Monday, August 31, 2009

The Science Of Fear

I almost forgot to get back to this. I highly recommend it. (And if you want to borrow it, my copy is available.) Once you're familiar with the different rules involved, it's a snap to recognize the behaviors in people, even yourself.

Here's a quote from the book I'm partial to:

In reality, the fact that a politician may have something to gain by promoting a threat does not mean he or she does not believe the threat is real. This goes for the pharmaceutical industry, security companies, and all the others who promote and profit from fear. In fact, I'm quite sure that in most cases those promoting fear and sincere, for the simple reason that humans are compulsive rationalizers. People like to see themselves as being basically good, and so admitting that they are promoting fear in others in order to advance their interests set up a nasty form of cognitive dissonance: I know I'm basically a nice person; what I'm doing is awful and wrong.

There's no end to the examples I could bring up.

Locavore 100-mile Challenge - Day 1

Breakfast: No tea. :-( A glass of apple cider made by Harvest House up on Greenbluff.

Morning snack: A Harvest House peach (I don't remember the type, but it was awesome) and a Walters Fruit Ranch Early Golden apple. Both places are on Greenbluff.

Lunch: Yesterday I slow cooked some short ribs I got from Olsen Farms (Colville) along with some red potatoes, sweet onion, and fresh chopped parsley from Tolstoy Farms (Davenport). I divided it in half and one half was my lunch today. With lunch was another glass of Harvest House apple cider.

Afternoon snack: Another Early Golden apple.

Dinner: Ground beef from Olsen Farms mixed with chopped sweet onion and garlic from Tolstoy Farms. Tomatoes and green beans from the garden. Washed down with whole milk from Spokane Family Farm. Josh passed on the burgers since they contained chopped onions. Steph wasn't hungry. I'm sensing a break in ranks already.

I have to echo some of Bart and Paul's (un)sustainability sentiments. I spent Saturday driving between the Spokane Farmers Market downtown, Fresh Abundance on Division, and a number of fruit ranches on Greenbluff. But I think I could make it work with better planning and contacts. The Spokane Farmers Market is open 8:00 am to 1:00 pm on Wednesday if you are, like me, looking for more food. Geneva clued me in to checking craigslist for eggs. I did and scored a dozen farm fresh eggs at lunchtime today. Hard boiled eggs will be a nice addition to as well as be more filling than the peaches and apples I'm snacking on. Since I ride my bike I was careful taking them home. I didn't want to repeat John's bad experience. (Bummer, due to an unfortunate circumstance John is already out.)

Freaky moment of the evening: After the boiling, one of the eggs was cracked open and Stephanie discovered it was way more chicken than egg. She buried it and now I'm a chicken murderer.

And that just makes the caffeine withdrawal headache all the more special.

Must've Been A Hard Landing

I spotted this bike on the ride to work this morning. Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? This could be a prop from the TV show, "Ow! My Balls!"

Hmmm, A Meritocracy

Glenn Greenwald has a short and to-the-point piece on Salon about George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna, being hired by NBC as a correspondent for the Today show. Let's hope her style of journalism doesn't make her dad cringe as much as Mike Wallace probably does when he sees his son in action.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Locavore 100-Mile Challenge - The Night Before

Experiencing Life

Geoff is off to the Burning Man. He is part of a team that is bringing 300 liters of liquid nitrogen to be used to make ice cream for people who bring them the ingredients. Apparently there is no buying or selling of anything between attendees. Everything is bartered.

Geoff and a couple other guys built a hexayurt to be used as the kitchen for cooking their meals. Each piece is three layers of cardboard with 6-inch fiberglass-reinforced packing tape connecting them. Each wall and roof piece is about 1/2 inch thick. 1-1/2 gallons of wood glue hold the layers together and add strength. It will presumably be a dust-free environment.

Geoff promises lots of photos of his time there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sweet Road Find

Kathy and I headed out on our bikes to visit my mom and hardly got a half mile away when we came across this Schwinn Varsity leaning against a street sign. Who can say "no" to free chrome fenders and 40 lbs of steel?

A quick call to Josh to come get it and it was soon home. After we got back I aired up the tires and took it for a test ride. No rear brakes and the rear derailleur doesn't shift so it needs a little work. No sign of dry rot on the tires and as long as they hold air I won't need to replace the inner tubes.

The rack is one of those spring loaded clamp things with a reflector on the back. This could be a nice looking bike once it's all cleaned up. Looks like I have a winter project. Score!

Need More Bikes On The Road

Check out this report.

A 30% increase in cycle traffic is associated with a two-third reduction in risk, e.g. a decrease of the total number of fatal cycling accidents.


While motorists often accuse cyclists of being the cause of bike-car accidents, a Toronto analysis of 2572 police collision reports (Table 1) demonstrates that this is actually not the case. The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection controlled by a stop sign or red light, and either failing to stop properly, or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third most common type of crash is a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. In fact, cyclists are the cause of less than 10% of bike-car accidents in this study.

Wear a helmet and grow your hair long, too.

Locavore 100-Mile Challenge - Prepare To Meet Thy Gloom

"Are you doing the 100-mile challenge?" asked the woman manning the Olsen Farms booth at the Spokane Farmers Market this morning. I had asked her where Olsen Farms was. It looks like the word is out.

Between the Farmers Market, Fresh Abundance, and a few places up on Greenbluff, I managed to get plenty of qualifying foods. The milk will be interesting. The label says to "Shake well". The apple cider replaces my morning tea. Apples and peaches for daytime snacks. Lunch shouldn't be a problem since I always make extra for dinner so I have lunch the following day.

The only thing I'm missing is fresh chicken and eggs. I couldn't find any today. And if I can't locate any I'll pick up more beef or maybe try some goat. Veggies won't be a problem, especially with the massive amounts of zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes in the garden. The carrots are coming in, too.

My main concern is seasoning. I'm not that up on all the herbs. But it's only five days so I'll survive. I'm betting the kids grab for the salt and pepper shakers. Not that I'll blame them.

Guess which daughter thought adding a Butterfinger to the mix would be pretty funny.

Our Very Own Compassionate Conservative

An article by Russ Caditz-Peck over at Publicola covers the health care reform town hall meeting held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Walla Walla.

...McMorris Rodgers earned some of her loudest cheers by challenging the notion that millions lack access to health care, repeating President George Bush’s infamous soundbite "[anyone] can still get care if you go to an emergency room."

That statement really bothers me. Not only is it BS, it also ignores some realities. If you go to the ER and you have insurance, you can bet that the insurance company will pay the hospital less than the amount billed. If you don't have insurance, then you are billed in full. If you can't pay then you may be dealing with a bill collector, absconding or the hospital writes it off. Regardless, the hospital now has another loss to absorb. And they can only absorb so much.

If you have a significant medical condition and your insurance runs out or you are dropped because of a pre-existing condition, you are hosed. Emergency departments do not provide long term treatments such as chemotherapy for uninsured cancer patients.

The emergency room has a specific purpose. It didn't get its name from providing routine medical care. In 2007, the Washington State Hospital Association did a study of 2006 emergency room visit data to determine if visits were for emergent care. Here's a chart showing the percentage, by age group, of visits considered to be non-emergent.

As you can see, people have already been going to the ER.

McMorris Rodgers struggled with the first question from the audience, though, stumbling over a polite yet confidant 70-something woman’s question of whether "health care is a right or a privilege." After searching for an answer for several seconds, Rep. McMorris Rodgers dodged it, and simply said: "All Americans should have health insurance."

A nice sentiment. Right along the lines of something like, all Americans should win the lottery. In Washington, the uninsured is not a new problem. McMorris Rodgers and her party have offered nothing, absolutely nothing for the unemployed, those turned down for insurance, those who can't afford the insurance their employer offers and those saddled with higher premiums. And as far as the costs of medical care goes, it's not like there haven't been any
indicators of a problem there.

McMorris Rodgers claims to be concerned about the government competing with private insurance companies. Yet the private companies do not compete by attracting new customers. They do so by ridding themselves of customers who cost them money. Shareholders and Wall Street are not interested in providing health insurance. They want to see a bottom line that's going up.

Will Canine, a student activist at Whitman College, pointed out that "McMorris Rodgers’ interests clearly lie with her insurance company donors." McMorris Rodgers’ top donors for the 2008 election include Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the National Association of Retail Druggists.

McMorris Rodgers’ top twenty donors since her election to the House in 2005 include the American Medical Association and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, who have each donated over $20,000 towards her reelection campaigns.

Her top donor is the anti-tax Club for Growth, at just under $90,000 in contributions. The Club for Growth made news recently by launching a $1.2 million campaign to "highlight the dangers of government-run health care" through television ads that many have called misleading.

Money talks. And if you don't have any. Well, you already know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

How We View Two Tragic Events

In one the parents watch and pray as their son dies a slow agonizing death.

Zachery Swezey lay in his parents' bed, his breathing labored.

When he fell ill March 15, the 17-year-old Carlton boy's parents, Greg and JaLea Swezey, thought he had food poisoning. But over the next three days, they realized it was something else, perhaps the flu. He'd had a fever, and was vomiting with severe diarrhea.

During those three days, aunts, uncles and grandparents came to his bedside to pray. On March 17, his father did not call a doctor or an ambulance. Instead, he called elders from their church. They came to the house and anointed Zakk with olive oil, and prayed for him as Zakk's family waited outside in the hall. Members of the Church of the First Born, the Swezeys believe in faith healing.

At midday on March 18, Zakk told his mother he loved her, and asked for his father to come to his bedside.

Shortly before 1 p.m, his breathing slowed. His hands got cold and turned a bluish color. With both of his parents at his bedside, Zakk Swezey died.

An autopsy later revealed the Pateros High School student died of a ruptured appendix.

In the other story a parent puts her child in an improperly installed car seat.

Eileen Jensen’s daughter Chloe was riding in a loosely installed, rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat during the 2006 collision, police said. The car’s airbags deployed, which – combined with the impact of the crash – caused the baby’s injuries.

She died from her injuries 10 months later, but “her brain stopped developing that day,” said Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller.

In both cases we have a child dying with a parent's involvement. And yet one generates a stronger sense of outrage than the other. One makes us feel a stronger need for punishment. And yet the other child's death was almost certainly preventable.

What is it that lets us to make allowances for a belief system permitting such an abdication of responsibility?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hobblin' Around Tonight

After not running for a week, I headed out at lunch today for my normal barefoot jaunt in Riverfront Park and along the Centennial Trail. Somehow I forgot everything I thought I had down only a week ago and ended up with a blister on each foot. It sure gets frustrating--and painful--at times.

And For My Next Trick...

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has an article in the Washington Times today about the Republican Party's web site.

The other area of potential waste that I wanted to highlight for concerned citizens originates right here in Congress, through earmarks. These funding requests often favor parochial projects that may not benefit the whole country but that are important to a particular member of Congress.

At their worst, these earmarks have bought us "the bridge to nowhere" in Alaska, the Woodstock Museum in New York, and other pork projects that cannot be justified. In the interest of full disclosure, I have requested funding for projects on occasion when they were a priority for the nation and a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer funds.

So by her definition everything she requested is not pork or wasteful. Find me a politician that doesn't say the same. 2008 she took a stand against earmarks, not asking for any for the entire year. Last December, she was appointed chair of the Select Committee on Earmark Reform. Check their web site and you'll see there hasn't been any visible activity since its creation. "Washington is Broken", it says, and Republicans want to bring change and transparency to the process by which Washington spends taxpayer money.

She rightfully states, "Which earmarks are wasteful and which are wise? One man's meat is another man's poison." So we are left to decide for ourselves if an earmark is pork or not. A search of the earmarks database for those requested by Cathy McMorris Rodgers brings up thirty-six entries. I can't argue whether all of them are, in her words, a priority for the nation or a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer funds. One reason is that the descriptions are vague enough to be interpreted any way you like and you have to do a lot of looking to find out more about each.

There's $1,000,000 for a Potholes Reservoir Supplemental Feed Route to conserve water for irrigation and another $1,000,000 for an Odessa Subarea Special Study which is for preserving remaining groundwater supplies. They seem to be redundant, but it turns out they're not. I won't bore you with the details but feel free to follow the links. Both earmarks go to the Columbia Basin Development League which has links to the Odessa Subarea Special Study and the Potholes Supplemental Feed Route on a Bureau of Reclamation web site. They certainly seem okay.

There is also $800,000 for Enhancing Barley Through Genomics?

The purpose of this project is to stimulate economic activity and improve human health and welfare by using the tools of genomics to develop improved barley varieties. Barley is a cornerstone of American agriculture; it provides farmers with an option to increase genetic diversity, use less irrigation water, and to be more profitable. It can also contribute to rural community sustainability and development by increasing the manufacture and sale of value-added barley products generating business activity.

Go to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations site and click on the "Countries by commodity" link in the middle of the left side of the page. Then select barley and scroll down to view the results. In dollars, the US production of barley was second only to France. Scroll back up and change the sort by from Value to Quantity and view the results. When it comes to amount, the US produced less barley than nine other countries. Is this a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer funds? Maybe...if you're a beer drinker.

On a related note, there's $3,500,000 for a Cereal Rust Disease Initiative Project.

Highly virulent and aggressive new races of stem, leaf, and stripe rust have appeared in the world, which now threaten the entire U.S. production of wheat, barley, and oats. An aggressive, coordinated research effort is needed to identify and introduce new germplasm, genes, and varieties with improved and sustainable rust resistance. If stem rust races become established in the U.S., wheat production losses of over 1.4 billion bushels per year, worth approximately $10 billion, are possible.

That sounds pretty serious. But let's go back to the UN site and check wheat production. In 2007 the US produced 55,822,700 metric tonnes (a smidgeon over 2 billion bushels) of wheat valued at $7.7 billion. That's an odd disparity in value, but--as we used to say in the military--it's good enough for government work.

The question I have concerns the "are possible" are the end of that description. Is that the worst case scenario? What's the likelihood? So you have to do more research to find out.

All in all a fun exercise, but how many people will take the time or have the resources to conduct a thorough check of each and every earmark? And even in doing so, will each be able to discern what is necessary and worthwhile?

McMorris Rodgers is right to be concerned about the government's budget and the taxpayer's money. Strangely, she never complained when this news came out in February of last year not long after she told President Bush what she thought of him.

It's all politics, folks. And let's face it, she's pretty darn good at it.

But It Tastes So Good

Omaha, Nebraska is a test market for KFC's Double Down, described as "a sandwich made of two original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken breast filets, two slices of cheese, two pieces of bacon and something called “Colonel's Sauce.” And no bun."

The reporter decided to check things out himself:

Out of curiosity, I had my cholesterol and triglycerides checked at a Creighton Medical Associates Clinic before lunch and three hours afterward, without having anything else to eat or drink.

Blood fats called triglycerides shot up from 136 to 213. HDL cholesterol, the good kind, sank from 50 to 39. Non-HDL cholesterol, the bad kind, went up from 144 to 154.

Those were significant changes from a single sandwich, said Dr. Scott Shurmur, a cardiologist and the director of the Lipid Clinic at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The effects of eating one such sandwich should wear off in about a day in a healthy person, he said. But regular high-calorie, high-fat consumption would take a toll.

“Every point your HDL drops, your heart disease risk goes up 10 percent,” Shurmur said.

What a coincidence that the reporter's heart disease risk went up 110% which happens to match the amount you're supposed to give in the military and organized sports.

I think it would be significant if the reporter did the same test after eating a meal at every brand of fast food restaurant. I wonder what that might find. Better yet, rather than pick on yet another "heart attack on a plate", talk about the state of fast food in general. Ask questions like, "Where does the chicken come from?" or "How are the animals raised?"

Pass me a bisquit, will ya? I want to sop up all the grease.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Locavore 100-Mile Challenge

Last night I asked the family if they'd be willing to join me in the challenge. I know they wouldn't be able to do that for every meal so I proposed they do so just for the dinner meal. Kathy declined, but Josh and Steph said they'd like to give it a try. Then I explained how it applied to everything, including salt, pepper and seasonings. (Hopefully the challenge organizer(s) will grant special dispensation for salt. Please??? Look at its history. It has always been a traded commodity.) The enthusiasm meter dropped significantly but they're still willing to give it a shot.

So this weekend we're hitting the farmers market and probably Fresh Abundance because there's no way I could live off just the tomatoes, green beans and squash growing in the garden. Kathy, on the other hand, would be okay with that because she doesn't care for meat that much. Next week's dinner meals will be interesting and hopefully not too bland.

And when it's all over we can make up for all that good food by going to Pig Out In The Park the next week. Whoo-hoo!

Wilderness Backpacking Tip

Before you buy or rent (like John and I did) a bear cannister, call the ranger stations near where you're going and see if they have loaners. When we picked up our back country permit we found the Marblemount station had about 40 cannisters on hand and you can borrow them for free.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back So Soon?

On Sunday morning John and I parked at the trailhead, got on the East Bank Trail and headed east to begin our loop. We followed Ruby Creek for a while and then started our climb.

The weather was nice but when you're carrying 50 pounds on your back you tend to work up a sweat. Once we hit the Pasayten Wilderness we started in on the serious climbing.

Switchback after switchback we slowly made our way up on our way to McMillan Park. I don't know if our memories of the Wonderland Trail trek just kept the good parts but both of us thought this trail was steeper. And for being in the wilderness we sure did cross paths with a lot of people. There must be some sort of bizarre trail etiquette that requires people coming down the trail to tell the people going up "it's not that far" or "you're almost there." A father-son team encouraged us to go to Devil's Park which is a couple miles past McMillan Park. They said it was much nicer there.

After slogging uphill for hours we came to the Crater Lake trail junction. A threesome there told us there was plenty of camping at McMillan Park (and we were almost there) and that there were already several campers there. Thankful that the worst of the climbing was over we pressed on. John had developed a problem with his ankle and it was getting pretty painful for him so we were eager to set up camp and rest. Intrepid scouts and backcountry experts that we were, we walked right by McMillan Park without realizing that was it. For one, we were expecting to see other people and we didn't see a single camp. We pressed on to Devil's Park and stopped at the first campsite we found. It was a 12-mile day.

Fire was the first order of business. That's the way it is when you're camping.

Of course, once you set up camp the deer start coming around and sticking their tongues at you for intruding on their habitat.

We ate dinner and burned most of our wood and crashed at 8:00 pm. We were tired with a capital T. I was out quickly and slept pretty good except for when John woke me to tell me I was snoring real loud. The night was cold and moisture built up on everything so we woke to a cold, damp start. But the ten hours of sleep felt good. Poor planning meant we didn't have any dry tinder to start a fire with so I used my Wind Pro stove to get some flames going. Worked like a charm.

I got water from a nearby stream so we could hydrate some more dehydrated food. Once the sun reached us we could lay stuff out to dry. John tested his ankle out and thought it best not to continue. The remainder of the loop had more elevation change than our first day and we both thought it wise to head back.

Once we got everything dried out, we packed up and retraced our steps. It was easier going since we didn't have to climb much. But going down a steep trail is still pretty tough on the legs, even with the trek poles taking some of the load off. On the way down I counted the switchbacks from the top down to the Pasayten Wilderness sign and came up with 67. "Almost there" my ass. Don't even tell me that.

We stopped at one waterfall that crosses the trail and John iced his ankle. Fresh snow melt is the most refreshing drink ever, but make sure you get it upstream from the guy soaking his foot.

It's a shame we had to cut it short, but these things happen. We'll just have to try another trip next year.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No Posts For A While

I'm off to backpack the Devil's Dome Loop (scroll down) with my brother John. We drive up today and hit the trail tomorrow morning. We're taking our time and plan to finish in 4-5 days unlike some people who do it all at once.


Short Barefoot Running Update

After wearing sandals for the last two weeks, I can't say it helped protect my callouses or that it made them tougher by keeping them dryer. However, I was able to run some distances, even on back-to-back days without causing any blisters or wearing the callouses down as much as before. They still wear, but I'm doing much better with my landing and takeoff. Last Wednesday evening I ran 10k--with shoes on--and my lower legs were strong enough for me to land just as when I run barefoot. No heel striking at all. So that was cool.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I'm in the middle of reading The Science of Fear, an interesting book about, well, fear and its effects on us and society as a whole. More about the book later, but I had a thought.

I used to donate blood all the time but no more. Back in the 90's I became ineligible. The reason was because I had lived in the United Kingdom--stationed there while in the Air Force--from 1983 to 1987. Anyone who lived there for more than six months after 1980 was ineligible. The rules have since changed and can review them here. Now it's three months of residence between 1980-1996.

The reason for my ineligibility is possible exposure to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) caused by consuming beef and beef products contaminated with the infectious agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The media-inspired name was Mad Cow Disease. The United Kingdom had a problem back then and you can read about how many cases there have been in the first couple of paragraphs on this page.

Okay, I can't donate blood even though the number of cases peaked ten years ago in 1999 and dropped since then. There have been three cases in the US, two of whom had lived in the U.K. during the target period of 1980-1996. Two out of the thousands of military and civilian personnel and their respective families who lived in the U.K. during that seventeen-year period. So just how great is the risk?

On to a related topic. When I renew my driver's license, the state of Washington asks if I would like to be an organ donor. I didn't even think about my blood donor ineligibility so the little red heart next to the expiration date indicates I answered "Yes." Now that I am thinking about it, what makes you ineligible to be a tissue donor? You can find those rules here where one of the "relevant communicable disease agents or diseases" that makes you ineligible is:

Human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE); including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)

So technically I can't be an organ donor either. I'm not sure it would help if the state asked about the eligibility factors beforehand. Some might consider that intrusive. But you can bet the hospital will ask. And once they find out they'll cancel the harvest team and kill the power to the life support machines. (Interestingly enough, they do call it harvesting the body.)

But back to my question. There have been two cases in the U.S. out of thousands of possibilities. How great of a risk are we actually facing here? Without hard numbers it's difficult to say for sure, but the numbers we do have hardly indicate--as least to me--that we need to continue this.

In the meantime, maybe I should wear a warning bracelet in case someone tries to steal a kidney.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Locavore 100-Mile Challenge

I got word of a food challenge in which the participants must eat food that is grown or raised with a 100-mile radius of Spokane. The challenge is from Aug 31 through Sep 4.

I decided to take on that challenge. It's only five days. If I skip breakfast that Monday morning I'm guaranteed to make it until lunch. After that, who knows?

Don't they grow Power Bars and Rice Krispie treats in Lind?

Picture shamelessly stolen from BarfBlog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Awakening

The Awakening is a cool sculpture near the hotel I'm staying in. This evening I took some photos during the sunset.

My Favorite Kind Of Protester

The Democratic Underground is the source of this photo from a protest in New Hampshire.

We have no idea what we're talking about.

That pretty much sums it up. This guy is of the same mind as the guy in the photo below during a protest during the Terry Schiavo controversy.

The Courts Have Ruled

I'm away from home but I see in yesterday's Spokesman Review that Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers finally set to rest that Barack Obama is in fact a citizen.

Spin Control: Do you have any doubts that Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States and constitutionally entitled to be president?

McMorris Rodgers: I have looked into it further. There’s a reality that it’s been in the courts, the courts have ruled that he is indeed a legal citizen, born in the country, and I think it’s a nonissue.

Interestingly enough, I haven't found where a court has ruled this. The Supreme Court denied an appeal for a case that was trying to stop the election in New Jersey and denied to hear a Pennsylvania case where an attorney claims Obama is not a citizen.

Regardless, this all happened months ago. It's nice to see McMorris Rodgers catch up with the times on this "I'd like to see the documents" nonissue.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Barefoot Running

I went for a run after we got home from the UW visit. I wore shoes for the first mile and a half until I got to Mead High School. Then I took my shoes off and ran barefoot around the huge grass fields for a distance of about two miles. For the first mile I just ran and let my feet go. Then I started focusing on how my feet were landing on the ground.

I tried to maintain that as I ran home on cement and asphalt. A week ago, Thinnmann said not to twist my feet or push off. Just lift the feet. And that was pretty much was I was doing. It was working well. Too well, in fact. It felt so good I started speeding up which was a bad thing to do. Then during the last quarter mile my brain started thinking, "I can improve upon this."

"No! Ouch! Don't think!"

So I just need to increase the distance that I run while thinking of something else.

While we were in Seattle, we stopped by the REI store so Kathy could get some bike shorts. The shoe section had the Vibrams on hand. It's mainly the price that's keeping me at bay because I can't say for sure I'd use them that much. But they sure did seem nice.

UW Visit

Josh is coming up on his senior year in high school. After many a "I dunno" and shrugging of shoulders, he's thinking Chemical Engineering is the most likely path for him. That pretty much limits the number of schools he can attend so we went to one of them yesterday.

We drove to the University of Washington and took a tour of the campus led by an animated young man (Drama and Communications major) named Tyler. Steph came along too. You can guess what she plans to wear when we visit the WSU campus.

Josh and I were very impressed with the bicycling situation there. Bikes and bike racks were all over the place. And they even have areas where bikes will be impounded if you lock them there, mainly to allow for pedestrian traffic.

Oh, and it seems like a good place to get made more intelligenced, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Miss My Bike... running will have to do for now. Yesterday I did five miles under a cloudy sky and it rained--one drop. No, really, I felt it. Anyway, I just finished reading Born To Run. (Thank you, Spokane Al, for referring the book to me.) It's a fun read and I recommend it to anyone who runs or is thinking about running. There are enough reviews about the book so I'm not doing another one.

The book can put a dangerous thought in your head: If they can do it, why can't I?

Probably because I'd rather ride a bike.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Someone In The Media Calls It

Steve Pearlstein of the Washington Post looks at the current state of the so-called health care debate and calls it for what it is.

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.

Ya think?

Whoa! That's Hot!

Sorry for the lousy Blackberry photo

So I get to the hotel and unpack. I open the closet and see these. The robes are for complimentary use and available for purchase for $120. The tag on the robe says "Release Your Wild Side." I can think of no greater humiliation than prancing around wearing one of these. I'll pass.

The camisoles and boxers are for purchase only. Their tag says "Do You Know What's Going On In The Closet?"

I don't think I want to know.

After unpacking I went for a four mile run--with my shoes on. The guys up front told me about a canal nearby with a hardpack trail so I checked it out. It was frickin' HOT! Being the only one out there, anyone who saw me rightly figured me for a fool who's not from around here. I'm going to go again early in the morning when it's cooler.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dry Roasted Hank

I should probably bring an oven mitt with me so I can open doors without burning my hand for the next four days.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I wish I had taped the two teenage girls as they removed my stitches this evening. Kathy showed Stephanie and Ericka how with the first stitch. Then they each removed one with the tweezers and scissors.

"Ewwwww! Eeeeeee! Ewww!"

Facing The Inevitable

This article concerns Sir Terry Pratchett's consideration of ending his own life.

Sir Terry, 61, author of the hugely successful Discworld books, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2007.

He said that no one has a duty to suffer the extremes of terminal illness and set down his admiration for the sick and dying who have travelled to Switzerland to die in legal suicide clinics. They have displayed ' furious sanity', he said.

The article came about because a woman who wants to end her life on her own terms wants to know if her husband will be charged with a crime if he helps her go to Switzerland.

The Lords ruled on Thursday that the Director of Public Prosecutions must give Mrs [Debbie] Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis, guidance on whether her husband will face prosecution - and a possible 14-year prison sentence - if he helps her travel to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich to die.

The judgment means the DPP is likely to set down rules which will clear those who do not have selfish motives from the threat of prosecution - a major step towards legalisation.

Powerful stuff.

If I were terminally ill or had some disease that slowly destroyed my mind, would I choose to end my life on my terms or wait for the inevitable end? That's a question I ponder every once in a while. More so since, especially as I and my family grow older, I know there will be a time when my children will have to attend their father's funeral just as I attended mine.

That which seemed so distant and impossible as a teen--death--inches closer carried on the back of cold and callous time. It's a topic that should be discussed and not hidden away to "protect" the children. Death need not be the hardest life lesson we learn.

It's easy for me to answer the question of the choice I would make in the here and now because there is no imminency, no sense of urgency insisting that I decide before my faculties have finally waned or the pain is unbearable. But what would I do when I have to decide? That is, if I have that opportunity.

I find it to be a very personal issue. So much so that I would have great difficulty deciding for someone else even if they made their wishes known beforehand. Regardless of what my decision for me would be, I think it's important that I have a choice. If nothing else, I find that comforting.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Barefoot Running Update

I'm still running barefoot, but I can only comfortably manage two runs a week without shoes: one 2.5 and one 5k. My callouses are thick but they don't seem to be getting any thicker. It's like I wear them down as fast as they grow which does seem to make sense given the rough asphalt on the Centennial Trail from Riverfront Park to Mission Park.

However, I have a theory. I think that since I wear shoes during the day--you know, one of those silly work requirements--the heat and moisture trapped there keeps the callouses soft so that when I run at lunchtime the softer tissue wears away faster than normal.

Yep, I thunk that up all my myself. That's genius with a hard "g".

So I'm putting my theory to the test. Come Monday I am gone for three weeks. I have a conference in Arizona next week, a conference in Washington, D.C., the next, and then a backpacking trip the third week. For the next two weeks I can get away with wearing sandals. That will allow me to keep my soles drier and presumably tougher. I'll let you know how that works for me. During the backpacking trip the terrain will determine whether I'm barefoot, wearing sandals or wearing boots. I'll play that by ear. My brother, John, already told me that he's not carrying my sorry ass if I hurt myself by doing something stupid like walking barefoot in the mountains. Brotherly love in response to brotherly insanity.

See that dark line on my right big toe? That's a splinter from one of the wooden bridges in Riverfront Park. I also had one in the ball of my foot but it finally worked its way out. I was going to dig them out but stopped. They didn't hurt and digging into the thick skin would just expose tender skin. So I left them to come out on their own with time. It's been an interesting summer.


Last night Josh received his shirt from the Flying Irish Running Club at O'Doherty's. After six runs, you get to stand on the bar and tell an Irish joke and pay $10 for a very nice dry-fit shirt. Wearing the shirt gets you a 50% discount off food and drinks after the run. I received my shirt a couple weeks ago. The joke I told was rather long and hard to follow since a lot of people in the place were talking. So from that Josh decided that it's best if the joke is short and sweet. And to cheers and high fives, here is the joke he told.

An Irishman walked into a bar and the bartender, seeing something odd, says, "Hey, you have a steering wheel on your pecker."

The Irishman says, "I know. It's drivin' me nuts."

Much-Feared Government-Run Health Care

This is horrible news.

The Defense Department is projected to reduce spending by $1.67 billion on prescription medications sold in retail pharmacies in fiscal 2010, following the full implementation of Section 703 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2008.


For the past several years the DoD has paid commercial rates for prescription drugs purchased in the Tricare retail pharmacy network; however, the DoD is included in the 1992 Veterans Health Care Act as one of the “big four” government agencies entitled to federal prices when it purchases pharmaceuticals for its beneficiaries.

The DoD currently receives federal ceiling prices, the maximum price that can be charged for brand name drugs in military treatment facilities and the Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy. Through authority provided in Section 703 of the 2008 NDAA and the “final rule” implementing the regulation, the DoD will now get these same discounts in the Tricare retail pharmacy network.

Don't they realize that the pharmaceutical companies are already hurting enough in this economic downturn. When faced with a decision to buy food or treat their toenail fungus, erectile dysfunction and restless legs, what are most Americans going to do?

Next someone will get the idea to apply the savings towards the Medicare Part D donut hole victims.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don't Even Think About It

Recently, numerous people--including the governor of the state--were outraged when the Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses started carrying ads sponsored by the Iowa Atheist and Freethinkers group. The signs read, "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." The signs went up on August 1 and came down on August 5.

The Atheist Ethicist presents a thought-provoking perspective on this.

If the story stops here, then the message that the story itself will spread across the city of Des Moines is exactly the opposite of the story that those who arranged for the advertisement wanted. The story will spread to those who do not believe in God that they must shut up and remain silent to be accepted. The story is that those who hate atheists will make sure that any sign that there is an atheist in their midst will be met with hostility and protest until the atheist is silent – because the only good atheist is an invisible atheist.


Perhaps one way to explain it to them in a way they will understand is to tell the story of the owner of a small night-club who, having no animosity against Jews, hired a Jewish singer, only to fire her the next day because the community is full of bigots who refused to patronize a place that would dare to put a Jew on the stage.

You see there's nothing as offensive as telling people that if they don't believe in God they're not alone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why I Ride

This morning I left home early and took a different and longer route to work. With the extra saddle time my mind wandered and I reflected on cycling. I've met and ridden with a number of extraordinary people this year. On a Thursday morning Spokane Bicycle Club ride, four of the eight riders were old enough to be my mom or dad. The other four could have been older siblings as they were all in their 60's. I was the baby at 52. They started in Brown's Addition and went out through Mead to Peone, Mt Spokane Park highway, and returned on Forker Road to the Centennial Trail and back to the start. The oldest of the group, an eighty-six year old man in lycra shorts and a racing jersey, wasn't the fastest but he wasn't a slouch either. The beer we had at the Elk afterwards was well deserved and much enjoyed.

On another SBC ride out to Cheney, I was talking to a tall, thin rider as we zipped down the road. He shocked me when he told me he graduated from Lewis & Clark High School in 1957. That's six months after I was born. This seventy year old man was often with the fast group waiting at the next shady spot for the slower riders to catch up.

Last week, a woman I know did her second RAMROD. It's 154 miles long with 10,000 feet of elevation gain and you have 15 hours to complete it. On the day John and other cyclists were scouting out the Midnight Century route--and I mean no disrespect towards them--she was training for RAMROD by doing an unsupported double century all by herself. The bib numbers for RAMROD are assigned by age order, the oldest receiving number 1. At sixty-one years of age she was assigned number 53. When I asked her how the ride was, she answered, "It went good." And she somewhat glumly added that numbers 22 and 24 passed her.

Cycling creates the path for me to sharply contrast with the stereotypical mold society expects older people to be in. I want to challenge myself, enjoy a ride and cap it off with an ice cold beer. I know I can't live forever, but I'll live as long as I can and enjoy it to the fullest. And when it's all over, I'll be saying, "It went good."

Now where's that beer?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Choose Your Spouse Wisely

Here is an example (PDF) where being in a community property state doesn't necessarily mean it gets divided evenly and fairly. Or at all. It's a case decided at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 1986, while Richard I. Berger (Richard) and Cornella were married, Richard joined a partnership (Partnership) known as 1748 North Verdugo Road, which he and others formed for the purpose of purchasing a 290-unit apartment complex (Property).

During the relevant period, Richard served as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Craig Electronics (Craig), an electronics wholesaler. On March 19, 2003, a federal grand jury returned a first superceding indictment, charging Richard with thirty-six counts of conspiracy, loan fraud, falsifying corporate books, and other securities fraud violations committed at Craig from 1995 to as late as 1997. After a jury trial, Richard was found guilty on twelve of those counts. There is no evidence that Cornella was involved in any wrongdoing associated with the illegal scheme or that any proceeds therefrom were invested in the Property.

As a part of the restitution, their property was sold. The now divorced wife of the convicted man claims she was entitled to half the proceeds of the sale since they live in a community property state.

Cornella also argues that it would be unjust to punish an innocent spouse for her husband’s misdeeds. We sympathize with Cornella’s situation, but for better or worse, it has long been true in community property jurisdictions that both spouses assume the risks—and benefits—of that legal system. The case books are replete with examples of seeming injustices to innocent spouses where community property laws are applied. Nevertheless, we are bound by California’s community property laws, and they control the outcome in this case.


"Say No More," He Says.

If you've never read World Net Daily, you haven't missed much except for some of the most outrageous craziness ever. The latest "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" idea hosted on the site is a man who uses a quote from the bible to show a relationship between Barack Obama and the antichrist but qualifies that by stating he's not saying Obama is the antichrist.

An American Christian has produced a brief film for YouTube that connects one statement by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke to President Barack Obama.


"I want to emphasize I'm not ashamed of what I put there," he told WND. "I'm not proclaiming he is the antichrist, or that I'm some kind of a Hebrew expert, but the word associations are indisputable. The Hebrew word for lightning is 'Baraq' and the word for heights or high places is 'Bamah.'"

The movie has a prominent disclaimer stressing the film does not declare "BHO" [Barack Hussein Obama] to be the antichrist, but is merely pointing out the Hebrew words and their "striking" correlations to Jesus' statement.

So the reason for doing this is...what? There are times when we don't want to state something outright and imply something in order to lead the reader or listener to a conclusion. It's a useful construct in literature, theater and comedy. This, on the other hand, implies something so strongly that it could hardly be more obviously stated and then in turn is denied. I can think of no purpose for it other than to be intentionally destructive.

Basically he's saying something like, "The word association is indisputable so therefore, although what I'm not declaring outright seems logical and possible, I leave it for others to assume to be true."

Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more?

Aqua Ball

This past weekend all of my brothers and sisters (there are eight of us) were in town. The kids descended on the pool and came up with a game on Saturday that one of the parents ended up naming "Aqua Ball". It combines aspects of football, rugby, water polo and bullying. They were initially wearing innertube-like swim toys which tended to interfere so my brother-in-law, Chip, picked up head bands and water wings so the kids could have "uniforms."

On Sunday it was game on. We started with team photos.

The older kids formed the Dora the Explorer team.

Spongebob Squarepants mascoted the younger team.
Are you sensing the imbalance and unfairness yet?

A fearsome pass rush is about to happen.

Swim! Swim!

The play is over when your opponent is drowned.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

That's The Way It Is

Glenn Greenwald has a very interesting and revealing column about today's New York Times article concerning the now terminated feud between Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olberman. Greenwald expands the subject to the state of the corporate controlled news.

...the chairman of General Electric (which owns MSNBC), Jeffrey Immelt, and the chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), Rupert Murdoch, were brought into a room at a "summit meeting" for CEOs in May, where Charlie Rose tried to engineer an end to the "feud" between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox's Bill O'Reilly. According to the NYT, both CEO's agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other's news organizations and employees.


So now GE is using its control of NBC and MSNBC to ensure that there is no more reporting by Fox of its business activities in Iran or other embarrassing corporate activities, while News Corp. is ensuring that the lies spewed regularly by its top-rated commodity on Fox News are no longer reported by MSNBC. You don't have to agree with the reader's view of the value of this reporting to be highly disturbed that it is being censored.

I don't consider Olberman or O'Reilly to be real journalists. Like of much of the media they are only concerned with audiences and advertisers. It expresses the late Walter Cronkite's tagline quite well. Which is a real tragedy.