Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoe Control NOW!

A few years back, we raised our collective eyebrows when the Shoe Bomber was apprehended onboard a plane, trying to light the fuse on his shoe bombs. (Oh - and we also started removing our collective shoes at the airport, so the Homeland Security Shoe Bomb Detection Experts could more easily distinguish between standard shoes, and bomb shoes.)

But now - shoe missiles have emerged! It always starts in the powder-keg Middle East, but quickly spreads across the globe. Sure - we all can laugh when a Lame Duck President is the target (and deftly ducks)... but tomorrow the target of a crazed shoe terrorist might be your neighbor... or your child!!

Something must be done! The time for talk is over!


You can expect the powerful D.C. Shoe Lobby to resist.

You will notice that almost all 435 members of Congress wear shoes (with the possible exception of the distinguished gentlemen from Mississippi and Arkansas). They've sold out to Big Shoe.

But some common-sense laws must be passed, to keep dangerous shoes out of the hands of, and off the feet of, criminals.

A good start might be:
- Ban shoes in public schools and other public places (National Parks, maybe?)
- Nationwide shoe registration.
- Close the shoe-show loop. (Many shoe criminals confess that they got their shoes at shoe shows.)
- Perhaps a ban on sinister-looking black shoes. There is no legitimate use for high-capacity black shoes in our society, when benign brown shoes will adequately do the same job.

We can expect resistance, both from the NSA (National Shoe Association) and common ordinary ignorant rednecks... the ones with bumper sticker slogans like:
"The West wasn't won with registered boots."
"You can have my shoes when you pry them off my cold, dead toes."
"This Pickup Protected by Buster Brown."
But our fight is right! We must prevail!

Last of all - do NOT give your children shoes for Christmas! What a negative message that would send!

Wild-eyed Iraqi housewife displays the Shoe-Scud.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

Some thoughts about our newly elected president.

I didn't vote for him. His "change we can believe in" seems to be one of expanded government, and I'm firmly in the "small government is good government" camp. But I can certainly understand his appeal, and frankly, I wasn't very enthusiastic about the prospect of a McCain presidency, either.

Did race play a factor in the election?


Blacks voted 90% for Obama, and Hispanics even higher, apparently. Of course, that wouldn't have won the election for him. A majority of white Americans voted for him as well. I'm sure a percentage of those votes were specifically because Obama is African-American. (A parallel might be former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. I bet he got a lot of votes from people who voted for the "Mormon" just because he is a Mormon, and they're openly tolerant of that.)

Is it cool that we'll have a black man for president?

IMO, it's FANTASTIC! (I just wish he shared my "conservative" vision.)

It is a huge step toward the realization of the "dream" so eloquently voiced by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., more than 40 years ago.

Rightly or wrongly, America moved up several notches in how the world views us, literally overnight.

Also - and I hope this doesn't sound racist but - IMO, young black men haven't had a huge selection of positive role models. Obama fills that bill nicely. A young, successful, smart, articulate, family-oriented black man. And now he's the leader of the Free World! (I don't think professional athletes, celebrities, musicians and gangsters are often good role models, no matter what color they are.)

Here's a question... why did Obama want to be president? Boy howdy, he sure inherited a mess! He's got his work cut out for him just fixing what's broken, let alone adding new services. There may be a heavy burden for the most wealthy 5% of Americans, and of course, Joe the Plumber. (Remember - Obama said out of his own mouth that 95% of us would NOT see a tax increase. I'm going to hold him to that.)

In his victory speech, Obama promised to be president for all Americans, not just those who share his vision and voted for him.

I hope he leads this country in a direction that's pleasing to God. (If you don't share my faith, this will seem like superstitious hokum, but I don't think we can expect God to watch out for us, if we turn our back on Him.)

I wish Obama total success, and will be praying for him.

Time will tell. Like the man said on the radio this morning, "America wanted to throw the bums out. But if Obama oversteps, he could be tomorrow's bum."

In the meantime, to all the naysayers and finger-waggers, I say, shut up and let the man work for awhile! I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. Start yellin' if you don't like the way he's working.

I also say, God bless America and President Obama! Please!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

$ for Idaho Roads

(Hat tip to the Boise Guardian, for posting a condensed version of this for his large and smart audience. Thanks, Dave!)

Idaho's roads are in some serious need of serious road work.

The Idaho Transportation Department estimates that it would cost an additional $250 million per year, just to maintain the status quo. Of course, to bring things into "ship shape" would cost in the billions... we're almost talking CONGRESSIONAL dollar figures! (Boy howdy! Can those kids spend taxpayer dollars?!!)

Many of us are skeptical. We tend to have a myopic viewpoint. (For you non-library types, that's "nearsighted.") "Aw, c'mon! The roads aren't so bad! I drive on the Connecter and 13th Street every day, and there's hardly even a pothole!" To us, the roads look fine... until a bridge falls into the river, like happened back there in Minnesota.

Enter Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter.

(Remember Congressman Butch Otter? The fearless, libertarian-leaning advocate of the downtrodden taxpayer? Heir apparent to Steve "take a bite out of government" Symms? Amazingly, it's the very same guy. Only nowadays, he's busy at work trying to find more money for his beloved state government.)

Governor Otter wants $250 million more, per year, for roads. And when he looks at the hardworking, roadway-using citizens, he sees dollar signs and hears "ka-ching! ka-ching!"

Simply put, he's trying to figure out some way to get more dollars out of those taxpayers' bank accounts, and into the ITD bank account.

(Meanwhile, most of us are powerlessly watching those bank accounts dry up, as the fruits of our lives' work go swirling into the Wall Street sewer grate. But that's a whole 'nother subject.)

The first idea Governor Otter floated (during the '08 Legislative session) was of drastically increasing vehicle registration fees. The reception was lukewarm... about the temperature of liquid nitrogen, as I recall.

Now he's talking about a "mileage tax." It would be simple. Read the odometer each time the car is registered, and collect dollars based on miles-driven since last time.

He's obviously thinking anything is better than raising the fuel tax!

Let's take a look at the options.

Now you're sayin', "What do you know? You're a bikeboy!"

Granted, most of my local transportation is atop my trusty 2-wheeler. But consider... perhaps that gives me a more objective viepoint than Citizen Motorist, or even Butch! (Obviously, I expect somebody to poke holes in my observations. I'm just throwin' 'em out for people to chew on.)


A substantially-increased, revenue-enhancing registration fee sounds fair, doesn't it? (A variation would be a fee based on the weight of the vehicle - after all, a 6000-pound Hummer is gonna bust up the roads way more than that 1900-pound Geo Metro. My Senator - Werk - likes that idea.)

But wait! Not so fast!

If that 1900-pound Geo Metro is driven 20,000 miles a year on Idaho roads, and the Hummer is driven 200 ... who's bustin' up the roads now?

Here's a more commonplace scenario.

Beavis has a 1992 Ford F-150. He drives it back and forth between his house in Kuna and his job in east Boise - puts 20,000 miles on it in a year.

Next door lives - you guessed it - Butthead. He has a pickup just like his neighbor's, only with some sweet rims he got at Les Schwab. And, he puts 2000 miles a year on it, doing a couple dump-runs and a few fishing and hunting trips. (He's got a more "sensible" vehicle that he drives to work in... and pays registration on.)

Just to make the math easy, let's say Butch charges 'em $200/year to register that truck.

Turns out Beavis would be paying one cent per mile, and Butthead ten cents, for the privilege of being registered. (Butthead isn't gonna like this!)

Also, it should be noted that the "foreigners" who visit Idaho from California and other places, are not sharing in the registration-fee revenue scenario.


This seems a little more fair for Beavis and Butthead, huh? If Butch collects five cents per mile, Beavis pays $1000 (ouch!) and Butthead pays $100. (Beavis isn't gonna like this!)

On the surface, it seems more fair than the flat-registration fee. At least it's kinda sorta based on the amount of wear-and-tear the taxpayer is inflicting on the roads.

But... how about the guy who lives in Post Falls but does 90% of his driving in Washington? Should he pay the five cents, too?

Can of worms!

A variation that's being tested next door in Oregon is a GPS-based scheme. A GPS receiver installed in the car keeps track of miles driven.

[If you're asking, "What's GPS"? Here's a quick primer. GPS stands for "global positioning system." There are satellites up there in space, beaming signals back to the earth. A receiver that's mounted in a vehicle, or boat, or missile, or even hand-held, can receive those signals and calculate the exact spot where you're standing, or driving, or flying, what direction you're going and how fast, etc.]

Shades of "Big Brother," huh? That's why most people don't like it - in these parts, we don't like the government keeping such close track of us.

But get used to the notion... long-term, I bet we'll see more of this. If you wanted to get sophisticated, you could keep track of the miles driven in Idaho, and outside the state boundaries. You could even get fancier. For example, you might charge people 10 cents per mile if they're contributing to the I-84 rush-hour traffic jam, but only 5 cents per mile in the off-hours, or if they're driving down Franklin Road. Heck! You could even penalize people who are exceeding the speed limit, by taxing them more! (I'm not saying any of this is good or bad... just describing possible scenarios.)

A mileage-based tax would encourage an underground industry that specializes in odometer tweakage, GPS file hacking, etc. I'm just sayin'. And like the registration fee, a per-mile tax would exclude the despised Californians. And the tolerated Oregonians, Utahns, etc. (Tourism is a growing and desirable industry. I don't know what share of the roadbuilding and upkeep fees should be shared with our tourists... but it should be part of the discussion.)


Nobody (except maybe for the followers of Pope Algore) wants to see higher gas prices. It would be a brave politician indeed, who would advocate for 20 cents more per gallon, when gas is already four bucks.

But compared with the plans that Butch has proposed so far, it seems more equitable.
- The guy in the Hummer will pay more per mile, than the guy in the Geo Metro.
- The guy who drives 20,000 miles will pay more than the guy who drives 2000 miles.
- We also include the tourists, at least the tourists who are driving (and thus putting wear and tear on our roads).

Plus, it's easily collected.

Opponents point out that as people drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, revenues will drop.

What's the alternative? Should gas misers be punished, or taxed at a higher rate than gas guzzlers? As a general rule, the better fuel mileage a car gets, the less wear-and-tear it's likely to put on the road, because of lighter weight. (There are exceptions, and will be more if we evolve towards non-internal-combustion vehicles, etc. And maybe a new revenue method needs to be implemented for non-traditional vehicles... I don't know.)

Another consideration is border areas. Gas merchants who are just barely in Idaho could suffer, if the guys two blocks away in Oregon or Washington are selling gas for 20 cents less. (But those Oregon and Washington guys are more likely to raise their prices by 15 cents, and pad their own pockets a little more.)

There is not, and never will be, a revenue-collecting method that's fair for everybody. There are disadvantages to any of 'em. But if we need a big influx of cash... from this observer's viewpoint, as unpalatable as it may be, the gas tax seems like the most fair and easy way to collect from the actual roadway users. Substantially more so than either a registration tax or an odometer tax. And the Libertarians should take Butch's membership card away for even suggesting those other ideas!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


1964 was the first election that I can remember much about. '64 was the year when Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson went up against Republican Barry Goldwater. I remember it mostly because my parents were strongly in favor of Goldwater. (Johnson won handily, of course, and the rest is history. Or "Great Society," as Johnson liked to call it.)

(I remember earlier presidents. Eisenhower came to Boise and I saw him as a young kid, at a rally at the "BJC Gymnasium," which was the biggest venue in town at the time. And of course I remember Kennedy - I remember the "Cuban Missile Crisis," and vividly recall the fateful day that ended his presidency.)

Back in '64, the line between the two parties was more clearly drawn, IMO.

The Democrats were proponents of social (government) programs to attack society's woes, like poverty, illiteracy, etc. The Republicans were more of the philosophy of "keep government out of the way, and let people govern themselves."

When I was an idealistic youth, the notion of the government taking care of society's problems had a lot of appeal. But as I have matured - maybe it was parental influence, or maybe just pragmatism - my viewpoint has evolved to become solidly "small government is good government."

I've spent a lifetime observing that government "solutions" are almost always at best inefficient, and at worst colossal disasters.

Look at Social Security, for example. What a great notion! A government program that will provide a lifetime of income to its retired citizens, paid for by the next generation. I've got a huge stake in Social Security. Between myself and my employers, we've contributed over $130,000, that would otherwise have been in my paychecks. (And maybe in my self-managed private retirement account, along with interest.) So... it's in a government account instead... right? Heck NO! It's gone into the giant government bucket and gets spent as quickly as it goes in. Along with billions that are borrowed. The other shoe just hasn't dropped yet.

So you'd think I'd be solidly Republican, huh?

Not necessarily so.

The parties have evolved, too. Or at least the politicians of those parties. The lines have been blurred.

Look at 2008.

In this corner, we have Democrat Barack Obama. He's making a lot of promises - "change we can believe in." His whole life seems to have been evolving toward a philosophy that government can - and should - be addressing most of the problems we're having, or might have.

Of course, social programs cost money. Obama doesn't talk much about money in his awesome, eloquent speeches. But when he does, he talks about taking more from those in the highest income brackets, and from corporations, etc. (Which should appeal to us poor folks, huh? We'll get more from government, while not paying any more.)

That's pretty much the Democratic Party Line.

How about the other guy?

Republican John McCain has always fancied himself the "maverick." The guy who will cross over the blurred party lines when it suits him. The man who isn't afraid to align himself with the Democrats, to get things done.

What's John McCain's philosophy? I really don't know. All I know is, it's not necessarily the "Republican platform," or the "Democrat platform."

Although he's been a career politician, he isn't distinguished as a fiscal conservative. He's voted for plenty of new social programs and increased spending over the years. He loves pork as much as the next guy. And he's currently advocating additional government solutions to the current-events problems we're facing, more regulations (more government oversight), etc., etc.

And how will McCain pay for it?

He doesn't talk much about money, either. But when he does... he promises a tax CUT! (In theory, that would stimulate the economy, resulting in more revenue for government, in the long run. In the meantime, we'll just borrow more money!)

The Hallowed Halls of Government are packed with politicians - both Democrat and Republican - who love Big Government, and are doing everything they can to expand it.

No matter who we vote for - McCain or Obama - Happy Days are Here Again! (If we believe what they're telling us.)

How about the "social issues"?

I think we can all agree the two "biggies" are abortion and guns.

There seems to be some space between the two candidates. Although oddly, neither seems eager to discuss their differences. (And they haven't come up in the debates, at least so far.) Perhaps they are afraid that if they come across as ideologues on those issues, it will turn off some of their voters.

Obama seems to lean pro-abortion, anti-gun. McCain seems to lean anti-abortion, pro-gun.

And maybe that's enough. But I wish they had the courage to declare forcefully their beliefs.

Are these the best two guys we've got? Frankly, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence. I pray for this great country, no matter who is our next president. And it will be one of these two guys.

Why can't we vote NONE OF THE ABOVE, and have a do-over?

I'm seriously leaning toward voting "none of the above" by voting for Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate.

My own philosophy leans Libertarian (although certainly not "party line"), and I've voted for Libertarians several times in the past. Where it differs, it mostly aligns with Bob Barr. (And unless I'm running for President myself, I will NOT find somebody I'm in total agreement with.)

"Why would you throw away your vote?" you might ask.

Which is better, throwing a vote away, or voting for a guy you don't like, for the job? (Or casting a vote against the guy you don't like even more?)

The Demicans and Republocrats have had 232 years to get it right. Maybe it's time to look at an alternative.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Food Crisis?

A "global food crisis" is upon us.

If you go to the grocery store - as my bride does frequently - you've no doubt noticed.

The cost of food is going up significantly faster than inflation. In fact, so much so that food is currently a sound investment, besides being one of life's necessities. An editorial was published in the April 21, 2008 Wall Street Journal. Author Brett Arends says, "I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food. ... Reality: Food prices are already rising here much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund." (The editorial can be read HERE.)

Stockpiling food? Who ever heard of such a thing?!

Will the increases in food prices be sustained? Hard to say... a lot of factors are contributing to it, including: 1) diversion of what would otherwise be food for bio-fuel, 2) escalating transportation expenses, 3) prosperity in countries that have traditionally been poverty-stricken, resulting in worldwide demand for good food. (Ya can't blame those Chinese people for wanting something to go with their rice!)

Combine those factors with the climate that seems to be growing increasingly unstable, and indeed it seems very prudent to have at least some food stored away.

Is all of this surprising?

It may be if you haven't been paying attention.

In my case, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I'm not surprised at all.

My church leaders have been encouraging me and my fellow saints to "store in your own basements and in your own private storehouses and granaries sufficient for a year’s supply." That advice was given in 1937 - more than 70 years ago - and has been repeated regularly since then. (More info HERE.)

Of course, thousands of years earlier, Christians were told by the Apostle Timothy, "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

My parents set a good example for me as a child. They took our prophet's advice very seriously. We had a "fruit room" in that basement, its shelves stocked with canned goods. Mom joined the effort - she dutifully canned fruit. Dad also had some long-term freeze-dried food, etc. - the stuff that you don't need to rotate because it has a 20-year shelf life, but would sure be nice to have as an alternative to starvation.

(My childhood coincided with the "Cold War," when there was a movement afoot to prepare, at least in a small way, for a nuclear strike. Dad added onto our basement, specifying concrete walls that were several feet thick.)

We are trying to do the year's supply thing. (It's still a goal... not a reality. But we've made progress lately.)

It's not easy.

One of the main challenges is storage space. I bought 500 pounds of flour a few months back... do you know how much space it takes? A 5-gallon plastic bucket holds about 25 pounds of flour... so figure 20 of those buckets. And you can't just store it anywhere. Attics and garages are TERRIBLE! Food that is stored in temperatures much above "room" temperature will lose their nutritional quality, and spoil, much more quickly.

Another challenge is that of rotating. Most non-canned food has a shelf life anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. (And canned food doesn't last forever, either.) Somehow it's easier to just grab a bag of flour or sugar at the store, than to pop open that storage bucket and then replace its contents when it's empty.

I'm trying to catalog our food storage inventory in an Excel spreadsheet, so we can pay attention and get stuff used up as the expiration date approaches.

(We've also enjoyed some success in growing food in a garden. There's a good deal of satisfaction to be had in taking a crop of tomatoes and beets and cucumbers and peppers from bare ground in the springtime, to bottles on the pantry shelf a few months later.)

As far as I can tell, there's really no "down side" to having some food in storage. Unless it spoils and you have to throw it out. But that can be easily avoided with a little effort.

Ask yourself: "If the shelves at the grocery store were empty for whatever reason, and if transportation were cut off for whatever reason, how long would my current food supply last?"

One of life's lessons is... you need to prepare for a crisis BEFORE it happens. Once you are mid-crisis, it's too late to prepare. "Be prepared." (Golly - somebody oughtta use that for a motto, or something.)

For anyone interested, much more information about storing a supply of food can be found HERE.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Political Elton

So, who looks better in a fashionable black pantsuit, Hillary or Sir Elton?

Also... you may remember that back in '92, Fleetwood Mac played at Bubba's Inaugural Ball, making "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" the de-facto theme song of the first Clinton administration.

Is there any truth to the rumor that if Hillary is elected, Elton will perform at the next Inaugural Ball, and play his little ditty, "The B*tch is Back"???

(nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tabloid "Journalism"?

If you're like me, you lamented the demise of Weekly World News, which ceased publication a few months ago. "WWN" "The World's Only Reliable Newspaper" - claimed to print the stories that everybody else was afraid to print. It could be found in the grocery store checkout line - usually with a story about Bat Boy (half-boy, half-bat), or about aliens visiting the White House.

We even got a subscription for a year. (We dropped it - the news was just too scary! I always enjoyed Ed Anger's column. Ed is one ANGRY guy!)

Maybe I was premature... looks like they may be continuing with their online version - click HERE to link to it. (Or maybe they're just recycling old stories.)

Current stories:
- Democrats Plant Sexy Intern to Seduce Bush
- Alien Bible Translated (Apparently Oprah is somehow involved...)
- Study Shows Republicans Are Ketchup Freaks
- The Man in the Moon is a Peeping Tom!
- Secret Fat Farms Discovered By Feds

But even if the WWN was gone forever, Fox News (online) is a pretty adequate replacement.

You know Fox News... "Fair and Balanced." "We report, you decide."

Being a current events junkie, I check FoxNews.com 2 or 3 times a day for "real" news, and I feel that indeed, they try to be fair and balanced.

But mixed in with significant news, they seem to have a LARGE amount of "tabloid" type news. They're probably just responding to what their audience wants.

Here are some headlines - not at the "weird news" page or anything, just at the main news page - that I've accumulated over the last 2 or 3 weeks. You decide:
- Cops: Man Kills Motorcyclist Following Daughters
- 'Devil-Worship' Rapist Attacks Fiancee on Prison Leave
- Confession From the Grave May Solve 1970 Murder
- Blind Man Sees After Son's Tooth Implanted in His Eye
- Newborn Falls Through Train Toilet Onto Tracks
- Twin Gay Porn Actors Suspected in Burglaries
- Boy, 10, Suffering From Deadly Childhood Alzheimer's
- Millionaire Tried to Kill Unborn Baby With Abortion Pills
- New Baby Nearly Same Size as Mother
- Chef Accused of Putting Hair in Steak After Complaint
- Nurse's Aide Accused of Abusing, Urinating on Patients
- Deadly Poison Found at Sin City Motel
- Mom Arrested After Baby Born With Pot in System
- Teacher Allegedly Sends Boy Topless Pictures
- Grocery Stocker Found Guilty in Cannibalistic Plot Case
- Teen Crawls for Help After Train Cuts Off Leg
- Son: I Killed Dad for MySpace Time
- Syrian Man Decapitates Child in Market
- 'Death Star' Gamma-Ray Gun Pointed Straight at Earth
- 'Danny Boy' Banned in New York Pub for Month of March
- Dad Who Burned Kids in Dryer Wanted a 'Good Time'
- Woman Pried Off Toilet Seat She Sat on for 2 Years
- Woman Kills Husband Who Turned Off Her Springsteen
- Mystery: Woman's Body Kept on Ice at Hotel for a Year?
- Judge Allows Wife to Annul Marriage Over Female Hubby
- Girl Born with Two Faces in Northern India
- Woman Goes for Leg Operation, Gets New Anus Instead
- Man Gunned Down in Driveway by Killer Robot

Or... maybe the world has just gone crazy, and has finally caught up to Weekly World News!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Smog Police - Making a Difference?

The State Legislature is grappling with House Bill 586. What it would do is authorize the State Air Quality people to require vehicle emission testing anywhere in the state that has at-risk air quality.

The real agenda is to require Canyon County to test their vehicles, just like Ada County.

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Especially if you listen to the road reports as the Canyon County hoardes descend into Boise in the morning, and return home in the evening. After all, they, too, are contributing in a meaningful way to Boise's significant air pollution problem.

Glory be! Clear sunny days are just around the corner!

But wait.

Let's look at Ada County's vehicle emissions inspection program, before we foist it on our neighbors in Canyon County. (Even if they deserve to share in the misery.)

First of all - well over 90% of Ada County cars pass the first time. So, for those people, the inspection and fee are nothing but another hassle and another expense, with absolutely no other benefit. (Unless you consider the testing/bureaucracy "industry" a benefit. It would be nice to see those folks doing something productive, though... wouldn't it?)

For the few percent of cars that don't pass the first time...

The inspectors know lots of tricks that'll make the car pass the test. Like setting the idle screw faster, or taking off the air cleaner. They do their temporary tweaks. They redo the test - the car passes. They undo the tweaks, making the car once again non-compliant. And everybody goes away happy. (Is that somehow improving our air quality?)

If the car still doesn't pass, the owner is required to spend up to $200, to make the car compliant. And I love this part... if the car still doesn't pass after the $200 is spent, "you may qualify for a waiver of this year’s requirement to pass the test." (http://www.emissiontest.org) Smogmobile drives in... smogmobile drives out, for another year.

So... explain to me again how the vehicle testing program, as currently administered, improves air quality. Or how expanding it to Canyon County will improve air quality.

Let's say there are 250,000 vehicles motoring about in Treasure Valley, on a given day. Furthermore, just to make the math easy, let's say 25,000 of them (10%) are spewing out too much smog... but would still be spewing it after the test. (Based on the real-world scenarios I described previously.)

Our air quality problem is largely being caused by all 250,000 vehicles! The cars that pass, still contribute to the total! As do the cars that don't pass, but drive on anyway! Just because you've paid your $20 at the testing station hasn't changed the air in any way! Hello!

I say NO to House Bill 586. Not because I'm not concerned about air quality - the opposite is true! (I live in Boise and I ride a bicycle, all year 'round, even on the yellow and orange days.) I say NO because HB586 is nothing more than Window Dressing, and expansion of the bureaucracy. I'm amazed that somebody has to explain this to the Legislature.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Help Larry Fight Back!

The Esteemed Gentleman from Idaho, Senator Larry Craig, has had his reputation besmirched by publicity-hungry cops at the Minneapolis Airport, that homophobic Dan Popkey guy, and by a string of homosexuals, going back 20 or 30 years.

Larry Craig is not gay! Fer cryin' out loud! He's from Midvale, Idaho! A guy from Midvale likes huntin', and fishin', and cuttin' down big trees! Larry drives a pick-up truck... not a Mazda Miata! Gays come from places like San Francisco and Miami!

It's time to help Larry right the wrong!

If you live in Idaho or Washington, D.C., or if you visit mens' restrooms in airports in between, PLEASE help us put up these informative posters, to set the record straight.

(Click HERE to download the PDF poster.)


Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Us Idaho folks are an independent lot. We rarely agree on anything. Especially when it comes to stuff like politics and religion... we bicker like schoolyard kids.

So, a recent development is especially refreshing.

The Republicans don't like Hillary. (For those of you who don't follow politics too closely, that's Mrs. Bill Clinton. Remember Bubba?)

I've heard it said she's a "polarizing" figure... love her or hate her.

Personally, I feel she might be a charming, nice person in a one-on-one setting. I've not seen any evidence of that, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. If offered a chance to go to lunch with her - even at Bubba's favorite place, McDonald's - I'd politely decline. I KNOW I don't care for her politics.

But, I digress... back to the refreshing development.

Apparently Idaho's Democrats don't like Hillary, either.

In yesterday's Democratic Caucus, Obama got 80% of the votes; Hillary got 17%.

I've got renewed respect for Idaho's Democrats! (That, plus my disdain for Idaho Republicans in general, makes me solidly independent, I s'pose. But I agree with ALL of them on Hillary!)

Hillary, watching the Idaho Caucus results coming in...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

There's an outfit called the International Star Registry (website here) that runs ads on the radio. They tell you that for $54 or so, they'll name a star after you or whoever.

That's all fine and dandy... but they don't tell you a couple details:
1) Nobody recognizes their names, except for you and them, and
2) Real astronomers have already named pretty much every star you can see.

Well, I've got a BETTER option!


For $44 (less than the other guys), I will name a star after whoever you want me to. But it won't be some obscure, lame star in the Milky Way.

We're starting with M31 - the Andromeda Galaxy. It's about 200,000 light years away, and invisible to the naked eye. But, believe me, it's an AWESOME galaxy!

And check it out - only two stars have been named so far. If you hurry, you could get that blue one, in the upper right-hand corner. Or, for $100, we'll name that really bright part, right in the middle, after YOUR loved one! You'll even get a certificate saying so!

Don't delay - if somebody else gets here first, you'd hate to spend the rest of your life kicking yourself, huh?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Satellite Panic!

Just in case you've been in your Tora-Bora cave for the last few weeks, or hibernating... I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we're doomed! In a month or so, a satellite will crash back to the Earth's surface. Be afraid. Be very afraid! I know I am...

According to an online article, it's a spy satellite known only as "US 193." "It was launched in December 2006 but almost immediately lost power and cannot be controlled. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor but the satellite's central computer failed shortly after launch."

It's pretty big - and could hit North America in late February or early March!

Oh, the humanity!

Since I don't know much about satellites and stuff, I thought I'd get some advice from an "insider." My friend - my rocket-scientist friend - works for an aerospace company in the Bay Area. He does "sensitive" satellite-guidance stuff; that's all I know. (Besides, if I told you more, he'd have to kill me.) I'll call him "Billy."

I sent an email to "Billy":

Hi, Billy.

Is "US 193," the satellite that will hurtle back to earth in a month or so, one of YOUR babies?

Let me tell you this, my friend. I just did some work on my furnace and it is working perfectly! So if your satellite hits my house, I'm gonna be PLENTY ticked-off!!!

Since you're an expert, I'm asking... should I buy the supplemental satellite-collision insurance rider for my homeowners?

(If it crashes into my house, OR if it crashes at the park across the street and I'm the first one to get to it... eBay!!!)

He sent me this reply; I share it with you for the good of mankind:

Hi (name withheld)!

I know "US 193," but I can not talk about "US 193". They are predicting impact in North America. As time gets closer, they will be able to better predict re-entry. This far out, time wise, it is tough to model. It is large enough that some parts will make it to the ground.

Here is what you will need to do. For the next month, you and your family should be wearing hard-hats 24/7. Please remove all seat cushions from your couch and pillows from your beds. Attach these to the top of your automobiles. While riding your bike, do not listen to your Ipod. You need to listen for the whistle of 'incoming' objects.

As far as your house goes... it will be like shooting out your light switch with a .44mag (as you have done) times 100. Good luck with that insurance rider. That furnance will come in handy in heating your home with no roof.

The parts would fetch a good price on eBay....just don't sell them to foreign nationals. That would violate ITAR regulations!

I hope I was able to help you with your satellite survival guide ... keep watch on the sky.

I wrote back:

If I recover it, maybe I'll just hang onto it.

Could you Xerox me a copy of the repair manual? And are the parts available at Radio Shack?

"Billy" replied:

Radio Shack??? We get our parts from the electronic flea market in downtown Sunnyvale.

On a serious side note, a vendor of ours maintains some special test equipment that I need to test a box I am responsible for. The harddrive controller went bad and the only replacement that would work was a controller taken out of an Atari purchased at a pawn shop for $30. Now that is pure rocket science and should give you every confidence in our space program. Do you have the pillows on your car yet?

I wrote back:

That's pretty good! Any computer-type engineer worth his salt has to have a little "hacker" in his blood.

I'm still working on my tinfoil hat! (Don't want to get "radiated," you know.) When I get done with that, duct-tape and sofa cushions!!

Yeah, I'm worried. But at least this is a distraction from doing my income taxes. I'm gonna wait 'til after the satellite hits ground; if it lands on me, FORGET THE FORM 1040 THIS YEAR!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Baby Mac

My granddaughter, Mackenzie, is 1 year old today.

(Photo was taken on Thanksgiving Day.)

I can hardly wait 'til tomorrow, because she gets cuter every day!

(Click on the photo for a larger size - printable, and suitable for framing!)