Friday, January 31, 2014

More Photo Fun

 Not much room left.

 We're protesting something.

I want to say one word to you. Plastics.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Downtown Spokane Today

 One less place to loiter outside the Spokane Regional Business Center.

A happy cyclist.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Prayer Is All The Help You'll Get From Cathy McMorris Rodgers

As everyone knows, Cathy McMorris Rodgers was selected to give the official Republican Party response to the President's State of the Union speech. How'd she do?

Disney could not build a better automaton. In between telling us her life's story, she told us she and her party have a vision. And plans.

So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful, Republican vision… One that empowers you, not the government… It’s one that champions free markets – and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable.
We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…so college is affordable…and skills training is modernized. And yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world.

Sadly, she didn't share any specifics on the plans and essentially stuck to tired talking points--government spending, high taxes, and lack of jobs. But there is one thing Cathy McMorris Rodgers is willing to do for us. Pray.

Because there is nothing left she can do besides close out like it's the 700 Club.

So, tonight, I simply offer a prayer… A prayer for Sgt. Hess’s family, your family, and for our larger American family. That, with the guidance of God, we may prove worthy of His blessings of life … liberty … and the pursuit of happiness. For when we embrace these gifts, we are each doing our part to form a more perfect union. May God guide you and our President, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

For you non-Christians and unaffiliated, you're on your own...well...pretty much like everybody else, Christian or not.

Many people are familiar with the (non-biblical) quote, "God moves in a mysterious ways; His wonders to perform."

Cathy McMorris Rodgers' God has guided her to vote against fair pay for women, for cutting Medicare and Medicaid, for allowing pre-existing conditions to be used to deny health care, for cutting funding for Supplemental Nutrition assistance Program, and for excluding lesbians, Native Americans, and immigrant women from the Violence Against Women Act.

Can underpaid women, the elderly, the cancer-stricken, the hungry children, and lesbians, Native American, and immigrant women suffering violence in the home ever prove themselves worthy of His blessings in the world of Cathy McMorris Rodgers?

She's praying on it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Irony Alert

In today's Spokesman Review we have an article concerning the judges on the Washington State Supreme Court allegedly overstepping their bounds when it comes to the state constitution and the legislature's responsibilities towards education.

“They are way out of their lane,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, a Spokane Republican. 

Baumgartner expects lawmakers will continue adding “substantially new resources” to the state education system, but he said the court’s position could erode the proper balance of power in Olympia. Baumgartner hopes lawmakers will ignore the court’s latest demands, or he fears justices may exercise more power going forward. 

“Everyone has to see how this could be abused,” Baumgartner said. 

Baumgartner has proposed a bill that would shrink the court from nine justices to five, acknowledging that it was partially an attempt to push back against the decision. But he also said the change would provide significant budget savings – money that could be redirected to education. (bolding mine)

Everyone has to see how this could be abused, too.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something On The Radar, Sir

There's talk going around among the military and military retirees about a Congressional Budget Office study showing three options the Department of Defense could use to save money spent on health care. One option by far has the largest impact with a potential savings of $90 billion from 2015-2023.

Option 2: Make working-age retirees and their families  ineligible for TRICARE Prime, the most costly program for DoD, but allow them to continue using  other TRICARE plans after paying an annual fee.

Needless to say, that option is not sitting too well with many retirees and those near retirement age.

So why did the CBO, a nonpartisan agency, prepare this report? Have a look at the last page.

This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report was prepared at the request of the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the report makes no recommendations.

The Chairman of the House Budget Committee is Congressman Paul Ryan. It will be interesting to see how this plays out especially since he has some former generals supporting the cause of reducing retirement benefits.

What I Saw On My Bike Ride

I climbed up onto Five Mile just for the fun of it. (I need to shed a few holiday pounds.)
 First time I've seen a rear wheel snapped off.

 It's really frosty on Five Mile.

 Feeding time.


 Signs on Indian Trail Road.

 I was tempted to add commas.

 Road find. Look out, he's got a knife!

My frosted goatee thawed out once I came back down.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pretty Scary

I went for a two-hour bike ride today and had the D50 hanging off my back--until the snow started falling. Stopped at a red light I saw this van with a breathalyzer company logo. Check out the license plate.
Since I had the camera in the pannier for most of the ride I missed out a couple of photo opportunities. There was a gentleman wearing an enduro motorcycle helmet while riding a trike bike. A man with a long, flowing gray beard was tooling around downtown on a bike. And there was a young man picking out the remains of the rear window on his car. The look on his face said, "Don't even ask me about my broken f&%#in' window." So I didn't.

Show Me The Money

State Senator Michael Baumgartner recently sent out a newsletter in which he highlights a bill (SB 6043) he submitted to lower the cost of tuition at Washington state colleges.

When I went to WSU back in the 1990s, I was able to afford tuition and costs by working my way through school and not getting into debt.

Resident undergrad tuition was $1,953 back in 1990. With an average inflation rate of 2.53% from 1990 to 2014, that would come to $3,556 today. The 2013-14 tuition at WSU is $11,386. The price has risen dramatically not because the cost of education has risen, but because the state has provided less and less funding over the years (see page iv).

In the 1960s and 70s, the state paid more than 90 percent of instructional costs. From the 1980s to 2008, we steadily reduced the state’s share to an average of about 65 percent. But, with the most recent round of budget cuts, we have reached a nadir: the state now pays an average of 35 percent of instructional costs while students and families pay 65 percent.

Back to the senator's newsletter.

Here is how it would work: The most recent average wage for workers in the state of Washington was $51,500, so the maximum amount of tuition that a state college or university could charge would be roughly $5,200 per year. That gives every student in our state the opportunity to achieve the college dream at an affordable rate and – most importantly, without going into debt or charging it to taxpayers.

I'm all for making college more affordable. I'm not sure that basing tuition on the average state wage is the best approach, but it's a start. There's still some inequity there. For example, if you take King County out of the equation then the average drops to $42,648, bringing tuition down to about $4,300. Regardless, bringing down tuition costs is a great idea. How will we pay for it? Well, this is where his bill is lacking.

Under my Debt-Free Degree proposal (Senate Bill 6043), the state would have to come up with an additional $200 million each year, but I believe it’s both necessary and achievable without new tax increases. It’s about prioritization.

Basically he puts the onus on his fellow legislators to come up with the $200 million needed every year. He doesn't mention any specifics concerning prioritization, only that this can be done without new tax increases. Well, it has to come from somewhere and I hope he's working on it.

Nothing In Particular

I walked around downtown Spokane during lunch again yesterday, camera at the ready.
 Trust us.

 Get in line.

Time worn.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sales Of Medical Supplies, Chemicals, (Firearms?), Or Materials To Comprehensive Cancer Centers

Some of our state legislative leaders, including one from the district I was recently forced into, have submitted a bill that would create an exemption to retail sales tax for all firearms and ammunition. If there's anything the State of Washington is in dire need of, it is tax free guns 'n' ammo.

The legislature recognizes that the people of Washington state have reserved to themselves the individual right to bear arms in Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution, which reads, "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired . . . ." 

There is another provision in the state Constitution.

SECTION 7 INVASION OF PRIVATE AFFAIRS OR HOME PROHIBITED. No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.
Matt Shea, of Spokane Valley, is one of the bill's sponsors. He is really keen on constitutional rights. Here's Matt Shea standing in front of Amy Biviano's house when they were running against each other in 2012. Just saying.

So what's with the title of this post? Well the bill proposes to modify RCW Section 82.08.808, which is titled "Exemptions — Sales of medical supplies, chemicals, or materials to comprehensive cancer centers." If you check out Section 82.08, you will find an abundance of exemptions. I can't begin to guess why they joined firearms with supplies being sold to comprehensive cancer centers instead of carving out a section just for firearms and ammunition or adding it to the sale of gun safes exemption.

But maybe Matt Shea and the other sponsors know something we don't know about cancer centers.

Getting Close

Today I took the telephoto lens out for a lunchtime walk to see how close I could get from far away.

While shooting this elderly gentleman on a bike some guy coming down the block towards me yelled, "That's unauthorized. You can't take pictures of him, you fuckin' faggot."

I turned around and looked at him but I didn't show any reaction. He was walking in my direction. I was going in his direction and continued doing so. I stopped to study a building across the street.

"You fuckin' faggot."

Again, I looked at him. We were about 20 feet apart. His face told the story of severe acne suffered in his younger years. His hair was thin, long, and unkempt. He carried a plastic grocery bag containing a recent purchase. I couldn't make out what it was. His eyes were not threatening. Nor were they friendly. There was an emptiness. I didn't show any reaction and he didn't speak while I was looking at him. We passed by each other without incident.

"That's unauthorized and you know it. You take another picture and I'm gonna kick your ass you fuckin' faggot."

I continued on and left him with his rantings.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Legally Unsafe

State Senator Tracy Eide, 30th Legislative District, has submitted a bill to increase the penalties for using a personal wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle. One proposed change concerns a definition of a violation. The current law states, "a person operating a moving vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device to his or her ear". That would be changed to "a person operating a motor vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device." So the vehicle doesn't have to be moving and all you have to do is have the device in your hand, not up next to your ear. She wants to tighten up the rules. That's the good news.

What's the bad news? It still doesn't apply to a person operating a motor vehicle while using a hearing aid. Consequently, if this law passes, I could operate my personal wireless communications device with impunity while behind the wheel.

Smile! I'm making a video about one ridiculous aspect of a traffic law. Oh, hey, I just got a text I need to answer. Catch you at the next red light, okay?

Aren't you thankful I ride a bike?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A great crowd showed up for today's celebration and march. I wandered through the crowd before, during, and after the march to take photos. Kids were the best subjects today. The last photo pretty much sums up what any event is like these days.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Personal Foul - Unsportsmanlike Conduct

George Nethercutt's latest commentary in The Inlander started out so great. His description of Peyton Manning was becoming truly inspirational. And then he made this hard what-the-hell-is-that turn into bizarro land and spoiled it all.

Peyton Manning was raised in a privileged atmosphere as the gifted son of a superstar quarterback. By all accounts, his family recognized the value of humility and respect and passed on those standards to their three sons. While Peyton is a multimillionaire, he fully respects those less fortunate, also recognizing the value of support staff and personnel — and they revere him for his genuine friendship, conduct befitting of someone possessed of humility and a caring heart. He pens handwritten notes to thank others for kindnesses and to acknowledge their accomplishments or particular struggles.

Mr Nethercutt continues telling us how awesome Peyton Manning is. He doesn't blame others. He accepts responsibility for his mistakes and failures. He doesn't act like a prima donna. He is someone to be looked up to. A model for us to follow.

The Mannings have had a good life, full of success and wealth, yet it seems that their heads are not turned by their well-earned money and fame. Any professional athlete with as much money in the bank or as many records in the books as Peyton and Eli Manning — or their famous dad, Archie — might find it easy to have a swelled head and be elitist. But the Manning family has a remarkable knack for steadiness and equanimity in the face of emotional situations that might make ordinary mortals behave differently.

Cool. I get it. I'm an ordinary mortal. Payton Manning doesn't let fame and money go to his head. And then Mr Nethercutt follows that with this.

About the time the Manning documentary ran, a companion documentary highlighting the life of Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was also on the airwaves. It told the story of an equally gifted and famous professional athlete, and by all accounts, a good guy. McNair had plenty of fame and fortune, and a family of young sons, but an absent dad. His mother was prominent in the documentary, but not his father. Tragically, McNair made some mistakes and became involved with a mentally deranged woman, who shot him to death before killing herself. McNair was survived by his wife and sons, who will go through their lives without the husband and father they idolized.

A different famous quarterback, by all accounts a good guy, grew up without a dad and was killed by a mentally deranged woman he was involved with. What the hell does this have to do with the rest of the article? Mr Nethercutt tells us.

We're all influenced by the kind of upbringing we have and the values that are instilled in us early. Those without enough positive early influences may not have the tools to cope when challenges touch their lives. 

Oh, so it was the kind of upbringing he had. Steve McNair didn't have a dad to tell him, "Son, don't ever mess around with a mentally deranged woman. She will kill you." What Mr Nethercutt is implying is that the single most important cause of McNair's behavior and murder was his absent father. All those other family members, teachers, friends, team mates, coaches, and countless other people he interacted with obviously had little or no effect on him and the choices he made.

I didn't know much about McNair, but a quick look with a search engine gave me plenty to read. Mr Nethercutt essentially slams Mrs McNair and Steve's older brother Fred who helped raise him. If he should slam anyone it should be McNair's father for leaving. And yet that doesn't relate to the rest of his commentary either.

No, for Mr Nethercutt, the father's presence (Manning) or lack thereof (McNair) was the key difference here. Next he'll tell us a young man raised by a single mother has no chance of going to Harvard or becoming President of the United States. Oh, wait.

There's A Bike Ride Tomorrow Night

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prime Lens

Today's challenge was to make stuff happen with a prime lens. These were taken with a 50mm. 

 Wake up shop.

 Not much time left.

 Monochrome pipes.

 And we are at war!

 They have a blimp.



 Served up hot.

 Opposing wheels.