Giant WARNING sticker on lithium batteries [PHOTO]

So the box of batteries for my Surefire E2D LED Defender Flashlight came in, and this is how it looked straight off the truck…

Lithium Batteries Warning

Lithium Batteries Warning

Wow. Apparently these little batteries are real trouble in certain situations.

The official reason for this sticker according to the TSA/FAA is that

“…the Federal Aviation Administration has studied fire hazards associated with both primary and lithium-ion cells… as a result of this research, the FAA no longer allows large, palletized shipments of these batteries to be transported as cargo on passenger aircraft.  The research also shows that an explosion will not result from shorting or damaging either lithium-ion or primary lithium batteries. Both are, however, extremely flammable. Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft.”

and from

“Lithium batteries are prohibited from aircraft because of the components of the battery require it to be sealed. Lithium reacts violently with nitrogen, and water specifically requiring the batteries to be hemetrically sealed. Because the batteries have to be sealed they become an explosion problem due to overheating from a short.”

Primary lithium batteries, the non-rechargable kind, is what I got. So if this box caught fire, it couldn’t be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft. That would be bad.

FedEx even has a “Dangerous Goods Specialist” that puts a  “PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES — FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” sticker [PDF] for their boxes too.

I really love my SureFire flashlight, but now I wonder if I will be allowed to fly with it as carry on or as checked luggage.

Kill the fatman? A philosophy experiment.

I found a website that gives you a quick philosophy/morality quiz. I thought it was entertaining enough to post here.

Should You Kill The Fat Man? will take about 10 minutes. You answer a few questions, all anonymously, and it rates your views on morality with your consistency in acting on them.

For the record, I got a 100%.

“Your moral consistency score is 100% (higher is better)  Well done. This score suggests that you are admirably consistent in the way you view morality. In fact, none of the people who have completed this activity demonstrate greater moral consistency in their responses than you manage. But don’t feel too pleased with yourself. Most people don’t think about morality very clearly!”

Here’s the link again to Should You Kill The Fatman?

In another life, my work truck was an ambulance [PHOTO]

All the times I’ve used the work truck, I’ve never noticed this little sticker.

An ambulance in another life

An ambulance in another life

The sticker says “This vehicle is not equipped with the Ford Ambulance Preparation Package and is not suitable for use as an ambulance. Making this vehicle into an ambulance will void the Ford warranty and may result in elevated underbody temperatures, fuel over-pressurization, and the risk of fuel expulsion and fires.”


Now I’m wondering how to convert it.

To the lunatic right fringe… stop that foolishness right now. [RANT]



Every so often I cringe at who I voted for.

To all the right wing loons who are screaming to “target” their opponents with rifle scope icons, to force government to re-negotiate with them “at the end of a rifle barrel”, who damage the homes of those in government you do not believe in… thank you. It is a refreshing reminder when I hear such things why I voted for Obama in the first place.

Thank you for pushing people like me away from the center and squarely into another party, even if is only temporary.

When I have the choice of government, I will vote for those who will not legislate my personal liberties away or the liberties of the union. I will vote for those that have the retention of the wages I earn as a top priority. I will vote for those who uphold the entire Constitution, and not just pick and choose their favorite segments.

I will deeply respect those who civilly debate the opposing party, even in the face of bigoted, hateful and misinformed opposition… and especially through allusions of murder and mortal retribution.

Has Obama fulfilled my personal mandates? No. Not even a quarter of them. I will not hesitate to vote against Obama if another candidate appears in 2012 who is more in line with my personal beliefs and values.

But in case that candidate doesn’t appear, I will consistently vote for the lesser of two evils.

Do you want my vote? Then show me something. Something indicative of a IQ greater than room temperature. Debate the bills you oppose on their factual points. Illustrate what will happen if the bills you oppose pass with concrete examples in dollars and cents. Impress me with the learned debate those who actually thoroughly study an issue can express. If you’re showing me nothing but an emotional reaction, then I will suspect you have no logical content to back up your beliefs.

Oh, and that cartoon on the top? The one showing the government throwing out cash and crippling our nation? It’s from 1934. It was in the same time period that some outraged citizens, convinced the United States was leaning toward ruin, engaged in a plot to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States President at the time.

Same old, same old.

I listen to both sides. Everything they do, everything they say and everything they endorse. Both sides give me a good laugh, and both sides give me a royal headache. But right now, the far right is looking more and more insane with each passing day.

What I see on the right is an emotional movement enthralled by the same song and dance. Standing on the street corners with bullhorns screaming about how they think America is a fascist state. Lashing out at anyone that criticizes them or wants an expository on their core beliefs. Branding their party members, hopefully unwittingly, with a vulgar internet meme everyone under 30 is familiar with [NotSafeForWork explanation of what “teabaggers” are here].

This fringe is the golden prospect of the right’s future?

This is a Democratic system. You make change with your votes. You convince others to do the same through your deeds. Never through the thinly veiled allusions of murder and violence.

Direct and indirect advocates of violent change *are* the threat to society they steadfastly claim they are on the lookout for.

And I do not respond to threats.

SpiderBug (Micrommata virescens?) [PHOTO]

I saw this fellow making his way along the wall while I was working in the garden. My camera isn’t that great on closeups, but I think it’s a baby Micrommata virescens / Green Huntsman Spider. The fellow was much greener than the photo shows, but this was the best image of the lot.



I thought it was a grasshopper at first with that elongated abdomen and bright green color.

Table of annual fines for not participating in healthcare plan

If you’re thinking of not joining the healthcare plan that was just signed, Bloomberg just detailed what the annual fines for 2015-2016 would be.

“Individuals who don’t purchase insurance would be subject to a fine of $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016. Individuals may be subject to a charge equal to as much as 2.5 percent of their income in 2016, if the total is greater than the flat payment.”

So going with the 2.5 percent of income as the basis of the tax / fine, and looking at salaries right as the $695 minimum kicks in, this is what you will have to pay if you choose not to participate in the healthcare plan and have no insurance at all…

$25,000.00 $625.00 $24,375.00
$30,000.00 $750.00 $29,250.00
$35,000.00 $875.00 $34,125.00
$40,000.00 $1,000.00 $39,000.00
$45,000.00 $1,125.00 $43,875.00
$50,000.00 $1,250.00 $48,750.00
$55,000.00 $1,375.00 $53,625.00
$60,000.00 $1,500.00 $58,500.00
$65,000.00 $1,625.00 $63,375.00
$70,000.00 $1,750.00 $68,250.00
$75,000.00 $1,875.00 $73,125.00
$80,000.00 $2,000.00 $78,000.00
$85,000.00 $2,125.00 $82,875.00
$90,000.00 $2,250.00 $87,750.00
$95,000.00 $2,375.00 $92,625.00
$100,000.00 $2,500.00 $97,500.00
$105,000.00 $2,625.00 $102,375.00
$110,000.00 $2,750.00 $107,250.00
$115,000.00 $2,875.00 $112,125.00
$120,000.00 $3,000.00 $117,000.00
$125,000.00 $3,125.00 $121,875.00
$130,000.00 $3,250.00 $126,750.00
$135,000.00 $3,375.00 $131,625.00
$140,000.00 $3,500.00 $136,500.00
$145,000.00 $3,625.00 $141,375.00
$150,000.00 $3,750.00 $146,250.00
$155,000.00 $3,875.00 $151,125.00
$160,000.00 $4,000.00 $156,000.00
$165,000.00 $4,125.00 $160,875.00
$170,000.00 $4,250.00 $165,750.00
$175,000.00 $4,375.00 $170,625.00
$180,000.00 $4,500.00 $175,500.00
$185,000.00 $4,625.00 $180,375.00
$190,000.00 $4,750.00 $185,250.00
$195,000.00 $4,875.00 $190,125.00
$200,000.00 $5,000.00 $195,000.00
$205,000.00 $5,125.00 $199,875.00
$210,000.00 $5,250.00 $204,750.00
$215,000.00 $5,375.00 $209,625.00
$220,000.00 $5,500.00 $214,500.00
$225,000.00 $5,625.00 $219,375.00
$230,000.00 $5,750.00 $224,250.00
$235,000.00 $5,875.00 $229,125.00
$240,000.00 $6,000.00 $234,000.00
$245,000.00 $6,125.00 $238,875.00
$250,000.00 $6,250.00 $243,750.00


Here’s the link to the Bloomberg article.

Virginia and 10 other states plan to file lawsuit after Obama signs healthcare bill

Here’s the kickoff for the second quarter….

According to an article on REUTERS, “Virginia’s attorney general said he plans to sue the federal government over the healthcare reform legislation, saying Congress lacks authority to force people to buy health insurance.”

Over at CNN, they report 10 other states plan to sue as well. (Florida, Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.)

The gist of the state’s lawsuits is that the federal government can not force people to buy health insurance and this federal mandate conflicts with some of their pre-existing state laws as well.

Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general of Florida, said in the CNN article “There’s no way we can do what’s required in this bill and still provide for education, for foster care, for the incarceration of prisoners, all the other things that are in this bill.”

In the same CNN article, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said “the Obama administration expected to win any lawsuits filed against the health care bill.”

Maybe the feds will throw Gonzales v. Raich up as their defense, but they can also just drop the “mandatory” insurance part and tax everyone flat out to sidestep this lawsuit.

I’ll be at the concession stand.

The Reuters story about Virginia is here and the CNN story about the additional states is here.

Want to co-sign the healthcare bill?

Just saw this in my inbox…

“President Obama will soon sign comprehensive health care reform into law. Supporters now have a chance to add our names as “Co-signers” of this historic legislation — adding our names next to President Obama’s to show our pride in helping bring about this great achievement. Organizing for America will establish a permanent archive with all the signatures, so that generations to come will have a record of those who stood together in this moment and won this fight for our future.”

The email was sent by “Organizing for America”, which is a project of the Democratic National Committee.

If you like, head over to to sign up. The site will ask you for your first and last name, email address and zip code.

I’m waiting for the “Hey, that’s not what I wanted” site to go up!

How the healthcare overhaul could affect you – flowchart on NYT site

There’s a pretty straightforward interactive flowchart on the New York Times website that goes over the changes you can expect from the healthcare system. Just click on whether you are insured or uninsured and then choose from one of the four subsections that follow.

Clicking MORE under the summary takes you down the page to a more detailed explanation of what you can expect.

If your company pays your insurance, “Insurers will have to pay a 40 percent excise tax on high-value group plans – those in which premiums for families are $27,500 or more, for instance – starting in 2014. Experts say the tax will likely be passed on to employees through higher premiums or lower benefits and wages.

If you pay your own insurance, it’s an even a bigger barrel of fun! “Premiums for individual policies will be 10 to 13 percent higher by 2016 than the average premium that year under current law, according to Congressional estimates. But most people would qualify for subsidies, meaning they might pay less than they do now.”

Less pay and less benefits for everyone! Yay!

Oh, wait… it’s not opposite day anymore. Nuts.

New healthcare bill observations [RANT]

So I’ve been thinking about this healthcare bill… let me rant out loud to make sure I understand some of it.

Premiums will probably rise “only” for those families making over $88k a year. (** I’ll rant more about this part at the end) Everyone making less than $88k a year will be subsidized in different increments from the government, so they won’t have to pay the full amount those making over $88k do.

People who did not have health insurance before will start paying into the system soon, since having health insurance is now mandatory.

The idea is that these new people making new payments will offset the medical costs of those older members who are currently at their insurance limits. And since the new law says there are no limits for these older people, these older people will be treated as long as necessary.

If I understand it right, this sounds like a mix of car insurance and social security. There are going to be so many new people paying into the plan that are not sick and “don’t have wrecks”, that the insurance companies can completely cover those few who are very sick and who have “totaled their cars”. This healthcare plan appears to hinge on everyone not getting catastrophically sick at once and that “new blood” keeps rolling in to pay.

Hence the “mandatory” part of the insurance reform law. Ah-hah!

That alone may explain why there’s no public option and no single payer. The system needs to be self-perpetuating in order to work.

Going over the Reuters points one by one, I thought of a few things as well…


* “A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.” — So tanning is the new smoking. This initial tax shows that the federal government can (and will) tax anything it thinks is bad for you. That’s going to be a rather slippery slope.


* “Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.” — That sounds like a bribe to me. Don’t pull a Walgreens on us, keep the system alive during it’s infancy, and we’ll cut you in on the action.

* “Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service.” — Those little traveling Volkswagens with doctor’s assistants labels all over them? About to become filthy rich.

* “Employers are required to disclose the value of health benefits on employees’ W-2 tax forms.” — The feds have given employers a way to count coverage participation as “bottom-line” compensation, effectively giving employers the option to reduce the overall gross wages they pay their employees.

* “An annual fee is imposed on pharmaceutical companies according to market share.” — Soooo this is going to motivate pharmaceutical companies how? By enticing them to move offshore? Or artificially keep their market share low to avoid this “fee”? And what is the “fee” exactly?


* “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions.” — This sounds bad. The government is going to track who keeps going back to hospitals and for what. In addition, the government is going to fine or tax (financial incentives!) whoever they need to fine or tax in order for these preventable readmissions to stop. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, acid reflux increases in 2 years. If more and more people go to the doctor to treat acid reflux, will the government tax foodstuffs that have high acid content? Maybe I’m misreading it, but that’s what it sounds like!


* “The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income.” — The government expects everything to level out at this point. New payees will have offset the old payees’ claims, so the tax adjustment can kick in right around here. Again, kind of like car insurance. There will be so many people staying healthy that the insurance companies can completely cover those few who are not. And like social security, this assumes the base will continue to expand to support the costs of who came before.

* “A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail level by the public is excluded from the tax.” — Ouch! That to me means oxygen tanks, aspirators, standing (or self-propelled) wheelchairs, lifts and transfer devices, airway kits, and defibrillators off the top of my head. Walgreen’s doesn’t carry much in the specialty medical device field! Look out EMTs! So why is the government taxing necessary medical equipment here? And where is that money going to wind up? In the general US fund?

* “Most people will be required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don’t.” — And here’s the line in the sand. You’re either in or you’re out at this point.

* “Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren’t counted for the fine.” — I predict mass layoffs from small businesses when this comes to pass. “Full time” workers will be dinged down to “part time” to get under this legal barrier. I also predict many small businesses that are just surviving by this point will be pushed under with this enactment. Costs will be passed down to the consumer from medium and big businesses to offset these new increases at this point as well.

* “Health insurance companies begin paying a fee based on their market share.” — So the government is effectively saying “Great job having so many people guys! Now pay up!” I’m unclear on why this is good and/or necessary? Shouldn’t the government reward the strongest and most accommodating insurance company at this point?


* “An excise tax on high cost employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk professions.” — If you have something nicer than everyone else at this point, you’re going to pay a fine. Period.

So let me summarize my feelings about all this : Barf!

Maybe Obama is banking on this healthcare plan to pull the economy out of the recession / depression (re-pression?). Money has to circulate by law now, legislated out of the hands of those who were saving it or spending it for their own purposes. Once money starts circulating again, the economy may twitch back to life.

I still think this is a crap way to do it. And mandating insurance coverage to self-propagate this system? Enforcing the collection through the IRS? Hell no.

To paraphrase a line from Dennis Miller when he was actually funny, “of course all that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

** On a quick side rant, the administration keeps touting that $88k is 4 times the poverty level for a family. So it’s OK to tax the middle class since they’re making 4 times more than the poverty level? Or is $88k for a family now considered upper class? Show me the yachts and two mansions a family of 4 making $88k a year has, and I’ll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. Cheap! $88k is very middle class IMO.