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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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Monday, March 29, 2010

Let Me Google that For You

Finally, a website that demystifies google!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How Many Ways Can You Say "Get The Bastards to pay"?

I attended a continuing education session attended heavily by hospital accountants.

The meeting was sponsored by several vendors, most of whom were pushing programs to help hospitals squeeze the last penny from the clenching fists of those poor slobs who dared get sick without full insurance coverage. To be fair to the venders, the provided Hagen Daaz ice cream bars during the breaks.

I took a moment to look at the accounts recievable's marketing materials to see how many euphanisms they had for getting the poor sickly bastards to pay.

Here goes:

"optomize revenue cycle" - Boring.

"Revenue cycle management" - Perhaps for motorcycle accidents inthe Emergency room?

"Accellerate revenue cycle operations" - take thier last dime before they know what hit them.

"Accounts receivable management"-I give these folks credit for actually admitting what it is they do.

"End - to - end revenue cycle solutions" Let's do the bump!

"Improve your margin, increase your cash flow, achieve your mission" I say WTF?

"Health care account recovery" Sounds like a 12 step program or a Scientology come-on to me. Crap, my theten level is rising. Damn those aliens.

"Revenue critical operations" A sure winner in the buzzword bingo game.

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

Post Cards From Somewhere West of Canada

Two of our freinds are on a trip to Alaska together. The first leg of their trip is the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry from Seattle to Anchorage or somewhere in Alaska besides Wasilla.

We recieved these two postcards on the same day:

Postcard from J -

"The Alaska State Ferry is fabulous. The scenery is sublime and the crew and passengers are so entertaining. However, E talked too much, so I had to throw her overbnoard early this morning. Now I have plenty of space for my luggage. If there's any problems with the cats, call E's cell phone, as she left it in our cabin. J"

Postcard from E -

"The ferry is fabulous. Scenery is great - crew is entertaining. J has been sullen and won't talk to me. I htrew her overboard this morning. Lots more space ion the cabin. Love E"

So far, E has shown up, but we still haven't heard from J. News at 11.

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What We Should Have Learned in School

This video shows the fun stuff they should have taught us in High School Math Class. But they didn't.

This is beautiful, very cool, and for the most part self-explanatory.

All the images illustrate the Fibinacci Sequence, the Golden Ratio, and a couple of interesting tessellations. Trust me, this is cooler than it sounds.

WARNING: Watching this video has been known to cause urges to wear sandals with socks.

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

Stop the Insanity, Shut Up and Listen For A Change

I posted this on the "Public Policy" area of the otherwise very useful forums sponsored by the Simple Living Network. I tired of the endless stupidity and name-calling that has replaced meaningful political discussion on the forum.

I realize that our entire National Dialogue suffers from the same disease. have we become a nation that produces nothing but giant hamburgers and hot air? We need to do better than this.

So, America, here's my rant:

"Obamabots"?, "Classless Teabaggers"?

I hear talking. I do not see much evidence of listening. Waste of hot air.

I am taking a long vacation from these childish and meaningless Public Policy forums.

On March 20, I took the time to lend some expertise and provide a fact-based comment on the OT. No responses made in this forum. Rather, we have post after post of people calling other people names,plus the occasional conspiracy theory.

This is of no use to anyone, beyond those who simply love to hear their own voice."

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

The New Digital Economy - Saliva Remnants for All

Looks like there's a market for everything onthe interwebs these days.

Including used clarinet reeds. Seriously!

Good thing I play a 2 1/2.

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

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy First Day of Spring

Another fine statement action.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Belated St Patrick's Day

A belated Happy St Patrick's Day to all.

It's really not that late, since I won't commit the corned beef and cabbage to their boiling pot until tomorrow afternoon.

A couple of related updates.

First, there is a movement afoot to nominate a new patron Saint for Ireland:

Saint Oscar Wilde!


Second, this tee shirt was seen at a health club in Seattle. Could it be a Leprechaun? Or, perhaps it was just one of America's foremost experts on the Irish language. Since the entity in question finished his workout and went home, I guess we will never know.

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

Years of Eyesores

James Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere, and The Long Emergency, and ultimate curmudgeon, has been looking at architecture in his Eyesore of the Month blog.

Once I started looking at these, I couldn't stop. His snotty captions are almost better than the photos.

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shopping at The Mall - What Was I Thinking?

I went to Arden Fair, a major enclosed shopping mall in Sacramento, one of the few around here where most of the stores are still in business. I had a particular shopping mission in mind - I need black shirts to wear with a music group.

The mall is called Arden fair because it is on Arden way in Sacramento. The unincorporated area of the county in which I live is called Arden Arcade ,which you can see has its share of wingnuts. About two miles east of my house, Arden Way ends at the Sacramento River by Arden Bar, where gold was once found but dang if I can find any. I honestly have no idea how the Arden name came to this area. Perhaps some Fourty-Niner liked Shakespeare.

I forgot what a useless pain in the ass trying to find something in a mall really is when you actually want some specific item. That's not how the game is played. Malls simple aren't equipped for buying something you actually need. It's all about the impulse buy.

Based on what I saw today, I guess the shopping game is supposed to be played like this:

Step 1: Wander around with rounded shoulders and slack jaw. If you are wearing a hooded sweatshirt and pants with the waist hanging around your knees, go directly to step 5.

Step 2: See something shiny in a store window.

Step 3: Drool, take out your cell phone and say, "I'd look cute in that", while you tuck your belly back into your stretch pants.

Step 4: Buy something shiny.

Step 5: Buy something sugary and/or greasy, shove it in your mouth, and go home.

I went to four stores that had black long-sleeved shirts. They all had about the same designs (oxford dress shirt), the same fabric (cotton and way too much polyester for black in April in Sacramento), and widely varying prices (about $18 to $60).

After wasting over an hour this way, I gave up and bought a couple of shirts from Lands End on the interwebs. I waited long enough that I'm not sure the shirts willcome in time for the first concert. i can just wear a worn old shirt if I have to. That's better than polyester, and stage attire only needes to look good from far. I don't know why I didn't just order thuis stuff in the interwebs first. This has happened every time this century I've tried to find and buy something in a mall.

I'm not just a big grouch, really. As I walked by the center of the mall, the Easter Bunny was posing for a photo with two beaming pleasingly plump young women on his(?) lap (What gender is the easter Bunny, anyway? Discuss amongst yourselves). I waved, and all three waved back. That was the high point of the mall for me.

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day

Pi Day, The Ides of March, and St Patrick's Day. Add our first temperatures in the 70s this year, and life just doesn't get any better than this.

Now, A Hangininsac After School Special for those of us who claim to be Irish by marriage:

The True, Deep Meaning of St Patrick's Day,

Side note - The Julius Caesar play I Linked looks pretty good. It was done by the I Claudius posse. I guess they had a couple of extra days left on the toga rental.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

My New Religion

A pleasantly insane friend sent me his new Religious Banner:

I love Jeezis when he makes sure my coffee is hot and waiting for me every morning. One lukewarm cup, and he's outta here!

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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food Subsidies and Fat Citizens

This interesting graphic from gives some insight to a plausable connection.

Whatever you do, don't take this as hard as one person did.

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Democrat Conspiracy -The Nexus is Exposed

Thanks to the genius, perserverence and undying love of Liberty and Nielson ratings tirelessly excercised by Glenn Beck, the Nexus of the broad-ranging Democrat conspiracy to make us all into whining victims has been exposed.

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

An Object Lesson in Economics

Provided by Wired Magazine.

Wired Magazine has published a presentation of statements made preceding the Dot Com Bust, as well as information about what happened in the ten years after the bust. This is definitely worth a look if you can stand the postmodern designed mess that this article is.

I thought that kind of thing died with punk rock, wrong again. What better way to describe a postmodern mess like the Dot Com Bust with a postmodern mess?

Anyway,what have we collectively learned from the Dot Com Bust? based on recent history, I say Absloutely Nothing.

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

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

LA Mission Mission Days 2 & 3

In which we visit Mission San Gabriel in the morning, and go to college in the afternoon, and end the day with a side trip to Pasadena.

Mission San Gabriel is, oddly enough, found in San Gabriel, a small suburb a few miles south of Pasadena. We left the Pasadena Freeway just east of Pasadena and meandered about five miles south through the suburban posh and leafy San Marino to get to San Gabriel. Both cities showed evidence of Urban planning, something you don’t see everywhere in these parts.

Mission San Gabriel looked most impressive from the outside. Although the rear of the mission had been expanded outward over the years to include several schools and a seminary, the front view of the mission was preserved by a large park - like garden. The views were spectacular.

The interior of the mission was pretty clustered, full of small exhibits about Indian life in the regions. This was not the most exciting mission I've seen. The old mission church had a nice reredos.

The life - sized statue of Saint Francis (at least I think it was St Frances) had this strange bleary - eyed look I couldn't figure out. Maybe he had too much mortification of the flesh the previous night. you know how crazy those monks can be.

I liked this guy 'cause he looks like a Deadhead.

For me, the library was the highlight of the mission tour. Some old volumes were presented opened, showing sample pages of some old bibles printed in the 16th and 17th centuries.

This bible had annotations presented just like Talmud editions I have seen. Might there have been conversos among the producers of Latin Bibles?

The structure of the church and the connected rectory have survived the years relatively unscathed, which is rare in this land of earthquakes. The floors were very uneven. I imagine that’s the result of 200 years of earthquakes. The old rectory is still used, although there was a larger modern church built on the grounds. While we were there, people carried altar gadgets back from the modern church to this vestry. This vestry is the most intact part of the original mission architecture.

This rope leads to the bells. Despite the “Though shalt not ring” sign, it took all I had to resist the urge to pull on this rope.

There seems to be a passion for building models of missions. They had pretty large models of all the California Missions on display.

We had lunch in San Gabriel, in a mini mall full of small Asian restaurants There were at least five small Asian places in two mini malls on opposite sides of the corner. Our choice was made easier when I noticed two of the places had posted “B” grades from the LA County restaurant inspectors. We chose the Tasty Noodle House. Yes, the noodles were tasty.

We met my niece at Occidental College, for the usual campus tour and to take a student to dinner to rescue her from dorm food.

We arrived early, so we spent a few minutes walking around the campus. We bought T shirts in the University Store. I figure wearing an Oxy T shirt will make people think better of me (smart, rich, young, you name it). The campus was beautiful, and really had the look of a perfect undergraduate college campus. The few students we met seemed nice, and they were willing and able to give cogent directions to a couple of doddering old farts.

The campus is located on the side of a hill overlooking Eagle Rock, a small LA suburb south of Pasadena. The architecture was pretty consistent, following the modernized classical revival style that is associated with the Pasadena area (similar to the Rose Bowl). Take Classical Revival and Mission Revival Architecture, smash them between two bricks until you see clean lines, and this is what you get.

C, our Niece, gave us a quick tour of the campus, which seemed even more beautiful when she pointed out the sights. We walked up a hill from the main quad to get to the dorm where C, along with many freshmen (fresh people?) lived. They have a vast view of the valley south of Pasadena.

We piled into the car and drove to Pasadena, and looked at some cool old churches and the city hall. I want to rename it the Taj-Ma-City Hall.

We drove back to Eagle rock and had dinner at a small Thai place south (and downhill) of campus. Most of Eagle Rick we saw downhill from the campus seemed to have some rough edges.

We drove home after dinner, and finally got caught in crummy LA traffic. Since traffic is boring, that’s the end of what’s I have to say.

We spent day three at the Huntington Garden and Library. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in either gardens, art or History of Science. The Wikipedia article covers everything better than anything I'm willing to take the time to write.

The indoor library exhibits were divided into History of Science, and History of Literature. The History of Science was interesting, but the literature was more compelling to see. Everything Western from a Gutenberg Bible (in Latin, oddly enough) and the oldest existing edition of the Canterbury Tales (hand printed and illuminated) to first editions of Shakespeare's plays, and a bunch of 19th Century stuff. I was surprised that the books printed after about 1650 or so appeared completely unremarkable to my modern eyes.

Day four was uninteresting the drive home.

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

Monday, March 08, 2010

LA Mission Mission, Day One

Here I retell day one of the LA Mission Mission, where we visit Mission San Fernando Rey D’Espana and Neustra Senora Reina De Los Angeles (kinda sorta a mission), and the New downtown Cathedral, sometimes called the “Taj Mahoney”, named after a certain Cardinal who is still around although in the past (hopefully just in the past) has been cursed with a prodigious talent for looking the other way when he really should not have (you know of what I am speaking).

First stop, after a breakfast of peanut butter on rolls and coffee in our room, we set out to capture our first mission, Mission San Fernando Rey De Espana, which now finds itself in on a triangular piece of land bordered by three major Freeways, 405, 101, and I - 5. It was an easy drive from our motel. The first half of the freeway drive was a breeze, and the second half was a crawl. Pretty typical. Finding the mission was easy, since we exited on Mission Drive and drive the drive until we saw the mission. Like most missions with active parishes, the mission had its very own parking lot. Cake!

The mission’s buildings were rebuilt once some time around the turn of the century. Similar to the other missions, the rebuilders did their best to preserve the missions’ architectural character. The mission is unique, since the mission was rebuilt once again after several partial collapses following the Northridge earthquake in the 1990s. From what I could see, the rebuilders did a great job.

This mission had a large museum, and several rooms full of things to look at. The mission offered the usual glimpses of old furniture, workshops, kitchens, etc. The mission was filled to the brim with a choc-a-bloc assembly of all sorts of Catholic stuff form the last two centuries or so. Everything from relic of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the mission about 20 years ago to a small room stuffed with three Women’s collections of Porcelain Mary statuettes. When you enter this small windowless room, the lights automatically turn on, along with a recording of Schubert’s Ave Maria, Arpeggio continuo and all.

They even had the Virgin of Baseball. See the little leaguers clustered around they Holy Virgins knees?

Nearly overwhelmed by the sentimentalism of the Mary Room, my heart was satisfied to see a miniature cross - shaped bed of nails. If this baby doesn't give you the urge to scourge, you have no future as a Centurion, or a zealot.

Puts the intense back in penitence.

I don’t know why these two saints are doing the Macarina. I also have no idea why they are sitting on piles of children's' heads.

The convent building had an awesome library. Almost all the books in this picture are over one hundred years old.

The had some cool looking chant books on display. I really need to learn how to read chant music.

On to the next room, where we saw a most unusual oil painting, depicting Jesus crucified while wearing what looks like a silk half slip. The lighting was poor, but what you see is what you get. I Have never seen that symbolism before, and I don’t have a clue.

They had a cool choir bench from renaissance Spain. I thought the monks postures and facial expressions were pretty strange. Perhaps the carvings mirrored the personalities of the monks.

I liked the metal work on this processional cross. That thing must weigh a lot, I hope they had strong alter boys.

Of course, the church had the obligatory reredos, That giant ornate wall behind the altar.

Since San Fernando was King of Spain, he gets top billing.

This organ may be the oldest Organ in California. The keyboard is behind the square plastic panel in the middle. The organ had about two and a half octaves.

Who knew Baby Jesus had a Passion for bowling? In the words of Camper Van Beethoven, “Take the savior bowling”.

In the cemetery garden we found the biggest surprise of all, a large garden with Bob Hope’s grave. A small plague near the garden mentioned that about 2,500 Indians were buried somewhere in the vicinity. all in unmarked graves.

Next stop, downtown for lunch and Neustra Senora Reina De Los Angeles .

This place is active as a parish and popular collection of shrines heavily used by many local Catholics. No English was used anywhere. Located between City Hall and Union Station, this Asistencia was grownd zero for the beginning of Los Angeles. The buildings are pretty modern, and walking among the them, I simply could not imagine Zorro had anything to do with the place.

The complex is a busy modern church plus two outdoor shines, one to Guadeloupe and one to Santo Nino De Atocha.

The Guadeloupe shrine was on the exterior wall of the compound. It was big. Kneeling cushions long enough for about twenty.

If you've ever seen an old baby doll dressed in exquisite finery in a Catholic church, you've probably seen Santo Nino. Santo Nino’s shrine had a pegboard where people had posted pictures of neonates connected to all sorts of tubes as well as mementos - kids pigtails and other things, and cards written in Spanish that helped me figure out this was a shrine to kids who died young. The mood of this shrine dominated the entire complex. Pigtails, there were some poor kids pigtail braids nailed to the pegboard. I was totally intimidated. I only dared photograph the outside of the shrine.

We entered the reconstructed mission church, which on an early Wednesday afternoon had twenty or thirty people kneeling and praying loudly and fervently in Spanish. The second we walked in, we both felt a strong desire to leave. One woman was kneeling in front of the alter while reciting from a book and nearly violently prostrating herself by banging her forehead into the floor. The twenty or so other people in the church were of the same ilk.

I found a most unusual memorial in an apse and was able to sneak a picture of the only recently crucified Jesus I have ever seen to sport purple velvet boxer shorts.

Last stop, The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, commonly called the Cathedral. This place was on top of a hill on the edge of downtown, just across the street from the Disney Center. It wasn’t very interesting, but it had some cool giant tapestries, modern images of saints from everywhere in the world. I guess the theme was “let’s be inclusive”.

The place was big and stark, it didn’t do much for me. In its style it reminded me of New Coventry Cathedral in England, but this Cathedral has no compelling story behind it, beyond the hubris of building a giant cathedral. Perhaps if Cardinal Mahoney had spent more time keeping his priests on the straight and narrow rather than building this bland yet tasteless monument to himself, things would have turned out differently. Perhaps not.

Day two will tell of our visit to the somewhat more staid Mission San Gabriel and Occidental College.

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

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

LA Mission Mission, Day Zero

Here begins my chronicle of our trip to LA, to see missions and relatives.

I’ll start with day zero, our driving day, where we left Sacramento about 8:30 AM, and went straight for the dreaded Interstate 5. We stopped for an early lunch at Santa Nella, which appears to be nothing but a bunch of restaurants, motels and truck stops. We arrived there just before 11:00 AM, but decided to stop for gas and lunch, since there’s really not much else along Interstate 5 for the roughly 200 miles between Tracy and LA. Seriously. You have to go several miles off the Interstate to find somewhere like Wasco.

Not long after Santa Nella, Interstate 5 Leaves the edge of the coast range and and becomes the most boring drive imaginable, plus about a gazillion trucks to pass along the way. The trip livens up for the last thirt or so miles before LA, where the road crosses the San Gabriel Mountains. Going southbound toward LA, the road rises about 4,000 feet above the Central Valley floor in a very steep climb of about 10 or 15 miles. We passed all sorts of vehicles steaming by the roadside. We saw some fresh snow on a few slopes just above the Interstate’s summit. Then the descent, followed b y LA freeway traffic where you see traffic 24 7.

We made it to our hotel on Ventura Boulevard. We’re located on a several miles - long strip of grocery stores and restaurants. We are across a side street form a Trader Joe’s, and a block form a Whole Foods in the opposite direction. I guess I wasted my time buying groceries at home and dragging them along. I can't live without fresh fruit and peanut butter sandwiches. The Breakfast of Champions, y'know.

We took a twenty minute walk along Ventura Boulevard and passed well over fifty restaurants, and three or four more large grocery stores.

We called my aunt and my niece. My aunt has lived in LA county for about thrity years, and my niece is in college here. We’ll see my niece later, and drive her to home for her spring break this Saturday.

We had dinner with My aunt at a delicatessen (Jerry’s Deli on Ventura Boulevard) about a ten minute walk from our motel. We all had their Matzah ball soup, which brough back memories of Max and Benny’s Mishmosh soup. It was good. I am always happy to have good liquid food at night. I didn't realize the place was famous until I looked at their website.

Aunt S invited took us to visit her apartment after dinner. She has a very nice place, it really seems to be the perfect small place for one person. Quiet and airy. Very nice.

Aunt S drove us back to our motel, The Holiday Inn on Ventura Ave in Woodland Hills, near the fashionable Warner Center, but far enough away to cost about $100 less per night. The hotel is proving to be a good choice. Rumor has it that my patents stayed there once on an Elderhostel history - related event. We went to bed, to prepare for our adventures for the rest of the week.

This may be my last blog posting done onsite. It’s a a pain to upload and save pictures away from the home base, so you’ll just have to hang by your thumbs until next weekend or early next week. Expect to see lots of missions, and some other surprises.

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

Monday, March 01, 2010

Frederic Chopin's 200 Years Old Today!

Happy Bicentennial.

This is my Favorite Chopin composition (Ok, it's only part of a composition).

I'm sure you'll recognize it.

I am told this was written just after a Polish revolt was brutally crushed, bringing even more cruel repression on Chopin's beloved homeland.

And, it appears in Porky in Wackyland's soundtrack.

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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