Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Simple - Just Don't Get Sick

In spite of the burden most Americans are willing to take on to ensure decent health care, many feel that Congress is not paying attention. Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee voted down two versions of the public option. And why not? It's not like there isn't one already. You just have to be patient. And hopefully nobody else shows up and you have a better chance of being seen.

After all, getting sick is a choice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walkabout Spokane

I attended Mark Fenton's presentation at the Lincoln Center tonight. About 55 people were present. We started off with a short walk during which we evaluated the walk as a group.

It was helpful to hear what other people thought were positives and negatives. Some things you wouldn't think about unless you were using a walker, pushing a stroller or getting around in a wheelchair. He stressed that it's important to consider everybody when designing for pedestrian traffic.

I really liked how he tied in pedestrian/biking/transit as contributors to solving the problems we have with health, obesity, pollution, parking and reliance on oil. But most of all, I liked his approach to implementing change. Rather than lay blame, address the issue from a higher plane and work to solve the problem together. Overall, we have to decide as a community where we want to be and make sure our elected leaders not only know it, but get on board. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of his presentation, but I think I got the main points.

Mark is a smart, creative and passionate advocate. He should visit Spokane more often.

A Sign Of The Times

Along with what appears to be a greater number of people holding up cardboard signs at busy intersections and Walmart parking lot exits, here's something else I've noticed. Every morning I ride by the IBR Plasma Center located at Francis and Standard. Usually there are about ten people waiting for the doors to open. This morning the line was especially long.

I know you get paid for your plasma, but I don't know how much exactly. It must vary by locale since the web site is pretty vague about it.

8. What compensation do plasma donors receive?

To guarantee a safe and adequate supply of donors, the industry developed a system of donor compensation which recognizes the substantial commitment of personal time and effort required from donors. Current manufacturing supply requirements often demand that the donors visit a collection center up to twice per week for one and a half hours each visit. Donors at an International BioResources Plasma Center receive appropriate compensation, and donors can receive additional compensation for frequent donations and referring friends and family.


You can donate twice a week but not more than every other day. And if you're looking for tips, there are plenty of sites on the Internet--some not so nice--to help you out.

But a question comes to mind. Does it matter if the reason a person gives plasma is because they get paid?

My Over The Top Is More Over The Top Than Yours

Who knew that self defense and killing people with your bare hands could be so simple and easy?

From the site (emphasis as in the original) with my snarky comments inserted:

Who Is Captain Chris?

Captain Chris is an unarmed combat instructor for members of the US & UK Special Forces and dozens of military and para-military professionals and mercenaries around the globe.

->But what about the Army of Antarctica?

He is a fomer (sic) military interrogator (trained to extract information from enemy combatants) and has black belts in 5 different martial arts—including karate, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

->So that's what a military interrogator does? I had no idea.

He is also a US Gold Medal Grappling Champion, Silver Medal Grapplers Quest National Champion, and has 147 trophies and medals in dozensof martial arts and fighting styles.

->His "I love me" wall is da bomb.

However, despite all his martial arts training and awards, several years ago Captain Chris and his wife were attacked in a vicious road-rage incident that left him beaten within an inch of his life.

Broken, humiliated and mad as hell, he realized true self defense has nothing to do with "martial arts"... and martial arts was actually getting people hurt, crippled and even killed on the streets.

->But your were just bragging about black belts in five different martial arts.

Scraping together what little money he had, and calling in every military favor he could find, Captain Chris travelled the world in search of the "perfect" fighting style that would work for anyone—regardless of size, speed or experience.

After several years abroad, and training under everyone from the violent Arabian assassins in Egypt to the last remaining Samurai in Japan, Captain Chris ran into an old, grizzled WW2 vet in Britain and discovered what he was searching for: "Close Combat Training"

->Those violent Egyptian assassins in Arabia don't hold a candle to the violent Arabian assassins in Egypt. But the real selling point for me is Tom Cruise's involvement.

Close Combat Training (CCT) was once used to kill nazis and elite Japanese soldiers during WW2, north Korean communists during the Korean War and to do the CIA's "dirty work" in Vietnam.

->They didn't waste their talents on those regular Japanese soldiers.

However, due to its violating hundreds of international "brutality" agreements, Washington politicians ordered the military to stop teaching it to their soldiers after Vietnam.

->Hundreds of international brutality agreements. Count 'em. There's the Geneva Convention. And...um...gimme a minute.

After 30 years and almost being forgotten altogether, Captain Chris brought this "lost" self defense system to his New York training school.

When word got out that someone in America was actually teaching  CCT again, Captain Chris's small self defense business exploded with new students from every corner of the world—including military soldiers from the Marines, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, British SAS, DEA Agents, Inner city cops, professional bounty hunters and even trained Private Military Assassins.

To keep up with the demand, Captain Chris was forced to charge these students as much as $14,987.00 per lesson to learn this devastating new fighting system.

->Why $14,987? Because $14,999 was already taken. Maybe it was a government contract and he threw in a $700 hammer for free. Um, somebody explain how higher prices help you keep up with demand.

And then, after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Chris was approached by a new kind of student: Civilians.

->Captain Chris, teach me how to protect myself against airplanes piloted by insane death-wish martyrs crashing into my family!

Only problem was, outside of the private, "big money" security firms and mercenary outfits backed by goverments (sic) and special interests, nobody else could afford Captain Chris's $14,987.00 fee.

To remedy this situation, Captain Chris created a special DVD set that walks people through the entire CCT system, step-by-step.

->Yes, he's going to provide the same training for the "little money" people. Is it for a low price that's been marked out and replaced with an even lower price? Damn right it is. Are you hooked yet?

And just when you thought it couldn't be any more over the top than it is:

Captain Chris knows that with the explosion of criminal illegal alien gangs allowed to freely roam big cities like LA, Chicago and New York... international terrorists basically invited in by the liberal socialists in Washington... and far left wing politicians in Congress passing laws that empower dangerous criminals and castrate civilians... knowing how to hurt, cripple and even kill someone trying to attack your family is no longer a luxury—it's crucial.

->Castrated civilians? No way. Not me. My wife keeps my nuts safe at home...oh...wait. Regardless, it's crucial that we all know how to hurt, cripple and even kill someone trying to attack your family. He's right. It's definitely no longer a luxury.

Isn't that right, honey?

The Enemy Within

Today's Spokesman Review brings us yet another Cal Thomas column. Cal is worried that Muslims are working from within to undermine our country.

If you were an enemy of America seeking her destruction, you would add to your pursuit of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons the undermining of this nation from within. You would do this largely through deception, putting on a peaceful face while subtly plotting ways to bring America down.

That tactic was on display Friday in Washington as a crowd estimated at 3,000 Muslims gathered to pray. The organizer of the rally, Imam Abdul Malik of Brooklyn, N.Y., told Americans what we like to hear: “What we’ve done today, you couldn’t do in any Muslim country. If you prayed on the palace lawn there, they’d lock you up.”


Cal points to Malik's Facebook page as proof of his perfidy. So I took a look at it myself. The page has five whole posts on it. The one Cal is pointing to is the very first one from last January.

"Democracy is not revelation, and democracy does not equal freedom, for in democracy you have apartheid, you have slavery, you have homosexuality, you have lesbianism, you have gambling, you have all of the vices that are against the spirit of truth; so no we don’t want to democratize Islam, we want to Islamize democracy! That’s what we want.

...

You’d better wake up! You’ve got the best message and the best example, you’ve got to know that you are the lions of the jungle don’t turn in into a pussy-cat!"


It sounds like many of the complaints shared by those who claim we are a Christian nation. And it sounds just as inspirational as many Christian exhortations. Change "Islamize" to "Christianize" and you essentially have Thomas's position. He rails against moral depravity all the while espousing biblical guidance. Malik's position is no different except for the religious text he is using. And that's the key for Thomas. He paints all Muslims as a dangerous foe from within and cherry picks arrests of alleged terrorists as proof. It's the Crusades all over again for Cal.

Someone posted a compliment on Malik's Facebook page for his khutbah. In response, someone had to spread that Christian love.

The enemy within indeed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's More Than Just The Dams

Cathy McMorris Rodgers uses an interesting choice of words when she voices her disapproval of considering the breaching of four Snake River dams.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) opposes dam removal.

“I’m concerned that, bottom line, this administration decided to put dams on the table,” she told CNSNews.com, “and there have been some extreme environmental organizations that have been advocating for years that these dams be removed, and now they have an opening to continue to advocate for the dam removal.”


Her use of "extreme environmental organizations" is telling. The word "extreme" is useful for characterizing every environmental organization as if they were associated with the Earth Liberation Front. Eco-terrorist easily comes to mind. And "extreme" can also depend on your perspective. Her extreme adamance about keeping the dams intact is just as extreme to the extreme environmental organizations as their extreme position towards damn removal is to her extreme pro-business position. Or something like that.

Her concern that "this administration decided to put dams on the table" is an unnecessary poke at the administration. Why is this administration going to look at the possibility of breaching the dams? Because they were told to.

In May, U.S. District Judge James Redden had directed the agencies to tear up their previous plan and submit another. Redden has been critical of past plans, dating back as far as the Clinton administration, because they did not consider the possibility of removing the dams.

And back in May, McMorris Rodgers let us know how she felt about that in an op-ed printed in the Spokesman Review.

Once again, our way of life in the Northwest is being threatened. Today the threat isn’t from a politician or Wall Street financier. It’s from a judge in Portland.

I already covered that issue.

It's important to remember that the judge does not want to breach the dams. This is an extremely complex issue with many factors and parties involved and the judge is in an unenviable position of ensuring the requirements of the laws are being met. But that's his job and he's trying to do it well. If he's to decide on whether a plan passes muster, then the plan should cover all of the possibilities. And that is what's being done. The new plan is to include the possibility of breaching the dams.

Imagine going to your boss with a possible solution to a problem and she notices an obvious option is not even addressed. She asks you why and you answer, "We don't want to consider that possibility." How well would that be received? Well, essentially that is our congresswoman's position--we don't want to consider that possibility.

And rather than contribute to the discussion, she just tries to make political hay out of the matter.

It's Not A Bad Thing When We Or Our Friends Do It

Glenn Greenwald presents a glossary of foreign affairs terms today and he starts off with a huge hit into the upper deck.

The act of dangerous, threatening Hitlers -- NYT, today:

Iran was reported Monday to have test-fired long-range missiles capable of striking Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf in what seemed a show of force.

The acts of a peace-loving democracy - Telegraph, January 18, 2008:

Israel has carried out the successful test launch of a long-range, ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, in what was intended as a clear show of strength to Iran.

The key is perspective. We're not that concerned with missiles aimed away as opposed to towards us. Why should the people on the other end feel any differently?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hercules In Spokane

Last night I put my running sandals together. I don't have the leather footbed yet, but I can add that at any time.

My family's reactions:

Kathy: (laughter) "I'm gonna call you Hercules. I look forward to the rest of your body changing to match."

Steph: "Dad, those are lame."

Josh quietly allowed me to keep what little dignity I had left.

I wore them a little last night and for a couple hours this morning. The design is fascinating. A single leather lace holds the sandal on with the proper wrapping and a slip knot. They're not uncomfortable, but feet being as sensitive as they are, they will tell you if the knot is uncomfortably pressing on a tendon. Since I never wear sandals that have a piece between the the first and second toe, I'm just going to walk around in them until I think it's safe to run for any distance. I trotted around a little bit and it felt like protected barefoot running.

In the meantime, I'm working on lip synching to overdubbed English while I mouth words in another language. Maybe I could wrestle someone wearing a ten-dollar bear suit.

My Name Is Austin Tasheous

While on our Missoula trip I spotted this pickup truck with a trailer hitch mounted "Freedom Grill" on the back.

It got me to thinking of other things we could mount on a trailer hitch that say, "I have disposable income. Just wanted to make sure you knew."

A Barcalounger or a plasma TV are too easy. How about a diaper changing station complete with a diaper disposal system? Yeah, having your au pair take the baby out to the back of the vehicle for a diaper change sends the signal all right.

And it keeps the tailgaters at bay.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cool Running

We went to Missoula today and watched Josh and his teammates race in the Mountain West Classic. This was Mead's first visit there since 2001. And just as they did back then, they won this year. Pretty cool. The photo is after the race which accounts for why they look tired.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bike Lane Blocker

Duly reported.

Can't Wait 'Til Next Year

Today we got a load of brand new Dex phone books at work. And I hadn't finished reading the one I got last year. Anyway, a sharp-eyed coworker noticed that the same dentist as last year provided a refrigerator magnet advertisement glued to the cover.

Last year's magnet ad.

This year's magnet.

Instead of throwing out glib comments I thought I'd just show them to you, tell you they strike me as humorous and leave it at that.

Oh, To Be The First Parent...

...to plop a two year old in seat 27B, stuff their diaper bag under the seat in front of them, and tell the people in 27A and 27C, "She shouldn't need changing for a while, but you never know with kids. There's a bottle in the end pocket, right there, in case she gets hungry. She usually cries herself to sleep and sometimes she projectile vomits. That's what the towel there is for. I'll be up in seat 9F if there's a problem."

No, that could never happen.

The Making Of Glenn Back

I don't watch Glenn Beck mainly because I can't stand to watch him. But then that's true of any of the cable talking heads. But it turns out Beck has an interesting history. I remember hearing about some of his publicity stunts although I don't remember his name being associated with them.

I didn't know he was from Mount Vernon, Washington--as if that really makes a difference--until I read the mayor was going to award Beck the keys to the city. That's been a little controversial itself.

Alexander Zaitchik has an excellent three-part series about Glenn Beck over on Salon.com. Links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

After reading about his rise to fame I have to wonder what really motivates him. And I wonder if he is familiar with the movie A Face In The Crowd.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Be More Afraid

As we all know, Spokane made the national news when Phillip Paul escaped while attending the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The day's drop in attendance was attributed to Paul's escape. I realize this is conjecture, but let's regard it as true for a moment. If so, then almost 2,000 people didn't go to the fair because of fear. Was it logical for them to be fearful? Well, if Paul had decided to go on a rampage of some sort he wouldn't have been missing very long. Since he could not be found it was quite safe to assume he was not at the fair. Since he was at large, it was probably safer to be at the fair than at home.

Now we have this bit of fear mongering from KREM 2 news.

When criminally insane killer Phillip Paul escaped from a field trip he was with 30 other criminally insane patients.

Eastern State Hospital had taken groups like that to big public events before like Bloomsday and Hoopfest.

The directors of both of those events say they had no idea Eastern had been bringing criminally insane people, maybe even murderers to their events.

The organizers of Bloomsday say if Paul hadn’t escaped they might never have known.


What isn't mentioned is that Bloomsday, Hoopfest and the Spokane County Interstate Fair have gone on for years without incident even though Eastern State Hospital has been "bringing criminally insane people, maybe even murderers to their events."

Yes, you read that right. Maybe even murderers! And how many times can we say "criminally insane"? What does that mean exactly? It turns out it means a lot more than someone is nuckin' futz and wants to kill people.

But that doesn't stop this reportage from scaring us into thinking that the criminally insane people from Eastern State Hospital walking among us at Spokane events are murderers just waiting for the right moment to strike.

The Paul case certainly warrants an investigation, but we need to remember this was a rare incident.

And Then Suddenly Something Snapped

Mayhem and destruction at the office today. I was standing outside a room where a fan was running and it sounded like something hit it. I went inside and my ears told me the fan was running but my eyes said sumthin' just ain't right. Two of the fan blades were sitting at the bottom of the protective cage. The third blade was a few feet away.

This was so cool. Here's what the pieces looked like.

The pressures at the office must be getting so bad that the fan couldn't stand it any longer.

See You At The Pole

This is the 20th year of See You At The Pole, an event where students meet at the flagpole of their school and pray. You can find a little more background here. Each year has a different theme. Here is this year's theme from the SYATP web site:

A young man named Josiah began one of the greatest revivals and awakenings in the Old Testament. Josiah had become king of Israel at the age of 8. Scripture tells us that at the age of 16, he began to pursue God passionately. Like his forefather, David, he began to show signs of godliness early on and gained the respect of the people. 2 Kings 22:2 states, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father, David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

This resulted in radical obedience — getting rid of everything that did not honor God and challenging everyone around him to do likewise. These actions resulted in a mighty move of God in his day — actually, one of the greatest ever!
...
How about you? Do you desire to see a mighty move of God on your campus? Are you pursuing God passionately? Are you serious about radical obedience? Are you determined to get rid of anything and everything that dishonors God and ready to challenge your friends to do the same?
(Emphasis in the original)

Pursue God passionately, radical obedience and getting rid of anything that dishonors God. I can't relate much with pursuing God passionately. I've met and known people who do or claim to. I usually find--in general terms--that a higher level of passion equates to a lower level of critical thinking especially when facts conflict with religious teachings. I've known well-educated people who believe the Earth is only five, six or ten thousand years old. And there are those who don't believe in evolution which makes as much sense as not believing in gravity, as if science is something to be believed in.

Radical obedience is a particularly disturbing part of the theme. I notice an interesting choice of words. First, in relating the story of Josiah, they use the words "getting rid of everything that did not honor God." And then they say "...get rid of anything and everything that dishonors God." This sounds like an extension of the "if you are not with us, you are against us" binary view. If something doesn't honor God then it must dishonor God which is a pretty radical view to take especially when you apply it to people. The question is, in this radical obedience how does one determine if something or anything dishonors--or does not honor--God? Well, the Bible does contain a myriad of rules. Let's have a look at some of them.

Leviticus 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 - If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.


We hear these all the time, especially with the increasing emphasis of equal rights for same-sex partners among the states. As a society we don't put gay people to death. But some of us tend to use their "sin" as a justification or distraction when a gay person is killed for being "that way". Regardless, the Bible tells us that homosexuality is wrong. But that is not the only rule we need to be radically obedient to.

Leviticus 20:10 - If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Nowadays we are pretty forgiving of adulterers. And we certainly don't put them to death. But I'm sure some of the spouses being cheated on wouldn't mind bringing that one back.

Leviticus 11:10 - But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.

Deuteronomy 13:9-10 - These you may eat of all that are in water: anything that has fins and scales you may eat, but anything that does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.


Radical obedience would presumably put Red Lobster out of business, affect the menus on a multitude of restaurants and destroy the livelihood of the lobster, crab, and shrimp boaters. And worst of all, there'd be no more Deadliest Catch programs.

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 - If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Killing a child or sibling because they switched to another religion is not a common practice in our country and we generally frown upon it in other cultures. Radical obedience would presumably set that straight.

In past See You At The Pole days I have seen groups of students circled around the flag pole at different schools in Spokane. Going past one this morning, I stopped to observe for a while because I was curious as to what they'd be praying for. Surprisingly, there were two adults, a man and a woman, present. I have no idea who they were nor do I know the four young people who were present. But I was a little surprised because I was under the impression these are student-led events and not intended for adults because the students were supposed to be reaching out to fellow students. Regardless, while I may have been a curiosity, nobody really paid me any attention other than exchanging "Good morning" with the man.

Three of the young people were wearing black t-shirts with "I (re-bel)" on the front. I don't know what, if anything, was on the back--the young man I was near had a shirt on over his--so the significance of the phrase in this context is lost on me. These three were the most fervent as expressed by their nonstop side-to-side swaying, continuous "Thank you, Father" and "Thank you, Jesus" exhaltations, lips moving in presumably silent or whispered prayer, and the occasional upraised hands and arms. The others stood quietly with heads bowed. However, there was a typical teen moment when one of the swaying girls took a moment to check her cell phone all without interrupting her prayer.

The prayers were hard to hear because of a lawn mower on the school grounds and nearby passing traffic. The ones I caught were for poor people, our country, our leaders, and the hungry. One person would pray out loud for a while and when they stopped another would pick up. The woman prayed that all the students and teachers in the school would accept God and change their lives accordingly. Overall, it seemed--whether purposely or not--the prayers dealt mostly with the pursuit of God. Nothing was said about radical obedience and removal of all that dishonors God. Three other young people joined the group one at a time during my ten-minute stay. Given that this school has about 1600 students these seven have their work cut out for them if they're reaching out to the others, especially if the other students are using the critical thinking skills they're supposed to be learning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cal's Fearsome America

Cal Thomas's opinion piece in the Spokesman Review today makes absolutely no sense. Using a story of a neighborhood bully he tries to paint particular leaders of other countries as bullies having their way as if their blustering and antagonizing behavior didn't begin until January 21 of this year. Somehow all prior presidents were not foreign policy neophytes and Obama is an appeaser of evil.

In the days of Al Capone, individuals and businesses bought “protection” from the mob. Today, no public or private insurance policy is available to protect us from predatory nations or terrorist organizations. A punch in the nose – or the threat of one – still deters bullies far better than signed agreements, which they have no intention of honoring.

He makes it sound like buying protection from the mob is a good thing, especially if America is the mob.

And then he caps it off with this:

There was a time when America was feared. That time has passed. Either we restore it or we’ll live – or die – to regret it.

Eight years of swaggering did not make other nations fear us. It brought us disdain and loss of respect. The last thing we need is another president who's only response is waving his fist under someone's nose. If you want to know about bullies, Cal can tell you all about them--as long as they're not American.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Feel Free To Let Your Imagination Run Wild

This morning's Spokesman Review Getting There contains some hard news about the construction on Highway 2.

Last Tuesday, on-site engineers for the state Department of Transportation noticed that one of the lanes of the detour was sagging and cracked. It turned out the pavement was slumping because water had weakened the road base, said Al Gilson, spokesman for the DOT in Spokane.

Not wanting to risk a collapse, the engineers ordered the southbound detour lane closed and rerouted onto one of two northbound lanes while repairs were made.

“There is no imminent danger,” Gilson said Wednesday.

Even so, the engineers didn’t want to take chances. Much of the road base and soil is made up of sand. Workers on the culvert had struck groundwater during their digging, and had been pumping the water into infiltration ponds alongside the detour route.

Gilson said water from the ponds had migrated under the roadway and apparently caused the sand to settle. “Sand being sand, it moved a bit,” he said.

The repairs were completed by Thursday and traffic was returned to the re-opened lane.

Gilson would not speculate on what might have happened if the problem hadn’t been corrected so quickly. “It’s not a crisis,” he said.


Please don't let his lack of speculation stop you from doing your own. After all, why else bring this up?

*** Update ***

Done yet? How about this?


The jagged edges of the roadway beckoned like jaws of death and basked in the orange glow of the flames from a '73 Pinto, fresh from a fill up at the Hico station and fulfilling its explosive destiny at the bottom of the chasm. Slamming the brakes with both feet, Paul brought his car to a screeching halt just three feet shy of the edge. Grabbing for his cell phone he quickly punched that important phone number every Spokane driver knows all too well.

"Come on. Come on!" he said with each ring. Finally a voice.

"Thank you for calling the Pothole Hotline..."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Ever Astute Bill Moyers



Nobody spells it out as clearly as he does.

¿Habla Español? Yes.

Kathy needed a calculator so I went to the store to get one for her. Not just any calculator, but the venerable TI-83+. After she's done with her Statistics class she'll pass it on to Steph who will be needing one as she advances in math. So anyway, after swiping my debit card I noticed a "Language" button on the touchscreen display. Just for fun--hey, you can always press Cancel and start over--I pressed it and the language switched to Spanish.

Well, mostly. When asked if I wanted cash back and if this was the correct amount, I had to press "Yes" since there was no "Sí". It was very confusing but I managed to muddle through.

The Boogeyman Is Out There

A news conference held by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris was featured in a Spokesman-Review article today. The choice of words is telling.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers warned this week that health care reform could limit treatment for disabled children, but people who advocate for the disabled say it will expand coverage.

What is the basis for "could" other than saying it? And then there's the logic involved.

“It doesn’t matter that rationing’s not spelled out in the bill; rationing will happen,” said Jeanne Bolewitz, of Rochester Hills, Mich., whose son Joshua has Down syndrome.

I suppose that since mandatory lobotomies are not spelled out in the bill, they will happen too. And let's not forget to instill fear for something that isn't there.

There is broad consensus in Congress about the need to reform the health insurance market, [McMorris Rodgers] said, but she’s concerned about a “one-size-fits-all” health plan she contends would limit patients’ ability to choose a doctor or have access to specialized care.

The Republican congresswoman acknowledged there’s nothing in the leading proposals that would do that, but insisted it’s a concern that should be kept in mind.


Never mind the real proposals. Use fear and distraction to focus on the monster under your bed. But wait, there's more than one.

“If we get to a point where there’s single-payer, we’re going to have to figure out how to pay for it,” she said in an interview. “One option is to raise taxes, and the other is to begin limiting care.”

Single payer may be desirable for some, but it's not even an option being proposed right now. Regardless, Cathy McMorris Rodgers says we need to watch out for it. Otherwise, when we try to change the system that works so well for us now we might make it worse.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Barefoot Running - So How's That Working For Ya?

These last two weeks have gone very well. Two weeks ago I did one 3-mile and one 2.5-mile barefoot run. I slowed my pace and focused on technique. I think it's paying off. This week I did a three miler on Tuesday followed by two-mile runs Thursday and yesterday. Normally I take my shoes with me but on those two days I did not. Consequently, Thursday was "barefoot running type" day.

Again, I tried to keep an easy pace and focus on technique. Surprisingly, yesterday's run went all to quickly. I ran at an eight-minute mile pace. Such lack of discipline in the past would always result in a huge blister. (No, not because it's such a blistering pace--for me.) This time I had just a little soreness so maybe focusing on the technique is paying off.

Or maybe I was just lucky.

Anyway, my callouses are looking great...well...at least from my perspective.

Gonna Tell You A Story...

...that you won't believe.
But I fell in love last Friday evening...


Jim Croce's Roller Derby Queen played in mind as Kathy and I sat down with some friends to watch the Lilac City All Stars go up against the Atomic City Roller Girls at Pattison's last night. I haven't watched roller derby since I was a kid in Abilene, Texas, and a new thing called cable brought the Bay City Bombers into our house in living black and white.

Patriotic fervor abounded as Misato Herdemise circled the rink with the flag while Anya C. Stars sang the national anthem. Old Glory wasn't the only red, white and blue present. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a sponsor. Unfortunately there was no beer to be had. After all, this is a family friendly event. I suppose the deputy sheriff at the front door was there to make sure.

She was five foot six and two fifteen
A bleached-blonde mama
With a streak of mean
She knew how to knuckle
And she knew how to scuffle and fight


The excitement level rose as trash-talking announcer MC Serious Love introduced the women. Names like Dirt E KT, Graham Slam Her, Coco Milf, and Helga Van Beat 'er Down contributed to a WWF-like atmosphere where we also had lots o' torn fishnet stockings, lots o' talk and lots o' loud music. But no beer.

We had corner seats and were encouraged to scoot right up to the barrier. Yes, the barrier with the warning sign. Before the action started MC Serious Love warned us to "Watch out for your little ones." Instinctively, I crossed my legs and turned a little to the side. Then I realized she was talking about the children.

There was no shortage of entertainment as the women skated around on a tight oval. The jammers would take off after the pack, get by if they could, and then catch the pack again to score points by passing their opponents. The occasional cheap shot would send one skater down and the other to the penalty box.

Lilac City's Ida B Choazz is about to go down. Funny, I didn't notice the sticker on the helmet until I now.

Well she might be nasty
She might be fat
But I never met a person
Who would tell her that
Shes my big blonde bomber
My heavy handed hackensack mama


You gotta hand it to these ladies. Even with knee and elbow pads, helmets and wrist protectors, going down on a wooden floor is no picnic. Regardless, Kathy is all pumped to play. Yeah, like that's gonna happen. It's amazing how those 35-year-old roller skating memories don't really seem to be that old.


The night that I fell in love with a roller derby queen
Round and round, oh round and round
The meanest hunk o woman
That anybody ever seen
Down in the arena


And if you ever go, be sure to watch out for your little ones.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Red Lining The Irony Meter

From an article (registration required) in today's Spokesman Review about a rally held by the Tea Party yesterday here in Spokane.

Too many people are uninformed about some of the nation’s big issues, such as health care reform or cap and trade, said Darin Stevens, a local businessman who arrived at the microphone wearing an Obama mask.

“Get involved and get informed about what’s going on,” said Stevens, who urged the crowd to vote against Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2010. The crowd cheered, not realizing, apparently, that Cantwell isn’t up for re-election until 2012.

The Great Diversion

This commentary from the Business & Media Institute covers more than just health care reform, but there's something about this one part, as well as similar opinions expressed elsewhere, that catches my attention.

...80 percent of Americans are satisfied with their health care providers, 70 percent satisfied with their health insurance coverage, and 53 percent are satisfied with the amount of money they have to pay out of pocket for care. Further, the most common complaints or requests for reform have to do with portability of health insurance, which can obviously be cured without the big-footed destruction of every aspect of American health care proposed by the President and Democrats in Congress.

This misses a huge problem by a mile, something on the order of 47 million people whose only health coverage is going to the emergency room. Then there's the common practice of rescission, where insurance for the costliest patients is terminated. Small wonder why a majority of people are satisfied with their health insurance coverage. They haven't gotten seriously ill--yet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Should I Grow A Beard?

Today I went barefoot running at lunch time and for the first time I did not have my shoes with me. As I waited for the light to change a man walked up behind me and said, "You don't look like the barefoot running type. Did someone steal your shoes?"

"No," I said, "I'm running barefoot." The light changed and I took off. As I left him behind a thought occurred to me. What does the barefoot running type look like?

What A Lovely Place And A Lovely Space To Be

A CRACK-BOOM! is my fair warning. I give careful attention to the notice and step outside to view a threatening, Mordor-like sky. Off to the east, the increasingly tardy sun tries to muscle the clouds aside in a futile attempt to prove its best days have not passed. The red-orange glow of the struggle fades as the smokey throng obscures the valiant, disappearing orb.

The time to leave arrives too soon and I pedal from my sanctuary into a steady downpour. Determined raindrops smash into my headlight and burst in an explosion of bright droplets. All that's missing is the colors to bring out the characteristic "Oooooo's" and "Ahhhhhhh's" of people at a fireworks show. The only way I can explain John Denver singing "This Old Guitar" is that I must have set my iMind to select a random song and play it repeatedly.

Deftly avoiding my fenders, puddles mercilessly and repeatedly pounce on my shoes. A summer's buildup of salt in my helmet nonchalantly dissolves and flows down my face, stinging my eyes. Licking my lips rewards me with a revolting taste reminiscent of sea water. The third time triggers an empty retch and I switch to wiping the water away with the back of my glove. To divert my mind from the induced nausea I focus on the song and now I'm bothered that "To serenade the stars that shine from a sunny mountainside" makes absolutely no sense. How can--BAM!--a flooded pothole reminds me to pay attention to the road. I pedal hard just as much to stay warm as to get through the rain quickly. Between water on the outside and sweat on the inside, my doubly saturated rain gear clings tightly to me. It is determined to prevent the two sides from mixing and it is impossible to gauge its success.

Arriving at work, I bounce the bike to shake off some water before I park it in the rack. A puddle forms under me as I peel away my soaked outer layer. Water dripping from my panniers marks the path I take to the elevator doors. With each step my foot noisily compresses a spongiform sock and forces water around and between my toes only to have it rush back again. The wet rubber soles complain about the linoleum floor. Carrying my wet baggage, I step out of the elevator and squoosh-squeak, squoosh-squeak to the office where a new work day awaits me. My bedraggled appearance is a misleading disguise.

I feel like a million bucks.

But really, stars shining from a sunny mountainside?

Pictures In the Park



After picking up tickets for this Friday evening's Lilac City Roller Girls game(?) against the Atomic City Roller Girls--more on that afterwards--I went for a walk in Riverfront Park yesterday. I'm having some cleaning issues with my camera. It seems like I can't get rid of all the little dust specks. I'll remove one or two and after a few pictures a dark spot on the display will inform me another speck has attached itself to the CCD. There's one just under the "P"?

Obama The AntiChrist?

A recent poll in New Jersey and there are a number of people who think Obama is the AntiChrist. What kills me are the ones who are not sure. How would you know?

I remember when Ronald Wilson Reagan was running for president and people made a big deal that the number of letters in each name was 666.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Mashed Purple Majesty potatoes.

But Were They Wearing Flag Pins?

Check out this news report.

In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Newark, three Millburn High School students contend Newark Bears president and co-owner Thomas Cetnar berated them, cursed at them and then booted them from the ballpark after they failed to stand for the song during the seventh-inning stretch.

"Nobody sits during the singing of 'God Bless America' in my stadium,'" Cetnar bellowed during the June 29 incident, according to the suit. "Now the get the (expletive) out of here."


Why do we play 'God Bless America' during the seventh inning stretch? Simply put, it's jingoism. Jingoism is the epitome of the "He who is not with us is against us" nationalist mindset. Under the guise of loyalty it promotes unthinking conformism and intolerance for those who dare to not do so.

It has brought us to the point where we determine someone's love of their country by lack of a flag pin, the lack of a flag flying at their house, the lack of a flag bumper sticker, as well as sitting or leaving to go to the bathroom during 'God Bless America' at a baseball game. From this we advance the canard that anyone exhibiting these behaviors hates America and doesn't support the troops. There is no room for discussion or criticism.

You go along to get along or suffer the wrath of those who are blind to the freedoms they are determined to show their love for so dearly by declaring that you hate them so much. Often that declaration begins with the question, "What's wrong with doing [insert patriotic activity] at [insert gathering of people]?"

An Exception To The Rule?

A resolution of disapproval is the lightest punishment the House can give one of its members. It is less than a censure and certainly way under expulsion. Today the House voted on a resolution of disapproval expressing its disapproval of Representative Joe Wilson's breach of decorum by shouting, "You lie!" during President Obama's speech.

Here's the text of the resolution:

Raising a question of the privileges of the House.

Whereas on September 9, 2009, during the joint session of Congress convened pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 179, the President of the United States, speaking at the invitation of the House and Senate, had his remarks interrupted by the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson; and

Whereas the conduct of the Representative from South Carolina was a breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings of the joint session, to the discredit of the House: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the behavior of the Representative from South Carolina, Mr. Wilson, during the joint session of Congress held on September 9, 2009.


The vote tally is here

Nays

McMorris Rodgers


Cathy McMorris Rodgers apparently does not think there was a breach of decorum, that it degraded the proceedings of the joint session, or that it discredited the House. Aside from the appearance of a tacit approval of his behavior, I wonder if she is familiar with the rules espoused by the Republican party.

A Member should avoid impugning the motives of another Member, the Senate or the President, using offensive language, or uttering words that are otherwise deemed unparliamentary.

...

Categories of Unparliamentary Speech

* Defaming or degrading the House
* Criticism of the Speaker’s personal conduct
* Impugning the motives of another Member
* Charging falsehood or deception
* Claiming lack of intelligence or knowledge
* References to race, creed, or prejudice
* Charges related to loyalty or patriotism


Looks like the members of the House that voted Nay need to revisit their basic training.

Medical Marijuana Textualism And Interpretation

Spokane police have cracked down on all the marijuana providers.

Here is the text in question from the Chapter 69.51A RCW

(1) "Designated provider" means a person who:

(a) Is eighteen years of age or older;

(b) Has been designated in writing by a patient to serve as a designated provider under this chapter;

(c) Is prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the patient for whom the individual is acting as designated provider; and

(d) Is the designated provider to only one patient at any one time.


Interesting. I didn't know that to become a designated provider all you need is a patient to state so in writing. But sub-paragraph (d) is the part that is being interpreted differently. Law enforcement says it means a provider can provide for only one patient--period. Providers say it means only one patient at a time.

I'm puzzled by the phrase. Why would it be included? If providers are correct in their interpretation, how could they not provide for one person at a time? I need some help with that. Does that mean only one patient can be in the pharmacy at a time?

On the other hand, if law enforcement is correct, a multitude of providers would be required to meet the needs of the patients, i.e., one per patient.

So what did the legislature intend?

Therefore, the people of the state of Washington intend that:

Qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who, in the judgment of their physicians, may benefit from the medical use of marijuana, shall not be found guilty of a crime under state law for their possession and limited use of marijuana;

Persons who act as designated providers to such patients shall also not be found guilty of a crime under state law for assisting with the medical use of marijuana; and

Physicians also be excepted from liability and prosecution for the authorization of marijuana use to qualifying patients for whom, in the physician's professional judgment, medical marijuana may prove beneficial.


Those are some broad statements that don't help with this matter. I think the legislature messed up on this one. To me, the definition of a provider taken as a whole means one provider for one patient.

Fair Warning

Once again the Lilac Bloomsday Association is asking for designs for the Bloomsday finisher T-shirt. You have until September 25 to submit your design. Well, don't bother. The design I came up with is pure golden. And besides, it's a guaranteed lock if I'm the only one who submits a design. So really, don't bother.

Artist of the design selected for the 2010 finisher’s shirt will be notified in mid-October. Please note that because of Bloomsday’s tradition of not revealing the T-shirt color or design ahead of time, the winner will not be able to reveal that his/her design has been selected until the first person crosses the finish line on May 2, 2010. Failure to observe this provision will result in forfeiture of all money paid to the artist by the Bloomsday Association.

I plan to quietly enjoy my prize until the day of the race. And if you notice I'm riding a new bicycle next month, don't ask. Regardless, next spring be sure to sign up and finish the run so you can receive your own personal copy of my design. And at five bucks a pop, having it personally autographed is a bargain. Oh, and for ten bucks I'll use a permanent marker.

'Cause that's the kinda guy I am.

A Quiet Man Carrying Sign...

...and yet he needs a police escort.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Textualism

The Washington State Supreme Court published an opinion last week in which they ruled that the police can get a search warrant to obtain blood for the purpose of determining the blood alcohol content of a suspect drunk driver. One part of the decision caught my eye.

When interpreting a statute, our primary goal is to effectuate legislative intent. In re Custody of Shields, 157 Wn.2d 126, 140, 136 P.3d 117 (2006). Where the statute’s meaning is plain and unambiguous, we derive legislative intent from the plain language of the statute. State ex rel. Royal v. Bd. of Yakima County Comm'rs, 123 Wn.2d 451, 457-58, 869 P.2d 56 (1994). If a statute’s language is ambiguous, we construe the statute “‘in the manner that best fulfills the legislative purpose and intent.’” Id. at 459 (quoting In re Marriage of Kovacs, 121 Wn.2d 795, 804, 854 P.2d 629 (1993)).

...

Although we hold that the implied consent statute’s plain language allows the State to pursue a blood alcohol test pursuant to a warrant, we note that even if we were to find the statute ambiguous, an analysis of legislative intent would lead us to the same result.


While this certainly appears to be an open-and-shut case based on the interpretation of the law alone, the justices wandered into the legislative intent area anyway. Am I for it or against doing that? Well, it's difficult to say. I like the use of some common sense in the matter, but unfortunately the law and common sense do not always mesh. If you interpret the law as it is written then there is the possibility that someone could make a new set of facts fit within a law it was not intended for, for example, the case of the police officer in Kansas who was charged with federal wired fraud charges for emailing nude pictures of himself to a woman while he was on duty thus defrauding the public of his services. His conduct is more along the lines of abuse of his position, sexual harassment, and possibly obstruction of justice. Federal wire fraud? That's a huge stretch for me. And if you were the person being charged under those conditions you'd probably think so too.

Another possibility is the unintended consequence where the text of the law is clear enough and seems to make sense, but its effect on a group was not made known or considered until after the law took effect. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is an example. Second-hand stores, small businesses and crafters will suffer immensely if the law is effected and enforced fully.

Should judges look at the legislative intent? Should they even if the law is clearly interpreted? That's a tough call. Even on a case-by-case basis you can have someone convincingly argue both sides.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Now I Understand It Clearly

It's the President who is the racist. How could I have missed that?

Spokefest 2009

Kathy and I made it a day by riding to and from the ride. Josh and Steph hauled their bikes in the van and met up with us. Josh rode his fixed gear and that turned out to be quite the workout for him, especially climbing up Pettet Drive. Steph rode Maddie's Miyata and she did great. Everyone had a fun time but Steph says she wants to ride the tandem with me next year.

Stephanie's sharp eye caught the cupholder on the police motorcycle escort. "All he needs now is a doughnut holder," she said. Oh, snap!

The Gonzaga University cycling team lead the start. This year we had about 1650 registered riders. An increase of 400 over last year. Nice! And what great weather we had.

Bill Bender, who has invested two years in this event, greeted nearly every rider as they reached the finish. He recognizes that 21 miles can be a challenging ride for many people. He has lots of ideas, hopes and plans for Spokefest as a community event. And he appreciates any help and that reminds me.

Thanks to the members of the Spokefest board and the many volunteers who help make this happen.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What Exactly Is The Public Option?

Robert Greenwald is a film maker who has made many documentaries, one of which resulted in testifying before Congress. I like his style of digging deep into the subject matter at hand.

Here's a Brave New Films short of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explaining what a public option for health care coverage really means for working people. Notice that when he mentions those trying to scare the public, they show one Fox network talking head after another. I wonder why that is. I suppose that if I watched them I would know.

No Crying Towel Needed Here

Today's Spokesman Review presents an opinion piece by Dr Robert Golden concerning Medicare and what a contrast to Dr Condron's piece last week.

I am a urologist, providing medical and surgical care to my patients with diseases of the urinary tract. Over 75 percent of my patients are on Medicare.

Medicare allows me the freedom to provide quality health care with the interests of my patients as first priority. Medicare is a single-payer, government-sponsored health insurance plan and yet imposes no restrictions or arbitrary rules between my patients and me. The health care decisions are only between my patients, their loved ones and me. Yes, there are guidelines for best practice, which I honor and embrace.


But he does take a poke at the insurance industry.

That nearly 50 million citizens in our country are uninsured is a travesty and, frankly, embarrassing. Every year, more than $400 billion of private health insurance money (paid for by subscribers of the insurance company like you and me) go to profits, marketing, executives, buildings, etc. The president of United Health Care makes $102,000 an hour. Of the money flowing into for-profit private insurance, only 65 percent is used for actual health care services. This is in contrast to Medicare, where more than 95 percent is directly used to provide health services to our seniors.

And while he comes across as a bit altruistic, I don't think that's a bad thing.

These issues are complex – financially and ethically. Standing by and listening to the verbiage by the profit-seeking, fear-mongering insurance and pharmaceutical industries is no longer an option for me. What makes this country great is our willingness to sacrifice our excesses for the general greatness of the whole.

Personally, I became a medical doctor to serve with compassion and love – to relieve pain and suffering. At the end of the day, I do not ruminate about money. Rather, I hope I’ve contributed to my patients’ journey toward a greater understanding of the wonder and blessings of life.

Photo Red

This weeks Inlander has an article about Spokane's photo red traffic enforcement that presents information about the traffic safety issues. Prior reports from other news sources mentioned safety in passing and focused more on the money.

[Spokane Police Ofc. Teresa] Fuller says five years of accident data — February 2003 to February 2008 — was reviewed for all 251 of the city’s signaled intersections. Cameras were installed at intersections that had high traffic as well as being in the top 20 for accidents.

That five years of data will be used to evaluate Photo Red. The baseline for Mission and Hamilton is 23 T-bones out of 79 total collisions; for Browne and Sprague it’s 43/78; for Division and Francis it’s 7/60. (The totals here are low because the county had jurisdiction on half the intersection prior to recent annexation, Fuller says.) Division and Sprague, where cameras are soon to be installed, shows 58 T-bones and 105 total collisions.


While I appreciate seeing figures, there's still something missing. What is the criteria for determining that photo red is working? If we look at the number of T-bone accidents versus the number of accidents, excluding Division and Francis, we have a range of 29-55 percent of the accidents being T-bones. That in itself tells us nothing.

And this is over a five-year period so at Mission and Hamilton we're talking about an average of one T-bone type collision every three months. At Browne and Sprague there's one every month and a half and at Division and Sprague it's almost one a month. How many vehicles travel through those intersections per accident? How many injuries were there? If we want to reduce the number and/or types of collisions and/or injuries, what is the goal?

It's also as if there's no other option. Can we reduce accidents by increasing the length of the yellow light by a second or two? How about delaying the green light so all traffic has a red light for a second or two?

As Mayor Mary Verner’s administration and the City Council review the first year of Photo Red, will they see a reduction in T-bones and other accidents? Will the program continue if the primary result seems to be catching rolling right turns on red?

Well?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Death With Dignity - Six Months Later

Today's Spokesman Review brought us an AP article, which was also printed in a multitude of other publications across the country, stating that 11 terminally ill people have chosen to end their lives during the first six months after the Washington assisted suicide law took effect.

“When society starts to tell people that are ill, elderly and disabled that their lives aren’t worthy to live, they get the message,” [Eileen Geller, president of True Compassion Advocates,] said.

This is a purely emotional appeal. Note the use of "ill, elderly, and disabled" in it. There are strict guidelines that must be followed and those are spelled out in the article. Also, it's not that the terminally ill believe they are not worthy of living. They are choosing, of their own free will and for whatever reasons they like, not to live out their remaining days in pain and anguish. What a difficult decision to make. And what a huge relief we have the compassion, as well as legal authority, to allow people to make that decision.

On May 21, Linda Fleming of Sequim became the first person under Washington’s law to take her life with a deadly prescription of barbiturates. Fleming, 66, who had been diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer, said she feared her remaining days would be filled with pain and mind-numbing medication.

Why "deadly" prescription? Why not "legal" prescription? Better yet, let "prescription" stand alone. Not only is "deadly" redundant but it almost indicates bias on the part of the reporter, George Tibbits. Besides, it looks like he lifted that paragraph from a related article written by William Yardley last May. And he used "lethal".

For better coverage of the subject, read this article at the Seattle PI.

Should've Called Him Out

Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina called out, "You lie!" when President Obama said that illegal immigrants would not be insured by the health reform bill during his speech before Congress. (How's that for civil treatment of the Commander in Chief?) Since Obama was going through the most common lies it would've been so cool if he'd stopped.

"Who's calling me a liar? Step up here and call me a liar to my face."

No doubt Wilson will be lionized as a stalwart protector of America.

Fixing A Baroque Bicycle

This is the Schwinn Varsity Josh bought off Craigslist for $30. The rear derailleur was broken but that was fine with him. He wanted to make a fixie.



And here is the result of his efforts. There's just one thing missing. The brake.



Still, it's looking pretty good, especially for a rattle can paint job.

Barefoot Running - Hail, Caesar!

After a nearly two week break, I went for a barefoot run during lunch today over in Browne's Addition. I ran at an easy 10-minute mile pace and focused on picking up my feet. It was great. I ran three miles on cement and asphalt without getting any blisters or excessive abrasions on my feet. Near the end I was in Barefoot Nirvana--if there is such a thing--for about 100 yards. I was smooth. I felt at ease. I was in the groove. Everything felt perfect.

Then I started thinking about what I was doing right to make this happen. Well, you would've thought a school crossing guard just whacked my shins with a STOP flag. I started lurching and the soles of my feet told me they were now twisting against the pavement.

Sometimes you have to keep your mind at ease so your body can be its natural self.

Next, I'm thinking about trying out Huarache Running Sandals.


Steph says they look like gladiator sandals.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The New Home Ec

Back in the early 70's, guys would take Home Economics in high school in order to meet girls. This practice became so common that by the time I was a senior in '73-'74, I ended up in a cooking and sewing classes with 27 other guys. So I learned how to cook and sew.

During dinner, Steph and Josh each talked about their first day back to school. Josh mentioned his Yoga class (Yoga???) was perfect. (A thought came to mind.)

Me: "Wait a minute, Josh. How many girls are in your yoga class?"

Josh: (Laughing) "Twenty-eight."

Me: "And how many boys?"

Josh: "Two!"

But he insists that meeting girls is not the reason he and his best friend are in Yoga class together.

Let's Laugh At Something Serious

Parents across the country kept their children home so they would not be indoctrinated by President Obama's speech encouraging them to stay in school, set goals, and take an active role in obtaining a good education. You can imagine the uproar when a politician gets to address school children directly without any parental review of the message beforehand.


In other news today, schools across the country reported an unusual spike reflecting increased test scores and aptitude levels...

Yes, the video is a parody. The real ones were too bizarre. ;-)

*** Update - An example for you. "It's gettin' more like com-muh-nizm."

Some Commuter Bike Options

The Fire Trick Bob (Google translated) sounds like just the bike for winter riding. I wonder if studded ties are an option.

And for warm weather, especially during fire season, there's the Aqua Trick Bob (Google translated). This one might be a bit heavy but it may carry enough water to sustain a rider on the Midnight Century.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Geoff At The Burning Man Project

I am so envious.

Group photo. Geoff is wearing the pith helmet. He said the dust really mats up the hair. Consequently, his leg reminds me of the goons from the old Popeye cartoons. (Yes, I'm that old.)

Geoff described this as a random penis flamethrower car.

Shagadelica. A double-decker bus covered in glowing fur. It has a ship's fog horn mounted on it and it tows a trailer with a 5000 lb generator and 10kw sound system.

Lots of flames were in order. The guy in the foreground appears to hardly notice the large fireball nearby.

And the people underneath it seem to be doing well, too.

A Sense Of Entitlement

Dr. Donald F. Condon wrote an opinion piece which was printed in yesterday's Spokesman Review. He leads off with this:

"The primary problem with Medicare is simply this: Medicare doesn’t pay. Reimbursement for care is 35 to 50 cents on the dollar of charges submitted. This doesn’t cover overhead. It costs more to provide care for a Medicare patient than the reimbursement schedule pays.

Medicare constitutes 20 percent of my schedule, but since Medicare patients are, generally speaking, more complex, it often requires 30 percent of my time.

Medicare payments represent 5 percent of my income, so that means 25 percent of my day I am working for free. This busyness does not mean business is good. My practice population is aging and matriculating into Medicare coverage, threatening the viability of my practice."


He then continues on stating how bad Medicare is and supporting each declaration with what sounds like weak, selective support.

"Medicare is irresponsible and not held accountable: About two years ago Medicare prematurely launched a new computer program that was not ready to handle its own billing requirements. The consequence to my practice was that over $60,000 in charges was not paid for over six months."

Having been on both ends of the "computer program" spectrum--development and implementation--for 20 years, I have never seen a new "computer program" go in flawlessly.

Medicare interferes with the doctor-patient relationship: Medicare instructs patients to report physicians they feel may be overbilling. This is an unfair burden on the patient.

I'm sorry, but I just can't wrap my brain around that. If you tell a patient to report when a doctor is cheating the system you are interfering with their doctor-patient relationship? Do you mean the part where they're supposed to trust their doctor?

"I know of no other industry that is as mistreated as the health care industry. Government and military contract winners expect a profit, sometimes even large profits. Only the health care industry, charged with the health of the nation, is expected to subsidize the government."

So it's all about the money? Well, maybe not.

"Most of the physicians I know are generous and serving; that is why they are in health care."

What a wonderful sentiment. But at the beginning he said,

"I have worked with Medicare for 30 years, feeling I was doing my part. If ever there was such an obligation, it was paid back years ago."

So it must be all about the money.

"The Medicare system has taken advantage of the generosity of the physician for far too long. The current administration claims that physicians are paid too much and proposes to pay even less."

Is it unreasonable for him to expect what he thinks he is owed since he has obviously paid his dues?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Dangerous Toy

While I was picking up popsicles for Mead's first cross country meet today, I saw these "high bounce" balls waiting at the checkout counter for children to nag their parents to buy. The label caught my eye.


That's not a warning, that's a challenge. So I bought two.


It works! A clever marketing strategy, don't you think?

Seller: Careful, this can be dangerous.

Consumer: Oh yeah? Let's find out.

Properly Applied Law?

A former Goddard [Kansas] police officer admitted he offered to help dismiss a drunken driving charge in exchange for sex with a woman he arrested in February...

Aside from the abuse of power and position in this case and he admits to the crime and the argument that he deserves to be punished, there is one aspect of the law applied here that I find disturbing. The officer was charged with wire fraud in federal court, specifically with violating Title 18 United States Code, Section 1343 and Section 1346.

Who was he defrauding? The people of Goddard for whom he was serving as a police officer. How? The charging document states:

"CALVIN SCHAFFER, the defendant, for the purpose of executing the scheme and artifice to defraud and deprive knowingly transmitted and caused to be transmitted by means of wire communication in interstate commerce writings and pictures...to further the scheme and artifice to deprive the Goddard Police Department and the citizens of Goddard, Kansas, of his honest services."

That is the basis of the charge right there. Even though the ellipses indicate I left something out, what I listed is the essential description of how the law was violated. Think about that for a second. A public servant used a publicly-owned communications system to send non-work related communications that crossed state lines and by doing so defrauded the public of his services while doing so.

Here is the specific part that goes where the ellipses are:

...that is, the defendant, while on duty as a Goddard police officer and with computer equipment belonging to the Goddard Police Department and the citizens of Goddard, Kansas, sent e-mails to a person he had previously arrested containing pictures of himself nude and partially nude...

Yes, that is certainly offensive. But think about how the law was applied for a second. What if the public servant is sending an email to a craigslist contact asking if an item is still for sale? Or come up with a scenario on your own. The charge of wire fraud is not concerned with the type or content of the communication, only its purpose and effect. Emailing a craigslist contact certainly deprives the public of services just as much as sending an email containing nude photos.

So is this a true case of wire fraud for which the law was designed or is this a case where the law can be applied?