Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Need Change

No this blog is not about you choice between Republican or Democratic candidates. This blog is about how we allow politicians to campaign. Three years ago I turned off television service in part due to political ads. Haven't missed it a minute. And more and people are disconnecting from their satellite and cable services for any number of reasons ergo politicians are looking for other ways to get your attention: calls on your cell phone so you have to pay for the minutes, calls on your land line if you still have one, fliers, junk mail, e-mail spamming, and billboards and yard signs.

The "off-year" elections have to be the absolute worse for yard signs and junk mail. I appreciate the political contribution of junk mail to my stack of paper for lighting fires since you vetoed my SS increase again this year and the local electrical coop is again raising my rates. Just a tip: I hardly ever bother to open it except to make it burn faster.

Every state has rules about the placement of yard signs but as far as I have noticed they are never followed. One of the rules in my state is they have to be taken down within 48 hours of the election. Like that ever happens. And they are suppose to have the property owner's permission. I know that doesn't happen. I say we just ban them. The candidates can spend their money on holding town meetings and explaining their views if they have any.

But I think it is past time to do away with the 2-year term for congress. I worked for a United States Senator and it is virtually impossible to get up to speed on all the issues within the first two years. What representatives do the minute they take office is begin running for the next term and collecting money to pay of the yard sign bill so they can start ordering more.

Let's change their term to 4 years and elect them on off years from the president. And limit their consecutive terms of office to just two for a total of eight years. If they want to hit the ground running their first term they should maintain 50% of the previous representative's staff for at least the first two years. Believe me it is the staff members that are up on all the procedures and legislation. The only thing the newly elected representative knows is how to get elected.

We are wasting entirely too much time and money on this election stuff and not spending enough of our resources or attention on solving the problems of this nation or world. And that, my friends, goes for both parties!

Oh, and voters - don't select who you vote for based on name recognition. Know their campaign promises. And if you don't know that candidate then don't cast a vote for or against. You can leave blanks on your ballot. Make an informed choice. Not a choice based on that yard sign

Monday, October 11, 2010

I think I am in Love!!!

LED Light Bulbs
I am getting ready for winter and part of that is replacing outside light bulbs. Some years back I had bought the propaganda about the energy efficient florescent bulbs and replaced my incandescent bulbs as they went out. I have been less than happy with the results. They are dim, do not dim with a rheostat, do not get to full brightness before I turn them off, and outside in cold weather are just impossible to see by. And in a motion detector fixture they are impossible. I am frequently out of my car and in my house before the lights on the walkway get above a very faint glow.

And one of the big controversies over replacing our light bulbs with fluorescent "eco" bulbs, is those bulbs aren't really very eco friendly. Sure they save on energy in a fixture where you turn it on and leave it on for an extended period, but they also contain mercury, and dropping the bulb or improper discarding of the bulb is an environmental hazard. Besides they take twice the materials to make and are dangerous on stairways and entries where they often are not on long enough to come to full power before the owner stumbles down the stairs.

So today I was in the hardware store looking to stock up on light bulbs - the incandescent ones - since I had used all my stock up replacing florescent bulbs and I keep hearing this rumor they are going to outlaw light! I was standing before the huge array of light bulbs trying to remember all my light fixtures inside and out so I would get enough and of the right variety when a clerk asked if he could help. I explained I was looking for LIGHT bulbs and that did not include those horrid florescent ones. And he informed me that he hears that a lot these days.

This was in Taos where the trust fund babies are definitely eco-terrorist connected. I had almost whispered I wanted the OTHER bulbs. He pointed me to the LED bulbs. I know LED. They first made an appearance in little things like book lamps that clip on your book cover, or personal headlights for crawling in attics, or solar fixtures, etc.

But LED's have gone big time and come in all shapes and sizes and to fit all fixtures. Top watts seems to be about 1.5 as compared to the 75 watts for an incandescent. And they last 9 and 10 times as long. I am test driving two for that dark walkway from the driveway with the motion sensor, and if I am happy it is off to get some more. Meanwhile I am collecting the florescent bulbs in a bag to take to the transfer station with a note that some of them still work within the parameters they were designed for which isn't light.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jet Noise: The sound of freedom?

Low flying military plane over Wales
In April North Wales farmers called for a ban on low flying RAF military aircraft because of damage to livestock. The RAF route was also used by the United States as well as other countries. Now the United States Air Force is seeking to fly low over our mountains here in New Mexico claiming there will be no damage. Been there and done that. They have tried this before. Before they invaded Iraq the second time. Who are they planning on invading this time? Iran? North Korea?

Low flyovers means 500 AGL. That is 500 feet above ground level. And the ground level in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, like in North Wales, changes rapidly and drastically. That is rather the point. They want to train pilots of C130 and CV-22 Ospreys to fly such variable terrain. I have flown in a C130. That lumbering troop and cargo carrying aircraft does not change directions rapidly, let alone pull out quickly. And the Wales route was approved for one set of air craft and opened to others - and other nations as well. Besides what happened to simulators. People don't die when a pilot makes an error in a simulator.

The routes the Air Force proposed for these "training" missions before included the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, the Val Vidal Wilderness and Wildlife refuge (you cannot even hike in that area some months), the tops of chair lifts at Angel Fire, Taos and Red River Ski areas. Also effected were the migratory flyways of the Canadian Snow Goose, the Sandhill crane, and the endangered Whooping Crane. Our area has become a refuge of Red Tailed Hawks, Golden and Bald Eagles and Great Horned owls which are threatened in other areas.

And tourists. Let's not forget their migratory patterns. They would definitely be endangered. The mountain communities of Angel Fire, Taos, Red River, Raton, and Las Vegas, New Mexico plus Trinidad, Pagosa Springs and Crede, Colorado depend on tourists for revenue. They flock to the mountains for bird watching, fly fishing, golfing, hiking, hunting, skiing, horseback riding, and just plain old peace and quiet. All would suffer from noisy aircraft flying low.

In addition to tourists we have ranchers with cattle and buffalo. And large herds of antelope, Big Horn Sheep, mountain goats, deer and elk. And humans. As an Air Force officer's brat I have lived on bases and at the end of runways. When in the third grade near Ft. Briggs in El Paso, Texas the subject on the playground all too frequently was another crashed jet, another lost parent. One jet crashed just a half mile from our house. We biked to a hill to overlook the crash site. The pilot did not eject because he was trying to guide the malfunctioning plane away from our school.

You can have choices sometimes in flat open land but not when a mountain suddenly appears in a cloud.
One of Larson's Best