How does he know?

January 19th, 2015

I witnessed very interesting behavior from our dog, Rocket, this evening. He was napping on the floor next to me while I read in the recliner and Hallie surfed the Internet from the other room. Kelly had been at work all day and was bringing Travis home from his piano lesson.

Everything was quiet in the house so I was wondering where our dog was going as he suddenly hopped up from his nap and walked over to the door leading to the garage. Seconds later, the garage door went up and Kelly and Travis walked in with Rocket greeting them.

I sat there astonished. Could it be the dog had somehow known they were coming home? How? He clearly hopped up from his nap and went directly to the door as if he knew they would arrive. I can’t say for sure what his intentions were but to my eyes it certainly seemed like he was ready to greet someone at the door.
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The fine line of classroom discipline

January 19th, 2015

Today is Martin Luther King Day, honoring a great man who pushed America to honor its commitments to everyone. It’s got me in a contemplative mood.

A well-meaning liberal friend forwarded this article from the NEA about the “school-to-prison” pipeline. It portends to raise alarms about how a kid who gets suspended often winds up taking a path towards crime. This is indeed a serious issue with troubling implications. I was disappointed, though, to see the article missing an important point. For example:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, which last year ordered school districts to respond to student misbehavior in “fair, non-discriminatory, and effective” ways, Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than White students, while Black and Latino students account for 70 percent of police referrals.
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Who built this country?

January 18th, 2015

My friend and new Wake County Commissioner John Burns was at the N.C. Association of County Commissioners where the state’s commissioners were given a presentation of the state’s changing demographics. Demographic trends show that white people will soon no longer be the majority.

One commissioner took issue with this and, according to John, announced “so we’re just going to take what built America for 200 years and throw it in the trash can, I guess.”

Of course, it was the immigrants who built America. Blacks, Chinese, Irish, Mexicans, and many others. The people who did the jobs that no one else wanted to do (and in the case of slavery, that they didn’t want to do, either).

Fortunately, everyone around this guy rolled their eyes. And it makes me glad that idiots like him are getting left behind.

Impossible odds

January 12th, 2015

See this gentleman? He was arrested last month for a string of burglaries around East Raleigh. Before was busted in December he had been arrested six times since September. This photo was taken today at the county jail, when he was charged again with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of stolen goods.

Now here’s the mugshot of his mother, taken the same day her son was arrested. Note the shiner. Mom was charged with marijuana possession and possession of a stolen firearm. She has a rap sheet stretching back to 1995 with a few larcenies, license revocation charges, and minor drug charges. In each case her sentences were suspended and you know what? She managed to largely stay out of trouble since 2003.
Though I’ve been quite willing to send kids like this one on his way to jail whenever one’s been caught stealing in my neighborhood, it has made me wonder how a kid can wind up in such a situation. It’s a damn shame to have to send a kid to jail.

As a PTA president, I hear a lot of stories of sad cases, absolutely heartbreaking cases of completely dysfunctional families. I heard one today that will haunt me into my dreams tonight, a story of a child whose parents are apparently no longer interested in being parents and want the child gone.

What kind of world is that for a child to grow up in? When you have no advocate at all? And no love? What kind of future does that child have?
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Busy busy weekend

January 11th, 2015

Been pretty busy around Chez Turner. First off, right around Christmas I caught some sort of cold which sapped much of my energy for a few days. Then my stuffy nose kept me from sleeping well for several nights. But that wasn’t enough to keep me from trying to do way too much as is my habit.

The changing calendar brought about the urge to knock out plenty of tasks that have been nagging us for a while. We cleaned out our attic of a ton of unneeded stuff. Then we did the same to the garage. Then we did the same to the utility room. Then we painted our dining room (after, what, six years?). Then we shifted our living room furniture around. Then we hung pictures on the wall (after, what, six years?). Oh, and I put in a charging station for our electric car.

In-between, we found time to go ice skating with our friends, go on a run or two, host our kids’ friends for playdates, go see the excellent movie The Imitation Game, and even get in some music practice. I’ve also spent some time building a spreadsheet to decipher our Time of Use – Demand (TOUD) electricity rate from Duke Energy Progress. I fixed up our CR-V to sell (Armor-All, car wax, engine cleaning, photography, create an ad) and used a smartphone app and a $15 OBD2 adapter to get the car like new. I also toyed with my new RTL-SDR tuners I bought from China, capable of tuning from about 50 MHz to 2200 MHz. And somewhere in there I made time to cook a very tasty meal tonight, after I watched the second half of the N.C. State win over Duke.

Life sure is busy but it’s also good.

If there’s an economy in your sharing then it’s not really sharing

January 7th, 2015


You can say I know a thing or two about sharing. I was open source long before it was cool. I support Wikipedia with not only my money but my photography, which I freely donate to the public domain. Even this blog is licensed under Creative Commons, allowing anyone to take what I’ve made and use it practically any way they choose. So the brouhaha over the “sharing economy” in Raleigh has me puzzled.

I attended what was billed as a “public hearing” on Airbnb Monday night. Fans organized the meeting to make a case for why Raleigh should consider legalizing use of the home-hosting service. Like other cities, Raleigh, they say, needs to embrace the “sharing economy.” I’m friends with many of these folks but I have a different take on this issue.
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Tablets and E-readers May Disrupt Your Sleep

December 23rd, 2014

Screen time before bedtime disrupts your sleep, a new study says. I love the science of sleep.

People who receive a tablet or e-book reader for the holidays might wind up spending some sleepless nights because of their new gadget.

That’s because the light emitted by a tablet like an iPad can disrupt sleep if the device is used in the hours before bedtime, according to a new Harvard study.

People who read before bed using an iPad or similar "e-reader" device felt less sleepy and took longer to fall asleep than when they read a regular printed book, researchers found.

via Tablets and E-readers May Disrupt Your Sleep.

ICEd out of parking spots

December 22nd, 2014

The N&O’s Andrew Kinney writes about the topic of ICEing, which is what EV owners call it when their charging spot is blocked by an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle. Kinney reports that the city has collected a lot of fines from due to drivers not paying attention to where they park.

I agree with Bonner Gaylord: perhaps painting the EV parking spaces a bright color might help clueless drivers pay better attention.

RALEIGH — People can’t seem to resist Raleigh’s electric-vehicle parking and charging spots – even when they’re driving gas guzzlers.

A sign next to each of the city’s 23 special spaces warns that gasoline-powered vehicles blocking the charger will get a $50 ticket. Yet fuel-burners just keep coming, especially to spot No. 378, which may be the most frequent site of parking tickets in Raleigh.

via RALEIGH: Gas guzzlers can’t stay out of electric-only parking in Raleigh | The Raleigh Report |

How ‘Jingle Bells’ by the Singing Dogs Changed Music Forever – The Atlantic

December 20th, 2014

This is a fascinating account of the version of “Jingle Bells” recorded by The Singing Dogs. I always assumed this song was from the late 1970s – big deal, someone sampled dogs and made a song. I was shocked tonight to find out it was actually recorded in 1955! I had no idea that this was such a groundbreaking song, launching the arts of multitrack recording and sampling. Who knew?

Let’s, for a moment, consider "Jingle Bells" as performed by the Singing Dogs. With jaded, 21st-century ears, it’s easy to dismiss as Yuletide kitsch. It topped a 2007 survey of most-hated Christmas songs, but there was a time when listeners marveled at it—Dogs! And they’re singing!

It’s time we give the Singing Dogs their due. Created in Denmark in the early 1950s by a self-taught ornithologist and released in the U.S. in 1955, the record marks a turning point in how we listen to music. I’ll explain.

via How 'Jingle Bells' by the Singing Dogs Changed Music Forever – The Atlantic.

Cuban relations

December 18th, 2014

President Obama caused quite a stir yesterday when he announced the normalization of relations with Cuba. Of course, Republicans quickly went ape-shit at this announcement and are already lining up to oppose it. Being that it’s the President’s constitutional prerogative to conduct foreign affairs, I’m not sure what whiny Congressmembers can do.

As for ditching restrictions on Cuba, I say good riddance! I’ve never understood the continuing economic embargo against Cuba. Yes, Cuba is a communist country but for decades we’ve had no trouble doing business with communist (and nuclear-armed) China. Hell, China actively spies on us, conducts provocative naval maneuvers, and is actively working to diminish the stature of the United States in the Pacific region. I suppose if Cuba had a population of a billion potential consumers like China we be falling all over ourselves to put aside our differences.
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