Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Duck-a-ween?

Robin's commentary

Okay, I would like to start off by saying that I am really not a big football fan and believe it or not, neither is anybody else in my household. Yes, we really do exist in Eugene/Springfield, home of the University of Oregon Ducks.

(Suddenly... a loud gasp echoes throughout the Valley)

Now that doesn't mean that I don't realize (even if I don't really understand it) just how really important the game is to a lot of people. Even though I think sometimes people go overboard a little bit, but that's okay. Support the hometown team. (this should be part of a job applications EEO statement along with your race and gender. Because especially in this town... not being a football fan makes you a minority.)

So what makes this game different than any other game in my disinterested football mind?

The fact that today's game, the Oregon Ducks versus USC at 5 PM at Austin Stadium tonight, coincides with Halloween, an event that most kids (and some adults) look forward to all year long.

Anyway, I was just picturing this scenario...

To set up the scene, we find ourselves in a typical suburban household, with your typical suburban family. Mom, dad, and 2.5 kids (don't ask).
It is early afternoon and mom is helping the Twins get their costumes on to go trick-or-treating at the local mall. (Which used to be door-to-door back in the good old days) the kids are already abound with excitement and arguing over how they are going to divide up all of the calorie infested goodies (otherwise known as candy) that they will be acquiring tonight.

So while mom is frantically trying to keep the Twins under control, dad however has already begun throwing the provisions in the back of the minivan in preparation for tonights pregame tailgate party.

(By the way, mom is also a huge Duck fan like dad.)

During dad's many trips back and forth from the house to the minivan with provisions, mom stops him and asks "Honey, what about the kids tonight?"

"What you mean? Answers dad, "what about the kids? They look really cute in their little costumes"

"That's my point!" Exclaims mom, "aren't we going to take them trick-or-treating tonight?"

"Of course honey," responds dad, "right after the ducks game!"

The kids, overhearing this conversation, shout in unison, "but dad that'll be too late!"

"Oh my!" (Edited to maintain the blog PG rating) dad thinks to himself, "how am I going to see the Duck game and not disappoint my kids?"
Well, heaven forbid that he misses the game. "I could record it and watch it later," he thinks to himself, "but that's not the same as actually being there." So being the entrepreneurial type of person that he is with a BA from the University of Oregon, he comes up with a viable solution.

"Kids", says dad, "Not to worry. I'm going to take you trick-or-treating before tonight's game, so be dressed and ready to go at 3 PM."

The kids let out a large "sigh" and continue with putting on their costumes. "Who goes trick-or-treating at three in the afternoon?" The kids think to themselves.

So I guess the whole point of the story is how often something as important as a Duck game would be scheduled on such an important family night such as Halloween. I mean, I cannot imagine that it was really the smartest thing to do, especially if you have kids.

Fortunately for me I guess, if my family was faced with such a scenario, it would have a really easy solution. Bring on the junk food... we are going trick-or-treating. Remember, we are a minority.

Oh, and how did dad's solution worked out?

Well, the Ducks won the game of course and this couch really is not all that uncomfortable.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Governator tells it like it is to the California Legislature

New York Times --

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a nice little response to the California Legislature in a recent veto statement that pretty much expresses his feelings in a hidden message. A response that I think some of us feel about our local governor and legislature.

to view the message... take the first letter in each line.

In reality, is not known whether or not this is just a coincidence or done intentionally. however, wouldn't it be nice if Ted "tax-and-gouge-me" Kulongoski had enough fortitude to tell the Oregon Legislature during this economic crisis to also stop sending him unnecessary bills for consideration? Of course, that would also mean that sleepy Ted was also interested in putting Oregon back on track.

And speaking of governors...

It looks like we are starting to get a nice list of interesting candidates for governors for this upcoming election.

I mean, where do these guys come from?

Are these guys all just a plant to force us to reelect former governor John Kitzhaber?

In my opinion Kitzhaberis not as bad as Kulongoski... however, I still believed that we could do better. Hell, maybe I should run for governor? and why not... however, my platform would be a lot different. You know that mostly when somebody's running for an office they promise you everything that you want to hear and then do the opposite... so my platform would be, "I'm not going to do anything."
that'll scare them in Salem.

seriously, I have thought about running for the LCC Board of Directors, just if no other reason for payback for the wonderful education that I have received. See how Mary Spilde likes that one.

anyways, the governor's race should be an interesting one as we have to make the decision between two choices, name recognition or the lesser of two evils.

Of course, I could always hope things would be different this time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the 2010 census surveyis about to come your front door...
Should you be asked if you are a citizen?

The register guard

Are you a citizen? That is one of the issues as Senator David Vitter, Louisiana Republican would like to have as one of the questions being asked. In fact, he wants to go as far as having funding cut off unless the census includes that question.

Vitter says he wants to exclude noncitizens from the population totals that are used to determine the appointment of House member.

Senator Orin Hatch, Utah Republican, would only like the rule to apply to people living abroad such as military personnel, federal civilian employees and their families.

The Commerce Department claims that changing the census forms and reprinting them would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

in a way, I can see Vitter's point. With over 12 million illegal aliens and the influence that they have already made in our society, why should they also be included in the determination of our House seats.

And while I am the first one to say that the census with some other questions goes way above and beyond the initial intense to the point of being none of their business. Asking whether or not you are a citizen of the United States or a legal immigrant I have mixed feelings on.

However, it is one of the questions on a job application. "Are you a citizen?"

Besides, if you are here illegally... are you really dumb enough to answer a survey asking you if you're a citizen or not? Probably not.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Comedian Soupy Sales Dead At 83

MTV News
It was a simple gag, but one that made Soupy Sales a household name: a pie in the face, or 20,000 pies, to be exact. That slapstick comedic trick, along with a warehouse of goofy faces and wacky characters helped elevate Sales (born Milton Supman) to one of the country's most beloved comedians in the late 1950s. Sales died on Thursday at the age of 83 at a hospital in the Bronx, after several years of declining health

Sunday, October 18, 2009

going to hell?
it was only a matter of time before somebody would find a way to profit from it

Seattle based company Pandemonium Real Estate says it is real estate sales are going to hell... literally, and are selling like hotcakes.

The company, launched two months ago, sells its client's deeds to lots in hell, and business has been good.
Owner David Cook says that they've been surprised at all interest in their properties.
"Cook says business is good for the sale of lots in Hell. "Hell seems to be the hot spot right now. The economy's down, land prices are falling everywhere, and more people are getting into trouble. Hell is simply getting more crowded these days making it the perfect spot to invest."

Prices range from $49.99 which will buy you a lot with a territorial view, all the way to $3000 for waterfront property with a private dock.
Cook says there's a level of Hell appropriate for just about every person. "There are circles of Hell that suit every possible person from the outdoors man to the intellectual."

why not? People bought pet rocks, so why not selling property in hell?

I wonder if you get a free handbasket as a sign-on bonus?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Like most of her classmates
Avery Gordon misses a fair amount of what her teacher says every morning

The Register Guard--
Like most of her classmates, River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School first-grader Avery Gordon misses a fair amount of what her teacher, Imelda Cortez, says every morning.

With the launch of River Road’s dual language immersion program this year, Cortez speaks solely in Spanish the first half of the school day — and Avery knew only a smattering of Spanish on the first day of school.

Just a month into it, though, it’s beginning to sink in. She’s even starting to think in Spanish now and then.

“Yesterday something funny happened — I forgot how to say ‘avocado’ in English!” Avery said, dissolving in giggles.

The program also has proven popular right out of the gate — though that’s not surprising, given Eugene’s proven appetite for language immersion. As of last week, there were 50 students on the waiting list, Principal Paco Furlan said. There were no slots left for native English speakers seeking to enroll from outside the new “super boundary” — the combined attendance area for River Road and Howard Elementary.

The district decided to blur the boundary lines so parents — including those moving into the area with older children who might struggle adapting to language immersion — would be able to choose between the two schools. (Howard offers “technology immersion,” having set the district’s gold standard for instructional technology; it’s also reporting strong kindergarten enrollment.)

River Road gave priority to native Spanish speakers, Furlan said, accepting some transfers from other regions. But still, the mix falls short of the 50/50 ideal.

I think that it is great if someone wants to learn a second language, and that language should be of their choice. however I also agree that if your first language is NOT english that it should be if you intend on living United States where the primary language is still like it or not English.

But there is a couple things that bother me about this program.

With the large number of Spanish speaking people coming here illegally every year, why are we are catering to make life easier for these people versus them making the effort to assimilate?

Greed! And in some areas of the United States, they don't have to.

But to be fair to the program above, it is also designed to teach English to Spanish speaking students, which I think is great and there should be more of those programs available to non-English-speaking students to help them function in this country.

I will agree with the theory that the earlier that a student learns a second language the easier it is in the future toward another language. However, I also believe you should know the language of the country that you intending to live in.

For example, If you're living in the United States and English is your first language, then it is up to you to learn a second language if you wish to.

If you're living in the United States and English is NOT your first language, then I suggest that it be your second or your third.

it was your (or parents)choice to move to another country, and therefore the burden of learning the language of that country should be on you, not the other way around.

And my dog in the fight...

when asked, "how are you being denied a job because you don't speak Spanish?" My response is one of the questions on the questionnaire I just recently filled out.

This is a delivery job driving a semi.

The question... "some of our customers do not speak English. Do you speak a second language? (yes, no)

Tell me that one is not an elimination question.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Portland council backs legal status to illegal alien students

The Oregonian--

The Portland city council was so inspired by a film about illegal youth, that they passes a resolution Wednesday supporting a federal proposal known as the dream act that would offer residency to most of the students who came to the United States at the age of 15 or younger.

The idea for the resolution was born after Commissioner Nick Fish and his senior policy advisor, Carmen Caballero Rubio, attended last month's screening of "Papers," a Portland-produced documentary about the plight of youth who turn 18 and become deportable, cannot drive or work, and are ineligible for in-state tuition or financial aid.

Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen plans to introduce a similar resolution at the end of October.
this also backs up the reason that we should enforce our borders so that children are NOT faced with this problem solely because un-responsible adults decided to break the law and enter a country illegally, thus placing their children in to this situation in the first place.

as always the kids suffer.

I will have to agree with the idea of allowing kids of illegals who have been here for a long time to be legal, and I can even agree to allow their parents under the conditions of the INS laws to be given green cards. That means that they will have to learn English. sorry, but that is one of the current requirements.

I do NOT agree that legalization should be given out freely to those who broke the law by crossing the border and being rewarded simply because they did not get caught.

it is a problem that is only going to get worse if we as a country do not do anything to get it under control.

upcoming taxes: ignore the man behind curtain

The Oregonian --
Democratic leaders and seal on Monday, decided to drop their attempt to reverse the meaning of a "yes" and a "no" onto tax increases that may go to the voters next year. This means that if the two tax hikes go before the voters next January, voters would have to vote "yes" to be in favor of the tax hikes. In other words, voting "no" would mean a tax increases would be rejected.

Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin and House Majority Leader Mary Nolan, D-Portland, both argued that reversing the meaning of a yes or a no vote on referendums would have made the issue clearer for voters. If voters want to reject the Legislature's handiwork, they said, they should have to vote yes.

It's become heartlessly controversial at this point, said Devlin, so we decided to just go with the current law.

Ballot measure experts however claim that it's easier to persuade voters to vote no on a ballot measure rather than to vote yes.

The two measures that are being proposed by the legislatures, would raise corporate and personal income taxes by $733 million within the next budget cycle. One would raise taxes for individuals with taxable income of more than $125,000 or joint filers of more than $250,000.
If no means yes... and yes means no... so if I don't want new taxes I vote yes? But if I really want something I should actually vote no? It kind of sounds like a game that kids would play called "opposite day."

In unrelated news, "Oregon paychecks lag nation, could shrink"

“Imagine a person who got laid off six months [or a year] ago,” says Paul Ashworth, senior United States economist for consultants Capital Economics. “They’re going to get more and more desperate to get a job and more and more willing to take lower wages as time goes on.”


Saturday, October 10, 2009

California: ever wonder what life would be without diesel?

Robin's Commentary --

Lately, we've heard a lot about the new 2010 EPA standards and some of them I can see and others I think they're just being overly ridiculous. California for example, as we all know has a very strict EPA standards, especially when it comes to motor vehicles. In fact, it's a standard that Gov. Ted "tax-and-gouge-me" Kulongoski has proposed in the past to implement for Oregon at even higher standard.

However, really curious thing about California, is that it really has a thing about diesel. They hate it. They think it's evil, and they openly admit it.

Diesel itself, has come a long ways, especially in soot and emissions reduction. moreover, diesel as a fuel versus gasoline, partly because it is a slower burning fuel, is actually more efficient than gasoline. Which is one of the reasons why it is the fuel of choice in the bigger engines, especially for power and economy over gasoline.

as some of you may not be aware, 2010 incorporates new regulations that engine manufacturers will have to meet which require a dramatic decrease in hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that are produced by diesel engines.

This has forced many trucking companies to scramble to meet the EPA 2010 requirements for California for both their tractors and their reefer units, costing companies thousands of dollars in upgrades, and equipment replacement costs, and forcing some of the smaller companies out of business.

One manufacture, Caterpillar, in my opinion one of the company that makes one of the more reliable commercial diesel engines, has decided to get out of the commercial vehicle business altogether, citing that it is just become too expensive to develop a reliable and economical modification to their engine designs to meet the new standards. In short, they basically said "screw it".

Okay, now I agree that we need to be concerned about engine pollutants, however, sometimes I think government just goes a little bit too far.

For example, a little article that I stumbled across from the Seattle Times, in particular noting a historical sail powered 112 foot rigor known as the Lady Washington, which was built in 1989 as a replica of the ship sailed by Robert Gray who explored the Washington coast and the Columbia River in 1792, and was commissioned by Disney as one of the pirate ships that was used in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The Lady Washington, normally spends its summers off the Washington coast, and then in California for the winter. Last year, she hosted more than 70,000 visitors and took more than 7000 Californians schoolkids sailing from the California ports.

So what does that have to do with my point?

Believe it or not, this historic ship was recently banned from California because despite its "green wind power" it is also powered by an older (and evil) Detroit diesel engine.


The engine itself is a 40-year-old Korean War era diesel, and is considered a "rock star" when it comes to reliability.
"Once you get it started, it will run forever." Says Les Bolton, executive director of the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority.

Bolton has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 which is needed to replace the engine. Personally, I would just say "screw California" and go somewhere where they are more welcomed.

In fact, I often wonder what would happen if other companies took on that same attitude. In other words, California... you don't like diesel, fine. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Friday, October 09, 2009

everything is okay now...
the recession will soon be over...

Portland Business Journal --

The University of Oregon Index of Economic Indicators rose 0.5 percent in August to 84.4, based on a 1997 benchmark of 100.

Tim Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum and a UO adjunct assistant professor, said the increase “suggests the Oregon recession will end during the second half of 2009.”

Although initial jobless claims continue to drift down at a modest pace, indicating a slower rate of layoffs, claims remain well above levels consistent with sustained job growth, Duy said.

Employment services sector payrolls — dominated by temporary help agencies — declined, providing further evidence of the weak job market. A small job gain (500) in July was quickly reversed; overall nonfarm payroll (not included in the index) losses accelerated in August as Oregon firms shed a net 6,600 employees.

such a relief... and I always thought that businesses closing, people out of work and bankruptcies was a bad thing.

silly me...apparently, I have been wrong all this time.

I mean, who's to argue with the experts at University of Oregon regarding the economy?

with the improvement in the economy, I wonder if that also means that the U of O will be lowering their tuition rates?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Portland: 300 more miles of bike paths planned
Downtown business owners concerned about losing business


A planned increase in number bikeways throughout the city of Portland has downtown business owners worried that it will drive people away.

“I like that it’s a bike-friendly city, but I also want it to be a city that’s friendly for businesses as well,” said Jane Adams, one of the shop owners.

The owners of Flowers by Dorcas said the plan reaffirms their decision to relocate to the Hollywood District.

“As a matter of fact one of the reasons we are moving is our customers complain with the lack of parking, the gridlock, and the construction. They don’t come downtown anymore,” said co-owner Gerhard Watzig.
Oregon Wines on Broadway owner, Kate Bolling, said she can also see how it could cause problems with the flow of traffic.

“If you’re not a bike commuter, affects your ability to come to work,” she said.

many of the business owners pointed out that they are concerned about the future of downtown and don't feel like they can survive.

City of Portland is accepting public input from now until November 8, 2009. The city is also planning on holding a hearing regarding the plan at 6 PM Tuesday, October 27.

The plan calls for an additional 300 miles of bikeways by the year 2030.
take a look at what happened to the Eugene downtown mall when they had the brilliant idea to closed the roads to vehicle traffic.

it practically killed downtown Eugene.

Years later, when they realize their mistake, they try to revitalize downtown by reopening the streets to vehicle traffic however, it was never the same. in fact, in 2006, when developers try to purchase the old Sears building, they were unable to achieve loans because it was considered "depressed urban area."

In the meantime, places like Valley River Center, florist when they close the downtown mall. Valley River offers ample parking and covered shopping.

Which is another point that these bicycles enthusiasts seem to kind of forget that this is Oregon...


another important point is that regarding purchases such as groceries and larger items, etc. even with a bike trailer, how much are you actually going to get on a bike.

One final point, I agree with the shop owners concerns. I rarely go downtown Eugene for shopping and will actually go out of my way to a shop outside of the downtown area were several reasons. #1, parking and #2, time value.

So I have no problem if you want to ride your bike to work or shopping, be my guest... for me, if I can't park within a couple blocks of the shop at the very least, I'll go somewhere else.

Oh yes, did I mention mail-order?

Friday, October 02, 2009

in case of an emergency, put your bra on your face

CNet news--

The humble bra.

Most women hate them. However, Elena Bodnar, who got her start as a scientist in the Ukraine has come up with a new reason to like them.

In 1986, she witnessed the devastating effects of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, and among other things and she noticed, was that women were wearing bras that were more "Lacey" than they were lifesaving.

Her designs gave a new twist to the "convertible" bra, which not only looks fashionable, but also doubles as a gas mask.

Bodnar claims that her intervention could have prevented people from breathing the iodine-131 in the wake of Chernobyl.
A bra garment comprising: a plurality of detachable cup sections, each of the cup sections having: (a) a filter device; (b) a first portion positionable adjacent to a first central area of a user's chest; (c) a second portion positionable adjacent to a second outer area of the user's chest adjacent to an underarm; and (d) a valve device.

now here's a visual... you go to work for a new company such as a chemical company, and one of the first things that they do is they fit you for a gas mask.

I'll let you fill in the blanks on that conversation...

picture courtesy of CNet

up up and away...

Oregon Department of Transportation --

October means the beginning of a lot of things. Fall, my favorite holiday... Halloween, and of course, new taxes and fees.

And unfortunately, some of those fees that are going up is the cost of driving a vehicle.

Some of the changes include some of the following...

A regular title will increase to $77 from $55

Registration for passenger vehicles including hybrids and electric cars, for the initial title, increases to $172 from $108 and a two-year registration fee will increase to $86 from $54.

Motorcycles and mopeds, the new fee will be $96 in increased from $60 for a new registration. $48 increased from $30 for a two-year registration.

Commercial vehicles, the new fee will range from $55-$1295 in increased from $27-$636. Almost double.

However, the Department of Motor Vehicles would like to remind you that these increases are going for a good cause.

* A sustained $300 million per year for road repair and improvement (half goes to Oregon cities and counties).
* A series of 37 major state highway construction projects.
* Support for Amtrak Cascades train service, roadside rest areas, urban trails and bicycle paths, and public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.

Currently, fees for driver's license are not affected

although I currently do not have a link for it, I also recall that the gas tax is scheduled to go up $.06 gallon the first of October. a really smart move speaking sarcastically if you recall that the higher fuel prices is one of the things that was the catalyst for putting us in this economic recession.

keep it coming... I think they're still a few people in Oregon that are still doing well financially... can't let that happen.

However, in a companion piece...

The register guard October 1, 2009

Tax Increases Would Help State Economy More Than Cuts, Reports Finds

a continuation of trying to convince voters to approve the $733 million tax increase...

If voters approve $733 million in higher taxes next year on corporations and high-income households, the state’s economy will probably be better off than if state government cuts spending by that amount to balance its budget, says a report issued Wednesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office.

The 27 page analysis from the first such independent study to come out since critics lost a campaign to refer the measure to the voters to defeat the tax.

Legislative Revenue Officer Paul Warner said raising taxes and cutting state spending both have the effect of “pulling dollars out of the revenue stream” in Oregon’s economy.

supporters of the tax claim that the higher rate would primarily get big corporations and that by 2013, the report predicted that 118 businesses, all with Oregon sales above 75 million would also pay a higher rate.

several things that they are forgetting, it is the old saying of the "trickle down theory." When you increase the costs on the larger corporations, that costs is passed on to the consumer. Even larger corporations are forced to cut back on services and benefits. And companies that depend on these corporations for livelihoods are also affected.

The theory that just because a large corporation has "deep pockets" does not necessarily mean that they are a bottomless pit of money. Even Microsoft for example has threatened to move out of the country due to increased costs to operate within the United States.

Locally, Sony in Springfield, one of the primary reasons that they closed their eight-year plant was due to the expiration of their tax benefits. The trickle down effect from Sony closing, not to mention the 277 employees that were laid off at the time, affected several other local companies such as Sherwood packaging in which Sony was a primary customer.

In my opinion, especially if it means increased taxes, we should at least as taxpayers have a say on whether or not we want to pay more in taxes.

And I would like to point out also has some in Salem sometimes believe, that were just holding out and not wanting to pay more.

To that, I say get real.

A lot of us, including my household, have seriously cut are spending in order to try and make our monthly obligations. Even if we wanted to pay more in taxes, we just don't have the money to do it.