Saturday, May 21, 2011

Three hours on a regional jet just too long

    Ash and I have made it to Salt Lake City. Pictured above is the view out the window of the airport. I guess it's called Purple Mountains' Majesty.
    Our three-hour flight here was on a Delta regional jet. When these jets first came on the market I thought they were great; it meant I no longer had to take a prop plane to Ohio. I now hate them.
    These planes are intended for flights of under 1.5 hours. Our flight lasted three hours. Too long for a regional jet! The seats are just too narrow.
    A friend of mine who is a little on the rotund side told me a few years ago that he had taken an America West flight from Memphis to Phoenix. I immediately knew that he had flown a regional. He told me never again. When he reached his seat, he had to raise the arm rest, and just told his seat-opponent "Sorry fellow, but this arm rest is going to have to go."
    I'm glad my friend found someone willing to raise the arm rest for him, but I never would have done it.
    The three most important rules of flying: Never allow anyone to lift the arm rest; never swap a window or aisle seat for a middle seat in order to "help" someone else (unless paid to do so); and the seats are made to recline, and that space belongs to you, not the jerk behind you trying to get you not to recline so he can steal your space.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I will be blogging from Alaska on our family cruise

    I am joining a family cruise to Alaska on the "inside passage," as it's called.
    Both of my brothers are going. My father, who is 87, is going. Every grandchild is going. To the best of my recollection this will be the first vacation that my brothers and I have taken with Dad since 1972, although we did take some business trips together (I recollect that we were all in South Carolina in 1978, for example).
    I'm not sure this is the best time to be taking a cruise. I've got lot's of things to do. But I'll never get the chance again.
    I spent several hours today driving to Memphis to get Lucy's birth certificate. I thought I knew which box it was in from the move, but couldn't find it. Rather than find out after the Shelby County Health Department closed that I couldn't find it, I just decided to go get another.
    I've got a little work to do as well. Some people say you shouldn't work on vacation, but I'm taking an exension cord and my laptop, and I think I'll just have a grand time tapping away on my laptop sitting on my balcony for an hour or so each day.
    We've already had one amusing happening. When I got ready to book my cruise, it turns out that I was able to buy a balcony cabin for roughly the same price everyone else paid for an inside cabin. It seems I was the recepient of some type of "flash" sale offer and didn't even know it. It really doesn't seem fair to Brother Lanier, but oh well.
    I have packing to do. I'll have time to blog from the airport or on the plane.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Compact flourescents promote national security, save money

    Friends and neighbors, if you aren't using the energy efficient Compact Flourescent (CFL) light bulbs, you ought to be.
    Anyone who knows me knows that I have little use for the global warming fanatics. I believe this whole global warming thing to be a giant hoax.
    With that said, some of the things the Gore-ites want are good public policy whether global warming is sound science or not. As a society, we ought to try to waste as little energy as possible. Money not wasted on energy can be spent elsewhere, and energy not wasted today will be available for future generations. Energy independence is a national security issue.
    My daughter, Lucy, is in the Energy Club at Della Davidson here in Oxford. The purpose of the club is to educate students about conserving energy, and to get them to help find ways for the school to conserve energy.
    Della recently held an Energy Fair. My daughter and two other students had a project featuring a wattage meter that measured the energy usage of both incandescent and CFL bulbs. With CFL bulbs, you get the same amount of light for about one-fifth the energy usage of an incandescent bulb. (I didn't want to spoil it for my daughter by pointing out that this was on the side of the package!).
    My favorite thing about CFL bulbs is that you don't have to change them very often. Even if they didn't save money I would buy them just so I wouldn't have to spend so much time on ladders.
    Sometimes I'll talk to people who say they hate CFL bulbs because of the odd color they throw off. Well, the early bulbs did have a blue tint to them, but I really don't notice any difference in the newer bulbs. The only downside is that they do take a few minutes to brighten up completely, so I usually leave them burning instead of flipping them off every time I go out of a room for a few minutes.
    Starting Jan. 1, 2012, the federal government is banning 100 watt and higher incandescent light bulbs. Eventually all incandescent will be banned except for a few special purpose bulbs. I don't approve. It would be far more effective to simply tax incandescent to discourage their use. That way those who really want them can have them, while most people will be given an incentive to switch to the CFL's.
    Although an outright ban on incandescent is wrong, switching to CFL's is the right thing to do. We've been using them for years and have been mostly happy with them.
    One never knows whether or not to believe these statistics, but one factoid floating around out there is that if every home in America changed just one bulb to CFL, it would save the nation $600 million in energy costs annually. Since the average home has at least 30 active bulbs, we're talking about a national savings of $18 billion per year. That's a lot of money to just be throwing away!
    So switch to Compact Fluorescents today. You'll spend less time atop ladders. Your air conditioning bill will go down. Your electric bill will go down. And you'll have helped make America a more energy-independent nation.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goodbye Maysville house

    I haven’t been a very faithful blogger recently. I’ve been in Maysville, Ky., cleaning out our old house, which we have sold. As soon as we get our stuff out, the house sells.
    We got the bulk of our stuff out almost a year ago, or so I thought. It turns out that we only got the easy to move items. Moving is a miserable experience.
    Of course, all the stuff that has been lost for years is now found, put away in new boxes, only to be lost again for several more years.
I’ll miss our Maysville home. You can see it on the website I made to sell it, It a town where flat land is scarce and lots are small, it sits on more than two acres of mostly flat land with great river views. We used to enjoy the fact that as many as nine deer would come into the yard at once until we found that they loved to eat our tulips. We now hate deer.
    Our large home spoiled us. Lucy could play the piano in the library and while we could hear her it wasn’t like she was practicing inside our ear. Now when she attempts to practice brother Ash screams at her to be quiet.
I can’t imagine what a home like this would cost in Oxford if within a mile of the Square. I’m guessing $2 million or more. Fact is, we couldn’t afford such a home if it was given to us – the taxes would be too high!
    Of course, we’re back home among lifelong friends and family. Our dining budget isn’t too large, but when we go out we have our pick of lots of fine restaurants. The schools are good – Ash will be taking Latin next year. So life is good.
    But I’ll miss my old Arts & Crafts home in Maysville. I’ll miss Maysville, too.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Angry mob protests lack of toothbrushes

    I came across this photo of moslem extremists supporting Osama bin Laden, and I couldn't help but think that what these people are really yearning for is some deodorant and some toothbrushes.
    Look at that man's teeth! Wouldn't you be mad if your teeth looked like that? Imagine the body odor in that room!
    I'm sure these guys have figured out that they aren't going to attract a lot of women-folk down here on earth. Not looking like that. So they're trying for the bin Laden route in hopes for the 77 virgins in the afterlife.
    It's probably the only chance they've got.

I may have fixed the comments

    Several people have reported to me that they have tried to leave a comment, only to be frustrated by an advertisement blocking their ability to type in the jumbled-letters security code.
    Pressing the comments button should open a new page. I've tried it and it looks like the problem is solved.
    I don't have that many readers, so I'd love to hear from the few I have!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We don't want to government to put tracking devices in our cars!

    The former presidential candidate who once claimed he would never increase taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year now wants to put a new tax on all Americans based on how many miles they drive each year. In order to accomplish this the government will place a g.p.s. tracking device on every vehicle in America.
    I suppose Obama's excuse is like Bluto's line from Animal House: "You ----ed up. You trusted us!"
    Now make no mistake, if we lived in a society where every single citizen drove electric cars this might make a slight amount of sense. But we don't. The system we currently have of paying for our highways works just fine.
    That means that people who drive Hummers getting 12 miles per gallon pay a lot more in highway taxes than people who drive Priuses that get 60 mpg. That's as it should be. Small cars create a lot less wear and tear on our road system and should pay less. Those who invest huge sums on electric vehicles in an effort to end our addiction to foreign oil should get a free ride.
    Is the guy getting 12 mpg paying more than his fair share of highway funds? Almost certainly. And as our nation's car fleet gets more fuel-efficient, those who drive gas guzzlers will shoulder an increasing tax burden. That's as it should be. It's using our tax system to give people the maximum freedom of choice while nudging them in the right direction.
    We Americans don't want the government to put tracking devices on our cars. We don't trust our government because our government can't be trusted. Any proposal to put tracking devices on cars is just one more step towards totalitarianism. (No doubt Obama and his goons will soon want to track us to make sure we don't visit a doctor of our own choosing!)
    A common-sense energy policy should reward those who buy fuel-efficient cars. A mileage-based tax does just the opposite.
    For the foreseeable future we should finance our highways through gas taxes. If the day comes that American has an mostly electric car fleet we can fund highways through a tax on electricity, not by a mileage tax..
    What we don't need -- ever -- is tracking devices on our cars. Obama go home!

In Food Stamp race, Mississippi comes in first; Oregon places second

    One in seven Americans in now on Food Stamps. Mississippi ranks first, which is no doubt good news to our state's grocers. Coming in a close second is that bastion of poverty -- Oregon!
    The New York Times has an interactive map showing Food Stamp usage rates. The NYT does a great job with these types of maps. I sent one to my Jinny a few months ago and she forwarded to her boss and everyone she works with. It had some great info in an easy to use format.
    Certainly it's no surprise to find Mississippi atop the food stamp list. We do love our free food. But it was a surprise to see that Oregon was nipping at our heels.
    So what gives? A quick look at the income ceilings explains it all. In Mississippi, to be eligible for food stamps one must have an income below the federal poverty level: $22,350 for a family of our, $10,890 for a single person. In Oregon the cut-off is $40,800 for a family of four and $20,040 for a single person.
    And full-time college students are eligible for Food Stamps if they work 20 hours per week. Student loans and grants don't count as income. Now that is a deal!
    So today's lesson is that if you like to eat, move to Oregon. They're offering a free buffet -- and student specials!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our river levees may have just delayed, made worse, the inevitable

    Maybe building the giant levees on the Mississippi River wasn't such a good idea after all.
    The great 1927 flood is one of those things that's etched in our region's collective memory. After the misery it caused the U.S. government pitched in and built a levee system along the Mississippi. We've had 85 mostly dry years. And during that time we've developed property in flood-prone areas as if they were on high-and-dry ground.
    Now things are wet. Really wet. And if these levies don't do the job, the disaster will be far worse than if they had never been built in the first place.
    I called my old friend Ray Mosby down in Rolling Fork earlier today. Ray bought The Deer Creek Pilot from me back in 1993. He's convinced the main levy will hold but is still worried about some major flooding.
    A lot of other people are worried, too. About 1,000 area residents attended a meeting at the Sharkey County National Guard Armory today to get an update and advice from an engineer with the Levee Board. Ray said another couple of hundred were left standing out in the parking lot. To give you an idea of how large a crowd that is, Sharkey County has a population of 4,900 and neighboring Issaquena County has a population of 1,400. So out of a total population of about 6,300 people, more than 1,000 showed up for a briefing on the flood situation. I think that shows the level of concern.
    Those of us who live on high ground should be grateful. Those of you who live in potential flood areas need to be careful. The levy ought to hold, but if it doesn't it will be a disaster that will far eclipse 1927.
    I suppose some of us in the north part of the state may need to get ready for friends from the Delta to crash on the sofa and floor for a few days. But I hope it won't come to that.
    Meanwhile, now is as good a time as any to read William Alexander Percy's Lanterns on the Levee, if you haven't already.
    Good luck Valley Park, Cary, Rolling Fork, Anguilla, Hollandale, Leland, Greenville, and everywhere else flat. We are thinking of you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Photo of the month

    Say cheese!

(Guess we'll find out if this photo is legit pretty soon).