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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
I really cannot imagine a worse deal than all-you-can-eat at Olive Garden. Bad Italianish food that is bad for your health.
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!
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.
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.
I’m going to boycott Burger King and Tim Hortons. Any company that decides to play these inversion tax schemes gets boycotted.
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.
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.
Name the drug that S. E. Cupp took before making this video.
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.
Adam O’Neal is wasting his time marching to DC. He should have hiked to Raleigh. That’s where it would get fixed.
Electronics (including FBI tracking devices) really don’t do well in microwave ovens. Which reminds me, I’ll need to nuke my passport when it comes due for renewal in a couple of years. I still don’t trust RFID.
I missed a real financial opportunity here. I own a few (and I mean very few) shares of AAPL in my IRA. I just checked the balance and my AAPL holdings have magically increased in value by 7x. Of course, AAPL is splitting 7:1 on Monday and Scottrade already has figured that in. But the value is based on Friday’s pre-split close. If I’d have known that, I’d have put my entire port into AAPL on Thursday. It’d have been fun seeing a 7-figure balance, even if only for a day.
I want some Tech guru to invent anti-social media. Facebook has a billion members. That means there are 6 billion who’ve resisted the call to be “social.” There’s the market.
Here are all my options for stock mutual funds with reasonable fees (defined as < 0.51% per year):
Woohoo! Three funds! Nirvana!!!
Man! Why did I never think of this? What a great fundraising idea!
Last week, two Vancouver, Wash. third graders said they wet their pants after their teacher would not let them use the bathroom. The students, both girls, said the reason for the denial was that they hadn’t accumulated enough pretend classroom money to pay for privilege…
The pretend money is designed to teach students about the value of money. Students earn the fictional funds by doing their homework, for example, or by being nice to others. They can spend it to buy pizza or pointless crap like a squirt gun. Students say they must also use the fake cash to pay for bathroom breaks.
The unidentified teacher exacts a seemingly high imaginary price for toilet time: $50.
Of course, I’d have charged my kids real money. Let’s see: $50 x 4 kids x 5 flushes/day = $365,000/yr. I could have retired years ago.
In a relatively insane town:
PARKERSBURG – The Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority’s Easy Rider bus levy, which will provide funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017, was approved by a large margin in Tuesday’s primary election, according to the unofficial tally from the Wood County Clerk.
Parkersburg citizens voted 2,323 for and 679 against renewing the Easy Rider levy. This was an approval of 77.38 percent of the vote.
Yes, we voted against a tax cut in order to fund public transit. What would the tea partiers think?
We have a surprisingly good bus system here in tiny Parkersburg. It runs only between here and the next town over (Vienna, WV), but the routes go through all of the major shopping and professional centers. You could pretty much get anywhere you need to for 50¢ (25¢ for students).
I hope someone sees this who can help. Chelsea will be going away to school in Huntington, WV in August. We need to find a cell service provider who has decent coverage in I-77 between Charleston and the Ohio River. And also in Huntington, of course. This is for safety when she’s driving back to Parkersburg.
Does anyone know who has the best cell phone coverage along I-77 in WV (north of Charleston)?
After I wrote that post extolling the virtues of the mascarpone ice cream we got a call from Kroger’s informing us it had been recalled. Something about eggs.
Of course, I’d already eaten the whole thing.
Kroger’s Private Collection Chocolate Hazelnut Mascarpone may be the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Super smooth. Not too sweet. And loaded with crunchy hazelnuts.
I think I’m in love.
Total college enrollment is starting to trend down after decades of consistent growth. With fewer students, colleges will have no choice but to hike tuitions since their revenues will go down otherwise. It’s a great scam. When demand is up, tuition goes up. When demand is down, tuition goes up.
You think I’m kidding?
Tying in the need students currently face to fund their education, the Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase for next school year, citing issues related to a drop in enrollment that colleges across the state are facing.
“It’s something we don’t like to do, but it keeps the college financially healthy,” said WSCC President Bradley Ebersole.
WSCC Treasurer Jess Raines explained that the college’s revenue is down by eight percent from the previous year, citing enrollment as one of the primary factors.
My division of DuPont is being sold to Kuraray, the #4 worldwide manufacturer of PVB films (DuPont is #3). We got our official job offers yesterday. Hopefully, The Who were right.
The local high school here finds itself in a bit of a jam:
Parkersburg South’s wrestling season is over.
But now the wrestling team is pinned over its tee shirts.
South’s wrestling team has tee shirts that have a Bible verse on the back.
It says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13.
The wrestlers wore those shirts during their most recent season.
“Him” is usually translated “Christ.” If the kids were wearing the shirts as part of their uniforms, this would clearly be a violation of the Establishment Clause. And even if they’re just wearing them around school, it’s questionable since the front reads “Parkersburg South Wrestling.” The Superintendent made the right call to ban the shirts, but now a family has retained a lawyer because, they claim, their 1st Amendment free speech rights are being infringed.
Sorry, I’m not buying it. The wrestling team has been wearing shirts with that same verse for 15+ years. That seems, to me, to make it something of an unoffical team motto. And, therefore, forbidden.
Let’s set Congressional salaries at 10x the federal minimum wage, annualized to 2080 hours. Right now, that’d require a pay cut from $174k to $150k/yr. If they raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hr, they’d get a hike to $210k/yr. I’d gladly make that trade.
I’m not sure if this is a Google Translation error, or the Chinese spammer who sent it is just nuts:
When you see of pork chop, it means that roller coaster about grand piano trembles.
A few habaneros were enough to cause the evacuation of a school and the deployment of a HazMat team. Freakin’ wimpy habaneros. I have a huge bag of Trinidad Moruga Scorpions and Bhut Jolokias in my freezer. Those would devastate an entire county, I guess.
Police cars and fire trucks surrounded Jefferson County Open School in Colorado Monday, as hazmat crews decontaminated students outside — spraying them down, fully clothed, in cordoned-off sections under a blue tent…
Six habanero chili peppers caused this hot mess.
Don’t tell Homeland Security, okay?
Where hundreds of bigots rally in support of a bigoted high school teacher. You think I’m kidding?
Hundreds of supporters rallied in front of Parkersburg South High School on Friday, calling for a suspended teacher to return to the classroom.
About 200 students and adults lined up along Blizzard Drive, holding signs supporting David Foggin, a science teacher who was suspended Tuesday for remarks he made online about a student group.
In a post last week, Foggin appeared to make fun of the Gay-Straight Alliance club, comparing the group to deer poaching and illegal street racing and saying it opened the door to similar groups, such as drunk-sober students…
Sandra Walker, a vocal proponent of Foggin, organized and attended Friday’s rally.
“Mr. Foggin should be allowed to go on his private Facebook page and have the freedom of speech that men fought and died for,” Walker said. “God gave us the right to take a stand on our beliefs. Christ died to give us the right to free speech.”
Walker said Foggin’s post and subsequent suspension have brought up issues of free speech, religion and whether a club like the Gay-Straight Alliance should be in schools. Walker dismissed rumors of GSA students being targeted for harassment and bullying by Foggin supporters.
“South has had bullying for years. The club members are not the only ones who have been singled out for bullying. When they set up the club they singled themselves out for bullying,” she said…
At least one student said she has been the target of bullying, shouted slurs and intimidation, by Foggin’s supporters because she is gay and because she is a member of the GSA.
This is just plain sickening! Obviously, none of my kids attend Parkersburg South High School. But if they did, I hope they would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the counter protesters and brought their friends, gay or straight, along with them.
These are the known facts as of 3/15/2014:
1. You do not need to “un-enroll” from homeschooling status or from any classes that you are taking prior to taking the TASC pre-test. If anyone at the Adult Education centers tells you differently, have them contact the state Board of Education.
2. You do not have to not be homeschooling for 30 days prior to registering.
3. You do have to take the pre-test prior to registering for the TASC. The pre-test runs 3.5 hours.
4. You should go to the local Board of Education office to pick up a TASC registration form. That form, when signed by school officials, will allow you to take the TASC for free. Otherwise, it’ll cost you somewhere around $100. You’ll need to bring the letter from the local BoE showing that you’re homeschooling.
5. The state Board of Education has not yet determined the TASC cut scores for PROMISE eligibility. Since the test is still not ready, the state BoE told me that they will “definitely have to extend the July 1st deadline.” That being said, it is still strongly suggested that you try to get your scores in by June 30th, just to be safe.
End of facts. Now, my opinions:
Apparently, some (all?) local Adult Education centers have been interpreting the state requirement that someone must have quit high school for 30 days prior to taking the GED as a requirement that homeschoolers must do the same. That’s silly, of course. How do you un-enroll from homeschool? Homeschoolers take the GED (and now the TASC) solely in order to qualify for the PROMISE scholarship. It has nothing to do with graduating. So, although the test is the same, the different reasons for taking it should have clued the Adult Education centers/local Boards of Education that the rules for registering were likely to be different. In at least some counties, that has not been the case for many, many years. As of yesterday, it ought to be in Wood County. I spoke to the local Adult Education Center, the PROMISE scholarship foundation, and the state Board of Education yesterday. And they spoke to each other, so that at the end of the day, we reached an understanding that graduating homeschoolers can register for the TASC as outlined in the “facts” section, above.
The WV legislature appears set to pass a law making breastfeeding in public legal.
A 10-year-old in OH got a 3-day suspension for making his fingers into the shape of a gun. Seriously.
According to his father, Paul Entingh, one moment the boy was “goofing off” with his friends in fifth grade science class, and the next the teacher was taking him out of the classroom invoking Ohio’s zero-tolerance policy.
The offense? Nathan was “making his fingers look like a gun, having the thumb up and the pointed finger sticking out,” said Entingh, describing the February 26 incident.
“He was pointing it at a friend’s head and he said ‘boom.’ The kid didn’t see it. No other kids saw it. But the teacher saw it,” he said. “It wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t hostile. It was a 10-year-old kid playing.”
The next morning Paul Entingh escorted his son Nathan to the principal’s office, where they met with Devonshire Alternative Elementary School Principal Patricia Price.
“She said if it happened again the suspension would be longer, if not permanent,” said Entingh, who also received a letter explaining the reason for Nathan’s suspension as a “level 2 look alike firearm.”
This may be the dumbest zero tolerance case in the last decade. This is what the Columbus City Schools “Guide to Positive Student Behavior” has to say about “firearm look-alikes”:
A firearm look-a-like is any item that resembles a firearm but does not have the explosive
characteristics of a firearm but may use a spring loaded devise or air pressure by which to propel an
object or substance (i.e., toy guns, cap guns, bb guns, pellet guns, air guns and paint ball guns). A
student shall not possess, handle, or transmit any firearm look-a-like, the use of which is unrelated to
the educational process. Included in this prohibition are those students who assist, are present, or in
any way participate in the violation of this rule.
I’m pretty sure a finger and a thumb doesn’t fit the legal definition.
There’s an interesting LttE in my local paper. He’s responding to an earlier letter that endorsed allowing soldiers to wear certain religious garb as part of their uniforms (like turbans for a Sikh soldier).
Mr. Nichols and Mr. Harpool apparently have never served in the U.S. military. Their displayed lack of knowledge and comments and, obviously, their lack of being an informed voter, are quite evidently displayed. I am currently writing a book, and I will gladly send them a free copy of it when I am done and try to educate them a little more. Uniform in the dictionary: “adj. 1. unvaried, regular, constant. n. 1. sameness, consistency, identical with others (as in police uniforms and military).”
I served in the first Gulf War, and a kid in my platoon was from Jordan (Muslim) and was a great kid to work with. He became a translator for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. Another kid was a black man who was also Muslim, good kid, but when it came to war time, he questioned whether or not he could kill his “brother” Muslims. Perhaps if they wore turbans their enemy of us “Infidels” could be distinguished.
People are good, no matter where they may be from if they choose to be. Christians are being killed on a daily basis in the Middle East and parts of Africa. What tolerance of other religions do the Muslims really portray. Yes, there are peaceful ones, but where are they to stop the progression of Islamic militants? Kuwait is one of our few allies left in the Middle East and may God bless any of the Middle Eastern people who stand against tyranny.
As far as wearing of the military uniform, since “Devil Worship” is considered a form of religion by the U.S. government, does that mean they could wear red hats with horns and carry a pitchfork instead of a rifle? I think not, and any such change makes us all look like idiots. I rest my case.
Brian R. Dent
I didn’t realize that Satanists wore red hats with horns and carried pitchforks. You learn something new every day, I guess. As for looking like an idiot, Mr. Dent, I heartily agree.
This has to be the definition of a no good very bad day:
A rush-hour wreck Friday at the Interstate 77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge involved a lost couch and a tractor-trailer, sent two to the hospital and closed the southbound lanes of the bridge for more than an hour, officials said.
Around 5 p.m., an unknown motorist carrying a load of furniture and traveling southbound across the I-77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge lost control of the load and deposited a couch on the bridge behind the vehicle, said Deputy M.C. Hupp with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.
Behind the unidentified motorist, Tracy West, 41, of Orma, W.Va., and his wife Melissa West, 36, of Orma, W.Va., were test-driving a Dodge Ram pickup from a local dealership, Hupp said.
Tracy West was unable to stop in time to avoid striking the couch, Hupp said. The couch was hit, and ended up beneath the Ram’s undercarriage, Hupp said. The test-driven Ram was forced to stop in the center of the I-77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge due to being hung up on the couch, said Hupp.
Unable to stop on the slick bridge surface, a tractor-trailer from Broughtons Dairy then struck the Ram from behind, Hupp said. The tractor-trailer was driven by George Mosser Jr., 54, of Marietta.
At least the couch wasn’t on fire.
the hairs inside your nose freeze solid in one breath. It is a very strange sensation.
We now return you to our regular schedule of non-blogging.
This just crossed my desk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlazQYHodX0#t=12
No, Obamacare does not require us to be chipped.
No, Walmart is not in cahoots with Obama to have everyone chipped.
Yes, wingnuts are idjits.
An unexpected squall left our street covered in white. And since the temperature is 27 °F and falling, we’ll have snow on the ground tomorrow morning.
A bit of holiday cheer…
I stopped in at one of the local churches here to pay for luminaries that they’re putting out on my street tonight. As I was leaving I wished the secretary “Merry Christmas” and she wished me “Happy Holidays.” I appreciated the gesture. I’m (obviously) not a member of that church, and she had no idea what, if any, religion I follow. So “Happy Holidays” was, indeed, the appropriate choice. I just never expected to hear it from a church employee in this rather conservative town.
Kathleen Geier does a terrific job explaining just how wrong are the GOP policies that seek to punish poor people for the “sin” of being poor.
And any store that opens on Thursday will see zero of my dollars on Friday, too.
Yes, it’s a little late for Trick or Treat. And these peppers are definitely on the “Trick” end of the scale.
I’m a chili-head. The hotter, the better. I use Dave’s Insanity sauce by the spoonful. I’ve taken, and beaten, the Phaal Challenge. And these Moruga Scorpion peppers are just ridiculously hot. Almost too hot for me.
We have a Thanksgiving tradition in our home of not having the traditional turkey, dressing, and all the fixings dinner. Boring! Instead, we roll a 26-sided alphabet die. Whatever letter turns up, we look at the list of countries that start with that letter and pick one. I rolled an “H” this morning. We’ll be having chicken paprikash and Hungarian goulash for T’giving. Woot!!!
Once again, we look like a bunch of mouth breathers. This time, it’s all about the Common Core:
Walker’s resolution is substantially similar to the resolution approved by an overwhelming majority in the House, but inserts a provision explicitly exempting home-schooled students.
“Parents who choose to educate their children at home … retain their independence and control over their children’s education and are not subject to Common Core State Standards or the Smarter Balanced Assessment,” the text of the resolution reads.
State school law already exempts students who are educated at home from complying with the department’s education standards and testing requirements, and the adoption of Common Core by the Michigan State Board of Education did not require religious schools or parents who home school to use the standards…
Several home-schooling groups, however, have spoken at legislative hearings on the standards over the summer, alleging that keeping the standards in place would effectively outlaw non-public education, as college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT will be based on Common Core.
Anyone want to guess how many initials those “home-schooling groups” have in their name?
As for the claim that the SAT and ACT will be based on the Common Core, boo fuckin’ hoo! If you choose to homeschool, you cannot expect the rest of the world to match their assessments to your personal curriculum. Having to do extra work for SAT prep is the price that you and your kids will have to pay if you choose not to teach (or they choose not to self-teach) the concepts on the Common Core. The math standards are, for the most part, “common” sense. The only thing that seems new to me is the Modeling section. You don’t want your kids to learn algebra, geometry, and statistics? Well, don’t count on that academic scholarship to MIT. And the English Common Core standards are all based around literacy. That is, reading comprehension. Breaking News: The SAT test currently includes major sections on “Passage Based Reading.” So, once again, if our kids are doing all right on the SAT now, chances are they’ll be fine when the Common Core is fully implemented.
Why do these home educators continually fall for the hype put out by certain “home-schooling groups” that the latest legislative initiative represents the end of homeschooling as we know it? Are they just too dumb to see that it’s all about the money (IAATM)? Tell those “home-schooling groups” to pound sand. Either teach your kids at least as much of the Common Core so that they can continue to do well on the SAT or quit whining!