Friday, July 17, 2020

Jon Wizard recall effort is political censorship

There is a petition drive now underway to recall Seaside city councilman Jon Wizard. The effort is being spearheaded by two former Seaside council members Helen Rucker and Darryl Choates, both of whom have conservative political leanings. Wizard tends to be more on the liberal side of things, and has openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. In the interest of full disclosure Wizard, Rucker, and Choates are all three black, so racism doesn't appear to be at play here.

I haven't followed Wizard particularly closely, but this recall effort gives me the creeps. As far as  I can see he has done nothing wrong. His only "offense" is that he has floated an idea to take some money from the Seaside Police Department budget (inaccurately called "defunding") and use it for other community programs that could help reduce crime. You may or may not agree with the idea, but it deserves a fair and open debate.

This recall effort strikes me as a way to prevent an open and honest discussion of the idea's merits and shortcomings. Since my mind is not made up on this issue, a successful recall effort will deprive people like me of the opportunity to hear both sides of the issue so we can make up my own minds.

It's not as if Wizard can implement his idea single-handedly. He still has to convince the rest of the city council and the public that it makes good use of limited public funds, an uphill battle for any new way of looking at things.

So this recall effort comes across as the political equivalent of a crucifixion, an extreme form of censorship. And as I like to say, advocating censorship is an admission that one's own belief system is too weak and fragile to withstand a few challenges.

But perhaps there may be something even more sinister going on here. You see, Wizard is running from a safe council seat to unseat the current mayor, Ian Oglesby, who, like Rucker and Choates, also leans conservative. Could it be that Rucker and Choates are merely trying to discredit Mr. Wizard in order to keep Oglesby in office?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My website got a makeover!

I haven't posted any Mental Notes for about ten months now. That's because I've been busy. I started a project one year and three weeks ago. I thought I'd have it wrapped up by Labor Day. Nope. But I should be done by Thanksgiving. Nope. Christmas, definitely! Nope. But now I can finally announce to the world that it is finished. I have completely rebuilt my website, The Monterey Peninsula Toy Box, from the ground up. It is the first major overhaul of the website since 2008.

The Toy Box now has a clean, modern look, and unlike the old version, it is mobile-friendly so it looks just as good on a small phone screen as on a big desktop monitor. This is important because Google had been penalizing me in search rankings for not being mobile-friendly, and my ad revenue had dropped significantly since they started doing that. 

I have been wanting to do this for about three years, but I lacked the technical know-how to build a responsive website. After a lot of research and experimentation with programs that were not very user-friendly, I finally settled on a free program called Mobirise, which turned out to be a good match for my skill level. Once I got to know its capabilities and limitations, I went to town. I was finally able to redesign the Toy Box in a way that suited my vision and I was able to incorporate a variety of ways, some subtle and some obvious, to promote my photography website as well. But with well over 200 pages to rebuild, it took a long time. 

Pretty much everything is still there: the visitors guide (just in time for the covid-19 shutdown of the travel industry!), movie guide, history section, humor section, and glossary are all still there with only minor updates to the content. I dropped the page of links to other local websites because it would have taken too long to rebuild that one, plus it was basically obsolete now that everyone knows how to use Google (which was not the case in 1997). I may put it back in someday just for kicks, but for now it's not worth the effort. I also did not update the Del Monte Club Car section, because I haven't been able to keep it up to date and it is pretty much obsolete since TAMC has all but scrapped the main thing the pages were intended to promote - the revival of Monterey to SF rail service. I did, however, keep the old Club Car pages online for archival reference purposes. You can find it in the Goodies section of the new website. 

Please note, many of the page URLs have changed so you may need to update any bookmarks you may have.

So while you're stuck at home with little to do, please check out my handiwork at