Utterly Meaningless

13 YEARS AND 4 DAYS

Filed on May 13, 2015 at 5:29 pm under by dcobranchi

I missed my anniversary again,

TODAY’S DOODLE

Filed on at 5:46 am under by dcobranchi

Capture

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU

Filed on May 4, 2015 at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

It’s the geekiest day of the year.

OBSERVATIONS

Filed on April 24, 2015 at 1:46 am under by dcobranchi

Riding bicycles here for transportation is at least as common as in China. Kids, especially, ride here in town. I have not seen a school bus yet, but every morning between 7:10 and 7:30 the bike paths are full of kids all heading to school.

Walking to work is great exercise, but having to walk past several bakeries with fresh bread scents wafting out into the street is a terrible temptation.

The breads here are phenomenal. Just ridiculously good. My favorite are rolls with pumpkin seeds on the outside. But, really, everything I’ve tried is very good.

AND YET ANOTHER VIEW

Filed on April 23, 2015 at 6:08 am under by dcobranchi

IMAG0357

This is from the restaurant where we had supper last night. That’s the Rhein River near Bonn. Upstream is to the left. The mountain off to the left is the Dragon’s Rock and that tower off to the right is DHL’s HQ.

HAPPY 4/20!

Filed on April 20, 2015 at 3:13 am under by dcobranchi

I was in a Turkish kebab market/restaurant last night. The young guy in front of me in line bought only a pack of rolling papers. After he left, the owner of the shop kind of rolled his eyes and said simply, “Weed.” He went on to mention that it’s only an hour drive to the Netherlands from here. I’m an old fart and don’t do that (any longer), but it brought back some happy memories of my mis-spent youth.

THE LANGOLIERS

Filed on April 18, 2015 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

My favorite US airport is looking a lot like a (WARNING! REDUNDANCY ALERT AHEAD!) bad, made-for-TV Stephen King movie.
PIT Concourse B
This is the semi-abandoned Concourse B. Concourse A is even more desolate.

WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD

Filed on April 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm under by dcobranchi

This column by the former editor of my local fishwrap is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long while. The far right wingnut actually “thinks” that Kasich may have “an excellent shot at the nomination.” I’ll go out on a limb. Not only will Kasich not be the GOP nominee, he will not make it out of Iowa.

I’ve read Myer’s columns for 3+ years now. The only thing he has ever gotten correct is his email address.

One might think it would be self-evident that a national debt amounting to nearly $60,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States is the most critical challenge facing Americans.

And addressing the problem by finding someone with experience in cutting government spending rather than padding it also ought to be the obvious move.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich is having to work hard to persuade American voters of those two things.

Kasich is running for president, though many people don’t know it. Only a few insightful observers mention him, much less give him a chance at winning. That may be a big strength.

Real Clear Politics, which monitors public opinion polls, has Kasich dead last in a potential field of 12 candidates for the Republican nomination for president. RCP checked results of six recent polls in which Kasich was the choice of just 1.3 percent of respondents. The leaders were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 16.8, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at 16.2.

But Kasich has advantages over some GOP hopefuls. For one thing, he’s not a member of Congress. He’s an “outsider” like Bush and Walker.

And Kasich, who sought the Republican nomination once before (George W. Bush beat him), has some experience in a national campaign. Some observers already have predicted Walker will fail because he lacks experience on a national stage.

Voters in two very important election states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, can view Kasich as a favorite son (he grew up in McKee’s Rocks, Pa.).

It will be difficult for Kasich’s opponents to jam a silver spoon in his mouth, as they are certain to do with Bush. Kasich, the son of a mailman, can claim as hardscrabble a youth as any candidate.

For Kasich to pick up steam, several things need to happen. First, the GOP front-runners need to stumble. Walker already has, a bit, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him. It’s highly unlikely Bush will self-inflict any wounds.

Second, more people in the national news media need to start talking seriously about Kasich. There’s some hope of that happening.

Third, deep-pockets donors need to start stepping up to the plate for Kasich.

But the most critical factor is whether Americans can be persuaded to worry about deficit spending. Clearly, they don’t now and haven’t for some time. They keep re-electing members of Congress who vote for bigger government.

Most people seem worried more about Islamic terrorists than the national debt. Indeed, the beheaders are a concern – but the chance of getting caught in a terrorist attack is miniscule. Everyone suffers from the $18.2 trillion debt. Kasich’s burden is making them understand that.

If he can, he has an excellent shot at the nomination – because he has a record of getting fiscal results. While in the House of Representatives, he was chairman of the Budget Committee. There, he got much of the credit for crafting a balanced federal budget in 1997. Nowadays, if Washington holds the annual deficit to half a trillion dollars, everyone declares victory.

When he became governor, Ohio faced an $8 billion two-year budget gap. Working with legislators, Kasich erased it. Ohio’s economy is growing, in part because of tax relief championed by the governor.

Some conservatives say Kasich’s chance at the GOP nomination is hurt by his action in expanding the Medicaid program in Ohio, through Obamacare. Do those folks not understand how absolutely critical it is that the 2016 Republican nominee have “compassionate conservative” credentials?

Kasich already has tested the waters on his strategy, through a six-week tour of about a dozen states in which he advocated a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. To judge by the poll numbers, the trip did him little good.

But national public opinion doesn’t win primary elections in key states. My guess is that if Kasich can stay in it long enough to take his case personally to voters in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina on the eves of their straw polls and primaries, he’s going to surprise a lot of people.

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

STILL JETLAGGED

Filed on at 1:57 am under by dcobranchi

It’s almost 2 a.m. and I’m wide awake. I’ll probably finally get back on schedule around Friday, just in time for my next trip to Europe.

QOTD

Filed on at 1:05 am under by dcobranchi

Week. Month. Year. Decade. Millenium. Eternity.

“This fascination that we have with handguns — not just in the city but in this country — has to stop. This is a senseless loss of life,” the police chief said.

A 1-year-old was shot and killed by a 3-year-old. And this is so commonplace these days, that it hardly makes the news. I wish there were a Hell to consign Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the NRA leadership to. Some combination of Dante’s 7th – 9th circles would seem to be appropriate.

A BUMPER STICKER I WANT TO SEE

Filed on April 12, 2015 at 10:32 am under by dcobranchi

I am an FDR Democrat!

DAMN HIPPY COMMUNIST

Filed on at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

I could back any Democrat who has the guts to really lead the nation to a better life for all:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security…

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

That was FDR 71 years ago. I think we possibly made good on the farmer bit. The rest of them? Not so much.

Mother Jones has more.

ANOTHER ROOM, ANOTHER VIEW

Filed on April 5, 2015 at 12:15 am under by dcobranchi

Another country.

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HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY!

Filed on April 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm under by dcobranchi

April 4th is Children’s Day here in Hong Kong.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW

Filed on at 12:31 am under by dcobranchi

From the 27th floor of the Holiday Inn Downtown, Shenzhen, China.

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THE LEAST BUSINESS-FRIENDLY TOWN IN THE U.S.

Filed on March 22, 2015 at 11:39 am under by dcobranchi

Just noticed this in the North Hills, WV town ordinances:

BUSINESSES WITHIN THE TOWN
* NO PLACES OF BUSINESS OR TRADE CAN BE CONSTRUCTED OR PERMITTED IN THE TOWN. THE SNACK BAR AT THE NORTH HILLS SWIM AND RACQUET CLUB IS EXEMPTED.

Don’t even think of opening that lemonade stand, kids.

MUST READ OF THE DAY

Filed on at 8:24 am under by dcobranchi

CNN(!) has a long form piece up on one man’s deconversion story. I wouldn’t have gone the godless church route, but it seems to work for the group in the Research Triangle.

HAPPY PI MINUTE!

Filed on March 14, 2015 at 9:26 am under by dcobranchi

In a real time warp kind of way, I wrote this post six years ago today and post-dated it to auto-publish right now. Pretty geeky, I know.

WINTER’S OVER!!!

Filed on March 8, 2015 at 8:01 am under by dcobranchi

Accuweather is predicting the following hi/low temps for the week:

48/32
53/37
53/44
58/35
59/40
54/44
56/38

QOTD

Filed on February 8, 2015 at 10:15 am under by dcobranchi

[R]efusing to vaccinate your children is not “personal choice” but public irresponsibility. You no more have the right to risk others by failing to vaccinate than you do by sending your child to school with a hunting knife. Vaccination isn’t a private choice but a civic obligation. — Nicholas Kristof

HOW IN THE HELL…

Filed on February 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm under by dcobranchi

Did our country get so screwed up that we allowed vaccinations to become politicized!?

THREE STRIKES AND IT’S OUT!

Filed on January 31, 2015 at 3:40 pm under by dcobranchi

Swiffer WetJet is a piece of junk. We’ve had three now that broke off at the handle. It seems that whatever plastic they use is just too weak, too thin, and too brittle to do the job. This latest one lasted 13 months.

I will not be purchasing a 4th one and will be Freecycling the remaining Swiffer consumables I have on hand.

LIFE IN FAYETTEVILLE

Filed on January 9, 2015 at 3:48 pm under by dcobranchi

Yes, I don’t live there any longer (Thank FSM!) but this story is just oh so typical:

A woman in Fayetteville, N.C. allegedly shot her husband in the chest when he came home to surprise her with breakfast Friday morning, television station WTVD reported.

Police said Tiffany Segule, 27, shot her husband, Zia Segule, 28, after he returned home to surprise her and set off their home’s alarm system, the station reported.

She had returned to bed after her husband left for work and thought there was an intruder, according to police. She fired a shot through her bedroom door, authorities told the TV station.

Everybody is armed to the teeth, down there.

-3 °F IS COLD!

Filed on January 8, 2015 at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

Layers, folks. Dress in layers.

HOW NOT TO HIRE

Filed on January 4, 2015 at 1:24 pm under by dcobranchi

Kraton (NYSE:KRA) in Belpre, OH had a help wanted sticker on my newspaper this morning. Curious, I looked at their website and found this on the “Apply” page:

There will be a $25 per applicant testing fee (due the day of the application) to defray some of the costs associated with testing all applicants. Cash or check will be accepted.

They charge everyone $25 to put in an application in order to “defray” the costs of their recruiting? Really? Are they so strapped for cash that they cannot afford to pay for their own testing? Whoever in HR thought that was a good idea ought to be shown the door.

FRIDAY CAT(S) BLOGGING

Filed on January 2, 2015 at 7:11 pm under by dcobranchi

Here’s a pic of two of the three cats doing what they do best (and most often).

#LeelahAlcorn

Filed on December 31, 2014 at 3:23 pm under by dcobranchi

This is the saddest and most maddening tale I’ve read in a very long time. A transgender teen was rejected by her parents and forced into isolation. She killed herself this week.

And her mother still calls her “Josh.”

BARGAIN ESPRESSO

Filed on December 6, 2014 at 6:15 am under by dcobranchi

Coffee

I’ve been an espresso drinker for decades, now. Two doubles (doppio) before I leave the house every morning. I’ve always ground my own beans (coffee geek) but lately I’ve been drinking Cafe Bustelo. It’s a really strong, Cuban style, pre-ground. It’s very, very good and super cheap at Sam’s Club. $11.68 for 2.5 lbs.

http://www.samsclub.com/sams/coffee-bustello-36oz/prod13710585.ip

It works equally well in a pump machine or a stove-top machinetta.

IT’S SNOWING!

Filed on November 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm under by dcobranchi

Happy Turkey Day.

We had Moroccan food. Yum!

PEEPER’S SNOW

Filed on November 7, 2014 at 11:04 am under by dcobranchi

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This was the view along US Hwy 23 coming through Kentucky on 2 Nov 2014.

HARD CIDER v. 2.0 UPDATE

Filed on October 27, 2014 at 5:41 am under by dcobranchi

The yeast are really doing their thing now. The cider appears almost as if it’s on a slow simmer. I’ve seen red wine in what the winemaker called the “cold boil” state. That is, so much CO2 was being produced it really looked like the grape juice/new wine was boiling. My cider is getting close to that state.

DIAL M FOR MOROCCO

Filed on at 5:33 am under by dcobranchi

Here at Casa Cobranchi we have a somewhat unusual annual Thanksgiving tradition. It may even be unique. Nobody here really enjoys the whole turkey/ham/cranberry sauce gig, so we mix things up a bit each year. We choose a country each year somewhat randomly by rolling a 26 sided die. Whatever letter “wins” we pick a country that begins with that letter and Lydia fixes dishes only from that country. In the past few years we’ve rolled an I” twice (India & Italy), an “F” (France), and last year it was an “H” (Hungary). Yesterday we rolled an “M” and chose Morroco. Runner up was Mexico, but Taco Bell for Thanksgiving didn’t sound very exciting. :-)

HARD CIDER, v 2.0

Filed on October 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm under by dcobranchi

The first batch is almost gone, so I’ve started a second batch. This time, I started with 1 gallon of Musselman’s apple cider to which I added 1 pound of dark brown sugar. Pitched with a full packet of Red Star Champagne yeast. If I did the calculations correctly and if the yeast converts all of the sugar, I should end up with a brew around 10.8% ABV.

It’s only been four hours and already the brew is bubbling away nicely.

YUM!

Filed on October 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm under by dcobranchi

The apfelwein is done. When I checked the jug today, it had cleared up nicely. I just had a glass. Cold and back-sweetened with a bit of Stevia. It has just a hint of carbonation and a nice alcohol bite.

This first batch was only 1/2 gallon. I’ll start a gallon batch tomorrow.

MIXED METAPHOR OF THE DAY

Filed on October 17, 2014 at 7:32 am under by dcobranchi

On being over-exposed to the stock market:

“If you’re a couple of years away from retirement, you’re really rolling the dice at the Roulette table,” said Erik Laurence, vice president of marketing and business development at FeeX.

If I were an investor with FeeX, I think I might be somewhat encouraged that the VP there apparently has never seen the inside of a casino.

STILL FRINGE?

Filed on October 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm under by dcobranchi

I’m not sure why, but CNN/Money is highlighting a retrospective on “How Homeschooling Became Legal.” Nothing earth-shattering or particularly controversial, even if they do refer to Michael Farris as a homeschool “hero.”

ADDICTED TO APFELWEIN

Filed on at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

After two trips to Frankfurt in the last 4 months, I find myself addicted to the local beverage of choice, apfelwein (apple wine). It’s basically a dry hard cider. Non-carbonated. I like this stuff so much that Lydia and I drove 40 miles round trip yesterday to a local orchard that makes the most delicious (if somewhat expensive) fresh cider. I picked up a half-gallon and just threw in some champagne yeast to start the fermentation process. No other prep. I didn’t even put an airlock on the bottle. Just cracked the cap just a bit to let the CO2 escape.

I’ll let it sit for a month before sampling.

BIG HAIR NOT REQUIRED

Filed on October 11, 2014 at 7:44 am under by dcobranchi

The commercial I filmed for AARP/The Hartford started airing this week. It’s a 28 minute infomercial. I haven’t seen it yet, but the DVR is set. The company filmed part of it here at home, so my whole family (less our daughter who lives in NC) is in the show.

IT’S ELECTRIC!

Filed on September 20, 2014 at 9:10 am under by dcobranchi

I stayed at a Holiday Inn in NJ last night. Out back was the very first public EV charging station I’ve ever seen. Electric cars have not made major inroads into the new car market of West Virginia.

EWWWW!

Filed on September 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm under by dcobranchi

I really cannot imagine a worse deal than all-you-can-eat at Olive Garden. Bad Italianish food that is bad for your health.

UNELECTABLE!

Filed on August 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm under by dcobranchi

This is my built in excuse if I’m ever asked to run for office.

Apparently, it is easier to be a gay member of Congress than an atheist one, since Barney Frank announced he was gay in 1987 but didn’t announce he was an atheist until after leaving office in 2013. A handful of current members of Congress state that their religious affiliation is “unspecified,” but none has stated publicly that he or she doesn’t believe in God.

Their reticence is pure political pragmatism. The reluctance of Americans to vote for atheists is well documented. In fact, a hypothetical “well-qualified” atheist presidential candidate polls at 54%, lower than any other category — below Muslims, gays/lesbians, Mormons, Jews, Hispanics, Catholics, women, or African-Americans.

That list stopped too soon. We also rank below adulterers. The only category we beat out is someone who’s never held office. But since atheists could never get elected to anything in order to get that first win, we automatically fall into both least likely categories!

CANS? REALLY?

Filed on August 30, 2014 at 8:33 am under by dcobranchi

I cannot believe this brewery didn’t put the beer in bottles. Have they never heard the song?

(CNN) — Texas brewery Austin Beerworks is doing its part to “keep Austin weird” by releasing the first 99-pack of beer to consumers.

WHAT A FABULOUS IDEA!

Filed on August 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm under by dcobranchi

Every utility in the country ought to duplicate this effort.

A church in West Virginia just got 60 panels installed on its roof for $1, thanks to a local group that’s making it easier and cheaper for nonprofits in the state to go solar.

At a ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday, Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church became the site of the largest community-supported solar system in West Virginia, at the same time kicking off a model to bring solar energy to West Virginia nonprofits that’s being pioneered by local group Solar Holler.

To fund the church’s solar panels, almost 100 Shepherdstown families agreed to install demand response controllers from Maryland-based Mosaic Power on their water heaters. Mosaic Power’s business model involves installing the controllers for free, and the network of water heaters becomes a sort of “virtual power plant.” Mosaic sells the electricity service created by the water heaters network to the grid, and pays the people who installed the controllers $100 out of the money it makes through selling the service. Instead of keeping the $100, all the people who installed the controllers in Shepherdstown agreed to put it towards the church’s solar panels, which will provide about half the energy the church needs each year.

ADDING TO MY PERSONAL BOYCOTT LIST

Filed on August 26, 2014 at 9:37 am under by dcobranchi

I’m going to boycott Burger King and Tim Hortons. Any company that decides to play these inversion tax schemes gets boycotted.

3…2…1…LIFTOFF!

Filed on August 21, 2014 at 7:17 am under by dcobranchi

Daughter #2 yesterday successfully achieved escape velocity and moved half the volume of a typical Wal-mart Superstore into her tiny dorm room at Marshall University.

A MILESTONE CARNIVAL

Filed on August 16, 2014 at 2:10 am under by dcobranchi

450 editions? Henry Cate is a machine! I hosted one way back when they were numbered in the single digits (#9, Feb. 2006). I’m impressed that Henry has kept it going all these years.

Karen, the host of this week’s Carnival describes herself as “a very open atheist, secular humanist, science lover.”

BTW, Karen is seeking posts for/about raising secular kids for a Carnival of Atheist Parenting.

SHAMELESS (NON-PROFIT) COMMERCIALISM

Filed on August 13, 2014 at 10:58 am under by dcobranchi

Eastern Analytical Symposium Inc

NEW GAME…

Filed on July 30, 2014 at 4:38 am under by dcobranchi

Name the drug that S. E. Cupp took before making this video.

LAPTOP DEAL OF THE DAY

Filed on July 19, 2014 at 6:36 am under by dcobranchi

NOTE: SALE ENDS at 1 a.m. EDT 7/20/2014

I’ve been searching for weeks for a laptop for Chelsea to take with her to college. I had narrowed the search down to just a couple of processors: the Intel Core i7-4500 series, the Core i5-4200 family, or the AMD A10-5750. With 8 – 12 GB of RAM these were running in the $700-$900 range. I caught a coupon earlier this week and got this Dell for $630. It had all of the features Chelsea wanted (no touch screen, backlit keyboard, at least 8 GB of RAM). And then, this morning, my RSS feed for Woot! showed they’re selling a very similar refurbed HP machine for $485 shipped! The HP beats the Dell on memory (12 GB vs. the Dell’s 8GB) but loses out on wireless (“n” vs. the Dell’s “ac”). The HP has a touch screen if you (or your kids) are into that. I think it’s a waste on a laptop. I have a touch screen Lenovo ultrabook upstairs. I never use the Windows 8 tiles, but boot directly to the Win 7 look-alike desktop. Touch is not needed if you’re not using the Microsoft “Modern Interface.”

If you’re willing to take a gamble on a refurb with a 90 day warranty, this laptop has the oomph (that’s a technical IT term) to take an HEK through their college years.

GO WEST, YOUNG(?) MAN

Filed on July 15, 2014 at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

Adam O’Neal is wasting his time marching to DC. He should have hiked to Raleigh. That’s where it would get fixed.

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