Friday, September 30, 2011

Fifteen Bucks A Pop

During my lunchtime stroll I happened across a busy parking enforcer on Howard Street. Three cars in one block.

My guess is this last one was cited for either feeding the meter again or being outside the line. Two blocks later I saw the same guy bagging two more cars. Cha-ching!

Occupy Spokane - Day 3

Occupy Spokane got a little interrupted today. It was busier this morning with a few extra protesters and a team from KXLY on hand. The police stopped by last night and gave the group another warning about violating the Transient Shelter ordinance and said they needed to have the tents and shelters removed by 6:00 am today. The amenities were improved over yesterday. Tables were set up on the island. they were making coffee on a camp stove. A box of donuts donated from a 7-11 and dropped off by a taxi driver sat at the ready.

Dave Bilsland said he expected the police to show up at any moment to have the tents struck down. His plan was to roll everything up and put it on the island and then maybe camp out on the grass surrounding the statue of Abe Lincoln.

Around 9:00 am, the police showed up. Everyone struck down their respective tents when asked. Bill did once he was cited, but then he wanted to be cited. The tables and anything affixed to a structure or signpost also had to be removed.

The protest continues but anyone wanting to camp out will probably have to park nearby and sleep in their car.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flying Irish Run

Although I've been running with the Flying Irish for over two years I have yet to run every route the club offers. Tonight's route was The Hill and it is undoubtedly the most difficult route on the books. Yet over 400 runners showed up tonight.

Just when you get to the top of a hill you turn and go up another hill. And then you turn and go up another. And again. And one more time. The view from the top is awesome.

Where Are The 99 Percent?

Spokane's 99 percent camp

On September 17, protesters began occupying Wall Street in New York City. If you haven't heard of this, it's probably because there has been very little news coverage. But now that some New York police officers are pepper spraying nonviolent, compliant protesters and arresting journalists and innocent bystanders, more people are starting to take notice. However, what little news there is is more about the abuse at the hands of the police instead of what the protest is about. And while the heavy-handedness is a far cry from police dogs and fire hoses, unnecessary force restricting our First Amendment rights is anathema to our society regardless of how it is manifested. Aside from that, the message is not getting out to the American public. But similar protests are now taking place in other cities: San Francisco, Chicago, and even Spokane.

On September 28, some folks began occupying the triangle of cement at Monroe and Riverside watched over by a statue dedicated to a Spokane native who died in the Spanish-American War. They held up signs and cheered at cars honking their horns in support. Yesterday was Day One of their "occupation". Last night a few of them set up tents in the grassy median on Riverside Avenue. According to Dave Bilsland, the organizer, their message is, "Join us. We need to change our economic methods. Personhood should invoke a working heart. Corporations don't have a heart--literally and figuratively."

A very small percentage of Spokane's 99 percent.

Ms Johnson, formerly a program director for a public radio station, is the self-appointed public spokesperson for the group. She asked that I leave her first name out. Admittedly, besides being comfortable in the spokesperson role, she is aware how the message is more positively received when delivered by a professionally dressed person as opposed to the very casual clothing of most of her fellow protesters. She also noted that if there was a group of people in suits holding up signs they would garner much more attention.

Dave Bilsland

Johnson explained that many have complained that the Occupy Wall Street protest--now in its 13th day--doesn't have a single message, but that there's an explanation for that. "There are multiple reasons people are unhappy with their government. I'm an educated person with a master's degree in communications and plenty of experience. And I am unable to find a job. I have $75,000 in student debt that I would love to pay off. I am representing one unemployed person in the State of Washington." She went on to explain that the vast majority of people in Spokane are part of the 99 percent who provide the foundation for the wealthiest 1 percent. Her concern is that not only are our elected officials aware of their unpopularity, but that many of them them don't care because it takes money to get elected so looking out for the monied interests is their priority.

That is the main point of the entire movement--the monied corruption of our democracy.

Hilsland said a Spokane police officer stopped by last night and warned the tent dwellers they were in violation of Spokane's Transient Shelter ordinance. Hilsland says they only plan to stay until Saturday.

The group is not without rules. While I was there someone swept the pavement and made a trash run even though there aren't that many people to pick up after. After all, this is Spokane, a place where few people want to make waves and the few that try are easy to ignore.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Master Of All He Surveys

Last week I took Josh to UW for his second year of school. He's on an upper floor of McMahon Hall with a balcony and a great view. He took this panoramic photo for us. He knows how to make is dad envious.

Click to embiggen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thanks For The Head's Up

Yesterday, I unpacked a PCI Express card to install in a server and found this notice in the box.
One effect of Proposition 65 is that California maintains a huge list of chemicals (PDF) that manufacturers and businesses are required to warn people of if there's a possibility of exposure. I appreciate the warning but this is so nonspecific, it's useless. Still, here's to clean water.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Best Cyclocross Racers Talk To Me

Not to brag, but yes I've exchanged words with some of the best cyclocross racers in our area. I chalk it up to my natural ability and this year shouldn't be any different even though I won't have the start I was hoping for. I had plans. I was going to do a long self-supported ride at the end of the summer. I was going to run more often and for longer distances. I was going to slim down a few pounds and be ready to take the cyclocross season by the horns and own it. I had plans--and I got a little sidetracked. It happens.

Yesterday I stripped the non-essentials from my bike and threw the cross tires on. Scouting out some nearby trails I came up with a halfway decent training area. It's got most of what makes a cross course endearing: elevation gain/loss, sand, erosion ruts, and protruding branches and rocks. Might be some mud if we get enough rain today.

Like last year, my goal in every race is to get as many laps completed and as much distance covered as possible before I hear those ominous three words indicating the end of my race is at hand.

"Race leader approaching."

Yeah, they talk to me at every race.

Don't Hold Your Breath

Similar to what the Republican House members did last year asking for public input with America Speaking Out, the White House allows you to submit a petition on any issue. However, you'll notice from the way it's phrased, just because a petition gets enough support doesn't mean it's going to be acted upon. It has to be reviewed first.

The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

As of this post, there are 55 petitions. Here's a screenshot of the petitions with the most support. Half of the top eight petitions relate to federal marijuana laws.

I remember marijuana reform was the top vote getting topic in one category on America Speaking Out until it was overtaken by the recommendation that Republicans act more liberal and democratic.

I think it'll be a long time if either one happens.

Ethan And Olivia - Cute Cousins

Friday, September 23, 2011

And No Playing With Yourself Either

I spent most of yesterday on the road, taking Josh to UW for his second year there. While I was driving back and forth across our state, the Republican party candidates had yet another debate in which they apparently repeated themselves and each other--again. Rick Santorum has one characteristic that sets him apart from his fellow candidates and satisfies a small but vocal group of supporters. (Don't forget the audience reactions below.) He hates gays the most. Santorum is almost frothing at the mouth about gays. Oh, maybe frothing isn't the best word choice. Sorry.

From the transcript. (Sorry for the link to Fox News.)


QUESTION: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I'm a gay soldier, and I didn't want to lose my job.

My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?



SANTORUM: Yeah, I -- I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military. And the fact that they're making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege to -- to -- and removing "don't ask/don't tell" I think tries to inject social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.

We need to give the military, which is all-volunteer, the ability to do so in a way that is most efficient at protecting our men and women in uniform.


And I believe this undermines that ability.


KELLY: So what -- what -- what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean, he's -- now he's out. He's -- you know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted this video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he's out. So what would you do as president?

SANTORUM: I think it's -- it's -- it's -- look, what we're doing is playing social experimentation with -- with our military right now. And that's tragic.

I would -- I would just say that, going forward, we would -- we would reinstitute that policy, if Rick Santorum was president, period.

That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in -- in -- I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in -- in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is -- it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it -- keep it to yourself, whether you're a heterosexual or a homosexual.


Sex should not be an issue, he says. Leave it alone, he says. Keep it to yourself, he says, whether you're heterosexual or homosexual. That's a different twist. He makes it sound like declaring yourself a heterosexual is equivalent to declaring yourself homosexual. So in the spirit of all sex bot being an issue and being equal, would he discharge military members who out themselves as heterosexual? I don't think so.

It's incredibly amazing and depressing what can pass for a Republican presidential candidate these days.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

soccermomsusie Not Revealed

In today's Spokesman Review, Shawn Vestal writes about soccermomsusie, "...the online name of a cranky, prolific, George W. Bush-loving, Obama-hating, Bible-misquoting, exclamation-point-and- ALL-CAPS-deployment specialist – a deft satirical voice that skewers a certain kind of online blowhard."

You may need to log in to read the article. And you should because it's pretty funny.

Fortunately, Shawn was unsuccessful in trying to find out more about soccermomsusie. Or at least he's not revealing it because that would be tragic. Pulling the curtain aside would change everything. For it would no longer be soccermomsusie sneaking up behind other commenters and giving them virtual wedgies, absurdly affirming their views, and generating a mix of wait-are-you-serious and you-tell-em-girl reactions that add to the humor.

Instead it would be, "Oh, that's so-and-so playing the part of soccermomsusie." Anonymity lends authenticity to the soccermomsusie persona. A reveal would cause the people who don't get her satire to ignore it instead. Hopefully this article about her doesn't have that effect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More From About Downtown

I've had to skip running and riding to recover from a chronic injury. Nothing serious. I just needed to rest. So my lunch hours have consisted of reading or walking. I went for a walk again today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Took The Camera For A Stroll Today

Class Warfare Against The Rich

Tea Party Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) appeared on MSNBC with Chris Jansing and had this to say about the estimated $6 million his 30 Subway stores and his share of 130 UPS stores bring in every year.

Jansing: "With all due respect, The Wall Street Journal estimated that your businesses, which I believe are Subway sandwich shops and UPS stores -- very successful -- brought you last year, over $6 million."

Fleming: "Yeah, that's before you pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment and food."

"Since my net income -- and again, that's the individual rate that I told you about -- the amount that I have to reinvest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million. And so by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment."

I can relate to spending $200,000--more than my household income--to feed the family. We have a daughter at home and she participates in track and cross country. All that running makes a teenager ravenous. Plus, son number two was home from college for the summer and those college boys can really put the food away. It's like I'm turning my back account over to Costco. So please don't attack Fleming for feeding his wife of 33 years and his four adult children and his two grandchildren with only $200,000. (Geez, I hope they have more than one bathroom in their house.)

Fleming also had this to say. "Again, class warfare's never created a job. That's people that will not get jobs. This is all about creating jobs. It's not about attacking people who make certain incomes. You know, in this country, most people feel that being successful in their businesses is a virtue, not a vice. And once we begin to identify it as a vice, this country is going down."

Being in Fleming's class is not a vice--and nobody is saying so. Notice, he never answered the question whether increased taxes would cost jobs. Since we're on the subject income and class warfare, let's have a look at Fleming's home state of Louisiana.

According to the US Census data, the median annual household income (the estimated point at which one half of all households have higher incomes and one half of all households have lower incomes) in Louisiana is $42,460 for an average of 2.61 persons per household. Now the difficulty here is trying to figure out the median personal income as opposed to the median household income because the household income includes all wage earners. Can't do it and it doesn't appear that individual personal income statistics are released by the Census Bureau. I don't for sure, but I think it's a safe bet that Subway and UPS store employees don't make $42,000 a year.

Anyway, let's play with the numbers we do have on hand. 500 employees times $42,460 for each gives us $21,230,000. That number is far higher than the 6.3 million Fleming uses. 6.3 million divided by 500 is $12,600 per person. And that's without paying rent, equipment and food. The minimum wage in Louisiana is $7.25 an hour which grosses the lucky employee $15,080 before taxes. Can you imagine the uproar of complaints booming forth from Louisiana if everyone had only $400,000 left over? Thank goodness the state doesn't have that problem. We'd never hear the end of it.

If you have a look at Fleming's 2010 financial disclosure statement (PDF), you'll find he lists his income from Fleming Subway Restaurants, Inc. as over $5,000,000. This is income from an S Corporation which does not pay federal income taxes but divides the income or losses among the shareholders. I may be wrong but wouldn't this income be after expenses?

Regardless, it's painstakingly clear that with only $400,000 left over after paying all the bills the representative from Louisiana is in dire straits during these hard economic times and it's easy to understand why he feels he is under attack. Times are tough folks. Just ask anyone in Louisiana.

Fleming also makes $174,000 a year from his government job. You know how Congress feels about people who work for the government. The poor guy is getting hit from both sides.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Speaking With A Forked Tongue

Earlier this year there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as Republicans held the nation hostage over the manufactured crisis concerning the debt ceiling. One part of the negotiations to solve this crisis was the creation of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee, the language creating said committee being included the Budget Control Act of 2011. This act was passed by the House and the Senate, and Speaker Boehner voted for its passage.

The language stating the goals and duties of the committee is straightforward and easy to follow.

GOAL — The goal of the joint committee shall be to reduce the deficit by at least $1,500,000,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021.

DUTIES — IN GENERAL — IMPROVING THE SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM FISCAL IMBALANCE — The joint committee shall provide recommendations and legislative language that will significantly improve the short-term and long-term fiscal imbalance of the Federal Government.

You'll notice there's nothing there that says raising taxes is not a viable option for the committee.

Here's what Speaker Boehner had to say in his address to the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., last Thursday.

“Yes, tax reform should include closing loopholes, not for the purpose of bringing more money to the government but because it’s the right thing to do. Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the joint committee. Tax increases destroy jobs, and the joint committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country." (bolding mine)

With the committee being evenly split between the parties and needing a majority to pass their final recommendations, I doubt it will be any more functional than the two chambers the members are drawn from. Maybe less so. They're supposed to vote on a report and proposed legislative language by November 23 and present that to the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and majority and minority leaders of both chambers by December 2.

There's another part of this legislation I'd like to note:

A member of the joint committee who gives notice of an intention to file supplemental, minority, or additional views at the time of final joint committee vote on the approval of the report and legislative language under clause (ii) shall be entitled to 3 calendar days in which to file such views in writing with the staff director of the joint committee. Such views shall then be included in the joint committee report and printed in the same volume, or part thereof, and their inclusion shall be noted on the cover of the report.

Each Republican House and Senate member of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee has signed the so-called Taxpayer Protection Pledge, pledging:

   ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses;
   and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

So don't look for the committee to agree on much. But keep an eye out for the additional views that will no doubt accompany whatever tortured language they manage to come up with.

Keepin' It Clean

In response to the Westboro Baptist Church protesting outside their concert, the Foo Fighters pulled up on a flatbed trailer and performed "Keep It Clean" just for them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Practice, Practice, Practice

Teens with an instruction permit have to have 50 hours of driving to get their license. Steph got some extra time behind the wheel today as I had her take a roundabout way to get home. She can get her license as early as December.

Consider yourself warned.

Don't distract the driver, Dad.

The birds really did a number on the windshield

That's right, lady driving with the cell phone on your ear, I just beat you off the line when the light turned green--in a minivan. Did you hear the tires squeal? I'm a winner!

The state has a Parent Guide to Teen Driving. Perhaps I should review it again.

Let That Simmer In Your Mind For A Bit

Found here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Riverfront Park Water Fountain

Over on the left it looks like I captured
a happy water alien taking a walk. (Clicken to embiggen)

Let Freedom Ring

The Interwebs are awash in condemnation of the Tea Party, claiming that members of the audience in last night's Republican debate cheered letting an uninsured man die. Not that I'm one to stand up for them, but I come away with a different take. First the audience cheered when Ron Paul said, "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks." When specifically asked if we should just let the man die, there were a couple of supporting outbursts from the audience but no applause. Paul answered that we shouldn't let the man die but was unable to truly answer the question as to what he would do in this hypothetical, yet very plausible, situation. Rather than addressing it, he referred back to when he started practicing medicine in the early 1960's and talked about how nobody was turned away at the hospital and "the churches took care of them." That brought on applause.

To me the cheers were for freedom to take your own risks and allowing the churches to take care of people along with hospitals not turning people away. I don't believe the audience members were aware of the contradiction they were applauding. Sure, be free to do what you want, but don't expect the government to take care of you. Expect the churches and hospitals to do it instead. Anybody except the government. They were rooting for the idea that self sufficiency is great as long as anyone except the government is helping you. Or something like that.

Ron Paul continues with this view, explaining that costs are so high simply because the government is involved. For him, taking care of ourselves and our neighbors and friends is okay as long as the government is out of the picture.

We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends. Our churches would do it. This whole idea--that's the reason the costs are so high. Because it's so high because we dump it on the government, becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. if special interests would disappear.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Compelling Argument...

...that the terrorists have won.

[The FBI agent] apologized for what had happened and thanked me for understanding and cooperating. He said, “It’s 9/11 and people are seeing ghosts. They are seeing things that aren’t there.” He said they had to act on a report of suspicious behavior, and this is what the reaction looks like.

He said there had been 50 other similar incidents across the country that day.

We only need to read about one of them to see what has happened to us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spokefest 2011

It was a different Spokefest for me and Steph this year because we didn't ride much of it. More on that later. My sister, Barb, usually runs BRRC's Sunday Sundae but decided to accompany us on the bike ride today instead.

Obligatory group photo: Me, Barb, Kathy, Josh and Steph.

This year the riders were grouped at the start according to the route they were taking. The 47-milers were up front at Post Street. The 21-mile riders, overwhelmingly the largest group, were a block behind at Wall. And the 9-milers were lined up at Howard. We were all in the 21-mile route group.

A view of the 21-mile route group from the back.

After the first group took off, we inched along for a block or so before we could start riding. Steph and I easily cruised along on the tandem, passing people going down Main into Peaceful Valley and letting them catch back up to us while we climbed out of it and onto Government Way.

Then disaster struck. Not so much for us, but we were involved. A woman riding on the left side of the lane ran into a traffic cone. Her front tire was dead centered on the cone which scraped along the road slowing her down. When it stopped her, she fell over. The rider in front of me and I slowed and moved a little to the right to avoid her. As I went by, I looked when I checked on the woman who fell over and she said she was okay. But another woman in front of us went down. I didn't see it but Steph said the lady turned her front wheel and braked at the same time. Someone else ran into her and fell. The bike that was in front of me stopped and since I was right behind and just now turning my head back to the front, I ran into it and wedged my front tire in between the crank arm and frame and removing a chunk of my front tire in the process.

The medics were on the scene in no time. We helped clear away all the bikes so the mass of riders could get through. The woman suffered shoulder and ribs injuries bad enough to warrant an ambulance call and I hope she's doing okay.

Had I been riding my single, I probably would've continued the ride on that tire. But I had Steph and having been through a flatted front tire before, I know it had catastrophic potential if a flat or blowout happened on the tandem. So we turned around and limped along, taking the short way back to the park.

The scene of the accident. Plenty of medics. (And Kathy and Barb are nurses.)

As he does every year, an enthusiastic and energetic Bill Bender greets every rider at the finish. That's about 1900 high fives for the day. Bill and the Spokefest volunteers do a great job and the improvements over the first Spokefest three years ago are noticeable.

Bill pairs up high fives.

Along with the various bike and eco-related booths, we had some very good entertainment in the park. I've never heard of Big Red Barn before, but I enjoyed them very much. They describe themselves as playing a "funky blend of bluegrass, blues, country, jazz and other string-band music." They've been around Spokane for eight years. I need to get out more.

Big Red Barn.

Chalk this up as another excellent event by the Spokefest organization.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marycliff Class Of '61

My Aunt Janet was in town for her 50th class reunion this weekend. The ladies enjoyed a catered lunch at Manito Park today and I stopped by to help take a group photo. They look awesome.

First Meet Of The Year

Mead hosted it's second Meadlander--temporarily replacing the venerable Shadle Park Highlander--at Mead today. Stephanie ran well and was able to complete the course since she, like her father, is an ambi-turner.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cyclist And Pedestrian Count

As part of the Washington State Documentation Project, and for the fourth year running, it's time to count cyclists and pedestrians. The intent is to collect data on demand and usage to help measure the benefits of investing in these modes, especially when compared to the other transportation modes.

The Cascade Bicycle Club is coordinating the volunteer sign up. Counting will be done on Sep 27, 28 and 29. There are two shifts each day: 7-9 am, and 4-6 pm. Go to their web site if you want to sign up for a shift. Volunteers are needed in Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Ellensburg, Everett, Ferndale, Issaquah, Kelso, Kent, Kirkland, Longview, Lynden, Mercer Island, Mountlake Terrace, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Redmond, Renton, Richland, Seattle, Shoreline, Spokane, Tacoma, Tukwila, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.