Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Conflict Of Who's Interest?

Representative John Fleming (R) of Mississippi, penned a letter to the House Judiciary Committee (PDF), asking that Supreme Court Justice Kagan be investigated as to her involvement in preparing the legal defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act while she was the Solicitor General. Fleming's letter, signed by 48 other Republican Congressman, references email correspondence obtained by the Judicial Watch which indicate Kagan was involved in discussions to some extent. But more information is needed to determine how involved she was. The purpose of the letter is to have the Judiciary Committee to investigate and determine whether or note Justice Kagan should recuse herself from any health care reform cases that come to the Supreme Court. But there's actually something more serious going on here.

The letter references Title 28 of the United States Code, Section 455 as the law that governs a justice disqualifying herself if she has "...served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy." (bolding mine) The key here is defining "the proceeding" or "the particular case in controversy."

When testifying before the Senate last year, Kagan denied being involved in any substantive discussions. What this letter does is accuse Justice Kagan of perjury which is a far more serious matter than a self-recusal from hearing a case on health care reform legislation. If it can be proved that she lied in her testimony then she could be impeached.

In the meantime, the fact that Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife have greatly benefited from and been involved with Koch brothers and others or that Thomas failed to disclose his wife's earnings of $686,589 over 5 years does not raise Congressional questions about his ethics or possible conflicts of interest.

Witness For The Defense

Flying Irish Run

Today's run was the first I attended this year. Josh joined me. You have to hand it to the Flying Irish. An organization that can consistently get three to four hundred people to come out and run three miles every Thursday is swimming in awesome sauce.

The Monkey On Their Back

As part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed last year, the Federal Reserve was given the task of setting debit card fees. Fees have been averaging 44 cents per transaction. (That's why coffee shops and other small retail outlets ask that you purchase at least $5 with your debit card. They lose money if you buy less.) A study by the Fed (PDF) shows there were 15.6 billion transaction in 2003, 25 billion in 2006, and 37.9 billion in 2009, so we are talking billions of dollars in fees being collected every year. Consumers pay these fees because retailers pass that cost on to them. Back in December, the Fed's proposed rule was a cap of 12 cents per transaction. Yesterday, the Fed released the final rule capping the fee at "21 cents per transaction and 5 basis points multiplied by the value of the transaction". If I understand basis points correctly, a $100 debit card transaction will yield an additional 5 cents in the transaction fee.

So what does this mean for you or me? Basically not much when it comes to retail purchases. The exception may be the odd local place like Froyo Earth where you get a discount if you pay in cash. Other than that, don't expect to see price reductions. But do watch for ways that financial institutions will use to recoup their lost fees. Like addicts they are hooked on those billions and they'll do everything they can to keep pumping that junk into their arms.

Ya Gotta Believe - Revisited

A video made in response to the Miss USA contest question on evolution being taught in school.

Poor Miss Vermont just doesn't get it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

As Seen From A Bike

Chasing the shadow to work.

With Authority Comes Great Responsibility

In today's Spokesman Review we have a piece of reportage in which we learn:

A Spokane police officer who hit and killed an intoxicated pedestrian in his patrol car in January was typing a message into his onboard computer just before the crash.

This was ruled a contributing factor to the pedestrian's death. A "clearly contributing factor" was that the pedestrian who was intoxicated. The pedestrian was also wearing dark clothing at night, had a history of alcohol abuse, had been struck by a car before and had been cited for being in the roadway. Apparently it does not matter that the deceased John A. Van Curler was in a crosswalk when he was struck by a speeding police car whose operator was distracted as he typed a message into his onboard computer.

The Revised Code of Washington allows for operators of authorized emergency vehicles to be exempt from the restriction of sending, reading, or receiving a text message. The officer's onboard computer could easily fit within the definition of a wireless communications device.

But when it comes to crosswalks, the Revised Code of Washington also states:

The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.

There are no exemptions for intoxicated pedestrians or pedestrians wearing dark clothing at night. The code also states that pedestrians will not suddenly leave the curb "into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop". There was no mention of Van Curler suddenly darting out into the crosswalk. And how would we know? Officer Gordon Ennis struck him while speeding and distracted.

What we have is a heavily intoxicated Van Curler wearing dark clothing and a speeding Officer Ennis distracted by typing a message. Investigators believe Ennis had a green light but no supporting evidence for such a claim is given in the article. If you look at the intersection of Monroe and Montgomery, you'll find it's well marked with no obstructions and it has two overhead street lights.

For me, the primary issue here concerns holding a police officer responsible for his actions. Much is made of the dangers the police face as a part of their duties. Being former law enforcement myself, I can appreciate that. But does protecting public safety excuse an officer when he violates public safety? Are officers not accountable for their actions when someone they mistakenly victimize is too drunk to know what's going on?

It looks like the answers to these questions is, "yes". From the article:

Spokane police policy allows the use of the “mobile digital devices” as long as officers remain attentive drivers. (Bolding mine)

Officer Ennis admittedly was inattentive and it resulted in the death of an innocent man and Officer Ennis remains on the police force.

Sadly, not only will Officer Ennis have to live with this for the rest of his life, he'll also be able to do it again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bad parking! Bad!

It's just as damning as a photo red picture. But instead of a $124 fine or a $15 parking fine, they're going to suffer the wrath of the Spokane Police Department in the form of a strongly worded letter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sold To The Highest Bidder

Back in 1998, in response to rampant political corruption, the people of Arizona passed the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act. The act allowed people running for office to fund their campaigns with state money. But there were conditions. The candidate had to raise a certain number of $5 qualifying contributions within a specified time period. They could not accept private donations. They could not spend more than $500 of their own money. They had to participate in at least one public debate. Candidates received a predetermined lump sum amount. If a privately-funded candidate out spent them during the campaign, then the state would grant the publicly-funded candidate ninety-four cents for each dollar they were outspent by. But the maximum amount the publicly-funded candidate could receive was capped at three times the amount of the initial lump sum. A privately-funded candidate was free to raise and spend unlimited funds.

The intent of the Clean Elections Act was to create conditions for greater citizen participation in elections and reduce the likelihood that elected candidates would be beholden to private financiers instead of the public. Publicly funded elections allow more, and more diverse, people to run for office.

The US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling (68-page PDF), determined that the state's matching funds were unconstitutional. Why? Because it imposes a substantial burden on the political speech of the privately-funded candidate as well as on an independent group spending money on a campaign. If the privately-financed candidate spent more money than their state-funded opponent, the state-funded opponent would receive matching funds up to a point. Consequently, the burden placed on the privately-financed candidate is taking into account that spending more will allow the publicly-funded candidate to spend more--up to a point. More privately-funded political speech would result in more political speech from the publicly-funded candidate--up to a point. Chief Justice Roberts says that is unconstitutional and that there is no compelling state interest for providing matching funds.

Here is how the system works. If Candidate A is running for the Arizona state legislature and agreed to public funding and made it to the general election, they would receive $21,533 to run their campaign. If their privately-financed opponent, Candidate B, spent more than that amount, then Candidate A would receive $.94 for every dollar Candidate B spent above $21,533. If an independent organization spent money for Candidate B or against Candidate A then that would count also. But Candidate A would receive no more than $64,599 or three times the amount of the initial lump sum. Candidate B--and independent organizations--are free to spend as much as they wish without limit.

It will be interesting to see just how much more the privately-funded candidates and their supporting organizations will spend in Arizona now that they are no longer unfairly burdened with a keel that was even--up to a point--and now that there is no compelling state interest in reducing political corruption. I know the opinion is 68 pages long, but it's worth reading--especially Justice Kagan's evisceration of Chief Justice Robert's majority opinion.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Kid Behind The Wheel

A certain someone got her learner's permit a couple days ago. She starts driver's ed classes next week.

Things To See At Hoopfest

Proud parents recording the entire game. Kids and parents cooling off in the water. Coaches talking up their team. Volunteers monitoring the games, keeping score, picking up trash, tending to injuries, and much more. Shaking off the hard foul. Little kids playing their hearts out. Players just out to have fun. Family and friends supporting their players. Outlandish uniforms. Goofy spectators. Serious participants playing to win. Fun.

My Starry-Eyed Wife

Kathy went to the Kiss concert with some friends last night. She rocked out.

It Ain't Looking So Good

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its 2011 Long Term Budget Outlook. It's 100-plus pages of dry, yet important, economic forecast. I don't pretend to understand it all.

The document presents two outlooks. One is called the Extended-Baseline Scenario which "adheres closely to current law." So if a tax is set to increase or decrease sometime in the next ten years, then this scenario assumes that will take place. The other is called the Alternative Fiscal Scenario. It "incorporates several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period." I.e., the Path to Prosperity that the Republican Congress was all heffered up about until the people got all heffered up about Medicare becoming a voucher system.

Anyway, this chart on page 4 caught my eye. You'll notice that if we leave everything alone for the next four years then revenues will cover expenditures. Note that this doesn't include interest payments on the federal debt. Also note that following the alternative scenario puts us even deeper in the hole as tax revenues fail to match spending. The path to prosperity indeed.

A major contributor to this is the "taxes are off the table" mantra that sells so well in society. If it's repeated enough, many people will believe that they pay enough taxes, that government can't help but be wasteful, and that raising taxes will doom us as a nation.

There's an important statement on page 52 of the budget outlook in the chapter concerning Social Security.

When earnings inequality increases, as it has in recent decades, the taxable share of earnings declines.

In other words, as fewer people make most of the money, most of the people who make less are unable to contribute enough to sustain the system they are supposed to benefit from. It's easy to see how that applies to Social Security, but the same principle applies to the rest of our local, state and federal governments. If you want want law enforcement, fire protection, schools, etc., then you have to pay for them. And if most of the earnings are going to fewer people, you have to raise taxes for them because that's where the money is.

Or you can promote selfishness under the guise of limited government, corporations acting in their best interest, government regulation is bad, and pulling your own weight in a system that heavily favors the few. The alternative is clear.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Casual Bike Friday

Rather than haul them back and forth, I usually keep my work shoes at work. But I ran to work yesterday which means I wore my shoes home. Guess what I forgot today?
Fortunately, my bike shoes made for passable casual shoes today.

Keeping It Clean

Josh and his friends are playing in Hoopfest again, but under a different team name. That's right. There's no Pen Island in this year's tournament. If a team name is considered inappropriate then tournament officials rename the team with team captain's last name. Pen Island got flagged as inappropriate.

I know. I'm shocked, too.

The Pen Island team is disappointed but they're being good sports about it. Of course, Josh couldn't help but point out that based on the names that are being permitted, the standard for defining inappropriate team names is pretty much undefined. He has a point. Some of the double entendre can be a tough call for the tournament officials.

There's a plethora of Ballers. Big Booty Ballers, Old School Ballers, Lady Ballers, Five AM Ballers, and even Ecdysiast Ballers. There are so many ballers you'd think almost everyone playing in the tournament was a baller. We also have the coed teams of Four Balls Two Dolls, Balls and Dolls, and Balls n Dolls. Presumably Balling All Day basketball all day. Yeah.

But I can't stop there. I have to seen this through to the end. For the grand finale...

...there's the Money Shot.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crazy Town - Pop. 1

Few people know that I've signed up to do Let's Climb a Mountain as a solo runner. So now you know. (I wanted to do the Centennial Trail Run last March but I was fully recovered from my hernia repair.) Three years ago I did my first and only marathon and I said I wasn't doing another because it was just too painful. So while technically I'm not doing a marathon--an ultra run is anything over a marathon--the question is, "Why?"

Short answer: I'm insane.

Since I run more comfortably for longer distances I thought I'd try an ultra and see if I enjoy it or not. I'm not racing anyone and I'm not trying to beat my last effort or finish in a specific time. The only time I'm concerned with is when the course closes. I'd like to cross the finish before that. Basically I'm running for the fun of running 34.3 miles, the last eight or so up a mountain.

Yeah. A first class ticket to the asylum.

I fueled up with three chocolate cupcakes (no frosting--thank you, Steph), two bananas and some water. I loaded my pack with GU Chomps and two sports drink bottles with chia seeds soaking inside. After hearing some thunder I checked the weather radar. It showed a birdshot pattern of small storms with very few of them south of town. Most were on or north of Spokane. I grabbed my rain jacket just in case.

Josh was kind enough to get up and drive me out to Mount Spokane Parkway and Forker Road. (Thank you, Josh.) I decided to run part of the route backwards to work. I took two hours off this morning to give myself plenty of time to run, clean up and eat. Mt Spokane Parkway and Peone are very lightly traveled at 5:30 in the morning. It was serene until I got to Bruce Road where the traffic picked up. Taking Market south to Freya was okay.

There was more traffic and the road shoulders are rough and strewn with rocks. Freya from Francis to Esmeralda Golf Course is one of the the worst places I've ever run. There is no shoulder, lots of gravel and rock intersections, and since it's mostly an industrial area, lots of big trucks. The run's site does warn you about that, but I don't think they convey just how atrocious it is. It's a harsh contrast to Upriver Drive and the Centennial Trail. Those last four miles were smooth.

View 19-mile Run to work in a larger map

I was fortunate to dodge all the bad weather. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed off in the distance to either my left or right but the storms never hit me directly. I did get a little bit of rain, but it was always light. The worst I caught was a 20-second hailstorm while coming down Freya. I stopped every 45-60 minutes to eat a package of chomps and drink chia seeds. Keeping up my energy wasn't a problem. But I do need to drink more water while I'm running.

Kathy asked me what my plan was for the run. It's pretty simple. Start off slow. Back it off a little. Drink, eat and drink. Relax and have fun.

Nuckin' futs.

They Should Be Proud It Worked So Well

The state of Georgia recently passed a bill intended to rid itself of illegal immigrants. And it worked! (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields.

Nobody wants to harvest fruit and vegetables for eight bucks an hour. So what if they offered more money?

Georgia farmers could try to solve the manpower shortage by offering higher wages, but that would create an entirely different set of problems. If they raise wages by a third to a half, which is probably what it would take, they would drive up their operating costs and put themselves at a severe price disadvantage against competitors in states without such tough immigration laws.

Sometimes you need to be careful what you ask for.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Parkways 2011 - Vol I

I think the first Summer Parkways for this year went very well. Lots of folks were walking, running, riding, rolling--even walking on stilts. Many of the people living along the route were in the spirit. Music played. Jump ropes were offered. A number of young entrepreneurs were selling lemonade. After two lemonades and a Gatorade--accompanied with a complimentary chocolate--I arrived at a very crowded canopy where they were giving away root beer floats for a donation. I wish I could have stuck around long enough to get one.

New Bike Lane Goin' In

On the way to work this morning I found a Public Works crew working on markings for striping and bike lanes on Country Homes Blvd between Division and Wall.

The Lowdown On Photo Red

Shawn Vestal over at the Spokesman Review has written a pretty good article on the photo red camera program.

The real bottom line: Once the program starts draining the revenue stream instead of contributing to it, it will be terminated. It may claim to be a safety program, but it won't be one the city will pay for.

As Seen From A Bike

Yesterday, the first day of a long awaited summer, I spotted the morning dew steaming off a mailbox on my commute.

Monday, June 20, 2011

You're Gonna Get A Letter

Duly reported to carparkedinbikelane(at)

Ya Gotta Believe

Some folks were ecstatic that the new Miss USA was one of two contestants who supported teaching evolution in school. That's two out of fifty-one contestants. A reflection on our science scores? Maybe. Check out Alyssa Campanella's remarks in response to the question, "Should evolution be taught in schools?"

I do believe in it. I'm a huge science geek. I like to believe in the big bang theory and the evolution of humans throughout time.

Sorry, but if she was such a huge science geek, I think her explanation would have been a little different. Evolution is not something you believe in. It's not a faith system. It's a scientific theory that provides the best explanation we have for the variance we find in life forms. The Big Bang theory is unrelated to evolution. Evolution is not anti-religion but some of the religious are anti-evolution.

For more fun, check out the other contestants' answers to the interview questions. Our own Miss Washington gives a particular dreadful answer. If nothing else, the questions and answers highlight the vacuousness of beauty pageant competition.

She ain't no Little Miss Sunshine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Swell Day

I went for a six mile run this morning. I had a drink of water when I arrived home and felt really good so I went out and did six more miles. Kathy was on call today and sure enough she was called in to work. Steph, Josh and I went to the driving range to hit a giant bucket of balls.
Catching Steph's club right before the moment of impact.
It's just a little off target.

I caught Josh's swing as well. Is it obvious that we only do this once a year?

If Steph's club looks a little bent, it's because it is. You get what you pay for when you shell out two dollars for a club at Value Village.

This is how Josh makes the ball hop straight up off the tee.
It's harder than you think.

I had to go to work for a couple hours myself. I rode my bike in since the weather was pleasant enough. The wonderful smell of chicken cacciatore and garlic bread greeted me when I got home. Steph and Josh got the recipe out, bought the ingredients they lacked, and fixed an excellent dinner meal. Josh complained he got onion poisoning in his eyes while cutting up said onion. Steph also baked chocolate cupcakes with no frosting--just the way I like them. Then we capped the day with a video chat with Geoff.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sign Here, Please

Photo Red is in the news again (Spokesman Review), but this time it's about a technicality.

The system requires that a police officer review images from the cameras, then decide whether an infraction has occurred. If so, the officer punches an “accept” button, sending an electronic signal to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions. That company then affixes the officer’s signature to the ticket before mailing it to the driver.

Clark, and later Chuang, argued that state law requires that any signature signed under penalty of perjury must be written in Washington.

It's a legal technicality I'm sure the city will find a way to overcome. Why? Because the program, touted as a safety program since its beginning 2-1/2 years ago, has proven its worth as a revenue generator which Mayor Verner proposes using to hire more police officers.

Photo red has been a peeve of mine because of the dubious claims of being a safety program. I've written about the program here, here, here, here, here, here and a couple more times that I left out. (I told you it was a peeve.)

Here's a reminder of what was said in January 2010.

While it may be too early to judge the effectiveness of the cameras in Spokane, they have succeeded in catching violators and raising revenue.

Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, [Officer Teresa] Fuller said. After the contracted camera company, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, is paid and other expenses subtracted, police estimate a profit of $103,000.

I'd like to see the numbers of tickets issues each month. Are they on the decline at each intersection because the system is acting as a deterrent? How about the number and types of accidents attributed to red light running at each intersection? The program is 2-1/2 years old so there should be plenty of numbers by now.

I'd also like to see a categorization of the types of violations. When you think red light runner you probably imagine someone blasting through the red light. But if that were the case with these thousands of violations, it seems there would be a lot more accidents--unless Spokane has lots and lots of really lucky people. How many of these violations are of the "letter of the law" type such as stopping over or just past the stop line instead of in front of it and how many are blatant red light runners?

In the meantime, I offer this suggestion for solving the problem of affixing the signature to the tickets here in Washington. An autopen. The could pay for it with the money they make from the Photo Red program. And it would be a wise investment especially since they plan to expand the program to other revenue generating intersections.

An idea that's pure gold--as it was intended in the first place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It Could Happen

Here's part of an email I received from Barack Obama's 2012 campaign that actually ended up in my spam folder. Too funny.

I've set aside time for four supporters like you to join me for dinner.

Most campaigns fill their dinner guest lists primarily with Washington lobbyists and special interests.

We didn't get here doing that, and we're not going to start now. We're running a different kind of campaign. We don't take money from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs -- we never have, and we never will.

We rely on everyday Americans giving whatever they can afford -- and I want to spend time with a few of you.

So if you make a donation today, you'll be automatically entered for a chance to be one of the four supporters to sit down with me for dinner. Please donate $5 or more today:

Four people. Four!

I realize the purpose of this is to raise funds for the campaign, but I have to wonder if whoever thought this up figures Americans are bad at math. What's that?

I hope I don't get hit by lightning (1/1,000,000) on my walk to the store for Powerball tickets (1/195,249,054).

But wait. You don't have to contribute to Obama's campaign to win! According to the rules you can just sign up instead. If I win I could ask him about the stepped up drone attacks, violating the War Powers Act in Libya, being the first president to authorize the assassination of an American overseas, or the torture of Bradley Manning.

If I don't get hit by lightning first.

So Much Danger Out There

In this day and age where we can't be careful enough and want to be safe and just have to make sure and let everyone know because just in case, I received this email from Mead High School.

When an eight year old boy was walking home yesterday from Westview Elementary School, just south of Francis Avenue on Fotheringham Avenue in the Spokane School District, a white male with facial hair asked him if he wanted free candy. The man was driving an older light brown truck with a canopy. Please remind your children to not talk to strangers and take all necessary Safe-Walk-to-School and home routes.

While Mead High School students are older than the boy in the report, it is good to remember that children of all ages are vulnerable to predators. Please share this information with your teenager.

But there have been no emails with like information to share with my teenager about the hazards of driving, the dangers of being in prison, the peril in confronting a car prowler, or how working at a convenience store could be an endangerment.

The second paragraph of that email reminds me of a post from a couple years ago.

Street Music Week #9

Once again Doug Clark brings music to downtown Spokane with the ninth annual Street Music Week, a fundraiser for Second Harvest.

Doug is very entertaining and draws a good crowd even when he'd not accompanied by the mayor, a city councilman, or a rock legend. Lots of other volunteer musicians are out there as well raising money for a good cause. Here are some of them. You have the noon hours on Thursday and Friday to drop some cash in a bucket.

Buy Local - Eat Less Crap

Our industrialized agricultural system not only results in lots of food, but lots of dirty food. In today's Spokesman review we have an article about irradiating food to make it safer.

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef, a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. About 15 million to 18 million pounds of U.S. ground beef are irradiated every year, says Ron Eustice of the Minnesota Beef Council.

That’s a tiny fraction of the nation’s hamburger, and it must be labeled so consumers can choose – although some retailers advertise irradiated hamburger as a safety selling point. Thorough cooking kills E. coli and other germs, but people don’t always get their meat hot enough.

Still, Americans get more irradiated foods than they realize. About a third of commercial spices – the kind added to processed foods – are irradiated, says Eustice, who’s also a consultant to the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance.

About 30 million pounds of imported produce, mostly fruits such as guavas and mangoes, get a low-dose zap, not enough to kill germs but to kill any foreign insects along for the ride.

I wonder if we're considering nature's ability and propensity to adapt. Bacteria have evolved to withstand antibiotics. Can't germs and bugs evolve to withstand irradiation? We may find out fifty years from now.

Irradiation isn’t an excuse for dirty produce, [Dr. Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious disease specialist] says. It’s far better to prevent contamination on the farm or in the processing plant than to try to get rid of it later. But it’s impossible to prevent all animal-borne bacteria in open fields.

There’s no reason to fear irradiation, but “there’s no silver bullet here,” cautions food-safety expert Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Irradiation doesn’t kill viruses that also sometimes taint food, and it adds to the food’s price, she says. Consumers’ biggest desire: Make cleaner food in the first place.

The underlying message there: Buy local - You're less likely to eat s#!t.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

High Likelihood Of Fail

Today I had to create an account on a certain telecommunications giant's web site. I had three security questions to set answers to. These are great examples of poor security questions.
Three out of the four questions can easily change with time. There's always new restaurants, actors and singers. The first question is somewhat vague.
Here we have two decent questions out of five. Again, there are always new hobbies, films, and authors.
Two for five again. So for nine out of fourteen questions your answer could change in a year or two. Not good. If nothing else this highlights the need for password management software. Something you can not only keep your logins and passwords, but also the answers to your security questions. Why would you need the security question answers if you are properly logged in? Because some sites ask you a question or two when you want to change your account information.

The Quick And The Dish Washer

We try to make dinner time fun at our house. Consequently, we have some of the strangest and funniest topics of conversation. Last night's included starting a north-side Flying Irish for the O'Doherty's that just opened at Division and Hawthorne, how Kathy should run in underwear at least once, Josh's four-pound weight gain (whoa, you got fat) since the fall and Colon Flow. Don't ask how we made the transitions. We just let nature take its course. One day Steph will write funny stories about our dinner conversations. She should because she tells them so well.

I'm a huge fan of word play so at the end of dinner I thought I'd play with Steph and Josh.

Me: "I'm flipping an imaginary coin and whoever calls it right clears the table. The other person washes the dishes." (I mime a coin flip, catch, and slap it on top of my other hand.)

Steph: "How can you do that? You don't have a coin."

Me: "It's an imaginary coin and you have to call it right. What do you call it, Steph?"

Steph: "Whatever side is facing up."

Me: "What do you call it, Josh?"

Josh: "I call it right."

Me: "Josh got it."

Steph: "What? You can't call it right. There's no right. It's a coin flip. It's heads or tails."

Josh: "Dad said whoever calls it 'right' clears the table. I called it 'right'. Get it?"

Steph: "How'd you know to say that?"

Josh: "I got it right away."

Steph: "(to me) That's not fair. You said you were flipping a coin. That's stupid. (to Josh) Nobody gets that."

Me: "An imaginary coin. And I said you get to clear the table if you called it 'right'. You called it 'whatever side is facing up' so you're washing dishes."

One more story for Steph to tell. Although this one may surface during a therapy session. Kathy can only shake her head and wonder how she's going to survive thirty more years with me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taylor Demonstrates How To Eat Raspberries

Place one on the thumb and each fingertip.

Take pride in your work.

Savor the taste of each one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Students Paying Other Students' Tuition

I've been stewing over the news about the University of Washington is proposing raising tuition rates by 20 per cent.

Tuition is skyrocketing because the Legislature has dramatically cut funding to higher education. Over the last three years, the amount of money the UW receives from the state has fallen 50 percent. The UW has eliminated hundreds of positions, cut classes, increased class sizes and frozen faculty salaries for the last two years. Under the current budget, faculty salaries will be frozen for two more years.

College is a very expensive deal nowadays and I appreciate the school has taken steps to help offset the decreased funding from the legislature. Here's the part that really irks me.

In addition, [vice provost Paul] Jenny outlined a proposal to the regents that about half of the money raised through the tuition increase be added to the financial-aid pot. That would raise enough money to cover the tuition increase for the neediest students and also provide enough to award grants of up to $4,000 for as many as 1,000 students, going beyond what the state required for financial aid and helping some middle-class students, Jenny said.

In other words, the students--and parents--that can either afford the tuition or are able to borrow the money to pay for tuition will now subsidize other students.

I can appreciate the need that the neediest students have. And I understand that our state's sales-tax-based economy is hurting in this Lesser Depression (Disclosure: My uncle's site).

But it bothers me a lot that the cost of my child's education is being increased and then half that increase--instead of being an actual cost for my child--is being diverted to someone else.

Impressive Expressives

Josh is home from UW. My nephew, Andrew, graduated from Eastern. We had tons of family over for the weekend so you know what that means. Party time! Of course, we're obliged to take lots of kid photos.

Andrew with his niece, Riane, who also turned one year old.

Niece Taylor hanging out at the pool.

Kathy and Josh. Home from school.

Brother-in-law Charlie with his granddaughter, Taylor.

Gimme more ice cream cake!



Riane pondering the deeper meaning a one-year-old ponders.