Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Repair, Reuse & Recycle

When I was a kid we did not lack for much, but certainly were not rich.  We did not throw anything repairable or reusable away.  I can remember when getting something new was such a big deal that I would sleep with it that night.  I can remember sleeping with a new pair of four-buckle overshoes. 
Most kids with older siblings wore hand-me-down clothes.  We now have businesses like Goodwill were people can donate clothes that are in good condition and have them put to good use.   If I no longer have a use for something and it is in good condition, I try to find a way it can be put to good use.  Habitat for Humanity’s Restore does an excellent job of putting furniture and building materials to good use.  Goodwill, Restore, and other organizations like them do excellent work.  
I still remember those lessons as a kid, and I think that mentality is good.  If anything breaks and can possibly be repaired, I repair it.  When my kids were little, they thought I could repair anything.  Some people make fun of me for how long I keep things like clothes and shoes.  One friend laughed at me for buying new shoelaces for shoes he did not think were worth the price of the laces.  Another friend, that was a men’s clothing broker, told me I was so out of fashion that I was coming back into fashion. 
We now seem to be in a throw-a-way society.  This may be good for the economy, but it may not be good for personal economics or the environment.  We are getting better at recycling and this is good.  Recycling saves a lot of natural recourses and is good for our environment. 
Solid waste companies have done an excellent job making it easy for people to recycle much of their garbage and most people have responded in very positive ways.  There does seem to be a problem when the federal Environmental Protection Agency gets involved.  I recently did a blog on how eliminating incandescent light bulbs will push people to fluorescent bulbs with the heavy metal mercury and no good means of disposing of this hazardous waste. 
I recently learned of another example of our omnificent government at work.  I knew throwing alkaline batteries in the trash for the landfill was bad so I have recycled all my used batteries for years.  I would save them in an old coffee container in the garage.  I would then take them to Batteries Plus to be recycled.  I did this last week and was told the EPA had a new regulation go into effect.  There is now a one-dollar per pound fee to recycle Alkaline batteries.  I did not have many batteries, but batteries are heavy and they weighed five pounds.  That means is would cost me five dollars to recycle the batteries.  Who is going to do this? 
The infinite wisdom of our federal government has now pushed most people to throw their alkaline batteries in the solid waste.  The solid waste company is not supposed to accept them, but how will they see a few used batteries.  Most solid waste is now containerized and mechanized anyway. 
Our Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to help protect our environment, and not push people to hurt the environment.  This is amazing to me, but what can we expect from the EPA with a trifling annual budget of only $8.5 billion dollars a year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Religious War

It has been over twelve years since the twin towers in New York fell victim to a terrorist attack.  We have had several terrorist attacks before and after the towers fell.    Islamic extremists are planning and committing these terrorist attacks.
The Middle East is in terrible shape.  We hear of the problems in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq.  We lost people in Benghazi, Libya a year ago and no one has been held accountable in any way. 
We are concerned with human rights, but choices seem to be dictators or Muslim Sharia law.  If we could replace the brutal dictators with democratic republics, it would be great, but Muslims seem to take over every time a dictator is eliminated. 
What are the objectives of the Muslim religion?  It is clear the objective is to convert everyone to Islam and observe Sharia law worldwide.   I know this is not a politically correct statement in a country where we advocate everyone should be free to practice the religion of their choosing.  The problem is assuming people of every religion agree with freedom of choice. 
The means used to achieve these Muslim objectives is where it gets fuzzy.  Most religions have missionaries and this is good.  We advocate separation of church and state and have taken it to an extreme that would appall our founding fathers.  The Muslims clearly do not agree with this as shown by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  I heard people say the Muslim Brotherhood would never be a political party and could not win if they did put forward a political candidate.  How naive can someone be?  How did that work out in Egypt?
Jehad is defined as, “a holy war undertaken as a sacred duty by Muslims.”  How many Muslims feel this way?  When the Muslim religion leads to a civil war, people die.  This is obviously not just the action of a few extremists.  The Muslim leaders apparently condone and support these wars. 
When it comes to terrorist attacks, it become more personal to us.  We blame them on a few Islamic extremists, but right or wrong, these acts and extremists led us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
I have heard many times how 90% of Muslims are peace-loving people.  Maybe we should ask some of the people dying in the civil wars about this.  Maybe we should stop supplying weapons to fuel these wars. 
I have one other question.  I will pick on Lutherans since I happen to be a Lutheran.  If a small percentage of Lutherans were planning or committing terrorist acts in the name of their religion, I would expect other Lutherans to talk them out of committing any violent acts or turn them in to the authorities.  This does not seem to happen with Muslims in spite of how nice they act with non-Muslims.  Since I believe actions speak louder than words, I question if a greater percentage of Muslims and Muslim leaders are sympathetic with the terrorists and believe in Jihad.  I hope not, but the Muslim community and Muslim leaders must prove me wrong with actions and not just words. 
We need to face the fact that we are in a religious war.  We will be dealing with this war for decades.  Do you remember when President Bush predicting this war on terror would last for decades?  Until we recognize this war on terror is a religious war, we will continue to prolong the war. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

When I was a kid, we conserved energy.  Lights were turned off if no one was in the room.  We turned the lights off automatically when we left a room.  Often lights were turned off with people still in the room.  Standing looking in the refrigerator with the door open was a no-no as it wasted electricity. 
As the price of electricity became more affordable, we became more wasteful.  Once a few decades ago, I walked around our house to find three TVs in use.  This was not unusual, but when I saw all three were on the same program, it made an impression.  Why run three TVs when everyone could watch the same program together? Obviously, no one gave any consideration to the wasted electricity.  Today we have many items continually using electricity when not in use.
Are we so irresponsible that we need the federal government to regulate our electrical consumption?  I hope not, but it is happening.  Light bulbs are just one example. 
We have a large light fixture over our dining table in the great room area.  This table is used several times a day.  This fixture has three hanging cut glass shades.  I am not sure what a decorator would call it, but I call it a pool table light.   Each shade holds a 100W frosted globe bulb.  There is a dimmer on the wall switch. 
        These 100W decorator bulbs are no longer manufactured.  Since we will not be able to buy them in the future, we bought all that were available at one electrical supply house.  100W bulbs in general are being phased out.  Eventually, under present Environmental Protection Agency standards, we will not be able to buy any incandescent bulbs and will be forced to use only LED or compact fluorescent bulbs.
        One problem with the fluorescent bulbs is they have a fine powder that contains mercury.  Mercury is a heavy metal and dangerous.  How dangerous is another question.  Read the instructions on a fluorescent bulb package for if one is broken.  It is a little scary.  Some state Department of Environmental Protection agencies recommend bringing in a professional decontaminator if you break a fluorescent bulb inside. 
        Maybe you are lucky and never break one of these fluorescent bulbs inside, but how do you dispose of these dangerous items containing the heavy metal mercury.  The large majority is just thrown in the trash to contaminate our environment.  The best-case scenario is they make it all the way to a landfill without breaking, where they are crushed and may contaminate our ground water. 
        Can you recycle hazardous fluorescent bulbs?  If you want a good laugh, call your solid waste service and ask them about disposing of fluorescent bulbs.  If you have the time, space and resources, you can buy disposal boxes for around $100, which you can send to a recycler.  How often do you think that happens?  Most people don’t even know about this option. 
        This is our government attempting to control our lives.  It reminds me of the movie, Dumb and Dumber.  I often say Saturday Night Live doesn’t stand a chance compared to the nightly national news. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Photo ID for Voting


        Does requiring photo identification for voting discriminate?  I think it might descriminate against the working class in this country.  Since they work 40 hours or more, it could be difficult for them to have time to go get a photo ID.
        Since working America might include more traditional families, independents, Republicans, conservatives, Constitutionalists, Libertarians, and whites, would requiring a photo ID discriminate against these groups?  This agreement and logic sounds a little ridiculous, but not much more ridiculous than any argument against requiring photo identification for voting.
        The argument that requiring photo identification disenfranchises poor, old, and minority groups is just as ridiculous.  This argument is just plain BS and clearly politically motivated.  If someone has time to vote, they have time to get photo identification.  Photo identification is required for many things like buying cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and admission to various activities.  Photo identification is required for many students and to get on an airplane. 
        I have worked as an Election Inspector in Wisconsin, and the state passed legislation requiring photo identification starting at the beginning of 2012.  This law has never been implemented due to the delaying actions of various Progressive judges.  I really have problem with judicial braches of government becoming legislatures.  
        The only requirement for an individual to vote that was registered to vote is to show up at the polling place, and state their name and address two times.  There is no check as to who they are, and unless an Election Inspector knows the individual personally, they could be anybody. 
The new law still did not require any photo identification to register to vote.  The only requirement for registering in Wisconsin is to show up with a printed document or statement of some sort with their name and address.   They then check the U.S. citizen box.  The only check the election official does is to check a felony list.  People can register at the voting location, and vote the same day.  There is no waiting period.
        The only thing requiring photo identification does is eliminate people not eligible to vote like illegal aliens.  Sorry, I need to say Undocumented Worker to be politically correct, but I never claimed to be politically correct.   
        There is a joke often told in Wisconsin that may actually have some basis in fact.  It goes like this.  There are both Republicans and Democrats in Milwaukee, but once they die, they all vote Democrat.