Monday, March 31, 2008
It's a nice spot - very quiet, except for some birds singing, with beautiful views of the water. Blackberry Beach is on the East side of Orcas Island and pretty much off the beaten path.
It's a nice place to take a break.
I'm listening to the Mariners win their first baseball game of the season and Betsy's down at the beach, looking for beach glass.
Looking forward to a nice relaxing week...
Sunday, March 30, 2008
It's been a pretty cold spring so far, and according to the bloom map the tulip and iris fields are not showing any color, however the daffodils are in bloom.
Betsy and I are going to Orcas Island tomorrow so I'll get a chance to have a look at the fields on the way up and see first hand what the flowers look like.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Jimmy Carter advanced a plan in 1981 that called for fuel efficiency standards to reach 48 mpg by 1995.
In an interesting footnote to history - in 1981 the auto industry said it could meet a 30 mpg fuel economy by 1985, but the Federal Government as of today (23 years later) has only mandated 27.5 mpg.
The Reagan Administration withdrew the plan put forth by Carter and in 1986 rolled the standard back to 26 mpg.
There were no improvements in the CAFE standards under the first Bush Administration or the Clinton Administration, and the Bush/Cheney Administration has done nothing to raise the standards for cars, although there have been some minor improvements in the standards for small trucks (see attached data from the Department of Transportation for details).
In 2002, Senators John Kerry, and John McCain offered a plan that called for fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, beginning with model year 2005, to reach a combined average fuel economy standard of at least 36 miles per gallon by 2015 (recall that Jimmy Carter's plan was for 48 miles per gallon by 1995). The Kerry McCain plan was never implemented, and the federally mandated average fleet efficiency levels in new vehicles are the same as they were in 1985.
Since a variety of administrations and Congresses have been unwilling to address this, the market will take care of it, and it will be painful for working class Americans.
The price of oil may decline as American demand subsides because people can't afford to drive, but there's no guarantee as China, India and other developing nations compete for global oil. Working people who can afford to buy newer more fuel efficient vehicles will do that. Working people who can't buy a more fuel efficient vehicle will have to decide what their priorities are and that could become quite painful.
Reference: Spinning Wheels - Our Continual Refusal to Raise CAFE Standards
From the article by Robert F. Kennedy Junior Better Gas Mileage, Greater Security -
"According to a recent report by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, if the United States had continued to conserve oil at the rate it did in the period from 1976 to 1985, it would no longer have needed Persian Gulf oil after 1985. Had we continued this wise course, we might not have had to fight the Persian Gulf war, and we would have insulated ourselves from price shocks in the international oil market. Fuel efficiency is a sound national energy policy, economic policy and foreign policy all wrapped into one. Every increase of one mile per gallon in auto fuel efficiency yields more oil than is in two Arctic National Wildlife Refuges. An improvement right now of 2.7 miles per gallon would eliminate our need for all Persian Gulf oil!"
Some CAFE details from the Department of Transportation -
- For what years and at what levels have the passenger car CAFE standards been set?
"To meet the goal of doubling the 1974 passenger car fuel economy average by 1985 (to 27.5 mpg), Congress set fuel economy standards for some of the intervening years. Passenger car standards were established for MY 1978 (18 mpg); MY 1979 (19 mpg); MY 1980 (20 mpg); and for MY 1985 and thereafter (27.5 mpg). Congress left the level of 1981-84 standards to the Department to establish administratively. Subsequently, standards of 22, 24, 26, and 27 mpg were established. For the post-1985 period, Congress provided for the continued application of the 27.5 mpg standard for passenger cars, but gave the Department the authority to set higher or lower standards. From MY 1986 through 1989, the passenger car standards were lowered. Thereafter, in MY 1990, the passenger car standard was amended to 27.5 mpg, which it has remained at this level."
- For what years and at what levels have the light truck CAFE standards been set?
"Congress did not specify a target for the improvement of light truck fuel economy. Instead, it provided that light truck standards be set at the maximum feasible level for model year 1979 and each model year thereafter. Unlike for the passenger car fleet, there is no default standard established for light trucks. NHTSA must set the standard for each model future model year. Light truck fuel economy standards have been established by NHTSA for MY 1979 through MY 2007."
"Light truck fuel economy requirements were first established for MY 1979 (17.2 mpg for 2-wheel drive models; 15.8 mpg for 4-wheel drive). Standards for MY 1979 light trucks were established for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,000 pounds or less. Standards for MY 1980 and beyond are for light trucks with a GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less. The light truck standard progressively increased from MY 1979 to 20.7 mpg and 19.1 mpg, respectively, by MY 1991. From MY 1982 through 1991, manufacturers were allowed to comply by either combining 2- and 4-wheel drive fleets or calculating their fuel economy separately. In MY 1992, the 2- and 4-wheel drive fleet distinction was eliminated, and fleets were required to meet a standard of 20.2 mpg. The standard progressively increased until 1996, when the Appropriations prohibition froze the requirement at 20.7 mpg. The freeze was lifted by Congress on December 18, 2001. On March 31, 2003, NHTSA issued new light truck standards, setting a standard of 21.0 mpg for MY 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007."
Friday, March 28, 2008
He's got a fair amount on protecting our right to keep and bear assault weapons, and rolling back Roe v. Wade, but nothing on helping young people get a college, or other post-secondary, education.
According to the TG: Legislative Report: February 20, 2008
"The likely Republican nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain, has no stated position on the federal role in providing, or even promoting, access to postsecondary education. Aside from (but also including to a significant degree) the high profile issues of health insurance, Medicare, and Social Security, the traditional and historical position of the Republican Party is that the federal role in providing support for domestic education, health and human service, and job programs should be as limited as possible. And entitlement programs should be as limiting as politically possible. It is likely that the cost of the two major student loan programs would be a major consideration, with performance another factor. This is borne out by the results of the annual program evaluations of the current Office of Management and Budget Program Assessment and Rating Tool (PART) of the FFELP and FDLP."
It's interesting to compare John McCain's non-position, with the variety of ideas Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have provided to help ensure our nation provides young people an opportunity to get a college, or other post-secondary, education.
It would be helpful if the talking heads on network news shows would stop talking about Hillary vs. Obama and discuss John McCain's positions (or lack of positions) and how they compare to either Hillary or Obama's.
Having people's attention diverted from the real issues, gives John McCain a free ride for now, but after the presidential debates start and people get a chance to compare John McCain side by side with Barack Obama, that free ride could very well turn into a free fall.
When I wrote John McCain has information on his website about protecting our right to keep and bear assault weapons, I didn't mean to imply I don't support the second amendment right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. What I do believe is that the issue of people in the U.S. not having access to all the guns they want is pretty much being taken
Actually the second amendment doesn't say "law-abiding citizens"it says "the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" so if we were strict constitionalists we would have to say criminal type people have the right to arm themselves, which is pretty much the way things have worked out.
I'd be in favor of a law that limits gun ownership to those who hunt or use them for target shooting, but given the number of guns we have in our society there is no law that is going to keep them out of the hands of bad people who don't obey the law. Depending on who you are and where you live - you may feel you need - or in fact do need - a gun to protect yourself from the bad guys.
That premise that you are going to defend yourself with a gun from a criminal who also has a gun, and intends to do you bodily harm, means you better be able to use it quicker than they can.
I've always thought a better plan than keeping a heavy pistol in my shirt or a loaded shotgun under the bed would be to be aware of my surroundings, learn self-defense, and use my brain to protect myself and those around me rather than depending on my quick-draw skills. Call me foolish but I don't want to live with the paranoia that the world is such a dangerous place that I need to have a gun nearby at all times (if you use your head there's usually some kind of weapon around you that you could use as a last resort).
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
According to the preview "captures the realities of war through a "virtual embed" with a National Guard platoon in Iraq."
The show is on Seattle's KCTS Channel 9 on Tuesday April 1st at 9 pm, with reruns on Thursday April 3rd at 10 pm, and Saturday April 5th at 2 am.
This is a video from the show -
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The two-part special series aired on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but you can watch it online and it is rebroadcast at various times in the next couple of weeks.
It's the most riveting and thorough reporting imaginable with a variety of messages about power, corruption, arrogance, egotism, and a mix of groupthink on the part of some members of the Bush administration and vicious destructive internal political infighting on the part of others.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, absolute power combined with a mediocre leader surrounded be arrogant egotistical advisors led to what you will see in the documentary.
It's not new information, but seeing it in the 4 1/2 hour documentary brings it into focus and it is....devastating, brutal, amazing, sad, horrifying...but above all else a lesson we can take to heart and ask ourselves - "how in the hell did we ever let this happen?" and think about how we can ensure it never happens again.
Monday, March 24, 2008
What more can you say?
As bizarrely hilarious and sad as that story is, it's not indicative of what you generally hear on KPTK.
I'd recommend listening to Stephanie Miller's show and some of the other hosts, as an antidote to the Fox News echo chamber and as one source to gather viewpoints on current events in our quest to be informed citizens.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Spring is here; new life, new growth and new opportunities await us. As Christian's we believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all people a chance for redemption. We do our best at loving God and our neighbors and our selves - and asking for forgiveness when we don't do that. That is all God asks of us.
We are all sinners, but because of the sacrifice Jesus made - we can all be forgiven.
Nothing in this world could be more reassuring than to know whoever we are, whatever we have done or not done, God forgives and loves us. Knowing that we are lovable, starts the cycle for us to love others and to love God.
Wishing you Peace and Joy on this day and every day of your journey.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Seitan is another name for wheat gluten and is also sometimes called "wheat meat". It's made by washing the starch out of wheat flour, which results in a high protein, chewy-textured food that is almost flavourless - but good for absorbing flavors of whatever it's cooked with. I didn't make my own, but the traditionally-seasoned White Wave Seitan in the blue box worked fine, plus it was on sale for $2.39.
Quinoa pronounced keen-wah, is not a true cereal grain, but rather the botanical fruit of a species of goosefoot. Quinoa is high in protein, gluten-free and can be cooked in 20 minutes or so. It's similar to cooking rice, but be sure and rinse it well to remove any of the soapy tasting - saponins that might still be present.
This article by Nicole Spiridakis on NPR says of Quinoa -
"What was a sacred crop to the Incas has been classified as a "super crop" by the United Nations because of its high protein content. It is a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids. It also contains the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous."I haven't had a chance to try Burmese Tofu yet. It's made from chickpea flour, and looks like something that would be pretty easy to concoct at home; although I'm a little worried when I see a recipe that says "add the chick-pea sludge".
I'll have to read more about it.
Happy eating - and by the way - I'm not one of those serious Vegans, with a capital V. I look at being a vegan as a phase I'm going through (3 years now and I feel great). Who knows - one of these days when I'm old enough I might decide to go on a - Whiskey Steak diet.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Something that is relatively new, thanks to the internet, is the ability of citizens to find answers for themselves using a variety of sources.
A small minority of under-informed people will draw conclusions about Barack Obama based on a 10 second video of his minister Jeremiah Wright. Some of these same people will extend these conclusions to include his minister, his church and the people who attend that church.
It's inevitable that some members of that small under-informed minority will be part of a media conglomerate that specializes in promoting political opinions and agendas under the guise of news journalism, and using the surreal slogan "fair and balanced" - for the consumption of other under-informed people. It's easier that way, not so much thinking if everything is good/bad us vs. them, liberal/conservative or whatever label you can think of. We can belong to some group that's better than another - not just be part of the messy imperfect human race.
Thankfully we have a free and open media in our country and as citizens have access to many sources of information.
In this video Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman the Conference Minister of the Illinois Conference of the UCC talks about why she attends services at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ -
The PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly blog has a variety of thoughtful articles from professors and theologians giving their points of view on Barack Obama's March 18th - "A More Perfect Union" speech.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I wasn't sure if it was the cold, if I was getting a cold or if it was the pollen in the air that was bothering me. I watched some of news shows for awhile, but that gets old quick so I watched The Waltons, a PBS show with Deepak Chopra's Ten Keys to Happiness and made a big pot of vegetable soup.
I'm feeling a lot better today.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
In my opinion, it's a great speech by a great speaker who will be a great leader of the U.S.
I think one of the best parts of the speech was when Barack Obama says this -
"For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time."
One of the criticisms I've heard and read is that Barack Obama is for change, but doesn't define what that change is.
If you are willing to turn off the endless loop of T.V. or talk radio or the internets, and do some reading you will find Barack Obama is not just a great speaker, he has clearly laid out his policies in the Blueprint For Change, a 64 page document covering:
He covers these, as well as the Issues of Civil Rights, Disabilities, Environment, Faith, Family, Healthcare, Homeland Security, Iraq, Social Security, and Technology and the Additional Issues of Arts, Child Advocacy, Katrina, Science, Sportsmen and Transportation.
It might not be as exciting as watching an endless loop of some emotionally charged videos from YouTube on T.V., and it would take more intellectual effort than listening to some pundit or commentator tell us what we should think, or making up our minds based on some label we have given ourselves or others - but in the long term we would all be better served if we could have civil, thoughtful discussions on these issues.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Unlike some vegans they like to cook and eat things that taste good and also have a refreshing sense of humor about the whole thing.
In the interview Liane Hanson, asks them why they think so much vegan food tastes bad and they say that most people choose to cook vegan food prior to getting any kind of culinary training, and consequently we end up with bad food since the people preparing it don't understand the basic techniques of cooking and baking.
Amazon link to their new cookbook - Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
If you live in the Seattle area and want to try some good vegan food try Quickies in the U District, Capital Hill or Tacoma.
Friday, March 14, 2008
"Surrounded by the right sounds, we all can be invigorated, energized, and balanced."How true that is.
John Diamond M.D.
If you think about how you feel being in the midst of sirens, traffic noise, car alarms or at work being exposed to loud distracting chatter and compare that to being outside at the beach or near a waterfall...or at your desk working while listening to silence or classical music.
On that note - I've been working and listening to Classical KING FM 98.1 today and heard a story about a cellist who played some soothing music for some passengers stranded in Bozeman Montana.
It reminded me of another story a friend told me about being in a Montana campground where a cellist started to play at dusk. Since I'm a Montana native he asked me if they always did that in Montana. I'm not sure since I don't get back to Montana much these days - but it sounds very nice.
Bach in Bozeman, thanks to cellist
When you're stranded at an airport, music hath charms to soothe the savage passenger.
A Delta flight from Cincinnati to Seattle on Monday had to make an emergency landing in Bozeman, Mont., because of a fuel problem, and about 100 passengers were stuck at the airport for more than five hours. While they were waiting, an announcement came over the speakers: Someone was going to play some music.
"Someone" turned out to be Seattle Symphony principal cellist Joshua Roman, who serenaded his fellow passengers for more than an hour with the Bach Cello Suites and other solo works — while one child danced to the music. Passenger Shelley Grimes recognized him from an article she had read in The Seattle Times.
"Joshua soothed a lot of stressed-out passengers," Grimes reported in an e-mail to this paper. "His performance was incredible, he had a great sense of humor, and he was extremely modest. ... Joshua jokingly added after his performance that he had never played for such a captive audience!"
Source - Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times music critic Seattle Times Newspaper
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I put the lists and links to the original articles here.
They are interesting lists (nothing new), but unless you can use this information to make a positive change in your life I'm not sure of the point. Something to think about I suppose.
I'm a firm believer that attitude and perception are keys to being happy - and that happiness is the definition of success in life and work.
We all find ourselves in less than ideal, and maybe downright terrible, situations occasionally. It's good to remember we can do, or survive, most anything for a short period of time but in the long term life is too short to spend it doing things that we allow to make us unhappy.
Lists like these tend to be outside-in; if you want change, the place to start is with yourself.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
A 15-Day Amtrak USA Rail Pass is $389 Off-Peak (January 3rd to May 22nd). For someone with more time, a 30-Day pass is only another $80.
I like the idea of the train pass because of the flexibility of being able to get on and off the train when I want to (I'll wait until it's come to a full stop).
I had a pass on Greyhound years ago and it was an adventure; but I like the comfort factor of a train now that I'm getting a little older physically.
I'm thinking a trip around the outer perimeter of the U.S. would be about right for a 15 day trip; Everett - Boston - Jacksonville - Los Angeles - Everett.
I was planning my trip and realized the Amtrak USA Rail Pass is not available to citizens of the U.S. or Canada.
A North America Rail Pass good for 30 days of travel on Canadian and U.S. railroads is $709 off-peak and $999 peak.
I don't have 30 days to spend riding the rails right now, so I'm back to the drawing board as far as travel plans go.
Maybe Makerfaire or the least populated county in Montana.
It's interesting what you can find on Wikipedia - according to the article, Petroleum county Montana has an average population density of 0 people per square mile.
I think it may be 1/3 person per square mile, the county is 1674 square miles and 493 people live there...at least according to Wikipedia. After taking a look at Another Ordinary Day At The Beach In China I'm thinking having a 3 square mile buffer zone between you and the next guy might not be so bad.
Monday, March 10, 2008
It causes the people, places and things we love to change, grow old, and die.
When you're four you aren't just four – you're four and a half or maybe almost five. You can't wait to get older. Be careful what you wish for. It takes a long time to go from 12 to 16 and almost no time at all to go from 50 to 54.
As we start the NCAA basketball tournament season, it's interesting to think about a basketball game and how the time goes. The last ten minutes of a hotly contested basketball game can be a lot of time. In a close game we might say, even with only a couple of minutes to go, “they still have a lot of time.”
It's all relative – ten minutes left in a game is a lot of time; but if someone says, “dinner will be ready in ten minutes” that sounds pretty quick.
The solution to this dilemma is to live in, and enjoy, the minutes and forget about the years. Make the time we have now our most precious moment.
It's not a good use of our time to live in the future – thinking about, or sometimes obsessing over what will happen later today, tomorrow, next month or next year. Not to say we shouldn't have a plan, but as they say, “if you want to make God laugh – tell him or her your plans.” In other words – we can't predict the future and often just when we think we are on a particular path something comes along to upset our best laid plans.
Each moment is precious; and if you have this one – be thankful. It's enough.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Barack has spent 3 years as a U.S. Senator, Abraham Lincoln was a U.S. Senator for 2 years before being elected president.
Both Lincoln and Obama have 10 years experience when you add in the years they spent in the Illinois Legislature.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as State Senator from New York for 2 years and Governor of New York for 4 years prior to being elected President.
Source - Time Magazine 3/10/08 - Does Experience Matter in a President?
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The Time Magazine reviewers Richard Corliss, Lev Grossman, Josh Tyrangiel, gave it an F, which I don't recall seeing before - but the thing that struck me as funny was the end of the review that says,
"Nobel in intent, dreadful in execution, this soporific soap opera is in no way to be brought, rented, bartered, played or allowed in your house."
On the other hand, Seattle P-I reviewer William Arnold called it, "A deeply satisfying tale of coping with loss."
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
We wish they could have stayed but they have other places to visit and people to see.
|Uganda Orphan's Choir|
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I guessing John Sharffenberger's experience as a vineyard owner and winemaker helped him create chocolate with such a great combination of flavor and mouth feel.
He's written a cookbook The Essence of Chocolate with Robert Steinberg, the cofounder of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory. It got a perfect 5 stars at Amazon.com from 16 out of 17 reviewers. One person gave it 2 stars because they are upset the Sharffen Berger Chocolate was sold to Hershey. The front of the book even looks good to eat -