Hello World

•March 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Yeah I know it’s not my first post but it might as well be. My life has pretty much changed in every major aspect since my last post 2 years ago. Hold tight to your skivvies and well go light speed through the update.

  • Taught myself CSS, HTML5, jQuery and JavaScript. In the end creating my own company BigTooth Creative (Thanks to MC for all his encouragement on that).
  • I no longer aspire to be in politics but I still am waist deep in it. I love the political system and I’m addicted to it, maybe one day I’ll run but for now I’m standing back.
  • I’m working a overnight shift at a residential tower in the city. This gives me great time to work on sites and keeps a steady income no matter if I’m on a project or not.
  • “Fractured” my tailbone last year (no xray’s doc told me it was, thus the quotes) and am just getting back into working out. I quite smoking on January 7th and just quite chewing tobacco March 4th. I weighed in when I first started at 364lbs. I weighed in again on March 4th after 30 days of being back and came in at 340lbs. 24lbs in 30 days, I’m impressed. I am also on week 5 of “Couch 2 5K,” which is a nifty program with an Android app that trains you from nothing to running a 5K.
  • V and I have changed the menu up drastically at home. Stuffed the junk food deep in the basement and eating light and clean as much as possible. She is awesome and I don’t think I’d have lost a pound without her around.
  • V and I are buying a home soon (hopefully) and starting to plan a trip to Italy so she will let me knock her up. Big changes in the House of Beave, and I hope they keep coming cause I’m loving this.
  • Oh and I drive a minivan now. ::smh::

Good chat internets, good chat. I’ll be talking to you real soon.

The Misinformation Fairy Strikes Again

•August 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

This email was sent to me by a family member worried that this may be true. I actually get quite a few of these sent to me and I love researching them to be able to know a definitive answer. This one is supposedly a corporate email sent to employees of Consumer Energy (at least that is what an animated graphic at the bottom of the message hints at) warning them about the dangers someone (I assume a customer) experienced with CFL’s. While reading the email without any outside information, it’s alarming. But with a little bit of research, it breaks down like a ’70 Ford Pinto on prom night.

First the email;


Forward on to other people!
The incident below was shared by one of our Team Members involved with one of our Quality Program Projects.  It would serve us to share this with our families.  With all the emphasis on conserving energy, many families and even offices are routinely replacing bulbs with this type.  Please share with your project teams.  Thanks to Dick Cummings for sharing this information.

Safety Message

Below is a picture of a CFL light bulb from my bathroom.  I turned it on the other day and then smelled smoke after a few minutes.  Four inch flames were spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch!  I immediately turned off the lights.  But I’m sure it would have caused a fire if I was not right there.  Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room.
I took the bulb to the Fire Department to report the incident.  The Fireman wasn’t at all surprised and said that it was not an uncommon occurrence.  Apparently, sometimes when the bulb burns out there is a chance that the ballast can start a fire.  He told me that the Fire Marshall had issued reports about the dangers of these bulbs.
Upon doing some Internet research, it seems that bulbs made by “Globe” in China seem to have the lion’s share of problems.  Lots of fires have been blamed on misuse of CFL bulbs, like using them in recessed lighting, pot lights, dimmers or in track lighting.  Mine was installed in a normal light socket.
I bought these at Wal-Mart.  I will be removing all the Globe bulbs from my house.


So after a little research, my response;

Here is a great article that explains that when you see the burn marks in that picture it is in fact a blown ballast but it is a saftey feature and not a hazard. UL certified business produce the light in such a way that when the ballast blows  the the Voltage Dependent Resister (VDR) opens up, much like a fuse in your home. The plastic then melts when the hot coil touchs it, this is a good sign that the bulb worked in the way it was intended and it is releasing the heat rather than trapping in and causing a fire. If the CFL were to malfunction, there would be much more damage to the bulb. So in short; Smoke yes, blow torch no.
In the spirit of doing more than I possibly need to do to push my agenda, is an article from Yahoo! that you can find many other places on the internet than tosses out 3 CFL myths you may have heard. The biggest load of crap they try to feed people is the fact that if you break a CFL you may need a hazmat team to clean it up and it could take 11 years for the full effect of the damage and poisonous mercury inside to clear up. The best line from this article is;

“What if you did the worst job possible, say closed all the doors and smashed the bulb with a hammer? It’s still no big deal, says Rubinstein, who points out that it would be the equivalent of eating one can of tuna.

So buy ’em, use ’em, save money and save the planet. And take satisfaction in knowing that you are taking a little more money out of a Com Ed CEO’s pocket.
Hope this helps everyone know a little more about CFL’s and the lack of danger involved in using them. Till next time hasta la bye bye!



Lissy Laricchia’s ‘Get Back In Your Book’ Series

•May 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Lissy Laricchia or Lissy Elle as she is known on Flickr has some amazing talent. Her “Get Back In Your Book” series is has proved that once again.

This series features different literary characters being sucked back into their respective books.  With total simplicity and amazing technicality these photos capture your imagination and wonder. The characters come through even without looking at the book covers, showing their personalities with little more than a costume and a book.

If you have the time I suggest you go through her “threesixfive” set, in which she posts a new self-portrait every day. Larricchia has a way with the camera and you can watch her relationship with it grow over the course of a year. There is an amazing portfolio growing everyday on Flickr and a great future that will touch many.

Green Party Candidate for Cook County Assessor Robert C. Grota

•April 2, 2010 • 1 Comment

 Being a 3rd party candidate is tough enough, but when you are a candidate for the office of Assessor it seems it can be even tougher. With 40% of residents of Cook County being renters and not home owners (via ULI Chicago), many residents simply don’t know all of what the Assessor does. Mr. Grota really breaks down what he wants to do and how he plans to do it.

I learned a lot while researching the position and Mr. Grota’s canditicy. If you have the chance after reading the interview please vist the Cook County Assessor’s Office web site to learn more about this important position.

Again thank you to Mr. Grota for allowing me the oppertunity to interview him and spread the message of another great 3rd party candidate.

Can you give us a quick autobiography of Robert C. Grota?

I am 46 years old, born in Milwaukee, WI.  I grew up in the suburban Milwaukee area where hard work and honesty are revered.  When I was 14, my father let me earn my allowance by helping him measure houses on the weekends for his township assessor job.  I learned all about measuring and construction of houses and various farm buildings.  When I graduated High School in 1981, I went into the US Army for 6 years and was a vehicle mechanic (from jeeps to tanks).  After I got out, I attended college and received 2 degrees. 1 in Accounting and another in Business Management. After college I joind the family assessment business, where I worked for the next 15 years.  I learned everything from measuring houses, retail, offices, manufacturing facilities and mines to mapping, valuation of all properties and advanced computer modeling for assessment purposes.  I developed the most popular Assessment software used today in Wisconsin. In 2006 I moved to Chicago.  I have worked at the Cook County Assessors office since July of 2008.

What made you join your party rather than one of the two major parties or another 3rd party?

I joined the Green party because it believes in ethical and honest government to serve the people, values that reflect my own.  The 2 major parties, Democrats and Republicans, in the Chicago area seem to be self serving politicians for the sake of politics and gain for its own members only.  The people who they represent are not of concern to them and their agenda.  I believe government is there to serve the people, not people to serve the government.

What is your biggest hurdle going into the election as a 3rd party

The biggest hurdle I see in the upcoming election, as a third party candidate, is that voters don’t see you as a real contender, able to take on the established parties.  Voters tend to stay with what they know.  If they usually vote for one party, then if they don’t know the 3rd party candidate, they will not look into his platform or ideas and vote the same party they always have.

Voters have a responsibility to vote  for the best candidate for the job, not the party the candidate belongs to.  They need to learn who the candidates are, what values they have and what their plans are for office.  Only in this way can we elect real leaders who will be honest and ethical.

What can be done here to end the distrust in politicians and political
system in this state and get Illinoisans to the polls?

By researching and voting for the most qualified candidates, voters will elect who they want.  If voters continue to vote on blind faith to their party, we will continue to get the scandal, corruption and insincere politicians as ineffectual leaders.  Its up to the people of this state to rise above their own apathy, research the candidates and vote who they believe will do the best job.  Only if this is done can effectual leaders be elected.  If the people of Illinois continue to follow the 2 big parties like blind sheep, the situation will continue to worsen.

What is something you would like to accomplish if elected into office?

If I am elected Cook County Assessor, I would put in place honest and ethical valuations of property, based upon accurate property data.  These valuations would be mailed with proof, substantiating the valuation to each property owner.  Secondly, the appeals process needs to be reformed.

  1. Face to Face meetings between tax payers and assessment personnel so that the valuation process can be explained, new data presented and objections heard. 
  2. The Board of Review needs to be overhauled so that only real, provable adjustments are made to assessments based upon accurate market data.  Bribes, campaign contributions and other “pay for play” must be eliminated at both the Assessors Office and the Board of Review.

What can you do for Cook County residents that other candidates can’t?

I am the only cadidate that has the experience and knowledge required by the Assessors Office to perform the job.  I have worked in several states, 8 different counties as an assessor and done all of the functions of the Assessor.  I have developed Assessment software to perform the many functions of the Assessor in a time and cost efficient manner, resulting in reduced costs and time savings for tax payers.  I have led a team of Assessors that valued more parcels (properties) than are in Cook County at a cost of about 1/20th of the current assessors budget.  All of this with better customer service are what I offer the people of Cook County. Compare this with the other 2 candidates.  The Democrat is known for corruption, “Pay for Play” politics and is a political pawn for Madigan.
He sees to it that both he and Madigan make big bucks off the system. Plus, if he is elected Assessor, he will head both the Assessors office and the Board of Review.  Complete control of the valuations set for tax purposes.  Do you trust him with your taxes?  The Republican ran a small township assessors office in Evanston.  There was discord with the employees in the small office and with the Mayor of Evanston.  Do you think she can run an office with 400 +/- employees and the Cook County Board?

Do you feel the new 10/25 ordinance is working? Was the change necessary?

The new 10/25 ordinance is nothing new.  The Assessors office has been using those levels of assessment for many years prior to the ordinance being passed.  They are just being honest about it now.  For many tax payers, it makes no difference.  The value that really matters is the “Market Value” of the property.  ‘Is the Market Value set correctly for each property’ is the question that each property owner needs to know the answer to.  If every property is lowered to the same Assessment Level, the “Assessed Value” becomes meaningless.  In fact, you can’t really appeal an Assessed Value.  You can only prove the Market Value is not correct.  That is the value that home owners can “prove” incorrect based upon similar houses recent Sales Prices.  “Market Value” is the value that needs to be
reported to the tax payers.

Do you think the 7% EHE is enough in times like these, is there a way
to better assist families effected by the recession?

The 7% Extended Homeowners Exemption is set to be completely phased out in 2011.  It was not a way to reduce taxes but a method of shifting tax dollars to other tax payers.  The only REAL way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending by government.  Of course the politicians don’t want you to know this because they feel they have more power the more money they spend.  The truth is that, in todays government, much of the tax money collected is wasted.  The only REAL way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending by government.

Do you think that the current exemptions for disabled veterans and
returning veterans are enough?

The exemptions for this are small compared to actual costs of returning from active military service.  These exemptions should be increased to a maximum amount necessary to cover costs of defending the U.S. and returning to a productive life.

How do you feel about the “Religious Exemption?” Is it appropriate or does it cross the line of church and state?

The Religous Exemption is designed to exempt from taxation those organizations who provide services that would normally be provided by the state.  The idea behind it is that if this service were not provided by churches, the state would need to provide the service at a cost to tax payers.  Homeless shelters, food for the needy, employment counselling and training, providing relief in times of turmoil, etc. are provided by these institutions.  The separation of church and state only means that the state cannot dictate what religion you just follow.  It does not mean that the people of the state cannot practice religion, display religous figures (without predjudice) or be religous. This exemption is abused by many who take advantage of the system.  A Minister living in a home is not a service the state would provide and should not receive an exemption for this.  In other states, in order to receive a religous exemption, the property must be wholly owned and operated by the church, for religous purposes.  No partial exemptions are granted.
I believe this exemption needs an overhaul to get it back to the original purpose.

Do you feel social media will have an impact on your campaign and how
do you plan on using it?

Social media is a big part of American life today.  Many people get their news and information from the Internet and other social media outlets. I currently have a website < GrotaForCookCountyAssessor.com  > and soon will be adding a facebook account to reach out to all of the voters who follow this media.  Look for me in the future on facebook.

Is there anything else you think that people should know about you and
your campaign?

I am for responsible government.  A government that makes sense to all of the people.  Waste, hidden agenda, corruption and “Pay for Play” have no part in the office I seek.  I need your vote to make this a reality!

How can those interested join your campaign?

Go to WWW.GrotaForCookCountyAssessor.com and find out more about me.  From there you can contribute or take part in my campaign.  I look forward to working with you and getting Cook County government under control and serving the needs of the people-not the politicians!

Illinois Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Lex Green

•March 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

I want to start out by saying Mr. Green has been very gracious to be the first to answer my questions. He even did so even after seeing my exceedingly liberal Facebook page and I accidently wrote to him as Mr. Whitney (the Green Party Gubernatorial candidate).

I learned a lot about this great Libertarian candidate in my reasearch of him and after hearing his answers found that while we do disagree on a few issues, we also have many common beliefs . Thank you again Mr. Green for your participation and I hope that people lost in the political struggle can find their voice with you and the other 3rd party candidates.

Can you give us a quick autobiography of Lex Green?

I am a lifelong resident of Illinois, living as a child on a farm, for a while in the suburbs, but most of my life in the city of Bloomington in the middle of the state. I am married and have three grown children. I work at the Mitsubishi auto factory as an automation electrician. I love music, astronomy and science, fishing and hunting, camping, history and politics.

What made you join your party rather than one of the two major parties or another 3rd party?

I have always been a seeker after truth and I found the politics of the two major parties to be confusing and disingenuous. I am also headstrong and don’t like being coerced to do anything or give away something I have earned. I migrated politically over many years to the Libertarian Party, even while reserving the right to disagree with them. Eventually I realized I had found my political home.

What can be done here to end the distrust in politicians in this state
and get Illinoisans to the polls?

The problem isn’t the distrust, which I feel we should never lose. The problem is the politicians. When the primary goal is getting re-elected, truth and honesty go out the window. For this reason, I support term limits, like those in the Putback Amendment. Freed from the need to pander for votes, the politician can focus on standing on his/her principles. Think of holding office as you would jury duty. You go do your duty with honor and dignity and then go back to your plow, wrench or pen.

What would be the first thing you would like to accomplish if elected
into office?

I want to do it all. I need to set up a staff and start preparing the budget that the Illinois Constitution requires. At the same time we can bring the Illinois National Guard stationed overseas home to help here and be with their families. And also I would try to protect Illinois citizens by writing 10th Amendment inspired bills to return the state and the nation to its constitutional bounds.

In what ways can we help balance the state’s budget?

The answer to balancing the budget is simple and hard at the same time. We need to stop spending so much and that means eliminating or reducing agencies and unnecessary functions. That also means that we need to get people out of government jobs and into private sector jobs which will reduce expenditures and increase revenues at the same time. Once taxes are eased, job creation will result. When most people have jobs, the other problems become much smaller.

Would you sign a bill into law legalizing gay marriage if it crossed
your desk? Why?

This is one of those odd questions that won’t fit a sound bite. I believe all people are deserving of all rights equally. But I don’t think the government should be involved in any kind of marriage. Marriage is between two people, not between a couple and government. So my solution is not to expand government intrusion into our lives but to remove it, even from traditional marriage.

How do you feel about the recent passage of health care reform? What
would you do differently?

The health care reform bill is not allowed under the Constitution of the United States. The states have the right and responsibility to declare the bill “null, void, and no force” as Thomas Jefferson noted in the Kentucky Resolve of 1798. I would make such a declaration.

What can you do for Illinoisans that other candidates can’t?

I will bring the point of view of an outsider to the political process. When someone has been in a system for very long, the system may seem to make sense in a way an outsider can’t see. That doesn’t mean that the insider is right, just in control. We can all put two and two together. But when the answer is $10 Billion of debt, something needs to change. Just as in private industry, when you need a significant change, it helps to bring in a new perspective.

What can be done to increase the high school graduation rate in
Illinois and to increase the number of Illinoisans going to college?

The problem with schooling is that we try to fix it from afar with money and policies handed back to the local districts. The real fix is to give as much control as possible back to the local districts. Vouchers and tax credits are ok, but I favor reducing the mission of the State Board of Education and letting parents and local educators do what they do best, teach. I also favor the elimination of the federal Department of Education.

What can be done help eliminate the amount of crime and murders in the near west and south sides of Chicago?

Most of the violence in the “inner city” is gang violence. Most gangs are involved in one trade that drives their profits and their bloodlust – Drug Trafficking. If we end Marijuana Prohibition, we will take away the source of the gangs’ money and power. If we do not do that, no other action is going to have any effect.

What is your biggest hurdle going into the election as a 3rd party candidate?

Media coverage is the biggest hurdle. The reason money is so important to the election process is that it is also big business for television and newsprint. To keep this lucrative game going, it pays to court the richest candidates, and they are typically Republican and Democrat. If we can get name recognition, then we have an equal chance in the ballot box.

What do you feel can be done about the state of public transportation
in Illinois?

Private run companies are move efficient than public companies. The bigger the public entity, the more inefficient and potentially corrupt it is. Where ever possible, public transportation should be privatized. Where it is not possible, it should be eliminated or streamlined. Fees must cover the cost to run any public transportation. We have a right to go anywhere we want to in the public right of way, but we don’t have the right to do it on someone else’s money. I oppose “high speed” rail as neither high speed, nor cost effective. Don’t make people in Rockford and Quincy pay for riders in Chicago.

Did you support the Olympic games in Chicago? Why?

The Olympic games would be welcome in Illinois. I just demand that they be paid for by local investors. If the City of Chicago wants to spend money on it, they must do so without state support.

Do you feel social media will have a significant impact on your
campaign and how do you plan on using it?

There are many who believe that social media is revolutionizing campaigns. I do believe that have significant effect. However, I think there are limits to the changes wrought. First of all, there is no better contact than shaking hands and looking a person in the eye. Secondly, no studies show that someone sitting at a computer will go out and collect signatures or vote. I hope that they do because I have made many friends on Twitter and Facebook. I encourage them all to get out to an event or plan one so I can meet them face to face.

Is there anything else you think that people should know about you and your campaign?

This is my campaign, but it is also our campaign. All who believe in true freedom, social and economic, are on my side, no matter how they vote. I carry with me the hope that an ordinary citizen can work through the system and make significant change. Whether I am elected, I get into debates, or even if I only force the major candidates to address the issues differently, we will have done our job. Still, I will go all the way, with your help.

How can those interested join your campaign?

I am always looking for help. First, mention my name to one new friend every day. That is name recognition that I don’t have to buy. Send them to my website at http://www.electlex.com. Next, use the “Tell a Friend” function on my web site to spread an invitation to all of your email friends.

If you want to do more, there is a volunteer button on the web site. Or you can contact me by email or by phone. Here is the contact information:

Lex Green

Your Vote Matters

•March 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you have been reading my blog or know me in real life, you know that I am very involved in politics and I am a strong supporter of 3rd parties. I always get angry when the midterms come around because this is a time that people can really make a change. This is when our congress is chosen, when our state leaders are chosen, this is where your vote can actually change things.

I don’t blame the president for what is happening in this country. He is one man and can only do so much. I blame the congress for the mess our country is in. I blame the a failed two-party system for effin up our country. I blame myself for not doing more to send the right people from my district to Washington.

I want to do more to put 3rd party candidates into office and if there is no 3rd party available or they are not the best qualified, I want to help the person best suited for the job.

I know I don’t get a lot of readers to this blog, maybe 150 hits on a good week, but I plan on doing a series of interviews with candidates in Illinois and some from other parts of the country. These won’t be your Chicago Tribune or nightly news interviews. I plan on asking questions people want the answers to, not the same talking points that we hear over and over. This may not reach a lot of people and I may not get the big candidates to participate but if I can help even one person become more informed I think I will have accomplished what I set out to do.

This will probably take a few weeks before I can get some responses but in the mean time check out The Green Papers list of candidates 2010 midterm elections. This is a complete list of everyone running for office, not just the Democrats and Republicans that only seem to be the only ones acknowledged by the media.


Adventures in Moving

•March 19, 2010 • 3 Comments

In a “best of times, worst of times” scenario the day started with a nice cafe latte from Starschmucks, a forecast for a 70 degree day, a couple spare Monsters for later and a whole lot of family to help with the move. The day also started with me being up for almost 24hrs at that point, V being stressed to the max, my dad in a really weird mood, V’s dad and brother had just gotten the news a family friend was diagnosed with cancer and Lil E’s (V’s little brother) had his car windows smashed in for the second time in a month.

So we get everything packed up which was at times an ordeal with 4 men all trying to say that we knew the best way to do everything, by around noon thirty. I had already jumpstarted our second car which is a loaner from V’s mom and step dad. It’s always hit or miss with the Olds so we keep if for quick trips within a mile if the other is gone with the main car. We tighten up the caravan and everyone gets headed out.

About 3 miles from the condo, the Olds shuts off mid acceleration. I pull over get it restarted and get going. It dies about 50 yards later. Now I’m getting worried but I eventually get it to turn over and start again so I was hoping it was a fluke. Well another 50 yards and a dead car later, I learned it wasn’t a fluke. We got ahold of Papa D (V’s stepfather) and he in turn got ahold of AAA for us. I sent Lil E and V on their way since they had been following me and proceeded to wait for AAA and V’s father to come rescue me.

Well we finally got back to the house around 3:30 and all 4 other vehicles where unloaded. I was relieved because I was so tired but still felt bad. So I helped with the last we had and helped set up the bedroom. While working people had said I had gotten sun burnt on my dome but I didn’t think it was that bad; now I look at it and my head looks like a giant red apple that someone only peeled the bottom half of the skin off.

I got a few hours sleep although I slept through rugby practice. Now I am struggling to keep my eyes open with a couple more hours left of work. I hope to sleep, and gym it up today but with all the hoopla of moving I doubt I will. I’m just happy we are now done with the major part and can concentrate on getting our lives organized and back in order. At least today will be better than yesterday’s craziness. I hope.