12/27/12 (15:38)
  • we insulated the attic yesterday. started out with some car trouble. i went out of my way to splash into a big puddle and hit a massive drain pipe instead. busted up two of my rims in the process. had to drive on one of them after swapping out the other for the spare. that was awesome.
  • eventually we got the stuff from home depot and set up the blower in the attic. we went with fiberglass because the cellulose sprayer wasn't available. it ended up costing a bit more, but i think it'll be better in the long run anyway, so i wasn't too broken up about it. in theory our house should be a lot more efficient now. the big room got a bunch more insulation in one exterior wall, as well as a bit extra in between the gaps in the batt insulation that we installed earlier this year. everywhere else in the house got at least a r-13 in the attic. the back of the house got even more because we never have to go back there in the attic. didn't put any above the nook either, because we plan on blowing the ceiling out and increasing the height in there by about 6'.
  • meryl is gone today. i'm working on the bathroom. slow progress right now. trying to get the pocket door stiffer, but nothing has done that to my satisfaction so far. fixed the transition from the bathroom to the bedroom a bit, but that still needs work. finished the drywall texture today. may be ready to prime and paint tomorrow. little things like the door jamb needing to be widened have been adding time to the project.
  • i have work tomorrow because we're getting new carpet. blah. not looking forward to moving so much crap.
  • bowl games have mostly worked out as expected so far. missed the best game of the season, which is unfortunate. of the four today, i'm only going to watch the ucla game.
  • working on my top ten movies of the year list. not sure what's going to happen going forward since i don't foresee us getting out much with a little turd maker in tow constantly.
  • have thought plenty about the 14+ years of posts i have on here and what my daughter will think of them when she finds out about this page. suffice it to say i've probably said some dumb things over the years. unlike most people, though, my words are on public record and i've never made an edit to the journal section without notation. it's a bit like what celebrity parents have to deal with, but without the public judgment. it's like what future parents will have to deal with when their kids can see their facebook posts, but my page has been around longer, and it's a one way scenario; so, again, no public judgment/comment. ultimately, i don't think it will have any appreciable impact, but it could create a scenario where i will have to answer to my kid about something i said or did at age 19.

  • 12/23/12 (21:54)

  • mom is coming to visit tomorrow.
  • got a decent amount done around the house today. mud/tape on the bathroom is moving along. meryl has taken over on that which has allowed me to do some other little things like a couple patches in the hall and one in the laundry room. also did a little wiring in preparation for the insulation which we hope to install in a few days.
  • niners looked awful today. looked like manningham's bone poked out a little. i'd guess he's gone for the season. vernon davis got crushed. kaepernick looked shitty. with harbaugh at the helm i'm really not feeling the niners these days. hopefully they fire him so i can enjoy watching them again. honestly, i don't think we have what it takes to make it to the super bowl anymore. last year we did. not this year.
  • looks like i won this season in fantasy football. first time i've won a fantasy sports league. mostly luck.

  • 12/21/12 (13:30)

  • got off work early today and don't need to be back until the 28th when i have to move around a bunch of shit. then i don't have to be back until the 2nd. it's good, too, because i can't stand that place lately.
  • speaking of morons, i guess the people who thought the world was going to end were wrong. again.
  • NRA wants a guard in every school in the country. keeps right in line with the theory that more guns is better. i don't want my kid growing up in constant fear or in a police state. jesus this world is far gone.
  • in other conspiracy news, some are claiming that the CT shooting was done by an obama operative in order to make it easier to pass anti-gun laws. these people are hilarious.

  • 12/19/12 (17:39)

  • got a decent amount done today in the bathroom. walls are all up. workspace is cleaned up. insulated some gaps in the attic. next step is probably to mud/tape and then work a bit on the floor. tiling and building the cubbies will take the longest.

  • 12/18/12 (19:34)

  • big story of the week is the school shooting in CT. someone asked why americans feel so strongly about owning guns, i responded:
  • Americans tend to be deeply suspicious of the government. Some people think gun rights are a hedge against government tyranny. Some of these people think that guns have been restricted too much already and that we should be allowed to have tanks, rocket launchers, etc.
  • Others see gun rights as a simple matter of personal liberty. We're a fiercely independent bunch. Sometimes this is really good, other times it can be pretty bad.
  • Others see it as ordained by the founders that we should all be allowed to have guns because of the second amendment, though there's a lot of debate among constitutional scholars about what the second amendment actually is saying. It's not a very well-written piece of our constitution.
  • Lastly, there are many who believe that more guns is the answer - not less. They believe that if the kids and teachers in the school were armed, the psycho who went on the shooting spree would have only killed one or two people before a kid or teacher took him down.
  • This is merely a summary of the most prevalent positions I've come to find in talking with people on the subject. I'm not casting any judgement on any of them.
  • i've debated with people about the topic ad nauseum so my head is filled with crap info, but out of it all it's clear to me that more guns equals more gun crime. others contend, as stated above, that more guns deters crime and stops it earlier. i disagree and have some data to back it up: states with strictest gun laws. gun murder rate, harvard: "Where there are more guns there is more homicide," more, we are violent, and a really good one from ezra klein who is very good.
  • so, fewer guns means less gun crime. btw, most gun deaths are from suicide, but that's just one of those interesting things that most people don't talk about. does that mean we should have fewer guns? i don't think we can put the genie back in the bottle unfortunately. i do think we need to close loopholes on gun shows, etc. we need to get serious about restricting the most ridiculous high magazine automatic weapons. most can be altered anyway, but we have to at least do something out of principle.
  • i'm also not one to say we should just eliminate guns altogether. i don't buy the argument that we need to be able to fight the govt. off, but i don't have a problem with them being used for self-defense and self-reliance (hunting). when you get into ar-15s and fn p90s, you're talking about guns being used for fun, and i don't have a problem with restricting those to gun ranges, instead of for personal ownership.
  • the culture that fetishizes guns and makes them sacred is definitely a contributor to the problem.
  • possibly above all, though, we need to do something about our mental illness issues. more mentally ill people are in prison than in hospitals that are equipped to deal with their problems. this is a failure of society. if we have enough money to give $70+ billion in food stamps, and 99 weeks of unemployment, and $700+ billion to the military, etc. then surely we can kick some money down to the state/local governments to better take care of the mentally ill.
  • niners looked pretty good in the first half against the pats. kaepernick still managed to fumble more than score, even with 4 td passes. he dropped the snap like 5 times. i kid, but it's true. that game could have gotten ugly, especially after the defensive collapse of the second half and missed red zone opportunities of the first quarter. pundits seem to focus overwhelmingly on the final result. usc in 2005 is a good example. great team, sure - i still think they were the best team that year, despite the rose bowl outcome, but they barely beat ND and fresno state. yet pundits were talking about them being the best team of all-time. 1962 trojans were better than 2005 trojans. niners win and now they're hot shit. you're only as good as your last game, i guess. pundits are idiots and sports pundits are only a notch better than political pundits.
  • after usc lost to nd i thought that it was going to be alabama vs. nd with alabama winning by 10. alabama ended up winning a tighter game than i had envisioned against georgia. the original line was 9.5. not sure what it is now. once i had to pick a score, though, i ended up going with 16-9. another sec win. another boring ass game.
  • this whole pregnancy thing seems to take forever. not even half way there yet.

  • 12/15/12 (17:58)

  • bowl season started. pac-12 narrowly got a win with az over nv. nv had beaten cal early in the year so that was a little pac-12 retribution. evidently it was a really good game and az was down almost the entire time.
  • got the drywall up on the ceiling in the bathroom today. also got the recessed medicine cabinet situation figured out and roughed in. insulation is done as well. vented through the roof on wednesday and it appears to be water tight as there weren't any leaks with today's rain.
  • also put new brake pads on the truck today. need to replace the rotors, but o'reilly sold me the wrong ones. first time i've done a brake job and had someone from work show me the ropes. actually pretty easy.


  • 12/13/12 (18:46)

  • bad year in terms of movie watching. didn't watch a lot of old movies or foreign stuff. tv dominated the year. so far i've seen 58 seasons of television this year, which explains the fact that i only have about 200 entries on the movies list.
  • meryl's getting me a bike for xmas. pretty psyched about it, but don't know which one to get. it's between these 24.



  • 12/11/12 (17:06)

  • just came back from the latest ultrasound. doctor says it's a girl. i think i'd have mixed feelings either way, but overall i wanted a boy. that said, i think a girl will probably be better for me since it'll soften me. i also think it's easier to be a girl these days so it probably has a better shot in life as a girl. in the end, it doesn't really matter.

  • 12/10/12 (18:20)

  • a friend asked me tonight where i would rank alex smith in the nfl this year. i said top third. i think he's right in that region. he rarely turns the ball over and manages the game well. he's not asked to throw the ball 30+ times a game like some of the best, but i think he could. he's certainly better than kaepernick at this point. there are two things kaepernick has on smith - arm strength and mobility. i don't have the stats, but kaepernick probably has a better qb rating outside the pocket (i know he did a couple games ago) and probably is a bit better on the long ball. unfortunately, kaepernick has more fumbles and more fumbles lost in half as many games. he's also gone 50+ attempts and two games without a TD pass (though moss did have a pass interference in the end zone that wasn't called) - something alex smith hasn't done in the last two years. he also has 85 yards per game less than smith.
  • kaepernick supporters would counter that he makes up for some of that with his feet. some of it, perhaps. this is why he fumbles it at more than twice the rate that smith does and has 18 sacks vs. smith's 24 in half the games. further, the read option in the nfl is a fool's game. if you don't care about your qb then go ahead and run it all day long. but it's not something to hang your hat on and it shouldn't be more than a minor factor when comparing kaepernick and smith. smith is the better qb, but i think kaepernick will continue to start unless he turns the ball over multiple times a game. the reasons are twofold: 1. money. if they can get production out of kaepernick and not have to pay smith's bonus in the spring, then they'll do that. 2. pride. harbaugh won't swallow his pride and admit that the kaepernick experiment was a bad idea. if kaepernick gets hurt or has multiple turnovers then harbaugh will probably go with smith, but it's kaepernick's to lose at this point. mediocre play or not.
  • i've never liked harbaugh. last year i tolerated him because he was winning. this year he's pissing me off.

  • 12/8/12 (09:52)

  • not going to get any work done this weekend. meryl's grandma's 80th birthday today and tomorrow my dad is visiting.
  • have a lot to do before the baby comes. definitely want the bathroom done and it would be nice to get a couple little nagging projects out of the way too. bigger project like the laundry room is going to be a pain with a kid around and having to do laundry all the time.
  • the drainage measures we took on the front and side of the house didn't help fix the standing water in the back of the house so that's another thing that i'm going to have to address - probably in spring/summer.
  • the free computer business model is back. during the early internet days of the late 90s there was a trend of companies giving people free computers with the catch being that they logged your activity and advertised to you. well, that's basically (kindle and chromebook aren't free, they're just cheaper than they should be) back now with things like the chromebook and amazon kindle. these are portals to the google services or amazon website where you will hopefully see advertising or buy things.
  • i don't like the smith/kaepernick game that harbaugh is playing. smith has the best completion percentage in the league and was top 5 in qb rating when he got benched. kaepernick is 2-1 and the defense's 14 points won one of those games for him. if smith was stinking it up then i would understand the decision, but he's doing well so to unnecessarily divide the team is just silly in my book. of all the wins i've seen while being a niners fan, the two with kaepernick at qb have been by far the least satisfying.
  • big talk of the day is the "fiscal cliff." they couldn't fix the problem earlier so they kicked the can down the road and enacted an illegitimate and unconstitutional "super committee" to do the dirty work. the super congress failed and they didn't get anything done before the election so we are where we are. the republicans took a calculated risk in allowing the "cliff" to take effect, but they were banking on a romney win. so, now we are in a situation where the dems have the upper hand because 1. they won the election and have momentum 2. will get tax increases on the wealthy and defense cuts by default. one theory is that everyone will allow us to go off the cliff and then the republicans can be more flexible in future tax changes (thus circumventing the norquist no-tax pledge). personally, i don't buy into the financial armageddon scenario that some are painting. the fiscal cliff won't be good for the economy, but i don't think it'll be awful either. ultimately it's what we need, but the timing is the troubling issue.
  • most of what you need to understand to get the math is to look at these two charts: here and here.
  • over 60% (and growing) of the pie is medicare, SS, and defense. imo, defense can be cut 10% with no real big problems. defense is basically another welfare handout at this point. it stimulates the economy like any other handout or infrastructure project, but they've been growing too fat over the years so i don't mind an immediate 10% cut. SS needs to be tweaked. people who are 60+ don't get any changes. people 51-60 will be eligible for benefits at 69, instead of 67. sorry. your generation helped spend too much money and elect morons so this is your punishment/part of the collective sacrifice we're all going to need to make. people 50 and under will be eligible for benefits at 72. income up to 300k will now be taxed on SS (currently the first 160k [or thereabouts] gets taxed). i haven't done the math, but from everything i've read the measures i've outlined will be more than enough to make SS solvent for quite a while. we also need to separate SS from the general fund. the whole "lock box" thing has historically been a myth, but it should be a reality. if it's taxed separately (as it is on your paycheck), then it shouldn't be going towards anything else. pretty simple.
  • medicare is the big problem. the ultimate solution is to have a hybrid healthcare system (similar to germany's) where most people get a kaiser-type govt.-paid healthcare for basics and preventative care. if you want transgender surgery or a nose job or the newest experimental drugs, then you get to pay for it yourself. same goes for abortions. sorry. birth control pills and condoms are paid for under this system, use them. but since that's not happening any time soon, medicare will need to be tweaked in other ways. paul krugman says that increasing the age of eligibility a couple years doesn't save any real money, so i'll trust him on that. rationing will always be a reality in govt. paid healthcare. there's just no reasonable way we can spending hundreds of thousands of dollars taking heroic action for every 80 year old on their death bed. groups of doctors will get together to make these decisions, not politicians - so don't play that rhetorical game. hopefully the ACA (obamacare) will lower healthcare costs as advertised. i'm highly skeptical.
  • we need to really go after fraud. hire some nutty conservative guy who thinks everyone is a welfare queen and a nutty liberal guy who thinks every corporation is raping the proletariat. let them dig up all the fraud and abuse they can find and present it to the attorney general or some non-partisan body responsible for acting on fixing the problem. lastly, there's the other 40-ish% of the budget. i'd love to see more stuff shifted to the states. i'm a republican in this way. i do think that the states do a lot of this stuff better than the feds. the feds can provide baseline standards for things like housing, education, and social safety nets. they should also serve as a hub for networking states and local governments working on solving problems. they shouldn't be dictating this stuff, they should be there to help the lower governments find solutions. there's no point in having 50 laboratories of innovation if no one is keeping track of effectiveness and passing on this information to others.
  • so, that's the spending side with some of the revenue solutions mixed in. other revenue solutions: no more of this crap where "47% of the country doesn't pay federal income tax." it's fundamentally unfair and it's the only time i've ever agreed with michelle bachmann (yuck) - "everyone should pay something, even if it's a dollar." we need to eliminate the minimum deduction or whatever it is that allows people to not pay taxes. everyone needs skin in the game and everyone needs to pull their weight in the form of income taxes. these tax increases on the bottom should take place after unemployment goes down to 6%. on the other hand we need to quit getting nickel and dimed to death. there are plenty of lists online (this one has over 200) of all the taxes we pay (usually on conservative sites), if you care to look, but here's the one i saw most recently - some are b.s. and some are state/local taxes and some are use fees which can potentially make sense, but you get the point:

  • #1 Building Permit Taxes
    #2 Capital Gains Taxes
    #3 Cigarette Taxes
    #4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)
    #5 Dog License Taxes
    #6 Drivers License Fees (another form of taxation)
    #7 Federal Unemployment Taxes
    #8 Fishing License Taxes
    #9 Food License Taxes
    #10 Gasoline Taxes
    #11 Gift Taxes
    #12 Hunting License Taxes
    #13 Inheritance Taxes
    #14 Inventory Taxes
    #15 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
    #16 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
    #17 Liquor Taxes
    #18 Luxury Taxes
    #19 Marriage License Taxes
    #20 Medicare Taxes
    #21 Medicare Tax Surcharge On High Earning Americans Under Obamacare
    #22 Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (if you donít buy ďqualifyingĒ health insurance under Obamacare you will have to pay an additional tax)
    #23 Obamacare Surtax On Investment Income (a new 3.8% surtax on investment income that goes into effect next year)
    #24 Property Taxes
    #25 Recreational Vehicle Taxes
    #26 Toll Booth Taxes
    #27 Sales Taxes
    #28 Self-Employment Taxes
    #29 School Taxes
    #30 Septic Permit Taxes
    #31 Service Charge Taxes
    #32 Social Security Taxes
    #33 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)
    #34 Tanning Tax (a new Obamacare tax on tanning services)
    #35 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes
    #36 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes
    #37 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes
    #38 Telephone State And Local Taxes
    #39 Tire Taxes
    #40 Tolls (another form of taxation)
    #41 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
    #42 Utility Taxes
    #43 Vehicle Registration Taxes
    #44 Workers Compensation Taxes
  • the whole thing needs to be streamlined. get rid of the little shit. psychologically it's draining and it can't be easy to keep track of or cheap to administer. filing taxes should be an automatic process or take no more than 15 minutes for someone of average intelligence (almost) regardless of the investments, jobs, and deductions they have. let's get into the 21st century by having this stuff online. you logon, it presents the data that has already been imported by your employer and banks. you verify it, correct it, add to it and then you're done. turbo tax and CPAs around the country cry about it. tough luck. collective sacrifice - find another job, we'll even help.
  • i'm open to the idea of a federal sales tax. sales taxes are regressive, but there's something that makes more sense about taxing consumption instead of income. carve outs and write offs need to be drastically reduced. deducting your mortgage payment is great for people rich enough to afford a house, but unnecessary at this point. yes, i know realtors, home builders, and the economy will suffer from this, but it needs to be done. i'm willing to compromise - you can deduct half of your payment instead of all of it. same goes for all the corporate loopholes and write-offs. too complex for me to understand, but they need to be gone. in exchange for parity in the corporate write-off sector, we can lower the overall tax rate paid by corporations. plenty of other write-offs that just create more trouble than they're worth - mileage, meals, etc. get rid of it all. 80% of this stuff benefits the 20% of the people rich or savvy enough to take advantage of it. in exchange middle class tax rates will go down a couple points.
  • capital gains taxes need to increase. short term gains are taxed high enough, long term gains aren't. i think long term is 15% and short is 35%. split the difference - long term should go up to 25%.
  • again, go after fraud zealously. now that filing taxes is extremely easy, there's not much excuse to do anything wrong. living here and filing your taxes off shore? jail time and fines. sheltering your money elsewhere? better pay taxes on it or else. american citizen living abroad? congrats, you're off the hook. for some reason we're the only country that taxes its citizens regardless of where they live. it's not fair to them. that said, you're not eligible for any goodies if you decide to come back. lastly, revenue needs to increase via increased job growth. rebuild the CCC. every state and the feds should have very clear information online on how to start your own business and keep it legal. it shouldn't require more than 5 pages for the vast majority of small businesses to be legit.
  • so, there it is - my 93 point plan for getting shit done.
  • education spending generally makes a difference.

  • graduation rates by race. interesting to see which states have the biggest gap between races. "racist" arizona graduates whites at 85% and latinos at 13 points less, blacks at 11 points less. "progressive" california graduates whites at 85% and latinos at 15 points less, blacks at 22 points less. looks like arizona is doing a better job than we are. minnesota has the second worst combined graduation rate of blacks/latinos (avg. of only 50%), nevada is worse at 48% avg. south dakota, meanwhile, has an avg. of 73% for blacks/latinos and texas is 81.5% for the two races. assuming these numbers are correct, it's compelling stuff to have your expectations turned upside down. people think of states like california and CT as being progressive. historically both have done well in education. but california is falling way behind the last 10-15 years and CT has a large gap between whites and blacks/latinos.

    11/26/12 (17:08)

  • busy as usual.
  • went to la for the thanksgiving weekend. worked on a few little projects for my uncle. got food at my grandma's. attempted a project for my mom, but the wood i had needs to be ripped so i had to take it back home to finish that project. traffic was pretty bad coming back. mostly because people stop to watch accidents and can't learn to stay in the right lane unless they are actively passing someone. i've driven more miles on u.s. interstates than anyone else i know (except maybe my dad's cousin who was a truck driver at some point) and i'm here to say that california is probably the worst state in the union when it comes to people obeying the rule of staying in the right lane unless you are passing. on a 4 or 5 lane freeway it doesn't matter so much. on a two lane interstate with trucks, it matters a lot.
  • the nd/usc game was ok. nd has a top 10 defense and a so-so offense. they scored only 22 points on an awful usc defense. usc, meanwhile, could have easily won the game if barkley was in. wittek threw 2 ints. though i can't say he lost the game for them. neither offense did much in the red zone and that was the story of the game. nd started outside the top 25 and ended #1 (though i predict they will lose to alabama [my pick to win the sec championship] in the national championship). usc started #1 and will end outside the top 25. monte kiffin needs to be fired and lane kiffin is on notice.
  • my mom's cousin aron is in jail and has been for the last year or so. evidentally he knocked up his wife before he went to jail, though, because i saw his son during the break. apparently he gets a visitor about once a week which is nice in a way. it also made me wonder. i don't get a visitor once a week. neither does my sister. then again we probably don't want visitors that often. what's the best way to deal with a family member in jail? do you chastise them and not visit them? or do you visit them all the time in the hopes that the support is what they need? personally, aron has always had problems with work ethic and this seems like just a logical extension of those issues. he's worthy of ridicule so long as he's in jail. once he gets out then he has done his time and earned a second chance. at that point i'll be rooting for him again. hopefully his son is able to know his dad outside of jail.
  • now that i'm going to be a parent i figured it would be good to conduct a poll. email me the top three things your parents fucked up on and the top three things they did well.
  • started watching the dust bowl documentary on pbs. interesting story because i wanted to see what roles the market and government played in the whole debacle. only saw the first half, but here are some thoughts: the homestead act is widely credited with taming the western u.s. and hastening the expansion of the country. usually that's seen as a good thing, but there are always unintended consequences. in this case it seems that the govt.'s well-intentioned incentive to settle in the west caused a too quick migration to the dust bowl region. too many people went there, too many people dug up the land and nature couldn't do anything about it and the government didn't restrict it.
  • another screw up of the government was fixing the cost of wheat during the first world war at $2/bushel. this made even more people settle and farm in the region and that made the problem even worse. again, the government didn't regulate the farming type or amount whatsoever. typically libertarians will argue that the market will not overfarm because it is against the best interests of the farmer. clearly they were wrong in this case.
  • after the depression people had so much land and so many expenses that they were forced to lower prices to compete and cover the costs of doing business. everyone did this and so the costs went down to well under $1/bushel.
  • one govt. response was to pay for livestock which weren't being fed and were bringing down the price of cattle. so, the govt. essentially paid farmers to kill their livestock in an effort to get supplies more in line with demand to stabilize prices. after i watch the second part i'll summarize that.

  • 11/16/12 (17:29)

  • i think i've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating - it seems that more and more people use the law as a crutch to define what is moral. "if it's legal then it's ok or moral," is how the thinking seems to go. i'm reminded of the the michigan woman who won the lottery and continued to cash her welfare checks because "I thought maybe it was okay because Iím not working." although, on a side note, it seems she's no longer on welfare seeing as she died of an overdose we can no more live in a vacuum where we define all our own rules, than we can rely completely on the legal structure of our country or religion. doing the right thing isn't as simple as following instructions.
  • listened to a story a while back about scientology and all the ridiculous things they do and believe. mormons, too, have their odd beliefs and traditions. these are young religions, though. some look at them and think they're extraordinarily wacky when compared to catholicism or buddhism or whatever. in truth, though, they're just in their infancy and finding out that polygamy isn't going to fly so maybe that should be dropped from the doctrine. they'll get it eventually.
  • when i went to tucson with my dad i came across two dumb people. one was a waitress in phoenix who asked what our plans were for the night. i said we were going to tucson. she asked how far away that was. in the course of our conversation i gathered that she had lived in phoenix for a long time yet here she didn't know how far tucson was from phoenix. maybe she doesn't get out much, but i still found it a bit sad. my guess was that it was two hours away and i was right.
  • so maybe that was just ignorance, but the next girl was just plain dumb (or maybe really high). i went to the concession stand and asked to see the two sizes of drink they offered (medium and jumbo. that's dumb, too, since medium is supposed to mean "middle", but i digress). she showed me the two sizes and i went with the jumbo. i asked for a jumbo half coke, half diet coke (tastes basically the same, but has fewer calories). she mumbled something i couldn't understand so i repeated my order. then she (presumably) repeated herself: "which one do you want on the bottom?" i gave her a blank look of shock. thankfully her co-worker pointed out that "it doesn't matter because they're both water (she meant liquid, but she was close enough)." i blame her parents, i blame the government, i blame her drug dealer(s). ugh.
  • here are some of the initial responses we've gotten when telling people about meryl's pregnancy (in no order):

  • are you serious/kidding? really? what?
    did you plan it?
    are you keeping it?
    what made you change your mind? (directed toward me)
    me too.
    what the fuck?
  • everyone has been shocked because most know my long-standing stance on the issue and basically no one knew that we were trying. so here's a little bit on the evolution of my thinking. meryl wanted a kid and she made that pretty obvious. so there's that, but that wasn't all of it.
  • as time went on there were a variety of little reasons that added up to make for enough of a reason for me to agree. reasons like (in no order):
  • regret. i've very rarely come across anyone who seems to have truly regretted the experience of having a child. i've come across many more who have regretted not doing it. that was a big one for me.
  • to do my part to avoid an idiocracy (watch the movie). maybe a bit presumptuous of me, but i'd like to think that our kid isn't going to ask  which liquid should go on the bottom when mixing drinks.
  • instinct. it started to slowly creep up on me. that desire to pass on your knowledge and make a little half version of you. it's a pretty basic and solipsistic desire that admittedly did inform my change of mind.
  • before i decided to go for it i thought about what we would be setting in motion. potentially 80 years of one life. all the trash they create, all the people they touch, all the offspring of offspring. i thought about the  first time they get in trouble or get their heart broken or fall off a bike. thinking about all that at once and still thinking that i was okay with going forward signaled to me that i was probably as ready as i was ever going to be.

  • 11/14/12 (21:34)

  • well, the word is officially out now. meryl is pregnant and in her second trimester now. i'll let that sink in before i write all about it at another date.

  • 11/10/12 (13:30)

  • three day weekend. hoping to get a lot of little things done. finally flushed the coolant system on the truck. meaning to do that for a while. also cleaned the IAC valve because i think it's the cause of the truck stalling when shifted into park. not a bit deal, but it was an easy thing to do so if it doesn't work then it's no big deal.
  • went to the doctor thursday and it looks like the cream worked on my second cancer spot so that's nice. downside is i have to go to the dermatologist every six months to see if anything else has cropped up. full body examination under a magnifying glass. blah.
  • barkley three 3 ints today. big step backwards this year. i bet my dad $10 he would go in the first half of the draft and i'm rethinking that at this point.

  • 11/8/12 (17:10)

  • i find it very divisive and utterly illogical when pundits and media morons posit that "latinos won the election for obama." in the 90s they talked about soccer moms. today they talk about non-whites, gays, and women. why not left handed people, pot smokers, breaking bad viewers, and atheists winning the election for x, y, or z? very silly and just plain incorrect stuff. take away the men and non-latinos who voted for obama, and give those votes to romney, and we're talking about president romney sweeping in here with the biggest majority since nixon won by 23%.

  • 11/7/12 (13:41)

  • funny how as soon as it affects the republicans they start to rethink the system. better late than never i guess.
  • people like to hate on california. in 2008 more votes went to mccain from california than from any other state - over 5 million. their votes didn't matter at all because obama won california's 55 electoral votes. something fundamentally wrong with that. hopefully the people who were fine with the electoral college in 2000 are seeing the folly of the system today.
  • incidentally, and i just thought of this, we could easily have a hybrid system. say if the electoral college is within 10 votes we can use the popular vote as the tie breaker. it's simple to come up with a system that makes more sense than the crap we have today. i also wish more states would be like nebraska and maine, who give their electoral votes proportionally.

  • 11/6/12 (22:34)

  • i expected the election results to take longer but the result isn't at all surprising.
  • the only big question now is whether the republicans will cooperate more or if it will be more of the same.

  • this story is like a right wing racist's wet dream.

    11/5/12 (20:13)
  • barring some recount, 2000-esque disaster the political crap will be less intense 24 hours from now. that'll be nice.
  • spent last night at meryl's dad's place in fairfield because the fumes in the house from the polyurethane were too much to handle. good news is that the floors are better than they were before, so it was worth it. bad news is that they didn't clean up very well and there are still a few things they fucked up. they also spilled stain on our decking so a couple of those boards are kinda ugly now. meryl's going to hash it out with them on the price. i don't think we should have to pay full price considering the mess they (still) left and the inconvenience. we'll see how it shakes out.
  • still have a ton of stuff to move back into the various rooms, including the bed (again). not a thrilling prospect. not thrilled that things still aren't back to normal after living in chaos for over a month with the trip, two trips to la, two flooring tries...
  • haven't been able to go on my computer in about a month, been using my phone or the laptop.
  • here are some predictions i made on the political part of the contractors' forum i frequent. i want them on record here as well. a lot of them are in reference to the predictions they made about the country imploding and race riots breaking out everywhere if obama were to lose:
  • this is a good thread because it will demonstrate a verifiable difference between the predictions of some and actual reality.

  • i predict a narrow obama win. romney will probably been within 1% on the popular vote, may even win it. obama will win the ridiculous electoral college.

    i'd like to think that a romney popular vote win would cause both parties to rethink the system since both will have been shafted in recent years. but i doubt that.

    there won't be any riots or funny business. at least not on the scale that is worth mentioning. 5 people in SF were arrested after the giants won the world series. some would characterize that as riots, and if it were political i'm sure the blaze would blow it out of proportion. what i'm getting at here is that regardless of who wins it will be life as usual for the vast majority of people.

    the fiscal cliff is harder to predict. if congress stays basically the same and obama wins then i think it'll be another dumb ass showdown proving that the two parties aren't capable of compromise any more.

    regardless of how congress goes, if romney wins i think they'll figure something out without the across the board cuts. i predict that people on here will say that that's because romney is a great leader.

    if congress goes more republican and obama wins then we're in for even tougher times because the reps will feel emboldened to be increasingly obstructionist.

    if congress goes more dem and obama wins then the skies will open up and there will be peace on earth. :laughing:

    i predict that if obama wins blackbear will stay in the u.s. despite his threats.

    i predict that if obama wins and there aren't massive race riots throughout the country, rino, maxx and others will show articles from theblaze of some very small hooliganism and they'll blow this out of proportion.

    there may be a lot of impeachment talk if obama wins, but it'll be from one side that has proven themselves unreliable and it won't gain any traction unless something happens after the election that causes it.

    if obama wins i guarantee that there will be stories about vote tampering, black panthers intimidating, fraud, etc. robie and others will say they knew it was bad, but never this bad and yada yada yada. irishslave and others will say it was a seamless transition preordained by the bankers and point out that if we ever felt it was in the balance we're just sheep.

    if romney wins obama will bow out as gracefully as most presidents do. there may or may not be some controversy about his underlings stealing the "r"s from the white house keyboards. partisans will blow this out of proportion.

    if romney wins the economy will continue to have slower growth than we would like. hannity and other partisans will almost immediately begin to see 50k jobs gained in a month as a beautiful thing and stop pointing out what the u6 numbers are. partisans will blame the democratic congress or last four years of obama for any slow growth. thus continuing to be true hypocrites in every way. partisans on the left will point out the hypocrisy of blaming the previous administration and partisans on the right will somehow find a way of saying it's different this time.

    if romney wins there won't be 12 million new jobs, probably not 6 million or even 4 million. the taxes on the rich will go down and that will not help spur the economy into 4% growth. partisans on here and elsewhere will say it's because of a democratic senate or some filibusters. they will forget the 300+ filibusters by their party since 2007.

    regardless of the outcomes and accuracy of my many predictions, i'll be considered a liberal who doesn't know anything. :laughing:

    11/1/12 (18:49)

  • voted today via absentee ballot. tough decision on the presidential ticket. went back and forth a lot between judy stein (with whom i share a lot of common values) and gary johnson (with whom i share a good deal of values). i ultimately went with gary johnson because i don't think women can run the country; pms and all that. haha. no, i went with johnson because, in spite of his economic policies, i basically agree with him on big issues (life and death stuff like war, death penalty, etc. and liberty stuff like abortion, war on drugs, big government, etc.) and, more important than that, i want a third party to be taken seriously. of the third party candidates, only johnson was on the ballot in all 50 states. he's closest to getting the 5% that is required to be considered in debates and whatnot.
  • economically he's not going to be the guy who campaigns for a modern day CCC, he's not going to campaign for stimulus, he's not going to invest in things like green energy. however, he would begin to unravel some of the cronyism in farm subsidies, tax write offs/loopholes, etc. so, i gave in on some economic stuff to get some other economic stuff done. i also view him as a very principled and likable person with actual government executive experience (something judy stein doesn't have). he's not a perfect choice, but no one ever is. i'd be happy if either of them won because i believe that both would fight for their principles and bring a perspective that is necessary to have on the national stage.
  • i also voted yes on prop 30 because jerry brown is probably the only politician in my lifetime that i back completely. again, not because he is perfect, but because i see him making a lot of good and reasoned decisions. not based on party principles, not based on cronyism, not based on political gamesmanship or political calculation. as he said "i'm old and i just want to get shit done." he's the best thing california has going for it politically.
  • i talk with a lot of people about politics and almost without fail they will agree that both democrats and republicans are failing us on a major level and have done so for a long time. and yet, when i ask them about a third party, they balk at the suggestion. there is a quote that says something like "the most powerful thing a person can do is to convince you that you don't have power." but of course, every election year i have this discussion and every year people say that the third parties don't have a chance and that it's a wasted vote. they don't vote for them nationally or even locally. they don't give them money. yet they agree that the two major problems are the source of the problems. they admit that having a third party would be "good" or "helpful" or "nice." again, i can't help but think that we the voters are the problem. we play the victim when we were given the power of the vote. we choose to be uninformed. we choose to give money and time to the two major parties. we choose to compromise year after year because "this one is the most important one of all-time." if we use the same thinking that has gotten us to this point do we really think we're going to get out of this mess? pure idiocy and self enslavement.
  • now, if you truly believe that romney or obama are the best to choose from, then all the more power to you, but i really don't think that's the calculation that people make. in fact, most voters are unaware there is anyone else on the ballot. go ahead and ask your friends if they know who else is on the ballot. ask them if they know who gary johnson or jill stein are. even "informed" voters don't know these people; i know because i've quizzed them.
  • if you haven't done it already, you should go to isidewith.com and take the quiz to see whose ideas most align with yours. just do it for shits and giggles. and if it's jill stein or gary johnson or someone else you don't know much about, then consider voting for them. particularly if you're in a state that is already decided. because of the dumbass electoral college, your single vote doesn't matter anyway. so, if you're in oklahoma, utah, california, vermont, hawaii, texas, or some other state whose votes are a foregone conclusion, then maybe you should vote how you actually want to vote for a change.
  • hardwood floors are being refinished again. we talked with the owner's brother and he agreed they look like shit and asked if he could redo them. we agreed. they got done with the stain today so it stinks. looks pretty good though. the whole reason for doing it while we were gone was so we didn't have to put up with the stink. meryl is at her dad's and i'm here losing brain cells. hopefully they get it done well this time.
  • going back to la tomorrow to see usc lose.
  • while i was in arizona i went to the concession stand and asked the girl what size drinks they had. she showed me the two sizes (medium and jumbo, doesn't make much sense, but whatever) and i asked for a jumbo half coke, half diet coke. she said something i couldn't understand. i said "what?" she said "which one do you want on the bottom?" i gave her a look of shock and disbelief. her co-worker said "it's water, so it doesn't matter." then she filled the cup up and rang up the sale. she looked like a zombie when she did it. when her co-worker said that it was water (by which she meant liquid), she didn't say "oh, duh, i'm sorry" or anything to that effect. she just filled up the cup with a blank look on her face. pretty amazing. maybe the single dumbest interaction i've ever had with a human.
  • sara and shaun, who we visited on the trip, were pretty funny and awesome people. sara had all these little endearing sayings like "waka" instead of laughing or "awesome sauce" or "that's the bomb dot com." coming from most people these would be kinda dumb, but she pulled them off. they also had this awesome cat that liked being hit on its ass. she'd wack it like grandpa would wack the tv set and the cat would just stand there asking for more. pretty hilarious.
  • laughter is the last line of defense against all life's maladies. put it on a fortune cookie and kick me some royalties.

  • just saw an ad for e-cigarettes on tv. i guess big tobacco is back on tv peddling their drugs. yay for freedom! it's actually refreshing in a way because it's like those t-shirts that just say "listen to bob marley." instead of a shirt with a picture of bob marley, those cut to the chase. "i listen to bob marley and so should you." maybe that's what they should really say, but now i'm just nit picking. e-cigs are better than real cigarettes since they presumably just have nicotine instead of nictoine and tobacco and all the chemicals that they put in cigarettes. but if you're picking between e-cigs and cigarettes, isn't that kinda like picking between democrats and republicans? ha. brought this post full circle mutha fucka!

    10/29/12 (17:09)

  • went down to la and then arizona this weekend to see usc stink the place up. totally self-destructed, 5 turnovers, too many penalties, etc. the kiffins aren't thrilling me lately. nuff said.
  • i'm going down this weekend to see another usc loss, this one to oregon. then another thanksgiving weekend against notre dame. 4 losses in a year for the talent they have isn't acceptable. stanford and arizona should have been wins.
  • with these two usc trips and the renovation trip i'll have driven about 9,000 miles in a month.
  • the hardwood floors got refinished while we were gone, but they're a mess. they did a piss poor job and made a big mess. so the house is still all packed up. we had the owner's brother out tonight and he agreed it was a crap job so they're going to redo it starting thursday. blah.
  • our last stop on the trip was in portland. heather from 'just a girl with a hammer' had a couple electrical jobs for us. we replaced a light (simple) and tried to figure out why an outlet wasn't working and we uncovered an illegally covered junction box. we couldn't figure out why the outlet wasn't working and we couldn't figure out where the switch leg in the ceiling junction box went. kind of a downer that i couldn't figure that out in the time we had. we did fix up her door a bit, though, and cut in a box location for her switch so it we did get some stuff done.
  • we stopped in eugene that night after getting donuts from voodoo donuts, which is a weird and famous donut shop. we had the bacon maple bar and a mango tango jelly filled donut. the latter was better. both sent me into diabetic shock. breakfast the next morning was at a pancake house and they made good thin pancakes like my grandma makes. yum.
  • first day back at work wasn't bad.

  • 10/23/12 (15:50)

  • back in the pacific time zone. last two days have been long. driving literally all day. yesterday we drove for probably 15 hours. today it'll be about 13.
  • yesterday we left from st. paul and got to bozeman, mt. saw TR national park along the way. quick stop just to see his old cabin and read a little bit. crossed off one more n.p. from my list.
  • saw some snow in montana. got down to 25 degrees and it was snowing at we left bozeman, mt.
  • today we'll end in portland and we plan on having dinner with the final couple on our trip. we'll be doing some small stuff for them, no big project. small stuff is more fun.
  • back continues to bother me. 28 hours in the car doesn't seem to help it. strange.
  • tomorrow we will work on their place and may leave that night. either way we'll be back home thursday. then we need to start reassembling the house which is in disarray because of the hardwood refinishing that happened while we were gone. thursday night we'll do that. friday morning i'll hit the road early for la. then i'll leave for tucson with my dad to see the usc/arizona game. then back to la and back up to oakland on sunday.
  • it'll be time to get back to real life before i know it. not looking forward to that. would much rather figure out some way to work for myself and be able to afford the kind of land and lifestyle i've always wanted. just tired of the stressed out rat race of the city.
  • montana is a nice place from a nature standpoint. unfortunately humans haven't improved upon it in any way so far as i can tell. in places like vermont or louisiana, humans have created towns and other improvements that either blend into the landscape well or improve upon a harsh land. in the parts of montana that i've been to, though, our contribution to the land has taken away from, rather than added to, nature.
  • i think in some ways i'm living life out of balance as seen in koyaanisqatsi. need to remedy that.

  • 10/21/12 (21:30)

  • after cruising through michigan we went chicago for lunch. we turned to yelp for a suggestion as we've done often this trip. found a place that had a lot of reviews and a high average. it's called xoco and it's a downtown mexican food place. good tortas and churros. also a good lemonade. overall a nice meal. we ordered to go to avoid the line. made a stop at a starbucks to upload some stuff and then hit the road again.
  • we made it into Wisconsin with plenty of time so we went to milwaukee for a driving tour. drove along the lake and saw a lot of beautiful homes.
  • so far on this trip we've gotten about what i would have expected in the lawn sign department - a pretty event split between obama/romney. in the country you see more romney and in the cities and hipster cities - asheville, ann arbor, etc. - you see more obama.
  • we've had a few people stop us and ask what we're doing - the car is wrapped in a "renovation road trip" sticker to advertise the website and the tour. brains on fire is the name of the company that is coordinating the trip on behalf of liquid wrench (the actual sponsor). they haven't exactly had their stuff together in some ways, including the fact that the car wrap has the wrong url on it. oh well.
  • after kicking around milwaukee for a bit we dropped down to racine to visit sara and shaun. they're a really fun and funny couple. we've been really lucky with the people we've met so far. meryl chose well. they're all friendly and happy and have nice midwestern sensibilities. gives me some hope for the country. the couple in asheville were both raised in the midwest - her in ohio and him in detroit. then there was brandon and katy, one from ohio and the other from boston, but both living in ypsilanti. then kit who was raised in ohio. and now  sara and shaun who are both wisconsin natives. there was a t-shirt from the michigan store in depot town, ypsilanti that showed a picture of the great lakes and it said "they're grrrrreat!" i agree. it may be my favorite region of the country now. if i had my druthers i'd move to michigan. land is cheap, becoming a general contractor is fairly easy (take a 60 hour class, pass a test), people are nice, have a few contacts already, not overpopulated, 4 seasons, living in the country is better for your soul and i'll never be able to afford that in california.
  • we arrived in racine around dinner time on saturday. we got the tour and introduced to shaun, sara, and ashford (their baby). it was decided that we would install a storm door and hang some shelves in the kitchen for them. the kitchen was mostly done, but they never did the shelves because sara was nervous about putting holes in the tile.
  • we went to menard's that night and picked up a door that we hoped would fit as well as some other stuff for the shelves and some stuff to patch a major hole they had in the same door that was getting the storm door. the door was a 32" door that opened up onto a flat roof deck above a garage. a bad idea in wisconsin, if you ask me. the rubber membrane had failed near the door and so a decent amount of rot had set in. i told them that it was a can of worms and they agreed and wanted to just buy some time.
  • we had some pizza that night from a pretty good local place and called it a relatively early night after some good chat time. they're both great people. i was worried about them at first because they complained a lot about their cats who throw up all over the place and their son, who cries a lot at night. but they handle all this stuff with laughter and i consider it an inspiration. they remind me a bit of luke. i'm not that way, unfortunately. things go wrong and it stresses me out more often than not. others have an attitude that crap happens and that's life and it's just time to move forward while laughing about it.
  • the next morning my back was stiff again so it took me a couple hours to be decently mobile. we installed the door without much trouble. i think that shaun was nervous the previous night about new people in his house and this half-baked plan of his wife's to invite strangers from california to work on his house. i think he warmed up to us, though, especially as we demonstrated that we knew what we were doing. we started having fun and the installation took less than two hours including flashing the wood rot and caulking the new storm door. not bad for having never done it before.
  • shaun claims he hates home renovation, but i think the truth is that he hates having to do it and not knowing what he's doing. others relish the opportunity to figure things out as they go. i'm a mix of both. i like figuring some things, but i definitely like to know what best practices are and how something is supposed to end up; otherwise it's frustrating.
  • next we installed the shelves in the kitchen. it was a pretty easy process. i've practiced all those fundamentals a million times so i was in my comfort zone on that project. we did need to stop to get a larger tile bit and longer screws from the store, though, because we didn't bring screws and i didn't know we were going to be drilling through tile when we started the trip. no biggie.
  • it was still only about 1pm, though, so we installed a few outlet covers on the tile backsplash and used the fein to cut out a hole for a heating register in the kickplate under the cabinets. then we finished the packers game and hit the road early.
  • stopped for a kringle, a burger from the  old fashioned in madison, and a frozen custard from michael's in madison. wisconsin food isn't entirely healthy.
  • now we're on our way to st. paul to find a place to sleep. the next two days we'll be on the road for 30+ hours to get to portland which is our final stop before going back home.
  • not looking forward to getting back to normal life. my inbox will undoubtedly be full of crap. i'm sure there will be plenty of broken things for me to fix and b.s. requests from the prima donna executive director. gotta figure a way to work for myself.
  •  i remember learning about solar panels when i was 10 or so while watching this old house. having a house and land and the self-sufficiency of solar panels was always something that appealed to me. i think i was meant to be a farmer. don't have the back for it sometimes, but everything else is ready for that life i think.

  • 10/20/12 (7:59)

  • we stayed at a livinn hotel just outside of cincinnati. we had planned on going to the creation museum, but it was actually in northern ky and we were in northern cincinnati by the time we found a cheap place to stay. we decided we didn't want to have to double back and lose a bunch of time. so we pushed onward instead. we passed through dayton and toledo on the way to ann arbor which is pretty close to ypsilanti - where our next project was. we drove around campus and the downtown area. ann arbor is nice. we went to zingerman's deli which is a sorta famous deli in town. it's expensive, but very tasty. the customer service is great, you get lots of free samples of cheese and olive oil and anything else you want. it's better than katzingers in columbus, but that place was more economical.
  • after exploring ann arbor and being thwarted at our attempt to play some mini golf (they were closed) we went to ypsilanti to meet katy, brandon and kit. katy and brandon were our next project (a backsplash) and kit lives a little outside of ann arbor and she was our project after that. katy and brandon also invited steven (their architect and friend) to dinner. all of them were really nice people. real, laid back, and easy to get along with. katy and brandon bought a foreclosed property on 3 acres for $86k. then they put 200k into renovating the home. they live right on a river with a view of the train tracks. it's a great setup and a good deal. of course property taxes and regulations are also lower and more lax as well. they also have geothermal so their energy bills aren't as high as they would otherwise be.
  • the next day we worked on their kitchen backsplash. it was a small job and we were done with laying the tile in a few hours. it was a pretty straightforward job. unfortunately they didn't buy quick setting thinset (i didn't mention it until the day before the project), so we didn't get to do the grout for them. we spent the rest of the day hanging out, watching the tigers sweep the yankees, and then going out for dinner again with kit. katy and brandon are both science teachers at eastern michigan university so it was interesting talking to them about that as well as the places they've lived (brandon is from ohio, katy is from outside of boston, both went to osu) as well as what it's like to live in michigan.
  • after dinner we followed kit (diydiva.net) to her house which is in a small town outside of ann arbor. she has 6 acres, 3 outhouses and 1 main house with 3500 sq. ft. she lives by herself and bought the property online after it was foreclosed for $136k and she lives by herself.. we spent more than twice that for our place in oakland. i spent these last two days in michigan trying to convince meryl that it was a better place to live than california.
  • the next day we had a list of potential things to do with kit. the first thing was to get a big tablesaw out of her suv. that's when i hurt my back. in retrospect doing it first thing in the morning was a bad idea. so i spent the rest of the day being marginally helpful. i took three aleve and it warmed up as the day went on. i was still useful, but not as energetic as i would have liked. the next thing we did was to remove a jacuzzi tub out of one of the upstairs bathrooms. we removed the tile surround, disconnected the wiring and plumbing and then carried it downstairs. that was an interesting dance and, again, i wasn't super helpful getting it downstairs, but we got it done. then we took it out to one of her huge barns. i suggested we put the tub on a pallet and drag it to the barn with her car. it worked really well and was a true hillbilly moment.
  • the valves under the tub didn't shut off completely so we decided to cap off the pipes. kit didn't have any of the supplies on hand so we made a trip to town to get them and some lunch. when we came back i taught her how to sweat pipe and she capped the two supply lines.
  • after that we worked on installing some wood paneling on her ceiling upstairs. there is a hallway upstairs that she tried patching, but didn't like the texture match that she did so she decided to match the look with the paneling look that is in the kitchen. we did several rows of that and called it a day.
  • that night we wanted to see a michigan hockey game, but it sold out. then the weather turned more chilly and rainy than we thought so we ended up just hanging out with kit and having dinner.
  • now we're on the road for lansing and kalamazoo. to see another capital and then to see another city on johnny cash's "i've been everywhere song." after that we head to racine to meet up with the next couple. we're not sure what we'll be doing for them. hopefully my back is better by then. today it is stiff and being in the car most of the day probably won't be pleasant.
  • edit: just passed through lansing. nothing special from our quick tour. capitol building is nice. there's a state building across the street named after george romney. onto kalamazoo...

  • 10/16/12 (1:46)

  • after staying in crappy texarkana we hit the road for a long trip to asheville, nc. our first stay was at the nikki and marc's at 86nit.com. they were really nice and gracious hosts. the project we did for them was to install some german siding in a closed in porch. had a couple little issues, but mostly it went pretty well. spent the last two nights at their place. my back hurts a bit which sucks. hopefully i'll heal up in the next two days which we have off. our next project is in michigan and it'll be installing a tile backsplash.
  • tonight we plan on driving to cincinati. it's a nice city, it's about half way between asheville and ypsilanti, michigan and meryl wants to visit the creation museum there. we actually saw an advertisement for the museum in oakland so somehow that advertising will have caused us to visit from 2k miles away.
  • niners evidently had an awful game. 3 ints from alex smith. good to get a little smack down after feeling great from two dominanting performances.
  • tennessee has some really beautiful trees. never been through here during this time of year.
  • two days ago on our way to asheville we stopped in memphis for some bbq at corky's great food and probably the best rolls i've ever had. it's been a good trip for food so far. their memphis style ribs were also good.
  • got a ticket just outside of nashville. was on cruise control for the last 5 horus or so and the limit changed to 60 so i got caught. i saw the guy's car and took it out of cruise ctonrol, but didn't brake quickly enough. first ticket in several years. that sucks. cop was a nice enough guy though.

  • 10/13/12 (20:50)

  • staying at a hotel in texarkana tonight.
  • last night was a lot of driving and not much sleep. we made a little detour to cross the red river so that meryl could cross oklahoma off her list of states visited. pulled over at a rest area and slept for about two hours before driving the last bit to dallas. traffic was insanely backed up to get off at the cotton bowl exit. stayed in the exit lanes for a while and then figured we didn't have time for that crap. got off on the next exit which had no traffic whatsoever and found our way over to a parking spot about a mile from the stadium. evidentally oklahoma and texas fans are sheep. that or they like traffic.
  • we didn't get there early enough to get a great sense of the tailgating scene. saw a couple people doing it, but nothing noteworthy. the texas state fair was taking place at the same time (not sure if that's how it always is) and it was right outside the cotton bowl. so, you have 92k people in the stadium and another 20k around the stadium for the fair. we didn't see any animosity or anything like that. the fans are pretty much as advertised and what you would expect from those two states. girls are pretty and made up, guys wearing big belt buckles and chewing tobacco. the game itself was pretty pathetic. i was rooting for texas because they're not as highly ranked and because we were in the tx section. tx never had a chance and was dominated in every phase of the game. 63-21, but it wasn't even that close. the stadium is functional enough. certainly nothing fancy. food didn't look any good. nacho cheese smelled awful. neither of the bands were impressive. overall not as fun a game experience as the ohio state game last year. that said, i think part of that can be attributed to the whole thing taking place off campus. the whole "neutral location" aspect doesn't hold much appeal for me.
  • tomorrow we have another long day of driving. we'll pass through mepmhis, nashville and knoxville on our way to asheville.

  • 10/12/12 (20:20)

  • made it to barstow last night around 11p. i voted for more driving since i was feeling awake enough to go another couple. meryl wasn't too thrilled about being cramped in the passenger seat trying to get sleep. so we found a place that was cheapish, but safe-ish looking. watched some coverage of the vice presidential debate. we listened to a bit of that before listening to the disappointing a's game (another reason meryl just wanted to get to bed). at about 1am some a-hole outside had his car alarm going off. it was already bad enough because there was a light night club whose patrons were being annoyingly loud. the alarm went off a couple other times that night so the sleep wasn't great.
  • hit the road early-ish this morning after the continental breakfast. meryl drove first. when we got to flagstaff we switched drivers. stopped at a place called charlie's for lunch after being thwarted by a big crowd at diablo burgers. between walking to places we found ourselves in the middle of a hail storm. that was fun, although somewhat painful on my newly shaved head. charlie's had a good taco that they called a navajo taco. it came with the usual taco stuff on a navajo fry bread. google it. it's basically a more dense beignet. we also got a fry bread to go with honey and powdered sugar. diabetes aside, this was a good decision. they're tasty.
  • 5 hours or so of driving later and we were in albuquerque, the abq, home of breaking bad. i've been here at least two or three times before. there are some nice pockets of the city, including nob hill which is around the university. this time we found the university by accident (we found a place we liked on yelp and it happened to be near the u of nm), but we usually seek those areas out because colleges tend to be the best part of a city. colleges and downtowns are always a great place to visit if you're only there for a brief time.
  • we had dinner at bailey's on the beach. nice place which seeks to transport you to a beach atmosphere with a southwestern/mexican touch. so you get fish tacos, mexican food and american food. good place.
  • now we're on the road to dallas. it's 9:30p dallas time, the game time moved up to 11:07a and the gps says we're 11 hours away, so we're pressed for time at this point. doesn't look like we'll be getting much sleep tonight. saves on the motel bill at least.

  • 10/11/12 (18:53)

  • started the trip today. went to work, got off at 4p and hit the road. first leg should get us to barstow or thereabouts. next leg will be long and we hope to be 1-2hrs outside of dallas so we can make the UT/OK game in time.
  • stressful two weeks leading up to this and it is probably going to be stressful during the trip. had to plan for 5 handyman type trips that i've never seen in person and are thousands of miles away from the home base. hopefully we have all the tools we need. gotta learn to roll with the punches. i'm not getting paid to finish these tasks so it's less pressure in that way.

  • 10/7/12 (15:32)

  • tough couple games for the a's. i'm going to the game on tuesday. hopefully they do better. meryl's depressed.

  • 10/6/12 (18:04)

  • working on getting the house ready for the floors to be refinished.
  • meryl's cell phone screen was broken into a million pieces after she dropped it last week. attempted to fix it today. took about 45 minutes to disassemble and reassemble with the new screen. kind of a pain in the ass and the screen we got didn't come with the frame so getting the old screen out was a bitch. the phone mostly works now, but sometimes the screen goes black during a call and doesn't wake up until the call is dropped. not sure why that happened. i do have a new respect for a cell phone though. seeing the camera, motherboard, the screen assembly, ribbons, coax connection, microphone, speaker, etc...also so tiny and tightly assembled. it's pretty remarkable.
  • brought up two topics on the political section of the contractor forum. one on kids and one on the environment. i think the topics illustrate some of the thinking of conservatives and libertarians. here's how the kids thread went, streamlined so it doesn't take up too much space:

  • me - aptpupil
    interested to hear what you guys think should happen to the kids who have the misfortune of being born into a crappy family situation or neighborhood.
    i'm thinking of a lot of the kids who live within blocks of my house. maybe one parent is around, maybe just a grandparent, lack of positive role models. too much time on their hands. schools are failing them. stressed out on a regular basis by an abusive parent. don't get much sleep because of the stress or gun shots in the neighborhood. have to worry about respect and not getting beat up instead of their studies. the list goes on...
    in your personal vision of government and society, what should happen to these kids?

    "is"
    You just need to move to a nicer neighborhood, before they beat you up and steal your stuff :laughing:

    me
    yeah, well that's another story. not asking for me, asking for them. they're being raised to be the next generation of criminals, junkies, dropouts, welfare recipients and/or feel good story (for the few of them who can make it out). truth is, that poverty makes it so that only the truly exceptional and/or lucky can get out of the mess.
    do we leave it to their failing/absent parents to help these kids? leave it up to the schools, the neighborhood, the government, churches, non-profits? or do we just let them rot away in these conditions?

    "is"
    This sounds like a take off from Obama speech on ABC. The poor will always be with us, but you can be poor and still live with some dignity at least in this country at least for now. It's when class envy enters the picture that the poor become uncivil. It's when people trample on the poor and treat them like sh!t they become violent. They are aware of who they are and the choices they make are pretty much their own. You can succeed in this country mildly or amazingly, but you have to want it. I mean really want it, if you fail you have to keep trying, many just give up and it's the choice they make. I've seen it personally too many times. BTW I moved out of a neighborhood that was marginal about 2 years ago. I had some help but that's another story. I can actually leave the garage door open all night something I would never have done at my old address. I'm about 50 miles from the city though

    "dwb"
    I'm doing fine,, well OK i guess? Each kid has his or her own chose to make, and those chooses will be theirs and the results will also be theirs. Good luck to them! I wished I had made some other choses.
    ( I seem to be having a hard time with spelling in this post)

    "mcd"
    This is a tough one. Seriously, what chance do some of these kids have? Even if you make the right decisions.
    Here is a scenario that I have seen too many times. A kid from the ghetto manages to survive, graduate HS and gets a stable job. Now they are the success story and everyone in the family needs help.
    One of my former Soldiers was raised in horrific conditions; drug addict parents, foster homes, prostituted as a child. She joined the Army and was making something of herself. She would get calls almost every day from relatives being evicted, in legal trouble etc.
    When her father got brain cancer and no one in the family would take care of him she had to figure out how to get him to his appointments, find him a place to live etc. This led to coming in late, missing work, things that get you fired most places. Finally, after six months of this she had an emotional breakdown. The thing that got her out of the hood, her sense of responsibility, always threatened to pull her back in.
    Eventually she volunteered for several back to back deployments just to get out of the country and away from her family. I am glad she did. It could easily have gone the other way.

    "dwb"
    You can always disconnect from all those you know, move to where nobody knows you and start anew

    "lg"
    Life isn't fair. Not everyone can live the high life. And nothing obummer can do will ever change that. And if he does all the people living the high life will be brought down, it won't ever happen the other way.
    This will never be Star Trek

    "sbnd"
    A jobs program is a good approach to getting the kids off the street, but at the same time we need to get tough on the gangbangers and jail em, and not the sit and feed me jails, a jail that makes you work for your community.
    You can throw as much money at this problem all you want and still not make a difference it needs to be a community effort, it takes 2 to make a baby.....but it takes a community to raise that baby

    "tq"
    If they stopped rewarding more and more children....

    "rbe"
    I heard my parents say it many times over the years and I still hear it often today.
    "We never knew we were poor"
    Quit rewarding failure.
    To that end, if the only adult, acting as a parent or mentor, is teaching entitlement grabbing, because that is what they were taught...that is what will be taught. If work ethics, manners and other positive social behavior is taught, those things become more important.
    The cycle has to be broken. It's not going to be easy and some will not make it. It will take a few generations to change course. But, if you don't have to get a job to have a phone???? If you don't have to have a job to get food????? If you don't have to go to work everyday to have a roof over your head?????
    I agree that promoting class warfare is a bad idea to plant.
    Quote:
    And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Donít just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldnít do it any better.
    If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you canít be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
    Be a bush if you canít be a tree. If you canít be a highway, just be a trail. If you canít be a sun, be a star. For it isnít by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.
    King

    "th"
    mandatory abortion/sterilization.
    That may be a bit extreme but outlawing abortion may be extreme also.
    Free (and cheap) birth control is a start, free sterilization would be a good next step. Eliminating economic incentives might help a little though probably not much (witness third world poverty and high birth rates).

    me
    for a libertarian mandatory abortion/sterilization is basically the last thing i would expect to hear from you. morally it's completely wrong.
    a few of the answers on here are pretty much what i expected - tough luck, sucks to be you, gotta make good decisions in life even though no one is around to show you that there's anything else but living life as a gangster, etc.
    a few of the answers, though, actually address the issue and work on breaking the cycle. thanks for those.
    if we're talking about adutls...sure, i'm with you to a certain extent - you make decisions and you have to live with them. but, for me, it's different when you're talking about 12 year olds who have been shown nothing in life but begging, stealing, violence, etc. studies have proven that these kids who have stress throughout their home lives perform much worse in school. the science of it is that these "fight or flight" chemicals are released in the body and they are constantly in that mode. those chemicals shut down the part of the brain that does complex thought. hence they don't perform so well when the teacher asks them what the quadratic equation is after seeing mom get beaten up by dad last night.

    "t40"
    Unless they are willing to help themselves , all that is done for them is useless.

    me
    i worked at a youth shelter for almost a year. it was a temporary shelter for kids whose parents had just been arrested or for kids who were in trouble with the law or for kids whose parents kept them in filth. you meet a lot of troubled kids this way. a lot of mental health issues, a lot of behavioral problems, etc.
    even though it was only a temporary home (only one kid stayed longer than 6 months), you get to know them quickly. one thing that struck me is that, when given the proper care, basically all of them are good kids who will "help themselves." very few of them actively choose to be losers after they know that there's an option.
    one girl had a mother who was a prostitute. she also went down that path for a little while (at age 13). but after being at the shelter off an on for a few months, she saw the err of her mother's ways.
    another kid (age 14 or 15, can't remember) saw demons and ghosts the first few days he was there. get him on the right meds and he was a model citizen.
    another kid (age 6) was real angry and bitter after his junkie mom went to jail. after a few weeks at the shelter he opened up, had a great smile, was a real good kid.
    at those ages i don't believe that it's as simple as them making a choice to be good. or as simple as saying that they have to choose to help themselves. i believe it's society's responsibility to step up in these instances. historically this responsibility has fallen to caring members of the community, family members who have their stuff together, or the church. unfortunately those aren't always equipped or willing to step up - especially in hard economic times. the nice thing about the government doing it is that we all pay into it instead of just some shouldering that burden. the government also has the unmatched ability to spend during the down economic times. it also has the weight of the law to step in when other community groups aren't able. with that ability, though, comes the responsibility of acting justly.

    "rbe"
    We can sit here and discuss the issues until the cows come home.
    The plantation is a certain and large voting bloc for the democrats.
    Don't forget Lyndon Johnson's remarks about the great society...
    "I'll have those n*ggers voting democrat for the next 200 years".
    He was right. Why change a good and sure thing?
    Hell, even Hussein is guilty of it. Listen to the latest speech from 2007 making the rounds and compare it to what he's done.
    Promises of change gets votes.
    He even added the southern black speech inflections.
    He is good.

    "day"
    i think we are all witness what welfare/food stamps/project housing/free cell phones have done to society. and now your 4-5 generations into this behavior. these feral youth know no other lifestyle. it's learned. i'm sure most of us here grew up getting a foot planted in our ass by a dad or adult male figure for bad behavior, instead of being rewarded for it.

    "th"
    The promise of "The Great Society" was "We will end poverty in one generation." Clearly it didn't work.
    We as a society have thrown $trillions (really) at this issue with zero improvement. The hatred and violence continue.
    Part of the human condition is the need to feel responsible for our own lives. G providing does fill the physical needs but at the expense of the psychological ones. The end result is low (no) self esteem leading to feelings of dependence and inadequacy which lead to alcohol and drug addiction. This dependence, because it is a "right" or an entitlement becomes multi-generational. Though well intentioned, G involvement has made the problem worse, much worse.
    This is not theoretical, it is very real, testable, repeatable, with overwhelming evidence of its correctness. Those pushing for continuing and enlarging these programs are living in la-la land or, most often, doing it for their personal betterment (esteem or a paying job).
    Charity works better specifically because no one is entitled to it. Charities can cut off those who abuse it. The truth is, many of them did not or do not. They are generous to a fault, literally to a fault.
    We want to believe we can fix everything. We can't. We want to believe we can remedy every wrong, we can't. Our involvement tends to make things worse, not better. In other words, nature (God) has established a system through millions of years of evolution (direction) that produces the most effective outcomes. Believing that we can change the natural order of things by throwing money at it is hubris.
    Now for those of you who are Christian, Jesus did not admonish you to enact Government programs but to provide personal assistance as you are able.

    me
    ok. so your answer now is to do nothing. you've backed off the mandatory sterilization thing, then?
    i don't think there's such a thing as a perfect system. i do think we can (and should) do better. it's not just the right thing to do to lift these kids up, it's also an investment in the future of our country, the safety of our neighborhoods, etc. we need to be much more serious and scientific about this. we need to have metrics for everything, test, verify, and track results (or lack thereof) to find what works and what doesn't. giving a free ride doesn't seem to be very effective. properly educating kids, providing social and emotional support does, getting them out of the bad environment does, getting them in touch with people who have been in their shoes does. in my view the system needs to be reformed, not eliminated.
    again, we're talking about kids here. we're not talking about a 30 year old recidivist who is on the govt. dole, on meth, and pimping girls for drug money. kids become what they see.

    "th"
    Had you read the entire post you would have seen that the comment was sarcasm.
    It isn't that the system is less than perfect, it is that the system actually makes things worse, a lot worse. Some things Government cannot do, this is one.
    No, I'm not saying do nothing but I am saying that G is working outside the range of things it can do. G has made a mess of this, has made it much worse. G cannot fix it, it is beyond its ability. More G makes the problem worse. The problem is the entitlements created, they are destructive. G cannot deal with this outside the realm of entitlements so G can only make things bad, more G makes things worse.
    Fixing this can only be accomplished by private charity. Actually they cannot fix it, they can make it less bad though.

    "mm"
    When I was a Drill Instructor I got them 90 at a time and you would be amazed how quickly a little discipline and direction will transform even the most ghetto trash into highly trained self disciplined members of human society.
    the biggest killer of America and the most unAmerican job is a social worker.

    me
    ok, so your answer is to make them go to the army? or, more broadly, to introduce some sort of discipline? do you believe in mandatory civil service of some kind? what's your solution?

    "rbe"
    I personally don't think there is the desire to fix the problem. Too many people rely on it for power, huge amounts of money, careers, votes, etc, etc.
    I was serious about the plantation comment. If you keep them down, you keep them hoping. Keep them hoping and you keep them voting for the people promising things will get better.
    This is like the "war on drugs".
    Sh!t...if we were serious, this "war" could have been won long ago. We didn't even bother to show up for the battle though. It looks like we did/are, but looks are deceiving.

    "is"
    If you all read my posts, you know that I believe things are about to get a whole lot worse for a whole lot of people. This system of ours is failing there is no denying it. You can scoff, pretend it's not going to happen, but you can't change the inevitable. You can bet your ass that a failing government will steal all your sh!t on the way down too. This is when the rubber meets the road, only the strong will survive. You can just imagine these government dependent people when there are no more entitlements. Burning buildings, exploding cars and blood in the streets, a catastrophic collapse of epic proportions. I think they set the whole thing up this way too, because only a idiot would spend $100 when he can't even create 30 cents. Charity and stupidity are mutually exclusive.

    "rr"
    If you look at this problem from the governments point of view, which is really what the OP is actually asking you do from 60,000 ft, there is no perfect solution as what is the better way for one is a crutch for another.
    Some need the temporary financial support to get out of a bad spot. Others need the support pulled to get them off their a&&. Some just need the bum they're hooked up with to disappear.
    The tragedy is always the children. They are the ones that suffer and they are the ones that are the easiest to help, on a one on one basis, but, just as with the adults I don't think society can ever come up with a "program" because us humans are way to diverse for a one size fits all solution.
    This to me is the major hurdle for the government as they can only create a program they can't taylor based on the individual. I think that is why they usually develop more than one program so there is a choice and maybe, eventually, the best solution for the individual can be found. But it comes down to the old adage, you can't help someone until they help themselves.
    I don't know, it takes a village to raise a child but it takes individuals to build true, life changing relationships.

    me
    i think a properly run government CAN tailor the program to the children. i'm not saying it has to be a federal government program. perhaps the feds can kick the locals some money with some basic metrics to ensure that the money is being used properly.
    many of the volunteer charities that typically are listed suffer during hard economic times and certainly are less in number and power in the types of communities that may need them most. if the govt. partners with these organizations and provides info sharing, money, tax breaks (it does this already with churches. effectively subsidizing them.), land use, etc. then the govt. may not be tackling the problem solely, but helping the problem in conjunction with charities.

    "rr"
    I'm not sure our opinions are that different. Yes the government can tailor a program to children, but not a child. That is up to individuals within those programs to tailor as best they can for an individual child.
    This is just a situation with no easy solution because, let's face it, if there were an easy solution this question wouldn't even be relevant.

    "kp"
    I reject that the government is the answer to this problem...
    It's all local... Scouts, 4-H, Church, sports, after-school activities, Big-brother/sister, mentoring, shelters, etc.
    It reminds of the story of the star-fish (going from memory, it may be slightly different)... A rainstorm had washed in a bunch of star-fish onto the beach... there was a little boy, who seeing this, was trying to save them by picking them up one-by-one and throwing them back into the ocean... An adult, WATCHING this, tells the little boy "there are too many, this task is much more than you can handle. You CAN'T save them all"... to which, the little boy replied - "I know I can't save them all, but I can save this one (picks on up and tosses it back into the ocean) and this one (repeating his act of kindness), etc..."
    I guess if we wait for government to act, more are lost than saved... Just imagine how many more would have been saved in that story if the adult took the cue and helped... Could maybe even start a chain-reaction, and it all started with a little boy, thinking not of himself, but another living thing and what HE could do...
    The key is getting involved and passing along the wisdom of your years to the next generation... Interestingly enough, for some weird reason, we seem wiser and more patient and maybe even "cooler" to other kids than our own...
    Better than watching TV...

    me
    i disagree with you, but thanks for addressing the question.
    local government is probably best suited to address some of these issues, unfortunately they are often least suited to fund them. that's where the feds can come in an help. i also envision a situation in which the feds can help share best practices by monitoring local practices measuring success rates.
    this is a data and logistics issue as much as anything else. this is the kind of thing that government and educational institutions can help with greatly. private enterprise doesn't really care about it beyond the occasional donation because there's no long term profit motive.

    "kp"
    So we should BORROW more money to give to the states to set-up programs ideally suited for community involvement of which there are already a plethora available that are not only privately-funded but run locally...
    What program are you thinking of that is so great we should borrow the money to set-up a bureaucracy to manage it?...
    Apt, this is not a dig, but I have never seen someone so quick to jump to the government to solve things that are better off solved by the community...
    Sometimes they are just not interested in bettering themselves... they are stuck in a mindset... Give me a kid for a weekend of camping, away from all the bs... and it's amazing how much they open up...

    me
    there will be times when we need to borrow money in order to continue to fund these programs, yes. i don't have a problem with that. we've borrowed money throughout our history even to the point where it (our debt) was more than 100% of our gdp. i take the long view on this. i'm not afraid of low levels of debt. "th" and other conservatives are. we just disagree. even liberals are wary of the high levels of debt that we are currently facing. this is besides the point, though.
    totally agree about getting out and camping...it can be a great experience and i think the move to urban living has taken away some of the spirituality of being connected to nature.

    "lg"
    The farther away from the FED gov you get the better the program will be tailored to the individuals needs.

    "th"
    Private charity will fund the real needs. Private charity has been displaced by G in the area of needs of children. The result is, private charity funds other less important things while at the same time the needs of children are unmet by G.
    G is the problem, it is not the solution. If G would quit, private charity would step back in and make things better.
    Children need proper parenting. Our entitlement system supports the opposite of proper parenting. Parents feel (actually are) entitled to the benefits offered by G, demanding more and more from G while providing less and less themselves. The message taught and learned is not one of responsibility but one of dependence. This is far more destructive that lack of stuff.

    "bm"
    My wife and myself helped my daughter set her class room up in Huntsville. This is a predominantly black school with a few south of the border kids. She was told many would be transcient students as in living in motels. This is her first class on her her own, and it is 5th grade.
    She had put some hooks in a cabinet for them to hang book bags on. These were light hooks, and I told her I did not know if they would support the weight of a Clock. Her response was, " Daaaddy! Give them a chance."
    I told her she would be dealing with jungle or ghetto gangster attitudes where the strongest will rise to the top. I had hoped I might be wrong, that maybe that kind of stuff was a year or two away for these kids.
    Wrong!
    Since then 2 or 3 have been sent to jail for making threats (burn the school down go home, come back with a gun and shoot people, etc), not to mention other discipline problems. Getting up and ranting about too many fat kids and going to do something about it then star sticking the fat kids with stickpins. Threatening to hit her in the face.
    I have told her to keep her eyes open and be aware at all times of what is going on behind her back.
    I can just see a scenario where a kid slaps a teacher and another one not to be outdone decides he will stab one or pop a few rounds off.
    Btw, one of the ones sent to jail was actually sent twice I think. No one gets expelled. This school was almost shut down last year. It seems to me someone is determined that it not be shut down even if it means putting the safety of the employees at risk.
    I actually would like to see my daughter get out of that profession before she finishes her Masters and Phd.
    In these situations, you not only have to deal with the kids but there parents also. That can get real dicey as there are rules and regulations concerning how you are to react to others in the course of your profession to protect all concerned...and the school.
    Anyway, some of these kids live in tragic circumstances such as the little girl that has to be the mother to her siblings. Keep in mind this little girl is in the 5th grade.
    So I have no idea what is to be done with all these kids, not sure if anyone has the answer.

    "mah"
    not sure of the final solution...but the beginning solution should be to get the government out of the way and out of the equation...
    too many social workers are not there to help the kids, they are there for the government job/benefits/pension/etc...they are the problem
     

  • you can take from that what you will. it's pretty indicative, i think, of how these guys on this forum think - and i've been discussing this stuff with them for a year. they subscribe to the reagan mantra that government isn't the solution to the problem, govt. is the problem. they can be pretty cut throat about it. it's also interesting to me that they take the personal responsibility rap to the level that they think 12 year olds have choices about where their life goes and have to live and die with them. do 12 year olds have choices? sure, but they can't leave their parents or their town or choose a private school...
  • next time i post i'll include some of the stuff from the environment thread.
  • a's in the playoffs. great finish to the regular season. other than the lack of a true ace and veteran staff, they have the kind of team that could go all the way. timely hitting, peaking at the right time, they truly believe they can do it, good relievers lately...we'll see.

  • 10/1/12 (22:26)

  • a's clinched a spot in the playoffs. yay.
  • went to the a's game yesterday to see my cousin sing the national anthem. yay.
  • almost finished with the benches at work. yay.

  • been really hot the last two days. boo.

    9/29/12 (11:04)

  • been working on getting a lot of stuff ready for the trip. lots to do surrounding the hardwood flooring being refinished.
  • also been working on installing new benches at the alumni house. there were some old wood benches that were just 4x6s laid on stone piers. took the old, rotten stuff off and replaced it with new redwood. most of the way done with that. still need to finish (sand, stain, topcoat of spar urethane) them, though.

  • 9/24/12 (19:53)

  • started building the fence in the back yesterday. meryl was at work so i dug the holes and placed the posts myself. no problems. done a few fences now so i'm pretty comfortable with the process. this time the design was our own, too, so that made it a little easier to plan.
  • rewatching freaks and geeks. good show.
  • got started on planning some of the finer details surrounding the renovation road trip we're going on. should be an interesting couple weeks going around the country helping people with their problems without having met them or seen the issue first hand. they're all DIYers so in theory we're not there to solve a problem they couldn't do themselves anyway.



  • 9/20/12 (20:03)
  • yesterday was a good day.
  • getting over a cold. spent most of yesterday on the couch, but i did help demo the hallway closet. we're doing a bunch of things in preparation for getting the floors refinished while we're away. we got a good deal and it'll be nice to give it a good amount of time without any traffic so it can cure properly.
  • still have to rebuild the back fence. wanted to do that last weekend, but i was sick so that didn't happen.
  • the mitt romney 47% gaffe is a truthful one. the guys i debate don't have any response to it because they know it's how they feel. they honestly feel that 47% of the country has a sense of entitlement. they think that half the country is mooching off the other half. it ignores the facts of who that 47% are (mostly elderly) as well as the nuances of some of their situations. is there fraud in the system? do "welfare queens" and leeches exist? yes and yes. however, that's a relatively small % of the 47% and it's a % that even most liberals don't defend.
  • romney has signed his death warrant. barring a major slip up from obama i think this one is done.
  • hopefully the debate committee allows governor johnson into the debates. he's on the ballot in 50 states. what else does he need to do to be allowed into the discussion? rigged system and even smart people tell people like me not to raise too much of a stink about it. "this is the most important election of our lifetime (that's what they said last time and it's what they'll say next time)" or "now is not the time to talk about a third party, too much is on the line." i'm to the point where a third party doesn't need to happen. we just need a system wherein a third party CAN happen. we need a system which allows for a third party candidate to bring new ideas and perspective to the debate.

  • 9/13/12

  • had a little debate about the idea of capping profits. came as a result of this video.
  • you'd think that i actually argued for a cap on profits or earnings based upon the tidal wave of responses, but i never did. that said, i'm always up for playing the devil's advocate so here's what i can come up with in the way of arguments for capping profits and earnings:
  • "individual earnings should be capped so that power is never concentrated to the point where one person (or even group of people) is able to strangle the rest of society, buy undo influence (one can argue it's already happened), or alter the rules to selectively benefit them (again, you could argue this has already happened)."
  • "individual earnings should be capped because it's fundamentally wrong to live in a society where some are allowed to accumulate extreme sums of wealth while others, at home and abroad, are dying to starvation, dirty water, etc."
  • "earnings should be capped to avoid the kind of segregated society that tears us apart culturally and economically."
  • "corporate profits should be capped for the same reasons as above."
  • to be clear once again: i'm not arguing in favor of a cap on wages, but i can understand the argument for it. my personal belief is that people should be able to make as much as they legally and morally can.
  • and, while we're on the topic, how many here are sports fans? how many here don't like athletes like kobe bryant getting paid 10s of millions of dollars a year to play basketball? who here will fess up and admit that they've said or thought before that they shouldn't get that much money? who here has shown even a fraction of the rage that they showed in this thread about the salary caps that are employed by the major sports? it's definitely different because those are companies doing what they want with their product, but doesn't it hurt your sense of right/wrong a little to know that they are having their salaries capped?
  • it's increasingly difficult to reason with these guys. they're wildly inconsistent at times and illogical. they cling to things like the bilderberg theories and the obama birth certificate stuff. truly nutty sometimes.

  • 9/12/12 (18:14)

  • the simpsons, which has been on for over 20 years and should probably be on autopilot by now, has 14 producers at last count. really? it's just a way of giving people more money, i understand that, but it still strikes me as ridiculous.
  • wrist is a little better, but trying not to use it much anyway. would like it to fully heal before i go back to normal. not sure if i'm going to have to pop ibuprofen every time i get a flare up, or if it's going to heal and be okay for a while.
  • haven't been very good about watching movies at home. watching a lot of tv series instead. friday night lights is the latest. good show.
  • took down the back fence today. our neighbor tentatively agreed to pay for half the material if we do the labor. our neighbor on the side said the same thing for the small section near her garage.
  • last weekend we finished fixing up that garage. i had replaced about 1/3 of the siding and reglazed the window. then we caulked, filled holes, primed, painted and called it done. planted a dwarf lemon and orange tree in front of the garage where the old lemon tree was. that one had gotten pretty big, was planted in the middle of the planting bed and died several months ago. hopefully the new start with these two trees will work out for the best. i'm gunning for fruit next year. we'll see how realistic that is though.
  • also built a miter saw stand to replace the metal one i bought a few years ago. i used one from fine woodworking magazine and i'm happy with it so far. it takes up less space when unfolded and has storage space underneath, which is nice.
  • we also have decided to get the remaining floors refinished professionally. that step in each room always takes a long time and is labor intensive. lots of bending over and renting the equipment is additional hassle and cost. we got a really good price and plan on having it taken care of while we're out of town during the trip across the country.
  • speaking of which, the trip is still happening and seems to be progressing well. we'll stop in dallas after a day of driving and watch the TX/OK game. then we'll go to north carolina and visit the liquid wrench hq (they are sponsoring the whole thing). we'll also help one blogger while in nc. then it's up to michigan and wisconsin to help 3 bloggers up there. then onto oregon to help another blogger there. then back down home. it'll all take two weeks. boss isn't thrilled about my taking the time off, but i haven't taken a vacation in 5 years so i think she can't say too much about it.
  • as soon as we get back (friday) i have to hit the road for la and goto arizona with my dad to see the usc/az game in tucson. then back to la and back up to oakland in time for work on monday. should be a ridiculous amount of driving for me, but i've done worse before. i drove almost the entire 15k miles in my first trip around the country and did a few thousand miles on my trip from OH to CA.

  • 9/6/12 (16:49)

  • wrist continues to bother me. little pins and needles every once in a while, sometimes just a general discomfort.
  • watched the dnc last night. the usual b.s. warren was good. clinton was good. but these things are just too rah rah for me. it's about the party more than anything else and i think parties are one of the most corrosive elements in american politics. wonder what george washington felt about them. not really, i know he hated them. unfortunately modern political thought says that they should be more powerful. here's a taste of washington's views.
  • that website also points out the downfall of having a low fixed number (435) of representatives. that law was passed almost 100 years ago when the population was less than half what it is now. now, the site says, the average representative represents 700k people instead of the 50k that the founders envisioned. interesting argument with many valid points.
  • one of the problems with postmodern thinking is when people take it to mean that there shouldn't be any rules, of etiquette, for example. so, we eschew these old tired ideas like women should be called ma'am and men should be called sir. ok, fine. then what happens is we all decide on our own what we want to call people. terri gross was talking about this on fresh air, though not explicitly. she was talking to joan rivers about age and relaying a story of a waiter who called her "young lady." she took offense to this and told the waiter that it called attention to her age and was condescending and offensive. turns out that the waiter is from a military family and that that is what they say. he's also gotten push back from some people for calling them ma'am. joan rivers said she likes it when young men call her ma'am. terri gross said she doesn't. wonder what joan rivers considers a young enough man to call her ma'am. wonder what terri gross prefers if not "hey you" or "ma'am" or "young lady." to me there are two problems here: 1. the fact that terri gross took great offense to this and bothered to bring it up with the well-meaning waiter 2. the fact that we live in a society where there's seemingly no norm in some cultures. i find this to be particularly true of urban areas where everyone has their own idea of what is offensive and not. in rural areas there is more homongeneity (probably due to old-fashioned values and religion).
  • as i've aged i've definitely found there to be a wisdom to some of the old-fashioned ways. perhaps there is a logic and function to the way society has been organized for hundreds of years. the struggle is in figuring out where that function and logic still apply (having basic rules of etiquette, for example) and where that tradition should be eschewed for new ways (keeping women in the kitchen, for example).

  • google is really pushing the google plus crap. keep that shit away from me or i'll find another place to search. assholes. "don't be evil" my dick.

    8/28/12 (19:29)

  • the akin situation has been the talk of the political world for a week or so now. here's what he said: "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist and not attacking the child." basically it sounds like the guy is an idiot. i don't know if it's too much more than that. some have looked at the term "legitimate rape" and latched onto that. i'm unsure what he meant by that. i assume he's saying that women cry rape too much or something. conservatives will point to cases like the duke lacrosse team and the allegations of rape there. basically everyone thought they were rich white guys raping black women from the ghetto and it turned out to be false. oops. so that term was odd. then there's the belief that a woman's body can reject foreign sperm. that's just stupid. so, the guy's an idiot. should he give up? morons run for office everyday and sometimes win so i don't know that this one quote means he should give up. that's up to him and his party. to the republicans' credit they have almost all rejected him and his words. he's digging in his heels though so it looks like the republicans won't gain that seat.
  • usc starts the season on saturday as the #1 team in the nation. overrated in my opinion. they had a good year last year and they have some key starters coming back. alabama lost arguably their best player as did lsu. that said, usc lost to stanford (barely) at home and bareley beat oregon (on the road). they also had a rough beginning of the season with slim victories over second level teams. they also lost to asu (on the road, i was there). so, #1 doesn't make much sense to me. i was gunning for #4, then again i'm more reasonable than most and harder on usc than many as well. the schedule is favorable this year since stanford is without luck and oregon is at usc. really, though, this isn't the usc of 5-10 years ago. good team, not great. lots of question marks on defense. no running back that is really outstanding.
  • was asked about single issue voters the other day. what percentage of people did i think voted on the abortion issue alone. i guessed 5-10%. i'm guessing the official number of people who say that they are single issue voters on that is higher, but i'm guessing they're full of shit. the truth is that if mitt romney was pro-choice and obama was pro-life basically none of those "single issue voters" would actually vote for obama. because along with that single issue normally comes several other things that people believe in, and it usually happens that the candidate aligns with them on those as well.
  • tonight is the first day of the rnc. these aren't interesting in the least anymore. we know who is going to speak, we know who the nominee and their running mate is, we know what the talking points are going to be. it's really only interesting if you're a political junkie and like to see the rising stars.
  • been watching friday night lights lately. better than the movie. good show.

  • 8/25/12 (09:24)

  • been meaning to talk about the olympics, but haven't had time.
  • men's team archery was pretty exciting. the americans sorta blew it in the final round, but their match against the south koreans was a good one.
  • once again i felt really bad for tyson gay. 4th in the 100m and unable to take down the jamaicans in the 4x100m. he comes off as a really good guy.
  • may and walsh looked rusty the first match and then found their rhythm. they lost their first set in olympic history, but ended up with the gold. obviously one of the most dominating teams in olympic history.
  • michael phelps staked his place as one of the greats of all-time. he has the second most individual medals of all-time and the most total medals of all-time. his 4th place finish early in the games was disappointing, but really the only chink in his olympic armor. he could come back to rio and easily get a couple more medals in his best events and some relays. he says he's retired, though, so he's leaving some hardware on the table as far as i'm concerned.
  • the canada u.s. women's soccer match will live in infamy. frankly i can understand canada feeling screwed. the hand ball call was legit upon replay, but the call against the goalie for holding the ball too long was an iffy one. technically a call that could be made, but apparently it's only been called once before.
  • the men's 400im hurdles was interesting. we got two medals, but the other two guys in the top four were from puerto rico and the dominican republic. the dominican guy was born in NYC, grew up in southern california and trained at USC. so, the top 4 were effectively americans. i wonder what the actual medal count would be if they figured all these things in. the major criteria being where did the athlete receive most of their training and territories like puerto rico going to the country that has dominion over them. i suspect that the usa would lose a couple, but would gain far more because our colleges are the training grounds for so many athletes. the athletes we gain from other countries in distance running (lagat, keflezighi), table tennis, etc. are usually second tier athletes or athletes at the end of their career so they don't medal anyway.
  • every four years the title ix discussion comes back to the fore. there's no dispute in my mind that title ix has been huge for us in terms of the medal count. we have so many women who are just plain better than the competition. our women's team sports are especially excellent. that said, the law is an everyday detriment to the men's sports that are on the chopping block because of the need for equality under title ix. the men's rugby coach at cal talked about this when rugby at cal was downgraded. so that's the everyday reality of the law instead of the every four year glory of it. in a perfect world i think that money wouldn't be part of the equation. in a less perfect world money would be part of the equation, but the public would watch women's sports as much as men's so they would have equal funding. in reality, money is extremely important and women's sports don't appeal as much to the public.
  • right wrist still hurts so i'm trying to not type much and use the mouse with my left hand.
  • worked on some landscape lighting at the alumni house yesterday. will finish it on monday. 9 total lights for four trees. got a really nice transformer with a timer and light sensor so it goes on when its dark and off at a specific time. hope to finish that up on monday.
  • been working outside at the house lately. the front is done as far as i'm concerned. we still have some trash out there, but it's basically done. i installed two water tanks for storage and also for getting the rain water away from the foundation. haven't finalized the overflow plans for those. there's one up front on the side of the house that will hopefully help the damp crawlspace a lot. then there's another on the same side of the house but in the back. that one will be used more for irrigation than the other. the third will go next to the neighbor's garage and will irrigate more veges. of course all could be used in a doomsday scenario for emergency water so no need to worry about earthquake water. i may get a camping filter, plus we have bleach and i think i have some camping water purification tablets so we're all set. got about 600 gallons of storage thanks to an oakland city program that pays for the water storage if you pay for the sales tax. $1000 worth of tanks for $100. the money came from the stimulus, i believe.
  • i also cut out four vents, two on each side of the house, for more crawl space ventilation. chances are that if your house is more than 20-30 years old you don't have the recommended amount of vents and ours definitely fits into that category. i wanted to get more on the northeast corner of the house, but i didn't want to go through the rim joists that are there so i just added venting where it was only stucco and sheathing to cut through.

  • 8/16/12 (17:10)

  • funny

  • texas



    8/15/12 (20:19)
  • working on syncing up my email with gmail so i have a backup and can access it on the road. seems to be the way to go these days.
  • meryl's stress fracture got worse so now she's in a cast. not sure how that happened but it's a bummer.

  • 8/14/12 (16:55)

  • carpal tunnel on right wrist. need to get new keyboard setup at home. getting wrist pad at work. lame. haven't been on computer much lately. update more later i guess.

  • 8/11/12 (09:35)

  • olympics are great, but also a time suck. will get back to updating in a couple days.
  • read a story the other day about ford going with aluminum instead of steel for their f-150 trucks. it's the most popular truck in america and it's in response to obama admin guidelines on fuel efficiency. it's going to present a lot of problems for them in both the image and manufacturing categories. manufacturing because welds are different, moving around materials can't be done with large magnets anymore, etc. image because people have a view that aluminum isn't as good as steel. it's not as hard, sure, but it can be extremely strong. it never ceases to amaze me that people who have no clue what they're talking about will have an opinion on something like this. some people said they would look elsewhere if ford uses aluminum instead of steel. 1) no you won't 2) you're an idiot if you do. there's a legitimate conversation that can be had about aluminum being the best way to lower mileage, but saying that aluminum frames or body parts is a deal breaker is idiotic.
  • why are people proud of what they were born into? i have some of this myself, but i don't think it's altogether logical or useful in a lot of cases. when it comes to the olympics or something relatively harmless like that, it's no problem. when it comes to being proud to be born white/black, russian, italian, etc. it makes no sense to me and usually causes problems. it seems that it all goes back to this tribalism that humans are so enamored with, but i can't say i'm a fan.
  • something needs to be done about the economic segregation in this country. pretty basic and obvious, but it doesn't seem like we're having a real or honest conversation about this. as usual, both liberals and conservatives have valid points and democrats and republicans have done their best to be idiotic in articulating their points. do we want to live in a place where some people can have $100 billion and others can live in the gutter? some liberals will tell you that that's fundamentally wrong. i tend to agree. but, what if a sane person is just a lazy shit who makes all the wrong decisions? what do we do with these people? i honestly think there needs to be a world with consequences and some level of social darwinism. if someone makes a series of shitty and dumb decisions that person should be allowed to fail. should there be a floor that they can't go below? i think so. should there be a ceiling? i don't think so. i think people who are multi-billionaires should be taxed at a very high rate, but i don't think there should be a limit on the amount of money a person can have. it's hard to be against freedom, but what about the increase in gated communities and private schools? to what extent are these tearing society into two? there are those who have opportunity and a path to greatness and those for whom those things technically and legally exist, but the obstacles are much higher. are they intertwined? is it legitimate to question the existence of the niceties that the rich have just because there are some who don't have them? perhaps, instead, we should question why the poor and middle class are so badly off. i don't know. i tend to think that the rich kids being in public schools tends to help the poor in those schools. the rich parents have more money, access to public officials, and time to volunteer, etc. as a result they make the school better for their kids and the poor kids going to the same school benefit. now, though, the rich just pay for a good school and the poor and (dwindling) middle class have the public schools which limp along. instead we alienate the rich and call them part of the problem (the 1%). there are a lot of rich people who have done extremely valuable things for society while not raping the poor and middle class. carnegie, gates, kroc, getty, etc. to dismiss a class out of hand is ridiculous. plus, can you begrudge someone who wants what is best for their kid? tough issues. would be great if we could have some legitimate debate about them without scapegoating, blaming the victims, exaggeration, etc.
  • the word "deserve" is used a lot. been thinking about it lately. what does a person actual deserve? everyone deserves respect and that kind of thing. but when do you deserve a raise or lots of money or nice things? you'll sometimes hear people with nice things say that they deserve them, that they "earned them." what does any of that mean? maybe you worked hard, does that mean you deserve a 10,000 sq. ft. home or a bentley? if you can afford it then you deserve it, it seems. if you get it then you must have earned it. that's how the logic seems to actually work out. it's not a simple calculation so people just assume that if they get it then they must deserve it. when i work for people on handyman projects and charge $40/hr. i'm not sure i deserve that much money. in fact, i probably don't. but that's what people are willing to pay for a lot of this stuff, that's what the market will bear so that's what i try to get.

  • in speaking with conservatives over the last couple years one (more) thing is clear - they tend to place a high value on fairness, efficiency and cost. i definitely see these traits in myself as well. i sometimes find myself looking at a mural and calculating the cost/benefit of that public piece of artwork. the conservative in me might say "if you want to do that with your own time it's fine, but don't do it with my tax dollars." the liberal in me might say "artwork has a community value. the mural is less likely to get graffiti on it, it keeps artistic types (who are generally ill-suited for our economic system) employed and happy, and it is something pleasant to look at. certainly those have some value that necessitates some tax money." with regards to fairness, a lot of conservatives will point out things like "reverse racism" (also known as racism). or they'll talk about welfare mooches and compare them to themselves. "i work 60 hours a week and they don't do anything, but still have a roof over their head, free food, heating oil subsidies, money, etc. it's not fair." this desire for fairness is a source of a lot of pain in a lot of people. unfortunately life isn't fair. we can do our best to make our little corner of it as fair as we can, and that's all. they're right to point out that selecting black people for a job instead of whites is seen as ok, but the reverse would get front page news. that's not the whole story, of course, (and they sometimes don't see that) but it's true that picking (or not) someone based upon their race isn't altogether fair. undoing the wrongs of the country is impossible and hurtful of the current and future generations. but does the good outweigh the bad? again, it would be nice to have these discussions about affirmative action or cost without bringing up red herrings like "death panels" and the pigford case.

    7/27/12 (22:34)

  • went down to la a couple weekends ago to cheer on meryl's stepdad during the crossfit games. crossfit is a cult gym that preaches the benefits of all around fitness. overall it's a pretty good, low tech idea and a little cultism in the name of physical fitness isn't exactly the worst thing in the world. anyway, he's 60 and is in insanely good shape so he competed against a bunch of other guys in his age group throughout the world (mostly the u.s., though). he did a good job and ended up placing in the top ten, i believe.
  • it was funny to see all the crossfitters there with their funny t-shirts about pain being good for you or about how they kill calories or whatever. there were several thousand people there watching the games and i was probably the 50th fattest of them all, so that's saying something about their fitness level. that said, they had one of those sledgehammer bells games and all these huge guys, who could easily break me in half in any other physical competition, were hitting 10, 11, and 12 on this thing. one guy i saw got a 15 once. i told meryl i'd do it if she did it. i gave it the standard three wacks. i hit 15, 15, and 11. meryl was in the 9-12 range. turns out that digging trenches in hard clay soil and taking out concrete slabs has its benefits after all.

  • 7/26/12 (19:16)

  • even more...
  • still don't know who to vote for for president, but i have a few ideas; all of them are write-ins. batman. jerry brown. jon stewart. nutella. since none of them is actually running, though, i think i need to continue my quest. that gives you a general idea of where my head is, though.
  • the penn state thing looks to be basically over and done with at this point so we can now make actual judgments on it. obviously there's no love for sandusky, the child rapist. i'm more interested in the ncaa response. by issuing any kind of response they open themselves up to comparisons. should they have been involved at all? it was a criminal case and had nothing to do with the football program per se, but the program covered it up and they did so for the sake of the program. i think they were right to come down against the program, though it sets a precedent that i don't think they wanted to set. that said, it was such an awful thing that to not act on it would have been even worse. my understanding is this: 4 year ban from bowl games, 110+ games scrubbed from the books (paterno no longer the winningest football coach in ncaa history), and $60 million in fines.
  • it's coming out now that penn state was able to opt for this instead of a death penalty. my understanding was that the death penalty was only for repeat offenders. so, while this was more awful than anything in college football, it wasn't an offense that was repeated after ncaa sanctions. it's easy for the lay person to look at it from afar and say "smu gives money to their players and gets the death penalty, but psu rapes kids, covers it up and doesn't - ridiculous." but it's more complicated than that, for better or worse. overall i think it's a strong penalty. the death penalty for a year would have been good, but, theoretically, the $60 million fine accomplishes the same thing and goes to charities that can actually make for some good. the whole situation is lose-lose for everybody. with the exceptions being the recipients of the $60 million and bobby bowden who is now the #1 wins coach in fbs history.
  • the guys who are there now have the responsibility to rebuild the program. they'll still be on tv, they'll still get scouts to the game, the program will still get money. but they have the stigma and obviously, through no fault of their own, lose bowl game opportunities. also sucks for people who went to psu and now have the stench of the scandal on their resume. my best friend went there and that's something he brought up which i hadn't even considered.
  • in debating with people online about the james holmes murder spree the general consensus is that he should be murdered and/or tortured. i pointed out that this would be against the 6th and 8th amendments, but didn't get far with that argument. pretty typical. online being the operative word there. those people tend to not have common sense and are much more likely to parade that fact as some kind of badge of honor. in normal life people are more likely to concede a point, i feel.
  • heard a bit on marketplace the other day about the high end watch market doing really well. apparently the $10k and up segment is kicking ass because rich people love the status of the rolexs, etc. honestly, if you bought a watch for more than $10k you're an asshole. no reasonable person does that. i don't care if you earned that money in 10 seconds or in 10 years. if it was given to you or you got it at a 90% discount or something, then you're off the hook. but paying $10k for a watch puts you in asshole territory. at least with a car you can argue that a bmw is safer than a hyundai. with a house you generally get better location or quality and it's a sound investment. with other things you get increased performance or reliability or some benefit. with a $10k watch you get nothing other than something that tells the time and tells others that you care more about your wrist wear than the plight of humanity. and for that you are an asshole.
  • bernanke was in front of the senate committee on finance. the senators asked their questions and one of them asked bernanke what he thought congress should do. bernanke said he didn't want to touch that one (after all it's congress' job to come up with policy). at one point chuck schumer told bernanke "get to work mr. chairman." i had to laugh. maybe congress should do what it's supposed to do instead of talking about obama "leading from behind" on healthcare because he didn't write the law or telling the fed chairman to stimulate the economy through QE3 and interest rates and "operation twist." what a dumbass thing to say.
  • one of our biggest problems continues to be crony capitalism. it has infiltrated every part of our economy and society, or so it seems. get the money out of politics and we'll be a lot better off. as a result we don't let the markets do what they do well (find equilibrium) and we don't allocate money to the people and places that need it (the poor, budding infrastructure). instead the things that get the money are those with the most access (usually in the form of money). we see this universally from both the republicans and democrats and they've been extremely slow and reticent to do anything about it. this almost always screws the middle class.
  • this also ties into the idea of the false left/right paradigm. increasingly we are hearing about "those on the left say..." or "conservatives say..." in reality it's amazing how little agreement there actually is about what these extremely often used terms even mean. how can we have a discussion about ideas like the free market and financial regulation when we throw around terms like liberal and conservative and no one agrees on what they mean? the john birch society (which i generally have disdain for) has a definition that i find to be very easy to understand. it's also how i sort of first came to understand the terms "liberal" and "conservative." that is that a conservative wants less government (extreme = anarchy) and a liberal wants more government (extreme = fascism). in the american sense, though, we use the terms differently. a conservative wants less government in finance, but more government intervention in "moral" causes like abortion, death penalty, marriage, etc. neither republicans nor democrats are consistent in this way. libertarians are. medical marijuana and abortion? do what you want. banking and business? do what you want. the point of all this is to show that most of the time when people are arguing about liberals and conservatives, it turns out they don't even know what they're arguing about. go ahead and ask a self-described conservative what it means to be conservative vs. liberal. ask a liberal the same thing. chances are they have pretty different ideas about the terms.
  • the other issue is one of priorities, which is interesting. an american conservative might prioritize freedom with regards to gun ownership, but safety when it comes to profiling for terrorism. an american liberal might prioritize safety with regards to gun ownership, but freedom/equality when it comes to being profiled as a terrorist. it's not that the liberal doesn't care about terrorism, it's that, in that particular instance, they are more concerned about freedom from persecution than they are concerned about safety.
  • a recent atlantic article posits that women "can't have it all." she's been making the rounds and the article is supposedly the most popular in atlantic history. i didn't read the article so i can't condemn it out of hand, but i have heard the buzz and heard most of the interview she had with terri gross, so i have some frame of reference. to me the article could be titled "why people can't have it all" and it would be a no-brainer article about the facts of life. duh, we have finite time and resources...no shit we can't have it all. why would women be any different? the answer is they're not. the only fundamental difference between men and women is that the woman has to carry the baby, should they choose to have it. as an aside - it's funny that having a child is taken for granted in the "having it all." the truth is that women, if they choose their mate and career accordingly, can have the same things that men have.
  • she talks about women feeling okay with the men running the household and (i assume) another issue is that others may look at a woman in power differently. again, this gets filed in the no-brainer category. if you do things that are different, people will chastise you or look at you differently. if you care about what people who don't matter think, though, i'd argue you lost the whole game a long time ago.
  • she also talks about workplaces being more flexible. i work at a place that is extremely flexible. the women there take off 3-6 months when they have a kid. they use maternity leave and disability time and some vacation time. they come back at 60% or 80% and no one cares. it depends where you work. i don't know what other places are like. i grew up basically thinking that if i wasn't working then i wasn't getting paid. the idea that i could take a vacation day was something i knew existed in my head, but it was weird the first time i actually had one to take, and took it. having a kid is the biggest decision you'll make in your life, it's going to mean sacrifice. why this hasn't dawned on some people is beyond me. if you don't want another full-time job changing diapers and feeding a baby then don't have one. i'd love the income from another full-time job, but i haven't taken one on. guess i, too, can't have it all. oh well.

  • 7/26/12 (19:06)

  • more...
  • i think it's easier for me to not do something than it is to do something. that sounds like a no-brainer, but, as an example, it's easier for me to not eat a hot fudge sundae than it is to eat it and then have to do a big workout to cancel it out. for some, it's easier to do the work out and not have to deprive themselves of the hot fudge sundae. perhaps that says something about my character.
  • if i were rich one of the things i'd do is hire the prostitutes from international blvd. to do my yard work. win-win. they get off the streets, i get yard work done. another thing i'd do is commission studies for all sorts of questions i have. i'd have a team of academics on hand to answer my questions on a variety of subjects. that would be a dream come true.
  • the other day we had a little incident outside our house. some background first - lately we've had lots of burglaries on the block and we had a neighborhood meeting about the issue. so, the other day there was some yelling outside and meryl told me we should check it out. so i go outside and see three black kids and i heard one of them yell at our neighbors (a couple from alabama who work for the coast guard) "i hate white people, you're what's wrong with this world." as i went outside the neighbors were yelling back at them to come back, but the kids were walking away. they said that they knew where my neighbors lived and that was pretty much the end of what i saw.
  • in talking with the neighbors about what happened they said that the kids came to their house and ripped up their flowers. the neighbors confronted them and the kids shrugged them off and then went over to my truck and jumped on it and got in the bed and jumped around in it. they threatened to fight the neighbors and he said something like "what are you 11 years old?" and the kid said "no, i'm 14." as we talked about it with the neighbors the guy said something like "white people are what's wrong with the world? yeah whatever, black people are what's wrong with this city."
  • there's a lot in a statement like that. first, it's not the kind of thing you hear much in oakland or california in general. the thing that struck me the most in thinking about it for days afterwards was that both statements were wrong, but also had a grain of truth which allows those thoughts to continue. the neighbor was right that much of the crime in oakland does seem to come from the black community. the kid was right that whites have basically been in charge of the nation since its inception and so you can kinda blame them for the state of the nation.
  • the new race, though, is partisan politics. a recent pew study found that the country is becoming increasingly partisan and that party affiliation is more divisive than race, class, etc.
  • it would be great if we, as voters, would tell our representatives to come to some conclusion on these pressing issues before the election. "address the issues as best you can by november or else you're gone. i'm not voting for you based upon whether you keep my pet project funded or fix things how i want them to be fixed - i'm voting for you based upon whether or not you have the guts to address the issue on a long-term basis in any way whatsoever."
  • if we all issued that ultimatum to congress then they would solve some problems. that's what they get elected to do - represent us and fix problems as they see fit. we wouldn't all agree with how they got it done, but they'd get something done instead of sitting in this holding pattern playing politics. but i'm guessing no one will tell their congressperson that because they're too afraid that the other side will get their way on some issue they care about. so, instead, we get what we deserve. good job, america.
  • speaking of politics we have a class discussion going on right now in the country (albeit a very superficial one), but it seems a bit misguided in my opinion. we have the 99% vs 1% and the mitt off shore accounts discussions that are both about class. as usual, there's a lot of noise that crowds out serious discussion on the topic. to me it comes down to a few simple questions. should we allow people to hide money offshore away from the taxes that most people have to pay? should we have a tax structure that values investment (long-term capital gains at a flat 15%) more than labor (progressively taxed up to 35%)? are those things fair? should we prioritize going after small time crooks instead of the bankers who helped ruin our economy? unfortunately everyone has their pet carve out and those with the most power and access (the rich) just happen to get the most.
  • it should also be pointed out that the tax cut extension that obama is proposing (extension of all tax cuts except those on income over $250k) applies to everyone. people don't think about it, but if you make $400k/year then the first $250k of your earnings continue to be at the reduced rate. the remaining $150k of your earnings are taxed at a higher rate. not really a big deal, but they're all up in arms about it because they are completely unreasonable.

  • 7/26/12 (18:59)

  • been hoarding updates lately waiting for a chance to cut and paste them...
  • obviously the big news of the week is the mass murder in aurora colorado. we can expect more of these. we need to ask ourselves if we're okay with that or not. if that's the cost of doing business the american way, then we need not look inward, change anything about ourselves, or enact any new laws. if, however, we decide that we're not okay with this happening every couple years, then we need to have a dialogue and work on the issue. the underlying issues as i see them:
  • gun control is part of it - often the guns were legally purchased. what guns do we think are ok in society and what do we think people should have to do to own a gun? i actually don't have a problem with most handguns and single shot rifles. i don't see much valid social benefit in having automatic weapons. it makes sense that there should be a waiting period for guns of any kind. it makes sense that there should be a basic background check - no recent criminal record. let's say no felonies or violent crimes in the last 7 years? seems reasonable.
  • mental health is an issue that basically is ignored in this country. i've written about it before and lauded ron artest for bringing light to the issue after winning an nba championship. we basically sweep people with mental health issues under the rug. maybe they get some basic care. maybe they're told to takes some meds. maybe not. generally people look down on them. many (perhaps most) of them end up on the streets or in jail. some of them end up doing crap like this. about half of them live in berkeley.
  • lastly there's something just broken about our social structure. i don't know what it is. there's probably a lot of speculation going around so watch cnn and fox news for a couple hours and you'll get an idea of the breadth of opinions. do these people do these big shootings to be the center of attention in a celebrity culture run amok? there are probably a hundred pop psychology explanations. i don't know what the answer is, i just know that we're broken.
  • after writing that one i saw david brooks speculate on the news hour that it was the culture of celebrity and one-upmanship that helps spur these shootings on. haha, thanks david. right on cue.
  • saw separate interviews with both victor cruz and michael vick lately. both came off as pretty good guys with different backgrounds and it was an interesting juxtaposition to see the interviews within a day of each other.
  • vick was highly touted and is an amazingly skilled athlete. the world was his oyster so to speak and he crapped it all away by not working hard at his craft and being a general idiot. this culminated with the dog fighting and subsequent prison time. now, though, it seems that he's made actual progress as a person. he came off as humble and enlightened. he knew he threw away his early career. he knew he took his skill for granted. now, though, he seems like a relatively stand up guy.
  • cruz wasn't touted at all and was undrafted. he earned his way into the league and didn't do anything his first partial season. then he broke out last year and is a huge reason they won the superbowl. he was the guy i was most worried about when the giants played the niners and rightfully so. he comes off as very put together and a good guy on the whole. hopefully young athletes see these guys as they are now as something to emulate.

  • 7/22/12 (20:45)

  • been real busy lately, but have some good updates coming.
  • worked a lot on the front yard this weekend. yesterday meryl's dad and stepmom came over and helped us plant and layout a drip irrigation system. that was new to me, but it's super simple and i like the system. should make things pretty easy for us to keep the plants alive. luke and claire also came later in the day to give us a second wind when we needed it most. got pretty much everything planted. tuesday meryl and i should finish it off. i'll finalize the drip system (including the timer), we'll plant the last of the plants, and install the rest of the mulch. yay.

  • 7/20/12 (18:18)

  • i like this series and try to watch it whenever they have new ones. problem is that for each one of these videos on the internet there are probably 50 of someone being beaten to death in russia, gored by bulls in spain, playing dodge with a car in america, and other "fail" compilations, etc. basically 90% of humans are dumb and a few are exceptional.

  • 7/17/12 (18:43)

  • great hurdling.

  • 7/8/12 (17:57)

  • had a pretty good day of work. finished the edging in the front and filled it all in with the 1/2" gravel we got. also put a little veneer cap on the brick divider by the gas meter on the side of the house. it effectively raised the bed height by about 2" which will keep the gravel in better. when i did this wall originally i wanted it to be another brick higher, but the front gate was in the way so i used the veneer instead and it allows the gate to open fully while keeping in most of the gravel.
  • age catches up to you no matter what. that's life i guess. as cliche as it is, it is true that you don't fully appreciate it when you're younger. how can you? you can be told that things will ache the morning after a hard day's work, but it doesn't really settle in. you run 10 miles at 16 and the next day all you feel is not quite as fast. you run 10 miles when you're older and you need advil to cope with it. i've avoided painkillers my entire life, but i know there will be a day when doing what i did today in the yard will require advil to get loosened up or feeling up to another day's worth of work. i'm not there yet, but let's just say that things take their toll more than they used to.

  • 7/8/12 (09:36)

  • meryl is working for the a's this weekend so i'm working on the front yard mostly by myself. yesterday i got a few little things done and also dug out the section where the gravel walkway is going to be. it's in the shape of a "T" with the top of the "T" being the front of the house and the leg going down to the sidewalk. today i hope to do the edging and get the gravel in place. we also got some stepping stones which will go in the leg of the "T." after that i have to lay some brick in the porch (after i jackhammer out the bottom step), we'll lay down weedblocking cardboard, and then we can begin planting and irrigation. we're going with a drip system.

  • 7/6/12 (20:29)

  • a couple weeks ago a hummingbird flew into the window at work. my boss, as she often does, came into the office in a panic and wanted me to fix it. i laughed and asked why she was freaking out about a bird. she gave a sad face and explained that it was suffering and might die. i informed her that over 100 people had just died in syria the other day and i heard nary a peep from her about that, but now she was all upset about this hummingbird. "it makes sense of course," i went on, the hummingbird is here and you have to see it, but the 100+ humans in syria are out of sight and out of mind. she told me that i have a different way of looking at things. the bird survived.
  • the other day i heard a story on npr about a study that found that so-called wine experts were willing to pay more for a fancy or foreign sounding wine than a normal sounding wine. wine snobs are hilarious.
  • also heard a story about orbit.com changing their marketing depending upon what browser you were using. specifically, they found that people using safari (apple's browser) were more likely to spend more on the same tickets than those using other browsers. so, they have some formula that charges safari users more for the same tickets. i guess apple costs even more now. i think that's deserving of a "lulz."
  • big news of the last couple weeks is the healthcare shite. re: the mandate. it's pretty clear to dumb ole me that a penalty for not buying something is a penalty, not a tax and it is therefore unconstitutional. i'm no radical conservative, but i do find some truth in the conservative mantra that the constitution doesn't mean much these days. that's not me saying that's always a bad thing. the constitution is great in many ways, but it was the manifestation of great compromise and was profoundly flawed in some fundamental ways. 3/5 compromise probably being the biggest. plus, jefferson felt the constitution should be rewritten every 19 years and there's some truth to that. but when you look at how the consititutional fundamentally setup the three branches, it's clear that there's a troubling imbalance. the other troubling issue about the mandate is that it's guaranteed business for an industry that doesn't need anymore business.
  • the upside of the mandate is that many of the people who will now be insured were either young and don't tend to use healthcare (so they'll be paying into the system, but not using it) or were using emergency care as their primary care. in this way, the mandate is a good thing because now (almost) everyone has skin in the game. no more of this not paying into the system, getting hurt, and getting treatment on the taxpayers' dime. so, the mandate is an abuse of governmental power, it's not a tax (even obama said it wasn't a tax, though it's now called one), on the other hand it forces some freeloaders into the system and that's a nice thing. mixed bag.
  • then there are a few things that everyone basically agrees upon - extend coverage to those as old as 25 under their parents' coverage, eliminate the ability to cap lifetime benefits, eliminate the pre-existing condition nonsense. probably some others i'm forgetting as well.
  • some things they didn't address would be a public option. they didn't even sniff a single payer system because obama isn't the socialist some make him out to be. they didn't divorce healthcare from employment, which is a key component that they need to address sooner or later. it's bad for employers and it's bad for employees. they tried the cobra thing to help fix the issue when people lose their job, but it's a costly waste.
  • once again, because the two sides are unable to work together, we got a bloated and nonsensical piece of legislation. it's a manifestation of modern day compromise. i've basically found there to be two camps on this - the side that think it's a deeply flawed bill that does some good things and is an ok start and the side that think it's a deeply flawed, unconsitutional, governmental overreach that needs to be repealed.
  • of course the misinformation campaign is in full swing with limbaugh and his puppets saying it's the biggest tax ever. yeah, not so much. a lot of them use the slippery slope argument...they require you to buy healthcare, so you'll be required to buy other things. healthcare is governed so then they'll tax your breath or whatever. obama pushes alternative energy so then they'll tax the sun. etc. it gets pretty ridiculous.
  • once again, our problem is that we don't work together in good faith to fix our problems. immoral and dishonest partisans rule the roost and we the sheeple do little to nothing to stop them.
  • no ralph nader in 2012. really at a loss for who to vote for this time around.

  • 7/1/12 (20:57)

  • worked on the front yard this weekend. we hired a laborer who helped us on the side yard one day last year. to date we've gotten 5 days worth of labor from hired help in the 4 years we've been there. 2 of those days came this weekend. we're getting old.
  • with his help we scalped the lawn and dug out 18" deep trenches in the front part of the house. we laid a french drain in the front and it pitches from right to left and then from the front of the house towards the street. the idea is to remove as much of the ground water from the base of the house as possible so it doesn't get under the house in the crawlspace. we also dug a trench that takes two of the downspouts that previously dumped water 1) at the base of the foundation and 2) on our front porch. those are joined together with a wye and dump water on the front lawn as it pitches toward the sidewalk. over top of this long drywell/trench will be our gravel walkway so all the water we're dumping on the front lawn shouldn't turn into a mud pit. shouldn't. i'm not a soils engineer so i'm not 100% certain.
  • the other option was to have all this water go off the property and have it be oakland's problem. personally i'm opposed to this. we have enough impervious surfaces in cities as it is. to take half the water from your roof and dump it in the street is irresponsible.
  • took my cousin to the county fair the other day. it was meryl's idea. we all had a good time. the rides are a rip off. the fair is actually a good life lesson for kids. give them their chore money when you get there and see how quickly they go through it. they play the stupid games where you throw the ball in the basket or rings on soda bottles and go broke in 30 minutes. that's life, kid, get used to it.

  • those carnie folk have more stories about getting chased by cops than they have teeth, and that makes it all the more fun in my opinion.
     

    6/20/12 (16:28)

  • i want to be able to play music and watch downloaded video on my tv. it's a simple enough problem to have and there are a lot of ways of addressing the issue. ideally i want to control everything through my ps3 - be able to select the media through there, pause, ff, rew, etc. so the idea was to setup the ps3 to use the laptop or desktop computer as the server. tried windows media player, windows media center, and ps3 media server. the media server worked for a little bit and then failed. the rest never worked and weren't well laid out or intuitive or efficient. went on youtube, looked online, etc. no easy answers. i get a dlna error when i try to use my desktop as the server. when i use the laptop i can't even get the media center to recognize the media on the hard drive and the ps3 media center has stopped loading altogether, despite a reboot, uninstall, and reinstall.
  • another thing i tried was hooking the ipod up through the usb drive on the ps3. you can get it to recognize the ipod, but the folders are still laid out randomly. apple doesn't want you to use the ipod without itunes (aka the worst program of all-time); this is clear. there are a few different options here: meryl's computer scientist father set the router up incorrectly. the people designing and building these things are unthoughtful morons. the people designing and building these things don't care about making a product that will interact well with other things. i'm doing something horribly wrong. i've done nothing to the ps3 and nothing much to either of the computers which came with factory installed software that isn't working. bottom line is that nothing i've done has worked and it seems like a basic enough issue to have a solution to by now.
  • there's finally an app for reporting potholes on streets. i called for this a little more than a year ago and was doubtful that it would happen anytime soon. turns out it was released last year. it's called street bump and i think they developed it for boston. maybe there's hope after all.
  • thunder lost, they're done for. after the big three went to miami i said it would take a year or two for them to coalesce enough to win a championship. looks like i was about right.

  • 6/19/12 (18:31)

  • more news on why the uc system is failing. high pensions for those at the top. big surprise. of course these are worst for the med school branches, but it applies to all of them. poor planning with regards to handing out generous pensions and allowing full pensions at age 60. ridiculous.

  • 6/11/12 (22:43)

  • had a two hour power outage today which caused me to finally get the generator i bought a little while ago up and running. it produces power in such a way that, when hooking my ups up to it, the ups turns on and off constantly. the ups is very sensitive, i know that from experience, but it represents a problem with how the generator is producing power. it's possible that going off the 240v outlet and splitting it will get better results, but i doubt it. a better method would be to take the 240v feed and convert that to 120v. or to feed the 120v through some sort of power conditioner. of course this is all academic because if i really needed the tivo to work, i could hook it straight to the generator and it would probably be fine, though not ideal since most electronics want a cleaner power than a cheap generator likely puts out. i got it for emergencies and potential jobs where i wouldn't have access to power.
  • kings won the stanley cup today. i was a fan back in the hrudey, zhitnick, mcsorely, and blake (not to mention robitaille and gretzky) days. this team i don't know very well, but that team was close to my heart and it was painful seeing them lose to roy's canadiens. i hated that guy for a long time after that series. anyway, they had a great run and looked like a team that should have won a lot more games during the season, though i know they went through some changes during the year. so congrats to them.

  • 6/10/12 (16:34)

  • in the process of making two display cases for figurines for two of meryl's friends. we'll also be going to their place to install baby gates for their new toddler. first go round for the display cases was only half successful. basically the center support didn't look right so i added a poplar veneer to it, but that interfered with the sliding glass doors. i also had a brain fart when installing the glass doors and had to cut out and patch a portion. so, one got scrapped and the other has a pretty seamless patch in it that i would have liked to avoid. building it a second time is proving a lot easier, though, now that i have all the kinks worked out. will be finished today with finishing (paint) to happen on wednesday.
  • here's the thing about the increasing partisanship, especially with regards to the debt crisis and congress' ensuing 9% approval rating. we all curse them and think they suck. but the truth is that, to a pretty great extent, they are following our lead. i'll put it to you this way: if a significant number of people called their representatives and said "i just want you to get a deal done quickly so we can avert another downgrade," do you really think they wouldn't get something done sooner this time? i think they would. instead, people call them and say "don't let them take spending away from planned parenthood or npr or social security" or "don't let them raise taxes or raise the age of social security benefits or adjust the home buyers' tax write off." everyone is a special interest and everyone has their sacred cows. some for good reasons, some not. but they're all in there because they were sacred or beneficial to someone who cared enough for spent enough and they'll be damned if their carve out is going to go away. this is where i am a conservative. we need to have fewer tax write offs, we need to raise the age for social security benefits to at least 70, we need to pare down, eliminate and consolidate programs. we also need to double taxes on capital gains and increase taxes on the very rich as well as have those at the bottom pay something. i'm shocked that i agree with michelle bachmann on something, but i do - even if you're poor and all your income is coming from the government, some of that money should come back to the government in the form of taxes. if for no other reason than you should have to go through the same hell (known as filing taxes) as everyone else.
  • and this is why we need a third party, yet again. to keep the other two honest and accountable. to split the difference and actually get something done. to actually unify us. the libertarians are the only ones right now who are on the ballot in all 50 states so i guess that's what we have. unfortunately, they're woefully under equipped, policy-wise, to deal with banking regulation and healthcare, among other things. we need some good libertarian blood in the government, but we also need some good democratic socialist blood to revive strong regulation and give some order and depth to our social safety net which is basically a goddamn joke. it's prone to abuse, scattered and unorganized, and does more to keep people on the dole than it does to get them into the workforce.
  • i have no idea who i'm voting for this year, but i know that this person won't have a chance of winning. i know this because only two people have a chance of winning and that's how it's going to be for a long time, i'm afraid. because people continually insist on voting within the guidelines that those in power have created. they limit the debate to people who poll above 15% knowing full well that the only way to get to that level is to allow those people to debate. it's only slightly better in the primaries. it's funny how the media spins the large debates as a bad thing. diversity of ideas is a bad thing? the primaries are the best part of the elections because it's when we get to see people with new ideas get some coverage. new ideas are good. but they tell us that new ideas are bad and they just muddy the water for the real contenders. they say that a third party never has a chance and that they just distract from the real issues. they say that this vote is too important to waste on something like a third party vote. they say maybe next time. they say that this one is historic. that this one is different. they say that too much is on the line.
  • some orwell is fitting here: "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale ó then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"


  • 6/8/12 (7:40)
  • more to come.

  • 5/31/12 (18:02)

  • will try to get the pictures updated today.
  • most days after work i've been doing work around the house. trying to get the cabinet finished and get a couple other projects up and running. one is refinishing a table for meryl's dad and the other is building a display case for a friend of meryl's. the display case should be mostly done this weekend. i need to strip the lacquer off the table and reattach some peeling veneer. hope to get to that this weekend as well.
  • hockey game last night was a good one. unfortunately i missed the ot. i find that each time i watch hocky i like it, but i don't watch it for anything other than the big events. then again, it's getting to the point where i don't watch non-football stuff except come playoff time. just don't have the time i used to have.
  • speaking of which. it looks like it's going to be miami and san antonio. i'll definitely root for miami in that series, but i can't say i like either team. i want miami to win for a couple reasons - 1. it will help bolster my argument that lebron and wade are the number one and two players in the world. 2. i'd like to see lebron win a championship. i think he's a great player and deserving of one despite what everyone says about him skipping town or the way he did it. when it comes to being a prima donna or any of that other stuff. i think he's about average, but gets the scrutiny of the number one player so it seems like he's an above average complainer or diva or whatever the knock on him is. the truth is this: he's not a felon to the best of my knowledge, he's an excellent basketball player and teammate, other than that it's probably not for us to judge in a basketball context.
  • was thinking about community redevelopment projects the other day. an entity goes into a run down part of a city and revamps it. in some instances this is done by private enterprise. they tend to do things more efficiently and concentrate the profits and wages of this project at the top end of the scale. in other instances this redevelopment may be adminstrated by a local jurisdiction (the government, in other words). these tend to be inefficient, but may also distribute the money more evenly across the payscale and not take a windfall profit from a deal that goes well. unfortunately it seems lately that more and more government money is getting concentrated near the top. the uc system is an example of this where you have the higher earners getting an increasingly large slice of the pie and growing in number; of course they go hand in hand. but does the uc system really need people to make that much money and to increase that segment of their workforce so much? i got the charts below from this website. their data seems to demonstrate that not only is california decreasing its funding of the uc system (bad), but the uc system seems to also be squandering the money it has (possibly worse). some of the students who protested a while back seem to get it - they said that administrators should take a cut before raising tuition, but it doesn't seem that the people in charge think there's much of a problem with where the money goes or how many managers there are.



  • 5/23/12 (08:16)
  • so, the fakers are out of the playoffs again. i'm so sad for them. kobe will likely try to run pau gasol out of town like he did with shaq. it would probably be a good move to get rid of gasol for someone else who actually wants to play, but i don't mind if they don't make any moves. definitely rooting for okc over san antonio.
  • will continue to work on the countertop for our cabinet today. hopefully get it ready for install by the end of the day. it'll be nice when this project is over so we can knock out a few of the smaller projects for other people and for the shop that have been piling up.
  • the last intelligence squared debate was "should we ban college football?" the crowd ended up siding with the team that said yes to that question. we're a reactionary society, that's for sure. some idiot uses a gun the wrong way and we want to ban guns, some moron has 30 kids and wants welfare for all of them and we want to get rid of welfare. the only reason to get rid of college football is to make it into a club sport and separate that level of athletics from academics. the downside of that is that all the other sports in college will have a tough time paying for themselves from then on. i think college football, especially at the bcs level, needs a lot of reforms, but i don't think it should be banned.
  • i was thinking about the idea of genius the other day. i've been around so-called genius before, but i've never felt like i've really experienced it from anyone. for example, i spoke with saul perlmutter about his wife's surprised birthday party and helped him plan that at the alumni house. never did i think "wow, this guy is a genius." granted, we weren't talking about astrophysics so we were outside of his genius zone, but i guess that goes to show that genius is limited. or maybe he's not a genius, he's just good at that one thing. i've talked with smart people before and felt dumb by comparison. i've seen great works of art and all that, but i've never experienced a genius in person. maybe if i was in the room while the beatles were making abbey road then i would have a different outlook on this. or maybe i have too high a standard for genius.
  • monday meryl and i committed to work for my boss on some yard work she wants done. it's our xmas present to her to give her a day's worth of work. then tuesday both my dad and luke say they're going to be in town this weekend so i'm not sure how that's going to work out. i feel like i'm becoming one of those people who plans out his weekends a month in advance. i'm not entirely thrilled about that. then again, idle hands are the devil's workshop so maybe it's better to be busy than not.

  • 5/19/12 (20:54)

  • haven't been spending much time on the computer these days, hence the lack of updates.

  • 5/16/12 (21:44)

  • cabinet in tv room is nearing completion. just have some trim to do and the top, which may take a while, but doesn't take long in my head.
  • watching the fakers game right now. hopefully okc and pull this off.
  • have more to write about, but not much time these days.
  • politics are at an all time low in my lifetime.
  • 10 minutes later...
  • that fakers finish was absolutely priceless. as a long time hater of the fakers, this was one of the most satisfying finishes i've seen. sure, it's only the second round of the playoffs, but it was still a great great finish/implosion. fakers were up by 7 with 2 minutes left. harden has a quick layup, kobe throws the ball into the post, but durant is able to jump up and intercept it and gets an easy dunk. then blake passes to kobe and the ball goes through his hands. the refs call it out on westbrook, but are able to overturn it by looking at the replay. harden gets another layup. then okc fails to convert on the next opportunity, but plays decent defense and kobe throws up a brick from three point range. durant gets another layup and okc is now up by 1. in the fakers' final real possession kobe and mike brown (one of the nba's worst coaches and an awful hire by the fakers) apparently aren't aware of the fact that okc has a foul to give. so, with only about 7 seconds left, kobe goes into his offensive move and is fouled. the fakers call a timeout and worldpeace/ron artest inbounds the ball to steve blake (kobe is well covered) who is wide open and misses the three point attempt. kobe throws his arms down and grabs his jersey in disgust. durant sinks a free throw and the game is effectively over anyway because there is only .3 seconds left.
  • reasons this was such an epic implosion: 2 minutes left, 7 point lead with the 2nd best scoring trio in the league and one of the most experienced playoff stars in the league (kobe). kobe turned the ball over twice, threw up one brick 3 pointer, and cried like a baby when a teammate missed a shot. mike brown miscoached almost every element of the last couple minutes and kobe's lack of awareness also hurt them.
  • when the fakers realize that their best player is bynum they'll be back in contention. until then, it's the aging kobe show and they'll be a second tier team, at best. it's great to see a guy like kobe on the downside of his career. not only is he a bad person and teammate, he's now also not a very good player. he produces well, but it's because he is a prolific shooter and ball hog, not because he's actually very good anymore. schadenfreude.

  • 5/12/12 (19:23)

  • haven't followed the nba playoffs at all so far this year, but i'll be watching the fakers take on the nuggets in game seven tonight. hopefully the nuggets can pull off the upset after being down 3-1. it would be fun to see kobe cry a little.
  • don't think i mentioned it, but the doc found another skin cancer thing. this time i'm treating it with the cream for six weeks instead of the surgery. the doc pushed that both times so i figured i'd give it a shot. just a matter of time before one of these is the bad kind i guess.
  • been making some headway on the cabinet project. hooked up all the components, though i didn't get the wires all neat and orderly like i envisioned. still need to install some face frames for the side shelves and build the top. meryl will probably do most of the assembly for the top. then comes the baseboard. i ordered a tv mount for when we get a flat screen tv in the future. figure it's easier to install now than it will be later, especially since there will be some wiring behind the tv.
  • also did a little project for outdoor storage. stuff like basketballs and whatnot. easy little box, but it was nice to get it almost done in less than a day.

  • 5/4/12 (17:04)

  • adam yauch, aka MCA, died today. very sad about this. listened to the beastie boys all day and reminisced. they're top five for me all-time.

  • and here's a jaunt through just one song on their best album (paul's boutique). the guy is a little funny, but it's a great breakdown of the samples in shake your rump. dust brothers + beastie boys = top ten album of all-time.
     

    4/26/12 (17:27)

  • seems like the building projects never end. guess that's a good thing, though, since it gives me more practice.
  • most small businesses are one person large. pretty much what i suspected. a person creates an llc for one kind of business, another llc for another, next thing you know there are 12 different small business and an individual and they're all really the same person. there's probably good reason for this, but it seems that washington talks about them as if each entity represents 12 mom and pop shops that employ a bunch of local townspeople. turns out that's not the case. we have such a complex legal and economic system now it's fucking ridiculous.
  • some pictures of the table i had to repair, hopefully for the last time. previous repairs include the horizontal 1x poplar used for cross bracing as well as the steel angle braces for additional stability. repairs this time included adding wheels (now has 12 instead of 8, each one is capable of holding 125lbs), and 3/16" steel plates to stiffen the bottom of the legs and more evenly distribute the load from the wheels. it's not real pretty under there, but i think it's stronger and more mobile than it's ever been.





  • found these on the net:




    4/22/12 (08:28)
  • almost done recording all the "not offbeat" shows from tape. we didn't record every show we did unfortunately, but we have a good number of shows and now they're all digital so that's good. at some point they started putting them in .rm format on the kdvs website and i tried to download those as they became available, but i only have 7 of those shows.
  • when you threaten to leave negative feedback to an amazon or ebay seller they usually will give you a discount or a full refund for whatever item it is that you have purchased. how can we apply this fear of negative feedback (which then leads to good customer service) to the public sector? perhaps a feedback system that helps determine the pay of the employees. the unions would never go for it, but i think it would be a good system for everyone. good employees at the dmv or city offices could potentially get raises for positive feedback and could be docked pay or held back in some way for repeated bad feedback. the infrastructure i already there in sites like yelp or amazon's customer feedback. now they just need to work out the details and implement it. yeah right.

  • 4/21/12 (16:00)

  • working on the a/v cabinet today. meryl is at work now, but we picked up a bunch of wood earlier today. got the prefinished birtch plywood for the drawer bottoms, cherry ply for the sides of the cabinet, cherry stock for the face frames and sapele and chechen for the herringbone top. going to be making lots of sawdust in the next couple weeks.
  • also finished cutting and drilling the steel plates for the large table at work. hopefully this is the last time i have to work on it. we'll see. i'll try to take pictures this time. it's a 22' table with three legs and my boss doesn't want to break the bad news to people that it's a bad idea to move it all over the room. if i were in charge i'd never move it more than 3 feet because that's when it has broken 4 out of the 5 times since i've been there.
  • the people at pundit tracker asked me to help out (because i offered) with collection of predictions from a few different pundits. i've got two in mind from their list whom i'd like to track so hopefully i can find time in these next few weeks to go through old transcripts to find predictions. not sure what the most efficient way to do this is.

  • 4/16/12 (17:51)

  • got a lot of building projects coming up.
  • we put a coat of poly on the floor in the tv room and it looks good, but it has a lot of tiny bubbles in it. i tried applying it with a t-bar applicator this time and i think that not soaking it in solvent first may have caused that. either that or moving the applicator to quickly, although i've seen people apply poly with a t-bar very quickly with good results. the only other thing i can think is that the first coat should have been thinned. i think each time we do a room we're getting better at it, but it's a long and somewhat annoying process.
  • went to meryl's friend's house yesterday and attached a bunch of bookcases to the wall because they have a new kid and they're worried about him climbing on them and bringing them down. pretty easy job.
  • finished watching arrested development. i think we're going to try watching "lost" next.
  • also had a job today troubleshooting some electrical that wasn't working. turns out it was working when i got there so there wasn't much to do there. gotta come back another time, though, and install a couple new outlets.
  • i've recorded about a third of the not offbeat shows on tape so far. there's some good stuff in there, but also some really dumb stuff. vern and i got a little silly at times, but i guess that's expected at 4am. i guess it's important to document some of your stupidity otherwise you might forget it and get too full of yourself. or vise versa if you're otherwise inclined.

  • 4/12/12 (16:38)

  • been doing some handyman jobs lately. did a little work for jon and monique, then had a gate rebuild yesterday and some electrical work that i'm going to try to get to within the week.
  • haven't been so good about watching movies or keeping up with my workout goals, but making some extra money and watching arrested development hasn't been so bad either.
  • next big project is the entertainment cabinet in the tv room. meryl designed it and i picked up some of the hardware yesterday. it'll be nice to get that done and set up so things aren't so messy around the house. hope to put a coat of poly on the floors this weekend and hopefully enter through the front door again sometime soon.

  • 4/6/12 (20:00)

  • busy couple of weeks coming up.
  • i've rated all my songs on itunes and it's interesting to look at a band like radiohead which, according to me, only has seven 5-star songs. they're more of an album group so it makes sense on the one hand, but i also would have thought that i would have given them more 5-star songs.
  • floor is pretty much all sanded. just a little bit of fine work to do with the multimaster around the edges and in the corners. then i'll clean it up and trowel in the filler tomorrow. meryl will be gone the first part of the day and then we have lunch with my cousin so i don't see us getting a heck of a lot done this weekend.
  • we've decided to build the tv room built-in cabinet before putting all the a/v components back together so we won't have a tv in there for a few weeks at least. had to replace the bulb on the tv the other day. took about 10 minutes, but most of that time was me trying to make sure i didn't snap the front cover off. you really have to tug on it for it to come off. $40 and it bought us plenty more time.
  • other building projects besides the tv built-in: coffee table for tv room, dining room table for big room, bed platform/storage area.
  • saw jon and monique yesterday. they're pregnant so that's my second set of friends who has gotten pregnant. the next stage in my life is when my friends start dying, hopefully it'll be a while.
  • been thinking more about life/death the last several months. getting older, getting cancer, friends being pregnant, watching six feet under...all have caused me to reflect more on the reality that, best case scenario, i get older and die. worst case scenario i don't get much older and die slowly. an obvious reality, but it doesn't get that much easier to swallow. mostly it's about building in enough distractions and doing what you can to make life seem meaningful.
  • the health care bill looks like it's going to get shot down by activist judges. it's comical how both sides play that card when it suits them. "activist judges legislating from the bench" applies as much to gay marriage as it does to healthcare. that's the system we have, it's a pretty good one, get over it. personally i have no problem with them striking the bill down and this is a time when i'll be thanking the "conservatives" on the court for doing their part to balance this situation out. there's not precedent that i can think of for mandating healthcare to everyone who is alive. if you want to make sure everyone has it then raise taxes and provide it like a normal country. this half-measure bullshit is just a manifestation of a broken political process and two party system that is basically a massive failure. best case scenario, enough people realize that the whole system (two party system, money in politics, corporate control) is fubar and we get major reforms that allow us to seriously tackle the many issues we have: overly complex tax system that primarily benefits the rich and big business, ruinous educational system, disastrous agricultural subsidy structure, crippling government debt, bloated military industrial complex, too powerful federal government, etc. worst case scenario we go down in flames under the crushing weight of our vapid social structure, debt, partisan politicking, lack of self-control, etc. and are another in a long line of once-empires that wanted more than it could sustain.
  • looking forward to the day when all the tv room stuff is done and i can install the a/v equipment and get it organized, wired up, neat and functional. i'm going to try to get some kind of cable management system to make it less of a rat's nest behind the scenes.
  • nice chart that shows ceo compensation since 1989. no surprise that it has increased over time. tenure and vested interest in the company has also decreased. they own less of the company, don't stay there as long and are making more money. sounds like a nice setup for them.
  • started a project today of recording all my old tapes to mp3. this consists primarily of old "not offbeat" shows with me and vern on kdvs, but will also include some mix tapes that are close to 20 years old. just going from my walkman to the soundcard. using audacity 1.3 and will then convert the files to mp3. should take me several months. quality won't be great, but it'll be good enough.

  • 4/3/12 (18:44)

  • went bowling the other day and didn't do so hot. 200 may be a pipe dream after two showings of just around 100. that 182 i bowled may be a total fluke, never to be achieved or sniffed again.
  • hope to get the tv room floor sanded tomorrow. it's a smaller room than the big room, but it also has some nooks in the foyer/closet area that will be a real pain. i think we learned some things last time around, though, so we should have an easier time on this go round. it would be great if we could get it all done in the next week so we could be walking on it and putting the tv back together in a couple weeks.

  • 3/30/12 (18:54)

  • worked on meryl's brother's apartment building again today. installed lighting, meryl did most of the kitchen floor, installed new countertops, got rid of more trash.
  • planned on going bowling yesterday, but they were full. going to try again today. would like to see if i can repeat the multiple strike game that i had a couple weeks ago. breaking 200 would be great.

  • 3/29/12 (17:25)

  • debate on the healthcare bill's mandate constitutionality is done being debated now. pretty clear to me that the people don't want that provision (70% are against according to the gallup representative on npr's marketplace) and that it is against the consitution. the rest of the bill seems pretty good from what i know about it. a half measure to be sure, but a step in the right direction i suppose. the mandate was just a stupid idea for getting out of taxing us which is what they should have done (along with single payer) a long time ago.

  • 3/26/12 (17:59)

  • bad month for updating, probably not the worst ever, but down there.
  • big charter gala thing at work has meant a busy time lately. much ado about not much in my opinion, but people have to have something to celebrate i guess.
  • luke is in town from france this week. spent time with him, ryan/emily and meryl's dad/stepmom yesterday. separately, of course, so we went out for breakfast and lunch and consequently didn't get a lot done around the house this weekend. texture is on the tv room walls and the ceiling is painted.
  • tv lamp kicked the bucket while watching golf yesterday with luke. ordered a new one for only $50 after shipping, but it got us thinking about getting a new tv at some point. especially since we're in the process of fixing the room up right now. maybe this time next year we'll have built the built-in cabinet in that room and we'll get a post-superbowl tv on sale.
  • this trayvon martin issue is yet another telling story about our society, race, the media, guns, etc. i'll probably appall some of my more liberal readers, but i don't really have a problem with gun ownership. i think we have bigger problems in this country. a few things on that first: most gun deaths are due to suicide. i do believe it's a right of someone to protect themselves and i think that hunting and sport shooting are legitimate uses for normal guns and rifles. knowing luke and johnny has contributed to my evolution on this topic because it showed me that guns don't equal death and dismemberment as some anti-gun nuts would like you to believe. i also don't think that obama or the left is out to steal away guns from american citizens, like the nra might lead you to believe. i also don't think that assault rifles and grenades should be allowed for the average licensed gun owner. maybe there is a legitimate reason to have an assault rifle and there should be a more thorough background check on that. i've not heard of one, but i'm an open-minded guy.
  • as for the stand your ground issue. in florida the statute basically says (so far as my limited brain can comprehend): you can defend yourself, without needing to retreat, so long as you 1) fear for your life 2) are on your property (this includes in your car) 3) aren't doing anything illegal at the time. there are some caveats, but i didn't see anything in there that says you can kill someone if you feel threatened which is what seems to be happening in this case. so, in my opinion, it's a pretty fair law that has been misapplied in the past and is probably being misapplied here as well. again, i'm no lawyer. i'm just a simpleton who didn't go to law school so i don't understand the difference between right and wrong. to me, though, if someone is coming onto your property you have the right to defend yourself and your family. if that's what the law says then i don't have a problem with it. if trayvon martin initiated the physical contact then what moral rights did zimmerman have to protect himself? were those rights diminished when he disobeyed the police by following martin?
  • now we add race and the media to the issue. it's no coincidence that the first three national journalists who took up the issue are all black. they see this in their community often and have seemingly used this as an exemplar for what happens far too frequently in the inner city. some whites and conservatives have circled the wagons on the gun issue or the race issue. they point out that zimmerman is hispanic and has black friends. they point out that the duke lacrosse team was vilified and condemned by the media and most of the country, but were later proven to be innocent. the pendulum has swung too far back in the other direction - assuming that whitey is always guilty of keeping the black man down.
  • the media does this all the time, though. i don't really see it as race baiting or whatever. the media loves a sensational story more than they love a liberal or conservative story. of all the problems in our society, the media's absolute aversion to the truth and common sense couple with our society's unquenchable desire for fluff and stupidity, ranks near the very top. we've all seen the photos of sweet little trayvon, but he doesn't look like he's 17 in the photo which raises some red flags. and we've seen the photo of  zimmerman as well and of course, like the oj photo on the cover of time, he looks the part; he looks like he did. some media outlets (npr included) have recently covered the fact that trayvon was suspended a couple times recently. his lawyer says it doesn't matter at all. eh, i think it matters a bit when trying to determine whether he went after zimmerman first or vice versa. a lot of this stuff - the pics of zimmerman looking like a perp and calling 911 over 30 times on one side, or martin posing like a thug and being suspended a couple times on the other side - boils down to shorthand. these are signifiers or archetypes. we may not know oj or zimmerman "but we know his type." he's a rich thug athlete who has always gotten his way. he's a racist white (er, hispanic. oops) guy who thinks every black kid who wears a hoodie is a thug. we do this shorthand all the time, it works pretty well for us evolutionarily speaking. with this kind of stuff, though, it is our undoing.



  • lastly you have the local cops who supposedly did a toxicology test on martin, but not on zimmerman. they never arrested him even though he killed a kid. not sure how that's legit regardless of whether or not the homicide was justifiable or not. i would think he should at least be detained long enough to have basic ballistics/drug tests run. first amendment lawyers would say otherwise, though, and i understand that point as well. with the local cops we have a situation where, nationally speaking, they're not really trusted. liberals especially basically view the south, and local cops specifically, as in collusion with white racism and enforcement of jim crow laws. we still can't seem to shake the legacy of the civil war and the jim crow south. i have no idea how often small town cops are covering for their buddies who kill blacks, but i understand the distrust outsiders have because of the past (and present).
  • it took me a while, but i've really learned to presume innocence until otherwise proven with these things. watching documentaries like the staircase and paradise lost, along with observing the media over the course of my life, has made it abundantly clear that these things hardly ever have easy answers. dominique strauss-kahn, the duke lacrosse team, oj, mehserle, zimmerman...the list is endless of people who were convicted in the public's eye regardless of what the facts were. sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong. we can have our opinions, but most of us aren't in a position to really judge one way or another. hopefully south park tackles this one so i can just delete this post and link to whatever they throw out there because it'll no doubt be more succinct and on the mark than what i'm articulating here.

  • 3/22/12 (17:52)

  • there's a potential future, as sort of realized in gattaca, where one can take a piece of dna (in the form of dried blood, saliva or hair) and, for a small fee, find out all sorts of genetic information about a person. their medical tendencies, ethnic background, etc. so then it is feasible, and even likely, that some home renovators in the future will come across a stray hair in some joint compound or paint or a bit of dried blood on a nail and want to find out (strictly out of curiosity) about the person who built that house or painted that wall. in that case a person in the future could know more about me and my medical and biological makeup than i do or potentially ever will. it's a strange thought and maybe a little creepy, but i think if i had the ability to do the same for $20 i'd do it.

  • 3/20/12 (20:04)

  • i feel bad for alex smith. the dude has been jacked around by the niners since his first year. now they court manning and offer smith a 3 year deal worth $24 million. they're not exactly showing the love.
  • fuck itunes. stupid resource hog.
  • working for meryl tomorrow.

  • 3/16/12 (21:15)

  • have been wanting a site like this for a while. it's in its infancy now, but it could be great.

  • 3/15/12

  • meryl is overseeing a small construction project at the apartment building her brother's company owns. long story short it gets more and more complex everyday and much of that is due incompetent and excessive government regulation. granted, california (and sf in particular) is notoriously rough in this regard, but it feeds a growing feeling in me that government is 1) too big for its own good 2) incompetent 3) no longer in the business of serving the public, but rather ensuring its continued existence. i consider myself a liberal under the contemporary definition so this slow realization that even local government seems basically hopeless, is unfortunate to say the least.
  • i don't generally subscribe to the narrative that says "america was so much better in the old days," but, in this instance, i think it may be true. we've exited an era of common sense and growth for the sake of bettering our environment, workplace, and structures to a time when we create new regulations for the sake of creating them.
  • all of this is to say that i feel like i'm slipping into the cliched adage "if you're not a liberal when you're 20 then you don't have a heart and if you're not a conservative when you're 40 then you don't have a brain." it's depressing when i hear myself say things that a conservative might say, even if they are the most common sense things in the world. like when i see this guy making the media rounds i say to myself "get up and workout, eat less, lift yourself up by your bootstraps. quit waiting for someone else to do the work for you." or when i look around the streets of oakland and see the complete failure of the family unit as a big part of the problem. i see prostitutes on international blvd. almost every time i drive to home depot and i just can't believe that those girls had caring and present fathers and mothers in their lives.
  • ultimately i don't think that my values have changed much, i just continue to see through the rhetoric. as i get older i see the wisdom of both sides and the value of diverse opinions. it used to be that i would more easily write off republicans and conservatives as crazy and a big part of the problem with the country. in reality, they are just seeing the same issue from a different vantage point. both sides have merit.

  • 3/2/12 (17:44)

  • the big room has been going slowly because we've been waiting on things like the hardwood transition and rug to ship. we also have some scratched marble that we need to buff out so that's required some research. also had a little glitch with the curtain rod. we also had a problem with the planer we got so we needed to return it and wait for a new one to arrive. then meryl has been sick off and on the last month or so. and i got my cancer surgery and felt like taking a day or two off. definitely on the home stretch, though. just some finishing touches left.

  • 2/29/12 (21:15)

  • i've always been a below average bowler. the ball tends to drift left for me and i never have much control. tonight i went bowling with some people from work and bowled my usual 80 for the first game. then one of my coworkers mentioned to me that i should try spinning the ball more by hooking it into my wrist more before the release. it was a method he tried, but never got to work very well and it hurt his wrist. he bowls about a 120-130 anyway so that usually puts him amongst the top of the average. so i tried it and found that the spin was too much. i bowled an 11 on the first 4 frames. then i adjusted the weight of the ball, began to gain some control of it, started my approach in a different spot and ended up getting pretty good at it. i matched my previous all time high despite getting only 11 through the first 4 frames. on the third game i began the first three frames with a turkey - pretty sure that was a first for me. then i bowled a pretty decent game including no frames under 9 pins. ended up with a 182 which is amazing as far as i'm concerned. need to get better at picking up the spares (i missed 3 or 4 of them), but i can say now that i'm no longer embarassingly bad.
  • i've been taking out my stitches one or two at a time the last couple days. today i'm stitch free and i think it's healed up pretty well after just a week. i have another spot under this one, though, so i wouldn't be surprised if i was back in again sooner rather than later.
  • i'm not going to sit here and say that steve prefontaine was the best runner of all time. he wasn't. could he have been? maybe, it's iffy. i will say, though, that he's probably the most inspiring. for his time he was probably the third best distance runner with lasse viren and frank shorter being the other two. he wasn't a particularly smart runner. he didn't have great form (though it got better under bill bowerman). and he didn't have the best runner's body. however, his early running style was very distinctive and it makes you feel like he was always running from something. not only his form, but his strategy (or lack thereof) indicate a man who ran like he had to. he ran as hard as anyone you'll probably see at that level.
  • so, who's the best runner of all-time? well, when it comes to mid and long distance running my old track/cross country coach said lasee viren was the best he ever saw, but i would say it's haile gebrselasie. both had amazing final kicks capable of taking down anyone they ever ran against. both excelled at different distances. however, gebreselasie could win at any distance between 1500m and the marathon and was extremely competitive from 5k on up. pretty impressive runner. now, the best distance runner in american history is probably frank shorter. he could run anything from 5k-marathon and compete at a high level. gold and silver in the marathon and competed with pre. at the sprint level it's michael johnson and carl lewis. usain bolt is absurdly good and belongs in that conversation as well even though he hasn't been around as long.

  • 2/26/12 (11:26)

  • updated academy predictions page.

  • 2/21/12 (21:40)

  • floors look a lot better now. meryl has one more coat to do on the stairs and then they'll be done.
  • we laid the tiles on the floor in front of the fireplace, next up is the fireplace surround and then grouting.
  • today i had my skin cancer surgery. actual surgery probably took about 20 minutes. cut it out with a cauterizer (i could smell my burning flesh) and then stitched it up. test will come back in a week to see if he got it all. hope so because it wasn't the most pleasant experience of all-time. the mental part is maybe the worst (thinking about them cutting into you and the smell of burning flesh, etc.). pain-wise the worst part was the multiple injections of anesthetic. he originally said 1-3 stitches, but it ended up being 10. 3 under the skin (dissolvable) and 7 on top (i'll take those out myself in 7-10 days. haven't seen the wound yet since the nurse patched me up before i got a look. we'll see how hideous i'm going to look by this time tomorrow. right now it mostly hurts if i raise my eyebrows or smile or make any expressions.
  • tomorrow we'll hopefully get the rest of the fireplace tiled and maybe work on the dining room table a little bit.
  • back to work on thursday as usual.

  • 2/16/12 (16:46)

  • floor is done. poly turned out good. considering how badly the floor was stained before we started, i think it turned out pretty well. we still need to do the steps - there are three of them and they need another coat of stain and then two coats of poly. the last coat of poly was a bit hairy (literally) because the lambswool applicator we used started shedding. when i cleaned it up afterwards the wool was just peeling off in clumps. i have to blame my tools on that one.
  • we put up the curtains yesterday, but the big window presented some coverage problems. meryl is working on a solution and we'll do that next week or so.
  • we also started work on milling all the reclaimed wood. taking out the nails, sawing off the edges, planing the top/bottom. that's going to be a laborious project.
  • talked to my dad about the election stuff the other day...the media is a complete failure and this year's election coverage is as much evidence of that as anything else. why do they treat the santorum sweep as big news? facts: all three states are non-binding, meaning the delegates don't need to go along with the voters. missouri's "vote" was the only primary of the three, the others were caucus states which means they're basically worthless. missouri's "vote" was basically a straw poll (0 delegates were actually on the line), meaning that when their actual caucus is held on march 8th everyone will be scratching their heads saying "didn't they already have their vote?" of course i didn't learn any of this from the mainstream media, i had to research this myself. also, romney's victory in maine came from the votes of fewer than 6,000 people in a state with a population of over 1.3 million. so, he gets just over 2,000 votes and wins the state? big whoop.
  • newt is done because he's out of money and isn't even on the virginia ballot. people will tire of his negativity. paul was never in the race. romney will continue to win delegates and santorum will win conservative and caucus states. the gop is looking even more inept than the democratic party. there's an actual chance that it could come down to how the delegates decide to vote, rather than how the people have voted. it could potentially get ugly.

  • 2/13/12 (16:42)

  • sites that google should target for acquisition, according to me: yelp, wikipedia, urban dictionary.

  • 2/9/12 (17:50)

  • i've got about 40 films in my dvd collection that i need to revisit. classics and old favorites like magnolia, boogie nights, the thing, searchers, dark days, and many others.
  • we finished watching dexter last night

  • 2/8/12 (16:08)

  • more work on the flooring in the big room today. we hand sanded it down so all the grain was knocked down and we sanded out a little more of the stain on the darker spots. then we cleaned it all up with sponges to raise the grain and open it up evenly. then we knocked it down with a drywall screen, cleaned it all up with tack cloths and applied the second coat of stain. things look pretty good right now considering how it looked after the first coat and considering how fucked up the floor looked to begin with. we'll do some spot work on the stairs, but other than that i think it's ready for poly which will go on this weekend. plenty of room for fuck ups there so we're not out of the woods yet.
  • santorum's showing yesterday was pretty surprising. the gop is so f-ed up right now, though, that i don't think much of any of this is going to matter.

  • 2/7/12 (18:00)

  • wrote this to governor brown's office today while at work:
  • I am a handyman by trade and speak with people on a regular basis about

  • the excessive regulations that our industry has to deal with. I'm by no
    means a Republican, nor am I against environmentalists or common sense
    restrictions on business, building, dumping, etc. I also voted for
    Governor Brown and think he's doing a fantastic job. This is actually why
    I even bothered to write - because I believe that he can and will do
    something about this issue if compelled by enough people or overwhelming
    logic. However, I am against excessive fees and overly lengthy wait times
    for simple projects. I know this is a more local issue, but I feel it's so
    out of control in our state that I am hoping our governor will take the
    lead.
    An example or two:
    1) I paid for a window company to install a window in my house. It was a
    retrofit installation (meaning the building envelope was not seriously
    compromised, no framing was touched, etc.). They just cut out the old
    window, slide in a new one, secure it, insulate around it, and caulk it.
    It takes a few hours, but our window was fiberglass and had two sliders so
    it was a bit pricey - $2000 (labor and materials) for a 3' x 4' window. We
    bit the bullet and had it done. Then we were hit with a $500 permit fee
    from the city of Oakland. We knew that there would be permit fees, but the
    window installer didn't say how much they would be. If they had, we
    probably wouldn't have gone forward with the installation and perhaps this
    is why they didn't readily offer the information - they knew (or
    suspected) that this amount (which is out of our/their control) would be a
    deal breaker.
    Let me be clear: I understand the need for inspections, probably better
    than 90% of California residents, but $500 is crazy. And here's the best
    part - the $500 inspection (25% of the amount of the work done) bought us
    a piece of paper and nothing more. No individual came out to inspect the
    quality of the work, to ensure best practices were being applied, to make
    sure the proper insulation or caulking was applied (believe me when i say
    there is such a thing as using improper insulation and caulking), etc.
    $500 was just the cost to get the permission to install a window in our
    house.
    2) Here is a link
    (http://www.contractortalk.com/f50/building-permits-112437/) to a thread
    about this issue on a contractor's forum that I frequent. Anyone who
    spends any time talking with contractors around the country knows that
    California has one of the most onerous systems in place when it comes to
    acquiring building permits and getting work done. It's a drag on the
    economy and there's no good reason for it. We're the tech capital of the
    world and we can't modernize this system? We can't be more reasonable
    about moving even small projects like this pergola forward? Some posters
    on this forum to highlight are: "redwood" and "griz," both are respected
    contractors on the site who have worked in California for decades.
    Lastly, I understand that many districts are overloaded and understaffed
    and certainly that is contributing to the backlog. However, there's also
    less volume now than in the past. There's also an institutional lack of
    interest in serving the public. Hopefully, somehow, you can instill in
    government employees a better customer service attitude and impress upon
    local governments the importance of working with contractors and
    homeowners, instead of being nit-picky every step of the way. Together,
    and only together, we can bring this state back.
    Thank you,

    2/5/12

  • been working in the big room lately. we spent a lot of time prepping the floor for stain/poly. more time than i would have liked, but there's a learning curve to this crap. we rented a sander, but it wasn't very powerful. we didn't want to use the drum sander because our floors are so thin already. long story short, it's taken us a lot of time and the results after staining haven't been great. we had a debate about whether to precondition the floor this morning and ended up not doing it. whenever our laziness wins we generally don't get great results. the next step will be to try to even out the stain a bit, but that will be for another day.
  • found out on friday that i have skin cancer. it's a really mild form called basal cell carcinoma. nothing to worry about, really. i just need to be better about sunscreen and shade. from what i've learned in the past, my being fair-skinned/eyed and getting a major burn at a young age (second degree burns around age 4) are major disadvantages when it comes to this stuff. add to that the fact that i work outside somewhat regularly and am not good about wearing a hat/sunscreen and you get what i got. so, i opted for the surgery instead of the cream. it's faster and 100% effective. i'll have a scar on my forehead, but i tend not to care about such things. the good news is that i'll technically be a cancer survivor so i can act all upset if someone makes a cancer joke. and, from now on, it's open season on cancer jokes - i'm going to be a cancer joke machine. i already told my boss she can't tell me what to do anymore or i might die. she can't boss me around anymore, i'm a cancer patient! besides the cancer thing i've felt lately that i'm about 10 years older than i actually am. guess that's life.
  • if i had to bet my life on the superbowl i'd go with the patriots. it'll likely be a close game though and i'm looking forward to it.
  • we had a bet going on the college bowl games. whoever did better took the other out for a nice date. well, we tied. although i have to say that i felt very strongly about switching my pick on the national championship game and meryl didn't let me. anyway, meryl took us to hudson in oakland the other day. it's a fancy place where dinner lasts more than an hour and burgers are $15 and come with a teaspoon of ketchup. food was good and i think it's not such a bad thing to go to a nice place everyone once in a while to make fun of all the people in their suits sipping wine and talking about the world's problems. wait, that's what i do minus the wine and suit.
  • every day it seems more and more inevitable that romney will be the guy who tries to dethrone obama. he's a perfectly average candidate in most ways. he won't really upset anyone. i think he'd be a very average president in most ways. however, i think he would have the ability to be great because he's a guy who, when the rubber hits the road, is just as willing to compromise as obama. and (and this is the important part) he's a republican. basically, and i think i'm being fair, the republican party is holding the country hostage in a real sense with their unwillingness to compromise on the big issues we face. however, with a compromiser in republican's clothing, i think that things could actually get done. many on the right are throwing romney under the bus for not being a true conservative, etc. and this is all code for him being someone who changes his mind and compromises. to them that's an awful thing, but it's not to me.
  • now, i'm not voting for the guy, but i honestly feel like maybe he would be better for the country than obama given the political climate we live in. if my theory is correct, the republicans would be pacified with "one of their own" as president and the rhetoric and b.s. that we've seen so much of lately, could diminish substantially. when push comes to shove, i think romney would compromise on healthcare, the govt. defaulting on its debt, iran, etc. the most important thing, then, would be getting a more reasonable (i.e. more democratic) legislature that would check some of his attempts to pander to the base.
  • we also finished the cabinet for meryl's dad the other day. not sure if i mentioned it, pretty sure i didn't post pics.

  • just as they were moving in. we took out the fireplace, did some structural work, and then built the cabinet inside the hole:

    looked pretty much like this for several months while we planned the cabinet work:





    almost all done. vince installed the rest of the baseboard after this. next time we visit we'll install a speaker screen we built to cover the subwoofer in the space below.

     

    1/26/12 (16:48)

  • niners game turned out to be depressing. i feel like the niners blew it more than the giants earned it. they played well on 3rd down defensively, but we played worse on 3rd down offensively. we should have forced 3 turnovers, but didn't get any. goldson, the battering ram, knocked away two interceptions from his own players including knocking out one of our d backs. then there was the fumble that was blown dead because of supposed forward progress. total bullshit. then kyle williams and his two fuck ups cost us critical points and field position. crabtree was a zero. actually, he was a 3, as in 3 yards for the game. they need to use him better. i know he can be more explosive. manning played well. got the ball away on near sacks several times. also threw the ball over 50 times without an int. totally depressing.
  • been watching dexter lately. we're on season 3 now. it's a pretty good show. i'm not as huge a fan of it as breaking bad or sopranos, but it's good. it has a nice plot and some good character stuff. similar to breaking bad in a few ways, but dexter doesn't have a partner (yet) and i think the partnership between jesse and walt is the best part of breaking bad.
  • haven't done too well in the movie department this year. we'll see how that pans out.
  • started work on the floor in the big room yesterday. sanded it all day. even with the random orbital sander rented from hd, it took hours. in retrospect it would have been better to use the drum sander, but that can easily gouge the floor and take off too much which is why we avoided it (our flooring is only 5/16" thick). but if that sander is right for any room it's the big room. in the rest of the rooms maybe it doesn't make as much sense.
  • we still need to set the flush nails, trowel fill all the gaps, sand one last time, tack cloth it all up, pre-condition, stain, poly x2. then after that has had time to cure we can tile and do other finishing touches.

  • 1/19/12 (18:37)

  • haven't watched many movies this year. been on a tv kick lately. dexter season one is in the rearview. finished breaking bad of course. deadwood is also on the list.
  • really psyched about the niners right now. the last couple years i've felt like they were on the cusp and that they needed a guy or two on defense (secondary and d-line preferably),  a guy on offense, and for alex smith to make one fewer mistake per game. well, basically all those things have happened. aldon smith has been great for them, the safeties and rogers in the secondary have been big, and alex smith has been lights out when it comes to decision making. kendall hunter has been a nice addition and crabtree has been a more consistent force, but they didn't get the braylon edwards type of game changer that i had hoped for. realistically i think they still need that kind of playmaker on offense to make a multi-year run.
  • a friend asked me how much of this year's success i attribute to harbaugh. if i had to put a number on it i'd say about 50%.
  • 50% for harbaugh: i think he changed the mood in the locker room, he gets guys fired up and believing. he's changed the offense to one with more formations and more wrinkles. the overall philosophy of running and defending are still there, but he accomplishes this with more creativity. and, the biggest thing, he helped transform alex smith. he tweaked him or gave him confidence or did whatever he needed to do and i think alex smith and him really get along and that's what has been so good for smith. so: attitude, alex smith, offensive wrinkles.
  • the other 50% is that i think the team as a whole was already on the cusp of being really good. they had a bad schedule last year and lost some close games. david akers has been good for them and i don't think that was necessarily a harbaugh move. the defense was already great and getting aldon smith put them to the next level. i guess that's a harbaugh selection, but what i'm getting at is that it's not something that singletary had last year. so: schedule, on the cusp already, aldon smith, carlos rogers, david akers.

  • 1/18/12 (20:30)

  • been really busy lately doing one of two things: working and working on the cabinet for meryl's stepmom/dad. we set this saturday as the goal and it would be easier if it was next saturday, but we're going to make it happen sooner. primed and painted everything today, but it still needs a little touch-up as well as a small bit of installation which i should have done earlier today, but didn't think about until just now. also need to make the screen which will cover the subwoofer, but that may not come until later. hopefully the installation goes well on saturday. it's always nerve-racking since you're making all these measurements beforehand, and then hoping that it all fits together as you planned on the install date.
  • colbert's superpac parody is great stuff.
  • almost finished with the first season of dexter. luke recommended it and meryl and i have gotten pretty into it the last week or two.

  • 1/10/12 (18:08)

  • finalized the top ten of 2011. here. got my dad's picks in late and my picks were pretty lazy in that i didn't really settle on just one winner in most categories. a pretty strong year for performances in particular. none of the films were mind-blowing, but there's a consistent A-/B+ vibe to the films these days so i guess i can't complain.
  • going to la this weekend to give presents to my mom and grandma. working in their house for free for a day. doing some trim and finishing work for mom. tile/reset a toilet for grandma and other little things as well.
  • formed and poured half the foundation at the back addition the other day. should finish the other half tomorrow.
  • also working on the cabinet for meryl's dad/stepmom which we plan on installing next weekend. that's going to be pushing it because i tackled the foundation stuff, but we'll see what we can get done. worst case scenario we install the doors/trim on another day.
  • finished breaking bad the other day. went through all four seasons in less than a month and now i have to wait god knows how much longer for the series to be over. dexter will be the next one we try.
  • thinking about writing about breaking bad, but there's just so much to write about. it's probably 30 hours worth of content, which is 15+ movies and it's all quite good. there were only 1 or 2 episodes that i wasn't thrilled by. actually, one was done by rian johnson, but i don't think his direction is what made the episode subpar. basically the series is great because the characters are strong, the direction is cutting edge, the cinematography is noteworthy and the plot is non-stop. there's some contrived hysteria in the fourth season, and the third season is when i basically succumbed to the idea that the characters had passed the point of no return, but it's a very strong piece of cinema.
  • i'd like to revisit the sopranos at some point as well.
  • maybe i'll give the wire another shot as well. watched the first season and wasn't really turned on by it.
  • also should revisit the first few seasons of the west wing since it's an election year.
  • looks like new hampshire is shaping up predictably. romney lives there and has a strong new england presence so he's winning. followed by ron paul since nh is a don't tread on me, libertarian state. followed by jon hunstman who sank a lot of time/money in nh knowing that it was his only shot at getting momentum in the first three states.
  • south carolina will be another shake up. huntsman will "disappoint" according to the media after his strong showing in nh. santorum will come roaring back after a bad showing in nh. perry shouldn't be last. gingrich should reappear as a possibility.
  • florida will be the first time we'll see who will actually likely win this thing and it'll be romney because he's not insane, he has money, and the republicans just want to get rid of "obummer."
  • of course none of them really determine the outcome especially since the first states in the marathon have lost so many delegates. it's conceivable that we would have to wait until april 3rd to have a clear winner.
  • this is the first time in a long time where i don't know who i'm going to vote for. i don't like obama. i don't like any of the republicans. nader is my old standby, but i don't think that he's right for this time. we need a different kind of president in these times. nader is a policy guy who is right on most of the issues (to my thinking anyway). we need a miracle worker who can bring the country together and crack some heads in congress. we need a strong third party in the middle. i will admit that i've always thought about having a third party to the left of the republicrats, but now i think we need a party in between the two. a party of common sense. ron paul demonstrates that there is a lot of common ground to be had between traditional liberal/conservative causes. he appeals to liberals who want more freedom when it comes to drug use and gay marriage or who want no harm done when it comes to foreign policy. but he also appeals to conservatives who want government to be smaller and want stronger states' rights. surely there's someone who can come in and fill the gap between the two parties.

  • 1/5/12 (18:25)

  • went all of 2011 without a cold and i'm psyched about that. first time since i've kept track that that happened. got real worried at the end there that the streak would be broken. well, today i'm home sick. it's weird though. almost like i'm just really allergic, but it's too early for that and my eyes don't itch. oh well.