I Am Afraid

Malala Yousafzai is 14 yrs old, and is lying in a hospital bed,  fighting for her life.  She was forcibly removed from her school bus and shot in the head by the local Taliban.  I won’t rehash the entire story, you can read it here.

She was a blogger, and a recent post was titled: ” I Am Afraid”

This young girl knew that by openly advocating for educational opportunities for women, she could be targeted by extremists, and of course she was.  The word courageous doesn’t cut it.

I just don’t know what to say.  I’m furious.  I’m heartsick for her and her family.  I want the bastards that did it and those who authorized it strung up and set on fire.

Maybe I’ll write more about this once I’ve calmed down.  Right now, everything I start to write has a “slippery slope of religious extremism” angle and sounds too mean-spirited.

Sorry.

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Wherein I Channel Angelo Dundee

When I was in 5th grade, there was a kid named John Heffington who lived down the street, and he was a bit of a bully.  I was afraid of him.  One day, he stood on the block wall that separated our front yard from our neighbor’s, and proceeded to call me out to come and fight.  I hid in our dining room, peering out the window.  This went on for several minutes, until my big brother saw what was going on, and urged me to go out there and fight.  I politely declined.  Several times.  Finally, my brother, clearly exasperated, threatened to beat me up if I did not go and silence this kid.  I was afraid of John Heffington, but I was terrified at the thought of my brother whipping my ass.  So, reluctantly, I went outside, put up my dukes, and wrestled with that kid until he gave up.

In the 7th grade, I was walking home with my friend, Bill Lyons, when a kid named Richie Fuentes kept taunting me about God knows what.  Again, Richie was known for being a bully, and again, I was afraid of him.  There were some girls watching, so I finally decided to fight.  As I was removing my jacket, Richie landed two punches to my jaw.  I was shocked that it didn’t hurt very much.  I was furious at this unsportsmanlike behavior, and nearly beat Richie to death.  My friend Bill had to stop me from dragging him out into traffic in my rage.

The first fight taught me that I could wrestle a bigger kid into submission, the second one that I could take a punch.  Important lessons, those.  Since the 7th grade, there have been dozens of fistfights, some won, some lost, but I truly cannot remember starting any of them.  (Though, I should note that when I was younger, a shot or two of scotch whiskey started my mouth running.  In fact, it was my brother who dragged me out of a mob-owned bar in New Jersey before my mouth got me “disappeared.”  Thanks, Bro.)

I mention all of this because I keep reading how “non-confrontational” our President is, and that he is unsure how to react when someone steps to him, as the kids say.  I call bullshit.  He has said it himself…he’s a skinny guy with a funny sounding name.  You mean to tell me he never had to fight coming up?  Impossible.  A skinny black kid with a white mom AND who lives with his grandparents is a prime target in every neighborhood on the planet.

Now, it is a bit of a stretch to equate a debate to a fist fight, but still, there are similarities.  If you engage in a half-hearted manner, you are going to get your ass kicked.  Even in fights I knew I would lose, I went with the mindset that the other guy was going to miss a day or two of work afterward.  I never won a fight by NOT throwing a punch.

Well, Sir, this is now a fight.  You spent the summer mocking and belittling Mitt Romney, and for awhile it worked.  But you and your team have picked all of the low hanging fruit.  Car elevators, 47 percent, and Big Bird are not going to cut it anymore.  Your debate performance ensured that.  Now it is time to stand up, defend your record, and make clear that there are HUGE differences between you and Mr. Romney.  Because there are, and there is much at stake.  Please, I beg you…do not start out any sentence with the words “this is an area in which me and Mr. Romney agree”.  Don’t. Do. That.

Like it or not, you are vulnerable on Benghazi.  Be ready for that.  If your administration dropped the ball, say so, and then outline what steps you have taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  If you did all that you could, again, say so. You’ve got some serious Foreign Policy street cred.  Know what the most dangerous job on the planet is?  Number Two man on the Al Qaeda organizational chart.  Bin Laden was not an easy call, ensconced as he was in a bedroom community in Pakistan.  Had that gone wrong, Darryl Issa would have moved to immediately impeach.  Do not. Do not.  DO NOT let Mr. Romney pontificate about what he would have done.  We’ve suffered terribly fighting two wars that were poorly planned, not to mention unnecessary from the jump.   Tie Mr. Romney to those that would have us embark on a third.

There is nothing left to protect.  You can’t run for another term.  Stand up for the millions of Americans who voted for you in 2008.  It’s that simple.

Do I have to send my brother over there?

 

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The Spin Room

I don’t watch post-debate coverage.  To me, it seems silly to let the pundits tell you how to process what was said.  I’ll admit I was taken aback by how manic Romney was, and how feckless Jim Lehrer was.  I don’t pretend to know if President Obama was playing the long game…but he looked tired, and Romney did not.  That will matter to people.  Do I think it changes much?  Nope.

Still, I was disappointed that POTUS did little by way of offering a contrast, indeed he started (as he often does) by pointing out how parallel their policies are, when in fact, they are at best dissimilar, and often completely opposite.  POTUS missed opportunities to point this out, and that was unfortunate.  It is more important than ever to be clear about what is at stake, what a Republican vision is versus that of a Democratic vision.  POTUS really didn’t do it.

On style, I’ve read this morning that POTUS seemed like the only adult in the room.  Sorry, I  disagree.  Romney looked like an adult, it’s just that he looked like a manic, belligerent, and condescending adult.  They exist, you know.

If I were advising POTUS (and thank your personal God I am not) I’d tell him to better prepare, to speak up, and, well, find his fangs a little.  Romney opened the door for this.  Go on and walk through it.

Let’s see what happens in Debate II.

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No! I Really Mean It This Time!

Ahem.  Well, seems I spoke too soon.  This has been an odd year for this website.  In nine years, I have never gone this long without posting anything.  This has been a year of learning about my limitations.  I took on a gig last year, and it was quite the ride.  I learned more about contracting than I ever wanted to, and I learned quite a bit about SEO and PPC and ROI and of course, CYA.  There was very little room in my handsome head for anything else…including my most favorite subjects like spirituality, politics, and for lack of a better phrase…the human condition.  That bothered me quite a bit, but I would have done it all over again, mainly because I got to know some truly fine people who I otherwise would not have met.  I came away from this experience truly impressed by nearly every one of them, and each of them taught me something, I believe.  But it is done.  The moment I made the decision to spend the rest of this year catching up around Coyote Creek, I felt instantly relieved.  I’m way behind, and I couldn’t afford to hire people to do the things that need doing, so I will be playing catch-up this Fall.  That’s fine with me, the leaves are turning, the air is mostly crisp and clean, and this is a beautiful place to do chores, all in all.

So, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

With that, let’s do a bit of catching up, shall we?  For those of you that emailed and asked about us, first, thank you, and let me just say that we are all in good health.  There was a nasty scare with the horses this year, I waited too long to move them from Winter pasture, and the fescue was so hot this year, three of our horses nearly foundered.  It took a very compassionate farrier, and some herculean efforts on our part to keep them on their feet.  I won’t make that mistake again.  They are out of the woods now, and I am so relieved and grateful to Ricky and Rita, who spent countless hours tending to these horses for next to nothing.

We are dealing with aging parents, and Alzhiemers.  I am struck by how little resources there are to help people care for family members with any sort of dementia.  You’d think that with a wave of Boomers set to retire, there would be more information and assistance available, but you would be wrong, as I was.  We are fortunate, the Primary Wife is an RN, and I am tenacious when it comes to researching things, so we are somewhat well equipped to deal with this.  Still, it is exhausting at times. It can be a struggle to find the beauty in the situation, but it is there, even if I lack the writing skills to describe it.

What a farce of an election, amirite?  More than a billion dollars will be spent this year in an effort to convince us that President Obama is unfit for office he holds.  Roughly that much will be spent trying to convince us that former Governor Romney is unfit for the office he seeks.  And neither of those things is true.  Let me be clear…I intend to vote for the President.  I have huge concerns doing so, like drone wars targeting American citizens, and his cozy relationship with the banking industry.  Still, for me, there is no choice to be made.  I don’t think Romney is unfit.  He isn’t evil, he isn’t stupid.  But beyond that, I don’t know what he IS.  He took such ridiculous positions during the primaries that I lost all respect for him.  I believe he could be comfortably in the lead to win this election if he had been more like Jon Huntsman, and less like Rick Perry.  Anyway, I’d like know why the GOP thought this was a good time to talk about cutting back on Social Security, considering the enormous amount of Americans set to retire in the coming decade.  Sheesh.

I’ll be watching the debates tonight, of course, probably on C-SPAN, so that I am spared the breathless commentary from professional political pundits who know less about how real Americans live than either of the candidates.  Seriously, they are talking to each other, not you, not me.

Okay, well, duty calls, and the weather is beautiful, so I will end this here.  I will be back to a regular routine of posting here 3-5 times a week.

You have been warned.

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Waiting On Parts

That’s right, cats and kittens.  This blog is now fixed, tuned properly, and has a full tank of unleaded snark.  For whatever reason, I was unable to log-on for a VERY long time, which, as it happens, didn’t bother me that much since I have been crazy busy.

I wonder how many of my regulars (both of them?) removed me from their reader.  Do people still use readers anymore?

So, I’ve been using Opera for browsing, and Chrome for email and such.  I just keep a couple of tabs open and this seems to work for this near Luddite.

I have been contracted by a local company for the last ten months or so, (is it “under contract”?) and the part time gig turned into a full time gig.  Sorta.  It’s complicated.  But I really like the people I work with, even though I sometimes want to break something over their collective heads.  Good folks, all around.  I will write about this in detail in the very near future, it’s fascinating if you’ve ever been tasked with making a large group of people learn to communicate.  Oh, there’s this to do and that to do, but at it’s core, that’s what this job entails.

Fired this baby up just in time for election 2012.  Yay.  What can I say?  The choice couldn’t be more obvious.  Another trickle-down adherent with an over-inflated sense of his abilities and an over-inflated sense of entitlement, or….President Obama.  Yes, I am fully aware that our CIC is a little too enamored of the banking sector for my tastes, but he is rock steady in a pinch, has a compelling personal story, and has shown some real leadership as POTUS.  Plus, he called Harry and said, “let’s put the scews to Mittens, this week, shall we?”  Whats not to love?

Apparently, I’ve lost all my street cred with the queer wing of the Democratic Party.  At least the folks I still talk with.  Sorry, guys, I thought the whole chik-fil-a boycott was poorly thought out, and had very little upside.  I’m entitled to think that without my commitment to equal rights for all called into question.  Bah, every few years I manage to alienate some of my liberal friends…last time, it was every woman in America.  Except it wasn’t.  Really.

I’ve discovered a few really awesome blogs this year, which is great, since most of the smart regulars at TPM moved on.  But I’m very much troubled by the purity tests.  Stray from accepted Liberal dogma and you are met with a vicious volley of insults.  That isn’t who we are, people.  We have to learn to listen, digest, then rebut.

Oh, and get off my lawn.

 

 

 

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From The Ground Up

As you may recall, in a recent post I wrote about high propane prices prompting me to give the green light to the Precision Air Geothermal Team.  When we built this home, I remember asking my contractor about geothermal heating and cooling, but he dismissed the idea because he (inaccurately) thought it required a pond or lake.  That was roughly 10 years ago.  If I asked that same contractor today, he would probably know much more about geothermal (ground source) heat pumps and why anyone building a home should consider installing one.  Well, ten years ago, Precision Air was designing, installing, and servicing geothermal systems, but hardly any other Middle Tennessee  HVAC companies had embraced it yet.  (Now they all offer it, though for many it seems to be a way to attract potential customers with the hopes they can sell them a more conventional system)  I’ve had some emails asking me for numbers, so I thought I’d share the full story, though probably not as cleverly as this person wrote about her own geothermal story. ( In six parts!)

I live smack dab in the middle of Tennessee.  In the summer, it’s hot as hell.  In the winter, it’s cold as hell.  There are months of the year here where you can experience both summer and winter during your lunch-break.  So, yeah, heating and cooling your living space is no small matter.  We when built our home, we had three choices with respect to heating; electric heat pump, wood, or propane.  We went with propane, as it was a buck a gallon and we wanted to cook with a flame, and natural gas is not offered to Coyote Creek.  Of course we installed a wood burning stove in our living area because, well, a fire is nice.  For a number of years, I was perfectly content with arrangement.  Eventually, I began to resent having to use just one propane company for my supply, but since we “leased” our 500 gallon tank, I was limited to just that company, regardless of price.  So, I bought the tank outright.  Then, some suppliers started to refuse delivery because “they couldn’t guarantee that the tank didn’t leak” as it wasn’t their tank.  Then there was the turn around time, that is, the time between calling them to place the order until the time the truck arrives on your property.  Sometimes, it was weeks.  Last year, our driveway was so icy that a propane truck could not make it to us for delivery.  At $2.46 a gallon.  Which reminds me…the price I was originally quoted from my supplier for the winter of 2011/2012 was over three bucks a gallon. That phone call is what I refer to as the beginning of making our house a high-performance home.

High performance home.  What a concept.  Many of us dutifully monitor our vehicle’s tire pressure and overall driving habits, from simply easing off the gas pedal a little to drafting behind 18 wheelers. (which doesn’t work, I’m told, and in retrospect , I now know why I was flipped the bird from more than a couple of those “Covenant Transport” drivers)  We replace our spark plugs and air filters at the oil change place, secure in our knowledge that we are maximizing our vehicle’s efficiency.  Usually, we are rewarded for our efforts with a mile or two more per gallon of gasoline.  Good stuff.  But it is silly to park a Prius in your driveway if your house’s HVAC system is poorly installed or inefficient for the job.  Yet, people do it all the time,  but in terms of dollars, the pennies you get back from vehicle maintenance pales in comparison to what you could be losing each month while you heat and cool the outside air. Ask yourself this:  it’s August , it’s 100 plus degrees and if you had to choose between not having a car for a month or not having your air conditioner for the same amount of time, which would you pick?   I’m betting most of us would find a friend to drive us, take a bus or a bicycle, or even (God forbid) walk to work before we’d give up our AC.  So why is it that people pay so little attention to their furnace, which really is the heart of their home?

So the idea of a high performance home appealed to me.  One year, I went around the entire house with a  lit candle in an effort to locate potential drafts.  I repaired/replaced weather stripping.  I caulked.  I knew I had adequate insulation, so, when my HVAC unit was 10 years old, I started researching my options for replacement.  I already had a 13 SEER rated system, and one option was to upgrade.  We don’t have a large house, at least by American standards.  If you count the bonus room above the garage, it’s around 2300 sq ft.  Still,, because we opted to place our duct in the attic instead of the crawlspace, a 5 ton unit was required to adequately heat and cool our home.  I did a little research, and for a high efficiency (15 seer) heat pump I was looking at ten grand or more.  Big money.  Mitt Romney money.  Warren Buffett money.

The geothermal system cost me twice that.  Let’s say $20,000 all in.  Right off the top, I’m getting a tax credit (that’s real money, first dollar) of $6000.  So, if our tax liability is 6000 this year, we are paid in full.  If they have deducted that much from wages already, we get it all back.  So, now our true cost is $14000.  Since my old unit was still working, I advertised it on Craigslist and it sold in a week for $1000.00 Now I’m in $13,000.  I figure I can get 500 bucks for my 500 gallon propane tank, so we’re down to $12,500.  Generally speaking, we fill our tank twice a year, but let’s say we aren’t buying 800 gallons of liquid propane this year at $3.00 per.  That is an additional $2400.00 in my pocket, so my cost comes down to $11,600, first year.  In year two assuming the same amount of propane is not purchased, that is another $2400.  Ditto year 3 and every year after.  I’ll break even in roughly 5 years.  That ain’t a bad R.O.I. (Return on investment)  But wait!  There’s more.

Did I mention my “De-superheater”?  Basically, the geothermal pump redirects the hot air in my home to use it to heat the water in our water heater.  Got that?  I can flip the breaker off to my water heater, and still have plenty of hot water in warmer months.  Remember the SEER rating of 15?  The geothermal system has a rating equivalent to a 34 SEER!  High performance indeed.  I haven’t factored in the very conservative estimate on electricity saved this year, which could be as high as 70%.

What are the drawbacks, you ask?  Fair enough.  Here’s one:  It’s a lot of work!

Nah, I didn’t really dig that trench with a shovel.  I actually used a spoon. Or, maybe it was a back-hoe.  If you want a geothermal system, you have to get into the ground, either horizontally (like ours) or vertically.  The drilling techniques and equipment out there make this an option even if you live in a cookie cutter condo!  Very small footprint, actually.  But for a week or so, your lot is going to be a bit messy.

Also, since a geothermal unit is placed in your crawlspace or basement, there is no more beautiful HVAC unit decorating the outside of your home.  I suppose you could plant roses there instead.

Lastly, the pumps are estimated to last 25 years or so, so it may be awhile before you get to have fun investigating the world of residential heating and cooling….

In another post, I’ll tell y’all why I selected Tony and Precision Air to do the job.  Thanks for dropping by.

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Wingnut Gravy Train?

Yesterday, I stopped by my local Goodwill and found a huge bin of books being offered for $1 each.  This is a sample of one’s choices.  Not a single book written from a moderate or God forbid a Liberal point of view.  Sorry, my Leftist brothers and sisters, but when I get ready ready to retire, expect to see my name on the dust cover of a book condemning the lot of you for your anti-American, anti-capitalism, pro Socialist ways.  Nuthin personal. I just want some.

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