Saturday, February 09, 2008

2008 Winter Carnival Parade

These pictures were taken at the line up of the parade. The bands, and there were many good ones, joined the parade further down the street.

Friday, February 08, 2008

TSA Blog

Wow! The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) actually has a blog called "evolution of security". Believe it or else you can actually make comments! Not only that....but they seem to actually respond to comments. This is an interesting blog, very well written and with even a bit of humor thrown in. Worth a visit.

Dinner Plate Sized Calamari?

How about a 60 ft long colossal squid with arms over a foot in diameter.

Reboot the Clinton Scandals

It's started even before she has become President. Is this a scandel or not? Exactly what illegal activity has taken place?
Forty-nine of the Clintons' Lincoln Bedroom guests are among the 250 HillRaisers listed on Mrs. Clinton's campaign Web page, who have pledged to gather, or "bundle," at least $100,000 in donations. Some have promised to raise $1 million or more for the 2008 campaign, the most costly in U.S. history.

Didn't G.W. Bush have "Rangers" and "Pioneers" bundle large donations to his campaign when he was running? Naturally, you need to consider the source of the story but this is just a sample of what we will get everyday that Hillary is President. It is so bad that many conservatives are willing to vote for Hillary for President rather than John McCain. At least with Hillary as President conservatives will have their daily "scandals" with hopes of regaining the Presidency in four years.

Want to see something that probably really is a scandal? That would be the "accounting" problems at the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Finally, at a recent meeting, the now former NRCC treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, relented, giving Conaway what was supposed to be an official internal audit from 2006. That document was a fake, the GOP members said. Even the letterhead on which it was sent was a forgery.

Revelations about the falsified document touched off an unfolding scandal that has rocked the NRCC and spurred a criminal investigation by the FBI into the committee’s accounting procedures.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Snow Day

Eighteen inches of snow in the yard. Enough that the "plow guy" had to be brought in. Classes canceled. Here are some pictures.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

SL School District Contract Negotiations

An article in todays Adirondack Daily Enterprise points out that contract negotiations between the Saranc Lake School Board and NYSUT teachers has begun. The teachers contract expires in June 08. The big issue is going to be health insurance and how much teachers should contribute towards health insurance costs.

Health insurance for SL school district employees costs the district $5,484 for a single plan and $14,232 for a family plan. The district tax payers pay $3.7 million dollars towards employee health insurance - that's a very big chunk of the budget. SL teachers have never contributed towards health insurance costs as far as I am aware.

The teachers' negotiating team is headed by Ron Burke. He has trouble saying how much he thinks teachers should contribute towards health insurance costs. Ten years ago there was a plan accepted by the teachers to contribute $125 or $250 towards health insurance costs depending on whether the plan was single or family. That was ten years ago. Here is what Ron Burke has to say:
"I certainly know where I stand from the perspective of being a teacher, but I'm also a taxpayer....that's a really hard question to answer." [presumably concerning how much teachers should contribute towards health insurance costs]
Someone needs to bring these teachers into the real world. Most of us are contributing 10, 20, 25% towards health insurance costs if we are lucky enough to have employer sponsored plans. A $250 contribution towards a family health insurance plan would be about a 1.8% contribution. Let's be realistic...that just won't cut it. A minimum 10% contribution is what the school board should insist upon. Will it happen? I'm guessing a teacher contribution will be successfully negotiated. I'm pretty sure it will be far less than 10% however.

What a Day

Up and at em early because I was anxious to see the primary results. I was glad to see how well Obama did (and Mike Huckabee). Checked to see where my new laptop was in the delivery system and was surprised to see that my order had been deleted. Spent an hour on the phone talking about it with three different "Easter" customer service reps. Finally, when they could not connect me with a supervisor I resorted to threats. I couldn't find an appropriate customer service email address but I did find one for media relations. A quick email describing my disappointment with the company, threats to report them to the NYS Attorney General's office for false advertising and additional threats to trash them all I can on my blog resulted in a return email very quickly. Everything was set right and a new Lenovo Y510 will be sent to me in 5 days....with an additional 10% discount because of my whining.

Now I will finally be mobile. I don't need alot of computing power. I need wireless capability to access the internet, word processing and powerpoint for my classes and room to hold my many thousands of photos. This laptop gives me all that and more. The dual core processor is only an Intel T2330 operating at 1.6 GHz, but it comes standard with 2 gigs of RAM and a 250 gig hard drive. It has an integrated 1.3 mp video camera, 3 usb ports, a firewire port, DVD, Dolby 4.1 speaker system (4 speakers), a memory card reader and a claimed battery life of 4 hrs. Not too bad for a laptop that will end up costing me about $450 after whining discount and mail in rebates. Oh yeah, I'm loading the freebee OpenOffice and Firefox for my main software.

Next I was off to give an Anatomy and Physiology lecture on the blood. I expected to cover the whole chapter but we got a bit bogged down in blood typing so I still have to cover white blood cells and clotting.

Then off to my credit union for a discussion of financials with the CEO. In case anyone has missed it recently, the financial world isn't doing so well.

Back to the college for a quick lunch then 3 hours on a library computer writing a lab quiz for Friday (about cardiac output and stroke volume) and the actual lab for Friday. Fridays labe is going to be on basic ECG interpretation. At 4PM I stopped in on a lab session to see how cat dissection was going on. Some girl snapped the tail off one poor kitty.

Home to do a little shoveling....we got about 7 inches of snow last night and today. Under the snow is glare ice. Then I cooked dinner for me and the wife and we went back out to shovel. After taking three pretty bad falls I decided the driveway could stay snow covered for awhile.

This is the first chance I've had to check out my usual favorite political blogs and friends blogs and make an entry in my own blog. Oh yeah, I had to redo some entries on the class pathology blog too ( if you want to learn some basic pathology).

Now I'm going to sit down in my recliner and try to finish The Nine (about the Supreme Court - a fascinating book), if the rabbit will leave me alone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

RIP Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh, of Transcendental Meditation fame, died today in the Netherlands. He was 91. He was the guru of the Beatles. The man brought a message of the occult mixed with physics and thought he could bring peace to the world. It was not to be.

2009 Military Budget

G.W. Bush is requesting 515.4 billion dollars for the military. That is more than the total of all the military budgets for the rest of the world. But actually Bush is requesting 713.1 billion dollars for the military because he doesn't include money for fighting our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget request also doesn't include 16 billion dollars for nuclear war heads, 5 billion dollars for defense related activities and 4.3 billion dollars for other mandated military activities.

So what major weapons systems is Bush asking for? The Navy wants a new aircraft carrier, A DDG1000 destroyer and a Virginia Class nuclear submarine - total cost for new ships about 16 billion dollars. Then we have the F-35 fighter for the Navy, Airforce and Marine Corps - that's 46 billion dollars. How about almost 13 billion dollars for the missle defense system?

Oddly enough, I am a military weapons buff. My bookshelf is full of books about the military and major weapons - especially ships, submarines and aircraft. But these weapons are all weapons meant to be used in a massive conventional war with a major world power. I won't question whether we need or do not need the weapons. But surely the aquisition of the weapons could be put on a slower schedule. Obviously, stopping the war in Iraq would provide some budgetary relief. But we still seem to be one scared country.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Like I've said before, it's "hard work" finding conservative websites that have anything good to say about the current pack of Republicans running for President. Check out what has to say about Republican candidates:

McCain has Reagan’s toughness, is a Vietnam War hero, supports a strong military, and opposes pork-barrel spending, but sides with liberals on immigration, freedom of speech, taxes, environmental extremism, and other important issues. [We sure don't want someone that supports freedom of speech.]

Huckabee is a Reagan-style populist and a conservative on social issues, but is sympathetic to Goreism, and he fought conservatives on taxes, spending, immigration, and other issues when he was governor. [Oh no! Sympathetic to Goreism, whatever that is. Is it empathy for the poor? That sure isn't a Republican value.]

Romney has adopted a mostly-Reaganite platform, but he is suspect because he converted to conservatism only after serving as governor, and, besides, many conservatives see him as a probable loser in November. [At least they've got this guys number. He would change any position just to get elected.]

Ron Paul is the real straight-talker in the race, the one who stays truest to the libertarian beliefs that are, as Reagan said, “the heart of conservatism.” He is the one candidate who doesn’t confuse a strong defense with the failed policy of nation-building. But most conservatives want a powerful U.S. presence in world affairs and will never support Paul’s defense and foreign policy. In any event, Paul’s chance of getting elected, or even nominated, is infinitesimal. [Ron Paul, good candidate, but damn it.....he just really doesn't like war enough.]

And horror of horrors, Rush Limbaugh may not support the Republican nominee this year. We sure can't have someone running that doesn't have the approval of ol Rush.

But who could enter the race and get the approval of the conservatives? Jim DeMint, the most conservative member of the Senate and a complete idiot? How about George "Macaca" Allen? Too bad G.W. ruined any chances Jeb might have had to be President. Maybe we could dig up Reagans body and reanimate it? But the best bet would be to get someone to wake up Fred Thompson and get him back in the race.

January 2008 Weather Summary

Weather summary for January 2008.The high temperature for January was 54.8 degrees and the low temperature -15.6 degrees. Quite a temperature range. We had 0.41 in. of precipitation. The barometric pressure ranged from a high of 30.85 in. to a low of 29.24 in. High wind speed was 36 mph.

Why I'm Voting for Obama

First, even if there was the slightest possibility that I would vote Republican...there just isn't a Republican candidate worth voting for this year. Eight years ago I was sympathetic to John McCain. But then he sold his soul to G.W. Bush so he could run for President. Also, I don't want us in Iraq for 100 years and I would prefer a strong economy.

I have several reasons for supporting Obama. 1) His name and race would show the rest of the World that the USA really is a melting pot of people with different backgrounds, ideas and opinions. 2) Unlike G.W. Bush, I believe Obama is sincere in wanting to operate government in a less partisan manner. This does not mean giving in to Republicans the way Congressional Democrats are currently doing so. It means true compromise. 3) Obama is an inspiring speaker (more so than Reagan)which is a major change from G.W. Bush. 4) Obama has a better chance of winning the Presidential race than does Clinton. He would attract more independents and more moderate Republicans. 5) I like the fact that he is willing to listen and talk with the heads of foreign governments, especially those governments that the USA has problems with (or they with us). 6) I think he has better judgement than Hillary Clinton.

Do I know what kind of President Obama will be? No. But I do know that if Hillary Clinton is elected we can expect at least 4 more years of Republican rage. Also, I'm not sure how well things would work out with both Hillary and Bill in the White House. If Hillary is elected President....the first thing I would recommend is that she appoint Bill to the first opening of the Supreme Court. That would get him out of her hair.

G.W. Bush - Lincoln or Johnson

Who would have guessed that G.W. Bush and some of his supporters see G.W. as a President similar to Lincoln. This article by Garrett Epps will put a stop to that notion immediately. Read it and decide for yourself whether Bush is more like Lincoln or Andrew Johnson.

How Expensive is Clean Air?

The future of FutureGen isn't looking so bright. "FutureGen is a public-private partnership to design, build, and operate the world's first coal-fueled, near-zero emissions power plant, at an estimated net project cost of US $1.5 billion". An article in last weeks Science Times says that the government seems to be reniging on it's promise to pay for 70% of the project because it is too expensive.
With the budget of the so-called FutureGen project having nearly doubled, to $1.8 billion, and the government responsible for more than 70 percent of the eventual bill, the administration completely revamped the project.

The Energy Department said it would pay for the gas-capturing technology, but industry would have to build and pay for the commercial plants that use the technology. Plans for the experimental plant were scratched.

There is also an op-ed piece in todays NYT concerning FutureGen and G.W.'s commitment to slowing climate change. Too expensive at 1.8 billion dollars. It's about the cost of less than one week of war in Iraq. A single B2 bomber costs 2.2 billion dollars. A single aircraft carrier....over 4 billion dollars. But attempting to design technology that may reduce climate change is too expensive.

Sunday, February 03, 2008