manual) – a general purpose WYSIWYG text editor I used for programming. I was amazed by its ability to handle large text files, and I wanted to know how it worked. I reverse engineered enough of it to understand that it kept something like a piece table data structure, and that gave me the ideas I needed to write my own with the snapshot capability. The “gap” approach discussed in the paper is new to me, and I'm surprised its performance was as good as it was...
“This is a learning lesson for all and we hope this will never occur again.”She's talking about another employee who was caught whistling Dixie. Literally.
I feel the doom crushing down on my shoulders...
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/tv/media-scene-blog/article14423408.html#storylink=cpy
Unboxing the table saw was a much more interesting process than I expected. The overall experience reminded me a bit of unboxing an Apple product – one pleasant surprise after another. First I cut the straps and pulled off the lid, revealing a piece of molded foam about 30" x 50" in size. I pulled off the foam, and discovered its bottom side was elaborately molded with bosses (for strength) and cavities to fit various things packed underneath it. The main part of the saw was packed on its side, with its cast iron top swaddled in heavy wax paper to cover the protective grease underneath it, and the entire saw covered in shrink wrap. Other components were boxed or wrapped in bubble wrap, with everything very carefully separated by some kind of shock absorbing material (several kinds were employed).
On the very top, prominently showing, was a single sheet of paper with detailed diagrams and explanation showing exactly how to remove the saw without damaging it. This was particularly nicely done. The first step was to remove the remaining box and other components. One of the things I pulled out was a large, colorfully printed piece of stiff cardboard, covered with plastic that had bubbles in it to hold various bits of hardware needed to put the saw together, along with some special tools (like metric Allen keys). This piece of cardboard was a delight to examine – someone went to a great deal of trouble to make my life easier! The colors are a form of coding to help identify each piece of hardware. Text in each colored section explained what the hardware was. Behind each bubble the cardboard was scored to make it easy to remove the hardware. I've assembled lots of kits like this one, but never one in which the hardware was so easy to locate and identify. Very nice job, SawStop. Very nice indeed.
After I removed everything except the base saw, I had about 150 pounds to muscle around – not so bad, especially since all I had to do was roll it and tilt it up. I followed the (excellent) directions, and in very short order I had stood up the table saw in its new home. It was getting toward the end of my day, so I didn't do much more work on it – just cleaned the grease off the cast iron tabletop, installed the two hand wheels (also cast iron, and beautifully made) and the motor cover. Today I'll tackle the rest of it...
Sunday, March 15, 2015
I picked all that out with a dental pick, then used steel wool and a lot of elbow grease to get the film of translucent silicone off. That was surprisingly difficult! I also used steel wool on the sink itself, followed by a course of Barkeeper's Friend (the best stuff I've ever used for cleaning metal); this cleaned and shined up the sink nicely.
Then I re-caulked with modern, water-clear silicone – and kept the bead completely under the granite. I finished it using a trick I learned from the guys who installed our bathroom granite: I spritzed the bead with half water/half isopropyl alcohol, then just ran my finger down the bead. Perfect finish! The face of the caulk bead is basically vertical. When it's cured (tomorrow), I'll get rid of any films of silicone remaining on the stainless steel – and then the kitchen sink will be completely finished!
One sink-related task remains for today: I'm going to strip out all the old caulking (it's an under-counter sink, caulked to the bottom of the surrounding granite) and put new in. That means a fifth trip, this time to Home Depot to get some decent grout, hopefully in a color that will blend nicely. I'm also going to use steel wool to thoroughly clean the sink itself, as now it's old grungy appearance contrasts badly with the nice new faucet :)
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Everyone I know with any sort of IT background shares my reaction to the news reporting on this issue: it's all complete nonsense, credulously reporting the State Department's assertions that this is a difficult problem only recently addressed. That's the sheerest poppycock and twaddle. Specialized email backup programs have been readily available commercially, and routinely used by private organizations, since at least the late 1980s – almost thirty years ago. I personally selected and acquired such a system for my then-employer in the mid-1990s. These backup systems save every email (no selection is required) and then provide tools for recovery of particular (or all) emails.
For the State Department (or any branch of government) to assert that this is difficult, time-consuming, or expensive is one of two things: an outright lie, or a confirmation of an almost unimaginable level of incompetence.
Occam's Razor says: it's a lie.
But why would the State Department lie about this, making themselves look stupid and ignorant? The most likely reason I can imagine is that if they actually produced copies of their internal emails, it would expose them as the utterly incompetent fools and nefarious knaves the electorate suspects they are...
The drive home in the late evening light was especially pretty. The mountains around the valley were glowing in the reddish light of near-sunset, while the valley was mainly in shadow. There were quite a few dramatically-lit scenes along the way. Just south of Hyrum, on the east side of Highway 165, there's a small farm that's recently acquired a bunch of baby goats. They were out playing “king of the hill” on a pile of giant wooden telephone wire spools. I could watch baby goats for hours. It's too bad they're only babies for about ten minutes – and then grow up to be extremely uncute goats...
The two shipments due to arrive yesterday did arrive. We now have two pallets full of foam flooring for Debbie's agility court. My SawStop table saw also arrived, in a collection of sturdy boxes strapped to another pallet. The garage area of our barn is starting to look like a warehouse!
Today is “sink day” – I'm replacing the faucet, garbage disposal, drains, strainer, and under-sink plumbing on our kitchen sink. The immediate provocation was an annoying, persistent, and unrepairable leak in the existing faucet. The secondary provocation was a desire to get a more powerful garbage disposal (1 HP model replacing an aging 1/2 HP model) and to remove an “instant on” hot water heater that we never use. I bought all the parts I thought I needed earlier this week, but as I start the actual work I fully expect to discover 12 more things I need, necessitating at least 8 more trips to Home Depot and/or Lowe's...
Friday, March 13, 2015
Next up on the wiring front: 30 more LED lamp fixtures for the two other “rooms” on the first floor of the barn. Parts are on order for them.
Grizzly dust collection system. First step was to unpack the entire unit and inventory the (hundreds of) parts, and that took me nearly an hour. The packaging of all these odd shaped parts was done in a very clever manner to reduce the total volume. Some of the tricks took me a while to reverse-engineer so I could figure out how to get the parts separated. My hat is off to the ingenious packaging engineer who came up with the dozen or so key elements of the packaging. Not only did it reduce the volume tremendously, it also securely protected anything that was even slightly vulnerable. The pallet weighed 494 pounds, and there isn't a ding, scratch, or even a little mark anywhere on anything. Very impressive!
I haven't got very far on the assembly yet, but what I've done so far shows this thing to be a real beast. I'm putting the stand together, and it's made out of very heavy gauge steel, beautifully powder coated. It looks like something you'd see in an industrial setting. Once I get this monster assembled and wired up, then I have to install 8 inch diameter ducting to the major pieces of equipment (most especially the table saw). For smaller tools I can run 6 inch or even 4 inch ducting. It will be interesting to see how all this works out!
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Ian's Shoelace Site - Bringing you the fun, fashion & science of shoelacesSome of the stuff there looks genuinely useful. Most of it is far more about shoelaces than I ever wanted to know :)
The site was created by Ian Fieggen, the self-styled “Professor Shoelace”. He has written a book (“Laces”, now out of print), and has apps about lacing for iPhones and Droids. He apparently now supports himself through the web site and apps. Oh, and did I mention that he's Australian (as is Simon)?
The in-the-open reason was the fear that sales taxes from new car sales would decline. This is at least a real issue, but it illustrates nicely the inertia of an established tax. Once something is taxed and there's a dependency on the “revenue” from that tax, then it becomes very, very hard to do anything that would disturb that tax.
The not-so-open reason for the bill's defeat is the fact that the auto dealership lobby (which is vehemently opposed to direct sales of new cars) contributes a great deal of money to politician's campaign funds. There's nothing illegal or surprising about this; they're doing the same thing any business would do to protect their own interests. Politicians are perennially searching for campaign funds, so naturally they're going to think twice about pissing off a major contributor.
If we want a Tesla, it looks like we'll have to travel to Nevada or Idaho to buy it, or else arrange for delivery here. I've already informed my state legislators that their vote on this issue will be remembered come election time. Apparently I have no pull :)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The accountants always win in the end.Read the details of how ISIS is disintegrating from within. It's encouraging, and gives a good explanation of how air power actually does have a good chance of bringing ISIS down (and accountants figure in this). At the very least it should dramatically weaken them; in the best case it will defeat them...
Hillary Clinton’s admirers say she’ll run for President in part by invoking the glory days of the 1990s. For a taste of that era, we recommend her brief press conference Tuesday explaining why she had used a private email account as Secretary of State. It had everything nostalgia buffs could want—deleted evidence, blustery evasions, and preposterous explanations that only James Carville could pretend to believe.I'm not even sure about Carville :)
Do go read the whole piece – it hits all the notes I would...
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Who's the idiot that thought it was a good idea for the federal government to manage healthcare? Every time we turn over a bureaucratic rock, we find more festering incompetence, fraud, and waste. I'd have thought the Post Office was all the example anyone needed. The $900 toilet seats purchased by the Pentagon might have been another clue. The “stay in line until you die” lists at the Veteran's Administration might have clued someone in, too. Apparently all of this together is still insufficient to convince the progressives that it's a bad idea to have government managing anything...
It started in our driveway last Thursday afternoon, as Debbie and I walked out to her truck to drive up to Angie's (in Logan) for dinner. We hadn't been there for a couple weeks, and we both felt like some comfort food. Our driveway still had patches of ice, but the afternoon was warm and it was melting. Wet ice, as you may know, is very slippery. Then add to that the fact that Debbie was wearing leather-soled cowboy boots. They might as well have been Teflon-coated. You can probably guess what happened next: her slippery feet slipped on the slimy ice, and down she went.
After an uncomfortable night, we went to see a doctor on Friday morning. The verdict: a “strained” back and knee. A “strain” is less severe than a “sprain”, but more than just “pulled”. I'm not sure how they come up with this terminology, but the doctor made it clear this was nothing to worry about, that she'd recover completely and quickly, and she just needed some rest, to wear a knee brace for a while, and a little pharmacological assistance (muscle relaxant and analgesic). Home we went.
Fast forward to Saturday morning, when our friend and neighbor Tim D. came over to visit. I was out in the barn working on the wiring, and he went in to chat with Debbie. When she came hobbling slowly to the door, wearing the brace, he knew something was up. He got all the details when talking with her.
I've learned enough about living in an LDS (Mormon) community by now that I should have known what was going to happen next, but it got me by surprise anyway. Tim is a former bishop, a devout Mormon, and upon learning about Debbie's injury (however minor!) he sprang into action as though she was now a quadriplegic. A few hours after he left, Alan and Nikki L. (another set of friends and neighbors) showed up to visit with Debbie. They were there both to comfort her and to interrogate her about our dining preferences. Later that afternoon, they showed up with a ready-to-eat meal, which of course we disposed of very quickly. This is despite our protestations that all this was entirely unnecessary, as (a) I can cook, and (b) Debbie wasn't bedridden, just slowed down. They insisted anyway, Alan telling me, basically, to “shut up and embrace it”, because it was going to happen no matter what we said.
Sunday and Monday afternoon, women who were part of the local LDS ward's Relief Society showed up with another installment. Sunday's meal was particularly good: roast beef with potatoes, carrots, a salad, and dessert, all ready to eat.
Yesterday morning, Michelle H. (the wonderful woman who does the heavy cleaning in our house every couple of weeks) came over as planned – but she was all prepared to do a lot more (I think Debbie's condition has been wildly exaggerated in the rumor mill) to help out. She was ready to do the cooking (note the assumption that the male animal of the household can't prepare food!), take care of the animals, etc. We didn't actually need any of that help, but it was comforting to know that if we did need it, it would be readily available.
The local Mormons are enjoying our discomfiture with all this, I think :) But I have to say that we're enjoying the food and the opportunity to meet some members of our community who are new to us.
Monday morning I ran down to the Post Office to pick up our mail. When I walked in the door, the postmaster asked me how Debbie was doing. His assistant wanted to know if we were happy with the meals. They both knew all the details of Debbie's fall, which is typical of any small community, I suspect – but after spending so much time in California, it's sure not something I'm used to. Everyone is connected here, somehow (including, of course, through the LDS church that the majority of our community are members of). Brent, our postmaster, is the brother of the woman who runs the local Relief Society. Linda, his assistant, is actually a neighbor of ours (and a water rights expert currently working on getting our well permit). Both are LDS.
Out in the Post Office lobby, where the P.O. boxes are, another woman greeted me with good wishes for Debbie. I had no idea who this woman was, and it must have showed in my face, so she explained that her husband pointed me out as they drove into the Post Office (the lobby has big windows). He knows me because we'd previously chatted in the Post Office lobby, and he remembered where I lived – and had heard in church that Debbie (whom he'd never met) had fallen. So when his wife ran in to pick up their mail, she was full of concern and good wishes – even though she'd never met (or heard of) either of us before!
We love living here. After forty-plus years in California, land of adjacent strangers, to live in a community that actually is a community is jarring in some ways, but comforting in so many more...
Monday, March 9, 2015
Now there's research that backs up my observation about the value of taking notes...