Showing posts from 2018

Moviegoer plays Superman.

This happened 40 years ago this week. It was late December of 1978, I was 19 and working the snack bar at the Elsinore Theater in downtown Salem, Oregon. For those not familiar, the Elsinore was built in 1926 and had a seating capacity of about 1,350 spread on three levels. The main floor had about 700 seats or so, a luxury loge section on the mezzanine level had another hundred, while the upper balcony had over 500 seats. Being the largest theater in town, we got most of the big blockbuster movies, and for this Christmas season we were playing the first Superman movie. One night somewhere between Christmas and New Years we got the crowd in for the final showing of the day. We closed up the snack bar, I filled out my time sheet, and was ready to go home. I went out to my car, a 1976 AMC Lemon, er, Pacer, and it wouldn't start. I went back inside and asked my manager, Mr. Proctor, if he could give me a ride home since we lived barely three blocks apart. He said he

The Measure J Deception

Until a few days ago, I thought I knew what I was going to say about Measure J, which relates to a public buyout of our privately owned water utility California-American Water, or Cal-Am. Based on what I had been reading about it in the local press, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about it. But now that I've had a chance to read the complete text of Measure J I find it is far different from what has been advertised and much worse than I ever imagined. The formal title of Measure J is “The Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership Feasibility Study Initiative.” That's how it is being sold to Peninsula voters, as a “feasibility study.” But surprisingly, the word “study” is nowhere to be found in the body of Measure J's text . Although the text of Measure J spans two full pages of the Monterey County Voters Guide the bulk of it is devoted to spelling out J's purpose, a list of “findings” or statements used to justify the measure,

$1,000 gas tax?

State senate candidate Rob Poythress has been running attack ads against incumbent Anna Caballero on local TV. In one ad Poythress criticizes Caballero's support for the 12 cents per gallon gasoline tax increase which took effect earlier this year. Poythress claims this tax increase is costing motorists $1,000 a year. Seriously? Let's do some math. $1,000 divided by 12 cents per gallon works out to 8,333 gallons of gas consumed per year. Divide that by 365 days and we discover that one would have to burn through almost 23 gallons of gas per day, every day, in order for the tax to add up to $1,000 annually. For a car that gets 30 miles per gallon on the open road, 23 gallons would take you all the way from Monterey to Eugene, Oregon, which for all practical purposes is a two-day drive. I could be charitable and say that Poythress is being misleading, but since this claim of his is so blatantly false it really falls into the “lying weasel” category.

"OK Google," stop recording everything I say

While setting up my new Google Plus profile , Google asked me to do a "Privacy Checkup" in my security settings. I did and learned that Google has been recording every word I ever said using my phone's voice recognition software, used to type text messages, "OK Google" requests, and other functions converting voice to text. (NOTE: it was NOT recording phone calls or anything I typed with my fingers.) The reason Google was doing this was to learn my speech habits to convert it to text more accurately. It also said I was the only person who could access my archive. But it kinda creeped me out. Fortunately it gave me a  way to shut it all down. Here's how: In a web browser sign in to your Google account. Find "Personal info and privacy". Select "Manage your Google Activity." Click on "Go to activity controls." Scroll down to "Voice and audio activity." Turn the slide switch off ("paused"). This t

Congress behaves. Really!

I watched about an hour of the Mark Zuckerberg Senate hearings on C-SPAN this afternoon. It was the least partisan discussion I've seen in Washington for a very long time. Democrats and Republicans alike treated Zuckerberg with respect and their overall attitude was "We've got a problem, let's work through it."  Sigh. If they can take that approach to social media, they should be able to do the same with health care, gun violence, police brutality, global warming, environmental protection, infrastructure, transportation, tax policy, deficits, public safety, and more. Our government would then be working as the founding fathers intended.

Star Spangled DC-3

I'm going to try something new here today. I have generally kept my Mental Notes separated from my photography. Not for any particular reason, it just sort of happened that way. Oh, I have a link and slide show widget in the sidebar pointing Mental Note readers to my online Photography Gallery & Picture Shop , and occasionally I have used some of my images to illustrate a blog post, but never before have I used this venue to write about my photography directly. But lately I've been looking for ways to drive more viewers (OK, let's be honest, I really mean potential customers) to my online gallery. I've been looking to expand my social media presence, and may do that very soon, but it occurred to me that I already have a built-in audience of 3 or 4 regular Mental Note readers and an unknown number of irregular ones, so this seems like as good a place as any to showcase my images and tell the stories behind them. It's strange that I hadn't thought of it so

That damn gun problem.

Judging by their reaction to every mass shooting in the last twenty years, it is evident that gun rights activists aren't willing to lift a finger to help curb the violence. Quite the contrary, they go to great lengths to explain through twisted logic why common-sense gun regulations “won't solve the problem.” Their unwillingness to even try suggests that they're content to let the carnage continue in order to maintain their unfettered access to firearms. Besides, they tell us, the real problem is the government. A heavily armed citizenry is absolutely necessary to protect us from government tyranny, they say, implying that random gun violence is an acceptable price to pay to keep the government off of our backs.   Meanwhile, the more sensible among us cry at the latest news, and we live in fear wondering if we, our families, or our friends will be among the next victims. We watch helplessly as every attempt to solve the problem is thwarted by politicians boug

Trump's Infrastructure Plan

Trumpty Dumpty's infrastructure plan is a fraud, and here's why. For most of our lives road and highway projects have been funded 80% from federal money and 20% from state money. Trump's "plan" reverses that formula so that the feds only put up 20% and the states must pay 80%. In Trump's fantasy land, states will have to find four times as much money in their highway construction budgets before being eligible to receive any federal highway funds. Fat chance of that happening without massive state tax increases.