Monday, April 29, 2013

A False Flag

I was going to write a long rant over the accusations that Syria used chemical weapons but I won't. I'll try to keep it short.

As I wrote here before, this is a false flag operation. It would make no sense for Assad to use chemical weapons, especially "small amounts", when there would be no tactical advantage to using them and serious political (and tactical) repercussions for doing so.

This is very likely a setup by either the rebels, Israel or both to get the U.S. involved in the Syrian civil war. The scariest part of this is the way the media plays along, with nearly all news accounts suggesting Syria has used chemical weapons.

It wasn't until yesterday Yahoo/ABC News finally brought up the possibility of it being some sort of false flag. Can't find that article now but they then made a half hearted effort at debunking false flag claims. Among them was the suggestion that it would be too difficult for rebels to deploy chemical weapons.

That's not the point. They don't have to deploy them. They only have to make it seem as if Assad's forces did. Maybe easier said than done, but not too difficult. They'd have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying it.

As far as I'm concerned, everything points to just that happening, especially the way the media and politicians are ignoring the possibility.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Humboldt Featured in Raid of the Day

Radley Balko, now at the Huffington Post, has been doing a feature called Raid Of The Day. It's selected stories from his soon to be released book Rise of the Warrior Cop. Today's raid features some CAMP stories from Humboldt County back in the 80s.

I do remember some of the stories back then of all the outrage by those subjected to the raids. I've never experienced anything like that myself, living in the city. Isn't it a little more mellow now? Didn't they change CAMP to the MET for Marijuana Eradication Team?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tax Free Internet Shopping Threatened

Some of you may have heard there's a bill working its way through the U.S. Senate that will allow states to charge sales tax on internet sales. I was a bit confused over the details, but this Independent Institute article cleared it up for me.

Apparently it allows states that have sales taxes (some don't) to join together and agree to collect sales taxes for each other. Thus, California could join with other states that have sales taxes and internet retailers in those other states would the be required to collect California sales taxes on purchases made from California.

For that reason alone, this is wrong. If a state wants to collect their own sales taxes on sales to out- of- state customers, they should be free to do so just as they already do when someone travels to their state and buys something. If I drive to Nevada and buy a computer, I pay Nevada sales taxes, not California's. That's as it should be.

States shouldn't be allowed to collect sales taxes for purchases from other than their own state. That should be illegal under federal law for interfering in interstate commerce. Sadly, it looks like we're heading the other direction.

Willits Bypass Photo Tour

The Willits News has a photo tour of the bypass area and construction. They even include pictures of the downed trees and stumps of where some of the tree sitters were living. Not sure if that's meant as a dig directed at the tree sitters, in sympathy with them, or just an item of interest.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First 2013 Humboldt Bay Eaglet

The first of two eggs of the Humboldt Bay Eagle Cam eagle has hatched. It's hard to see right now, at least to us. Mama eagle is almost sitting on it. It's to the front, slightly underneath mama eagles breast when we last looked. Probably get a better view as it gets older and moves out from beneath mama.

Here's the H.B. Eagle Cam. Here's the Eagle Cam Facebook group, and I just noticed this video of the eaglet posted there. You can see the eaglet although the glare from the sun obscures the detail.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

North Coast Travelogue 4/21- 4/22

We left Eureka just before 11am Sunday after stopping at Taco Bell for my traditional iced tea. This time Connie suggested a burrito for her, too. She wasn't all that happy with the offerings the One Log House in Piercy anymore and decided to just have a burrito to keep her going.
The Eel River looked nice and summerish, not really a good sign for April. Despite that, I was surprised to see a bunch of cars parked and people swimming in the river at that place alongside the road just north of North Leggett.Saw even more people swimming in the Russian River down in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Is the water that warm already? It's going to suck if we don't get more rain before summer.
Stopped at the Moss Cove rest stop between Laytonville and Willits for a bathroom break. Four or five cars parked there, and a couple motorcycles. Only saw 2 guys. Where were the people that were with the other cars?
Got to Willits for gas and didn't feel like hassling with the crowd at the Safeway. Besides, last time we went, Brown's had gas for about the same price as Safeway. I decided to do Brown's. Price difference wasn't even close to last time. I think it was around 50 cents a gallon more at Brown's. Oh, well. I wasn't turning around and going back at that point just to save a few bucks.

We didn't stop at Willits' Taco Bell, either. Didn't feel like hassling with it and didn't really relish the idea of hours old burritos for dinner. Wasn't quite sure what we'd end up doing for dinner at that point.
 No cop cars or protesters we could see at the south end of the bypass construction.
Flew through the Santa Rosa area. I was worried about Petaluma because of the supposed widening project in- progress there. As it happened, I don't know if we've driven through the Petaluma area so quickly. Maybe because it was Sunday? But we always drive through there on Sunday.
 As we approached San Rafael, we discussed what to do for dinner. It would definitely be something in San Rafael, but how and when? We'd never done it this way before. I suggested we keep an eye out and take a closer look at what was visible from the freeway just north from where we'd be staying. We could either get something before we check in, or check in and then go look.

Connie actually felt like finding something to eat first. That was just what I was thinking in the back of my head. I did NOT want to get to our room, turn around and go out driving again. I'm generally burned out by the time I make Willits and fried by the time I make San Rafael. Not something I enjoy.

As we approached the turnoff before Lincoln Avenue, only a McDonalds and A&W Root Beer could be seen. We pulled off to see what else was there. Just the Macplace, A&W and a couple foreign style restaurants- Mexican and Hawaiian, or some such. I wasn't into dealing with a real restaurant. I suggested A&W as I hadn't been to one in decades. Connie agreed.

We decided on take- out but, since we didn't know what was on the menu, decided against the drive- thru. We didn't want to clog up the line while we perused the menu.

Only two people sitting at a table inside. Food looked a bit expensive for junk food places, but the staff were friendly enough. I mentioned that they didn't have the tacos the Eureka A&W used to have- the best tacos ever. The guy replied they used to have them but his boss said they were too much trouble to continue offering. He said his partner also thought they were the best ever. I looked at her- Mexican gal maybe in her 40s- and she nodded back. Soulmates!

I ordered 2 regular burgers and a large order of fries. Connie ordered a veggie burger and medium root beer. Total came to around $14.50. Steep by my standards, then I noticed the guy combined our orders into one value meal plus a couple extras so he probably saved us a bit. Can't argue with that.

We grabbed our order and tried to head back without going to the freeway. There was a street that seemed to parallel the freeway heading south. We figured it might take us to the Villa Inn. It didn't. It dead ended a few blocks south, turning into a pedestrian trail. No biggie. We just headed back to the freeway and ended up at the Inn within minutes.
Real hot at the Villa Inn. Maybe in the high 70s or low 80s? But the robust air conditioners in the rooms made that not much of an issue. We didn't get the exact "special" room we'd requested, but got the one next to it and that's all that mattered. Any room on that side of the Inn is fine with me.
We got going a bit late Monday morning. I've always felt you should try to get parked at UCSF by 10am. After that there's a chance the parking garage might be too full, although admittedly we've only been shut out from parking once in all the years we've been going there. We left San Rafael after 9:30 That had me worried.

I doubt the new automated toll system at the Golden Gate Bridge saved us any time. It was nice to not have to remember to have cash ready. I prepaid my toll online. If I also get a bill in the mail, I'll assume that's not working well.

In addition to getting going a bit late, we ran into our first ever traffic "jam" on Park Presidio. Traffic moving at a crawl that probably set us back another ten minutes. But, we got to the parking garage and there's plenty of places to park.
We prepare to go to the clinic and Connie can't find her purse. YIKES! Turns out she left it in our room back at the Villa Inn. This could be a problem if they ask for I.D. on check- in, which they do on occasion, but nothing we can do about that now.

I grab my cellphone, call the Villa Inn and tell the boss guy what happened. He tells me the cleaning crew hasn't gotten to the room yet, to hang on and he'll see if he can find it. He comes back in a couple minutes and says he has it and will keep it in the office for us. Sweet! What a guy!
Now we've got to stop at the Villa Inn on the way back. We've never gone there from the south, just the north, so I wondered if there was a Lincoln Avenue exit from the northbound lanes. I figured I'd better find out before getting there. When we went to eat lunch at the food court I saw their public access Mac wasn't being used so went and brought up the Villa Inn web site.

The Mac was right near the window and it was very warm there. I was sweating from the heat and having trouble seeing the screen because of the sun's glare, but I found directions. There was no Lincoln Avenue exit but just a couple of turns from the Main Central Rafael exit would get us there. I wasn't sure I could remember the details so used my cellphone to write down the basics. Then we went back to the truck and wrote the instructions down.
We got out a bit late from the clinic, not leaving until almost 2:30. Quickly made it back to the Villa Inn, grabbed the purse, thanked the guy and sped north- the freeway onramp to the north much easier to get to than the way we just came.
We'd have to stop to eat, among other things, but I wasn't in the mood for Taco Bell, again, or any more stops than necessary. We discussed stopping in Cloverdale and couldn't decide between the Starbucks or the Shell station/KFC/7-11 combination place next to it.

By the time we got there we decided on the Shell station. Our last trip showed they had all kinds of stuff to eat and drink. We ended up with everything we wanted and came out paying probably as much for food and drink as we would have at Starbucks for drink alone. About the only downside to that place was the women's restroom was still shut down so everybody had to fight to use the men's. Fortunately, there weren't many people fighting for it at the time.

Damn. Over 3 months and the women's restroom is still closed???
As we left Cloverdale we notice a big fire on the top of a hill to the northwest. We'd seen smoke from it the day before on the way down and assumed it was a controlled burn. Looking at it now it didn't seem controlled at all. Hard to say how far off it was- maybe 5 to 10 miles as the crow flies- but it was really going. Far away as it was we could see huge flames erupting from it. Not sure what was going on as we didn't see any firefighters or planes. Haven't seen it mentioned in the news, either.
Made it to Willits and had decided to get gas at Safeway this time if only for the price. Got stuck in the five thirty traffic jam at the bottleneck with the usual suspects trying to run up the right lane and cut into the line. Wasn't that bad, though. Good thing it wasn't summer!

Safeway gas wasn't too busy but I saw one guy that made the line cutters at the bottleneck look good:

Connie pointed out a guy that seemed to be done filling up and might be leaving so I drove up behind him. He gets out of his car. Locks it, then runs off toward the intersection. We lose sight of him as he seems to be heading across the street to the Jack In The Box. Was he parking his car here in front of the pump while he goes to get something to eat? What a DICK!

I found another pump. While I'm filling up I see some other guy pull in behind THE DICK's car. I go over and tell him he may want the find another pump because the "...asshole that owns this car went across the street". He also went to a different pump.

I don't know what that guy was doing but as we were leaving he had come back to his car and started filling up with gas. Maybe someone across the street had his credit card? Regardless, he's still a DICK for parking his car there. He should have moved his car to the parking lot to take care of his other business.
Stopped at the Leggett rest stop for a bathroom break. As I walked to the building to take care of my business my stomach started churning. Uh, oh. I need to do more than just pee. I didn't want to suffer through using the portable toilet at the Renner Card Lock in Piercy again.

So I did it and only when I'm almost done do I realize the toilet paper dispenser is empty. Like that old joke song: "Stranded. Stranded on a toilet bowl...". There were plenty of the paper toilet seat covers, though, so I used those for toilet paper. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!
Made it home at about 8:10pm, almost to the minute of what I'd estimated a couple hours earlier. I never realize how uptight the Bay Area makes me until I can kick back and really be comfortable at home.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Are We Hysterical...Or Not?

I was listening to National Public Radio yesterday afternoon- The World and All Things Considered being two of my favorite shows. I can't remember which show it was and can't find the transcripts online, but they had two segments that I found amusing to have back to back.

The first one was about the Boston bombing. They had a news gal explaining that Americans didn't seem to be reacting hysterically to this latest attack. There weren't groups calling out for action or more restrictions on our lives. Americans weren't going to be intimidated and would move on, living their lives as they always have.

Almost without pause they moved to the next segment about the failed gun control bill in the Senate- the bill that resulted from the Sandy Hook shootings. Everybody was supposedly outraged at its failure but the President wasn't going to give up on it. We need those laws to make the country safer and he wouldn't be taking no for an answer.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Jens Sund of Forest Service Road Closures

Remember Jens Sund? He's the husband of the late Carol Sund- Carol, her daughter and a friend being the "Yosemite tourists" that were murdered some years ago.

Jens- at least I'm assuming it's the same guy- has a letter in the Redding Record Searchlight today advising us of heavy fines and penalties that might be levied by the Forest Service as a result of road closures. According to him some commonly used access roads in the South Fork of the Trinity River have been shut off from the public.

First I've heard of it and sounds a bit far fetched. Anybody heard anything else about this?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Tobacco Tax Proposals

Politicians across the country have come up with more new tobacco tax proposals. That should be no surprise. President Obama proposes a 97 cent per pack tax on cigarettes to fund, of all things, pre- school. A California state senator wants a $2.00 per pack tax on cigarettes to fund unspecified health programs.

I've wrote here before it's typical Californian mindset to raise a tax that, by its proponent's own admission, is designed to reduce revenue from that tax over time. As more people quite smoking, or go elsewhere for tobacco products, revenue declines. Who will pay for those programs once tobacco revenues dry up? Remember, California already has the second lowest rate of smoking in the nation.

Reason magazine's J.D. Tuccille takes a look at the black market aspect of cigarette taxes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

L.A. Losing Porn Industry?

It seems like it. It should be no surprise when you attack an industry, that industry might just go elsewhere.

The stupid voters of Los Angeles County passed a law requiring actors to wear condoms while filming pornographic movies. This would put them at a great disadvantage as the vast majority of porn fans don't want that. As a result, permit applications to film porn in L.A. County have dropped to next to nothing. It's believed the porn producers are looking at moving out of L.A., which would be the common sense thing to do.

What gets me is it seems officials in neighboring jurisdictions seem to be balking at the thought of welcoming the industry.  And Californians think they're so enlightened? I say bring them up here. We could use the business.

Then we have a state legislator from Los Angeles introducing legislation to require condom use by porn actors statewide. The obvious intent being to make porn producers think they have nowhere else to go so they'll stay in Los Angeles. So typically Californian. That gal can't imagine them leaving the state.

We can only hope that legislation passes and the porn industry picks up and moves out of state. It would be priceless to hear state legislators try to explain that away and keep declaring the state really is business friendly.
As an aside, one comment I made to that L.A. Daily News article was, "Consenting adults have the right to engage in whatever sex acts they want, and however they please.". That comment got 51 Likes last I looked. More than I believe I've ever seen on Facebook comments made to newspaper stories.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fred's Anti- Scam Warning

There's a generic anti- scam story in today's Times- Standard. The story refers mostly to get- rich- quick or some relative needs money scams. I did write back in 2008 how I handled a phone call scam. I'll go a step further and mention prize scams. They work a lot the same. One statement in the article, made twice, I took exception to:

“Any time you are asked to send money in advance, that's a red flag.

It's not just a red flag, it's a scam.

I've been entering sweepstakes for more than three decades, even before the internet made it so easy. I've won dozens of prizes over the years. I've never paid a penny for any of those prizes, regardless of the value of the prize. If someone asks you to send money for any prize, it's a scam, period.

The one possible exception is some cruises. You see drawings for them offered all the time. One guy on a sweepstakes site I use mentioned he won a cruise but had to pay $180.00ish in some fee to go on the cruise. I replied that sounded awfully suspicious to me as I'd never had to pay for a win. The guy who ran the web site looked into it and found some cruise drawings do, indeed, require certain "port fees" to be paid to the port of embarkation.

Still, not a bad deal if you're free to go on a cruise. I don't enter sweeps for cruises, but if I did and was asked to pay port fees, I'd call authorities at the port of embarkation to confirm such fees were real. And, of course, if you never entered the drawing in the first place, it's likely a scam, anyway.
Sometimes people who really should know better get taken by scammers. Last year there was a gal on the Hypersweep site who mentioned in the sites' forum that she'd won a prize but declined it.

She wrote that she got an e-mail advising her she won a bunch of incense from some incense company. They said there was a charge of $8.00 or so to ship the incense to her and they'd charged it to her PayPal account. If she didn't want the prize she just had to go to her PayPal account (link provided) and cancel the transaction.

She didn't really want to pay $8.00 or more for incense so clicked on the link and cancelled the charge.

Anybody see anything wrong with that?

First of all, you never pay to accept prizes. Whether for "processing fees" or shipping, that just doesn't happen with legitimate sweepstakes.  

Second of all, unless she made prior arrangements, there's no way someone can charge your PayPal account without your approval. They can "Request Money", but they can't charge your account out of the blue like that. 

And that PayPal site link they gave her to cancel the transaction? Obviously a spoof site set up to look like the real PayPal site. When she logged in she gave them their username and password and  they could do whatever they want with her real PayPal account after that.

I was the first to advise her it was a scam and she'd best go change her PayPal account password as soon as possible. Another guy suggested the same thing a couple days later. We never heard from her again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anti- NDAA Bill Passes First Hurdle

A bill in the California legislature that would require state agencies to refuse to implement or assist in the indefinite detention of Americans suspected of ties to terrorism has cleared its first hurdle according to the Independent Political Report. AB351, sponsored by Republican Tim Donnelly, passed the Public Safety Committee with unanimous support.

The tripartisan support- as one writer deemed it- for the bill included the  ACLU, Tenth Amendment Center, San Francisco 99% coalition, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Libertarian Party of California, among others.

I was not surprised to see some lefties making derisive comments regarding the bill and its sponsor, a Republican, when I first read about it. I guess cooler heads prevailed in the end. It's a pleasure to see everyone united behind liberty for a change. 

Should this bill make it to the floors of the assembly and senate for final passage, it will be interesting to see how the votes line up.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fortuna Facing Public Employee Crunch

Shame to see Fortuna seeing the budget crunch as reported in the Times- Standard the other day. It seems Fortuna joins many other cities in struggling with quickly rising employee costs and either flat or falling revenues:

"City numbers show that health insurance costs and employee salaries have roughly doubled since 2002. Retirement expenditures to the California Public Employees' Retirement System have more than tripled in that time. This fiscal year, the city is facing a 10 percent increase in health care costs and a 1.5 percent increase for retirement benefits."

As I've mentioned before, I'd love to see how Eureka fares in this regard. The above story has me becoming even more convinced that Eureka's recently passed sales tax increase might have been meant to cover the ever increasing gap between revenues and rising employee pension and health care costs more than anything else.

I'm curious what percentage of Eureka's general fund went to employee pay and benefits before Measure O, and what percent goes to it now? I thought I'd try and figure it out myself but accounting certainly isn't my forte. These pdf files of Eureka's last two budgets help a little...maybe. Maybe not:

According to the pie graph of revenues for the 2011/2012 budget, taxes accounted for 33% of city revenue. In the 2012/2013 budget, taxes accounted for 27% of city revenue.

How can this be? Measure O should have increased tax revenue. Maybe because Measure O wasn't in effect yet? I'm guessing the 2013/2014 budget would be what we need and that's not available.

As far as expenditures go, 2011/2012 shows 48% of the general fund being used for salaries and benefits and 7% going for debt service. 2012/2013 has 49% going for salaries and benefits with debt service climbing to 10% of the budget.

So, salaries and benefits climbed 1% over the year but debt service went up 3%. I wonder if the increase in debt service is related to the city using bonds to meet their commitment to the retirement system?

Then I thought I'd look a bit further back. The 2007/2008 budget is as far back as I could find. Debt service took up 11%(?) back then. Salaries and benefits took up only 45%. Since it's up at 49% four years later, that would mean it's taking up about 1% more of the budget each year at the current rate.

I'm still not sure how Eureka compares to Fortuna as far as employee pension and health benefit issues. Is Eureka, or will Eureka be in trouble, too? Anybody else want to take a crack at it? I suppose I could always just call City Hall and ask.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eureka Public Works Not Happy With Street Trees?

I was working just a couple blocks up the street from my house yesterday. That's exactly a block south of where the last street trees were planted a short time ago. A City of Eureka truck pulls over on Huntoon Street. The guy gets out and starts measuring and marking the sidewalk. I figure it must be preparation for more street tree plantings.

I'm livid and make a point of glaring at the guy. I finally get done with my work and the guy happens to come over near my truck. I ask him what he's doing. He says something like "USA", or some such. I didn't understand. I ask him specifically if this was for street trees. He says it is. I almost lose it.

I'm almost shaking as I say "I think this is a bunch of bullshit you guys are doing....blah, blah, blah". I was so pissed off I couldn't even go off on him well. He calmly replies, "Tell me about it. We at Public Works don't like it, either". I'm like "WTF???", for some reason thinking city employees naturally supported it.

We got to talking and he explained they weren't happy doing it. He agreed with most of the objections I brought up. He even pointed out one I'd thought of, but not very much: Liability.

For example; the trees needed to be maintained so they didn't become a hazard but, like me, he suggested most won't maintain the trees. If something happens and damage or injury results, who is liable for damages: The city or the property owner?

I replied I'd like to see the homeowner made liable, but would certainly enjoy seeing the city sued over something like that, as well. I can't help but think since it's a gray area, neither would end up being held responsible in the end. Something I'd normally not want to see more of but, in this case, I'd like to see homeowners held responsible for their poor judgment.

He ended up suggesting I contact the city council as they're the ones letting this go on and it was mostly one guy that had moved up from San Francisco that was pushing it: Ron Kuhnel. Yeah, I know of Ron Kuhnel. I told him I knew the mayor and considered him a friend, but didn't think he'd want to make waves over something like street trees. I suspect the others on the council are the same.

Regardless of that, maybe I should at least send the council a letter about this and point out the legal and financial liabilities they're creating by letting this street tree program continue. Never mind the cost to taxpayers.

I had to thank the guy as we parted company. One more time that I felt I wasn't the loneliest guy in town.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Cord Cutter or Cord Shaver?

Never heard those terms until now. It seems a growing number of people are giving up on traditional television altogether according to the Bennington Banner. Cord cutters are those that tossed the TV and watch shows online or via antenna. Cord shavers would be ones like me- at least I was a few years ago- that cut back on their programming or the number of televisions in the house.

The number of such households in the U.S. is increasing, supposedly up to 5 million now as opposed to 2 million in 2007. I won't mind being one of them if I can find the right set up.

I suspect we'll end up seeing the same potential problems as with print media. More and more people will tire of paying the high costs of cable and satellite TV and will find alternatives. The problem being, the networks and producers of the shows we watch need money to put those shows together. I don't know that they could get by with everyone just paying $15.00 a month for a Netflix account.

Just as with the reorganization of print news media, TV shows are going to have to find a way to survive as their traditional sources of revenue fizzle out.

Hat tip to Rational Review News Digest for the link.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Zombie Does Obama S.F. Fundraiser

Zombie covers the recent Obama fundraiser in San Francisco. This time the protesters are mostly from The Left, as opposed to the one in 2008.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Dan Walters on Campaign Finance Reform

In today's Sacramento Bee, Dan Walters has one of the the most common sense commentaries on campaign finance reform I've read. Such discussions usually offer up ways to limit candidate and legislator access to money. Walters suggests government has so much power the money will always be there:
"The Capitol's fundamental business is extracting money from some and giving it to others – sometimes openly, through taxes, fees and the budget, and sometimes indirectly, through measures imposing mandates, carving out exemptions and so forth."

"A ballpark estimate is that decisions by the Legislature, the governor, other elected officials and their appointees has an annual impact in excess of a half-trillion dollars – via taxes, budgets, federal funds, insurance premiums, utility rates, horse racing franchises, casino gambling compacts, medical procedure rules and so forth."

Read more here:

Banning contributions won't affect what's at stake.

Regarding Dan Schnur's proposal to ban the raising campaign of contributions by legislators while they're in session, Walters suggests, among other things... that might make influence peddling less transparent.

It looks to me as if making things less transparent is Schnur's very purpose.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Safely Dispose of Medications

Nice tip from a writer to the Sacramento Bee regarding disposal of unused medications. She is right that it would be nice to have more than one or two official take back days to get rid of unused prescription drugs.

I looked up the Dispose My Meds program she mentioned. Here's their web site. They have a Locator function so you can find participating businesses in your area. They list five places within 25 miles of Eureka:
  • United Indian Health Services Pharmacy in Arcata
  • The two Cloney's Pharmacy's In Eureka- one on Harrison and one on 5th Street
  • Greens Fortuna Pharmacy and
  • Palco Pharmacy in Scotia
I wonder if other pharmacies accept old and unused medications, too? I'll have to remember to ask at Rite Aid next time I go in.

Update 4/24/13: The wife just called the Cloney's pharmacy on Harris Street in Eureka and asked if they could dispose of some prescriptions she wasn't taking anymore. They said they don't do that. I'm guessing someone put their name on the list for "advertisement" purposes, or maybe new management took over and stopped doing it?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Speaking of Disability

I'm not the only one posting about Social Security Disability:

Jonah Goldberg has a short piece in the Los Angeles Times asking if disability is the new welfare. Some interesting quotes so you don't have to use your limited number of free views to the Times:

"The government in Britain recently did something interesting. It asked everyone receiving an "incapacity benefit" — a disability program slowly being phased out under new reforms — to submit to a medical test to confirm they were too disabled to work. A third of recipients (878,000 people) didn't even bother and dropped out of the program rather than be examined. Of those tested, more than half (55%) were found fit for work and a quarter were found fit for some work."

"In 1960, when vastly more Americans were involved in physical labor of some kind, 0.65% of workforce participants between the ages of 18 and 64 were receiving Social Security disability insurance payments. Fifty years later, in a much healthier America that number has grown to 5.6%."

"In 1960, 134 Americans were working for every officially recognized disabled worker. Five decades later that ratio fell to roughly 16 to 1."

This other fellow's blog takes a deeper look at S.S. Disability, including some numbers on fraud.

Hat tip to Richard Rider for the link to the blog.

County Campaign Finance Fizzles

The Times- Standard reports efforts by the county to reform campaign finance fizzled out due to lack of interest. How can this be? I thought everybody wanted money out of politics? Supervisors Bass and Sundberg were still interested, but it sounds as if most everybody else wasn't. Perhaps it was just a small group that were really interested in regulating local campaign finances.

Either that, or proponents realized reforms being proposed might affect both sides equally and, as I've written here before, most reform proposals are simply ploys to gain advantage over the other side- the recently thrown out Measure T being an example. No sense working for reform when you might end up with a level playing field, huh?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

O.C. Register Goes Paywall

Another major newspaper decided to start charging for web access. The Orange County Register put up their paywall yesterday and they don't even give you any free previews. I don't blame them but that means I won't be able to read or link to the handful of opinion pieces I find in that paper every now and again.

This sucks. I don't really mind paying, but it's not worth it to pay the Register for the few articles I read of theirs each month. Besides, if I had to pay six or seven dollars for each the papers I read in a month, we'd be talking real money, at least by my standards.

What we need is to have a service like some of the porn sites use- or at least used to years ago: You pay a flat fee- say $15 to $25.00- to have access to all the news sites registered with that service. If that included most of the papers I read I'd be more than willing to pay for such a service. It would make online news affordable to all.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Humboldt Herald: R.I.P.

It's been over a month since any new posts at the Humboldt Herald so I guess he's dead and gone. I'll remove its link from this blog's list. Shame, as he had a good run for some years. We don't want to clutter up our blog list with dead blogs so off he or she goes. Rest in peace, Heraldo.

Hank Sims, over at Lost Coast Outpost, will replace Heraldo's spot on the blog list. LCO may not be what I'd consider a normal blog, but it does cover Humboldt County, has discussion of local issues and, most important, is updated regularly.

Ooops! I forgot the Humboldt Mirror has been dead quite a bit longer than the Herald. I'll need to remove that too. Any suggestions as to who gets the honor of taking its place on the list?

California 49th In Transparency

Another dubious distinction for California: It ranks 49th in government transparency. North Dakota takes 50th place. Texas ranks #1 with the only A grade.
Speaking of transparency, I've been wondering about something in regards the prison realignment for some time:

Back when they first started the prison realignment and began sending some inmates back to county jails, the Sacramento Bee reported the realignment also involved returning some prisoners being held out of state to California. No mention of how many. I've only seen it mentioned once and wondered how can that be?

It's much less expensive to hold prisoners out of state. If anything, we should be sending more to other states. Yet, in an effort to reduce state prison populations we're bring more prisoners back? I can't help but wonder if that was just the Governor's way of keeping his friends in the Correctional Officers' union happy?

I brought that up a number of times in comments to Sacramento Bee articles hoping some reporter might pick up on it and get more information. No luck with that as I haven't seen it mentioned again.

So yesterday I decided to look myself and checked the California Dept. of Corrections web site. I found this page which had a couple interesting graphs. One graph shows the prison population down only 602 inmates from November of last year to March of this year- the population seeming to still be well above court ordered levels, if I'm reading the graph right.

The other graph shows the number of parolees down by 1962 in that same period of time. That seems contrary to the impression I've been getting from the news.

Since the inmate figures include all inmates held even out of state, that didn't help with what I was looking for. I ended up looking for someone to contact in regards my inquiry and gave up on it as there were only listings for local public information officers. Not sure an e-mail to the head of corrections himself would go anywhere.

I can't help wonder if some of their figures are being skewed a bit? A short glance at their web page makes it read as if realignment has been a resounding success. They even include a page of quotes from various big wigs attesting to its success. That's not the impression I've gotten elsewhere.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Don't Do The New Google Compose!

Just a word of warning to the Gmail users out there: I'd stay away from their new Compose feature. It looks like I'm not alone in my feeling as the vast majority of comments on this Google forum are negative as well.

I had problems with their new system even before I tried it. Went to check Gmail a couple days ago and something was wrong with the window. I couldn't scroll up, down or sideways and could only check the e-mails that were visible in the center of the window. Then I noticed a link that suggested trying out their new, improved Compose.

I'm not one to jump on the first version of anything. I'll wait for them to get the kinks out first but, since my mail window was screwed  up, I assumed they might have altered the main window in some way to accommodate the new Compose. Maybe switching to the newer version will make Gmail work right?

Nope. Still had the same problems, in addition to being stuck with the new Compose to reply to e-mails. I found a number of problems with that right away. Since Gmail had become barely usable, I was thinking of just going back to my Yahoo mail. I tried using the option for basic html Gmail. That solved most of the problems, but created a few others.

Then I did a search and found instructions to go back to standard Gmail. Once I did that, all the problems went away, including not being able to scroll back and forth to check e-mails.

Unfortunately, Google says they're going to make this new Compose the only choice sometime in the future. The vast majority I've heard from says they'll stop using Gmail if that's the case. I'll have to agree.

Funny thing is, I saw a comment in one forum by a gal that seemed to be on the Google development team. She went on to list all the improvements the new Compose had over the old system. I never saw that much of a problem with the old one and some things, like being able to check for new mail while composing an e-mail, seem ridiculous.

I get the impression the Compose development team must be the type that feel they have to talk on a cell phone while driving. They have to do everything all at once thus feel everyone else does, too. That's not what I've been reading from people commenting on it, though.

They need to start developing things from the bottom up, instead of top down. Develop something based on user input and complaints rather than trying to create something new to replace something that wasn't broken to begin with.

I did feel kinda sorry for that one Google gal after she ran off a list of all the "improvements" the new system offered. Everybody just hammered it and her in the comments. Must really suck to spend a bunch of time on something you think is a great improvement only to find everybody else hates it.