Wednesday, November 29, 2006

House Project: Final Warranty Work? Interesting Unexpected Benefits

It has been several months since the last entry about the house. We are coming up on the one year closing next month, and we've been making sure that any existing warranty issues are taken care of now. For example, the kitchen sink faucet keeps working itself loose, because the window sill sticks out too far. The builder decided to do it right, and recut the window sill so it isn't running into the faucet.

The third bathroom sink (which doesn't get much use) started to leak--because the pipe coming out of the bottom of the sink is the wrong diameter for the rest of the fittings. It is 1 3/8" outside diameter--and the washer that is supposed to seal this is 1 1/2" inside diameter. The builder is nagging the plumber to get up here and fix this properly. How did he not notice this much looseness?

There are a couple of exterior trim pieces that have fallen off the house in our rather startlingly strong winds, so he is replacing these.

We've had a few tiles crack, probably because of settling in the floor joists. No great surprise on that.

One rather nice surprise today is something that I had not planned on, but it has worked out rather well. All of this concrete that was originally supposed to be Dusty Rose (or whatever color it is that my wife thought was so elegant) came out closer to molasses brown. One benefit of this was that even though it is very cold up here today--it has still not broken 20 degrees--the snow on the concrete facing south has just about cleared off the concrete, and almost as though I had swept it.

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There a few spots where snow melt from the columns has accumulated on the concrete, but overall, I could not have swept it this clear without enormous effort.

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It is not hard to figure out why. Once any particular area had enough snow melt away because of sunlight, the concrete underneath absorbed heat--and then transmitted it to the rest of the concrete, accelerating whatever melting was induced by the sunlight hitting the top of the snow. Out on the driveway, you can see this taking place a bit more slowly (probably because it doesn't have the radiant heat from the walls of the house).

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Over on the east face of the house, where the sunlight was only falling in the morning, you can see the difference.

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On the north face of the house, where there was no sunlight at all, it is still pretty unaltered.

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In spite of the temperature outside--it was ten degrees this morning when my wife woke up--the furnace isn't running all that much. The sunlight flooding in the south windows of the house is hitting the tiles, and turning into infared as it bounces. The insulation is doing its job.

I expect in summer, all that concrete around the house is going to get unpleasantly warm by the end of the day--and remain pleasant to bare feet into the early evening hours.

Last house project entry.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Community Activist": What a Nice Label!

That the guy is a liberal political activist isn't what's news; it is how light a sentence he got for this:
ASHEVILLE — A community activist and actor pleaded guilty to 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after using the Internet to collect and share graphic child pornography.

A judge sentenced Andrew Douglas Reed, 53, to a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 12 months in prison, District Attorney Ron Moore said Thursday.

Reed was arrested on June 10, 2005, during a statewide operation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation.

According to a warrant authorizing a search of his Dogwood Road home, SBI agents determined Reed used an e-mail account to post 169 images and three movies containing child pornography on file-sharing networks from Jan. 13, 2004, to May 9. Most depicted children as young as 6 engaged in sex acts with adults or other children.

Reed was a regular community guest columnist for the Citizen-Times and involved in multiple community efforts including the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville-Buncombe County and the League of Women Voters.

In 2005, the Martin Luther King Jr. Association awarded him with their Community Humanitarian Award.

Association President Oralene Graves Simmons said Reed had resigned from the organization after his arrest.

“The Andy Reed I knew was a person that was very active in the community and tried to help others wherever he could,” she said. “I pray for him and his safety.”
Reed had lots of friends, and World Net Daily makes a point of reminding you what sort of crowd he hung with--and suggesting that this had something to do with the light sentence:
However, instead of the 967 months in jail – nearly 81 years – for which he was liable, Judge Robert Lewis, another Democrat, gave him, in a plea bargain with the office of District Attorney Ron Moore, who was elected as a Democrat, a 10-12 month sentence.

And even that seemed regrettable, according to a number of letters of recommendation offered by other Democrat leaders of the community to the court on his behalf.

"It has been my pleasure to share Andy's commitment to ensuring that compassion and democracy are at work across our community," wrote Beth Lazer, a Democrat who shared Unitarian Universalist church theologies with Reed and serves as the head of the local public access television, URTV.

She said in her letter of reference she first worked with Reed "when we both served on the board of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters."

"What an invaluable board member he was," she said.

"I also worked with Andy on several projects at our church, most significantly our becoming a welcoming congregation," she said.

Steve Hagerman, the executive director of the Asheville Symphony, wrote on symphony letterhead that, "Reed has been a long-time supporter of the arts in Western North Carolina and has been involved in many worthwhile causes in our community."

And Oralene Graves-Simmons, a Democrat who leads the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville, wrote a page and a half extolling Reed's virtues.

"When the decision was made in 2001 to incorporate the Association as an independent non-profit organization, Andy was instrumental in making it happen. He wrote the new organization's by-laws, revised and edited its incorporation papers, and, with me, determined the makeup of its founding board of directors," Graves-Simmons wrote.

"It was for his ten years of dedicated service that last January the MLK Association honored Andy with the 2005 Community Humanitarian Award," she wrote.

She noted he's also served on governing or advisory boards to the Montford Park Players, a theater company that operates each summer.

"Andy has spent all the years that I've known him bringing people together regardless of race, creed, color, or other differences, gladly working with anyone and everyone, and doing whatever needs to be done, to accomplish our mutual goals," she wrote.
Oh yeah, remember that the connection between homosexuality and pedophilia is just nasty stereotyping:
Reed, who also worked as a columnist for the Asheville Citizen Times, often wrote in support of the "gay" agenda in the region.
Thanks to Stop the ACLU for alerting me to this story.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

If Reality Is Inconvenient, Liberal Idaho Just Ignores It

I mentioned yesterday that the supposed gay-bashing of a Boise State student turned out to be...done by himself. ("This just shows you how oppressively homophobic our society is! Why, homosexuals so internalize the hatred that they even bash themselves!")

Liberal Idaho, of course, made a big deal about the initial report, as evidence of what happens when a state passes a marriage definition:
When the public passes laws deeming some citizens note [sic] as equal as other citizens this is bound to happen:
Unlike other Idaho liberals, such as Red State Rebel, who believed the initial report but reported the correction, Liberal Idaho just can't get around to reporting that his overheated rhetoric was based on a lie. Not a mistake; not an overzealous reading of intelligence reports; but by the admission of the victim, a lie. And yet Liberal Idaho is so intent on keeping his hate-filled rhetoric going, that he can't admit it.

One of the commenters over at Red State Rebel expresses amazement that anyone would fake something like this:
So many hate crimes, and someone feels the need to fabricate one?! That's insane....
So many hate crimes? Not against homosexuals. You know, the FBI gathers statistics on hate crimes based on sexual orientation. While I agree that not every hate crime gets reported, I think it is a good bet, because of the zealous concern that homosexual activists have for publicizing their victimization, that most hate crimes against homosexuals get reported to the police, who pass them to the FBI. As I mentioned here, the 2004 report showed a total of 1,406 offenses reported where the bias was based on sexual orientation--and some of those (about 2.5%) were hate crimes based on the victim being straight.

Remember: a lot of these aren't even violent crimes against a person--they include incidents such as one I saw reported on the local news over in tolerant, liberal Oregon when I was there about ten days ago, where someone has spray-painted "lesbos" on a lesbian couple's garage. Don't get me wrong when I point this out: I am not saying that this is okay, or nothing to be concerned about. These are a form of intimidation, just like burning a cross on a black person's lawn, because there is a clear implication that violence could follow. But in a nation of 300,000,000 people (and about nine million homosexuals or bisexuals), 1,406 incidents is actually surprisingly low.

On the other hand, there's no shortage of frauds like the one mentioned here, and this one. There are many others that have happened over the last few years, as a shortage of real hate crimes against homosexuals has created so much demand that homosexual activists have to fake them.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Humor (I Think)

My wife received this video explaining a school's policy requiring shirts to be tucked in as a public safety measure. If it makes you think of the scene where the police arrest the title character in The Mask ("I have a permit for that")--well, that's why I suspect this is a gag.

It's worksafe (unless you work for one of the gun control groups), but if you are a dialup, it's a bit more than 1 MB long.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Humor: Public Opinion Survey

A reader informs me:

The latest telephone poll taken by the Governors of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California yielded results on whether or not people who live in in these states think illegal immigration is a serious problem:

41% of respondents answered: "Yes, it is a serious problem."

59% of respondents answered: "No es un problema serio."

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Retubing Big Bertha

Big Bertha, my 17.5" reflector, has an unnecessarily heavy framework. I've been thinking of ways to put her on a diet, perhaps with the possibility of getting her onto an equatorial mount.

I think the biggest part of why Big Bertha is so heavy is that the people that built her put a far heavier wooden structure around the tube than was really needed. I don't see how the tube, mirror, secondary mirror, holder, focuser, and finder weigh more than 120 pounds--and yet I am pretty sure that with this massive wooden box around the tube, which carries the altitude bearings, it may be closer to 200 pounds.

One possibility is to replace the existing Sonotube (which is delaminating because of many years of less than perfectly dry storage, before I received it). Sonotube that diameter is not hideously expensive, and surprisingly light. The 20" diameter Sonotube (the right size for Big Bertha) is only four pounds/linear foot, and I think that I only need six feet of it. (The current tube is longer than it needs to be, I think.)

But it turns out that you can fiberglass the outside of Sonotube, and get a reasonably waterproof and probably more attractive finish than just painting the Sonotube directly. The instructions sound messy, and probably require warmer weather than we will see here until May. The fiberglass will also make the tube stiffer than Sonotube is alone--which is traditionally one of the problems with Sonotube--it tends to deform when you tighten down screws to it.

A stiffer tube might also allow use of lightening holes as well--knocking a few pounds off the total weight of the tube. There's probably a book that explains how many holes and of what size give you the greatest savings of weight without compromising stiffness.

The temptation is strong to ditch the existing base, and start from scratch on a Dobsonian mount (or perhaps something more exotic, such as a yoke mount). Still, a good starting point would be to reattach the existing altitude bearings to the new tube, perhaps attaching them to something that clamps to the tube, so that I don't have to drill any unsightly holes in the tube.