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Posts from — January 2013

The Dip Is Here

The fourth quarter contraction in the US economy is the result of austerity. The military has a lot of inertia, so they starting cutting based on their guess that a deal would not be forth coming on deficit reduction and the automatic cuts would take place. The Pentagon also believes that climate change is real and a very bad thing. Getting shot up and dealing with things that can go boom, helps you to focus.

Locally the Air Force has a hiring freeze and is laying off temporary workers. They are also reducing their energy use in ways that are visible. There have been fewer than normal training flights over my house, so they are cutting that back too.

As everyone who actually stayed awake for a real Economics 101 course could tell you, this drop in spending by a major consumer is dragging down the economy. This was the fourth quarter, which includes Christmas shopping, so it is a lot worse than the talking heads are admitting. Until Congress gets its act together, the military is going to continue to make cuts, which will hit the economy. Stalling by Congress, and kicking the can down the road are almost guaranteeing a second negative quarter and an official recession.

The stock market is up, but that gambling den has minimal impact on the real economy. Bernacke is pouring money into it, so of course it is happy. If they poured as much money into the budgets of the bottom 50% as they do into the stock market, things would be a lot further along.

January 31, 2013   4 Comments

Wretched Excess

At some point the original owner of the house I’m working on decided to convert the garage into a master bedroom. That is a picture of the method he used to avoid having a concrete floor. Those are 16-foot 2-inch by 12-inch slabs of pine. They are not cheap, and they are normally used as joists or support beams. The ‘normal way’ would have been to use treated 1 by 2s and ¾”plywood achieve the current height. I would have raised the height to the same level as the rest of house, so you didn’t need to step down into the room. Of course, I would have also put in a door that was wider than 24 inches so you could move things in and out without pulling out the stove.

This house is really messed up.

January 30, 2013   3 Comments

Still In Rehab …

So adventures in electricity are over and I was ready to replace some broken parts on the stove and refrigerator, when I saw that the guys doing the painting didn’t notice the quarter-inch copper line that was connected to the ice maker, and crimped it is several places. The line was too old to attempt to save it, so I decided to replace it with plastic tubing.

I knelt down behind the refrigerator to pull the copper out of the cabinet and my knee sank down about two inches. That wasn’t normal, nor were the earthworms who had been living in the rotted remnants of the original flooring. I showed the guy doing the carpentry the problem and listened to him vent about old houses, as I removed the line.

It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the water had been off in this house for a month before we started working on it, more than enough time for the floor to have dried, but it was damp.

It took a strong light and some patience to discover that the pipes to the kitchen faucet were seeping. The person who replaced the original galvanized pipes with CPVC plastic pipes had used a threaded CPVC adapter to connect to the shut-off valves and used massive amounts of thread goop to seal them. After a while the connection started to seep water. It wasn’t an obvious drip and with all of the stuff people store under the sink it is unlikely that it would have been noticed as is kept the floor under the vinyl damp and decaying.

Off to the store for parts, and then replace the electrical tools with plumbing tools. There is no point in trying to install the new flooring until the leak is stopped, the floor has dried, and the bad area is fixed.

Every time you do something in an old house, you discover one or more additional things that have to be done before you can do what you started out to do. Sigh….

January 29, 2013   10 Comments

Challenger

Challenger

January 28, 1986

Commander:
Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

Pilot:
Michael J. Smith, Commander, USN

Mission Specialist:
Judith A. Resnik
Ronald E. McNair
Ellison S. Onizuka, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

Payload Specialist:
Gregory B. Jarvis
Sharon Christa McAuliffe

January 28, 2013   4 Comments

Wasting Time

House wiring is not rocket science. Standard cable has a black, a white, and a bare wire in it. The bare wire is always used for the ground. The white white wire is used for the neutral. The black wire is the hot wire.

When you are using a standard cable as a ‘switch leg’, i.e. running wire between a light and a wall switch, the white wire is hot. This is a common practice, and part of the practice it to label such white wires with black or red electrical tape, so the next guy who is looking at the connections knows what was done.

If people don’t follow the simple rules, and something goes wrong, you can spend an uncomfortable afternoon with fiberglass insulation in a cramped attic tracing wires to figure out what in hell is going on so you can fix it.

January 27, 2013   6 Comments

Busy, Busy, Busy …

I’ve been doing some electrical and plumbing work at another rehab, so I’ve been standing on a ladder instead of sitting at the computer most of the time.

Busy time ahead in February with the Yukon Quest 1000 mile sled dog race starting next Saturday, Groundhog Day, and then Chinese New Year (Year of the Black Snake) on the 10th and Mardi Gras on the 12th. Fortunately my responsibility for the rehab should be over shortly.

January 27, 2013   Comments Off

Apollo 1

Apollo One Patch

January 27, 1967

Virgil “Gus” Ivan Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

Edward Higgins White, II, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

Roger Bruce Chaffee, Lieutenant Commander, USN

January 27, 2013   Comments Off

Happy Republic Day

flag of India

Celebrates the establishment of the Republic of India on January 26th, 1950 when its new Constitution took effect.

The parade at New Delhi is, bar none, the most colorful military parade in the world. Hopefully this year the elephants are behaving, so they will appear.

Here’s the official site, and, as the Wikipedia entry is really pathetic, here is a tourist site with more information.

January 26, 2013   2 Comments

Happy Australia Day

flag of Australia

The anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in New South Wales on January 26th, 1788.

Here’s the official site, and more information at Wikipedia.

January 26, 2013   Comments Off

Monstrous Regiment

The Terry Pratchett quote on my left sidebar ["The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it."] is from his Discworld novel, Monstrous Regiment, which deals with religious whackoes and women in the military.

The novel was relevant to the recent decision by the Joint Chiefs to stop ignoring reality, and admit women serve in combat these days and should receive all of the pay, benefits, and opportunities that come with the risk. It became even more relevant when, as Digby notes, Jerry ‘Bonkers’ Boykin decided to spew some his religion-based misogyny. Boykin gained notoriety by claiming that “My God is bigger than your God” before a church congregation.

People assume that you have to take Boykin seriously because of all of the important posts he has had. I would suggest that people need to do a bit more research to see how effective and successful he has been in those posts. Like any large organization, people are sometimes promoted as the easiest way of getting rid of them without making waves.

I wish Boykin could have met one of the women who was in my police academy class. She would have given him a whole new definition of baton twirling. She would have definitely disabused him of the notion that women cannot be aggressive and effective in combat. Although she was not quite 5′ 4″, she didn’t have a problem firing a 12-gauge shotgun, and was a very good pistol shot.

The title of Sir Terry’s novel is from a tract by John Knox, The first blast of the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women, complaining about how ‘unnatural’ it was for Scotland and England both being ruled by Queens in the 16th century. Knox was a religious whacko of the Protestant variety, and was really upset by the fact that these women were also Catholics. His little tract was the main reason that when Elizabeth I, a Protestant, ascended the throne in England, he wasn’t invited to visit. Boykin’s ideas and blithering is no different than Knox’s.

People are talking about the rise in sexual assaults in the military. I wonder if anyone has compared the rise of the influence of evangelicals with the rise in assaults. Given the attitude of many evangelicals towards women I wouldn’t be surprised to see a correlation.

January 25, 2013   10 Comments

Captcha Sucks

Corrente is trying a new type of Captcha for comments that involves replicating a picture with a series of tiles like a simple jigsaw puzzle. Well, I replicated three different pictures and it kept telling me I got it wrong.

I know what a strawberry, tomato, and mother polar bear with two cubs look like, and I got it right, it is Captcha that was wrong.

It isn’t worth the aggravation to fight with it.

January 25, 2013   Comments Off

Friday Cat Blogging

Ms Tery

Friday Cat Blogging

I’m not the cat you are looking for…

[Editor: I have been assuming that this was Hermit for some time when it occurred to me that there was too much white on the body and no white tip on the tail. It is probably the result of someone not being able to afford a cat any more. She is no friendlier than the Hermit and eats when no other cats are around.]

Friday Ark

January 25, 2013   5 Comments

Burns Night

flag of Scotland

This is the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in Ayr, Scotland. The Burns Night celebrations conducted by Scots all over the world with haggis, whisky¹, and poetry.

Wikipedia has a description of the standard celebration, but easy on the malt or you may end up with a William McGonagall morning.

In honor of the occasion a bit of Robby Burns for the Democratic “leadership”:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy!

To a Mouse

1. This is the correct spelling when referring to Scotland’s “water of life”.

January 25, 2013   2 Comments

Get Over It

The uniforms told the suits that it was time to admit reality – women are in combat and have been for a very long time, so they are owed the ‘perqs’.

People who have never been in the military don’t understand that every job is not treated or compensated equally in the military. Because of my specialty in the military I was paid more in special pay than base pay, i.e. my pay was more than twice what an NCO of equal rank working in an office made. My re-enlistment bonus was much higher, and I received promotions much faster than someone working in an administrative specialty.

While women could and did do similar work to my job, they were blocked from certain assignments that almost guaranteed a promotion, and included special pay additions. The system wasn’t fair, but the Air Force was better than the other services. Things were even worse for Air Force officers, because of the ingrained assumption that only pilots were qualified to be commanders.

Mary Edwards Walker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her service in the Civil War, but they changed the rules in 1917 and demanded she return it. She told them to stuff it. The insult was rectified in 1977 and she is the only woman currently officially recognized as a holder of the award.

You can ask Jessica Lynch about having a ‘non-combat’ job, or Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. The Army’s Combat Action Badge is a step forward, but promotions are still easier if you have a Combat Infantry Badge in the Army.

Women have earned the right beginning in the Revolutionary War, and it is well past the time for their rights to be recognized.

January 24, 2013   Comments Off