Monday, October 27, 2014

I learned a little bit about travel this weekend

Allie and I went to the Southern New England AAA Travel Show this weekend at Twin Rivers Casino.  I learned that for some types of trips, it pays to plan early but book late.  Other types of trips, it pays to book early, period.  Balancing flights with the rest of the trip seems to be a bit of an art form.    We didn't go to the expo to book a trip.  We just went for ideas...and ideas are to be gained!

There were a lot of travel vendors at the expo, and a lot of AAA agents available for booking trips immediately. One lacking thing I noted is that most of the vendors didn't have swag.  The ones that did pretty much just offered candy.  A couple offered pens.  Eh.

Some people have goals or accomplishments where they've been/plan-to-go to every country.  My sites are not so grandiose.  I simply want to at least visit each of the continents.  So far, I have Asia, North America and Europe.  That leaves South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica.  


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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Caesars Head lookout over South Carolina

A short drive from Greenville, SC and you may find yourself up on Caesars Head, a mountain in upstate South Carolina.  The view is amazing.














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Friday, October 10, 2014

Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC is a great little city in the Northwest lobe of South Carolina with a great downtown area and revitalization.  I've been experiencing the area as best as possible with just the evenings free.  On Sunday, I checked out the downtown.  There are lots of interesting shops and restaurants.  I ended up at Blue Ridge Brewing with funny faced beer mugs and vats at the entrance.  Monday late afternoon, I visited the BMW museum at the BMW Manufacturing Plant.  Hmm, there wasn't nearly as many BMWs in the employee parking lot as I think there should have been.  That evening, I ended up at Smiley's Acoustic Cafe for open mic night.  Somewhat suprizingly, the artists were good.  Thursday evening, I spent along Reedy River and visited the Falls Park, including the Liberty Bridge.  Then, I had a great dinner at the slightly more expensive Larkins on the River (good view of the river and great ribeye!).

Here's some photos!













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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Combating the tax myth in the US about making slightly more money

Combating a common misconception about tax brackets in the US

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Friday, October 03, 2014

Quick view of the Bible's anti-"pro-life" stand

In the case of abortion, the bible isn't clear at all. What is does say is that the fetus/unborn/still birth (however translated by the various attempts), is worthless and never experiences anything at all. This is not one of those "therefore" attempts to get the bible to say something that it doesn't. This is actually what the bible says. No deduction or interpretation needed. In fact, the bible considers this as such a fundamental matter of fact, the bible uses it as justification to espouse a whole other point. Then, there's the law that allows parents to request to have their children (presumably all the way into adulthood) killed just because that cannot handle them. Oh, yeah, there is that one law that treats the accidental killing of an unborn by someone other than the husband in a completely civil matter...not murder all at, but rather a small fine paid to the husband, on par with what we would pay for a traffic fine these days. The presumes that it is indeed the husband's right to end the pregnancy himself, since he is treated at the owner of it, much as he would have to right to kill his sheep for the next meal.  Here's the best part of all, the bible does in fact actually mention abortion directly!  And you know what?  The bible not only doesn't ban abortion (nor call the act murder), but the bible actually provides rites (the procedure) for how abortions should be conducted.  The bible is completely conflicted on this whole idea of "abortion", especially when someone tries to falsely argue that the bible somehow forbids them.

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project

Getting into Boston by car isn't a horrible experience on the weekend.  It is just really bad, and expensive to park.  So, travelling into Boston is often best by mass transit.  However, when trying to casually plan a journey into Boston today, I discovered that they shut down the only commuter line in my area  of the state, the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line.

Trying to get into North Boston from the Highway 2 corridor using mass transit is impossible while the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line is shut down for maintenance until late November 2014. MBTA‬ didn't even setup replacement bus service to replace the rail line. There was already 1 to 3 hour intervals between trains. Seriously, how hard would it be to have a limited bus service on a similar schedule to those stations?

Thank you to the MBTA for thinking about your riders؟ 

The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Project



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Thursday, June 12, 2014

reddit, the poorly organized and nearly unsearchable appendix of The Internet...but Yeah me!


Ah, reddit, you allusive self-proclaimed front page of the Internet.  Instead, I would prolly characterize reddit as the Internet's poorly organized and nearly unsearchable appendix.  However, there is something addictive about its format and engagement.  You may have the intent to only check reddit out for 5 minutes, but that 5 minutes can easily turn to 2 hours.  I enjoy redditting from time to time.  Not often enough to really know how to game the system for karma, but often enough.

The other day, I finally was able to do something amazing.  A link that I posted actually made it to the "front page" and even the top spot of a major subreddit called /r/funny.  I also made it all the way up to page two of the reddit home page with default categories.  If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it.  It's just something that is hard to do on reddit.  The Holy Grail is to actually make it to the "front page" of reddit's home page with default categories.  I missed that mark ever so slightly.  Oh well.  What does this matter?  Well, you know, Internet points!  Anyway, I'm just here chronicling this achievement in my journal.


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Monday, June 09, 2014

Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution and why you aren't being represented!

Here's what a source says about our House of Representatives, "In the original constitutional debates there were pro-federalist delegates proposing that a House member could represent up to 50,000 constituents, while more anti-federalist framers sought one House member up to 20,000 citizens.  The debate, therefore, was over the people wanting smaller Congressional Districts and not larger. In September 1787, they settled on the language, "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000," thus limiting a Congressional District minimum size to 30,000 citizens. No Congressional District maximum size was included because the framers believed both the members of Congress and their constituents would inherently want Congressional Districts as small as the constitution would permit."1

Another source states, "The Constitution says that the total number of representatives shall not be greater than one for every 30,000 citizens. During the ratification debates over the Constitution, opponents argued that such a ratio was inadequate to properly represent the country. But even using the original ratio in the Constitution, the House of Representatives would have consisted of about 9,400 members after the 2000 census. Faced with the ever increasing size of the House, Congress voted in 1929 to limit the number of representatives to 435."2

Needless to say, our current Congress has not been keeping the size of Congressional Districts in-line with the intent of our Constitution's framers.  Today, Congressional Districts have 710,767 citizens.  This is way over the original expectations of roughly 50,000.

Can you imagine a House of Representatives with 9400 members?  How would business get done?  Well, maybe that's the point.  There would be so many representatives, that votes would have to be made based on what the person feels is right for their 30,000 voters, rather than how much money they can collect from lobbyist for their next campaign. 9400 Representatives would make it a lot harder for lobbyist to sway the will of our elected officials.  It would make pork barrel projects almost nonexistent because districts would be too small to gather enough support for the most silly of funding requests.  It's a lot harder to buy off 9400 people than it is 435.  Particularly if each of those 9400 people have to go back to talk directly to just 30,000 people several times a year.  Representatives' support would really have to come from the local grassroots level.  They might even vote per their constituents desires!  Imagine that!

The one problem with a number of Representatives being so large is that bill introduction may become a bit unmanageable. If we keep to the current system of making huge bills with tons and tons of legal code, things would be unmanageable.  However, that doesn't necessarily need to be a roadblock. Maybe we shouldn't keep the current system of bill introduction!  Maybe our Representatives should really just submit succinct laws that apply to very specific things.  We would still need a huge bill from time to time to address social and other national issues, and the national budget, but we would pretty much end riders that plague the current system.  We can even use 21st Century technology to make such bills easier to process.  (Anyone hear of this Wonder called The Internet?)

More meaningful and useful laws might actually get passed because they wouldn't be tied up so frequently in political maneuverings.  Political Parties couldn't hold our government hostage with standoffs, because their members would be so easily replaced.  We would actually be able to hold our Representatives accountable!






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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Kelowna, BC


Due to a quirk in my planning, I found myself in Kelowna, BC for a couple of days.  Kelowna is in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia on the shores of the Okanagan Lake.  When planning my trip, I had no idea that this is the place from where the stories of the Ogopogo lake monster originate.

A great place to watch the lake for signs of the beast is at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, dinning outside on the deck of the Sunset Organic Bistro.  I wasn't able to spot any lake monsters, but my waitress said with a sly grin that she did indeed have some recently recorded video of something in the water.

View from the deck of the restaurant

It's called the Summerhill Pyramid Winery for a reason.  The wine is made is under this pyramid.

I only discovered that wineries are thing in this region after I arrived.  Had I known ahead of time, I might have planned accordingly.  Another winery I briefly visited was Volcanic Hills Estate Winery.  For tasting, they only offered a few whites and unimpressive blended reds this early in the season.  Had I planned on coming to Volcanic Hills ahead of time for the purpose of wine tasting, I would've been disappointed.

Kelowna has a relatively active downtown area with several restaurants and bars for the diners and revelers alike.  It was here that I finally spotted the lake monster.

This guy was posing for photos all day.

 Wandering around downtown, I ran into this Futurama-esque robot looking machine, who appeared to be a silent sentry guarding a bygone time.


"Halt!  You may go here, but no farther!"

There is a rather nice resort here too.


To commemorate the trip, I got this T-shirt that is all kinds of awesome!


Here's the town and lake from the nearby Knox Mountain.






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Saturday, May 31, 2014

When did the Fastlane on Highways start to be called the Passing Lane?

When did the fastlane on highways start to be called a passing lane? From what I seen, a few years ago there was was a big nationwide push to change the concept of our highways and freeways; from fastlane/slowlane to the idea of a weaving-between-lanes-to-keep-a-constant-speed. Constant weaving between lanes not only is more dangerous, it actually slows down traffic. Every time there is a lane change, there is potential to slow down traffic behind the change. Also, forcing more traffic into fewer lanes inherently increases traffic back-up and congestion. What is this passing lane concept trying to solve? It's not solving the problem of traffic congestion. It appears to be making things worse.

 The problem is that highways in US weren't designed with passing lane concept in mind. Passing lane concept makes little sense in the context of driving on a highway or freeway within most larger cities with current infrastructure. If law enforcement and lawmakers want to create new driving rules that change our driving habits this drastically, they need to fund changes to road system to support those new rules. This would in line with HOV lanes, where current lanes are not converted HOV, but rather the highway is expanded to add a new lane for HOV.

 The US actually does have some designed to be passing lanes. These are usually found when going up long or particularly steep hills. It usually involves a lane being added to the right side, rather than the left side of the road. This makes the most sense in the US. Slower traffic is supposed to move over to the right! That is how our road system was designed.

 A slower driver who refuses to move over to the right is the problem, not everyone else trying to drive safely at a constant speed! How about instead of trying to magically change US driving habits in a way that just isn't supported by our infrastructure, let's enforce the rule that slower traffic move to the right!

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Recent Posts

I learned a little bit about travel this weekend
Caesars Head lookout over South Carolina
Greenville, SC
Combating the tax myth in the US about making slig...
Quick view of the Bible's anti-"pro-life" stand
The Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line Improvement Proje...
reddit, the poorly organized and nearly unsearchab...
Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Consti...
Kelowna, BC
When did the Fastlane on Highways start to be call...


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