Tuesday, May 30, 2006

House Project: Starting To Move In

Much of the weekend was spent removing shelving from the garage at the old house, and putting it in the new house's garage. This gets very important stuff (junk to anyone else) off the floor, and makes it easier to clean. (You do clean your garage regularly, right?)

Boise was having one of those weather situations that are typical for this part of Idaho: completely unexpected rain and cold weather on Memorial Day weekend. This gave us some snowfall on the mountains between Boise, and some really neat clouds.

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All the rain has made the hillsides around our house very green, and everything awash in wild flowers.

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Last night, as the sun was setting, all I could think was that it looked a good bit like the Highlands of Scotland--a place that my wife is in love with, even though we have only just touched the Highlands on our travels.

We have spent some time moving road mix to improve the appearance of some areas around the drive way, and I expect that we will continue these activities for some weeks now. Our builder keeps forgetting to haul away a trash can of construction debris and fermenting garbage from December, so we transferred it into lawn and leaf bags and hauled it away ourselves.

There's still a small leak on the (now empty) lead filter housing, which we are hoping will be corrected in the next couple of days.

Last house project entry.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Great Graphics!

A little tired of bumper stickers with hackneyed phrases like, "You can have my gun when you take it from my cold, dead fingers" and "Fear the government that fears your guns"? Okay, there's newer ones that work a bit better, like, "Dictators prefer unarmed peasants."

Bumper stickers bother me a bit; it is rare for a single phrase to actually capture the complexity and subtlety of important ideas. At best, bumper stickers convey an emotion, but often they use humor to sell an oversimplified idea. You may recall the bumper sticker "El Salvador is Spanish for Vietnam." It was cute, it was short--and it wasn't very accurate. The situations were actually quite different.

Over at this website, someone has put together some really astonishingly well produced posters that use a few more words than your average bumper sticker, and some carefully composed photographs--and the net effect is both thought provoking and emotionally powerful.

I am especially impressed with this subtle touch--the tattoo on the man's arm. I used to get my ice cream cones at Baskin-Robbins on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica from a woman with an Auschwitz number tattooed on her arm, so there's a powerful emotional resonance for me in seeing this detail. The real thing was smaller and less artistic than this, but it would have been hard to recognize in a poster, so I accept it as artistic license.

The real thing, however, when I took economics in college many years later, started a chain of thought. We serial number expensive capital goods. The woman behind the counter was fortunate that her productive value as a "capital good" exceeded her "scrap value" or the Nazis would have "parted her out" for her fillings, her hair, and her skin, just like we do with cars that have reached the end of their useful life. This is the reason for the Second Amendment--to make sure that governments never reach the point where they can treat human beings like machines, to use and destroy as convenient.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Life is Good

It was a pretty spectacular day. My employer puts a great premium on charitable activity, and as a result, they encourage us to go out and do good works on company time. This afternoon, I went out as part of something called "Paint the Town," whereby we help low income people that need some help with house painting. The little old lady in question suffered a stroke a couple of years ago, but to be honest, she wouldn't have been up to the task, anyway. She recently retired from Albertson's after working for them for 34 years! She and her (I assume, late) husband bought this house in 1972.

The house was built in 1934, and was in desperate need of a paint job. I volunteered for the power wash part of the project, figuring that with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, getting a little wet has to be better than being part of the scrape, caulk , and paint phases.

Indeed, it was quite nice. I've never used a high pressure gadget like this before. The label claimed 2200 psi, and I did not find that hard to believe. Along with removing, dirt, spider webs, and mold, it was also removing layer upon layer of paint. The top layer was gray-green; under that was a mustard yellow, then white, then something so neutral that it might have been the bare stucco. On the wood trim (at least, the wood trim that didn't fall right off the house--there was a bit of that), it was surprisingly easy for the sprayer to take it right down to bare wood.

Anyway, by the time I was done with my half of the house and the garage, I was covered from head to toe with water and vast numbers of little specks of many colors of paint. If my choice was wrestling with laser printer simulators, or power washing houses for this kind of pay, this wouldn't be a hard choice at all! (Of course, if people were regularly paid to power wash houses as well as I was being paid this afternoon, there would be murders committed to get the job.)

In the evening, we had arranged to have a gun safe mover come to the house. If there is a single piece of furniture more unpleasant to move than a gun safe, I haven't moved it. Pianos, at least, have handles on the back. Gun safes? The gun safe mover brought over some suction cup gadgets which apparently work great on highly polished surfaces, but on the crinkle finish of the low-end Browning safes, not so well.

By wild coincidence, the gun safe mover is someone that attends the same church as us, and as soon as my wife saw his wife getting out of the truck, I realized, "Oh yeah, you wrote 'Cliff's' on the paper. That's Cliff's Gun Safes!" So this was a bit more pleasant of a situation than I was expecting. It was still a physically demanding task getting the safe downstairs (hint: don't ever put the gun safe upstairs again), but there are worse ways to spend the early evening.

Just before I left the house, I received an email from the first recipient of ScopeRoller's latest product, the Leg Plug for the Losmandy GM-8 mount. The customer is very happy!

Coming back down the mountain from the new house, Styx's recording of "Come, Sail Away" was playing. With the Michelin Pilot A/S tires, the Corvette is a joy to drive, just as a way to get from point A to point B--without any need to squeal tires or test the outer limits of its cornering. All I could think was, "Life is good."

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Dinosaurs on the Ark": Groan

Regular readers know that I am more than a little irritated by the High Priests of Atheist Evolution who refuse to admit that there are some genuine questions about the mechanisms--questions that Intelligent Design asks rather well. Where the High Priests of Atheistic Evolution get me upset is their arrogant certainty about matters that are, at best, in the area of speculation.

There's another group that upsets me as well, and that is the bunch that insists that the Earth is 6000 years old (maybe 10,000 years, for some of the really liberal members of this crowd). Okay, I will admit that it is possible that the Earth is actually vastly younger than it appears--but if so, it means that someone (or perhaps Someone) has put a lot of energy into making the Earth falsely appear to be quite old.

The Young Earth claim is rather like those who claim the Holocaust didn't happen. Yes, there is an extremely remote possibility that a vast, tremendously competent conspiracy made lots of films, falsified records, arranged for me to meet survivors with numbers tattooed on their arms, talk to people who knew survivors, etc. It just isn't very likely. It is far more likely that what the evidence shows is what really happened.

So, last night, just to give them the benefit of the doubt, my wife and I watched a video put out by Dr. Kent Hovind, who runs something called Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adenture Land in Florida.

The video's title was, "The Age of the Earth" and the cover materials claimed that it would demonstrate that science shows that the Earth is actually only 6000 years old. First problem: at least thirty minutes in, he had advanced no argument to support this claim, except Bishop Ussher's early eighteenth century century claim based on adding up the years recorded in the Old Testament. Even nineteenth century opponents of evolution were quick to acknowledge that the word translated as "begat" in the King James Version of the Bible does not necessarily mean a son or daughter, but only a descendant. In short, the important figures are listed, but not necessarily all members of the line. This blows out any attempt at using the "begats" as a method of determining precise dates.

Second problem: for someone who puts a big focus on the Bible as the source of all knowledge, Dr. Hovind doesn't seem to know it very well--or at least he quotes it out of context. At one point in his rambling and not well organized lecture, he mentions that George Washington was bled to death by doctors who thought that this was good medical procedure, and then Dr. Hovind quotes from Leviticus 17:11, that "the life is in the blood" to show that Washington's doctors should have looked to the Bible, instead of their own limited understanding. But read in context, you can see that this quote is about the eating of animals, not about medical care:

10 "'Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood--I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.
11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood."
13 "'Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth,
14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."

Third problem: Dr. Hovind is great fun to listen to, cracking jokes--but the result is more like standup comedy than a serious discussion of the questions related to cosmology, evolution, and the title issue that he can't seem to get around to discussing in a timely manner: "The Age of the Earth." Worse than this is that Dr. Hovind's mocking of evolutionists is not conducive to serious debate of the questions.

It is irritating when I hear evolutionists suggest that all skeptics of their theory are ignorant knuckle draggers, and I am not any happier to see creationists such as Ken Hamm and Dr. Hovind engage in the same sort of nastiness. (It is even less acceptable when such persons are claiming to follow Jesus.)

Fourth serious problem: Dr. Hovind attempts to show that the dramatic expansion of the teaching of evolution in public schools, starting around 1959, reaching a peak in pages of science textbooks in 1963, caused higher crime rates, promiscuity, divorce, abortion, etc.

There are actually a whole bunch of other changes that are happening in that same period, of which the most important is that a huge number of baby boomers born in the years following World War II were reaching sexual maturity. It is also unclear whether Dr. Hovind's charts are showing raw counts, or rates per 100,000 people. The U.S. Supreme Court also struck down laws mandating prayer in public schools; broadened protections for criminal defendants; effectively gutted laws against obscenity. Trying to nail evolution in biology textbooks for the social changes when you have so many other possible factors is absurd.

Okay, all of this could be carelessness--but while many of his graphs show rates for these antisocial behaviors up to 2000, his crime rate chart stops at 1990--even though the data is readily available. Why? Because violent crime rates started to fall in 1991, and have dropped to levels that we haven't seen since the early 1960s--and this wouldn't be so easy to explain with his simple model of blaming evolution in textbooks.

Fifth serious problem, and the one that got us to turn it off: dinosaurs on Noah's Ark. The word used in the Hebrew that is sometimes translated as "the world" has several meanings, including "the known world." There is no geologic evidence for a world wide flood. There is abundant evidence for at least one catastrophic regional flood in Mesopotamia--large enough that to the people of that time, the distinction between "the world" and "the known world" might have been quite irrelevant. (Or at least that's what the textbook my professor assigned for Ancient Middle East says.)

Dr. Hovind, of course, insists on a world wide flood--and then claims not only that dinosaurs are contemporaneous with man, but that Noah took baby dinosaurs onto the Ark. Where, oh where, are there any dinosaur remains that have not been fossilized? We have examples of mammoth bones that were used by humans for making shelters--and these bones are recent enough that they are still bone, not stone. But there are no T. rex teeth, or bones, or leather. Why? Because it has been millions of years since the dinosaurs.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Why Don't He Ever Write?"; How A Vertical Mill Is Like A Typewriter

This is the funniest line out of Dances With Wolves--one of those films that was breathtaking when I first saw in the theaters, but has rapidly declined in my perception. Great cinematography can cover a host of other evils.

Some of you are probably asking yourselves, "Gee, why doesn't Clayton respond in a more timely manner (or at all) to my emails?" Well, it isn't for lack of interest, but lack of time. A few days ago, someone emailed me to ask if, instead of a caster set for his Losmandy GM-8, could I build basically a version with a flat bottom? He didn't have a place to roll his mount--but he sure wanted to keep the dirt and bugs out of the hollow legs. I agreed to try and make a set for him--and then I asked on the Losmandy users mailing list if anyone else needed such--and I immediately received three requests for information.

Voila! You can read about it here.

They share some parts with the ScopeRoller 8 product--and they can be field upgraded to the ScopeRoller 8. I intend to do likewise for other mounts as demand arises. (Although at the moment, the Losmandy tripods are the only ones with this dirt and bug gathering problem.)

It looks like a trivial change to make this, but most of the work was figuring out to optimize manufacturing to minimize the number of parts and the number of processes.

Another project that is keeping me busy involves a company that I would rather not name quite yet. They are a manufacturer of high-end telescope tripods, and would like me to offer a caster set for their product. This is a bit different from the other products that I make because it has a rather different interface--in some ways, easier, in some ways, harder.

The big difference is that I am using my vertical mill to make this product. I have to produce a recessed rectangle that will produce a somewhat close fit (say, +- .05") to particular dimensions--and I need to put a hole in the center, again, within perhaps +- .05". The recessed rectangle is about .1" deep.

This is well within the tolerances of this vertical mill, but there's a bit of learning involved. You see, you have to figure out exactly where to drop the cutting bit to start excavating. First you find out where the edge of the plastic is that you are going to be excavating. Then you move the cutting tool a certain distance in from the edge. Then you start cutting. This part wasn't difficult.

The more difficult part--and where a vertical mill is like a typewriter--is figuring out how to exactly center the cutting tool in the middle of the recessed area. For those of you too young to have ever learned to use a typewriter, one of the things that you learned to do in typing class was how to center a title.

"Hey, how hard can that be? You just hit ALT-C--and bang! It's centered!"

Well, on a typewriter, you would see how many spaces there were between the left and right margins, and divide that by two. Then you would count the number of characters in the phrase that you wanted to center. Then you would divide that number of characters by two. Then you would subtract the second number from the first number, to figure out how many columns you had to space over before you started typing the centered title.

Same thing on a vertical mill. If you have a space that is 1.40" wide, and your end mill is .25" in diameter, you start at one side of the space, and move the carriage over (1.4/2)-(.25/2). That's puts you in the center of the space.

Another discovery: there wasn't enough room in the Y dimension of the mill to get the part that I was excavating all the way over, because the vise that holds the part on the mill table was in the way. But there's always a way to get around these sort of problems--I turned the vise 90 degrees from its normal position, and now I have enough room to do the cutting in one operation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

House Project: Air Conditioning & Drainage Done

We went up to the house Tuesday evening, and it was actually rather warm inside--about 80 degrees. So why didn't the air conditioning come on?

Circuit breakers okay? Sure. Thermostat claims to be working.

Electrician reports that some of the wiring interfacing the compressor to the rest of the system wasn't hooked up. Supposedly I can hang meat in there now.

The French drains are complete, and covered over. All that's left is a satisfactory solution to the concrete problem. My builder has gone to the maker of this stuff, in the hopes of getting satisfaction that he can't seem to get from the local concrete guy.

Last house project entry.

Monday, May 15, 2006

House Project: Drainage Installation Underway; Strange Story of Broken LP Gas Line

We stopped at the house Sunday afternoon on the way back from my daughter's graduation in Moscow (more about that tonight or tomorrow), and I am gratified to report that the builder is back, both doing some minor fixes to exterior paint (we could have done that ourselves, but nice nonetheless) and installation of the drainage pipes front and rear of the garage seems to be under way (something that would have been outside our area of expertise, but we might have muddled through, while cursing the builder's name continuously).

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Here you can see the strangely insect-like device used for the excavation.

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One thing the builder ended up using the broken up chunks from the driveway for was to fill in the space behind the garage, upon which we are going to pour more road mix, to create a dry walkway that won't form puddles.

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There's another interesting story. We received a phone call from Suburban Propane on Tuesday or Wednesday informing us that they had repaired a gas leak. We were pleased, wondering how they could have become aware of a gas leak with no one in the house. Is there some telemetry on the LP gas tank?

We found out Thursday evening, when a bill arrived. Apparently, the contractor digging the trench for the permanent phone line hit the gas line that ran to the backup generator, and promptly called Suburban Propane. Anyway, after playing phone tag, the contactor told us to send the bill for the repairs to his employer. Apparently, it is common practice (perhaps even required--he wasn't sure) to bury an electrical wire next to the gas line which is a "locator wire." This is what the gadgets that detect buried utility lines look for--and which was present from the LP gas tank to the regulator, but not from the regulator to the backup generator. I'm not quite sure why it wasn't buried with the gas line, but I have requested an explanation from the builder.

Last house project entry.
This Case Reads Like A Hypothetical Used In Law School

There are so many conflicting questions here that have to be teased out, and some of them have obvious First Amendment issues (the religious question, for example). Think of this as Heather Has Two Mommies Who Hate Each Other, And A Daddy, Who Lives Overseas, And They Can't Agree on Religious Instruction:
The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a gay woman from seeking parental rights to a child she had helped raise with her partner.

Justices could have used the case to clarify the rights of gays in child custody disputes stemming from nontraditional families.

They declined, without comment, to disturb a ruling of Washington state's highest court that said Sue Ellen Carvin could pursue ties to the girl as a "de facto parent." The girl is now 11.


Lawyers for the girl's biological mother, Page Britain, told justices that the state court decision in this case and others around the country "pave the way for children to have an unlimited and ever- changing number of parents."


Carvin and Britain had lived together for five years before they decided to become parents. Britain was artificially inseminated and gave birth in 1995 to the daughter, known as L.B. in court papers. The girl called Carvin "Mama" and Britain "Mommy."

The couple broke up in 2001 and the following year, when the girl was 7, Carvin was barred from seeing the girl. After Carvin went to court, Britain married the sperm donor. Justices were told that the father lives in Thailand.


The case paints a nasty battle between the two women. Britain says she wanted to have the girl baptized in a Catholic church and that her former partner wanted to take L.B. to a Buddhist temple.

Carvin contends she was the active parent.
And this legal case from Britain is just very, very sad:
A transsexual whose 17-year marriage to an heiress was nullified when the wife discovered her husband was a woman is not legally a "parent" of her 14-year-old daughter born from donor sperm, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

The female-to-male transsexual, referred to in court as Mr J, is now in law a man under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and can lawfully marry a woman if he wishes.

But three appeal judges held that, because at the time of his "marriage" to Mrs C in 1977 he was still a woman, he had no parental rights.

The law required that when a woman conceived and gave birth through artificial insemination by donor (AID), the other party to the marriage must be a man in order to qualify as a parent, the judges said.

Mr J was still a woman when the child was conceived by AID in 1991 and, since there was no legal marriage, he could not be "a party" to it.

Mr J, born with gender dysmorphia, underwent hormone treatment and had breasts removed before, at the age of 30, he met and married Mrs C, then aged 20 and from a wealthy background.

He concealed his true gender from her for 17 years, using a home-made part of the anatomy for sex. At a Court of Appeal hearing in 1996, Mr J failed in a bid for a share of the marriage wealth, including a £400,000 home.

At that hearing, Lord Justice Ward described the marriage as a "travesty" and said that many people would find it quite astonishing that in 17 years of life together Mrs C did not realise she was living with a woman.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

United 93

Well, I finally went to see it tonight. I've linked to Roger Ebert's review of it before, and I find myself in agreement on every detail. It was technically perfect--the combination of handheld camera and grainy film gives a cinema verite character that makes you feel like you are on the plane. For the first minutes, the jerkiness felt uncomfortable, but soon, you don't notice it--but the tension builds as it approaches the awful climax, because you know there is no surprise here. There will be no happy ending, just a heroic one.

There's no flashbacks, or backstory to the characters; in fact, you don't learn the names of any of them, and in most cases, you don't know why they are on the plane. The pieces of dialog that we know about from reading books such as Lisa Beamer's Let's Roll! and from reading the 9/11 Commission Report--are just there. They are not highlighted--just like you were there. We hear Todd Beamer praying with an operator; we hear him say, "Let's roll." But if you aren't paying attention--just as in real life--you'll miss it.

There isn't a single recognizable actor in this film--and it is astonishing what happens when you take away "star power," and instead of seeing some famous actor, who you've seen in a dozen movies, with all the baggage that he carries from those other roles--you just see...someone who was on an airplane, an ordinary person, who fought back in the first battle of World War III.

I've seen it suggested that much of the dialog was improvised. It might well have been; it certainly sounds like the way ordinary people speak--not lines that a screenwriter might create to make us sympathetic, or sorrowful, but the way the real people involved might have spoken.

FAA; the military; the chain of command: they are all trying--and failing. There was clearly no preparation for something like this. Our air defense system was set up for external attack. FAA was not prepared for a hijacking of this type, because there had been no hijacking in at least a decade, and a hijacking like this was simply beyond their imagination. It shouldn't have been, considering that we had sufficient precedent, but in much the same way that militaries usually prepare to fight the last war, our government agencies were prepared to deal with problems that were already familiar.

My wife wouldn't go see United 93; she's a very sensitive soul, and was afraid that it would be too emotionally devastating. It is powerful, but in an understated way. There is blood, but the brutality of the hijackers killing pilots and passengers is more suggested by the quickness of motion than detailed gore. The language is a little raw in places, as you might expect under the circumstances, as military officers and air traffic controllers try to make sense out of isolated facts, and then desperately try to prevent what they believe will be an airliner crash in Washington DC.

This movie doesn't pull any punches. It opens with the hijackers shaving their bodies in ritual purification, and praying for Allah's protection as they prepare to commit mass murder.

This is a war of civilizations. There is no room for negotiation. Islamofascism needs to be completely and utterly destroyed, both in the death of its adherents, and in the humiliation of a political theory that asserts it has a moral superiority that justifies being in complete control of the entire world.
It Reads Like A Bad Novel

I mentioned a couple of years ago how a woman's unbelieveable accusations, many years ago, of Satanic child sexual abuse by a Catholic priest--were now suddenly more credible, as they arrested the priest for murder. Now, he has been convicted of that crime:
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A priest accused of stabbing a Roman Catholic nun to death as she prepared for Easter services 26 years ago was found guilty Thursday of murder that prosecutors say was steeped in religious ritual.

Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was stabbed 31 times through an altar cloth, with the punctures forming an upside down cross. Her killer then anointed her with a smudge of her blood on the forehead to humiliate her in death, prosecutors said.

The Rev. Gerald Robinson, now 68, had been early suspect in the killing but wasn't charged until two years ago.
The significance of an upside cross should be obvious. On top of this lurid murder/suicide/molestation case involving another Catholic priest, it just makes my brain spin.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Interesting Citations About Sexual Abuse & Sexual Orientation

I pointed out in a comment over here that sexual abuse of children and adult homosexuality are positively correlated, and this really shouldn't be any surprise, especially for lesbians. Not surprisingly, the homosexual law professor and law student brigade started calling me names. Another commenter put up a rather extensive list of abstracts from recent journal articles on the subject.

Sexual assault and alcohol abuse: a comparison of lesbians and heterosexual women. Hughes TL, Johnson T, Wilsnack SC. J Subst Abuse. 2001;13(4):515-32.

RESULTS: Lesbians reported more childhood sexual experiences, were more likely to meet the study definition for childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and were more likely to perceive themselves as having been sexually abused as children. CSA was associated with lifetime alcohol abuse in both lesbian and heterosexual women.

Sexual Orientation, Sexual Abuse, and HIV-Risk Behaviors Among Adolescents in the Pacific Northwest. Saewyc E, Skay C, Richens K, Reis E, Poon C, Murphy A. Am J Public Health. 2006 May 2

Conclusion. Sexual minority adolescents who attended school reported higher HIV risk behaviors, and higher prevalence of sexual victimization may partially explain these risks.

Victimization over the life span: a comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Balsam KF, Rothblum ED, Beauchaine TP. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005 Jun;73(3):477-87.

Compared with heterosexual participants, LGB participants reported more childhood psychological and physical abuse by parents or caretakers, more childhood sexual abuse, more partner psychological and physical victimization in adulthood, and more sexual assault experiences in adulthood. Sexual orientation differences in sexual victimization were greater among men than among women.

Lesbian survivors of childhood sexual abuse: community, identity, and resilience. Baker S. Can J Commun Ment Health. 2003 Fall;22(2):31-45.

Adult lesbian survivers of childood sexual abuse were interviewed using grounded and structured methods to explore the interaction between being, or coming out as, a lesbian and healing from childhood sexual abuse (CSA). A history of CSA was found to render coming out as a lesbian more complicated and often more difficult. Having or developing a lesbian identity caused significant changes in respondents' social support networks and spiritual beliefs and communities, afforded many opportunities for greater healing, and in the balance seemed to facilitate the healing process.

Comparative data of childhood and adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. Tomeo ME, Templer DI, Anderson S, Kotler D. Arch Sex Behav. 2001 Oct;30(5):535-41.

In research with 942 nonclinical adult participants, gay men and lesbian women reported a significantly higher rate of childhood molestation than did heterosexual men and women. Forty-six percent of the homosexual men in contrast to 7% of the heterosexual men reported homosexual molestation. Twenty-two percent of lesbian women in contrast to 1% of heterosexual women reported homosexual molestation. This research is apparently the first survey that has reported substantial homosexual molestation of girls.

Friday, May 5, 2006

House Project: The Concrete Problems; The Aching Beauty

I've mentioned the concrete problems that we have been having, and I am going to give you some pictures, but first, let me tell you some good news.

The problem with the pressurization tank squirting water on the garage floor (typically a bit less than a gallon a day) seems to have gone away. It has remained continent for a week now. Richard the Water Boy indicated that the heat from the water heater (which I had set up to scalding) was causing water in the pressurization pump to overheat, and force its way out the relief valve. This is actually plausible to me; the water heater isn't that far away, and with limited use of the hot water, i can see how heat from it would conduct through the pipes to the pressurization pump.

Now, for the concrete. Instead of having boring gray concrete sidewalks and driveway aprons, we decided to have the Brickform stamping system used with what the brochure calls "ColorTech Quality Concrete Color Technologies." (Brand names included to make sure that you are aware of what didn't work for me, and may not work for you.)

I mentioned both the problem of the repour coming out gray, not "amber rose," and that the coating that they concrete guy applied came out inconsistent and very dark--closer to nut brown. Unlike the other pictures on this sight, I've cut these down to pretty small size, and I skipped the thumbnails. These pictures aren't that big because, to be honest, they don't need to be big to see the problems, and they aren't beautiful pictures. (There are some beautiful pictures later in this post; be patient.)

You can see the inconsistency of the finish, and that in some spots it is dull, but the right color, and shiny but dark in others. In other pictures, you can see paint and gray concrete droppings that they didn't bother to remove before applying the finish.

Here you can see where they patched cracks in the concrete with a gray material--which looks horrible.

You can also see the problems with the stamping process. The theory is that the concrete guys stamp a pattern into the concrete when it is still wet. It adds visual interest to it, and makes it a bit less slippery when wet. Unfortunately, concrete has a limited lifetime after they mix it, and apparently the concrete guy failed to appreciate that in the time it took to drive to the building site, that much of it would no longer be stampable. In some places, it came out as it was supposed to, with both lines in the concrete, and real relief. In other places, the pattern is there, but barely, and there is no significant relief.

There are also just inexplicable patches of gray.

Here's a place where you can see a piece of the repour, and the concrete that they replaced. The gray stuff supposedly had the coloring agent added to it, but I sure don't see any sign of it. The concrete guy has decided that he is not going to do anything more to solve this problem.

Next time, I'll just have gray concrete poured instead. We spent $3000+ extra for this stamped color concrete, and it was just money poured down a rathole.

Okay, enough whining. On to pictures that show the aching beauty of the place.

The wild flowers are starting to bloom; here's one why wife picked on the back part of the property.

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Here's the view from the back porch, looking down into Horseshoe Bend. Spring has arrived!

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Here's a zoom into where the Payette River enters town.

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Here are a few of our neighbors. We call this house, "Abraham Lincoln wins the lottery." It is 14,000 square feet. The owner works for the post office. (There better be a big inheritance somewhere in that story, or I will be worried.)

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Right down the hill from us is a property where the owner abandoned plans to build a house because of a divorce. There is a motor home parked there on a permanent basis, and quite a bit of...let's be polite...stuff. Supposedly he sold it late last year, but it still has enough stuff present that we call it Hooterville, after the town in the series Green Acres. We're cutting him some slack on the state of things; a divorce must be a profoundly wrenching experience.

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I don't know much about this family down the hill, just that they have two little boys and more recreational vehicles than I can count. We briefly considered buying the white house when it was going into foreclosure last year. We could have bought it for $189,000, but it was just too small, and I think we ended up with a superior view and much superior home.

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This house was one of the first built in this subdivision, back when it was called Solar City, because it had no electric power. The south face of the house has enormous windows which used to have photovoltatic cells in them. When the original builder left the area, he took the panels with him.

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This is a very interesting house--something of a catalog of things not to do. It is clearly inspired by a New Mexico house called "Sun Cave," which was one of the early attempts to build an entirely solar house. Unfortunately, lots of details suggest to me that someone didn't adjust design features for our latitude. It does have a lot of big windows on the southern exposure, and it makes extensive use of ground piled around the north side of the house to reduce temperature loss--but it also means that the best view possible from the lot is a solid wall.

It has a four car garage, with RV sized doors. But the interior is built of tires, dirt, and chickenwire. It is amazingly ugly. Even more silly in this climate is that there is no direct access to the house from the garage.

The house is about 2000 square feet, but it is only a one-bedroom. It is a huge one-bedroom, but the net effect suggests an indulgent bachelor with gobs of money. When we looked at it last year, it was ten years old--and the roof was already leaking. It was offered at $210,000, but went into foreclosure.

I'm very glad we didn't buy it. It had three wells go dry over a period of about seven years, and except for my stepping in and pointing out that drilling a fourth well within a hundred feet of the other three didn't make sense, they were about to drill a fourth well that was likely to go dry. (I had them drill at the boundary between the basalt and the sandstone--nice well at 180 feet.)

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We call this log cabin house. It is about 2400 square feet, but it had been unoccupied for at least a year until a family moved in last month. Leaving a house empty up here is a mistake; rats get in, and pretty soon, it was a pigsty. (A ratsty?) It wasn't a bad house, but it was built on a small lot with no particular view. On the other hand, it has a 400 gallon per minute well, which feeds a couple of other houses.

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Almost lost in the trees is this rather unusual house currently owned by Chuck, who is the chief of police of a nearby town. It was apparently built by amateurs, and he tells me that there were some interesting struggles getting it to a useful state.

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This is a Guerdon manufactured home. We briefly considered having a very similar model installed on our property. I think, in retrospect, we made the right choice to have something site-built, but it would have been substantially cheaper.

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Last house project entry.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Transgendered Bathrooms Again

I mentioned yesterday the "transgendered" crowd at Colorado University demanding more public restrooms for the horribly confused. I am impressed with the response from readers on this. Whole Wheat Blogger pointed me to an article by him in 2003 about this insanity at the University of Chicago:
Members of Feminist Majority, Queers & Associates, and the Center for Gender Studies organized the panel as part of the Coalition for a Queer Safe Campus. "Going to the bathroom is a moment where definition is very important in choosing a door," said Mary Anne Case, one of the panelists.
Whole Wheat Blogger went on to quote one of the participants in this conference about the lengths to which the "transgendered" will go--to go:
Red Vaughan Tremmel, another panelist, said that she knew someone who was making a cross-country road-trip and bought an RV to avoid using public bathrooms. "At first, my reaction was, 'Oh wow, what a great idea,' but then I thought, 'Wow that's sad that someone would have to go to such lengths to feel comfortable,'" she said.
There was a time when that sort of overreaction would be properly recognized as a serious emotional problem. Now, it is part of the homosexual movement--a group whose concerns and sensibilities are far more important to judges than those of the majority of Americans. What used to be mental illness is now a political movement--and a powerful one, at that.

Oh yes, and then there's this piece of craziness from Britain:
he Lord Chancellor is facing accusations of political correctness after banning the word “homosexual” from official documents in his department.

Lord Falconer has ordered for the word to be removed on the grounds that it “may be considered offensive.”

The ban comes after a report commissioned by the Department for Constitutional Affairs to analyse how well diversity rules are obeyed when selecting judges.

Academics from the Queen Mary college compiled the report and concluded, “It is important to recognise that the term homosexuality is considered inappropriate by many gays and lesbians today.”

They claimed that gay charity Stonewall regards the word as derogatory, “It originates from a medical definition when same-sex attraction was construed as mental illness.' The report said “it should no longer be used in official documentation. Stonewall recommends that ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual’ is a more appropriate term.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

House Project: This Is Where The Recriminations And Lawsuits May Start To Appear

We went up to the house last night, and we were very disappointed. The problem of the repoured concrete being gray I've already mentioned. Now there is an additional problem. The concrete guy power washed it, and then applied a finish to it that was supposed to make it a particular color: amber rose.

I don't have any pictures (yet) but that has to be done next for the inevitable lawsuit.

1. The power wash didn't remove paint spots and at least one gray concrete dab.

2. The finish in some places came out shiny (as it should) but very dark--almost a nut brown, instead of amber rose. In other places, it is like the finish isn't even there. The surface remains the roughly rose color of the concrete, but it is dull, not shiny.

My builder has been avoiding me for several days, so I called the concrete guy, who is clearly quite upset about the whole matter (and has already talked to the builder). The concrete guy says that the original cracking was because of insufficient drainage on that side of the house--a matter that I raised with the builder at the start of winter, but he never quite got around to it.

The concrete guy says that he mixed color into the concrete that he poured as a replacement--but it still came out gray. Variability in natural materials, and all that.

He also says that the finish varied substantially depending on whether it was in sunlight or not, and there's nothing that he can do about it except remove it. He suggested that the builder should be responsible for using an epoxy paint for concrete to get the color right.

I know that this isn't going to be cheap, and as far as I am concerned, this isn't my problem. The builder suggested the stamped color concrete, and I stupidly assumed that the builder knew something about housebuilding. I guess he knew a lot less than I assumed!

Had I realized how badly this was going to turn out, I would have gone with gray concrete. It would have been about $3000 cheaper, and with far less grief.

Last house project entry.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Transgendered Bathrooms Again

Everytime I hear a homosexual activist insist that they are just like straight people, except for who they love, I see a news story like this one:
BOULDER, Colo. -- A transgender task force wants to bring more "all-gendered" bathrooms to the University of Colorado-Boulder campus, the Boulder Daily Camera reported in its Monday editions.

"It's about creating more welcoming spaces," Bryce Abelson told the newspaper.

Abelson identified himself as "gender queer," a person who is neither male or female. He said he doesn't feel comfortable in the men's bathroom and gets strange looks when he walks in the women's bathroom.

Task force members believe the costs of changing current male and female bathrooms will be minimal because only the signs need to be changed on existing bathrooms. One bathroom already exists outside the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center.
Can you imagine the uproar if straight people started to complain that they didn't "feel comfortable" using the same bathrooms or locker rooms as homosexuals?

Is there anyone that thinks this "transgendered" garbage is anything but an indication of a pretty serious psychological problem?

Monday, May 1, 2006

House Project: Woodpecker Discouragement Methods

I mentioned yesterday that the pictures of the wind chimes and wind spinners we put out to stop the woodpeckers didn't come, so I shot some more pictures yesterday. My wife thinks the wind spinners look a little white trash, but a reader tells me of a technique that apparently also works, and makes this look downright San Francisco New Agey by comparison: shoot one woodpecker, and nail it to the wall. The rest won't come back. I call this the George Bush Approach To Third World Dictators With WMD Ambitions. At least, it worked with Libya.

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You will notice quite a bit of dirt on the front porch in that last picture. It is our own little Dust Bowl of soil blowing onto the south face of the house in the intense thunderstorms Friday night. We really do need to get that hydroseeded.

The warmer weather and rains have started to turn the hillsides green again.

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I don't have a picture of it, but I just noticed that when they repoured the concrete at the back side of the garage--they poured gray concrete, not the rose color that the rest of the driveway apron and porches were poured. I am pretty upset about this, because it looks stupid--and even if the builder didn't remind of the color, they should have looked before they poured gray concrete to replace rose colored concrete. I hope that they can put a thin coat of the right color on top.

Last house project entry.