Wednesday, December 30, 2009

House update - 2009-12-30

Well, the pre-move in painting was finished a week and a half ago. Here's the living room now:

And the bedroom:

That's a big improvement over before, don't you think? FYI, that's about $300 worth of paint and supplies there - never let anyone tell you painting is "cheap".

I've also changed out the light switch in the bedroom for an electronic dimmer switch with a remote control, and replaced all the old bi-metal thermostats with triac-based digital ones that are accurate and also tell me the actual room temperature.

Amazingly, for Christmas I got a significant amount of 'money' in the form of Lowe's and Home Depot gift cards. Go figure. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The mind boggles...

at this insanity.
But as a progressive, I would sooner lay my child to rest than succumb to the belief that the use of a gun for self-defense is somehow not in itself a gun crime. [emphasis mine]
I have my doubts as to whether that attitude would withstand the test of reality, but the fact that this waste of carbon would even spout such insanity means it's possible. In fact, it seems like he's a True Believer in the "Progressive" agenda:

An alternative to lockdown is immediate exodus via announcement. Although this removes potential hostages and makes it nearly impossible for the shooter to acquire preselected targets, it unfairly rewards resourceful children who move to safety off-site more shrewdly and efficiently than others.

Schools should level playing fields, not intrinsically reward those more resourceful. A level barrel is fair to all fish.

So, not only would he rather see his own children dead than sully himself by using an evil gun to defend them, but he would also follow the "Progressive" doctrine of "equal opportunity must mean equal outcomes" and see all the children dead rather than allow any who can to "unfairly" use their resourcefulness to survive when others might not be able to.

Why is this idiot allowed to teach? Has anyone looked at how he grades his students? If he believes this strongly that "Schools should level playing fields, not intrinsically reward those more resourceful," does he give every student the same grade? Does he grade based on performance, or based on his own little "Progressive" agenda? After all, it's not "fair" for students who work harder or are innately more talented in whatever subject he teaches to be rewarded for their work/ability when the less motivated or less gifted don't do as well.

If this twit had his way, we'd still be reading by candlelight because Edison would have learned as a child that hard work and resourcefulness shouldn't be rewarded, and he would never have bothered trying.

Any teacher who states his belief that resourcefulness and intelligence shouldn't be rewarded because it's not "fair" should immediately be banned from teaching anything for life.

(h/t SayUncle)

Update 2009-12-29:

It's been opined, at Uncle's, at comments in the original source, and by Jenn at A Conservative Shemale (thanks for reading!) that the letter was actually intended as satire. On reflection, I think there's a good chance that they're right. A comment at Uncle's actually links to another letter by the same person

Satire or not, I think the main points of my post here still stand on their own, and anyone who
that seems to support that idea. On the other hand, I've actually met people who think like that, and it's written believably enough that I just can't bring myself to dismiss the possibility that it's real.does think like that still should be banned from teaching for life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I've been wondering when someone would try this...

Calif. city's police to wear head-mounted cameras

SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose police are testing head-mounted cameras to record interactions with the public.

The technology to build a system like this has been around for a while, now (think cell phone cameras). I'm not surprised someone's finally trying it, and I completely support it. The implementation sounds interesting, too.

Officers are to turn on the cameras every time they talk with anyone. They download the recordings after every shift.

The cameras are the size of a Bluetooth cell phone earpieces and attach by a headband above the ear.

I am, however, skeptical. Since I started working as a paralegal, I've found it extremely dismaying how often the cruiser-mounted cameras "weren't turned on" or were turned off early (in violation of department policy), or "weren't working". I'd guess that roughly 1 in 3 or 4 subpoenas for camera footage actually result in getting a recording. Of those, most don't show anything useful to the defense because officer/suspect interactions tend to take place off camera. I don't mean to imply that it's intentional - the camera is usually pointing forward, and fixed - but there are some cases where I do have to say it's questionable.

The upshot is that I have to wonder how often these head-mounted cameras will "fail" or turn out to have been "unintentionally obscured". I love the idea - just like the cruiser-cams, the purpose of recording these interactions is to protect both the officer and the citizen, and preventing a case from boiling down to a "he said, she said" type of situation - I just wonder how well it will stand up to reality.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Climate Change Summit

I saw this article on Yahoo today, about how it doesn't look good for the Climate Change Summit. Funnily, I don't see any mention of the evidence that recently surfaced about the massive scientific fraud that's gone into the whole climate change scheme.

It's as if the media is ignoring any evidence that doesn't support the idea of man-made climate change. Somewhat ironic, isn't it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers = Fail: Part 2

More unintended consequences of Cash for Clunkers hits another part of the auto industry - salvage yards.

Last summer's Cash for Clunkers program has clogged auto salvage yards with a glut of trade-ins that are too damaged to drive but too good to be sent directly to scrap.

The less glamorous side of the auto industry is having trouble digesting the byproducts of the buying frenzy that put nearly 700,000 new automobiles on the nation's roads -- and took the same number off.

The future of millions of usable auto parts is in limbo as a critical deadline looms this winter under the federal program, which had unexpected success on the front end and its funding tripled to $3 billion.

Several salvage yards in the Roanoke and New River valleys are filled with valuable alternators, starters, air conditioning compressors, wheels, body parts, seats and other major interior parts.

But they are still connected to the 1,500 or so used automobiles traded in through the less-than-eight-week program that expired in August.

And many may go to waste if a federal deadline to conclude the program is not extended.

Apparently, there is a six month deadline for salvage yards to strip usable parts from the cars before they must be crushed or shredded. The problem? There were more cars traded than the salvage yards can deal with.

"There is absolutely no way that we can process these vehicles and recycle anywhere near their potential," he said.

He said the volume of trade-ins flooding the salvage industry is three times what the industry expected when it agreed to support the program and to process the trades within six months. With only four months left on many of the clunkers he bought, he's so far only covered his costs to buy the vehicles for about $225 apiece and get them towed to his facility.

Were these normal trade-ins, the unwanted vehicles could simply be sold to new owners. In this case, the engines were destroyed under a federal mandate to take relatively low-mpg vehicles off the road.

But virtually every trade is loaded with fully functional parts. This represents an opportunity that the auto recycling industry wants to tap -- if given enough time.

As it stands now, however, salvage yards say they can't possibly process the vehicles received under the clunker program by their deadline.

If the yards don't get an extension, the vehicles will have to be scrapped before there is a chance to take off all of the parts, cutting short the program's potential economic and environmental effect, Cunningham said.

The way they normally operate seems to be one factor:

While the obvious solution to the problem at hand might seem to be to strip the clunkers and put the parts on a shelf until a buyer comes along, few shops have the time and storage capacity for such a harvest.

They often keep their autos whole or mostly whole and remove a bumper, rearview mirror or the like when someone asks for them.

That makes sense. Most salvage yards are small operations - lots of land, but only a few employees - and stripping a vehicle for parts is pretty labor intensive.

And, of course, the biggest flaw in the whole program is still there, too.

According to Cunningham, "the real clunker junker smoker" is still going down the highway because its owner could not afford the payments for a new car.

What got traded in for the most part were "very nice cars, very above-average. I had Lexuses being traded in," he said. "Eighty percent of the cars that were traded in, easily, would have went straight into the wholesale market to be resold with absolutely no problem getting rid of them."

But without functioning engines and engine replacement forbidden by the guidelines, the industry has turned to what it calls parting the vehicles out.

Salvage yards are finding there's plenty of demand, but they need time for purchasers to show up. Many highlight their inventories on the Web and wait for a potential customer -- a mechanic or do-it-yourselfer -- to come through the door, call or send an e-mail.

People who could afford to own a Lexus were trading them in on the taxpayer's dime? Total. Fail.

Some other unintended side-effects?

Since 84 percent of the trades were SUVs or trucks, a supply glut could depress prices, he said.

In addition, taking 700,000 vehicles out of service is likely to somewhat reduce the demand for the very parts salvage yards now have in ample supply, he added.

Besides, the program didn't do what it was supposed to do, anyway.

According to Cross-Sell, a Lexington, Ky., automotive market analysis company, sales for August and September jumped 16 percent in the New River Valley and 3 percent in the Roanoke Valley, compared with last year.

However, the help was only temporary. Deep declines in sales continued at the program's close. For the first 10 months of the year, sales of new automobiles are down 21.5 percent in the New River Valley and 24 percent in the Roanoke Valley.

I'd like to see a graph of those figures. I bet August and September are just an insignificant bump on a steadily downward line.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

The joys of home ownership

As I mentioned in passing in an earlier post, I've been involved in trying to purchase a house. Well, I have succeeded! The closing was on Monday. Tuesday, I took the day off work to do some initial preparation for moving - mainly, changing the locks (the house had been used as a rental property for a while), and painting. It's small, but being single, it's all I really need.

The area under the awning is an enclosed porch. Here it is from the inside.

The solid door in the upper picture is the door leading into the actual house. It comes out in the living room.

The living room. The front door is to the left, just out of the picture. The door straight ahead is looking into the bedroom, and the archway to the right leads to the hallway, with the door on the right leading to the second bedroom (which will be the study).

Looking into the living room from the bedroom. Guess what I've been doing!

The bedroom. The door in the picture leads to the bathroom, which is shared between the bedroom and the study.

The study, looking into the hallway from the bathroom door.

The bathroom, from the bedroom. The door in the picture leads to the study.

And the bathroom from the study.

Here's the little "hallway." The kitchen is to the right, the study to the left. You can just see the back door through the kitchen door.

Looking into the kitchen.

And out from the kitchen.

Looking off the back deck. That old carport on the right has power and light, and you can see the brick grill in the right wall. There's a grape vine growing along the left "wall" too, and when I was first looking at the house, it did have grapes. I may have to learn to make wine!

Here's a closeup of the fence. It looks very picturesque, but it's also starting to come apart in places, so I'm going to have to replace it soon - probably in sections. That little rock wall runs all the way from the street to the carport along the property line, and there are some wild strawberry plants growing in places along the top!

Looking back at the house from the carport.

It's a nice little house. There are hardwood floors throughout. The attic is large enough to be finished if I need a little more space, the yard is big enough to enjoy, but not too big to maintain easily. It has a few little problems, too, but nothing I can't fix myself given enough time.

Now I just have to finish painting so I can move in.