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4K in 2014

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At CES this year, 4K video arrived.  All 3 pieces of the puzzle seem to be falling into the realm of possibility for most Americans: content creation, delivery, and consumption.  On the creation side, quality cameras should hit the sub-$2000 price range this year.  On delivery, Netflix is going to start streaming select content such as House of Cards Season 2 in 4K (if you have the bandwidth and capable decoding hardware.  And for consumption, Vizio will be selling a Netflix-streaming 4K TV for $999 , while 4K computer monitors are even cheaper.

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As someone who leans libertarian in a lot of areas, I’ve been asked if I was happy about the recent government shutdown and gridlock over the debt ceiling.  Just so we’re clear, I think it’s unacceptable that our government operates at a sizable deficit when it already owes around 75% of what the entire country produces in a year.  But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and lately the “conservative” contingent in Congress has been doing things all wrong.  Some on the right defend the Tea Party’s scorched earth tactics, citing Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise on entitlements and the fact that the Tea Party candidates’ constituents elected them to be tough on government spending and growth.  I get that, and I suppose there’s a point at which the situation is so dire that a “win at all costs” approach is our final option.  But the problem is that such an approach is almost certainly destined to fail if employed by a shrinking minority of stubborn partisans.

Those who sympathize with the Tea Party ideals of limited government and a balanced budget need to be realistic about the way they engage those who disagree.  Our goal should not be short-term victories won only by using hardball tactics and alienating everyone who either disagrees or doesn’t understand our position.  While this may slow the bleeding for a year or two, if it comes at the cost of eroding popular support, it will have been a won battle but a lost war.

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I’m long overdue for an update on my gardening projects, which, unlike my posts on the subject, have not been on a year-long hiatus.  In my last updates back in 2011, I had been making attempts at turning our back yard into something more than a clear-cut suburban plot of crappy dirt and dead Bermuda grass.  Those efforts continue.

I’ll start with a quick recap of 2012…

After the previous year’s drought destroyed my neglected backyard lawn and left it completely defenseless against weeds, I decided to try seeding some more drought-tolerant and lower-maintenance native grass.  In the Spring I killed off a big square of lawn and weeds with a couple applications of RoundUp (although I generally don’t like using the stuff, it’s too effective to ignore in certain scenarios that don’t involve edible plants).  Then I tilled it up and incorporated a bit of compost before finally spreading a bag of Habiturf over the area.  Thanks to a fairly wet Spring and some occasional supplemental watering, the grass has actually become fairly established. continue reading…

Although I agree more with Romney’s policies than Obama’s, I didn’t vote for him.  That’s partly because, thanks to our antiquated electoral college system, he shouldn’t need my vote to win Texas.  But that’s also because I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe he actually leads with conviction, or that his policies are guided by any deep philosophical beliefs about what type of government action (or inaction) encourage the best behaviors in society.  In fact, I get the impression that Obama leads with more conviction and integrity than Romney, even though I think most of his conclusions about how to solve the nation’s problems are misguided.

And I think this is the problem with the Republican party these days.  It’s not that their policies are fundamentally inferior to the Democrats’.  I generally believe the opposite is true.  But the Republican party doesn’t know how to explain why they hold the positions they do, especially not in a way that appeals to anyone but the base.  To take a few examples…

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Garage Shelving

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Teri and I love our house, but one thing that is lacking is storage space.  There is no attic and the closets are packed.  When my dad visited recently he suggested installing some shelves above the garage door, since there’s a fair bit of space between the door’s rails and the ceiling.

So I began doing some research and although there are plenty of metal off-the-shelf options, and even a clever DIY scheme using totes, ultimately I figured I could build something more spacious for a lot less money if I just built it from scratch.

After bouncing some ideas off my dad, I settled on a design that was cost-effective, sturdy and not too heavy.  I used mainly cheap 1×2 and 1×3 lumber and 1/4” OSB to build the shelves, and then built some hangers using 2×4s fastened to the ceiling joists (which happen to be made of 2×4 floor trusses, which probably isn’t quite as strong for hanging as a 2×8 or something, but better than the manufactured I-beams that are also in use).

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