Thursday, September 17, 2015


We need a word that means 'simultaneously funny and frustrating' (I bet the German language has one, and it's probaby not the one I just made up). Please take the time to read this post; take it as a PSA, not a rant.

Here are two links to Carthage local events:…/carthage-homeowners-say…
The first is Carthage residents complaining about a sidewalk being installed in their yards. These citizen's comments were heard and discussed at the last three public works committee meetings. The citizens repeatedly stated 'no one wants sidewalks' and didn't seem to believe city representatives that said the public majority felt otherwise (and backed that up with local and national polls). The second is an article about the city installing bike lanes... check out the comments on FB where the number one (negative) response is "we need more sidewalks"

We Americans?/humans? are more inclined to complain than to celebrate (especially when regarding the actions of our governments). While serving on city council I've learned most governmental actions are complaint driven.
Here's the point. If you have a complaint, take it to your local elected official or department head. Try to express your complaint without emotion, and go into the conversation with two assumptions:
1. the person you're talking to wants to do what's right
2. You may not have all the information, be ready to digest and accept new information

Bringing these things to the attention of your officials is part of adulting: Do it with a smile and an open mind; have a friendly conversation, don't give a lecture. If you get what you want, fantastic! If you don't, and you listen, you'll walk away a more informed citizen (If you never get what you want, run for office). This discourse is critical; It's your civic responsibility, and the only way our system works.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

*BONUS: Most public officials and city staffers don't get huge checks (considering time spent in committee and prep, Carthage city councilmen average <$3/hour... the check is an appreciated thank you, not a 2nd income); they (usually) are not there to get rich or powerful. They want the same thing you do, a better community and future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back from vacation - gasohol

So. After 2 and one half years.... let's try this again.

Here's the simple part, that you may already well know:
-Gasoline that is 10% ethanol will decrease your gas mileage by 3-4% (EPA study)
-Purchasing higher octane gas will have zero effect your gas mileage (this information seems to be so common knowledge that the source isn't cited)

I think I'm behind the curve in learning these two items. And here's the 3rd part you may or may not know:
-Not all states require gas to be labeled as E10  (and E15 has been approved by the EPA..for use in passenger vehicles from 2001 or newer).

Here's the list:
My fine state does not require the content of my gasoline to be labeled.

Ethanol has historically been cheaper to produce than gasoline, mostly because corn is cheaper than crude oil.

The result then, is that E10 should provide the consumer with more consistent gas prices (or some company with more money), though we won't get quite as mileage out of that tank. As a bonus, ethanol does burn cleaner so E10 will help fight global warmings (and yes, it burns more than 10% cleaner... thank you for asking).

However, the lesson that I've learned is that I've been ripped off every time I've put in 91 E10 because it was the same price as 89... I won't be doing that again.

-Not much of a blogging I know... but hey, I'm rusty.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Binge smokers

So I was chatting with Greg. He mentioned how many people in Europe smoke, I asked if when they smoked, if they smoked as many as Americans... or if he thought there was more moderation to their habit. He did not know. Nor did I. But thanks to the the interwebs (1,2,) and me putting a little time on Excel, now we do*.

I guess the answer to our question is: It depends on the European country.

* ...or at least we have a decent idea. The numbers used were cigarettes smoked per capita and what percentage of the population smoked. I just divided the per capita number by the percent of daily smokers. The error is only by smokers who smoke less than daily, and I think it's a safe bet that they are a small % of the population, and an even smaller percent of the cigarettes being smoked. This also assumes the distributions of per capita cigs by smokers have similar shapes in all countries.
** also, I'm not sure if South Korea is right I may have mixed the S. Korea% with the N Korea per capita number. In other words, this is not a peer reviewed study ha ha

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some time ago I signed up for Netflix. My sexy lady-friend was initally happy. Her acceptance of my decision declined with each movie I added to our queue. Apparently Tron, Highlander, and every Kung fu movie ever are not on the top of her "to watch" list. This week however, she's in England on business, and as with any fusion reaction (joining two smaller thing into something larger) ... a little break every now and then prevents explosion, and increases the reaction's yield. In anticipation of this, I rearranged the queue and put Balls of Fury at the top.

I have to say, after much anticipation, I'm not overly impressed. I'd like to say this is the first Christopher Walken movie I've ever seen and not loved, but alas, I've seen Batman Returns. It follows the plot of bloodsport (minus martial arts, plus ping pong), but it doesn't develop the characters like the Bloodsports did.... truly disappointing (and yes, I realize that the characters weren't well developed in bloodsport... but they were sufficiently developed for you to root on JCVD as the great anglo-ninja master). So, the girl-friend picked a good one to miss, but Zardoz (next on the queue) promises to make up for her clairvoyance.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Home owners insurance

A tree fell on my house in May. While Allstate has been great, that's not what this post is about. I found out my mortgage payment increased 20%, largely due to a change in my insurance policy. That's not what this post is about, but what I was looking into when I learned something. It is going to save me money, and probably could save you also.

We've all heard about insurance companies raising rates after a claim. You can imagine they want to recoup their losses. Although I don't think this is original, Allstate has done this with some ingenuity. You see they told me up front I'd be receiving a "20% discount" off my rate for being "claim-free." Now that I've had a claim I lose the "discount" having the perception that I've been returned to the "normal" rate. " [Mind you "losing a 20% discount" means an increase of 25%.... If my insurance is $1,000, a 20% discount is $200.. making my claim free insurance $800... but when I lose that twenty percent discount I gain $200 on a current $800 payment. 200 is one quarter of 800, or a 25% increase. Funny how that works, isn't it?]. I have to be claim free for 5 years to regain my "discount."

I also learned today that my homeowner's insurance will be significantly less, if I opt for a higher deductible. I currently have a $1,000 dollar deductible. My annual payments decrease by about 25% if I opt for a $2,500 deductible, and about 40% if I opt for a $5,000 deductible. In a nutshell, the higher deductible is probably going to save me more money. The insurance company charges you for not being able to provide liquid capital.

Having no claims is always cheaper than having claims. You won't have to pay deductibles or "lose discounts." In this case, the choice is easy, you pick the highest deductible available to you. But, what if you have a claim? In most cases, the larger deductible is cheaper. In fact, the higher your homeowner's insurance, the better chance you'll save with a larger deductible. I purchased a very modest home. At my rates, even with a major claim every decade, it is cheaper for me to have a larger deductible. Do the math, you could probably save yourself a few hundred dollars annually (or you already have, good for you).

One more thing. The loss of the discount should come into play when deciding whether or not you should file a claim. Consider these options
Door 1: 1K normal, 1K deductible
Door2: 800 normal, 2,500 deductible
Door3: 600 normal, 5,000 deductible

Although your deductible for Door 1 is 1K. you should not claim anything under 2,000... you'll pay the 1k deductible and you'll lose your discount of 20%... ie your rates will go up 200 for five years... a total of $2,000. Do the same with Doors 2 and 3:

Door 1: shouldn't file claim unless it is 200% of deductible
Door 2: shouldn't file claim unless it is 132% of deductible
Door 3: shouldn't file claim unless it is 112% of deductible

As you provide more liquid capital (shift more risk to yourself)... your insurance policy becomes both cheaper and more usable. If you don't have the liquid capital, you'd be crazy to take the risk... but if you have $5,000 in stock sitting somewhere.. .you should call your insurance agent and get quotes on higher deductibles.

In other news. Claire De Lune is incredible... it's written in Db and in 9/8 time. Technicality aside, it's simple, yet stunning in sound. I've liked it for a long time, but just started poking around at learning it yesterday, and I'm absolutely floored. Here's a link to it with some teen throb pictures (or the deleted scene from Fantasia.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A reason to go to Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is requiring their suppliers to calculate their carbon footprint. The information will be added to a label.

I'm super excited about this. Because I had a similar idea a while back, and because I'm really curious to see how much product greenery is worth to the average consumer. Will Ronaldo the Riveter be willing to pay more for a product that is greener? Will Soccer Mom Jane read the label? And who will be willing to tell their children they have to buy Nutty Honey Toasty-Os because the much better advertised Honey-Nut Cheerios isn't quite as friendly to the squirrels?

We probably won't see any change to the labels for a couple of years (experts say it could be as soon as 2011), but I'm teeming with anticipation.

This is what it's all about. Give information to the masses, don't force them to change with federal mandate. And, if we choose to ignore that information and the doctor's of future generations can keep us alive as penance for our failure to act. (there's a Dilbert comic I ripped off here, but I'm tired of looking for it... so just trust me that it's funny).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The masse consenting

I received a forward today containing this cartoon. The line, "Imagine yourself in a land where your countrymen followed the voice of political extremists who didn't like your religion." struck me poignantly. I wrote in my journal:

It was not until just now that I had drawn the connection between many Americans today and many Germans in the 30s. It's true that Amedinejad is crazy, and is potentially a threat... but it wasn't until this email that I realized the error so many Americans make (of grouping all/most Muslims as extremists like Amedinejad) is an equally grave threat to world progress. Before today I'd been frustrated by the spoutings of poorly informed Americans who think all Muslims are a threat. Now, I see that mentality as threatening, not just annoyingly mis-informed.
Imagine yourself in Iran where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Christianity.
Imagine yourself in the USA where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Islam.
Imagine yourself in Germany where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Judaism.
We're all familiar with the last. I think it'd be tough to argue the first two don't exist now. Sure, there's a big step between where we are now, and genocide... but I'm made nervous by the fact that many of our countrymen and politicians are still facing that direction.