Sunday, March 31, 2013

30DOB - Prelude

Can you do it thirty days in a row? Tomorrow is the first day of 30 Days of Biking, a worldwide movement where participants pledge to ride thirty days in a row and highlight the joys and benefits of a lifestyle that includes using a bicycle. How far and where you ride doesn't matter, only that you ride. The challenge for me, outside of adding a checkmark on the calendar for each day, is to write about my experiences in a way that does the 30-day challenge justice. This is just a warning that my forthcoming over-the-top superlatives are just me trying really really hard.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Marathon Training

Kathy is doing the Windere Marathon in May and I'm finding the training remarkably easy--for me. I ride up and down the trail, talk to people and take their pictures for the OTM Facebook page, check on Kathy every once in a while, and carry her stuff in my panniers. She gets to run 17 miles and I get to ride my bike and smile. I'm getting a sweet deal out of this training.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

As Seen From A Bike

I took this picture while riding up hill with one hand holding the camera and the other on the handlebars.  If a car hadn't been behind me I wouldn't even register on the sign.

At long last there's a traffic light at Farwell and Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh gets you to Northwood Middle School and Farwell Elementary next door.) Now my kids can walk to schoo--oh, wait.
It appears they drove in a right hook pattern to take out this sign. At least they were considerate enough to pile the pieces. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the times.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Was That About Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged?

Brendon T. Kaluza-Graham was shot in the back of the head while driving away in a stolen Chevrolet Suburban, an easy picking that was idling in the owner's driveway.

Was the owner in the right to kill Brendon? If Brendon was your son, would you be satisfied that he was justifiably killed? If Brendon had a history of drug use, multiple car thefts, and even brandished a knife at a sheriff's deputy once, was he justifiably killed?

For a number of pseudonymous people leaving comments on articles written by Shawn Vestal and Jennifer Pignolet in today's Spokesman Review, Brendon's criminal record justifies that he got what he deserved. For them the question whether the owner was legally justified to take the young man's life is far less applicable to the situation.

The rationalizations abound. He shouldn't have been on the street anyway. Getting shot is a hazard of being a criminal. His family failed him. Don't sympathize with criminals. He was on his way towards becoming a career criminal anyway. Problem solved since the police don't investigate property crimes. The owner saved Brendon from a life of crime.

To be fair, some commenters do question the morality and legality of the use of deadly force by the vehicle owner. Sadly, they're essentially shouted down by those unaware of or ignoring an important lesson from the Sermon on the Mount. Be prepared to be judged by the same standard you apply to others. No doubt those who believe Brendon got what he deserved have short memories of being unjustly or harshly punished.
This morning I saw this young man sleeping under the Washington Street bridge at Riverfront Park. Does the fact he's sleeping under a bridge influence how you think of him?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Life On A Bike

One of the benefits of bike commuting is that your senses are exposed to more sights and stimuli. (I love the smell of barbecues and dinners cooking on the way home from work.) Taking different routes provides even more exposure and enjoyment. This morning I took the long way to work and was treated to a rafter of turkeys on Regal. I noticed the turkeys were not in the yards that had dogs in them so having a dog would probably prevent a rafter from homesteading provided the dog wasn't meleagrisphobic.
During lunch I rode up to the new Two Wheel Transit shop on South Perry to pick up some brake pads and a replacement retaining ring for my NiteRider light. What a great looking shop. If you're thrown off by the fact there's no bike rack outside, take your bike inside because that's where it is. After letting it sink in all day, inside is a great place for it to be anyway. Geoff was telling me how it would be great to have a bike hang nearby since there are a couple of good locations to have it. I think he should put up some strobes, dim the lights, put on some techno music, and host a bike rave. Who wouldn't feel the ecstasy being surrounded by great bikes in a spacious shop like this?

One the way back to work a car pull up behind me while I was stopped at a red light and honked the horn. I looked back at the car with mismatched-colored doors and fenders still sporting plenty of dents. The passenger yelled at me to get on the sidewalk.

"You can't go fuckin' thirty."

Apparently he thinks speed is the factor that determines whether or not you can ride on the road. I turned towards the front and ignored the guy, privately gloating that my bike was probably worth more than the clunker he sat in while waiting for me to "get out of the way". Even though they kept sliding off, the passenger kept throwing insults at me. His lack of imagination was evident since about the only thing he could come up with was, "You fucker." What a turkey. I awarded him zero points for originality and another zero for inflammatory content. (I am reminded of the Bike to Work Week meeting I attended where I suggested "Every lane is a bike lane" for the back of the T-shirt. One of the other committee members (correctly) thought that was too confrontational. For this guy the T-shirt should read, "Every fucking lane is a bike lane!")

Boy, that felt good to say that.

After work I took the long way home and that included taking in the Children of the Sun Trail. Like the clunker occupied by two people offended by my presence on the road, just because something is ugly doesn't mean it can't be used. I saw four other cyclists, three joggers, and four walkers.
This isn't a rant or a complaint, but for those of you who design bike trails you should keep some space between the trail and the adjacent road. During the winter, grit and gravel is thrown down to help tires keep their traction. The tires show their gratitude by flinging the stuff to the sides of the roadway. If the trail is just on the other side of the barrier all that gravel builds up there and has no place to go. In several places this trail needs a good sweeping.

Hey, 30 days of biking is coming up. Take the pledge and get out there and ride. Who knows, you might come across some turkeys. Even real ones.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What I Saw On My Bike Ride Today

Kathy is training for the Windermere Marathon and today she did a 15-mile run on the Centennial Trail. I went along on my bike, carrying some of her stuff in a backpack, and took photos.
There was some serious stuff going on at Camp Sekani Park. Riders were getting spinal-compression air. It was the Double Down Hoe Down mountain bike races. Pretty awesome. And so is Kathy.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

If I Made A Million Dollars

We live within a system that has been engineered over time to not only ensure economic disparity and income inequality, but increase the pace it is growing. At the same time we're constantly "informed"  that the wealthy are unfairly taxed and the poor are lazy and care only about receiving entitlements. 

I would be so happy if I made a million dollars every year. Not because it's a lot of money, but because my elected representative in Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, would have my back. All but a dozen of the House Republicans voted for Paul Ryan's budget and that budget would look so good for me and the minority of Americans who make a million a year.

And to think some people say Republicans don't appeal to minorities. Are you kidding? They love Ben Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant, and Andrew Jackson.
Shamelessly copied from Talking Points Memo.

Vandalism At Mead HS Yesterday

No doubt the idiot(s) who did this are not very smamrt.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You've Been Warned

This morning I noticed a warning sign about local vandals. It's in the area by Friendship Park on North Standard. I thought it strange that a bicycle was parked next to the sign and figured there had to be a story there so I stopped on the way home to ask.

It turns out some kids tried to steal the homeowner's flags from his flag pole along with those of two neighbors. They damaged the poles and ropes in the process so he made the sign to warn the neighbors and passersby.
And then a couple days later someone left this bicycle in his yard. So if you know someone in that area missing a Pat-Sprute-color-style Huffy Rock It, you can tell them where it's waiting for them.

Is Your Bike Noisy?

You know it's time to clean the bike and/or make some adjustments when John Speare pulls up next to you on Fish Lake Trail and asks you the question in the title of this post. Hint taken.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Something In Spokane

Last night, Kathy, Steph, and I went to dinner at Central Food. It was their first time there. I had given them a little head's up on chef (and endurance cyclist) David Blaine's menu, but they still cast a bit of a wary eye at the list of entrees. How fortunate we are to have smart phones to look up things we see on the menu and don't have a clue about. It saved the staff from explaining Tchoupitoulas Chicken and gave Steph the opportunity to learn a fraction more about New Orleans. The Idaho trout I ordered did not generate an educational opportunity. While we waited for our food the subject of college came up and Steph repeated that she wanted to go somewhere far away. "There's nothing in Spokane for me," she said.

Our food arrived and she was absolutely blown away. Our respective meals were more than tasty or delicious. Even savory falls short. But Steph's reaction nailed it. "Why do I not live here?"

After dinner we went to the final showing of Speech and Debate at the Interplayers Theater. Although the main theme dealt with the secret lives many people have, I also noticed that all of the characters got what they wanted, or were forced to do what they didn't want to do, by threat or bribe. Consequently, each of them gave up something to the others and they came together to form the Speech and Debate team. The back stories of the gay mayor's private life being exposed and the gay teacher possibly being exposed seem so easy to come to terms with. But when we learn the secrets held by the three main characters, we realize the serious harm that can result from such publicity.

Another point brought out by the play is the almost willful ignorance some adults seem to have of adolescents, as if their respective experiences were justifiably disappeared in a memory hole because all that happened before they grew up. Kids today are smoking, drinking, having sex, driving fast, and taking part in the same risky behaviors many of us consider lucky to have survived when we were that age. As adults we delude ourselves into thinking, "It won't happen to my child." Or that saying "Don't do _____" is enough. Eventually some of us learn there's no substitute for open and honest discussion, something I wish I was good at with my first child instead of gradually growing into it 25+ years later. And inexpertly at that.

As to Steph's statement about there being nothing in Spokane for her. I get that. After receiving my diploma from North Central at the Spokane Coliseum, the only thing I wanted was to get away. The difference between now and then is that I had no idea what to do or where to go. So I joined the military. It worked out well for me. I matured over many years and did well for myself. I enjoyed what I did and did it as best as I could. When I was done I came back to Spokane with Kathy where we  focused on raising our kids. Spokane served us well in that area.

As for Steph, she has had the benefit of much guidance and discussion. She's been exposed to more of the world and the opportunities that lie ahead for her. So seeing her go to college some place distant would not worry me. Rather, I would be excited for her just as I am for my two sons, one starting his own business in San Francisco and one in his junior year at UW.

So is there anything in Spokane? Absolutely. But sometimes you see it better from a distance and another time. Will my kids ever come back and live in Spokane? That's up to them. What's more important is that they are happy in what they're doing and where they are.

And when they visit I know of a great restaurant and theater.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Legislative District 3 Town Hall Meeting

Senator Andy Billig and Representatives Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli held the first of two town hall meetings today at Shadle High School. A Washington State Patrol trooper quietly hovered in the back as the number of attendees quietly grew to about 60 once the meeting got underway. Gray hair was in abundance and one young lady accompanying her father stood in for the youth within the district.
Each host spent a couple minutes introducing themselves and took turns presenting Powerpoint slides containing vast amounts of information that could not be digested by anyone in the short amount of time spent on each one. To his credit, Mr Riccelli helpfully explained several times, "This slide is kind of busy," for those who may not have noticed. 

The important points, however, were properly highlighted. Half of the state's revenue derives from sales tax and when the economy suffers so does the state's income. Two-thirds of the state's spending is protected by legal or contractual requirements. The unprotected third includes categories such as correctional, human services, and some education which tend to suffer as easier targets of spending cutbacks. Washington State ranks in the bottom third for education funding but in the top third in education performance. Expanding Medicaid will provide health coverage for 385,000 people (that's almost three whole legislative districts)  and save the state $250 million and both parties support it. The state does not have a spending problem. In 1995, 7% of state taxpayer's income went towards state taxes. In 2012 it's 4.5%. The McCleary decision adds $1.4 billion to each of the next three biennium budgets.

Each legislator kept their presentations brief to allow for a one-hour Q&A. Senator Billig asked that each person keep their statements short and ask a question so that more people would be able to participate. The first question came from a teacher who didn't get the hint. As she went on with a story that left us all wondering where she was going with it, Senator Billig finally had to interrupt and ask her to ask her question. A couple more questioner's also tried to monopolize the microphone so they changed it up and had the legislative assistant hold it. Fortunately, a situation did not arise where he would have to yank it away. After an hour the legislators agreed to hang around a bit for anyone else who wished to speak with them.

Next Wednesday, the legislature receives the official word on expected revenue on which to base the budget. There are concerns that the federal sequester will result in a decrease in the state's expected revenue. For the most part our legislators seem to be working together to address the major issues affecting our state. Leaving aside the distraction of the Freedom Agenda I think they provide a lot to be hopeful for.

Oh Jeez

Changes in the technology we use can be smooth, disruptive, hardly noticeable, or irritating.

When I opened Google Reader a few days ago and saw the pop-up, I thought it was a hack. "Google Reader will no longer be available after July 1, 2013." Yeah, right, I thought. Then Reader displayed all my unread articles, several of which concerned the upcoming demise of Reader.

Bummer. Now I have to find a replacement that will work on my iPad and my Droid.

Speaking of Droid, my carrier just updated mine. The update changed the settings of one of my email accounts so that when I deleted an email from my Droid it also deleted it from the server. Before the update it only deleted the local copy. I always use a mail client for that account and when I checked my account settings on the server, I learned that deleted items in my Trash folder get to exist one day before they are permanently deleted. So I lost a whole day of email. I think a couple of them seemed mildly important.

Computers make our lives so much easier, right? Excuse me. I'm just having a little whine with my jeez.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just Make Up Some Numbers

Paul Ryan brings us yet another Path to Prosperity and he's being just as disingenuous as last time. Notice the steep climbing debt in red in his chart, which he sources to the CBO.

Now look at the CBO chart and notice how the steep climb is from what's called the extended alternative fiscal scenario.
From the CBO:

After 2022, the extended alternative fiscal scenario also incorporates modifications to several provisions of current law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period. Thus, it includes changes to certain restraints on the growth of spending for Medicare and to indexing provisions that would slow the growth of federal subsidies for health insurance coverage. In addition, the scenario includes unspecified changes in tax law that would keep revenues constant as a share of GDP after 2022, and it incorporates the assumption that spending for programs other than Social Security and the major federal health care programs will generally represent a stable share of GDP in most years after 2022, as it has in recent decades.

But there's a follow up note from the CBO. (bolding mine)

The amounts of revenues and spending to be used in these calculations for 2012 through 2022 were provided by Chairman Ryan and his staff. The amounts for 2023 through 2050 were calculated by CBO on the basis of growth rates, percentages of gross domestic product (GDP), or other formulas specified by Chairman Ryan and his staff. For all years, the Chairman specified that there would be no spending for subsidies to purchase health insurance through new exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

You can make a case for anything if you control all the variables.

Online Jumble

The Jumble puzzle has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. This morning was the first time I noticed the puzzle is on the online version of the Review so I thought I'd try it out.
Not to brag, but I pride myself in solving at least three of the words in a few seconds. Usually one of the words is different enough that my un-jumble strategies fail to reassemble the letters in that short amount of time. I don't write them down because I like shuffling the letters about in my head. Doing the online version is even slower because you have to click and drag each letter. I don't find the sound effects to be satisfying at all. But if I don't click and drag, I can do the puzzle quickly and silently if I click the mute button on the puzzle or I can keep the ominous door slamming sound when each time bonus is removed every thirty seconds. So much pressure!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Online And Obnoxious

A cowardly commenter on the Spokesman Review. I'm all for people wanting to remain anonymous when commenting online. I get that. Soccermom Susie, for example, is great parody.

This, on the other hand. This is nothing more than middle-of-the-night online graffiti that forces the Review to break out the paint every morning.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fear Begetting Fear

I just stumbled across this post on the Spokane Police Department site. Just what Spokane, or any other community, needs is more people carrying concealed weapons.
Yes, it's old news. One out of every 14 county residents have a concealed gun permit.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Good People Doing Good Things

Cool Water Bikes had their two-day grand opening at their new location yesterday and today. I stopped by to check out the new shop and meet the person in charge, Noah Sutherland. Cool Water Bikes focuses on refurbishing used bikes for sale but also has a full-service shop so you can bring your bike in for a tune-up or repairs.
Cool Water Bikes is a nonprofit organization, part of the Christian ministry Cup of Cool Water and they work with youth on the streets. Young people can learn how to work on a bike and they can work to earn a bike.
The shop has quite the selection of bikes to choose from. Their new shop is at 224 S. Howard in Spokane.

It's All About A Sustainable Budget

In his town hall meeting last month, State Senator Michael Baumgartner explained that the Senate bipartisan coalition is focused on the economy, education, and creating a sustainable budget and would not be bringing up social issues even if it's a bill passed by the House. True to form, this past week Baumgartner submitted SB 5867, which reduced from the number of justices on the Supreme Court from nine to five in order to save money.

Excerpts from the bill (bolding mine):

The legislature finds that given the tremendous strains on the state budget, it is crucial to view all state  operations in light of the state's paramount and constitutionally required duties. This is true for all state agencies under each of the coequal branches of government, including the judicial branch. The state Constitution in Article IV, section 2 provides that there shall be five supreme court judges. For over one hundred years, the legislature has seen fit by statute to add four additional justices to that august body. 

Recent opinions by the Washington state supreme court have demonstrated that this legislative decision may be constitutionally problematic. First, the court has made it clear that the state legislature should be focused on prioritizing its budget according to constitutionally mandated duties, McCleary v. State, 173 Wn. 477, 269 P.3d 227 (2012). Given the nature of this mandate, the legislature  finds that it can no longer justify the luxury of four additional supreme court justices. In addition, the Washington state supreme court has indicated that the legislature may exceed its authority when it adds to the minimum requirements provided in the plain language of the state Constitution, League of Education Voters v. Gregoire, Case No. 87425-5 (2013)(law requiring tax increases receive a two-thirds vote unconstitutional in light of plain constitutional language providing for a minimum voting requirement for passage of bills). With due deference to the doctrine of separation of powers and the Washington state supreme court as head of a coequal branch of government, the legislature finds that the state supreme court should return to the minimum number of judges provided for and enshrined in the state Constitution.
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 June 30, 2013.

It's not about the rulings that Baumgartner disagrees with, one of which was decided just the week before. It's about the luxury of four additional justices and saving the state $2 million a year. And the emergency clause tacked onto the end which exempts the bill from repeal by referendum? That's because we need that $2 million immediately to help offset the $2 billion shortfall.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Still Needs Clarification

Attorney General Holder sent this letter to Sen. Rand Paul. Now the question is, how do you define an American engaged in combat on American soil?

Flying Irish

Kathy, my sister Barb, and and several hundred other people showed up for the Flying Irish Running Club's first run of 2013. The new logo was revealed and it looks pretty sharp in an REO Speedwagon fashion.
Mary Lee Gaston (in red), Marycliff Class of '55 and my mom's classmate, also showed up for the run.
Why does she run with the Irish? "It's better than sitting around watching TV like all those other old people." Rock on, girl!

Release The Street Cleaners

Tons of grit lie along the sides of the roadways and this morning's wet weather combined with it to make the back of my jacket look like a Jackson Pollack painting. If I wasn't so lazy I could put some fenders on, but then I'd miss out on art work like this.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Think About It

And to think some people think this is for reals.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a budgetary plan to cut Department of Defense spending and raise revenues Wednesday, which would include charging admission to access military installations.

“These proposals will cut wasteful programs,” said Hagel at the daily Pentagon briefing, “and raise valuable revenue to keep the U.S. military the best fighting force in the world.”

One of the most controversial elements is charging a daily admission fee of $10 for junior enlisted, $15 for NCOs, $20 for junior officers and Senior NCOs, and $25 for senior officers. Pentagon Office of Budgetary Analytical Logistics and Life Studies (BALLS) estimated the daily fees will raise $2.3 billion annually.

It takes BALLS to come up with that.

Look At The Bright Side

My time trial performance is now a matter of public record and I would like to clarify something about my horrible results. I was actually first in my category. 

Why Is Nobody Talking About It?

Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a post on her Facebook page where she highlights a Millennial Meetup held with college students from various organizations, such as The National Campus Leadership Council, Common Sense Action, Concerned Youth for America, Public Notice/Bankrupting America, Fix the Debt, and The Can Kicks Back.

What's interesting is that it appears the meetup, which also included Reps. Paul Ryan, Adam Kinzinger, Jamie Herrera Beutler, and Aaron Schock, was held off the record and lasted 45 minutes. The only news items I can find on this are what have been authored and released by the House Republicans who took part in it.

Checking the web sites of the college student organizations who were listed as taking part in this meetup, I don't find a single word about them being invited, going to, taking part, or...anything.

The Media Today

For a second there I almost thought this was a parody.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two Birds With One Stone

Everyone in Spokane will call it the Lilac Bloomsday Run, but a few of us will know the day by another name.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Internet Never Forgets

For those who haven't been following the Washington State legislature lately, there's a Representative Ed Orcutt, ranking minority member of the Transportation Committee, who made an interesting comment in an email exchange concerning a $25 tax on bicycles that cost over $500.
Also, you claim that it is environmentally friendly to ride a bike. But if I am not mistaken, a cyclists has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider.  Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.
I wonder if he was holding his breath while writing that email. Anyway, his Wikipedia page already reflects his moronic observation. 

Time Trial By Fire

The morning forecast called for 20+ mph winds with 30+ mph gusts. Combine that with the 30-some degree temp and I was pretty close to calling off my trip to the Wawawai Landing time trial race. But what the heck. It's the beginning of the road racing season and I've never done a time trial before.

During the drive on Hwy 195, every flag I saw looked like it was two minutes away from being shredded and the wind turbines were spinning like pin wheels blown upon by hyperactive five-year olds.

At Wawawai landing I was relieved to see the out part of the out-and-back time trial would be into the wind. Getting the hard part out of the way first suited me just fine. Then I could fly home to the finish. The route followed the Snake River in a southeast direction before turning back.

I signed up for men's masters 50+ category. Not that it made any difference since I was going to have my ass handed to me anyway. I just needed to know, once it was all over, who to see so they could hand it to me. My departure time was set for 11:25.

Trainers were set up and riders started warming up. Me, I stayed warm in the van. The symbolism associated with being in a van down by the river was not lost upon me.
A little after 11:00 I got on my bike and pedaled up and down the road for a while to warm up. I rolled up to the start a couple minutes before my time and checked in. Following instructions I put my front wheel on the white line. The official counted me down. With five seconds left a dark cloud covered the sun and the wind suddenly picked up. It was blowing right in my face. I took off as best as I could with the wind letting me know this wasn't going to be easy. I leaned over and braced myself for six miles of fighting the wind.

A quarter mile down the road and it was getting easy. I kept shifting up until I was in the top gear. I spun my pedals for all I was worth to make the most of it. Of course, I made it to the turnaround point in excellent time--just like everybody else since we had the wind with us.

One word describes the ride back. Brutal. This was one of the strongest headwinds I've ever rode crawled through. It was on a par with two other bad ones I remember. Once on my morning commute I had to drop down to the bottom chain ring to get to work. And during a cross-state bike trip with Geoff, we were coming down from Rainy Pass and the wind was blowing up the Skagit Valley so hard we had to pedal to go downhill.

I shifted between to the top chain ring when the wind eased, which wasn't often, but mostly stayed on the middle ring. I was amazed at the guys who started behind me and rolled right on by like the wind wasn't a factor. My fortune changed with one kilometer to go and I was able to kick it into high gear and look good at the finish. Hence the smile on my face.
Photo by Bryan MacDonald
I had intended to do the hill climb race as well, but I had the start time wrong. Since it was later than I thought I wouldn't be home by the time I needed to be so I had to miss it.