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Orcas Island

While Dad and Mom were out here, we hopped on the ferry at Anacortes for the one hour ride out to Orcas Island. Tyla and I spent a few days there back in March before Elijah was born and thought it would be a fun place to show my parents. We had lunch on the waterfront at The Madrona Bar & Grill (our favorite restaurant on the island), stopped at the Rosario resort to walk through the mansion, and then drove to the top of Mt. Constitution. We had been encased in fog the entire day but the top of the mountain was above the clouds and had a spectacular view!

We intended to catch the 5:20 ferry back to Anacortes, but when we arrived, we learned that the 2:20 ferry had run over a sailboat. The whole schedule was messed up and yada yada yada we were going ot have to wait for FOUR HOURS to get off the island! That’s bad enough but with a three month old kid in the car, we were wondering if we’d survive. Thankfully Elijah was a champ and hardly put up any fuss.

Unfortunately Mom and Dad never got to see the awesome views from the ferry ride so maybe we’ll try another island next time they come out.

Some photos are included below and I also posted a quick Photosynth from the top of Mt. Constitution.

White Noise

When babies are in the womb, they have quite a noisy environment with all the blood rushing around in addition to the muffled noises from outside the womb. So it makes sense when they are born that it’s comforting to have some white noise playing while they sleep. There are tons of white noise generators on the market, but we picked up an hour long MP3 called “Baby Got Colic.” I dropped it on an SD card and put it in a small radio/SD/USB player. That little gadget is great because it plays from a variety of sources and has a rechargeable battery that charges with a USB cable. We play that thing every night, all night long. I wonder if Tyla and I will be able to sleep without it once Elijah moves into the crib in his own room?

GoPro Clamp Mount

There have been numerous times when it would be useful to attach a GoPro using a clamp, but the only thing I found on the Internet was around $40 and that seemed ridiculous. After searching around for some homemade solutions, I built this:

All of the parts came from Home Depot and the total bill was less than $2. The only specific part that you’d need to copy is the bolt. A standard camera mount accepts a 1/4” bolt with 20 threads per inch. That was the standard number of threads in the bolts at Home Depot so it all went together very easily.

Don’t pay more if you don’t have to!

Identity Theft

One very popular way for thieves to steal your identity is via those credit card offers that flood your mailbox. I recently learned that you can opt out of those offers. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com to get the details. You can either do it online and it will last for five years or you can mail in a signed piece of paper to opt out permanently. It’s a service run by the major credit reporting companies who by default give your info to companies offering credit cards.

Presidential Powers

The campaigns are over. The dust has settled. This will be my last quasi-political post for a while. Thank goodness.

The president is often referred to as the most powerful man in the world, but it seems to me that the facts don’t back that up. What can the president really do? Take us to war, nominate judges, and set the tone for discussions with other countries. That’s nothing to scoff at, but it’s much less than what you’ll hear if you ask people on the street about presidential power.

We heard lots of promises about what Romney or Obama would do if they were elected, but the truth is, they can’t do just about any of that stuff. With their speeches, they can attempt to influence legislation and fix the economy, but if nobody listened to them, they would have zero control over the situation. Go read through the list of powers granted to the president and show me another way that they can influence the course of the country. Yes, they can veto laws but even that can be overridden. The country isn’t going to go down the tubes or get massively better because of what happened in the election. The economy will do what it’s going to do. It’s way to complex to be influenced by one guy. Congress will be the ones figuring out if we’re going to get national health care or tax breaks, not the president.

Why does the whole nation get so riled up about this for months on end? Because it’s an easy show to watch. There are only two characters. One of them is probably saying things you mostly agree with and the other is arguing the opposite. It’s a ready-made protagonist and antagonist. The campaigns rile people up with extremely polarizing ads and they have huge teams of marketers getting out messages customized to your individual thought process. It’s a huge business! And for the next four years, we have an easy scapegoat or hero. It’s a lot easier to point to the president instead of trying to figure out the group of congressman you’ve never heard of who are responsible for some particular measure buried in a bill somewhere. Couple all that with media outlets trying to make as much money as possible for their shareholders and you have one of the most expensive reality TV shows in existence.

Our government is an extremely complex system and the president plays a very tiny role in it. We have a tradition of giving them more credit or blame than they deserve, and so they do actually gain some power from our misguided attribution. But that’s one of the great things about our country: no single person has too much power. The checks and balances have worked pretty well so far and hopefully they will continue to do so in the future.