What a Pile of News

Man, it’s not even worth reporting or responding, the whole world’s gone mad.

India’s housing bubble is blowing up and they have 20ish percent food price inflation rates.  Spain is not paying their bills because they’re out of money, the NSA has been spying on, well, everything, and . . .

a boy born without fingers has an awesome dad who 3D printed him a useable hand . . . for $5

It’s enough craziness to make you just sit down and watch american idle.  Or get involved, your choice.

November 5, 2013 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election Voter’s guide

(plus some commentary on some of the Travis County Joint General and Special Elections)
Prop. 1
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.”

Please vote FOR Proposition 1.
“So sorry your husband had his head cut off by the taliban, and too bad he was the primary breadwinner. Good luck at the auction when your house goes on sale for failure to pay property taxes after he died and you could barely afford food. Love, Texas”

Prop. 2
“The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.”

Please vote AGAINST Proposition 2.
These agencies are defunct. Their purpose was never really served, and now they are nobody doing nothing. The only reason I can think this even made it to the ballot is some legislator’s brother in-law got the $108,921 contract the State paid to print the resolution.

Prop. 3
“The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.”

Please vote AGAINST Proposition 3.

At first blush, to me this sounded like a sop for big aircraft business without good reason to the taxpayer. On second thought I am reminded that “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.” If the ‘you kept this in our state too long’ tax is such a bad idea, repeal it. Carve-outs for one special interest are hardly compatible with the spirit of republican government (note the small ‘r”)

Prop. 4
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.”

Please vote FOR Proposition 4.
“Thanks for your service! Sorry about your legs and arm! We’re so happy HGTV donated you a new house with all the medical assistance appliances you will need to live an independent life, truly. Yes, we know you barely get enough disability money to buy groceries, but you know spending LESS is never an option for government. Soooo we’re just going to sell your house at auction because you can’t afford the taxes on it. Love, Texas.”

Prop. 5
“The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage
loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.”

Please vote FOR Proposition 5.
‘All the cool states are doing it’ is not good enough reason to change our Constitution. ‘It makes life easier’ is also not. ‘It saves seniors on closing costs’ is none of the business of the State as well as a dubious proposition. The thing is, these people didn’t get to live this long by being stupid. Yes, you can lose your shirt (and the closet it hangs in) on a bad mortgage. That’s why you use a Realtor and read your mortgage before signing it. “I have read and understood the foregoing” is not just a placeholder to go above your signature. Let the old people get effectively-free housing if a bank will make the loan. Go for it.

Prop. 6
“The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.”

Please vote AGAINST Proposition 6.
Yes we need water. No, this is not the way to fund it. We have spent all of 6% of SIX billion dollars we set aside for this purpose already. This sounds awfully like a $2B slush-fund to me! Do you really want another taxing body over you? Do you really want them taxing well water? Do you really want to dip into the pile of money we set aside for stuff like hurricane recovery, to pay for stuff that benefits private entities, OUTSIDE the normal requirements of the balanced budget process? I sure don’t.

Prop. 7
“The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.”

Please vote AGAINST Proposition 7.
Yes, elections are a hassle. Yes they are expensive. Yes it is short notice. Also, yes it prevents croneyism and nepotism. You can’t appoint your brother in-law to the committee if elections are required to fill the vacancy left by your uncle. Think how much bad stuff the government of your imagination could vote for in a YEAR. Then think about those people being on your city council, voting to take away your money for a year to fund butterfly parks run by their brothers in-law. The democratic process should not involve nominations for a YEAR term to elected positions.

Prop. 8
“The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.”

Please vote FOR Proposition 8.
You want to help the working poor by increasing their hospital district taxes by 650%? Where do I sign up? You want to help the University of Texas, currently sitting on Billions of dollars, to have access to federal money to build a hospital they could fund out of pocket? Why not? I mean, after all, nobody really pays taxes they just give away free money right? Right? On the other hand, this puts control where it belongs: the voters of Hidalgo County get to choose whether or not to increase their taxes. If they’re that stupid, or if they consider it to be worth their money . . . let them sort it out. Maybe they’ll decide they want a hospital district to get more of their money than it currently does.

Prop. 9
“The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.”

Please vote AGAINST Proposition 9.
This measure sounds tough on bad judges but actually would lessen the punishment that might be given, which if you want to be hard on bad judges is rather the opposite of the way we should be going.

***

The sharpest among you will note that I have advocated doing away with unjust laws above by both eliminating and creating carve-outs. The difference is nuanced. In the case of property taxes, you are taking what someone needs to keep themselves off the street and may not otherwise be able to afford. In the instance of aircraft parts, the only apparent beneficiary is somebody trying to set up an airplane repair facility or parts depot. Nobody needs to do this to keep from dying of exposure. If you can’t afford the inventory tax, lobby the legislature for a repeal and keep the parts in Louisiana, Arkansas, or New Mexico. None of those is more than a day’s flight away, and there is ZERO additional tax exposure when you keep your parts in a remote facility. There is a NON-ZERO chance that the State will turn some poor widow or quadriplegic combat veteran out on the street because they can’t afford taxed since their life took a horrible recent turn for the worse. State taking your house: bad. State helping you observe currently-reasonable business practices: good.

***
Proposition, City of Austin
The issuance of $65,000,000 affordable housing bonds and notes for constructing, renovating, improving, and equipping affordable housing for low income persons and families; acquiring land and interests in land and property necessary to do so; and funding affordable housing programs as may be permitted by law; and the levy of a tax sufficient to pay for the bonds and notes.

The city keeps bringing this up, and it is about the only bond measure in recent memory the voters refuse to approve. Disapprove it again. You don’t want to give $50 out of your wallet right now, and ought not to be forced to give it in your property taxes later.

Propositions 1 through 4, City of Round Rock
I’m for all of these. Round rock seems less wasteful than nearby communities *ahem*austin*ahem* and their proposals seem like reasonable things for cities to tax people to do.

Proposition, Marble Falls Independent School District
The issuance of $6,550,000 school building bonds for the construction, acquisition, and equipment of school buildings in the District (including the rehabilitation, renovation, expansion and improvement thereof), and levying of the tax in payment thereof
Marble Falls ISD seems to have their head on straight, to include NOT raising their tax rate this year. This proposal is actually a way to SAVE money. They’d probably go for it anyway, but because of the silly way schools are funded in Texas it would be like issuing bonds at 46% interest if they raised school taxes to pay for these expenditures.
Proposition No. 1, Travis County Emergency Services District No. 4
The increase in the rate of the local sales and use tax imposed by Travis County Emergency Services District No. 4 from one percent to two percent.

Alright, this one is just plain koo-koo. They are asking if YOU want to pay DOUBLE your current level of taxes. ESD 4 is scattered all over the county in isolated pockets around the northern part of Austin. So in a half-dozen random little enclaves of the greater Austin area, there will be higher taxes charged for everything you buy. Sure, why not. Pennies from Heaven for everybody!

New Camera’s Working Out Okay

The low light performance is why I bought it, and the dynamic range is a reason I like it.  All my previous cameras would have fallen apart in a situation like this.  This new one, it just renders the scene as I saw it.  Bravo, Nikon and thanks Jesus.

 photo DSC_2158_zps0c31b811.jpg

Note that this is a hair before dawn, with an overcast.  The sky isn’t not-black because the camera couldn’t get it black, that’s the dawn thinking about showing up.  The big red octagon in the sky above the white SUV on the left is bokeh from a raindrop on my windshield.

********
Shot with a Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 50mm 1.8D f/4 1/60

Two Weeks On

My finger is still stitched together and will be a few more days yet.  It’s *almost* closed along the full length of the cut.  I have been figuring, and I think it is possible I sliced “only” skin and fat.  The angles involved and the way my finger was bent at the time make it possible I didn’t get all the way to the tendons, or at least not all the way *through* the tendons.  I was worried about the pulley nearby, but now I think I may have missed it as well as the cruciform ligament.  If that’s the case, then this cut was THE best-possible angle and location for a huge slice to the finger and I’ll say thanks Jesus for that.  I can move my finger in all the right directions and even (gently) touch-type again.  However, the poor dear was in a straight jacket for weeks, and he’s all stiff and sore.  It feels like there is a lump in the way, of flexion at the PIP joint approximately the same place my finger is a big lump, swollen and full of stitches.

I’ll give me one more week to allow the cut to finish closing, then if I have stitches out and it’s still this stiff I’m going to head to a finger doctor.  My recent research has told me that, if everything moves the right directions, It is probable that I will make a full or nearly-full recovery, possibly with months of physical therapy and going very easy on my finger for a while.  We’ll see.

P0300 P0480 Fans Run Until Battery Dies Yukon XL/Suburban/Silverado/Sierra Chevrolet/GMC

FREE DIY temporary fix, Expensive 100% permanent fix.

 This is what worked on our 2005 Chevrolet Suburban.  Your truck may be similar.

In your engine bay, just inboard of the battery (toward the engine), there is a curvy plastic box with lots of big cables going to it.  That is your engine computer (PCM).  Pull off the plastic cover on the front, by the radiator (it only snaps on).  It takes one small socket wrench (9/32″ I think) to unscrew the bolt holding the connectors to the computer.  Pull the connector nearest the radiator.  You will see blue plastic pieces on the connector.  This is the blue connector.  These blue pieces are clear so you can see the pins inside the connector.   Look at the lower end of the connector.  It will be full of corrosion.  Mine looked like there was mud inside.  Look in the mating connector on the Powertrain Control Module and see that it is also corroded inside.  That is your problem.

 photo enginebay1_zps119af7bc.jpg

 photo pcm_zps633d6696.jpg

The BEST fix is to replace the computer and wiring harness, which will set you back closer to $2000 than $0.  The fix to get your truck running involves disassembling the connector and cleaning out the corrosion one pin at a time, as well as cleaning the connector on the computer.  Open the computer itself and make sure it does not have water inside.  If you don’t know how to deal with static-sensitive electronics, leave the opening of the computer to someone who does, or you risk an expensive computer-killing static shock!

 The sequence of events:

First there was a check engine light, code P0332 (rear knock sensor).   Then there was running like [deleted] and barely able to drive down the road, with a flashing check engine light.  The transition took about 20 seconds from runs-great to runs-barely-and-smells-like-gasoline.  Sometimes on a wet/rainy day when the truck seemed to be running well, the truck engine would die like you had turned off the ignition by removing the key (while driving down the road).  This was unsatisfactory but it would always start right back up again.  This was likely from shorting out the crank sensor.

Oh, and P.S. the radiator fans worked normally, except that after the truck was off.  Anywhere from 11 seconds to maybe a couple of hours after the engine was stopped, the engine cooling fans would start turning at low speed until the battery was too depleted to turn the fans any longer.  When the truck was put on another car’s jump-start cables the fans started turning within a minute.  To prevent draining the battery totally, the free short-term fix was to pull the fans’ 40 amp fuse.  This did nothing for the running-like-poo symptom, however.

The engine computer was setting codes P0300 (random misfire) and P0480 (fan control circuit).  The bottom inch or two of the blue connector has wires for half the fuel injectors as well as the Crankshaft Position Sensor and the radiator fans.  The conductive slurry of corrosion in the blue connector was cross-shorting out the whole mess.

Disassembling the blue connector was quite a job, and I literally went to a school to treat corrosion in electronics – do NOT be afraid to ask for help on this job from a good local electronics tech!

The P0332 was legit, and if you do a bit of web searching, you will find that GM issued a TSB for this problem.  My rear knock sensor was stereotypically rusted and not-working, plus the knock sensor harness looked janky so I replaced that while I was in there, along with the other sensor.  This requires removal of the intake manifold, so it is either an $800+ job or $40×2 for sensors, $50 for the harness, and if the intake manifold gasket is in good condition and you have the right chemicals and tools (including torque wrenches!) that’s all it costs to DIY.

 The moral of this story: NEVER power-wash your engine bay.  Ever.  Power-washing puts water on top of the engine and rusts out the knock sensors, and power washing puts water in the PCM connectors.  Wipe it off by hand, or leave it.  It’s a truck, not a show car (unless it’s a show car, in which case trailer it!)

Consider:

When the federal government is the supplier of your health care payment insurance

and your health care being provided depends on the federal government being open for business with enough money to pay the bills

and you will die if you don’t get dialysis by next Wednesday (at the latest)

and there is partisan bickering in Washington D.C. about the budget priorities, and there is a repeat of this month’s government “shutdown”/debt ceiling crisis

and your news readers tell you it’s the Republicans’ fault you are going to be DEAD next Thursday and your news reader does NOT tell you the Democrats are equally as intransigent as the Republicans (“why would we do that?”), and it’s both sides’ fault there is no Obamacare money for your dialysis, and you start calling your Elected Heroes and all the talk shows and demand the Republicans cave to Democrat demands,  . . .

. . . will you think back to 2008 and remember that some of us were warning you the Democrats were more interested in controlling your political activity than making sure you got your medical treatment on time?

I’m guessing, maybe not.

It’s Not Just a Meme, it’s Culture

Go here.  Laugh at the petty rules being ignored by sovereign Citizens who don’t give a damn.  The best remedy for crooks in power is mockery.  The current crop of Democratic #harryreidshutdown crooks made it easy to mock them during the recent “shutdown”,which is one reason to regret the “shutdown” is ending.

Yes, “shutdown.”  17% barely even counts as a Partial Shutdown.

Credit Instapundit 

No Worries, A Democrat is In Office!

While the NSA is collecting your buddy lists, you have no standing to sue, and apparently you can’t confront your accusations in court.

Those of you who were paying attention a few years ago may well imagine how this would have been covered (24/7) if Bush were still in Office, but you never heard of it.

Not to worry, though.  They can find you behind walls now, in real life, and a robot with a rocket launcher can be sent to take you out.  Given a little-bit smarter robots, it could well have been a 3D-printed robot,  right down to a 3D-printed rocket motor on your missile!

The icing on the cake, of course, is that you, personally, can do absolutely nothing about any of these developments.  So . . .

. . . sleep tight!