The Odd, Little Happy

Finally I dance with confidence to songs

A Stranger’s Touch

Posted by theBarefoot on December 21, 2014

Getting dumped sucks. Getting dumped the week before Christmas is even worse, but it happens. It happened to a woman I’m very close to. She’s my youngest daughter. It breaks a father’s heart to see his little girl in pain, but it makes a father proud to see how maturely his little girl can handle such a sorry situation.

On December 19, 2014, after just recovering from a flu, she collected herself well enough to return some of the Christmas presents she no longer needed. Here’s what she said about her trip to Belk’s department store.

Tonight, I stopped by Belk to return some clothes I had bought for Now Ex-Boyfriend. When the guy asked me why I wanted to return them I said “I lost about 350lbs from the time I ordered them,” and started to cry. He looked confused, but a nearby saleswoman must have overheard and caught on because she came over and held my hand until my transaction was complete and I ran out of the store because I was so embarrassed. I should have told her thank you because that was such an amazingly nice thing to for a stranger. I wish I knew her names because I would totally write Belk customer service about it.

helping hands

Helping Hands

Dear Belk’s,

Please accept my gratitude for having such a lovely lady on staff in your Huntsville, Alabama store at Bridgestreet. I don’t know her name. I don’t even know what department she works in. I only know that her act of kindness made an impression. Though my daughter was embarrassed, she, too, was deeply touched by this small gesture of kindness. I hope your employee is found and recognized for her act. If she is or is not, I will pay it forward.

To all those hurting,
To all those in pain,
To all those in need,
To all those laughing,
To all those crying,
To all those joyous,
To all those at peace,
Merry Christmas to all those, everywhere.

Posted in Christmas, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Our Schizophrenic Approach to Ebola and Drugs

Posted by theBarefoot on October 30, 2014

The Tiger in the Wind

The official government thinking on how to deal with Ebola is not to restrict travel or incarcerate (quarantine) people because, the logic goes, it will drive Ebola underground. People will hide their symptoms, not seek treatment, and end up spreading the disease further afield. Sounds perfectly reasonable and logical, but this is a 180 degree turn from the government’s approach to other, similar outbreaks.

Fear Ignorance Hate

Fear Ignorance Hate

Let’s take, for example, the outbreak of drug use which, by the way, hasn’t changed as a percentage of the population since war was declared by President Nixon in the 1970s. The government very much threatens incarceration and restricts travel, AKA arrests people, when it comes to drugs. What has this policy accomplished? The exact results the government warns will happen to Ebola if it is treated the same way. Drugs are driven underground into a black-market economy. Users who wish to kick their habits are afraid to seek treatment due to fear of being put in prison. People hide their drug-use symptoms and end up perpetuating drug use. This fear-based policy to illegal drugs is now spreading to legal, prescription drugs as this latter classification have now surpassed illegal drugs in causes of drug-related deaths.

I can’t say which is the proper approach to either problem, but I can say the government, AKA the people, need to be consistent in their treatment of problems with such parallels. We need more logic, consistency, reason, and analysis in our government, but that doesn’t sell votes or commercials near as well as fear, reactionism, paranoia, and schizophrenia. Why do we let this continue?

Because, we are herd animals who react to the rustle in the grass as if it was a tiger, not the wind. We are descended from a long line of cowardly idiots who always thought the rustle was a tiger. After all, if it was just the wind, running away didn’t hurt. If what they thought was the wind, turned out to be a tiger, well let’s just say, “Their genes didn’t make it to the next generation.”

Maybe it’s time we suppressed our primal, genetic urges to see a tiger in every gust of wind and started evolving to use reason and logic. Maybe. But I’m just a guy with a keyboard. What the hell do I know?

Posted in disease, drugs, govenment, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cognitive Dissonance in Law Enforcement

Posted by theBarefoot on October 9, 2014

There are two stories in the headlines over the past few weeks that are the textbook definition of cognitive dissonance – the ability to hold two conflicting opinions within the same mind. The stories both involve police and the CD-afflicted are police participating in online forums discussing the stories. You never see the two discussed simultaneously, which is why the people involved are able to so easily suspend logic.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

The first story is the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. The second story comes from Pennsylvania where Eric Frein allegedly shot two PA State Troopers, killing one. The stories follow similar events and have comparable levels of details available to the public. Those details aren’t important to this essay. What is important are the reactions and comments police officer make about the two cases.

The dichotomy of comments from police can generally be summed up with, “Cops are always right.” When the Ferguson shooting is discussed, the comments are almost always peppered with racism and/or classism, as in, “Why don’t those animals get jobs instead of protesting on my tax money?” (This is an ironic statement in itself since police are paid with taxes.) When the Pennsylvania case is discussed, it’s always with summary judgement, as in, “No trial needed. Put a bullet in his head.”

Both cases involve identical acts of violence against another human being, but because in Ferguson, the shooter wore blue, he is automatically given a pass, even given money, by cops and cop supporters. In Pennsylvania, the victim wore blue, so there is a three-county manhunt ongoing for almost a month and the shooter is prejudged by those wearing the blue. Both discussions are laced with prejudicial comments distorted through the blue glasses of law enforcers. Therein lies the cognitive dissonance. Take away the uniforms in both cases and neither would be worth discussing at all in the eyes of the police community because to them civilians are all basically cattle.

Typical comment on the Ferguson situation

Typical comment on the Ferguson situation

Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting

Odd, but typical comment on Frein shooting

Not all police are fitted with the glowing halo of hero-dom they so enjoy bestowing on themselves. Not all opposition voices have criminal records or hate all police either. Some of us just have no use for cops.

Posted in crime, law, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Easy DIY Custom Fence Panels for Hiding Unsightly Areas Around Your Home

Posted by theBarefoot on October 7, 2014

Building a screen for unsightly things around your home is quite simple. You may want to hide the air conditioner unit, like I did, shrink your project to build a little screen for your trash cans. Whatever it is you want to hide, you can do it quickly and easily with some 2x4s and fence pickets.

This is a project you’ll finish in just a couple of hours. It all depends on if you are digging post holes and/or painting. The basics, at least how I did it, only took a couple of hours. I wanted to do mine as cheaply and quickly as possible. The cheap was done by using some metal fence posts I had on hand. The quickly was done by, well, it’s best I show you. The first video is the basic materials and construction. The second is some tinkering I did with fasteners to hold the fence panels to the metal posts. Enjoy and keep chasing the odd, little happy.


Posted in DIY, home improvement, home repair | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dear Unbridled, Free Market, Libertarian…Ebola. Your Argument Is Invalid.

Posted by theBarefoot on August 13, 2014

ebola virus

Eeeek! Ebola!

I like a lot of things about Libertarianism. In philosophical terms, it’s about as close as I can get to being political, but I have practical reservations. As an example, I give you Ebola. (Well, that didn’t sound right at all.) As an example, allow me to use Ebola. I could just as easily choose HIV-AIDS, but Ebola is on everyone’s minds right now. We’re all wondering why we don’t have a cure or vaccine for Ebola. Libertarians would tell us it’s because the free market hasn’t provided one and they would be correct. Here’s where the practical side of things really kicks Libertarianism in the butt. Sometimes, we can’t wait for the free market.

First, you have to realize what a horror Ebola is. I’m not going to post pictures or even draw them with words. Just know that Ebola is probably one of the top five worst ways to die. Until now, Ebola has only killed a few thousand people. I say, “only,” because in the free-market, grand-scheme of things, that’s no one. Also, these few thousand people were poor, very poor. They also live on the other side of the world from the free-market pharmaceutical companies in a mysterious land called Africa. In other words, Ebola hasn’t threatened the free-market and there is no profit in curing it.

It’s the same with HIV. When it first appeared, it was “the gay disease.” No one wanted to treat or cure it because if you didn’t want to catch it, you just didn’t have gay sex. Besides, curing gay people in the 1980s or 1990s would have been PR-suicide for a drug company. But then, straight people started getting HIV, but most of them were in, you guessed it, Africa. So no need to cure it, yet. Not until some very vocal, very fiscally well-off people got AIDS, did drug companies finally decide it was worth the investment to come up with something…anything…that might make them a profit…er…cure…er…prolong the life of an AIDS victim. And those drugs have done wonders to prolong the lives of paying AIDS patients in the Western world. Still there’s Africa, but fuck you, Africa. No expensive AIDS medicine for you and don’t hold your breath waiting on that HIV vaccine, either.

But back to Ebola. The latest outbreak is centered in West Africa. It’s the worst outbreak in history and it has the rest of the world taking notice. Now that there is a chance that it could spread to the Western world, people are asking, “Why is there no vaccine or cure for this horrible disease.” What they really mean is, “Why is there nothing to protect me and my family if that horrible virus leaves the shores of Africa.” Did I mention, fuck you, Africa? There is really very little chance that Ebola will become a world-wide pandemic, but can we wait? Libertarians tell us the market will find a cure when the market is threatened or there is profit in it, but can we wait?

No. When it comes to diseases, pandemics, and horrible deaths, we really can’t wait on the free market and we shouldn’t have to. This is one of those few things governments can do well. They can collect data, recognize threats, and allocate money to abate those threats. Sadly, this often comes in the form of guns for war, but in this case it is in the form of medical research and experiments. No for-profit company would dare spend the millions of dollars needed to develop a vaccine or cure for Ebola. They’d never sell enough to make their money back. Any sane person would hope there was no way they’d make their money back because that would involve an epidemic. If some company did develop a cure that coincidentally came on the heels of a huge outbreak of Ebola, there would be that tiny, dark part of everyone’s brain that would be thinking, “Did the company start the epidemic just to sell their drugs?” Shame on you for thinking a company would profit from the suffering of others…cough child labor, cough black lung, cough big tobacco, no seriously cough, big tobacco. A company just couldn’t sell enough of their cure to be profitable, especially to those poor African countries who are mired in Ebola because they’re poor, oh, and fuck you, Africa.

On the practical side of the house, sometimes we have to act altruistically even if it is for our own preservation.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Posted in disease, medicine, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Pick and Choose

Posted by theBarefoot on August 5, 2014

It’s scary to be first to try something new. I wonder how many other liquids the first person who discovered cow’s milk was yummy went through before they got to milk. Eventually, someone will try something new and the rest of us can evaluate it. If it’s good, we can adopt it. If it’s bad, we should do everything in our collective power to avoid it. So why aren’t we doing that?

Why are we repeating horrible mistakes when others have already tried, failed, and moved on? Why did eleven states pass “drug test for welfare” laws when Florida, the guinea pig for that law, already proved the testing costs more than the savings recouped? I’m going to make a wild guess and say that in at least six of those eleven states, someone who owns a medical testing lab is very closely connected to the state government, if not in it. So that’s a big, “No!” What is working?

Tiny Houses
Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin are both building tiny houses for the homeless. A tiny house is about 100 ft2 of just sleeping space. If you’re lucky, it has a toilet, sink, and maybe a small cooker. But these tiny living spaces are making a huge difference. Obviously, they’re saving lives from exposure to the elements, but they’re also giving a small piece of dignity to the lives of the disenfranchised. Many of these homeless are military veterans. If it helps, think of these shelters as pay-back for their service. The dignity these dwellings instill is translating to jobs and permanent housing for many who take advantage of the program. It also benefits the city because the construction is planned. “Hobo camps” and shanties are disappearing.

Whole Apartments
In a proactive piece of government, Salt Lake City, Utah ran the numbers for what the homeless were costing the city. Between emergency room visits and other tax-paid services, it was estimate each homeless person cost over $16,000/year. After crunching a few more numbers, Salt Lake City calculated they could give each homeless person an apartment and a social worker for a little over $11,000/year. Homelessness in SLC has dropped 74% and will be eliminated in 2015 if the trend continues.

Specifically, body cameras for the police. After the police in Rialto, California started wearing cameras on their uniforms, complaints fell by 88%. Excessive force reports dropped 60%. After any encounter, the video is upload for evidence or analysis. This is an amazingly successful experiment. It helps police gather evidence and protects citizens’ rights.

Protecting the 4th Amendment
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled as of August 5, 2014, police in Massachusetts can no longer use the old “I smell marijuana” chestnut as probable cause to search a vehicle. It’s been common knowledge that police often used that excuse to search a car when the owner wouldn’t consent to their search requests. It’s common knowledge that it was an often abused excuse. Yes, cops were lying! I know! Shocking, isn’t it? In these times where we are surrendering more of our liberties for a security circus of empty tents, this ruling gives us hope that the pendulum may have reached its maximum height and is swinging back toward liberty.

Pick and Choose
Now that someone has taken the plunge, it’s time other cities and states start picking the best ideas and implementing them, too. We could wipe-out homelessness nation-wide by 2025. We could reduce police abuses and return policing to the honorable profession it used to be. We can’t think of these ideas as giving people something for nothing. We can’t think of them as taking advantage of the public coffers. We need to see that these are investments in people and communities. They give the homeless dignity which leads to pride which leads to employment which leads to permanent not-homelessness. They give police a pause to think about cracking a head and costing the city thousands of dollars in law suits. The community gets something for these investments. We need to spread these good ideas. Go to your next city council meeting and ask them why your city isn’t building tiny houses or procuring body cameras for the police. Go on! Get going!

Reference links
Mass Supreme Court Ruling
Tiny Houses
Salt Lake City Homeless
Body Cameras for Cops

Posted in Activism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Stepping Over the Thin, Blue Line

Posted by theBarefoot on July 30, 2014

It’s rare online that a cop leaves the comfort of their internet echo chamber. Mostly, they hang out on sites where other cops can slap each other on the ass and tell themselves what a great job they’re doing. It’s the internet equivalent of a cop bar. It’s rare, because when they do come down among the common people, they tend to show just a little bit too much of their true colors. Case in point? A recent Facebook discussion started by KVUE concerning a U.S. Magistrate’s reaffirmation that filming the police is a protected, 1st Amendment right. The ruling is one step along the legal way being taken by Antonio Buehler against the Austin, Texas police department (APD). After his illegal arrest and falsified charges at the hands of the APD, Buehler founded the Peaceful Streets Project in Austin. Their mission is to film police performing their public duties, to encourage transparency, and accountability. Needless to say, some cops still don’t want to be filmed.

In the aforementioned Facebook discussion, a detective with the Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, one Marc Taub, decided he would let us citizens know exactly where our place is. He forgot that he was woefully out numbered and surrounded by many of the unhappy citizens he and his fellows failed over the years. In the first screen-capture, Jim Rank recounts how APD failed him in his time of need. Detective Taub’s reply (highlighted) mocked Mr. Rank, saying since he was a cop hater, it’s good that the police didn’t help him. Taub added, “Law Enforcement is a lucrative business based on your taxes. So like the service or not, payment is still accepted.”

Screen capture 1

Screen capture 1

Two thoughts occur to me. One, Mr. Rank probably had no issues with police until he need them. Something echoed ad nauseam by cops and their doe-eyed supporters when arguing with anti-cop people is, “You talk big, but who will be the first ones you call when you’re robbed?” Mr. Rank’s experience tells us that may be futile. It may be better just to call the insurance company and by-pass the cops. His mention of Warren v. District of Columbia is in reference to the findings in that case that police are under no specific legal duty to provide protection to the public. So Det. Taub is correct. If you don’t like the way he does his job, he doesn’t care. He still gets paid with your taxes.

Two, Det. Taub’s comment sounds oddly like a mafia protection racket. If you don’t support his police department, heap praises on him and his confederates, and blindly follow all his commands, you don’t deserve his attention, protection, or services. That, my friends, is a downright scary thing for a cop to say. His idea of policing is nothing more than extortion.

In the second screen-capture, Det. Taub is telling Mr. Rank to not bother the police in the future. He should call Mr. Buehler instead.

screen capture 2

Screen capture 2

Frankly, having Antonio’s camera crew show up would probably be a better solution than the APD showing up only to shoot a few dogs. Taub’s sarcasm is dripping with contempt for the lowly, un-serviced citizens. Citizen’s who frankly have valid complaints. Taub is unfazed and would rather label them miscreants and malcontents than admit the police failed in their duties. I included the second screen-capture because it contains some spur-of-the-moment brilliance, wherein I encapsulate a philosophy that is gaining ground among the un-serviced citizenry.

If I'm being robbed or assaulted, I have a gun.
If I'm burglarized, I have video of my belongs to prove to my insurance company what was stolen.
If my neighbors are loud, I go talk to them politely.
If there's a stray running the neighborhood, I catch it and care for it until I find the owner.

I have no reason to call a cop. Nope. No use for cops at all. If cops were paid on an "as used" basis, I'd save a ton on taxes.

The only time I’ve needed a cop is when I was told I had to have one. Insurance companies usually don’t pay auto accident claims without a police report. I would have preferred to just take the other drivers information, snap some pictures of the scene and damages, and filed the claim, but they had to have some official-looking form, filled out in ballpoint pen, complete with misspellings and grammatical errors, written by a high school graduate who got solid Cs in English.

Det. Taub’s attitude is not unique. He simply chose to leave his comfort zone and let the disenfranchised public get the best of him. I’m sure when he returned to the safety of his comrades’ echo chamber, he got plenty of support for soiling himself among the masses. I’ll remind Det. Taub, police in general, and anyone who cares to listen, of the lesson I learned long ago. If everywhere you go, you are treated with contempt and disrespect, it’s not everyone else who has the problem. It’s you. This is true for anyone in uniform or out. Respect isn’t given to the badge. It’s given to the person, badge or not, based on their actions. Simply repeating a lie doesn’t make it a truth. Repeating a lie to yourself is just mental illness.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.

Lest you think I’m complaining for the sake of complaining, I do have a few ideas that would provide solutions to the growing problem of policing in America. I invite you to read those ideas here and leave feedback.

Posted in crime, Life, police, rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Internet Echo Chamber

Posted by theBarefoot on July 25, 2014

Danger noise hazard

Danger noise hazard

With so much information available, it’s amazing how insulated the average internet user is. They tend to find their echo chamber and stay there. With almost the entire knowledge of humanity available, the average person decides to hide in a blacked-out bubble of their own prejudices, reinforced by others who want the same. I understand the desire to be around people we can related to. I also understand the need to research a topic and come to a rational conclusion. Sadly, it is man’s desire not to be rational, but to rationalize their foregone conclusions.

One thing I’ve noticed about these online echo chambers is when a dissenting opinion does show up, the first reaction is “Get out of here you {insert explicative}.” If they are really proud of their position, shouldn’t their first response be, “Well hello dissenter. Allow me to dazzle you with the logic behind my position so that you, too, may enjoy the fruits of my well-reasoned point of view?” Is it that nonconforming opinions frighten them? Are they afraid the intruder might poke valid holes in their world view?

It doesn’t matter how many facts are behind an opposing view. Most people prefer the comfort of their own feelings to the discomfort facts may bring to bear. Though I’m able to understand this, I just can’t tolerate it. My brain is ruled by logic, reason, and the occasional joke. I try to keep my feelings for my family and dogs. I don’t mind making a fool of myself for a cheap laugh, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it to make someone feel better about a conspiracy theory or some Fox News story (story: a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel).

Next time someone asks a question in your little internet group, try, just for once, to engage them instead of dismiss them. I know it will be difficult, but there are rewards for leaving your comfortable bubble.

Keep chasing the odd, little happy.


Here’s Hank from VlogBrothers to expand this thought.

Posted in Advice, Life, rant | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why Obamacare Got It All Wrong & Should Be Repealed

Posted by theBarefoot on July 24, 2014

It doesn’t matter if you like the ACA or hate it. It doesn’t matter whether you want it repealed or think it should stand. Obamacare, the ACA, got it all wrong.

It’s not that we didn’t get the single-payer system that was really needed to make it work. It’s not the stupid language oversights in the 900 page act that no one caught until now. It’s not that insurance companies had to revamp their policies and increase prices. It’s not that some people lost their insurance. What Obamacare got wrong is, it tried to work within the system. Systems are always designed to resist change. Making insurance mandatory for all, as we see, didn’t do anything to spread the pain, cost, or burden. What was really needed was a law making insurance illegal.

Yes. I said, “Make insurance illegal.” If you think gambling is a sin, but still buy insurance, you’re a sinner. Insurance is simply placing a bet that something catastrophic will happen and you win a big payout. As with all casinos, the house always wins. At the core, banning insurance is a simple thought exercise in Economics 101. Supply and Demand rules every market.

You’re thinking, “But medical care is so expensive, I have to have insurance to pay for it all.” But that’s a faulty thought experiment. You have to ask, “Why is medical care so expensive?” Is it to pay for doctor’s expensive medical degrees? Is it because we need to pay for highly skilled nurses and techs? Is it because we need to fund some research? Is it because we need to pay for a new hospital wing with the latest technology? No. No. No. No. And No. It’s supply and demand.

Insurance companies have a huge supply of money, therefore medical facilities, doctors, and drug companies can demand large amounts of that money for their services and products. What would happen if that large supply of money wasn’t there? Economics 101 tells us that without that supply of money, no one could demand that money. In other words, prices would fall. Take Lasik eye surgery,for example. Insurance doesn’t cover Lasik. In the last decade Lasik has dropped from $3,000 per eye to $300 per eye. All because medical consumers had to pay cash for Lasik. Without a huge pile of money waiting to be sent from an insurance company, Lasik providers had no choice but to lower their prices to something the cash market would bear.

If we were to rid ourselves of that supply of medical insurance money, doctor’s couldn’t charge $200 for an office visit. They’d have to find a reasonable cash price the average patient could pay if they wanted to stay in business. Drug companies couldn’t charge $900 for some newly developed drug. They’d have to make their pills attractive to the wallet of the average demographic.

Obamacare tried to spread the cost by making everyone buy insurance when the real solution to universal health care is to make insurance companies illegal and open the market up to unsupplemented market forces. Unfortunately, politics isn’t a product or service that follows the rules of economics and we as political consumers never get what we paid for.

Posted in Health, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


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