Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Unofficial Cathy McMorris Rodgers Survey

In order to show Cathy McMorris Rodgers that creating a survey doesn't have to be a waste of time, I put this one together and posted it on her Facebook page. It's free account on SurveyMonkey so there are some limitations, but it seems the $200 a year for a plan with more features would be useful for any politician. One limitation is that there can only be 100 responses. If I get that many, preferably from constituents, then I'll share the results with her.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

McMorris Rodgers Survey Time

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants to hear from her constituents again--and possibly anyone else in the country. She lists her top ten issues for 2013 and asks for your opinion.

New on the list from last year are Veterans and Military, Fighting Terrorism (perhaps replacing National Security), Education, and Social Security and Medicare. Disappointingly, regardless of which issue you think is the most is most important, what she doesn't give you is the opportunity to do is tell her what you would like done with that issue. So if 25% of the respondents select Social Security and Medicare as the most important issue--the first top ten issue ridiculously being the selection of the most important issue--she could interpret that to mean the respondents that select Social Security and Medicare want it privatized, or cut, or dramatically expanded, or whatever.

Hmmm, for Congress to help create jobs should they spend billions or cut taxes and spend less? We are given diametrically opposed options with Other/Unsure covering the huge space between them. Now according to the 2012  Republican Platform (PDF):

Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom. Their proper role in a free society should be to fund services that are essential and authorized by the Constitution, such as national security, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves.

And we don't want to reduce our freedom, do we? And Republicans have a sterling record of using taxes for the care of those who cannot care for themselves.

Yes, we know Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted against the Affordable Care Act. Many, many, many times. Yes, the web site was a piece of crap. This is the first time I've seen her mention anything along the lines of keeping the law. As for starting from scratch, the Affordable Health Care law was passed in March of 2010. Republicans have been busy with the repeal part of "repeal and replace", but not so much with the replace part. A bill they offered up last September benefited the wealthy and the insurance companies.

Now this is the first time I've heard our congresswoman mention anything about the NSA. But she doesn't mention the rampant unchecked surveillance of Americans. It's "around the world". Also, notice that security agencies are "slowed down" by new laws. Not very encouraging from a congresswoman who claims to be very concerned with our freedoms.

I love how there's been so much scientific research, which she doesn't get into at all, and then asks what you think. If the science agrees that climate change is real and that we've had a huge part in creating it, why is she asking what we think? Here's a question. If temperatures are rising faster than predicted will we become extinct sooner than predicted too?

Here's another either/or choice. It's not that all dams should be torn down. But as the contribution from wind and solar power increases, it's possible we can do away with some dams and restore the environment.

Now the provided answers to this question make no sense at all. (Same as last year.) The question asks if there should be more restrictions. (As to what restrictions, that is left to the reader's imagination.) The answers don't relate to the question at all. You're either pro-choice (with or without taxpayer funding) or pro-life. I recently had a conversation with someone who is a devout Catholic and yet differs with the church's explicit pro-life stance and expressed that abortions should be legal and rare. But at the same time this person thought something should be done about Planned Parenthood providing abortions. I recognize that abortion is an incredibly difficult issue to deal with. And this is an example of someone who didn't treat it as a binary issue, which is great, but is still influenced by the overwhelming perception that abortion is a binary issue. For election purposes, abortion as a for-against issue works great. But applied in the real world it fails women everywhere--unless they're wealthy.

Hey, our congresswoman caught wind of a change in her home state. This is the first I've heard her bring up the subject of marijuana. Federal law should legalize marijuana for everyone in the country? For reals? She thinks that's a viable option? Let's start with removing marijuana from the Schedule I list. There's no science supporting it's placement there. How about funding research so we can scientifically determine if or when someone is impaired? How about funding medical research? How about taking a larger view and addressing the war on drugs? Check out Portugal's reduction in drug use and abuse since they decriminalized possession and use back in 2001.

Another set of idiotic answers although they do differ a little from the last two years. The first answer has "that should not be restricted" added to it. As for the second answer, the last two years it was "There should be more controls on gun ownership." But you only have two views to choose from.

In the last two surveys she referred to them as illegal immigrants. This year they're undocumented persons. What? They're not criminals? Is this a kinder, gentler congresswoman perhaps? One possible answer she leaves out is providing more low-skill worker visas, of which there are too few issued, so workers could come to the U.S. legally, work during the season, and then return home.

Take the survey if you think it will matter, but since the main top ten issue Cathy McMorris Rodgers dealt with last year was the Affordable Care Act, don't expect it to.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Great Workout Today

I went out for a well deserved bike ride this afternoon, intending to spend a couple of hours behind bars. I headed for the Children of the Sun Trail just north of me. The first part of the trail was crusted ice and snow until I got to the bridge that crosses Farwell. That bridge was slick. The studded tires did not have enough traction and the bike slid right out from under me. 
The snow was misleading because all it did was hide the sheet ice underneath. That was some slick sheet.

Continuing on south, the trail was clear since it got sun during the day. Once I hit Freya I cut across Market and took Regal southbound just like I did during many warmer weather commutes this year. I was thinking about stopping by my work to pick up my Vibrams when I realized I didn't bring my wallet or anything else with me besides my phone. (Although everyone knows me where I work we are still required to show our work badge to get in the building.) So I scratched stopping by there. Once I got close to downtown I cut over to Cincinnati and headed back north again. After a while I ended up on the north-south bike route that follows Addison and Standard. A few blocks before Francis my back tire hit something and went flat. Bummer.

Then I found that I didn't have a spare tube in my pannier. I pulled the tire and tube off, attached the pump and started pumping air. The air was escaping as fast as it was going in so I couldn't locate the leak to patch it. Bummer. And since I didn't have my wallet, I didn't have bus fare. More bummer. So I walked 5 miles home. Woot!
Only 2-1/2 miles to go.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

Geoff surprised us and came home for Christmas. If you had heard Kathy screaming when he walked through the door you would've thought she was being murdered. Thankfully the neighbors didn't hear--or didn't call it in--saving us the need to explain anything to the Sheriff.

We closed out the evening with an intense game of RoboRally.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Recently Learned Behavior

A couple of times now I've caught myself trying to zoom in on photos while reading the newspaper.

It's On The Internet So It Must Be True

This morning I stumbled across a quote attributed to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.

All vets are mentally ill in some way and government should prevent them from owning firearms.

Depending on which site you find this references, the senator said these words at during Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in April, July, August or September.

So I did a little searching and found a site that actually addresses what was said, whereas most sites just blindly repeat the statement as if it's true, probably because it fits their confirmation bias. This is what she had to say when Senator John Cornyn of Texas offered an amendment that would have exempted military veterans from the assault weapons ban.

If I understand this, this adds an exemption of retired military. As I understand our bill, no issue has arose in this regard during the 10 years the expired ban was in effect and what we did in the other bill was exempt possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States. So that included active military. 

The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this. 

So, you know, I would be happy to sit down with you again and see if we could work something out but I think we have to– if you’re going to do this — find a way that veterans who are incapacitated for one reason or another mentally don’t have access to this kind of weapon.

While she was incorrect that PTSD is a new phenomenon, she did not say that all vets are mentally ill and that the government should prevent them from owning firearms. But that did not stop Senator Cornyn from misrepresenting what she said:

I think it’s a mistake to paint so broadly as to say that any active duty military or veterans can’t use these kinds of weapons or any other lawful weapons for self-defense, and certainly I wouldn’t want to suggest that we think people who served in the military all suffer from some debilitating illness that would prohibit them from being able to defend themselves.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

God Those Were Happy Times, Weren't They?

Phil Robertson's remarks about homosexuality are nothing compared to what he said and nobody is talking about.

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” 

Phil must have lived someplace never where news of the outside world never pierced the protective shell surrounding the community he lived in. The Jim Crow laws, lynchings, and murders suffered by his dark-skinned fellow American citizens in the 50's and 60's had no effect on the godly, happy black people who were not singing the blues during that time.

Emmett Till and many others would not concur.

Steph Is Going All Buddy The Elf On The House

Be There

It's only one day after the event was created and already 28 people say they are going.

And On A Related Note

The End Game For Democracy

Thoughtful and insightful words from Bill Moyers.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Remember Thinking This Was Old

So today was the 17th anniversary of this event. As a young person I thought people my age were so old. Now that I'm there, I feel so far from being as old as I thought those who preceded me were. Comparing myself to others my age, I think I am much younger than many of them. I plan to feel like that twenty years from now, too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Runnin' Again

I'm easing back into running again. My ankle seems to be fine now. Yesterday I did four miles but only 1/2 mile of that was barefoot. Today during lunch I did an easy two miles barefoot. I was called both hard core and crazy. The comments and the cold were worth it. I found five bucks!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Farewell To My Cousin

Somber hearts matched the sky's gloomy overcast
Comforted by angelic voices and memories of the past.
Heads hung down and eyes teared up, gathered together to mourn
As a man and woman returned to earth the dust of their firstborn.

Fun For A Buck

Driving in from Boise, my sister and her husband stopped by the Dollar Store when they got to Spokane. The mustaches were a big hit.
 Niece Anna.

Cousins Laura, Leslie, Greg, and Sarah.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Visiting My Mother-in-law

Kathy, Steph and I traveled to Illinois to visit Clara, Kathy's mom. Steph and I returned this evening and Kathy is staying a couple more days. Steph was not happy about missing three days of school but it turned out okay for her. She got all her homework done and turned in. Or at least that's her story.

We had a couple of get togethers at Clara's house with most everyone on Kathy's side of the family. It was great to see everyone and catch up. One thing was very noticeable--the kids are all grown and us grown ups are all old. Kathy and I have several great nieces who were a blast to play with. Fortunately, Kathy and I could tag team them. Otherwise we never would have been able to keep up. Watching the way we played, Steph, who is 18 now, said it was like watching her childhood unfold before her.

 Clara and great granddaughter Jenelle.

 Kathy being smothered by great nieces.

 Uncle Hank and Ellie.

Uncle Hank and Katie.

This next photo is for my brother John. We set up Clara's Christmas decorations but I couldn't find the stand to her tree. So off to Home Depot I went. I bought a regular tree stand and the necessary pieces of PVC to fit in the base and hold the tree. I was surprised that it not only worked. It worked great. Sometimes I get lucky.
 Look what I did all by myself.

And now for something completely different.
Photographic evidence that the Internet exists.

 Nope. Nothing the least bit offensive here.

I heard an odd sound coming from the front of the car as I started driving away at the airport tonight. The right front tire was flat. Welcome home, Hank! After getting the lug nuts off I couldn't get the tire to come off. It must've been frozen on. No amount of kicking or slamming it with the spare would loosen it. I finally dropped it back on the ground and turned the steering just a bit. That broke it lose and I was back in business. Whew!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tongue Twisters

In a poorly written piece over at Boston Magazine we have An MIT researcher purportedly coming up with the most difficult tongue twister yet. Only it's not. Try to "annunciate"--as I said, poorly written--this:

Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.

As the commenters mention, there are far more difficult tongue twisters.  And more fun, too. They provided some good ones.

I'm a mother pheasant plucker, 
I pluck mother pheasants. 
I am the best mother pheasant plucker, 
That ever plucked a mother pheasant!

The big black bug bled bright blue blood.

The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wednesday Night Bike Fight Video

Sweat and beer flowed freely last Wednesday night. Sorry for the lengthy video but there was a lot of action and some parts demanded to be included.

Wednesday Night Bike Fights from hank greer on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gingerbread House Party

I think we're going on 14 years now of hosting a gingerbread house party on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's a calmer event now since all the kids and cousins are grown. But the creativity is still going strong.
One of these things is not like the other. Steph "had a vision" and went with a Medieval village theme. She formed, cut and baked her own pieces...

...and in keeping with the festive season, included a witch being burned at the stake. She also had Rapunzel letting down her hair from the tallest tower.

 The kids table.

 Young cousin Olivia on the path towards a sugar high.

 Cousin Leslie and son Ethan admiring Steph's towers.

 Amanda and Josh in a friendly competition.

 The grown up table.

 The spit personality house in the foreground by Paul and Christy. Mike, thinking ahead as a grandpa, attached only wrapped candies so his grandkids can help themselves when they come to visit at Christmas.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Bike Ride

Nine of us showed up for John's ride this morning. It was a balmy 26 degrees and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds a couple of times to cheer us on. Four of the nine bikes were Elephants, a good representation of "buy local". We followed the same path as last year with one exception. It's called Patrick's hill. There's a climb that starts near the TJ Meenach Bridge that goes up the side of the hill instead of up Pettet Drive (Doomsday Hill). It's steep and unrideable. Patrick can have his hill. A little over three hours into it we reached our destination, River City Red brew pub on Cedar just south of First. Gage Stromberg opened up early for us and we tried out several very tasty beers. Gotta love the Child's Portion.

** Update: Here's the route we took, Garmined by Scott.
 Joe and Justin.

 Fearless Leader John.

 Eric on a fat bike outfitted with a thermos carrier on the fork.

 Austin rocked the ride a single speed.

 Dylan climbing while the rest of us walked.

 Scott was injury free this year.

 Tony on his first BFBR.

 This is cool -- a four ounce taster.

 First customers of the day!