Showing posts from 2012

The horrible night I lost my keys

Many years ago, when particularly exhausted during a drive home from a late-night shift at work, my right arm happened to hit my right thigh. Not feeling the ring of keys that I have always - ALWAYS - kept in my right pants pocket, I instinctively knew something was terribly wrong. I quickly checked my other pockets, though I knew that was futile. No keys! Thoughts flew through my mind, as I got more and more panicky: "Should I return to work to search for the keys?" "I don't know how to get in the building at this hour, so I've just got to go home." "But how will I get into the house when I get there?" "What's going on? I've never misplaced my keys before." "I guess I could climb into the house through a window." "It's still so early - should I wake someone to help me?" "Uh oh. I have to work again later today - how will I be able to get to work without the keys to start the car?" "I&#

RFK quotes

Today marks the 87th anniversary of the birth of Robert Francis Kennedy. Kennedy served as U.S. attorney general and U.S. senator. He was killed by an assassin's bullet about 45 years ago, as he celebrated an important win in his quest for the Democratic nomination for U.S. President. Here is a collection of some of my favorite quotes from the very complex Kennedy. "People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him." "How do you tell if Lyndon [Johnson] is lying? If he wiggles his ears, that doesn't mean he's lying. If he raises his eyebrows, that doesn't mean he's lying. But when he moves his lips, he's lying." "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." "The advice 'bomb them back to

Taxes are complicated. Lies are simple

Taxation is a complicated issue. Americans seeking to understand it are not helped by false statements and graphics like this one (dating back to at least July). I checked around, and I see no record in the Wall Street Journal of these tax increases being attributed to President Obama's tax proposal. That's because the Wall Street Journal did not make these statements and would not make these statements, because they are entirely baseless and false. I've run through the statements contained in the graphic below to trace their origin and provide more accurate information. Some of the numbers in the image come from a projection of what MAY happen to the very top income brackets if CONGRESS allows all the Bush Era tax cuts to expire at the end of the year. Some of the numbers frankly come out of thin air and have no basis in fact. I looked closely at the Wall Street Journal and provide data from a couple of news articles ("More uncertainty for 2013" Feb. 18; &

Romney evolves on healthcare

(In his own words) GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been remarkably flexible on a wide variety of issues, depending on the climate of the time and the audience before him. An observer might easily conclude that he actually has no personal position on any issue and is merely a political chameleon, blending in with whatever scenery he feels will best serve his political survival. His evolving theories on health insurance are particularly interesting, as the Affordable Care Act he now strongly opposes was a concept he personally installed in the State of Massachusetts when he was governor there. Here is a look at Romney's changing views of healthcare for uninsured Americans. I have used the GOP nominee's own documented words - pulling from recorded interviews and his own writings - to illustrate how his opinions have dramatically changed over time. It is important to note that not much time has been required for this evolution of thought. The entire process appears to

Apple iPhone 5

Well, the new Apple iPhone does appear to be a bit larger - from the photo it appears to be about 12 feet tall. But does that still qualify as a mobile device? With the announcement of the new iPhone 5 yesterday, Apple also unveiled a number of new accessories for the device, including a ten-foot stylus, a slick, glass and aluminum step ladder; a wheel-barrow-like carrying case; and a pair of jeans with really, REALLY big pockets.

Unemployment rate drop looks good but really isn't

So..., what's next? The unemployment rate fell from 8.3% to 8.1% in August, but there's little reason to cheer. Despite the "look" of the declining unemployment figure, the monthly report contains bad news and worse news. The bad news is the meager 96,000 jobs created during the month. While most expected August numbers to decline a bit, analysts were predicting something like 120,000 jobs created. With just 96,000 jobs, the unemployment rate should have gone up. About 150,000 jobs a month need to be added just to keep pace with working-age population growth. The worse news is the reason the unemployment rate dropped. Many Americans - about 368,000 of them - simply stopped looking for work in August. The bulk of those who dropped out of the job market are young people, aged 16-24. We cannot attribute the decline to students heading back to school (as much as we might like to), because the statistics factor in those seasonal changes. This is a strong indicator that

White House Honey Brown Ale

The Obama Administration has finally released the recipes of the first documented home-brews produced in the White House. Now, I'm wondering if this is a subject that will come up at Presidential news conferences: "Mr. President, if an American citizen resides in an area with hard water, should he or she omit the gypsum from your home-brew recipe?" "Mr. President, it is difficult for many Americans to acquire White House honey. Can you tell us if the bees that make it are exposed to clover and dandelion or are they confined to the rose garden?"

School opens today. Shhhh!

Kids' first day of school. Though I am in a celebratory mood, no party is planned here. The occasion requires a very different approach. I'm thinking about a quiet moment with a mug of tea (toast would be far too noisy), a quiet uninterrupted shower, some quiet editing followed by some quiet research on the computer or maybe I'll do book-based research today to avoid all that noisy mouse-clicking, then a nice quiet walk around the property with the dog (when the bees and birds aren't too loud), a bit of quiet work on the house and some lengthy daydreams about the virtues of boarding school. Basically... quiet. I have formulated a contingency plan if non-quiet situations occur. If, for example, the phone should happen to ring or one of the kids' diabolical electronic noise-making devices should happen to squawk, I intend to toss it out into the middle of Route 30 and immediately erase the incident from my mind. (Just noticed kitty preparing to meow and then t

Tough terrain

Living here in our old* Vermont farmhouse has provided unique exercise opportunities. Each morning, I get up and take a long walk up and down and across several significant hills, and that's just to get from the bedroom to the bathroom. Yes, the interior terrain has been challenging. When we first moved in, I noticed that I was rolling out of bed in the morning far too literally. So we moved the furniture against different walls. Now, I can't get to sleep because I fear the bureau falling on me. (And the recliner doesn't seem to recline nearly as far as it used to, though setting it upright performs a useful dumping feature for the occupant). Of course, I'm exaggerating a little here. There are hills and valleys in our old wood floors. But they're nowhere near as bad as some of the homes we considered buying. One house actually came with several sets of alpine gear to help you get from the kitchen to the dining room. (* - The building is "old" by our

The problem with Mitt Romney's refusal to release tax returns

George W. Romney (father of Mitt Romney) released twelve (12) years of tax returns when he ran against Richard Nixon for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1967-68. He was believed to be the first candidate to release that amount of personal financial data. The UPI reported at the time, "Many presidential candidates in the past have disclosed their net assets, stock holdings and other financial data which might relate to the public trust. But Gov. Romney was believed the first to make his income tax returns public - including his annual wages, dividends, interest, capital gains and other compensation." The article mentioned that George Harris, senior editor of Look magazine, asked to see Romney's latest tax filing. Romney hesitated, saying, "One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show..." Romney then shocked Harris by compiling and releasing all the 1040 forms he and his wife had filed for the past twelve years, including the period of time in w

Buffalo's sandwich in the Champlain Valley?

Recently tried the Vermont version of the "beef on weck" sandwich. I had been seeing it on restaurant menus around the area, and I had always been curious about the Buffalo, New York, creation. A few days ago, I could resist no more and placed my order for "beef on weck," drawing curious looks from my companions. The sandwich was good, but I suspect the original western New York version is substantially more flavorful and more... well... damp.  There was little in the way of salt/caraway seed crusting on the alleged-kummelweck roll (caraway is the "kummel" portion of the German kummelweck roll recipe). The mound of roast beef was more medium than the traditional rare. That was actually a relief, as there was no cow blood spurting from my meal, but it was not entirely authentic. Rather than dunk the top of  the roll in beef juices, as apparently called for in the original Buffalo version, the Vermont sandwich was served with au jus on the side.  A pi

Resolving the Celsius-Fahrenheit Thing

Got a solution to the Celsius-Fahrenheit thing. You're probably aware that the war over conflicting temperature scales has been raging for the past 270 years or so. Well, I'm putting a stop to it here and now. Celsius forces gradually have taken over much of the world (most of the conquest was achieved while they called themselves Centigraders, but we knew what they really were). The United States and fellow former British colonies the Cayman Islands and Belize are the remaining bastions of Fahrenheitism. The solution to the dispute is fairly simple. I'll walk you through it: Now, let's first agree that it would be stupid to drop °F for °C, because °F is a far more precise measurement. There are almost two Fahrenheit degrees for every Celsius degree. It frankly makes no sense to move from our slender, exact Fahrenheit degrees to fat, clumsy Celsius degrees. All those countries that have already done so are simply dumb. (Sorry. I know the truth hurts sometimes

The 'Wall'

Two hundred and ten years ago this month, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson noted with admiration the American "wall of separation between Church & State." Jefferson did so in a letter to a religious organization in Connecticut, which had expressed concern that specific religious views and opinions might be imposed by the relatively new national government upon its citizens. (That organization, the Danbury Baptists Association, understood what many church groups have since forgotten - that the establishment of a national religion would be a threat to all religious freedom.) The text of Jefferson's response is below: "To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.  Gentlemen  The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dict