Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Now THAT's A Squeaker

The results are in. For once, everybody in Travis County agrees with me. And by "everybody" I mean "a fraction of a percentage point over 50%" which is just enough to tip the scale. According to the Unofficial Results officially published in a .pdf at the County website, my picks all won in this runoff election:
  • Ted Cruz by 0.84%
  • Warren Chisum by 0.02%*
  • Barry Smitherman by a landslide
  • Justice Medina by a solid majority
  • Tom Maynard by a suspiciously-repetitive 0.84% but with 1/3 the number of ballots cast for the Senate race

Just under 9,000 of us bothered to vote in my County.


* 0.02% in this case was exactly TWO VOTES. That, for the record, was my Darling Wife and me. So do you still think your measly one vote does not count? It won't make a difference if you show up at the polls or not?


And if that was an impressive argument in favor of you going to vote next time, let's just not look at the statewide results, shall we?

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Communist Horseshit is THIS?

I got a letter in the mails, saying that because my health care payment insurance provider of choice did not meed the "80/20 Rule" they would be refunding my plan 3.2%. It turns out Uncle Sam himself is offended that anything less than 80% of my insurance premiums should go to actual medical care. 20% profit LIMIT? I thought. No friends, it's a 20% administrative amount limit, the maximum they can spend on salaries, sales, and advertizing. Profit is nowhere mentioned in the letter.

WTFPPL. If they aren't making a profit, why would they stay in business? Makeup companies get a 50% margin and we love them but health care payment insurance can't make a buck for their trouble?

This is due to the Obamacare law. I know that because it was on the letter and the two-page FAQ they sent with the letter. This probably-half-a-million-dollar mailing was paid for by my health insurance premiums (but only 20% or less of my premiums!). Oh well, I'm sure they couldn't have found a good use for that money anyway.

It sucks watching my America swirling down the drain like this.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Voter's Guide for Travis County * July 31, 2012 Republican Primary Election Runoff

Once again not enough people agreed with me to make it an open-and-shut case. We didn't all pick the winner during the primary, so here are the winners for the runoff election.

United States Senator

  • David Dewhurst - 90% of the time I like him, but he's let the True Conservative banner down enough to let it drag underfoot. Over any Democrat, he is probably a better candidate.
  • Ted Cruz - Please vote for Ted Cruz on May 29th. To save myself lots of typing I will direct you to this endorsement of Ted Cruz by Lawrence Person's Battleswarm blog. I agree with most of it in regards to not only Cruze but also Dewhurst, Leppert and Addison.

  • Railroad Commissioner - neither of these were my preference, but it was a field of good candidates. I think I am for Chisum now.
  • Warren Chisum has been in government for perhaps too long, but he is effective.
  • Christi Craddick is YOUNG to be holding power, and she has a hint of the crazyeyes.

  • Railroad Commissioner, Unexpired Term

  • Barry Smitherman - Please keep Commissioner Smitherman in his position. He was on the Public Utilities Commission and the Governor thought enough of him to put him on the Railroad Commission. He is in, and knows, the job. The experienced commissioners are leaving so there will be enough lack of experience running this show without losing someone who has been doing the job for part of a term already.
  • Greg Parker - I like him. I want him in public office, which he is. It seems like he wants to be in HIGHER public office, and as he is into energy issues to the RRC is a natural choice. Maybe his campaign is aimed at just being in higher office? He wants it, but does he want this, specifically?

  • Place 4, Justice, Supreme Court

  • David Medina - I like him. He's a good conservative, and his pursuits (hunting, fishing, champion martial artist, etc) speak well of him. It's already his seat. Keep Justice Medina in Place 4.
  • John Devine - Right there on his campaign website he has posted publicly opinions on a whole BUNCH of issues that are certain to come before the Court on which he wants to sit. Unless he's just angling for a bunch of recusals on related cases, this is a huge error of judgement . . . which, for a judge, strikes me as a problem.

  • District 10, Member, State Board of Education
  • Tom Maynard - Please vote for Tom Maynard for SBOE District 10. He puts time, time, and time into children to train them in more than just the core subjects. A country boy with good sense who made it big in the national FFA leadership, he has a breadth of experience that goes beyond the classroom. A teacher AND a leader and then some is the impression I get.
  • Rebecca Osborne - She has a doctoral degree in education administration. You can look for yourself and see where we have gotten with other people "educated" in education. She wants to make a difference and that's great. Let's allow her to continue making a difference in her current classroom. I endorsed her last time (2010) but this time Maynard is my top pick by a slim margin.

  • ********
    These notes are mostly the same as my Primary Election voter's guide. As before, these notes are for me. I did a LOT of research to get these opinions, I figured I might as well make them available in case they are some use to someone else.

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    DIY/SOLVED! Buick Terraza/Chevy Uplander Sliding Rear Door Won't Stop Beeping

    This will get you to the dealership without going insane from the door alarm chiming through the car's radio speakers. They need to repair this for you. It is expensive.

    Our Terraza sliding rear door stopped working. It moved very easily, like it was not pushing against the normal resistance in the mechanism. It would pop the door open, and it would latch closed manually, but it would not slide itself open or closed. It made the normal "i'mopeningyourdoor" humming noise, but the door did not slide under power. For a few moments while it tried to open it would stop beeping but then the door would figure out it was not doing right, and start the chime up again.

    The door thinks about itself. When it stops beeping and starts trying to move, it is waiting for itself to do right. It notices it does not work and starts the incessant chiming alarm up again. What you need to do to get it to shut up is disconnect the motor AFTER you push the door-open button, WHILE it is trying to open the door, BEFORE it starts beeping again. There are two connectors, and they latch in place on the motor. You have to be quick at this.

    The motor is hiding behind plastic trim panels, right beside the rear seat. The passenger side is easy to reach in our terraza, just open the access panel where the jack is stored. The driver's side would require pulling (just pull, I think there are no screws) the plastic trim panels off. If you are reading this, you know that you will be ready to flip the whole car upside-down to get the thing to quiet, so pulling the trim off shouldn't be too hard. Expose the motor. Push the door operator switch. Pull off the two connectors going to the motor. It should stay quiet if you timed this right. A helper is probably necessary

    The mechansim in our van is obviously broken. Carmax already replaced it once under warranty. Here's hoping they will again.

    My Darling Wife reported a popping noise before it stopped working. The popping noise was the cable snapping inside the mechanism, or the mechanism breaking.

    Bonus poor design workaround information

    If the door will not stay closed, the weatherstripping on the bottom of the door opening is probably loose. Push it up back into place. If it still will not closed, you may have to force and lock it manual. This is bad but if you need to do it to get home, do it.

    If the door will not open, unlock it from the inside manually and try again. If it still will not open, leave it closed and make an appointment at your dealership.

    If there is a wire or cable hanging loose from the slot in the outside of the body of the van. If there is a crunching noise from the back by the seats, behind the plastic. If it can't seem to tell that it really is open or closed. If manually operating the stop switches makes no difference . . . make an appointment at your dealership. This mechanism could have been designed better, but at least it is repairable.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Bar the Door, Kate!

    No, really. Because any hotel room with a programmable key card lock can be opened with less than a hundred dollars worth of computer stuff that fits in a pocket. Pack a Big Jammer when you travel. Or maybe stay in a flophouse with a stone-aged dead bolt lock, just beware the drug dealers' stray gunfire . . .

    Madness at Work, Computer LOLs

    My computer has a BUNCH of programs that load at startup every day. The last thing in the queue is the sound you will hear when you go to instantrimshot.com and press the big red button. It takes several minutes for the computer to boot up.

    Today as my computer was waking up I was across the room talking to one of the guys about cars. I said how fortunate I am, in that my Darling Wife's parents had an El Camino when she was young, so she loves 'em.

    VFD: . . . because the El Camino is stereotypically a car that women hate. Unlike the Mustang I was behind yesterday with a chick's personalized plate and the same name on the surround around the plate.
    JM: Well, maybe that's because the El Camino says 'I would like to rape you'
    VFD: (1/2 tick pause)
    VFD: I'm not arguing with you . . .
    Computer: :rimshot:
    JM & VFD: LOL
    VFD: Hi-Five, computer!


    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Hoooooooooooly shit.

    My next-door neighbor has two pit bull terriers. They are a year old, and largely untrained. They live outside. They have broken THROUGH our common fence at least three times, finally stopped by hog wire lining on their side.

    Say hello to Mimi and Skittles, at my back door last week.

    two white pit bulls

    These dogs are stereotypically sweet, gentle animals. If they were any other breed, you would think they were perfect family dogs. Wouldn't hurt a fly, come when called, etc. But they are pit bulls. Click that picture and zoom in. See how the "top" ear of the dog on the right is a little bloody-looking inside? It was almost bitten off by the dog on the left, in a fight over who got to sit on the couch.

    I was sitting here minding my own business just now, and I heard the neighbordude holering like he meant it. I killed the TV and went and cracked the back door to listen. He was splitting his attention between Mimi and his daughter, who is like 4-5 years old. The dog probably outmasses the girl by 10 or 20 pounds. She had tried to take something from the dog. She did not sound greatly reassured that "it's only a scratch."

    Jesus H. Christ! You can't just TELL a four year-old to leave the sweet lovable doggy alone, and to remember to never try to take something away from the dog! If a chihuahua nips at a child's hand, it stings. If a pit nips at a kid's hand it's like an iron bear trap.

    Now don't get me wrong: I think it is stupid for government to ban ownership of pit bulls. Pit bulls are just dogs, after all. Big, strong dogs, but just dogs. Dogs ALL nip, especially when they are young, especially when they are untrained - pits are no exception. But they also have this little feature where, every once in a great while, they get a little crazy over not-much. Having small children and pit bulls in company is a nasty way to play russian roulette.

    Just a scratch. This time.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    In a Way, I'm Awesome.

    While reading this New Yorker article about Brian Shaw (and other strong people) I kept seeing all these fance numbers called "keelow grahams." The numbers at the top, talking about supermen like Shaw, et. al. are just silly to think of putting myself in the same paragraph.

    Then the article started talking about female weightlifters. They had some more human-sounding bodyweights and I got curious. Sure 'nuff they weigh less than me (and could lift two of me, easy). So I ran a quick calculation and showed myself that my sense of humor is every bit as twisted as my father's. I work out to mass 75 kilograms these days.

    And I thought that was neat. 75. It's exactly 3/4 of a hundred. Mind-blowing, I know, I know. But when was the last time you knew somebody laughed at his bodyweight because he thought it was funny?

    About 10 seconds ago. You're welcome.

    P.S., this is not me. If this guy weight what I do he would be three feet tall. Or a meter. Whatever.

    AMAZINGLY Bad Vetting.

    Well, considering the man himself is (debatably) not qualified to hold the office, it should hardly come as a surprise, but . . .

    You know how the leftist press formerly-known-as-mainstream is trying to puff up the story of how Mittens Romeney was, himself, personally handing out pink slips to men laid off in favor of cheap chinese labor while Romney was personally running Bain Capital heading up the Olympic Committee?

    Yeah, well, maybe if by Mitt Romney they mean one of President Obama's chief fundraisers laid those people off. And if by "Romney" profiting from offshoring jobs to China they mean "Obama" (himself, personally) profiting from jobs going to China.

    Leftists and Democrats (but I repeat myself) have a particular foible wherein they project their own failings onto their political and ideological opponents and then attack said failings. In the case of attacking Mitt Romney for sending jobs to China while he ran Bain Capital, this appears to be the case.

    Hat tip: Instapundit

    Buck The System

    Flex your rights.

    When a clerk says "Can I have your ZIP code?" say "No."

    When a check box is automatically selected, deselect it.

    When the Man says "Can I search your ____?" say "No."

    Open the shrink wrap before reading the warning.

    Read your mortgage.

    Hang up the phone without explaining why.

    Laugh when something is funny. Even in church. At a funeral.

    When somebody pisses you off, or is acting dumb, tell them.

    Make a racist joke if you don't mean it.

    Go in the Exit and out the Entrance.

    Leave your engine running at the fueling station. And talk on the phone.

    If the dress makes her look fat, say so.

    Carry a knife right past the "no weapons" sign (but not past the metal detector!)

    When you are about to get into a fight for any of the above, smile at the other guy.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Faintest Glimmers of Hope

    The Law of the Sea Treaty (a.k.a. LOST, as in your national sovereignty would be ____ if you signed on) has apparently been shot down. Again. For now.

    Hat tip: Instapundit

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Smart Diplomacy, That's What It Is.

    Pure genius. Let's send a white woman to a muslim "democracy" to speak on our behalf. Sure, they might respect her . . . and they might just pelt her car with shoes and tomatoes.

    The World Is In Denial

    The radio news said The Red Cross has decided that Syria is engaged in a civil war. They have said it is now inappropriate for the government to attack civilian targets. Well let me tell The International Community something:

    The Syrian government is fighting the same war the United States government is fighting, on a different front. Egypt and Iran have already lost, along with at least 1/4 of Africa. Our common enemy has one name for the war: Jihad.

    This is not a war where one can separate civilians from soldiers, combatants from non-combatants. This is not necessarily a war between two organized foes. This is a cultural war, of Islam versus the rest of the World. How's this for a prediction: by the time The International Community comes to realize that this is fourth-generation warfare, the civilized world will already be at a huge competitive disadvantage.

    Our enemy does not wear a uniform on his breast. This uniform is IN the breast. The combatant and the non-combatant ARE the same people. The difference is where they point their guns.

    This is not spears
    This is not trenches
    This is not tanks
    This is a guerilla activity. FOURTH generation warfare. This is not your father's war - it is an entirely new paradigm. You will not win until you realize it. You will not win unless you take the INCREDIBLY politically-incorrect step of NAMING your enemy. And you will not win unless you are willing to to horrible things to people without uniforms.

    You WILL bomb civilian areas.
    You WILL target non-combatants. Intentionally.

    Unless the world stands ready to firebomb Hamtramck, Michigan into submission . . . well, I hope you don't mind paying Jizyah.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Thank You, Jesus!

    Today was a verrrrr big day for my photography kit. I had previously converted a couple of fast prime lenses for use with my Nikon (from Cannon FD mount) but they were pretty frustrating to use. The stock "brightscreen" focusing screen in my D70 is plenty bright, alright. And it has just about no depth of field perception. One can hardly tell with an f/2.8 screen what an f/1.8 lens is focusing on. This bums.

    Yesteday I trashed a defunct Cannon AE-1 camera body for one reason: I gots to get me some manual focusing aids. The AE-1 comes to us from a time when men were men, lenses were fast, and focus was strictly manual. The focusing screen has both a split prism and a microprism collar. And it's bigger by quite a lot than the screen in a D70 (or D40/D60 etc.). Alex's blog let me know just how much bigger. The D70 screen is 1" x 0.8". The screen in this AE-1 was 36.7mm x 24.7mm. Alex's Blog brings the knowledge. Many, many thanks to Alex.

    So I cut down the screen.

    Click to enlarge the photo!

    I scored the screen with a caliper to be sure the dimensions were proper, and cut it with a file which has a sharp corner. I covered the middle of the screen with scotch tape while I was working, to protect the fragile surfaces. It worked like a champ. I used polishing paper (read: super-duper fine sandpaper on plastic vs. paper backing) to finish the edges and that worked like a champ as well.

    The final result:


    It works. It did get a bit of foam smutz on it and most of that cleaned off with alcohol and some q-tips. The screen was from a Cannon so it was too thin with the edges trimmed off, so I had to use the shim from the camera AND some tape on the screen AND another shim. When the screen is too close to the prism, the camera has "back focus" . . . I added shims until it focused where it should.


    That's on TOP of the fact that someone straight-up GAVE me a half-decent tele-macro zoom lens yesterday. That gets the score up to two zooms to cover me from 18 to 300mm, plus two fast primes. That's a full beginner's kit. That, plus now I can see where I'm focusing. Win.

    Thanks Jesus.

    Hard At Work

    Yeah, so you remember how for the last 50-ish years the U.S. government has been monopolizing space travel in the USA? And how it was supposed to be the end of U.S. dominance in space, when President Obama cancelled everything about NASA except the Muslim outreach department?

    Well a private company has seen a need and is stepping up to fill the need. Virgin is going to start launching satellites. Wait time probably to be significantly less than waiting on Uncle to get one up. The investment dollars are there, now that tax dollars are not. Free market theorists 1, Statists 0.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Chutzpa: But Yer Honor, My Client Is An Orphan!

    Of all the jackhole moves, this is one of the lowest I have ever seen in politics. President Obama, with the eager participation of his surrogates in the press, is calling Mitt Romney a closed book. Says if he doesn't have anything to hide, he'll publish his tax returns & bank records & whatnot.

    Hello? Does nobody remember how the Obama team scrubbed Barry right off the face of the planet? What were his grades like in school? We don't know, they are sealed. How about his application to the bar? Sealed. Why can't his wife practice law anymore? Can't tell, that's sealed too. What did he write while leading the Law Review? Not telling. Don't even get me STARTED on his fakeass mothafukkin FAKE birth certificate they produced after spending ONE-POINT-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to prevent it being published. President Obama, having promised one of the most open and honest administrations EVAR has had one of the least-open most-shady administratiosn EVAR. Chicago-style back room deals all over the place. Meetings at the coffee shop across the street so visitors wouldn't be on visitor logs. Refusals to answer FOIA requests, and using Executive Privilege to block congressional inquiries into MURDER . . . and they have the GALL to accuse ROMNEY of hiding stuff?

    The title, by the way, is a reference to lawyer for the twins who killed their parents in california, begging for mercy on the grounds they were orphans. There is a special kind of divine Justice for people who try to pull stuff like this. Too bad the country has to be destroyed due to the droves of Low-Informed Voters out there, before the Judgement comes.

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Here It Comes.

    Sometimes it sucks, being right. Well, I am right. I am right because I read Mish, who knows what he is writing about. I (and he) have been saying the "recovery" from the recession of 2008* was a dead-cat bounce since 2009. The first two pages of posts at his Global Economic Analysis Blog are full of charts and graphs trending the wrong way, big-time.

    Hold on folks, this could be a little bumpy.


    NP: Oh man! I can't even feel my hair!
    Guido: Why?
    NP: Because of these gloves!
    Guido & VFD: LOL

    Then there was a conversation about how gloves make hair feel awesome. Sometimes it is a surreal place to work.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Independence Day 2012

    My ass.

    Celebrate, or else we'll tax you for not celebrating. Justice Roberts said we could.

    The ratchet tightens faster under The Obama than under all the previous holders of his office, but it is a ratchet. SOME people started revolutionary wars against the sort of government your boy is trying to set up in the country they fought to establish. I'm just saying.

    The sophisticated consumer of news will perhaps be disturbed by the comparisons which may be drawn between the government of America in this day and this day.

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Unexpectedly 0% of Economists Polled Got It Right

    Mish has been calling the USA in-or-near recession for a while. Bloomberg polled 70 "Economists" and exactly NONE of them guessed that the ISM would come back negative. Guess what? It did. Stop getting your economic news from the lamestream press and network news, and start reading Mish. Fer crying out loud.

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    If You Say This You Sound Stupid: Deprecate vs. Depreciate

    Deprecate: talking bad about something

    Depreciate: making something into something of lesser value

    That one little "i" makes a great big difference. It is the difference between knowing what you are trash-talking about and sounding like you don't know what the language is worth. Sad but true.

    If You Say This You Sound Stupid: Decimate vs. Decimate

    Decimate: 1/10th destroyed or killed. This word came from the Roman military punishment of killing off 10% of a military unit for bad behavior or performance. Decimation is bad.

    Destroy and/or Obliterate: decimate plus the other 90%. If something is destroyed it is broken beyond repair or injured byeond recovery. If something is obliterated, all traces of it are gone.

    English user pro tip: DEStroy and obliterATE do NOT combine into the compound word "Decimate." You are a jerk if you use decimate when you mean destroy or obliterate. Sad but true.