Monday, December 19, 2016

A Killer Chili and Cheese Machine

These chili and cheese machines are probably everywhere but I'd never seen one before coming on one serendipitously in a 7-11 at the corner of 96th and Steele in Tacoma, Washington. A home version of this machine would kill me:

You know you want one too:

One improvement came to mind, adding a third nozzle for melted dark chocolate:

That's gross, you say. You'll just have to move to Canada. A second improvement would be to add a fourth nozzle for whipped cream.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Running with Scissors from China in Tacoma

I've had to extend my stay on a visit to a family member with a severe case of crohns. Thanksgiving week our patient moved from hospital to nursing rehab and we hope to have him back in his home by New Years. I needed a pair of scissors to trim my mustache, as I didn't pack my electric trimmers for what I thought would be a short trip.

At Walgreens, you can't buy a single pair of scissors. You have to get 4 pair, for only $3 as they are made in China:

The problem is how to open the !@#$%^&* package. A pair of scissors would be helpful. I think this is Catch 88 (22 times 4). At least 3 of these will not pass the TSA rules for carryon baggage, so they are never leaving Tacoma. Our patient's roommate also needed mustache trimmers, so I'm only looking for a home for 2 pair. At least they are not kittens.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hitting the Half Million View Mark

Like the Russian Revolution, it's unclear if I crossed the 500,000 line in October or November. I wasn't watching that closely, and the revolution was not televised. That's 310,663 pageviews on the blog and 194,146 views on the companion YouTube channel.

Here are the top 10 posts on the blog:

16,831 John Stamos to Star with Olsen Twins in Two and a Half Women March 7, 2011 OK, I made this up. Whenever I hear Donald Trump say that America doesn't win anymore, I think of Charlie Sheen.
4,367 Harvard Reenlists in the U.S. Navy ROTC March 5, 2011 In the words of Harvard graduate and Specialist Third Class Tom Lehrer, "Fight fiercely Harvard!"
3,187 Weiner Holder for President and Vice President June 19, 2011 My favorite Anthony Weiner posts are this one and this one.
1,460 The Nikki Haley Story: Some Lies Don't Tell So Well June 12, 2010 With Hillary Clinton's loss, Nikki Haley's back in the running to become the first woman President of the U.S..
1,420 Milky Way Midnight Dark Wins the Candy Bar Taste Test July 11, 2010 Dark Chocolate M&M's are also great but increasingly hard to find in stores.
1,408 What Is Newt Hiding in Gingrich Holdings, Inc.? Jan. 23, 2012 Newt went on and on shamelessly about conflicts at Clinton Foundation.
1,373 The Legitimate Rape of Todd Akin Aug. 20, 2012 The 2016 U.S. Senate race in Missouri featured assembling an AR-15 blind-folded.
1,269 The Obamas Upstage Queen Elizabeth II in Ireland May 24, 2011 "We are amused, thinks the Queen, by these quaint Irish beverages."
1,260 Oprah Sheds Crocodile Tears for $38,000 Handbag Aug. 12, 2013 Oprah just smacked anti-Trump protesters with her handbag: "Everybody take a deep breath!"
1,156 The Great Hilliard Street Squirrel Massacre of 2015 July 18, 2015 Come to think of it, I don't remember when I last saw any squirrels around here.

And here are the top 10 posts on the YouTube channel:

40,973 Mennonite Choir in Harvard Square June 26, 2009 Just beautiful. I would owe them a tithe if this blog/channel were monetized.
9,735 Drip, Drip, Drip Feb. 6, 2014 The dullest video on YouTube. Be sure to watch until the end for the big reveal. The sad truth is that I replaced the frying pan with a bigger bucket and did not get the leak fixed until April 22, 2015.
6,930 Dar Williams - Teen for God Sep. 20, 2010 Dar Williams, my favorite singer-songwriter performing today, at Club Passim, my favorite music venue. In this case, I prefer the Nanci Griffith version.
6,077 Calling Cows to the Bull Fight Sep. 8, 2013 That's my voice, and 8.38 of my 15 minutes of fame. My father makes a brief appearance at the end.
4,718 Girl Fight in Harvard Square May 22, 2010 As near as I can figure, capoeira is the martial art of not kicking your opponent.
4,174 Nikolas Metaxas - No More June 19, 2011 Nikolas Metaxas is famous in Crypus. Welcome Cypriots!
4,061 Liz Longley - I Only Love Him Because I'm Lonely July 8, 2010 I swear that I'm not the older guy referenced in the intro to this song.
3,230 Inca Son in Harvard Square May 1, 2010 When this first starting getting hits I thought I had gotten the name of the group wrong, but they do claim their earliest beginnings in the streets of Harvard Square.
2,990 Last Boot of My Macintosh Quadra 610 Sep. 30, 2010 My hand appears briefly in this video. "It is now safe to switch off your Macintosh."
2,869 Entering Clarinda, Iowa July 20, 2010 My hometown. Seven Spanish Angels is playing on the radio.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

3.7M Obama Voters Didn't Make the Trek to Clinton

Last weekend I rode my Vespa out to Clinton, Massachusetts to take this picture, which I'd expected to post to mark a victory but will instead have to serve as a tombstone:

How did it happen? We can get into swing state demographics and electoral college math but the surprising truth is in the totals (as of 12/19/2016):

Candidate 2004 2008 2012 2016
Democratic 59,027,115 69,499,428 65,918,507 65,844,610
Republican 62,039,572 59,950,323 60,934,407 62,979,636
Third Party 1,190,111 1,760,033 2,099,808 7,124,715
Write-In 46,792 263,921 284,920 1,063,583
Total 122,303,590 131,473,705 129,237,642 137,012,544

This post has been updated as the final 2016 totals have come in. At first it appeared Donald Trump didn't win any more votes nationwide than Mitt Romney, but now it's clear that by a small margin he got the most votes ever for a Republican. Trump won in 2016 with 3 million more votes than McCain in 2008, 2 million more than Romney in 2012, and only .9 million more than Bush in 2004.

There's also a drop of 3.7 million Democratic voters since 2008. We'll call them the disillusioned. Some of them may have become deplorable Trump voters, but it would appear that a lot of them ran to the third party candidates. No more than 74 thousand Obama 2012 voters stayed home and voted with their seat.

I'm not saying angry Hillary voters should run out and slash the tires of cars with Bernie bumper stickers, punch Jill Stein supporters in the nose, or break into homes that had Gary Johnson yard signs and steal their stash, although that might help ease the pain.

Defriending Republican-voting friends on Facebook also isn't going to help. They're not the cause. They didn't do anything more than Republicans always do, vote Republican, and not in any great numbers. Nor are the ranks of the disillusioned who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton burning American flags on Fifth Avenue in NYC going to win over Americans to vote Democratic in the next election.

Blame the candidate, but the trend was there in 2012 too. It's The Incredible Shrinking Democratic Party.

If you're looking for a bright spot, there is one. Hillary polled 18.4 million votes more than her husband Bill ever did. So, for women, that's a moral victory. She also polled higher than George W. Bush.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Which 2016 Ballot Question Is the Dumbest?

From our four candidates in Massachusetts, here are the nominated excerpts:

Question 1: "The proposed location of the gaming establishment shall be at least 4 acres large, and shall be adjacent to, and within 1500 feet of, a race track, including the track, grounds, paddocks, barns, auditorium, amphitheatre and/or bleachers, if any, where a horse racing meeting may physically be held, which race track shall have hosted a horse racing meeting, provided that said location is not separated from said race track by a highway or railway."

That is, within .28 miles of Suffolk Downs in East Boston but not across the railroad tracks or highway.

Question 4: "There shall be a cannabis advisory board to study and make recommendations on the regulation of marijuana and marijuana products. The board shall consist of 15 members appointed by the governor and shall consist of:

1 expert in marijuana cultivation,
1 expert in marijuana retailing,
1 expert in marijuana product manufacturing,
1 expert in marijuana testing,
1 board member or officer of a medical marijuana treatment center,
1 registered medical marijuana patient,
1 individual who represents marijuana retail consumers,
2 experts in public health,
2 experts in law enforcement,
2 experts in social welfare or social justice, and
2 attorneys with experience providing legal services to marijuana businesses, marijuana consumers or medical marijuana patients in the commonwealth.

...Members of the board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the discharge of their official duties."

2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
And, yes, we're going to pay for their marijuana "studies."

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Hole in the Heart of Boston Is Now Scraping the Sky

Millennium Tower has risen at the old Filene's site in Boston:

Originally planned for 38 stories, the project ran out of money during the Great Recession leaving a big hole in Downtown Crossing. The new tower has 60 floors with 442 condos priced at $990,000 and up.

The 60th floor 13,000 sq. ft. penthouse reportedly went for $33,000,000. Still available for $9,450,000 on the 59th floor is a 3,435 sq. ft. condo with 3 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a family room, and a terrace. Or with $4,700,000 you could settle for 1,781 sq. ft. on the 56th floor with 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a library.

These Millennium towers are popping up all over the place. The relatively modest 15-story Millennium Place just down Washington street from the new tower was completed in 2013. And a 58-story Millennium Tower opened in 2009 in the South of Market district in downtown San Francisco. That one is sinking and leaning.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Gets Tangled in the Rigging as Cannonballs Bounce Off Old Ironsides

On the Monday morning of ‎September ‎26, ‎2016 before the first debate, Donald Trump seemed to have drawn even with Hillary Clinton, a position he had held briefly in July. put his odds of winning if the election were held that day at 54.9%:

Then she turned on him and her whole fleet began firing broadsides. First, she baited him with a Miss Universe from Venezuela while the press poked him about his $916 million tax loss. He fired back that her husband is a rapist. Then he was exposed in some locker room boy talk with Billy Bush. The Great Donald foundered on the reef of Low Energy Jeb's first cousin Billy? Say it isn't so!

Donald Trump tried to right himself by bringing 4 Clinton accusers to the second debate. Since then, the press has pounded the Donald with 9 women and counting. It began to occur to Donald that the U.S.S Clinton Campaign has spent the last 18 months setting its rigging for this run at the Presidency. Why didn't he do the same? By October 11, had dropped Trump's odds of winning to 11.8%. That's drawn and quartered.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been firing salvo after salvo at Hillary Clinton from his internet turret at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Those cannonballs are just bouncing off Old Ironsides. She seems impervious to either the direct hits or the indirect fire falling on her husband.

The rats have already deserted the sinking Trump ship. "Women and children first," shouted the boy wonder U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just how far has Trump fallen? President Obama called Trump out for "whining before the game's even over".

I wouldn't give up on Trump just yet. He may have been thrown a lifeline in the last debate. His odds of winning have edged up to 13.1% if the election were held today. In terms of states he would have to win, here's where he was at his high water mark on September 26:

In the ebb that has followed, Hillary Clinton has reclaimed Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina and possibly Ohio, Arizona, and Iowa. The big unknown question is whether the tide can shift again in the final 3 weeks of the campaign as much as it has in the past 3 weeks.

As Trump edges back up in the polls, which seems likely to continue, it's going to be excruciating for many of my friends and neighbors on the left. They are beginning to imagine him shouting "I have not yet begun to fight!" as he rejects the results on the night of the election. The real John Paul Jones did go into service with the Russians after he fought in our revolution for us.

But I've learned to stop worrying and love the Donald. All Trump's talk of a rigged election may just be setting himself up to run again in 2020. And what what if I told you that the most important piece of rigging was a phone call from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump back in May 2015 encouraging him to run? If he's flying a false flag, I expect he'll be back to ensure Hillary gets a second term.