Vote NO on CISPA

CISPA is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, and was passed in the House of Representatives today.  Its failed precursors were SOPA and PIPA which failed to become law in 2011-2012.  While the basic idea of sharing information amongst government agencies when trying to track down crime sounds great, the reality of the federal government able to look at anything you do with a computer online is quite scary.  If you are even remotely concerned about big government, freedom of speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure – you need to contact your senators and urge them to not vote for CISPA.  I contacted both of my senators today, one who is even a co-sponsor of the bill.  I hear many complaints about the legislative system and how our elected officials votes are bought by lobbyists.  This may be true, but if I don’t allow my voice to be heard I can’t complain about it.

If you’re not sure who your senators are, check out this web site.  If you’re not sure where your elected officials stand on this issue, the CISPA Senate Whip Count can help. Last time when our privacy was threatened, people banded together and overwhelmingly told their senators to vote no.  Please don’t stand by and assume someone else will speak for you this time.

CISPA-GOT

Sons of Anarchy

Sons-Of-Anarchy-sons-of-anarchy-32111948-1600-1200

Sons of Anarchy is a show that’s had a lot of ups and downs for me.  On one hand it’s one of the best modern American-outlaw shows I’ve seen.  It’s hard to argue with the thrill and cool-factor associated with the motorcycle gangs, tattoos, leather and guns.  When I first saw Eastern Promises (2007), starring Viggo Mortensen, I must admit I was a little mystified by the whole Russian prison/gang tattoo thing.  Some of that exists in this show with their tattoos, patches and pins, but I still haven’t figured out what they all mean.

I’ve never been a soap opera person, but I must admit I was really getting into the storylines and plot twists.  After my two favorite characters had been killed off in seasons four and five, I threw in the towel.  I called it quits and said, “no more.”  Well, it’s been a few months and I decided I had cooled down a bit.  The sixth season is going to start this fall and I decided I needed to get over it and watch season five.  The rest of the episodes turned out to be not so bad.  I know this is by no means reality and the story that unfolds is often ludicrous, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch.  In a build-up to my thoughts on season five, I’m going to re-post some thoughts on seasons one through four back in the day.

Tuesdays with Chuck

Every Tuesday I try to spend some quality time with my kid.  She looks like her mother, but received a lot of my personality.  Tuesdays are one day every week that we watch a movie together and eat popcorn, and today was no exception.  Today’s flick was The Polar Express.  Chuck gets to pick the movies, which actually aren’t too bad.  She’s not into most of the awful kid programming I hear some parents complain about and her favorite movie is Fantastic Mr Fox.  With all the problems going on in the world today, I figure the least I can do is try to ensure my child has a good appreciation for film and knows I care about her.  Some day we’ll watch the Alien Anthology, Star Wars or all six seasons of Oz.  For now we’ll stick with more G-rated stuff though and continue to make popcorn together on the stove.

GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance create new lung drugs

I just found an article talking about the FDA’s review of a new drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance.  It’s called Breo and is targeted towards COPD patients.  If you’ve always heard “COPD” but don’t know what it is, the acronym stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both.  It’s a scary thing.  Now if you don’t have COPD, but do suffer from asthma or related lung condition, this drug could still be for you.

Breo is a combination drug containing both fluticasone furoate (corticosteroid) and vilanterol (long-acting beta-agonist).  Other drugs similar to this on the market include:

  • Advair (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol)
  • Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate)
  • Dulera (mometasone furoate and formoterol fumarate dihydrate).

Lots of big words in there, but these are all comprised of a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator or beta-agonist.  I tend to always be prescribed the latest and greatest, so I’m wondering if I’ll be switching to this some time in the future.  One change Breo brings to the game is one dose a day.  Many patients using combo drug inhalers are needing to take them both morning and night.

Also mentioned in the article is Anoro which could be competing with Spiriva.  Anoro contains both vilanterol and umeclidinium.  Vilanterol, a LABA, is one-half of Breo and umedlidinium is a long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist.  Supposedly this is the first LABA-LAMA combination drug.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/15/us-glaxosmithkline-breo-idUSBRE93E0J120130415

DIY pest control

My worst cockroach experience would have to be in Mexico while on working trips.  There’s just something unsettling about waking up in the middle of the night with cockroaches covering the floors, walls and ceilings of the room.  I don’t think they crawled onto the bunkbeds where I was sleeping, but I’ll probably never know.

 

 

The house we’re living in is pretty clean, but we do live “in the country.”  So it has its own set of quirks and considerations like woodland creatures, field mice and well water.  The other day we noticed what I think was a German roach and winged ants.  Obviously we don’t want either of these pests in the house.  My special lady friend really hates roaches and I really hate ants so we’re equally invested in trying to eradicate them.  The first thing we tried was a little Raid, but knew that wasn’t a real solution to the problem.  We waited until the next day to really tackle the problem.

German Roaches

Next Day:
So while our bundle of joy, who hates all kinds of insects, was pre-occupied elsewhere, we pulled out both the fridge and oven/stove to clean everything behind and lace these common insect hideouts with a mixture of Borax and sugar.  While Borax is toxic enough you don’t want to eat it, I’d rather put that behind an appliance than spray insecticides all over.  It’s not the same compound as Boric Acid, but they’re both derived from Boron and the Borax doubles as a laundry detergent if you don’t use it all for pests.

I mixed some up outside and placed it inside some coffee filters to place behind the appliances.  Fortunately we didn’t find any real signs of insects.  We’re pretty sure everything was coming from the attached garage.  We’re also glad to have cleaned behind everything because it obviously hadn’t happened in years.

My special lady friend insisted I wear some kind of mask over my face to prevent me from breathing in any borax, ancient dust or insect/rodent junk.  That worked for a while, but I had to walk outside a few times to get some fresh air anyway.  The good news is we haven’t seen any more insects yet.  We’ll probably check behind the fridge and oven again to see if anything is dead behind there.

Cheddar-Bacon-Pepper jack Grilled Cheese

So many people are looking for my old grilled cheese posts from version 1 of this blog, I’ve decided to re-post a few.  This one is a cheddar bacon pepper jack grilled cheese made by my special lady friend back in April of 2011.

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of bread
  • Unsalted butter
  • Two slices medium cheddar cheese
  • Two or three slices pepper jack cheese
  • Bacon

Directions:

  1. Take one buttered slice of bread and lay in pre-heated pan
  2. Place cheddar, then bacon, then pepper jack on top of bread
  3. Top off with other slice of buttered bread
  4. Cook on medium heat until each side is golden brown

Slow cooking is important on a sandwich such as this one.  It’s important to melt the cheese all the way through without burning the bread.  It will take longer before your sandwich is done, but it’s definitely worth the wait.  Have I mentioned I like ketchup with my grilled cheese yet?

CRKT M16-04Z

Columbia River Knife and Tool or CRKT, also referred to as “cricket” by some of my friends, produces various knives, multi-tools and accessories.  I’m a big fan of their every day carry (EDC) line and tactical fold outs.  They’re built fairly solidly, are available with different configuration options, have great locking mechanisms and cost much, much less than some of the other big-name manufacturers.

CRKT chooses to highlight their designers and I really dig Kit Carson’s designs.  Today I am reviewing the M16-04Z from the M16 line.

M16-04Z

The first thing I want to try and explain is the model number.  The left half, “M16” designates the model.  The next two numbers reference the length/type of the blade and the letter(s) on the end signify the type of handle, left-hand/right-hand and other options or features.

CRKT M16 configurations:

  • Blade length/type – 01, 02, 03, 04, 10, 12, 13, 14
  • Handle types and options – A, D, KE, KS, KSF, KZ, LE, LEK, M, S, SF, SFG, SFGL, T, Z, ZE, ZER, ZLEK, ZM, ZSF

Here are the specs on the M16-04Z:

Dimensions
Open Overall Length 9.25 inches
Closed Length 5.375 inches
Weight 5.9 ounces
Blade
Length 3.875 inches
Thickness 0.14 inches
Material AUS 8
Blade-HRC 55-57
Finish Bead-Blast
Grind Hollow
Style Tanto
Edge Plain
Handle
Material Glass Filled Nylon
Liner 420J2
Lock
Type Locking Liner
Safety System AutoLAWKS
Carry
Carry System 1 Position Clip
Features
Flipper Yes
Patent U.S. Patents 5,596,808 7,437,822

Thoughts:

  • Clip – Not too stiff when new and doesn’t eat your pants pockets.  It can also be repositioned to all four corners of the handle.
  • Blade – the tanto style is great for utility purposes and stabbing things, as awkwardly morbid as that sounds.  The knife is just under 10″ and the blade is just under 4″.  This isn’t always the best tool for opening tiny packages and doing precision cutting.
  • Handle – lightweight and non-abrasive.  It’s not the easiest thing to hold if your hands are wet though, but I will say the size fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.
  • Liner lock – I absolutely love the AutoLAWKS system.  I’ve seen more people praising this design than complaining about it.  If this is a knife you’re actually going to use, you’ll figure it out in no time.  If this is just a pretty thing to make people think your tough, then it’s not really a tool nor is it an EDC knife and you might have issues with it.

For me, this is a great working knife.  I use it outside, cutting open boxes and the top of the blade can double as a flat-head screwdriver in a pinch.  This isn’t really something to carry at work if you’re in an office environment.  People will freak out.  Did I mention it snaps open with a sound not so different from working the action on a Remington 870?

Some of the blade finish has started to come off.  I think it’s because I didn’t clean something off the blade which then etched the finish.  It might have been from cutting an orange or some sort of adhesive stuff.  I can’t really feel any difference on the blade itself, it just looks a little weird.  Sharpening the blade is a little interesting if you’ve never dealt with a tanto before.  Just be careful with that obtuse angle on the end of the blade.

While CRKT offers all of their knives for sale on their website, the MSRP is more than you can purchase it elsewhere…like Amazon.  There was one issue when the M16-04Z was purchased – I received a very old version of the knife that had opening/closing issues.  When I contacted CRKT, they had me send in the knife and replaced it without any hassle or questions asked.  There are a lot of fakes being sold on the market so if you’re concerned about getting the real thing, you can always buy direct.

Elysium trailer

I just saw the trailer for Elysium (2013) that is slated to be released on August 9, 2013.  Matt Damon [Good Will Hunting (1997) and The Bourne Identity (2002)] and Jodie Foster [Contact (1997) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991)] are the two actors being advertised with it.  Sci-fi fans will also be glad to know  [The Amateurs (2005) and  Equilibrium (2002)] and Michael Shanks [Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)] are on-board as well.  I believe this is Neill Blomkamp’s second full-length feature film and first film since District 9 (2009).  If you haven’t seen the later, I highly suggest it.  While the movie is about an alien race who comes to Earth and is then trapped in refugee camps, it has a lot to say about racism and apartheid.


http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/04/the-official-elysium-trailer

District 9 really blew me away with the quality of writing, acting, directing and effects.  If Elysium is anything like it, I’m fairly certain it’ll be a hit.

Pari Trek S Portable Aerosol System

In 2010 I was finally fed up with trying to lug my giant nebulizer compressor from home to work and anywhere else I needed it.  After a lot of research and internet searching, I came across the Trek S offered by Pari Respiratory Equipment.

 

 

 

Some of the first things that stuck out to me:

  • I could power this with a standard electrical outlet (AC), car adapter (DC) or a battery pack (DC)
  • Weighs 0.8lbs by itself or 1.2lbs with the battery
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Comes with two Pari LC Sprint Reusable nebulizers and two sets of tubing
  • Produces decent air flow (14.5psi standard and 35psi max)
  • Has great reviews on Amazon

I ended up purchasing it for an upcoming trip and LOVED it.  Since then I’ve pretty much carried it with me everywhere I go.  The small size and compact carrying case allows me to carry it or drop it into any backpack, messenger back, etc that I’m also traveling with at the moment.  The compressor comes with a three year warranty and the battery pack has a six month warranty.  I’m going on three years of use and haven’t had any hiccups with either the battery or the compressor.

This unit ships with two Pari LC Sprint nebuilzers that are good for six months.  Pari also provides a sticker indicator that will let you know when six months is up.  To make it easy on myself I replace mine in January and July every year.  I have two in use at a time so I always have one at home and one wherever else I happen to be.

If you or a family member has serious asthma like myself and you’re getting tired (pun intended) of dragging that giant compressor around I highly recommend getting something more portable.  General complaints I’ve heard and read about other hand-held models are noise levels and lack of air pressure creating a longer wait to complete a treatment.  I’ve had neither issues with the Trek S.  I’ve used this many times on airplanes where variations in the cabin pressure make it difficult for me to breathe, in cars, outdoors, indoors and anywhere else I happen to find myself.

Amazon used to have several vendors selling this, but they happen to only have one for sale at the moment.  If you’re interested in getting the deluxe package with the car adapter and the battery pack, I’d suggest trying JustNebulizers.com.  This is where I purchase all of my Pari LC Sprint nebulizers, filters, tubing, etc.  There was one time I had a slight glitch in my order and they fixed it for me immediately.  They also email coupons and sales periodically so you can get a good deal on whatever you’re buying.

Spicy Breakfast Sandwich

Spicy Breakfast Sandwich

Scrambled eggs with cayenne and chopped onions added as filling to a grilled cheese sandwich

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of whole wheat bread
  • Four slices of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Two eggs
  • Chopped onions (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper (optional
  • Unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Scramble your eggs to taste
    1. I sauteed some onions and added the cayenne to spice things up

      Spicy Breakfast Sandwich 1

      Rough scramble – I dropped the eggs into the hot pan with the sauteed onions and while they’re frying I mixed them up with a wooden spoon

  2. Butter your bread and slice your cheese
  3. You can use the same pan for the eggs and cheese, you’ll just need to temporarily move the finished eggs to a plate/bowl while you build your sandwich
  4. Place one piece of buttered toast in the pan with the cheeseSpicy Breakfast Sandwich 2
  5. Add the scrambled eggs on top of the cheese
    1. TIP: Sometimes you need cheese on both sides of the “sandwich” to help keep the insides together.  I didn’t do that with this sandwich  but I took extra care when flipping the sandwich to keep everything together.
    2. I also added some extra cayenne on top (optional)

      Spicy Breakfast Sandwich 3

      Ok, I realize this may look like an insane amount of cayenne. Feel free to substitute any “spice” you prefer. Even black pepper would work well here.

  6. Cover with the other slice of bread and cook on medium heat until the bottom bread is firm and golden brown, and then flip to cook the other sideSpicy Breakfast Sandwich 6