Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Reconstruction

This fall bathed in the finest autumn weather I can ever remember I tore down and rebuilt my screenhouse/deck. What I tore down was 23 years old and was built to unexacting standards, in other words it was terrible.

I did reuse the deck frame and the roof, but everything else was rebuilt.
I decided not to use treated lumber this time. I really hate the way it looks for one, and it is literally toxic. For the rebuilt screenhouse I used construction lumber which was then primed and painted (with the expensive stuff). For the decking itself I opted to use the "ultra deck" composite material.

I am in no mood to have to deal with refinishing ugly treated wood every few years. As everyone who has had a deck in this part of the country knows if you don't maintain the decking it begins to look like crap in a few short years. Traditionalists are never going to sanction this "fake" decking, but realists love it.

I opted for the white ultra deck which as it gets dirty it takes on the appearance of bleached out planks. The rest of the structure was painted to match the house itself. My goal was to make it look more or less as an extension of the house rather than a stand alone deck.

For now winter is just around the corner so I really won't get much pleasure out of it until next year, oh well...


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Schizophrenic Voters of Minnesota

I live in a state where it is not unusual to see brand new cars adorning green Wellstone bumpers stickers. Senator Wellstone died tragically in a plane crash eight years ago, God rest his soul. He's not coming back...

This is of course the state that elected independent Jesse "the body" Ventura in a stunner back in the 90's as well as comedian turned politician Al Franken in 2008. Our senior Senator is a true leftist and so is our Secretary of State. This is a state that hasn't broken for a Republican Presidential candidate since Nixon in 72. In 84 we were the only state that didn't.

Despite all this we have not elected a Democrat Governor since the 80's. We have had several prominent Senators from the GOP including Norm Coleman and Rod Grams, two of the nation's most accomplished Senators without multiple terms under their belts. We've had constitutional officers from both parties that have been elected one after another, each from the far end of the political spectrum in their policies and their governance - enough real difference I tell you to cause whiplash!

Today, in 2010, we sit on the verge, if the polls can be believed of electing Mark Dayton, a serious flake, as our next governor. Succeeding Tim Pawlenty, who has been a decent steward of our state during tumultuous times, Dayton would be an about face of schizophrenic proportions. I can not image the tax burden placed on our citizens and our corporations had Pawlenty not been there. He has been blamed for kicking the can down the road on funding a 5 billion dollar deficit, but the truth is the Minnesota legislature is just slightly on the black side of the legislature in Sacramento California when it comes to spending money they do not have. Per capita our $5 billion deficit is on par with California's $25 billion. Pawlenty vetoed several out of whack budgets passed by the legislature - kicking the can this time was a joint compromise...

Mark Dayton is a former Senator of some repute. His claim to fame in the six years he spent in DC was to be the only politician to close up his office and flee when the terrorist threat level reached ORANGE. He looked a fool when nothing happened and shortly thereafter he announced he would not seek another term. Today he tops the polls for the office of Governor. How can this be?

Dayton's chief rival is Republican Tom Emmer. While I know little of Emmer - I supported the other guy in the primary, he seems a typical conservative who values small but effective state government and wants lower taxes and lower regulation on business expansion and formation. What I have found out since the primary that Emmer is actually the Devil. Satan himself. He eats little babies for breakfast and old people and immigrants for lunch. And how do I know this? Why I heard it on TV commercials funded by PAC's that support Dayton. When you look into the biggest of them, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and WIN Minnesota you find they are funded in large part by Dayton's own family. In case you didn't know this is old family money from the Dayton Hudson Department store chain which is now part of Macy's. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated by family. Not illegal, but not forth coming either.

No one except a few right wing bloggers have investigated Dayton's funding. The papers and TV news stations have been silent. But not so for Emmer. When certain prominent local corporations like Target and Best Buy donated to a PAC that has supported Emmer they were taken to the proverbial woodshed by progressives with a cause. Isn't funny that Target which is a spin-off of Dayton Hudson would prefer the other guy? Target was a "target" of a boycott by GLBT activists for daring to indirectly support Emmer. Target apologized and promised not to do it again! You see Emmer's sin is to support the notion that the citizens of Minnesota should be able to vote directly on same-sex marriage issues. What a tyrant!

Much has been made of Emmer's DWI arrests from his younger days but the local media doesn't breath a word about the fact that Dayton is an alcoholic (recovering) having relapsed as late as 2007 and has been institutionalized for mental health problems.

Emmer is not helped by the fact that a third party candidate, Mr. Common Sense Solutions is on ballot again this year. The schizophrenic voters of Minnesota love common sense in theory, but since they have none Tom Horner will likely siphon votes from Emmer because Dayton's supporters don't really like common sense that much (common sense says that over taxing the producers of jobs, ie: the rich, is stupid).

So, if Dayton wins Minnesota's reputation will be intact. We seem to love the fact that we're different up here, or maybe we don't. Maybe we only think we're different. We know that you know that we know we're only different on election day, otherwise we have the same differences as everyone else except for those who say they're different when deep inside they're really the same.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Dare You...

Democrats Intentionally Scare the Public Into Believing That Republicans Want to Destroy Social Security

But who has really destroyed Social Security and who actually wants to save it? When I read these bullet points sent to me by a good friend I was stunned. Stunned not because of what the Democrats have actually done, I would put nothing past them, but rather that they are successfully painting Republican plans to rescue SS as stealth destroyers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has seen even his Republican brethren shy away in the face of the assault by the left on his thoughtful and reasonable plans to save the system.

That you Democrats intentionally lie to cover what you have actually done to Social Security is a travesty. How dare you!

Here are the facts:

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be Completely voluntary, Participation is no longer voluntary.

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual Incomes into the Program, Now we pay 7.65% on the first $90,000

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year, No longer tax deductible

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and, Under Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income. Under Clinton & Gore up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed. Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government (which has already been taxed) to 'put away' -- you may be interested in the following:

6.) Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

7.) Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

8.) Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the 'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the US

9.) Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

There you have it - facts that paint the Democrats as the liars they are.

The worst part about it is uninformed citizens believe Republicans are hell bent on destroying what the Democrats have already decimated. Yes, we live in an upside down world.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Weather We've Been Having...

We have been enjoying no-less than three weeks of inexplicably superb weather for this time of year. Unusual to say the least for this part of the country. This morning - in the wee hours - a light rain fell, other than that clear blue skies for as far as the eye can see.

I have taken this rare and beautiful opportunity to do some construction work around the house. I am rebuilding my screenhouse/deck. What luck I've had.

I tore it down to the frame and did a little straightening here and there where my lack of patience and skills failed me 23 years ago. Alas, I'm still doing a good share of workarounds since taking it all the way down to the footings was not an option with the inevitability of winter approaching.

I was prepared to cover over my meager progress with poly for the winter and resume in the warmth of spring, but as it happens the Good Lord has seen fit to give me this opportunity to finish. He has also given my a tremendous blessing of a brother who is very, very good with tools and a knack for design. Thanks Tom!

I hope to have pictures when it is all said and done. I hope to be posting again soon - after all there is an election coming, isn't there?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Random Observations

1. Ethanol pollutes in Minnesota
I heard in passing yesterday while getting ready for work that something like 5 ethanol plants in Minnesota are being cited and fined for violations to the clean air and clean water laws. The irony is almost too much. I don't have anything against ethanol per se (other than the little issue of state government subsidizing rich farmers and corporations) but wasn't ethanol not only supposed to lessen our dependence on foreign oil but also save the Earth? Hmmm.

2. Gay, Gay, Gay
Is it just me or are you also getting sick and tired of gay issues permeating every single aspect of American life. For God's Sake you'd think 50% of the people in this country are gay! It seems every movie and most the TV shows have to have the obligatory adorable gay character who is above reproach. (I'm pretty sure that was in the new contract after the last Hollywood writers strike) These cuddly gay characters are always far wiser and more pure than the hapless heterosexuals they support.

You can't make any statement critical of any aspect of the gay lifestyle, just ask Carl Paladino. After last week I would vote for candidate Paladino for governor of NY if I lived there! It's a new week and the new topic is "bullying". There will be new laws passed because this such a pressing national concern. I'll give you one guess which special interest group is behind this garbage.

3. Isn't it ironic
By the mid term elections of 1982 in the midst of a recession a popular President had signed significant and popular legislation, but still saw his party lose ground. In the 2010 mid terms we seem to be staring at a repeat... But wait!

An unpopular President signs the Affordable Care Act (unpopular and frankly mysterious), the Recovery Act (wildly unpopular and ineffective), Wall Street reform (confusing and not likely to prevent future financial catastrophes), student loan reform (done by decree with no debate whatsoever), new regulation of the credit card industry (20%+ interests rates and rising, helpful, no?), the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (aka thought crimes). Sorry, but these are not popular or even helpful during an anemic, jobless recovery.

I don't see this as an equivalent situation.

4. Foreclose This!
Does the fact that foreclosure paperwork may have errors, typo's or the wrong signature excuse the "homeowner" for not making the payments he or she agreed upon? The bottom line is this: if you don't pay the bank back they get to take the house. A mortgage is a contract signed by both parties. When it is breached the aggrieved party has recourse. This is contract law which is the basis for our civil society and now we have lawmakers threatening banks with punative legislation if they don't act against their own interests. Yes, it's sad that so many people will lose their houses, but the law is the law and reality is reality. Yes shit happens, jobs are lost, but this is not the bank's fault.

If you find yourself unable to make the payments, call the bank and see if you can't work something out. Simply not paying your monthly bill is a violation of the contract YOU signed.

5. Take this climate change and shove it
Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, reigns from the American Physical Society after 60+ years. What follows is the key paragraph from his resignation letter to Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society:

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

The problem is that folks like Curtis G. Callan hold the the key to kingdom of grant money that pays the salaries career physicists. The only ones courageous to speak out against this farce are the old men, the ones with nothing to lose. What happens when they are all gone?


Monday, October 04, 2010

Eagle Mountain

We took a few days off during the fall color season and drove up to Lutsen. About 20 miles inland from Lake Superior is Eagle Mountain which is the highest point in Minnesota. As mountains go this does not even rise to level of foothills at only 2,301 feet (or 701 m). It is located in northern Cook County the summit is inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Regardless, for a man my age climbing Eagle Mountain is most definitely mountain climbing.

The following are few photos I took on this spectacular autumn day under perfectly clear blue skies.

We found the animals to be unusually friendly... This little guy above came down the tree until he was nearly sitting on my shoulder. And this little guy below, was checking out my Nikes.