Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You're Gonna Get A Letter!

These two trucks have been in the bike lane on North Addison all week. It's time the city spent money on some postage so I turned them in to carparkedinbikelane(at) With the demise of this post is the only avenue of public shaming. Shame! Shame!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not Wanting To Lie In The Bed She Made...

...but lie she will. Check out Cathy McMorris Rodgers' Facebook page. First she slams President Obama for not delivering on his promise to cut spending.
Then she accuses him of not wanting to replace his devastating across-the-board spending cuts. 
Let's go to another time when our congresswoman saw sequestration in an entirely different light. (bolding mine)

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, voted in favor of the Budget Control Act today.  This bipartisan agreementsupported by President Obama and the Congressional leadership of both parties – would raise the debt ceiling, cut government spending, and advance the cause of the balanced budget amendment – all without job-killing tax hikes.

“At this time last year, Congress was approving historic spending increases and record deficits.  Now, with today’s deal, Congress is passing historic spending cuts and record cuts to the national debt.  Is this a ‘perfect deal?’  As Speaker Boehner has said many times, ‘no.’  It can’t be perfect when House Republicans control only one-half of one-third of the government.  But it’s another big step forward in our efforts to bring fiscal sanity to our nation and to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

The Budget Control Act raises the debt ceiling in two phases – first by $900 billion in return for $917 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years.  An additional $1.5 trillion increase in the debt ceiling would be contingent on one of two things: One, passage of a spending reduction package issued by a special twelve-member Commission that would be set up by the bill and charged with making cuts greater than the requested increase of $1.5 trillion.  Or two, passage of a balanced budget amendment by both Houses of Congress, sending it to the states.  Otherwise, across-the-board cuts worth $1.2 trillion over the next decade will automatically take place along with the hike in the debt ceiling.

Monday, February 25, 2013

This Morning's Commute

I tip my helmet forward and drop my head in an unsuccessful bid to use my visor to reduce the stinging snow flying headlong into my face and sticking to my glasses. Regardless, snowflakes plaster themselves against my glasses and slide down to the bottom of each lense. Once the weight is too great the slushy mass that has collected slides off onto my cheek. The shadow of my front tire darts back and forth as the flashing light on one side briefly overwhelms the steady light on the other. My gloved fingertip wipes away the snow trying to obstruct the one light to see and the one to be seen. Stopping at red lights, I take a moment to shake my limbs and brush away the snow trying to wrap itself around me. Softly through the snow I ride.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not So Long Ago

Remember the good ol' days when you wrote letters to your elected representatives, sent them in the mail and they replied in kind?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Unusual Sight

I went for a bike ride this morning and saw this alongside Highway 2. It's as if someone disrobed and took off.

Sharing The Bike Love

To Spokane she's always been the state's chief cycling advocate. Barb Chamberlain moved to Seattle last summer to become the Executive Director of Bicycle Alliance of Washington. Yesterday, the founder of Bike to Work Spokane, now Spokane Bikes, returned home to throw a Bike Love Party. Cyclists munched on fresh vegetables, drank very good beer provided by River City Red, tossed cash into a donation bowl for Spokane Bikes, sipped free cups of Roast House Coffee provided by Deborah DiBernardo manning a pour-over brewer, and chatted about all things cycling.
 Signing up for membership, door prizes, and more.

In between drawing names for prizes, Barb talked about Spokane's influence on statewide cycling.

When it comes to cycling, Barb is animated, passionate, and neck deep in facts. Concerning the $25 dollar tax on bicycles proposed as part of a transportation revenue raising bill, she says that even if it does go through, we still lose because not enough money goes to bikes and pedestrians. Plus, the amount of money raised over 10 years might come to one million dollars, a drop in an ocean of several billion. A former Idaho state legislator herself, Barb says it's easy for legislators to be against something. She works to make them for something, in this case investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure. It's an underdog role that she energetically assumes, chipping away at vehicle-centric bias by emphasizing the many contributions bicycles make towards people's health, the economy, the environment, and the infrastructure.

When Barb was interviewed for her current position at BAW, she was asked if she had Share the Road license plates on her car. (BAW sponsors those plates.) Her plates advertised WSU, her employer at the time. She has since switched. A point she makes about the plates is that they are the only special plates sending a message concerning driving behavior--share the road--while all other plates reflect an affinity with an organization, interest, or hobby. Share the Road has always been more than an affinity for Barb. For her it's a passion.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thank You, Dysfunctional Ruling Class

Speaker Boehner's Powerpoint slides from July 2011, which he used to sell the idea of using sequestration as means of holding the Obama administration accountable. I'm guessing the Obama administration regrets making this deal. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been unusually silent. As concerned about jobs as she always says she is, you would think she would have something to say about the loss of 700,000 of them on the horizon.

If you're concerned about government waste, consider the time spent by all federal agencies figuring out where they will absorb the cuts when sequestration takes effect. Using the home-balancing-the-budget analogy Congress is so fond of, just as erroneous then as it is now, sequestration is like telling you to decide which children you won't feed.

We live in interesting times. Fortunately, we have plenty of armed people ready to protect us from a tyrannical government and stand up for the right to bear arms by fighting against background checks and gun registration in spite of so many Americans being killed by firearms every year, and whose solution is having more guns. It doesn't appear that Congress will do anything about that either. Perhaps it's more palatable to think of it not as killing, but as a way to thin out our numbers--for our own good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Perspective

In today's Spokesman Review we have an article explaining how Idaho is one of two states that collects taxes on the sale of Girl Scout cookies. The tone of the article leans heavily towards the state taking advantage and victimizing the Girl Scouts. The state will "gobble up" 22 cents on the sale of every box. This amounts to about $140,000 a year, which is referred to as their (the Girl Scouts) money. The state is balancing its budget on the backs of Brownies.
I wonder how the article would read if the Girl Scouts used this opportunity to brag about being in one of only two states where they do their patriotic duty and support the state government that serves them and all state citizens?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Just For Being Out There

With all the riding, running and other activities I do, I often run into other people doing their thing in the outdoors. I got to thinking I could do something with that and I pitched an idea to Jon Snyder, publisher of Out There Monthly. I would take photos of people I randomly run into and post them on OTM's Facebook page. The title of each post would start with "Out There" and include the activity the subject is doing. He kindly gave me the thumb's up. Today I went for a two-hour bike ride and stumbled across my first subjects. Who are they? Well, you have to go see for yourself.

Baumgartner Town Hall Meeting

Well, at least he's trying. State Senator Michael Baumgartner, 6th District, held the second of his two town hall meetings at the MAC yesterday. Attendance was double over last year's town hall, with 25 people showing up this time. You would think more would be there since he represents 140,000  people, but my experience with state legislature town hall meetings in the 6th District has shown that sparse attendance is the norm.
Baumgartner said that in the State Senate, the bipartisan coalition is focusing on the economy, education, and creating a sustainable budget. We will not see social issues brought up on the Senate floor, so don't expect to see them voting on bills concerning abortion, gun control, etc., even if it's a bill passed by the House. While he agrees those issues are important, the coalition has decided that the bill won't make the cut if isn't about jobs, education, and the budget.

Bouncing through Powerpoint slides containing bar charts, pie charts, and line charts--some helpfully provided on a handout--depicting all manner of budget data, the senator did an excellent job of conveying how complex the state budget and budgeting process is. His presentation was befitting of someone who used to teach at Harvard, had he been teaching students who were already well-versed in the subject matter. Following the charts was mind numbing. He zipped through highlights at eye-glazing speed.
Everything I noted came from what he said instead of what he showed. Low income health care is the fastest growing area of the state budget. Washington is the most trade dependent of all states and China is its most important trading partner. Washington is twice as dependent on federal defense spending than other states and will be hurt by sequestration if it is allowed to happen. Washington state's "system" is geared towards large corporations, not small businesses. People and small businesses generate wealth. High labor and environmental costs make it difficult for small businesses. K-12 funding should include reforms that make funding performance based.

A benefit of small attendance is that those present are more likely to have their questions answered. All they had to do was raise a hand and many of them did. The senator politely took on the subjects of health exchanges, bond interest rates and debt, raising revenue, the closed state tourism board and use of the hotel/motel tax, home schooling, early-age education, and illegal immigrant criminals who get on welfare as soon as they enter the country. Baumgartner seemed to have a good grasp of most of the  topics and admitted when he didn't, but promised to email an answer.

Unfortunately, due to a prior engagement, I had to leave before the meeting wrapped up so I didn't get to chat with any of the attendees. I think the woman expressing concern about illegal immigrant criminals draining the coffers via welfare would have been interesting to talk to.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hypocrisy 101

George Nethercutt, presenting the "other side" over at the Inlander this week, complains about polarity and its effect on Congress's inability to accomplish anything. He says,  

"More negative comments about Congress solve nothing."  

And yet he makes negative comments about President Obama as if he's found the solution. 

"President Obama should dismount from his high horse..."  

"With a Pied Piper in the White House..."  

"...the economic death threat that lurks for the United States as citizens are tempted by the muse’s intoxicating music and message."  

"...a contrarian president."  

On one hand Mr Nethercutt righteously deplores such negativity and on the other he relies on it. I suppose I should cut him a little slack. After all, the contrarian high-horse Pied-Piping leading-us-to-death President probably started it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Failing To Convince

This week I have a full court press at work and with the long hours I haven't had much time for much else. Waking in the middle of the night sucks and reading tripe like this on my congresswoman's Facebook page sucks, too.

If by "argue", Cathy McMorris Rodgers means putting forth an unsupported statement that we have a spending problem, then she argued brilliantly. But if she meant to "give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory", then she failed miserably.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Response To My Question

In answer to my questions concerning SB 5317, I received a response from Senator Randi Becker. 

Thanks for taking the time to write in regard to Senate Bill 5317, my bill aimed at speeding ballot tabulation and election results. 

My motivation for sponsoring the bill was straightforward - Washington state has the slowest election system in the country and I've heard from many people who find our timeline for election results to be unacceptably slow. Oregon's vote-by-mail system is largely identical to ours, with the exception of the fact that ballots are due there by Election Day. This speeds results and in Oregon's experience, doesn't deter turnout. In fact, their voting rates have been higher than Washington's in the past two elections.

I'm not the only one who feels this way, and others have articulated the need for change well. I'd like to share with you several recent editorials from Washington newspapers advocating for this change in law. You can find links to the editorials below my signature.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Thanks again for taking the time to write and have a great day.

Best regards,

Senator Randi Becker

In addition, she included six links to editorials from six Washington papers claiming our state's need for speed in counting ballots.

And from another source I learned that this language in the bill...

This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect July 1, 2013. actually the emergency clause language the legislature has allegedly been abusing over the last 20 years. So that's how they do that.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dirty No-Longer-A-Secret

A white paper from US Department of Justice (PF) providing legal justification for the US government's targeting of US citizens believed to be members of Al Qaeda is leaked and is greeted by our elected representatives with deafening silence. (Given this administration's aggressive posture on leakers, I would not be surprised if whoever released this document is vigorously hunted down and prosecuted.)

Before I delve into the memo, let me present some background information. Three days after the Sep 11 attack, Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force Against Terrorists granting broad authority to the President.

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The authorization also states:

Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

It's important to note that the authorization applies anywhere in the world and does not expire. Let's have a look at Section 5(b) of the War Powers Act:

Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces.... (bolding mine)

Congress satisfied the requirements of the War Powers Resolution with the Authorization to Use Military Force. While you are reading this blog, shopping at the mall, or swearing at the driver who just cut you off, our country remains in its self-defined global war against terrorism. One aspect of this war is our government's ability to kill American citizens deemed a threat. The white paper addresses that specific aspect.

This white paper sets forth a legal framework for considering the circumstances in which the U.S. government could use lethal force in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or an associated force of al-Qa'ida--that is, an al-Qa'ida leader actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.

Check out this paragraph:

By its nature, therefore, the threat posed by al-Qa'ida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat, making the use of force appropriate. In this context, imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity, the possibility of reducing collateral damage to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks on Americans. Thus, a decision maker determining whether an al-Qa'ida operational leader presents an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States must take into account that certain members of al Qa'ida (including any potential target of lethal force) are continually plotting attacks against the United States;  that al-Qa' ida would engage in such attacks regularly if it were able to do so; that the U.S. government may not be aware of all al-Qa'ida plots as they are developing and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur; and that, in light of these predicates, the nation may have a limited window of opportunity within which to strike in a manner that both has a high likelihood of success and reduces the probability of American casualties.

First of all, if something is imminent, it is likely to occur at any moment. A "broader concept of imminence" renders the concept of imminence meaningless. But even more striking is the self-serving deceptive logic with the paragraph.

 - Al Qaeda is always plotting attacks against the US.
 - Al Qaeda would attack on a regular basis if they could.
 - We may not be aware of the plots and one could happen at any time.
 - Just to make sure because we can't be sure, we can kill Americans.

Those statements justify our administration's position (and practice) of killing an American citizen whom it claims is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force. Reminiscent of former Vice President Cheney's One Percent Doctrine, we're saying that if there's a slight chance an American is a terrorist,we should treat it as a certainty. Not only that, the designation of an American as a member of Al Qaeda or an associated force--What is that besides a catch all?--is done in secret. All of this is done in secret by "an informed decision maker" who has been given carte blanche by Congress.

Remember our shameful justification of torture which we redefined as enhanced interrogation? Presumably we stopped that, but we never prosecuted those who violated the law. This administration did nothing about those who authorized or administered torture. The only person prosecuted by the Obama administration was a whistleblower.

Extrajudicial killings through the use of missile-laden unmanned aircraft continue today. We get away with it because we're doing it in countries where we can get away with it. Countries who don't have enough power or a strong enough government to demand that we stop. We're the ones determining which of the dead are militants. Conveniently, all of the dead are unless proven otherwise.

The mission to kill Osama bin Laden proved we have the ability to capture--we could have captured him if we wanted to--senior operational leaders of Al Qaeda. The lazy way is to send missiles. Everyone who witnesses the attacks know where the missiles can from and who to hate for sending them. We shall reap what we sow.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Same Old Story

One of Kathy's relatives who lives in the Midwest sent her an email containing a link to a site with an article about a Spokane mom who makes thousands of dollars a month using her computer. That right there is a clue that a scam is on the horizon. I downloaded the image of the Spokane mom named Theresa Andrews from the site and searched for it using the Google. 

Notice the sites give the appearance they are news sites. A couple of them somewhat honestly display "Advertisement" or "Advertorial" at the top, but it's not that noticeable. It doesn't look like Kathy, or anybody else, is going to make thousands of dollars with her computer.


This scam has been around for a couple of years now. It appears to be a news report. You pay some money thinking you're going to get in on making riches, (which you might be if you were the one making the fake ads), and you get screwed.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nice Run Today

I got this thing coming up in a month that I should prepare for should I decide to participate. I went out for a longer run than usual today, following the Children of the Sun Trail all the way down to the trail head on Freya and back, giving me 11.2 miles to ponder the meaning of life and other unsolvable problems.
Obligatory posterity photo of sweat ice on my cap at the halfway point. (I finally learned how to use my smart phone camera. Did you know that you touch the screen where you want the focus to be?)

Hey, these bike tracks look familiar.

Kathy knew I would be hungry so she sliced and roasted some sweet potatoes. They were waiting for me after my shower. What a sweetheart.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

If Bikes Could Talk

For the past couple of weeks, the Elephant has been giving me a sad you-don't-ride-me look quickly followed with a scornful when-was-the-last-time-you-blogged-about-me glare. It's been idle for almost a month now and hating every motionless minute garnishing the garage and suffering through the same boring glimpse of the neighborhood when the door is raised. And now it was giving me the silent treatment. I apologized for neglecting it and asked, "What would you like to do?"
"I want to ride the Children of the Sun Trail."

I was more than happy to oblige. Even though I've been running a lot, my seat bones have been turning into sofa bones and besides, I've really missed riding. Plus there's this thing coming up in four weeks

The photos are of the second half of the ride.
 The south end trail head.
"Quit goofing off. Let's go!"

 The bridge crossing over Lincoln.
"We're maybe 100 yards from the start." 

The 90-degree turn at Fairview and Freya. 
"Never come in hot even when it's clear."

 Crossing Fairview.
"Look both ways. I don't want to get hit."

Fog rolling in.
"C'mon. You can't even see me!"

Next to Mead. Bike pose à la John Speare
"I can't believe you put me on the ground."

Approaching Farwell Road.
"Oh, quit being a baby about the snow."

 The descent towards Farwell.
"Hey, I'm not in the picture!"

On the way to cross over Hwy 2. 
"See how the pictures look way better with me in them?"

Approaching Farwell Elementary.
"Wait for it."

The deep, slightly thawing snow felt... 
"Now he's going to make it sound..." I was riding this way.
" he's doing something heroic."

The last bit before I got off at Northwood Middle School.
"Never mind his gratuitous attention getting. Check me out!"

As you can see from the end, in the beginning I struggled through snow. My cycling muscles complained even after being called out as cry babies by my running muscles. Once I crossed over Farwell Road there was an increasing amount of clear asphalt on the trail and after passing by Mead, the trail was almost completely clear all the way to Freya. My cycling muscles found their rhythm and even got to taunt my running muscles when I had to heft the Elephant on the climb near Northwood Middle School on the way back.

A bucket of warm water, followed by a towel dry, a wipe down, and oil on the chain and the Elephant returned to the garage placid and content.

Sit Here

Where are these benches in downtown Spokane?

Donate To A Nonprofit

I received what appears to be a valid email notice informing me I am a possible claimant in a class action suit against Facebook. All I have to do is submit a claim form and I may receive $10 for Facebook illegally using my name, image, or other account information in a sponsored story. 

What? They did? When?

Regardless, I feel damaged now. Where's my compensation?

If $10 cannot be paid to each Authorized Claimant, the amount paid to each Authorized Claimant will be reduced pro rata. What this means is that the cash award to individual Authorized Claimants will be determined by subtracting from the $20 million fund any attorneys’ fees and costs awarded by the Court to Class Counsel, any service award paid to the Representative Plaintiffs, and any costs incurred by the Settlement Administrator and Escrow Agent, and then dividing the remaining funds by the number of Authorized Claimants. For instance, if the Net Settlement Fund has $12 million, and there are 1.2 million Authorized Claimants, the payment to each Authorized Claimant will be $10, subject to the Court’s approval. As another example, if the Net Settlement Fund has $12 million, and there are 2.4 million Authorized Claimants, the payment will be $5, subject to the Court’s approval. If the amount to be paid to each Authorized Claimant is calculated to be $4.99 or less, the Net Settlement Fund will be distributed pro rata to the Authorized Claimants, unless the Court orders otherwise as discussed in Section 2.3(a)(ii) of the Settlement Agreement. 

However, if the number of claims made renders it economically infeasible to pay any money to Authorized Claimants, the entire Net Settlement Fund will be distributed to the not-for-profit organizations identified below, instead of to Authorized Claimants.

These are the nonprofit organizations who will probably divide up the monetary awards.

Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Harvard Law School), Information Law Institute (NYU Law School), Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (Berkeley Law School), Center for Internet and Society (Stanford Law School), High Tech Law Institute (Santa Clara University School of Law), Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Privacy Rights Fund,, and

Here is why I think I won't receive a dime and the remaining money will instead go to the nonprofits.

$20 million has been set aside for this. Facebook has something like one billion accounts, and probably 90% of them are real people. I have no idea how many accounts were illegally used in sponsored stories, but somewhere in the millions sounds quite plausible. They don't define what constitutes "economically infeasible to pay", but the numbers tell me that each claimant would receive less than a penny because even though $20 million is set aside, the amount paid to the claimants is determined... subtracting from the $20 million fund any attorneys’ fees and costs awarded by the Court to Class Counsel, any service award paid to the Representative Plaintiffs, and any costs incurred by the Settlement Administrator and Escrow Agent, and then dividing the remaining funds by the number of Authorized Claimants.

So the claimants will receive whatever is left of the $20 million, if there aren't too many claimants. Otherwise, the nonprofits divvy up the remainder. 

I submitted my claim form anticipating I won't receive a dime but maybe some of the money will go towards a good cause.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cyclocross World Championships

This prestigious event started last Tuesday and continues through Sunday. Two of my teammate from Team Double Check raced, one in the Men's Masters 55-59 and one in the Men's Master's 60-64. A couple of other teammates also went and volunteers to pit crew for them.

Ian Searle is the younger of the two and his race was at 10:30 am. The whole idea behind 'cross racing is that the course contains a variety of surfaces and degrees of difficulty and 'cross racers normally take pride in just completing the course, let along overcoming the sand, mud, grass, run ups, obstacles, etc. This being the world championships, race conditions in Louisville were extremely challenging.
This is Ian's bike when he finished. He said he didn't need to use his brakes. To slow down he would just stop pedaling. He noticed that the top racers were changing out their bikes at the pits at every half lap. Yes, the course was so muddy they changed bikes every one-half lap.

Buff Hopper's race was set for 3:30. Since, like Ian, Buff only had one bike, Ian loaned him his. Buff swapped bikes every half lap and, in a sprint finish, ended up one-half of a bike length behind to take 4th in the Men's Master's 60-64. Frickin' hard core.

*** Update - Ian's race report.