Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sanctuary City Debacle

The situation for so called "sanctuary" status for cities, states and other local governments has reached a crisis since US Attorney General Sessions has announced financial sanctions.  Sanctuary anything is ill-defined or not defined at all.  It has become a political focus for a right-left conflict.

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that there are some underlying legal principles that apply to this conflict:
  1. Enforcement of immigration laws (federal by definition) is reserved to federal law enforcement.  This means that local law enforcement and police are not allowed to arrest someone for immigration offenses.
  2. Most local jurisdictions do not have immediate information about the immigration status of individuals in the US.  For example, if I am stopped by highway patrol I can present my driver's license for identification, but I cannot prove my status as a US citizen without going home to retrieve a birth certificate or a passport.  Are you able to prove that you are here legally?  The point is that local jurisdictions might have someone in their custody who is in violation of immigration laws, but they have no way of knowing that.  In general, they do not have either the desire or the capability of reporting such individuals to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
  3. However, whenever local law enforcement arrests someone, the individual's fingerprints and the arrest information are immediately forwarded to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).  That information becomes available to the federal law enforcement agencies, including ICE.  ICE knows within hours about immigration violators on their Enforcement Removal List who are in custody of a local jurisdiction.
  4. ICE may issue a detainer notice to a local jurisdiction indicating that they want a person held for 48 hours until ICE can come to apprehend that person.  The local jurisdiction cannot hold that person.  Because, constitutional protections apply to everyone in the country, independent of immigration status.  If ICE issues a detainer notice for an individual who has been held in jail for a local or state offense and they are about to be released, the local jurisdiction does not have the authority to hold that individual for an additional 48 hours.  Not even for any time at all; they are free to go.  Detainer notices issued by ICE field agents are not arrest warrants; they do not show probable cause and they are not issued by a judge.
According to Wikipedia, a valid arrest warrant is one
  1. containing an adequate showing of probable cause
  2. issued by a neutral and detached magistrate
  3. issued on the basis of a police affidavit that does not contain known or reckless falsehoods
  4. particularly describing the person to be arrested
These minimum requirements stem from the language contained in the Fourth Amendment.

A SOLUTION:
If ICE wants to capture a person who is in the custody of a local jurisdiction, they need to show probable cause to a federal judge and get a valid federal arrest warrant.  Detainer notices do not have the appropriate legal authority. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The "Slants"

An NPR story yesterday morning was about an Asian rock band called the "Slants" that could not get their trademark issued.  Apparently there is legislation that prohibits issuance of trademarks when those proposed trademarks seem derogatory to ethnic groups, like Asians.

The Slants have taken their case to court in a continued effort to get the trademark they want.  Part of the argument used by the group is that when the term "slant" is associated with their band, the term will become less derogatory and more positive...perhaps even complementary.

We must wait for the outcome of this law suit.  However, I am reminded of my freshman English class at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. [That was quite a few years ago when I was enrolled in the Electrical Engineering program.]  Our assignments in that class included a weekly essay with the topic assigned by our instructor.  The particular week I recall we were assigned to write about "cliches".

This was an era before Google, so I looked up the term in one of those old, printed dictionaries.  For example,
Cliche, also spelled cliché, is a 19th century borrowed word from the French which refers to a saying or expression that has been so overused that it has become boring and unoriginal.
The thought that I came up with for my essay that week was as follows: 
If we could give a new definition to a word that had become a cliche, that word could be brought back into circulation as a valuable part of our vocabulary.
My instructor gave me a big fat F.  Also, because he liked me and thought that I had great potential, he gave me an additional assignment to read a book by the semanticist, S.I. Hayakawa.
=============
The Moral:  These many years later I may have been vindicated.  If the Slants can take a derogatory term and make it positive, why can't we give a new definition to a cliche and make it useful again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hillary

Warning.  This is political.  My emotions were arroused by a Facebook post that showed up on my Facebook page.  Specifically, one of my friends posted on her Facebook about all the experience of Hillary in the White House, in the Senate and as Secretary of state.  My comment is

I beg to differ with a dear friend.

After a phone call at 2am...We have Bengazhi. After the reset button for Putin...We have Crimea with the rest of Ukraine also threatened. After the line in the sand we have Alepo and millions of refugees threatening Europe and the US. After our sailors were captured by Iran...Iran has $1.7 billion cash to fund nuclear expansion and Islamic terrorism. After a few years of Bonnie and Clyde running the Clinton Foundation we have Russia owning most of our uranium.

We do not need more of this kind of experience.
In November we need our own reset button.  Obama promised change.  Unfortunately the change we need goes in exactly the other direction from the one he and Hillary envision.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Presidential Election 2016--Convention of States

I voted for statehood in Alaska the first time I ever voted.  That was many years ago and there have been lots of changes during the intervening years.  The tenor of the current presidential election is disturbing, but the condition of politics, the economy, the world's wars, disruption and strife are all part of the general mix of life these days.  It is disturbing that both presidential candidates have such negative ratings.  What to do?

I know of a solution.  There is a movement in the nation to use Article 5 of the US Constitution to call a "Convention of States" ( See: http://www.cosaction.com/about).  This is a provision built into the Constitution to control our government when it gets out of control...like now!  Please sign the petition and get involved.

One concern that you may have is, what are the limits on that convention.  Well, there are three:
  1. The resolution must be passed by the legislatures of 2/3 of the states.  The same legislative resolution must be adopted by that super-majority of states.  That resolution is available here:
    https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/conventionofstates/pages/1846/attachments/original/1455799493/Application-for-a-Convention-of-States-v.5_COSACTION.pdf?1455799493
  2. Section 1 of the resolution limits the items that will be addressed at the convention:
    1. impose fiscal restraints on the federal government,
    2. limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and
    3. limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. 
  3. Any proposed amendment adopted by the convention must then be approved by 3/4 of the state legislatures.
 There are groups of citizens in each congressional district all over the country encouraging their state legislatures to act.  Your participation will be helpful.  This is a non-partisan effort.  Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents are all coming together to help resolve some of the dysfunction in our government.
My personal link to the petition is http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=12723
There are now petitions signed from all the state house districts in the country.

If this write-up is too brief for you, there is a more comprehensive handbook available at
http://ow.ly/hrmG303bRId


...Steve

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Booking.com -- Buyer Beware! -- Totally Unacceptable!

My wife and I have reservations at a motel in Paris called Premiere Classe Roissy; it is close to the airport.  I made reservations in June after confirming our flights.  I did not notice that we would be flying to Paris leaving on September 18th but not arriving until the 19th.  So I made reservations beginning on the 18th...my error.

I contacted Booking.com three days ago.  Because of the time difference between North America and Europe, their agents were not able to get in touch with the motel staff for two days.  Finally, this morning, I received the reply from Booking.com.  This is where "Buyer Beware" comes into play:

     Email reply sent September 6, 2014 by Booking.com Customer Service

Booking.com Home | FAQ
Manage booking
Dear Stephen Colberg,
Thank you for contacting the Booking.com Customer Service team.
We approached Premiere Classe Roissy on your behalf and asked them to modify your reservation.
Premiere Classe Roissy has informed us that your request can’t be honored because the rate booked for this reservation is nonrefundable. This means that the reservation can’t be changed or canceled without penalty. For your reference, you can review these conditions in your confirmation email.
We sincerely apologize that we weren’t able to help you regarding this matter. Your reservation is still active, with its original terms and conditions.
If you have any additional questions, please contact us at any time.
Best wishes
--
Jolanta Vagdaryte
Booking.com Customer Service Team

Our customer service agents are here to help and are also available 24/7 by phone: 1 (888) 850 3958 (English) or +44 20 3320 2609 (English)
- Booking.com Customer Service Team
The home page for Booking.com looks like this (Note the cancellation notice at the bottom.)


Friday, July 12, 2013

God will be the final judge

When it seems that our leaders are dishonest and corrupt, when they amass power and wealth, when I feel depressed about the course of our country...I come upon the 73rd Psalm and I am reminded that God is in charge and He is the final judge.

Psalm 73 -- Plea for Relief from Oppressors

A Psalm of Asaph.
Truly God is good to the upright,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant;
    I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pain;
    their bodies are sound and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
    they are not plagued like other people.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    violence covers them like a garment.
Their eyes swell out with fatness;
    their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
    loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven,
    and their tongues range over the earth.
10 Therefore the people turn and praise them,
    and find no fault in them.
11 And they say, “How can God know?
    Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Such are the wicked;
    always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain I have kept my heart clean
    and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all day long I have been plagued,
    and am punished every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will talk on in this way,”
    I would have been untrue to the circle of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I perceived their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
    you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
    swept away utterly by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    on awaking you despise their phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was stupid and ignorant;
    I was like a brute beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me with honor.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;
    you put an end to those who are false to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    to tell of all your works.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Harvard Education? ...and Other Questions

One of the quotes of the year is
“What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Do you remember that statement, or have you ever even heard it?  Do you recall who said it and the context or circumstances?**

There is currently a culture of obfuscation, lying and cover up in our federal government...now we can add convoluted grammar.  Even though this strange way of composing a sentence is what has attracted my attention, the root cause may be that there is a gang of criminals leading our country.  The evidence is that they talk funny; that may not be the real problem.  What happened to honesty, ethics, responsibility and TRANSPARENCY?

Is this the result of Harvard education? Is it a form of doublespeak?  Is it from spending too much time in Washington?  Has this speaker, testifying before a U.S. House Committee, spent too much time circumnavigating the earth at high altitudes, close to the top of the atmosphere? Is it simple lawyer-eze spin?

=================
**Hint.  It was a lady graduate of Harvard Law who is the wife of a former President and who has since run for President herself and has held some very high government positions.  Her initials are HRC.
The statement was made in testimony before a U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing on May 8, 2013.  The hearing was about the Sept. 11, 2012 bombing at the U.S. consulate in Benghzai, Libya., that destroyed the consulate and resulted in the killing (murder) of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The full report by Tom Kertscher is http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/may/08/context-hillary-clintons-what-difference-does-it-m/ and the C-Span video is http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4329984 .

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

About Gun Violence and School Shooting

There are two parts to this BLOG:
  1. My comments concerning the current gun debate
  2. An excellent blog and links about school shooting.

1) My Comments

The 2nd Amendment of our U,S, Constitution provides each of us the right to keep and bear arms not only to hunt, target practice and protect ourselves against criminals, we also need guns to protect us against an abusive government.  That last purpose is why
  • We do not want restrictions on the type or capacity of guns and firearms
  • We do not want registration requirements that allow the government to know who has guns or a description of those guns;  we do not want the government to be able to confiscate our guns.
  • Most of the new gun laws that are being proposed will restrict law-abiding citizens but not psychotic and mentally unbalanced people and criminals
  • Concealed Carry permits and background checks should be used only to screen out those psychotic and mentally unbalanced people and criminals intent on harming

2) Excellent BLOG, (check out the full version)

"School Shooters – The Huffington Post Doesn’t Want You To Read This"Posted on March 4, 2013 by Peter Brown Hoffmeister

Full Blog:
http://peterbrownhoffmeister.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/on-school-shooters-the-huffington-post-doesnt-want-you-to-read-this/

PB Website:
http://peterbrownhoffmeister.com
 

Selected Quotes from BLOG:
  • What follows is an op-ed article on a piece of the school shooter puzzle. I don’t pretend that this covers everything, but here is a key component from my point of view. And as a current high school teacher and a former troubled teen, I have a strong opinion on the topic.

  • I carried a loaded pistol my junior year in high school. I stuffed it in my belt, ready for use. 
  • The next year, I carried a sawed-off shotgun in my backpack.  I liked guns and I had access to them.  But I also carried a sheath-knife.  I was obsessed with weapons of all kind. For a while, I carried a framing hammer. 
  • Thankfully, I never shot or stabbed or bludgeoned anyone.
  • Have you ever heard of a school shooter who’s hobbies are kayaking, rock climbing, and fly-fishing?
This Might Help: 
Peter Brown Hoffmeister is co-founder of the Integrated Outdoor Program (IOP)
http://peterbrownhoffmeister.wordpress.com/the-iop/

The Integrated Outdoor Program (see AP article) is a combined English and outdoor-pursuits course that was founded on the principle that students need to have a deeper connection to the natural world. Recognizing the truths of Nature Deficit Disorder and Leave No Child Inside, the IOP is a counter-culture program, a program that combats Affluenza, teaches gratitude, survival, and the new dream, and encourages environmental consciousness.


More Help, A Selected BLOG Comment:
pastorparadox on April 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm said

  • A question I have is how many of the kids who committed these violent acts had dinner with their family around the table with the T.V. off? That is a great place to start.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Short Term Care Insurance -- Find an Agent

My insurance friend in Helena, Ron Iverson, and I have been working on a project concerning Short Term Care Insurance.

My part of it is developing the web site http://shorttermcareinsurancefacts.com/ it includes an active map where you can "find an agent". We have three national companies signed up and a growing number of agents. Check it out and ask your insurance agent about Short Term Care Insurance. If they are not familiar with STCI, that same web site allows agents to get more information.

Several years ago Ron literally wrote the book on long term care insurance; he called it "Guarding Your Gold" and that was the first web site we did together. He sold out two editions of that book, moved on to other forms of insurance for us old guys, like medicare, medicaid and medicare supplements. He offers on-line continuing education courses to agents thru http://gyg.webce.com/ ; now Ron's focus is Short Term Care Insurance.


Agents, you can appoint under Ron all over the country with any of three leading insurance companies.  [more information]

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kick A**, Blame someone else or take responsibility!

There is a sharp contrast between the behavior of our current President and that of a true leader, like Coach Wooden. The behavior itself is measured by the willingness to take responsibility as contrasted with looking for scapegoats and pointing fingers.

In a recent eulogy for Coach Wooden there was a great deal of credit given to Wooden's father who himself had strength of character that he shared with his son. Then Coach Wooden was able to set an example and share his character traits with generations of young athletes. The result was an outstanding record of winning ball teams.

Unfortunately our President did not have this advantage. He had opportunities for education at prestigious schools, but that apparently did not compensate for the lack of a father and mother who could provide him with ideals and help build his character by example.

Other leaders are able to develop strength of character through their church and religious upbringing. Instead we have a President whose religious mentor is Jeremiah Wright. Twenty years under the tutelage of this man is almost certain to distort one's character. Specifically, when you hear time after time that "whitey has taken all the good stuff and the other races are entitled to demand what is coming to them right now!", the mindset of entitlement trumps any inclination towards justice.

I recognize that our President is very intelligent. However, intelligence, common sense, wisdom, patriotism and strength of character are all personality traits that we like to strive for. Intelligence by itself does not cut it.

Hopefully our President will recognize soon that simply blaming George Bush, British Petroleum and the Republicans is not going to solve any of the very real problems in our country. He needs to recognize the significant gaps in the character building phase of his upbringing and perhaps start on a twelve-step program of recovery. In the mean time all we can do is pray for God's intervention. In the addiction business they call it "tough love".

Thursday, November 05, 2009

DEBT & Current health bill, Nov 5, 2009
Honorable Congressman McDermott:


I am 70 years old, retired and on Medicare. I vote in every election and I discuss politics with my friends.

WATCH THAT DEBT.
The biggest problem in our country right now is the horrible increase in national debt. I believe that when the Chinese see the light and stop buying our worthless government bonds the current economic problems will seem very mild. The proverbial s**t will hit the fan.

My father was a doctor in China when they were experiencing hyper-inflation. He showed me a letter that required multiple sheets of stamps glued on in layers because the currency was so devalued. More recently, the country of Zimbabwe had an inflation rate of 79,600,000,000%/month in November of 2008 (Steve H. Hanke, Johns Hopkins University.) That is where we are headed, especially if you and your colleagues vote to spend so many trillions of borrowed money.

On the other hand, tax increases will never raise enough to offset the trillions of dollars in new spending. The richest people in our country have a lot of discretion about where they will live and where they will invest. The best plan is to let them make money here in the US.

HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION
I want to make you aware that your optimistic views about the house healthcare bill are not shared by me. I believe that most of the healthcare legislation being proposed in both the house and the senate
  • does not solve any of the real problems,
  • makes big increases in taxes and penalties,
  • reduces funding for my Medicare Advantage program
Please note that AARP does not speak for me! They have their own agenda and it is not for the benefit of seniors. I have a very simple plan:
  1. Tort reform to eliminate the costs for lawyers, malpractice insurance and defensive medicine. Use the savings in insurance payouts to fund insurance vouchers for the poor and uninsured. No new taxes or fees, no big government involvement.
  2. Allow insurance groups to organize like BECU. Even though this credit union is named for Boeing Employees anyone can join. My Allstate agent called today and told me they have a new employee benefit program for small companies that have at least 25 employees who each work at least 30 hours per week; unfortunately our little restaurant is too small. I do not know of any group that we can join to pool risk for employee health insurance.
  3. Remove state border limits on health insurance companies. When I shop for a credit card I am able to consider the offerings of any bank in any state. Why should health insurance companies be more restricted than credit card companies.
SUMMARY
The mood of the country has changed since President Obama took over. The change he promised was couched in elegant language that confused voters. Now we see the change that he is trying to implement. It is scary! It is not the change we want. Please get off that band wagon and join those of us who want a future for our children and our grandchildren.

If I wanted to live in a socialist country I would move to Scandinavia. If I wanted to live in a communist country I would move to China...at least they now have a capitalistic economy. I would rather live here in the US. So please try to preserve our constitution and freedoms. All that debt is a huge worry for an old geezer like me.

Steve Colberg
7th Congressional District
NE 100th St
Seattle, WA 98125

Monday, January 12, 2009

The King's Singers -- An a cappella men's group from England

Wow! I have not heard this group until today. Now I am so impressed that I have created a playlist of a few of their videos and added a new page to my web site for them. Their harmony is so tight, they are animated, and with the counter tenors their range is simply awesome. Check it out at http://stevecolberg.com/html/kings_singers.html

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Italy at it's best!

From time to time Janet and I like to travel. Our most recent trip out of the US was to Italy. From time to time I develop web sites for folks. It just so happens that some friends at our church in Seattle have a daughter with a bed and breakfast just north of Florence.

Earlier... It rained miserably on us in Rome, so we took the train to Florence and used that as our base for the rest of our visit. Our side trips to Sienna, CincaTerra and Pisa were by bus and train, but even so traveling through the country-side was exciting.

Now... Janilee Jones has provided some photos from around her villa and I have used them to create a new web site for her; we can't wait to return to Florence and to visit Janilee's Tuscan Villa bed and breakfast. Check it out and make your reservations. Janilee and her brothers were born in Italy, so she is fluent in Italian and English...and she knows the area well to provide travel tips.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hillary Front and Center in Denver

On August 12 MAUREEN DOWD published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Yes, She Can" that ended with the some analysis that is worth sharing. Specifically, she wrote the following (emphasis added):

Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that “demeaning portrayals of women ... dampen the dreams of our daughters.” This, even though postmortems, including the new raft of campaign memos leaked by Clintonistas to The Atlantic — another move that undercuts Obama — finger Hillary’s horrendous management skills.

Besides the crashing egos and screeching factions working at cross purposes, Joshua Green writes in the magazine, Hillary’s “hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

===============

It would seem to me that Hillary and Bill should take the plunder they have derived from book deals and Arab consulting to retire somewhere out of the public eye. If Hillary is the only hope that women in America have, we are in a very bad social depression.



Monday, September 10, 2007

Floating the Tieton with Jason-- Colberg Whitewater Expeditions

This past week I drove west of Yakima to the Hause Creek Campsite on the Tieton River. This Forest Service campground provides an excellent base for recreational whitewater enthusiasts.

Our older son, Jason, claims that he started rafting on the rivers of Montana with our family, but I must say that he has become a very safety-conscious, professional white-water guide. Further, with the little time he has to go rafting now, he has focused on a fall trip to the Tieton River; in the fall the flow increases as water is released from the reservoir for irrigation. We estimated a pretty steady rate of 6-7 miles per hour. It makes a great trip!

Please see Colberg.com and AmericanWhitewater.org for photos and more descriptions.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The truth about taxes.
At first I thought this was funny...then I realized the awful
truth of it. Be sure to read all the way to the end!

Tax his land, Tax his bed,
Tax the table at which he's fed.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes are the rule.

Tax his cow, Tax his goat,
Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirt,
Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers,
If he cries, then tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways to tax his ass

Tax all he has then let him know That you won't
be done Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers,
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till he's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in which he's laid.

Put these words upon his tomb,
" Taxes drove me to my doom..."

When he's gone, do not relax,
Its time to apply the inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon) Gross Receipts Tax Hunting
License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax IRS Interest Charges
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax Telephone Federal,
State and Local Surcharge Taxes Telephone Minimum Usage
Surcharge Tax Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Utility
Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened? Can you spell "politicians!"

And I still have to "press 1" for English.
===========================
This article is forwarded by my friend, Dan J. in Helena. He says, "I hope this goes around the USA at least 100 times. See what you’re getting into…before you go there."

Monday, July 16, 2007

This pastor's got guts!!
(from a chain letter originated by
Len and Sue Shebosky)

Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate.

It seems prayer still upsets some people. Please read.....

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the
Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard;

*************************
"Heavenly Father,
We come before you today
To ask your forgiveness and
To seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says,
"Woe to those who call evil good"
But that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium
And reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and
Called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness
And called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists
And called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline
Our children and called it
Building self esteem.

We have abused power
And called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's
Possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air
With profanity and
Pornography and called it
Freedom of speech and expression.

We have ridiculed the time
Honored values of our
Forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God,
And know our hearts today;
Cleanse us from every sin
And set us free.
Amen!"


The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked Out
during the prayer in protest.

In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is
pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio
Program, "The Rest of the Story," and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our Nation's and
wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called "one nation under God."

If possible, please pass this prayer on to your friends.
If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Friday, April 20, 2007

VOIP -- An update

My initial access to unlimited long-distance phone service was thru Vonage via a cable connection with Comcast. It has worked very well. When the service was up an running and when my phone number had been rolled over from Qwest I cancelled our Qwest service completely and disconnected their wires from our house at the little grey box on the outside wall.

When we moved to another home in the same city, Seattle, I made sure that Comcast scheduled a high-speed cable connection before our move date. Then moving our phones and phone number to the new house was very, very simple. Unplug the Vonage modem from the network in our old house and plug it in at the new house. Voila! We had phone service with our old number at the new house.

I tried Lingo voip briefly but found that their SIP protocol did not work well with the router on my home network. Their incoming signal could not get thru unless I established a DMZ to get the Lingo box outside our router's firewall.

Now I am in the process of moving to Sun Rocket features at a lower price and it has a couple of additional benefits. First, the price is only $199/year; that includes all of the US and Canada like voip. Sun Rocket provides most of the Vonage features, but it also has an international allowance of $3/month at their discounted international rates. That can be up to 100 minutes each month to call anywhere.

Then Sun Rocket has "Anywhere Numbers" that can make up some of the six numbers ringing on your home phone. Added numbers are an additional $3/month. I am using one to replace a land-line phone in Montana that we have used for over 30 years. Our Montana phone number will ring on our Sun Rocket phone--wherever it is--and we can disconnect Qwest and their high monthly charges once more.

So, add it all up:
  1. Go from $24.95/month (plus taxes and fees) on Vonage to $199/year (taxes and fees are included) on Sun Rocket.
  2. Go from $35/month for a land line on Qwest in Montana to $3/month on Sun Rocket.
  3. Call my sister in China at $.03/minute using $3/month allowance = 100 minutes FREE.
  4. Special sign-up bonus for me of 15 months for the price of one year.
  5. Special sign-up bonus for the friend who referred me of $25.
Just compare these benefits of Sun Rocket against the advertisements for alternative VOIP that fill your mail, newspapers and TV.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Prevent ID and Credit Theft
[ATTORNEY'S ADVICE]

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company.

  1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
  2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."
  3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check-processing channels will not have access to it.
  4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks, (DUE!). You can add it if it is necessary. However, if you have it printed, anyone can get it.
  5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling either here or abroad. We have all heard horror stories about fraud that is committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number r, credit cards.
  6. When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and they all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in. Take them with you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all that information with no problem whatsoever.

Unfortunately, as an attorney, I have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer and received a PIN number from D.V. to change my driving record information online.

Here is some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

  1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
  2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). However, here is what is perhaps most important of all (I never even thought to do this.)
  3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks. Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet and contents being stolen:
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
===================
Thanks to Jim Sewell and Sharon Valance of Helena, MT for forwarding these tips.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Drug Prices at COSTCO

Marlene J. Ruston
Senior Benefits Program Specialist - Retirement
WMATA
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
mruston@wmata.com
(202) 962-2843 (work)
(202) 962-2293 (fax)

Marlene J. Ruston 12/21/05 8:39 AM
Please read in its entirety. The e-mail is lengthy but informative.

COSTCO! read this... Let's hear it for Costco!! (This is just mind-boggling!) Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs.

The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington, DC offices. Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension, a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries. In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of themost popular drugs sold in America. The data below speaks for itself.


Consumer price

Cost of general active ingredients

Percent markup

Celebrex: 100 mg (100 tablets)

$130.27

$0.60

21,712%

Claritin: 10 mg (100 tablets)

$215.17

$0.71

30,306%

Keflex: 250 mg (100 tablets)

$157.39

$1.88

8,372%

Lipitor: 20 mg (100 tablets)

$272.37

$5.80

4,696%

Norvasc: 10 mg (100 tablets)

$188.29

$0.14

134,493%

Paxil: 20 mg (100 tablets)

$220.27

$7.60

2,898%

Prevacid: 30 mg (100 tablets)

$44.77

$1.01

4,433%

Prilosec: 20 mg (100 tablets)

$360.97

$0.52

69,417%

Prozac: 20 mg (100 tablets)

$247.47

$0.11

224,973%

Tenormin: 50 mg (100 tablets)

$104.47

$0.13

80,362%

Vasotec: 10 mg (100 tablets)

$102.37

$0.20

51,185%

Xanax: 1 mg (100 tablets)

$136.79

$0.024

569,958%

Zestril: 20 mg (100 tablets)

$89.89

$3.20

2,809%

Zithromax: 600 mg (100 tablets)

$1,482.19

$18.78

7,892%

Zocor: 40 mg (100 tablets)

$350.27

$8.63

4,059%

Zoloft: 50 mg

$206.87

$1.75

11,821%

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone should know about this. Please read the following and pass it on. It pays to shop around. This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner. On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit, did a story on generic drug price gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation, that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. Yes, that's not a typo... three thousand percent! So often, we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example, if you had to buy a prescription! on drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills.& nbsp; The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are "saving" $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

I went to the Costco site, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices. I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience, I had to use the drug, Compazine, which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients.

I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19.89. For 145 of my pain pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at Costco for $28.08.

I would like to mention, that although Costco is a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there,as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in. (this is true)

I went there this past Thursday and asked them. I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it into your own e-mail, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address.
---

P.S. from Steve: I received this email from a friend along the high-line in northern Montana, Dorothy R. Other than correcting one of the percentages it comes to you exactly as I received it. Please add comments if you either confirm or question this information.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

La Galleria -- Fine Italian Cuisine

We bought a restaurant in Edmonds today. Our younger son, Josh, is coming back from Montana to run it. It has been operating as an Italian restaurant for 19 years under a variety of names and owners; two recent names were Ciao Italia Ristorante and Ciao Stella Mia. Josh will be the owner/manager with the new name La Galleria.

In case you are in search of great Italian food and a selection of fine wines, check it out. Edmonds is on the Amtrak line just north of Seattle and it has the terminal for the Kingston ferry. La Galleria is located at 546 5th Ave S, Edmonds, Washington. It turns out that 5th Ave S is the same as highway 104, so driving north from Seattle on I-5 then exit 177 north-west from I-5 towards Edmonds/Kingston ferry (Do Not take the ferry turnoff) takes you right on to 5th Ave S. It is only a few blocks from the ferry terminal or the train station. Map

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Retired but very much alive!

There is a saying, "Grow or Die." Well, I have been working on the internet, managing web servers and developing web sites for the past several years. It has been satisfying and I have been able to help out some businesses, individuals and organizations; however, there is so much more that I am interested in and a disciplined approach is appropriate.

So...it is back to school for awhile. Straight west of our Washington home in the Maple Leaf community within Seattle, less than a mile as the crow flies, is the North Seattle Community College. They have a special program that I call "the old guy program" designed for people in my age bracket to continue their education at a reduced tuition. We have to wait for a week after normal students complete their enrollment to make sure there will be space. Do you know of any advanced computer/IT classes that are bulging at the seams? So waiting was no problem.

Of the four IT faculty members only two are teaching this quarter; one fellow took a high-paying industry job and another is off enjoying the benefits of a fellowship elsewhere. The result is that the most reasonable course of study is UNIX networking or UNIX networking or UNIX networking in a LINUX environment. Well that is what I chose. My particular course is IT 140 -- UNIX Scripts for Network Administrators covering primarily Bash and Perl scripting for Linux.

---------------------
Our old Honeywell mainframe for the Office of Public Instruction used a version of UNIX called Level 6. They called it a minicomputer, but it had enough computing power to keep track of the state's public schools--students, teachers, transportation, federal grants and all the other financial issues. Public schools are the largest single item in the state budget and we passed out all that money very efficiently. We had COBOL, FORTRAN, a great database language and a great script editor. To begin with in the 1970's this was a room-sized computer but we upgraded to rack-mounted hardware with hard drives that were only the size of washing machines; the disks were removable too. Well, I was only a user on this system so I had no cause to study the system administration for it.

Now with free versions of LINUX readily available and with LINUX providing most of the horse power to drive the INTERNET, it is time to pick up some of those system skills...
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

Anyone wanting unlimited phone access should check out VOIP. You may be able to cap your total local and long distance phone bill at under $20/month. The features that phone companies like to add for an extra cost all come free as a part of the service...voice mail, caller id, 3-way calling, call forwarding etc...free!

The main requirement is broadband internet, either DSL or cable, and a location in a covered area.

My first experience was with Vonage starting a couple years ago. We have cable broadband, so when the Vonage modem came I was eager to get our entire phone service switched over. All phone companies are required to give up your phone number so you can roll it over to a new service provider. For us, that was taking an existing number with Qwest in Seattle and rolling it over to Vonage. Vonage was the "receiving" company in this transfer so they were responsible for the number transfer process as follows: You give them authorization, they obtain the number from Qwest and notify you when the transfer will occur.

When we received our notification
  1. I called Qwest to discontinue our land-line, copper-wire service
  2. I went to the phone box on the outside of our house and physically disconnected our internal house wiring from the Qwest overhead telephone wires
  3. When I connected the Vonage modem to one of the phone jacks inside our house, all of our phones became active on the new VOIP service with our old phone number.
Now here is a real gee-whiz feature. When we moved to a new house across town I had the cable broadband connected right away. Then instead of calling the phone company to have our number moved I simply unplugged my broadband, ethernet network and the Vonage modem in the old house and reconnected them in our new house. Voila!!! Our phone service with our normal phone number was up and running. Oh yes, I also disconnected Qwest in their phone box on the outside of the new house.

Alternates. The Vonage modem can easily plug into one of the ports on my ethernet router. I have also tried VOIP service from LINGO. Lingo is slightly less expensive, it is available in more states, and it provides more extensive free long distance coverage than Vonage, however, it did not work for me. The quality was lower and there were more disruptions where I would lose service. Specifically, the Lingo modem must be outside my network firewall in order to work; this requires setting up a fixed network IP address for the modem in the DMZ (outside the firewall). When a power failure, reset or any other event occurs, this delicate balance fails and Lingo goes offline. Lingo technical support was accessible, but who wants to be calling for tech support, and how do you do it when your phone system is off-line?

My friend, Ken, uses VOIP from SunRocket (http://www.sunrocket.com/) and he has been very satisfied. Their modem, called a "gizmo", is easy to set up, the service is only $199/year, it includes two free phones and some international calling in addition to the usual free calling in the US and Canada. What a deal!

Of course the phone and cable giants ATT, Qwest, ComCast, Bresnan etc have their johnny-come-lately, me-too, more expensive offerings for the uninformed customer and those with inflated brand loyalty.