Thursday, June 11, 2015

A study in hypocrisy

Hey, union supporters, what's up with this?

Unions are fighting to exempt themselves from the new $15 per hour minimum wage laws that they have been pushing.

I'm not a big fan of forced unionization.  Let me rephrase that.  It's bullshhhh.  I don't care whether people want to unionize themselves but when they make me pay them, they crossed the line.  I have worked in two jobs that required union representation.

In the first, the union bosses were living the high life, gold chains and new Harley's, and when we had a problem?  They went to lunch with our boss and nothing got resolved.

Second is the teacher's union.  I have no problems at all with our local crew (other than being required to join).  They do a good job of negotiating for us, they do a good job of representing us.  However, I have to pay money to the WEA and the NEA, both far left politically.  They give millions to politicians I oppose and I have to help fund them.  Even though I opted out of the union (as allowed by federal law) I still pony up about $350 a year to these two organizations, both of which are working against my better interests in my opinion.

The story linked to above suggests that the unions are more interested in improving their own position than helping workers, however.  Yes, unions are actively fighting to keep themselves exempted from the $15 per hour minimum wage laws that they are actively pushing.

Why would they do this?  Well, they can now go to employers and suggest that instead of paying higher wages, the employer should just unionize their workers to take advantage of the exemption.  It's a win/win for unions and employers and a complete slap in the face to the workers who get jobbed out of higher wages so that the union can collect more forced dues.

Setting aside all the arguments against a higher minimum wage, it would appear that the unions are pushing a scheme that serves no other purpose than to unionize a larger sector of the economy in a time when their membership is plummeting.

I guess that's what happens when the government gets behind a complete and utter bastardization of the Constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of association and forces people to both associate and pay for an organization that they don't want.  When the people find ways to push back, the government finds ways to keep them in servitude.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Indited for taking money out of the bank improperly

Do you think that government isn't too big these days?

Do you have money in your bank account that you might want to take out and spend some day?

Did you know that if you take out or deposit more than $10,000 your bank has to report that to the IRS, even though it is your money and perfectly legal?

Did you know that you can be charged with a crime if the government thinks that you are taking your money out in smaller chunks in order to avoid the reporting requirement?

What the hell business is it of the government how you save or spend your money?  It is your money.  If they think you are doing something illegal they should get a warrant and investigate you but this type of fishing expedition is an outrage.  The original idea behind the law was to crack down on drug dealers and money launderers.  Yet another casualty of the War on Drugs.

Why is this in the news now?  Well Denny Hastert, former Speaker of the House, has apparently been paying someone to keep their mouth shut about something he may have done in the past.  It isn't illegal to pay someone to keep their mouth shut, although it may be illegal to take money to not report a crime and it is definitely illegal to extort someone in exchange for not reporting a crime.  Not sure that I agree with either of those laws either, but that's a topic for another post.  The reality here is that we don't know what he may or may not have done (although there seems to be no shortage of people willing to engage in speculation) but we do know that he took the money out in increments smaller than $10,000 to avoid the reporting requirement.

Who cares?

Only the federal government which has charged him with "structuring of withdrawals to evade reporting requirements".

Oh, and apparently when they asked him about it, he lied to the federal agents.  F... them.  Why is it that the police can walk up to you on the street and lie to you in an effort to get you to incriminate yourself but if you lie to them they can charge you with a crime?  But wait, that's yet another topic for another post.

Focus, must focus.  In the words of the Ace of Spades, Hastert has been indited for "withdrawing money from his bank".

I don't give a fig about Dennis Hastert or his legal troubles, but it's hard to argue that the federal government isn't too big and doesn't have too much power.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reflexive responses

So you know how when the doctor taps your knee with that rubber hammer and your lower leg jumps, and you know how you can't stop it?

Yeah.  The left.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is jumping into the conversation. He posted the following on Twitter Sunday night:
“Waco today was textbook example of societal problem & illustrates need to give law enforcement tools to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Give law enforcement tools to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  I wonder what insider knowledge he has that anyone in Waco who was carrying a firearm was, in fact, a criminal prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.  I wonder what tools he would like to have (other than 22,000+ laws regulating the sale and possession of firearms in this country) that would have gotten the guns "out of the hands of criminals"?  Perhaps he feels that the police should have been able to just decide that a member of a motorcycle club, by definition, is a criminal and prohibit them from owning a firearm? 

That's what some states do already.  It doesn't lead to fewer criminals owning guns, it doesn't lead to lower crime rates, it just prevents ordinary citizens from exercising a Constitutional right.  Just check with Californians.  The average joe has to go through hundreds of hoops to purchase and keep a firearm, most of them can't legally carry them anywhere they go, but Senator Dianne Feinstein has a concealed pistol permit issued from a city that would never even consider issuing one to you or me.   And California is less restrictive than Illinois or Massachusetts.

Fortunately the Supreme Court has ruled that the states don't get to just automatically deny a Constitutional right.  Even one that the leftists don't like so many of those laws are in the process of being overturned.

The left is reflexively anti-freedom, in my opinion, and their stance on the ability of average Americans to be less reliant on the government shows itself every time.  That is the true difference between the Progressive movement and the Libertarian/Conservative movement.  We trust the people, the Progressives trust the government.  You can see it every time they open their mouths.

Oh, and in case you are wondering Austin is a little leftist utopia nestled deep in the heart of Texas.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Everybody Loves Waffles (Rainy Monday update)

Regular readers know that I believe waffles to be a gift from the gods.  Choose your god, I am leaning towards Odin, the All-father, but it really doesn't matter.  Years ago I created a waffle iron collection.   You can read about it here, and here, and here.  After the last episode I did get rid of the square one from the fifties.  Just too darn modern, plus I had an eager taker.

Last March I picked up the Samson pictured in the last post.  Ceramic insert top with a tropical bird decal.  Very attractive and I'd wanted a ceramic insert model since I realized that I actually had a collection.  The Samsons were made from... well I can't tell you that because I can't find my waffle iron book (of course there's a book and of course I have it.  Don't mock.  It's unseemly.)  However, this particular model, which didn't have a model number, was made in the late twenties.

Anyway, this one is in beautiful condition.  Almost too nice for a waffle iron that was over 80 years old.  It has no burned on grease, in fact no evidence that it was ever cooked on.  Possibly it was refinished but if so it was a professional job, a job that generally costs around a C-note, but I picked it up for under $30.  Not complaining, mind you, just observing.

I suppose at this time you are wondering if I have a point.  I do.  In the intervening year or so I have never actually made waffles on the new iron.  I have a refurbished unit that was a wedding present to my grandparents and which is my general use iron, plus I don't make waffles that much.  Trying not to be fat and the carbs do it for me.

Today, holiday Monday, however, no bikes waiting my attention in my shop, I have a day off and I wanted waffles.  So here's a little pictorial tutorial for your reading pleasure.

Step 1: With a small brush, oil the waffle surfaces.  DO NOT under any circumstances use spray, even the stuff that claims to be for waffle irons.  It gets on everything and will bake on, leaving an unsightly brown mess.

Step 2: Plug in the waffle iron for heating.  Note that it typically takes about six minutes for a waffle iron to get to temperature.  After about five minutes splatter a few drops of water onto the iron surface.  If it sizzles and bounces around before evaporating then the iron is hot.  Note the time it takes as making proper waffles is a delicate process.

Step 3: Pour just enough batter into the middle of the iron to fill it about 2/3 full.  If you overfill then it will pour down the sides, making a hard to clean mess.  Close the iron lid.  I like to hold it down for about five seconds to help push the batter outwards.   Check your clock.  Typically it takes about three minutes to bake a waffle.  You can use the steam method where you watch for the steam to lessen, but timing is better.  You'll want to make a note of how long your iron takes to bake a waffle as well, since this can vary.

Step 4: Perfect waffle.  I like to gently lift up on the lid rather than just open it.  A perfectly done waffle should stick to the top and come up with the lid.  Using a fork, gently pull on the top of the waffle and it will fall right into your hands.  If you start to lift and it looks like the waffle isn't coming up, it probably isn't quite cooked.

Step 5: I have been eating Smucker's sugar free maple syrup for the past few years in order to make the aforementioned weight issue easier to control.  Today I splurged.  My little sister got me a tin of maple syrup when she was in Quebec last year so I opened it this morning.  Heaven.

Step 6: Unplug the waffle iron and let it cool.  Waffle irons are designed to maintain their temperature at the proper baking temperature so long as there are waffles in them.  If you let it sit closed and plugged in for too long it will overheat with negative consequences for your iron.  As soon as you are done, unplug.

So a huge success on this purchase.  An improperly cured waffle iron will result in sticking waffles, which make a giant mess and then make it ever harder to get a proper waffle the next time.

I'm a bit concerned about the power cord.  It looks something like this:

I will probably do a bit of online shopping and pick up a new one.  Toaster Central (which used to refurbish waffle irons but unfortunately no longer does) often has replacement power cords available for antique kitchen appliances.

A couple notes on the process. 

  • Don't put fruit or sweeteners like honey in your batter.  They will stick to the iron and burn.
  • If you have waffles sticking to the iron, check your batter recipe, clean the surface well with hot soapy water and a plastic bristle brush, then start again conditioning like I showed you above.

So why the lengthy exposition on making good waffles?  Well, let's just say that I think anyone who likes waffles will appreciate a properly cooked waffle.  In order to properly cook waffles you should have an antique waffle iron in good condition and follow the proper procedures.  I am not a big fan of the new Teflon coated irons.  I don't think they make as good waffles.

And in case you were wondering how to tell if you made a good waffle?

There you go.  The sign of a perfectly made waffle.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I miss wing windows

Driving my 2008 Dodge Magnum with the windows down is just plain uncomfortable.  I can open the rear windows slightly and it helps a bit, but generally just not worth the effort.

Driving my 1987 Toyota pickup with the driver's window down and the wing window open about two inches is perfectly comfortable.  I can put my elbow on the door and cruise all day in comfort.

My dad tells me that air conditioning killed wing windows.  No need for a wind deflector if you can just turn on the AC instead of opening the window.  Seems reasonable.

I miss wing windows.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Four day weekend gardening project

That's pronounced "pro-ject" by the way, not "prahject".  Just because.

Four day weekend, late spring tending towards summer, time to finally do something with my garden so that it can all die when I go on vacation in July.

First, dig all the weeds out of the raised bed in back and plant a bunch of stuff to complement the stuff that didn't die from last year.

Then fill a couple hanging baskets which have been hanging in the apple tree looking pathetic since two springs ago with a random assortment of flowers chosen not for their affinity for hanging baskets or for their complementary colors and hues, but because they said "partial shade" on the tag and because I liked the colors.

And finally add a planter to the front steps (it might even qualify as a stoop) to begin replacing the ten year (or more) old wooden ones that are slowly crumbling to dust and depositing big piles of dirt all around themselves.

Now it feels a bit like spring.