Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Special delivery

True Blue Sam and his wife were busy last week making a care package for me.

Coffeebean Kentucky Coffeetree seeds arrived yesterday along with a few Smokey the Bear pocket calendars so I can keep track of my work. Looks like several dozen seeds and according to the USDA guide
In general, about 60 to 75 percent of the seed sown will produce plantable seedlings.
I'm not going to follow their row planting recommendation of "Sow 12 to 18 seeds per 0.3 linear meter of row and cover with about 2.5-cm of firm soil." (That's basically an inch apart if my metric conversion is right.)

Although I won't just toss these willy-nilly, I think planting about 10 yards apart should be good and then transplant in a year or two if necessary. If 75 percent grow into healthy trees, I should have a nice young forest in 15-20 years.

The plan so far is to have a section for hardwoods, another for nut bearing trees and a small orchard of sorts. White pine on the southern slope between where we plan to build the house and the pond. Hard and red maple to the south of our building site. Swamp white oak for the low spot beneath the pond and a few maybe nearer the pond itself. I've got some young cottonwoods that need a new location, too.

Shade, food, wind breaks, and maybe some income from the nut trees. And thanks to Sam and his wife, I should be able to cut some coffeebean lumber in 40+ years.

I keep saying that I bought 20 acres of work and I believe it to be so. It should be a busy year down at Camp Stranded with the reforestation efforts.

Thanks again, Sam. And pass along my appreciation to your wife.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Legislative update 1/23/12

One bill that is currently in the Public Safety Committee is HF320, a law prohibiting confiscation of firearms and ammunition during an emergency declaration. It also has a remedy for unlawful confiscations.

Who could be against this bill?
Carlos Jayne and his one-man Iowans For Gun Safety

IA. State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Assn.

League of Women Voters of IA

IA. League of Cities

IA. State Assn. of Counties
Because why would anyone need to defend themselves during an emergency?

Bills to eliminate the purchase permit for pistols and revolvers, HF220 and a companion bill: SF264

The same group above doesn't approve of these either.

A bill to not require a permit to carry if one wants to have a firearm on their personage when they go out and about. HF291

Current law exempts permits only while on your property or place of business, and while hunting or target practice.

And the usual suspects are against it as well.

A bill to exempt firearms manufactured in the state that stay in the state, HF121 probably isn't going anywhere, but interesting.

And I really don't have to tell you who's against it, do I?

Iowa has its own "Stand Your Ground Bill" working its way through committees: HF573

I thought Life was a basic human right, but even the ACLU of Iowa is against that one.

There are a few other pieces of legislation at the state house and if we'll be keeping an eye on them for you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some are more equal than others

Legislation being proposed would pay for the health insurance and college tuition for children of law enforcement officers, firefighters and other public safety officers when that parent dies in the line of duty.
Under the plan, children of those workers would keep their parent's health insurance benefits at no cost until age 26. Children under the age of 26, and qualified veterans under the age of 30, would receive free tuition and fees at Iowa's community colleges and public universities.

Iowa bill would help children when officers die.
Tragic as that is, and I know I'll take a hit for this, but I don't understand why those children get benefits provided by the taxpayer that are not given to all children of the state. My children are less important because of my occupation?

Who is pushing for this bill? Iowa State Troopers Association, State Police Officers Council and two legislators, one a current and one former firefighter. Big surprise.

My suggestion would be to buy life insurance (I know the rates are higher for risky occupations) - but that's what I had to do. Because the state isn't going to step in and provide for my boys with free tuition and health insurance if I die. I don't expect them to.
[Senator] Hancock said the legislation will likely be rolled into a larger "EMS bill of rights" that he and Danielson are working on that also is designed to give some benefits to volunteer public safety workers and help local governments.
Why not teachers who already get a break on student loans if they stay in the state? How about state legislators? Or DOT workers who plow the roads? That's dangerous work.

What about the electrical linemen who brave the ice and wind during a power outage? They are pretty damned important, too. How about the surgeon who saves the life after the ambulance driver safely delivers the patient to the emergency room? The EMS workers' kids get free benefits and the nurses and doctors don't? Doesn't sound fair to me.

It's not like I have no heart as I freely give to associations and fundraising benefits for those in my community who need help. But I do not understand why I should be paying (non-voluntarily) for the benefit of others who should have anticipated the risks and provided for their family if a tragic death should occur.

No one in the state house would be interested in providing for families of IT engineers if one of us should die "on duty." We don't have a lobbying group pushing for it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Branstad's got gas

Gas tax, that is.

It seems that he's now in favor of hiking the gasoline tax, if the conditions are right.
After previously resisting talk of a gas tax increase, Branstad indicated during a meeting with The Gazette Editorial Board that he could see himself supporting “maybe a two-step process” to raise the gas tax for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.

That’s exactly what the chairmen of House and Senate transportation committees, Rep. David Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, and Sen. Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, respectively, have proposed. Their plan calls for an 8-cent motor fuel tax increase to be phased in over two years beginning in 2013. That would raise about $180 million a year when fully implemented. They also would increase vehicle registration from 5 percent to 6 percent, the same as the sales tax charged on other purchases.
Maybe the DOT shouldn't have spent money on a big-ass clock.

Or provide free Wifi.

Or they can save money by not applying salt or plowing the highways, just like yesterday morning. I guess with the mild winter, they forgot how to use a plow and returned the salt and sand.

I'd be a little more accommodating to pay higher taxes if I got better service out of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

400% rise in gun permits cause "Blood in the Streets!"


I'm sure the good sheriff of Johnson County wishes it so, or at least it appears as though he's disappointed with the law.

I'm a little confused about who he defines as law-abiding.
"What I have a problem with is how they define a 'law-abiding citizen,'" he said last week. "There are many, many, many people that are not law-abiding citizens that are eligible and applying for and getting permits."
Wouldn't his jails be filled with permit-holders if they weren't law-abiding? Or my county jail since we get Johnson County overflow (and make a good deal of money in the mean time.)

He even admits, it's not an issue. Permits to carry increased four-fold over the previous year and not a single person was shot, no random wild-west shootouts between angry drivers, not even an accidental shooting of a toe by a permit holder.
Despite his concerns over the law, Pulkrabek said there were few issues during the first year.
Just a couple of folks that had a few drinks and unwisely got behind the wheel of a vehicle. Wait, how does that fit with bad behavior of a permit holder in relationship to a firearm?

Here's one:
Coralville Police Chief Barry Bedford said he can recall one incident in which an intoxicated man was showing off his weapon to a companion and spooked a passerby.
Did the guy spend the night in jail and lose his permit after a fellow citizen wet themselves in fear because a firearm was close by? The article doesn't go into detail regarding the incident. Okay, one incident in the county of stupid actions of a permit holder with their firearm. One. And who was killed or injured in the process? Unless you count crapping one's pants as an injury, then no one.

Sheriff Pulkrabek is worried about this years legislative session:
"I think the lawmakers will be under pressure to make it even more open," he said, adding that the state legislature could eliminate the permit application process altogether.
Then even more imaginary blood will be flowing in the streets of Iowa.

Puttin' in a full days' work

The State Senate:
Friday, January 13, 2012

The Senate convened at 9:14 a.m.

The Journal of Thursday, January 12, 2012, was approved.

The Senate adjourned at 9:15 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.
The State House:
January 13, 2012:

The House will convene at 10:00 a.m.

The House convened at 10:08 a.m.

Prayer offered by Representative Steve Lukan

Pledge of Allegiance led by Representative Steve Lukan

Introduction of Bills:

HF 2039 – HF 2041

The House adjourned at 10:10 a.m. until Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at 8:30 a.m.
Both houses convened for a total of 3 minutes. I'm exhausted just reading it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lake Delhi revival

Is somehow dependent on the good graces of the taxpayers of the state.

After passing an increase of their own taxes, the Lake Delhi residents are coming up a little short and local service businesses aren't doing so well.

And somehow the taxpayers from Plymouth, Poweshiek and Pottawatomie counties (to name a few) need to "step up" and help foot the bill. I think I should be paying a little more each check so that the local Quick Trip can have a profit.

Here's some earlier posts on the subject, just in case you think I'm serious about paying for it:
Hey Buddy, Want to Buy a Dam?
To be or not to be, Lake Delhi Dam

Local politician (do I have to mention his party?) State Sen. Tom Hancock, “The people there are working so hard that I think the state needs to step up.”

Really, Senator Hand-in-my-pocket? Just because someone "works hard" they deserve a taxpayer bailout? I bet you have a different tune for the "Wall Street Fat-Cats" that your party despises but is in bed with.

If working hard is a prerequisite for state funds, how about sending a few bills my way so I can renovate Camp Stranded and improve Lake Cyrano de Bergerac.

I deserve to have someone else pay to help me out.

But then, I don't want a bailout. Because if money comes from the state for feds, there are a whole lotta strings attached. And I prefer the independence for failure.

As I've written before, if private investors got together to rebuild a hydro-electric dam that powered the community, stocks would be sold out in a relatively short time. I might even invest if the price was right. Dividends would be returned to the stockholders and everyone comes out ahead.

Or we can have election year pandering with SF2002.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Inheritance

One of the reasons for building a shed was to store lumber that I purchased from the folk's estate. We started with a platform of treated 4x4's and leveled them out, then screwed in pine 2x4's. And we ended up with a sturdy 6' x 12' area to work with.

The next day:

About 500 board feet of quarter sawed red oak, bur oak and a few boards I can't identify without planing first (sorry Sam, that's sad of me). Most of these boards were cut using a portable band saw that a neighbor of Dad's purchased. A lot of boards were cut from trees felled in Des Moines and Louisa counties with that band saw.

We then returned home to re-stack about 300 board feet of planed walnut and now I can almost walk to the back of my garage. That's because I have about 3-400 feet of some of the best cedar I have ever seen, a couple hundred feet of coffeebean and a few cherry, red elm and hickory boards to round out the inventory. Some of these boards will be stored at the shed, others at home. I'm almost out of lath and will have to start making sawdust again.

I've learned this past year how out of shape I am to begin my second career as a "farmer" but I don't think I've forgotten everything my dad taught me. I also called my broker to invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce topical creams and over-the-counter pain relieving medications. I think they are going to have a good year in 2012.

Dad reforested a few acres with hardwoods such as walnut, hickory, and bur oak along with a few white pines. I heard the new owners tore them out but I don't know for sure. Being less than 10 years old, the hardwoods could be removed fairly easily.

I do have some nuts from down home that we're going to plant down on the acreage. If they take root, then I'll be happy that something could be passed on to the next generation (so long as no one takes a dozer to them.) Bur oak from Dad's, and hickory and a few buckeye that came from a neighbor.

It looks like we'll be placing an order with the state nursery for a few hardwood trees soon. We are in the planning stages of what to get and where to plant them. But I think the wife is okay with the plan so far as it looks like I'll be removing some of the walnut trees and reducing the hay ground, our only cash crop.

If the plan holds out for 250-300 trees to be planted this spring, in forty to fifty years, maybe the sons can have a few stacks of hardwood boards of their own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch the sausage factory

At the Iowa Statehouse

The Iowa House introduced live streaming video so we have a chance to watch the crap-fest that goes on under the golden dome. Otherwise it's a great opportunity for use to keep an eye on those who intend to raise our gas tax, car tags, state park use fees, and assorted other "contributions" to state revenue.

Those of us who work for a living with day jobs won't be able to keep an eye on them unless your employer has a liberal internet policy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Making sawdust

When my dad would plane boards or saw them to width, one would ask him what he was working on. His reply was generally, "Making sawdust."

He used that term in two ways. One, he didn't want you to know what he was working on and two, he messed up on a project and felt he wasted his time.

As I was working on my own little project, it looked like all I was doing was making sawdust. In reality, I was sawing 2x4's for lath:

Starting January, 9th, another group of people will be making their own sawdust and I assume most of them really don't want the public to know about their projects or, more likely, they will be wasting time.

The legislature will be starting their next session in Des Moines and after hearing from our representative's willingness to muck with the tax code and drone on about federal block grants, I'm betting that we all will be getting the shaft once again.

I usually get the blank stare after asking what laws my representative plan on repealing.

"The focus is on jobs, jobs, and jobs," according to a couple of representatives that appeared on "Iowa Press" this week.

I know that Iowa Gun Owners plan on putting the heat to several legislators that didn't step up to pass constitutional carry during last session. And the wind is in the air for competitive races come fall because of this issue. Time will tell if any action comes out of it.

With this being an election year, I fully expect the pandering to emanate from that black hole with the golden dome. Our statehouse.

I still hope they don't meet my expectations.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Iowa Caucus Follies

My Precinct:
Paul - 22
Romney - 19
Santorum - 17
Gingrich - 6
Perry and Bachmann - 4 each
Huntsman with a big fat 0

A fair turnout for our precinct but what's the deal with only having 2 county delegates?

Another thing. If you are going to give a passionate appeal for your candidate, don't just read off a campaign form letter or press release. C'mon people, if you can only say something that regurgitates from the home office, then shut up.

(We could only have one speaker for each candidate and the guy who spoke in favor of the guy I was caucusing for just read from the same email of suggested speeches that I got. Lame. Especially since he was the county chair for the candidate.)

Not all of the state-wide numbers in but looks like a toss-up between Santorum and Romney with Paul in third.