Showing posts from 2011

KBOQ bites the dust....again!

You probably know by now that our local classical music station KBOQ ceased to exist as of Monday. K-BACH as the call letters were pronounced, suddenly started playing pop stuff from years past. Nothing wrong with that per se, but the same thing has come and gone from so many other stations over the years that I lost count.   This isn't the first time KBOQ listeners were subjected to an unexpected sound coming from their clock-radios, which, by the way, is a despicable way to awaken loyal listeners on a Monday morning. Back around 1994, K-BACH listeners were suddenly knocked out of bed by the sound of heavy metal on K-ROCK. K-ROCK, we were informed, was the only way the station could continue to make money. Yet it lasted just a few months before changing formats again to a 1970s rock format.   Within a short time local entrepreneurs revived K-BACH on another frequency with most of the original KBOQ DJs. Despite the former owner's insistence that classical was an unprofitabl

Who misinformed who?

A recent garbage bill included an enclosure called Monterey County Recycler - Fall 2011 Newsletter providing useful tips and helpful hints about Waste Management's curbside recycling programs.   One section of the flyer stated that "On April 16, 2011, the Monterey Herald printed a story about recycling in Monterey County that included some incorrect and possibly unclear information about recycling for waste management customers."   I remember that article. I specifically remember reading that Waste Management was providing curbside recycling of household batteries in all Monterey Peninsula cities served by WM - which means every city except Monterey. All one had to do was place the batteries in a plastic bag and tape it to the lid of the recycling bin where the truck drivers could easily grab it. Great, I thought, no more hauling them to a recycling station. Then I remembered seeing a bag of batteries on a neighbor's bin during my daily walk a few days earlier,

Did local shops give up too easily?

Conventional wisdom says that when a big corporate superstore moves into town, locally owned shops can't survive the competition. Now that one of those superstores, Borders bookstore, is shutting down, I've been reflecting on this common assumption. Maybe the Big Boys aren't as invincible as many believe, and I can't help but wonder if local shops sometimes give up too easily. Carmel's iconic Thunderbird , which was the Peninsula's largest and most popular bookstore before Borders, shut down a few years ago. If any local bookstore should have survived the competition from Borders it was the Thunderbird. It's primary customer base, Carmelites and Carmel Valleyites, are not prone to driving all the way to Seaside (the scary town, in their view) or Sand City when a more pleasant option is close at hand. But the Thunderbird's long-time owner was ready to retire. I believe it was her inability to find a suitable buyer rather than corporate competit


The Monterey County Weekly's cover story this week was about the ever present raccoons that prowl The Peninsula.   I remember my first encounter with a raccoon when I was three or four years old. It was at the Little Red School House, better known as Bay School, in Carmel. This was in the early 1960s. Someone brought a raccoon to show us kids. The one thing that fascinated me the most was their hands. yes, hands, not paws. They are miniature versions of human hands, complete with opposable thumbs. Interesting creatures indeed!   Three or four years later I learned something else about raccoons. I woke up one morning to get ready for school and saw a huge smear of blood on our sliding glass door. And more blood all over the patio of our home in the forest overloooking Hatton Canyon. It was a disturbing sight to say the least.   I asked my mother what happened. She said raccoons had attacked our dog Monty in the middle of the night. My dad had to use a shotgun to scare them

Amazon dumps California

For the last three years I have been an affiliate advertiser for various companies, including This relationship has allowed me to offer links to books, movies, and other products of local interest. In exchange I get a small commission for every sale the links generate. On Wednesday Amazon affiliates in California were abruptly notified that due to a change in California sales tax law, all affiliate agreements involving California residents will be terminated effective immediately. Under previous law , the state could only require on-line retailers who had a physical presence - such as a store or warehouse - in the state to collect sales taxes on sales to California residents. This set up a major imbalance between on-line retailers like Borders, Barnes & Noble, Staples, Best Buy and the like, who have actual stores in the state, and retailers that operate strictly on-line from outside the state, like Amazon. The new law simply states that California based webs

Paper Feud

It is a source of continual amusement to follow the ongoing feud between Paul Miller, publisher of the Carmel Pine Cone, and the editorial staff of the Monterey Herald. Miller is well known for his right-wing conservative credentials which, he constantly reminds us, qualifies him to determine whose reporting is biased (The Herald, obviously) and whose is completely fair and objective (The Pine Cone, naturally). In recent months, The Herald has expressed considerable concern over the management of the proposed Regional Water Project. The project would build a desalination plant in Marina and a pipeline to The Peninsula which would, once and for all, solve our decades-old water shortage. It sounds straightforward enough until you look at the bureaucratic side of the equation.  The problems are manifold. First, the physical plant's components - intake pipes, desal plant, discharge pipes, and the Peninsula pipeline - would each be separately managed by four different agencies

To Eternity, but not From Here.

Perhaps the most significant on-screen kissing scene was when Snoopy smacked Lucy straight on the lips, causing her to run around screaming for disinfectant. But for some reason the scene with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, lying on a sandy beach as a wave washes over their entwined bodies, gets all the attention. Go figure. The movie was 1953s From Here To Eternity which has long been on the official list of movies containing scenes shot on or near the Monterey Peninsula . It's a melodramatic depiction of the lives of soldiers and women in Hawaii just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.   Interestingly, residents of Oahu and residents of Monterey County both lay claim to the beach where the kissing scene was filmed. Hawaiians proudly promote Halona Cove on the southeast side of Oahu as "Eternity Beach" because they say the scene was shot right there. Monterey County residents like to boast that the Hawaiians are mistaken because Pfeiffer Beach (some say Garra

"The Death & Life of Monterey Bay"

Sunday's Monterey Herald published the last installment of an excellent local history book called The Death & Life of Monterey Bay . Over the last several months I have been avidly following the saga of how our community's relationship with the bay evolved over the past few centuries from reckless abuse to loving respect. If you only read one local history book in your lifetime, this should be it. I've read a few, and this is by far the most fascinating and engaging of them all. The authors form a palpable link between the places we know and love today and long-forgotten (until now) events of the past. Along the way we meet a host of colorful characters, like Julia Platt, a feisty Pagrovian who managed to make protection of offshore ecology official city policy, which in turn helped the bay recover from decades of abuse by the sardine industry. We also learned about the friendship between Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, and Joseph Campbell before they became famous. An

When more means less

With much fanfare KSBW TV in Salinas is rolling out its newest product line. In addition to their regular NBC programming on channel 8 (Comcast cable channel 6) they will soon be adding ABC programming on digital channel 8.2 beginning April 18th. Channel 8.2, which KSBW used until recently to provide round-the-clock weather reports, will move from cable channel 186 to channel 7. Until now ABC programming has come to the Monterey Peninsula on cable channel 7 from KGO TV channel 7 in San Francisco. In addition to the ABC programs, we have been able to enjoy excellent San Francisco Bay Area news reporting and original content like 7 Live in the afternoons, things that KSBW is not equipped to provide.   KSBW has been spinning this change as a great opportunity for Monterey County. For the first time since San Jose lost its ABC affiliate, ABC programs will now be available over the air locally. That's great for the relatively few people who still use rabbit ears. For most of us

Angry 4 ARTS

There was an article in Friday's Monterey Herald about groups promoting special California license plates that help fund the arts. In exchange for a higher vehicle license fee you get plates with a pretty picture and a good feeling knowing you're supporting something worthwhile. The story reminded me of something that happened back in the mid 1990s when these plates were first introduced. I was working as the assistant manager at the Crossroads Cinemas in Carmel. We had a small display promoting the arts plates on a counter in the lobby. It held brochures that enabled people to order the new plates from the DMV. The front of the brochure had a picture of a sample plate with "4 ARTS" as the plate number. Seeing this, a woman brought the brochure to me and asked if she could get license plates that had "4 ARTS" on them. I explained that every plate had to have a unique combination of numbers and letters, so probably not. Well, she t

Strangling Carmel to death

The February 11 Carmel Pine Cone reported that the Pilgrim's Way bookshop on Dolores Street had attempted to brighten up their storefront only to bring the aesthetics police to their door. This skinny little independent bookshop felt that their business was difficult to notice and needed a little boost to catch people's eyes. They decided to repaint with a “tan-ish orange” hue, topped with a nice textured topcoat of a somewhat brighter color to catch the eyes of passers by. But the planning commission came along and said “No” to the faux finish and pointed out that city regulations require storefronts to have “muted” colors that “blend with the natural surroundings.” In other words, don't stand out from the crowd. This incident reminds me of another one a few years back when a motel owner made a simple little fence out of posts with a rope strung between them. The city decreed that it looked too “industrial” and ordered the rope replaced with common woode

What I've learned about smart meters

I learned some more about Smart Meters over this past week, and I'm no more comfortable with them than I was before. PG&E held an open house in Seaside last Wednesday. The people who were there were friendly and explained their program fairly well despite my surly attitude going in. The two impressions I came away with were that they really wanted to get this right, but that the company is acting too overconfident for my comfort. As a technological innovation, smart meters are definitely cool. The things they can do now and will be able to do in the future certainly make a strong case for their deployment. However, some of the smart meter features can also be obtained with over the counter products, so smart meters aren't essential for consumers to monitor their own energy usage.   PG&E is promoting these devices to the public on coolness alone. It worked for the iPhone, right? Well, not everyone is sold on the iPhone, either, and nobody is forced to buy one

Seaside to discuss Smart Meters

In my last entry I noted that Monterey will be discussing a possible ban on PG&E's Smart Meters on Tuesday, February 1st.  I just learned that Seaside will be discussing Smart Meters at its next city council meeting on Thursday, February 3rd. If this concerns you, write your city councils a letter or show up at the meetings and let your views be known.

Monterey to consider Smart Meter ban

I thought my readers might like to know that the Monterey City Council will consider a ban on PG&E's so-called "Smart Meters" at the February 1 city council meeting. I hope other local jurisdictions will do the same. Click HERE to see a copy of the city staff report and proposed ordinances. My concerns about smart meters are as follows: They record data about your personal habits by recording when you use electricity and gas minute by minute. As I understand it, there are at present no safeguards on how that data may be used. PG&E is likely to use the information to charge you more for gas and electricity during certain hours of the day. The data is transmitted wirelessly from your meter to PG&E and can be intercepted by hackers who could use the data to determine when you are home or away.  The data will also be available on PG&E's website, supposedly only to the customer who resides at a given residence. However, this data could also

Only a bureaucrat could make this excuse

I took a look tonight at the City of Monterey's latest version of the new Waterfront Master Plan. My primary interest, as an advocate of rail transportation, is to see that the legal railroad right-of-way (which includes the historic passenger depot near Fisherman's Wharf) is properly used in accord with the city's agreement with Caltrans. This agreement requires the city to actively support the reestablishment of rail service between Monterey and San Francisco. To that end, the city must keep the former Southern Pacific railroad right-of-way available for that purpose, or other other transit uses, such as light rail. I also have a strong interest in historic preservation. Fortunately the city is dedicated to preserving and restoring the passenger depot building. Unfortunately, Monterey has in recent years grown reluctant to fulfill its obligations to support the return of passenger rail service. This has become increasingly evident in Monterey's waterfront planni

Clover is not a weed

"We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things." -Mary Baker Eddy One learns interesting things when one does a little research. Fifty years ago the presence of clover in one's lawn was the sign of a good gardener. In those days, grass seed was actually sold with about 5% clover seed in the mix. Why? because grass needs nitrogen in the soil to grow thick, healthy, and green while clover has the magical property of taking nitrogen out of the air and putting it into the soil. Clover and grass are a perfect match for each other. But the grass seed makers also made fertilizer. They figured that they could sell more fertilizer if they took the clover out of the grass seed mixes. So when people's lawns started looking bad the neighbors would repeat the new suburban mantra "You need to add nitrogen." So homeowners trotted off to the garden shop and bought bag after bag of nitrogen fertilizer. Then a new weedkiller c