Saturday, August 29, 2009

public option health care rally in portland

Nice crowd downtown this morning. The master of ceremonies was a very casual Attorney General John Kroger:Enthusiastic crowd - lots of union folks - lots of creative signs:

Main speaker was Wendell Potter, the former Cigna PR flack, who publicly apologized to the crowd, for his years serving up lies on behalf of Big Insurance. He was eloquent and insistent that everyone do everything they can to confront the mis-informed, and keep the pressure on the lawmakers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

it's the modern world

A quick look at my messy workspace this morning.

From left to right: my (conventional) laptop, the new netbook, my main desktop (monitor), and (leaning on the keyboard) my smartPhone. All devices are internet-connected.

It's a little scary...

andy borowitz today

Bush Questions Brevity of Obama's Vacation

Short Break ‘Sends Wrong Message to Terrorists'

Former president George W. Bush criticized President Barack Obama today for taking such a brief August vacation, arguing that the brevity of his summer break "sends the wrong message to terrorists."

"The one way to let the evildoers know that they don't have you all stressed out is by taking all of August off," Mr. Bush told reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. "I always made sure I did that."

The former president called Mr. Obama's golf game in Martha's Vineyard today "a positive step," but added, "It may be a case of too little, too late."

Mr. Bush said "there's still time" for Mr. Obama to correct his mistake, and recommended that the president "take all of September off."

"I suggest he find a ranch that needs some brush cleared off of it and spend all of September doing that," Mr. Bush said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

netbook has been transformed

Ben grabbed it, removed all the demos and startup garbage, installed his favorite utilities and Google Chrome, and pronounced it 'cool'.

Also, there was an issue getting his external optical drive to be recognized, but he figured out the registry setting to tweak to accomplish this, saving me some stressful moments.

That boy sure knows his way around computers. Where did he ever get that from?

bought a netbook today

I've been agonizing over various makes and models and configurations, but, of course, what decided things for me, in the end, was what was available on my local craigslist.

I've been waltzing around a Dell Mini 9, with Windows 7, 2 GB RAM, and a 16 GB SSD (no webcam) for several days, not being able to connect in person with the seller, who lives very close to my house. My chief hesitation on that one ($240) was the weirdly-configured keyboard and the sellers assertion that I 'should' be able to get more than 2 hours out of the battery.

Joe, thanks for your input the other evening.

Then, yesterday, I noticed that a local guy was selling one of these. He purchased it new from Fry's on August 14th, used it a couple of times, and decided it was too small for his needs. He advertised it repeatedly for $260, and I bought it from him today for $250.

I read a lot of reviews and it seemed to have the best combination of low-weight, sufficient power, OK webcam, and friendly keyboard layout, that I'm willing to live with the 1 GB of RAM (for now) and 3-cell battery (rated at 3 hours 15 minutes, for 'normal' use).

What helped me to decide was a half-hour at my local Costco, where I was able to try out both the Acer and an HP.

Why now? To take to Spain, in a little over a month.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

watch this video

yes, this one. you won't be disappointed.

great T.R. Reid piece about health care around the world

lays out the big myths

Heard on Rachael Maddow's radio show this morning a statistic proving that Republicans overwhelmingly are misinformed about the health care reform issues (no big surprise), and they overwhelmingly get their 'news' from Fox (even less of a surprise).

People who don't get their news from Fox are statistically better informed about the real issues. Which is the chicken and which is the egg? One wonders.

At any rate, Mission Accomplished, health care industry! You win, again, it seems.

And the uneducated white folks just get angrier, as the jobs disappear for good, the premiums keep rising, the rich get richer, and the Media doesn't seem all that concerned that people bring guns to Presidential appearances. Cameras are ready!

All that is needed is a suitable spark and we'll be seeing the Law of Entropy being gleefully covered non-stop on CNN.

Paris 1789, Austria-Hungary 1914, Munich 1933, Spain 1936, Iran 1979.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

great news

Just got back from Karen's doctor appointment, where he cleared her for the planned bike trip in Spain, that begins on October 5th. We weren't sure that her elbow injury would be sufficiently healed by then, but it's full speed ahead.

I paid the balance due for that portion of the trip, and that was the last bit of uncertainty (at the moment). We leave the morning of Sept 28th (Yom Kippur, that's just how it worked out).

It's starting to seem real - better keep brushing up on my spanish verbs.

Monday, August 17, 2009

those bastards

I don't normally open mail addressed to my boys, but sometimes I make an exception.

This morning, there was a piece of mail addressed to Dylan (21), from RJ Reynolds, and I thought this was something I ought to investigate.

They thoughtfully sent him a gift card for a free sample of their new product:

I know it's perfectly legal, but I have to say I am outraged. Incidentally, I went to '' out of curiosity, and that URL actually resolves as ''.

I guess that's better marketing than ''. Someone was on the ball.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

well, well, well...

Have I mentioned our well project? If not, our house, built in the 30's, has an 80 foot deep hand-dug well, that we have (slowly) been working on bringing back to life.

We pulled down the ramshackle pump-house years ago, and pulled out the old, non-working pump, water lines, and storage tank.

Aside from dipping a bucket down into the water a couple of years ago (to get a sample for testing - it came out pretty clean), we've never drawn any water to use.

Yesterday, our consulting hydrologist, Roger Smith, came over to do a draw-down test, where we lowered a submersible pump, hooked it up to a 220 V generator, and, with pen, notebook, scientific calculator, and a cool gizmo that does readouts of the changing water-level, we did the ultimate test.

I have to say that, the moment the pump came on and a jet of cold, clear water came shooting out the hose, was amazing. Rather than just pumping water on the ground (after all, we were only measuring the flow), I picked up the hose and began watering my tomatoes, peppers, squashes, asparagus, chard, onions, rhubarb, and shrubbery.

Finally, after at least 20 years, the well is again delivering water.

We pumped out hundreds of gallons, and Roger was able to measure the recharge rate, and pronounced it good. Next step - get the thing permanently capped, and then begin the plans for the required electrical work, deck construction and pump installation.

Off to KBOO shortly, to host the Yiddish Hour. Bye for now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

further proof that communism is bad

now we know for sure.


In my continuing education about all things Spain, I am currently reading a fascinating history of the Basque nation, and finally got to the chapter on the bombing of Guernica.

What is very strange about this component of the Spanish Civil War is that the Basques were traditionally allies of the Church and the Right-wing Carlist forces (the same people who were Franco's base).

What Franco could not tolerate is the Basque people's desire for autonomy from Madrid. Even though they were ideologically similar, they had to be destroyed because they had the nerve to ally themselves with the equally independence-minded Catalonians.

Franco was, after all, a pragmatist.

In two months, we should be bicycling in Catalonia. Lots to do before then.

I hope to visit the Madrid museum where Picasso's Guernica resides. It's pretty close to our hotel (not an accident).

Of course, reading about Europe in the 30's brings up scary parallels with our current times. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Karen update

Thanks to everybody who is concerned about Karen's injury.

She was at the orthopedist all morning. They see that there were a couple of small fractures, that accompanied the dislocation.

She is to keep it as immobile as possible for 2 weeks, but the doctor felt that she should be OK to go biking in Spain in October, as currently planned.

This morning, I set up dictation software ('Dragon NaturallySpeaking' - anyone have any experience with this?) on her work computer - she'll try it out and see if that helps.

ah, the conservative mind...

Listening to the Ed Schultz show on KPOJ this afternoon (hosted today by NorMan GoldMan).

A self-described 'Ron Paul Conservative' called to take issue with government-sponsored health care. He hit all the standard talking points, that have been spoon-fed to the low-information citizens, but this comment stunned me:

"A public option would pay for abortions, and I would want there to be a law saying it would not pay for 'partial-birth abortions' (sic)."

Of course, these procedures are extremely rare, and only mandated in cases of medical necessity.

Unfortunately, Norm missed the opportunity to reply to the guy, "hmmm, sounds like you are in favor of having the government come between doctor and patient."

Then, they guy tried to make the 'slippery slope' argument, saying, "if the government mandates that everybody have medical insurance, what's next? Making everybody buy car insurance?"

uh - I am speechless at these people. Sort of like the pundit that said: "Just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid ... done by the government".

required reading

thanks, again, Rachel

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

just finished reading a remarkable book

"The Art of Racing in the Rain"

Especially relevant to owners of aging dogs. I will say no more.

Monday, August 03, 2009

things can change quickly

Less than 5 minutes after the prior post, I was walking upstairs and heard Karen scream from outside.

While rushing around trying to coordinate dinner for 6, she tripped on our back step and was hurt.

"My elbow is dislocated," she grimaced, "and we're going to the hospital now."

I grabbed some ice-packs and drove rather quickly to the Emergency room.

Her diagnosis was correct, but it took three hours of waiting, paperwork, x-rays, and exams before a team was surrounding her bed, ready to pull the joint back together. Fortunately, Karen was elsewhere, having been transported to dream-land.

She woke up a few minutes later, with no memory, and it took another hour for full consciousness and hospital paperwork to permit us to exit. We were home around 11 pm. Quite a day.

Yesterday evening, we went out to dinner and Karen complained of discomfort and swollen fingers. They were indeed looking bad, so off to Emergency again, for another 3 hours of ice-packs, removing her 25 year-old wedding ring (which was a major chore in itself), making a new splint, and rewrapping bandages.

She is at work today, and has a couple of hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Naturally, I am the designated driver for the next few days.

Other than that, it's somewhat nice to be home, although Manzanita was sure delightful.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

back home

Manzanita was wonderful and we appear to have missed the worst of the heat that attacked Portland last week.

Now for a sweet corn, fresh tuna, and beer dinner!