Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heart Rate Monitors & Intervals

I bought a heart rate monitor as part of an exercise system now called "No Excuses Workout" or NEWO for short. Until my work's recent step challenge, I was lucky if I could average about 1 or 2 workouts a week. However, when my work decided to do a step challenge, and I discovered that the "you get what you pay for" free pedometer was seriously undercounting my steps, I decided to buy a pedometer with a USB interface. I also thought, hmm that Blood Pressure Monitor with USB download also looks pretty nifty. Being the geek that I am I bought both. And really being the geek that I am, I created a spreadsheet on google docs to track all my health stats. Someday I will do something with all that data (blood pressure, glucose, steps, weight, %Body Fat, etc).

Anyway back to the subject at hand. I read a fellow twitterer of mine had recently acquired a Heart Rate Monitor and had gone to training. Since I couldn't convey my own experiences in 140 characters or less, I thought, I guess I could post something to my long neglected blog. Let's see if I can stay on topic.

First off, I wear my heart rate monitor (HRM) when I am doing exercise at home or I go to the Y. I used to turn the thing on for both my strength training part (cybex machines) and cardio part (treadmill or elliptical), however, I was shortchanging myself on the NEWO challenges. So I now just use my HRM for the cardio part of my workouts at the Y. I sometimes also use it when I am doing the NEWO workout at home, but that is rare.

Now for those of you who don't know what intervals, here is my very unscientific/un-trainer explanation. Basically you determine your target heart rate, and then exercise for set time periods at recovery heart rate followed by periods where you exercise so your heart reaches your target heart rate or 5,10,15 beats per minute below your target heart rate. Typically your recovery heart rate is 30 to 40 beats per minute below your target heart rate. I think you can google for target heart rate to find sites to compute yours. If you notice some sites list several depending on the intensity, the one I am talking about is your aerobic target heart rate. The NEWO site (paid site) calculates the correct one for you based on a few questions. That is the one I use in my workouts.

Now the way I have it listed is backwards. You start off at your recovery rate to warm up. Then you do an interval at the lowest level below your target - say 15 below your target heart rate, for a set time period of a few minutes. Then you do an interval where you keep your heart rate at your recovery rate for a couple of minutes. The next interval is one step up, say try to keep your heart rate near or at 10 below your target heart rate for a few minutes. Then do Recovery, then do an interval (5 below Target Heart Rate), then do Recovery, then do an interval at Target Heart Rate, finally exercise so that your heart rate is at or near your recovery heart rate for few minutes as your cool down. You can add or subtract intervals/recovery periods to get up to a certain number of minutes for a workout. You can also add an interval near the end where you go 5 above your Target Heart rate for a few minutes.

Here's the trick I found that helps with all this: iPod playlists. I have a rather large music library (all purchased! or free downloads direct from iTunes/artist). I sort my music library by the time of the song. Then what I do is create playlists for my various total interval workouts. My playlist starts with a moderate beat song that lasts about 5 minutes. Then I have an uptempo song that lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. I follow that by a moderate song that is about 2 minutes (or 1 minute for 3 minute series interval workout). I repeat uptempo songs followed by recovery songs until I fill out my playlist. Now on the last interval, I replace the recovery song with a cool down song of about 5 minutes in length.

So you say that is nice, but how do you know what heart rate to use and for how long. The length is easy, I try to limit the songs I choose to be around 3 minutes, 4 minutes or 5 minutes. Then when the song ends, my interval is over. I also try to keep the music I choose for recovery to 2 minutes in length if I am doing 4 or 5 minutes intervals, or to 1 minute in length if I am doing 3 minute intervals. Although truth be told, I use 2 minute recovery periods regardless of the song length. Then for the warm up and cool songs, I choose songs that are moderately to slow paced and which last around 5 minutes.

For the heart rates to hit, I recorded my voice in Windows as a WAV file saying 'Interval, 15 below, 131'. That is for my 15 below Target Heart Rate. I repeated the recordings for 10 below, 5 below, at AT (aerobic Target Heart Rate), and 5 above. I then take those into iTunes and tell iTunes to convert it to MP3 format (select it, right click, select convert to MP3). I think on the mac you don't have to convert it since I believe the Mac's audio recording utility is in MP3 format. I then sprinkle the converted MP3s in to my interval playlist. For the recovery MP3s, I just copy and paste it in again, and answer OK to the prompt about using it more than once in the same playlist. So Voila, there is my ipod interval playlist.

Actually I got fancier than that by using the audio part and adding it to a tv like video prompt that I created in Corel Video, so when I am on the treadmills at the Y with iPod connections, I can see the prompt in addition to hearing it.

Here's a screenshot of one of my Interval playlists:

Finally, why did I talk about the other gadgets I have (blood pressure monitor, pedometer) in the first part of this post? Simple, because I wish my Heart Rate Monitor also had a USB port so I could download my workouts instead of having to write them down on paper and then transfer them to my google spreadsheet. All medical/exercise gadgets sold today should have a USB interface and an OPEN spec to allow various programs to download the information off them. This is the 21st century, like duh! exercise/medical gadget makers, are you all living in caves???? That also applies to any exercise facility that buys those uber expensive treadmills, cybex machines: Demand a feature where patrons can download their workout stats to a USB key - CSV with header format will do. After all you're already paying an arm and a leg for them, the equipment you buy should at least do that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to make a Dia De Los Muertos Marionnette Style Hanging Eskeleto

Eskeletos - Dia De Los Muertos Marionette style decorations

This is still in progress, will be updated (with pics) as I finish it....
Update: I posted this in an easier to read format here:

Time required
  1. About 12 days 3-4+ hours per day.
    1. I made two at a time so this is based on that. However at most you will save is 20-30% of this time by only making one marionette.
  • Two days for papier mache
    • Usually 2-3 hours for creating the frames.
    • At least 4 hours to do the actual papier mache.
    • Plus 24 hours for curing of the pieces.
  • Two days for priming
    • About 1 - 2 hours per priming coat + 8 hours to dry between coats.
  • Two days for painting/decorating papier mache.
    • About 4 hours for painting plus 8 hours of drying between coats.
    • Another 3-4 hours for decorating with glitter, spangles, stickers, allow to dry for 3-4 hours.
  • At least three days for sealing
    • Three layers requires about 2-3 hours plus the overnight drying time for each layer of sealer.
  • At least three days for sewing the costumes
    • Pattern making requires 2-3 hours.
    • Sewing requires 2-3 hours.
    • Decorating costumes with rick-rack, etc requires 4-5 hours.

Items required
Papier Mache body, head, legs, arms:
  • Drill bit 7/64" (used after dried and base gesso coats applied)
  • Newspapers - about a weeks worth.
    • Precut some pages into 1" strips
    • This is easiest if done on one-three full sheets at a time, folded in half horizontally, then torn from the creased side down.
    • Store the strips in a plastic see-through bin, Sterilite 15qt #1906 (DVD size) is great for this.
  • 1" Masking tape, 1 roll
  • 12 yards of drapery cord or 3mm (from sewing store)
  • Water balloons (small for head)
  • Large balloons (for body)
  • Corrugated cardboard scrap - about 8" x 6"
  • Large trash bag(s) - for covering your papier mache/paint work surface.
    • I actually used several layers of newspaper and just turned my work frequently while wet to prevent sticking.

Hangar/Paper Clip contraption:

  • 3 Tubular plastic hangars - for drying arm and leg pieces.
  • Masking or duct tape.
  • 30 large paper clips - for taping onto hangars to hold drying arm & leg pieces.

Papier Mache Paste recipe (two to three batches):
Single batch of papier mache paste - recipe is from:
In a Rubbermaid or similar throw-away container with lid (669ml/2.9 cups).
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 oz cup glue (1 school sized bottle)

Papier mache decoration:
  • White Gesso (8 oz).
  • Art acrylic paint (ASTM) 4oz bottles: white, black and various other BRIGHT colors you like.
    • Don't use drab or pastel colors as that is not in the spirit of Dia De Los Muertos.
    • The intent of Dia De Los Muertos is to celebrate your ancestor's lives, like a party, so think fun party colors.
  • Glitter.
  • Hot glue gun & sticks - or carpenter's glue.
  • Shiny (metallic) confetti or small shaped "spangles.
  • Mod podge or clear acrylic sealer.
  • Bristle paint brushes, various sizes.
    • Don't use foam brushes as they will disintegrate due to the rough surface of the papier mache.
    • A 1" bristle brush is good for priming the work with gesso and large swaths of paint.
    • Small detail brushes are good for 'drawing' the circles and other borders.

  • 2 yards of Black see-through fabric (glittery is best).
  • 2 yards of Glittery fabric multi colored.
  • 5-6 packages of bright ric-rack.

Hanging frames:
  • 3 dowels or square wooden rods, 12" long.
  • 2 yards of cord (included in drapery cord estimate).
  • 4-5 small hook eyes.
  • Duct tape - for taping the frame together.

Frame Construction
Head frame:
  1. Blow up a small balloon to about 3-4" tall and tie off.
  2. Cut a 8" (pencil length) 1" wide strip from a scrap piece of cardboard.
    1. If you don't have cardboard roll use half of a full page of a newspaper.
    2. Folded that down to half (like at a newsstand).
    3. From the open (uncreased edge) begin 'folding' up a 3/4" section until the entire thing is folded up to become a 1" wide strip by 15" long.
    4. Wrap masking tape around each end.
    5. Tape the vertical seam down as well.
  3. Roll up to break cardboard/newspaper strip and form a ring about 2" - 2 1/2" in diameter.
  4. Mark point to cut at, then cut strip.
  5. Masking tape the two ends together to form a ring.
  6. Attach the ring to the bottom of the balloon at the tied end with masking tape in a balanced fashion.
    1. For ease in painting and papier macheing you want to make sure the ring is attached in a level fashion so the piece won't fall over while you papier mache, paint or dry it.

Body frame:
  1. Blow up a large balloon to about 6"-8" tall, and tie off.
  2. Cut two 8" (pencil length) 1" wide strip from a scrap piece of cardboard
    1. If you don't have cardboard roll use half of a full page of a newspaper.
    2. Folded that down to half (like at a newsstand).
    3. From the open (uncreased edge) begin 'folding' up a 3/4" section until the entire thing is folded up to become a 1" wide strip by 15" long.
    4. Wrap masking tape around each end.
    5. Tape the vertical seam down as well.
  3. Roll up each cardboard/newspaper strip and form a ring about 2" - 2 1/2" in diameter.
  4. Mark point to cut at, then cut strip.
  5. Masking tape the two ends together to form rings.
  6. Attach one ring to the bottom of the balloon at the tied end with masking tape.
    1. For ease in painting and papier macheing you want to make sure the ring is attached in a level fashion so the piece won't fall over while you papier mache, paint or dry it.
  7. Attach the other ring to the top of the balloon with masking tape.

Arms & leg bone frames:

  1. Cut a full newspaper in half vertically, so each section is one page wide.
  2. Fold the page in half horizontally, as if it were at a newstand.
  3. Arms:
    1. Cut (6) 18" - 19" lengths of drapery cord for arms.
    2. Cut the folded page in half vertically (6 1/2" wide) to create a strip.
  4. Legs:
    1. Cut (6) 20" - 21" lengths of drapery cord for legs.
    2. For legs, cut the folded page to a 4 column strip (8 1/2" wide).
  5. Roll up the bones:
    1. Fold the string in half and place that at the halfway point of the bottom of the strip (uncreased side).
    2. Tape it down with a 2-3" section of masking tape.
    3. The string should be hanging out evenly from both sides of the strip.
    4. Tightly roll up the newspaper around the string to form a tube.
    5. Tape both ends of the tube and the vertical seam.
    6. Make 6 of each type of bone per calavera, 6 arm bones, 6 leg bones.

  1. TBD.

Papier macheing
    1. It requires at least 24 hours to cure/dry the pieces, so make sure you have someplace to leave the pieces out for that long.
    2. When the head and body pieces have finished curing, pop the balloon and remove the pieces stuck to the inside of the frame. You will need to cut the tape that held the balloon to the ring.

For each strip:
  1. Finger paint the paste you made onto one side of the strip.
  2. Cover all of it.
  3. Don't be stingy with the glue/paste, it should slightly drip.

  1. Vertically papier mache the body overlapping the base and top rings and each strip.
  2. Do at least two layers.
  3. You may also want to wrap the ring part horizontally at least once, but make sure the final layer is vertical.

  1. Starting at the top, center a piece on top and fold down over into the base.
  2. Repeat again but at a 90 degree angle from that piece - starting at the top, to form a "x" as if looked down from the top.
  3. Repeat again, but this time splitting the open area.
  4. Continue until the entire head is covered, then repeat for one more layer.
  5. You can also wrap strips around horizontally, but make sure the final layers on top are vertical.

Arms & Leg bones:
  1. Tie a loop at one end of the arm so you can hang it onto your drying hangar/paper clip contraption.
    1. Make sure you can remove the knots later!
    2. Easiest way is to fold the string hanging out in half then knot it - I think it's called a slipknot.
  2. Start at one end diagonally and wrap to the other end.
  3. Repeat but this time wrap so the diagonal crosses the other in an "x" fashion.
  4. Repeat both layers.
  5. For each end, roll slightly diagonally, then reverse so that you stay within 1 1 1/2" of that end.
    1. You are building up a bulge on each end.
    2. Repeat one time - so that you have two layers of this on each end.
  6. Hang it up on your hangar/paperclip contraption, make sure you have newspaper underneath to catch the drips.

Papier Mache Finishing & Assembly
Priming & prep:
  1. Primer each piece with a thin coat of gesso and let dry for a few hours.
  2. Repeat with a second coat, let dry overnight.
  3. Mark/drill string holes
    1. Once the pieces are fully dry.
    2. On the body:
      1. Draw a dot/circle on each side of the base ring for the arm string at least 1/4" away from the edge of the ring bottom.
      2. Do the same on the bottom body ring, making sure the leg holes are lined up with the arm holes.
    3. On the body and head: Mark two holes on the front and back spaced 1" apart for the strings that will hold the head to the body.
      1. It is easiest to do this if you are holding the two pieces together to ensure that holes are lined up between the head and body piece.
    4. On the head, at the top about 1/2 from the center, mark a hole, then 1" from that across from the center mark a second hole.
      1. These two holes will be used to tie the head to the hangar.
    5. Using a 7/64" drill bit, carefully and slowly drill each hole marked.

  1. Draw the outlines of the eyes and patterns to paint onto the head.
  2. You can also do the same on the body.
  3. Paint the outline of each item you drew with black paint using a very fine bristle brush.
  4. Color in the items with various paint colors as you like.
  5. Glue on any sequins, spangles, glitter, stickers that you like to the various pieces.
  6. Hang up the arm/leg pieces to dry on your hangar/paperclip contraption, covering the area underneath with newspaper to catch any drips.
  7. Let dry overnight.
  8. Using a throw away bristle brush, apply mod podge or other sealer in a thin single coat, let dry overnight.
  9. Repeat for second coat of mod podge/sealer, again let dry overnight.
  10. If required, repeat for the third coat.

  1. Use black duct tape and tape together an I frame using your square dowels.
  2. In the center of the I dowel attach a small eye hook.
  3. Attach eye hooks at each end of the I bars.
  4. Tie two arm bones to the end of one arm bone, so that each arm piece has one 'bone' on top and two 'bones' on the bottom.
  5. Tie two arm bone to the end of one arm bone, so that each arm piece has one 'bone' on top and two 'bones' on the bottom.
  6. Tie the hand piece to the double boned arm piece and repeat for the other arm.
  7. Tie the foot to the double boned leg piece and repeat for the other leg.
  8. Thread and tie the single bone part of the arm to the arm hole on the body. Repeat for the other arm and both legs.
  9. On the head piece run a 20" piece length of drapery cord, thread it through the two holes on the top of the head and leave it hanging out the bottom of the head.
  10. On the body piece run another piece of cord between the two arm holes on top and tie it off so that the knot sits in the body.
  11. On the head piece, run a length of cord between the two holes in the front and run that same string through the two holes on the front of the body, but do not tie yet.
  12. Repeat for the back holes on the head and body, do not tie yet.
  13. Take the head and the thread hanging from the top, loop it around the piece of cord threaded through the arm holes so that head is tied to the body via the loop around the arm string. Do not do this snuggly as you want to leave a gap between the top of the head and that cord when it is used to hang the marionnette.
  14. Tie the front head and body cord ends together snuggly being careful not to tear the papier mache.
  15. Do the same for the back head and body cords.
  16. Now run a piece of cord through the cord on the top of the head, and tie that around center I hook.
  17. Tie a piece of cord to each hand and attach to the top of the I bar at an end, repeat for the other hand on the other side of that same I bar.
  18. Do the same for the feet, only use the other I bar.
  19. You can adjust the length of the cord used to tie the hands and feet to create different poses. Tie with a knot you can untie later.

Costume construction.
Create a tunic dress with the black fabric and use the multi colored fabric for the arms.
Make sure you have an opening in the back.
Use velcro to secure the openings.
Decorate the edges and other areas of the costume with rick rack, tassle tape, etc, sewing to attach the decorations.
Dress your marionette in the costume.

If the costume is damaged or needs laudering since it is not attached to the marionnette, it can be hand washed.

When packing away a marionette, add a package of silicone or other desicant to prevent the piece from becoming moldy or mildewed while in storage. That is also why it is very important you let the pieces dry completely, otherwise you will not have anything to display next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Just Say NO to Wall Street Welfare

Here's an edited copy of the letter I faxed to my senators and congressman.
-- snip --
The Honorable
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: Bush-Paulson $700,000,000,000 Bailout Plan
Dear Senator:

I am writing to express my utter dissatisfaction with the proposed bailout plan being peddled by President Bush and Secretary Paulson. That plan does nothing, absolutely nothing to prevent this situation from happening again. Instead it gives a blank check to prop up firms that engaged in speculation and risky securities. That plan provides absolutely no accountability for the expense of our tax dollars, nor requires any results for the spending of our tax dollars, nor does it give any guarantees that spending our tax dollars will fix this situation. The Bush-Paulson plan is nothing less than the wholesale robbery of American taxpayers and is completely morally bankrupt. This is nothing short of Wall Street Welfare.

There are alternative plans being floated that make more sense and actually will fix the situation instead of robbing the American taxpayers and the next two generations blind and pushing America into a cauldron of violence.

First: The plan must not be a bailout. It must seek to correct the lack of regulations and oversight that led to this mess. The lessons of the Great Depression were that 'anything goes' only works to enrich the few at the expense of the entire country. All securities must be regulated. Credit default swaps should be outlawed, with a phaseout period of one year. Any other similar Ponzi financing schemes must also be outlawed. All approved financial instruments must be backed at minimum ratio of twice as high as that required for federal chartered banks due to the increased risk involved.

Second: The plan must provide accountability for results. Lack of meeting restructuring goals will mean the board and executives are fired and the compensation they receive returned - which can be accomplished via tax liens and property seizures (including immediate family or any other persons to whom compensation was transferred to). Any foreclosed homes sold at auctions must not be sold to modern day robber barons, financial gangs or any entity associated with any failed bank or their executives (current and former). The goal must be to put families back into these homes as owners, not as serf renters. Absolutely no auctions will be valid unless a minimum quorum of bids is received from completely unrelated and non-conspiring parties. For homes not able to be auctioned off, they will be rented by a HUD or the equivalent state agency, with a rent-to-own plan. States can set income qualification ratios for down payment equivalences, such that those with the least amount of any/all income would receive the most favorable rent applied to ownership ratio. The goal is to get Americans back to owning their own homes, as that is the foundation of our economy.

Third: The plan absolutely must not reward the executives that ran the participating companies: All compensation contracts must be terminated for the executives of these companies - no golden parachutes, no perks, no 10010+:1 compensation disparities. Any such compensation already received by these executives in excess of $1 million dollars must be returned to the participating company.

Fourth: The plan must include equity stakes in any participating company so that the taxpayer has a voice on the boards of these companies and can recover capital invested. The gross profits will be used to calculate payments back to the American taxpayer. This would be to lessen the effect of accounting chicanery that such companies would try to foist on taxpayers in an attempt to plead poverty and inability to pay back the American taxpayer. Gross profits would be computed without deductions for any fees nor other gimmicky transactions. Payments back to the American taxpayer would be a percentage of gross profits on a sliding scale dependent on the amount of the equity owned by the American taxpayer.

Fifth: The plan must include restructuring of portfolios of the companies involved, to rescue American homeowners facing foreclosure and any loans that with balloon payments due in the next five years. It makes more sense to keep people in their homes, with funds coming in rather than have whole communities empty. When houses are deserted, and abandoned they are gutted and become havens for criminal activity. That is vicious cycle as the value of the entire neighborhood drops and more law abiding citizens flee or are forced to survive in such neighborhoods. It doesn't take much common sense to realize that such neighborhoods will breed domestic militancy worse than what we have seen overseas. It is for this reason that it is vital that Americans be kept in these homes, to prevent the decay of our towns and cities into areas racked by domestic terrorism, gangs and other violence. Recall that in good times, violent crimes go down.

Sixth: The plan must be subject to congressional oversight and the personnel at the government agency in charge must not have judicial immunity from any decisions they make. This must not be handled by a branch of the executive department with carte Blanche to cut back room deals with their friends nor business interests. Any personnel working at this agency must be fully divested of all assets tied to any of the companies being managed and/or any entities buying liquidated properties. This requirement for zero conflict of interest must also extend to the agency employee heirs and family members (to include business interests of family members). Any deals found to be lacking in documentation, appropriate targets, appropriate payback plans, or prepared/negotiated by those with conflicts of interest will be invalidated by a simple majority of the House Finance committee.

That is just part of what is required in a realistic plan to fix this mess will require. I hope I have your support in promoting and passing such a plan. There is more at stake here than billions of dollars.
-- snip --
It't not perfect, but it supports the sane provisions of the plans I have heard being floated with some extra protections thrown in.
Remember this battle cry when you vote this November.
Just say NO to Wall Street Welfare,
Say NO to greedy MBA types in fake reformers clothing
Say NO to more of the same, McPain!

Monday, August 25, 2008

If you have a small child, don't bother flying AirCanada

Granted, I almost never fly and when I do, it's usually Southwest, but for those unfortunate people who might be thinking of flying on AirCanada be warned. They have cut out all their life vests in order to save weight and fuel. So if you have a small child or an infant, you'll have to figure out someway to hold on to them while also holding on to your hopefully floating seat cushion.

Apparently the law in Canada and I suspect here in the US, authorizes carriers to rely on seat cushions as long as your flight is not scheduled to fly more than 90 kilometers away from the shore (almost 56 miles). I don't think a champion swimmer could last that distance with a seat cushion.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Do the McCain (Bush)-o-nomics math

Do the math - McCain's health care proposal.
McCain would provide refundable tax credits of $2,500 for individuals, and $5,000 for families, for all those who buy health insurance. Employer contributions toward health insurance would be treated as income, meaning workers would have to pay income taxes on it, but not payroll taxes.

What would happen to your income taxes if your employer's contributions towards health insurance were treated as income? Consider this example. If you are only paying 25% or 1/4 of the cost of the insurance, and you pay $480 for your family per month, that means your employer pays $1440 per month. Under McCain's health care plan, that $1440 per month would be taxable income. So your "pay" would increase by $17,280 per year as far as the IRS is concerned, yet you would never see that money. But you sure would pay taxes on it. Consider how much that extra $17,280 would cost you if you are in the 25% effective tax bracket, can we say $4320 - that is if you are lucky not to be pushed up into the next tax bracket thanks to McCain. McCain proposes a tax credit of $5000 per family. So you pay $4320 more in taxes and McCain (the economy is not my strong suit) will give you $4320 of that back (somehow I doubt they will give you the full $5000).

Now consider this, when was the last time you did not see your insurance premiums rise? You have a $680 cushion per year in taxes before you start to eat the cost of McCain's health insurance plan (that is when your taxes due to the "increase" in income exceed the tax credit). So if your monthly premiums increase more than $226(1) you will now be taxed on the increase in premiums above and beyond the credit you take. I have witnessed jumps in health insurance premiums for families of at least $60 per month, and usually $75 per month over the past few years. In 4 years your premiums increases would exceed the $226 cushion you had. So after 4 years, you would be paying MORE for health insurance because McCain - "Economics is not my strong suit" - thinks this is better.

Here's another wrinkle. If you are in a section 529 - cafeteria plan, you can currently exempt from taxes for the amount of the premiums you pay - it's call pre-tax. So that $480 per month in premiums, is never included in your taxable income. I bet under McCain's plan that exemption will no be longer allowed. So your "income" will rise by $1,920 per month (the full premium, 1440 - employer + 480 your contribution). Your taxable income would rise by $23,040, more than likely pushing you into a higher tax bracket, say 28%. So now your taxes on the "increase in your income" would be $6,451 HIGHER. Hey guess what McCain will give you back $5,000 so really you're only paying $1,451 per year MORE for exactly what you have today. How's that for McCain/Bush-onomics? If you are still in the 25% bracket after you huge increase in salary (thanks McCain), your taxes would rise to $5,760 per year, so you only pay $760 more per year for the exact same insurance.

Really McCain needs to take a refresher course on basic math.

Right now employers can deduct the cost of the premiums they pay for you. Will they still be able to do it? I bet they will. So while you are being taxed for those premiums, they will be getting $4320 back. So who really benefits from this? Do you really want 4 more years of Bushonomics?

Also another question, is this tax credit permanent? Will it expire. Do you really think it will last past the first real budget shortfall.

Here's another wrinkle. Do you have kids? Are you planning on sending them to college? You do realize that your income determines the aid package they receive. So how do you think the "increase" in income will affect that aid package? The more you "make", the less help you get.

Finally, McCain's 'solution' does nothing to address the increases in premiums. What incentive do you think there will be to get those premiums under control? I bet it's like the incentives he proposes for getting us off oil - drill more.

(1) The tax credit is $5000. Subtract the current amount to get your cushion where you don't pay more in taxes. $5,000 - $4,320 = $680. Take your 680 cushion in taxes and figure out how much income that equals at 25% rate (multiply by 4). So $680 * 4 = $2,720. This is the max amount per year your premiums could increase where you would start to pay more in taxes since the taxes would exceed the $5000 credit. Now to figure out what the max increase in premiums per month could be before you hit that, divide that 2,720 by 12 months in a year = $226.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another vote by Forbes to dismantle the constitution

I continue to be astounded by those who vote for Forbes in my district (VA/4). He supports those who consider themselves above the law. He supports bills and policy that seek to dismantle much of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. His most recent attempt was to vote against the FISA Act in the House because it did NOT include immunity for the wholesale wiretapping of millions of American citizen's phone and other communications. Luckily it passed but along party lines.

Here is the note I sent to his office:
The fourth amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The wholesale wiretapping of millions of innocent American citizen's telephone and other communications by the telephone companies at the behest of the Bush Administration violates that right. I believe you should re-examine your position on telecom immunity and affirm your duty to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America. Immunity effectively dismantles the checks and balances built into our constitution so carefully by our forefathers over 200 years ago. Let the courts decide on the legality of the wiretapping issue as our forefathers intended.

I had a conversation about 3 weeks ago with a coworker about this issue. His response that he didn't care that his conversations were listened to. Then I told him about several recent stories I had read about concerning misuses of personal information for vendettas and grudges. I believe I also told him about the 1000+ inappropriate requests for taps made by the FBI in the past few years. I don't know if that changed his mind, but the next day he was registering himself and his son to vote. I can only hope he decided to do so in defense of our constitution.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The "Unhappy" Neighbor

Every school morning, I send my son to the bus stop on the corner across the street. I stay in the garage since his younger sister is never dressed by the time his bus comes. I originally was carting her across the street to wait for her brother's bus, but she had strep and I thought I might, so in order to not infect the other children and parents, I decided to wait in the garage. Now I do that all the time, as it has removed the stress of all three of us getting ready in time to catch the bus. I also didn't feel right about leaving the premises if my daughter was still asleep or inside playing. My neighbor across the street does the same, she sends her son across the street, while she supervises him crossing the street (which I do too).

I have a neighbor who lives a few houses down. Unlike most stay-at-home moms, she seems to have a great disdain for working mothers. When I used to wait at the bus stop in the morning with my son, she would make comments about her parenting skills since she was a stay-at-home mom. I recall one time she made a big deal about 'as a good parent, she could never leave her children in the care of others'. She loves to talk about her stuff, and sometimes others.

Anyway, this past week, for some reason she just felt the need to begin talking about what I think is an upcoming party. Since I am across the street, she has to talk extremely loud - which she does - for me and my neighbor to hear. She began by saying something about her list, and how the other two mothers who were at the bus stop were on it. I was walking back into my garage to put something away, when she yelled, "but not that one over there on the corner". I stopped, turned around, came back out of the garage and just looked at her with an expression of 'what is wrong with you?' My other neighbor's house is not on corner, so that left me as the obvious person she had been speaking about. At that same moment it dawned on me that the other comments she had practically yelled in the past were about me and my kids. Now mind you this happens before the kids are picked up. So the kids can hear everything, including my son. Lucky for me he is oblivious to her as are all the other kids, except maybe her children.

Later that morning I drove my daughter to her day care center on the way to work. As I was pulling in, I just started to laugh. I was giggling thinking about the pre-high school behavior this neighbor exhibited. Even high school students and some middle school students are past the need for such behavior. I mentioned what happened to my other half, and he pointed out to me that there was an article the other day in the paper about competition between stay-at-home moms and working mothers. Now I am not one who competes against others, I don't need others to 'lose' so I can feel I have won. I have my own goals and I compete against my own internal standards. I prefer heart felt Thank You's to any material token of achievement.

My other half commented that such juvenile behavior was mentioned in the article, as something that tends to happen to some stay-at-home moms who are actually jealous of their working counterparts. I believe that happens to a very small minority. I don't know, if she is jealous per se, since she has no idea of the accolades and respect I have earned from my coworkers, customers and competitors. If she did know, then I could see the jealousy angle. But I really think deep down inside she is very unhappy about her life and for some reason can only feel good about herself by tearing others down. I guess for her, she only feels she wins if she puts someone else down. I hope for her children's sake she recognizes this as a destructive behavior and corrects it.

Competition is not healthy when it requires that you tear someone else
down just to feel good about yourself.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lead Poisoning and Unrestricted Warfare

It is no accident that lead and other hazardous items are showing up in toys made in China bound for American children. It is laughable to believe that China has now banned lead in toys IMPORTED TO THE UNITED STATES. Apart from having that so called 'rule' in effect before their current act was discovered, what strikes me is that they have not ruled out exporting lead toys to other countries. I wonder about Japan, Germany, Brittian, Ireland, are they also recipients of these toys? Do you see a pattern? These are all critical trading partners who make or design critical components.

In the book Unrestricted Warfare, a paper created by two high level Chinese Colonels, unconventional warfare is advocated. One of the striking quotes from the book is that "This is to say that there is nothing in the world today that cannot become a weapon, and this requires that our understanding of weapons must have an awareness that breaks through all boundaries" [p16]. "What must be made clear is that the new concept of weapons is in the process of creating weapons that are closely linked to the lives of the common people".

Now let's look at what lead is known to do in children:
When ingested or breathed in:
1. Reduced IQ.
2. Attention deficit disorders.
3. Behavioral problems.
4. Kidney damage.
5. Stunted growth.
6. Impaired hearing.

At high levels lead poisoning can:
1. Cause mental retardation.
2. Cause the victim to fall into a coma.
3. Death.

In the long term lead poisoning is linked to Juvenille Delinquency.

Now for another link in this chain. Many factories in China employ or are run by the Chinese Military (aka PLA, Peoples Liberation Army).

I for one do not believe for one second that the use of lead paint was simply a mistake or oversight on the part of the Chinese factories. I believe this was an attempt by the PLA to poison our children. One of the passages in the book Unrestricted Warfare, is that it is more effective to cause casualties than it is to kill your enemy. The reason is simple, having to take care of casualties/wounded weakens the enemy. Not only is lead poisoning one way to ensure your enemies are unable to fight, it is also an excellent way to ensure they cannot fight you for their lifetime due to sickness or mental incapacity.

China's leadership believes War with the US is inevitable. China has been implementing their master plan to defeat the US via unrestricted warfare. I believe this war has been going on since the late 1990s if not earlier. In addition to the recently published Network Warfare attacks and successful penetration of DoD networks by Chinese military, there is the policy of China to conduct financial warfare against us. By using prison labor and military workers, China has eliminated alternate source of many items we buy by making it economically unfeasible to make products anywhere but China. If you take a look at Unrestricted Warfare's list of alternative methods of combat, you will see we are battling China already on most of these.

Technological Warfare: HD-DVD standard - 2 weeks ago. Purchase of IBM's hardware business - Lenovo, 2 years ago. Red Flag? Linux (chinese version of linux).

Resource Warfare: Buying rights to oil fields, and buying as much crude oil as possible (e.g. Venezuela, Argentina). Buying shipping ports in the US (Long Beach , New York).

Smuggling Warfare: China has been doing this for years. Currently Chinese factories have created at least 5 or more knockoffs of the iPhone.

International Law Warfare: UN Security Council, G8, and I believe the IMF.

These are just some of the methods China is using to wage war against the US. Add disabling and sickening American children to the list.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sore Throat Remedies

Earthclinic's site for natural cures

I read the link above and compared it to my mom's recipe...

Take a couple of Garlic cloves, honey (to taste), a little bit of lemon juice, water and a couple of cinnamon stick and bring them to a simmer. Then let it simmer for at least 10 minutes so the cinnamon sticks release their cinnamon. Cool slightly and serve in a mug. Then sip it down.

I adapted my mom's recipe based on the recommendations Earthclinic's site and came up with this recipe.

Cinnamon-garlic-honey tea - mostly by my mama Terri (except **)
* 2 ounces apple cider vinegar
* 2 cups water
* 2 sticks cinnamon
* 2 TBS lemon or lime juice
* 2 Cloves of garlic peeled
* 2 ounces+ of honey (+to taste)
* 2 shakes (~1/4 tsp) ground chile powder - chipotle or cayenne **

Boil all together, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and serve. Sip while still warm. You can make a batch and simple reheat it during the day. Save in glass canning jar and refrigerate if necessary then reheat on the stove.

The pepper kills some of the sting of the soreness. Granted I haven't had as severe a sore throat as others described on the earth clinic site, but this works for me. I think the honey, lemon juice and cinnamon help to make the brew more palatable.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's up with Wavy10

Tonight on their news cast I saw them use a technique that caught me offguard. They were doing a story on the most arrested criminal in the country. The odd thing was that instead of simply showing his series of mugshots, they started each somewhat out of focus mugshot at a normal frame and then zoomed in. The effect was that this black guy was coming after you. I was taken aback. I've never seen them do this to a white guy (even the most disgusting ones). I'm not black but the implied message is something only an apologist could miss.