Ultrasonic Pit Bull Road Rash

I ride my mountain bike on our street several days a week for exercise. There are three good hills that provide some aerobic exercise. If I ride the length of the street twice it is four miles total. Not a lot of exercise but better than nothing. I also get to see what is happening in the neighborhood. I like to count the number of rabbits that are visible.

One of my neighboors has a Yorkie terrier and a minature Schnauzer that like to chase me when I go by their house. They are small and don't concern me. Recently a pit bull puppy was added to the pack. He has learned to chase me from running with his pack. At first he just ran beside my front tire — his endurance was impressive. A few days later he started running beside my rotating foot. Last week he decided that biting my foot would be fun.

He's too small and young to deliver a bad bite, but when he grows up a bite could be serious. I decided it would be best to "nip it in the bud". So I started researching how to discourage an aggressive dog from a bike. Thoughtful friend David W. suggestion an ultrasonic dog repeller (a gadget producing a piercing ultrasonic tone that humans can’t detect but will discourage a dog from approaching). I ordered one from Amazon.

For several days after it arrived, the dogs weren't out. But on Thursday of last week, they were in the front yard as I rolled down the hill in front of their house. They set the ambush for my return. As I approached, the Yorkie ran out and I pointed the ultrasonic gadget at him and pushed the button as I rode by. He stopped and never came into the street (which could save his life, because the dogs don't look to see if a car is coming). The pit bull puppy didn't slow down when I pointed it at him. As I pumped up the hill, he moved in to bite my left foot. I pointed the gadget at him from two feet (I was pumping up the hill at the time). He backed off and ran around behind my bike to come up on the right side. I switched the gadget to my right hand and pointed it at him point blank.

He kept moving in and then pulled up and stopped. I rode on up the street, unchased, thinking about whether the gadget had worked. About 200 yards up the street, I noticed that the plastic slider that holds the battery in was missing. I checked my pocket and it was there. I pulled it out and started putting the rectangular piece back in place, without stopping.

As I was working with the gadget, my bike dipped to the right and I wasn't prepared to correct. I went down — hit the street hard. I had that sudden shock of realization that I had made a stupid move and was paying for it.  I'd forgotten how hard pavement is. As I got up, I was grateful that nothing was broken. My right knee made first contact and I had a big patch of road rash on it. My elbow and hand hit next — I like to think that Aikido training in the distant past had kicked in and helped me deflect some of the energy of the fall with a curved arm. More road rash…. Looking back, I was lucky I wasn't hurt badly. Now, a week later, the road rash has almost healed and the soreness is gone.

I'll continue to experiment with ultrasonic animal training and post more findings in the future. I'll also be more careful about paying attention to gadgets when I'm riding a bike or driving. Accidents happen quickly! Stupidity has a price.

Answers to Key Questions about Putting Solar Panels on Your Roof

One Block Off the Grid's mission is to educate people on the ins and outs of going solar. Here's are 10 links that address key issues for homeowners who might be considering solar power.

 …It is easy for the average homeowner to get confused by the all of the conflicting information and technical jargon that is flying around in today’s market. Some solar installers have even used this confusion to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers…

  • The Pro’s and Con’s of Solar Energy – Curious about why solar is such a good idea for homeowners and the environment? This article lays out some important points to consider.
  • Feed-in Tariffs (”FiTs“) – What homeowners need to know about this hot new topic. Europe’s been doing it successfully for years…and it’s already landed in the US. Learn more about Oregon’s Feed in Tariff program.
  • Facts and Statistics about Solar – Learn more about the history of solar panels and what is currently happening in the industry.
  • Solar Tubes – Explains just what the heck solar tubes are and how they work.
  • Solar Panel Trackers – There isn’t much good information out there about solar trackers. This entry helps summarize the data and gives homeowners the facts needed to ask their solar installer intelligent questions.
  • Solar Inverters – Here is a simple explanation of this piece that is found in every solar array – including what it does and why it is necessary.
  • Solar Pool Heaters – Want to keep your pool warm year round? Learn more about replacing that gas-powered heater with solar collectors for your pool.
  • Solar Panel Efficiency – There is lots of inaccurate information out there about how efficient solar panels are at converting sunlight to energy. Read this page to get the real low down.
  • Solar Powered Hot Tub – You might not believe it, but we get a lot of questions from homeowners about how many solar panels it would take to power their jacuzzi. Find out here.
  • Personal Solar Estimator – Finally, an easy and highly customizable tool that allows anyone to see how much money they would save by going solar. 1BOG’s solar estimator is the best on the web and makes exploring the advantages of solar quick and easy.

If you want more information about putting solar on your roof, check out the rest of 1BOG’s solar University for everything you need to know.

Attitude and Freedom

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor

Liberated after three years of life in concentration camps, he wrote his world-famous book Man's Search for Meaning. In this book, he described the life of an ordinary concentration camp inmate from the objective perspective of a psychiatrist. (Viktor Frankl in Wikipedia)

Is an Empire that Borrows from its Rivals Doomed to Fail?

The United States is beholden to China, financially. The dirty secret is that our government keeps overspending by selling debt to China. But most people don't know about it. Perhaps we can't stand the truth!

Too many of our leaders would rather pull the wool over our eyes than try to fix the really big problems that threaten the future of the United States.

Bill Bonner explains "Why an Empire that Borrows from its Rivals is Doomed to Fail" at the Daily Reckoning. Excerpts below.

We’re still Number One, right?

Yes…in the sense that we can, in theory, kick any butt in the world. That is, if the Chinese let us. They’ve got so much of our money and so many of our bonds, if they decided to dump them, we’d be in one helluva fix. Because we don’t pay enough in taxes to fund our social programs and the Pentagon at the same time. We can’t afford it. So the nice Chinese lend us money.

But don’t worry. They’ve promised not to dump our bonds. And we’re sure they’ll honor that promise for as long as they want to.

As far as we know, no empire that had to borrow money from its rivals has ever lasted very long. Britain got itself in that position in WWI. It could no longer afford the carrying costs of the empire – including the huge cost of the war itself. So, it borrowed from the US.

Under the weight of growing social welfare programs and a shrinking empire, Britain’s economy sagged. Its old allies – France and the US – boomed in the post-war years. So did its old enemies – Japan and Germany. Soon, not only were its friends richer and more powerful…so were its adversaries.

Is that what we have to look forward to in America…a post-imperial decline, where our standard of living stagnates…our economy limps…and our place in the world frays and crumbles?

Yes. Most likely.

Why? Because the government is taking a larger and larger role in the economy. Because US social programs are too costly. Because we don’t have enough money to pay for them. Because not enough money has been invested in productive business. Because our military burden is too heavy…and difficult to escape. Because we have no savings. Because we will likely spend the next 10 years paying down private debt. Because the rest of the world is racing ahead. Because we are growing older. Because our leaders are corrupt and incompetent. And because the whole society becomes more zombified every day.

Is Our Democracy Failing Us?

Charles Hugh Smith at the Of Two Minds blog identifies some troubling trends among our elected representatives:

Representative democracy has an enduring fatal flaw: the small body of representatives can be "captured" by highly concentrated centers of wealth and power. Ironically, the rise of mass media has had a perverse effect on the process of getting elected to public office: in order to afford the "media buys" needed to reach a mostly disinterested citizenry (less than half bother to vote in the U.S.), the candidates must raise vast sums of money.

This gives the Power Elites the lever they need to effectively "buy" the candidates' attention and loyalties.

…extreme concentrations of power act as positive feedback loops: when their power reaches a certain threshold, they are able to cancel out any counteracting forces and thus add to their power. As a result, their wealth and influence becomes more concentrated and their control of the poltical agenda and process becomes stronger, which feeds and protects their perquisites, tax breaks, income streams and political power.

As they ceaslessly work to protect their fiefdoms, then adaptation, evolution and innovation are stymied, leading to economic and institutional stagnation. Phony "reforms" which leave their power intact are trumpeted in the corporate media while armies of lobbyists craft legislative bills which run to the thousands of arcane pages, as there are now many fiefdoms, Elites and power centers to feed and protect.

That this process has become dominant shows that the state government in California is so supremely, systemically dysfunctional that the representative democracy of the Legislature has been reduced to a body whose only task is dividing up the tax revenues amongst the various fiefdoms who own the legislators.

Defenders of representative democracy claim that the citizenry is not up to the task, and that "professional" staffers, lobbyists and legislators are uniquely competent to sort out the complexities.

I think California shatters this defense completely, and offers evidence that the opposite is true: that "professional" staffers, lobbyists and legislators are uniquely qualified to destroy the state. Quite honestly, the citizenry could not do worse even if they set out to do so.

The "insoluable problem" is the capture of representative democracy by extreme concentrations of power and wealth.

The entire point is to reduce the influence of concentrations of wealth and power. Right now, legislators are beholden to small constituencies who fund their campaigns, and who hold the threat of financing an opponent's campaign next election. This system has led to dysfunction without end and the corruption of democracy.

Is Our Economic Leadership Lost in History?

The excerpt below is from Frederick Sheehan, the author of Panderer for Power: The True Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession.

Philosopher George Santayana wrote: “It is a marvel that mathematics should apply so well to the material world, [but] to apply it to history or ideas is pure madness.”

Today, the Federal Reserve Board is monopolized by mad professors. This is simple to understand, and impossible to ignore, by any non-economist who reads their ravings. However, it seems that the hypnotic spell under which Americans revere academic credentials blinds the public to the utter incapacity of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to accomplish any activity beyond finding the men’s room.

Bernanke acquired his degree in post-graduate economic studies by spouting a single idea that mimicked his professors’ obsession: the Great Depression would have evaporated by 1931 if the Fed had printed more money in 1930. Having put this half-baked theory into practice, both Bernanke and his comrades have received an “F.” Despite his failure, Simple Ben has never deviated from the doctoral thesis, and, he never will. The senile professors who rule the academic community see no reason for him to do so.

…by the time Bernanke is through plundering the middle class of its savings and investments – a staple tactic of desiccated ruling classes since the beginning of time – Sherman will be a footnote in history of American destruction.

via Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture