Saturday, September 29, 2012

Like Your Weather?

Seriously, it's not a trick question: do you like your weather?

I'm talking to all you I-did-it-all-myself Republicans out there, the ones who think they got no help from the government just because they haven't ever needed (or conveniently forgot that they had) a government-backed business loan, or to go on welfare: do you like your weather?

Is it well-behaved where you live and run your business? The days are sunny, the nights rain politely and on schedule. No droughts requiring either irrigation or crop insurance? No floods requiring FEMA, followed by the Army Corps of Engineers to help prevent the next one from causing so much damage? No unseasonal snow storms upsetting traffic so you can't ship to meet your on-time demands? No heavy snow loads caving in your warehouse roofs? No icy roads sending your trucks jackknifing all over the place? No hail storms to ruin crops and roofs and shatter windows? No heavy straight line winds? No tornadoes? How about hurricaines?

So if your weather isn't always polite and cooperative, don't you at least want to know about it ahead of time so you can make plans?

Ever heard of GOES 13? It's job is supposed to be to help you know about the weather ahead of time. It's one of NOAA's  weather satellites. Or was. A few days ago reports were that it had crashed. Now they're talking about technical problems. So it's still up there, in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic and the east coast. You know, an area that tends to have a lot of major weather events that affect the country. But we're not getting the data from it. And there's no plan to send a mission up and fix it. There's this little thing called a budget that just doesn't have any extra room in it because cutting is all the rage these days, because, hey, government is useless, right? And there's another little issue about a thing called space shuttles that we've outsourced to the Russians because space is expensive and - again - useless, right?

So if they can fix GOES 13 at all, it'll have to be from the ground.

Good luck with that.

And hey, I'm sure there will never be another hurricane heading in from the Atlantic and turning up along the east coast, so no worries, mate.

For the immediate future, GOES 14 can be moved into position if they can't fix 13. At least there's one in reserve. But we're not sending any more up. Not in the budget. And they do fail. They will all eventually slow down and crash. And then what? We can't make and send more up on a moment's notice because somebody finally decided there was need.

Buy hey, Mr. I-did-it-all-myself, you did this yourself before too, right? And you can do it all again, right? Because it doesn't take the collective to put up a weather satellite, it takes individual initiative. You go right ahead and start planning your next weather satellite, because if government isn't going to be able to do it, and/or shouldn't by your philosophy, somebody needs to.

Surely you didn't think we're going to outsource that to the Chinese?

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Week In Review: Short Form

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

But... No Sticker

Yesterday actually started at 7:45 PM the night before with a reminder to Steve that we both had 15 minutes to get in our last meal of the day. His doctor, which is also mine, wanted a fasting blood sugar level from both of us. That meant 12 hours NPO.

In the morning it began with hitting the heat on setting on the hallway thermostat on the way to the bathroom. I've been avoiding using the furnace as much as possible, but a couple recent nights dipping into the 30's have reluctantly ended that. At least the last couple mornings all I do is keep the house shut up tight and only flip it on just before my shower,  off before I leave, letting the sum warm it the rest of the day. It reads 70 before I hit the switch, but right now that's too cold. 72 feels much better. Even though the AC has been running this summer, the first time the furnace goes on it stinks with that "I'm burning off all the dust" smell.

Steve and I were in and out of the lab in no time. It took longer to check in than get stabbed and released. Usually they moan and groan about the condition of my arms, both sporting lumps of scar tissue from being a 10 gallon blood donor plus about a year at the "stab lab" selling plasma way back in the really lean years. Not this tech. She swabbed, poked with the fingernail, and slipped that needle in so smoothly I could hardly tell she'd done anything.

Note to Doctor: Keep this one!!!!!!!

Then a quick trip to the drive-thru Mickey D's: coffee for me for the morning pills, milk and his favorite sandwich for Steve. We ate in the parking lot, since I thought it unwise to choke down all those pills while behind the wheel. I mix my own sugar-free mocha, and much prefer tasting it to wearing it.

Next stop was the county court house, to the auditor's office. It was time to vote! Ballots have been ready since middle of last week. Minnesota allows early absentee voting for those who will not be at the polls on the day - not that they actually check up on you. We'll be in sunny Arizona by then. In person voting is much easier than by mail since there's less to fill out and you don't have to be so particular in how the envelopes get filled out since there's only one. I learned by watching the Franken recount how easy it is to get your absentee ballot thrown out by doing the envelopes improperly. All the single envelope needs is my name and the last four of my SS#. That gets compared against the application to vote absentee that I just filled out. We both got a table and chair for the whole process and were offered privacy screens which we both turned down.

Here's the skivvy: I used to be an independent. John Anderson was once my presidential choice. But modern Republicans have turned me determinedly Democratic, and if anybody cares, I voted straight ticket. Plus "NO" on both ballot questions. I liked both incumbents on the city council ballot, and nobody else after the first couple judges had competition so I mostly didn't bother. Steve told me how he was planning on voting, but if he wants you to know, it's for him to say.

We weren't done with the morning errands yet. Next stop was city hall. Lynn, the city clerk, is also a notary. Her becoming one was paid for by the city, and those services are free to city residents. Occasionally I take advantage of them. Yesterday was to make a minor change to the Warranty Deed on the Sun City house. Steve will now be a part owner and can partake freely of the perks of being in Sun City without paying an extra yearly fee.

I almost thought that wasn't going to happen. We contacted a paralegal referred to us, sent her the info she requested plus a check, and waited for her return email with the document(s) needing to be dated, signed and notarized. She, in turn, played email tag. First it was to confirm our marital statuses. Then another question and another. I've been dealing with a cold and not checking in on the computer daily, so it really dragged out. She couldn't have asked all the questions at once? I mean really? She does this stuff regularly since the person referring us was the one we worked with from the title company.

Finally I was ready to drop Steve at home, hit the mail box with the notarized paperwork, fill the tank, and log on to work. Everything on the to-do list accomplished. Still, I noted with some disappointment as I drove off, I wasn't sporting a little red "I Voted" sticker.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Freaky: Fun and Tragedy

First the fun. I saw a bumper sticker in an auto parts store yesterday that kinda tickled my funnybone, though not in the way the manufacturer intended, I'm sure. It read, "Honk if Parts Fall Off." With Halloween looming, my twisted mind took off in another direction. I imagined a zombie costume with that sign attached, and the wearer heading down the street with a hand dropping off, or some other body parts. Hands, I think, would be easiest to rig. If one is really of a ghoulish bent, the wearer could be an amputee taking temporary advantage of the situation. Or a Michael Jackson costume chronically losing the nose, perhaps.

Now for the less fun. This story comes with caveats, including being third hand, though from reasonably trusted sources. In addition, I will be the first to admit that I'm the kind of person who struggles with other people's use (misuse) of alcohol. I have yet to find a bad situation that alcohol use can't make even worse. And this one seems to be a case in point.

The way I heard it was that some of the crew, including a young lady of my acquaintance and her boyfriend, were celebrating the end of the State Fair and finish of tear-down by getting drunk. Good friends all, having a good time. Except for the part where the boyfriend choked on a marshmallow, and all his comrades, being thoroughly drunk, were either physically or mentally unable to assist him. He literally choked to death.

It's the kind of story that makes me want to get all preachy. Not that it would help. And I think highly enough of the young woman to believe she'll be  haunted enough by what happened that I don't need to add anything but my condolences.

But still....

Friday, September 14, 2012


I see a lot of some things in my job: seasons rolling by, weather changes, bad driving, industrial and commercial buildings, wildlife, industrial parks, insides of commercial buildings, poorly worded signs, public restrooms, and lately, nursing homes.

This particular one was Jewish. After making my delivery, I headed for the restroom on my way out. The sign was just a bit different. It advertised restrooms and kosher vending machines.

While I'd never thought about the need for such things, it seemed obvious there would be once I saw the sign. It was your basic "duh!" moment.

Personally I'm glad my own belief system doesn't require me to keep to those strict dietary laws. It's nothing to do with religion. Not only are they a whole lot of work, the expense of a second kitchen or a divided kitchen with duplicate equipment is something I'm just as glad not to need. And just keeping up with carbs is enough work, thank you very much.

My curiosity peaked, I opened the door to the alcove, wondering what would be in a kosher vending machine.


It does make sense that a non-meat, non-dairy product (some would say non-food) wouldn't violate kosher laws.  But does somebody have to go to the factory and make sure? And why does it need the label? So I'm trading one puzzled that I never knew I had is solved, for another one waggling its fingers at me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ready Fire Aim

Heard about that posting on Twitter. Don't do it myself, but it's just the comment for "Open-Mouth-Insert-Mitt".

Used to be, when there was some kind of international crisis, the politicking stopped and everyone rallied around the President in support until the crisis passed. Criticism came later, to your heart's content. Just back off while tricky stuff got handled. Imagine, if people are rioting in reaction to some piece-of-shit movie, how more incensed they could get in reaction to some unwise comments in the middle of a campaign. To the unknowing, it looks as if nobody is in control, and no consequences will arise for their behavior. Or worse, there goes the hated USA (by the rioters) again, throwing it's weight around and giving even more reason to hate them and act this way.

Not helpful.

But "Open-Mouth-Insert-Mitt" just couldn't wait. No calming statement to his roiling base about now is not the time, we need more information, let the President do his job just like I hope you'll let me do mine in similar circumstances. No waiting with a press conference until the person who has more actual facts about the situation on the ground and the players in motion can make a measured response.

Nothing like wisdom coming from his mouth.

Just another lie, and sticking to it loudly even after it's pointed out to him. The Egyptian comment happened before the rioting and deaths began, and in no way does it apologize for American values, nor fail to criticize violence. But Romney shot off his mouth, and unlike everything else he's ever said, refuses to flip-flop on his interperate and innacurate words.

In reaction, I've heard everything from "pushed by his base" (who leads, who follows there?), to "not suited to command", "not qualified to be President", and even "treason."

Don't get me wrong here. I heartily wish the idiot who found it necessary to make the offensive movie had never done so. But it was done last May, and only recently was it deemed necessary for someone to translate it into an Arabic language. Somebody somewhere in the world wanted to actively stir up trouble. Now. Someday we'll maybe find out who that is.

Yes of course we have freedom of speech here. The way some folks think and act, you'd think we forgot the freedom of religion part that goes along with it. And we don't need a constitution to get freedom of (not from!) consequences. People react. People die. For anybody who is awake in the world, the consequences are predictable. How would Christians feel if somebody made a movie depicting Jesus as a fake, philanderer and pedophile? And if the news sources commented on it as being "perceived to be offensive," as if it takes somebody highly oversensitized to find fault with it?

As for the "not planned" part of the rioting? Perhaps. But the storming of the embassy was definitely planned, long in advance. Opportunistic, perhaps. They were ready for whatever happened. Might have pushed things along. But nobody "accidentally" picked up their RPG launcher on the way to see what the fuss was all about, nor did they "accidentally" shoot them off. And those folks are no more representative of their population that the idiot making that piece-of-shit movie is representative of ours.

Just equally destructive.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hell's Kitchen

I'd heard of it, not sure what I'd heard, so when Steph offered me birthday dinner there for Saturday night, meeting there so she could walk and get her exercise, I had to both be prepared for anything and ask directions.

The good news is they have their own parking ramp. The better news is I found close on-street metered parking free (handicap sticker). They're on 9th Street by Marquette in downtown Minneapolis these days, down in the basement.

Given the name, seems apt.

The corridor is filled with decorations ranging from funky (light fixtures made of inverted wire cages which suspend silverware for a "fringe") to weird (cow skull painted red except for the horns). The ladies room had holographic portraits mounted on the walls, changing from old-fashioned formal sittings to skeleton, vampire, and axe-murder victim complete with axe in head. Creepiest was the stage. The performers were OK, better if they hadn't been amped up so loud and we hadn't been sitting so close. Behind them however was a stage-to-ceiling plaster(?) angel statue, downcast eyes, beautiful spread wings.  Ordinarily this wouldn't have been creepy, but I've seen too many Dr. Who episodes where they try to come kill you if you take your eyes away from them!

Now the food was great. Steph had their beef of the day, meaning they take a local whole cow and go through the entire carcass until it's finished, then buy another. A lot of pot roast gets served that way, but Saturday night she had porterhouse steak. It can be a bit tough since they buy grass fed rather than hormone-stuffed corn fed cows, but hers was just fine. I ordered bison burger, lettuce-tomato-onion on wild rice bun (ate half the bun for the carb count) with toasted blue cheese over the top. Yum! Tried the fries, which use larger grain salt, possible sea salt or kosher, and declared them good enough to box up and bring home to Steve. (There were no low carb sides.)

Steph also had a Manhattan with huge blackberries floating in it. I stuck with ice water, both for carbs, and driving after. Not to mention I still basically don't like the stuff. Don't feel deprived that way.

We had a nice conversation in the car later, parked in a scenic spot along Lake of the Isles. No loud music to interfere. She had to head home at dark, meaning close to 8, needing to get up early for her week at the radio show and needing to work on her script. They don't get all the info until the night before, like who's next week's guest, and she has to put together a perfectly-timed promo.

Would I go again? You bet! Oddly enough, I live -relatively -right next to Eichten's, where I can both see bison and purchase frozen bison burgers. Last time I was there, however, they didn't have bison on the restaurant menu. (I made the suggestion to them, so maybe by now...) The point is, I don't go there. Perhaps that should change. Especially now that road construction makes the trip nearly impossible. They need support.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Convention Lines

Some of my favorite lines from/about the DNC convention:

Ask Bin Ladin if he's doing better than he was 4 years ago.

What was Clinton's secret budget surplus weapon? "Arithmetic."

If Mitt Romney was Santa Clause, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

Even Romney's money needs a passport: it summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.

The democrats should also have an empty chair on the stage. They should just put the name "Bin Ladin" on it.

Obama offers hope and change. Romney just offers change. So if you pick Romney there's no hope.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not What Friends Do

There's an old saying about dancing with the one who brought you. It recognizes an obligation in social settings which can be extended to other situations. If someone brings you to the dance, it is your obligation to dance with them at least a few times. It's not exclusive. But it is part of the social contract.

There's another side to that social obligation. If you take someone to the dance, especially if it's a long ways, you don't just dump them there and say, "Sorry, this wasn't the romantic night I had in mind. Find your own way home. But hey, we can still be friends, right?"

Bullshit! Unless your personal safety is an issue, your obligation is to take that person home again or at least personally see to it that a safe ride is provided. Things do happen. But friends don't strand friends. It's just one in a long string of things people don't do to each other in any kind of a civilized society. You'd think adults would recognize that, especially after being old enough to raise a family of their own. Heck, it should come with the teen-age driver's license.

So why am I ranting about this? Brenda decided that the on-again off-again relationship with Rich should be downgraded to a friendship - again. The timing was after she hauled him and his gear to a gig at the state fair, and just before it closed. And of course I got to be the one to pick him up after teardown at 2AM, meaning getting to bed at 4AM on a night where I needed to drive 425 miles the next day.

Yes, for safety's sake I did catch a nap earlier and shut off the alarm for the morning. Also managed an extra cup of coffee and went to bed about an hour earlier last night. Plus, Rich reimbursed me.  None of that is the point.

The point is that there are social obligations in this world. When one gives another person a ride, one takes on the obligation to see the whole trip through. Not following through on such obligations is anything between rude and inconvenient to downright dangerous. None of the consequences is anything that someone who is wanting to be an actual friend would wish on a friend. None of those is what a friend would deliberately do to a friend. If Brenda actually comes to her senses, irrespective of any future relationship between them, she not only owes Rich an apology, she owes me one as well.

And I will have to decide whether I can accept it or not. After all, this wasn't just silliness or carelessness. This is about a character flaw.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Invisible Obama

The country was just introduced to Invisible Obama. Apparently he's a bit of a scamp: rude, vulgar, thoroughly unlikeable. But what the world has a burning need to know, as they would upon being introduced to any invisible character, is this: is Invisible Obama a Peeping Tom?