Friday, December 30, 2011

Dim Bulbs... a.k.a.: Fear and Loathing in DC (& AC)

How to change a broken light bulb, as envisioned by Thomas A. Edison:
  1. Turn off electricity to fixture housing broken bult to prevent an inadvertent flow of electrical current into your body,
  2. Firmly grasp base of bulb with one hand and begin turning said base counter-clockwise until bulb is removed from fixture while holding fixture 'neck' with your other hand,
  3. Remove bulb, wrap broken bulb in newspaper, carefully pick up, or sweep any glass  fragments from the floor, and deposit bulb and shards into nearest trash receptacle.
  4. To install new bulb, reverse the order and direction of Step 2 and reinsert new, unbroken bulb into fixture
  5. Enjoy modern electrical convenience of 'incandescent light' in your home for pennies a day
  6. Have an icy cold amber-colored beverage to celebrate your resourcefulness!

How to change a broken light bulb, as mandated by your Democratically-led Congress, as legislated in 2007, effective January 2012: 
(You'll want to keep this simple-to-follow set of guidelines handy for when you break your FIRST CFL light bulb!) 

SOURCE:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency January 25, 2011

What to Do if a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulb or Fluorescent Tube Light Bulb Breaks in Your Home

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. The broken bulb can continue to release mercury vapor until it is cleaned up and removed from the residence.

To minimize exposure to mercury vapor, EPA recommends that residents follow the cleanup and disposal steps described below. This cleanup guidance represents the minimum actions recommended to clean up a broken CFL, and will be updated as EPA identifies more effective cleanup practices.

Before Cleanup
  • Have people and pets leave the room, and avoid the breakage area on the way out.
  • Open a window or door to the outdoors and leave the room for 5‐10 minutes.
  • Shut off the central forced‐air heating/air conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials you will need to clean up the broken bulb:
  •     Stiff paper or cardboard
  •     Sticky tape (e.g., duct tape)
  •     Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces)
  •     Glass jar with a metal lid (such as a canning jar) or a sealable plastic bag(s)

The most important steps to reduce exposure to mercury vapor from a broken bulb are:

1. Before cleanup
  •     a. Have people and pets leave the room.
  •     b. Air out the room for 5‐10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  •     c. Shut off the central forced air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
  •     d. Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.

2. During cleanup
  •     a. Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
  •     b. Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

3. After cleanup
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

Cleanup Steps for Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag.(NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Vacuuming of hard surfaces during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. [NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.]
  • If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind:
  • Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;
  • Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available; and
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area. Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials.
  • Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.

Cleanup Steps for Carpeting or Rugs
  • Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Vacuuming of carpeting or rugs during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. [NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercurycontaining powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.]
  • If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind:
  • Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;
  • Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available, and
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.
  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly.  Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area. Some states and communities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center.  Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing bulb debris and cleanup materials. 
  • Continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC system shut off, as practical, for several hours.
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rugs:
(Assuming you continue to live in your Mercury-laden-HAZMAT-infested home...)
  • Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming
  • The next several times you vacuum the rug or carpet, shut off the H&AC system if you have one, close the doors to other rooms, and open a window or door to the outside before vacuuming. Change the vacuum bag after each use in this area.
  • After vacuuming is completed, keep the H&AC system shut off and the window or door to the outside open, as practical, for several hours.

Actions You Can Take to Prevent Broken Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Fluorescent bulbs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. To avoid breaking a bulb, follow these general practices:
  • Always switch off and allow a working CFL bulb to cool before handling.
  • Always handle CFL bulbs carefully to avoid breakage.
  • If possible, screw/unscrew the CFL by holding the plastic or ceramic base, not the glass tubing.
  • Gently screw in the CFL until snug. Do not over‐tighten.
  • Never forcefully twist the glass tubing.
  • Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs.
  • Do not use CFL bulbs in locations where they can easily be broken, such as play spaces.
  • Use CFL bulbs that have a glass or plastic cover over the spiral or folded glass tube, if available. These types of bulbs look more like incandescent bulbs and may be more durable if dropped.
  • Consider using a drop cloth (e.g., plastic sheet or beach towel) when changing a fluorescent light bulb in case a breakage should occur. The drop cloth will help prevent mercury contamination of nearby surfaces and can be bundled with the bulb debris for disposal.
NOTE:  This document contains information designed to be useful to the general public. This document does not impose legally binding requirements, nor does it confer legal rights, impose legal obligations, or implement any statutory or regulatory provisions. This document does not change or substitute for any statutory or regulatory provisions. This document presents technical information based on EPA’s current understanding of the potential hazards posed by breakage of mercury‐containing fluorescent lamps (light bulbs) in a typical household setting.

Finally, this is a living document and may be revised periodically without public notice. EPA welcomes comments on this document at any time and will consider those comments in any future revisions of this document.

Yes, you read the above correctly, the EPA states that regarding CFL usage: 
  • Consider not using CFLs in lamps that can be easily knocked over, in unprotected light fixtures, or in lamps that are incompatible with the spiral or folded shape of many CFLs.
  • Do not use CFL bulbs in locations where they can easily be broken, such as play spaces.
Roughly translated:  "Yup, don't use 'em where they 'could ever' break, or anywhere near children, unless of course, you WANT to have some kind of third eye shootin' out of the kid's forehead later in life."

And in case you're wondering, I DID go to the NY State website to read the FAQs on CFLs and the disposal thereof. 

Why?  I'm a glutton for punishment.

The 'Glut' continues.  And as for you, you might want to have one of those amber-beverages right about now, but go ahead, leave the lights off while you do it...

Answers To Common CFL Questions (NY State)
1. How do I know if my lamps are hazardous?
Because of their mercury content, most fluorescent lamps in current use are considered hazardous wastes when taken out of service for disposal. Other lamps that are commonly classified as hazardous waste due to the presence of mercury or lead include high-intensity discharge (HID), neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps. If you want to know for sure, you can have them analyzed by a laboratory test called the "Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP)." Most major manufacturers are now producing a line of fluorescent lamps which they claim are non-hazardous low-mercury or "green end cap" lamps. When these bulbs are taken out of service, manufacturer's data may be used to help determine if they are a hazardous waste.

2. How do I handle low-mercury fluorescent lamps?
Under Chapter 145, Laws of 2004, "Mercury-Added Consumer Products Law," even low-mercury (green end cap) lamps are subject to certain management standards. Under this law, defined Small Businesses may discard of up to fifteen low-mercury lamps per calendar month. If the non-hazardous lamps are commingled with universal waste lamps, all of the waste is regulated as universal waste. The Department strongly encourages the recycling of any lamps containing mercury.

3. Now that the Universal Waste Rule is available for hazardous waste lamps, must I use it?
No, handlers of hazardous waste lamps may choose between traditional hazardous waste regulations and Universal Waste Rule standards. However, flip-flopping between the two sets to avoid meeting requirements of one or both regulations is not allowed. For example, both management scenarios include storage time limits. Flip-flopping between regulations will not extend storage time.

4. Do hazardous waste lamps count in determining my generator category? Must hazardous waste lamps be indicated on my annual hazardous waste report?
Under traditional hazardous waste regulations, hazardous waste lamps must be counted in determining whether you are a conditionally exempt small quantity generator, a small quantity generator or a large quantity generator; they must also be reported on the generator annual report if you are required to file an annual report. Lamps managed under the Universal Waste Rule are not counted for the purpose of determining generator category, and need not be reported on your hazardous waste report. However, they are counted for regulatory fee purposes.

5. Lamp crushers - I am considering the purchase of a lamp crusher to minimize my waste volume. How is crushing of hazardous waste lamps regulated?
Lamps being managed under the Universal Waste Rule may not be crushed. If you wish to crush your lamps, you will need to manage the lamps under the traditional hazardous waste regulations. This will require that you count the weight of the lamps toward determining hazardous waste generator category, and meet applicable generator, transporter and transfer facility standards. Crushing is considered a form of hazardous waste treatment, and under ordinary hazardous waste generator regulations, hazardous waste lamps may be crushed only if the process is exempt from hazardous waste treatment regulations (6 NYCRR 373-1.1(d)(1)).

Common exemptions that might apply to crushing lamps are: on-site treatment by a conditionally exempt small quantity generator; the first step of a recycling process, if the lamps will be directed to a mercury recycler, or treatment in the tank or container in which the lamps are stored. Generators wishing to use one of the latter two exemptions should seek specific guidance from the Waste Determination & Analysis Section.

The crushed lamps are usually considered hazardous waste for mercury, and sometimes for lead, and must be handled and disposed of in accordance with normal hazardous waste requirements.

Facilities that use in-house bulb crushers should be aware of possible personnel exposures to mercury vapor. EPA has published a study of Drum Top Crushers; the report is available on the right side of this page under "Links Leaving DEC's Website".

6. Transportation - Can I put my lamps in the trash dumpster?
Lamps handled under the Universal Waste Rule cannot be put in the trash dumpster because they would not be handled in a way to minimize breakage. Generators of universal waste lamps can self-transport up to 500 lbs of lamps per shipment to an authorized universal waste handler, or treatment or disposal facility under the provisions of 6 NYCRR Part 364. Conditionally exempt, small or large quantity hazardous waste generators cannot put hazardous waste lamps in the trash dumpster.

7. Under the Universal Waste Rule, do my lamps have to be directed to a recycler?No, lamps may be directed to a treatment or disposal facility if the receiving facility is authorized to accept hazardous waste lamps. However, NYSDEC strongly recommends recycling of hazardous waste lamps to reduce the accumulation of mercury in the environment. A list of fluorescent and HID lamp recyclers is available on this website at the link given at the bottom of this page.

8. How do I get rid of waste lamps from my household?Households are exempt from the ordinary hazardous waste regulations. Lamps discarded by households are also exempt from New York State's Mercury-Added Consumer Products Law. Lamps may legally be disposed as normal household trash if allowed by the municipality, the trash collector and the disposal facility. However, households are encouraged to contact the town or county solid waste management authority to determine whether there are any household hazardous waste collection facilities or events in their community at which hazardous waste lamps are collected, or to contact local lamp recyclers to see if they accept lamps from households.

9. What do I do if I break a compact fluorescent lamp/bulb (CFL) in my home?The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy provide guidance on how the general public can clean up a broken CFL. "FAQ - Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury" (70 Kb pdf) is available for download.

Sorry for the length of this post, but it was 'touched' by governmental legislation all-over-the-place.

As for me, I've been buying Mr. Edison's bulbs in bulk over the past two years.  I'm just hoping that you stocked up too...

Happy New Year's folks, you may want to visit your local hardware store between now and midnight tomorrow.

p.s.:  The last bit of irony about this story?  CFL Manufacturing is 100% done 'offshore' due to EPA manufacturing regulations in the U.S.! 

So while we have to under penalty of law USE them here, we can't MAKE them here.  More jobs, 'created and saved', just, somewhere else, of course...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Occupy!!! (Iowa???)

It was great - Christmas 2012, spent with family, away from work, and away from the regular tedium of 'normal' daily life.  Yes, it was pretty much 'all' good. 

It was the best "To Mike / From Santa" gift I've given myself in years.  A free pass to stay offline for almost six whole days! 

Peace on Earth - Goodwill toward Men

I don't know about you, but I didn't turn on a computer for the past six days.  Yes, I've missed the company of the laptop LCD's electric glow, but sometimes you've got to cut the cord (albeit it wireless) and rediscover the things which are lasting. 

  • Family,
  • Friends,
  • Taking dogs for walks,
  • Remembering the person you were, and 
  • Revisiting the place(s) and people who made you who you are 
I could go on, but you know what I'm saying, right?  Yes, I suppose you do.

Today's post, however, is not about Christmas, not about family, and not about whether we are a 'Christian Nation' or not. 

It's about Nancy Pelosi hijacking Charles Dickens' quote attributed to Tiny Tim:

"God bless them" - Nancy Pelosi, D, CA
(I believe Tim's entire quote is. "God bless us all, every one", but true to form, Minority Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, got THIS wrong too...)

Madame Speaker continued:  "for their spontaneity. It's independent ... it's young, it's spontaneous, and it's focused. And it's going to be effective."  

And now with the support of Democratic (and other - below) leadership, Occupy Wall Street is heading to...

The ONE place on Earth where the richest  1% of Americans go to enjoy their 'one percentage-ness':


From the Associated Press Online:    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Already they have interrupted Michele Bachmann and drawn a withering putdown from Newt Gingrich as "all noise, no thought."

Now, to the dismay of Iowa Republicans, Occupy activists in Des Moines are vowing to expand their protests as GOP presidential hopefuls converge on the state that speaks first in the race for the party's presidential nomination.

"The 99 percent have woken up and we're not going to take it anymore," Occupy activist Stephen Toothman, of Des Moines, said as an advance guard met Tuesday to decide which candidates to target in the coming week.

Hundreds of Occupy activists from at least 10 states were expected to participate in a "People's Caucus" near the Capitol to plot activities between now and the Jan. 3 caucuses. The activists are promising to interrupt candidates at events and camp out at their Iowa campaign offices. They say they want to change the political dialogue, but critics fear their tactics could tarnish Iowa's reputation for civil political discourse ahead of the contest. Activists say mass arrests are possible.

Occupy activists, who came from as far away as New York and Seattle, said the caucuses were largely meaningless because the parties and candidates were overly influenced by wealthy, special interests that led them to ignore key issues.

"The caucuses are really a statement as to where the nation is as a whole. I think this occupation is really a statement that they are dissatisfied with all the choices that we've been given," said Ivan Burghart, an activist from St. Louis who mingled with others at the group's Des Moines headquarters.

Occupy Des Moines organizer Jess Mazour, 24, said protesters wanted candidates to address issues ranging from campaign finance reform to college debt to the home foreclosure crisis. She said the weeklong set of actions marked a new phase for the nationwide Occupy movement, and would be a test of whether activists could flex political muscle as one group.

Stephany Hoffelt, a member of Occupy Iowa City, said protesters believed the in-your-face tactics were justified because their message hasn't gotten through in the past.

"It's perfectly appropriate if you were listening to what we were saying," Hoffelt said of the group's chant blasting Bachmann's positions on health care and taxes. "She is part of the 1 percent."

Ah, where to begin? 

  • The 'Occupy Wherever' group appears to be well-funded (for a bunch of poor folks).  Shoot, I can't afford to take time off from work to visit the Great State of Iowa and stay in hotels for a week (or more?).  Maybe THESE guys are the 1% they keep yakking about?  Perhaps they HATE themselves?  I don't hate anyone, but honestly, I'm getting tired of them myself...
  • The OWS folks are upset because they don't believe anyone is listening to their message (whatever IT happens to be 'at the moment' as they're repeat each other as if trapped in some Gregorian Chant nightmare).  The lack of exposure, unfortunately, is NOT their problem.  Their problem is that we HAVE heard them.  And after listening, we stopped listening to them.
  • The objective, according to Ms. Hoffelt, is to disrupt the free speech of Republican Presidential Candidates in Iowa.  This, of course, is coming from the OWS group, which again, is upset that no one is a.)  Letting THEM speak, or b.) Listening to THEM
  • Here's a heartfelt bit of advice for the mental wheelchairs traveling to Iowa 'just to make a fuss'...  Get your tickets from wherever you are reading this and fly to: Reagan International Airport.  Why?  Because Iowa is NOT the source of your discontentment - Washington, DC is.  AND (BONUS!) the guy who has been fueling your class warfare rhetoric is THERE.  (DISCLAIMER:  Actually, the guy who has been supporting your efforts to destroy Capitalism in the U.S. is currently in Hawaii (again) - but, like the 'bad penny' he'll show up in a couple of weeks rested, relaxed, and ready for more mayhem from the White House.  Maybe you folks could show up at HIS place in Hawaii?  Then follow him back here?  Just think of the Capitalist Riches you'll ring up on your 1%-sponsored credit card!)
  • Lastly, in regard to Madame Pelosi's comment that this ongoing debacle is a 'beautiful, spontaneous event'?  The last time I saw a spontaneous movement from the OWS folks, it involved a guy with his butt hunkered down onto the fender of a police car.  It WAS spontaneous, but the 'beautiful' adjective does not seem to apply to the 'movement' itself.
As you look across the Nation do you feel more, or less secure, knowing that the highest elected official in the land supports the efforts of the OWS group.  These are the people who 'occupy' property which does not belong to them, shout down the free speech of others, and use intimidation to garner an audience for their 'needs, wants, and desires'.

Answer the above question honestly.

If you feel pretty good about the OWS folks and their activities, take a moment to follow this link:  A Revolutionary Hope of Christmas.

The above post, 'A Revolutionary Hope for Christmas' is brought to you by the nice folks at Communist Party USA.  Proud sponsors, and supporters of Occupy Wall Street

The story of Christmas, as told by Communists, all in the hope of obtaining 'the greater good' for the oppressed in America.   

Ho, ho, ho...

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Christmas Story

Must keep things in their proper perspective...

Everyone has a special Christmas Story, or Christmas tradition that they want to hand down to their kids.

This is mine.

I am 9 years-old. My Mom brings me to the local 5 and 10 (WAY before WalMart) to pick up a few late-minute Christmas items for the family. I am in the store fewer than two minutes when I see it.   It is red.   It is shiny.   It is meant to be mine.   It is meant to be under our tree - with MY name on it.

It is, of course, the
Uncle Sam's Cash Register Bank

(The 'poke your eye out when you fall on it sharp metal nub' on my version was replaced by the impressive 'too wide' red 'puller-thing' shown here...)

It SINGS to me. It calls to me from across the store. I alone must possess it...

There are still a couple of weeks before Christmas, right? And ONLY $7.99?!?! How can my Mom turn me down? I've mentioned before that I have been in Sales for most of my adult life. What I haven't mentioned is that most people who are in Sales in their adult life, started out much earlier in their life, being, 'In Sales'.

Here's the dialogue, as best as I remember it, at least...

Me, "Mom, do you see IT?!"

Mom, "I'm sorry, do I see WHAT?"

Me, "The THING, the THING over THERE...! Can't you see IT?", I say pointing to the shelf that holds my hope for 'Christmas yet to come'.

Mom, "Oh, well, it isn't on your list for Santa, now is it?"

My hopes fall but I quickly recover and press the point further, "But Mom, how could I know?"

Mom, "Know what?"

Me, "That something this WONDERFUL; besides you (Mom), of course... Ever existed? I've never seen anything like it in all of my life. It's, it's... beautiful..." My voice trailed off as my eyes welled with tears all the while staring un-blinkingly at the object of desire.

Mom, "But you know, I think that Santa has already gotten your gifts all ready to go on his sleigh. It's too late to let him know about this now..."

Me, "But Mom, it's the ONE thing I truly want... AND, it will teach me how to be responsible with money.  You always say that I need to understand money better, right? It will TEACH me financial responsibility. Look, it even has a display that will tell me how much money I save; and saving money is really important! Right?"

Mom, "Well, I know, but..."

Me, "Mom, I WANT to be responsible! I WANT to save my money! I WANT to be like you and Dad! You guys are my heroes!"

Mom, "Umm..."

[The first overt sign of weakness, she is beginning to fold, now for the clincher...]

Me, "Mom, I WANT you to be proud of me, as I am proud of you and Dad. You guys are the best parents ever. I want to grow up to be a good; NO, I want to be a GREAT parent too - like both you and Dad are."

Mom, "Well, we already have gifts for you from us, and your Grandparents, and your brother, how can I get you this too?   It wouldn't be fair to your brother..."

[Rats, hadn't thought of that. Show no weakness, keep moving forward... Head down, keep moving...]

Me, "Mom?"

Mom, "Yes, Michael?"

Me, "Santa delivers gifts Christmas early morning right?"

Mom, "Yes, he does. Why do you ask, because you already know that..."

Me, "Well, I'm thinking;  what if we buy this bank, wrap it in Christmas wrapping paper, and slide it under the tree early Christmas morning before anyone else wakes up?

What if we put a gift tag on it that said?:

To: Mike

From: Santa

This way, no one will ever know that we bought the gift here, today, this very moment?"

Mom said, with the hint of a smile crossing her face, "Well, I don't know..."

Me, "Mom, we'll be the ONLY ones who will know! It can work. No! It WILL work! We can do this..."

Mom, "Okay, but it's just between the two of us."

Me, "You've got it Mom, you are the BEST!"

Christmas morning comes and there is an extra gift stashed way back under the tree. It has my name on it. It wis an Uncle Sam's Cash Register Bank. The tag says that it is from the jolly ol' elf himself, 'Santa Claus'. I love Santa. I love my Mom. I love the entire World this Christmas morning.

I still have the bank. It still works. My kids have asked me for it for years, but it's mine, I got it from my Mom.  It's still in my room in the house I grew up in. 

On Christmas morning I still love the entire World, in spite of all of its warts. Christmas is the one day you can still believe in magic. If you stretch out that magic for more than one day I believe that you will be truly happy.

In our family there is at least one gift under the tree each year tagged as follows,

To: Mike

From: Santa

There is also a gift under the tree tagged,

To: Gail
From: Santa

This is the tradition that I have passed to my family and now I pass it to you. This year, next year, just 'some' year, buy something special for yourself. Buy something for yourself that you know no one else would buy for you and tag it simply,

To: ____________

From: Santa

You've been good all year, you know it, I know it, and Santa knows it too...

Merry Christmas folks,


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year (and if I don’t get this posted soon), Happy Easter!

Yule (Christmas humor) be happy to hear that the Kane family has thrived yet another twelve months here in the Southern Tier of New York.  For those of us counting, this makes roughly 888 months in 'dog years'.     

Gail is a New York State licensed Nurse Practitioner (like they say, “Practice Makes Perfect!”).  That’s the GOOD news.  The BAD news is that the only NP job she could get ‘locally’ happens to be 69 miles away.  Monday through Friday Gail lives in an apartment.  Yes, she does come home on Friday evening to spend weekends with us, but most of the week she’s ‘hunkered down’ in her apartment in the one place on Earth voted “Most likely to snow” nine months out of the year.  This means that she has nine months of excellent snowmobiling opportunities with three which are merely ‘adequate’. 

Gail continues to save lives at her medical practice in her role as a Nurse Practitioner.  Luckily there is one responsible member of our family who goes out of her way to make the world a better place.  Although, as I am typing the Christmas update again this year – hmm?  Savings lives vs. typing end of year update letters?  I’ll let you be the judge as to which is more important. 

Ben is still attending the University at Buffalo.  Yes, located in the second-place finalist for the ‘furthest from the sun’ competition in Buffalo, New York.  He’s been living on campus since the end of August (i.e.:  his room here was CLEAN for almost four months!).  We picked him up this past weekend for the Christmas Holiday and brought him home in our old yet-relatively-dependable Chrysler Mini-Van.  I walked in his room this morning prior to leaving for work and it looks like ‘he never left’.  I think you know what I mean…

Ben was lucky enough to get his Mom’s intelligence.  MY gift to him, apparently, is his organizational and room-cleaning skills.  Ben is an active member of the Thunder of the East Marching Band.  If you go to and search for “Thunder Of The East” you can find video of this year’s musical program.  Ben is easy to find in the video as he’s the one dressed in ‘blue’ with a big black hat and a white feather.  Go ahead, check it out.  Oh, and if you ARE able to find him, please let me know.  He’s one of the kids carrying a Tenor Saxophone (there appear to be HUNDREDS of them).  Although, if you listen very closely, he’ the one playing the ‘Best’.  At least, that’s what I hear... 

Jonathan (everyone except his parents calls him “Jon”) continues to keep Japan safe on behalf of the US Navy.  He has been stationed at Sasebo Fleet Command, Japan, since the end of May, 2011.  On good days he handles his eight-hour shift flawlessly as he pilots the Harbor Patrol boat around the naval base.  On bad days he does the ‘exact same thing’ for roughly twelve hours per day.  On really bad days he does it seven days per week.     

The Navy apparently, never gets mad.  It gets even.  If a member of his unit fouls up, the entire unit gets punished.  With proven motivational techniques like these, when he gets out of the Navy, he’ll be very ready for private sector employment, pretty much 'anywhere'.  The only major difference, of course, is that he won’t be able to take his 50 caliber gun with him to work (let’s hope not, anyway).

Thanksgiving was hard without him here.  I’m dreading our first ‘Blue Christmas’ without the Number 2 son picking up and shaking boxes under the tree.  To carry on the tradition, I’m wrapping a Milk-bone in one of the boxes under the tree and let the girls (Kelly and Sandy) dig through the pile – this should approximate the damage Jon typically leaves behind when he is here.    

From past letters you may remember that Jon got ‘his own dog’ when he was in High School.  Yes, he did.  While ‘boy’ is in the Navy, I watch the ‘Woobie’ on his behalf.  She’s his dog, but I don’t think that I could box her up in an APO Priority Mail box and ship her out to Japan.  I’m not sure, but I think they EAT small dogs over there (although, I could be confusing Japan with Detroit, MI – I do that sometimes).  Nah, I’ll hang onto her until he comes back.  When he’s going back to the airport I’ll stuff the little fur ball into his Sea Bag.  Sea Bag travel is much more humane than traveling by Priority Mail box is.  Well, at least the view changes...    

Timothy (everyone calls him “Tim”) is working hard in this Sophomore year of high school.  He’s sixteen years old, is in Boy Scouts, and is in his third year in the High School Marching Band (he began in Eighth Grade).   He is doing well in school, camping AND band.  He spent another week in July in a cricket and spider-infested tent at Tuscarora Scout Camp with his dad.  The crickets and spiders were very happy.  His dad (me), not so much.  It was in the upper 90’s – low 100’s for the entire week and the air conditioning in the tent was broken (this, of course, was a joke the air conditioner worked just FINE – once you got the flaps open, of course).    

As mentioned above, Tim is follows in his brothers’ musical footsteps by playing the trumpet in school.  He continues to play trumpet (we’ve got a family full of hot air – once again, they get that from me) and seems to enjoy it.  When he practices, he sounds pretty good – I don’t hear him practice a lot, but he must be doing it more at school because scales actually sound like scales (as opposed to squealing brakes from last year). 

Before I forget, I need to mention that Tim is taller than I am.  It happened over one week during this past year.  The exact week isn’t important.  The fact that I am (or USED to be) 6’ 1” and the boy TOWERS over me, is.  I’ve begun to call him ‘Gigantor’ around the house.  I believe this was a cartoon about a giant robot when I was a kid.  He’s not really fond of the name, but since he’s almost 12’ tall, I think it works.  I hate looking up to my kids…   

As for me, I continue to work selling online advertising on (you should really find your next car there J).  My responsibilities have been expanded to include support for the Ithaca and Elmira Markets.  I assist the reps we have in place there, as well as two guys in the Binghamton area as well.  Instead of working out of my home (like I used to) I get to go to an office with people, and everything!  Heck, we even have a break room with a couple of them vending machines. 

I continue to write ‘stuff’ online to relax.  It’s what I do when I can’t sleep or when I wake up earlier than I need to.  I’ve missed having Gail around since March, 2010, I’m going to miss Ben when he goes back to college again and now that Jon’s in the Navy, yeah, I miss him too.  Since January 11, 2011, it’s just me and Tim (and the dogs) in the house full-time.  Sometimes I think about it a lot when I can’t sleep – could be the reason it’s hard to sleep some nights, I guess.

The house has a bigger hole in it then than it already did.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that the kids are moving on with their educations, lives, and careers – it’s just that I thought they’d stay little forever and hang out with me.  For a brief period of time I believed this to be a real possibility.

I guess I forget that once upon a time I grew up and moved away too... 

Well, I moved away at least.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Good Night!

Merry Christmas!

Mike Kane

Red Ryder Revisited

"tis the season to be jorry ra ra ra ra ra rara ra!" - The Christmas Story

Yes, tis the season. 

To be 'jorry'?  Sure, why not?

As we prepare to receive a series of heartfelt explicitly-religious-non-specific 'Happy Holidays' wishes at store entrances across America, I'd like to take a moment to thank the Obama Administration for its part in creating the vibrant religious-non-specific holiday Economy we enjoy today. 

"Thank you President Obama for everything you have done to make our Yuletide bright!" 

I'm sorry, what did you say?  You think I'm kidding in my praise of the policies of the man whose greatest claim to fame is the fact that he is not GW Bush? 

Oh, for shame!  I'm being completely serious. 

There are some sectors (I'd use the phrase 'Points of light' but I think someone already did this already) of the economy which are growing at a truly goofy rate. 

You might even say that business, in selected industries, is literally booming...

From ABC News Online, December 2nd, 2011"Americans were big spenders on Black Friday."

Okay, thanks to ABC News for this truly engaging report! 

What?  You want details as to where the 'big spending' took place? 

Well, okay...  here they come!

Continuing with the report online:  "Numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show an all-time one-day high for background check requests from gun buyers last Friday. There were 129,166 requests to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)–a third more than the previous record of 97,848 on Black Friday 2008, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

On Black Friday last year, there were 87,061 requests." 


The reason for the uptick is not clear. “You do see spikes when stuff happens like that shooting in Arizona,” said Ritzer, referring to the shooting of Sen. Gabrielle Giffords in January. “I don’t know what the scare is right now.”

Gun buyers may be on a shopping spree partly because of the economy and its impact on the criminal justice system, suggested Andrew Arulananbam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “They read in the headlines stories about prisoners having furloughs and law-enforcement being laid off,” he said. “They realize it’s going to be up to them to protect themselves and their families.”

But Caroline Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the Black Friday sales surge “might say something about marketing” but didn’t reflect actual patterns in U.S. gun ownership.

“The trend that has been observed for decades now is that fewer and fewer Americans own guns, but those who do own continue to add to their stock,” Brewer said.

She cited the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, which found that household gun ownership hit its peak in 1977, when 54 percent of American households reported having any guns. By 2010, this number had dropped to 32 percent.

Huh?  Funny that gun ownership peaked in 1977, isn't it?  What was going on in 1977 that made people feel like they had to go out and purchase weapons? 

Who, or what, did we feel that we needed to protect themselves against way back then?  The mind empties as clouds reverse their direction and time rolls back to...

Jimmy Carter, Time Magazine's Man of the Year,
January 3, 1977 Publication
If you believe the nice lady quoted above from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the sale of these weapons is due to current gun owners purchasing more weaponry (presumably for home defense, or perhaps, a wanton extraterrestrial attack).

The one place gun sales is relatively flat however is in Kennesaw, Georgia - just up the road aways from James Earl Carter's hometown of Plains, Georgia.  Why the associated sluggishness in their gun business in 2011?  Since 1982, each head of household is legally required to own a firearm.   

In fact, according to CityRating.comThe city violent crime rate for Kennesaw in 2009 was lower than the national violent crime rate average by 78.87% and the city property crime rate in Kennesaw was lower than the national property crime rate average by 39.33%.

Let's All 'Go Green' with Kennesaw!!!

In 2009 the city violent crime rate in Kennesaw was lower than the violent crime rate in Georgia by 78.7% and the city property crime rate in Kennesaw was lower than the property crime rate in Georgia by 49.76%.

Since most everyone in Kennesaw is already armed, there's no great rush to purchase more weaponry (no matter what the nice lady quoted from the Brady Center says). 

Twenty-nine years after passing its mandatory gun ordinance, Kennesaw continues to enjoy a statistically-low crime rate.  In spite of Media predictions in 1982 that the entire town would turn into the OK Corral following the adoption of the law, it appears that the bad guys are 'shopping elsewhere' this, and the past 28 Holiday Seasons. 

Americans across the United States are rushing into gun shops to purchase weapons, presumably, for personal, and home, defense (just in time for Christmas???). 

The last big jump in gun sales?  2008, following President Obama's election - not that his election had anything to do with it.

Barack Obama, Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2008

It is all just an unexpected coincidence - nothing more should be read into it.

Yeah, okay...

Perhaps I should not be giving the President credit for moving this sector of the Economy, after all?  Maybe the credit actually goes to Eric Holder and his Fast and Furious Team?  Yes, those folks moved some serious iron on behalf of munitions manufacturers and drug lords south of our border.  Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I'll leave you with a couple of visuals today as I possess no further coherent thought on the above.  Oh, I could ramble on, but that is for another day when I have more time, more sleep, and more humor.  As I conclude this Monday morning, I find myself woefully short on all three. 

While looking for artwork for the above post, I tripped across the following photos. 

Please enjoy them.  I did...

"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake"
Santa visits Kennesaw, Georgia
Yeah, he's packin'

Liberals keep talking about 'Diversity', but I'm not
sure that this is what they meant...

I made this one myself at
You can make a poster too!
Once you figure out how to get to the DIY portion

No, nothing to do with today's post, but I've had it on my desktop for
about six months an I'm getting tired of looking at it - now it's yours!
Ho, ho, ho!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Savannah Theatre's 'Christmas Tradition' Show
December 12, 2011, The Savannah Theatre, Savannah, Georgia:  "A Christmas Tradition" brings you holiday glitz and glitter with a 2-hour performance. The theatre is transformed into a holiday perfect picture, sharing memories of the Christmas standards that you know and love. Sprinkle in a little comedy and audience participation for the greatest event of the season.

Ah, yes, the Christmas Season is upon us.  Local towns, cities, and communities across America prepare to celebrate the time-honored traditions of Christmas.  Men and women across the Nation prepare to celebrate the birth of a child in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

We pause for a moment to reflect upon the meaning of Christmas and we think, we ponder, we wonder...

(Continuing to wonder...)

What, EXACTLY, is wrong with us?

December 12, 2011, The Admiral Theatre Chicago, IL:  The Admiral Theatre announced today that any person bringing a new, unwrapped toy today through December 21, 2011 will receive...

A lap dance.

Yes.  A dance.  On your lap. 

In the dark.  Courtesy of someone you don't know.  

From the post found at CBS online:

CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re a stingy, Scroogey type at Christmas, the Admiral Theatre has an incentive for you to change your ways.

Yes, that Admiral Theatre.

Beginning Monday and continuing through Saturday, the Admiral is offering a free lap dance to anyone who donates an unused, unwrapped toy.

But you won’t get extra attention if you clear off the shelves at the toy store and come to the Admiral with a big sack on your back. The limit is one lap dance per customer.


Last year, the event was accompanied by a seasonal “12 Days of XXX-Mas” celebration, which also featured what the A.V. Club called featured “a stripper-fied rendition of ‘The Nutcracker.’”

The blog, Chicagoist, reported the campaign last year raised five carloads of toys, and they were donated to churches around Albany Park.

By the way, the Admiral, at 3940 W. Lawrence Ave., is open 364 days a year.

It is only closed on Christmas Eve.  [Presumably, then, they are OPEN Christmas Day?  Super.]

The true meaning of Christmas?

No, I don't think so.

Three things:

  1. Okay, I 'get' it.  If the people running the Admiral Theatre can collect five 'truckloads' [that's a LOT of lap dancing...] of toys for underprivileged children in Chicago, I ought to be happy that they are doing something to support 'the kids', right?  Yes, I acknowledge the fact that I 'ought to be happy' according to most folks... 
  2. To me this business venture smells more of an Ebenezer Scrooge Production than it does of a Jacob Marley Joint.  Scrooge WOULD find a way to make a buck by using others, wouldn't he?  Using kids and Christmas to bring patrons into your strip club?  No, I'm still thinking that this is 'wrong'.
  3. Lastly, as I write this, I hear music from "The Nutcracker" running through my head - coincidence?  I don't think so... 
"Honey, I have this toy I need to drop off at the 'collection point' downtown.  I may be a while.  Is there anything you need me to bring back for you?" he asks.

"Oh sweetie, you're such a good man!  Hey, you know what?!?  I read this blog today and it said that the Admiral Theatre in Chicago is giving away FREE lap dances to everyone who brings in a gift for the kids.  You've been awfully good this year so why don't YOU go and have some strange woman grind on your lap?  I mean, it's Christmas and all!"

"Gee honey, that's just swell!" he says as he stuffs the gift from the Dollar Tree into a Target bag and walks to the door...

As you share this Christmas with your family and friends, remember to also share your Blessings with others.  Donate to the Marine Corps "Toys for Tots" campaign, toss some folding money into the Salvation Army kettle, shovel a neighbor's driveway after a snowfall, help someone load their groceries into their car, or, perhaps, even help a stranger change a tire when you see them standing, looking perplexed, in an Exxon station parking lot.

As we race headlong toward Christmas, remember the origin of the event we celebrate.  Christmas is in rememberance of the birth of Christ.  It is not about the lights, the 'lowest sale prices of the year!', the trees, the gifts, or the strippers, who, presumably, will dance on your lap. 

It's about God's gift to us - his Son.

I could go on, but why tell you stuff you already know? 

You already get it.  

Merry Christmas folks!   

Oh, in case you don't get the whole 'Christmas-thing'?

The Admiral Theater is also doing their part to end Unemployment in America!

Yes, you too can FIND A JOB!

No one I know. 

Thank God. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ripples from Pearl to Paterson

The Attack
On December 7th 1941, on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning on a beautiful Hawaiian island, the first wave of Japanese airplanes left 6 aircraft carriers and struck Pearl Harbor a few minutes before 8 AM local time.

In two waves of terror lasting two long hours, they killed or wounded over 3,500 Americans and sank or badly damaged 18 ships - including all 8 battleships of the Pacific Fleet - and over 350 destroyed or damaged aircraft.  At least 1,177 lives were lost when the Battleship U.S.S. Arizona exploded and subsequently sank.

However, they did not sink any of US Pacific aircraft carriers and they left most of the fuel needed to win the war in the Pacific.

In one stroke, the Japanese navy scored a brilliant success—and assured their ultimate defeat.


As I type this it is December 6th, around 10pm.  I want to sleep but it eludes me.  I am not yet ready for slumber.  I have one more tale to tell before I close my eyes for the night - one more bit of laundry for the digital clothes line to hang out in the night air before I dream of happier pastures.  

Tomorrow (today, as you read this) marks the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Seventy-one winters have come and gone.  Seventy-one summers have flourished and died.  An untold number of men and women who witnessed the carnage of that Sunday morning have taken the horror of the day with them as they breathed their last throughout the ensuing expanse of time.

The story, however, does not end with those who were there, nor with those others who went to war because of the attack.  The two hour assault on the U.S. base at Pearl continues to impact America.  It has reached out with its smokey fingers and touched my family. 

To be factually correct, it 'created' my family...

Paterson, NJ, 1941
My wife's mother is engaged to a sailor serving in Hawaii.  He was a 'local boy'; a good kid who wanted no more than to serve his country, save money for a home, and start a family.  They were to be married in the spring of 1943.  My wife and I do not know the name of her Mother's fiance, all we know is that he worked in the engine room of the USS Arizona in 1941. 

He remains at his post with so many other of his brothers in arms.  He will be interred within the ship until it ultimately collapses under the combined assaults of time, corrosion, and ocean currents.  With the attack of December 7th at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese re-wrote the timeline of history for the World and, most assuredly, myself.

My wife's Mom mourned the loss of her fiance but, as with most wounds, time worked its magic filling in the piece of her which was torn away by the unnatural disaster which was Pearl Harbor.  She became engaged to another local boy and was married several years later.  Together they had two children - one of whom is my wife. 

You see, if Pearl Harbor hadn't happened, I may have never met the woman I call have called 'wife' for the past 27 years. 

Would her Mother have had children if the sailor not been lost aboard the USS Arizona? 

Would they have met me? 

Would I have asked their daughter to marry me? 

I don't know.  Some things are best not considered too long lest you find yourself trapped in a Star Trek 'Time Paradox' episode.  Suffice to say that events of seventy years ago have, and continue, to shape my family today.

Ten years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor as part of a company-sponsored recognition event.  For our five-day stay in Hawaii, we had time on our own to explore the island.  On the third day we found our way to Pearl Harbor.  I didn't know what to expect.  I heard from others that it was both a beautiful 'and a horrible' place. 

Some people told me that they found peace there while others had difficulty sleeping for several nights following their visit to the site.  It could have been the amount of food our employer was feeding us which kept them tossing at night, but I know what it was - it was a profound sense of 'debt'.  A debt which I, and I suspect those others, came away knowing that we can never repay.

I won't burden you with the ride to the Arizona Memorial or the stark silence of the place - somethings you need to experience for yourself to understand.  All I can tell you is that somewhere on the bronze plaque above the USS Arizona is the name of a man, who but for a series of horrific events, could have been my wife's father, or, perhaps...  may not have been any one's father.

One change in the ripple of time changes events forever as it expands and travels outward.  Heraclitus (c.535 BC - 475 BC) said, "Nothing endures but change."  Several thousand years later, I'm thinking that this long-gone Greek Philosopher summed up things pretty well.  Changes brought about by this surprise attack our Nation has touched, and has changed the paths of millions of people in the seventy years since.  My family's story is but one of them.   

I'll sign off now.  The clock tells me that I am due to sleep and work awaits when the winter sun rises again in the morning. 

Continuing the ripple begun at Pearl Harbor continuing through Paterson, NJ, Jacksonville, Florida and most recently Central New York, I again think of my son, our boy, our 'local kid', Jon Kane, who is far from New York serving in the U.S. Navy.

At Sasebo Naval Base in... 


He sent a photo home from his Harbor Patrol Boat earlier this year. 

This is the photo he forwarded to us:


The three radio towers in the distance are the ones which the Japanese Military used to transmit the orders to attack U.S. Military forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Seventy years later, my son patrols the harbor of the US Navy Base protecting his brothers in arms while keeping the people of Japan near the base free from harm from all threats, Foreign and Domestic.

The ripples continue...