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Showing posts from 2007

The Herald Angel Sinks

Over the years the Monterey Herald , our daily newspaper, has been bought and sold several times. After a few months of settling in, each new owner starts shaving away at the good stuff. One previous owner didn't wait, and fired the entire reporting staff and asked them to reapply. The excuse given this time is internet competetion. They have to stay ahead of the game, they say, to remain competetive. Someone please explain to me how cutting back on content and reducing the quality of your product makes you more competitive. A few months ago the Sunday Herald dropped Parade magazine and replaced it with the inferior USA Weekend, a product of USA Today. No more Mayilyn Vos Savant, no more Howard Huge, no more articles by famous scientists. USA is just a trite imitation with no content of any value. I flip through it every Sunday hoping to find something interesting, but I barely read a word. Next came a formatting change for the Sunday leisure section. No problem there. The cont

The right thing

I've been so busy I haven't had time to publicly thank the Monterey City Council for doing the right thing with the Catellus Property near Wharf #2. Until now. For the uninitiated, here's the background story. The Catellus property once belonged to the Southern Pacific railroad, which leased two buildings to two local businesses. One was Adventures by the Sea, which uses the facility for indoor/outdoor beach parties. Monterey Bay Kayaks was the other. After the city bought the property, there was a call to demolish these buildings and put their tenants out of business. A previous city council came close to doing so. The arguments against the businesses were to open up views from Del Monte Avenue, and keep private enterprise out of public  parks. Arguments in favor of the businesses were that they provided the public with social and recreational opportunities that otherwise would not exist. I watched the council meeting live on TV. I was relieved to see the council agree tha

Sign up for ClimateSmart

I just signed up the Toy House for PG&E's project ClimateSmart . This is a voluntary program wherein PG&E customers can pay a minuscule fee to offset their household greenhouse gas emissions. The funds collected will pay for forest restoration and other greenhouse gas reduction programs. The cost for a given household is based on the actual gas and electricity consumption for a given month. For an average PG&E residential customer it amounts to a mere $4.37 per month, less than 15¢ per day. PG&E provides a page which allows you to estimate your charge for a given month. Our little house is comparatively frugal with utilities. For November our cost would be just $2.30, about 8¢ per day. The funds will go entirely to greenhouse gas emissions programs, and their use will be certified by independent auditors. If you are a PG&E customer, I encourage you to sign up. It costs pennies a day, and will help do some good. Even if you're a global warming skeptic,

BOOs & BRAVOs

The Herald has its Rants and Raves. I'll put in my Boos and Bravos. There was an interesting collection of letters in the Herald of Thanksgiving Day. Usually, there's maybe one or two that are worth reading. Today they all had something interesting to say, except for the little four-liner at the very end. BRAVO to Gordon Smith of Monterey who wrote to support the retention of Monterey Bay Kayaks on the waterfront. As he notes, demolishing their building won't do much to improve views, but will deprive residents and visitors of recreational opportunities. I only wish he had also made the same mention  of Adventures By The Sea which is also threatened. BRAVO to Dan Shafer of Monterey, a former sports writer for admonishing sports columnist John Devine for writing a "guilty until  proven innocent" diatribe against Barry Bonds. BOO to Cindy Stanley of Monterey for her misinterpretation of a protest last weekend outside the Presidio of Monterey. The protesters had a

Early Bird

It was discussed on the radio tonight that Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday that people still honor for its original intent. Look at President's Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day. They've become excuses to go shopping. Christmas, likewise. Independence Day? Picnics and fireworks. Easter? Chocolate paradise. But Thanksgiving is thus far untainted by selfish pursuits. People save that for the Friday after. In an effort to accommodate all that pent-up shopping energy, major stores are competing to see who can get these people in their doors first. A few years ago they started opening at 8:00am. Then 7:00. Now Target is opening at 6:00 Friday morning. That's nutty. Who in their right mind would get up on their day off and shop before breakfast? Nobody in their right mind, but that still leaves a lot of Americans, judging from the state of things these days. But for sheer audacity, the prize goes to Mervyn's. A totally tasteless commercial has run in the last few days

Pain in the neck

I've been dealing with a literal pain in the neck. So far three doctors, a physical therapist, X-rays, and MRI, and a Christian Science Practioner (not in that order) have failed to find any cause for the problem and so far no real solutions. But I am inundated with diagnoseseses. Everyone knows someone who had something kinda similar at one time or another so they know just what I've got. Apparently I've got Parkinsons, a food allergy, stress, pinched nerves, and muscle spasms. And of course, the sure fire cures are ibuprofen, hypnosis, a heating pad, ice, alternating heat and ice, Tiger Balm, a chirporactor (or not), acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, past-life regression, counseling, a mediterranean style diet, yoga, and prayer. It's all a pain in the neck.  

President Bush doesn't care about us.

President Bush has threatened to veto any budget from Congress that exceeds his budget for domestic spending. Congress has proposed a domestic budget that exceeds Bush's budget by $22 billion ($22,000,000,000). Bush says that's an irresponsible use of public funds. For the record, Bush's war in Iraq is costing us $330 million every day ($330,000,000). The $22 billion Congress wants to spend on us at home amounts to 66 days and 16  hours of spending in Iraq. Yet Bush has offered no source of funds for his war other than our pocketbooks and Chinese loans. If Bush wants to keep spending our money in Iraq, he needs to find a way to pay for it. But, hey, if we're going to go deeper into debt, I'd rather it be for improving things here at home. Tags:

Thank you Arnold!

I read the news today, OH BOY! About a governor who made my day. Arnold Schwarzenegger today ordered the California Department of Food and Agriculture to disclose the complete ingredients in the pheromone spray Checkmate. That's the stuff CDFA sprayed over the Monterey Peninsula last month and which they plan to periodically spray all over the Monterey Bay region until the light brown apple moth fades into oblivion. As I wrote before, it seems only prudent to tell us exactly what is being applied to our neighborhoods. Apparently the Governator agreed. I don't consider this a victory for "our side." I consider this a victory for truth. It is a victory for honesty, which is always the best policy. It is especially refreshing to see a Republican leader who cares more about the people on the streets than the people in the suits who are trying to hide behind "trade secrets." This world would be much better off if every Republican thought that way. Trade secr

Spray Delay

Well, the spraying of the Monterey Peninsula has been put on hold, thanks to a court order. Apparently a judge agreed that more information was needed before applying an unknown chemical upon a large population. I have mixed feelings about this. I agree completely that we need to be fully informed about what chemicals are being dropped on us. I also understand the need to control a pest that could cause significant damage. Of course, the farmers are up in arms about the spraying delay. Just as much as Peninsula residents are up in arms about the spraying itself. I'm worried this could quickly escalate into another "Us vs. Them" or "Peninsula vs. Valley" feud. There is an easy way to avoid this. Farmers should be pressing their spray saviors to fully disclose the complete ingredients in Checkmate, the pheromone spray, to prove to us on The Peninsula that the product is as harmless as they say. Don't let them hide behind "trade secrets" to keep u

No more POPCORN

I just learned today that another Monterey Peninsula institution has folded up and vanished last month with no fanfare. POPCORN is gone. I grew up with POPCORN. I used it regularly, especially in the spring and fall, when the clocks changed from Daylight time and back to Standard time. POPCORN was time. Huh? Alas, most people don't even know what I'm talking about! It's on the telephone. HUH? I'd dial POPCORN (767-2676) and a nice lady would come on and say "At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be, two fifteen and twenty seconds. BEEEP. At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be, two fifteen and thirty seconds. BEEEP. At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be, two fifteen and forty seconds. BEEEP. At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be, two fifteen and fifty seconds. BEEEP. At the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be, two sixteen, exactly. BEEEP." You could listen indefinitely back in the day. Then they limited you to one minute. She was reliable, fr

They should like trains

The Herald reported this week that Monterey County's two largest industries, hospitality and agriculture, are opposing investment in passenger rail services to Monterey County. They are arguing that TAMC, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County, should invest more in roads and less in alternatives. This view is shortsighted. There will never be enough money or land to pave our way out of traffic congestion. Furthermore, as energy prices rise, environmental concerns increase, and freeways just get more and more hectic, we will need alternatives that are comfortable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly. Trains are the answer. People in our area don't realize that California has the fastest growing passenger rail system in the country. In fact, the nation's third busiest rail corridor, the Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Auburn, terminates just 60 miles from here. Other successful corridors can be found in the San Joaquin Valley (Bakersfield to S

Spray Notifications

If anyone is reading this, and wants to know when their neighborhood will be sprayed for the light brown apple moth, you can now sign up for e-mail alerts from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. There is a link to the e-mail alert form on this page . Tags: light brown apple moth , LBAM , Monterey aerial spray

It's Dennis, not Charlie!

I was just taking a look at the statistics for my website. I was viewing the search phrases people used this month to find my pages. I see that on a day in September someone was looking for " Charlie Brown playground, Monterey CA" Close. Very close. I assume they found the correct name once they got here . Tags: Monterey , Dennis the Menace playground

Barry Bonds

I'm not a sports fan, but I do enjoy watching a game of Giants Baseball. I haven't followed Barry Bonds' career like some have, but I have become a fan. I haven't followed the controversy surrounding him all that much. After all, every successful person seems to be controversial in some way. But something doesn't seem right. As far as my limited understanding could tell, he is still a productive player. He stated his desire to remain a Giant. He drew crowds to the ballpark in what was otherwise a miserable season. For this he got fired. I don't get it. What really galled me was seeing all of the warm fuzzy tributes in tonight's game, Barry's last at home. We watched Giants owner Peter Magowan shed crocodile tears as he watched the "Thank You Barry" scoreboard video at the end of the game. Somehow the thanks seemed as insincere as the tears. You don't fire a guy you appreciate. They say that's just business, that is was time for Barry

Spray Day!

I know, I've been AWOL again. Too many weird things going on in my life these days to keep up with a journal on a regular basis. I don't think I have any regular readers, anyway, so its probably no big deal. But I did find a topic important enough to get me writing a bit. Its that blasted light brown apple moth, also known as LBAM. For those of you who aren't in the know, let me explain. According to California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA, another acronym!), LBAM is an invasive pest that is going to eat every tree, bush, and head of lettuce in Monterey County if it isn't stopped. OK, I'm exaggerating. They say the damages could potentially be in the millions of dollars, but I'm not convinced they're not exaggerating, either. Maybe, maybe not. In an attempt to eradicate the moth, the California Department of Food and Agriculture decided to spray Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove and most of Pebble Beach with a pheromone. A pheromone i

"A" huge dilemma

The upcoming election on the county general plan has really reached the point of ridiculousness. How did we get into this mess in the first place? The general plan update process was started seven years ago with the best of intentions, getting everyone involved so that a consensus could be developed. Instead we've ended up with two competing plans and a divided citizenry. Even trying to explain the situation makes my head spin. We've got three ways to vote on two plans. Yes, three. 1. Measure A: Voting yes means you want the General Plan Initiative, the "slow growth" plan, to pass.   2. Measure B: Voting yes means you want to repeal General Plan Update 4, the "developers" plan which was enacted by the county supervisors several months ago. 3. Measure C: Voting yes means you want to enact General Plan Update 4. Just so we're clear, Yes on A means yes. Yes on B means no, and yes on C means yes. I think. You can thank the county supervisors for the con

CRASH!

After my Woe is Me  entry a few weeks back, I thought I was all set to keep my old Windows ME machine running a good while longer. But it had other plans. One evening a couple weeks ago it failed to boot up, giving a "Non system disk" error. That usually means there's a floppy in the floppy drive, and it needs to be removed. But there wasn't. This time it wouldn't recognize its own hard drive. Further investigation revealed the hard drive still had data on it, but the directories were gone, so the computer couldn't find anything. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Fortunately, I had backed up all my vital files the previous week. Unfortunately, I had not backed up all of my fun files, like my collections of NASA photos and comic strips, which I kept saying "I'll back those up when I have more time." At this point I had two choices. 1. Run the so-called "Recovery" disk that came with the computer to restore it to its original factory con

Westmed

A little over a year ago, Westmed took over ambulance service in Monterey County, having submitted a substantially lower bid than longtime provider American Medical Response (AMR) for the contract. At the time I wondered if it was reasonable to expect more service for less money, but the county supervisors assured us they knew what they were doing. So on January 1, 2006, a different wail began speeding by our house uphill to an emergency situation. For awhile Westmed ambulances announced their presence with a multi-pack of sirens that sounded like a whole armada of fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances screaming through the neighborhood. It was really annoying. Worse, when driving it was impossible to figure out if the sound was ahead, behind, or somewhere else altogether. Westmed has since toned down its sirens somewhat. Probably as a cost saving measure. For now we are learning that Westmed got in over its head financially, promising the moon and delivering a hunk of green chee

Woe is ME

My computer uses Windows ME. It came that way. It works OK. Not always great, but good enough for me right now. But some people don't think I should be OK with it. Bill Gates is one of them. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows ME several months ago. That's OK, I don't need their support and there's no good reason why I need to spend money to upgrade just now. I went to install TurboTax this week. Intuit has been sending me a CD every year. I didn't ask for it, it just came every year. I liked the product so I installed it, entered my payment information, and away we go to taxland. Not this time. This time when I put in the CD it said I needed to upgrade to Windows XP or Vista. Not now, I can't afford it. Its not worth spending a hundred bucks to put XP on an older machine, nor am I about to put up $700-800 on a new computer to get Vista. Not right now. I just want to get my taxes done! I have no intention of upgrading my computer just because two software c

Not too bright

In my February 10th post I talked about the benefits of switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. I learned today that Assemblyman Lloyd Levine has proposed legislation banning incandescent light bulbs and forcing everyone to buy compact fluorescents. Though I am a hardcore advocate of compact fluorescent usage wherever possible, I cannot support making them mandatory. Despite their efficiency they do have limitations, and can't realistically replace every incandescent light bulb. For example, compact fluorescent bulbs do not work on circuits with electronic timers or photocells (those "electric eyes" that turn lights on at dusk and off at dawn.) Their electronic ballasts interfere with the electronics of the other device. They are also not suited to some decorative fixtures, such as chandeliers where the bulb shape (such as a candle flame) is part of the design. Furthermore, most don't work with dimmers. There are so-called "dimmable fluorescents"

Firefox it is

In my last report I was in the process of trying different browsers. I tried Netscape 8.1, but it turned out to be pretty buggy. So I've settled on Firefox, which is steady and faithful. I like its ability to add additional features I want without cluttering it up with things I don't need. Like Netscape, it also has interchangeable themes to customize the look of things, but Firefox has a lot more to choose from. Maybe sometime when they get the bugs worked out I'll try Netscape again. It did do a couple of things that Firefox doesn't. But for now, its Firefox all the way. Click here to get it for yourself. Its free! I've also been very pleased with Firefox's cousin Thunderbird, for handling the e-mail. Its also very free. You can import your address book from Outlook with no trouble at all. Happy upgrading!

Replacing AOL software

As AOL has become more web oriented, I have found less and less use for AOL's proprietary software. I started on AOL in 1997 with version 4.0, and worked my way through five different upgrades. AOL software is still darned easy to use. One of its best features is the ability to enter e-mail addresses into your address book once and have them available online from anywhere in the world as well as offline on your own computer. But it has problems. For starters, it can be unstable. And for cross pollination purposes, the address book cannot be exported to other e-mail programs. Nor can the "favorites" list be exported into other browsers. I started using the Mozilla Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail program recently. It took awhile to configure them the way I wanted, much longer than it took to configure AOL the first time. Then I had to hand type every e-mail address into my Outlook Express address book. From there I exported it directly into Thunderbird completely

Bright Idea

While everyone is wringing their hands over greenhouse gas emmissions and our dependence on foreign oil, I did something about it. ThisChristmas I gave several members of the family four packs of compactfluorescent (CF)light bulbs. Each CF bulb uses 75% less energy than acomparable incandescent (plain ordinary) light bulb. We've been using CF bulbs at our house for over a dozen years.As they've become smaller, lighter in weight, and cheaper we've beenable to replace half of our light bulbs with CFs. They're in our porchand driveway lights, table lamps, kitchen lights, bedside lamp, desklamps, and bathroom. In fact, the only lights in our house that don'thave CF bulbs now are either on dimmers (which also save energy) or areused so rarely that it doesn't make much difference. If everyone did this, replaced half of their bulbs with CFbulbs, this country could cut its total lighting bill by 37%! Imaginethe implications of that. The energy savings would be enormo

CNN vs. FOX

My first entry since July! Hooray!!!! Last night I was watching Anderson Cooper on CNN. he was interviewing a British war correspondent. I forgot his name, but he was incredibly articulate, and was providing a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the problems in Iraq. His grasp of the issues and his ability to convey them clearly was most impressive. Every word out of his mouth felt like an educational experience. During a commercial, just for fun, I thought I'd see what Fox News was doing. Bill O'Reilly had a guest who was analyzing the facial expressions of politicians and celebrities, usually making some disparaging remark about them. And that, my friends, is the difference between a real news channel and the FAUX news channel.