Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Levi doesn't get it and doesn't get my business

I have been wearing Levi jeans for about twenty five years, probably longer.  I remember buying them in the U District in Seattle so that would have been 1985 or so.  I guess over thirty years.  Recently, due to a single incident in one of their stores, the CEO announced that they were not allowing customers to carry firearms in their stores.  Not quite sure how they are planning on enforcing this, but maybe it's an honor system.  Too bad criminals don't abide by honor systems.

(Interesting side note: they exempt law enforcement personnel.  Not sure why since LEO have a worse record than non-LEO for shooting innocent bystanders.  Mainly because we don't have an obligation to intervene if it wouldn't be safe whereas LEOs have to step in if they see a crime being committed, but either way, they are more dangerous to bystanders than we are.  Seems that if Levis were truly concerned about firearms they would ban them all.)

Anyway, you can read about the ban here but I sent my own little missive to Levi Corporation.  Too bad.  I really like my Levis but I guess I'll get used to wearing another brand.


Dear Mr. Bergh,

Per your request I will no longer carry my firearm into any of your stores.  I will also no longer clip my holster to the belt on my Levi jeans because I will no longer be purchasing Levi jeans or any other Levi products.  After thirty plus years of wearing Levis I will switch to another brand, a brand operated by people who don't have a moronically simplistic view of personal responsibility, freedom, and the Second Amendment.  One customer in decades has an accidental discharge in one of your stores.  Millions of customers probably carried firearms into your stores, making your staff and your other customers safer in the process but you didn't know this because you didn't see the firearms and there weren't any accidents.  Meanwhile firearms owners are less likely to commit crimes of any sort and successfully prevent criminal violence upwards of a million and a half times a year.

Your shortsighted new policy does not make your customers or staff safer but rather endangers them even more.  Meanwhile I'm sure Wrangler will be happy to have my business.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

So I bought a SUP

Stand Up Paddleboard, in case you aren't familiar with the abbreviation.  It's basically a twelve foot long surfboard, wide and thick for stability.  You stand on it and paddle it with a single bladed paddle.  I've been thinking about getting one for a while given the distinct lack of surf anywhere near where I live and I finally pulled the trigger.

It is huge.  I didn't consciously think about how big a twelve foot board would be until I was trying to move it into my house from the rack on my car.  It won't go around the corner into the front porch and it won't go around the corner into the living room.  That left lying on the floor of the front hall, making it pretty much impassable (including getting upstairs to use the bathroom and the bedroom) or standing it up in the stairwell.



Wow.

So I actually bought this over a month ago, maybe even closer to two.  Since then when it hasn't been wind storming it has been torrentially pouring.  When it wasn't torrentially pouring it was freezing cold.  And when it wasn't freezing cold, torrentially pouring, or wind storming I was having a hernia repaired.  Meanwhile the post, like the board, languished.

I'm really looking forward to getting out on it, but at this point it probably won't be til April.

Oh well.

In search of a new libertarianism

A few weeks before the election I wrote a post on Gary Johnson, Libertarian (capital L) candidate for president.  In it I expressed my dismay at the self destructive behavior of the Libertarian party.  Their insistence on an open borders movement that would flood our country with non-libertarian voters; their focus on drug legalization at the expense of all the other issues that need to be talked about; and their disdain in this cycle for freedom as evinced by Johnson's support for the "Bake the Cake" movement.

To add to all this, Johnson's running mate, Bill Weld, is a strong proponent of restrictions on the right to own firearms, and just before the election was on MSNBC suggesting that libertarian voters in North Carolina should vote for Hillary Clinton.

How on earth does a party allegedly devoted to freedom and individual liberty expect to be taken seriously if they espouse government control over significant aspects of our lives; and on top of that endorse the candidate from another party who is the very face, both party and candidate, of big government?  Add to this the fact that the four states in which Johnson did best were states that Clinton won, and one has to wonder whether the Libertarian party has become a spoiler for the Democratic machine, sucking off just enough of the small government conservatives who can't bring themselves to vote for one of the two big parties anymore to make the election close.  I know that there are arguments that the Libertarian party pulls more Democrats, but I don't buy it.  For one, the big L arguments (drug legalization and open borders) have become Democratic staples.

Add to that the general wackiness that the Party exudes (true story, libertarian candidate in Washington was wearing his Star Trek uniform at a gun show while he campaigned for votes) and it is clear that the Libertarian party is neither serious nor relevant.

So what is a libertarian (small l) to do?  Years of pushing for libertarian policies have led to the election of Donald Trump, definitely not a libertarian.  Years of pushing for the Libertarian party to promote actual libertarian ideas other than smoke lots of pot have led to the ascendency of Johnson and Weld to the top of the party.  The problem would seem to be that libertarian thinkers have done a poor job of educating the American people about libertarian ideas, including those voters inclined towards the L Party.  A significant portion of the electorate thinks that socialism is a workable political philosophy; that we had a "free market" in health care and that it failed us; and that unfettered capitalism led to the crash in 2007 and the subsequent eight year recession.  Never mind Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Venezuela; never mind massive government regulation of every aspect of American health care for the past sixty years; and never mind far reaching government regulation in banking and housing that caused the bubble that collapsed in 2007.  The problem, in each of these cases, was government intervention distorting the free exchange of ideas and goods.  These arguments can go all the way back to the Great Depression and government manipulation of the gold standard and the currency markets.

We need to do a better job in educating the people, but we are opposed by the mainstream media, the education system, and a perception that libertarians are the kind of people who wear Star Trek uniforms to campaign for public office.  Big hurdles to overcome.

We also have to convince people that there is no perfect solution.  Proponents of big government often claim that their solution will fix some problem.  It then causes other problems (generally unexpectedly by the proponents of the fix), all of which have to be fixed and all of which use taxpayer (aka your) money.  What we can't do, as libertarians, is claim that our solution will fix all the problems.  They won't.  Nothing will.  All the problems can't be fixed because this is the real world.  All we can do is minimize the problems that we have while creating the maximum amount of freedom and wealth.  Our proposals will do that.  Theirs won't.  That is the difference.

So as we move forward, educate, educate, and then educate some more.  Talk to your friends, talk to your acquaintances, talk to strangers who are standing on street corners with signs.  Maybe they want to talk.  Talk to them, however, as equals, not as children, and let them know that it sucks that the world is hard, but here's what we think you can do to make it better.  And it doesn't involve taking someone else's money at the point of a gun.

Can't really explain

Why I've gained a couple pounds this week following my surgery.

This Old Garage, financial report

In case you were thinking about building a new garage, here is what I spent and a few thoughts.

First of all, I was going to build a brand new garage.  Two cars, walk up overhead storage, it was going to be beautiful.  By the time I bought plans, had them reviewed to ensure that they met local and state building codes, had an asbestos survey done to see if I could legally throw away the insulation that I bought from Home Depot and put in myself fifteen years ago, and put a down payment on a building permit, I had spent $833.95.  I had not finished paying for the building permit and the permit, although it included local building inspections, did not include electrical inspections.

 Wasted garage project $833.95
After getting an excavation/concrete/building materials estimate which did not include roofing I was up to about $18k without talking about labor costs.  Now over budget I decided to do the renovation.  Best estimate that I can figure, a new garage would probably have cost me something over $30,000, well over my budget.

Renovation here we go.

Actual cost of renovations including excavation, concrete, lumber, siding, some roofing (will re-roof the old portion next summer and do it myself), supplies, and labor

$16,544.11
What jacked up my costs?  Well, we decided to build on a proper shed end to the garage.  Extended the roofline and framed and sided it as though it were a part of the garage.  Looks much better than a lean-to and leaves the possibility of tearing out the end garage wall and enclosing the shed opening for a bigger garage in the future.

Tongue and groove drop siding to match the old siding, $2.88 a linear foot.  That means that one 16' piece of siding costs about $50.  A piece of siding covers 5 inches vertically.

Note: Millwork Supply, a great place to do business, suggested cedar drop siding which was cheaper than the stuff I had bought first time around.  Cheaper because it is primed for paint and so they use wood that isn't quite as fancy.  The stuff I originally bought is designed more for staining and so is very fine wood.  Resist.  I should have spent the extra money.  The cheaper stuff splits when you are trying to nail it up and it isn't tongue and groove, it is overlap siding.  We had to groove the first piece of each run to get it to fit into the old T&G.

Even taking into account the cheaper stuff, however, I bought this much siding.  $1932.05

The alternative, buying Hardee plank would not have been cheaper because I would have had to strip the whole garage and re-side.  More labor and more siding.

Concrete, two separate pours cost me extra money.  We poured a stem wall and then I decided to do a new floor.  Not sure if that could have been done in one pour or not, probably not.  Concrete cost me $1,128.94.   Plus I owe my concrete buddy some motorcycle work for coming over to do the pour.

About $1,000 to haul away all the junk and for the storage unit to store my stuff while building.  Got rid of a fair amount but not as much as I had hoped.  I might do another run through in the spring and see if more could go away.

Bought a really nice garage door.  I could have gone to Sears and got a cheapy, but I wanted this to look nice to go with the house so I went fancy.  Strap hinging, molded to look like carriage doors, etc.  It looks great but it cost about $2400 installed, a thousand more than the cheap one.  Should last decades, however, and since it looks great, I'm OK with it.  Only problem now is that you can look right into the garage through the windows.  I hadn't really given that much advance thought but could see it being a problem now.  I have to look into some sort of one way sticky material to put on the inside I guess.  It's depressing that one should have to but it is what it is I guess.



So there it is.  Pics in the spring once it's painted.  Total cost, about $17k including the wasted money on new construction planning.  Leaves me about $3k leftover but since I will be buying roofing and paint in the spring that will probably get eaten up.

Take-aways:

1) Do it right, even if it costs more.  This rebuild should last fifty years anyway, on top of a ninety year old garage.  That will outlast me I would guess.

2) It's going to cost more than you think.  I'd originally thought $20k to build, not even close.  Then I thought $10k to rebuild.  Not even close.  If I had to guess my new estimate on a new build would be over $40,000.
















How does this happen?

Cleaning out the fridge and at the back is an unopened jug of buttermilk I bought the other week to make some bran muffins.  Haven't got around to making them yet so I thought I'd better move it to the front as a reminder.  Haven't had bran muffins in a few months and have a bit of a hankering for them.






It is November.  Apparently I haven't had bran muffins in longer than I thought.

Well, off to the store to buy a new jug.  Oh, and here's my recipe.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Overheard at work

Well, you have to remember that half the people in America have IQs under 100.

And so it begins (continues?).  The American people are too stupid to select their own leaders when they disagree with the leftists.  Presumably those stupid people weren't quite so stupid when they were re-electing President Obama in spite of a horrible economy, the Affordable Care Act, the assault on religion, and the rest of the attendant issues that went along with his first term.  Then they were probably enlightened.  Or something.  Who knows how the mind of a leftist works. 

Their explanations, on the occasions that I have debated these issues with them, seem somewhat incoherent and they seem oblivious to the fact that they are insulting half their fellow citizens. 

Or maybe they just don't care because those people are too stupid to have opinions worth caring about.