Monday, June 30, 2008


Overheard near my cube, "It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools. . . and those guys were tools."

Friday, June 27, 2008

A note from Mr. Cleaver

I got an email from my Congressman today.  I like to know what's going on.  He seems as annoyed as I am. 


Wrestling Gas Prices

We all continue to struggle at the gas pump, and barrels of oil hit another all-time high today. Sadly yesterday the House failed to pass ‘Use It or Lose It' legislation for oil companies. The bill would have compelled the oil industry to start drilling or lose permits on the 68 million acres of undeveloped federal oil reserves which they are currently warehousing, thereby keeping domestic supply lower and prices higher. Complaints that more drilling permits are needed for yet more land ring hollow when compared to the thousands of currently unused drilling permits already issued. I think this will be back on the floor again soon and I am disappointed it didn't pass this week.

To provide even more incentive to reduce demand, the House also voted on legislation to lower fares for mass transit and expanded services for commuters.

We also passed legislation urging an investigation in a complicated but no less culpable reason for the high price of gas. The House called upon the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to investigate the role of oil speculators and the system that encourages artificially high future gas prices. The American people should not be punished at the pump for the actions of oil speculators, and the House called on the CFTC Act.  

Experts testified this week before Congress that the explosion of speculation in the oil futures market could be driving up prices from $20 to $60 per barrel.  At current prices that is an increase of 15-50 percent solely due to speculation.

In an underreported story, oil speculators are making money by betting against the American consumers at the pump. Reducing the price of gas, a global commodity, is hard enough without our own markets driving the price through the roof.

Ronald Jenkees

I may be late to the game on this one, because Ronald Jenkees has over a million channel views, but Moodswung sent me a link to a song on YouTube, and at first, I thought it was a joke, some guy acting like an autistic spaz.  Then he started playing music on his keyboard and I realized he MUST be autistic, or at least a serious music nerd with a gift of creative genius and serious keyboard skills.

And this one validated his skill level for me. 

His YouTube intro is just great.  The studio mixed teaser-length versions are linked on his blog here.  Wow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I saw a new word today, hypermiling.  It is the art of changing your driving style to get the absolute most miles per gallon as possible.  It's a competition for some people.  People employing all the techniques are getting over 1000 miles on a 10.5 gallon tank.  I'm impressed.  Article: HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FISA = Big Brother

It's time to contact your Senator.  There's a bill which passed the House which is worse than the PATRIOT ACT.  Way worse.  It shreds the Fourth Amendment.  It's called the FISA amendments.  FISA is the wiretap law from 1978.  These amendments open it up so that they can wiretap any call without a court order if they believe any participant in the call is overseas.  I believe this includes any electronic surveillance, including email.  That abridges our current rights and dismisses any ongoing illegal wiretap lawsuits, because it is retroactive.  It's a big power grab by the Executive Branch.  It will be voted on in the Senate soon.  It's one giant leap toward the Big Brother of 1984.  The amount of surveillance they're doing already is terrifying.  This let's any law enforcement officer, even the dog catcher, listen to any cell phone call without a warrant.  That is way too much power in the hands of the government.  I'm less afraid of the terrorists, actually.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.

There is a political movement to change the laws to allow more domestic oil production.  Here's the web site:

Newt is one smart cookie. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bob Barr 2008

If he keeps going on television admitting that he's been part of a broken system, advocating real change, and speaking the truth, I think Bob Barr will win.  There's more substance in his message than Obama and McCain combined.

Here's an interesting site which includes the faces of Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul calling for a Bob Barr fundraising push on July 2.

Bumper stickers are showing up that say, "This is when you vote Libertarian."

This speaks for itself. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flood water's risin'

I got an email requesting volunteers to go to Northwest Missouri and sandbag the Mississippi River.  If I wasn't neck deep in three projects, I think I would go.


Dear Charles,

The floodwaters are quickly rising in northeast Missouri, and the Mississippi River is on course to reach near-record levels.  During this emergency, our neighbors are counting on our help to protect their homes, businesses and communities.
Today, I'm heading up to northeast Missouri to help with the sandbagging efforts in Clarksville, Hannibal and West Quincy.  And if you can spare a few hours in the next day or two, I'm asking you to pitch in as well.  All along the river, Missouri communities need our help right away. You can find updated lists of volunteer requests here:
Missouri's 211 hotline also can direct you to volunteer opportunities in the area.
Your service will make a difference.  Thank you for helping your neighbors in this time of urgent need.

Jay Nixon
Missouri Attorney General

Monday, June 16, 2008

Beer league team names

On Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 3:02 PM, Ric Lutz wrote:
> Ya gotta love some of the team names from Gladstone softball leagues

You made me look.  Trunk Monkeys?  Weakened Warriors?  Human Growth Homeruns?  Master Batters?  Hoosier Daddies?  Terrible! 

Okay, Hoosier Daddies is pretty funny.

I wanna be there when Two Balls One Bat plays Northland Baptist Church.  Is that a "2 girls 1 cup" reference?  The Shockers are in the same league.  Is this coed? 

I'm looking at the playoff schedules.  Awesome O?  The McLovins?  Scared Hitless?

Stupid Mongorians?  Is that a South Park reference?

I was on a hockey team called Angry Dragons once.  That's not nice.  Very beer league.  After that season, the rink started naming the teams.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nausea relief.

Here's a sentiment I share.

I get nauseated when hearing Obama speak.  I think he's clueless.  McCain doesn't relieve the nausea.  He's proof that the Republican Party has lost its way.  I'm going to vote for Bob Barr.  That's it.  Period.  He's the only remaining candidate who is making any sense.  I heard Glenn Beck interview Barr on Sirius 133, and I agreed with almost everything that was said.  I found that interview so I could post it here:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why aren't we drilling our own oil?

Who is responsible for limited energy production in the USA? 

Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri put together these data to highlight the differences between House Republicans and House Democrats on energy policy: 

ANWR Exploration 
House Republicans: 91% Supported 
House Democrats: 86% Opposed 

House Republicans: 97% Supported 
House Democrats: 78% Opposed 

Oil Shale Exploration 
House Republicans: 90% Supported 
House Democrats: 86% Opposed 

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration 
House Republicans: 81% Supported 
House Democrats: 83% Opposed 

Refinery Increased Capacity 
House Republicans: 97% Supported 
House Democrats: 96% Opposed 

91% of House Republicans have historically voted to increase the production of American-made oil and gas. 

86% of House Democrats have historically voted against increasing the production of American-made oil and gas. 

We have the know how to fix it but the Democrats prefer to buy oil from countries who hate us rather than drill and produce American oil. This has been going on since the 1970’s and nothing has changed. 

The consequences of poor energy policy in the USA results in economic hardships for all American Citizens but it is easier to blame the oil companies! 

Remember this when you vote!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

20th high school reunion debrief

Class reunions are officially too much information for the brain to process.  I didn't recognize some, but I recognized most people there.  Well, most of my classmates who bothered to show up all still look pretty young to me.  I, as predicted, won the award for the man who changed the most since graduation.  I'm reassured that is a good thing.  I was able to catch up on who is dead, who had babies, and where everyone is living, if not an indication of how they are living.  I'm pretty proud of James Smith, who turned out to be a great guy and a deputy sherriff.  Lynn, who married the brother of one of my high school friends, and looks the same as she ever did.  Gloria, who has had two sets of twins and looks like she stepped off the runway at fashion week.  Stephanie asked about Igor, her singing partner in chorus (inside joke from 21 years ago).  The most shocking thing is how many folks live in the Oklahoma City metro or the Dallas/Metroplex area.  Tony Brown dragged me to the movies for the afternoon and updated me on the dirt.  It was good to see Tim Shoals again; he runs a charity for underprivileged children.  Andrea, who raised a kid for a few years while his parents were in prison, is such a sweetheart.  I could go on and on.  Mandy, who organized the thing, even though the service at the restaurant was not so good, did a pretty good job with the details.  I hope she publishes the pictures online, because I know I'm in a LOT of pictures.  Everyone exchanged email addresses.  I suspect a flood of oh-by-the-way emails over the next few weeks.  There were a lot of questions raised about the ones who were missing.  Funny stories were exchanged.  I had a good time.  It was so good to see Toni, Garnetta, Niecy, Tab, Kevin, Derrick, etc.  It really is a shame that we've all been out of touch.  I'm sure I'll be doing some LinkedIn searches soon to reconnect with some of these folks.  It was agreed that we should have another reunion in five years.


An ad agency created a buzz with these fake airline ads for Derrie-Air.  Apparently, they charge by the pound.  So, the less you pack, the less you pay.  When I saw the website they created I laughed my ass off, which would save me a few bucks in airfare.  $1.40 a pound from Phillie to Denver. . . such a deal!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Jury doody

I dodged jury duty. . . without actually dodging it.  I sat there through two days of jury selection.  I drew number 35.  To be in the top 14 (12 jurors and two alternates), they had to eliminate 11 people and not eliminate me.  By day two I was number 23.  And, by the end of that day, I was surely in the top 14, but it's a serial rape case.  The defense was eliminating men from the jury, so after answering kinda rudely to some questions about my previous jury service, they dismissed me.  There were only two men left on the jury when they finalized it.  That was close.  This was going to take a minimum of two weeks to try.  I honestly didn't want to hear one heartbreaking case of how rape and forcible sodomy by a home intruder ruined one life, but eleven.  What an tearjerker!  If the Mr. Shy Bland did it, I hope he gets what he deserves.  There were TV cameras there the first day.  I'm interested to see how it plays out.

Monday, June 2, 2008

20 year high school reunion

Next weekend is my 20 year high school reunion.  I can't think of anything which signals that you're pushing 40, Mister, like being out of high school for 20 years.  On one hand it's depressing.  On the other hand, I get the opportunity to socialize with all those people who wrote, "Keep in touch!" in my yearbook, then never spoke to me again.  The best revenge is living well, I suppose.  I am savoring the irony that the Saturday afternoon event is at the Rocket Roller Rink.  I have some years of experience playing ice hockey now, and I can skate like a mad fool.  I was somewhat of a maladroit late bloomer.  I probably grew two inches after graduation.  At the 10 year reunion I was voted "Person who changed the most since graduation."  Rightly so, since only those friends with whom I stayed in touch could recognize me.  I may also be the "Person who changed the most since the 10 year reunion."

To ramp up to a surreal weekend, I have been called for jury duty on Wednesday morning at the Jackson County Courthouse.  What a welcome break from the norm.  I get to sit around a courthouse and read magazines while waiting to hear my name.  No cell phone?  Woot!  The primary goal will be to keep my mind occupied, because jury duty has the potential to be extremely boring.  The last case I heard as a juror was to decide if a felon had indeed possessed a firearm, which holds a very strict mandatory five year sentence.  We all decided he was probably waving a cell phone while yelling out threats to the drunken folks at the corner of Mill and Westport at 3am on a Saturday.  None of the witnesses could possibly have been sober.  The gun in his friend's car belonged to his friend and didn't have his fingerprints on it.  It was such a flimsy case.  I'm surprised the prosecutor was shocked by the verdict.  None of the jurors could be sure that the witnesses really saw a gun or something that looked like a gun.  That Federal case went on for three days.  The system works, but it doesn't work fast.  Massive boredom.

Assembly Line Diagnostic Link

I was bored at lunch and listened to an audio blog on the topic of fuel efficiency.  Today's conversation was with Robert Krupa, a former GM employee who has invented the Firestorm Spark Plug, which burns all of the fuel in the combustion chamber.  He clued me to ways to change the parameters in a car's computer to modify the way the engine runs.  Of particular interest is fuel mixture.  The same 12 pin plug where you plug in the scanner to read the diagnostic codes has a mode called the ALDL, or Assembly Line Diagnostic Link.  From here you can connect a laptop at 8192 bits per second using a box to adjust the voltage to work with a typical UART (computer serial port) and PC com software.  It is a pure ASCII interface.  Apparently, you can connect a laptop to this interface and sample all the available parameters being read by the computer's sensors.  You can even ask it to dump a copy of the programming in the computer's storage (EEPROM) to your laptop hard drive.  There is work underway to create open source software for these car computers (ECUs).  Higher gas prices and inefficient vehicles are causing a lot of online interest in tinkering with the settings.  Most of these ECUs are coded to a fuel mixture of 14.7 to 1 air to fuel ratio.  This is chosen to reduce emissions, not provide fuel economy.  According to Mr. Krupa, there is another sweet spot in low emissions and fuel burning efficiency at 30 to 1.  That's double the fuel economy.  This may be a better answer to fuel efficiency than feeding hydroxy gas into the air intake.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Missouri Republican Convention 2008

Yesterday, I got up super early and drove down to Branson for the Missouri Republican Convention.  I was elected as a delegate, so it was sort of my civic duty.  There were some empty seats in the Jackson County section of the District 5 area, which was disappointing.  At any rate, my vote counted.  A resolution to add a Fair Tax resolution to the Republican platform lost by only six votes.  I thought that was a sad thing.  I think if more fiscally conservative folks from Jackson county had made the trip, it would have passed.  The convention rules were not modified, so Missouri remains a winner takes all primary election state, a distinction which won by only 40 votes.  The most enlightening thing I took away is more about how the process works in terms of protocol for introducing changes to the party platform.  It's surprisingly easy to submit items for a vote, but not so easy to get people to agree with you.  If the language is not clear, concise, unambiguous, and constitutional (usually), it won't pass the muster and a short debate will defeat it.  I was flabbergasted by some of the mealy mouthed resolutions, some of which advertised the ignorance of their author. 

I also didn't know human cloning as an issue was going to take up so much time.  In my mind, human tissue without a heart and a brain is just that.  It's not a person.  If I had an organ failure threatening my life, I would be alienated by a zero cloning research policy.   Therefore, I don't understand it.  Please, clone my liver, so I have a spare, but please don't clone my whole person.  If you do, make sure I'm dead first and please name him after me.  If I ever decide that cloning at a single cell level is immoral, I would have to justify the deaths of those who could live if it were developed into their cure.  Does the term blastocyte belong in the political arena?  Apparently not, because before all of the resolutions were considered, a motion to adjourn was made, and everyone who was tired of listening to so many insane resolutions voted to just call it a day.  I think we'll all be better off if the government would get out of the medical business.

The platform committee didn't do the best job of including resolutions from the caucuses, but I got the idea that they did include most things, but used more general wording for brevity.  I also think that competing resolutions were weighed against the prevailing platform and were not considered important enough to include, specifically.  Policies to allow mothers to give birth at home are great, but really too specific to include in the party platform, I think.

Here's an interesting video about who is controlling oil prices: