Utterly Meaningless
  • 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


    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!?


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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).


    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.”


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


    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.


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


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

    Happy Turkey Day.

    We had Moroccan food. Yum!


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

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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.”


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


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

    Eastern Analytical Symposium Inc


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

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


    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.


    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.


    Filed on July 12, 2014 at 9:32 am under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on June 7, 2014 at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on June 2, 2014 at 7:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on May 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here are all my options for stock mutual funds with reasonable fees (defined as < 0.51% per year): Capture

    Woohoo! Three funds! Nirvana!!!


    Filed on May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on May 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    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).


    Filed on May 10, 2014 at 10:54 am under by dcobranchi

    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)?


    Filed on April 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on at 8:54 am under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 19, 2014 at 8:56 am under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Eastern Analytical Symposium


    Filed on at 12:20 pm under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on April 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    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?


    Filed on March 22, 2014 at 7:13 am under by dcobranchi

    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.


    Filed on March 15, 2014 at 8:20 am under by dcobranchi

    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.

    WELCOME TO THE 1990s

    Filed on March 5, 2014 at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

    The WV legislature appears set to pass a law making breastfeeding in public legal.

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