Category Archives: Important Society Issues

Airplane Flights

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I woke up early this morning and was listening to the BBC.  They had a pretty good segment on airplane flights and greenhouse gases.  Man, there is a lot of information to digest on this subject.

They said something like there are 100,000 flights per day currently.  And that 3.5 billion passengers per year currently fly.  That number is nearly 1/2 the population of the planet now.

Obviously jet planes use fuel, which causes warming.  The fuel a flight uses, per person, is quite a bit more than an automobile, considering how much distance a flight covers.

Burning the fuel also cause clouds.  They are addressing that there are so many flights and the flights obviously make contrails, which affects the greenhouse gas problem.  The contrails create clouds and these clouds are high clouds that are complicated.

The high clouds contain warmth for the planet, that has a next warming effect. But these clouds also reflect the sunlight, which has a net cooling effect on the planet.  So the problem is to figure out which is stronger.

They tried to compare the amount of sun reflected from volcanoes, even 9/11, which grounded nearly all aircraft for 72 hours.  There was a study during 9/11, when the flights were grounded, that showed that with no planes in the sky, the nights were cooler and the days were warmer. This gap was over 1 degree, which seems extreme for only 3 days of no airplane flights.

Anyway, it is complicated and, I’m sure, won’t really be addressed until it is too late to correct. I’m pretty sure that the US is going to be contributing way more to the heating of our planet the next four years.  At least if the president elect keeps his campaign promises.   Funny that the rest of the world is intent on addressing this and, currently, we’re dragging our feet.  Go figure.

Contrails are pretty, but maybe not so good for the planet.

Contrails are pretty, but maybe not so good for the planet.

On a happier note, a hunter's trail camera filmed a mountain lion in Shawnee County, where I live. This is the first photoed mountain lion near Topeka. They are very stealthy and shy.

On a happier note, a hunter’s trail camera filmed a mountain lion in Shawnee County, where I live. This is the first photoed mountain lion near Topeka. They are very stealthy and shy.

 

 

Fall Leaves

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Leaves changing and falling from the trees is really what defines fall and signals the coming of winter.  (Is it leaves or leafs?)  But, I have a pet peeve about fall and leaves.

When I was a kid, our whole neighborhood would pretty much get together and rake our yards on the same weekend.  We had huge leaf piles that we’d all jump in. Then we’d burn the leaves in the street gutter and it would be super smokey.  Kind of weird now, but that was the way it was back then.

People used to take care of the gutters in front of their houses.  Not anymore.  At least in Topeka.  I live in a pretty good neighborhood in Topeka and most of the street gutters and nearly all the sewer grates are clogged with leaves.

But when many people rake their leaves, most put them into plastic trash bags and have the trashmen pick them up.  That is wrong is more than one way.

First of all, I read something about leaves in a dump and it is a high percentage, something like 16% of all volume.  I think it said that 125 million tons of leaves are put into landfills in the US.  We’re putting stuff into a landfill that would decompose on its own.  What is up with that?

We have a couple compost places in our backyard.  I can add as many leaves as I want and they are mostly gone by the next spring.  It makes super garden additive.  If you don’t want to rake the leaves and put them in a compost bin, then just mow them and let them help your yard.  Or rake  them and put them around your bushes.

Up in Mount Prospect, a Chicago suburb, where Trudi grew up, all you have to do is rake  your leaves to the curb and every Monday they come by with a special vacuum truck and the suck them up, shred them and then they take them to the vegetation dump.  Every city should do this.  Clogging up our storm sewers with leaves is just dumb.

Anyway other than bagging them up and giving the trash guys more work is okay.  We have enough problems in our society than filling our trash dumps with vegetation.   Someone, maybe our city officials, need to educate us all about what is the right thing to do with leaves.  We’re doing it all wrong now.

One of my neighbors driveway.

One of my neighbors driveway.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Another. This is nearly weekly all fall.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

Nothing like the storm sewers being clogged. If you have a storm sewer in front of your house you need to keep it clear.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compose pile. I guess he like the fruit peels or something.

This guy has been coming nightly to the compost pile. I guess he likes the fruit peels or something.  I’ve been teaching Tucker to not bark in the yard, but he can’t help himself with an opossum.

 

USA Votes to Shoot Itself

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Wow is all I can say about yesterday’s election.  Our country is so divided.  So divided that they have no idea how to make important decisions.  If our new president elect does any, or all of his pledges, our country is going to be going down the drain fairly quickly.

How about building that wall?  Think that is going to happen?  Estimated cost is 25 billion dollars.  Think Mexico is going to be paying for it?  Or better, do you think this is going to make our country richer and safer.  I think not.  I think it makes our country poorer and more divided.

So, the person that gets the most votes loses the election?  That is some kind of fucked up political system. Our electoral college system didn’t work so well this time again.  I guess the nearly half the population, at least 1/2 the people that voted, are happy.  I doubt they have all their assets invested in stocks, because I very much doubt they are going to be liking that.

I’m not into virtually any of Trump’s ideas.  The stock market is going to tank today.  And it will keep tanking.  Solar stocks are going down the toilet because we need to rebuild our nation and he doesn’t see any value in green energy.  He is into coal mines, so let’s just fuck up our air like it was in the 70’s and 80’s.

I could keep going on and on.  This, in my opinion, was the biggest mistake our country has made in current times.   I’m worried about keeping health insurance after whacking my head a month ago.  If you have, or don’t have any health insurance, you should be worried.  I’m worried about our kids who are in our military.  Pretty much everything.

This doesn’t have anything to do with your political party or views.  I live in Kansas and the voters here have made some really bad political choices recently.  Our state has been suffering since.  I see no difference here, except on a national level.  We picked an unqualified person to be the most powerful person on our planet.  That can not work out well for us.

Trade,, immigration, taxes, you name it, it is going to be a problem.  The election has created uncertainty.  The rest of the world is in shock. Our image to the rest of the world just dropped a few more notches.  Welcome to the new United States of America.

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Come On – Our Election is Embarrassing our Country

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If I have learned one thing about doing this over time is that it isn’t wise to address a few subjects that are taboo/divisive.  These subjects are the big ones – gun control, abortion, and of course, politics. I say I’ve learned this, but can’t hold back at this point.

I’m going to try to get my view across without taking sides.  Because it isn’t about sides, it is about lowering the bar so far that it might be never raised again.

I’m not going to try to pick too much on Trump.  I say it upfront, the guy is an imbecile.  But that isn’t the point I am going to try to make.   It is part of the point, but not close to all the issues that need addressing.

I think the first one I would like to address is how rude this election has become.  What is up with the name calling?  We’re trying to vet a person to be the most powerful person on the planet.  This is really a job interview.  Could you imagine two candidates for the CEO of Apple treating each other like this.  I think not.  But when it comes to being president, it comes down our two candidates name calling.  It is so wrong.

These debates are just showing how badly professional people can act.  They interrupt each other, interrupt the  moderators and just don’t behave appropriately for the situation they are in.  Do they not realize they are on the world stage?

If this is a job interview, why are so many questions avoided.  A candidate is asked a question and then the next thing, they morph the question into some personality flaw the other candidate has.  Both these people obviously have personality flaws, we all do. I don’t understand why either of them would want to follow this path.

These guys are so tense and bitter towards each other that they can’t even get their plans or ideas out to the public.

Donald Trump has done numerous things that would have disqualified him in nearly all previous presidential elections.  But the guy is immune, it seems, to the previous rules.  We’ve lowered our standards so low that we are now making decisions by who we dislike less.

And what about morals.  How about all the politicians that throw their personal standards out and are sticking to party lines?  This is so reflective of why nothing productive gets done anymore in Washington.  The party is more powerful than personal standards or morals.  It is a sad state.

How bad a person could be nominated for president of the United States of America?  What if one of the political parties nominated someone as horrible as say, Adolf Hitler.  Does the rest of that party follow the lead and endorse a monster?  Is that how it works now?

There are some really smart people that are politicians and I can’t imagine how embarrassed I would be to be included in that group now.   These people have no self control or dignity anymore. Our society should be embarrassed about this whole election.  This might be the new standard and it might be irreversible.

Democrat vs. Republican

Democrat vs. Republican

Win a Custom Kent Eriksen Titanium Bicycle

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I hang out in Cable Wisconsin a ton.  This area is the epicenter of cross country skiing in the US. It is the home of the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross country ski race in the US.  It is also the local where the CXC Ski team does a ton of its training.

The CXC Ski team is a midwest based cross-country ski team that does so much for nordic skiing, they should probably be the de facto governing body of the sport.   They cover all aspects of nordic skiing from grass-roots, to masters, along with an Elite ski team.  So many of the US Olympic Nordic skiers have come up through the CXC program.

Anyway, CXC, and my sponsor, Kent Eriksen are raffling a complete bike to raise money for CXC’s adaptive ski program.   CXC puts a ton of energy and time into this.  They promoted The International Paralymic Nordic World Championships, in Cable, twice now, and dedicate a ton of resources to this program.

Anyway, check out this link to the site where the raffle is.  The raffle ends today, Monday, October 3rd.  The 1st place winner will receive a custom designed, hand crafted, Eriksen titanium road frame built with Shimano Ultegra wheel-set (or similar equivalent) and Shimano Ultegra speed component group (or similar equivalent).  Pretty good way to maybe get the best titanium bicycle frame in the World, plus it is for a really good cause.

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9/11

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It is 15 years today since 9/11.  It seems so recent, yet so long ago.  Time is funny that way. Normally time makes you forget the worst.  Not in this case.  Because there was no good to be remembered.

I remember talking to my friend Jed, who seemed young at the time and I told him that I think his life will be much different now.  His future years, life that I’d already lived, was going to be harder.  Little did I know.  I never imagined the extent we’d go for the perception of safety.

I heard a really good feel good story from 9/11 on NPR.  About a place in Newfoundland where all the airplanes landed, since US airspace was closed.  How a small town/towns took in nearly 9000 passengers and housed and fed them for 3 days.   And about how the passenger took up a collection to try to thank their hosts.  It is now an endowment by the passengers that has sent over 200 of the Newfoundlander children to college.   It is one good thing that happened because of the horrible.

We now all have an underlying fear of dying from terrorism.  That is the beauty of it.  It works.  It puts, along with the media, fear into our emotional state.  In reality, we are all safe.  But the perception of imminent death, or that of our children, is ever-present.

There are lots of charts and articles out there about comparing the chances of dying from terrorism.  It is very small if you are an American.  Removing 9/11, there have been 500 US citizens killed by terrorism in nearly 40 years.    That isn’t counting our soldiers that are killed protecting us from it.  But, the real answer is we are safe.  It is hard convincing ourselves that, but it is true.

I was at home, watching the television live during 9/11.  I couldn’t believe what was happening. My friends Vincent and Bill had already left to head to Chequamegon and they were calling asking me what was going on.  I was on the phone with them when the World Trade Center building #2 collapsed.  I didn’t know what to say.

It was horrible.  But, in reality, if you want to dwell on horrible things that people do to each other, then you have plenty to dwell on.  We’ve historically done horrible things to each other, in the name of peace, religion, rebellion, you name it, we’ve justified it.  So this isn’t anything new.

Our reactions since 9/11 have been poor.  We had the sympathy of the whole planet and we threw that away for, what seems like, revenge.  Our actions have just made the rest of the humans on the planet mad at us.  At our government, at least, maybe not us the people. Hopefully not us the people.

I was right when I talked to Jed.  I couldn’t imagine the changes we have went through in the name of safety.  And we still are on that path.  Life was much easier and simpler before 9/11.  I hope, for the sake of our children, that we remember how life was before, and try to make decisions and strive to bring it back to  more even footing.  We don’t feel safe as a country.

Perception or reality, it doesn’t matter.  You live in fear when you sense fear.

I’m heading over to Lawrence to ride a few hours on gravel with a bunch of friends.  I’ll have a lot of time to think about the past 15 years.  It isn’t good bike riding thoughts, but it will be present, none-the-less.  I’m not going to make sense of it.  There is no sense of it to be made.

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Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

Tucker has a hard time staying clean sometimes.

How Screwed Up is our Medical Profession?

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I ran into a friend, Garth Prosser, in Breckenridge a couple weeks ago and he told me that last year he was diagnosed with Colon cancer.   I was surprised.  I remembered seeing him at the Berryman Epic last fall, but didn’t hear anything about him racing on chemo.

Anyway, after talking with him for a bit, he got me thinking and I decided that I need to get a colonoscopy.  It is way easier thinking you need one than actually getting one as it turns out.

I got on the computer and looked up all the places that do one in Topeka.  I am pretty sure my insurance isn’t going to pay for it, so I was shopping around.  The problem is that you can’t really shop around because no one really knows exactly how much it costs.  The Internet says that a cheap price in Kansas is around $500, good price $750 and expensive $1300.  I don’t know where they came up with those numbers, but the best/lowest price I could find after being on the phone for 3 hours was around $2000.  And I’m not sure that is a hard number really.

My best source of information was the billing company for a local hospital.  I told the women my situation and she seemed interested.  She told me it would be between $1200-$1600 for the surgery center, then the same about for the doctor.  But she said if I was self pay that they would reduce that amount by $600 each.  So that took the total procedure down to between $1200 and $2000.   Quite a spread there.

Then, at the end of the conversation, she told me she forgot the anesthetist charge, which would be another $600.   She said her computer didn’t show a self pay charge, so I should just wait 3 or 4 months after I receive the bill, then call them and they would come up with a reduction.  Wow.

I can’t think of another segment of our society that can’t quote you a price on something as important as this.  It is so convoluted and confusing that even reasonable thinking people can’t understand it.

I was reading that under the affordable health care act (Obamacare), that this might be covered. So I called my health insurance agent and asked her if she might know.  I’ve had the same health insurance for nearly 25 years.  Trudi and I are the only health policies the agent does still. She told me it is so screwed up and takes so much time, it isn’t worth it to her.

So she called my insurance company and talked to them.  After an hour, she called me back and said they couldn’t say if it would be covered and they needed some time to figure it out.  That each state has its own rules and they would get back to her shortly.  That was two days ago.

So I am still at square one.  I want to get this done, but don’t want to just spin a roulette wheel for the final cost.  I’m gonna get back at it today and see if I have some better luck.  Our medical system is so jacked up that I’m nearly embarrassed to be participating.  But, what choices do we have?

colonoscopy-1

Tucker wants me to take him out for run I think.

Tucker wants me to take him out for run I think.