Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Plenty Of Candidates - A Dearth Of Choices

With last year's legislative redistricting, I was moved to the 7th Legislative District, a district that hasn't elected a Democrat since 1990. It appears the Democrats don't even bother. Consequently, there's nothing but like-minded candidates to choose from for the upcoming primary. The problem is how to differentiate between them. So I checked out their web sites.
Mike Brunson tours his retired Air Force and Gulf War veteran status. He even posted pictures of his medals and awards. But the background image on his site appears to be the Italian Frecce Tricolori aerobatic demonstration team. I guess the USAF Thunderbirds weren't available. Outside of that, he's all for the 2nd Amendment and 10th Amendment, lower taxes, doing as you please with your property, and loosening the regulations enforced by the EPA.

Brian Dansel is all for old fashioned values and new ideas. "What does that mean?" he asks. Well, he's all for the 2nd Amendment, being pro-life, and lowering taxes. His site's background image appears to be a photos of miners and donkeys. New ideas? Well, he has three of them: teleconferencing, a skill center, and increasing the authority of the Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee. I can honestly say I've never heard of his third new idea.

John Smith is the incumbent but only because he was appointed to the position. Hence the election is being held this fall. His site looks the most post-Web 1.0. I went to the issues page and clicked on The American Dream. I got "This page not found." There are two "The American Dream" links. You have to click the right one. The American Dream and The Economy are the only two issues. He wants to increase the harvest of timber before the trees are decimated by disease and "turns our beautiful mountainsides into deserts." Somehow cutting down the trees before they die prevents this? No mention of the 2nd Amendment but he does have a video in the media section where he talks about gun rights and says he a proud member of the NRA.

Which candidate? For me, not choosing is about the same as choosing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Kids Are Awesome

Here is what one of them is up to. From a TechCrunch article today.

Y Combinator-backed Floobits, a new startup allowing two people to write software at the same time on the same codebase — known as pair programming — is officially launching today to help better connect remote developers and distributed teams.  

What makes this company’s implementation interesting, however, is that instead of requiring developers to use a web-based editor as many pair programming solutions today do, Floobits users can pair program directly within the text editors they’re already comfortable using through the installation of plug-ins.  

And for those who do prefer to work via an online editor instead of a native one, Floobits has integrated its web-based editor with one-click access to Google Hangouts for chat, audio and video conferencing.

Floobits was officially founded this February by former Rackspace engineers Geoff Greer (who came in via the Cloudkick acquisition, and who built this) and Matt Kaniaris. But in reality, they’ve been working on the idea since last August — and yes, often via pair programming.

The ending makes it sound like Geoff and Matt aren't ready for prime time, but I know better.

Beastly Reminder

This year's cyclocross season schedule is penciled in. I'm reminded that at the end of last year's cyclocross season I wrote about becoming beastly. I haven't been doing any runs, let alone long ones, since I sprained my ankle two months ago. I have been riding my bike a lot more. I take longer routes to and from work, stay on the big chain ring as much as I can, and treat each commute like a race.
My first race will be the Labor Day CX over on the west side. In the meantime, I have the Midnight Century this weekend. And I'll probably squeeze in the Coeur d'Fondo at the end of September.

I don't need to lose ten pounds, but I'm going to try to anyway. I have two months to achieve a higher level of beastliness.

Monday, July 29, 2013

College Visit

We spent most of the day at the University of Montana in Missoula. Steph liked the school very much. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Survey Fund Raiser

The push is on for the Republican Summertime Affordable Health Care Hate-a-thon. The GOP wants to know what you really think. Only they don't. They don't give you much more than limited options and debunked talking points to choose from.
You're required to enter a name, email address and a zip code. They don't do much error checking on the required entries. A zip code of "a" is acceptable. They're a little more particular about the email address. It passes muster if you have an "@" sign and period in the name. Garbage@garbage.garbage was considered a valid address.

After you submit your survey you are directed to a page where you can make a contribution to the Republican party. And that's what it's all about. I'm sure they're more particular about you entering a valid credit card number.

Juveniles At The Grocery Store

Steph and I went to pick up the fixin's to made quesadillas yesterday. We goofed around at bit at the store and found some strange stuff in the imported food section. Of course, I had to take pictures.
She thought this Russian soda looked scary.

 And then there are the items with unfortunate names.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


It was the final ride of the FBC and nearly everyone wore black like they were supposed to. Some were even more creative. More pictures posted here.
My sister, Barb, and quite a few other people became Lifetime Members for Life tonight. Jeff Everett made 200 spoke cards and he easily ran out. There were at least 400 people there for the grand finale. I don't think Jeff knew that Summit was all torn up because of the construction going on in Kendall Yards. After crossing the Sandifur Bridge we climbed up to Summit and got on something akin to a cyclocross course. Loose gravel, dirt, weeds, and obstacles to lift your bike over made me feel right at home. Barb and I rode with the crowd to the destination and then left. It was too crowded. Go figure. And crowds just aren't my thing.

FBC has had a great run. It brought all kinds of cyclists together. All ages and all shapes and sizes. Fixies, mountain bikes, tri-bikes, cruisers, skinny tires, tall bikes, trikes, vintage bikes, anything with wheels were welcomed unconditionally. It's sad to see this come to and end.

On another sad note, this was the first time that anyone has messed with my bike. Someone stole my tools, spare tube, and pump from my panniers. They violated the only FBC rule--don't be an asshole.

Stand Down

Stand Down is a program for homeless veterans. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for veterans to take care of personal hygiene, get clean clothing, enjoy a warm meal, and receive medical and dental care. A Stand Down was held today at in Post Falls, Idaho.

Veterans of all ages formed a line snaking back and forth outside the Bitterroot Building. As they waited for the doors to open, many traded stories of their time in the service. Music by Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Credence Clearwater Revival, Willie Nelson, and others of their era played over the loud speakers. Volunteers came around offering bottles of water.  The opening ceremony consisted of a welcoming speech by Mayor Clay Larkin and a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Disabled vets were given priority and the rest waited patiently for their turn.

Entering the door, the vets showed their proof of service and signed in. Each received two wrist bands, one designating eligibility for the surplus gear and one designating them as eligible for services from the agencies outside, and a meal ticket for a free breakfast burrito. Next they passed by tables manned by advocacy agencies and the Department of Veterans Affairs where they could receive information for getting assistance. A doctor, dentist, and a barber (free haircuts) were also on hand for those who needed their services.

As they entered the warehouse, each veteran received a duffel bag which which they could carry everything they took. They also had a choice between a day pack or a full backpack. The tables they passed by had socks, t-shirts, sweaters, long underwear, parkas, gloves, dress shirts, towels, rain covers, soap and other toiletries, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and boots.

This was a unique experience. I think the most common words spoken were said by nearly every volunteer there. "Thank you for your service."

 The doors opened at 8:00 am. The line started forming over two hours earlier.

 Several advocacy groups were on hand.

Lots of surplus military clothing...

 ...and equipment was ready to be put to use.

 Volunteers manned numerous stations...

 ...and helped vets with their available choices.

 The St Vincent DePaul Society had free civilian clothing.

 Second Harvest had free food.

 Great of him to volunteer but nobody rode a bike there. 

 Lots of people had their dogs with them.

 The Knights of Columbus provided free breakfast burritos.

 Vets could get a ride back to their car...

 ...get help from the Boy Scouts...

...or heft it all out themselves.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wider Is Better

During lunch I went for a walk with the camera and a 15mm wide angle lens just to play and practice. I took about 100 photos, but I'll save you the boredom of looking through them all.
 A fun view of the fountain.

This would work great with a subject looking at the camera.

I like how close you can get.

 This was about 3 inches away from the camera.

Crazy Talk

Normally, I consider myself reasonably informed on events but I did not know until yesterday that there's a conspiracy theory that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government job. Why wouldn't we hear about it from the mainstream media? Well, if they're in on it, they wouldn't publicize that people think they're in on it. And if it's just crazy talk, then they wouldn't give any time for that because the mainstream media is particular about what crazy talk they cover.

Baseball Has Been Berry Berry Good To Me

My brother scored some tickets to last night's game. I haven't been to a game in maybe ten years. That's how much of a baseball fanatic I am. But it was a good game and Spokane won. We had good seats, too. I brought the camera along so I could get some high speed photo practice. The netting protecting us from foul balls made it a little more challenging but I managed to get a few cool shots.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Ben Burr Trail

During lunch I had a whim to check out the Ben Burr Trail. No special reason. This is one of a number of places in Spokane I haven't seen by bike so I went to see it. It's totally doable on a road bike. And it's not very long. I ended up taking Freya to 2nd and following 2nd back to work downtown. That was much less pleasant than the trail.

 The gravel isn't bad at all for skinny tires.

 The bridge crossing over Altamont.

Whoa! A treacherous water crossing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Handling Your Member During The Congressional Recess

Our very own Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, through the House Republican Conference, is providing her fellow Republican House members with a planning kit containing lots of ideas for reinforcing the message of "Fighting Washington For You".  

"During August, I encourage you to echo this message and reaffirm our theme – 'Fighting Washington for You' – in all that you do, for there is no better message than one that puts the American people before an out-of-control government."  

Let us remember that Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been a part of Washington since 2005. She's on her fifth term as a member of the House. I doubt she realizes that she's looking in the mirror when she's talking about an out-of-control government. Regardless, she certainly doesn't like what she sees.

"Thank you for all that you do for the great country we all love. Please let me know how I can help you have an effective August recess as we take our unified message of fighting an out-of-control Washington to our homes."  

Sadly, it's all about a unified Republican message and seeking information that agrees with it as opposed to finding out what constituents think. There's even a sample op-ed for others to use as a template. When I search for key phrases at the end of August, I wonder how many verbatim copies I'll find in our country's newspapers.

Anyway, the planning kit is chock full of tips for her fellow members. Here are some highlights.

Concerning Meet Ups, we get this advice:  Invite at least 3-4 people with whom the Member already has an established relationship. This will strengthen the conversation and take it in a direction that is most beneficial to the Member’s goal. (The Member is to stand firm with a single-minded purpose. It helps if your Member has an established relationship with three or four other people. They know how to help reach the Member's goal.)  

Prepare a few questions in advance in case the conversation slowly starts. A meetup event should be closed press so everyone feels comfortable to candidly speak about the issues. (Have some softball questions on hand to break the ice and make people more comfortable with your Member. And don't invite the press. That way your Member doesn't go limp under the pressure presented by prying eyes or hard questions.)  

Concerning making YouTube videos:  Make sure to use a camera on a tripod. (Duh! You want your Member to be in frame and in focus, right? And don't get too close. Nobody likes the sight of a Member that completely fills the screen. The Member can save that for selfies.)  
Concerning a Jobs Fair:  Identify 3-4 times throughout the day for the Member of Congress to address attendees. (Expose your Member to the people. After all, the reason these people are here is to see your Member.)  

Concerning a Millennial Health Care Forum:  Select a health care provider with the same stance on the issue as your boss. (Your Member is your boss. There's no mention of how wide the stance must be, but you should know your Member well enough to know.)  

Concerning an Energy and Agriculture Tour:  Try to ensure that all forms of agriculture in the district are represented with a visit (dairy, sheep, pigs, beef, orchards, vineyards, etc.)  (Your Member should not show a preference for sheep over pigs, etc.)  

Concerning an Energy Production Facility Tour:  Encourage your Member to partake in the production processes as much as possible – wear a hard hat, learn how energy production at that particular facility works, etc. (Your Member has a head. Protect it. Plus, your Member wants to fit in so make sure your Member is fully prepared. Grease the skids so to speak.)  

Concerning a Gas and Groceries Tour:  Wear clothes in which you feel comfortable doing ‘hands-on’ work. (I assume this tip is for the Member, but you never know. Maybe the staff will be doing the "hands-on" work. Can you imagine the eruption that would occur if the staff got this wrong?) 

Concerning a Higher Education Tour:  Take a photo outside of the stadium, arena, or famous spot on campus wearing the school’s colors or team gear to promote on social media. (As many Members have discovered, Twitter and Facebook are excellent methods of sharing photos of your Member--with or without school colors or team gear.) 

Concerning a Hospital or Health Care Facility Tour:  Choose a local hospital that is familiar to many constituents in your district. Alternatively, if your Member represents a more rural area, rural hospitals are particularly effective for this purpose.  (Many Members have lots of experience with hospital visits. Make the most of it.)

Concerning a Main Street Tour:  Too many cameras and microphones following a Member may be found invasive by customers and business owners. (One camera is enough to capture your Member in action. Penetrating a customer's or business owner's intimate zone must be done with care. The last thing your Member wants to be seen as is invasive.)  

Concerning a Red Tape Tour and Roundtable:  Follow up with the attendees continually to update them on what the Member is doing to roll back red tape in Washington and clear the way for growth in the district.  (Your Member is all about growth.)  

Concerning a Senior Center Tour:  Work with each senior center to identify the best time to visit with built-in crowds. (As with the Job Fair, you want as many people as possible to see your Member.) 

Concerning a Drive Time Radio Tour:  Prepare a few compelling sound bites ahead of time. (The compelling level depends on how much your Member likes the bites.)  
Concerning Emergency Town Hall Meetings for Health Care and for Stopping Government Abuse: Do not speak from behind a podium on a stage above the audience. Engage from the floor and walk around with the microphone to get questions. (Again, you want your Member to be seen. Do not hide your Member behind a podium.)
I can hardly see my Member from here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Judging Congress

House Speaker John Boehner is in a tight spot. He doesn't have control of his party members and he wants to keep his job as Speaker. Republican members of the House are divided into factions. Tea party members, the most extreme and disruptive group, are loyal to the tea party movement, not to the Republican party. So Boehner cannot lead the Republican House. If he did, it would be blatantly obvious that he has all the authority of a gelded buck private.

Consequently, Speaker Boehner cannot tackle any major issue without taking into account his divided party. Heaven forbid he should take Democrat votes into consideration.

Through their inaction, Congress has increased revenue by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans. They've also reduced government spending by allowing sequestration to take effect. It's not by design and it's not pretty, but the country's long term fiscal picture looks a lot better.

So when Boehner says the budget is the top priority and immigration is not, he's playing to the tea party faction. When he says Congress should be judged by how many laws they've repealed, not passed, he's slathering lipstick on the pig.

That's all he's got. His claim to fame is 30-some votes to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, none of which became law.

Even by his own standard, Congress hasn't done squat.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bike Happenings

Another evening of the Twilight Series, hosted by Baddlands Racing, is at 6:00 pm. It's the Corsa Brutale at the intersection of Seven Mile Road and Four Mounds Road.

The Bike Hub has a Monday evening shop ride. Meet at the valley location, 12505 E Sprague Ave, Spokane Valley, at 6:00 pm.

The Spokane Bicycle Club has rides scheduled for Tuesday (twice!), Wednesday (ladies only), Thursday, and Saturday.

Bicycle Butler has a Saturday road ride at 7:00 am and Wednesday evening mountain bike rides that leave the shop at 6:15 pm.

This Bike Life has a road ride at 6:00 pm on Wednesday and a mountain bike ride at 6:30 pm on Friday. Check their Facebook page for meeting locations.

Wheel Sport East has a no-drop shop ride every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. 

Wheel Sport Central has a no-drop road ride on at 6:00 pm every Monday and a mountain bike ride every Wednesday. Check their Facebook page for details.

Fitness Fanatics has a shop ride at 6:00 pm every Thursday.

Believers on Mountain Bikes have a ride set for Tuesday at 6:00 pm but the location hasn't been announced yet. Check their web site for updates. You can also email them at the unfortunately sounding

Two Wheel Transit has a shop road ride Thursday night at 6:30 pm. Meet at the Manito Tap House, 3011 S. Grand Blvd, beforehand. They have another on Saturday morning, at 8:30 am. Again, meet at the Manito Tap House. 

Women on Wheels has rides. Check their Facebook page for details.

Belles and Baskets is doing a Fish Lake Trail ride on July 23. Meet at the trail head near Brown's Addition at 6:00 pm.

The FBC sixth birthday ride and final Fullmoon Fiasco is set for July 27. This is your last chance to become a Lifetime Member for Life--for a day. Meet at The Swamp at 7:00 pm and wear black. Lots of prizes will be given away.

The Spokane Valley Cycle Celebration is set for Sunday, July 28. Check the Facebook event for details.

In the not too distant future:

The Eight Lakes Leg Aches is Saturday, Aug 3. Choose from 15, 30, 45 and 75 miles.

The Midnight Century is Saturday, Aug 3. This year the start is at The Elk in Browne's Addition, but finish across the river at Central Food. Chef David Blaine, the guy who started this crazy ride, will have the place open for breakfast.

Spokane Rocket Velo is hosting the Mount Spokane Hill Climb on Aug 25.
No more high fives from Bill Bender at Spokefest.
Spokefest is scheduled for Sep 8 and registration is open.

College Visit

Steph has one more year of school and then it's off to college. But which one? Well, we need to check a couple more of them out. We drove down to Eugene on Friday to visit The University of Oregon. 
Eugene has great paths and parks along both sides of the Willamette River. I snagged this picture of a couple sitting on the bank. Kathy and I walked across the bridge in the distance to a park where the first day of Hempfest was happening. The odor of...incense...yeah, incense was in the air. And there were lots of happy people.
Our school visit was on Saturday. The U of O campus was smaller than I expected for having 25,000 students, but it seems like a good school.
Of course, I had to notice all the bike lanes, bike paths, bike racks, and bike maintenance stations. Why would you drive a car in Eugene?

That evening we went to Portland just to hang out. We walking around downtown to take in the sights.
These two guys were playing an urban form of bocce. One would throw the pallino (white ball) across or down the street and then they'd take turns throwing their balls and try landing them as close to the pallino as possible. The balls were like large hacky sacks. They would bounce and roll a little but not too much.
I hope this couple is saving up for college. 
As if you needed one, here's another reason why you should not drink from a public water fountain.
A friend of Steph's recommend eating at the Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen. We were not disappointed. The food was awesome and plentiful. I ordered a Thai iced tea with my meal. I had no idea what a That iced tea was.
 This is a Thai iced tea.
 Bond. James Bond--not!