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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Citizens' Parking Citation

According to a possibly reliable source, this note was found on a SUV parked in San Francisco.

Dang,why didn't I think ofthat first?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Beer with Obama, Tea With Mussolini, Whatever

Here's how the Prez's drink in the garden with two silly men from Boston might have worked out in XKCD's alternate universe:

I would have enjoyed this ending more than the big nothing photo op that actually happened.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Deep Thought for the Day

I just read this article by Naiomi Klein which more or less relates bubble debt capitalism with Sarah Palin in a weird but pretty credible way. Interesting and not too long.

Quick summary of the article's conclusions:

She ends up supposing that if our current economic mess gets resolved without massive reforms, the "happy days that'll be here again" will be more reflective of the reality Beautiful Sarah sold to a dimwitted constituency (i.e.,drill baby drill, only losers consider the consequences) than anything remotely rational. She even suggests that if if Wall Street's house - o- cards hadn't collapsed two weeks after most of us saw her for the first time, Sarah's views of the future would become our collective future.

This started me thinking about memes, maybe we are experiencing two memes slugging it out. The older I get, the more I believe it's important to look for memes and try to understand them. At a national scale memes trump facts most of the time. It can be tough to grasp memes, since even the concept and definition of memes gets a little fuzzy.

Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of memes.

"A meme (pronounced rhyming with "cream") is a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, and is transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures."
Remember from math or philosophy class,"postulated elements" are those things we (as a community) choose to believe without proof, for example, "given two points, only one line exists containing both points".

I see this contest as a struggle between two conflicting memes.

In the rational corner; the karma/Aristotelian meme, where everything has causes, and everything that happens is, in turn, a cause who's effect will be known at some time in the future.

In the Pulchritudinous Mrs. S's corner; the Rapture meme, where reality is neither continuous or sequential, and nothing that happens today has future consequences, since how could our paltry worldly consequences matter in the glorious light of Jesus's second coming, and all that business. BTW, latest intelligence says the second coming is soon. Jesus has been seen shaping up for the Big Day!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just Imagine

Although I lived in Madison,WI for several years, both as a student and as a "functional adult", at this point in my life it's hard to imagine I ever was part of a community where something like this is considered News:

"Some University of Wisconsin-Madison band parents are fuming over the UW Athletic Department's decision to move their seats and increase tickets prices for the 2009-2010 Badger football season.

In a letter to band parents, the UW-Madison Band Department explained that seats for parents will be moved from the north end zone -- directly behind the band -- to the south end zone. In addition, ticket prices increased to $273 per season ticket, which is what the general public pays. That's up from $133 per ticket."

I am not trying to suggest that Madison is cow town in any way.

What I find amazing and attractive is the idea that a big local institution (i. e. Wisconsin Football, inc.) doing whatever it can to extract a little more cash out of its loyal supporters raises cries of outrage. After all, what else is community support for? It is almost as if locals don't accept that College Football, inc. is a profit - maximizing Enterprise, or, even crazier, they think that members of a community play a mutual support game, rather than a winner-takes-all game. No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Flyover think we more coastal residents are all nuts. Don't they understand that neighbors exist to provide us opportunities to exploit for a few bucks? Haven't they noticed that poop rolls downhill? Perhaps they are communists.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Somebody Else's Troubles...

...make a good laugh for the rest of us.

I stumbled on this once-in-a-lifetime posting in the Sacramento Musicians' postings in Craigslist. Here we go,straight from the horse's mouth (or, perhaps, horse's ass in this case)...

To the woman who dumped in my car (Sac)

We met on Craigslist so I am hoping that this post finds you because you said you were looking for a band. I know that it could quite possibly be the most humiliating first date that you have ever been on, but I am willing to look past that.

I thought we had chemistry sitting at Chili's sharing that basket of jalapeno poppers while drinking Guinness. I really felt like there was a connection there. I found you to be intelligent and witty and looked forward to further conversation with you.

At some point in life, everyone has gambled on a fart and lost. It just happened to be on a first date in the passenger seat of my car. Please don't feel bad. The package I sent you with Pepto the next day and the note that said "First dates are always a crap shoot. Call me" was meant to be funny, not offensive.

I have gambled on a fart and lost on multiple occasions. The first time I did it was very memorable. It happened when I was five and sitting on my uncle's lap. I am lactose intolerant, but love cheese. I probably win 95% of the time, but I don't think anyone wins 100% of the time. That's why they call it "gambling". I'm the last person to judge you for crapping your pants. In fact, I am impressed by your boldness. The timing on the other hand, could have been a tad bit when you're not sitting on a heated leather seat...

What I am trying to say is that if you want to go out again, I would be more than happy to take you someplace where we can get a meal that is high in fiber and less taxing on the digestive tract.

I await your call,

P.S. - If you shat yourself on purpose to end the evening early.Touché.

  • Location: Sac
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 1293765330 (you can look it up if you don't believe me)

At least that's one embarrassing digestive problem I don't have!

This reminds me my workout earlier this week. After about 20 sit ups on one in a long row of ab benches, or whatever they're called, with my feet up like woman at the Gyn's office, I let an audible one go, thinking it'd be harmless. After about five more reps (and noticing a rather sour smell) , I looked to the side and noticed I had the entire row to myself. That's one way to deal with a busy health club. Made me recall a bon mot from my early years, "He who farts in church sits alone in pew." B'DING!!!!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it, like a __________ sticks to a ________ .

Monday, July 27, 2009

Conservative Wisdom About HealthCare

Over the years, I have learned a lot from listening to thoughtful conservatives who are active in the health care area. Mark Litow, a formal co-worker and partner from my consulting firm days always had thoughtful rationales for his policy positions. Although I usually disagreed with Mark's positions, I learned a lot from his thoughtful approach to big questions. We had several excellent informal discussions over lunch. Two of the traditional Conservative precepts that I accept are;

(1) Government is pretty much limited in what it can provide. Government cannot be all things to all people, since Government, when looked at from the Economic perspective, is little more than a wealth transfer mechanism. This is especially important to remember when a majority households are feeling either unwilling or unable to "pony up" additional tax monies.

(2) Personal accountability matters, although this is of limited relevance in health care. We all make suboptimal decisions when we are immunized from the consequences of our decisions. Simply stated, a party where each person pays $10 for a plastic cup and the right to unlimited beer will be very different from a party where each person must pay for each glass of beer. That said, the highest stakes (both economic and personal) health care decisions we make in our lives are most often made when we feel we have little choice in the matter. From my own experience, when a doctor finds a potentially deadly tumor and recommends removal the next week, most patients will not want to take a month or two to find a more efficient provider of that service, meet the new provider, redo all the preliminaries, and save themselves a few thousand dollars and save their health plan possibly hundreds of thousands. I've been there, and I can tell you, it ain't happening.

All that said, I am disappointed that I haven't heard a lot of thoughtful Conservative thinking expressed on this issue lately. This video sums up about everything I've heard.

Conservatives, now is the time to eschew obfuscation, dammit!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mission San Jose

On our way back from Santa Cruz, we decided that the St Joseph Shrine wasn't scary enough, so we stopped at Mission San Jose on the way home. The mission is in Fremont, CA, which is a couple of suburbs northeast of San Jose. Even after touring several missions, Mission San Jose had a few notable sights.

The church had a giant ornate altar. I never fail to be amazed by these things.

Apparently, the figure at the top of this visual baroque cacophony is meant to represent none other than the big guy himself, standing guard over the transubstantiated flesh and blood of his son. Since I never pass up the chance to have a graven image, here's a close up.

Strange that his pet dove looks suspiciously like a bowling pin with wings hastily glued on.

I found more interesting stuff in the side alters. Never one to pass up a gruesome crucified Corpus, I could not help but be deeply moved by this life-sized beauty.

I was nearly moved to tears by the abdominal stigmata. I could've been the model for this work!

Near the back of the church, I found a very ornate side alter that immediately grabbed my attention. Yes!, that box just below Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe indeed contains a relic!

This was no ordinary relic. This relic contains a hollow nail which in turn contains filings from what someone (no one would say who) claims to be a nail from the True Cross. The lighting was difficult, but I was able to get this vague close-up of the actual relic.

You might need to click on this image to see it in all its glory.

I am amazed by and more than a little skeptical about how many relics made it to the new world.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tempis Fugit Felis

Our kittens have nearly become cats!

They are eight months old and fully adult-sized cats, weighing about 17 pounds in total . We are transitioning from kitten food to cat food. They have come a long way from those two waifs we brought home at the beginning of May.

It's amazing what a few months and a few bags of kitten food can do.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Desolation, Wilderness and Horsetail Waterfall

After our visit to Santa Cruz, we took a hike into the Desolation Wilderness section of the El Dorado National Forest. We were highly motivated to drive to higher altitudes to avoid the lovely 100 degree heat in the Sacramento valley. I thought a hike with waterfalls would be the perfect escape.
We hiked to Horsetail Falls, from the Twin Bridges parking lot.

Only about one quarter mile from the trail head, the trail begins following the something or other fork or branch of the American River. Our first sight of the river was this beautiful small cascade.

The weather was a little warm even in the mountains, so the spray felt great. After another half mile or so, we came to the boundary of the Desolation Wilderness, where we were required to register and name an expedition leader, as well as sign something promising to be good campers and not be jerks of the woods. I got a kick out of the station where you do all this.

Just after this spot,we had our first view of the waterfall, cascading over what looked like a 600 to 900 feet wall of rock. As newly declared expedition leader, I made the executive decision to not attempt to climb to the top of the falls. My expedition party had no trouble with this decision.

We walked up to the first pool in the falls, which was about 600 feet higher than our trail head. that's plenty for me on a warm summer day, especially when most of the hiking was gentle scrambling over boulders. At close range, most of the landscape looked like this typical shot, explaining how this wonderful place got it's cheery name.

Once we walked to the bottom of the falls, the trail, to the extent one even existed, got a bit rougher. I managed to wipe out twice, scraping knees and shins, in addition to wiping out over slippery rocks and falling into mud. The mud bath actually felt pretty nice in the heat. K had decided to stop in the shade and form a base camp before I had these adventures. The short solo scramble led me to a nice spot on the lower reaches of the main falls. This place was truly breathtaking,although my photos don't really do this place justice. that's one of many differences between me and Ansel Adams.

When I came back to base camp, this playful scrub jay was hanging around. In my hiking and camping experience, I have found the smell of peanut butter sandwiches attracts all sorts of little critters. Fortunately, bears aren't nearly as attracted as smaller critters.

We took a different trail on the way back. We were treated to this vista, which was really the icing on the cake.

I recommend this walk to anyone who's in good shape and patient enough to follow trails that for the most part aren't really there. It offers a heaping portion of natural beauty for relatively little effort, provided you don't convince yourself you need to scramble to the top of the falls.

If you're one of those people who has to hike to the top of everything, you're on your own, and don't say I ain't told you so.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This Bugs Me

Colonel Sanders is HoChi Minh!

Cruising Santa Cruz

We took a couple of days by the beach at Santa Cruz. We stayed at the Sea and Sand inn which was pretty near the boardwalk. I took this photo from the back terrace.

The boardwalk closed at around 10:00 pm and the beach scene died down before 11:00 so it wasn't that bad being close. It was great being on the beach. I didn't take any photos around the beach for fear of being taken for some kind of unsavory type,since the beach was full of scantily clad women and kids. I had a good swim. The water was cold but not as cold as my memories of swimming in Lake Michigan.

It was a half-mile walk to the beach and boardwalk. Less than a mile in the other direction, things got interesting. The first thing I noticed was a couple of buildings full of priests in clerical garb. The use of the Star of David in the architecture caught my attention. I thought perhaps this was a Rastafarian shrine. How cool would that be, Catholic Rastas in Santa Cruz?

This is the"Shrine of St Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer", which isn't apparently the same St. Joseph of the Jesus-Mary-Joseph pop trio and purgatory shortening mantra. Oh no, this isn't your boring old biblical saint. This guy was canonized by John Paul II (remember him,the dead guy on the pope sled?) to be the patron saint of the unborn. HOLY ROMAN CLINIC BOMBING, IT'S THE PATRON SAINT OF THE UN-EFFING-BORN!

I found a statue of St. Joseph in the garden. Although this probably isn't the intended purpose of the statue, It looks to me like this guy just completed an abortion.

Chalk up another notch in my creepy Catholic symbol collection.

This is so over the top that their St Francis statue has taken to hiding in a tree with his hood pulled over his head, really.

On the lighter side, directly across from this joint is a surfer monument.

I found the best explanation for this on a park bench.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ho Hum

Things have been pretty dull around here the last few weeks, in case you hadn't noticed from reading my pathetic blog entries.

Don't worry loyal readers, I'm expecting to have beaucoupnloggable experiences in the next week or so , including a certain trip to Santa Cruz and a probable hike int he Sierras. maybe I'll run into this guy in Santa Cruz. Yes, UC Santa Cruz is the home of the feared and renouned Fighting Banana Slugs, the terror of all gridirons on the north coast. I bet that's the last time a university allows students to elect a mascot.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My Midwestern Perspective

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs

The Housing market - Fasten Your Safety Belts

This chart was posted in the Sacramento Bee yesterday, in an article about the growing local business of prepping and selling bank owned houses. The article described the boom industry in handling repo houses,and the power shifts that our local real estate community as brokers who were previously considered bottom feeders are now the regions leading (and nearly the only successful) brokers for about the last two years.

Per usual for the CrapBee, the article missed the most important and interesting aspect of what's happening here.

Take a close look at the two charts. Both regional and Statewide, two irrefutable conclusions grab put a bone in my throat:

(1) The number of mortages in default has skyrocketed in the first quarter of this year and,

(2) The number of defaults in each quarter determines the number of foreclosures in the following quarter.

The New York Times recently blathered about how Sacramento's housing market was showing signs of recovery in May of this year, when sales increased about 45% over the previous year. The Times didn't look too closely at prices,which local boosters say have "bottomed" because now the decline is only about 1% or 2% per month, versus the 30% to 40% annual declines we've been seeing.

Well, boys and girls,what do you think will happen when this spike in default translates into foreclosures and inventory. Add local unemployment at 12% and rising, stir,and see what you get. My gut feels the local housing market could easily shed another 10% to 15% in value.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wine tastingin the Delta

We visited The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg,a very small town on the Sacramento River Delta. If enough levees collapse, you may someday see a picture of the tip of the smokestack sticking above the water.

The mill closed in the 1980s, since no one around here grows sugar beets anymore. Over the years, several smaller wine operations have moved into the mill and have opened tasting rooms.

We met up with several members of K's choir. A serendipitous arrival of a weathered vehicle gave us the perfect opportunity for a group picture.

After all, you're either on the beer bus, or you're off the beer bus.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Walkman, Happy Birthday to You

Now marks the 39th anniversary of the Sony Walkman, the amazing high tech device that wowed everyone in the early 1980s, and made ignoring one's neighbors and surroundings normal behaviour. Who didn't want to look as cool as walkmanlady, this hot technophile with matching clip-on suspenders and houndstooth tweed trousers? I think she may have a TMJ disorder.

The BBC ran a mildly amusing article, describing a 13 year old blogger's week replacing his ipod with a walkman. Half of me thought the kid was cute and did a thoughtful review. The other half of me now better undertands why Maoists force young people to live like impoverished peasants. Young sir, there are pop culture starved children in somewhereorotherland who would give their eyeteeth to have a walkman with it's selection of 12 songs.

Interestingly, the kid praised the walkman's dual headphone jacks, so that two people can listen to the music at once. This photo more or less sums up his review.

Maybe he'd like the walkman better if it came with a walkmanlady for his very own.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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