Monthly Archives: July 2009


If you read the news, you know that it has been intensely hot here in the PNW. Yesterday it was 105* in Kent (a new record high) and its now been long enough to break the record for number of hot days in a row. One of the most noticeable reasons has been the lack of an overnight drop in temp — it doesn’t dip below 65. This means that the houses don’t have a chance to cool down, and we start the day ‘warm’ and get warmer from there.

In our house yesterday morning, it was 76* — and this was with every window open and the door to the garage open to encourage cool air to rise up the center hallways (yes, I know hot air rises, not cool air; but warm air leaving the top of the house will pull cool air from down below). When we opened the windows again in the evening (after 9pm) it was 84* — in a perfectly sealed house with no electrical appliances running (except the fridge), no human activity, and nothing to warm it except the sun on the outside walls. (Yikes.) This morning it was 74* and apparently its supposed to get cooler from here on out (and the forecast is for 101* today).

We are basically living on take out in our basement guest room. Sasha spends a lot of time lying on the (cement) floor of the garage. We leave the car parked outside to keep as much of the coolth inside. We eat take out because I can’t stand the idea of turning on the stove. We keep two pitchers of water in the fridge at all times. (Although tonight it’ll be sliced fruit, veggies, and a nice salad.)

Bottom line: it’s very uncomfortable. But we are fortunate in being able to maintain a relatively comfortable temp and lifestyle (albeit limited) at so little cost. A coworker had central air installed a few years ago, and while she’s cooler than I at the moment, the ongoing cost of that system is far, far, higher than I’d be willing to waste, year after year. A few days of discomfort won’t kill me, or even harm me.

Keep the USPS

As regular readers know, I’ve had my share of issues with the USPS. That said, I have always praised them to the high heavens for what they DO get done, so (relatively) efficiently.

Apparently, that may be about to change for the worst. A friend turned me on to this post, which reads in part:

Basically, some people in the USPS are pushing fast and hard to change the USPS radically, closing many, many locations and potentially subcontracting for retail and delivery services. This is so not okay. Without a federally protected mail service, we have no strong federal guarantees that our mail will get where it is going, let alone in a timely fashion, or that it will arrive safe and unopened.

At the bottom of the post she gives links so you can verify that she’s not exaggerating.

I also believe this is a credible threat. We may be an email-based world, but my grandmothers (in New Jersey and Maine) are not. With out affordable mail service I’d never hear from them (and vice versa).

I too urge you to contact your congressperson and let them know that this is not acceptable and to support Support HR658. (Link is to a gov website and then one for the American Postal Workers Union.)

EFF Action Alert

This popped into my inbox the other day:

Google Book Search Settlement

With help from a proposed class action settlement, Google is planning to dramatically expand its Book Search service so that millions of books will be available for browsing, reading, and purchasing online. But in designing this new service, Google is leaving reader privacy behind. Without strong privacy protections, all of your browsing and reading history may be collected, tracked, and turned over to the government or third parties without your knowledge or consent.

Email Google CEO Eric Schmidt and demand that Google Book Search protect your freedom to read privately. You should be able to read about anything — from politics to health — without worrying that someone is looking over your shoulder. Demand that Google pledge it will not stockpile information about who you are and what you read and will not become a one-stop shop for government fishing expeditions into the reading habits of Americans.

While you’re at it — send a bit of money to the EFF. Like the ACLU, they are a non-profit legal group dedicated to keeping electronic free speech, anonymity, innovation, privacy, transparency,  and intellectual property rights from being infringed upon. A more detailed explanation of what they are doing is here:

(Full disclosure: my sister is a Senior Staff Attorney at EFF.)

Facing North Updated

Personal events kept me from updating in June, so we have a double-sized collection for you this month. Highlights include:

  • A article about dealing with adversity from Alison Bonds Shapiro, author of Healing Into Possibility.
  • An excerpt from Robert Mack’s Happiness from the Inside Out, focusing on appreciating your self.
  • Two interviews, one from Marc Lesser (author of Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less) and the other with Brooks Palmer (author of Clutter Busting).
  • One music review and 20 book reviews.

I always welcome feedback and suggestions.

Legal Fail

Relatively recently, FAIL Blog ™ posted a screenshot from the Guinness World Records website: “Most Individuals Killed in a Terrorist Act.” Which is a pretty inappropriate record to keep track of. What lifted it to the level of obscenely hilarious (and why FAILBlog shared it with the world) was the button one could click to indicate “Break this record.”

Now, obviously, this was just a web-coding issue and someone didn’t think through the css/template.

However, the GWR people were . . . offended. They threatened legal action is FAILBlog didn’t remove the post. Naughty Naughty — the role of the fool or the satirist is nigh unto sacred and you mess with himmer at your peril. Here’s FAILBlog’s response (in part):

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is in response to an email FAIL Blog received from an attorney representing Guinness World Records Limited.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thanks for writing us an email regarding the “Record Breaking Fail”. Unfortunately, douchebaggy cyber-bullying emails will only bring upon you more shame on your house. I am also resisting the urge to write this email in ALL CAPS. . . .

. . .  Since we at FAIL Blog(TM) don’t have a legal defense department, we have complied with your request to remove the trademarked term and logo from the original image. We have used the “naughty bits filter” on the image to secure your naughty, naughty, trademark assertions. However, we have posted your email so that our audience can see why we had to remove the name of the failer from the image.

They even rickrolled ’em.

I love it.

It’s about 8:30am . . .

 . . .  and I’ve been at work for 2 hours already. As of this minute, I’m at 40 hours for the week. I’m looking at (easily) a 56-hour week.

Who is salaried? I am salaried.

I’m tired. I’m doing a really good job. I’m remaining cheerful and low stress (high stress was last week as I felt like I had to give people a big NUDGE to get their parts done, so that I wouldn’t be quite so burdened this week). I am a team member and we’re all in this together.

Next week will likely look that same (although slower in the early part of the week).

Thank you for reading my whine.  🙂

Back to work.

Independence Day

The word patriotic has taken on uncomfortable  connotations for those of us on the fringe, partly because of the Bush Administration’s deliberate creation of polarity instead of continuum. Patriotism is the love of or devotion to one’s country, but when you have poor laws like the Patriot Act (HR 3162) that do nothing but violate the fundamental law of the country (i.e., the Consitution) the meaning gets twisted.

And when you shout at me that I’m obviously not a patriot if I criticize the leader(s) of our country, then you further mis-use the word.

From my place here on the fringe, I look around and see a country made of of many different people with many different perspectives. We do very well as a country despite that variety, and in many cases because of it.

We are fortunate that the participants in the Second Continental Congress were, by and large, very intelligent. They drafted a foundation document that clearly declares why it is that this country is a dream for so many:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This is deliberately universal language, lifting us to a high moral standard and accepting nothing less than our best — for ourselves and for each other. Its a governmental standard I can get behind,  because my own moral compass is as rigorous.

Today we celebrate our founders’ declaration of Independence from Britain. think about that for a moment: Unlike some countries our independence day is not the day we won the war, its the day we said “enough! no more.” We are celebrating a non-violent moment. Again, this is a high standard to live up to.

I am blessed in many ways: I am healthy, I am wealthy (by any rtional standard), I have achieved some measure of wisdom, I am loved by the Gods, and I an American.