Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cutting spending by one cup of coffee

Courtesy of the TK Lounge comes a link to this article on Obama's spending and spending cuts. It is simple and easy to understand, complete with simple graphics and a brief analysis from a Harvard economics professor. How on earth are we going to get ourselves out of this mess?!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Neighborhood wildlife

I've been having fun watching the birds that have been coming to our feeders the last few weeks. We've got a seed-filled feeder in the backyard and a block of suet in the front yard. We commonly have chickadees and some unidentified brown birds on the seed feeder and some beautiful northern flickers on the suet. A couple kinds of blue jays hang around as well and robins, thrushes and doves pick the leftovers off the ground. This last week a flock of these guys (see photo) showed up. Using the miracles of the internet, I have identified them as evening grosbeaks. Super pretty!

I've put more photos on Facebook (you don't have to be a member to see them).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last Minute Tea Party

Yesterday afternoon, as I sat on the couch with my cheeks puffed up feeling out of it (I had my wisdom teeth out on Tuesday), Wayne mentioned that there was a tea party tax day protest happening downtown from 3-6pm. I wasn't feeling good, he was busy, and we both figured it would pretty small in this town. On his way to take Duke for a walk at about 5:30, Wayne drove by and found that there was actually quite the crowd. On a spur of the moment inspiration he ran home, we printed a flyer on Atlas Shrugged, ran 100 copies at the local Mail Boxes, Etc, and we were off to spread the word.

There were a dozen or so people standing on the corner with signs and they were getting an encouraging amount of honking and cheering from people driving by. In the park nearby there was a speaker when we arrived, and a bunch of people were gathered to listen. While the speaker (and I'm sure a large percentage of the attendees) were clearly conservative religious types, at least they had the right idea in relation to taxes. After a few minutes of observation, Wayne started walking through the crowd and handing out the fliers and I grabbed a stack and stood at the gate giving them to people as they wandered in and out.

Everyone was very receptive and interested, and Wayne had a few people immediately turn to their spouse/friend/brother and say, "Hey - this is the book I've been trying to get you to read!" I had a few people ask me what it was about, etc, and unfortunately my mouth was so swollen that I could only get out a few words and I don't think even those were all that coherent!

All in all, a success for a (very) last minute effort. Even if only a couple of the the 100 people who got those flyers read the book and/or become interested, it was worth 20 minutes and a couple dollars in copies :) Duke even made a new friend (see the last picture, and note large amount of said friend's slobber on his head!).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wisdom Teeth and the Miracles of Medicine

I had all four of my wisdom teeth out yesterday. Not an experience I was looking forward to, as you can well imagine, however for me the scariest part was not the knives, cracking teeth or the pain. None of that sounded fun, but what I was very scared of was going under general anesthesia. Perhaps it is my attachment to being in control, or just the fear that they could do something slightly wrong and I would never wake up.

Whatever the case, it was not so bad and I have to say, nice to not be aware of any of that other not-so-pleasant stuff! The anesthesia they used was intravenous, which apparently is less of a deep sleep than the stuff they give you through the mask at the hospital, but I wouldn't know! They did also give me a local in the mouth to keep the pain down so it wouldn't wake me up. The strangest part was that after the surgery I was apparently at least sort of awake, talking to Wayne and the nurses, walking to the car, getting driven home, and I don't remember any of it! The first thing I really remember is standing in the kitchen pulling the nasty gauze out of my mouth...

The medical industry is pretty incredible. A few hundred years ago, people died of abscessed wisdom teeth or had them pulled with rustic tools and nothing but whiskey as an anesthetic. Today I go in for a 15 minute painless operation where they have calculated the amount and kind of anesthesia just right so I am aware of nothing but wake up almost instantly when it is over and am functional within hours. I am thoroughly taken care of by pain meds afterwards (I took one Vicadin yesterday but since then Ibuprofen has been doing the trick just fine) and am working the next day and will hopefully be doing aikido again in less than a week.

And this is only one very minor example of what medicine can do. Crazy and very very cool.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ayn Rand as Prophet ("profit"?!)

Amit's editorial, "Ayn Rand as Prophet", was published on Pajamas Media. Clear and compelling as usual...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Administration Refuses to Accept Repayment of Bailout Money

This Wall Street Journal Article by Stuart Varney talks about the attempt by one major bank to return the money that was forced on them at the end of the Bush administration. It appears vitally important to the Obama team that they maintain control over all major banks by retaining shareholder status. Scary.

While the article does not identify the bank by name, I am guessing that it is Wells Fargo, given several other stories I have heard. Now more than ever, I am proud to be a Wells Fargo customer! We will be moving our personal account there next month to accompany the business accounts that are already there.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


For someone so dedicated to individualism, I am amazingly addicted to a Japanese martial art that comes with all sorts of traditions that defy the individual. Fortunately, our Americanized version of Aikido tends to minimize these aspects and focus on the fun and practical sides of training rather than the spiritual and/or arbitrary.

I love Aikido most of all for the camaraderie and fun that is had while getting some good aerobic exercise and learning to move in a well-aligned, strong fashion. I've never been good at sticking with things like yoga and tai chi because they simply don't hold my interest. The complete focus that Aikido demands provides an opportunity to completely clear my mind of whatever else is going on life.

Aikido is not your standard kicking and punching martial art. The focus is on getting your attacker (partner's) balance and then using that advantage to throw or pin them. It is super fun and not just for the guys who like to fight. There are far more women in Aikido than most martial arts.

Here's a link to an essay I wrote about aikido back in 2004.

All that was a preamble to the announcement that I am heading up to Washington State tomorrow to spend a few days with my family and participate in my dad's long awaited Aikido black-belt test. I will be his primary partner for the test. Great father/daughter time :)