Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Make America Great Again!

... and bring back common sense!

I just got a check in the mail for 17 cents from my insurance company. I have no idea why. I was thinking about using it to make my grocery list. Instead, I think I'll send it back to them. See if someone's head explodes.

I used to have a bus pass for King County Metro. I go there often enough that it made sense for me to have one with a small pre-paid balance. I had used it up all up about year ago so went online and loaded another $10 to the card. Just a few weeks ago I went to use the card and was informed there was no balance on it.

I looked into it and found my credit card had been charged the $10 so I asked King County Metro where it went and found out they have a Use-It-Or-Lose it policy. If I don't use the card within 60 days of loading money to it, they just keep it for themselves. But, just for me, they would re-apply the $10 - provided, of course, I use it in the next 60 days.

I don't live there, I explained. Was there another way to activate the card? Sure, they advised. I could also go to a retail location where Metro cards are purchased or reloaded. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of buying it online? Not only that, I don't live there.

Could the money be refunded? Why, yes, we can refund that. The fee for that, however is $10.

I have another bus card for where I live which, until recently, was on a bus line. This was quite handy especially since I sold my car. I can get to almost anywhere I need to go on foot or by bicycle but every once in a while it was nice to be able to take the 5-minute bus ride into town. So, I bought a pre-paid card for Clark County as well.

This system worked well until the first of September when the route that went by my place was discontinued. Now a 5-minute ride is a 30-40 minute journey. I don't suppose they'll refund the unused balance of the card.  Maybe I'll donate it somewhere. Along with a check for $0.17.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This, somehow, strikes me as funny.

New tax on Chicago residents will fund pension shortfall - CNN Money
" Chicago residents and businesses will face a new tax on their water and sewage usage next year to help shore up a pension fund for municipal employees. " 

Push Ups for a Cause

I'm doing 22 push-ups for 22 days and posting about it on Facebook. It's one of those "viral" internet things designed to raise awareness, in this case, of the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day. This is an important issue of which we need to be aware. It's sad and it's shameful that so many are unable to get the help they need. This is true not only for our veterans but also for the 96 other people -  civilians - who commit suicide each day.

According a report by the Office of Suicide Prevention, an average of 19 Veterans died per day by suicide in 2001. This number increased slightly from 2001 to a high of 21 per day in 2010, with a subsequent decrease to 20 per day in 2011 and remaining stable since that time. In contrast, the average number of civilian adults who died by suicide each day has increased steadily from 62 per day in 2001 to 93 per day in 2014. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
The Office of Suicide Prevention also reports the risk for suicide was 21 percent higher among Veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adults in 2014. This calculation takes into account statistical adjustments that I am not prepared to discuss. The point, however, isn't to minimize the significance of veteran suicide with statistics - or push-ups. The point is veteran suicide needs to be part of a larger discussion because suicide affects us all.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Looking Good

Fashion is something I do not get. If I look put together, I can assure you it was either accidental or someone else picked my outfit. Take, for example, longs. Longs are anti-shorts, longer than pedal pushers but shorter than floods worn, if ever, by men made fashionable in the late 60’s by my father. And, maybe one other dude spotted earlier this year in a Walgreens parking lot.

Another fashion concept: “boyfriend” fill-in-the-blanks. Boyfriend shirt. Boyfriend jersey. Boyfriend jeans.

Pre-ripped? Ripped, torn jeans used to be earned, not purchased. You had to wear them until you wore them out. Of course, when that happened, they ripped at the knee or butt. The fabric didn’t just open salaciously at intervals along the thigh.

Imagine my surprise when I came upon designer acid-washed, pre-ripped boyfriend longs. (Who washes their jeans in acid?)

For $80. On sale. Which means, at some point, they were priced at something more than $80. $100? More? $100 longs? Oh, joy! (I still have trouble wrapping my head around $100 denim of any variety!)

Without thinking, I grabbed a pair along with a pair of skinny jeans and sought out a dressing room.

Skinny jeans are another concept I haven’t come to terms with. In my day, we just called them tight. I seem to recall soaking new jeans in a bathtub in an attempt to shrink them to perfect tightness. A) I have no idea why. B) It never worked.

Now, you can buy them “skinny.” So skinny, in fact, no living human being can actually wear them. They are a result of an overstock of pants from another planet of stick people shipped to Earth by mistake.

I managed to get a pair on as far as my knees, then seriously considered laying down and calling for help to get them back off. (Thankfully, I managed without assistance.)

The boyfriend jeans were tight. Not skinny tight but they definitely didn’t look like I had borrowed them from any boy so I tried on another pair one size larger. These were way more comfortable but looked exactly like I had borrowed them and I realized I had no desire to borrow any boy’s pants. Ever.

And, then, I don’t know how this happened, I bought them - those $80 boyfriend longs. The tight ones. With holes in them. They’re uncomfortable but Hubby described them as cute weekend jeans.
He had me at “cute” but weekend jeans? I couldn’t even imagine a weekend when I would wear these. Travel? A restaurant? Visiting friends? (Maybe.) I could wear them to paint baseboards but are you kidding? I’m not wearing $80 jeans to paint! (Also, have you met me? Not a chance you’ll find me painting baseboards!) So, now I have uncomfortable pants that I can’t wear anywhere.

But “cute,” he said.
And since I work from home, they’re my weekday pants. (Why wait for the weekend?) Definitely, a move in the right direction from yoga pants (on a good day) or pajamas!

At least, they’re fashionable.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Wild Side of Portland International Airport

The military uses chickens. Boeing uses turkeys. Both are testing aircraft for their resistance to birdstrikes by launching bird carcasses via cannon at speeds in excess of 400 miles per hour to test the aircraft’s ability to withstand a collision with a bird, or flock of birds.
“The current certification standards for turbine engine (60 inch and 100 inch size) testing are as follows: an engine must be able to withstand the ingestion of 16 small birds (3 oz. each); 8 medium birds (1.5 lbs each); or 1 large bird (4 lbs) (Eschenfelder 2000). Turbine engines are not required to be able to withstand the ingestion of a bird larger than 4 pounds. Eschenfelder (2000) concluded that these engine ingestion standards may be inadequate because they do not reflect the sizes and numbers of birds encountered in actual birdstrike incidents.” (Portland International Airport Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, 2009 Update)
While manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their aircraft in such collisions, airports are tasked with the goal of preventing them in the first place.

According to the Portland International Airport Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP), “Between 1990 and 2007, 82,057 wildlife strikes involving civil aircraft were reported to the FAA.” One study reported, “ . . . 197 human injuries and 11 fatalities nationwide resulting from wildlife strikes between 1990 and 2007.” This, resulting in almost $100 million in damages and over $30 million in associated costs (chewing electrical cables, damaging infrastructure, etc.) annually industrywide.

"Wildlife strike" sounds as if the aircraft industry is under attack when we just get in each other’s way. That's what happens when you build an airport where animals live. When airplanes and wildlife try to occupy the same airspace at the same time, the wildlife pretty much loses.

And, so, Portland International Airport (PDX) has a Wildlife Department. And, a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan.

I read Portland’s Wildlife Hazard Management Plan and found it very interesting for the extent to which considerations must be made in order to avoid wildlife collisions. First and foremost, they must control the food, water, and shelter that attracts wildlife to the airport. To do this they must consider landscaping (which plants can be planted and where); grass length and mowing schedules; grasshopper control; man-made structures that attract nesting opportunities; mitigation to relocate animal populations to more desirable, and less dangerous, places; raptor tagging and tracking; conforming to the myriad federal, state, and local regulations (you can't even imagine); and, coordinating with various agencies and wildlife experts such as the Audubon Society.

I found the report interesting because I never before considered how much went into avoiding animal collisions at airports. Here are several excerpts:
  • Between January 1998 and December 2008, 752 bird strikes and 4 coyote strikes were reported at PDX.
  • Raptors ... were the most frequently struck group of birds . . . .
  • . . . the red-tailed hawk is currently the number one wildlife species of concern at PDX.
  • Portland International Airport (PDX) is the 34th largest airport in the country and home to the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard. Bordered on 3 sides by open water features, located on a major migratory flyway and at the confluence of 2 major river systems, PDX is located in a region rich in avian wildlife.
  • Hazing and harassment are the primary means used to clear wildlife species of concern from the airfield to allow for safe aircraft operations. Techniques currently used to haze birds include pyrotechnic devices (e.g., shell launching pistols, 12-gauge shotguns), remote controlled propane cannons, other auditory frightening 
devices (e.g., vehicle air horns and sirens), visual deterrents (e.g., green laser), paintball markers, and bean bags consisting of a 2 inch square heavy cloth bag filled with lead pellets contained in a 12-gauge shotgun shell (used primarily for coyotes).
  • There is no record of a cat ever being struck by aircraft at PDX.
  • There have been numerous occasions when stray dogs, or escapees from airline carriers, have run loose across the airfield before they could be caught.
  • In order to effectively reach all areas of the airfield, wildlife control vehicles are all-wheel drive capable with the ability to communicate, via radios, with other airport assets and with the Air Traffic Control Tower. In addition, each vehicle is equipped with air horns, sirens and spotlights. Vehicles used primarily for airfield patrols are also equipped with pyrotechnic scaring devices, such as a shell-launching pistol and/or a 12-gauge shotgun.
Regarding grass alone:
  • Most studies show that a compromise of 7 to 12 inches works best at deterring both small and large bird species. The Wildlife Manager will continue to follow the most recent grass height studies. . . .
  • To avoid attracting wildlife species of concern near the runways, grass within a safety area around the runways will be mowed only at night with the runway closed.
  • The thatch that remains after mowing also influences gray-tailed vole populations, a major prey species for many birds of concern at PDX, in ways not yet clearly understood. PDX will continue to investigate the dynamic relationship between use of the airfield by wildlife species of concern and grass mowing.
  • 750 acres of mowed grass that lies within the fenced perimeter portion of the Primary Zone (the area within the airfield perimeter fence, a 300-foot buffer around the perimeter fence, and the runway protection zones (RPZs) located at the end of each runway. )
Regarding insects:
  • ... the Port initiated a grasshopper control program in 2008. . . . surface numbers of earthworms in the Primary Zone are monitored by Operations Department personnel.
Who knew? (Pilots, maybe, but not me!)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Old Guys Rule

What NFL game is Ed Hochuli officiating next because that's the one I'm watching. Born in 1950, "He is best known for his athletic/muscular physique ... " (Wikipedia)

hubba hubba