Sunday, December 27, 2009

Security Theatre 3.0 - Just Don't Fly

Dumbassery in play is, at best, cranky-making. Regrettably, the new (and only partially disclosed) TSA/FAA "We're the gov't, and we're here to help!" crowds new rules (after the old rules worked SO WELL).

So far, discovered new idiocy includes:

1) Increased Gate Screening - which has worked *so well* in the past after modified to meet standards of political correctness. What it *will* do is lengthen lines, impinge on individual dignity and privacy, and cause more and more folks to reconsider whether the hassle is worth the flight - either abandoning optional travel OR traveling by other means whenever practical.

2) Passengers forbidden to leave their seats for the last hour of flight time. Umm. Biology happens. Your choices is only WHERE excretion happens, after a certain point, rather than when/if. And given our societies taboo's, for good or ill, passengers may get quite forceful about being allowed access to restrooms...and equally creative in expressing their dismay.

3) Passengers forbidden to have items on their laps. Oh fun. Flight W/O something to distract me from idiots and howling children on board? I can't have my novel to read? Valium, here we sure to scoop me off at the destination.

And, I am sure, there is yet more undiscovered fun...

So, to summarize...I'm not flying anywhere unless there's a damned good reason and I don't have a better choice available. Blogorado or large sums of money would both be "good reasons"....the average vacation or a trip to Europe or Asia? Probably not. Wait a few years and see if the idiocy passes.

If enough folks decide the same way....the collapsing airlines may persuade the various petty empire builders that "king of the dustbin" isn't the title they are really seeking.

Before you bitch - do the work.

Federal Contacts 2009

POTUS: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Please include your e-mail address

Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

DC Address: The Honorable Patty Murray
United States Senate
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4701
DC Phone:202-224-2621
DC Fax:202-224-0238

Local Office: Jackson Federal Building, Suite 2988
915 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98174

Voice: 206-553-5545
FAX: 206-553-0891

DC Address:The Honorable Maria Cantwell
United States Senate
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4704
DC Phone:202-224-3441
DC Fax:202-228-0514

Local Office: 915 Second Avenue, Suite 3206
Seattle, WA 98174
Voice: 206-220-6400
FAX: 206-220-6404

DC Address: The Honorable Jim McDermott
United States House of Representatives
1035 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4707
DC Phone:202-225-3106
DC Fax:202-225-6197

Local Office: 1809 7th Avenue, Suite 1212
Seattle, WA 98101-1399

Voice: 206-553-7170
FAX: 206-553-7175

Washington State Political Contacts

Governor: Gov. Chris Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Voice: 360-902-4111
Fax: 360-753-4110

Dist #34 WA Senator Joe McDermott
230 John A. Cherberg Building
PO Box 40434
Olympia, WA 98504-0434

(360) 786-7667

WA Rep. Dist. #34 Rep. Eileen Cody
337 John L. O'Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600

(360) 786-7978

District Office: 4711 44th Ave SW
, WA 98116

(206) 923-5463

WA Rep. Dist. #34 Rep. Sharon Nelson
338 John L. O'Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600

(360) 786-7952

Local Office: 4711 44th Ave SW
, WA 98116

(206) 923-5475

King County Political Contacts

King County Executive Dow Constantine
King County Chinook Building
401 5th Ave. Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98104

Main phone: 206-296-4040
Fax: 206-296-0194

Council District 1 Councilmember Bob Ferguson
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1001
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 2 Councilmember Larry Gossett
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1002
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 3 Councilmember Kathy Lambert
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1003
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 4 Councilmember Larry Phillips
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1004
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 5 Councilmember Julia Patterson
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1005
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 6 Councilmember Jane Hague
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1006
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0398

Council District 7 Councilmember Peter Von Reichbauer
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1007
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Council District 8 Councilmember
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1008 (Staff Available)
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-205-5610

Council District 9 Councilmember Reagan Dunn
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1009
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Now, a lot of folks DON'T live in the same legislative/political district(s) that I do. However, that doesn't mean they should sit on their hands. Before y'all start whining - have YOU written your various politi-critters? Encouraged others to do so?

Or do you just have a political and touching belief that if you whine with sufficient skill and talent that your politi-critters will somehow pull their heads out of one sphincter or another and magically not only suddenly perceive your displeasure, but also act to alleviate it - all without your ever having lifted a finger or gotten your dead ass outta your armchair to contact them?

In person in their office is most effective. Second best is a letter. Then a fax, next a phone call, and finally, an e-mail.

Stop whining. Start working.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Obamacare Grouch

Short of enslaving the entire medical profession (immoral, even though some of them are kinda cute, and even then some bills must be paid), the bills (liability, wages, THEIR health care/benefits, student loan payments, rent, lights, power, equipment costs, etc, lawyers fees, etc) have got to be paid - whether by insurance companies, taxes, or out of pocket.

As it is, I've already had one good doctor shift to refusing to accept ANY insurance/medicatd/medicare/etc - and cut his staff to one employee, his wife who splits her time between reception/admin and her legal practice.

He's happy about it because he is able to spend appropriate amounts of time with patients rather than running a "patient mill" scrambling to crank through enough patients to get high-cost low-margin payments from insurance/medicare/medicaid. I liked it because he took the time to diagnose rather than use a checklist.

There is a huge difference between what we believe is right/desireable/deserved and achievable/affordable. The current collection of backroom deals, bought votes, and bad medicine should (but most likely won't be, requiring decades of repairs to even get back to "as good as we've got now", a deeply imperfect condition) be derailed, and a series of more careful and measured approaches implemented on a far more incremental basis, and that will be less likely to be tied up in the courts for the next three decades.

We best celebrate while we can...this is going to be a long ugly haul to 2012 and take us years to undo, so we can start over and try and get it right. One size fits all really sucks for jockey shorts - for something as diverse as the human medical condition, the mind boggles...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Pierce County Deputies

I hope the deputies both make it and achieve full recovery. Five dead officers since Halloween, and now two more wounded are tragic at a number of different levels.

Hopefully, the usual anti-gun "dancing in the blood" can be kept to a minimum, but that may be setting an unreasonable standard of civilization for that crowd.

Regrettably, the media are already panic-mongering and employing "wild west" and "combat zone" comparison to gin up the level of public frenzy, so it's a bit late to hope for restraint or journalistic ethics from that quarter.

As we do Depression Lite and FDR redux, we can only expect things to get worse as existing criminals and already desperate folks go screaming round the bend wreaking havoc and mayhem (literally and figuratively) along the way.

The next few years are going to be a rough ride, made rougher in many ways by certain political groups regrettable beliefs regarding the improveability of human nature, and the ability of the demonstrably bad or mad to reform - where, however dismaying, quarantine is a better solution (and easier to undo than execution, in cases of "oops").

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gifts - Done.

Stocking stuffers - in an hour or so.

Frustrated w/ folks who claim they gonna do things and refuse to let others do them, despite any realistic evaluation indicating they *cannot* do them, largely due to refusal to follow (or in some instances seek) medical advice?


Self-Annoyance for not starting *much* earlier?


Next year?

Start much earlier, go selectively deaf, and plan on "do it myself" despite protests/etc to the contrary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seattle Men's Chorus - A revival?

I've been a fond supporter of the chorus on and off since the early '90's, making a special point of attending first their free (and since abandoned) midnight concerts on Christmas Eve in an old theatre on Capitol Hill, to their delightfully silly and subversive holiday presentations that brought a twinkle to my eye and a wee giggle to my holiday cheer.

Some years ago that began to fade, concluding in the excessively artsy debacle of the '08 concert - where chorus leadership lost track of a key piece of reality...that most of us attending with such dedication have come to appreciate the Christmas Concerts as a cherished holiday tradition. We attend to giggle, to feel a little bit naughty, and to have our nostalgia stroked - to be reminded of the good, the festive, the fun in Christmas, and of the traditions and portions that didn't sting.

This years concert was an improvement over '08. While the first portion of the event consisted largely of in-jokes between music majors with occasional bashful hints at actual humor and mischief, the second act (barring an utterly repugnant hip-hop beat-box rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy") allowed the troupe "Captain Smarty Pants" (where it seemed all the humor and fun of past years had been increasingly quarantined, lest the rest of the chorus become infected) on stage and (thankfully) things began to pick up with a delightful "TV Holiday Show" skit, the return of "Silent Night" complete with two signed verses (ASL), and an absolutely FABULOUS performance of "Santa Baby" by drag star "Arnaldo" - one of the few queens who soars above the rest by the act of actually *singing* (and damned well) rather than indulging in that second-rate imitation, lip-synch.

That "Silent Night" was back was a joy...that it was followed by two Michael Jackson tributes (one a bit of liberal treacle, the other a holiday zombie tune), and Arnaldo's admittedly incredible number...rather less so.

I could've done without the Michael Jackson numbers entirely, but in recognition of the fact that Jackson (not unlike Judy Garland in a prior generation, or Bette Midler and Madonna in mine) has a large following in the community, I'm willing to grit my teeth and understand what I consider a distinctly overwrought response to his passing. And I loved Arnoldo's number.

However...after watching the chorus for a few years, and other events in other venues...when you have a piece as lovely as "Silent Night", particularly with the signed verses (don't knock it till you've seen it), that's what you end with - bring the house lights down at the end, back up, take your bows, and get off stage - leaving that warm fuzzy feeling behind to bring us all back another year.

Don't put us in that head space, then grab it away with a couple of pieces of fluff, and a DISTINCTLY raunchy rendition of Santa Baby (complete with very scantily clad bits of beefcake)...

Over-all, I'd say the Chorus may be making progress towards the irreverent, naughty, and joyous concerts of old - but that it has away to go from the recent trends towards terminal artsiness and pretension. Call it a "C+" with the note "The Chorus is obviously very talented, but the leadership could do far better in song selection and order. They struggle with a tendency to pursue their musical interests to the exclusion or at the expense of audience enjoyment. They do, however, show improvement."

If you read this, and you're going - think about making your arrival in time for intermission so you can enjoy the good part of the show.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just a thought...

It's NEVER a good thing when the response to a civil question is the use of armed security to haul off the questioner and/or threaten journalists...

Climategate - it's usually proof that someone has something to hide, or is downright lying, when they need to use armed security to haul off journalists...

Furnace Company Foolishness

Ran across American Fresh Air through ValuePak coupons offering $75 furnace duct cleaning. Came in, high pressure sales technique to 84yo depression era woman results in leaving w/ check for $700.00. And didn't consult the customer named on the invoice (moi) despite my being readily available by phone. I am unamused - sufficiently so that I am willing to act on it.

Representatives of American Fresh Air left external doors standing open at ground floor level, unplugged power to a server room and took down two web & mail servers, the core of my local network. 2nd Mail server going down killed outgoing e-mail for employer. Just for icing, the "techs" unplugged, and left unplugged various other electrical devices w/o consulting w/ homeowner.

Between security issue (open doors), actual damages (servers down), inflated prices, high pressure sales techniques American Fresh Air has engaged in sufficiently questionable practices that stopping payment has already occurred that the question of where we go from here becomes critical.

When I've hired an ATTORNEY they've cost less, on an hour for hour basis. When I've had a MD on hourly, it cost less. $350/hr for two furnace techs with no parts replacements seems a bit much when hiring an attorney to come in and clean furnace ducts would be $100/hr less, in my experience.

Given American Fresh Air's results on Yelp, recounting a similar tale again and again with various customers, I'm surprised that they haven't merited media coverage, AG investigations, or other severe business-impacting adventure. Sadly, I only "Yelped" after the fact...discovering their history a bit too late. Silly me.

I'm not sure whether to merely blog and yelp about it, approach the licensing board, talk to the BBB, call the cops on an "irish traveller" scheme, chat w/ the office of the State AG with passing mention of elder abuse and consumer fraud, get KOMO4 News problem solvers involved, do a general press release, or just file a class action - or all of the above. Their representatives comments and actions this morning will seriously affect my decision. I am *not* a happy camper.

I do suggest that avoiding this organization if at all possible should be a priority for prudent consumers. In the meantime, however, it's off to inquire whether they care to try and stay my hand.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I can't really abide...

I'm afraid I broke and became a bit cranky yesterday.

After listening to the surviving parental unit go on and on about various medical issues, how limiting they were, the level of pain, etc since September or so...but refusing to even consider making a medical appointment until various and magically appearing events took place...a never-ending supply of such events as the kvetching went on and on...I'm afraid I snapped yesterday morning for pretty much the rest of the day.

She now has appointments with her regular doctor, her back doctor, and the furnace duct cleaning folks. Her new freezer was delivered this morning.

Best friend got caught in backlash when he started whinging "I don't WANNA go anyplace, it's TOO COLD!!!" after my mornings adventure - and found himself in sudden possession of long underwear, socks, earmuffs, and gloves.

A certain reasonable of whinging is perfectly ok and good, tending to keep the blood pressure down and such. But more than a day or so, and neither any action to explore or resolve issues, nor any reason for such lack of action beyond "whhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine"...someone in your orbit needs to apply a swift verbal kick in the slats and blast you outta your rut.

And today I'm off to try and dissuade "excessive creativity" in favor of "keeping it simple is CHEAPER"....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Ball Cookies


1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar; add water and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour and chill for 3 to 4 hours. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Dip in red or green colored sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet about 25 min at 325 degrees. Doubling or Tripling the recipe is a GOOD thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Perhaps a different Christmas...

Now that the nieces are pretty well taken care of for the holiday, perhaps a different sort of Christmas is in order - one that does a bit of good for the nation, while still massaging the "tradition nodes".

Much as I love it, perhaps given the jacked up electricity rates, I can manage to do without the outdoor lights this year. And the outdoor wreath. The tree, however, will remain sacrosanct. And if enough folks jump on board, perhaps we can undermine the new "revenue creation" rate plan attempting to cover the vast deficit the city is running as a result of equally vast over-spending.

At the same time, non-niece Christmas gifts look likely (aside from stocking stuffers) to morph to gingerbread. No sales tax on the ingredients, easy to make, and usually received with glee.

Give it some a whole new meaning to starving the beast, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Cooking - Lasagne

Doing a lasagne mid-summer is doable, but less fun - but now we approach the cool months, and as soon as I can find a large enough group so I'm not noshing on aging lasagne for a month...


1-1/2 c Olive Oil
1 lb Lean Ground Beef or Bison
1 lb Medium Italian Sausage
1 Onion, Finely Chopped (1/8” or less)
3 Bulbs (not cloves) Garlic, Finely Chopped
2 cans, 28 Oz ea. Crushed Tomatoes
1 can, 8 Oz. Tomato Sauce
1 can, 8 Oz. Tomato Paste
Tabasco Sauce
Chili Powder

3 tsp Basil
3 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
15-25 Lasagne Noodles (Depends on your pan)
1 container (15 Oz.) Ricotta Cheese
½ c. Grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese
1 to 1 ½ c. Freshly Minced Parsely
1 egg
1 ½ lbs Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

If Italian Sausage is fresh, freeze it. Once frozen, take out and slice each sausage twice lengthwise, quartering it along the length of the sausage. Cut each quarter in ¼” thick slices, and place in bowl.

Heat Olive Oil (I prefer Extra Virgin) in large wide saucepan; add the ground beef (or bison), the Italian sausage, half the onion, and half the garlic. Saute, stirring regularly, until the meat browns (10-12 minutes)…should have a strong onion – garlic scent.

Once the meat is browned, transfer contents to a 6+ quart kettle, place on a low to medium heat, and add the crushed tomato’s, the tomato sauce, and the tomato paste. Stir well. Now add the basil, oregano, and ½ of the remaining garlic and onions. Add 4 shakes of Tabasco, a handful of chili powder, and salt and pepper. Stir THOROUGHLY and taste. Add spices as needed. Remember, with this sauce if you can’t see the spices, you’re doing something wrong. Simmer for 3-4 hours over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add remaining onion and garlic as needed – feel free to mince and add more if you believe it will help.

Finely mince fresh parsley (leaf only, leave the stems for the rabbits) until you have about a cup to a cup and a half of the stuff. Toss into a clean large bowl with the ricotta, the egg, and the parmesan. Beat mixture together, cover, and place in the refrigerator.

Cook lasagna noodles in plenty of salted boiling water (I usually add a good dose of olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other) until ready. Rinse in cold water until you don’t see the oil coming off them anymore.

Heat oven to 3500F and select a deep baking dish or pan 8x13 or larger. Add enough of the sauce to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. Lay down your irst layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Dot the noodles with the ricotta mixture, splash liberally with the red sauce, and sprinkle a layer of mozzarella across the top. Repeat this process as needed till the next to last layer of noodles. Add all remaining ricotta mixture, cover thoroughly with sauce and Mozzarella, add a final layer of noodles, cover with wsauce, then thoroughly cover with Mozzarella (you shouldn’t be able to see the sauce).

Bake lasagna for 45-50 minutes in your pre-heated 3500F oven. The top should be a golden brown when completed.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Climate Change & Critical Thinking

First off, science is *never* "settled". Some theories, having endured for decades without serious challenge, are perhaps less likely than others to be upset by new evidence to the contrary - but it is the very height of arrogance to assume that as a species we've discovered all there is to know on any given topic. That's the fundamental principal of science - that it's ALL up for grabs if you can produce replicate-able experimental data contrary to current theory...the debate is magically open know, that funny thing called the "quest for knowledge".

A good second thought on science is that valid science rarely ever meshes 1:1 to pre-existing political agendas. Any time someone makes allegedly science based claims that somehow magically seem to endorse the policy objectives of one interest group or political party (say "get rid of cars, promote mass transit, get rid of modern industry" or some form of creationism) it's a hint for anyone with more than a couple of neurons to rub together that odds are getting pretty significant that some level of scientific fraud is in progress, or at least that great skepticism should be employed until all data and data collection methods are examined openly.

Spin, baby, spin!

Now, given that the prime propagators of global warming have refused to disclose their data sources repeatedly, waged a political war in the world of science against those who hold differing views, and been frantically making claims that the "science is settled on global warming" - anyone with the aforementioned two simultaneously firing neurons should have already been good and skeptical some time back. Well, unless they found it *convenient* to their political agenda...

There's a word for it....fraud....

And now the dam begins to crack, and evidence begins to pour forth of selectively choosing evidence that favors a given political/theoretical agenda, suppressing evidence to the contrary, ignoring both scientific practice and actual law by failing to release data, and apparently, in some cases, destruction of inconvenient data.

This is neither the first nor the last time that alleged scientists have failed their ethical obligations and turned out to be naught but spin doctors in drag, but it is certainly one of the most expensive and crippling such faux pas.