Vital Statistics

Got the verdict from my mechanic last night: 400 dollars if he only has to replace one valve. Add another hundred if I want to get my heater fixed. Tina and I already decided that we wouldn’t put more than 400 into it, so it’s sayonara to my old truck. I tried to give it to my mechanic, but he said he’s already got too many “projects” sitting around at his house. I’ll probably try Craigslist or I may donate it. I’ve considered taking the sucker apart and trying to fix it myself, but I’d probably have to pay to have it towed then.

Yesterday I spotted a replacement candidate on my ride to work. It’s a four-wheel drive, late 70’s/early 80’s old Ford. The sign in the window says $1800, I think. I wrote down the phone number this morning and will have more info about it soon. A sign in the passenger window claimed it had a recently rebuilt engine and a new clutch and something else I don’t remember. I think older cars are simpler to maintain but I could be wrong. Let me know what you think.

For the second day in a row, there was a FedEx truck blocking the bike lane outside my office. This time the guy was inside, so I stopped and politely asked him to please park closer to the curb so as not to block the bike lane. He said he would try but it’s hard when it’s a tight squeeze. I thanked him and left.

Bike odometer: 5983 miles
Current reading: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, 9-11 by Noam Chomsky
McCartney Trivia: “I like writing sad songs, it’s a good bag to get into because you can actually acknowledge some deeper feelings of your own and put them in it. It’s a good vehicle, it saves having to go to a psychiatrist.” – Paul
Recent listening: Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground, De-Loused in the Comatorium, Throw Down Your Arms, Has Been, Science Friday, KBOO Bike Show
Recent viewing: Countdown, Sportscenter, CSI: Miami
Recent playing: Poker Room
Recently Accomplished: Got most of the tax materials together, dropped van off for repair
Imperative To Do: Taxes, lube bike, fix bike fender, fix bike pedal, buy a truck
Cool link: Rate My Professors: Every school in America is listed. Find your favorite prof and rate them.

Illegal Immigration

We’re having immigration demonstrations in downtown Portland today and we had an impromptu debate about it in my office. I think people are resentful of illegal immigrants and fear that they are taking part of America from each of us, whether it be jobs, services, etc. I think those are valid concerns if those things are being taken away. I’m actually not sure that is the case. Don’t most government services require some sort of proof of citizenship? For example, when I recently renewed my license, I had to have two different pieces of citizenship proof. And doesn’t everybody agree that most of the jobs in question are low-paying jobs that most Americans don’t really want?

Here’s a couple of things to think about:

  • Jon Stewart joked about how he was going to have a hard time telling his son that he wouldn’t be able to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a hedge-trimmer or the guy who hands out towels in the men’s bathroom.
  • The local news interviewed a couple of illegal immigrants at a rally in Salem. One had been here for 25 years and the other had been here for 18. They have tried for years to become citizens.
  • When we talk about building a wall along 700 miles of the Mexican border, do we consider whether the cost of building/maintaining that wall is roughly equal to however much illegal immigrants are costing us in government services now?
  • Although illegal immigrants don’t always pay income taxes, they definitely pay other taxes like sales and property taxes. Also, those who are paid by legitimate employers put in social security and medicaid money that is a gift to us – they will never collect.
  • There are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. today. Does anybody deny that most of them are among the hardest working, yet lowest paid people in our country? Does anybody consider the economic impact of removing these people from the economy? What if lettuce farmers and meat packers and landscapers had to start paying real wages? Higher prices is what it means.
  • Without a local and cheap workforce, I’m pretty sure that more jobs would be moved overseas. While the loss of those jobs doesn’t directly impact American workers (since the jobs are currently occupied by illegal immigrants), there is an ancilliary economic impact.
  • Liberals tend to throw out the racism accusations a bit too easily. While I think there is an undercurrent of that, I don’t think wanting to limit immigration automatically makes you a racist.
  • WWJD?

Vital Statistics

I love The West Wing. I love being able to have an hour where I can be inspired by what can be great about our country and get away from what is wrong with it now. I love the intelligence and the incredible competence demonstrated by the characters on the show. I love the thoughtfulness and depth which are given to the issues. I love the complexity and the shades of gray that show even though we all want it to be black and white. I love the humanity. I’m going to be sad to see it end in a few weeks because there’s really no other place I can get that.

Bad news on the vehicle front: it “only” cost $200 to replace the motor mounts, but the engine is still jiggling like crazy. It seems that one of the valves is “burnt” (according to the mechanic who fixed the motor mounts) and causing the engine to vibrate violently, which is what broke the mounts. One of the guys in the shop (not the mechanic) gave me an estimate of $500-600 to fix the valve. I’m pretty sure I now regret getting the head gasket fixed last year. Although I instructed them to specifically to fix the mounts, it miffs me a bit that they fixed them knowing that the root problem was still there. Am I unreasonable to think that they should have warned me about this before expending my $200?

Update: Stopped at the shop on my way to work to discuss the burnt valve repair with a mechanic. The guy last night did the estimate wrong: it will be $738 at a minimum and more if they have to replace any valves. I’ll call our regular mechanic tonight and see what he says, but it looks like we’ll be getting a new truck soon.

Bike odometer: 5886 miles
Current reading: Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, 9-11 by Noam Chomsky
McCartney Trivia: While they were at the Maharishi’s, John wrote “Dear Prudence” for Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, who had locked herself in her cabin. Evidently, she had meditated for too long and was in a near catatonic state and refused to come out. John sang the song with his guitar outside her door and she eventually came out.
Recent listening: KBOO Bike Show
Recent viewing: The West Wing, Brainiac, Conviction, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, World Poker Tour
Recently Accomplished: Motor mounts fixed, Quicken receipts
Recent playing: Frogger Adventure (on GameBoy Advanced SP)
Imperative To Do: Buy lug nut wrench and jack for van, start taxes, figure out what to do about the truck
Cool link: John Lennon Playboy Interview (1981)

Vital Statistics

It’s snowing outside right now – big, fat flakes, too. However, they are hitting the ground and melting.

I installed a new plugin for the blog which allows me to pre-approve comments for certain email addresses. It should make it easier for people to post comments here now.

Current reading: Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, 9-11 by Noam Chomsky
McCartney Trivia: Paul wrote “Got To Get You Into My Life” as an ode to marijuana.
Recent listening: Coverville, KBOO Bike Show, Blame The Vain, New Roman Times, Michael Martin Murphy
Recent viewing: Oscars, Sportscenter, Pardon The Interuption, Crime Scene Investigation, ER, Drawn Together
Imperative To Do: Rebates, renew prescription, start taxes
Cool link: Calling All Wingnuts: A grassroots effort to hold right-wing radio hosts accountable

Watch Keith Olberman

Last fall while I was following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, I stumbled upon quite a few excellent resources for the liberal-minded thinker. One of these was Countdown With Keith Olbermann, a news and commentary show on MSNBC with a liberal slant. One of the features that attracts me is that the format is very Tivo-friendly.

As the name implies, the show counts down the top five stories of the day, providing a summary followed by analysis by Keith, staff reporters and guest commentators. Each story is covered in one of the show’s six segments over the hour that it is aired (twice a night):

  • The first two segments are usually political stories and, although numbered “4” and “5” in the countdown, are generally the most important stories of the day.
  • The third segment is called “Oddball” and features quirky stories from around the world including the “Top 3 Newsmakers” for the day.
  • The fourth segment features the #3 story followed by the “Top 3 Soundbites” of the day.
  • The fifth segment has the #2 story followed by “Keeping Tabs” which features celebrity news and gossip. This is followed by the “Top 3 Worst Persons in the World.”
  • The final segment, which Keith often calleds “The story my producers are forcing me to do”, is usually about some lighter subject matter and often brings in a guest commentator to make funny for three minutes.
  • Keith signs off with “Keep your knees loose.”

If I’m not in the mood for the political stories, I go right to “Oddball” in the middle of the show and then proceed to the “Worst Person in the World” award which very often goes to Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly presumably has gotten sick of this and recently called for MSNBC to fire Keith and bring back Phil Donahue, who used to occupy the time slot on MSNBC. Although Keith does throw out an occasional reference to the sexual harrassment lawsuit against O’Reilly, mostly he merely quotes O’Reilly’s words in order to show how he is the worst person in the world for that day. I totally dig it.

Olbermann was a favorite of mine when ESPN started out and now I often find myself in agreement with his political sensibilities. I recommend the show highly for all my readers, right or left, conservative or liberal.

Here’s a few related links:

Update 2/28/06: Someone started a petition to replace O’Reilly with Donahue. Here’s what bloggers are saying:

The Problem with UAE Ownership of U.S. Ports

If you’re like me, you might have wondered if the recent brouhaha over the Dubai ports deal was thinly disguised xenophobia or politically motivated Democratic bloviating. I’m just as jaded as most liberals when it comes to the Bush administration’s rejection of criticism, but I’m also a realist when it comes to the other side criticizing the administration. That’s why I was pleased to find this from CNN’s Lou Dobbs:

“President Bush has put forth a challenge tonight that I simply can’t ignore. The president yesterday said he wanted those who are critical and questioning of this port deal to “step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company.”

Well, first of all, Mr. President, to equate any country to your principal partner in the coalition ignores that special relationship this country’s enjoyed with the United Kingdom for decades and decades. This also is not just a British company and an Arab company, as I think you well know.

Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation is a British privately owned digital marketing agency . Dubai Ports World is a UAE government controlled and owned company. You see the difference, of course.

And furthermore, the money used to fund the 9/11 attacks, most of it, in fact, was sent to the hijackers through the UAE banking system. In fact, two of the hijackers were originally from the UAE.

The UAE stonewalled U.S. efforts to track al Qaeda bank accounts after 9/11. In addition, the Emirates does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state. And the UAE was a transfer point for shipments of nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

And if those aren’t good enough reasons, I would just suggest I’m at a complete loss to offer what might be considered good reasons.”

You can see the full transcript here.