Ostrich Wrangling

Has become a recent interest of mine, mainly because I think it would be wicked-cool to smuggle an ostrich into school.  I’ve heard of students smuggling pigs, chicken, and goats into a school as a prank, but never an ostrich.  I just want to see how people would react.  And yes, my inner frat-boy (long suppressed) thinks it would be awesome to chase someone down while on one’s back.

I hear they’re also particularly ornery, and like to hiss and bite people.  That’s just awesome.  Of course, I’ve never had a good track record with beasts of burden.  I had a llama charge me once, and give me the evil eye.  I was going to jump in his pen and box him into unconsciousness for his impudence, but I didn’t want to be a bad role model for my little sister.



Fratello Metallo & the Heavy Metal Mother

My bro just sent me a link to an article on a 62 year-old Capuchin monk who rocks hard to heavy metal.

He even sings about the Holy Mother.  Vid below:

Who Do You Trust?

Last political post in a while–I promise.  I just couldn’t pass up pointing out the glaring incongruities in the recent passage of the so-called government “Stimulus Package”…


For some reason, hearing about the money our officials decided to throw at us, it made me think of the scene from the first Batman movie (though I should be thankful it’s passage wasn’t accompanied by a  bad Prince song).  Here’s Nicholson’s dialogue from the movie:

“And now folks, it’s time for who do you trust?  Hubba, hubba, hubba.  Money, money, money. Who do you trust? Me?  I’m giving away free money.  And where is the Batman?   He’s at home, washing his tights…And now comes the part, where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives.”

Granted, the government isn’t going to relieve us of our lives, just our money, and they’re doing it while trying to tell us they’re giving us “free money”.  It didn’t end well for many in the movie, and this “plan” will not end well for most of us.  Anyone with a basic knowledge of economics learned early on there is no such thing as a truly “free” lunch.

Incongruity #1: Many of the same politicians that opposed spending $79 billion to fund the first year of the Iraq war had absolutely no qualms about passing a whopping $787 billion Act during their first month in office.

To put that in more glaring perspective, in the five years we’ve been fighting in Iraq, we’ve spent just over $600 billion dollars.  And we were told that was too costly.  $600 billion in five years, vs. $787 billion in one month?! Somehow these politicians forgot to do math.

Incongruity #2: We’re told we should be thankful for the $14/week tax break each of us is going to get through this “package”.  Many aren’t saying that this plan basically saddles each and every American taxpayer with an extra $10,000 of debt.  I’m supposed to be happy with $14 a week, when I’m going to have to pay back $10,000?!  Let’s see, I need to collect $14/month for 14.8 years to pay off my share of the extra taxpayer debt (without any interest adjustments). I’m 29, so I’ll only be 44 when that “tax break” finally pays for itself.  Wonderful…

Chump Change

People’ve been asking me what I thought of the inauguration proceedings for our new president.  Honestly, other than noticing the $200 million taxpayer pricetag to the self-congratulatory orgy, I was too busy applying for a second job to bother. 

I’ve actually been spending more time following the growing list of Obama nominees/appointees who’re guilty of tax evasion:


Tom Daschle–$140,000


Timothy Geithner–almost $50,000. 


Nancy Killefer (whom Obama ironically said would “help restore the American people’s confidence in their government”.)  Oh Nancy, the years of tax evasion have not been kind…

Yes, vaunted public officials, you told us it was our “patriotic duty” to pay taxes, then you showed us the depths of your patriotism.  I’m just glad to see our president did his homework before nominating qualified people to protect the public trust.

Not that there isn’t plenty of corruption to spread among the parties, but really, these fiascos just back up one of my important pre-election points–power attracts the corrupt.   The last thing a sensible person should want is to concentrate unprecedented power in an institution (the federal government) that attracts such corruption.  There was a method to the madness of our Founding Fathers.  

Maybe if we could actually get government officials to pay their taxes, we wouldn’t be running a deficit.

5 Simple Things…

I’m not a Global Warming alarmist (there are more important environmental challenges–such as plastic contamination of the oceans and food chains), but I’ve always been a conservationist and recycler, so I thought it was time to post some real strategies average people can use to help the environment and reduce energy costs.  

1.  Recycle


Many only recycle aluminum cans, paper, or cardboard.  In reality, you can add plastic, tin cans, glass, batteries, lightbulbs, toner and ink cartridges (office supply stores will give you money for these), and electronic devices to that list. When I lived in community, we found cardboard and plastic were the major offenders.  We were recycling three 11 gallon trashcans of plastic and two cans of cardboard for every single 11 gallon can of non-recyclable trash.  S.H., now you see part of the reason I never seem to have enough reusable cloth bags in my car! 

2. Switch to more efficient lighting.


Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are terribly inefficient, turning 90% of consumed power into heat rather than light.  CFLs like the one pictured above are far more efficient, using about a third of their counterpart’s power.   Halogen bulbs are somewhere in between, though there is a debate brewing over whether they might damage human eyesight.  Changing your lighting can save you some dough, but isn’t without drawbacks.

Many CFLs last longer than old bulbs, but aren’t meant to be turned off and on repeatedly in short spans of time.  Doing so reduces their lifespan.  Secondly, they contain a toxic chemical (mercury), and must be carefully recycled.   

LEDs (light emitting diodes) promise still greater energy efficiency than CFLs, and are increasingly being used in traffic lights to reduce municipal energy costs. 

3.  Reduce Your Water Use (Rig your toilet)


You’re seeing inside the tank of my old toilet.  According to the USGS, toilet use consumes more water than any other function in the home (showers and baths being #2), and 36 states will experience a water shortage or crisis in the next few years.   A low-cost conservation measure is to fill a large bottle with water, and place it in the tank after flushing the toilet.  By displacing the water that comes back in, you’ll save a liter or  more (depending on the container used) per flush.  

If you want to be more extreme, you can do what I do (as a bachelor, and when I don’t have company) and live by the adage, “If it’s yellow, it’s mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  

An added benefit is that in crisis (think Katrina or major earthquake), that sunken bottle of water is drinkable (while water in an old tank like mine might not be suitable for consumption).

4. Kill your Vampires (Install a Power Strip) 


Many electrical appliances continue to suck juice even when they are powered “off”.  This is because they’re internally set on “standby”, and pull a little power (10-60%) in order to turn on more quickly when you thumb the remote or switch.  While the most modern appliances pull less electricity–and some even come with special software that automatically cuts the vampire drain to near zero–older appliances suck significantly more (and provide a reason why upgrading your electronics is actually good for the environment).  

Letting your appliances stay plugged-in is wasteful and costly, and can be easily eliminated by putting all your electronics on a power switch (like the one pictured above).  When you’re not using them, a simple flick of the trigger prevents your electronics from continuing to suck blood.  It’s one major reason my electric bill is only $12/month.  

5.  Harness the Sun (Buy a Portable Solar Charger)


I bought this portable solar charger for $19.99 from overstock.com.  Don’t pay the $80 they want in some retail stores.  This highly portable solar charger (a little larger than a checkbook) gives me the means to recharge my iPod, cell phone, and perhaps a few other portable electronics.  It takes a little longer to charge, but you’re drawing from a clean source of energy, and your purchase helped fund the solar manufacturing industry*.

*To be quite honest, solar is too inefficient to solve our societal energy needs–even the best solar panels aren’t even 20% efficient.  Wind is still the more cost-effective alternative (currently on par with coal for cost of energy production), and we’d be better off sinking the money some want to send to solar into wind turbines.