Farewell to cabins 7 and 8

We got the call we’d been dreading: Steve had sold the land next to Sebago Resort. Worse, demolition of cabins 7 and 8 was to begin within days. Nothing to do but gather the troops, dash to Nisswa, and salvage what we could. Doug bought his “awesome set of tools”, fun was had, and nobody got hurt.

We extracted the hard wood floors in cabin 7. Original 1920s flooring. Pieces up to 21 foot long. Impossible to get anything like that today.

Below is the interior of cabin 8 with the flooring removed.
Interior of cabin 8 with flooring removed







Buying an electric pressure cooker

I decided to buy a pressure cooker. The initial research showed that I had to choose between electric and stovetop. The stovetop is better, but it makes me nervous to leave an unattended stove, so I picked electric.

The first review websites I ran into showed the Emeril CY4000001 ($120) and the Cuisinart CPC-600 ($100) as the two best units. The Emeril was a little better because it did not lose as much liquids from evaporation, but the difference is small (3% vs 2% or so). Now the Cuisinart can be found in local stores, but the Emeril has to be bought online, and it actually seems to be out of stock in some cases.

Then I found the “Instant Pot”. Made by Canadians, and the reviewers say the company is very responsive and always improving the product. You have to buy it off amazon, and it can be delivered for about $130.

Their current model is the Instant Pot IP-LUX60, but check their website at Instant Pot.

So either get the Cuisinart from a local store or the Instant Pot from Amazon. I went with the cuisinart because I wanted it now. Got it from Dillards.

Recommend Bill the treadmill guy in Kansas City

Just wanted to leave an internet trail to recommend Bill the Treadmill Guy in Kansas City. His website is . If you need in-home service for your treadmill, I highly recommend him.

He was fully booked when I called, so it took a couple weeks to schedule a visit. His price was $95 minimum for the visit, plus parts. He saw that our old treadmill (I bought it for $50 off craigslist) just needed a new belt, so he replaced the belt and gave everything a clean and tuneup. Total price $140.

Can’t beat that. Nice guy and professional work. Highly recommended.

Mike Royko on Doctor Salaries

Mike Royko was the best newspaper columnist in the country in my lifetime. He had no tolerance for stupidity. This was one of his best pieces:

Poll about doctors’ earnings reflects a sick society

Mike Royko

ON A STUPIDITY scale, a recent poll about doctors’ earnings is right up there. It almost scored a perfect brain-dead 10.

It was commissioned by some whiny consumers group called Families USA.

The poll tells us that the majority of Americans believe that doctors make too much money.

The pollsters also asked what a fair income would be for physicians. Those polled said, oh, about $80,000 a year would be OK.

How generous. How sporting. How stupid.

Why is this poll stupid? Because it is based on resentment and envy, two emotions that ran hot during the political campaign and are still simmering.

YOU COULD conduct the same kind of poll about any group that earns $100,000-plus and get the same results. Since the majority of Americans don’t make those bucks, they assume that those who do are stealing it from them.

Maybe the Berlin Wall came down, but don’t kid yourself, Karl Marx lives.

It’s also stupid because it didn’t ask key questions, such as: Do you know how much education and training it takes to become a physician?

If those polled said, no, they didn’t know, then they should have been disqualified. If they gave the wrong answers, they should have been dropped. What good are their views on how much a doctor should earn if they don’t know what it takes to become a doctor?

Or maybe a question should have been phrased this way: “How much should a person earn if he or she must (a) get excellent grades and a fine educational foundation in high school in order to (b) be accepted by a good college and spend four years taking courses heavy in math, physics, chemistry and other lab work and maintain a 3.5 average or better, and (c) spend four more years of grinding study in medical school, with the 3rd and 4th years in clinical training, working 80 to 100 hours a week, and (d) spend another year as a low-pay, hard-work intern, and (e) put in another 3 to 10 years of post-graduate training, depending on your specialty and (f) maybe wind up $100,000 in debt after medical school and (g) then work an average of 60 hours a week, with many family doctors putting in 70 hours or more until they retire or fall over?”

AS YOU HAVE probably guessed by now, I have considerably more respect for doctors than does the law firm of Clinton and Clinton, and all the lawyers and insurance executives they have called together to remake America’s health care.

Based on what doctors contribute to society, they are far more useful than the power-happy, ego-tripping, program spewing, social tinkerers who will probably give us a medical plan that is to health what Clinton’s first budget is to frugality.

But propaganda works. And, as the stupid poll indicates, many Americans wrongly believe that profiteering doctors are the major cause of high medical costs.

Of course doctors are well compensated. They should be. Americans now live longer than ever. But who is responsible for our longevity–lawyers, Congress, or the guy flipping burgers in a McDonald’s?

And the doctors prolong our lives despite our having become a nation of self-indulgent, lard-butted, TV-gaping couch cabbages.

AH, THAT IS not something you heard President Clinton or Super Spouse talk about during the campaign or since. But instead of trying to turn the medical profession into a villain, they might have been more honest if they had said:

“Let us talk about medical care and, one of the biggest problems we have. That problem is you, my fellow American. Yes, you, eating too much and eating the wrong foods; many of you guzzling too much hooch; still puffing away at $2.50 a pack; getting your daily exercise by lumbering from the fridge to the microwave to the couch; doing dope and bringing crack babies into the world; filling the big city emergency rooms with gunshot victims; engaging in unsafe sex and catching a deadly disease while blaming the world for not finding an instant cure.

“You and your habits, not the doctors, are the single biggest health problem in this country. If anything, it is amazing that the doc’s keep you alive as long as they do. In fact, I don’t understand how they can stand looking at your blubbery bods all day.

So as your president, I call upon you to stop whining and start living cleanly. Now I must go get myself a triple cheesy-greasy with double fries. Do as I say, not as I do.”

BUT FOR THOSE who truly believe that doctors are overpaid, there is another solution: Don’t use them.

That’s right. You don’t feel well? Then try one of those spine poppers, needle twirlers, or have Rev. Bubba lay his hands upon your head and declare you fit.

Or there is the do-it-yourself approach. You have chest pains? Then sit in front of a mirror, make a slit here, a slit there, and pop in a couple of valves.

You’re going to have a kid? Why throw your money at that overpaid sawbones, so he can buy a better car and a bigger house than you will ever have (while paying more in taxes and malpractice insurance than you will ever earn)?

Just have the kid the old-fashioned way. Squat and do it. And if it survives, you can go to the library and find a book on how to give it its shots.

By the way, has anyone ever done a poll on how much pollsters should earn?

Liese Ridgeway Vanatta

I was at a remarkable funeral yesterday for my friend Liese. Remarkable for far more than the fact that I heard a Metallica song played by a string trio. Remarkable because so few people contain a glimpse of sainthood. And she did. Always a sparkle in her daily activity. In her gladness to see you and give you her full attention. In her eternal optimism. She was one of the people you don’t believe exist until you meet one in person.

Her friend Gar Demo asked her how she wanted to be remembered. She answered:

Tell them how much faith I have.
Tell them how much I love God and I love creation.
Tell them how much I love my Husband. And my children. And my parents. My family.
Tell them how much I love them…And then tell them to live.
Tell them the gift that they have.
Tell them the light that is dwelling within them.
Tell them to rock on.
Tell them to celebrate.
Tell them to root for KU.


Audio transcript


Selling the bike roof rack

With the new car, we went to a rear mount rather than a roof rack, so I’m selling the latter.

Thule 599XTR Big Mouth, which I bought back in 2000 and ran a few trips back and forth to Minn. It holds 2 bikes, including mountain bikes.

Thule website

Cost me something like $200+. I’m selling for $60.

You’ll need an existing roofrack. The fitting components were for a Mazda MPV 2000, but it should work for a variety of frames. This unit attaches a new crossbeam in the front.


There are rubber “cushions” for the wheel tie-downs. You need four, but I lost one and so only have three. Some rolled up cardboard does a fine job protecting the wheel. Can always order a new part from Thule if aesthetic requirements are important.


My internet reading list

I subscribe to a variety of reading material. A good cross-section of newspapers from around the world, and a just basic good readings lists. Here is my current main list of links.

Even better than newspapers are RSS news feeds. These are internet-based sites that will “feed” a list of articles to your “inbox”. I find these much more efficient.

I use google reader as my reader. It is all you need.

(*) for links I really like
(RSS) for news feeds

KC Pitch. Kansas City underground paper
KC Star
Concert reviews. Music scene
Concert reviews. Music scene (RSS)
Gary Lezak weather (RSS)

International News
NY Times
Google news (great streaming. Also check each country’s front page)
Time magazine
Christian Science Monitor
Jerusalem Post (liberal)
The guardian
Spiegel (German) (*)

Fortune mag
The Economist  (*)
Financial Times
The weekly standard
Emanuel Derman (quant thinker)(RSS)
Pileus (conservative, not right-wing)

Slate. (Liberal but analytical)(*)
The Atlantic(*)
National Review Online (right-wing)
David Gergen (best opinionator *)
The New Yorker (*)
Reason foundation
Daily caller
Ill Doctrine (intelligent black male) (RSS) 

South Africa
Cape Town daily newspaper
Durban newspaper

KU / Lawrence
Lawrence journal world
KU Sports

Science / Computers / Tech
Scientific American
CNET (computers)
Danger room (great military blog RSS)
Techmeme. (Computer link gatherer)
Cocktail party physics: Personable and cool (RSS)
CSS Tricks (only if you know what CSS is)(RSS)
Dead reckonings (obscure math)
Discover magazine (*)(RSS)
Paul Graham (tech thinker)(RSS)

Link Gatherers
Slashdot. The original
Boing Boing
Daily Beast
2leep (the best trashy stuff)
Anarak (even better trashy stuff)
Metafilter (*)
Mashable (RSS)
The Browser (general interest reading (*)(RSS)
Longform.org (general interest reading(*)(RSS)
Longreads (general interest reading(*)(RSS)

PhD. Piled higher and deeper

Joe Posnanski (sports)(RSS)(*)
Lifehacker (DIY lifestyle)(RSS)
Playbook (techs sports)(RSS)
Dan Savage (sex advice column)(RSS)


UPDATE 8/21/2012
Removed Newsweek. If Tine Brown is going to turn it into the daily beast, might as well read the daily beast. One week Romney is a wimp; the next Obama is no good; the only common factor a magazine desperate for attention.

Mardi Gras Indian Funeral Photo Album

My brother-in-law, Michael, is a funeral fanatic in New Orleans. If there is a Jazz Band, he is there. A few years ago, his two boys made the front page photo of the newspaper as they ran through a graveyard following a parade. His wife was quite surprised to see the picture, seeing as how the boys were supposed to be in school. Needless to say, things got “straightened out” in the Rovaris household. But Saturday funerals are fair game. And when a Chief Mardi Gras Indian died this summer, we were there. Several hundred people showed up for the parade. No Jazz Band – just tambourines, drums, singing voices, and costumes. The Mardi Gras Indian costumes are works-of-art. The Indians spend a year creating them to wear once. Sometimes, 80% of one’s salary goes into the costume.

[shashin type=”album” id=”13″ size=”max” crop=”n” columns=”2″ caption=”y” position=”center”]

Rob Gillaspie – Corporate Slave

Back in 1993, I was working an hellacious job at the refinery in El Dorado. (Hell Dorado, as I called it.) Monday through Friday in the plant, home for weekends. Lousy project. One bar in town and these were the days when you needed a “membership” to enter. I wound up eating most of my meals in my motel room.

Anyway, I was back in Lawrence for Art in the Park, and I ran into a very talented kid (high school senior) who was displaying his work. His name was Rob Gillaspie. One image in particular caught my eye: Corporate Slave. Surprise 🙂

I told him I wanted to buy it and how much would he sell it for. Nice kid, he was stunned, and eventually came up with “five dollars”. I talked him up to ten dollars with a lecture about how it was going to cost me twice that to have it framed. Anyway, we parted company and I never saw nor heard from him again. Periodically I google and FB his name, but nothing yet. So now at least his name and his art work are in google and perhaps he can find me.


Rob Gillaspie
Corporate Slave

Update: My google trick was successful and he finally showed up. You can find him at  Mal Content google user

backing up important files to google docs? How to?

I back up my computer. Duh. I have a 650GB external drive and a 120GB internal drive. The 650GB gives me long term incremental backup of my hard drive. The 120GB drive lets me store critical “cannot lose” files for those brief periods when I am recycling my 650GB drive. (If I lose everything during the backup, I am still ok.)

But if my house burns down, I am screwed!

I can live with losing most of my computer storage, but I cannot live with losing my archived photos and critical documents. This is currently < 20GB. I have over 1TB of archived video, but one must draw the line somewhere. If have a 10GB website. Good for transferring files, but not enough for storage. I just noticed google’s pricing for online storage:
$5/yr for 20GB.

I can afford that.

So I bought some storage from google. Now I’m going to backup/archive my files to my account. I’ll continue to keep these files at home, and the odds of both my house burning down and google losing my data are acceptably low.

What are the requirements?

1) I have certain things that are “one-time” archived. For example, when I complete a photo (or group of photos), I will burn them to a DVD. Same with archiving. These files won’t change. It would be nice if my computer would monitor a particular folder and automatically upload the contents, but it isn’t critical. Generally speaking, I’ll be selecting files locally off my hard drive then “dropping” them into google docs. The process will take hours to upload, but I can handle doing this one at a time.

I’m also not terribly concerned about security. Meaning that google can see my photos if they want to. And that I can see my photos when I browse google docs.

2) I have other files (such as tax returns) that need to be protected from everyone but me. So they have to be uploaded and stored encrypted. I don’t need to view these files in google docs. I just need to be sure they are backed up. So I want to select a folder on my hard drive and specify that it be synchronized with google docs in encrypted form.

For this, I would really like a tool that monitors certain folders on my hard drive and automatically syncs them with google docs. It should use rsync because it would be stupid not to.

3) This is strictly for home use. Business backup is nice, but not my concern.

4) I do have some very large files, but I don’t mind breaking them up into smaller chunks, if the tools require it. I think google docs has a 250MB size limit.

I could probably script all this with cygwin and rsynch. But I’d much rather download some free tool to do it.

And … I immediately hit a wall. No free tool seems to do all this for me. Google’s file upload works on only files. You cannot drop a folder onto it and have it recursively upload all the files. grr.

The long-fabled “GDrive” (where your google docs appears as a virtual drive on your computer) is not here yet.

This might be a good reason to learn the google docs api. I could write a little java app to do this 🙂 Hmm, Like I really need another computer project that I’ll have to support.

Surely, surely, someone has a tool to do this. Isn’t it such an obvious niche?


Sharing the blog with FB: First problems…

Seemed so simple! Just add your blog to the facebook notes. http://www.ehow.com/how_2031202_import-blog-facebook.html. Of course, good luck finding the “Notes Setting” box in your Notes section.

Ok, so we search FB for “import blog” and we find this page: http://www.facebook.com/editnotes.php
Unfortunately, FB fails to import my blog:

Import Failed

We couldn’t find a feed using the URL you provided.

So we dig a little more and find this is a common problem: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=396047a163429d16&hl=en

And so we try the idea of installing a FB app to handle the task. Don’t like to give strange FB apps permission, but no way around this. “RSS Graffiti” seems to be the most popular choice. http://apps.facebook.com/rssgraffiti/

And with that, I think we’re off and running. Well, I don’t actually see anything happening in FB yet…