Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wanted: Abject Failures

There's a notice in today's Spokesman-Review that says the Supernanny television program plans to hold auditions on Dec 13 at the NorthTown Mall. Apparently there's a shortage of humiliation on television. I wonder how many Inland Northwest families are willing to submit themselves to a voyeuristic adventure such as this, a somewhat more civilized, but no less degrading, version of Jerry Springer. Are you required to be missing any teeth? How about an inability to explain literature to your children?

It would be fun to show up with some angry Ritalin addicts who are obviously not mine (Why yes, they are adopted--on their mother's side) and take every opportunity to kick me in the groin. I could explain to the producers how I got tired of telling them to stop and since they don't listen to me I found it easier to wear a cup instead. And they get very upset when I get them regular hamburgers instead of cheeseburgers, Diet Mountain Dew instead of Jolt, and low-fat, sugar-free marshmallow creme instead of the real stuff. But they're great kids and I love 'em to death! Help me, Supernanny, pleeeeeease!!!

Somehow I think I'll have something better to do on that day.

With my kids.

Making Gingerbread Houses

That time of year again for us.

Kathy made 22 houses

and we had family and friends over

to let their imagination run wild.

This was the first time we had a lakefront property.

And everything is edible, too.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Such Is The State Of Science Today

As it happens, my wife is intent on disproving my Theory of Compound Work, whereas I think she proved my point.

Should I Get My Money Back?

Josh was playing a game on the Wii and he says there's one part that doesn't work.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Humane Society

Just last spring the Supreme Court of the United States found that the procedures followed by the state of Kentucky for execution by lethal injection were constitutional. The issue was not whether lethal injection is constitutional, but concerned the details of the injection’s administration: the chemicals used, the training of the personnel, the adequacy of medical supervision, and the consequences and risk of error.

You may be aware that convicted murderer Darold Stenson is scheduled to be executed by the State of Washington on Dec 3, 2008. His execution has been stayed by two judges, one state and one federal, for two different reasons.

While there's a lot in the story that interests me, one part I keyed on was the Department of Corrections policy (PDF file) and procedures for capital punishment. These were revised just last month, the manner of which resulting in the appeal to the federal court. Killing someone, even in the name of justice, is a gruesome task and the policy rightfully, and yet in some respects unfortunately, leaves a lot to the imagination.

Dr Michael J. Souter, Associate Professor, Anesthesiology & Neurosurgery at UW and the Medical Co-Director, Neurocritical Care Service at Harborview Medical Center, submitted testimony in Stenson's federal case where he describes how easily lethal injection can and has been botched.

Can the death penalty be administered so the person dies in dignified manner? If we as a society are so concerned about cruel and unusual punishment, why are we not so concerned about taking a life? If we truly believe the state, on our behalf, is justified in taking a life as punishment, why should we concern ourselves with the means?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today's Spokesman-Review contains an opinion piece by Leonard Pitts Jr. in which he uses an imaginary conversation with God (The link takes you to a free read elsewhere) to express his disbelief about disbelievers, namely atheists. I've always found that curious. The religious are generally tolerant of other religions--even with the Islamofascist hate-baiting of the last several years--but when it comes to people who don't believe in a god they are agog with disbelief. A Jew or a Muslim or a Christian alone in a room with several members of the other faiths has no worries about being challenged or pressured to convert. Upon learning of their singular faith the others remain generally civil. But an atheist is regarded differently. All manner of questions fill the air. "How can you not believe in God?" "Well, then what do you believe?" "Then how did we get here?"

It seems to me that if they (by 'they' I mean members of any religion) are that worried about people's souls, shouldn't they be asking those questions of everyone who has different beliefs? Do we consider some religions to be partially wrong and atheists as all wrong? Are other religions tolerable because they at least have a belief system? Are atheists intolerable because they don't have a belief system? Do atheists not have a belief system?

Interesting and puzzling questions. One thing is evident. They do provide an easy target.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

I could have gotten hit by one of those STA commuter vans this morning, but I decided to not let that happen. While walking to the Park 'n' Ride I came to an intersection just as someone driving the van pulled up to the stop sign. The driver was looking at the traffic coming from the left in anticipation of making a right turn. With three cars about to pass by the opportunity to turn was about to present itself. I was sure the driver had no idea I was nearby since I hadn't seen her look to the right. I stood at the curb. As soon as the last car went by she gunned it, looked right, saw me, slammed on the brakes, gunned it again and took off. Had I legally crossed the street she would've struck me when she first gunned it, but I chose not to let that happen. There's a maxim I follow when cycling that applies to pedestrians as well:

"Even if you're in the right, you still lose if you get hit by a car."

I wonder if she's going to start looking to the right more often.

Human Behavior

I bet you can't push it just once.

Bedtime Reading

Back in August, my brother John and I backpacked the Wonderland Trail. There was, quite understandably, a comment about the "2 measly photos and a paragraph" I gave at the time. I'm done writing and rewriting and for the time being I'm making it available online. Feel free to check out Break Out The Knife And Just Start Stabbing.

I have visions of people asleep in bed with the laptop on top of them, the battery warning beep patiently reminding it's about to--.

It's Possible

We hear and talk a lot about sustainability these days. There's nothing like a crisis to make us realize we do better by growing our own food or riding a bike to work among other things. Here's a worthwhile article about a former weapons engineer who gradually simplified his life, wrote a book about it, culminating into the Global Living Project.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Christian Nation?

Today I stumbled across an interesting article in the UCLA Law Review concerning the notion held by a number of evangelists and others that America was founded as a Christian nation. (Click on the PDF symbol in the top right corner.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Concept Of Adding Accumulated Work

Kathy asked me to buy and install a programmable thermostat yesterday, something we were long overdue for. I managed to install it successfully, very carefully going over the instructions more than once to make sure I was doing everything right. I have a somewhat disconcerting ability to assemble and install things and still have parts left over. In this case, I had no extra parts and everything was working properly.

But there's just one thing.

Due to the length of the available wiring and the method of attaching the wiring to the thermostat, the new thermostat sits lower on the wall than the one it replaced. And since we have painted that wall with a different color than the original white, I now have a highly visible white spot showing on the wall.

And since I no longer have that can of paint any longer, I have two options. Dig a small chunk out and try to get the color matched or paint that entire wall.

But since that wall is the same color as the other walls in the room, I may have to paint the entire room. So from replacing a thermostat I've gone to painting a room.

I call this the Theory of Compound Work. Compound work is the concept of adding accumulated work back to the original work, so that work is earned on work from that moment on. The effect of compounding depends on the frequency with which work is compounded and the periodic work rate which is applied. Therefore, in order to define accurately the amount of work to be done, the frequency of compounding (yearly, half-yearly, quarterly, monthly, daily, etc.) and the work rate must be specified.

This explains why the "honey do" list never grows short. Knock two items off and get four more added on because work you completed created new work to be completed.

I choose a half-yearly frequency of compounding so I reckon I'll be painting in May.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

George W. Bush's Day Off

Is any single agency within our government in better shape now that it was 7.8 years ago because of...anyone? Anyone? Conservatism? Which...anyone? Which placed ideology and personal loyalty over...anyone? Over what? Anyone? Over common sense, reason and rational thought. Does anyone know what that is?

Graphic shamelessly stolen from First Draft.

Point Of Order

About a month ago, Kathy noticed there was one paper towel left on the roll and had been like that for two days. She pulled the last towel off and asked one of the kids to get a new roll. She was politely reminded that the rule is, whoever uses the last paper towel gets a new roll. This is a rule we as a family implemented many years ago at Kathy's behest. It applies to toilet paper and tissues as well. She accused us of purposely not using the last paper towel to which we responded, "The rule is..." She grudgingly got a new role.

Last Sunday the scenario played out again. Kathy again accused us of purposely not using the last paper towel. She pulled the last one off and said she wasn't getting a new roll since we were doing this on purpose. And, of course, we reminded her what the rule is. She held out most of the day before finally abiding by the rule and renewing the paper towel spindle's purpose in life.

This morning I was making some toast and when I reached for a paper towel I noticed there was only one left.

So I got a napkin.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fame And Fortune

During the summer, Kathy saw a notice in the Inlander concerning submissions for the design of the Bloomsday Finisher T-shirt. She thought drawing something and sending it in was a great idea and she convinced Stephanie to join her in the endeavor. Amidst a pile of paper, crayons and colored markers they got to work. Both of them came up with two designs they liked. They wrote their names and addresses on the back of each and I, the fully trained husband and father, dutifully dropped their entries off. A couple of weeks after the deadline they each received a polite letter saying thank you for your entry but it wasn't selected. Although there was a small sense of disappointment, they knew, based on past designs, they were up against some really good artists. But as a consolation they get to enter the 2009 run for free so it's not like it was a wasted effort.

Yesterday, Stephanie received a letter from the Bloomsday Association. What could it be? She opens it and the next thing you know she's screaming and jumping around as if she'd just poured alcohol onto a freshly scraped knee. Calm down, calm down. What is it?

One of her designs was chosen for the volunteer shirt. How cool is that? Unlike the winning main t-shirt designer, she doesn't have to keep it a secret. Whoo-hoo! And she wins $500. Even cooler!

After she calmed down she asked, "Do I have to pay taxes on that?"

No Doubt About It

I think sure-headedness is a sign of a closed mind. Think about it. When someone says they're absolutely positive about something, they are often so because they don't want to take the time to listen or see another person's perspective. Their mind is made up and that's all there is to it. I see this all the time and it's a huge problem.

Am I right? I'm absol--I'm sure of it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Way Behind On Points

Kathy and I were chatting this morning and the subject of blogging came up. "Instead of writing about their lives, why can't people just live them?"

Score one for the wife.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dealing With Drugs As a Health Issue

An interesting approach in Vancouver, B.C.

All of this underscores why widespread drug addiction is ultimately everybody's problem. Obviously, getting street addicts to clean up takes more than free needles. It takes affordable housing, mental health services, counseling and treatment, all of which are in short supply, even in Vancouver. For some addicts, it might also take the threat of jail.

But it doesn't have to be an either/or choice. As the American Medical Association states in its official position on the issue, "Harm reduction can coexist, and is not incompatible, with a goal of abstinence for a drug-dependent person, or a policy of 'zero-tolerance' for society."

Advocating anything that sounds "soft on drugs" is generally considered political suicide for elected officials in most parts of the U.S. But as Vancouver has proved, a coalition of health care officials, activists and courageous politicians armed with solid data can change that equation. "No one in the U.S. wants to touch this stuff because they're afraid they won't get elected if they do," says Philip Owen, Vancouver's former mayor. "Well, I was re-elected three times."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mellowness At Work Today

Last night I ripped an album of Pablo Casals playing Bach's Suite No 1 in G major and Suite No 2 in D minor. He recorded them in 1938 and 1936 respectively. It's great music to listen to while building virtual machines.

Not Going Where No Man Has Not Gone Before

With cycling season winding down for me I've been getting back into running so I can still enjoy that occasional bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream topped with a shot of Kahlua. This morning I woke a little early and cut up a gala apple to mix in with my oatmeal. Combined with a cup of Earl Grey containing a generous dollop of honey and I had a breakfast that makes me go. I read the paper to give my breakfast time to settle before donning my hat, gloves, and highly reflective jacket for the run to work.

Since running is rather monotonous I tend to let my mind work on things that exercise it but probably also contribute to my social retardedness. For example, I haven't developed black and white photos in years but just for fun I'll start from a baseline, e.g., a 4-second exposure with the light 13 inches above the paper, pretend I'm cropping the photo and compute the exposure time with the light at 19 inches. And then I'll zoom in to make a smaller print with the light at 8 inches distance. If you haven't recognized it, I'm using the inverse square law, which is pretty geeky but it's actually an extremely important law to remember when you're using the flash on your camera. Many people have taken pictures in arenas and stadiums at night without realizing the inverse square law would inform them they were wasting their time--and film in the old days. Is it any wonder that people are drawn to me, the conversational magnet that I am? Ha!

So I'm running and squaring and dividing, when the STA 124 Express bus passes by on Wall St. That bus leaves the Hastings Park 'n' Ride every 15 minutes from 5:15 to 8:45 am. The bus that leaves at 5:15 arrives at the STA Plaza at 5:40 and then departs at 5:45. There's a constant flow of buses going back and forth. After a few minutes I got to wondering how many buses are required for that effort. I'm pondering my approach to that problem when, with four miles left to go, my attention was urgently diverted. Before I tell you about my change of focus you need to know that, for the last four miles, instead of computing the number of buses I thought about how I would write about the rest of this post.

Scene: The bridge of the Starship Distensible

Intercom Speaker: "Engineering to bridge."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Bridge here. What is it, MacStrain?"

MacStrain: "It's the dilithium crystals, Captain. They're drowning. That wee cup of tea wasn't so wee and we need to wee."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "How we have?"

MacStrain: "Aye, we're holdin' her as tight as we can, Captain, but we don't have long. It's backing up on us."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "MacStrain...we've got...four astronomical units...before we reach...our final destination. Can you...hold it that long?"

MacStrain: "Do you realize how far an astronomical unit is? The ship will never hold that amount of pressure, Captain."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "We've choice. YOU'VE GOT TO HOLD IT, MAN!"

MacStrain: "We can let a wee amount go, just to ease the load."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Absolutely not! Do you...know...what's at stake here? We...can't wee...can we? Mr we...have time?"

Jacque: "My computational parameters apply to beer ingestion, but they may be applicable to tea if I null the carbon dioxide input."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "What...does the computer...predict?"

Jacque: (raises one eyebrow) "Odd. A divide by zero error. It would appear the nought is for naught."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "In plain English, man! Do we...have time...before we wee?"

Jacque: "My calculations show the Distensible can withstand the pressure for another four point zero zero eight five astronomical units with a margin of error of plus or minus point zero zero zero five. Regardless, it will be somewhat unpleasant."

MacStrain: "Aye, unpleasant for you on the bridge, but we're drowning down here!"

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Get a hold of yourself, MacStrain. For the sake of the must...not...wee."

MacStrain: "(gurgling sounds)...put a cork in it, Captain, and stick it up...(bubbling sounds)"

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Thank you, MacStrain. We're all...counting on you."

Needless to say, the relief I felt when I was done running was indescribable. I was please to see I handled myself well under pressure. (Man, I love the English language.)

BTW, any resemblance between a real person and the fictional characters portrayed here is purely coincidental.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I've Been Found Out

I enjoy starting the day with Pearls Before Swine and Get Fuzzy. Today's Pearl Before Swine strikes dangerously close to home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Be A Locavore Even When You Travel

Here's a snippet from the latest newsletter from the good people at Fresh Abundance.

Buy LOCAL - The best way to support the crisis is to support your community. The best way to keep our money local is to buy local.

Cook more - We have all become accustomed to eating on the go. Fast eating costs more money and generally is not as healthy as the fabulous stuff you can brew up in your own kitchen.

There's a site called the Eat Well Guide to assist you. If you know of a business or person who should be added, please use the Suggest Listing link. If you're on a road trip you can map your route and find out what's available along the way. How cool it that?

Not Now, I Have To Get This Done

When I'm lying on my deathbed and look back at the urgent things I allowed to intrude upon the important things, will I say "It was well worth it," or ask "Why did I bother?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wish I Worked There

This has two things going for it. I.T. and berets. Who can not like I.T. and berets?

"I.T.!"       "Hoo-ah!"

Stay Tuned

An interesting article on illiteracy in our country. I can't speak to the statistics the author presents, but one point did jump out at me.

Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest. They only need to appear to have these qualities. Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount. The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice. Those who are best at artifice succeed. Those who have not mastered the art of artifice fail. In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek or want honesty. We ask to be indulged and entertained by clich├ęs, stereotypes and mythic narratives that tell us we can be whomever we want to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities and that our glorious future is preordained, either because of our attributes as Americans or because we are blessed by God or both.

The ability to magnify these simple and childish lies, to repeat them and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives these lies the aura of an uncontested truth. We are repeatedly fed words or phrases like yes we can, maverick, change, pro-life, hope or war on terror. It feels good not to think. All we have to do is visualize what we want, believe in ourselves and summon those hidden inner resources, whether divine or national, that make the world conform to our desires. Reality is never an impediment to our advancement.

As to that excerpt, read this book and then try watching television.

Single Issue Voting

A priest in South Carolina knows exactly how to alienate parishioners who voted for Obama.

Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

It's as if the only intrinsic evil that exists in the world is a politician who thinks abortion should be legal. I can hear the confessionals echoing now.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I voted for Obama. And you're a jerk."

Equal Footing

Marci Hamilton has some religion related advice for the Obama administration that I find interesting.

1. End Religious Discrimination in Programs That Receive Government Funding.
2. Choose An Attorney General, Solicitor General and, If Necessary, Supreme Court Justices Who Demonstrate A Healthy Respect for the Establishment Clause and the Separation of Church and State.
3. Support State Measures to Prevent and Prosecute Child Sex Abuse, Even When It Occurs Within Religious Communities.
4. Offer Federal Resources to Investigate the Abuses - Including Child Abuse - that Typically Arise from Polygamy.
5. As Part of the Government's Aid to Homeowners, Revoke Laws that Unfairly Privilege Religious Groups in Local Zoning Conflicts.

I would add another. Remove the tax exemption from all religious entities. Then they could play in the political field all they want and they could support our government just like everyone else. Yeah, I know, it's a lot more complicated than that.

As always, easier said than done.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cool Beans!

I installed Google's video chat tonight and Kathy and I chatted with Geoff in San Jose. Mom likes seeing her baby over the Internet.

Undercurrent Or Riptide?

Last night I attended Fiasco #17 and I was surprised by the turnout. There must've been about 30-35 people on the wind assisted ride from The Swamp to The Globe. I love the incredulous people we see along the way: "What's with all the bikes?" "What's going on?" "Where you guys goin'?" As if there was some secret underground ne'er-do-well cycling insurgents on the prowl. I think it's safe to say the Fucking Bike Club and the Full Moon Fiasco is here to stay.

I got to thinking about how this happened. The Fucking Guy stuck with it even though nobody else showed up for the first four Fiascos. Then someone discovered the FBC blog and ridership grew. Some exposure in the local print media and the next thing you know a large group of cyclists think going for a late night ride under a full moon is cool. But word started with his blog.

So I started looking for and at Spokane blogs. Cycling is well represented. How cool is that? Now this list is not intended to be exhaustive. I'm sure there are others out there. I left some off because they hadn't been posted on for three months or more.

I think Spokane has potential.

The sadly defunct MetroSpokane
John Speare's hub from which all cycling blogs spoke.
Unbearable Bob
Terry Bain
A Fully Devoted Catholic Twice Over
Chess Skills
Another fervent person
A local artist
A fat witch with a gun?
A Triathlete Named Kirsten
Sustain Spokane
Spokane Food Blog
A Photographer
Youth Yoga
Spokane Night Scenes
Inessential Stuff
Financial News in the Inland Informer
Spokane Valley Happenings
KREM 2 intern and KYRS DJ
Hip As Fuck
Finally, A Blog
The Latah Lounge
Spokane Homeless
The Spokane Skeptic
The Back Kitchen
A Triathlete Named Al
Another Triathlete Named Steve
The Spovangelist Spreading The Good Word About Spokane
Jon Snyder's Out There Monthly
Fixed Gear Fiends
Thomas J. Brown Leads A Life Less Ordinary Then Most Everyone Else
Spokane Theatre News With Bobo The Theatre Ho
Pat's 26-Inch Slicks
Jason's Metric Century
Taylor aka VegHeadEd
Fresh - Fresher - Freshest
A Family's Adventure of Consuming Everything Local, Used, Homegrown or Homemade
The Fucking Guy Who Imported The Fucking Bike Club From Fucking St Louis
Derek Complains A Lot
Doubled Butted (Yet Another Cycling Blog)
Bike To Work Spokane
Joe The Blogger (Who Cycles Everywhere)
Bike To Work Barb

Constructioneer Blockade

I walk down Hastings Road to the STA Park 'n' Ride. There's an apartment building being built and the workers normally park across the street in an empty lot. For some reason a couple of them decided to park on the sidewalk and partially on the bike lane.

What a switch for me, the pedestrian being diverted into the bike lane instead of the cyclist being diverted onto the sidewalk.

So I got a shot of this truck...

...and this car.

After I walked by another truck pulled in behind them. I think this one qualifies for a bike lane violation report.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Meter Redlined

With every new administration, the government publishes what known as the Plum book. The Plum Book is used to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government. I had a look at the latest one and notice there was a separate appendix entry for the Office of the Vice President. This entry was also in the 2004 Plum book. Prior to that, the Office of the Vice President was part of the Executive Branch just like the Constitution says.

Appendix 5 - Office of the Vice President

The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter.

So what did your bullshit detector do?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Live And Let Live? Not If They Can Help It

Today's Spokesman-Review (why log in when you can read it elsewhere?) published a Cal Thomas opinion piece in which he advises millions of evangelicals to follow the teachings of Jesus instead of trying to trying to use government to impose moral improvements or what I would characterize as their form of morality.

If results are what conservative Evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus of Nazareth. Suppose millions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans,” not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God’s love for the whole person in order that people might seek Him?

Such a strategy could be more “transformational” than electing a new president, even the first president of color. But in order to succeed, such a strategy would not be led by charismatic figures, who would raise lots of money, be interviewed on Sunday talk shows, author books and make gobs of money.

Ouch! Religious influence in government is a profitable business. Imagine if all that money was used to feed the hungry, etc. Imagine if evangelicals lived a life of unobtrusive piety and just showed by example of their lives what they were all about. Wouldn't that be something?

Welcome back to the real world where your eternal soul is at stake.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Probably Too Much Wine

After flipping his hydrofoil, Jesus leaves the scene before his Father finds out!

Too Much Information

Last Friday I mentioned I went running in the rain at lunchtime and took a trip down memory lane. There was actually something else that I didn't write about until now. Earlier this year while I was training for my first marathon I learned a lot of lessons, especially a few painful ones about chafing. During my lunchtime run last Friday I was reminded of what I had forgotten. First of all, this is not an experience unique to men over 50 whose gradually decreasing muscle tone allows more motion in certain body parts while running. It was not uncommon for my sons, along with their teammates, to cover their nipples with tape before a cross country race. Chafing can happen to anyone so my slowly unraveling body parts are not entirely to blame. No, in this case, I believe the rain was entirely unhelpful. During the first half of my run I was going into the wind and rain and the front my shirt became soaking wet. The wet shirt, trying its best to stick to my jarring and heaving chest, transformed itself into a silent Black and Decker orbital sander. When I reached the halfway point and turned around I started to feel the pain in my nipples and I knew I was in trouble.

If you're not a runner or if this has never happened to you--and if you don't want to take my word for it--you can easily experience this for yourself. Get yourself a sheet of 600 grit sandpaper and tear it in half. For the full experience you'll want to do both sides. Turn the TV on or put a movie in and take your shirt off. Ever so lightly and with just a tiny bit of movement, rub the sandpaper on each nipple. Not the entire nipple, mind you. Just the very tips. Do that for 40 minutes. By the way, you may want to ensure your privacy as some scientific experiments seem to defy rational explanation. Consuming a sizable amount of alcohol beforehand could help provide an excuse as well as ease the pain. Try it out after the bike ride two nights from now.

At the end of my run I was hurting. More so when I hit the shower. Hot water on raw nipples stings. I mean it really stings. For the remainder of the day I tried to keep my shoulders slightly hunched forward in a futile effort to prevent my shirt from touching the extremely sensitive decorative dots on my chest whose only purpose seems to be preventing hair from growing in the space they occupy. When I got home and told Kathy, my wife of many years and a longtime sympathetic nurse, she reacted as she always does when I do something as silly as this--with mocking laughter. And to top it off she threw in a couple of "twister" taunts. But the fun doesn't stop there. Picture me, if you dare, standing shirtless in front of the bathroom mirror for the last three nights, my neosporin-covered index fingers making tiny circles. Oh, baby!

I'm still not healed up, but I needed to run today so I brought band-aids. I now have two less than before.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Pill Makes You Larger And One Pill Makes You Small

It bothers me when we medicate healthy people in an attempt to make them more healthy or to counteract the effects of poor diet or lack of exercise. A recent international study study of 17,800 men and women with normal cholesterol levels found Crestor cut deaths from heart attacks and strokes. The patients in the trial, funded by AstraZeneca, the maker of Crestor, had cholesterol levels below those usually indicating a need for treatment and had no other signs of heart disease. It appears that whatever AstraZeneca spent on studying a drug they make and control was well worth the expense. And that's what it's all about.

I'm suspicious. When has a drug company published a study that showed their product didn't work?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What Is The Message?

This is a song by Paul Steel called Honkin' (On My Crack Pipe). The video was made by Andy Martin.

(F-bomb warning in case you're at work or have kids around.)

What Would You Liberate?

I've always admired the freeway blogger. It's a simple, easy method to exercise your free speech that probably wouldn't go over well in Spokane. Apparently he is preceded in history by the billboard liberation front. They've been busy lately.

I'm thinking of something comparatively tame like LED throwies. Anyone know of a metal structure or building facade in Spokane that magnets will stick to?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Concerns Of Mine

Given that Barack Obama's economic advisers are Chicago Boys, just how much will our economic situation improve over the next four years?

Should Barack Obama pardon Bush and Cheney and then expose their crimes?

Will a President Obama use signing statements?

What will become of the unitary executive theory?

Detour Down Memory Lane

I went running in the rain during lunch today. I practically had the Centennial Trail to myself--go figure--as I happily splashed along. When I passed by Gonzaga University, a soccer game against San Diego was just starting. So what does this have to do with anything? The Bureau of Information Retrieval kicked in and fished out a memory from when Geoff was five years old and playing youth soccer in Montgomery, Alabama. We parents called it amoeba ball because the kids surrounded the ball in a fluid congregation and generally tried to kick the hell out of it, sometimes kicking with enough force to send a loose shoe flying across the field. It was fun to watch them, especially when one would announce, "Hey, a grasshopper," causing several teammates and opponents to stop and, peering over their knees as they squatted on their haunches, examine this wondrous find while their parents, who had theirs too far in, would be yelling for the kids to get their heads into the game. But that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

My memory banks brought up one particular evening when Geoff's team was to play a game. The weather had cleared after it had rained all day and the field was a soggy mess with standing water all over the place. As we looked at the numerous small ponds covering the field I told Geoff, "I want you to get as wet and as muddy as you can." His eyes lit up and he smiled big as he asked, "Really?" "Really," I said. During the game that boy cut loose and had more fun sliding, splashing, and spraying water. I have no clue what the score was when the game ended, not like it ever mattered anyway, but the memory of watching him play with wild abandon and unbridled joy will stay with me forever.

I wonder if the guys playing for Gonzaga and San Diego had fun today.

Leave The Driving To Us

This morning we had a talkative STA driver. He told us a story--I can't verify it, but it's a good story nonetheless--while we waited for our departure time about how casual dress day came to an end for the Spokane Transit Authority. Apparently, one Friday a month the STA drivers could leave their uniform at home and wear regular clothes. One of the drivers rode a motorcycle and came to work wearing jeans, leather jacket, and a do-rag on his head. As is common at the Park and Ride, he parked and got off the bus to use the bathroom. He then stood outside and chatted with another driver until it was time to leave. All this time passengers were loading up on the driverless bus. The driver got on the bus and asked the passengers if anybody knew where the driver was. Nobody responded with anything more than a blank look. So he says, "I've always wanted to drive one of these things," gets in the driver's seat, and takes off. A couple of passengers got their cell phones out and frantically called the STA office to inform them their bus was now being driven by a motorcycle guy in a do-rag. So from that day on STA drivers were required to wear the uniform.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Have You Stoned An Adulterer Lately?

I had a short, but interesting conversation with a friend on the bus yesterday. He asked me what I thought about the defeat of Proposition 8 in California. I told him I'm not threatened by gay marriage and that we should leave those people (yeah, I can't believe I said that either) alone. He was silent for a minute. "Not the answer you were looking for, huh?" My friend responded that he considered homosexuality to be a form of mental illness. That surprised me because I hadn't heard that argument before. He asked me what I would do if one of my children was homosexual. I said I'd love and accept my child regardless. He tried to equate that with bank robbery. If I knew my child was planning to rob a bank, I'd try to talk him out of it, right? I saw no logic in that. I think some people are just wired that way which he disagreed with. It's not biological, he said, it's a lifestyle choice. Then he added that his faith would not allow him to accept it.

So it's a mental illness, a lifestyle choice to be dissuaded from, and banned by god. Sounds like the bases are covered.

I've often wondered if the best way for people with that mindset to recognize and accept the human condition is to have a gay son or daughter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

I look forward to an articulate, thoughtful president. One who can tell the citizenry how they can do their part besides by going to the mall. One who isn't an embarrassment in the public spotlight and a bully in the international arena. A president who can connect, engage, interact, and collaborate instead of dictate. Discourse instead of petulance.

I don't know if Barack Obama can or will live up to the promise, but right now it's all we've got going for us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Oh, It's A Scam Alright

I don't know how the Illinois Republican Party got my email address, but I'm very happy Thunderbird has got my back.

Mom, The Firemen Are Here Again

What to do with your pumpkins after Halloween? Well, if you have a son like Josh who likes to do fun things, you make a giant smoke bomb.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Daylight Wasting Time

Time zones and time changes are fraught with controversy and confusion. Tonight we switch from Daylight Savings Time back to Standard Time meaning we get an extra hour of sleep--or partying.

Many years ago when I was in the military, I was playing cards in the command post of the Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois--hey, it was a really quiet, boring midnight shift--when a local TV station called. Something had happened in Tehran--this was during the Iranian hostage crisis--and the time given for the event was thirty minutes past the hour in Tehran but on the hour in Washington, D.C. They wanted to know how that could be. The real answer was that Iran, for reasons I have yet to learn, had set up their time to have a 30-minute difference from most other countries. I don't think anyone in the room knew that, and I didn't learn that until much later, since that answer was not returned when the Captain who answered the phone asked the question of everyone. A quick thinking young officer piped up with the idea Tehran was between time zones.

"It's between time zones," the Captain helpfully passed on.

We turned the TV on to their channel and sure enough, the reporter said the reason for the time difference was that Tehran was between time zones. A cheer went up in the room.

Then we returned to our pinochle game.

Wild Ride

Yesterday I'm on the bus going home for the day and I see this guy on an extended frame--for lack of a better word--bike riding down Spokane Falls Blvd. He must've been sitting at least six feet high, maybe higher. I wondered how he gets on and off the thing and if he did track stands at red lights. I got answers right away. The light at Main was red and he slowly approached the stopped car in front of him. There was no way he was going to creep along until that long red turned green. He didn't track stand. When he ran out of room, in an uncommon move that would be devastatingly uncoordinated for me, he swung his left leg over and got down on the right side of the bike. He stood there holding the bike up until the light turned green. With the cars behind him I couldn't tell if he ran before putting a foot on the pedal and getting into the saddle or pushed with one foot while one foot was on the pedal. Regardless, it took a little effort to get up but once he did so he was off and running.

I wonder if he has had any close calls with tree branches.