Archive for category Misc

Three More Great Ryes, & Two Yummy Whiskeys


Here are three more great ryes that I’m fond of, along with two whiskey’s, Tin Cup & Wyoming Whiskey, that are EXCELLENT, too.  Tin Cup is actually a “high rye bourbon cut” whiskey.  Tin Cup’s founder Jess Graber, the creator of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, uses a blend of 64% corn, 32% rye and 4% malted barley.  The master distiller of Wyoming Whiskey, Steve Nally, who spent 33 years of his career distilling for Maker’s Mark, uses a blend of locally grown corn, wheat & barley in this great tasting small batch bourbon whiskey.  Wyoming Whiskey is the first, and only, legal distillery in the State of Wyoming, located in the town of Kirby.

To read the back labels, click on the thumbnail below.



Gap between Stove & Countertop? Fill it with Door & Window Rubber Weatherseal

We recently replaced our counter tops & installed a new gas range, and lo & behold, we now have discernable gaps on both sides of the stove next to the counter top.

Not finding any solutions I liked online, I remembered the rubber weatherseal I recently used around our doors in our house:

weatherseal-1  weatherseal-2  weatherseal-3

I purchased the above weatherseal at Lowes, but I’m sure any decent home improvement store will have a similar product.  The one shown above is a high performance EPDM rubber D-profile weatherseal.  You could probably use it ‘as is’ in the gap, but I split it down the middle (split shown in 3rd image above) & only used half of the weatherseal in each gap.  I found it in two sizes (1/8″-7/32″ and 3/16″ – 5/16″) and in two colors (white & brown).  Here’s what it looks like installed:

countertop-1  countertop-2

countertop-3  countertop-4

I didn’t remove the self-adhesive strip paper.  I just gently pressed the weatherseal into the gap for a pressure fit, and it hasn’t moved.


Selected Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

Courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), here are a number of Congressional Research Service reports published over the past year that you might find of interest:


Some of my favorite ryes…


Managing your Digital Afterlife

Scientific American posted an article a couple days ago titled How to Manage your Digital Afterlife that’s well worth reading.  Salon re-posted the same article today, just in case you can’t get to the original article.

I posted a blog article over three & a half years ago titled “What happens to your online accounts when you croak?”  in which I discussed the importance of providing access to all of your online accounts & activities to your loved ones or next-of-kin, and how you might go about doing that.  The Scientific American article above covers an entirely different aspect of death, in particular, how “your online persona and possessions can help assuage grief over your passing,” and the following:

In the modern world, however, another echo of us exists that will outlast our physical existence: our writings and records in the digital realm. Our digital “selves” are composites of mementos such as images on Shutterfly or Flickr, books on e-readers, and our musings and correspondence on e-mail, blogs and social-media accounts. This full array of data deposits, legal experts say, is your digital legacy.

The increasing importance of our online identities adds a new layer to grief and mourning. Growing evidence suggests a person’s contributions to the cloud can be dear to mourners and, because they are easily accessible, potentially lasting and interactive, can help them cope with the loss. Yet many of us have given little thought to what will happen to our online accounts after we die.

Most of what I wrote 3 1/2 years ago is still applicable, because our legal system has yet to establish a coherent system for governing the inheritance of digital assets. If you leave it to chance, you may have little control.  Only six states have laws that allow next-of-kin access.  The article states:

The lack of legislation means that the ownership of your profile can revert back to the company who owns that site after your death unless you specify otherwise.

Although you could specify in your will what you’d like done with your digital life after your death, the article also recommends:

creating a locked paper document or secure database that has passwords and security questions for your e-mail, banking and other online accounts so friends and family can access or deactivate your profiles, notify e-mail correspondents of your passing, and take care of any financial concerns.

Possibly more important than your own digital afterlife, especially if you’re an old fart like me, is the digital afterlife of your children.  I know personally that I’d like to have access to my child’s online persona should something happen to him.  (You know… to help assuage my grief?  Yeah!  That’s it!)

Now… how to go about convincing my son that it’s in his best interest, too???




… and may the force of the U.S. government shutdown NOT be with you!

PLEASE! Stand By the 4th Amendment & Against Mass Surveillance!


132 People Provided 60% of SuperPAC Funding in the last election!!!

132 people equates to 0.000042 percent of the American population, according to a TED Talk given by Lawrence Lessig last month.  His talk outlines the corruption that is at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens.  I strongly urge you to take 18 minutes out of your time to watch this video!


The transcript of this talk can be viewed at TED or downloaded here; the audio MP3 here.

Watch the video; get mad; then do something about it.  It’s not too late to turn this around.  This “corruption” is not only the root of many of our current (& past) problems, but is also gives credence to the statement:

We have become a government that’s “of” the Corporations; run “by” the Corporations; & “for” Corporations

As a first step, please join Rootstrikers.  If you want to learn more about the corruption that’s overtaking taken over our political system, then read their FAQ and view (or download) “Goodnight Democracy.”

For even more detail about this corruption and a credible plan for fixing it, a TED ebook titled “Lesterland: The Corruption of Congress and How to End It” by Lawrence Lessig is available for $1.99 from Amazon, Nook or iTunes.

Like I said above… it’s not too late to turn this around.

Internet Sales Tax — Looks Like It’s Inevitable…

no_internet_sales_taxesAhhh yes… our fearless leaders are at it again, this time trying to squash what little value & joy us ‘little people’ experience when shopping on the Internet.  I’ve signed two petitions and sent multiple letters to my representatives, but I’m sure it’s to no avail.  I believe they call it the “Marketplace Fairness Act.”  Yeah, sure… ya betcha.

According to Bob Rankin’s article “Internet Sales Tax Is Coming,” total Internet sales in 2012 was only 5% of total US retail sales.  So…  for this meager 5% we’re allowing states to expand their tax authority & tax across state borders (despite clear legal and judicial precedent arguing otherwise); saddle small Internet businesses with state-infested bureaucratic red tape; discourage tax competition among states; and threaten Internet user privacy because all of our purchase details will now be available to the states/localities in which we live.  Such a deal!

Should you desire to sign a petition (here & here) or send a letter (here or here) to your representatives, PLEASE DO SO NOW!!!

On a totally unrelated note, ever wonder just how well (rich) all the Obama staff veterans are doing?  This article from Techdirt covers it well:

A long piece for the New Republic written by Noam Scheiber details the large number of former Obama team members moving into the private sector, leveraging their administration connections to start lucrative consulting firms. Nearly anything goes without anyone inside the administration blinking an eye — provided certain political lines aren’t crossed.

You can read the full New Republic article here.


Why Don’t We Have Free, Simple Tax Filing? Blame Intuit (maker of TurboTax)

According to Pro Publica:

Intuit, producer of the top-selling tax software TurboTax, has opposed letting the government do your taxes for free – even though it could save time and headaches for millions of filers.

and (same article):

Conservatives and software companies will keep tax season miserable

Return-free filing could save taxpayers billions, but the GOP and companies like TurboTax maker Intuit don’t care

and NPR (audio):

Opposition Blocks Return-Free Tax Filing In U.S.

As far as I’m concerned, Intuit has NEVER had their customer’s best interests at heart.  After using TurboTax for 12 years, in 2005 I switched to TaxACT due to the rapidly increasing price of TurboTax & it’s increasing restrictions on the user.  TaxACT offers completely free Federal Income Tax filing with no restrictions — either online or via downloadable desktop application.  You do have to pay a nominal fee for the State return, but it’s only half the price of what TurboTax charges.

And how many of you have used Intuit’s Quicken?  Do you realize that each version released expires after three years, and no longer allows you to download bank or investment transactions (e.g., no online banking)?  Same thing with QuickBooks.

As a minimum, the government should provide most all taxpayers with appropriate software to prepare their tax returns.  Ideally, they’d allow taxpayers a choice from popularly available software (i.e., TaxACT, H&R Block, TurboTax) — at no cost to the average taxpayer.

So… any chance of this ever happening?  Nope.  We have a government that’s “of” the Corporations; run “by” the Corporations; & “for” Corporations.  Anyway’s… you wouldn’t want that $11.5 million Intuit spent on federal lobbying to go to waste now, would you???

This Techdirt article says it all:  Intuit Continues To Make Sure Filing Taxes Is Complicated

Recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports… for your reading pleasure

Courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), here are a number of Congressional Research Service reports published since the first of the year that you might find of interest:


Love & Farting… had an interesting article this past Saturday titled “Farting in Love” that discusses the role “farting” has in relationships.

After 15 years, our only real rule is that you can’t NOT comment on someone’s fart.” She added, “If I ever farted and my husband said NOTHING, I would know we were doomed.

How true.  In our case, we just blame each other & that usually works.  When we still had a kid in the house, he got all the blame (and rightly so!  His farts were DEADLY!!!).

But back to farting & relationships… here’s a site that shows you how to use fart mathematics to determine your relationship strength.

Happy Farting!

CRS releases report on income inequality in the US

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service just released an updated report titled “U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility: Trends and International Comparisons”  dated 11/29/12. In it they find that over the past few decades, the rich have gotten a lot richer.  In addition, the data they analyzed “suggest that those at the very top have reaped disproportionately larger gains from economic growth.  In the report’s comparison with other countries, it stated “the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most unequal of all major industrialized countries and the United States appears to be among the nations experiencing the greatest increases in measures of income dispersion.

Why do (or should) I care?  I have nothing against the wealthy.  But… I’m really starting to get pissed with all the nonsense about the “fiscal cliff” and how it’s “ok” to cut benefits & raise taxes on the middle class, but not on the wealthy.  Uh… excuse me… but I think most American’s realize that the greatest number of tax breaks (& loopholes) apply, many exclusively, to only the wealthy.

Oh… and all that crap from the GOP that lowering taxes on the wealthy creates more jobs & improves the economy?  Uh, well, uh… the CRS released a report in September titled “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945” which found no correlation between reduced tax rates and increased economic growth over the past 6+ decades.  Of course, the GOP didn’t like that & forced the CRS to withdraw the report (see NY Times article Non-Partisan Tax Report Withdrawn after GOP Protest).  The report states “data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.

Ya just gotta love the Republican Party, eh?  To heck with woman’s rights, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Medicare. and even PBS/NPR; and to heck with all the people EXCEPT the rich.  I’m embarrassed to even admit that I ever voted Republican!

All I ask is to be taxed fairly.  If there are benefits to be granted, then they should be distributed from the bottom up… not from top (most wealthy) down.  Maybe it’s time to finally throw out our overly complicated tax system and just switch to a Flat Tax.  Things have gotten so ridiculous & our representatives so useless that I’m beginning to believe that only a “Flat Tax” system can save us.

But what the heck do I know?

Old Farts that use Computers are less likely to get DEMENTIA!

A new report just published from Australia claims that aging men (69-87) that use computers are less likely to get dementia (up to a 40% lower incidence rate).  The conclusion of the report: “Older men who use computers have lower risk of receiving a diagnosis of dementia up to 8.5 years later.

The report is summarized in The Register and is available free from PLos ONE (pdf download).

The study broke out the numbers by type of computer use (Email, Games, Internet, Word processing & Other), with Internet use having one of the lowest dementia incident ratios.  Their results also indicate that using the computer more often reduces the incidence of dementia.

Cumulative hazard of dementia among older men according to their use of computers.

Altho’ I’m not in the study’s age group, from the results shown above (Fig 1) I’m hoping that the earlier you start & the more you use computers, the better the results.

If you don’t feel you’re using the computer enuf, then take a stab at a free game called Entanglement.  It’s not only addicting, but it requires some serious thought.  To see how to play, click on “Menu” on the right side of the page followed by “How to Play.”


The War on Pubic Hair — What? Why? How Come? Huh?

Finally!  An article that addresses my own meager observations concerning the disappearance of pubic hair on women over the past couple decades (and on men, too, according to The Atlantic article).  I find great joy in finally seeing an article that starts out with the line “I must have missed the declaration of war on pubic hair,” as that’s exactly how I feel.  I mean, I didn’t necessarily miss it… I did notice the disappearing pubes… I just didn’t know it had gone this far… or that it was ‘a war.’  It seems (to me, anyways) like this all came about with little to no public conversation or reporting.  Gee… haven’t we evolved enough to allow a general discussion about ‘pubic hair’?  To shave… or not to shave???  (Apparently not)

So… why do I care?  Well, I don’t, really.  I just don’t understand why.  I’m of the “if it’ ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” generation.  My motto is:  We came with hair, so leave it there!  I choose to believe that it’s probably there for a reason (and no… not just because we’re all chimpanzee or gorilla descendants)

Oh well… just so long as Congress doesn’t pass a law requiring me to shave MY pubes (which, BTW, wouldn’t surprise me), then so be it.

In case you’re interested, here’s several articles I found that discuss the “Case of the Missing Pubes”:

Gotta go… uh… scratch… my pubes… before they disappear.

Colorado Hummers (at my feeder, they are…)

A few pics of hummingbirds visiting our feeder this summer.

Slide shows w/full-size photos are here (#1) and here (#2).

Colorado Hummingbirds (2012)

Colorado Hummingbirds (2012)

Colorado Hummingbirds (2012)

  • All pics taken w/Canon EOS Rebel T3 w/Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens


This is how I feel about religion… & 15 tidbits about Coffee

This comic  titled How to suck at your religion from “The Oatmeal” captures pretty much perfectly just how I feel about religion (and many religious people I know or have known).

Also check out The Oatmeal for 15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee.”

Kansas! The uber-religious, anti-abortion PORN STATE!

I just got back from loading up and driving a slow rental truck from Knoxville, Tennessee to Colorado.  Needless to say, I spent a great deal of time on Interstate 70.

Have you ever noticed that wherever extremely religious people are found, bizarre behavior or customs seem to prevail?

I tried to take a rough count of highway signs (billboards) along I-70 in Kansas and guess what?  Adult Superstore billboards (porn) seemed to win by a large margin.  In between all the porn superstore signs are primarily religious signs (Porn Destroys Families; Jesus Hates Abortion; etc., etc., etc.).  Cute, eh?

Now… are the majority of customers for all these ‘porn superstores’ from out of state or just truckdrivers?  I seriously doubt that.  Although I’d prefer much fewer billboard advertisements along any highway, I have nothing against adult store advertisements in particular.  In fact, if I had to choose between only religious or adult bookstore signs, I’d take the adult advertisements every time.  (Guess that makes me a pervert, eh?)

Here’s my observation from living in nearly a dozen states & all the religious people (of many religions) I’ve known over the past several decades:

How extreme the religious beliefs a person has is directly proportional to how big a pervert that person is.

Now this is just a rule of thumb, and most certainly not always true.  But it’s been more true than not in my experience.

P.S.  In Missouri, they seem to prefer “Gentleman’s Club” vs. “Adult Superstore” with respect to billboard language.  Isn’t that nice!

Data Caps (Usage Based Pricing) for Wired Broadband in America!

I wrote a post nearly a year & a half ago concerning Canada’s ISP-forced metered internet usage, warning that this is likely to spread to America.  Well…. apparently it’s here.

Public Knowledge paper “Know Your Limits”Public Knowledge published a paper last week about data caps and so-called “usage-based billing.”  Directly from their Executive Summary:

Usage-based pricing (UBP), today most commonly encountered in the form of data caps, is rapidly becoming part of the Internet access landscape.

The paper considers economic and historical perspectives and raises some concerns, both in regards to competition and to national priorities such as broadband adoption, education, employment, and innovation more generally.

Unfortunately, not too long ago the FCC gave UBP an unequivocal green light (at the request of industry stakeholders) to expressly allow “bandwidth- or consumption-based” billing to address network congestion (whether or not it exists!).  The FCC adopted the reasoning that UBP (which includes data caps) can be an effective mechanism to ensure that consumers pay for what they use.

This argument alludes to many falsehoods, including that Internet bandwidth is being eaten up by Bandwidth Hogs.  Here’s what the report says:

Before considering the existence of Bandwidth hogs, we should examine the nature of Internet access as a service.  For starters, bits are not physical goods, and therefore cannot be “consumed” in any meaningful sense.  Absent network congestion, one person’s use of bandwidth does not interfere with another’s.  This is because the Internet is largely a “non-rivalrous” technology:  one’s use or consumption of the Internet does not impede or deprive anyone else from enjoying it as well.  Furthermore unlike, for example, vehicular traffic, bits do not “wear out the road.”  Maintenance costs for networking equipment are not directly related to the volume of traffic they process.  The rhetoric behind the cost-recovery rationale for data caps is heavily charged with notions of equity, scarcity, and unjust  subsidization.  It begins with the intuitively appealing notion that users of a resource should “pay for what they use.”

The Internet is based on a technical concept called “statistical multiplexing” where multiple users can share the same bandwidth that previously would be consumed by one user making a single phone call.  In theory, with statistical multiplexing there is no limit on how many users can share the bandwidth represented by the circuit for a single phone call.  Unlike other utilities such as water, electricity, gas or oil, where the product is actually “consumed” by end users, network bandwidth is never truly “consumed”: bandwidth is infinitely reusable and therefore only temporarily in use (or “consumed”) at any given time.

Although our major ISPs make the claim that UBP is needed to counter network congestion, there is no data available to support their claim.  Network congestion apparently does occasionally occur, almost exclusively during the evening hours (after work) when people are getting their Netflix or Hulu fixes.  But UBP will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to alleviate this congestion — when & if it occurs.  More often than not, it’s due to the ISP’s practice of “oversubscription” (i.e., selling more bandwidth than it can actually provide at any given time).  This usually happens at the endpoints, i.e., neighborhood Customer Aggregation Equipment (CAE).  Fortunately, this is easily (& inexpensively) resolved by the ISPs.

Bottom line?  For both cable (coax) & wired (tele company) broadband, there is little evidence that “bandwidth hogs” are imposing costs that are either unpaid or borne by other users.

All data coming from Canada (& other countries) that have imposed data caps indicate that competition (as in lack of), rather than congestion, determines whether a service provider feels entitled to impose UBP on its customers — which is particularly troubling in the U.S. given the lack of competition in the broadband market.

The communications industry in the U.S. is moving rapidly towards UBP, and is stigmatizing flat rate pricing as unjust and unsustainable.  However, much of the rest of the world (except Canada) is moving in the other direction.

The conclusion of the paper begins with:

Flat pricing schemes should be regarded as an ideal goal, supporting innovation and social and economic welfare, and not as irrational aberrations that promote inefficiency and waste.  However, sometimes temporary resource constraints may make flat rates infeasible.   Currently, in the wired Internet, that does not appear to be a real concern, as the rate of progress in technology appears to be comparable to the rate at which traffic demand is rising, so that should be possible to support the growth in traffic without increases in the level of investment.  On the wireless side, traffic is growing faster than carriers are investing in capacity improvements, so the case for UBP appears far stronger.

My concern is with wired broadband, not wireless.  With more ISPs (i.e., Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) offering their own content, which does not count against their data caps, it’s going to get increasingly difficult (& definitely more expensive) for users to obtain content from 3rd-party providers like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, etc..  In addition, it will hasten the downfall of any 3rd-party competition.  The sad fact of the matter is that American ISPs have a monopoly.  By allowing them to also sell their own content, they’re now in a position to eliminate any outside competition.  This will make it even more difficult to ‘cut the cord’ from cable content.

Don’t ya just love how monopolies rule in America?


Better Buy GPS for your car now (before NHTSA renders it useless)

I just saw the C/NET article (Fed driver distraction guidelines make navigation unusable) by Wayne Cunningham reviewing the recently issued National Highway Transportation Safety Agency guidelines for automakers to minimize distraction for in-vehicle electronics.

Not to worry… “NHTSA says you can keep your GPS — as long as it’s completely useless” (Techdirt article).   Me thinks their new acronym should be NHTSBA (Nat’l Highway Transporation Safety & Buffoon Agency).

Now… I don’t have a GPS, auto or handheld (altho’ I’ll probably buy one now before the NHTSBA renders them useless).  I grew up with maps and still use them.  Most folks probably don’t even remember the Rand McNally Road Atlas that nearly everyone who traveled cross-country had.  When is the last time you saw maps for sale in a gas station?

I was a navigator in the Navy (NFO) and we relied exclusively on maps.  Even when GPS became more prevalent, training still included extensive map training, as the Navy used to follow the axiom: “The more you rely on technology, the more likely that technology will fail when you need it most”  (in other words, the reliability of technology tends to be inversely proportional to just how badly you need it to complete your mission).  Yes, I know… yet another version of Murphy’s Law.

But I digress… back to NHTSBA’s recommendations.  Why not cut to the chase and make the leap to new technology?  Like Cadillac’s new “Driver Awareness & Driver Assist” package, in which the seat vibrates to alert the driver to roadway threats.   That technology could be modified to vibrate the hell out of your ass whenever it determines that you’re distracted (or falling asleep).  Because some people – of either sex – might find a vibrating seat just a little “TOO” enjoyable, why not go with electrodes (or a butt probe) that shocks the shit out of you when the system somehow determines that you’re either distracted or falling asleep at the wheel?

Better yet… isn’t it about time that the “Heads-Up Display” technology prevalent in military aircraft finally became mainstream in the automobile?  With GPS overlays of driving instructions to a desired location displayed right on your windshield?   Of course, prepare yourself for complete failure of this technology when you absolutely NEED to get to your destination for any of the following possible reasons:

  • Trying to find the closest hospital to deliver an emergency victim
  • Trying to find the closest bathroom
  • Late for job interview
  • Late for wedding
  • Nearest Starbucks
  • Nearest Bar or Medical Marijuana Dispensary
  • Finding your way back home…
  • etc., etc., etc.

Ain’t technology just wonderful???

P.S.  As a backup for technology failure, don’t to forget to look up your destination on Google Maps & print it out BEFORE you jump in the car! (and, uh, don’t forget to bring it with you)

WWII Archive Film: “The Last Bomb (1945)”

A friend of mine forwarded me this link to B-29 & P-51 WWII footage by the War Department.  It’s around 36 minutes in length, but I found it extremely interesting.  It includes live footage of the 3,000 mile round trip air assault against Japan with 3 bomber wings and a host of P-51s.

Be sure to browse the Internet Archive website as they have a ton of other stuff, including many old B&W sci-fi movies such as “Plan 9 from Outer Space“, “Night of the Living Dead“, “Killers from Space“, and many more.  They also have old TV episodes such as the first episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.  Due to our outrageous copyright laws, many of the television episodes had to substitute different sound tracks (including theme songs) because they couldn’t license the original sound track.