This topic is for links to relevant news, interesting websites, quick opinions and inane ponderings. Postings in this thread are considered "open-thread", meaning that anyone can post a comment on any of the articles, whether the comment relates to the post or not. If you have something random to say, this is the place.
Gee, that's nice. I'm so glad that the Bush administration chooses this clean technology to decide to try out environmentalism. And they accuse the left of using it as an obstructionist tactic.
Take a look at how environmentally damaging that oil can be. You have to have a huge plot of land with pits full of toxic water and mud. You drill a hole a mile or two into the ground and bring up radioactive materials and toxic byproducts. Then you have to have a pipeline. You have to bury these things, and they sometimes leak. You have to have truck traffic to haul saltwater, which has to then be injected back into the earth.
If anything should require careful study, it's an oil drilling project.
But here, we have a relatively inert technology. You have solar panels or you have mirrors and a boiler. And then you have to string power lines. That's the biggest part.
Look, I'm all for studying environmental impact. And I don't believe that corporations are "entitled" to use public lands. But in light of the fact that Michael Chertoff suspended dozens of federal laws, including environmental laws to build that damned fence, this just doesn't smell right.
At the very least, the government needs to expedite the studies.
Sunday afternoon, I took the boys fishing. It was so damned hot, and we weren't catching much. MamaSk8z was hot and the boys got bored, so we decided to go home and come back later when the sun came down.
But once we got home and parked our happy asses, we thought better of going back out.
Only one problem. That package of night crawlers was left in the back of the van. Monday morning, I drove the car to work, and the poor spineless worms baked to death silently in the back of my van, parked in front of my house.
This morning, (Tuesday) I decided to drive the van to work, since MamaSk8z needed the Prius. I guess I was vaguely and unconsciously aware that the worms were still out there, but I really didn't expect the level of stench I got when I opened the door to get in.
Luckily, it was still fairly cool outside, so I rolled down the windows on my way to work and could almost imagine that there wasn't a pile of rotting corpses somewhere back there covered in manure and cheese.
When I pulled in to work, windows still down, I had my mind on a dozen little tasks I needed to do. One of them was to come back after my morning emails and haul the bodies out to the dumpster.
But life happened, and once again, I forgot - something I've done a lot of lately. So at 3:30, when I left for my doctor's appointment, I opened the van door to hop in, and was bowled over by the now exponentially worse and twice-baked putrid stench of Sunday's bait.
As late as I am running, I grab the offending worm container with the tips of my fingers, and shuffle to the dumpster, door still ajar on the van. I drop the container. Thank God it stays closed. I pick it up again and toss it in the dumpster, saying a little prayer that no human being goes out there to put something in before the truck comes.
It is however, too late to get the smell out of my van. So, in the worst heat of the afternoon, I was driving with corpses covered in vomit, garbage juice, road-kill, and milk farts. Tears came to my eye s as I came to realize the full shittyness of my situation.
You see, my van has this problem with overheating on hot days. There are some relays that drive the electric cooling fan, and the computer that drives them has been haywire. I've spent hundreds and hundred on it, and it's just one of those damned things. I've learned to mostly live with it. I watch the temperature gauge. If it gets too hot, I have to get out of traffic or turn off the AC.
In the worst cases of overheating, I have to actually turn on the heater full blast to let some of the engine heat out. This is not fun in Texas 100 degree weather.
So here I am, driving this thing in the heat of the day with the poor AC trying just as hard as it can to keep me from breaking out into a drenching sweat. I would wonder why the paint doesn't peel off, but my mind is busy processing normal driving tasks while balancing heat versus stench. Periodically I roll down the windows for clouds of putrescent worm spirit to escape. I realize now that my back windows are not opening up on command, so the foul vapors must come forward to get out.
As I stop at yet another traffic light on what I spontaneously decide is the worst timed system on the planet, I notice the temperature needle rise again with my blood pressure following it. The AC is blowing just cool, not cold.
I did finally arrive without overheating. And though my laptop computer was in the van, I threw caution to the wind (pun intended) and left the windows partially rolled down, thankful no other cars were parked near me.
As I sat waiting in the doctors office, I hoped that the stench hadn't followed me in. But I'm more confident now that if I did have to haul a dead body, I'd probably be able to handle it. Just give me some notice so I can reserve the Prius with its cold AC, and a jar of Vicks Vapo-rub.
Wonder what kind of bad karma I got from letting those worms die in the heat. Do you think it's as bad as feeding them to fish?
Fire destroyed part of the Texas Governor's Mansion. This happened Sunday morning on the same weekend as the Texas Democratic Party convention was in Austin. So it took - oh, about 2 seconds for the nutzoid conspiracy theorists to start blaming Democrats for the fire. Can't tell you how badly I'd like to kick the perpetrator in the ribs.
Hopefully soon, we'll have a post from one of our local folks who attended the state convention and actually did something other than drink and walk around. I posted a few pics. You can see them on the left or in the photos section.
Thought I'd just write a few thoughts down that I've been meaning to blog for several days:
Karaoke I've been singing karaoke each Wednesday night, and having a blast at it. This past Wednesday, I entered a contest and actually won the popular vote, I'm told. But I lost because of "superdelegates". Basically, they pass out tickets when everyone is done singing, and you vote for whoever you like. But the vote counts for 60%, and the owner and karaoke host each get 20% votes.
The woman who won was really, really good. I stayed out too late and made the mistake of leaving my cell phone at home with the ringer turned on. One of my buddies thought it would be funny to try and call me at 1:15 am from across the bar. My wife answered it and gave me all kinds of hell when I got home.
Bloggers Caucus Party Thursday morning, I felt like hell and probably deserved it. I didn't have any work to do, and it was the kids' last day of school. We decided to go ahead and drive down to Austin for the bloggers' caucus party.
I was amazed at the turnout for the party. And it was great to finally put some faces with names for folks I've been reading.
Sorry it took me so long to announce this. I wasn't originally planning to go, but the guest list has gotten longer with VIPs, and there is going to be free booze! I will be there! If you're in Austin, come join me!
I was tired all day today. Napped for a long time. But now I'm drinking coffee.
Earlier this week, I received a surprise in the mail: "The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys" - a political satire by WhosPlayin guest writer Irving Wesley Hall. (see the link) I had talked to Irving months ago about the book, and had bought the e-book version, but honestly - I just can't read that way. So I was happy to have the paperback version in hand.
The book is political fiction about 3 young teen sisters in Florida during the 2000 elections. I'm looking forward to reading it for my sons. I'm also touched that he's put my name in the acknowledgments.
Today I took the kids to a really cool store here in Lewisville called "Northern Tool" They sell all sorts of industrial tools and equipment, as well as parts that tinkerers and hobbyists like myself can use. The also sell solar panels pretty inexpensively. I didn't buy anything though. I'm a little broke until next payday.
Work has been frustrating. There hasn't been a huge amount of work to do, and what I do have, I've been having trouble getting timely answers to my questions from my clients. So, I sit around a lot at work wondering "what in the hell can I do now, to stay billable?" I've had another firm recruiting me, but the position would probably be less pay and would require me to commute to Carrollton each day. I've got an open mind. I've got a friend that keeps trying to convince me to step up to a higher-level job. I'm not sure what to think about that. I do like doing technical things, but I'm about as far as I can go in my field, and the technology I work with only has a limited life. Either I move up, take a lateral move, or hope that the ship doesn't go down until I retire.
I'm told that some folks have tried to register for accounts on this website, and that the accounts were somehow rejected. If that happens, and you really want an account, email me: email@example.com. I usually approve all account requests unless they look like spammers, but I don't doubt that I've probably flushed the baby with the bathwater on occasion. At one point, this website was getting thousands of spam comments per day. For awhile, people were even posting porn in the forums. I've had to remove the forums and add an extra field to the comments. If you ever want to leave a comment, you have to type "washington" in the verification field in order for it to post correctly.
Speaking of comments, some of you email me - which is fine, but some of your comments are really good. I think other readers would benefit if you want to post your thoughts.
I mowed the yard today. It was damn hot. Did you know that I have a wind-powered lawn mower. Sort of, anyway. It's an electric lawnmower with a rechargeable battery. (And my household buys electricity from Green Mountain) I love it:
- It's lightweight - It starts instantly and stops instantly - It's MUCH quieter than a gasoline mower - It's very reliable - The mower deck adjusts up and down with just one lever. - It can bag or mulch - No trips to the gas station.
I bought it last year, and feel really smart right now that gas is nearly $4. I've got a rechargeable electric trimmer/edger too. About a two weeks ago, frustrated that my blower is still gasoline, I bought an eco-friendly cordless battery free solution: a push broom. Yes, amazing. Did you know that grass clippings can actually be swept off the sidewalk?
Do you ever get sick of political news? Boy, I sure do. Sometimes I just can't stand to hear anymore of it. I much more enjoy actually talking to real people about ideas and policies. Three times in the past few weeks, I've sat down with Republicans for various discussions. What strikes me the most is how much we actually agree on, in terms of facts, but that our disagreements are mostly related to what we do about certain problems, and the extent and nature of unintended side effects. I've been working on a blog post about how people disagree. I don't know if I'll get around to posting it, or if it will sit in my pile with the dozens of others....
I really want to see "Baby Mama" with Tina Fey:
Did I mention that I "graduated" from the Citizen's Fire Academy last week? Look in the "Recent Photos" section.
There are many things that people do that I do not agree with, I think are stupid , or I see as a burden to society. Despite this, I will defend their right to live their lives as they see fit.
Marriage seems to be a big issue in the news these days. California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage. The state of Texas is in a mess with this FLDS polygamy sect.
I have one question for every one that wishes to limit the legal definition of marriage; why do you care? Within the Bill of Rights we have all taken away, right or wrong the idea of freedoms to live our lives as we see fit, so long as in doing so we do not interfere with anyone else’s right to do the same. This is an admirable idea, and one we must work harder to live up to.
FLDS sects always seem like weirdos, and they are. They have values that do not fit into the mainstream idea of morality in our society, for most of you I am sure the idea of more than one spouse is hard to understand. It is for me! Marriage to one person can be hard enough. Having more than one spouse just does not fit within my idea of what a family is, or “ should be”.
And while monogamous same sex marriage is a little closer to what I think about as marriage; two people in love raising a family: It is still not my cup of tea at all. I am a man, I want to married to one woman. With a little luck until the day I die.
Therefore I ask myself the same question I ask with any civil liberties issue: "Do I have the right to tell someone else that they must live the way I do?" No matter that I think my way of doing things is best, and I do, or I would do it differently. We still have a great country, we are the envy of the world because our ideas of freedom are better! WE THE PEOPLE must remember this. We have all kinds of relationships these days that do not fit into what we think of as a normal marriage. Men and women commonly have children from multiple mates without ever being married. "My baby daddy" is not a way for a woman to refer to her husband, it implicitly refers to, the father of her child that is not her husband.
More and more people are not getting married at all. Deciding instead to live "in sin" to use a parlance of our times. I have know many couples raising children together but not married. They are all strong families. And we are all familiar with the high rate of divorce in this country. Some people choose to have a mate of the same sex, Some people choose to have multiple mates at the same time.
Furthermore the inclusion of homosexual and bisexual sex in heterosexual marriage is almost common place today. No matter how much you or I many not like it, we have the responsibility to defend there right to do so. If you can not stand up for another’s right to live differently then you, you in turn must be willing to give up your right to live as you wish.
Are you so against gay marriage or polygamy that you are willing to give up your marriage, your right to marry who you wish? Well but one man and one woman is natural, you say. Well ok, that being true we would see throughout the animal kingdom monogamous heterosexual relations. But in fact we see that animals that mate for life with the opposite sex is rare. Most mammals are polygamous, and there are many examples of homosexuality thought out the animal kingdom. Even great heroes of the Bible had more than one wife. The Romans were the first to organize the Catholic church, with the Council of Nicaea. And is there any question about Roman history of homosexual behavior?
Maybe your religious beliefs tell you that marriage is one thing. That’s fine, follow that belief. I promise that if necessary I will die to defend you right to do so. But we must all being willing to fight for everyone’s rights. We have become a country of tolerance in many ways. There are people from every corner of the globe that call the USA their home. Likewise there are people of every faith here too.
Our diversity has always been part of what makes this such a great country. You know this, dear reader!!! So can we not manage to deal with gays and polygamists being married?
I just put my second pot of coffee on to brew, and haven't had a sip yet. I was so groggy, I forgot to put coffee in the basket.
I spent a good portion of yesterday out in the garage working on a solar water heater prototype. My oldest son, Seth (age 9) helped me out. I let him help me sweat the copper joints - which he really enjoyed.
I'm about half-way done putting this solar water heater thing together, although I'm still not sure how I'm going to do a couple of things. I need a pump that can handle hot water at high pressure, and is rated for potable use. I'm looking at this one, which is actually designed for use in R.V.s but it might work for my purposes. This first one I'm building is only a prototype though.
These gas prices are insane. And I don't have a whole lot of ideas about how we could fix it, other than by conservation. Some have pointed out that the commodities market has a lot to do with it. I hope that McBlogger will post some of his thoughts soon.
I've been getting a lot of spam lately from dimwits trying to sell kits that purport to make your car run on water rather than gasoline. It's a sad testament to the state of science education in this country that people would fall for such a thing. To make a complicated thing simple: It takes more energy to separate hydrogen from water than you get when you burn the hydrogen. To make a vehicle that separates its own hydrogen and then burns it with no external power source would be akin to the perpetual motion machine.
Recently as I kicked back with this sites moderator and others and we talked about the growth of Lewisville and Denton CO. someone asked what about bring Dallas's mass transit up here? This idea has rolled around in my head for weeks now so I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you. So what do I think about liking Lewisville and Denton with a Dallas mass transit system. I am not one who believes that global warming it not real. I believed it was real 20 years ago as much as I do today. And a mass transit system has unarguably great environmental advantage. That said... I grew up in Denton Co. I went to Newton Razor Elementary School, and I am Fighting Farmer Alumni. And I happen to think we have a pretty nice place to live. Our county has a style and flavor all its own. Over the years it has gotten harder to tell when u have left Lewisville as you drive North or South on I-35E. The cities of the metroplex have all started to blend. DFW is not unique in this way I know. In fact, driveling between Austin and San Antonio it is hard to tell where one city ends and the other starts. But for now cities and towns of Texas still hold there uniqueness. So while my desire to see us start to take real responsibility for the environment; and mass transit is a very good move in that direction. I am concerned that in time the cities and towns that we love, will all be part of mass sprawling cities.