Friday, January 30, 2015

Street Shots

Bikes Are Scary

After putting my bike in the rack this morning, I started unloading my panniers when a car drove into the basement and stopped next to me.

"You're really fast. You scared me," the driver says to me.

I had no idea what he was talking about. "Excuse me?"

"You're really fast."

Thinking back a few minutes I remembered that when the light turned green for me on Spokane Falls Blvd and I started to cross Main.  A car on Main coming from my left with its left turn signal on came up to the red light and started and stopped a left turn as I went through the intersection. That must've been him. He confirmed it.

"Back there at that intersection right outside," he says. "You're really fast."

I got the impression he thought I came ripping into the intersection. "I was stopped at the red light and started going when it was green," I said.

"Yeah, but it was scary. Bikes are scary."

I had no idea how to respond to that so I went back to gathering my stuff. Then he tries to get me into a conversation about how he's looking for a bike to do some recreational riding. Could I recommend a bike shop?

I told him that any local bike shop would do. Just stay away from the big box stores. Shop around. Let them know what you're looking for and what price range you're interested in and you'll find something.

He rambled some more like he was trying to make conversation before calling it off with, "Have a nice day."

Anyway he says he's going to get a bike, which surprises me.

Because bikes are scary.

*** Added the image below to clarify directions. The southbound arrow represents my direction of travel. I was stopped at the intersection and proceeded when the light turned green. The other arrow shows the direction the car was going. He stopped when his light went from amber to red, started to turn left, and then stopped as he saw me going through the intersection. I scared the poor guy!

Yesterday's Photos

 Our taxes helped pay for their stadium in Seattle so I guess we have a stake.

 A memorial for the very friendly hotdog vendor dead from the flu.

 Nope, they're not going to steal this frame.

 Concerning Spokane's attempt to keep street people moving.

A memorial for a firefighter who died in the line of duty. I haven't noticed this before and I think it was placed here last year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scam Phone Calls

I've received two calls on my answering machine in which someone with an Indian or Pakistani accent, one time identifying himself as Steve Miller (Go on take the money and run, woo-hoo-hoo), informed me--not by name--that I needed to return the call immediately or risk being arrested and hauled in front of a federal magistrate judge or a grand jury. The first call concerned the IRS and a problem with my--again not by name--tax return and the guy left an area code 804 (Virginia) phone number. The second call didn't mention a specific crime and "Steve Miller" left an area code 706 (California) number.

It's too bad they don't call when I'm home so I can have some fun with them.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Speaking Of Failed Leadership

This evening I received this email from Cathy McMorris Rodgers just in time for the State of the Union speech.

Here are the hard numbers that Cathy McMorris Rodgers does not mention, which are the result of President Obama's "failed leadership". And she wants a five dollar donation. Instead, I think I'll buy a sandwich at a locally owned shop.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Published Again

Cool. My letter to the editor was printed in the Spokesman Review today.

Pedals2People Slow Ride

In conjunction with a beer festival at the Lantern Tap House, Pedals2People had a fun fundraiser Slow Ride competition. The competition was open to all. The rules were that you always had to be moving forward and your feet could touch the ground. I went with the small bike so I'd have a lower center of gravity and did the course in 14.5 seconds.

The fundraiser part came from the New Belgium Brewery Company. P2P received a dollar for every one of their beers purchased.

P2P board members Jeff, Liza, Sara, and Annie. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kids, Cans, and Craziness

Here is another fine example of how fear mongering is affecting our country. Read more of the story here and here. (This mistaken attitude towards keeping our children safe is not new.)

If walking to the park, playing at the park, and then walking home from the park without adult supervision puts our children in danger maybe we could mitigate the danger by arming them with cans of food.

If we're going to have shit for brains we might as well go all out.

Everyone should carry an 8-ounce can of food with them at all times for self protection. And we should amend the Constitution to make that a right. And no canned goods regulation should be allowed to infringe upon this right.

After all, if we outlaw canned goods then only outlaws will have canned goods. Convicted felons lose their right to canned goods. It's boxes of pasta or a cup of noodles for them.

And I have the right to carry a 104-ounce can of chili if I want to. (Yes, they exist, but they're expensive. Relatively speaking.)

If any bleeding heart liberal politicians tries to force background checks upon us, a brave constitution-loving patriot will appeal to my irrational emotions, and in a glorious moment of confirmation bias, stand up and tell us what is and is not the law. We will not comply!!!

Nothing takes the fight out of a man like a slug in the chest.

Got Me All Excited About Nothing

Yesterday I heard someone in our building rode a fat bike to work.

"Cool", I thought and hurried down to the basement to check it out. Then I saw the bike and a darkness fell upon my spirit.

There is a bright side. We have elevators so I didn't have to walk up eight flights of stairs to get back to work.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Shots After Work

I walked around downtown with the camera to kill some time before my dinner date.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cool Water Bikes Fund Raiser

Quite a few of the Inland Northwest cyclerati showed up at the Garland Theater with donations. They were treated to beer and food and a viewing of Breaking Away

Breaking Away is the story of a young man who races bicycles and occasionally wears a helmet like Glen wore back in the day. The kid drafts a semi truck doing 50 mph while he's on the small chain ring and he has a spoke that needs two full turns to get the tension just right. Regardless, it's a fun movie. Paul Dooley is hilarious as the dad. And the evening was a worthy cause. 

Glen back in the day.

BTW, I heard Glen's National Forest Explorer release party went well. That's awesome.

Morning Shots

I got to work early and walked around downtown for a bit to take a few pictures. Didn't get any good ones.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Look Out, She's Got A Knife!

Cathy McMorris Rodgers happily posted this on her Facebook page today:

I just voted to empower people across Eastern Washington that have seen their paychecks cut because of Obamacare’s harmful 30-hour rule. These are moms and dads working to make ends meet, college graduates earning their first paychecks, and cafeteria workers struggling to pay their bills. 

This common-sense, bipartisan legislation replaces Obamacare’s full-time definition with the traditional 40-hour work week -- resulting in more take-home pay, and marking another meaningful solution brought forth by America’s New Congress.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

In reality, however, that step would lead to fewer hours of work for employees and more part-time work — the exact opposite of what their rhetoric about “restoring” the 40-hour work week implies. 

Recent data provide scant evidence that health reform is causing a significant shift toward part-time work, contrary to the claims of critics. The number of part-time workers who would rather be working full time is shrinking. And there’s every reason to believe that health reform will have only a small effect on the part-time share of total employment. 

More important, raising the law’s threshold from 30 hours a week to 40 hours would make a shift toward part-time employment much more likely — not less so. That’s because only a small share of workers today — 7 percent — work 30 to 34 hours a week and thus are most at risk of having their hours cut below health reform’s threshold. In comparison, 44 percent of employees work 40 hours a week, and another several percent work 41 to 44 hours a week. Thus, raising the threshold to 40 hours would place many more workers at risk of having their hours reduced. In short, it’s the present legislation, not health reform, that threatens the traditional 40-hour work week the legislation’s sponsors say they want to protect.

Let me translate what our congresswoman said.

I just voted to screw over people across Eastern Washington who will soon see their paychecks cut because we raised the 30-hour rule to 40 hours. Moms and dads working 40-44 hours a week to make ends meet, college graduates earning their first paychecks, and cafeteria workers struggling to pay their bills are now susceptible to having their hours reduced to below 40 so their employers will no longer have to provide health care benefits.

The people in Eastern Washington have been stabbed in the back by one of the best.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Today's Photos

I took some shots during lunch and after work today with the 35mm lens.


 Spotted by the silhouetted.

 Hence the reason this is not a parking spot.

 Lights on Monroe Street.

 Who's at the office?

 Hopeful derelict.

Breaking news! It's foggy.

Daredevil driver.

Holding The Disabled Hostage

Social Security consists of trust funds. The Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance has of two parts. Retired workers, their families, and survivors of deceased workers receive monthly benefits under the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program. (Rep Paul Ryan is an example of someone who received survivor benefits after his father passed away.) Disabled workers and their families receive monthly benefits under the Disability Insurance (DI) program. The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund handles Medicare.

The Disability Insurance trust fund is slated to run out of money in 2016. Failure to act upon that means all disabled recipients will take a 20% cut. This is the same thing that is scheduled to happen in 2035 when the OASI trust fund will be depleted and beneficiaries will only receive 75% because that's what the tax revenue can handle. However, as a combined fund, the OASI and DI can last until 2033 before the reserves are depleted. In the past Congress has reallocated revenue to address imbalances in the trust funds.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives adopted a rule that would prevent the reallocation of tax revenue to the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. Why?

Because Social Security trust funds have a lot of money in them and there are people who want to get their hands on that money. Your money.

What do the Social Security Trustees recommend? From their annual report (PDF): (bolding mine)

The projected theoretical combined OASI and DI Trust Fund asset reserves increase through 2019, begin to decline in 2020, and become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2033. At the time of reserve depletion, continuing income to the combined trust funds would be sufficient to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits. However, the DI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2016, at which time continuing income to the DI Trust Fund would be sufficient to pay 81 percent of DI benefits. Therefore, legislative action is needed as soon as possible to address the DI program’s financial imbalance. Lawmakers may consider responding to the impending DI Trust Fund reserve depletion as they did in 1994, solely by reallocating the payroll tax rate between OASI and DI. Such a response might serve to delay DI reforms and much needed corrections for OASDI as a whole. However, enactment of a more permanent solution could include a tax reallocation in the short-run. 

For the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds to remain solvent throughout the 75-year projection period: (1) revenues would have to increase by an amount equivalent to an immediate and permanent payroll tax rate increase of 2.83 percentage points1 (from its current level of 12.40 percent to 15.23 percent; a relative increase of 22.8 percent); (2) scheduled benefits during the period would have to be reduced by an amount equivalent to an immediate and permanent reduction of 17.4 percent applied to all current and future beneficiaries, or 20.8 percent if the reductions were applied only to those who become initially eligible for benefits in 2014 or later; or (3) some combination of these approaches would have to be adopted. 

The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually and give workers and beneficiaries time to adjust to them. Implementing changes soon would allow more generations to share in the needed revenue increases or reductions in scheduled benefits. Social Security will play a critical role in the lives of 59 million beneficiaries and 165 million covered workers and their families in 2014. With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations.

For the Republican-led House, informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action means holding the disabled hostage. I'd say that one ranks pretty high up on the heartless scale.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Message Left For City Council President Ben Stuckart (NSFW)

Potty mouth warning!

Politicians get all kinds of feedback from people. I'm not a city resident but I pay some attention to what goes on. Ben received this message and posted it. I thought I'd share it just to show you what someone who's a authentic POS sounds like.

Let's hope this doesn't morph into a physical threat of any kind.

Who's The Prankster?

A message left on my answering machine: This is the return call you requested for the back brace you are eligible to receive for free. Press 1 now to speak with a member representative.

I thought I was getting my third free 30-trial of Cialis.

Get It While You Can

I stumbled across this Motley Fool article touting Five Facts About Social Security You Must Know and I was struck by the dichotomy of how cash strapped Social Security will be in the future and yet they tell you how to get more money from Social Security.

Number 5: Social Security is Massive 
Number 4: The Elderly Could Not Survive Without This Program 
Number 3: The workforce is shrinking 
Number 2: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up - The trust fund is projected to run out of money in 2033. Once that happens, retirees can only expect to receive about 75% of the benefits they would have received. 
Number 1: The #1 Way to Increase Your Benefits - Every year you wait to claim social security benefits until age 70 you will boost your annual payouts by 8%. Waiting until you're 70 will give you 32% more in benefits than if you took them at age 66 and you can receive 76% more than taking them at age 62. If you can afford to delay benefits until age 70 and if you live past age 82, you will receive more in lifetime income from Social Security than if you had waited until full retirement age.

And then on top of that, there's a short blurb that tantalizes you with getting even more money from Social Security.
There are 3 “Backdoor Social Security Loopholes” so potentially lucrative President Obama is trying to ban them. Buried on page 150 of this year’s $3.9 trillion budget proposal, Obama snuck mention of his plan to “eliminate” the “aggressive Social Security claiming strategies” used by clever retirees “to maximize retirement credits" including the strategies revealed in this report! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Craptastic Comcast

I tried calling Comcast this morning to ask about the small cable box attached to my downstairs TV. We want to get rid of the 27-inch cathode ray television and replace it with a high def TV of a similar size. The ancillary cable box attached to the TV uses a coax cable connection. Plus, it's not HD so we need to replace it.

I called their toll free number and I was presented with two options. New customers were to press 1 and anyone wanting a free vacation had to press 2. I didn't press either. After a while a voice said I would be connected to a customer service representative. After a couple of clicks the line went dead.

So I called back.

This time I pressed 2. I was informed I had been selected to receive copies of some magazines and a $50 Walmart gift card. Press 1 to accept and press 2 to decline.

I pressed 2. I was politely thanked for calling and told, "Good-bye." And the line went dead.

So I called again.

The third time was a charm because I finally got to speak to a live person--well, after navigating a variety of options and verifying my account--and got them to send me a new cable box.

Fun times.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I Live This All The Time

He's referring to the Dunning-Kruger effect. When you’re incompetent, the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is. In logical reasoning, in parenting, in management, problem solving, the skills you use to produce the right answer are exactly the same skills you use to evaluate the answer.

At work I'm in charge if IT and I'm the most cautious and conservative person when it comes to technology I'm not familiar with. I think that bothers some people but I can live with it. I try to be smart enough to know when I'm not smart enough to know.

Oh, and I love the Fox News viewer zinger.