Thursday, November 17, 2005

I voted

I haven't had much time to check in here for awhile. Some interesting stuff has happened along the way. I've been to San Diego. I spent a lot of time looking for an anti-virus and firewall program that didn't screw up my computer as Norton did. And I voted.


We had an election last week. Measure W, to approve a study to consider the implications of a public takeover of Cal-Am, died on the vine. I thought it was amusing to see all of the NO on W signs. The "on" was in small type, so it looked like NO W from a distance, blazing in Republican Red. Amen to that, the W in the White House, naturally.


I actually voted for Measure W. I went back and forth on it for a long time. My problem was that my distaste for Cal-Am and the Water Board are equally strong. In the end I decided I could afford $14 dollars for more information. After all, it didn't commit us to anything but a study. But everyone else was tired of studies. Can't blame them for that.


I was disappointed that Prop 77, the redistricting initiative, failed. It would have brought an end to political Gerrymandering. The idea that it would have given power to three judges was a  pile of poop.


I voted against Prop 73. Nobody had made the case that there was an actual problem that needed to be solved. Nobody was offering any actual examples of parents who were not notified their daughters were having abortions. It seemed like a non-issue.


I voted for 76, which would have smoothed out the peaks and valleys of the state budget by requiring us to put aside some money in good times to get us through the bad times. Isn't that basic common sense? The allegations that it gave the Governor too much power were exaggerated. The only time the Governor would have extra power is if the legislature failed to act on a declared budget emergency within a specific period of time.


As for the others, they were too complex for me to understand. I felt they were all matters that should be taken up by the legislature because we elected them to do that sort of work for us. So I voted No.


We had electronic voting for the first time. It was easy to use and fast. A roll of paper tape, sort of like a cash register tape but with better printing, left a paper trail that rolled back up into the machine after giving me a chance to verify that it recorded my vote accurately. It was a good system. But if it hadn't been for the paper roll, I would have asked for a paper ballot as the only way to assure an accurate record of my vote.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Ace Hill

A few days ago I saw in the Herald a small obituary for Ace Hill, who was my favorite local jazz pianist. 

Many years ago, back in the mid '80s, we used to go listen to him and the Ace Hill Trio at the old Monterey Bay Club in what was then the Monterey Sheraton. It was the best jazz club this town ever had. It was cozy, intimate, warm and inviting. Unfortunately, when Marriott took over the hotel, they turned it into just another sports bar, I guess because its cheaper to buy a big screen TV than pay for actual talent.

One weekend a friend of ours, an accomplished musician herself who conducted a choir my wife played for, was in town for the Bach Festival. We asked her if she'd like a little jazz on top of her Bach. She replied "I won't tell anybody."

She asked Ace to play My Funny Valentine for her, and he complied. When we left she said "He sure knows his way around a piano."

Just before his breaks he would play a little tune called "Hold It," which was sort of a boogie woogie finger exercise as he credited the members of his little band. Then he'd sing a few suggestive lyrics ending with "hold it." That little bit is on his first CD. 

The last time I saw Ace Hill was at a private party a few years ago. It was in the hotel where I work as an audio/visual technician. He needed a microphone, and so I got to work with him very briefly.

His passing is a real loss to the local jazz scene.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Save the Adventures

I had a letter published in the Herald today. I wrote to support the preservation of two businesses near Monterey's Municipal Wharf, Adventures by the Sea and Monterey Bay Kayaks, both of which are on city property at Del Monte Beach.

It seems the city is still considering evicting them in order to knock their buildings down to open up the last sliver of bay views from Del Monte Boulevard.

It was right to relocate and demolish the meat packing plant, Jaguar dealership, motorcycle shop and dry cleaner that were between the street and the beach. A beautiful park now is in their place. However, these last two businesses provide shoreline recreation opportunities, and cannot be relocated inland without destroying their function. A little better view would not compensate for the loss of their services. It might make the beach look post card perfect, but there will be less to do once you get there.

Keep them there, please.

Friday, July 29, 2005

It pays not to cave... that is.

We have an Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card, which is the railroad equivalent of those airline mileage credit cards. It was issued by MBNA. A couple months ago we got a notice in the mail indicating that the terms of our account were about to change. It said that if we were late on even a single payment, MBNA would have the right to permanently increase our interest rate without giving notice. This would be in addition to any late fees.

Naturally, I wasn't too keen on this. In fact, I considered it totally unacceptable. Late fees, a single penalty for a single offense, are one thing. Perpetual punishment for a single offense is quite another.

The fine print (it was all very fine print, actually) said we could reject the change, if we did so in writing. However, if we rejected their terms, they would have the right to cancel our account at any time. Not a pleasant prospect, since we're saving up for some free Amtrak trips that we could probably not otherwise afford.

Some people said we should just go along because "all the credit card companies are doing it." Actually, not all are. Neither our Capitol One nor our GM Card (issued by Household Credit) were making such a change. Besides, we refuse to be sheep to corporate wolves. As Dear Abby might say, nobody can take advantage of you without your permission. Without their customers MBNA hasn't a leg to stand on.

So I sent the letter, rejecting their terms. I indicated that while I valued the Amtrak Guest Rewards points, it was not important enough to allow an abuse such as this.

Yesterday I got a response from MBNA apologizing "for any confusion caused by the recent Change in Terms." They added "We honored your request not to change the terms of your account." They then provided, as an apparent goodwill gesture, a 1% rebate on all purchases through August.

Lesson for today: It pays not to be a sheep.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

101 Facts About Me

1. I was born at the old Carmel Community Hospital on November 3, 1959.

2. My educational history:
-1962-1964 Bay School, Carmel, CA (Preschool)
-1964-1968 River School, Carmel (K-3)
-1968-1969 Liberty School, Salem, OR. (4)
-1969-1971 Cummings School, Salem (5-6)
-1971 Whittaker Jr High School From Hell, Salem (7)
-1972-1974 Judson Jr. High, Salem (7-8)
-1974-1978 Verdant Vales School (boarding school), Middletown, CA. (9-12)
-1978-present School of Hard Knocks.

3. My favorite band of all time: The Beatles

4. My favorite bands of the ‘70s: Tie between the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac

5. Favorite jazz musician: Diana Krall. My wife calls her my “girlfriend." I have all of her albums and both DVDs.

6. Current occupation: Audio/Visual technician in a hotel conference facility, nearly 9 years. I do sound for wedding ceremonies there, too. Lots of weddings.

7. Previous occupation of note: movie theater management at Capitol and Elsinore theaters in Salem, and the Golden Bough and Crossroads Cinemas in Carmel, about 11 years total.

8. Other occupations worthy of a mere footnote: Three flirtations with retail including four months at a video rental store, two years at Brintons selling hardware and one Christmas season at Suncoast Motion Picture Company; A couple years self-employed shooting portraits on location (jobs were few and far between).

9. Community activism: Fought the Hatton Canyon Freeway (our side won). Co-founded State Theater Preservation Group, served on its board as Vice President from 1990-1999.

10. Current pet political cause: Promoting improved national passenger train service and revival of rail service to Monterey.

11. Favorite Song: The City of New Orleans.

12. On June 3, 2004 I started learning to play the banjo. After several months I picked out my first song by ear. It was “Here comes the bride.” (I've been working around weddings too long!)

13. Favorite place to buy everyday clothes: Mervyns

14. Favorite place to buy sport coats off the clearance rack: Macy’s

15. Number of different addresses I’ve had in my lifetime: 10

16. Favorite flavor of ice cream: mint chocolate chip

17. First issue of Playboy I purchased on my own: January 1978. I still have it.

18. Favorite Playmate centerfold: Patty McGuire, Miss November 1976.

19. Number of states I’ve been in, even if the plane just landed there en route to somewhere else: 21

20. Most famous person in my family tree: Harry S. Toy, grandfather. He was at various times the Detroit Police Commissioner, Michigan attorney general, Wayne County prosecutor, Michigan Supreme Court justice. He died before I was born.

21. First Amtrak trip: Coast Starlight, June 1974, Salem to San Francisco.

22. Amtrak trains I’ve ridden other than the Coast Starlight: California Zephyr: Emeryville to Denver (2000), Metroliner: Washington DC to Boston with stops in NYC and Philly (1976).

23. Day I met the girl I married: my 22nd Birthday.

24. Age at which I got married: 23

25. No children, thank goodness. I remember how much trouble I was.

26. Number of siblings: two sisters, 9 and 13 years older. It was like growing up with three mothers.

27. Current pet: A female feline named Squeaky Toy.

28. Favorite sport: baseball. Not that I’m much interested in sports.

29. Most influential teachers:
-Rosa Doner, preschool director.
-Mrs. Richardson, 2nd & 3rd grade.
-Mrs. Stoltz, 7th grade social studies. She talked about real issues of the day and showed us how to think them through.
-David D’Evelyn: High school Latin, English and Geometry. We were also close friends. He was gentle, but demanded nothing less than our full focus. He later died in a plane crash. A charter school near Denver was named after him.
-Dick Morse: High school American History. He made it fun and interesting.
-Peter “Repete” Siegel, High school physics. For part of our final exam he had us build a telegraph from scratch and send a message between two classrooms.

30. Joan Baez worked as a volunteer at my preschool. She taught me to sing “Hush little baby”and “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” among others.

31. An incomplete list of my favorite movies:
-Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
-2001: A Space Odyssey
-Star Wars episodes IV-VI
-20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
-The Sound of Music
-The Music Man
-The General (silent)
-The Big Parade (silent)
-Bringing Up Baby
-Duck Soup
-Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
-When Harry Met Sally
-Manhattan (Woody Allen)
-Much Ado about Nothing (Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version)
-North by Northwest
-La Femme Nikita
-Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
-The first and third Indiana Jones movies
-Lord of the Rings trilogy
-Apocalypse Now
-Tora Tora Tora
-The Longest Day
-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
-Blazing Saddles
-Fantasia & Fantasia 2000
-Lady and the Tramp
-Every James Bond movie ever made.

32. Favorite foods: hamburgers, pizza, chicken, salmon, salmon burgers, almost anything Mexican, fish and chips.

33. Favorite vegetables: broccoli, peas, salad with ranch dressing, any form of potatoes.

34. Favorite snack food: regular potato chips.

35. Food I avoid at restaurants: pasta; wine based sauces; anything trendy; anything with capers, undercooked vegetables.

36. My current car: a 1989 Buick Regal

37. First car I ever owned: a 1976 AMC Pacer. It was fun to drive but it had an annoying tendency to shut down for no reason while under way, even on the freeway. Then it wasn't fun anymore.

38. Most enjoyable car we ever owned: my wife's current buggy, a 2003 Chevy Impala.

39. Most durable car I ever owned: 1974 Dodge Dart. I bought it used circa 1980, and it lasted until 1998.

40. I prefer Beethoven over Bach.

41. Best President in my lifetime: Gerald Ford.

42. Worst President in my lifetime: LBJ, but Dubya is closing in fast.

43. Favorite writers of spiritual instruction: Mary Baker Eddy, Joel Goldsmith, Paul.

44. I like to watch C-SPAN. It’s much more interesting and important than, say, ESPN, and way more informative than the “Faux News” channel.

45. A choice between chocolate cake and cheesecake causes my brain to overload.

46. First airplane I ever flew on was a United Airlines DC-6, a four propeller piston engine plane out of Monterey. I was about 7, and I'll never forget it. It had a cool rumbling sound.

47. Number of Hawaiian islands I’ve set foot on: 3 (Oahu, Molokai, and Hawaii).

48. Most recent year I set foot in Disneyland: 1981.

49. I tried college, but it didn’t last long. I knew I was in trouble a few days before I got there. I was with a friend, and someone asked us what we were going to study. My friend promptly replied “economics and political science.” I said “I don’t know.” The person who asked screamed “What do you mean, you don’t know?!?”

50. The only foreign country I’ve been to is Canada, and that just barely, during childhood.

51. I am the only native Californian in my family. Those who came before me were all born in the Midwest. Those who came after me were born in Oregon.

52. I was a newspaper carrier for the Capitol Journal (Salem, OR) when I was 13. I watched the Watergate hearings on TV when I was folding newspapers for delivery.

53. The newspaper with the largest headline that I ever delivered said “Nixon To Quit.” It filled the entire top half of the page. I still have a copy.

54. Once I realized that, contrary to popular theology, sexuality and spirituality are not mutually exclusive concepts, my spiritual growth and my sex life both improved significantly.

55. Types of music I listen to at what time of day:
-Classical for breakfast, and sometimes in the evening
-Oldies from the '50s - '70s in the afternoon
-Classic rock on the road or to unwind after a long day
-Folk in the afternoon or evening
-Jazz in the evening
-KPIG anytime after I'm fully awake

56. Favorite TV shows: Current: West Wing, Law & Order. Classic: Star Trek (original), The Dick Van Dyke Show, Burns and Allen, The Avengers, Gilligan's Island.

57. I prefer Dave over Jay, but neither comes close to Johnny.

58. I still think Roger Mudd should have replaced Walter Cronkite.

59. Favorite member of the Rat Pack: Dean Martin

60. First year I voted in a Presidential election: 1980.

61. First and only Presidential candidate I saw in person: George H. W. Bush in 1980. He walked past the theater I managed in Salem. I followed him around downtown. All he did was shake hands with the crowd, and bought a hot dog from a street vendor. He didn’t say much at all.

62. First and only President I saw in person: Bill Clinton at the Monterey airport.

63. I registered Republican when I turned 18. I gradually became disgusted with the party and became an Independent after the Clinton impeachment. I later registered Democrat to simplify voting in primaries, not because of any particular ideology. I vote every chance I get.

64. I usually go to bed around 2:00 am, except when traveling when I go to bed around midnight.

65. I've never been motivated by money, beyond what is needed to meet my financial obligations. I've always had everything I've needed by observing Matthew 6:25-34.

66. Publications I read regularly: Monterey County Herald, Carmel Pine Cone, Monterey County Weekly, Christian Science Monitor, The Week, Popular Science, Popular Photography, Christian Science Journal, Via (AAA auto club magazine).

67. Publications I read occasionally: USA Today, National Geographic, Playboy, Trains, Model Railroader, Imprimis, Christian Science Sentinel.

68. Publication I have subscribed to the longest: Popular Science, since about 1973.

69. Favorite porn star: Raquel Darrian

78. My first bicycle was a red one speed, my second was a black 3-speed, my third was agreen 10-speed.

79. Hobby I have engaged in longest: Photography, from my pre-teen years to the present. Now and then I'll sell a picture.

80. Hobbies I once engaged in but have since dropped: coin collecting, kites, model airplanes.

81. A couple times a year I get inspired write poetry. Some humor, some political satire, some sentimental, some erotic. They all tell stories.

82. Age at which I first saw snow: 3

83. Years I experienced a white Christmas: 1962, 1983.

84. I remember when Pop Tarts first came on the market back in the '60s. I even remember the commercial jingle “Pop Tarts, great new treat, NEW-ew-EW-ew-EW from Kellogg’s, Pop Tarts.” I have no idea why they've lasted this long.

85. I am a sports widower. I grew up with sisters and learned to cook. My wife grew up with brothers, learned to watch football and say “What's for dinner?”

86. I played trombone in the Jr. High band.

87. I have an HO scale train running on a shelf around the upper perimeter of our dining room. Sometimes I run a freight train. Sometimes I run a passenger train. I have four different passenger train consists: 1. Southern Pacific Coast Daylight 2. Early 1970s Amtrak; 3. A modern Amtrak Superliner trainset; 4. A 1920s era Union Pacific.

88. Year I first bought a computer: 1995.

89. Number of computers I’ve owned: 2

90. I like to take common words and alter them to make them more fun to say. For example: Good Mornding, Chicky Doodle Soup, Chickenen (as in Chickenen Dumplings, Chickenen Rice, Chickenen Mashed Potatoes). Sometimes the weather will be damp and froggy.

91. First thing I notice about a woman: her smile. If a woman doesn’t have a nice smile, what lies below it isn’t particularly interesting.

92. Period of history that most interests me: WWII, probably because I grew up hearing my parents talk about life “during the war.”

93. When I was about 19 I thought I would like to marry a musician. By chance it worked out that I did.

94. My wife and I collect stuffed animals. When nobody is looking we play with them.

95. After 22 years of marriage, we still make out.

96. Favorite breakfast cereal: Life. Second favorite: raisin bran.

97. I can’t stand the taste of coffee, but I love the smell.

98. I don’t drink alcohol. I never understood the appeal of ingesting something flammable that inhibits one’s comprehension of spatial relationships.

99. Favorite comic strips: Peanuts, Mutts, Zits, For Better or for Worse, Doonsbury, Dilbert.

100. I started my website in 1997 just to see if I could do it. I did my initial HTML coding by hand. The site has since taken on a life of its own.

101. Personal quote: “Trust God, love your neighbor, and never mistake opinion for truth.” I made it up when AOL’s profile form asked for a personal quote.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bumper Sticker Sightings

Yesterday I saw an interesting pair of bumper stickers on a car at Del Monte Center.

One said: War is not the answer
The other said: I'm proud to have a son in the Army


A couple weeks ago I saw this wonderful philosophy:
Work like you don't need the money
Love like you've never been hurt
And dance like nobody's watching

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Facing the competition

Among many it is accepted as gospel that when a big chain store moves in, the locally owned businesses are driven out of business. Certainly that has been the case in many communities. However, based on local experience, I've witnessed several cases where local stores gave up too easily.

H&H Hardware in Seaside was a good example. They were probably the best hardware and home improvement store the Monterey Peninsula ever had, plus they had an exceptional arts and crafts department as well. But when Orchard Supply moved into Sand City, the owners of H&H almost immediately threw up their hands and gave up.

What a waste of community goodwill. Orchard, while nice, never lived up to its promise. I can't tell you how many times I've gone in there looking for something basic that they didn't have, including lamp parts, and standard recessed shower soap dishes. Furthermore, Orchard Supply's service has deteriorated in recent years. Their slogan "We've got answers" has turned into one answer "I don't know" often followed by "This is not my department."

In downtown Monterey a McWhorters stationery store moved into the old JC Penney slot. Fearing they couldn't compete, the venerable Palace Stationery immediately closed up shop. But McWhorters wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and it failed within a couple of years, even without local competition.

That's why I am most gratified to see that M&S Building Supply is taking a proactive approach to the impending competition from Home Depot. M&S has long occupied a bland beige building on Del Monte Avenue, that never really stood out. When I needed something, I usually went to Orchard, not because it was a great store, but because I kept forgetting about M&S. Even though I passed it every day, it was out of sight and out of mind. I would only remember M&S on those occasions when Orchard failed me.

This week M&S put new signs and paint on its building. Suddenly, I'm conscious that it is there. They painted a broad red band across the front of their building that highlights their front door. On the band in big white letters is the name of the store and the words "Since 1962." I think M&S can expect to see me walking through their doors more often, now that they've made an effort to draw me in.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Popular trends, an update

A little over a year ago, I posted an entry called Popular Trends that I hope will go away soon. I thought it might be interesting to see if anything had changed. So here is a status report:

Reality TV.
Status: the novelty seems to be wearing off, but its not waning fast enough for me.

Shouting news commentators.
Status: Fox is still at it, but CNN canceled Crossfire.

Breast implants
Status: there is a growing "natural beauty" movement. Websites such as DOMAI and Super Beauty honor the beauty of unenhanced natural nude women. A related picture book called Natural Beauties is a best seller on Dove, the beauty bar people, have launched a Campaign for Real Beauty with the goal of showing women of all ages that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. They've teamed up with the Girl Scouts on a self esteem program.

Electronically enhanced vocals of female pop stars.
Status: Still there, but may be waning as singers like Norah Jones grow in popularity. When Beyonce used her spectacular real voice to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a baseball game, I said "I'd buy her records if she sang like that in her recordings."

Corporate control of local radio stations.
Status: ongoing, but at least we've got KPIG.

Neoconservatives.Status: still popular when it comes to political generalities, but when it comes to specific issues their political ineptitude and moral emptiness is showing. They aren't really getting anything done because Americans, particularly genuine conservatives, resent being told what to do.

Low carbs.
Status: The movement is toast.

Self-appointed food police.Status: they seem to come and go. There is still an obsession with obesity, but a recent report debunked the idea that most people are excessively overweight.

One-party control of both houses of Congress and the White House.
Status: nothing can change until the '06 elections.

Liberal bashing.
Status: going strong. Liberal bashers came out in force during the election last year, and the outcome only encouraged them to keep it up. A favorite tactic is to take an an extreme statement by a far left-winger, and associate it with anyone that leans even slightly liberal.

Conservative bashing.
Status: waning, as the GOP has increased its grip on Washington DC.

Imitation Rob Lowe hairstyles.
Status: I haven't seen any for quite awhile.

Overreaction to a bare breast on TV.
Status: mixed. ABC was afraid of getting fined so they pulled Saving Private Ryan from the schedule. But NBC showed bare breasted women dancing at the Olympic opening ceremonies and nobody cared.

"John 3:16" signs at football games.Status: unknown. I haven't paid attention.

The "liberal media" myth.
Status: still accepted as gospel, but a few weak voices have tried to point out that most news organizations are owned by big corporations which tend to lean conservative.

Status: as gas reaches $2.50 a gallon, they don't seem quite as cool anymore.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Schapelle Corby

I just read of a disturbing story about a 27 year young woman from Australia who may be facing a firing squad in Indonesia, for allegedly smuggling marijuana into Bali. Schapelle Corby maintains her innocence, and there is reason to believe the contraband was planted in her bodyboard bag by smugglers without her knowledge.

At first I wondered if it was a legitimate story, since so much content on the internet is biased. So I did some research of Australian news articles which indicated it was true, and ongoing. But don't take my word for it. Do a Google search on "Schapelle Corby" for the latest news.

Here are a couple of relevant links:
Save Schapelle From An Indonesian Firing Squad
Petition: Free Schapelle Corby

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Things I've learned

At 45 I guess I'm officially at middle age. That means I'll live to be 90. Anyway, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of the things I've learned over the years, listed in no particular order:

If you hear or smell anything unusual, find out what it is right away.

Meals seem to be more satisfying when potatoes are somehow involved.

Cultivate your friendships. Time spent with friends and family is never wasted. (See Tiffany)

The time to buy drain opener is before you need it.

Read the owners manual.

Don't trust Mapquest.

You can never win a political argument. However, in the company of those who have open minds, you can have some very interesting political discussions. Ditto for religion.

At the grocery checkout, always put the bread on the conveyor last. This keeps it from getting squished by other items at the bagging end.

There’s nothing wrong with sex.

When you get onto the freeway, keep plenty of space between you and the car ahead. It makes it much easier to merge. If everyone did that there'd be no need for metering lights.

The best way to make your computer work blazingly fast is to use older software on a newer computer.

Every generation of popular culture has its garbage. The garbage falls by the wayside, while the good endures and becomes classic. People forget the garbage of previous generations and that's why they think the old days were better.

Today's snapshot is tomorrow's historical record.

Never ship Parcel Post.

Always check the stove before you leave the house.

Faster, bigger, and newer are not synonyms for better.

Love fulfills the law. Love is the spirit behind all true law. A law is not legitimate unless it conforms to Love.

Love is the basis for all morality. Morality is not a set of rules. Morality is love in action.

If in doubt, call a professional.

Don't do business with anyone who doesn't return your calls.

Don't patronize a business that provides bad service, even if they're the only game in town.

Internet shopping is just old-fashioned mail order with an electronic catalog.

Everything breaks down to either fear or love. Fear is to love what darkness is to light.

The problem with fundamentalist religions is that they never get past the fundamentals. Its like limiting your entire spiritual education to first grade.

Diet fads come and go, but good eatin' endures.

To keep you mind sharp, get interested in something new every few years.

Ideology is unimportant. The only thing that matters is what works.

It is better to do right than to be right.

Simple gifts often have the most meaning.

New technology is nothing without old technology.

Never mistake opinion for truth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


"So often we rob tomorrow's memories by today's economies."
-John Mason Brown

With a carefree smile
Framed by straight brown hair
A sparkle in her eye
As she passed on the stair
It made me feel warm
Every time she was there.

It all was strictly business
In the workplace you know
Leaving much about each other
That we never get to show
Feelings just get buried
Gotta go with the flow.

We’d put our heads together
And we’d get the job done
Sometimes she’d say “I love you”
It was only in fun
Our friendship got a start
But it never got to run.

Then  one day she was leaving
A career move she said
She needed it of course
Got to go where life led
A chance to get away
And to keep her soul fed.

On the steps that final day
Her eyes looked a little sad
I wanted to say something
But expression could be bad
The talk was mostly business
It was all we really had.

I gave a little parting gift
The card I made was dealt
She read the sincere sentiment
And then her heart could melt
We hugged, I  made a comment
To hint at how I felt.

It wasn’t about romance
Just friendship I’ll allow
For three years she had touched my heart
Though still I'm not sure how
I hadn't really known it then
But I sure know it now.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Muddy Waters, Muddy Thinking

A landmark cypress tree on Scenic Road is perilously close to falling into the Carmel River. So is a section of Scenic Road.




The river has eroded the bluffs right up to the edge of Scenic Road




The river was breached in an unusual way this year. Instead of cutting straight through the beach, they cut a diagonal trench to the northwest




There has been an ongoing dispute between Monterey County, residents near the Carmel River lagoon, and the Department of Fish and Game




The Fish and Game biologists say the steelhead need more time to adjust to the semi-saline lagoon before being washed out to the fully saline ocean.




They have ordered that the lagoon not be breached until nearby homes are perilously close to flooding




Upsets the neighbors




They breached the river at an angle to somehow minimize the trauma for the fish.




The river did what it does naturally, and carried sand out to the ocean.




The ocean puts it back on the beach, in a different place, which diverts the path of the river towards the bluff, to undermine the tree and road.




Ironically, is the same bluff that was rebuilt with sand last year to repair erosion caused by the river which had turned northward




Makes me wonder what goes through their minds.


One winter, several years ago, the river naturally migrated towards the north, and did pretty much what it is doing now. It became clear that if allowed to continue, it would undermine Scenic Road, so the bulldozers came back and redirected the river to the south end of the beach. That year they stopped the erosion long before it could damage anything important.


Having witnessed that year’s event, I knew the authorities were asking for trouble when they deliberately breached the river towards the north. I figured either they were taking a big risk, or they knew something I didn’t about beach erosion.


They were taking a big risk. I’m no expert on beach erosion, but it is now evident that I knew a whole lot more than they did. If diagonal breaching was necessary, it would have made a lot more sense to do it southward where there is nothing to threaten, rather than northward.


If local news reports are accurate, Fish and Game is also making an assumption that the river, if it breached naturally, wouldn’t wash the fish out to sea as fast as a man-made breach.


I sincerely doubt that. I’ve seen the river breached almost naturally, and it happens very fast.


When I say “almost naturally” we were there one day when the river was very, very close to breaking through. Some fellow used his hands to cut a short trench, just a few inches wide and deep and a few feet long, to let the water flow across the highest part of the sand between the lagoon and the ocean. Within five minutes the trench was about a foot wide, and not quite as deep.


Thirty minutes later, from the force of erosion alone, the channel had grown to six feet deep and over ten feet wide. It was a raging torrent that threatened to swallow up anyone who got too close. The erosion was happening so fast that it was causing sections of the beach to shift under us several feet from the channel’s edge. We left because we did not feel safe there. That is what would happen naturally. It would burst through very fast, not in the gradual trickle that Fish and Game claims would take the fish out gently.


I support wildlife preservation, and habitat enhancements. I’ve even been accused by wing-nuts of being an eco-freak. But intentionally risking millions of dollars in damage to a public road, by diverting a river nearer to it, does not come across as sound policy. Perhaps there is some bit of ecological knowledge that is eluding me in this matter, but so far I haven’t seen any evidence that Fish and Game people really know what they’re doing.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Republican Dictionary

Activist Judge: one who makes a ruling that we don't agree with.

Collateral Damage: innocent people we accidentally kill in order to eliminate terrorists who want to kill innocent people.

Compromise: abandoning our principles.

Conservative: American, patriotic.

Constitutional Amendment: what we propose whenever an activist judge makes a ruling we disagree with.

Democrat: Liberal (see)

Environmentalist: nut case who prefer trees, deer and whales over corporate profits, 10-lane freeways, and cheap oil.

Fair and Balanced: whatever makes sense to us.

Family Values: exemplified by good Christians who don't have sex except to make babies.

Indecency: bare breasts.

Liberal: traitor.

Media Bias: any report which presents facts that contradict our beliefs.

Mission Accomplished: the easy part is over.

Minimum Wage: excessive compensation for our front-line employees who do the actual selling of our product.

Moderate: some weenie trying to have it both ways.

Morality: No sex.

National Interest: corporate profits.

Reaching Out: A willingness to work with anyone who shares our views.

Reform: eliminate, privatize, or cut funding.

Root Causes of Terrorism: a Liberal (traitors) term used to justify the acts of evildoers. Nothing we need to worryabout.

Second Amendment: the right to keep and bear arms of any type whatsoever without any regulation whatsoever. The phrase "shall not be infringed" clearly cancels out the phrase "well regulated militia."

States Rights: The right of states to determine their own laws and policies. Excludes popular referendums and initiatives which contradict federal policies established by Republican administrations.

Subsidies: what we eagerly spend to support highways, aviation and seaports, but we must never, ever, EVER give to Amtrak.

Tax Cut: a legal way to buy votes. An indirect way to encourage reform (see) on all federal domestic programs.

War on Terror: kill all dem bastards.


Sunday, February 6, 2005

I killed some software last night

It was Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6. I had been using if for a little over a year, and it was the buggiest program I ever used, not to mention one of the most expensive.


My computer came with Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4. It was an excellent program, very easy to use, reliable and stable. Adaptec became Roxio somewhere around version 5, and I got version 6 because I needed its new video making capabilities for a wedding video project.


For making videos, version 6 was a bust. The DVD maker had a bug in the audio video synchronization which made it impossible to see beforehand how the finished product would look and sound. A downloadable upgrade, which was supposed to fix the bugs, rendered the entire thing useless, by preventing video burning entirely! Technical support was nonexistent. They told me to uninstall the whole thing, and reinstall it without the patches, which of course put me right back with the problems I started with. I ended up buying a different video program altogether, which worked fine for half the price.


The CD burner in version 6 worked well enough for making data CD backups, and the sound editor was kinda nice. But when it came to making music CDs the program was a dismal failure. It had a nearly identical interface as version 4, but it worked very differently. For starters, whenever I loaded a commercial CD to grab a few tracks, the program raised a fuss because it couldn’t access the internet to search a massive database in order to tell me what CD I had just inserted. Dammit! I know what CD I just inserted! Just let me USE it!


Once I wrestled together a custom CD, it would usually abort halfway through the burn, ruining the CD. Two nights ago I spent two hours and never did get what I wanted.


Last night, I tried again, and error messages kept popping up. I’d had enough. I uninstalled Roxio’s version 6, and reinstalled Adaptec’s version 4. I then made the CD I wanted in a short time, with only one glitch: it wouldn’t recognize one WMA music file I wanted to include. Otherwise it was perfect, the first time.


If anyone from Roxio is reading, let it be known I will never buy another Roxio product, and I would encourage others to avoid it as well.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Monitor Replacement

I had to buy a new computer monitor. My three and a half year old ViewSonic flat screen CRT died suddenly,  deciding to display only a three inch high section of the screen. I had warranty work done a year ago for another problem, so it didn't seem worth the trouble to pay to have it fixed now that it is out of warranty. My first monitor lasted six years. I'm bummed that the ViewSonic didn't make four.

Shopping for a new one was a frustrating experience. It seems standard Cathode Ray Tubes are no longer in vogue. They lack the "cool factor" of the new flat screen LCDs, even though the newer technology costs three times as much.

Besides costing more, LCDs are overrated in many ways. They are still a youthful technology, while the good old CRT has been finely perfected over the course of 60 some years. LCDs don't display as many colors as a CRT, which is important for photo editing. Moreover, LCDs still look like you're viewing through a fine mesh screen door. A tiny grid pattern is always visible. They're not ready for me.

Unfortunately, cool sells and older technology doesn't. The available CRT selection this time around was severely limited. Making matters worse, the only stores that stocked more than one brand, Office Depot and Circuit City, have become less than helpful in their customer service. Circuit City is especially horrific in the customer service department. The place is now run by kids who don't know the first thing about service. Office Depot is a little better, but not much. When I inquired why one monitor looked better than another I was given some song and dance about how the refresh rate had to be dumbed down because too many monitors were being run off of one computer. Hell, if they're not going to make the effort to display the product properly, why do it at all?

I finally bought one at Monterey Computer Works in Seaside, the only place where I could get someone to talk to me with respect in sensible English. They only had one brand of CRT, made by another acronym, CTX. It wasn't a flat screen, but the brand seems to be highly rated. It is a nice monitor, giving a good half inch more display area (16.5"") than my old ViewSonic (16").

So I'm back in business.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Tsunami Warnings

We've all seen the horrible news showing the Indian Ocean tsunami damage. I made my contribution to the Red Cross, and I hope you have too.

Now, I have a question about this that's been bugging me for two weeks now. They say the Indian Ocean, unlike the Pacific Ocean, does not have a formal tsunami warning system, and that's why nobody was prepared.

That sounds like a cop out to me. It is common knowledge among scientists that a large earthquake in the ocean will almost certainly create a tsunami. Warning system or not, the earthquake was detected by scientists in the region, and its offshore location determined fairly quickly. Did none of these scientists consider that a tsunami might follow? Did they try to contact the authorities? They didn't need a formal tsunami warning system to get the word out. All they needed to do was contact radio and TV stations, and direct local police to warn people away from the beaches.

Back in the mid '60s, long before the Pacific Ocean had a warning system, my family was having a picnic at Stewart's Cove with some friends. A California State Parks ranger came by to evacuate the beach because a "tidal wave," as tsunamis were then called, was anticipated. My sister and her friend heard the message first, as they had walked to the Carmel River Beach parking lot where the ranger made the first announcement. I still remember seeing them running back with panic in their eyes shouting "There's a tidal wave coming!"

Of all the countries that were hit last month, why didn't authorities in even one of them make the connection between the earthquake and the potential for a tsunami? I've only seen one news organization attempt to answer this question, MSNBC spend a fair amount of time asking it last week, but no satisfactory answers were forthcoming. Another report indicated that Thailand's official policy was to issue a tsunami warning whenever there was an offshore earthquake exceeding 8.0. But for some reason, they didn't implement their own policy.

By the way, the tidal wave we were warned about at Carmel River Beach never materialized. But at least we were ready in case it did. In the last 20 years, I have heard two more similar warnings, neither of which amounted to anything, though I think one did raise local ocean levels a couple feet for a brief time.