Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revenue Generation Lights

Those "traffic control lights" or "stop lights" as they are sometimes called, when combined with automatic red light cameras, have proven, over and over again to be cash cows for cities and deadly for drivers.  Here is yet another example of the result of this murderous government greed:

Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents in Baytown, Texas
Accidents increased 40 percent one year after red light cameras went live in Baytown, Texas.

After a year of use, red light cameras have failed to deliver the promised safety benefits in Baytown, Texas. The Houston suburb activated the majority of its cameras on July 13, 2008. Since then, the number of accidents at eight camera locations has increased 40 percent, contrary to predictions from city officials. The increase in accidents has not been in minor "fender benders," as is frequently claimed by photo ticketing advocates. Rather, the number of collisions resulting in an injury jumped 75 percent. Rear end collisions increased 39 percent. Results from comprehensive, independent studies elsewhere in the country have yielded similar results.

"Clearly this shows no remedial effect on driving habits over time," Byron Schirmbeck, the leader of a grassroots effort to ban the cameras in Baytown, told TheNewspaper.

The accident figures are based on the annual reports city officials by law must provide to the Texas Department of Transportation. Schirmbeck insists that the accident jump is evidence that automated ticketing has failed and that the automated ticketing machines should come down. Last week, the city clerk certified that a sufficient number of Baytown residents agreed, forcing the city council next Tuesday to vote either to adopt a ban on red light cameras or place Schirmbeck's ban on the ballot for voters to decide. City leaders so far have been reluctant to back away from the lucrative program.

"Despite widespread evidence that red light cameras actually increase accidents many cities like Baytown and Houston continue to cling to the revenue generating red light camera program," In light of this new information that demonstrates no safety improvement and increased accidents at camera monitored intersections we urge the council to immediately adopt our resolution and break their contract with the red light camera company that has engaged in numerous examples of voter intimidation and spent over $230,000 to fight the citizens of Baytown and Houston to keep the issue off the ballot."

Schirmbeck believes that the harder camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) battles the public vote, the less residents are inclined to support the company's red light cameras. ATS is especially anxious to keep the measure off the ballot because no photo enforcement program has ever survived a public vote.

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A "Typical Californian?"

I found a link to this blog called "Laptop and a Rifle" on the "Tiny House Design" blog.  I mention it here because the author has this as his bio:  "My name is Ryo Chijiiwa. I'm a biologically Japanese, culturally American, Germany-raised, socially liberal, politically independent, gun-totin', code writin' dude who likes to chill on his 60 acres of vacant land."  Which I think makes him the perfect example of a Typical Californian, though I doubt all of those anti-Californians out there in American would recognize the fact.  :-)  Check out his blog it's pretty fun reading.

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God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

From Russel Moore, a Baptist, a more articulate discussion of the silliness of Christians going along with Glenn Beck and speaking of "Hope, Faith...etc."  Read the whole thing here.

God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

— Sunday, August 29th, 2010 —

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement. (Continue here)

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Principles Over Politics Rally

Dennis is not in my district but this rally might get me to skip the Whiskey tasting at the Scottish games, no one else sounded like they wanted to go anyway... Maybe I'll take Serenity for a civics lesson :-)

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fisk on the confessions

From Father Hollywood:

The above video is a high-energy introduction to the Book of Concord by the Rev. Jonathan Fisk, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Springfield, PA.

But be very careful. It's like watching a video of Camille Paglia animated by Nickelodian and played at three times the normal speed. So, if you are over 30, I would advise taking precautions. Watch in short (perhaps one minute snippets). Pastor Fisk is kinetic. His presentation is along the lines of a 2 am Red Bull fueled rave. And if you don't understand what I just wrote, you might want to avoid this video entirely, as your head could quite possibly explode.

As for me, I'm a pastor. I can handle it - though it drains me. But I'm a trained professional and shamelessly make use of espresso.

In all seriousness, Pr. Fisk is a great communicator of traditional, confessional Lutheranism to an age demographic in dire need of real evangelical catholic theology. So, watch at your own risk. You have been warned. In clicking the above link, you hereby release Father Hollywood, its subsidiaries and its assigns from all legal liability. Take a deep breath. Go!

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My Hike

Yesterday I hiked at Del Valle:

Here I am at the lake getting ready to hike:

Here I am on the steep Squirrel Gulch Trail:


And here I am on an old cattle chute at the top of the ridge :-)

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

VIneyards long my ride

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Arroyo Mocho

I'm off riding my bike. Stopped here for a rest and to read for a while. I'm really glad it's cooler today. 79 degrees with a nice breeze.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Night Swimming

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Tiny is on the rise :-)

McMansions, monstrosities in decline

Huge homes -- aka Starter Castles -- have big falloff in sales as people decide against needing GPS to find their bedroom.

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Restoring Honor?

I have an Aunt and Uncle who are heading off across country for this thing taking place in the District of Criminals called the Restoring Honor Rally, which is set to take place on Saturday, August 28th on the steps of the Evil Tyrant Lincoln's Temple.  I honestly don't have a clue as to what they hope to accomplish but I thought I'd check out the information available about it on the web. 

Faith... in what?  Hope... in what?  Glenn Beck is a Mormon so CLEARLY it's not FAITH in Christ and Him Crucified and it's not HOPE in the resurrection... so what is it?  "Faith" in our form of Government?  "Hope" that same government doesn't decide to kill us all in an insane attempt to conquer the world? 

 I still don't know what they are getting at really, even after going through the info online.  It seems to be some sort of ultra-right-wing-super-patriot-conservative-Mormon-Christian sort of thing where they gleefully confuse Christianity with Americanism.  I wasn't going to comment at all except that when I was looking at the FAQ on Glen Beck's site I noticed the very long list of things that are...


It's an amazing list really!  Check it out below.  Obviously this rally is NOT about self expression or self defense, I mean really, NO SHARP OBJECTS?  (you'll shoot your eye out!) 

I suppose it makes sense, after all, having thousands of uber-patriot types with SHARP OBJECTS and stuff like, GASP, Alcoholic beverages! (not a Lutheran gathering for sure since Lutheran Beverages are forbidden) would probably be really dangerous... or something... I guess it makes a certain sort of sense though, these are the same type of people who think it's just fine to abolish the 4th amendment and have strip searches, full body scans and cavity probes at the airports because "Safety for all is our primary concern"   :-P

8.28.10 - Washington, DC

Where is the Restoring Honor event located??
The event stage will be located on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Several video screens and sound towers will be placed along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Remember that these monuments are located in a National Park and are open to the public as well as attendees of our event. Safety for all is our primary concern so please follow all rules posted and be respectful of all in attendance.

    • NO signs (political or otherwise) as they may deter from the peaceful message we are bringing to Washington.
    • Firearms (either real or simulated)
    • Ammunition
    • Explosives of any kind (including fireworks)
    • Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length)
    • Mace and/or pepper spray
    • Helium balloons
    • Sticks or poles
    • Pocket or hand tools, such as "leatherman"
    • Packages
    • Large bags (anything larger than a backpack)
    • Duffle bags
    • Suitcases
    • Weapons of any kind
    • Aerosols
    • Laser pointers
    • Animals other than service/guide dogs
    • Structures (i.e tents)
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event

Remember kids, it's about safety, NOT FREEDOM!

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”  “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Benjamin Franklin...

Oh Ben, we lost it :'(

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Tiny Apartment

Now this is pretty cool, found on the Tiny House Blog is a Tiny Apartment in Seattle.

While the apartment is "tiny" I think it's actually got too much "stuff" in it.  I would leave out the TV lounge and the soaking tub for example.  This does show how much you can get into a small space though.  I recently worked up a list of discrete items that I would include in my "Tiny House" and I got it down to about 140 things, including each piece of silverware counted.  :-)  To me the idea is to keep life very simple by minimizing the amount of "stuff" around me. 

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Friday, August 20, 2010

On Beards

This is from Wondermark, promoter of beards and humor, this is most certainly true:

True Stuff: Shaving as Barbarous

As reported in the New Hampshire Sentinel, June 20, 1855:

The Albany Argus has espoused the beard movement. This is its argument: – “We have come to the conclusion that the practice of shaving is alike ridiculous and absurd, and that it violates one of the laws of nature. Now, our beard was not given us for no purpose – that is evident. It was created for some wise purpose, and that was to keep the face and throat warm, and thus be conducive to health. Let us look at a few facts. It has been calculated that if one shaves three times a week, it grows twenty times as fast as if he did not shave. Allowing two inches as the annual growth of the beard, it will be seen that a man cuts off forty inches, or more than a yard of hair a year, and the nutriment which supports this, and is thus wasted, might have gone to nourish other parts of the body, and render him a healthy and handsome man! Again, allowing twenty minutes to each shaving operation, three times a week, amounts to one hour a week, – fifty-two hours a year. Supposing a man to shave forty years, we find he has consumed about three months in the simple act of shaving ; and calculating the expense of each operation at the small sum of six cents, we find it has cost him three hundred and sixty dollars. In view of these facts, we cannot but regard the practice of shaving as a decidedly barbarous one, and which ought to be discountenanced by the progressive civilization of the age.”

For more on the Beard Movement of the 1850s, see my interview with the world’s foremost beard expert.

p.s. do you think “shaving / barbarous” was pun-intended because I DO

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Now this is nice!

There is a site called Bible Flash Movies that uses scripture with nature photos/videos and music very nicely.   And it's clearly Christian too! :-)

Daily Bible Flash Movies

Thanks Mom! 8-)

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Whooping cough fears could close school doors | San Francisco Examiner Untitled Document

[Print]  [Email]         Share    

Whooping cough fears could close school doors

By: Andrea Koskey
Examiner Staff Writer
August 17, 2010

Students who aren’t vaccinated for whooping cough may have to be held out of school. (Cindy Chew/The Examiner)
Unvaccinated students could be barred from school for at least three weeks if an outbreak of whooping cough occurs, according to city health officials.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, which often resembles a common cold. Cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, are increasing nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase in California is so dramatic that the CDC is calling it an epidemic.
“Last year, we had some classrooms where 40 percent of kids were not vaccinated,” said Dr. Susan Fernyak, director of communicable disease control and prevention for the San Francisco Health Department. “If it’s just one or two kids, it’s not a concern, but 40 percent is a lot.”
In San Francisco, 50 cases of the disease have already been reported this year, according to Fernyak, and she expects those numbers to increase seven fold by the end of the year. Last year, only 45 cases were identified.
Dr. Shannon Thyne, medical director of San Francisco General Hospital’s Children’s Health Center, said the reason for the increase is largely because of lack of education about immunization, not necessarily the choice to not get vaccinated.
“It’s more a lack of it being on the radar,” she said. “Many are getting the series of shots as an infant, but when it comes around to getting a booster at 9 years old, it’s not happening.”
Because of a parent’s right to choose whether to vaccinate a child, Fernyak said, the Health Department cannot restrict children who are not protected from attending school. However, if an outbreak occurs and students are at risk, the department can restrict students for fear of the disease spreading.
Fernyak said students could miss a minimum of three weeks because that’s the length of incubation needed to ward off infection.
San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said the district is preparing to send letters to parents and students about the importance of immunization.
“It has always been our advice to families that if a child is sick with anything that is contagious to not have their child in school,” she said.

Whooping cough cases reported
1,337 statewide: January 2010 to June 2010
258 statewide: January 2009 to June 2009
50 in SF: January 2010 to Aug. 10, 2010
45 in SF: 2009
7 infant deaths: 2010
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Francisco Department of Public Health


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beltway confidential
The she goes again. At least she hasn’t called anyone “un-American” lately, but I’m still wondering if it’s possible for Pelosi to criticize...

Pelosi: “There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how is this...

Signs of the times: Call centre workers are becoming as cheap to hire in the US as they are in India, according to the head of the country’s largest business process...

President Obama — and much of the media — would have you believe that financial giants simply want to be left alone. That’s hogwash, and a Bloomberg story...

To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 8.0 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.

Most Popular Headlines
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Thanks to irrational fears about autism being caused by vaccines, based on one crappy and totally discredited and fraudulent study by a quack from England we have people refusing to have their kids vaccinated and thus society is rewarded with the return of diseases that should not be a threat anymore. Learn some critical thinking skills people! Bah, it's really hopeless, homeopathy, chiropractic, therapeutic touch and other equally baseless and demonstrably useless "treatments" are paid for by the government and believed in by millions. Maybe we should try balancing the humors with bleeding again?

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Someone shared this with me and the video has so much awesome photography I thought I'd share it here.


A couple of comments though.  There is a vague reference to some generic "god" in the music, I'm totally not sure which one, it could be Krishna, seen here with his good buddy Jesus:

or maybe it's Allah

I'm pretty sure it's not the One True Triune God since there is no mention of Jesus or salvation or sin or the cross.  There is a long sequence where the mantra "I believe" is repeated over and over, without ever mentioning what exactly it is they believe, yep, sounds like Krisna all right. 

All in all a very nice Hindu video :-)

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Almost Ren Faire Time!

The Northern California Renaissance Faire will be opening on September 18th ( TWO for ONE WEEKEND) with a coupon from our website. We are thrilled to have EMMY AWARD winning designer and director, Roxanne Dungeraux and her brilliant shows, Commedia Volante, Serenata and Our own mayor's Show. Don't miss them on our Main Royal Garden Stage.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Keep Out

Download now or preview on posterous
KEEP OUT.doc (33 KB)

Posted on my door today in a moment of frustration at the intrusion of small girls :-P

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Is Unschooling Working?

Unschooling can be a scary proposition sometimes.  Lora has expressed some concerns recently because Serenity is not reading quite at the level that would be "expected" of a nine year old in the public schools.  (Serenity does read pretty well actually, it's reading where others can hear that it becomes a problem)  This worries Lora mostly because it gets in the way of Serenity going to Sunday School at church since there is some reading required there. 

I have to admit that our Church is the one place where I find that unschooling does not seem to really fit.  This is not because Christianity is somehow opposed to the concept of unschooling, it's not.  It is because at our church the members of our congregation are VERY conservative theologically, politically and culturally.  I only agree with the theology, the political and even much of the cultural stuff we disagree on, but I don't go there for political or cultural reasons, I go there to hear the Word of God preached in its fullness,  the Law in all its sternness and the Gospel in all its sweetness.  I go to receive the forgiveness of sins through the absolution and the sacraments.  

The conservative American culture, including at our church, has many expectations about how children should be, what they should be doing and learning how they should look and act.  Serenity is sort of on the edge of those expectations, almost but not quite fitting in.  Her reading level is just one way she is a bit different from the rest.  Our church teaches Young Earth Creationism for example and Serenity and I know that is not an accurate reading of the cosmos, clearly the universe is billions of years old and just as clearly evolution happens at least on some levels.  But that's OK, I don't go to church to learn science either.

Serenity has other interests and goals that don't really require reading right now, especially since Grandpa and Mom are there to read the tough parts when she gets stuck, so she's not very motivated to master that skill yet.  I've met many unschooled kids and reading came to them all at different ages, it's not a worry for me at all.  Serenity's spoken vocabulary is far beyond the other kids she is around, and she knows what the "big words" she uses mean too.  She likes to role play (relationships) and draw and paint (art) make forts (design and problem solving) and watch animals from her rat to butterflies to birds (biology).    She is very sociable and, unlike Lora or me, she loves to talk and be around people.

Serenity loves to learn though she most likely wouldn't put it that way herself.  Sometimes she wants more information on something and she and I will look it up on the internet or in a book.  I'm not worried that unschooling is not working, it is.  It would be nice if she could go to Sunday School and fit in there, but I'm not about to use a hammer to pound her into the conservative culture just for that.  She hears the word of God in church and we try to have daily prayers, with erratic results granted, here at home.   Really, Sunday School is a recent invention, Martin Luther said that the head of the household should teach the catechism at home, we've begun to read parts of the catechism during prayers in the evening, Serenity reads the main point and I read the explanations.  I think that will be more than good enough, better even than once a week in a "class" full of fidgety kids listening to a prepared lesson.  :-) 

Jeff Sabo has a nice post on the question of how you can tell if unschooling is "working" or not. Check out Jeff's post below.

Is Unschooling Working?

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eek dirt and germs!

Targeted Web Ads

You know how some web sites have ads that are supposedly customized for you, stuff you are expected to be interested in? Well there are two web sites whose customized ads are pathetically wrong and in the same way. One is Pandora. For some reason they think I would care about specials in stores and restaurants in Los Angeles. The other is CBS Sports, they too think I would like things in LA, in their case I'm supposed to be excited about meeting the announcers for Dodger games. Say what? In both cases I've double checked my registrations for the site and I have my Livermore zip code down correctly, so I wonder why they think I'm in LA?

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Minimalist thoughts put into some action

I have put my bedroom into a new configuration.  The bookcase is gone, along with the hundred or so books that were on it.  The books are going to the Livermore Public Library Book Store as donations. 

I've added a reading chair, the funky one from the front room that was crowding the fireplace. 

I also got rid of the big monitor for the computer and a small fan and heater that I really didn't need since we do have good central air and heat here.

I've cut back my "must have" books to 12, and they are on my desk:

Strong’s Concordance

Lutheran Book of Prayer

Breaking Ritual Silence (written and edited by a friend of mine)

Luther’s Small Catechism (1943 ed)

Treasury of Daily Prayer

Lutheran Service Book

The Lord Will Answer, A daily prayer catechism

The Lutheran Study Bible

Stark’s Prayer Book

Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions

Roget’s International Thesaurus

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

There are still two large bookcases in the library/dining room with a couple of hundred books we don't want to get rid of quite yet, we being Lora and Serenity.  I have a few books there that I didn't want to get rid of as well, collections of Mark Twain stories, complete Hemingway collection, some books of poetry as well.  But they are not "must have" books to me.

I’m very pleased with the way it has turned out.  I have a desk for writing, either with pen and paper or with the computer, I also have a place to read comfortably, which was something that had been missing.  The room feels more open and less cluttered, well that makes sense, since it is.  

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Well, it looks as though larry(at)devich(dot)org is working again, maybe. I'll post here again if it's not. Maybe I should just go with gmail or yahoo mail all the time though. I seem to have far fewer problems with those than with my own. (UPDATE: spoke too soon, still FUBAR)

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Tiny House Video

Look inside a tiny house:

Also there is a PBS bit on the subject:

Living large: A look inside the tiny house movement

Given the state of the current economy, a growing number of Americans with ordinary lives are choosing to scale down — way down. They call themselves the “tiny house”  movement. Need to Know visited one of the movement’s proponents, Dee Williams, at her small home in Olympia, Wash.

Her home measures 84 square feet, has a small sleeping loft, a compost toilet and enough closet space for a few shirts and pairs of pants. Williams says the downsizing has brought her a sense of contentment, and many others are beginning to follow her lead.
Full Story Here

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Mail FUBAR (and other stuff)

Uh Oh.  I just noticed that email is bouncing from larry@devich(dot)org due to a "Full Mailbox" which is totally insane unless someone has dropped a mail bomb on me of a zillion emails because I delete everything from the server as I check my mail.  Probably it's just a malfunction on the server.  I can't get at it until I get home to my computer because I've forgotten my password and can't log into the server from here right now <duh>  So if you REALLY need to send me a message use ldevich@gmail(dot)com for the time being.  <sigh>

You know, this feeds right into something I've been considering lately, which is getting rid of my Blackberry and going back to only having a phone at the house.   I've been thinking about how all of the alleged communication these devices provide actually interrupts me so many times during the day that I can hardly think or get anything done.  Maybe less is more.  I know that I could do without the DSL at the house as well, after all there is a Starbucks on every other corner, including two fairly near our house and numerous ones close to here at work, and they now have FREE WiFi so we could go there and get email.  Just think of all the money I'd save!   I think Lora and Serenity would explode into tiny bits of flustered dismay if I suggested it though.  They (Yoda especially) are seriously addicted the streaming Netflix stuff.

I've been looking at simplifying my life since I started reading the tiny house stuff on the web a while back.  As a small start I got rid of about 50% of MY books and 1/3 of my clothes this last weekend.  I think I may have made Lora nervous though because she went and picked up Mikes old bed and set it up in my room while I was at work yesterday.  This even though, or perhaps because, I had just told her recently that I really LIKED the idea of my air bed because it was mobile and I could roll it up and take it with me in my Tiny House on the road, plus it is just plain really comfy.  So, she's trying to anchor me down.  I think.  :-)

Of course it won't work. 

Besides, I've still got way more "stuff" than I need or want and no way would I fit (YET) into this tiny house.


One day soon I'll float away free of all this ;-)

Check out these minimalist and Tiny House sites:

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Tiny House Design
Tiny House Blog
The Tiny Life
Far Beyond the Stars

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Dead Boy's Poem by Nightwish

I heard this song on Slacker Radio as I was riding my bike home between Pleasanton and Livermore last night.
It caused a 2 mile long sprint. :-) Enjoy...

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Family Portrait including big sister

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Family Portrait

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Sophia Ann Cagle

Sophia Ann Cagle said hello world at 1:40 PM weighing in at 5 lbs 5 oz. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Baby on the way...

Maryann is in labor... Topanga, Serenity and me are in the waiting room. Baby is about 3 weeks early! :-)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Food waste and energy use

From Boingboing we learn that There's more energy in wasted food than there is in the Gulf of Mexico

(Only buy what you can use in a few days if it's fresh produce, only take what you can eat at the buffet, serve reasonable portions that won't result in leftovers that aren't eaten.  Not only is wasted food morally indefensible when folk are hungry and starving around the world it's a waste of energy which is bad for the environment.   Larry)

Recently, while doing some research on the carbon footprint of food, I ran across some studies that reported Americans ate, on average, 3774 calories of food each day.

Something about that smelled funny to me.

Sure, Americans eat a lot. But 3774 calories a day? I have family members who subsist almost solely off fried meat and various sorts of potatoes and I'm not convinced that even they hit that number on a regular basis. When I took my questions to the researchers, I found out that my hunch was correct. Americans aren't, technically, eating an average of 3774 calories per day. This figure is calculated by looking at food produced, divided by the number of Americans. It assumes we're eating all that, but, in reality, according to environmental scientist Gidon Eshel we really only eat about 2800 calories per day. That whopping 3774 includes both what we eat—and what we waste.

And what we waste—not just at home, but from the farm field, to the grocery store, to our Tupperware containers full of moldy leftovers—is a big deal.

We use a lot of energy producing, transporting, processing, storing and cooking food we don't eat. About 2150 trillion kilojoules worth a year, according to a recent study. That's more kilojoules than the United States could produce in biofuels. And it's more than we already produce in all the oil and gas extracted annually from the Gulf of Mexico.

Reducing that waste requires both changes in the way we eat at home, and systematic changes that address waste at every part of the food cycle. Right now, I've talked to a lot of researchers who can identify the problem, but don't have a lot of suggestions for concrete solutions. I'm sure they're out there, though, and I'll report back as I track them down.

Image: Some rights reserved by Flickr user Nutloaf
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution. Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC in the United States and other countries.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What do you think of my 2009 Toyota Corolla LE? I sure do like it.

Mom's new car, cool! 8-)

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: What do you think of my 2009 Toyota Corolla LE? I sure do like it.
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2010 10:13:56 -0700
From: Karen Sletten <RAINBOWJOY@LIVE.COM>
To: Devich, Larry <larry@devich.org>



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FBI follies

The FBI, useless thugs that they are... are confused about the law it seems.

Check out this amusing tale of how Wikipedia told them where to put their silly threats.

The FBI ordered wikipedia to remove its seal from the article there about the bureau. It threatened to litigate. Unfortunately for the FBI, the law it cited is the one that forbids making counterfeit badges, and Wikimedia's lawyers mocked them in its response.

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Little Brother

Here's a post lifted entire from "Free Range Kids"  I guess I'll have to read this one, sounds good... <google-google>  OH!  Lookie HERE you can download and read it for free in a plethora of formats!  Cory Doctorow ROCKS! :-)

A RAVE Review (of a Book I Filched from My Teenager)

Hi Readers — Why was I up till 12:45 last night? I HAD to finish, “Little Brother.” It’s the young adult book by boingboing’s Cory Doctorow that’s all about what would happen after a terrorist attack if the government started suspecting EVERYONE of terrorism, and most of the people were fine with this.

Naturally, the hero is a geeky/brave 17-year-old and his posse of smart friends, and the action is non-stop.  Naturally, i’ts  being made into a movie. UNnaturally, I loved it.  Normally, I’m more of a historical fiction kind of gal — think, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” —  so this was a book I had to filch from my 14-year-old (who is mortified I read one of his favorite things).

In the most exciting way, the book makes you question all the security measures we take for granted: Are they really making us safer? Are they maybe making us LESS safe? Better still, it explains so many of the issues I’m always grappling with. Like — you know how I find the Sex Offender Registry disturbing because so many of the people on it don’t pose a threat to children? And you know how I’m also upset at the idea of background checks for anyone who even walks into a school, a practice that’s becoming more  and more common? I want our kids to be safe, too. So why should these things bother me? What’s the downside, besides the occasional bureaucratic mix up?

Well here’s how Doctorow’s hero, Marcus, explains the problem of casting too wide a net when searching for evil:

If you ever decide to do something as stupid as build an automatic terrorism detector, here’s a math lesson you need to learn first. It’s called “the paradox of the false positive,” and it’s a doozy.

Say you have a new disease, called Super-AIDS. Only one in a million people gets Super-AIDS. You develop a test for Super-AIDS that’s 99 percent accurate. I mean, 99 percent of the time, it gives the correct result — true if the subject is infected, and false if the subject is healthy. You give the test to a million people.

One in a million people have Super-AIDS. One in a hundred people that you test will generate a “false positive” — the test will say he has Super-AIDS even though he doesn’t. That’s what “99 percent accurate” means: one percent wrong.

What’s one percent of one million?

1,000,000/100 = 10,000

One in a million people has Super-AIDS. If you test a million random people, you’ll probably only find one case of real Super-AIDS. But your test won’t identify *one* person as having Super-AIDS. It will identify *10,000* people as having it.

Your 99 percent accurate test will perform with 99.99 percent *inaccuracy*.

That’s the paradox of the false positive. When you try to find something really rare, your test’s accuracy has to match the rarity of the thing you’re looking for. If you’re trying to point at a single pixel on your screen, a sharp pencil is a good pointer: the pencil-tip is a lot smaller (more accurate) than the pixels. But a pencil-tip is no good at pointing at a single *atom* in your screen. For that, you need a pointer — a test — that’s one atom wide or less at the tip.

This is the paradox of the false positive, and here’s how it applies to terrorism:

Terrorists are really rare. In a city of twenty million like New York, there might be one or two terrorists. Maybe ten of them at the outside. 10/20,000,000 = 0.00005 percent. One twenty-thousandth of a percent.

That’s pretty rare all right. Now, say you’ve got some software that can sift through all the bank-records, or toll-pass records, or public transit records, or phone-call records in the city and catch terrorists 99 percent of the time.

In a pool of twenty million people, a 99 percent accurate test will identify two hundred thousand people as being terrorists. But only ten of them are terrorists. To catch ten bad guys, you have to haul in and investigate two hundred thousand innocent people.

That’s such an easy-to-understand explanation of what can happen when we start suspecting too many people of any kind of evil. And rest assured, one of the innocents pulled into the vortex of “Suspected Bad Guy” is our funny, hacking (and horny) “Little Brother” hero, Marcus. Will he get out? Will he change the course of history? Will he get the cute girl with glasses?

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Tiny Houses

Cool.  A friend has been looking at this idea and it has sort of caught my fancy as well.  I could certainly live in one!


See Jay Shafer's stuff here.

Also check out Tinyhousedesign.com

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