If Dogs Could Vote

If dogs could vote, I would be king.

I visit people’s homes as a candidate for the state legislature.

After three or four dogs have smudged my pant legs with their wet noses, I become a cocktail of smells. Then the next dog goes into a frenzy of delight. And the next dog. I’m so popular with them. They can mentally trace my steps.

“This candidate came from the west. He’s up to five dogs today. He visited that cute little beagle down four doors. Oh, what I’d give if she’d look my way! There’s the smell of that passive Newf. What a clutz.”

I’m a walking dog-Facebook.

Eating and Buying Local: Northern Exposure

The message from environmentalists and food planners for government schools and food planners that would foist their vision on all of us is to buy locally grown foods. Restaurants do it trying to look holy.

In Montana, it’s tougher. If you want to buy local, you can have beef. In Bozeman, you will have a hard time finding anything fresh and local in the winter except milk, cheese and steak. Bread, too.

Personally, I like avocados and thrill to see them coming from Chile or Mexico when the earth tilts and the seasons shift from northern to southern hemisphere. Ther are no locally grown grapes. Or citrus, or commercially grown apples. I eat 8 large leaves of lettuce daily. I think the wholesome greens come from Yuma. I know I’m killing the earth, but I’m saving myself.

I apologize, but when I examine my diet, 99% of what I eat cannot be provided locally. I bad.

Tuna, salmon, yougurt, stevia, beets, olives, squash, broccoli, shrimp, fake crab, peanut butter, blackberries, blueberries, pecans, walnuts,, almonds, pickles, rice, spaghetti, oats, quinoa, teff, amaranth, Nabisco crackers; our pantry is the epicenter of buy-local perfidy.

Exercise or Blame

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise: An Article to Make You Feel Bad

Beach exercise

Beach exercise

The Wall Street Journal published a mean-spirited article this morning. It claims that people who exercise gain hidden benefits. They have fewer symptoms and less-severe illnesses compared to “low-fitness subjects.”

Do they realize how hurtful these statements are? Do they think low-fitness subjects want to be low-fitness?

Studies show that exercise lowers:

  • The risk of stroke 70%
  • The incidence of diabetes 50%
  • The incidence of high blood pressure 40%
  • The risk of breast cancer 50%
  • The risk of colon cancer 50%
  • The risk of developing Alzheimer’s 40%
  • The risk of depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

That’s easy for Laura Landro, the writer, to say.

People who shun exercise are not irresponsible. They are simply not responsible. It is in their genes. They are not disposed to exercise. They do not want to exercise because their genes don’t want them to. Do you, Laura, think they want to be diabetic and depressed, to have strokes, breast and colon cancer and Alzheimer’s disease?

Publishing these studies shows an incredible insensitivity. People need help, not blame. A more helpful prescription would be to fund biotech companies to create genetic solutions for the 70% of people who forego exercise not because they dislike it, or because they lack willpower, but because their DNA is handicapped. Fix DNA and people will exercise.

People like Laura Landro and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal should stop blaming the American people for not having strength of will. They are making us feel bad.

Obama’s Part-time Job

Barack Obama writes home……………….

Dear Mother,

How are you? I am fine. I hope our little puppy is happy.

The reason I haven’t written is because of my new job. You might have heard that I have been elected President of the United States of America. It’s a big job. I command the army that repels people like Iranians who shout “Death to America!” It’s pretty serious stuff.

You always wanted me to have a part-time job. Now I have one! I bought General Motors. It’s a tough job for someone with no previous business experience. I now wish I had at least started a lemonade stand or had a mowed lawns.  I’m learning as I go. I recently fired the CEO. Then I anointed a successor. We are cutting wages for all the top employees. The employees below them can’t make more than them, so I and a few members of congress are changing the whole wage structure, including for the union employees. We are planning a new rebate program to get vehicle sales moving again. We are also in charge of engineering, planning a fleet of eco-friendly cars. It keeps us very busy.

Don’t worry. We’ll figure it all out. Advertising, athletic field sponsorships, finance, we have to do it all. You can’t trust those employees. They all act out of self-interest. We can do a better job, me, Barny, Nancy, Ted, and a few czars we hired.

Well, gotta go. I have a press conference where I will berate bank executives on camera.

Oh, by the way, I bought the world’s largest insurance company, and some of the world’s largest banks. I’m having fun running them, too. Pray for me.

Your loving son,


Favorite websites

IOUSA: A 33 minute video about the US debt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_TjBNjc9Bo
Heritage Foundation http://www.heritage.org/
The Independent Institute www.independent.org
The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity http://www.cbhd.org/
The Foundation for Economics Education fee.org
Alex’s Paper Airplanes http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/
The Onion: Humorous, satirical news http://www.theonion.com
TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Talks, speakers http://www.ted.com/index.php/

My Audit of OSHA

nuclear inspector in north korea

nuclear inspector in north korea

My Audit of OSHA


OSHA Has No Sense of Humor

Ever since OSHA came to Marathon Seat Covers to look into a list of eight complaints*, I’ve wanted to inspect OSHA. Could they take the same scrutiny? Do they follow all the safety regulations? Do they carry out the required training? Do they keep their files of safety meetings perfectly?

A brief history of what happened in 2006 is in order. I’m sitting at the athletic club in my Toyota after my workout. Julie calls from the shop.

“An OSHA representative is here and she would like to know when you plan to return.”

“Tell her to make herself comfortable and I will return in a little while,” I said in a disdainful tone that Julie couldn’t miss. She chuckled and said she would tell the lady.

When I walked in, the woman introduced herself, showed her badge, explained how the inspection would proceed and asked if I had any questions. I decided not to grovel.

“How long have you worked for OSHA?” I asked. “What is your training? Does this have to occur now- can’t you schedule an appointment? What are the possible fines and penalties that could result? How often do your inspections result in fines and penalties?”

She had tried to seem un-threatening by wearing businesslike, but casual clothing. I tried to cow her with my litany. She seemed subdued, chagrined and surprised. I was having a good time, though I knew I would not win.

She did her walk-around, requiring me to accompany. She dismissed six of the eight complaints immediately. She would have to return with a noise meter and a formaldehyde meter at a later date, driving the round trip from Billings to Bozeman each time.

The day she made her second visit, she heeled me, waiting across the street in her car until she saw me pull up to the shop, then followed me in, trapping me. It felt a little like East Germany in the 1950’s.

Both measurements turned up negative. No violation. But, our safety training and paper documents in filing cabinets were inadequate. She left. The Billings office mailed the fine: $2,000 reduced to $500. I called the Area Director in Billings.

I asked, “Why $2,000? Why not $10,000? Why reduce it to $500? What’s the logic here? Is it totally arbitrary, set at your discretion?”

He said, “That’s what we’ve been charging others.”

I said, “Sounds pretty arbitrary to me. I suppose you could nail just about any one of Montana’s 35,000 small businesses with this fine, right?”

“Yes, that’s probably true.”

My big sigh over the phone lines oozed incredulity.

He asked, “Do you have a company truck?”


“That’s a good thing because most people with a company vehicle fail to train employees how to safely re-fuel. And that’s a violation we can fine them for.”

I said, “You’ve got to be kidding. At a retail gas station, a corner convenience store? Any sixteen year-old in America knows how to put gas in a car. You’re saying a company has to train how to do that, and keep records of the training?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

I thought, “You are proud to admit it? What gall!” I also thought, “You charge $500 because you have found that is an amount businesses will pay without going to the expense of hiring a lawyer and appealing to a higher level. It gives you coup to show your chiefs in D.C. Though it cannot be defended, it is perfectly logical considering the incentives in your perverse, bureaucratic, Orwellian world.” I paid the stupid fine.

Then I made my employees suffer through inane meetings, made them sign forms certifying that they were notified of the time and place of the training meeting and then a form that they had attended the training meeting. Printed name, signed name. Inane.

So I made my unannounced visit to the Area Office of OSHA in Billings today, to corner the director, to see how he would respond to the secret police, pin-them-in-their-business treatment they had used on me. He had no stomach for it.

The office building where OSHA is located houses a number of other agencies such as BIA, SSA, and Railroad Retirement. You walk in and are handled by two security guards.

“Good day. Who are you here to visit? Put your keys, cell phone, anything metal in this tray and walk through the metal detector.” Then on to officer #2 where you show your driver’s license. He writes name, address, phone and license number on a spreadsheet. Exciting job. Are they afraid of terrorists or citizens?

I went to the 3rd floor, walked into the anteroom and pressed the intercom button. A secretary opened the door. I said I wanted to perform a citizen audit, a safety inspection. It weirded her out. The door closed; I waited. The director came out and sat down with me in the miniature anteroom.

He asked, “What would you like?”

I said, “I’m here to do a safety inspection, like your agency did of my business two years ago.”

He said, “What’s the name of your business?”

I felt safe; they could not heckle me now. “I sold it. I’m retired. I’d just like to ask you these five questions** I jotted down on the way here, and to inspect your safety training meeting files, and inspect the premises for safety hazards.”

His breath got tight. His brow puckered.

“Who are you?”

“I’m running for state legislature. I’m retired. I occasionally write a magazine article, kind of a free-lancer. Can I ask you these questions?”

He said, “We have our own safety inspections, and the fire department comes around to make sure the fire alarms are working.”

“So OSHA inspects OSHA. Internal audits are not real audits,” I said.

“I’m not willing to answer your questions,” he said.

I said, “I can’t ask you the same questions you asked me two years ago?”

His blood vessels swelled. He flushed.

“Look, you’re taking notes. I don’t even know who you’re representing. You’ll have to leave. I’m going to go back inside the office and you need to remove yourself.” He was angry, emphasizing “back”, “office” and drawing out the syllables of the word “remove”. “If you don’t, I will have to call security.”

He stood, punched the buttons on his security lock, and retreated into his offices. I straightened my books and left.

He couldn’t take it. Now maybe he knows how it feels. It was a tiny scalp, but I really enjoyed the raid. The encounter fulfilled my expectation fully. Now all I have to do is to write up the fine, mitigate is some because it was a first violation, mail it and wait for my money.


*An electrical circuit keep blowing, occasionally overloaded. The auditor said that’s not big deal; that’s why you have circuit brakers. Our cutting table vacuum was noisy, perhaps too noisy. Test: Half the legal limit. Rolls of fabric came with a label that said there might be formaldehyde residues on them. The tag was overkill. The rolls were processed in a plant that sometimes uses formaldehyde. So it was a whiff of a potential problem that might exist on a rare occasion. In some tort lawyer’s fertile imagination. Sometimes. Never. Test: Zero. The five other complaints were dismissed by the auditor as being baseless, almost ridiculous.

**What are you doing to correct for the dangers of a sedentary work style?

Has the building been tested for vapors of toxic releases of building materials? Radon?

I’d like to see your records for incidence of death, computer monitor induced eye fatigue, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

I’d like to see records of your safety training meetings.

I’d like to see evidence of training employees how to safely fill up at gas stations.

What is your biggest health and safety problem?

Can I see records of fines levied against you in the past five years?

(That’s seven questions. I improperly told him I planned on asking five.)

Returning to MSU at Fifty-four

Returning to MSU at Fifty-four

Things to do:

Buy low-hanging denim trousers.

Buy strap to suspend trousers.

Reminder: Do not try to run while wearing trousers.

Knit a Seven Dwarfs Dopey hat. Wear.

Attempt to endure a two-hour lab while wearing hat.

Attempt facial hair. No, forget that.

Practice one-hand texting.

Buy tennis shoes with wide laces.

Don’t tie laces

Learn to use the palm reader at the gym entrance.

Buy black and white backpack. Lots of straps.

Strap a skateboard to backpack.