Tuesday, September 30, 2008

...long as I have my plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard of my car.

Circumstances forced me to drive to work today, something I haven't done in a long time. Indy car racers swerve from lane to lane trying to get ahead of just one car. Avoid getting trapped behind the STA bus. Jump the green light and get over to the next lane for an immediate right turn. Tailgaters urging everyone to move forward--MOVE! Be the first to the next red light. Don't let that guy over!

I had completely forgotten how relaxing it is.

I Can Think, You Know

I was taking a break at work and one of my coworkers bursts into the break room. He's been hunting me down. "As soon as you're done, we need you." It must be a serious computer problem--or so I'd like to think--if I was being sought out so earnestly. Always eager to help I offer my immediate availability. "We need you to help us move some chairs."

How depressing. They wanted me for my body and not my mind.

Someone Shares My Imagination

Remember the conspiracy theory I offered up back in June? It seems I'm not the only one who wonders about these things. I guess the question is, "With who's mind are we thinking alike?"

A Perry Mason Moment Perhaps?

The Seventh Circuit Bar Association just released a report on a project where they tested new ideas for juries in the federal courts. The one I liked the most was allowing the jury to ask questions right after both sides were done questioning a witness. If so, they submitted questions in writing to the court. The judge would review them with counsel from both sides. Sometimes they were reworded. Sometimes they were discarded. But the process allowed jurors to clarify points which help them better understand the evidence and testimony.

If you've ever served on a jury--and you should at every opportunity--you may have felt more like a member of an audience as opposed to a participant in the legal process. I remember sitting there wondering, "What about...?" and going to the deliberation room to find a couple other jurors had the same question. While it may not have been a make-or-break issue, we wanted to be thorough and fair.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Just a Matter of Time

Last Thursday I was taking a different route home and I was nearly T-boned--by a bicycle.

"Whoa, sorry, I didn't even see you!"

He was looking for cars. It's hard not to blame him. After all what else do we see on the roads? More ammunition to support the argument that more cyclists make the roads safer.

More Reasons To Ride

Shamelessly stolen from www.cicle.org.

All Your Bailout Are Belong To Us

Cleverly done by Kelnishi

The House votes today. That doesn't give you much time to study the plan and let your representative know what you think about it.

MWAAAHA-HA-HA-HA-HA! MWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA! MWA-HA-ha-ha. Mwa-ha-ha. A-ha. Ahem.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Kathy and I went for a recreational bike ride out in the Mead and Peone Prairie area. She's training for yet another marathon in San Francisco in three weeks and she needed to loosen up a bit yet take a break from running. While we were out cruising we saw this sign.

God. Guns. Guts. Not a lot of thinking went into that, eh? But when you think about it--which is not what they want you to do--that's exactly what they want you to do.

Banned Books Week

Today is the first day.

I looked at the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books. There are some that don't interest me. There are some I've read. And there's a couple I will probably read and several I'll never read. Not much different than any list of books. But I really resent it when people decide they know what I should and shouldn't be able to read.

Amuse and Educate

At church there was a display of free religious education books, videos, etc. Just for fun Kathy picked up a booklet entitled The Beverly Hillbillies Bible Study. It's published by--who else?--The Entertainment Ministry. They also have Mayberry, The Lucy Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Gilligan's Island. Apparently you watch snippets of the show and then answer bible-related questions. As they relate to a TV show. There's a lot more fantasy involved than I think most people realize.

Imagine if they used a reality-based TV show.

"Deal or no deal?"

"Howie, I just know the answer to my prayers is in this case. NO DEAL!"

There's nothing like witnessing a soul-crushing experience televised for everyone's entertainment and then figuring out what biblical lesson applies to it.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Today is the day of The Pulpit Initiative.

As part of the effort, pastors participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday on Sunday, September 28, 2008, will deliver to their congregations sermons of their own that apply Scripture to the subject of candidates for government office. The sermons are intended to restore a pastor’s right to speak freely from his pulpit without fearing censorship or punishment by the government. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life.

The Alliance Defense Fund is trying to create court cases where they can challenge the law that says churches keep their tax exempt status as long as they don't directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate.

There is an easy solution to this. Remove tax exempt status from all religious organizations. They get the freedom of speech they seek and they contribute to the societal structures that provide services and protect our freedoms.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It Might Be Closer Than You Think

If you look at the polls and their predictions, you might think that Barack Obama has a pretty good chance, at least as of today, of winning the election.

But if you carefully study voting patterns you'll find that it doesn't take many votes to swing the election. You only have to know where it's important to do that. The investigative reporter Greg Palast and his friend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have also studied voting patterns--those not counted. What they've discovered is worrisome. Could this happen in November? If so, I'm sure it'll be thoroughly covered by the mainstream media. Maybe.

The Good Stuff

Found some up on Green Bluff.

Where's The Good Stuff?

Stephanie and the Taekwondo demo team had a demonstration at the Spokane Walk to Cure Diabetes in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation this morning at Riverfront Park. There were several booths where the walkers could collect swag and food.

Safeway had a booth where they were giving away granola bars that are part of joint effort by Safeway and Warner Brothers called Eating Right Kids in which they use cartoon characters to promote healthier foods.

"We've cleared the market of anything that might be considered unhealthy," said Brad Globe, prexy of Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products. "Our Looney Tunes characters are our crown jewels. We said, 'Hey, we need to figure out how we can be part of some kind of solution and use our characters in a positive way that will improve the issues related to childhood obesity.'"

There's no doubt it's targeted for kids. Then I had a look at the ingredients.

Corn syrup is number one.
Let's hear it for another corporate contribution to juvenile diabetes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Go Outside And Play Instead

Two or five minutes is not enough time to fully cover any topic worthy of a presidential debate. Today's debate format does nothing more than lend itself to gotcha moments, made for TV sound bites to be repeated over and over. Everything is clearly delineated in black and white. Nuance and context are reduced to opportunity for gotcha moments, fodder for "See, I told you!" Breaking news on a broken medium that tells us what he said, shows us the entire 3.61 seconds of it, and then tells us again. More at eleven but we can't wait to tell you so we'll tell you now. And at 11:00. And in between.

One hundred and fifty years ago the debate participants would each get one hour to speak and then thirty minutes for rebuttal. Can you imagine such a thing happening today? Not hardly. Our attention spans demand immediate stimulation. We want to see a cat fight and then watch it again in slow motion so we can say "Nice shot." Then we're anxious to move on to the next myth busting dirty job of a shark attack that's destroyed in thirty seconds. Where's the remote? And what's that bright thing in the sky shining through the window?

Do These Pants Make My Butt Look Big?

Bike 2 Work Pants from Cordarounds on Vimeo.

All That's Left To Do Is To Twist It

The FDIC seized Washington Mutual, with $310 billion in assets, and sold it to J.P. Morgan Chase for $1.9 billion. The sale saved the FDIC from emptying its insurance fund. For those of you not familiar with the namesake, J.P. Morgan was a high-powered financier of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

This photograph of him was taken by Edward Steichen. Clever use of lighting gave the image the desired effect. High powered financiers are not as prominent as they were one hundred years ago so you probably wouldn't recognize their portraits today. The main difference would be their clothing.

Ethnocentric Blinders For Everyone

I went to Whitworth University and listened to our former congressman, George Nethercutt, give a speech about Citizenship in the 21st Century. The audience consisted of young college students. The only other "older" people were various Whitworth leaders sitting up front and then me sticking out like a sore thumb among the young folks.

Mr Nethercutt started out with some definitions and a fluffy general overview about citizenship. One thing that struck me was his emphasis of American exceptionalism; positing that American society, culture, and it's form of government is better than that of any other country. He also kept harping on the principles and values that guided America without saying what they were. Had he brought those out he could have given a much better speech without having to say "citizenship" over and over.

He made an interesting contrast between (part of) the Bush doctrine of spreading democracy and our founder's feelings on international affairs and entanglements. He questioned whether the founding fathers would approve of spreading democracy to other countries since they obviously had no intent to do so themselves.

Making sure to link in 9/11 the former congressman mentioned that only one of two times that Congress met in session outside of the Capitol was at Federal Hall in New York City not long after the attack. It was sad that he thought this was so significant yet he didn't remember doing it. But he said he knows he was there because he saw he was in the picture that was taken. And he thinks that disconnect is humorous?

He made excellent points about how young people (but this could apply to all ages) are not familiar with American history, are not involved or interested in society and government, and how this adversely affects us as a nation. He said there's an "under education" of our youth. I have to agree. And he re-emphasized the guiding values and principles again, but again without stating what those might be.

He compared the sentence lengths of the inaugural speeches of Washington and John Adams (60-70+ words) with those of Clinton (26) and Bush (18) and then asked, "Is that important?" His answer, "Probably not." So no telling why he brought it up.

He made quite a few references to God throughout the evening. And he said that since the founding fathers were all Christian, they intended this to be a Christian nation. I thought that made as much sense as saying since they were all white they intended this to be an all white nation. However, after looking around the room, I think he would've been singing to the choir on that point as well.

Overall, he had a valid argument that people should be involved in their community, society, and government. But for me he didn't sell citizenship well at all.

There was a short Q&A period afterward. A young man said he wanted to be a good American citizen. He agreed with the idea that American culture was better than any other country's. (What does that mean exactly?) But since we live in a global environment, he wanted to know how could he be a good global citizen. (No doubt, once life is discovered on another planet he'll be concerned with being a good galactic citizen.) Mr Nethercutt's answer: the young man should be a good American citizen and "export that", which seems to run contrary to the intent of our founding fathers he mentioned earlier.

I was most disturbed by this sense of American exceptionalism and American superiority. I don't know if there was a general consensus or just a lack of expressed disagreement in the room. But having lived in and visited other countries, I am not about to say that American culture, society, and/or government is better than any other. There are aspects I would say are better as well as some that are worse, respectively, freedom of religion and health care are good examples. International respect for America is in the tank and we're not about to win that back by looking down our noses and telling others they should be like us. When I go to Italy I want to experience their culture. I don't go to Rome to eat at McDonalds. It's wonderful to experience the differences and doing so opens your eyes. Sometimes it makes you appreciate what you have at home. Sometimes it makes you envious. But to approach it with an air of superiority is a good way of ensuring that, at best, you get spit in your food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If Only...

President Bush's speech didn't impress me.

“With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice: to step in with dramatic government action or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions by some to undermine the financial security of all.”

The "some" he refers to are the same people he wants to give $700 billion to. I haven't heard anyone accept responsibility for this crisis. Nobody has stepped up with, "This was my/our fault." A pattern that's been repeated for 7-1/2 years. If there's anything this administration has taught me it's that I cannot be held accountable for my actions.

If only my Social Security had been privatized. My retirement prospects would be much more attractive than they are now.

Thoughts On A Fixed Gear Commuter

I rode Pat's fixed gear to work yesterday. The hills weren't that bad. In fact I climbed them faster than normal. Going down them was a greater challenge. I couldn't fly like I normally do. And there's reaching that cadence of 150-180 that feels like 600. Slowing myself using my legs was rough on my knees. There's probably a technique to it that I'm not aware of. Regardless, I was very thankful I had a handbrake. The main thing I noticed was that the bike forced me to focus more on my body, letting my legs do the work and keeping my upper body relaxed. It's kind of like hockey where you skate from the hips down and puck handle from the waist up. When my mind wandered I found myself bouncing on the saddle and my shoulders would be tensed up. So that was emphasized more so than my road bike which allows me to coast. Also, I found I needed to be prepared to stop. You don't--at least I don't--have that short response time that a regular bike allows you to stop or accelerate. Track standing is still out, but I can go really really really slow. The bike increased my commute time by about five minutes, but since I treat my commute as a twice daily workout I had no problem with that. The only thing I would change on the bike is either adding an adjustable stem so I could move the handlebars up and back or replacing the bar with one that allows me to sit up more. Overall, it's a fun bike.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Because I Care

* In the United States, the richest 1 percent of households owns 38 percent of all wealth.

* The top 5 percent own more than half of all wealth.

* The richest 10 percent of families own about 85 percent of all outstanding stocks. They own about 85 percent of all financial securities, 90 percent of all business assets.

It really bothers me when a small group of people is singled out. I hope these uncertain financial times are not detrimental to these minorities. They have feelings, too, you know.

Coming To A Police State Near You

The Insurrection Act of 1807 was passed to limit Presidential power in putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion. The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 and further restricted the President by prohibiting federal uniformed services from performing law enforcement duties on non-federal property. In 2007 all that changed with passage of the Defense Authorization Act. Then parts of that were repealed in 2008, but when President Bush signed that law he added a signing statement:

Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.

Funny guy. He's always coming up with signing statements that carry no force in the law yet make him think they allow him to determine the law.

Recently this article was in the Army Times. In part...

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

They must be ready for anything.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

Jaws of life. Extra medical training. Cut and clear trees? We need the Army for all this?

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.

I'm curious how will that come into play in anything but a civil unrest situation?

“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” said Cloutier, describing the experience as “your worst muscle cramp ever — times 10 throughout your whole body.

Why do they have tasers? Hmmm, no mention of the Active Denial System. Make sure your protest march permit is in order.

No Place To Go But...

I'm not worried about the economy. As I look back at the past seven years I can't help but feel confidant. Yes, the Dow is almost at the same level it was seven years ago. And $100 invested seven years ago is worth something like $83. But everyone focuses on the things that are down. Why be so negative? Let's look at it another way. Oil and food prices are up. Inflation is up. Unemployment is up. See?

And the people who made our financial situation what it is today assure me that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. So I got that going for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last One For The Night

I don't care what anybody says. If someone starts a discussion by saying, "I don't care what anybody says," they're not going to listen to a thing you say.

Life without metaphors and similes would be like--I don't know.

So This Must Be An Essential Email

Received this from Comcast today.

Dear Valued Comcast Customer,

In the past, you have asked Comcast not to communicate with you via email regarding offers and promotions. We respect your privacy, and will only send you essential emails related to your current Comcast Services.

These periodic communications contain important information, and can include:

* Urgent news
* Product updates
* Changes to your service, or
* Timely security notices

We appreciate your understanding as we strive to bring you a superior level of customer service. Thank you again for choosing Comcast.

This is a service-related email. Comcast will occasionally send you service-related emails to inform you of service upgrades or new benefits to your Comcast High-Speed Internet service.

But service-related emails are not in the list of essential emails they say they're going to send me. Only if it's a change in service which this isn't. Next a telemarketer is going to call and tell me they're not going to try to sell me anything since I'm on the Do Not Call list.

What Do I Do Next?

The computer we ordered at work came in.

Life Is Full Of Risks

Last Sunday a long time family friend told me to be careful riding my bike. Why? Her son had a friend who was recently killed in a freak accident. His front wheel slipped and he fell into the traffic flow. He was 22. His was a tragic death and when she heard about it she thought of me and my wife. In her mind--and that of the majority of the driving public--people riding a bike to work engage in an inherently unsafe activity. It's part of that car-centric society we've grown up in. Many people can't let that go. When she was leaving I asked if she was driving. Of course she was. I told her to be careful because 45,000 people die every year in traffic accidents. She smiled and gave me a look that said I just didn't get it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Probably a Recessive Gene

Mead High School is having a Spirit Day tomorrow. The theme is Black and White in which you are supposed to dress in black and white. This is what Josh is wearing.

I have no idea where he gets it from.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Did anyone hear or see news in the mainstream media about the many arrests made in Minneapolis before and during the Republican National Convention? How about the arrests of journalists who were trying to cover the demonstrations? There were plenty of articles on the Internet. Now the charges against many of the journalists are being dropped. What does it say about a society when easily identified journalists who are doing their jobs are arrested and removed from the event they are covering only to be released later? Any why didn't we hear anything about it from the mainstream media?

It brings to mind a poem by Gil Scott-Heron which, to me, describes the effect of corporate ownership of the media.

Who Knew?

Basketball great Bill Walton was also an avid cyclist. He even coauthored a book about cycling. But at 7'2" it was impossible for him to buy a bike that fit. Check out the custom made road bike.

There's room for about six bottle cages. Seven if you put one on the back of the seat tube. Who has room for anything on the back of their seat tube? My wife is 5' tall. I'd love a picture of her holding up a bike like this.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Valleyfest 2008

Jung Kim's Taekwondo Demonstration Team had a gig at Valleyfest this afternoon. Stephanie had to be there early so I had time to check the place out. I tell ya, nothin' gets my attention like a woman with a sharp metal object in her hands.

My what big teeth you have.

Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay
I sleep all night and I work all day.

Stephanie's flying side kick.

This guy is amazing. He does a standing back flip and breaks the board above his head. You can see he's about 3/4 through the flip here.

Random Bizarre Thought

It seems strange at first. I have three brothers but each of my sisters have four.

It Must Be Election Time

Yesterday I received en email newsletter from Cathy McMorris Rodgers entitled Empire Health Sale: Good for Eastern Washington. In it she says,

I wanted to let you know what I think of Providence Health Care’s decision this week to drop the lawsuit against Empire Health Services.

I am thankful Providence Health Care dropped this lawsuit, which may have jeopardized Empire Health Services’ planned sale to Community Health Systems. If done in cooperation with our community, the sale of EHS to CHS will benefit our region and can benefit shared resources, like Inland Northwest Health Services. A two hospital system in Spokane will help maintain competition, continue to provide access to health care and bring additional investments in 21st century health care services.

Sacred Heart and Deaconess already shared Inland Northwest Health Services. No change there. The two hospital system was already in place. No change there. The hospitals have always competed against each other. No change there. The hospitals never stopped providing access to health care. No change there. The not for profit hospital becomes a for profit hospital. Change.

I remain steadfast in ensuring access to quality and affordable health care that Eastern Washington has come to expect. I am committed to making sure this sale has a positive impact on our community, health care workers, providers, and those who are dependent on receiving the best care available.

Why does it matter that I know what she thinks about this? The underfunded Democratic candidate can't be that much of a threat to her. Now if we could only compare and contrast her health insurance plan with some of her constituents' plans. I wonder what she thinks of that?

Friday, September 19, 2008

But When You Think It Through...

Voters in Colorado have an initiative on the ballot (see pages 9 and 44) that changes the state constitution:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado: SECTION 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read: Section 31. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of article II of the state constitution, the terms "person" or "persons" shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization.

From the Johns Hopkins Hospital:

A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of an embryo or fetus. If it occurs after 20 weeks, it is called a stillbirth. Medically known as a "spontaneous abortion," a miscarriage is relatively common, occurring in one in six pregnancies. It is especially common during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The early spontaneous abortion rate is estimated to be 45 percent of all pregnancies. Many women may not know they were pregnant and experienced an early spontaneous abortion. Because it is so prevalent, for most women a history of one or two miscarriages does not mean there is anything wrong with the woman's reproductive health, and the prognosis for future childbearing is excellent.

So if this passes:

(1) If a woman has a miscarriage at 4 weeks will she be investigated for murder?

(2) If a woman has a miscarriage at 20 weeks will she be investigated for murder?

(3) If a woman has a miscarriage will the doctor's care come into question so that the doctor may be investigated for murder as well?

(4) If a woman has an abortion because the fetus is lifeless, will she be investigated for murder? How about he doctor?

(5) If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy and a surgeon saves her life by removing the non-viable fertilized egg, is the surgeon guilty of murder?

(6) If a surgeon refuses to operate on a woman's ectopic pregnancy and she dies, is the surgeon guilty of two murders?

I could come up with other scenarios: a vehicle accident, an amusement park ride, and even a three-legged race at a church picnic. There's no limit in our litigious society. The Colorado legislature would be forced to determine when and if a murder has been committed. But it shouldn't be that difficult if, as the state constitution would declare, every fertilized egg is a person and has equal rights under the law. So there needn't be much discussion or debate. It's pretty simple--once you think it through.

Say What?

I tried time travel was to prove it couldn't be done, but it didn't work out.

Adapt Or Die

A couple days ago I came across this article. I had to ponder it a while. Here's part of it.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific" and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

He said arguments "that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite" supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, "especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence ... and the discourse has suffered accordingly."

While there has been Catholic commentary on the compatibility of faith and evolutionary theories, there is no definitive written source to which people can refer to learn the church's position, he said.

A couple parts of this draw my attention. Excluding creationists and intelligent design proponents, i.e. creationists, could be interpreted as excluding people who accept the bible as the literal truth. Doesn't the Roman Catholic Church accept most the bible as literally true? Why do they get to decide which parts? I'll answer in a minute.

Creationists are excluded because their arguments are not considered theology. How can that be? I'll answer in a minute.

Another curious point. How can a "strictly scientific" conference include theology? I'll answer in a minute.

Science has debunked and eroded many of the church's teachings over the years. (The Warfare of Science with Theology by Andrew White is an excellent read on the subject.) It wasn't until October of 1992 that Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the church treated Galileo (in 1633 he was tried and convicted of heresy for saying the Earth orbits the sun) and officially conceded that the Earth was not stationary. This came as a result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the same council that's running this conference next year. Every scientific finding that contradicted church teachings eventually forced the church to change its position. So in order to keep itself relevant the church has had to adapt. And that, I think, is the answer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Free Market Fallacy

For many years now we've seen regulation legislated away ostensibly for our benefit. In reality the controls that were in place restricted corporations that wanted to get bigger and make more money. We were told the free market would self correct. Corporations would police themselves because it was in their best interest. Investors would profit and the country's economic high tide would float all boats. Well, it's finally come to bear fruit. Not in a good way but certainly in a way all signs have been pointing to for years. The stock market is diving, tanking our investments and threatening a new Great Depression. Our government is loaning billions to banks and investment companies to keep them afloat. So not only do tax payers lose money on our investments, but they have to pay for it as well. How's that working out for you?

Since we end up paying for it, no doubt we'll take the blame, too. After all, it wouldn't be fair otherwise.

How Fast Can You Go?

The World Human Powered Speed Challenge is going on this week.

Alfred Letourner got up to 108mph in 1941 while drafting behind a race car. It took him three miles to get up to speed and four miles to slow down. Too frickin' awesome.

Use It Or Lose It

I ran at lunch today, the first time in about 5-6 weeks. I thought I'd do a nice easy pace. That wasn't a problem because my hamstrings knotted up for the first one and-a-half miles. After three miles I felt good, mostly because I was done by then.


Why You Wear a Helmet

A neighbor of ours had a motorcycle for sale. Last Sunday a man and his son stopped by to check it out. The owner offered the use of his helmet and the dad turned him down. "I'm just going to the corner and back." He comes back and the son, who might be in his late twenties, wants to ride it. The owner again offered the use of his helmet. "I'm just going to the corner and back," and declines the helmet.

Stephanie is in the house and hears a strange crashing-scraping sound. She looks out the front door and sees a motorcycle and a body lying in the road. She runs back in and tells Kathy, "Mom, a motorcycle just had an accident right outside." Kathy starts taking care of the guy who obviously landed on his head, is out cold, not breathing and lying facedown in a puddle of blood. Stephanie calls 911. With the dad's help Kathy gets the guy turned over and opens his airway. He resumes breathing. The fire department, ambulance and sheriff all come and the guy is taken to the hospital. He ends up in intensive care. That little ride to the corner and back without a helmet just changed his life dramatically. Would the helmet have prevented his injuries? Maybe not. But it would have dramatically decreased their severity.

Nobody saw the accident so we don't know how he did this. The scrape on the road from where the motorcycle slid is about 50 feet long. He ended up just beyond that. Now Stephanie says that even if she's riding her bike to her friend's house just two doors away, she's wearing a helmet.

Interesting observation from Josh. We set things on fire, blow things up, shoot air cannons, make giant smoke bombs and not a peep or a look from any of our neighbors. Yet everyone heard the motorcycle crash and came outside.

More Corporate Welfare

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Act of 2008. This allows the Department of Justice to enforce civil copyright claims which means the government can do the MPAA and RIAA's intellectual property rights enforcement work for them. And all at taxpayer expense. This bill is being introduced in the Senate and is likely to pass. I guess the thousands of lawsuits filed by the MPAA and RIAA are getting expensive. Getting the government to do it sounds like a great way to cut costs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Speculating About Speculators

Recently, the Wall Street Journal opinion page had an op-ed piece concerning a recent report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which the author of the op-ed piece says conclusively proves that speculators had nothing to do with the rapid rise of oil during the summer. I found the CFTC report difficult to read. There's way too much technical language in there for me. However, the Executive Summary was easy to follow, especially where it says, "This preliminary survey is not able to accurately answer and quantify the amount of speculative trading occurring in the futures market." It goes on to explain that both commercial and noncommercial entities engage in hedging and speculative activity and that all gathered data classifies positions by entity and not by trading activity. So I'm curious how the WSJ was able to completely dismiss the effects of speculation based on a report that admits it's unable to address it.

There's an independent report (Note: You have to unzip the file and there are actually two PDF files) that was also released recently that claims speculators are driving up the prices of food and oil and goes on to explain in easy to understand language how.

So which do I believe? Given the administration's less than sterling record of being forthcoming with facts, the CFTC's obtuse report, and the government's lack of direct access to transaction data I have to say I place much less stock in their side. So unless presented with evidence showing otherwise, I continue to maintain that speculators had an adverse effect on the oil market this year.

Full Moon Fiasco Velocipede Academy of Dipsomania

Last night's Full Moon Fiasco was excellent. A "Back To School" theme that many participated in. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera. How could that happen? Yesterday afternoon I got an email from Pat. Some time ago we had emailed back and forth chatting about his fixed gear. Anyway, yesterday he asked if I wanted to ride it for a while and check it out. Did I ever! And perfect timing! I could pick it up on the way to the FBC ride and take it home afterwards. (Thanks again, Pat. Your bike is in good hands.) So in my excitement to jump in the van and drive to Pat's house, I forgot to bring my camera and bike lock for the FBC ride. (Thanks, Jon, for sharing your lock.)

Faculty members and students were in full attendance at the Full Moon Fiasco Velocipede Academy of Dipsomania. I was dressed as a principal. (When I entered the Swamp the guy behind the bar was concerned because he thought I was from the Liquor Board. Too funny.) I had a clipboard of detention slips and a "Board of Education" in hand. I counted 53 in attendance at homeroom class. A couple people were tardy and received detention and a stern lecture. One "young" man had excessively long hair. I wanted to break out the clippers so bad. Leaving the Swamp we cruised through downtown Spokane and several people asked the group, "What's goin' on?" It's as if they've never seen a group of cyclists in costume riding at night around here. On to the Gonzaga University area and everyone went to second period class at the Bulldog Tavern. I handed out a few more detentions and heard lots of people recount their school disciplinary experiences. One Spicoli-like person required my attention on more than one occasion during the night. I think he was on dope.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Television-Pantry Parallel

It's all crap! I scan through the channels only to be greeted by chip-clipped snack bags, their partially consumed contents becoming more stale with time. I was once tempted to watch them and in each case all I found was the usual tasteless nosh: lots of seasoning and no substance. With the remote in hand I switch to the next. And the next. And the next. The sight of each one instantly reminds me how bad or how bland they were. Is there anything good here? Anything I can sink my teeth into without tasting the bitter or bilious? Am I always to be left with a bad taste in my mouth, folding down the top of the bag and moving on to something else? Is it all insipid, banal, unsavory and inane? It's the same whether I go up or go down. Wait! What luck! Here is something I can take in and use. I can learn. I can grow. But I enjoy it all alone. The kids won't join me because it is good for them. How long before they recognize the stealthily encroaching crap that surrounds them? How long before they realize they are missing what they need? And when they stand at the open pantry door and complain, "There's nothing to eat," will they look at me funny when I answer, "Frontline is on."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

White Men Of The World Unite!

Have you ever clicked on the Next Blog link just to see what you might find? I found a real winner called The Alaska Migration.

The purpose of the Alaska migration blog is to encourage White Nationalist Americans, Canadians, and others from around the world to migrate to Alaska in large numbers, become the predominant group, and secede from the United States. We believe that we can only secure an existence for our people and a future for white children by forming our own nation in the northern world.

They only need 50,000 white men to accomplish their goal.

Alaska is not perfect. The state is about 70% white and there is far too much diversity in places, particularly in Anchorage thanks to the presence of the US military. Nonetheless, there are countless places where people with pioneer spirits can settle and build communities with racially and culturally like-minded people. The Alaska Migration is not about getting together, drinking beer, and whining incessantly about blacks, Mexicans, Jews or any other group. Rather, it is an initiative where we can encourage the best of the white race to relocate to an area and preserve nature’s most endangered species.

If the state is 70% white wouldn't that make them the predominant group? Why do they need 50,000 more white men and their families? Does success rely on 75%? Do only white people have pioneer spirits? If the best of the white race is from different parts of the world are they culturally like-minded? I'm betting that phrase just means "hates all nonwhites." Poke through the few comments and you find other white supremist links. Really bizarre, tasteless, hateful and offensive stuff. It's amazing and frightening what people will believe.

Pedals2People Bike Tuneup

Held today at the Second Saturday Local Sustainability Fair at Fresh Abundance. In stark contrast to the other one I attended there were no flat tires to repair. Lots of tuneups and other work beyond my limited skill set of fixing flats, cleaning/oiling the drive train, truing wheels, and putting air in tires. Beyond that I ended up asking for help, watching and asking questions. But I'm getting better. You can almost turn me loose on a big box store special. As always, a worthwhile event.

The Democratic Party Platform

You can find it here. It is 59 pages in length. One huge difference from the Republican platform is that it doesn't have the finger pointing and name calling.

For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law. We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens. They are our neighbors, and we can help them become full tax-paying, law-abiding, productive members of society. Again, the requirement to learn English. Is there a greater obstacle?

We will rebuild our armed forces to meet the full spectrum needs of the new century. We will strongly support efforts to: build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, engineers, foreign area officers, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, human intelligence, and other needed counter-insurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a specialized military advisor corps, which will enable us to better build up local allies’ capacities to take on mutual threats. We also will ensure that military personnel have sufficient training time before they are sent into battle. This is not the case at the moment, when American forces are being rushed to Iraq and Afghanistan, often with less individual and unit training than is required. Troops are not being rushed to battle. They are constantly returned without adequate rest and training between deployments.

We must reform our tax code. It’s thousands of pages long, a monstrosity that high-priced lobbyists have rigged with page after page of special interest loopholes and tax shelters. We will shut down the corporate loopholes and tax havens and use the money so that we can provide an immediate middle-class tax cut that will offer relief to workers and their families. We’ll eliminate federal income taxes for millions of retirees, because all seniors deserve to live out their lives with dignity and respect. We will not increase taxes on any family earning under $250,000 and we will offer additional tax cuts for middle class families. For families making more than $250,000, we’ll ask them to give back a portion of the Bush tax cuts to invest in health care and other key priorities. We will end the penalty within the current Social Security system for public service that exists in several states. We will expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans can do their taxes in less than five minutes. I find this very encouraging. I don't mind paying taxes, but I'd like everyone to pay their fair share. It really irks me that corporations have the same legal status as persons, but that's a topic for another day. The five minute time period brings to mind the joke about the simplified tax form: "1. How much money did you make last year? 2. Send it to us."

We will also work to prevent future catastrophic response failures, whether the emergency comes from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wild fires, drought, bridge collapses, or any other natural or man-made disaster. Maintaining our levees and dams is not pork barrel spending—it is an urgent priority. We will fix governmental agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ensure that they are staffed with professionals, and create integrated communication and response plans. Like FEMA used to be.

We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live.

We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. We reject the tracking of citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. We reject torture. We reject sweeping claims of “inherent” presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears.

We believe that our Constitution, our courts, our institutions, and our traditions work.
That's the America we're taught about in school.

To build a freer and safer world, we will lead in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law. We will respect the time-honored principle of habeas corpus, the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention that was recently reaffirmed by our Supreme Court. We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years. With these necessary changes, the attention of the world will be directed where it belongs: on what terrorists have done to us, not on how we treat suspects. We can fight terrorists without being unjust. We did it back in the '70s and there's absolutely no reason why we can't today.

Overall, I find this platform to be a positive and optimistic document. The party states their goals and shares many of the dreams and aspirations that many of us have.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Republican Party Platform

You can find it here. It's essentially a 67-page diatribe. Here are some excerpts...

One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories, including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum. Which is Latin. Our motto is an even greater sign of our unity than English.

Republican leadership, from the presidency to the Congress, has given America the best-manned, best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led military in the world. That is a radical change from the late 1990’s, when national defense was neglected and under-funded by the Clinton Administration. Our Armed Forces today are modern, agile, and adaptable to the unpredictable range of challenges in the years ahead. We pledge to keep them that way. This from the party that shortchanged GIs so much many personally purchased kevlar vests and cannibalized downed vehicles for additional armor.

To be successful international leaders, we must uphold international law, including the laws of war, and update them when necessary. Our moral standing requires that we respect what are essentially American principles of justice. In any war of ideas, our values will triumph. Presumably "update them when necessary" involves our ideas of how we define torture.

The other malignant element in hemispheric affairs is the anachronistic regime in Havana, a mummified relic from the age of totalitarianism, and its buffoonish imitators. And that differs from China's government in what way?

The federal government collects $2.7 trillion a year from American families and businesses. That’s $7.4 billion a day. Even worse, it spends over $3 trillion a year: $8.2 billion a day. Why? Largely because those who created this bloated government will not admit a single mistake or abolish a single program. Outrage at the Republican-led Congress's greatest spending spree ever?

Americans hit by disaster must never again feel abandoned by their government. The Katrina disaster taught a painful lesson: The federal government’s system for responding to a natural calamity needs a radical overhaul. FEMA was working great until it was downgraded and politicized. I'm surprised at the tacit admission that Katrina victims felt abandoned.

Judicial activism is a grave threat to the rule of law because unaccountable federal judges are usurping democracy, ignoring the Constitution and its separation of powers, and imposing their personal opinions upon the public. This must stop. We condemn the Supreme Court’s disregard of homeowners’ property rights in its Kelo decision and deplore the Court’s arbitrary extension of Americans’ habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants held abroad. We object to the Court’s unwarranted interjudicial fiats that disenfranchised the American people. The Supreme Court consists of activist judges? And they're unaccountable? And they ignore the Constitution?

I find it curious and disturbing that concern about unborn children is not in the Health Care section or in the Protecting Our Families section, but in the Preserving Our Values section along with the right to bear arms, not desecrating the flag, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, preserving traditional marriage, property rights, and taking care of Native Americans.

There is no shortage of invective in this document. It's full of fear mongering, blaming, and name calling.

True Insanity

Adam Kimmel presents: Claremont HD from adam kimmel on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Truth Squad

From a McCain Press Release:

"...the McCain-Palin campaign today launched the Palin Truth Squad to counter recent attacks on Governor Sarah Palin, her family, her friends and her record of accomplishment. The Palin Truth Squad will set the record straight against Internet and liberal smears of Governor Palin."

And guess who is a National Member of the Palin Truth Squad. None other than our very own Cathy McMorris Rodgers. You remember her. While President Bush was shaking hands on his way out of his last State of the Union speech, Cathy told Bush, "You make me proud to be an American." (It's at the very end of this video clip.) And we know what kind of stickler Bush is with the truth.

"In the event of false attacks, rumors and smears against Governor Palin, the Palin Truth Squad will issue alerts and statements to voters and the media to set the record straight. Additionally, the Truth Squad will be available to respond to inquiries from the media."

If they follow their own press release, the Truth Squad has nothing to say about these statements

1. Despite her daughter's pregancy, Sarah Palin does not believe in giving teenagers information about sex.
2. Sarah Palin believes the U.S. Army is on a mission from God in Iraq.
3. Sarah Palin believes in punishing rape victims.
4. Sarah Palin was against a state initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams.
5. Sarah Palin was for the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it.
6. Sarah Palin believes creationism should be taught in schools.
7. Sarah Palin supports offshore drilling everywhere, even if it doesn't solve our energy problems.

In the event someone tells the truth the squad will respond with false attacks, rumors and smears.

Monday, September 8, 2008

That's Fundraising, Not Law Enforcement

There's an article in today's paper about the photo-red cameras being installed at three intersections in Spokane. This is particularly irksome to me. Spokane will pay $4600 a month for each camera and expects to net $190,000 a year. There's no mention of the number of accidents at each intersection. No mention of the expected reduction of accidents.

From what I've seen the success of photo-red cameras in other cities is always based on the dollar. If the city has to start paying for the cameras then the program is a failure and the cameras have to go. Also, and studies vary on this, the number of accidents aren't reduced so much as the type of accidents change. Drivers approaching a photo-red intersection are more likely to slam on the brakes resulting in getting hit from behind. So you can see that running a red light is not the only driver behavior involved, but it is the only behavior being addressed by the installation of photo-red cameras.

In other locales I've seen countdown timers for pedestrian crosswalks. The light changes from the white "Walk" to the amber "Don't Walk" and a timer starts counting down. Pedestrians see exactly how many seconds they have before the light changes and they can judge if they can make it across in time or should stop and wait. I think it's worth a try to display a countdown when the light turns yellow so drivers know how much time they have before it's red.

The Federal Highway Administration specifies all manner of traffic signs, lights, markings, etc. in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Section 4D.10 Yellow Change and Red Clearance Intervals

A yellow signal indication shall be displayed following every CIRCULAR GREEN or GREEN ARROW signal indication.

The exclusive function of the yellow change interval shall be to warn traffic of an impending change in the right-of-way assignment.

The duration of a yellow change interval shall be predetermined.

A yellow change interval should have a duration of approximately 3 to 6 seconds. The longer intervals should be reserved for use on approaches with higher speeds.

The yellow change interval may be followed by a red clearance interval to provide additional time before conflicting traffic movements, including pedestrians, are released.

Three to six seconds. (If we only had five or six seconds on a bicycle, eh?) If the city were truly interested in reducing accidents, they might try increasing the length of the yellow light by a second or two and/or extending the time all directions have a red light. What is the goal here? Safe and efficient traffic flow or finding a way to add to the public coffers?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Failblog Candidate

Joe Biden Gets It

"For me, as a Roman Catholic, I'm prepared to accept the teachings of my church," Biden told [Tom] Brokaw. "I'm prepared, as a matter of faith, to accept that life begins at the moment of conception."

"But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else, who is equally - and maybe even more - devout than I am, seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

"...I have voted against curtailing the right - criminalizing abortion...I have voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it's a moment of conception."

How refreshing it would be if every political leader felt this way.

TKD and XC

Yesterday Stephanie received her Bo Dan belt. If she keeps up her studies and works hard and passes the test--and she will--she'll be a black belt in Taekwondo next spring. I joke that we'll have to take her to the police and register her hands and feet as deadly weapons.

Josh's cross country season at Mead High School has begun. He had a rough race yesterday but he did well enough to qualify to compete at the huge meet at Stanford University in three weeks.

Spokefest 2008

All four of us attended Spokefest this morning. Steph and I rode the tandem, Josh rode my road bike, and Kathy rode hers. I don't know the exact numbers but they had a lot more people show up and register this morning, probably since the weather was so good. But I did hear about 700+ preregistered and that is absolutely amazing for Spokane. The route was challenging enough for both seasoned and new riders. And I heard about 125 kids did the one mile ride. Excellent!

The food stops were awesome.

A bluegrass band was playing at the Bowl and Pitcher stop. Going up Doomsday Hill I asked Steph to take some pictures.

I got a laugh out of one person. As I slowly crept by them I said, "On your left...huff...huff...kinda..sorta...huff...huff...eventually.

Got our goody bags and browsed the kiosks at the finish line.

I didn't realize until later he was in the photo. Three and seven-tenths points to the person who can identify the guy in the highly stickered helmet and red backpack. Said guy is ineligible.

Cool Spokefest 2008 T-shirt.

Way cooler Spokefest shirt. I happened to be in line at the David's Pizza truck with one of the event organizers who was wearing this shirt. He said is was used to promote Spokefest.

So is Spokefest the cycling Bloomsday? It certainly has potential. The price is right--ten bucks a person and you got a shirt, water bottle, Bumblebar, and a reusable shopping bag. (Hey, some stores credit you five cents for each reusable bag you use.) The weather is always a gamble so it was fortunate we had a perfect day. The event organizers did an excellent job. I'm sure they learned a few lessons, but I have no complaints nor suggestions. Using the wrist bands was a good idea and it look like it worked well. Kudos to all the volunteers. They make the ride happen so we can enjoy it which means they don't get to do the ride. I saw a lot from the Spokane Bicycle Club. There were quite a few young volunteers, too, but I don't know if they were with a group. I didn't ask Josh and Steph but on the way home they volunteered they had fun. The only thing they didn't like was the smell as we passed by the sewage treatment plant. Personally I think it's good to be reminded how we impact our environment, but that's just me.

Will we sign up for Spokefest next year? Absolutely!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Learning Something New Every Day

Stephanie noticed this ad in today's Spokesman Review.

AKC Bichon

1 male, 1 female, busy, friendly, happy puppies. Both shots and dewormed, non shedding, hyper-allergenic $550

At first I thought someone used the wrong word. After all, what's the selling point of a dog you're likely to be allergic to. But it turns out that this breed is on a list of hyper allergenic dogs.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We're Number 1

The League of American Bicyclists announced their first annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States.


State Rank: 1 out of 50.

Reasons for Ranking:

Washington scored consistently high in all ranking evaluation categories. A few highlights of the state’s bicycling commitment are its exemplary bike related laws and dedicated state-level funding sources for cycling related projects and programs. This has resulted in a signed and mapped statewide system of bike routes, education of both drivers and cyclists on the rights and responsibilities of cyclists. The results of the efforts are shown through the high numbers of bicycle use and membership to cycling advocacy and promotion organizations throughout Washington.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Eastern Washington contributed much to the state's ranking. But hey, we still got braggin' rights and we're making progress.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just Goofin' Around

Steph cruisin' around the neighborhood on a Miyata we are "storing" for the owner. It's a fun little bike.


In my last post I came up with "equagap" to describe an equal distance between the brake pad and the rim on both sides of the wheel. After thinking about this (It didn't keep me up at night but I still spent too much time on this) I considered spelling it "equigap" along the lines of equidistant and equivalent.

Leave it to the IEEE. Here's an extract from a paper I stumbled across while searching for equigap.

"Twit Property 2 (Twit Compressor): A standard compressor normally implemented by a collection of standard full-adders, may receive equigap twits in lieu of input posibits and produce twits with the same gap where one normally sees output posibits."

You know the open-mouthed blank look you get when ask a Wal-Mart employee about the components on the bikes they sell. That's me when I read this.

Now to find where John is.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back In the Saddle Again

Between the backpacking trip and being out of town I haven't ridden my bike for three weeks. I thought I'd look it over first and found my brakes needed adjustment. Not only were they mushy but one pad contacted the rim first and pushed it to the side before the other pad made contact. Looking things over and with some trial and error (I wonder what this screw does) I finally figured out how to adjust the brake pads. Once I had them equagapped (ridiculously coining a word here) and inflated the tires I headed out. And being the type of person I am, since I haven't ridden for so long I thought I'd do a challenging ride.

I wanted to check out Moffat Road. It connects Peone with Forker Road. I also wanted to check out the hill on Lehman Road that John has written about. I went east on Farwell and took Fairview to Peone. I followed Peone to Moffat. There's some pretty country on Moffat.

Once I hit Forker I followed it to Pleasant Prairie and Morgan and then took Old Bruce Road down to Bigelow Gulch. From there I had to get in traffic and turn left down Argonne to Upriver Drive. From Upriver I went left on Farr and then went up Lehman. John's right. That's a kick ass hill. It's deceptive too. I was moving down through the gears and hit the bottom one way too soon. I cranked along and about three quarters of the way up developed a stitch in my side. When I reached the intersection of Fruit Hill Road I remembered the Arbor Crest Winery was on that road so I detoured to see what that road was like. It's not as good as a chip seal road but it's smooth enough for a road bike. Going down the 10% grade at the winery I was thankful I adjusted my brakes. There's a 180-degree hairpin turn that you must crawl around. Dropping back onto Upriver I decided to go up Lehman again. It went better this time, probably because now I knew what to expect. I stayed on Lehman, crossed Bigelow and took Pleasant Prairie and Morgan to Old Bruce again. This time I headed north, connected with Bruce Road and stopped to shoot the wheat harvest.

Then onto Stoneman, Parksmith, Peone, Market, and Farwell back to home. Thirty-three miles with plenty of climbing. My butt complained for the first ten miles before the "butt memory" kicked in and it felt at home again. My legs felt great but my knees were a little sore, probably from the climbing. I might need to raise my saddle just a touch.

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Possibly Just a Heartbeat Away in January 2009

Back when Sarah Palin was running for governor, she and the other candidates were sent a questionairre. Only two candidates answered, Palin being one of them. There are some jewels here.

2. Will you support the right of parents to opt out their children from curricula, books, classes, or surveys, which parents consider privacy-invading or offensive to their religion or conscience?

"Yes. Parents should have the ultimate control over what their children are taught.

4. Will you support efforts to raise or lower the mandatory age of education? Why or why not?

"No, again, parents know better than government what is best for their children."

11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?"

"Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."

12. In relationship to families, what are your top three priorities if elected governor?

"1. Creating an atmosphere where parents feel welcome to choose the venues of education for their children.
2. Preserving the definition of “marriage” as defined in our constitution.
3. Cracking down on the things that harm family life: gangs, drug use, and infringement of our liberties including attacks on our 2nd Amendment rights."

Our founding fathers had the Pledge of Allegiance? The right to bear arms is one of her top three priorities for families? Did Sarah Palin's parents know what was best for her and maintain ultimate control over what she was taught?

It's Not Gonna Happen

RFID tags are everywhere. Bloomsday race chips, United States passport cards, your dog, library books, credit cards, and the tires on your car just to name a few applications. Mythbusters wanted to do a piece on the security of RFID and began to do some research. So when is the program going to air? Check out the first two minutes of this.

Update: Adam Savage has issued a correction.