Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just Me?

As Austin closes in on its 70th consecutive day with a high temperature in triple digits, one has to finally acknowledge that yes, global warming is real. Every year has record breaking highs, but this year especially. The planet is getting consistently hotter.

Maybe nothing we've done is causing global warming. Maybe it really is just a natural fluctuation in the earth's temperature. I've read that the Middle Ages were a period of higher temps, and that it led to a lot of good things, like the spread of agriculture to places it wasn't possible before, and also allowed more areas to be hospitable to human living than before. And I know that we've had at least two “mini-Ice Ages” since then. So, yes, the earth's temperature fluctuates.

However, that doesn't mean that we're not screwing up the planet. Recycling can't be a bad thing. Why throw things out when they can be reused? That's just wasteful. Reuse. Reduce the amount of crap that's going into landfills. You take the trash out of your house – you don't just throw it on the living room floor or even let the bags pile up in the kitchen. Why do the same to the earth? We have to live on this planet – let's try to lessen the amount of garbage we pile up that's not going to go away in the foreseeable eons.

Somebody once told me the hole in the ozone wasn't a real issue because it's over Antarctica. That's like saying it's no problem that toxic mold is growing in your house because it's in the guest bedroom that you don't use.

Saying “you can always grow more trees” is stupid. You cut down acres of trees in a day, and it takes decades for them to grow back. I'm not saying don't harvest lumber – I'm saying do so responsibly, and let's try to reuse as much as possible to cut down on the need for felling.

When it's summer, it's not your “fault” that it's hot, but you still feel compelled to do something about it, don't you? If we as a species were able to invent air conditioning and refrigeration, then surely we can figure out how to cool the planet, right?

If Democrats got their way, our great grandchildren might be up to their neck in debt but with clean air and water. If Republicans got their way, our great grandchildren would be debt free but couldn't breathe the air or drink the water.

Can we get off our various “platforms” and sit down and work this shit out?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Baby Proofed the House, But They Keep Getting In

Have you seen the price of baby-proofing products? Yeah, so have we. Since Baby Girl is starting to really get around pretty well, it's time to pad the furniture. But again – those prices...

We decided to get creative and do something sorta Kool and Kustom. And of course, cheap. Definitely about the cheap.

The first thing to baby-proof is the coffee table. Not only does it have hard surfaces, but it also has sharp corners and edges. We talked about getting rid of it, but it's one of those cool tables with a glass top that you can put stuff under, and the Other Half's brother was a roadie for years, so she has all his backstage laminates under the glass. Neither of us really wanted to give that up; it's just too cool.

So, enter cheap creativity. Those foam pool “noodles” that the kids at the public pool use to beat each other over the head? They were $1.98 at Lowe's! We picked up three of them in orange, and got some nylon rope in black and orange to tie the noodles and the table together, both visually and literally.

The Boy Child was spending his weekend with us, so he pitched in both when I needed more than two hands, and also as a photographer. First, I cut the noodles to length. 

Then, using my sharpest pocket knife and a metal ruler, I (attempted to) cut a straight line through the foam lengthwise. You can see from the photos that it's almost impossible to do, but I think it came out okay anyway.

Unfortunately, time was not our friend and Boy Child had to be taken to his mom's house early to get ready for his first day back at school. When we got back, the Other Half provided me with an extra pair of hands. Back from the ex's house and back on the job, we held the cut pieces of foam with the concave side toward the table corners, both top and bottom, wrapped the rope around table and foam pieces and tied it. We started with the long pieces, and followed with the end pieces. I suppose you could do it either way.

I think it came out looking even better than expected. A lot better than a strip of Band-Aid colored rubber held in place with double stick tape like we would've gotten from Wal Mart, anyway. We did realize that the vertical edges are still exposed, but we have some noodle scraps left that we can use to fix that.

I know kids are going to get their bumps and bruises. I know it's both inevitable and even good for them so they can learn to deal with minor setbacks. This foam contraption is to keep Baby Girl from splitting her noggin open on the sharp edges. Bruises are one thing; trips to the ER are another thing entirely.

And before anyone comments about all the exposed brick in the hearth in the background – that's the next project.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Digital Reading

I read and hear a lot of derision heaped on digital books and e-readers. As if reading an e-book isn't the same as reading a “real” book. Like when I read Leo Tolstoy or Alexandre Dumas or Thomas Paine on my Nook, I'm not actually reading their works.

Really? Really, Mr. Luddite?

I'm going to come right out and call you a hypocrite, then.

Yes, I said it. You're a hypocrite. If a book on my Nook isn't a “real book”, then songs on your iPod aren't “real music”, either. Don't watch any DVDs, my friend. As a matter of fact, stay away from cable TV, my self-righteous pal.

I've read that people made similar protests when the mass market paperback book (the near-pocket size) was introduced. I imagine the same happened when paperbacks were developed.

So, if you're against e-books, then stay away from any recorded music, play, movie, or any other form of reproduced entertainment as well.

Scribes copying individual copies by hand => e-books.
Orchestra => mp3
Moving Picture => Blu Ray

Nook, iPad, Blu Ray player, cable TV. All digital.

Natural progression, folks. Evolve or stagnate. Stagnate and die.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Take The Long Way Home

Last Thursday, the computer terminal in my area went down. Everything I do has to run through that thing, and Tech Support took a message and told us they'd call back “later”. “Later” can mean fifteen minutes or four hours. I started thinking the weather sure was nice for a ride, and my paid time off balance had just reset.... 

About that time, Tech Support called back and fixed the problem in less than five minutes. Dammit.

Well, it turned out to be a light workload kind of day, and that ride just kept calling my name, so I took the second half of the day off and mounted up. I work in Westlake, TX, which is a suburb southwest of Austin, right on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, where God himself intends to retire one day. It's beautiful country – rolling hills, sage and green, and curvy roads seemingly made just for Those Of Us Who Ride.

I started north on Loop 360, also known as Capital of Texas Highway. It runs north/south and provides several good views of the Austin skyline as it cuts through the natural rocky hills.

One of these views is seen from a neat bridge over the Colorado River called the Pennybacker Bridge, which was only the second bridge of its type ever built.

Just after the river, I exited and took a left onto Ranch Road 2222. RR 2222 runs west from Austin, up more of those scenic hills. Some days, while you're riding up that hill, you can actually feel your ears pop as if you're in an airplane. As I crossed Highway 620 at the summit, RR 2222 became Bullick Hollow Rd and started turning and twisting. This is what Hill Country riding is all about. After a few miles of downhill twists and turns, I arrived at Hwy 2769, also known as Volente Rd. Again, I took a left turn and the curves got even sharper and more frequent here, as the road starts to skirt the shore of Lake Travis. Volente Rd comes to an end at the village of Volente, but the ride is just beginning. I took a right onto the notorious Lime Creek Rd.

Now, Lime Creek Rd, in case you've never heard of or experienced it, is sort of reminiscent of the Dragon's Tail in North Carolina. I doubt it has as many curves in as many miles, but I bet it's pretty damn close. A word of caution here, too. It's probably more dangerous than the Dragon, due to the fact that it's residential, and you have driveways, sometimes on both sides of the road, and sometimes around blind, Dragon-worthy curves. 

It's tempting to blast through it if you're on a sport bike, but visions of a car backing out of a driveway usually temper my throttle hand. Usually. Okay, a little bit. In the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday, it turned out I had the road to myself. Lime Creek is a fun road, but do exercise caution on it.

If it were safe to do so, you'd get some great views of Lake Travis both on Volente Rd and Lime Creek. Well, also if we weren't under drought conditions. It was sad to see boat docks just stretching out onto a dry lake bed, nowhere near the current water line.

Lime Creek comes to an end at Anderson Mill Rd. Another left turn took me a couple hundred yards to Farm to Market Road 1431 in Cedar Park. FM 1431 is just an outstanding motorcycle road. It has a little of everything: scenic views, small towns, gentle curves, and some challenging areas for the more aggressive riders.

I rode from Cedar Park, through the towns of Jonestown and Lago Vista, past Smithwick and into Marble Falls. Some of the views seem to be straight out of a western movie. The Hill Country never disappoints me. Rolling hills, dotted here and there with scrub brush and trees. A small town here, a ranch there. I would have stopped to take some pictures of the views except for two things. One: you just can't frame a view like that. At least not without some high quality professional equipment. Two: a combination of a months-long drought and more than sixty days of temperatures over 100 degrees have given my beloved Hill Country a bad sunburn. Even if I'd had better photographic equipment, it wouldn't do justice to what this area normally looks like. It would be like snapping a photo of a beautiful woman who's just spent three days in bed with the flu. Not fair, not fair at all. So, I respected Texas's dignity.

When I pulled into Marble Falls, I stopped at the intersection of 1431 and U.S. 281 to get gas for the bike and water and an energy bar for myself. 

Once gassed up, I headed south on Hwy 281 through the town of Marble Falls, home of the Bluebonnet Cafe, world famous for its tasty huge pies. Unfortunately, there was no time for pie this trip. Just south of the Bluebonnet, 281 crosses over Lake Marble Falls. Trivia: Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and the Colorado River in Austin are all the same body of water. As is Lady Bird Lake south of downtown.


A few miles south of Marble Falls, I left U.S. 281 and headed east on TX 71, back toward home. The hills here are more gentle and spaced out. Something about the scenery here always makes me hear the theme music from M*A*S*H* and I envision helicopters cresting the hills.

Hwy 71 took me through the towns of Spicewood and Bee Cave and brought me to the place where U.S. 290 and TX 71 merge headed east into Austin, or diverge heading west away from town. This area is known affectionately by Austinites as “The Y”.

Once at the Y, I turned west onto 290 for a quarter mile or so and made yet another left onto the colorfully named Convict Hill Rd, and on home from there.

I managed to turn my normal ten mile commute into a 115 mile ride. I got home hot and a little tired, but with a smile on my face.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God is Love?

So….God loves us unconditionally? Really? Huh. Oh yeah - he’s omnipotent, too. So, if he loves us unconditionally, why do we go to Hell if we don’t figure out the right way to follow His ambiguous rules? The church I went to as a child taught that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner, and He doesn’t really want to send anyone to Hell. But wait - isn’t he all powerful? Didn’t he create reality just by saying words? So, then how do my actions “force” him to send me somewhere he doesn’t want me to go?
Going back to that love thing again, if he loves us unconditionally, why does Hell even exist? If he loves us no matter what, then why would he create a place of never-ending punishment? Purgatory I can buy. Kind of like a cosmic “time out” to be punished for your naughtiness. But eternity? That’s love? I’ve had it explained to me that Hell is simply being separated from God and that through our own misdeeds or unbelief, we sentence ourselves to it. Bullshit. If he truly loved us unconditionally, he’d pull us into Heaven anyway, even against our will. I guarantee you if my child was in a drug addled stupor, freezing to death and refusing to come in off the porch, I’d drag him or her inside kicking and screaming. Why? Because I love my children and I’m stronger than them.
I’m not an atheist. I just don’t buy the dogma. I read a statement that is so great. I have to paraphrase, and I’m afraid I don’t remember the author. It says basically that if God speaks to you, it’s revelation. When you repeat what he said, it’s hearsay.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How "Free" is the Free Market?

I've noticed that a lot of the people who think that an unregulated Free Market will fix the economy are also among the first people to bitch at you when you buy an imported product.

Hey, that's the Free Market at its best, isn't it? Why should I buy an inferior product for more money, just because it's American made? Let's take motorcycles as an example. A few years ago I owned a Harley Davidson. On one of the many, many occasions which I had to take it in to get it fixed, I noticed a sign in the service department advertising what it would take to get into the "100 hp Club". Basically, for about $2000 - $3000 in parts and labor, you could get a hundred horsepower out of your Harley. Of course, this is on top of the $15,000 - $20,000 or more that you paid for the bike. (I had a Sportster, nowhere near this price range, but also not compatible with the parts advertised.) I later traded my Harley in for a Suzuki. This Suzuki was used, $5999, 1000cc (about 2/3 the displacement of the bikes targeted at the H-D dealership), and mechanically stock except for the exhaust. Had I bought the exhaust, it would have cost me only a few hundred dollars. I later had it tested on a dynomometer. It was putting out 101 horsepower. For six grand - about a third of the cost of a 100 hp Harley Davidson. Also, it gets 42 mpg. It weighs just over 400 pounds. So ... it's lighter, more powerful, more fuel efficient, and it costs less. Free Trade philosophy would dictate it as the logical choice.

I saw a friend post this morning on facebook about Obama touring in a new foreign made tour bus while talking about creating/saving American jobs. My friend called it irony. How convenient for him. He also talks about cutting spending. A lot. Now, I haven't researched and compared what the President is riding around in with a comparable domestic model. However, I'm sure that if buses are consistent with cars and motorcycles, the import probably costs less to purchase and maintain, and gets better gas mileage, too. Plus, he did support the American employees who imported the bus, prepped the bus, sold the bus and that will maintain it. I said it was convenient for my friend, because had Obama bought an American made bus, he would have left himself open to accusations of wasteful and extravagant spending for buying an overpriced gas hog and flaunting it on the American Highways.

Now, I'm sure this friend would also say that American products are more expensive because of unions. He would say the only reason the imports are cheaper is because they don't have labor unions jacking up the price of labor. Yes, payroll is cheaper in other countries, but guess what? It's management who gets paid less, not labor. So, if you want to blame greed in the U.S. for driving up the price of domestic products, look at management and executives. Companies try to hide it, too. They give their top level execs a "modest" salary, but then their contract guarantees them bonuses. Excuse me, but isn't a bonus something you get when you excel? I've always believed that a bonus is thanks for doing more or better than expected, not something to be assumed. When it's assumed and guaranteed, it becomes pay.

Just random thoughts.

Factory Custom a contradiction in terms. No factory has ever produced anything "custom".

Thank you. That is all. You may carry on now.

No, wait. I'm editing. That's not all. Here's my inspiration: the term "custom chopper". By its very definition, a chopper is "custom". Saying "custom chopper" is redundant - it can't be anything else. It's a bike that's been modified from the way the factory produced it. The same goes for bobbers and café racers. A bike that was churned out from an assembly line is a production vehicle.  I don't care how many people call the Honda Fury a chopper, they will be wrong. What was chopped from it? The same with Harley Davidson's Street Bob. Nothing got "bobbed" off of it - it came from the factory that way. I would also include the Triumph Thruxton "café racer". They are all production vehicles (quite fine quality, I'm sure) which took styling cues from motorcycle customizers. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this; my own motorcycle is sort of based on a street fighter, but it's really close to stock. Thus, I don't refer to it as a street fighter or as any kind of  "custom".

Look at the following photo:

The bike on the left is a chopper, built from an older Triumph. (Pre-1973, because the shifter is on the right). The bike on the right is a late model Triumph Thruxton - a factory version of a café racer. It has a lot of items on it that are required by law to be included by manufacturers that a bike builder would remove in the customizing process.

Okay, I got pushed up onto the soapbox by hearing the term "custom chopper". I'm done. Stepping down from the soapbox now.

Now you may carry on with your day...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Who You Know - Or Who Knows You

(I started writing this post Friday, August 12, 2011, so the “yesterday” reference may be misleading)

Another celebrity died yesterday. I know it's inevitable that soon, maybe already, posts will be flying on Facebook and emails will be chain forwarded. Not about the celebrity, but about how tragic it is that the media all pay attention and give time to this singer's death and overlook the (fill in a number and branch of military) servicemen who died this week. The messages will most likely contain names and ranks of these brave men who gave their lives in our defense. The posts will express outrage and wonder. “Why does the media plaster photos and stories of (dead celebrity) and ignore the deaths of these courageous warriors? Let's all post/forward this and maybe eventually it will get to the right people and convince them to change their ways.”

First, let's be realistic about something. If you get any kind of statistic, political or scientific “fact” or really off the wall bit of trivia in an email forward, there's about a 99% chance that it's bullshit. Please, research this stuff for yourself before you forward it to your friends. Especially if I'm your friend. So, a lot of times when these reactions to celebrity deaths mention specific military units, or especially names of individuals, it's either completely fabricated or hopelessly outdated. Casualty counts are the same. Also, no matter how many times your message gets reposted or your email gets forwarded, it's not going to get to “the right people”. Even if it does, it won't change anything. The people in charge of the various media know their jobs and generally do them well. It's why they get paid so well.

These men and women knew the risks they were taking. I'm not being disrespectful; I took the same enlistment oath, and I accepted the same risk. They were doing a dangerous job, but it was a job they chose. Although I commend and respect them for it, the hard, cold fact is that pretty much anyone with their training could have done their job.

On the other hand, celebrities don't assume risk in the line of their work, for the most part. They perform whatever their given talent or skill is, provide us with entertainment, and get paid. Again, a cold hard fact: most entertainers are successful because they are indeed unique. When they're gone, they take with them the source of what they entertained us with.

The real reason the news media covers the deaths of pop stars and actors is that almost all of the viewing audience knows who they are. Private Doe and Lance Corporal Smith and Seaman Jones, while they are to be mourned, simply aren't known by the public-at-large. The viewing public doesn't feel any connection – these soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are faceless names to most people. It's sad but it's true. The general public cares more about the death of Amy Winehouse or Elvis Presley or Tupac Shakur based on name recognition alone.

If this upsets you, don't blame the media. By giving the audience what the audience wants, the media is doing its job. If you want to cast blame, blame the celebrity worshiping culture in which we live.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sound and Fury

A couple of weeks ago, I had an odd experience with Suzi, my '03 Suzuki SV1000. As I cleared an intersection after a red light, I lost power. The engine revved up, but wasn't transferring any power to the rear wheel. My first thought was that I'd thrown the chain. I looked down, but the chain was there. As soon as traffic was out of my way, I coasted to the shoulder. Suzi has a hydraulic clutch, so I checked the fluid, thinking it had leaked. I knew I was way past due on changing said fluid, and had “plans” to do so. “Plans” is in quotes because I've had these plans for months. The fluid level was okay, but sure enough, that was some dirty fluid. Over 65,000 miles on the clock, eight years old, and as far as I know, it's the original fluid. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, headed toward rush hour in town, and it was over 105 degrees with no shade in sight. I figured I'd limp it down the shoulder until I got to a gas station with air conditioning and cold beverages. I'd call somebody from there to come get me with a trailer.

I revved up the engine, and all I got was sound. High rpms, and an odd whirring noise, but no forward movement. I tried higher and higher revs. Now, normally, on level ground, just maintaining speed, I cruise between 4000 and 4500 rpm (redline is 11000). Once I got up to about 6000, I felt something slam into place, and suddenly, I had power. There were no other incidents on the way home. After talking to a couple of people, I decided it wasn't something I could ignore. I drove the truck to work the next couple of days, then it was time for vacation. I got the Boy Child to help me bleed the clutch line. Much like me at his age (and beyond...), he doesn't care much for mechanical work and was bored and frustrated. I called it a day after test riding. Since I had him for the next week, I thought we'd get back to it. We got busy having fun doing nothing, though. Plus, I don't want to force him into motorcycle stuff. I want bikes to be something fun that he looks forward to. So, I didn't press the issue. Last night, I got back on it.

After some online research, I thought there might be a problem with the clutch master/slave cylinders. They're located down by the front sprocket. I got a lot of help from the website, specifically here and here.

Here's the bike from the left side:

The clutch cylinder assembly. Note the gunk built up around it:

The inboard (engine) side of the master cylinder seal. More gunk, built up on rubber, even:

This is where the clutch push rod comes out. I think I see why the clutch had a problem engaging. There just wasn't any room for all the pieces to move freely with all that build up: 

This is the inside of the sprocket cover: 

These show how much build up was around the clutch assembly and the front sprocket:

I've always been pretty good about maintaining chain tension and lubing the chain about every other tank of gas or so. What I haven't done regularly is actually clean the chain. You can bet I'll be more diligent about that now. All this gunk is built up chain lube mixed with dirt and whatever grime the road throws at the bike.

I got the sprocket cover as clean as I could using a small cleaning brush, an old toothbrush and nearly enough degreaser to remove my fingerprints. I'm sure there are more precision cleaning tools that would do it better, but I worked with what I had. I cleaned all around the sprocket and all the internal stuff as best I could, and got the outside fairly clean.

  I figure the outside is more appearance, plus, I'll just take it to a car wash soon and use the industrial degreaser and high pressure hose to get that stuff off. The brushes just weren't working. There are some rubber pieces in there, so I resisted the temptation to use a wire brush.
 I feel pretty good about this fix. It's definitely the most "inside" I've gotten on a motor without somebody more knowledgeable helping me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review - Wahoo's Fish Taco

We tried a new restaurant today.Wahoo's Fish Taco, at 1722 South Congress in Austin. They have another location in Austin, plus they're in Hawaii, Colorado, and California, where they originated.

I've been in so many steak restaurants, and “dive bars” that have gone to such lengths to look down-at-the-heels, while also overcharging you for mediocre fare and lackluster service. Not here. Despite being a chain, it had a very local business vibe and appearance, without feeling contrived. The walls were covered with stickers from local businesses, mainly counter culture bicycling and skateboarding places. A portion of one wall was dedicated to displaying custom skateboards. Now, this isn't exactly my scene, but I've been in enough biker bars that had Motorcycle Club support decals, T shirts, and motorcycle parts hanging from the ceiling and on the walls to appreciate the similarity. They also had several TVs all hooked to the same DVD player showing us some pretty impressive bicycle stunt riding. The prices were a little higher than I'd normally expect for a taco place, but the location is a popular walking and shopping area, so these prices were probably the lowest for food in the neighborhood, not counting the food trailers.

There was air conditioning, but it didn't seem particularly efficient, although maybe it was just the Texas heat overpowering the a/c. We've experienced unusually brutal temperatures this summer, like most of the country, and it was well above 100 degrees outside. It was much cooler inside, but I did notice a thin film of perspiration on my skin. In retrospect, though, it wasn't entirely unpleasant. Probably about the same level of heat you'd experience on a nicer day if you ate outside at one of their picnic tables. So, I'm not going to put them down for that.

Another thing: the restrooms, at least the men's, were clean. Unfortunately, this isn't something you can take for granted, even in a restaurant. I've been told by people in the restaurant industry that the cleanliness of the restroom is proportionate to the cleanliness of the kitchen. Thumbs up for that, Wahoo's.

This is one of those places where you order and pay at a counter and they bring the food to your table. While looking at the menu board and waiting to order, I noticed they had a large and varied selection of bottled beer available, including the regular stuff, plus various bocks, IPAs, and even hard pear cider. I stuck with soda, though, not wanting to add alcohol to the dehydrating effects of the heat outside. For soda drinkers, it's one size cup fits all, and you fill (and refill) your own cup. They have Pepsi products, which works for me, because I really like Mountain Dew.

On to the important part: the food. They have a fairly simple menu; tacos, burritos, nachos – typical Mexican food. Of course, they feature fish in a lot of their dishes. I'm guessing that's a Cal-Mex thing. I've seen fish tacos around here, but they're not so common with Tex-Mex (which, by the way, is what God himself eats when he can get it). I got a plate that came with two tacos, choice of beans, and a choice of rice. I thought it was pretty cool that you get options on the rice and the beans. I went with black beans, since refried wasn't an option. I accompanied that with brown rice. My options on the tacos were fish, shrimp (additional cost), chicken, veggie or steak. I chose one fish and one steak. I went with the steak as a backup in case the fish taco wasn't so good. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

We had cheese nachos for an appetizer. Honestly, there's rarely much you can say about nachos, because melted cheese on tortilla chips is pretty hard to screw up. However, I mention the nachos in order to to tell you that their guacamole (which, along with sour cream, is included) is pretty great. Go get some, you won't regret it.

I'm not a big fan of cabbage. Actually, I've never liked it – cabbage is the reason I don't eat egg rolls. However, that's what they use instead of lettuce on their fish and shrimp tacos. You know what? It accentuated the fish pretty damn well. This was one of the best tacos I've had. On a tangent, I may have to give egg rolls another try. I even started wishing I hadn't chosen a “backup”. However, once I started in on the steak taco, I felt vindicated. When I saw that it was listed as “steak” on the menu, I thought “yeah, right”. I expected some dried up pieces of beef left over from making fajitas. Nope. It may have been flank steak (what fajitas are made from); I don't know. I do know that it was not at all dried up or chewy. It was actually quite good.

The beans were good, too. The flavor of black beans always throws me for a loop the first couple of bites, because I'm so used to getting refried pinto beans with Mexican food. These had good flavor, though. I'm not usually the biggest rice fan, but it helped that brown rice is an option. Brown rice has some flavor of its own, as opposed to white rice, which really needs seasoning to give it any taste.

The other half had taquitos, and the Boy Child, being a picky eater, simply had a kids' order of nachos. Wee Little Baby Girl had a bottle of formula. We all left satisfied.

So, if you find yourself in a location with a Wahoo's Fish Taco location, and you're wondering whether you should give it a try, I say stop wondering, and wander in. Try the fish taco, and if you don't like it, I'll refund the money you paid to read this review.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's Lonely In The Center

Liberals, even socialists, aren't evil thieves intent on taking your money. What form of evil intends to take something in order to give it to someone else? On the other hand, conservatives, even libertarians, aren't evil greed mongers intent on taking all your money and giving it to the CEOs. Most conservatives are ordinary working people trying to get by, and just want to be left alone for the most part. Most liberals see a need for assistance for those in need, and feel we as a community (nation-sized, but community) have an obligation to help.

Most conservatives don't hate everyone else in the world and don't want to kill them all; they just want to make sure our citizens and economy are safe. Liberals don't hate America and love the terrorists; they just believe that if we go pushing around people who aren't already an active threat, we may motivate them to become one.

Conservatives claim to want less government intrusion into our lives. What they mean is that they want less intrusion into their wallets, but they don't have a problem with legislating morality. Liberals want more freedom in the personal arena, but more economic regulation.

So, why the hell can't we all agree to quit being assholes toward each other, quit the god damned name calling, and admit the truth: We all have different theories about how to fix the mess we've gotten into, different claims about the causes, and different ideas about who can do the best job for us all. I'm all for debate. Debate, conducted with an open mind, leads to the exchange of ideas, which can lead to real solutions.

I'm so sick of agreeing with a point made by a friend, only to be appalled by the fact that their next post or verbal topic is a poison dripping, melodramatic attack on the political leader of their perceived opposition. And I see this from both sides. Dammit, it's lonely here in the center.

Seriously, people, let's stop demonizing each other and just talk. And until somebody actually introduces legislation requiring traveling papers to leave our houses and starts literally exterminating people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation, let's call a halt to comparing anyone to Adolf Hitler.