Friday, July 31, 2009


I have not previously participated in Friday cat blogging because I don't have a cat. However I shared a house in Denver with a cat, Oreo. Oreo is theoretically an indoor cat but likes to sneak out. Fortunately he generally doesn't go far.

Here Oreo is surveying things from the front porch.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tax shift update

Last month I complained about a bill then pending before the state senate which would likely over time increase property taxes for condo owners like me. As well as posting on my blog I sent emails to my representatives Sandra R. Galef (90th assembly district) and Suzi Oppenheimer (37th senate district).

Somewhat to my surprise I have received substantive replies. The good news is the bill is apparently dead for now. The bad news is both representatives continue to defend the bill and attribute its defeat to "misrepresentations" and "misinformation". However I am unconvinced I was mistaken in believing it would have adversely affected condo owners. The claim that "the bill doesn't increase taxes on any properties." seems rather disingenuous. As a result of the bill in the future some properties would pay more in taxes and some would pay less. Otherwise the bill would be pointless.

Supporters of the bill seem to think there is something underhanded about tax certiorari lawsuits. But of course these suits are only necessary (and successful) because local assessors are systematically ignoring the law and not updating assessments to reflect changing market values.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Iowa wind power

I recently drove on I80 through Iowa on my way to Denver and back. West of Des Moines the highway passes through a couple of wind farms with numerous wind turbines visible on both sides of the highway. They were a bit startling to encounter as they had not been there when I drove the same highway in 2007. I also encountered big trucks on the highway carrying wind turbine blades which are very long. Apparently wind power in Iowa is growing rapidly and Iowa has passed California and is now second to Texas in domestic wind power.

The photo was taken in late June and shows wind turbines in the Walnut Wind Farm near Walnut Iowa. The highway is I80.

Dice puzzle followup

I posted a dice puzzle last month. The solution in the first comment appears correct.

Since I posted the puzzle, John Derbyshire has updated his followup to note the puzzle earlier appeared in John Tierney's New York Times blog. See here with solution here .

Monday, July 27, 2009

Running on empty

On Saturday driving my 2004 Toyota Solara back from Denver I drove all day on one tank of gas. I covered 520.4 miles. I thought at the time that this was a personal record for distance driven on one tank but was surprised to find upon checking that in the first couple of years after buying my previous car (a 1986 Toyota Celica) in 1994 I had exceeded 500 miles on a tank on several occasions and in August 1995 had gone 523.4 miles.

The Celica got better mileage but had a smaller gas tank than the Solara so its range was similar. The Solara has an average mpg calculator which I reset each time I buy gas. It generally overestimates mpg by .5 or so (compared to dividing mileage by amount of gas required at the next fill up) but on Saturday was dead on estimating 34.0 mpg (as compared to 34.01 computed from the 15.300 gallons to fill up). The Celica required 13.472 gallons to fill (after the 523.4 mile run) for an estimated mpg of 38.86. Both cars have a reserve (if the specs in the owners manual for fuel tank capacity are to be believed) past the point where the gauge reads empty so the true maximum range is a bit higher.

Of course to be really precise you need to account for the fact that the Celica's odometer read about 2.4% high while the Solara's reads about 2.4% low which would mean the Solara holds the true miles record.

One problem for electric cars is that there is no prospect of their achieving a range of anywhere close to 500 miles anytime soon. And they take hours to recharge as opposed to a few minutes to refill a gas tank.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eastbound and Down

I arrived home tonight after driving 3 days from Denver, where I have been for the past 4 weeks. Despite the economy the roads (mostly I80) seemed as crowded as ever. I did notice gas stations are now requiring prepayment. This is costing them revenue as some people buy less than a full tank to avoid returning for change. So they must have been seeing a real theft problem. Perhaps because of the economy. Or maybe only lowlifes pay with cash these days.

The photo of Denver was taken from Green Mountain a suburb to the west.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sarah Palin

There has been a lot of comment about Sarah Palin's recent unexpected announcement that she was going to resign as governor of Alaska. It seems to me that her troubles illustrate one of the downsides of affirmative action. Picked by McCain in large part because she was a woman it appears she was in over her head from the start. You are not doing people a favor when you push them into a position where they have little chance to succeed.