I haven’t posted for a while

but I thought it was worthwhile just to post this GIF file. I tried Facebook, but it would not take it.

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While I’m at it, for my non-Facebook friends, here’s a video from our recent trip back from Victoria.

And here’s one more of the Dall’s porpoises who escorted us part of the way across the Straits to Friday Harbor.

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Ramblings from the Winter Wonderland

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Yes indeed, there is snow up here! I came here yesterday to take care of a couple of batches of beer, maybe do some snowmobiling, and just hang out here until the weekend when Megan and a whole lot of folks are coming out here to celebrate Fred’s 93rd.

I did listen to the State of the Union speech last night, and thought it was pretty good overall. Even Nikki Haley’s response was pretty good, considering the company she keeps. I’m one of those Obama fans who love and admire the guy even though I’ve been disappointed in stuff he didn’t do (prosecute the Bush gang for war crimes or anybody on Wall Street for almost destroying the world economy), and stuff he did do (NSA surveillance and drone strikes). In any case, I think he will go down in history as at least a near-great President for the things he accomplished – stopping the collapse of the economy, Obamacare, Iran nuclear deal, and world climate change agreement. Those accomplishments are even more amazing given the universal opposition and obstruction he got from the opposition.

I do wonder how this election cycle is going to play out. I’m a Bernie Sanders fan and am beginning to think that he can indeed beat Hillary. Bernie is the definition of authenticity, and Hillary is the ultimate insider. Bernie has an army of enthusiastic supporters. Hillary’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep. I think Hillary will ultimately collapse under the steady drips of the email “scandal,” impropriety with the Clinton foundation, or quite possibly a Bill bimbo eruption.

The GOP nomination is a tough call. Trump seems almost unstoppable, and it’s hard to imagine what he could do to implode. In many ways, I hope he doesn’t implode because a.) I think he’s the easiest to beat in the general election, and b.) he’s less dangerous than the truly evil Ted Cruz. As for the establishment candidates, I still think Rubio comes across as an immature lightweight, and Christie is another loud-mouthed bully. I mentioned him before, but I think the only truly viable mainstream GOP candidate is John Kasich.

Right now, I’ll call a Sanders/Trump match-up, with Bernie as the ultimate winner. A lot of the Trump supporters aren’t traditional Republicans, and if they come to their senses, they’ll realize that Bernie is on their side.

The real wild card is Michael Bloomberg. If it is a Sanders/Trump race, I can see how he could see a path to a successful third party candidacy. He would certainly beat Trump, but he could siphon off enough Bernie supporters who are uncomfortable with a “socialist” to win. If it’s a three-way race, all bets are off.

 

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I’m an idiot

This is your common Sharpie. How many years have I been using them? I lost count, but it’s a long time.

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I’ve used them regularly, but often bemoaned the fact that the tip is too fat, especially after it’s been used a lot.

 

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Until today, I didn’t know that Sharpie had already answered that complaint.

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Am I the only person in the world who didn’t know there is a fat end and a skinny end to a Sharpie? How long have they been like this?

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Maybe Trump’s not so bad after all

This political season is a mess. On the left, you have the establishment (Clinton) and the insurgency (Sanders). On the right you have the old establishment (Bush and maybe Kasich), the young establishment (Rubio) and the whacko insurgency (Trump, Carson & Cruz). It’s hard to see how any of these folks can cobble together a majority, or even a decent plurality of the voters.

To steal a Jimmy Carter line (even though he never used the word), there is a malaise across the country. Death rates for middle-aged white people are on the rise. They had some hope for the future until the Great Recession hit, taking their jobs and what little security they had. They used to have half-decent jobs, but are now unemployed or under-employed at Home Depots and Wal-Marts. It seems their dreams for the future have died, and they’re killing themselves with booze and drugs and eating crappy food while watching Fox news and waiting for the comfortable retirement that they realize will never come. They look to the Democrats and they see two old fogeys. One is the ultimate political insider and the other, an old socialist who looks like something out of Back to the Future. Scratch below the surface of populist rhetoric, and what do they see? A lot of whacko-leftist political correctness. Yeah, marriage equality might not be so bad. Those old lesbians down the street are OK people, but Caitlin Jenner?! Gimme a break! Tranny men in women’s washrooms? Politically correct Halloween costumes? Trigger warnings and safe spaces at our universities? The world’s going to hell in a hand basket.

The Democrats can’t fix this. They are old and tired and have had their asses handed to them during the Obama era. They’ve lost the Congress, a dozen or so state governors, and countless state and local representatives. They may have had victories with Obamacare, marriage equality and the Keystone pipeline, but big money still runs the show. Bernie Sanders has the right message, but he’s the wrong messenger. I can’t see how he can win. Hillary Clinton mouths some of the same message, but she is the ultimate political insider, saddled with all the baggage that entails.

So what will the Republicans do? Cut taxes! Strong defense! Balance the budget! Build a wall! It doesn’t matter that none of this makes any sense. We’ll make America strong again! Yeah, Carson is a looney liar. Maybe he can’t make it. Rubio is the tool of the pro-immigration old money establishment now that Bush has cratered. Everyone hates Cruz. Kasich who? But Trump? He’s beholden to no one. Yeah, he’s a loud-mouthed bully, but maybe we need someone to bully Washington around.

But then look at what Trump actually says when he’s not insulting someone. He thinks hedge fund managers are just pushing paper around and should pay the same taxes as everyone else. He thinks single-payer health care works pretty well in other parts of the world. He’ll negotiate better trade deals and stop sending jobs overseas.

And if he doesn’t work out, maybe America will get the anal rape it deserves and finally come to its senses.

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Dishwashers and blood at the Cabin in the Woods

When we remodeled the kitchen in Magnolia, we installed all new appliances, so we had some leftovers. What better new home for them than the cabin? The fridge went into the brewhaus (brewers can never have too many fridges); the stove slid right in replacing the 40 year-old one; but the dishwasher didn’t slide right in.

Have you seen the video?

They LIE!!

Even with the half-day it took to rip out the cabinets, there’s no way this job would have taken an hour, even by the reasonably competent home handyman I like to think I am.

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I thought I would be able to undo a few screws and slide out the cabinets. Well, there were more than enough screws, but even after their removal, the cabinets were rock solid. Further inspection revealed that the cabinets had been screwed in from the top. Short of removing the counter, there was no way to take them out without destroying them. So I destroyed them.

Then I had to find power and water. Actually that part went pretty much according to plan. Next I had to install a drain in the plumbing under the sink. The old dishwasher drain hose had been damaged de-installation, so I had to get a new one. Trip #1 to Home Depot in Wenatchee (40 miles away). So I picked up a “universal” dishwasher drain hose, as well as the new under-sink plumbing I needed. When I got back, I realized that “universal” doesn’t always mean universal. I’d have to go to plan B, which meant going to a GE service shop in Wenatchee for a new one. In the meantime, I’d get the dishwasher in place.

That all went reasonably well until I had to cut some shims to line things up. The shims were pretty small, and it’s always tricky using a Skil saw on small pieces of wood. I was careful and cut a one of them, but something caused the saw to attack me on the second one. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but this was the result.

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The saw cut through my fingernail and the tip of my finger. Yikes! For a while I thought that Philomena would have a friend in the family. It turned out OK after the pain and blood subsided, and no medical attention was sought.

The trip to the GE service place was less than satisfying. The dipshit woman behind the counter demanded to know the model and serial number of the dishwasher in question. DSW- There are hundreds of variations of dishwashers, don’t you know? Me- How many drain hoses are there? DSW-Well, only a couple. Me- Can I see them?  DSW- We only have one in stock. (DSW reluctantly got off her ass and pulled one off a shelf.) Me- Wrong one. Any other ideas? DSW- No. Me- (Under my breath)Thanks for nothing.

So back at Home Depot, I picked up some heat-shrink tubing to splice a new connector on to the old drain hose.

That plan went well until I got a bit carried away with the torch I was using to on the heat-shrink. I melted the tube I was trying to splice! Damn. This time, at least, I didn’t have to go all the way to Wenatchee. I got the stuff I needed in Leavenworth (17 miles away).

So now I managed to get everything together without breaking or burning anything. Started a cycle of the dishwasher, and nothing’s leaking. Cool! That is until the drain cycle began. The anti-siphon airlock I had so carefully installed was spraying water all over the place. I had swapped the hoses. Big one to big inlet, small one to small. It all looked reasonable to me. But I was wrong. More fitting swapping and cursing ensued, but I prevailed. Now everything is working, nothing is leaking, and I’m not bleeding.

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So tonight I finally get to relax at the cabin. That was the original purpose of the place, right!?

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Happy (Belated) B’Day, Leonard Cohen

I didn’t know Leonard Cohen wrote this song in Edmonton, and I can identify with his feelings about smoking.

From Songfacts ( http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=14129):

Cohen penned this song as a tribute to two girls that he shared a hotel room with during a snowstorm in Edmonton, Canada. In the April, 1993 issue of Song Talk, he explained: “That’s the only song I wrote in one sitting. The melody I had worked on for some time. I didn’t really know what the song was. I remember that my mother had liked it.

Then I was in Edmonton, which is one of our largest northern cities, and there was a snowstorm and I found myself in a vestibule with two young hitch-hiking women who didn’t have a place to stay. I invited them back to my little hotel room and there was a big double bed and they went to sleep in it immediately. They were exhausted by the storm and cold. And I sat in this stuffed chair inside the window beside the Saskatchewan River. And while they were sleeping I wrote the lyrics. And that never happened to me before. And I think it must be wonderful to be that kind of writer. It must be wonderful. Because I just wrote the lines with a few revisions and when they awakened I sang it to them. And it has never happened to me like that before. Or since.”…

Julia Felsenthal, at Vogue (http://www.vogue.com/13350897/leonard-cohen-birthday/):

… Last year, the week of his 80th birthday, Cohen released his 13th studio album, Popular Problems. The coincidence of dates “was a happy accident,” he said to journalists at a listening event, as reported by the Associated Press. “In my family, we have a very charitable approach to birthdays—we ignore them.” His only plan to celebrate the beginning of his ninth decade, he said, was to start smoking. “But quite seriously, does anyone know where you can buy a Turkish or Greek cigarette?” he asked the crowd. “I’m looking forward to that first smoke. I’ve been thinking about that for 30 years.”

Today Leonard Cohen turns 81. Wherever he is, we hope he’s found some European cigarettes and a light. And—uncharitable as it may be—we’d like to wish him a very happy birthday.

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Have we reached Peak Trump yet?

No one knows for sure, but what is certain is that the Republicans have created their own bed of anger, fear and loathing, and now that the resident crazy bed bugs have turned on them, they’re doing their damnedest to escape. It would funny if it weren’t so scary.

With his populist and nativist rhetoric about making America Great Again, he’s arousing the same emotions that propelled guys like Mussolini and Hitler to power. In spite of America’s Exceptionalism, we are not immune from those impulses emanating from the lizard portion of the brain.  For Chrissake (or not), even Evangelicals support this buffoon.

I’ve got to think that Trump will crater at some point, but what then? I used to think that Ben Carson could attract the anti-establishment crazy and not-so-crazy crowd, but he is so low key, he’s almost inaudible. Everyone hates Ted Cruz, so I can’t imagine that he could take up Trump’s mantle. Carly Fiorina? After last night’s debate, Peak Carly is just around the corner. Jeb Bush could conceivably plod along to the nomination, but his load of baggage (his name) is inescapable. Walker can’t do it solely with his anti-union rhetoric. Rubio looks good, except when he gets that deer in the headlights look he showed when reaching for the water bottle a few years ago. Chris Christie is just another bully. In my mind, that leaves John Kasich. In spite of the fact that he implemented Medicare expansion in Ohio, he’s very conservative, he’s got lots of experience, and he’s not crazy.

On the Democratic side, I still think that Hillary will implode sooner or later, and though her support is wide, a lot of people, myself included, would hold their nose while voting for her. That kind of support isn’t deep enough to pull her through the next inevitable scandal. As much as I like Bernie Sanders, I don’t think he can win a general election, unless his opponent is Trump. So that leaves the emergency backup team of Biden and Warren.

We’re living in strange times.

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