Monday, August 31, 2015

My Mt. Mckinley Adventure

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat is one of many reporting that Obama is going to officially rename Mt. Mckinley to Mt. Denali. A surprise to me as I thought that had already done. It's North America's highest peak and can be seen from Anchorage on a clear day. 

As an aside, I object to these silly name changes.

We drove right by it once without even knowing it was there. I'm guessing it was the late '80s when we were up there for annual training with the Army National Guard. We had a couple days off in the middle of our two weeks to fill. 

I was wandering around Camp Carrol which is part of Fort Richardson the first day off when Tom Sauls approached me and asked if I wanted to pitch in on renting a car to go see Mt. Mckinley. Sounded fun, so I quickly accepted. Five of us pitched in. Me, Tom Sauls, Dean "Smitherdog" Smither and two other guys from the company whose names escape me.

We ended up renting a mid- sized sedan which turned out to be a bit tight for the five of us. The front seat wasn't bad with two people but we were crammed elbow to elbow in the back seat. 

We drove and drove. North from Anchorage/Ft. Richardson, up through the Palin country town of Wasilia (I think) and then south towards Mckinley. By the time we drove through Wasilia it was dark but you could still see. It never gets completely dark in the summer there.

We drove and drove. Quite frankly, aside from seeing some big rivers earlier on, I find Alaska scenery somewhat boring. A whole bunch of trees that pretty much all look the same, but I still tried to stay awake and pay attention, jammed in the back seat with two other guys.

Onward we drove, wondering where Mt. Mckinley was. At about 2:00am in the morning we were a bit confused as we must have passed Mckinley but we hadn't seen it. Then we saw a turnout with a tourist type kiosk and got out to check our bearings. There was a brass map on a rock showing where we were at the time and where other landmarks were. Mt. Mckinley was roughly 150 miles behind us. We drove right past it.

We turn around and around three hours later figure we're driving by Mckinley, except we can't see it because of the clouds. That's why we missed it. Clouds all the way down to the foothills. That was around the same place we almost ran into a moose earlier. Looking at the terrain between us and the mountain, though, I recognized it from the classic pictures of Mt. Mckinley, with fields turning into trees and then the foothills of Mckinley. We just couldn't see the mountain itself.

We drove on and Tom said we were getting low on gas. I'm worried we're going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere but we run into an old country store with gas pumps after a bit. It was 7am and the place didn't open until 8. There we sat until they opened, mostly crammed in the back seat half asleep. We got gas and headed back to the fort, stopping at some other isolated country restaurant for breakfast, then back the rest of the way.

Hours and hours of driving and no Mt. Mckinley. Oh, well. It was still kinda fun and a life experience despite our cramped quarters.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Natural Foods

So True!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Speaking of CAPTCHA and User Verification

I was speaking with Johnny Maniac yesterday. He mentioned that new, occasional comment verification thing where a bunch of pictures show up and you have to choose two or three that have to do with...whatever. It could be a steak, salad or ocean. You make your picks and it says you're real, if you get them all right.

I have nothing to do with that. It does it to me, too, and I HATE IT! My choices are often wrong and I have to do it again, adding insult to injury. Why Google thinks they can just throw something like that into a blog is beyond me. I know of no way to stop it. Sorry.

Technology a Job Creator?

The title of the article suggests Reason science correspondent, Ron Bailey, is promoting the old conservative/ libertarian dogma that fears about technology and robotics is overblown. That technological advances create jobs overall. I disagree and suggest his article supports my feelings, at least in large part.

Sure, him and others rightly point out the jobs created in the tech the past and conceivably the near future. But he also points out jobs that have been lost never to return:

"American coal production has doubled since 1950 while the number of coal miners fell from 483,000 then to 123,000 today. In 1950, about 16 percent of the U.S. labor force was employed in agriculture; that has dropped to below 2 percent today. As late as 1930, nearly 19 million horses and mules were used to plough fields, compared to fewer than 1 million tractors. In 1960, when the U.S. Census stopped collecting data on draft animals, the number had fallen to 3 million animals while the number of tractors had grown to 4.7 million. Meanwhile, farm productivity has tripled."

So, jobs have disappeared, yet he uses the rise in productivity as at least subtle proof that technology is good? We might be comparing apples and oranges here. It's good that productivity has increased. That makes things less expensive and more affordable for everyone, but what about those jobs lost? Sure they can do something else, for now, but for how long?

Then he goes on to write:  "Despite all these jobs and more lost to automation, U.S. employment continued to steadily rise. Why? Because technological progress is a "great job-creating machine,".

Yes, it has created jobs in the short term, but more and more jobs are being taken over by artificial intelligence and robotics. He seems to dismiss artificial intelligence. Robotics, coupled with artificial intelligence, will eventually turn the tide of technology creating more jobs and those in tech jobs will be affected as well.

"... automation has taken over a lot of the routine physical and intellectual tasks that once were done by middle-income workers. This process has resulted in a more polarized economy, where highly skilled workers in such fields as infotech and biotech are richly rewarded while a greater proportion of the workforce toil at relatively lower-paying service jobs. Will this continue? Autor doubts it, because he foresees a rising demand for services, involving non-routine tasks in which workers have a comparative advantage over machines—ones requiring interpersonal interaction, flexibility, adaptability, and problem-solving."

There they admit again that automation has taken over a lot of routine tasks...yet suggest it's a plus that people have more time to get into even more menial jobs. Of all things they even praise increases in the food industry, yet don't acknowledge automation in the fast food industry replacing jobs as I write this. Seems to me they're making a good case against their own argument.

Regardless, I've wrote here before that robotics and artificial intelligence is going to take a lot of jobs in the future. We're already seeing it as the writers admit. I predict this being a very big issue in the years to come. I don't share their enthusiasm that the changes coming will necessarily be a good thing.
As an aside, I read a week or so ago where some factory in China replaced 95% of its workers with automation. Only three workers left just to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. Wonder where the 95% laid off are going to get jobs? And in another 20 years or so, artificial intelligence might well replace the last 4 or 5% of those workers.
I'm sure some of you want to ask me what I think the future holds in 25 to 50 years when this becomes a real issue and only a relative small group holds jobs that pay anything. Let's say it comes to 20% of all jobs being good paying jobs and the rest are pretty much unemployed. Then it becomes a critical problem. What will happen?

Without putting a lot of thought into it, I see two scenarios: Riots in the streets, perhaps ending in a Final Solution of sorts with wholesale executions of those that aren't deemed worthy of having around- pretty much those without jobs or any realistic chance of getting them. Hey, if they can't pay their own way, why have them around?

More likely, though, would be a continuation and extension of the way things are now: A massive welfare state. It's probably unlikely we'll have mass executions. It's also certain that those 25% working the good jobs need someone to sell their products to. I'd suggest governments will just print money and give each person a certain amount, enough to buy a few things to keep those 25% getting paid- and some returned in taxes, of course. A scene many on The Left here would probably welcome, and probably the best of the two scenarios.

The Rain

My rain gauge has its float sitting between 1/3 to 1/2 inches. That's more than I would have expected. From the looks of doppler radar this morning, little if any chance of more rain today.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Prepare For Rain says have a 90% chance of rain late tonight. Let's get those rain gauges out if you don't have yours out already. I put mine out this morning. It's like the one in the photo. I like it because we can usually read it from inside our back door. Stole the photo from Ebay.

I hope we get a bunch, but I'll probably be disappointed. Remember that 90% chance of rain only means a 90% chance of measurable precipitation. I knew a guy years ago that though 90% chance of rain meant something along of it raining 90% of the day. Took me and another guy some time to convince him otherwise.

The '96 Democratic Party Platform

Reason magazine takes a look at the 1996 national platform of the Democratic Party. Wonder what it's like now?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Brilliant, California. Brilliant

Gotta love Californians. The Sacramento Bee reports on efforts to raise the tax on tobacco. Proponents say if the legislature doesn't act, they'll do it through a ballot initiative. As I wrote before, this reminds me of the scene in The Magic Christian (thanks, MOLA) where Ringo Starr throws a bunch of money over some cesspool type thing and everyone jumps in after it. 

But the logic of this astounds me, although it should be no surprise in this state. They even play both sides in the same sentence:

“This bill really is about not just funding the Medi-Cal program but also to try and reduce smoking overall,..."

They want to fund a program they're trying to increase participation in- Medi-Cal- yet target an already shrinking source of revenue to do it. Brilliant!

A recent Field Poll shows 2/3 of Californians currently support this tax increase. Why? Because it wouldn't affect them. That, and because they can attack someone without risk- smokers being a steadily declining minority that can't defend themselves. The other 1/3 are obviously a little more principled.

Addendum: I just sent a condensed version of this post as a letter to the editor to the Sacramento Bee. Let's see if they publish it.

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Local Radio: KZZH 96.7 FM

The Mad River Union Reports we have a new radio station starting up In Eureka. 96.7FM will be part of Access Humboldt which offers TV programs on local politics and other events. It reads as if they're still putting things together with no mention of when they start broadcasting.

Let's wish them well. I'm not sure I'll be tuning in. I do watch Access Humboldt on TV every now and again, but I don't surf radio stations as I do television. I will try and remember to listen to it at least once just to see how they're doing.
I recall some years ago being told by some guy of a "pirate"  radio station starting up. I think it was being run out of a house in Arcata. Sounded pretty neat from what the guy told me, but I could never find it on the radio. Not a strong enough signal, I guess, but that shouldn't be the case with KZZH.
As an aside, is it just me, or does anyone else think the Bay Area has a dearth of decent radio stations? It seems whenever we go down there you really have to look for something good on the radio once you get south of Cloverdale. What's that all about? I'm rather proud of the number and quality of radio stations we have up here, especially after coming back from down south.

Sonoma County's Homeless Plan

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat reports on efforts by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to "wipe out" homelessness. The main focus is simply to provide housing in one way or another:

"The effort is an extension of county supervisors’ recent embrace of a national approach known as 'housing first,' which asserts that getting someone into stable housing should come before any attempt to link them with social services intended to address the reason or reasons for their homelessness."

You'll recall Eureka was looking at having a legal encampment area with ideas for some sort of housing. That idea fell through for one reason or another. I don't know what the answer is but I wished the effort well. I don't think just putting a roof over someone really solves problems for but a few. 

The comments to the story are along the same lines we'd read in media up here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

North Coast Travelogue: 8/23-8/24

Yet another trip to UCSF. I can't complain as we only have to go twice a year now as opposed to every two weeks back in the dark years. We must be out of practice from the fumbling around we did right before leaving. 

Forgot any number of things, some of which I still can't remember, but I didn't think to pay our Golden Gate Bridge toll until I was about to shut off the computer. No big deal since they just send you a bill if you don't prepay, but I like to get that out of the way. Then Connie remembered she forgot to load up our water. We always take our own water. Then this and that, but we finally managed to get out of the house.

This was the first time taking Connie's new[er] car, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra. I'd be driving and was kinda looking forward to it, although I'm a worrier. I wondered what might go wrong with it. I soon realized it's a nice, comfortable car. Easy to drive with many bells and whistles I wouldn't pay extra for but were nice to have. Handled hills very well, among other things. I was impressed.

I told Connie to gas it up and bring it home before we left without doing anything else so we could check the gas mileage. She didn't, driving it around town and out to Hydesville, but all was not lost. One of the bells and whistles was a digital trip mileage tool that measures gas used per mile. I didn't understand how it worked. Still don't, but figured I'd just write down what gas we bought and our mileage. I'm still not sure as I write this whether I needed to do that.

So what is it with everyone complaining about the price of gas but doing nothing to get better mileage? I've found going 55ish can save 20 to 25% on gas so set up the cruise control for that as soon as we got on the freeway. Everyone was passing us. Maybe not too much faster, at least some of them, but going pretty fast. It was that way going down and coming back, with maybe only 3 cars that seemed satisfied going 55-57mph behind or in front of us. 

Oh, I get it. They just complain about the greedy oil companies

We get to One Log House for a break and realize something else we forgot: the other set of car keys. I'd actually thought about it before we left, but then forgot. I guess we both distrust electronic door locks and, If we locked the key inside the car, we're screwed. 

Why that would be any different than a regular car key, I'm not sure, but we both felt uncomfortable with only one set of keys. Oh, well. Too late at that point. I just made a point to give her the key whenever we left the car, whatever difference that would make.

One of the things I worried about with the car was how well the air and air conditioning worked. I just turned on the air at first. That was all that was necessary in my pickup truck. Once we got to Southern Humboldt and temperature started climbing, it got pretty warm with just air. When we left One Log House I turned on air conditioning, I was relieved to feel a blast of cold air come from the dash. It worked well the rest of the trip, with no noticeable drain on engine power.

Broke with tradition for lunch. We usually eat at Taco Bell in Willits. When we were at the Safeway intersection I was thinking Taco Bell might be packed with so many cars on the road. I suggested we stop at Jack In The Box. It was right on the corner next to us. If nothing else, their commercials make their burgers look good. Let's see how they really are.

I ordered the Portabello Mushroom Burger, or whatever it was called. Looked just like the TV commercial, except the commercial had me expecting it to be about half a size larger than it actually was. Good, but pricey at almost $6.00 just for the burger alone.

Got gas at Brown's on the south end of Willits. I can't be sure but get the feeling that place might not be around much longer. Went to use the bathroom and both toilets were out of order. They were out of order on our way back, too, with no sign I could see there were plans to fix them. The one urinal was working...for now.

First time I checked that trip mileage thing was at Brown's. It showed the supposed miles per gallon for that particular trip- the trip starting sometime before we left, whenever Connie reset the counter. It said we were getting something like 28.9 mpg, if memory serves me, but that was just Eureka down to Willits, with miles in Eureka before we left. Not bad, especially considering I only put a bit over 5 gallons in the tank to fill it back up.

Be careful heading south of Willits where the new freeway bypass starts. Bad curves. There's a sign saying Caution, or some such, because of a freeway onramp. I was thinking there might be a freeway onramp being built, but so what? You drive by onramps all the time. Turns out there's a couple fairly tight curves there that you might not make going 50mph. Slow down for that one. It's that way going both ways.

Going through Santa Rosa was easy enough but things clogged up through Petaluma and all the way through there and beyond. It was 15 to 25mph for most of probably 15 miles or more. I never saw anything to attribute it to. It was miles past the Petaluma River bridge that things finally sped up.

Then it clogged up again when we got to Marin County. Again, no reason I could see for it. We were thinking of stopping at the AW Root Beer in San Rafael to pick something up for dinner, but traffic was so clogged up we didn't want to have to fight getting on the freeway again. 

We had something delivered later. Called up this place, at least I think that's the place. We didn't want pizza, though. I ordered a couple turkey sandwiches. Connie ordered a salad. Good enough for less than $25.00 and I was actually pretty filled up with the sandwiches. Had we ordered from AW I probably wouldn't have been as satisfied. We decided to bring something from home, or buy something in Willits, next time.

No problems driving to UCSF next morning, despite bad omens from the local TV traffic news with shots from their traffic helicopter. They were saying all the freeways to the south of the bridge were real slow. No mention about north, although they did say "other freeways, too". But not a problem. We flew straight into UCSF and found all kinds of parking on our favorite level of the parking garage.

Sat and sat in the waiting room, but I was entertained for a while. This was the first trial test of my new tablet. Until I ran out of things to do with it, time seemed to fly by. UCSF either changed their wifi system, or the tablet works better with it. I didn't even have to log in. With my laptop, I often couldn't even log in. I couldn't get a few things to work at UCSF or the motel we stayed at, but overall it used up my time well and was able to take care of my daily online business.

We finally were called to an exam room at our appointed time. Doctor was at least a half hour late though...again. That pisses me off. After about 35 minutes went by I asked Connie if she was willing to leave if the doc didn't show up by 2pm. That would be an hour late. She agreed, but a few minutes later we saw the doctor walk by and shortly thereafter she came in. 

We left a bit after three. I'm still pissed, but what can I do? Unlike the day before, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way to Willits. Stopped at Brown's to get more gas. This time it was about 7 1/4 gallons I put in the tank. I didn't get that as it's usually pretty close when refueling going either way. Connie suggested maybe the real slow traffic the day before gave us bad mileage. Maybe, but 2 1/4 gallons more? I didn't bother checking that trip app to see what it said. Maybe today if I remember.

Got home right about 8pm and I'm pissed that we probably could have gotten home earlier had it not been for Doctor Come Lately. Oh, well. Back to normal for now.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Leasing A Car

Watching those car ads on TV I've always thought the leasing options seemed like a fairly good deal, at least as far as monthly payments go. I knew there were some hidden costs, never mind the upfront costs that often get up to two or three thousand dollars.

This article on tells a little more about leasing and some of the terms. It wasn't everything I wanted to know. For instance, I wanted to get some tips on when you might want to lease and when it would be better to buy. He goes into that a bit. He thinks it's an option for those who drive less than 15,000 miles a year. That would probably fit me or the wife. Or someone who prefers a new car every few years. I would have still preferred some real life examples.

I was unaware there are monthly mileage restrictions on leased cars with penalties for going over your limit. That sucks, but how would they know how far you drove in a given month? I'm guessing you have to take it in to their shop for service and they figure total mileage divided by months? 

He seems to think the best way to lease a car is a single payment lease where you pay all the money up front.  Except then you'd have to come up with all that money to begin with. I suppose that's a good way to do it if you have enough money to make the one payment, but what if you don't? Maybe just go ahead and buy? Would it make sense to borrow money to lease a car?

One thing I do know is in all my years I've never heard one horror story about leasing cars so it must be just another option to consider- Six one way, half a dozen the other. Anyone have their own stories, good or bad, about leasing a car?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Where To Put The Homeless

A writer in the City Journal looks at New York's efforts to deal with the mentally ill homeless echoing something I've wrote before. In regards efforts to put them into housing or treatment centers:

"...the only idea that de Blasio and liberal homeless advocates can come up with is what they call “community-based solutions”—that is, placing facilities for the homeless, the mentally ill, and even convicted criminals in residential neighborhoods. But by basing treatment in such areas rather than in sequestered settings, these solutions introduce destabilizing populations into functioning communities. They damage the city’s social fabric, further marginalize residents already at risk, and poorly serve those in need. Yet they also enrich certain landlords and homeless-industry insiders, who profit from their incursion."

As I've asked before, would you want them moving in next door to you? I don't know what the answer is but, from reading the article, the author doesn't either.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reform California Web Site

Some of you may have heard there's an effort to get an initiative on the ballot to reform California's public pension system. I've written about it here before. Here's their web site. You can't download petitions but you can "Sign Up" and they should send instructions on how to get one.

Even getting signatures from a few people you know can help.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Microsoft Emergency Patch

Microsoft has issued a new emergency patch for ALL versions of Windows. It has something to do with Internet Explorer and will allow someone to hack your computer, or some such. Sounds bad, but I'm wondering if it matters if you don't use Explorer? I don't. I'm assuming it just has to be on your computer so it's still a concern.

I deactivated MS Automatic Updates a week or so ago because I kept having problems with it wanting to download the same updates. I'm still with XP and, aside from the malicious software removal tool update, there shouldn't be any more updates available so why keep auto updates on? I'll have to think about that.

More Deputies On The Way

The Humboldt Consequential takes a look at recent hires within the Sheriff's Office using Measure Z funds. The Sheriff's Office says over 100 applicants applied for only 8 positions. I'd say that means it's not too hard to find people that want a good paying job for the area.

A comment to the THC post reminds us hiring and retention are two different things. In other words, it's easy enough to find applicants, but harder to keep deputies once they're on the job. I suggest that's usually the case anywhere. 

I was reading something yesterday about the Los Angeles Police Dept. It seems some are getting hired and quitting right after they get out of the academy to go to other departments. LAPD pays fairly well, I believe, but for one reason or another some of those hired quit right away and move to what they feel are greener pastures. 

THC also asked a pertinent question in his post: "What P.R. stunt is the HDSO going to pull now, in order to convince us that they should get more money?"


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mental Illness

Yes, I've seen the nut cases as I drive in downtown Eureka just as everyone else has. The people walking down the street talking to themselves. The guy and girl screaming at each other on the sidewalk where the whole world can see them (yes, I think that's not normal). You see it downtown and even in some neighborhoods.

I've recently had my first close, up front, experience with someone who is mentally ill, if not totally out of it. I've known him for many years and understand he's been treated for chemical imbalances in his brain before. All in all, though, he's seemed pleasant most of the time and even helpful. What started this recent deterioration I don't know, although some suspect he stopped taking his medication.

I noticed it start a few months ago. The guy seemed more than depressed at times, but that can happen to the best of us. Then maybe a week or two ago he started getting real weird. He came over one afternoon acting weird and then confessed he had something bothering him. He explained it to me and I told him I thought he was way overreacting. No big deal, but he wouldn't accept what I had to say, no matter how many times I said it. 

Then I heard through the wife others thought he had some mental condition. Asperger's Syndrome being one mentioned. I checked that out and it seemed to apply to just kids. The wife, who used to babysit him as a child, said she thought it might be something like that as he was weird even as a young kid.

Then it got real weird a couple days after he explained that first problem. I believe it was this last Saturday afternoon he came over and started rambling almost incoherently about things he'd "seen" and heard in church. A statue of the Virgin Mary that supposedly spoke to him, for instance. Probably not too out of line for a church boy but the way he told it sounded bonkers.

He went on to explain he had two different messages. One was God and the Virgin Mary might be teasing him, or he'd blown it and was going to hell within a week. Then he asks me something like whether I thought what he saw was real or just "war games". I had no idea what he meant by war games but I told him it was probably war games. He wasn't satisfied and got even more incoherent, starting over with the same rant every five minutes or so. Real bonkers stuff.

In between all this he'd helped himself to beer in my refrigerator, then went out to the back yard and started the same rant with Connie. Then he comes in and starts in on me again. I keep telling him it's war games and he's likely hallucinating. He just ignores that and keeps going at it over and over. Finally, he's got church again in an hour or so, so he leaves.

Monday was what finally did it. He comes over at 8 in the morning asking for beer. He comes in. I'm on the computer. He grabs a beer from the fridge and power downs it. Then grabs another one. This would piss me off regardless, as nobody interrupts my mornings, and he's even worse this time than last.

He starts in again on how he wants to please God and asks me one thing or another about that, over and over again. I tell him he's not pleasing God power drinking at 8 in the morning. He ignores that and keeps going. Connie comes in and he starts with her. She just tells him he's not well and needs help. She asks if he's been taking his medication. He just looks at her as if she doesn't know what she's talking about. He's looking like a madman.

After power drinking 5 beers in less than ten minutes, he goes into the bathroom where he's talking to himself. He comes out after a while, grabs another beer and chugs it. Then he goes over to the kitchen sink and throws up. Mostly beer, the way it sounded. I'm already pissed and am getting angrier. 

He starts in with his God thing again. I tell him in no uncertain terms God does not approve of what he's doing right now and he needs to stop. He says he's fine and will just do it for a couple more days, then he'll be fine. I tell him no he won't. He asks if he can have another beer. I remind him he just threw up but he says it's just from drinking too fast. I say he can't have another beer. I'm raising my voice. He looks at me as if I'm kidding.

I finally tell him he needs to leave and if I have to I'll call the police. He doesn't look as if he's taking me seriously, but he walks over to the front door, tries some last minute manipulating to stay. I tell him no. He leaves. Within a minute or two he's knocking on the front door again and asks if he can just watch TV for a half hour. I tell him no, close and lock the door.

I expected him to try and come back later in the day as he often does, but he didn't. I had decided, and told the wife, I'm just going to tell him he's not allowed in our house anymore unless he gets professional help and goes back on medication. Luckily, or not, I haven't had the chance to tell him that yet. 

The latest word is that he's really bad today. The plan is to get his daughter to try and convince him to get help, maybe at some live in place, or she won't see him again. That's about the best I can think of, aside from him getting arrested for something and let the courts try and force help on him.

Scary stuff when you see it up close and personal. I'll admit I am concerned for him, but it's also ruining my life and that of many others. I'm gonna do my best not to let him ruin mine.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Web Site Down: You, Or The Web Site?

FWIW; I haven't really been able to test it yet, but was just turned on to this downforeveryoneorjustme web site that checks web sites you can't get to to see if the problem is on your end. I know I've had problems with such things before but I'm not having any problems now.

Hat tip to Tom Knapp at the Rational Review News for the tip.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Eureka's Economic Development Commish Proposal

The Times- Standard reports on more feel good ideas from the Eureka City Council. This time it's creation of a commission to look at, and advise, on ideas for economic development. 

I don't recall any efforts to make it easier and quicker to start up a business in Eureka. I can think of at least two businesses in Eureka that took two years to get started. I suspect that might be the norm. Have any of the powers- that- be in Eureka city government ever tried to get rid of some of the obstacles that hold up business in the first place? Not that I'm aware of.

I won't be surprised if this Economic Development Commission, if approved, ends up being a part of the problem rather than part of a solution.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pension Initiative Mislabeling

State Attorney General Kamala Harris has a reputation for politically slanting summaries of ballot initiatives. The latest involves the pension reform initiative recently approved for circulation. Proponents suggest her summary makes it read as if current pension holders will be affected, which isn't the intent of the initiative.

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters points out her efforts to mislead voters could backfire should the initiative pass despite her deception:

"...were the measure to pass with Harris’ summary, it could create a legal argument that it does, in fact, go beyond requiring voter approval for future pension enhancements and would, therefore, allow current benefits and promises of benefits to be reduced."

Wouldn't that be something?

Read more here:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Eureka P.D. Call Advisory

 From the Nextdoor Neighborhood e-mail list. It came out a while back and I never got around to posting it, although many have probably already seen it on Nextdoor or the Eureka P.D. blog. Just an advisory on certain types of calls you probably won't get a response for. Starts off with a narrative from Gene Bass of the Eureka High Neighborhood:

Below is a list of calls that EPD will not respond to. In some cases they will broadcast the information to all units in the field but that doesn't mean any specific unit has been assigned. I requested the information and asked for permission to publicly post it. Nothing here is a secret but the more people know, the better. My advice is people that continually call for loud fireworks go talk with neighbors and perhaps send them a letter in the mail. I hear calls all the time and given the fact EPD isn't coming, its best handled another way. Please be respectful if you are going to comment. Our police department is doing the best they can with what they have and our support is more important now then it has ever been. Stay safe and do your part! Also, if you are one of the unfortunate folks to come across hypodermic needles on a regular basis, invest in a good sharps container. Broadway Medical or even Coloney's Pharmacy have them fairly cheap.

Here is the list -

Hypodermic needles - will no longer be picked up. Callers will be advised to place them in a secured container, such as a thick plastic bottle with a secured lid. Businesses can also contact the Public Health Department to obtain sharps containers. A sharps container is kept at the front office of EPD if they are brought in.

Disabled Vehicles - EPD will only respond if it is causing a traffic hazard
Garbage Dumping reports- Callers will be referred to call the Public Works department. EPD will take a report if a suspect can be identified (surveillance of person or vehicle dumping the trash). Mail or items in the trash with names on it is not enough evidence to prove who dumped the trash.

Found Property - EPD will no longer pick up. Property can be brought in to EPD.

Counterfeit Currency - Businesses can turn them into their bank. If a suspect is currently on scene attempting to pass the bill, EPD will respond.

Non- Injury Traffic Collisions - EPD will not respond. Drivers will be advised to exchange driver’s license, insurance, and registration. Officers will respond if there is a disturbance, if vehicles are disabled in the road, or if one of the parties is unlicensed or uninsured.

Dog barking complaints - If there is no animal control on duty, EPD will only respond to barking dog complaints if the reporting party is willing to press charges. Animal control works Monday-Friday 0800-1700.

Party/Noise Complaints - If there is no other violation (underage drinking, etc.) and the caller does not wish to press charges, dispatch will do an all units broadcast for the location.
Disturbance Subjects (415 subjects)- For general disturbances without a specific victim (such as a subject yelling at passing vehicles or talking to themselves), an all units broadcast will go out to officers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The University of California Pay Scam

Perhaps I shouldn't call it a scam...yet, but I have to wonder. Calwatchdog just covered it a bit and some of us have read stories about the regents and chancellors of the University of California system. They gave themselves a raise after hard fought negotiations over funding. They said that was the only way to avoid tuition increases. I'm wondering about something I don't think I've seen addressed here. 

The regents and others say they need to pay high six figure salaries to retain and recruit the best and brightest.  Ok, fine, but what do those best and brightest do? Can anyone point to one of these academic high rollers that really accomplished anything or turned a bad situation around? Did they do something notable that only they could do and someone with a lower salary and/or education could never have done? Paint me skeptical.

In fact, I don't know that I've ever heard anything really great about any of these folks, although I'll be the first to admit I don't really pay much attention to that sort of thing. I know there was a lot of kindly farewells to past HSU President (is that what he was?) Rollin Richmond, but I don't recall any praise of substance. 

I did hear some complaints about him from those at HSU, but that's to be expected with anyone. I'd like to hear of some solid accomplishments someone in his position made that makes it worth the money they get. About the only real strong praise I've heard for Richmond was from a brother- in- law who is enamored of higher education. He wrote a letter to the Times- Standard praising Richmond. His biggest accomplishment? How educated Richmond was. Whew! Is that it?

Anyway, the silence is deafening and it's strange we hear all the complaints about those in private business that make six figure salaries, but nothing about these higher ups in the U.C. system that have most likely accomplished a lot less with their lives. I can't help but think it's just another example of the educational- industrial complex taking on a life of its own.

Dan Walters Does Tom Steyer

The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters takes a look at the hypocrisy of billionaire green mouthpiece, Tom Steyer's, complaints about high gas prices. Walters is being too diplomatic. If nothing else, it's pretty clear that Tom Steyer and his ilk are the ones who gave us high prices to begin with. 

"Just two months ago, at UC Berkeley, Schremp laid out the cost factors for nearly all of the 52.1-cent-per-gallon differential between California and the rest of the nation for “reformulated” fuel. They were higher taxes, 17 cents; higher production costs, 10 cents; cap-and-trade fees, 10 cents; and “an isolated market,” 10-plus cents."

Read more here:

Yet Steyer points fingers as if it's some sort of conspiracy. Is Steyer is really so stupid he believes that?

Addendum: I almost forgot: Saw a thing on CNN a while back and have heard it elsewhere since. I forget the exact reason, but they're thinking we could see a large nationwide drop in gas prices within the next few months. One writer saying we might see $2.00 a gallon gas by December.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That LoCo Radio News Thing

Not long ago I wrote about what I thought was Lost Coast Outpost being involved in a news segment on 105.5FM radio. Turned out the LoCo had nothing to do with it and it seemed to be the radio guys just giving attribution for the source. I'm wondering what happened with that?

Right after I made the post, 105.5 seemed to stop giving attribution to LoCo. I might have heard them mention CNN on one segment but haven't heard LoCo mentioned since. I'm wondering if LoCo and the radio folks had a falling out over this? Was it something I wrote?

Funny thing is, I wasn't complaining about the LoCo being mentioned. I was complaining about them doing the same news segment over and over again. They're still doing that, just not mentioning LoCo. Paybacks for The Freddy?

"Oh, yeah? We'll show him!"- J.B. Mathers

Selfies = Sociopathy?

I do think it's weird that some people take lots pictures of themselves. I can think of two gals who used to be Facebook Friends that must have posted a dozen selfies of themselves every day. Maybe more. I've always wondered why they'd feel compelled to do it.

The Daily Sheeple looks at a study from Ohio University that supposedly shows big selfie takers to not just be narcissistic, but likely psychopaths:

"... people (and men in particular) who post numerous selfies and spend a lot of time editing them, are of course, more likely to be narcissistic. But what they also found is that these people are also probably psychopaths.".

Hmmm??? I never thought of the two girls I'm thinking of as psychopaths. They seemed real nice. I just thought them a bit odd.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

A Smothers Brothers Review

I saw this Press- Democrat piece billed as a review of a new book about them. Fellow Smothers Brothers fans might enjoy it, although it's more just a look back at what they did and where they are now.

I was a fan of theirs back in the '60s as was the whole family. We'd watch their show every chance we got. I thought it funny and entertaining. I'm not sure I felt that way about them when they made their attempt at a comeback. The writer of the review makes it sound like it was their choice. I didn't get that impression:

"While they still performed and packed smaller venues, the act never regained its prime-time platform. Tommy, uncomfortable about the pitying looks from his peers in Hollywood, fled to Sonoma Valley in 1971 and started making wine."

Seems to me they did end up back in prime time briefly. Anybody else remember that? 

They went off the air for about four years, jokingly blaming it on Nixon. There might well be some truth to that, but they did come back, for maybe three or four shows. I watched those shows. I wasn't impressed. They tried to do the same show they had before, but it didn't work anymore. I'm guessing most others felt the same way. Times had changed. That's why they fizzled.

Shopping Cart Misuse

I've mentioned shopping cart misuse here before. For instance, the guy and his wife cluttering up the check out line at Winco with a shopping cart that only held a gallon of milk. This time it's a rant mostly because I didn't have the guts to say something to the girl who is the target.

Went to Winco this morning. As I'm approaching the Exit doors a nice looking girl grabs a shopping cart from in front of the store and goes in the Exit. You're not supposed to do that, but it's generally not a big deal if you don't have a shopping cart. I went in the exit because I had to order something from Leonardo's. The girl takes her cart and forces her way into the store through the self- checkout aisle. I figured that's the last of her and it's not too big a deal.

I finish my shopping. I go to the checkout and, lo and behold, the same girl moves in right behind me with her shopping cart. What does she have in it? Maybe a pound or two of something from the deli. Just one small package- maybe 6"x2"x4"- in her shopping cart.

I put my stuff on the conveyor belt. She puts her meat, or whatever it was, behind mine. I look back to see if she's gonna pester everyone by cluttering up the line with her shopping cart. Nope. She just pushed it out of the way at the end of the line, leaving it there.

All that for a pound or two of something she could have easily carried in her hand. That's bullshit. Don't do that.

Tim Martin Looks At Spotted Owl Preservation

Tim Standard columnist, Tim Martin, looks this week at U.S. Fish and Wildlife policy regarding spotted owls. He actually gives some friendly comments about redwood logging:

"In 1990 the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the spotted owl as an endangered species. As a result, federal and state forests were closed to logging. Entire communities were devastated. Despite this, the spotted owl is no better off now than it was 25 years ago. Major cutbacks in the logging of redwood forests (the spotted owl’s habitat) failed to turn around their population decline.
Meanwhile, our economy has gone belly-up and we now burn our forests since we can no longer harvest them."

Last time he was at all critical of environmental efforts- that commentary suggesting environmentalists need to mellow out a bit and not be so negative- local lefty Sylvia de Rooy left a comment suggesting the Times- Standard shouldn't publish such "trash". I won't be surprised if she responds the same way to this one. Nothing yet, but it's still early.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Letter: More Old Town Parking Needed

I guess our very own Julie Timmons isn't alone in wanting more parking in Eureka's Old Town. A letter in the Times- Standard suggests turning the area on First Street, between C & F into a parking lot. It makes no difference to me. I've never had a problem parking in Old Town. Then again, I rarely go down there.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Changes in the Science of Cholesterol

The Washington Post looks at recent changes in health official's views on cholesterol. After 40 years of warnings, they're beginning to think it's not so bad after all. I've been hearing bits and pieces along that line for years. The article goes into the various reasons for scientific opinion. 

What I read between the lines is that scientific consensus sometimes takes on a life of its own.  But, in this case, objective reasoning seems to have carried the day. I love the quote towards the bottom of the article:

“These reversals in the field do make us wonder and scratch our heads,” said David Allison, a public health professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But in science, change is normal and expected.”

In other words, science is rarely settled. Who knows? Maybe 20 years from now they'll be telling us again that cholesterol is bad for us.

Eureka Bails On Chamber of Commerce

The North Coast Journal is the first I've heard that the City of Eureka will stop funding its Chamber of Commerce as of July 1 of next year. They got a 20% cut in funding as of July 1 this year. The Left should be happy as they've been complaining about Chamber funding for at least a couple years.

As for me, I suppose it makes sense. When you've dug yourself into a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. I'm sure the Chamber has done some good, although I'll admit to probably not having seen any visitors ever going in their office.

I've also always thought it weird they'd put its office right smack in the armpit of Eureka- the corner of West Hawthorn and Broadway. Maybe that's why no one seems to stop there?

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I Like Charles Koch

I've been reading lots of stuff on billionaire Charles Koch recently. Yesterday the Washington Post had an interview with him and the head of the United Negro (gasp!) College Fund. The two are friends, with some political differences to be sure. The Washington Post has another short interview with him today.

He considers himself a classic liberal, that being the old style liberal believing in doing as you want, just don't hurt anybody. Kinda as we saw with the hippies back in the '60s. I'd say he's right and he's not as enamored of Republicans as some might think:

"I like a lot of the Republican rhetoric better than the Democrats’. But when they’re in office, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s serving their supporters, it’s corporate welfare, it’s cronyism which is so destructive, particularly to the disadvantaged. I think the Democrats are taking us down the road to serfdom at 100 miles an hour, and I think the Republicans are taking us at 70 miles an hour. If we can have a candidate like Calvin Coolidge that would reverse that trajectory, or like [former prime minister William] Gladstone did in Great Britain, man, I would shout it to the world. But I haven’t seen that yet."

So why does he seem to still support Republicans? Simple enough: He thinks they offer the best chance- however small- to bring about the changes he'd like to see made. As he points out, if he had his way, there would be lots of changes made already. He's not as powerful as some like to think. I wish him the best in his endeavors.

Good News From The County Animal Shelter

The Times- Standard has a short story on the county animal shelter this morning. I was surprised, and pleased, to read they haven't had to euthanize any animals since they opened in 2004. Who'da thunk?

They mentioned this web site where you can search for adoptable animals. It's not strictly for Humboldt but apparently animals from all over, including Canada. But, you can search for animals in your local area. 

I tried a search of the county animal shelter in Mckinleyville and was surprised that a majority of the dogs shown were pit bull terriers, or some variation thereof. That seems strange as a lot of the dogs I see out and about are the same kind. I'm not partial to them myself but, you'd think if so many are living around Eureka, they'd be more in demand and less likely to be in shelters. I guess not.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Water Bills Going Up?

Probably not here, is my guess, but Calwatchdog looks at water bills going up elsewhere in the state. This, the result of people cutting back on their water use. Less water used means less revenue for the water suppliers so they have to raise rates to keep going.

I wrote here not long ago about the plight of folks in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. They've been dealing with the drought for at least a couple years now. They cut back and cut back on water use only to see their bills go up, at least relative to the amount of water used. You can't blame them for being upset, but it's really common sense. The utilities need a certain amount of money to stay afloat, no pun intended.

Will the water bills of those of us in the Humboldt Municipal Water District go up if people up here really started cutting back? My gut feeling is no. They raised our rates years ago to make up for the loss of the pulp mills that were major users of water. 

Now it seems our water and sewer bill sits at around $50.00 a month- maybe a few dollars more with watering the garden. I'm wondering if that bill would stay the same even if we stopped using water entirely? My thinking being they've already raised rates to account for infrastructure maintenance and development. I could well be wrong. I should probably call and ask.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Support for Book Bans Growing?

Reason magazine looks at recent polls asking whether people believe certain books should be banned. The percentage believing there should be has increased from 18% in 2011 to 28% more recently. That may not seem too bad as 28% is barely over a quarter of those surveyed, but the percentages get higher as some questions got more specific. I'll expect percentages to grow (at least in California) as we advance our totalitarian state.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Dengler On "The Big One"

I didn't read the New Yorker article that HSU earthquake gal, Lori Dengler, comments on, but she still makes a point in cutting through the media hype over The Big One- the big earthquake supposedly just around the corner:

"A Cascadia rupture is not 'long overdue.' We don’t have a good enough or long enough record of past earthquakes to define the pattern of occurrence."

Now that's my kind of scientist. Acknowledging that sometimes we don't know everything.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Letter Backs Up The Freddy

I've wrote at least a couple times here that people believe what "science" fits their ideology and world view. A letter in today's Times- Standard shows I'm not the only one that thinks that. Not word per word, but close enough:

"The results of the recent Public Policy Institute of California survey confirm the research of Duke University Troy Campbell and others that our values influence how we perceive reality."

Now I have to go find the story the letter refers to. I must have missed that the other day.