Thursday, January 31, 2013

Losing Or Using Our Heads

Here's an idea. Let's put our collective head in a guillotine and set a timer for the blade to fall at midnight on December 31, 2015. While the timer is running, we'll have a group of people who rarely agree on anything agree on how they want to keep the blade from falling before the timer runs out. At first glance it sounds like a great idea to make everyone reach agreement, doesn't it?

That's the scenario presented by legislation entitled the Tax Code Termination Act, which is being cosponsored by our very own representative, Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

For those who think it matters, the bill is only one page in length and easy to read, which also makes it easy to see that with this legislation House Republicans meet or exceed the level of ridonkulousness--a word that surely should have been coined for the purpose of describing their antics--they are now known for, reaching new heights of insanity despite their self-administered frontal lobotomies. 

Let's not think about this proposed legislation.

First of all, no federal income taxes after Dec 31, 2015. If you thought the Bush tax cuts were great, imagine how much better off  you'll be with a 100% cut in federal income taxes.

What do they offer to replace the tax code with?


Instead the bill states:

(a) Structure - The Congress hereby declares that any new Federal tax system should be a simple and fair system that--
     (1) applies a low rate to all Americans;
     (2) provides tax relief for working Americans;
     (3) protects the rights of taxpayers and reduces tax collection abuses;
     (4) eliminates the bias against savings and investment;
     (5) promotes economic growth and job creation; and
     (6) does not penalize marriage or families.
(b) Timing of Implementation - In order to ensure an easy transition and effective implementation, the Congress hereby declares that any new Federal tax system should be approved by Congress in its final form no later than July 4, 2015.

You would think that an effort by House Republicans to cut off the US Government's single largest source of revenue would be akin to biting the hand that feeds you. You would think, but why should you? Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the other sponsors aren't. 

"Congress hereby later than July 4, 2015." Or what? They lose a day off? Check out the congressional calendars and see if you can find when the House and Senate worked through the Independence Day holiday. But instead of thinking about it, let's set a date that brings to mind waving the flag and outdoing each other's flag pins. Patriotic fervor outweighs substance.

You would also think that if our tax code doesn't apply a low rate to all Americans, doesn't provide tax relief for working Americans, doesn't protect taxpayer rights or reduce tax collection abuses, is biased against savings and investment, doesn't promote economic growth and job creation, and penalizes marriage and families (DOMA?), that one could offer up legislation that addresses and corrects these problems. Again, I ask, why are you thinking? Please, please try to avoid looking beyond the anti-tax and anti-government bumper sticker appeal. The reality that lies within is far too disturbing for you and I. It should be left to the enfeebled Republican minds within our legislature even though they may be incapable of independent thought and exhibit the characteristics of a real-life version of the assimilating Borg and their menacing warning that resistance is futile. 

Where was I? Oh, yes, not thinking. Backsliding for just a moment, let's look at items (1) and (2) in the above list. If all Americans get a low tax rate and all working Americans, (presumably, "working" means earning money on which they'll pay taxes), are provided tax relief, then who is left to pay taxes and what revenue will our government survive on? Forgive my foolishness. It reeks of thinking.

Allow me to borrow words from Republican Governor Bobby Jindal when I say this bill bears all the marks of originating from the stupid party. It appeals on an emotional basis and leaves reason, logic, and thinking by the wayside. Ending the income tax on a set date without a replacement on hand would create a desperate situation forcing Congress to do anything to keep the blade from slamming through the lunette. What the unthinking Republicans define as a "simple and fair system" has yet to be determined and great is the mistake you make in assuming they will be forthcoming with a tax code that is truly simple and fair. Were Hercules assigned this as a thirteenth labor he would have failed miserably, even with help from the gods.

Is it unreasonable to craft a new tax code beforehand, conduct hearings, discuss options and effects, and end the curent tax code with the implementation of a new one? It is if the legislators are unreasonable to begin with.

I'm reminded of the repeal and replace mantra Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been chanting about the Affordable Health Care Act. She and her fellow Republicans have voted to repeal health care reform over 30 times but--and it's been three years since health care reform was passed!--they have yet to submit substitution legislation.

But don't think about it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What If Your Battery Is Dead?

I recently used the word "sacrilege" in front of Steph and she asked me what the word meant. I pointed towards the dictionary at my desk, spelled the word for her, and told her to look it up. Instead she pulls out her iPhone and speaks to it.

What does sacrilege mean?

Up pops a web page with the definition, origin, and use in a sentence. 
The forlorn look from my dictionary said it all.


Someone Didn't Get the Memo

In a recent interview with The New Republic, President Obama says he does some skeet shooting at Camp David.

Have you ever fired a gun?  

Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.  

The whole family?  

Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, (R) Tennessee, doubts the President's veracity because she's never heard of him shooting a gun before. And not only that, she throws down and says she'll shoot skeet with him and beat him.

Representative Blackburn apparently wasn't in attendance, paying attention, or didn't read the paper to catch what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said a couple days ago.

We must stop being the stupid party.

It's a shame CNN doesn't take that message to heart when deciding what qualifies as news.

Monday, January 28, 2013

But Why?

When my kids were little and discovering things as their world became larger, they often asked, "But why?" when given even an explanation of any sort. Being the patient father, I tried my best to answer every time, but there were times when it became too exasperating. So maybe that's why I haven't heard anything back. Who from? Let me explain.

Last week I noticed Senate Bill 5317, which had to do with "Ballots/tabulation & receipt". I checked out the text of the bill (PDF) and learned that the three senators sponsoring this bill want to change the law so that all mail-in ballots have to be received by the county auditor no later than 8:00 pm on the day of the election. There remains an exception for overseas voters or service members returning ballots by mail. For them the date of the declaration they attested must not be later than the date of the primary or election. 

And the end of the bill it states:

This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect July 1, 2013.

The sponsors of this bill are Senators Randi Becker, Barbara Bailey, and Jim Honeyford. I wrote to each of them and asked each the same questions.

Why are you offering up this legislation? What problem are you trying to solve with this bill? I did not indicate I was for or against the legislation. I only asked what their reasoning was for offering it up. The image to the right is indicative of their lack of response. 

Last November, Jason Mercier, Washington Policy Center, wrote an op-ed piece in the Seattle Times in support of changing our mail-in ballot rules to be exactly as this proposed legislation. His main reason? Because Oregon does it. His next strongest reason? Because it's Election Day and we should know who won on Election Day.

I don't need to address the op-ed because Goldy over at The Stranger did an excellent job addressing Mercier's weak arguments.

So why am I hearing crickets chirping instead of answers to my questions? How does this legislation preserve the public peace, health, safety, or support of the state government and its institutions? Maybe other people are asking the senators "Why?" and they're exasperated. Or maybe they don't have an answer and can't come up with one that won't elicit a response like, "What am I? A two-year-old?"

Useless Security Questions

I appreciate the steps that organizations take to help you protect personal information, financial accounts, etc., but they don't always get it right. Below is a list of security questions I was offered. I highlighted all the bad ones. Why are they bad?
If you visited the city you would most like to visit, wouldn't you now most want to visit a different city?  Could you discover a new or different author and become so enamored with their works that they become your all time favorite?

I shouldn't belabor the point, which is, that for all of the highlighted questions, things can change. 

One way to save yourself some trouble is to use password management software where you can add your security questions, PIN, and any other necessary to the account information. Then you can note your favorite sport, car, etc., as they were at the time you answered the question.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stupid Omphaloskeptics

In today's Spokesman Review we learn that the Republican Party is doing some navel gazing.

Stung by an image that it’s too rigidly conservative and too “stupid” about its words and tactics, a somber Republican Party vowed Friday to change its ways.  

But the party’s first meeting since the November election featured little public dialogue about how specifically to adjust, or at least tolerate, policies that would have broader appeal, particularly on guns, immigration and social issues. And few wanted to discuss where the conservative and politically difficult tea party movement fit.  

Apparently, nobody wants to get their hands dirty picking the lint. Can't say that I blame them. Defending yourself from extremists can be hell.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life In A Recycle Bin

They catch my eye every time. I try to turn the page, but I can't. It's like driving past the scene of an accident and having macabre sirens beckon me. I scan the faces first. Most are old but some have a photo portraying a more vigorous time. A beautiful time. A time of hope. A time when they anticipated the future. Just not this far into it. And as if this section of the paper isn't gloomy enough, occasionally there's the increased heaviness of a young life abruptly cut short. I'm forced to push my tea and toast aside and lay the leadened paper on the table.

Today it's a sailor who served during World War II. There's a watchmaker and jeweler. A board member of the Women's University Club in Seattle. A building contractor. One was a Peace Corps volunteer who served in Morocco. One woman spent her entire lifetime on a farm. Another was a graduate of the Kinman Business University. Willing or not, all walks of life are represented. 

In spite of, and as a testament to, all these endings, life goes on. A seemingly perpetual motion machine that begins anew in countless ways every day, confidently passing the stardust within us from one life to another and unconcerned with the gamble that such passing on may not take.
Browsing through the abbreviated stories that do their respective subjects little justice, I wonder, “Is this it? Is this all there is? We live, we die, and if we're lucky there's a notice in the paper informing others of our existence? ” Reading on, I find the answer lies within.

There was a husband. There was a wife. There were siblings, children, cousins, in-laws, friends, neighbors, fellow worshipers, workmates, recipients of their benevolence, and many others. The existence of each person echoes across the valleys that lie between the mountains of lives they touched.

I turn the page and a faint, “I was here,” is muffled by the rustling of the paper. Yet for some the reverberations never cease.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr Birthday Celebration

A large crowd gathered in the Spokane Convention Center to hear several speeches honoring Dr. King and then participate in the march. I spoke to a number people in the convention center asking them various questions. Why are you here? What aspect of Dr. King's legacy resonates within you? If Dr. King were speaking today, what do you think he would say? What did you learn from Dr. King that you think you should impart to your children?

More on all that later, but one gentleman's comments struck me. He said Dr. King would tell us that the dream is not complete. That we have a long way to go. It's about more than just tolerance. It's about recognizing and accepting our differences. He swept his arm and said, "Look at all the people here today." He was pleased to see so many diverse faces present to honor Dr. King and the principles he worked for.

"But," he said as he held up a finger. "What happens tomorrow?"
The throng gathered outside the convention center and, led by the Rogers High School Drum Corps, walked one block south on Bernard and then turned west on Main. City leaders, community leaders, school children, parents, grandparents, activists and more carried signs and banners, pushed strollers, and walked the 2240 feet to their destination, the Post Street entrance to Riverpark Square Mall. Inside the atrium, drummers from the Community School entertained the people who stayed. A resource fair was nearby and free hot chocolate was provided to help counter the 19-degree march. When offered the opportunity, a few people spoke about what this day meant for them. As the floor cleared and people faded away, that gentleman's question came back to mind.

What happens tomorrow?

Hurry! We Don't Want To Get Wet

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Josh's Birthday

Kathy, Steph, and I went over to Seattle on Friday, which was Josh's 21st birthday. Geoff flew up from San Francisco. Josh's girl friend, Amanda, and my Aunt Janet and Uncle Mike joined us for a birthday dinner. After dinner, Mike and Janet took Steph home with them and we repaired to "The Ave" where we met up with some of Josh's friends. He has great friends by the way.

For Josh's sake I did not take any photos of his birthday celebration. I don't know how many bars do this, but we went to the ones that offer a free drink if it's your 21st birthday. Of course, the college kids know which ones to go to. Some of them make you drink it quickly. Some of them give you a drink so strong you don't need any more for the night. Josh had one of each after he'd already had a couple under his belt.

Nuff said. The next day....
Janet had made Josh a Manhattan Vermouth Cherry cake. We invited our west-side family members to join us on Saturday to celebrate with Josh. Josh was present and unsurprisingly feeling under the weather. Aunt Judith and her husband, David, sister Kathy and her husband, Gunnar, brother John and his wife, Susan, and their daughter, Bekah, and Amanda were all on hand.

Janet had asked everyone to come up with creative ideas for giving Josh 21 one-dollar bills. Most were inserted into empty wine bottles. Good luck fishing those out. 
The most creative presentation came from my brother, John. He rolled up each dollar nice and tight and put them in a plastic baggie. Then he dumped some catnip in to give it that sense of authenticity. You can tell how authentic it looked from the expression on Kathy's face.
Josh was very appreciative of his family and friends celebrating his 21st. He also appreciates discretion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Watching Sausage Being Made

I was checking out the status of all the bills being presented in the Washington State Legislature this session. The count is up to 226 so far.

There's one to loosen the law concerning the offering of beer and wine samples. Let's give college students their own DUI courts. One to optionally add a yellow dot on your car's back window and a yellow-dot envelope containing personal medical information in the glove box. Let's inform separating or divorcing parents about the dangers of parental abduction of children. The state needs money. How about allowing the highest bidder to rename the North-South Corridor? Or renaming the I-90 rest stop at Schrag after the Hollywood Erotic Boutique? Let's not have to guess what the total cost of each bottle of liquor is any more. Life is no longer a riot. If the first try to amend the state constitution to balance the budget doesn't take, maybe the second one will. Properly label that seafood unless, for some reason, it's salmon that is minced, pulverized, coated with batter, or breaded. And let's quit replacing our license plates so often.

Fun stuff? No, much of it is boring.

Grilled Mac 'n' Cheese

Steph came home from Taekwondo and said she hungry for mac 'n' cheese. I suggested she make a grilled cheese sandwich. She said she didn't want grilled cheese.

So I suggested grilled mac 'n' cheese. Her eyes lit up and she made one. She said it was "interesting" and that she probably liked it because she was so hungry. Also, she doesn't think Dave's Killer Bread is the best bread to use for this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Being Crazy

Cathy McMorris Rodgers recently had this to say about our country reaching the debt limit.

 “I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

I'm reminded of that scene in Blazing Saddles where the new sheriff comes to town. 

CMR: "Hold it! The next man who makes a move, the congresswoman gets it!"

Olson Johnson: "Hold it, men. She's not bluffing."

Dr. Sam Johnson: "Listen to her, men. She's just crazy enough to do it!"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Times Will Get More Interesting

Today's Spokesman Review has an article about a report on global warming and the effect and expected effects on the United States. I'm still working my way through the section that focuses on the Northwest (PDF), but while I was digging around I noticed these key points (PDF) about the science. Then check out the questions about climate change (PDF).

1. Although climate changes in the past have been caused by natural factors, human activities are now the dominant agents of change. Human activities are affecting climate through increasing atmospheric levels of heat-trapping gases and other substances, including particles. 

2. Global trends in temperature and many other climate variables provide consistent evidence of a warming planet. These trends are based on a wide range of observations, analyzed by many independent research groups around the world. 

3. Natural variability, including El NiƱo events and other recurring patterns of ocean-atmosphere interactions, influences global and regional temperature and precipitation over timescales ranging from months up to a decade or more. 

4. Human-induced increases in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping gases are the main cause of observed climate change over the past 50 years. The “fingerprints” of human-induced change also have been identified in many other aspects of the climate system, including changes in ocean heat content, precipitation, atmospheric moisture, and Arctic sea ice.  

5. Past emissions of heat-trapping gases have already committed the world to a certain amount of future climate change. How much more the climate will change depends on future emissions and the sensitivity of the climate system to those emissions.  

6. Different kinds of physical and statistical models are used to study aspects of past climate and develop projections of future change. No model is perfect, but many of them provide useful information. By combining and averaging many models, many  clear trends emerge. 

7. Scientific understanding of observed temperature changes in the U.S. has greatly improved, confirming that the U.S. is warming as expected in response to global climate change. This warming is expected to continue. 

8. Many other indicators of rising temperatures have been observed in the U.S. These include reduced lake ice, glacier retreat, earlier melting of snowpack, reduced lake levels, and a longer growing season. These and other indicators are expected to continue to reflect higher temperatures. 

9. There have been observed trends in some types of extreme weather events, and these are consistent with rising temperatures. These include increases in: heavy precipitation nationwide, especially in the Midwest and Northeast; heat waves, especially in the West; and the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. These trends are expected to continue. Research on climate changes’ effects on other types of extreme events continues. 

10. Drought and fire risk are increasing in many regions as temperatures and evaporation rates rise. The greater the future warming, the more these risks will increase, potentially affecting the entire U.S. 

11. Summer Arctic sea ice extent, volume, and thickness have declined rapidly, especially north of Alaska. Permafrost temperatures are rising and the overall amount of permafrost is shrinking. Melting of land and sea-based ice is expected to continue with further warming. 

12. Sea level is already rising at the global scale and at individual locations along the U.S. coast. Future sea level rise depends on the amount of temperature change and on the ice melt around the world as well as local processes like changes in ocean currents and local land subsidence or uplift.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mount Spokane Snow Shoeing

Kathy and Barb wanted to hit the fresh powder on the mountain so I took a day off to join them. For two and one-half hours it was beautiful and quiet, except for the racket our shoes made crunching through the snow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Helping With Homework--Not!

Stephanie: "Dad, what do you know about stoichiometry?"

Me: (blank look)

Stephanie: "Never mind."

Heading Them Off With The Second Amendment

Spokane City Councilman, Mike Fagan, also of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, has decided to take a proactive approach and dissuade any state legislator from the notion of addressing gun control which he immediately conflates to infringing on Second Amendment rights. The problem is that our legislature isn't quite sure what it will do yet. Nevertheless, Mike Fagan is not about to wait for what he considers to be an inevitable assault on the Second Amendment.

Below is Mr Fagan standing on a United Nations flag during a protest back in March of 2010
Just because his conspiracy theory fears are not credible doesn't mean they're not valid.

I remember that night very well, mostly for it's hilarity. Who would've guessed back then he would be elected to the city council. Here's the notice for the protest he led that night.

Please plan on joining members of Spokane Patriots, the action driven Tea Party, as they converge on the Spokane City Hall plaza with spot lights and flash lights, in opposition to Mayor Mary Verner's proclamation of "Earth Hour" at 8:30 PM Saturday, 27 March.  
Earth Hour is a global event to recognize "Climate change", "Sustainability", and conservation. After issuing the proclamation, the Mayor will turn off all the lights in city hall for one hour. Spokane Patriots and many others already support and practice conservation. The fact that the Mayor will be using city resources to perpetuate the falsehood of "global climate change" to advance her sustainability agenda is an outright lie and a slap in the face to the citizens of Spokane.  
When the lights go out, Spokane Patriots and others will be shinning their spot lights and flash lights on city hall in search of the truth. So bring your flashlights! And feel free to make and bring signs too.  The Spokane Patriots will rally at the gondola ticket office at 8:00 PM and then march across the street to the city hall plaza on Post St. 

Mayor Verner and the city did not turn off the lights at City Hall at all that night. 

Mr Fagan posted a draft resolution on his Facebook page today, thus adding his voice to the din that's trying to overwhelm any effort at reasonable legislation to address gun violence. The next time you hear about a shooting of any kind, it's important for surviving family members and friends to remember that the shooter is well within their inalienable Second Amendment rights and people like Mike Fagan are working hard to protect those rights. 

Why do we never engrave the monuments and memorials of the slain with statements showing our reverence for Second Amendment rights?
Have a great day indeed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shootings, School Safety, And The Real Problem

A couple days ago, the Spokesman Review published an article about school districts looking at how to make their schools safer.

Safety and security are at the forefront of parents’ and school administrators’ minds since a gunman killed 20 students and six adults in an elementary school last month in Connecticut.  

“That day pretty much shook American schools to their core,” said East Farms Elementary School Principal Tammy Fuller, who led a community meeting at her school Thursday.  

Districts throughout the region are using varying approaches to address safety.

We are allowing ourselves to be overcome by the "it could happen here" fear. When something happens elsewhere it is easy for us to imagine that the same event could repeat itself. Instead of explaining to parents and students how safe schools are and how unlikely a shooting--let alone a mass shooting--is, we allow our imaginations to run wild and fear to be our guide. And we ignore the real problem.

According to the US Department of Education our country has 67,140 elementary schools, 24,651 secondary schools, 5,730 combined schools, 1,296 special education/alternative schools, and 33,366 private schools. We have 4,495 degree granting schools and 2,247 non-degree granting schools. That's a total of 138,925 schools in our country.

One hundred and thirty-eight thousand, nine hundred and twenty-five schools.

America has a long history of school shootings, but when you compare them to the number of schools you'll find that despite the incessant keep-you-up-to-date-on-all-the-speculation coverage by the media when a shooting occurs, our schools are safe. Fifteen to thirty shootings every decade for over one hundred thousand schools does not mean we have a school safety problem.

According to the US Census Bureau (PDF), thousands of people in America are murdered by firearms every year. The four columns below are for the years 2000, 2005, 2008, and 2009 respectively.
Two-thirds of murdered Americans are killed by firearms. We have a gun violence problem and sometimes that gun violence problem shows up at a school. Our gun violence problem was recently recognized by Spokane Police Chief Straub in another article recently published by the Review.

The homicides in 2012 included a mixed bag ranging from the suspected murder-suicide of an elderly couple and a fatal domestic dispute to a gang-related homicide and a recent shooting where police say a drunken man pulled out a gun at a party and unintentionally shot a young woman in the back of the head. 

But much of the carnage has at least one common link: people who decide to use guns to end disputes.  

“It’s a scary statement about where we are as a nation,” Straub said. “We are settling too many disputes by shooting each other. Going forward, we are not going to tolerate a weekend like this.”

The responsibility for addressing gun violence does not lie with school administrators or the police. It belongs to our legislators and to us as citizens.

It is possible to protect our Second Amendment right to own weapons and decrease the amount of gun violence if we would work together towards those goals. Sadly, that doesn't seem possible in today's political climate.

So instead we make our children fearful at school.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Found On Google Maps

Hey! Google is watching us.

Snowshoeing On Mount Spokane

Now that Kathy has more free time, she decided to try snowshoeing. I was all for it but I haven't been on snow shoes since Nixon resigned. The technology sure has changed. Josh, Amanda, and Steph were also first timers. My sister, Barb, joined us. Kathy enjoyed it so much she's already shopping for her own shoes.
 Barb and Steph.


 Josh goes off the beaten path.


 Kathy looking like a serious competitor.

 Me 'n' Kathy.

 Amanda 'n' Josh.

Kathy 'n' Barb, the joker.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

I received an email from Cathy McMorris Rodgers touting her 2012 accomplishments.
And that's just for the year 2012.

Well I think she's short changing herself. Let's have a look at accomplishments of the 112th Congress for the years 2011-2012.

(1) Setting the record for the lowest approval rating ever.
(2) Being the most polarized Congress ever.
(3) Defying the definition of insanity, the House successfully voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 33rd time.
(4) They caused the first ever downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.
(5) They were the most dysfunctional Congress yet.
Our congresswoman shouldn't be so modest. She should step up and take the credit she is due.

Morning Bike Ride

In pursuit more fat bike knowledge and experience I met up with Dan DeRuyter at Palisades Park this morning. He brought his Salsa Mukluk and I rode along on my Elephant sporting studded tires. Fortunately most the the trail we rode on had packed lines, along which I could navigate pretty well--as long as I stayed on the packed part. Dan could pretty much go where he wanted. I was jealous but I didn't say anything in front of the Elephant. Bikes have feelings, too, you know.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Not Fit For Man Nor Beast

Kathy: "It's nine degrees outside. Are you going to be okay?" 

Me: "Of course I will." 

What I'm thinking: "Nine degrees!!! That's frickin' cold. Do I really want to do this?" 

Running to work is not new to me, but I wasn't about to let something minor like a single-digit temp stop me from my quest to become more beastly

I put on my REI long underwear. 

I didn't regret my decision but I felt a little discomfort as soon as I hit the road. The air was absolutely frigid, my breath kept freezing on my glasses, and overall it was just a rough start. But that's to be expected. It usually takes me a couple miles to get warmed up, get my breathing and heart rate evened out, and hit my comfortable pace so I hung in there knowing it would get better. Besides, I'm always close enough to a bus route so I can bail out any time along the way if I need to. I was feeling much better by the time I got to Country Homes Blvd and it was pretty easy going after crossing Francis. I spent a lot of time in the roadways since they were much clearer than many of the sidewalks. I made sure I was visible, wearing a hi-viz yellow reflective jacket, a couple of red lights hanging off my backside and carrying my MiNewt 300 (battery velcroed to my backpack strap) to light my way. All the cars that needed to gave me plenty of room, which was very nice. I arrived at work without incident and in a reasonable amount of time. No frozen toes in the Vibrams, but a chilled thumb and index finger on my right hand.

I'm used to ice buildup on my facial hair, but this time I had ice on my eyebrows and even on my eye lashes. That's a new experience for me. Every time I blinked I could feel them stick to my bottom lashes. Fun times.

I sent this picture to Kathy to let her know I arrived safely. 
Kathy: "You're crazy!" 

Me: "Just about you."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another Bogus Survey

Our fair congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is asking us to  complete a survey just like she did last year. Come to think of it, she never provided any feedback on the results of that survey. This year's survey isn't much different than last year. I have to wonder if the congresswoman purposely uses the most inept web page survey developers. I ran it through a validator and came up with 212 errors.

You can still get by with lots of piddly HTML errors, but the design of this survey is worse. The wording is just as atrocious as last year. Last year you could select multiple answers on a few questions. This year you can only select one, but you also cannot provide any other feedback. I noticed an asterisk at the end of the first question so I scrolled down to the bottom to see what it meant. There is no explanation and every question has an asterisk at the end. (Click on the images to read them easier.)

Same question as last year with one major difference. You can select Other but you can't provide any information about it. Last year there was a text box that allowed input.

Since when is it her responsibility to create jobs? Why is there an Other if you can't make a comment? Select Other. The choices almost mirror the choices for the next question.

Notice a trend here? The responses she provides only consider raising/not raising taxes, cut spending, or let the deficits continue. I guess she misses the news that the deficit has decreased. It ain't perfect yet, but things got better as certain tax breaks expired resulting in more revenue and defense spending in Iraq and Afghanistan dropped $61 billion.

Interesting use of framing here. Last year she said she voted against health care "reform". Not the best  choice of words. This year she says she voted against the President's health care legislation. She doesn't mention that Republicans had a huge part in creating that legislation as they had 400 amendments adopted. Again, it's been three years since the passage of the legislation. McMorris Rodgers and the Republican House has voted to repeal the health care legislation 33 times. If they wanted to improve upon it, why haven't they come up with a bill to do so? They've had plenty of time. Repeal hasn't worked so select Other/Unsure.

Replacing the Keystone oil pipeline question from last year we have a disingenuous question asking what you think about climate change. Somehow our congresswoman thinks all jobs directly tied to coal and oil. Those damned green jobs are hurting jobs. Or something.

Same question as last year with a minor change in one answer. Now you can be Other/Unsure instead of Unsure.

Same question about Afghanistan as last year. Is there a problem other than the fact that we should get the heck out and quit killing innocent people with drones?

Same question on immigration as last year but with a trick to it. The last two answers are in reverse order. Almost got me!

C'mon! Just like last year the answers don't have anything to do with the question.

Same as last year and the answers still have nothing to do with the subject of gun control. There's much more to gun control than gun ownership.

More feeding of the talking points again. Write a letter instead.