White is cool with Obama

May 27th, 2009

Call me a racist, but when we started to build our home 25 years ago, I thought I’d be more comfortable living with whites rather than darks. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing personal against darkies. It’s just that I thought, in this part of the country, it would be better to live as a good ol’ whitey. And I’m not ashamed to admit I still feel that way. To my surprise, so does President Obama.

US wants to paint the world white

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday the Obama administration wanted to paint roofs an energy-reflecting white, as he took part in a climate change symposium in London.

Yep, we have a honky roof. Well, actually it’s more like a cracker. Perhaps I should explain.

My Okie roof
We built our house in three sections, two of which have slab like roof construction which result in vaulted style ceilings. The outer surface consists of conventional white fiberglass/asphalt shingles over roofing felt and plywood attached to 2X10 rafters. (These are actual 2X10’s salvaged from an old warehouse.)
Approximately 1.5 inches below that a radiant barrier is attached between the rafters similar to the photo at right. Then comes the fiberglass batts. A layer of 4 mil polyethylene is used as a vapor barrier. The area between the plywood and radiant barrier is vented by soffit and ridge vents. This roof section is about 18 years old.

Another, older, roof section is similarly constructed except that it uses shallow cathedral trusses and the radiant barrier is 1/8 inch thick laminated paper with foil on both sides.

White shingle valuation
First of all, it should be noted that white fiberglass/asphalt shingles are only marginally cooler in direct sun than darker colored shingles. The difference is much less than that of a white and black metal surface such as a car body. Good ventilation is likely a greater cooling factor than the color of the shingles. However, I feel even a 10-15 degree cooler roof slightly helps with not only energy costs, but also roof sheathing degradation. The latter is of special concern due to the heat reflected by the radiant barrier.

No way around it, white shingles are just plain uglier than dark shingles. While few people ever see our house in the woods, this fact could affect resale value for urban and suburban homes. Conversely, white shingles do usually cost less.

All in all, for the vast majority of Okies with composition roofs, we’d probably save more energy, and money, with white roofs on our cars than on our homes. Now, metal roofs are another story:

  • Black acrylic paint: 142deg. F
  • Galvanized steel: 138deg. F
  • Red acrylic paint: 106deg. F
  • Light green acrylic paint: 104deg. F
  • White acrylic paint: 74deg. F
  • Hyper white” acrylic paint : 65deg. F

DUI checkpoint not adding up

May 26th, 2009

Every once in a while a DUI checkpoint is set up here in Little Axe. They have been located just off of Hwy 9 on 156th St. Police were there again this Memorial Day weekend, Sunday from 5pm – 9pm.

Officers stopped all motorists traveling north and south bound on NE 156th, evaluating a total of 653 vehicles. Charges filed as a result of the checkpoint were;

1 Driving Under the influence (DUI)

1 Driving Under Revocation

And chances are if it was an elected official that got the DUI, he will get off anyway.

Now I’m all for getting impaired drivers off the road, but I question whether the resources used to conduct the operation might be used more effectively in other ways.

Officers working on the checkpoint were working extra duty with funding coming from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the 2M2L grant. The Norman Police Department is aware of the importance of keeping intoxicated drivers off the roadways this holiday weekend. Norman officers sacrificed their personal holiday plans with their families and decided to work extra duty to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers and ensure safe roadways for the community.

Based on my experience of traveling Hwy 9 within Norman for three decades, I’d bet dollars to donuts that utilizing those officers in normal traffic patrol along that highway from between 11pm and 3am on a Friday or Saturday night would reap greater results in not only DUI’s, but also license, insurance, and driving violations.

And the 2M2L grants? 2M2L is a statewide initiative focused on reducing and preventing underage drinking. Their money is likely better spent on funding a different type of compliance check:

… a tool used by law enforcement to identify alcohol retailers that sell alcohol to underage youth.

Taxation with too much representation

April 20th, 2009

There’s been a lot of people crying about “taxation without representation”. Well, us folks here in Little Axe have the opposite problem: “taxation with too much representation”.

The map below shows the Little Axe School District boundaries outlined in black. The area not only includes land on the west side of the lake, but covers portions of two counties, three state Senate districts (outlined in purple), three state House districts (outlined in wide blue, green and orange), part of City of Norman’s Ward 5 (shaded in yellow), and no less than two U.S. Congressional Districts.

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Little Axe is finely chopped

County Commissioners:
Cleveland District 2, George Skinner
Pottawatomie, District 2, Jerry Richards

State Senators:
District 15, Jonathan Nichols
District 16, John Sparks
District 17, Charlie Laster

State Representatives:
District 27, Shane Jett
District 45, Wallace Collins
District 53, Randy Terrill

Norman City Councilmember:
Ward 5, Rachel Butler

U.S. Representatives:
District 4, Tom Cole
District 5, Mary Fallin

I don’t know how we get by on only one city councilmember.

China’s US stimulus package

March 26th, 2009

There’s been plenty of things to blame on the flood of Chinese goods into the U.S. over the past decade or two, but you really don’t hear about the many benefits those products provide to our economic growth.

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So in the spirit of international relations, and the fact that China is now our financial overlord, I bring you:

Chinese exports that stimulate certain industries (health care and mortuary for instance). (Taken from news reports.)

  • Carcinogen in Chinese Liquors
  • Lead in Chinese candy
  • Pesticide methamidophos in dumplings
  • Contaminant in blood-thinning drug heparin
  • Pesticide Found in Fish Processed in China
  • Dishes, toys, jewelry, backpacks, cake decorations, with lead
  • Carcinogens in Imported Chinese Produce
  • Chemical Clothes
  • Tainted Toothpaste
  • Mislabeled, misrepresented, defective, or harmful goods
  • Melamine in baby formula and pet food
  • Tainted dietary supplements
  • Toxic cosmetics
  • Counterfeit medicines
  • Catfish with banned antibiotics
  • Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria
  • Mushrooms covered with illegal pesticides
  • Tainted cough syrup
  • Toxic wheat gluten

And the good news is that China’s stimulus package shows
little sign of abating.

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught — many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Dead pets and melamine-tainted food notwithstanding, change will prove difficult, policy experts say, in large part because U.S. companies have become so dependent on the Chinese economy that tighter rules on imports stand to harm the U.S. economy, too.

And their latest effort to bolster the housing industry:

Ocean Springs, MS: Lisa and Thomas Rose had to rebuild their home after Katrina hit them hard–now it looks like they might have to tear down their brand new home and start again, all because of Chinese Dry Wall.

At least there are some things we can count on in this unsettling economy.

Not lost, not found

March 21st, 2009

It’s been at least four days now that this dog has been roaming our local market parking lot. I’ve given her some dog biscuits a couple times and she’s a real sweetheart. (Yes, I keep dog biscuits in my car. Doesn’t everyone?)

I’m not sure what to say about the plight of dumped animals in Little Axe. Having lived here for almost three decades now, they are a common sight in this rural area. One of our cats was plucked from the middle of Hwy 9 as a frightened kitten just last year. (It turned out to be a great cat.)

And that’s the dilemma; while it’s certainly cruel to abandon a pet, in the case of one such as an old female dog, taking it to the local animal shelter would surely be a death knell. It could be argued that dumping it in a populated area offers at least a slight chance of survival. Of course it could also be argued that the same consequences might lead to a more agonizing death. One person left their opinion on the market bulletin board.

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I really like WordPress

January 11th, 2009

Remember Microsoft Publisher 2000?

Remember Okiedoke 2002?

I understand.

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The pre-blog Okiedoke homepage template

The official launch date of the Okiedoke blog was July 4, 2003

A free-range browser

December 17th, 2008

I prefer my web browser and eggs the same way: organic and free range. Ya see, I’ve raised chickens, and if chickens ever get happy, it’s when they are freed from their coop to forage in the yard and garden. Not only does that improve their bug gobbling skills, it’s good for a healthy immune system. And the eggs just come out better. I figure the same goes for programmers. Which is why I use 100% organic Mozilla Firefox.

Why should you care?

We may not be a typical company, but we still know how to focus on the bottom line: making the web better for you.

Being open means the next big idea can come from anyone across the world rather than just relying on a few dozen employees at our company offices. When you look at the situation in those terms, why do it any other way?

All this talk about organic software and open source ultimately means a better browser for you and the 150 million regular Firefox users. It means a higher-quality, more secure product. It means innovation, freedom and supporting an Internet that’s accessible to all.

Oh, and there are two other good reasons for Internet Explorer users to make Firefox your default browser:
Major flaw revealed in Internet Explorer; users urged to switch

The major press outlets are abuzz this morning with news of a major new security flaw that affects all versions of Internet Explorer from IE5 to the latest beta of IE8. The attack has serious and far-reaching ramifications — and they’re not just theoretical attacks.

And even more important:
Okiedoke – Vintage Okie opinion is powered by WordPress | Optimized for Mozilla Firefox

Get your chemical free Firefox here.

Following the auto bailout

December 16th, 2008

I’ve been a strong critic of General Motors’ management style since notorious bean-counter Roger B. Smith began accelerating the company’s demise some 30 years ago.

As the 1980s began, G.M. sat atop the automobile industry, as it had since the end of World War II, with 46 percent of American market share.

But by the time Mr. Smith retired, in 1990, G.M. held only 35 percent of the American market, with a lineup of look-alike automobiles blemished by poor quality.

GM’s market share today is about 24%.

While I think we can all agree that current GM executives deserve a lot of criticism for their lack of vision by depending so much on light truck production for profitability, I’m not convinced that a government car czar would be any better. With GM sales of pickups and SUV’s dropping 39% in November, an enlightened car czar would likely have GM truck factories converting to hybrids like the Toyota Prius.

Prius sales plunged 48.3% in November

Plans to produce the Prius hybrid in the United States have been put on hold indefinitely, Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday.

So here’s my best guess auto bailout scenario:

1. The “Big 3” (GM, Ford and Chrysler) get a car czar and a government line of credit to retool light truck factories to build ‘green cars’.
2. Workers’ wages reduced.
3. Gasoline remains at less than two dollars a gallon.
4. U.S. sales of trucks and SUV’s increase.
5. The “Big 3” go bankrupt.
6. Japanese automakers fill U.S. demand for light trucks.
7. Public becomes more protectionist.
8. States hotly compete for new Chinese car factories.
9. Economy improves and oil prices rise.
10. Shrewd investment bankers lose trillions. Chinese buy more banks.
11. Economy tanks.
12. Congress gives the “Big 3” (Toyota, Honda and Nissan) a car czar and a government line of credit to retool factories to build ‘green cars’.
13. Worker’s wages reduced.
14. Ralph Nader becomes 45th President of the United States.

Let’s get smart about wind powered cars

September 18th, 2008

The word is out that struggling automakers are licking their chops over the willingness of U.S. taxpayers to shower money on businesses that are threatened due to poor executive management.

They need the money, they say, to finance a quick switch to producing more fuel-efficient vehicles … they’ve got all this great technology, etc., they just need some help getting it to market.

Plus, the U.S. auto market is not a free market in which all the manufacturers are competing on a level playing field. I mean, it’s not like Toyota doesn’t get help from Japan.

Though I am a big supporter of domestic manufacturing, I disagree with a bailout. However, I do support government subsidization of our nation’s misguided auto industry, while at the same time supporting our nation’s energy independence. And no, I’m not talking about some convoluted alchemy scheme like turning crops into fuel. What I propose is incentives to power cars from the wind.

The great thing about such an effort is that the system is already practical and uses our existing utility infrastructure. There is no need for massive investments in building a nation-wide network of hydrogen or CNG fueling stations. Using wind energy to power vehicles won’t require huge ethanol refineries that burn more energy than they produce. And the best thing is that U.S. automakers are already able to produce vehicles that move with the wind.

General Motors unveiled the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle on Tuesday, allowing outsiders their first full look at the car GM says will go on sale in 2010.

The Volt will be driven by electricity stored in a large T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack running the length of the car. After charging for several hours, the Volt will be able to run for up to about 40 miles without using gasoline.

So what government subsidy do I propose? Smart residential charging stations.

One of the limitations of wind energy is the fickleness of wind. No matter what our brightest intellectuals say, it is not yet feasible to reliably power something like a college campus on 100% wind energy.

When electric power is derived from Oklahoma wind, it is merged with electricity from our coal and natural gas power plants into the power grid. As the wind fluctuates, so does the amount of electricity produced from it. In order to prevent brownouts, fossil fuel power plants must remain online and ready to ramp up or down to meet the changing demand. This is extremely fuel inefficient, especially for coal fired boilers. The greatest efficiencies come with steady power demands and near capacity boiler output.

Installing a huge bank of smart batter chargers into the system at residences, businesses and parking garages, would allow energy providers to reduce such fluctuations and increase efficiencies. More wind turbines (and solar arrays) could be introduced into our energy grid with greater overall efficiencies. Electrical generating costs and pollution from power plants would actually be reduced.

Perhaps the best advantage is that U.S. taxpayers would primarily be bailing out themselves. (And Canadians also, since the Chevy Volt is being manufactured in Windsor.) Hey, maybe Canadian taxpayers would chip in a few bucks, too.

Confession of an American capitalist

September 17th, 2008

Even though much of my income is from investments (much less lately), I’ve never been a real good American capitalist. I like to avoid debt and am satisfied with a reasonable return for a reasonable risk. I believe that workers should not pay a higher income tax rate on their wages than folks who profit from investments. I have guilt over piling debt on future Americans to bail out greedy, opportunistic money managers who earned millions per year while bankrupting their companies.

I feel it is against our national interest that government incentives result in moving our manufacturing base outside the country. I respect the guy who picks up my garbage more than all the Wall Street executives. I prefer a fair trade policy over a free trade one. I think profiting from a war that kills and maims tens of thousands of Americans is unpatriotic. And I am convinced that most Democrats and Republicans fool themselves into believing that they are not part of the problem; it’s the other Party.

My simple approach to life is balance and moderation, the antithesis of capitalism and the American dream. “Real” American capitalists know only suckers perform manual labor, and we’ll all be better off when every American has an MBA and all “menial jobs” are performed by a non-citizen underclass.

But then, I would think like that. For I live in a humble working class neighborhood in Oklahoma, and one of those suckers that labored for a living. I’m afraid I’ll never be a real good American capitalist. Of course, how many of us really are?