Sunday, December 6, 2015


Photo credit: The Sacramento Bee
Another week, another mass shooting. San Bernadino merits an Oval Office Address. And yet even the President of the United States can't talk about a shooting in the U.S. without acknowledging that there is a connection between domestic violence and military intervention in a foreign country.

In dealing with ISIS, the President suggests that Americans are "wondering if we are confronting a cancer which as no immediate cure." Doubt has a way of creeping in when today's high-tech military is presented as the solution for problems caused by yesterday's high-tech military, which was supposed to solve the problems created by previous military intervention. If the desire is to stop ISIS, the one action which hasn't been tried in the lifetime of anyone born since 2001 should be given a chance: non-intervention. ISIS is just the latest example of the type of groups who fill the void when you displace the peaceful population of a country.

No one at the Departments of State and Homeland Security will be fired. No agencies will be shut down. Instead, the budgets of anti-terrorism departments will grow. The centralization of power which has failed to prevent terrible acts--whether they are labeled as mass shootings or terrorism--will take more power from future victims and put it in the hands of fewer unaccountable people. We will be told that the tasks of stopping mass-shootings and overcoming ISIS will be complicated and difficult.  

And yet, the situations which led to the mass shooting in San Bernadino and the "war" with ISIS in Syria are quite similar. The connection is based on a very simple-but-true concept: law-abiding citizens have a vested interest in surrounding themselves with other law-abiding citizens.

And the remedies are far easier and cheaper than anything which has been tried to date. When law-abiding citizens are given the power to defend themselves, and when sovereign countries are allowed to function free of outside forces, the effect is similar to that which grass can have on weeds in a healthy lawn--the desired grass is given an environment in which it can grow until there is no room for the weeds. It is not by violence or great power that the grass overwhelms the weeds--it is a simple matter of the grass growing and increasing in population until there is room for nothing else.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Photo credit:
Last week I came across this piece of paper. I had drawn my ideal home--this is when I was in high school--and I had a nook for a piano, and a library, and a dance area and music. And it was funny, because I was realizing that was what I've created here--and I'm very, very happy.
-Callie Kimball, Small Space, Big Style (Season 1, Episode 8)
HGTV is a network whose shows focus almost exclusively on lost souls who believe they will find happiness in granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, stainless appliances, hardwood floors, open concepts, brushed bar pull hardware, custom cabinets, gas stoves with red knobs, man caves, theater rooms, gigantic yards, dramatic entrances--basically, anything that looks shiny.

The show which forces the "almost exclusively" into that entirely accurate description of HGTV? A seemingly little-known show called Small Space, Big Style (SSBS). On its face, viewings by visitors of the 408 have missed the saving graces of SSBS in absolutely breathtaking ways--focusing instead on how "HGTV just forces the gay issue," "you don't really need a dishwasher," and "they'll just want a bigger space in a few months anyway," the ambient feedback has illustrated that sometimes even the best of things need to be spelled out. Like this. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


My name is Timmy. I will help prepare you for a baby.

I will help you remember which things aren't kid friendly.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Babies are bottomless pits of sleepless work--that's the subliminal story told by many in the current generation of parents when their childless peers dare to even joke about how something in their life is preparing them for children. Eyes roll. Difficulty is laughed off. You must bow before the impossibility of having children because having children is harder than anything you've ever done in your little life. Your pre-children trials are filled with helium, skippy. 

Replacing a radiator, for example, is nothing but work--but you aren't likely to be taken seriously if you decide to be dramatic about the task. Even if you replaced ten radiators in one day, you can bet money that you could find a parent somewhere who would shrug and tell you about how they once had an eleven-diaper day. And nothing is worse than eleven dirty diapers--oh, you don't know humility until you touch that much poop! What's that--you have to push your internal hemorrhoids back in every time you have to flush twice? Applying cream doesn't count when its on yourself. *quickly changes subject*

Monday, October 5, 2015


Anyone born after 2001 has never known a time when America has not been at war.  Every day that "we the people" allow our troops to be used as a solution, we tell ourselves that violence and killing is the answer. News of the US military's bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan comes only days after a mass-shooting in Oregon, and neither the military advocates nor the gun control advocates seem to be talking about the overlap between the two: violence, when used as a solution, resulted in equally dead people in both cases.

Violence in America should come as no surprise. Many Americans are nothing if not patriotic, and patriotism is 99% supporting the troops and 1% voting. Voting only changes the color of the party ordering the troops. And what do troops do? A few National Guard units may help out after natural disasters, but--with rare exception--hammers are almost exclusively used for hitting things. Troops kill, maintain things that kill, or support people who kill. And you, American, must support your troops. It's like an ice-bucket challenge that you aren't allowed to forget.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


After a few weeks of relatively intense house projects due to a rapidly approaching deadline, the backyard grill provided a distraction. As in, the grill itself was the distraction--it was time to install some lava rocks.

Flavorless flavorizing

I've cooked on gas grills with lava rocks, albeit many years ago. Lately, though, all of the grills in my price range have what many manufacturers call heat tents, flame tamers, or--the worst, at least in terms of misnomers--flavorizer bars. Whatever one calls them, these are the angled pieces of sheet metal which sit directly over the burners in a gas grill. Their primary job is to prevent flare ups by instantaneously burning off grease from the cooked food, provide (relatively) even heat at the cooking surface, and to protect the burners from grease drippings.

Flavorizer bars do all of these tasks quite well. They rust out eventually, but replacing them is about as hard as replacing a roll of toilet paper. The real problem I've always had with flavorizer bars is the flavor--they don't provide much, if any, flavor. The grease from the food burns off so quickly and efficiently that it barely smokes when it burns. This efficiency, and the lack of smoke that is produces, provides a grilling experience that is more akin to cooking in an oven--clean and efficient, rather than the smokey mess that makes grilled food special.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


In June of 2015, a Neligh resident created the We Support Neligh (WSN) campaign in "an effort to promote the town in a more positive light and unite residents."

First, some light reading on the subject:

Man buys 100 'We Support Neligh' signs in effort to unite the community

'Had Enough': Metschke Starts 'We Support Neligh' Campaign

WE SUPPORT NELIGH (Facebook page, first post 6-22-15)

WE SUPPORT NELIGH (Official page, created 6-23-15)

Man behind Neligh signs wants to unite community

Google Search: "Support Neligh" results

UPDATE: Recall Signatures Verified, Special Election Next Step

The reason for the campaign.

Nate Metschke, a Neligh resident, has indicated that his campaign began before the annexation of several properties along Highway 275 finished, and is unrelated to the issue. As the annexation issue predates the efforts to recall Neligh's mayor and four city council members (which appears to have been filed in response to the annexation issue), this would indicate that the campaign is also unrelated to the recall effort.

However, in a different news story, it is implied that the recall issue was itself the cause of the WSN campaign: 
The recall attempt of all City of Neligh elected officials has one resident saying enough is enough. And he doesn’t believe he’s the only one who feels that way.
Nate Metschke, who has lived in Neligh for nearly 15 years and is the music teacher at Neligh-Oakdale, said he’s embarrassed by recent behavior in the community and is taking a stand against the negativity. Metschke is asking other Neligh residents to join him in a “We Support Neligh” campaign in hopes “the real majority are heard loud and clear.”
Regardless of whether or not the WSN campaign was the result of Neligh's annexation and elected official recall issues, every news story and explanation of the campaign contains an inordinate number of words focusing on those very subjects. That, in and of itself, seems to say more than anything else regarding the connection between the WSN campaign and recent political issues in Neligh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


People can complain all they want about how popular superhero movies are...but the simple fact is that we need superheroes right now. Every day we're inundated with news and images reminding us what an ugly, dangerous world we live in. It's easy to become depressed and cynical. Superheroes remind us who we are as people. Or, at the very least, who we should be aspiring to be. ~ Michael Williams
Back in the early 80's, I watched a Sesame Street "Bert and Ernie" skit which originally aired in the 70's. In the skit, Bert and Ernie are about to go to sleep. But Bert verbally observes that he hears water dripping, to which Ernie replies, "I probably left the faucet on a little bit when I washed my hands." Bert then tells Ernie that he can't sleep when he hears water dripping, and asks Ernie to do something about it. So Ernie gets out of bed and turns on the radio. Bert then tells Ernie that he can't sleep with the sound of the radio, so Ernie gets up again and turns on the vacuum. At that point, Bert gets up and tells Ernie to "just stay where you are," and then turns off the vacuum, radio, and faucet.

Superheroes are one of many creations that were born in response to the news and images which quickly become overwhelming when they are given even the slightest attention. Whether Superheroes are the radio or the vacuum is beside the point--the point is that a faucet is dripping, and the dripping faucet should be addressed. Superheroes simply show us how best to deal with the symptoms.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, states rights are being trampled and the U.S. Constitution is under attack.

But when Colorado legalizes marijuana, states rights mean nothing--those stoners are violating federal laws, and the Supreme Court needs to get them back in line.

From Jon Bruning, Nebraska Attorney General, regarding Colorado's marijuana laws:
Nebraska and Oklahoma's complaint argues that Colorado does not have authority to pass laws that conflict with the federal prohibition on marijuana. Doing so, the states claim, violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
That's handy, isn't it? In this case, federal laws (regardless of their own constitutionality) override all state laws. The Supremacy Clause says so. Not even the strongest can overcome the power of the capitol.

Or can they? From the same Jon Bruning, regarding the Affordable Care Act:
"It tramples on individual liberty and dumps on the states the burden of an unfunded mandate that taxpayers cannot afford," said Bruning, who is also president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
When hypocrisy masquerades as principle, the formula is pretty easy to see: federal laws should be ignored when they force you to do something that you don't want to do, but federal laws are absolutely supreme when they prevent someone else from doing something you don't want them to be able to do. If you claim to be a "small government" person and then you go crying to a branch of the federal government over another state's marijuana laws, then you absolutely deserve to have something the Affordable Care Act land right in your lap.

Monday, January 5, 2015


As tempting as it is to attempt to circumvent the running vs. cycling argument by changing the comparison to something like "toned abs vs. spare tires," cycling does have some benefits. It allows someone with a spare tire to retain their shape while lowering their resting heart rate. Or something like that--the jury is out on the heart rate part.

In terms of heath benefits from a recreational perspective, running is superior to cycling in every way. The primary reason for this is the equipment involved in each activity: runners have shoes that they wear on their feet, whereas cycling involves sitting on a bicycle. It's much harder to coast or take a mile off when your feet are your only means of covering the distance. A guy who runs a lowly ten minute mile is responsible for every inch of that mile, whereas a cyclist can easily pedal just fast enough to remain upright. In that case, the tires work harder than the cyclist.

While this point is often countered with the contention that cycling involves a saddle rather than a seat--the difference being that one sits on a seat while a saddle is merely one of (usually) three points of contact with the bicycle, with the feet carrying most of the rider's weight--this contention doesn't often apply to recreational cyclists. Recreational cyclists sit and pedal. Their pedals don't often see as much pressure as their saddle. Blasphemy? Any cyclist--recreational or competitive--who wants to defend cycling from this perspective should try taking the saddle off of his bicycle before his next ride. Any reply may well come while recovering from a heart attack.

Another area where cycling is inferior to running is safety. When was the last time you saw someone running in a helmet? Given where things have gone on ski slopes, it may not be long before it becomes a more common sight. Regardless of this, though, cycling involves more speed and is an activity which...what's a diplomatic way to put this?...doesn't necessarily encourage a great deal of focus on the part of the rider--a combination which can lead to accidents as a result of carelessness, fatigue, or any other cause of distraction. When you're flying down a hill on bicycle, it isn't hard to imagine any number of things which can result in injuries ranging from cuts to broken bones--a level of injury which is extremely hard to achieve when running without the help of a car, or perhaps a collision with a cyclist who is flying down a hill.

Running burns more calories, stresses more muscles, and actually promotes better posture. A cyclist leans forward and holds himself up with his arms. Sore necks are normal, but are generally less sore than the area where the bike saddle (fine, we'll call it that) contacts the body. Which--again--is usually the result of sitting and pedaling rather then cycling. It's human nature to take notice of areas where it is easy to cheat, and cycling is far superior in terms of offering opportunities to do just that.

The downside of running, though, is exactly what makes it better: it's harder on the body. Every step is an impact, and unless one is at his optimal weight, any extra pounds are often felt in the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. It's like deciding between calibers of handguns--a 9mm handgun may have more stopping power than a .22 handgun, but that stopping power is only useful if you can handle the 9mmIt is from this perspective that cycling is superior to running--it doesn't matter if running is better than cycling if your body can't handle the impact and stress of running. Cycling is better in such cases because it removes the issues involved in running. The downside is that it takes a lot more cycling--both in terms of mileage and time--to accomplish the same level of benefits available through running. But the upside is extreme; if you can cycle in comfort but can't run without pain, it doesn't matter how much better running may be.