Friday, March 31, 2006

It's A Rain Again..

I can't believe I haven't heard that song on the radio lately.

This rain just keeps on coming and I'm taking a hit from it, being one who works outdoors. I didn't think too much about how many other people are taking hits from the weather until I read the article from the Sacramento Bee I attached below. I would of just supplied a link but the Bee requires registration and some of you don't want to bother with registering with the site.

The story got me to thinking: This rain has been going on for months. I've lost hundreds of dollars for as long as it's been coming down. I wonder just how much this will affect the economy and thus the State coffers after it's all said and done?

I know we heard some supposed good news a while back that the economy had picked up thus helping the State's revenue stream, helping to close the deficit gap. Will all this rain turn the economy around enough to, not just screw up the outdoors work industry, but the state budget, as well?

Only time will tell.
Businesses bogged down
Rainy March stalls builders, carwashes and everyone who works outside

Here's what all this rain means to Trevor Bryant: Tractors stuck in the soggy earth. Hazardous safety conditions for workers. Job delays. And most important: a lot less revenue.

"This is messing me up," said Bryant, president of Nor-Cal Pool and Spa Builders Inc. in Elk Grove. "It's been a pain. This is one of the worst years as far as rain."
How bad? The National Weather Service says it's already rained 18 days this month - one more breaks the record. The nearly 5 1/2 inches of rain so far are more than 170 percent above the average for March. Normal is 3.15.

And normal is what many businesses long for.

From carwashes to plant nurseries, business owners are feeling the effects of March's stormy path into spring. It may be good news for weather record keepers, but it's bad news for those whose work takes them outdoors.

Not only are customers fewer, but the wet weather can make it impossible for some to do their jobs. That means a hit to the bottom line.

"When we close for the rain, sales don't drop a little bit - it drops entirely," said Jerry Cavalieri, co-owner of Pacific Car Wash in Carmichael.

Dan Leonard sells soap for Car Wash Tech in Rancho Cordova. A hundred cars can drive through a carwash in a day, but on a wet one only a handful snake their way through the rotating brushes and pulsating streams of water, he said. One thing he knows: A closed carwash doesn't use much soap.

"In the wintertime, we get a drop of 70 percent in sales for soaps," Leonard said. "This has been a very wet and cold winter. It's a little abnormal." The business makes about 40 percent of its revenue in soaps, he said.

Sales also are down for shops that specialize in outdoor activities. Mike Upchurch, owner of Mad Cat Bicycles in Arden Arcade, said would-be bike owners don't spend a lot of time contemplating a purchase when it's raining. "And even if people want to buy a bike, it's hard to test-ride," he said.
Business is down about 40 percent during the cold months. "Bikes are in the garage, away from the rain and people are not thinking about bikes," he said.

He does expect things to pick up quickly "as soon as the sun comes out."

Sun is what Julia Oldfield, an office manager at Big Oak Nursery in Elk Grove, is praying for.
"Without the sun, flowers don't grow and they don't get color," she said. As a flower wholesaler, Big Oak sells to landscapers - who right now aren't exactly in a buying mood.

"We have stuff that's ready to go, but no one can plant it because it's so wet," she said.
The cold has forced the nursery to keep the plants longer in the greenhouse, making them susceptible to disease. But the rain and cool temperatures can do greater harm.
"They can get damaged from hail and the frost will burn the leaves," she said. "The rain can cause too much overwatering and cause the flowers to yellow."

Few businesses are as affected by a month of rain as builders. Bad weather just delays a construction season that only lasts so long.

"For many of our members, delays make the season much shorter because the rainy season will come again in November," said Ana Helman, spokeswoman for the North State Building Industry Association. "You can't drive heavy equipment in the mud."

Bryant, whose company specializes in pool construction, said the heavy mud can add as much as three hours to the day's cleanup. He's got a full schedule of work to do, but he's had to postpone half a dozen jobs because of the weather.

"Most people are gearing up for the summertime and they want the pool done by summertime, so we need to do it now," he said. "There's only so much we can do. We're still selling pools, but the problem is getting started."

Another weather monitor is Albert Garcia, owner of Garcia Concrete in Sacramento. In the concrete business, wet ground means little work. Garcia considers it taking a big chance when forecasters say there's a 30 percent chance of rain.

"If you pour (concrete) and it starts raining, you can cover it with plastic and hope for the best," he said. "Rain definitely slows down your business. Our job really doesn't allow us to work in the rain."
Until the weather clears, no one can work on the second phase of constructing a pool, when steel reinforcements are placed in the ground, said Sally Lewis, officer manager of Warren Lewis Construction in Citrus Heights.

"When you have a big hole and it rains, you have to pump out all that yucky water and you're up in the mud every day," she said.

It's also risky for employees to carry heavy equipment on slippery pathways. Workers' comp insurance rates are high. The stall in the work can take a toll.

"These men would rather be working full time then being unemployed," she said.
Many of them may end their day just as Bryant does - by falling asleep watching the Weather Channel.

Eminent Domain Inititiatives

Now that I have all of you here, I thought I'd mention a couple anti- eminent domain abuse inititiatives being circulated now.

Most of us were justifiably outraged by the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo vs. New London(?) where the court ruled that local governments could seize property from one private party to give it to another private party.

Of the four or so efforts to use California's initiative process to stop such abuses, two survive to this day and are in circulation:

The so- called People's Inititiative is available for download as a .pdf file at I urge everyone to download the petition, print it out and get as many signatures as you can. Send it in, even if it only has your signature on it. Follow the instructions and remember; P.O. Boxes can't be used for your address.

The other one, the Anderson Inititative, is in circulation, as well. They are taking donations throught their web site but the petition isn't available for download due to the size of the petition. You can check them out here.

Speaking of petition size; I've long felt that if the content of the petition couldn't fit on one piece of paper, it's probably something I really don't want to sign. Don't know if that's the case here. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Anderson Initiative is the one State Senator, Tom McClintock, is backing after giving up on his own initiative effort, so that does say something positive about it.

Fear of Freedom

An short commentary on people's fear of freedom, by Crispin Sartwell, here. Thanks to Radley Balko for the heads up.

"Most people fear liberty because it means personal responsibility."- Ben Franklin

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Greens vs. Allen

Not exactly news, since this squabble seems to have been going on for some time, but looks like the conflict between some prominent Greens and Greg Allen has reached the boiling point. I don't know enough about the inner party politics of the Greens to comment on the fight itself.

This isn't meant as a slam on the Greens either, since we've seen similar conflicts within the local Republicans. The Libertarian Party, on the state level, has its fair share of inner party squabbles, as well.

I just wonder why Greg Allen doesn't follow the lead of Charles Douglas and go his own way? Is it a showing of blind loyalty to the Greens, or what? From the way Greg sees it, the things he's been doing, he's pretty much been doing on his own anyway. What's the point in fighting with the Green Party then?

Lori Metheny had the sense to get out of the way when she faced a rebellion by local Republicans, albeit after some hesitation. Charles Douglas pretty much parted ways with the Greens, obviously the result of some personal or political differences with the party. What's keeping Greg Allen?

I spoke with Greg on the phone a couple weeks ago, trying to get him on board with our No On Measure T Committee. One of the things that irked the Greens was Greg's opposition to Measure T.

He also suggested, instead of banning contributions from certain groups, simply placing a limit on the size of donations, as No On T Chair, Cris Crawford suggests. Seemed to me he should be a natural ally with the No On T effort.

He said he'd check out our web page. I haven't heard from him since. I suspect he didn't want to excacerbate his conflict with the Greens by publicly aligning himself with something most in his party opposed. A shame, seems to me, since it looks like they're intent on dumping him, anyway.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Eureka Reporter Commentaries

Thought I'd comment on a few letters that appeared in the Eureka Reporter recently:

The first, by retired Eureka Police Officer, Jon Lawrence, gives a pretty level headed look at the Balloon Tract situation. It actually was published on Saturday but I thought it well written and a good read.

This one, written by one, David Goggins, is really beyond me. It seems to be some generic evil conspiracy rant, but I'm not sure exactly what he's trying to say, except maybe that our voting systems are rigged in order to carry out the wishes of some shadowy group carrying out their secret plans. Not very well done if someone has to work at understanding what you're trying to say.

Last, but not least, is Richard Twiddy's observations on Home Depot, albeit one in Louisiana. His point, I believe, being that Home Depot isn't such a bad outfit. One thing not generally known about the aftermath of the Katrina is that Wal Mart had trucks staged and ready to deliver relief supplies, as well, but they were turned away along with a lot of other private organizations by the FEMA folks.

This Twiddy fellow seems to be a rising name in local activism. I'm wondering if he's the same "Dick" Twiddy that used to work for PG&E at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant when I was there? He looks like the one I knew, except for the long hair. If that isn't him, he must be related.

I saw him at the last Humboldt Taxpayer's League meeting I went to. The one where a special meeting was called to try and get the League's Board of Directors to rescind the lawsuit against the Eureka Redevelopment Agency. Twiddy was one of the two or three hands that went up in support of the lawsuit.

I don't recall seeing his name until fairly recently. After I saw him at the Taxpayer's meeting, he got a seat on the League's Board of Directors and then I started seeing a letter or two to the local papers he'd sent in. I imagine we'll be hearing even more from him as time goes on.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More Zombie

I just noticed that San Francisco based photo journalist, Zombie, has yet another couple of events added to his web page. This one is that Global Day Of Action rally in San Francisco that took place not too long ago. Part 2 is some anarchist event.

Ok; Enough screwing around. I just came home for lunch. Back to work.

A Real Laptop

First, a warm and humble thank you for all that responded to my Humboldt County Laptop post of March 5(?). Hearing what a hassle it was for me to lug my desktop computer down to the Bay Area earlier this month, one of you offered me your laptop, since you were going to upgrade.

Then, I get word that a number of you, led by Leonidas and Hank (the only two names I know specifically) and I understand some of the folks at North Coast Journal, among others, pitched in and bought the wifey and me a new Dell laptop so we could use that to keep in touch and take care of business with during our soon to be frequent trips to the Bay Area. What a bunch of folks! I am humbled but happy.

This last weekend was supposed to be the first trial run of the new laptop as the wife was being released from the hospital after spending a little over three weeks at UCSF getting a bone marrow transplant.

My niece, Janna, saved my ass by finding a rental down there for me and her and other family members had it pretty well set up and ready to go. Connie will be living there for at least two months as she has to go to the UCSF oncology clinic twice a week until they deem her in good enough condition to come back to Eureka.

I go down there, not just to visit, but to take all kinds of stuff they needed for the apartment: Blankets, cooking utensils, clothes and such. That was a trip that would have taken me and the old Humboldt County Laptop to task.

It was raining like crazy on Saturday and I had the whole passenger side of the cab and the areas behind the seat packed. No way I could have fit the old E-machines in there. The laptop fit in easily.

The bed of the truck was fairly full, as well, with everything from a Kitchen Aid mixer to blankets and an air filter wrapped in plastic garbage bags. I'm amazed everything survived the journey with only a toaster oven getting a few drops of water on it.

Anyway, to make a long story short, once I got to the apartment and unloaded everything, the first thing I find out is they don't have regular phone service hooked up yet. Bummer, says I, since if I couldn't do wireless I could always fall back on dial up with a working phone line.

So, I try the wireless network the niece said the landlord had available for tenants. Janna said she hadn't been able to get it to work with her Mac. I was under the impression that the laptop should pick up the signal automatically.

Nothing. So I go through the connection wizard thing that supposedly sets it up for you, never having done a wireless connection before. After three or four tries I still got the "No Network Found" message.

Hmmm. I wasn't sure if it was something I wasn't doing or maybe, since the landlord was gone on vacation, maybe she powered down her flat and, along with powering down, the wireless transmitter was turned off.

I gave up and later, lacking much to do, tried connecting again. No luck. Still unsure what might be wrong but since Janna and I both couldn't connect, I was leaning toward there not being a wireless signal present. I gave up. Bummer; I can't check my e-mail or make my first laptop blog post. Oh well.

The next day I came back to Eureka, making it in a record time for me of under five hours. Sunday is obviously the best time to drive that route. I e-mailed Leondas and Hank and ask them if they knew anything about hooking up to wireless. Leonidas refers me to someone who does.

Before I get a response from one in the know, I spoke to the wife on the phone to let her know I made it home. She tells me that Janna connected to the wireless network at the apartment. Not in the apartment, though. She took her laptop out to her car, just outside the front door. Apparently there was something blocking the signal to the downstairs.

Hmmm...maybe we should of tried it from more than just the study and the living room? I don't know but I never thought of trying it outside. I'll try that next time.

Anyway, thanks to all of you again. Your support makes this transplant journey much more bearable.

Campaign Signs

I noticed maybe a week or so ago that campaign signs for Worth Dikeman were already popping up in yards around Eureka. There's even a big one in my in- law's yard across the street from my house. Isn't there some protocol about how soon before an election the signs go up?

I'd be the last one to tell someone they can't put a sign up in their yard no matter what the message was and I don't know that I would ever consider a law regulating when campaign signs are allowed to be displayed. It just seems to me that seeing a bunch of campaign signs everywhere you go tends to get old pretty quick, and that's from someone who obviously takes an interest in politics.

I was under the impression that the signs generally go up around a month prior to a given election, and it's considered general courtesy to take them down the day after the election.

I know by the time Election Day comes around I'm usually pretty tired of all the signs and campaign rhetoric so I like to see all the signs from the election gone as soon as possible. I actually try to take any signs I have up (including bumperstickers) down as soon as the polls close on Election Day.

Since anyone who's anyone in Humboldt visits this blog regularly, please help me get the word out on campaign sign courtesy. What to do about the signs up now, I don't know. I guess I'll just have to live with them.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

New City Boss For Arcata

So Arcata finally identifies their new City Manager. There must be something wrong with him. Why anybody would move from Colorado to California, much less Arcata, is beyond me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Big Money: Part 2

The Times- Standard proves once again that anybody who's anybody in this county checks out my blog by their follow up on my Big Money post of yesterday. A little more info in their story than the Eureka Reporter's. Of course, they had the advantage of checking out this blog and reading the comments to get some ideas of what to include in their story.

For one thing, they mention that the Gallegos campaign spent something like $5000 on "polling and survey research". I think it would be fair to assume that means the push polls we were talking about yesterday. Now, aren't we all proud of ourselves for bringing up the subject?

I also found it interesting that, in most of the other races the Times- Standard mentions, what would be considered the left leaning candidates seem to be raising the most money. Bonnie Neely's raised something like three times the money Nancy Flemming has in the race for 1st District Supervisor. Nothing filed by self- described progressive, Richard Marks, the other candidate in that race. He's probably not planning on raising enough money to have to file papers.

Jill Geist has raised around three times more than challenger, Pat Higgins. This would be a hard one to say that the lefty in the race has out raised the other candidate since Higgins claims Geist isn't far enough to the left as she should be, for his tastes anyway. I guess we should take him at his word for it. He'd probably know better than we do how far to the left he is, at this point in time, anyway.

Proponents of Measure T have really beat the stuffings out of my very own No On Measure T Committee with close to $7000 raised to our $431. Of course, they've been at it for quite a while longer than us NO folks. Not sure if we're planning a big fund raising effort, or not. The Measure T folks have the inherent advantage of raising unlimited funds, though, whereas the NO folks have set a voluntary contribution limit of $500. A pretty funny situation in itself, it seems to me.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it, yet, I got a mention in the Times- Standard story towards the end. Yet another 15 minutes of fame for me!

I suppose, as far as the candidates are concerned, the big lead in fund raising by most of the lefties has to do with the advantage of incumbency. I guess that's bound to happen. Incumbents always have a big advantage over challengers. You'd think, though, that with all the whining over money in politics, some of the whiners would vote for the candidates and causes with the least money.

They never do, though. The only bad money in politics in most people's minds is the money that goes to the candidate they don't like.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Big Money Backs...

Paul Gallegos, at least so far, in the race for District Attorney. Interesting indeed, according to this story in the Eureka Reporter, that Gallegos has outraised Dikeman in the first reporting period with Gallegos bringing in $32,258 in monetary contributions to Dikeman's $13,505.

Even more interesting is where Paul "Vote Local Control" Gallegos' largest contributions came from: $10,000 from some "retired NEW MEXICO resident"(???) and $5000 from some "retired BERKELEY resident"(???). Oh, I guess that's ok. Those are people, not corporations, right?

Worth Dikeman's largest contributions were local.
Jerry Partain had a commentary that dealt a little with the Gallegos campaign in today's ER. He tells of his daughter getting a phone call. The caller was from out of the area doing one of those "push polls" on behalf of the Gallegos campaign. Push polls are those polls where they ask loaded questions to set you up for their sales pitch.

While the phone calls from outside the area for a local campaign seemed to raise concerns with Jerry Partain, I was more interested in why they would ask his daughter how she felt about Rob Arkley. Hmm... I mentioned before I wondered if the Arkleys would be backing Gallegos again as they did last time around. So far I haven't heard anything in regards to that.

So what were they going to ask her that involved Arkley? Too bad she hung up on the caller. I can't help but wonder if they had it set up with two possible answers:

If the girl said she felt ok with the Arkleys, the caller could then say how the Arkleys supported Gallegos' last run for the D.A.'s office. If she said she thought the Arkleys were greedy, rich people, the caller could then say that Gallegos opposes the Arkley's Marina Center proposal, or some such. I could be wrong on that. That's just my guess.

I never hang up on those political push poll type calls. There's often interesting info that can be gleaned from them. Again, it's too bad Jerry's daughter ended the phone call prematurely. Anyone else get one of those calls from the Gallegos campaign? If so, please do tell us how it went and what exactly the questions about Arkley were about.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What I'd Have Done After 9/11

I'm going to try not to comment on this subject other than in this post. Don't want to get involved in a days long back and forth over it. In fact, I told myself I wouldn't ever bring it up here. But, since I saw a commentary on the other day, I thought I'd throw the link out.

I've said before I'm not an "absolutist" pacifist. I'm not even sure I could even call myself a pacifist. I did and do strongly oppose the attack of Iraq, though. I've never took the time to give my feelings on what should or shouldn't have been done in response to 9/11 but, since this author largely reflects my views (oh, I could quibble over some details), I thought I'd let him speak for me.

A little lengthy- almost too much for my attention span- but I think he's pretty much in there with my feelings. Suffice it to say, we could have handled dealing with 9/11 and the terrorist threat with little disruption of the U.S. military and nowhere near the financial costs.

Flat Tax or Fair Tax?

Back when we used to do our Libertarian Party outreach table at the Old Town Fourth of July Festival, there was a lady who ran an appliance store somewhere in Old Town that came by our table probably three years in a row. She'd stop, jam her finger down on the table and ask, "Ok, which is it: Fair Tax or Flat Tax?" She never seemed to remember she asked the same question to the same person in exactly the same way the year before.

I was hard pressed to answer the question with a straight answer of either one tax or the other. Reason being, as I told her, both forms of tax do nothing to address government spending. They're simply different ways of collecting the same billions or trillions of dollars from people only to be redistributed by government.

I suppose that's a moot point, though, since the question is which method of taxation would be preferable to what we have now. As to that, I'm not sure.

Both our very own Leonidas and local gadfly, Jerry Partain, favor the Fair Tax, which would basically take the form of a National Sales Tax. I don't know that I agree, especially when most estimates I've seen of the percent of tax on sales to replace current income tax revenue would be around 30%. So, if you don't like the current 8%, or whatever it is around here, you'll really be hating it when you end up paying close to a third more in taxes for that car or computer you just bought.

Some of the benefits touted by Fair Tax proponents I see as disadvantages. For one; that nobody can escape the tax as it's made upon sale of new goods. I don't like that, but that's mostly because I happen to be an admirer of the underground economy.

Certainly it would be nice to do away with the filing of income taxes each year but, as Leonidas points out in his comments about the Fair Tax, we'd still be filing state income taxes. What's to say the state won't increase their income tax rate with the rationalization that Californians no longer pay the federal income tax so they should pay more state income tax? I understand they did just that with some of the Bush Tax cuts, or were working on it.

That lady that used to come by our LP table in Old Town pointed out that the National Sales Tax would be harmful to her business as only new items were taxed. Since she sold appliances, she did indeed face the prospect of a serious loss in sales. She made a good point. I don't know that I'd go for this Fair Tax.

The other plan, The Flat Tax, would be a flat income tax where everyone pays the same rate of, say, 5% on all income earned with no deductions of any kind. I believe I've read some proposals for an even higher percentage, maybe even up to 15%. This is the tax system Rep. Dick Armey was campaigning for. The one where you could file your taxes by just filing out a post card.

For me, being self- employed, the thought of no deductions is troubling and I just don't trust the pols to keep the tax percentage at the level they sell the plan on. This does allow the underground economy a chance to avoid the tax man and I find that to be a good thing although, admittedly, most people don't.

I guess I'd lean toward a flat income tax, if I had to chose one over the other. There's no denying it would be good to get rid of the annual ritual of getting all your papers together and hauling them off to the accountant to see how much money you can manage to keep in the bank after paying your taxes.

I did that just yesterday, which is partly why this subject came up. Went to the accountant to do the preliminary work on our income taxes. A quick look at the numbers had my accountant telling me I was looking at a tax due of around $1700. The first time in a few years where I got hit hard at the time I needed to be hit hard the least.

I might be able to shave a couple hundred dollars off that after looking a little closer at expenses but, still, that really adds insult to injury as paying that bill would just about clean out my bank account, literally. I'll likely have to come up with a payment plan of some sort.

Something needs to be done about the tax code for sure. But, more importantly something needs to be done to cut government spending and I don't think most of us will live to see the day when that happens, if it happens at all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Global Warming History

Thanks to Rose for this graph on historical global temperature averages

Tag 'Em Young

Looks like New Zealand is following the lead of some other Orwellian countries and looking at tagging every child for identification purposes. Looks like they're not actually going to put an RFID chip or tatoo on them, at least from reading the article. Probably more like our social security number and national I.D. card on steroids.

I remember some years ago there was talk of tatooing every child in this country at birth. Whatever happened to that? Anyone heard that idea being floated around lately?


As I write this there's something I've never seen before in the western sky: A double rainbow!

There's a perfect semi- circular rainbow off to the west right over the Matteoli's house with another perfect rainbow arching over the first one. The second one is a bit faded though. I've never seen anything like that in my 50+ years. Wow!

I don't know if it would of photographed well, but I couldn't put it on this computer, anyway, as the usb ports are not working. I suppose I could have put it on my old e-machines computer and e-mailed it to this one, but it's too late now.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rush In Trouble

This writer thinks Rush Limbaugh's radio show is in trouble. I'm not so sure I agree with him that it's because people have become more interested in local issues than national ones. I think it's more along the line of where he alludes to Rush having become a shill for the Bush Administration. Not that he hasn't always touted the Republican line, whatever that is. But, with Bush having screwed up so many things and even a lot of conservatives unhappy with him, I suspect it's probably embarassing for a lot of them to sit at the radio listening to a Bush apologist.

I actually don't listen to Rush. I have a few times over the years and regularly enjoyed his old TV show. I was sorry that got cancelled. I thought he was fun to listen to and I enjoyed reading the two books he wrote. I lost a lot of respect for him, though, when I saw him interviewed by Tim Russert a couple years ago and he ended up talking in lock step with the Bush White House policies. Hey, even some conservatives could be critical of Bush but listening to Rush tell Russert that "This President has got a plan and it will work....", or whatever it was he said.

I was real disappointed in him. I thought he was better than that. I wonder if others are too, and that's why his radio audience is declining?

Anti- Measure T Group Formed

A group calling themselves the No On Measure T Committee has been formed and has their campaign web site up and running, although still under construction. I added my name to the list. Need more names on the list so, if you're opposed to Measure T- that's the upcoming local ballot initiative that would ban contributions from "non- local" corporations to local campaigns- send an e-mail to them (actually me, since I'm the webmaster) with your name and home town.

I've commented on Measure T here before and have said I'm sympathetic to the idea of outside forces not being able to interfere in local affairs via elections. I've also said the cases the Measure T forces use to justify their position, Wal Mart and the Gallegos recall, were cases where the so- called outside forces failed. The outside forces, though, did give the minority opinion in those cases the means to present their case effectively which I think is generally a good thing.

As Chris Crawford points out in his ballot argument, this applies only to non- local corporations but not to unions. The voters rejected a similar statewide measure in the last special election that restricted union contributions (actually, that one didn't really restrict contributions, it just required unions get permission from individual members before using their dues for political purposes) but it didn't restrict business contributions and voters rejected that, some say, because it wasn't fair. Seems to me this is no different.

So, head on over to and add your name to the list and if you have a short statement to add to the statement page, send that in too. Looks like campaign season is heating up once again.

Anti- War: The New Political Force?

Maybe, but I doubt it.

This piece from suggests that, since polls are showing a large percentage of Americans are opposed to the Iraq occupation, the anti- war movement might well be one of the new major players in national elections. That's if they could become unified, and that's a big IF.

I'm skeptical mostly because anti- war sentiment is a fleeting thing with many Americans. Remember that just after 9/11 over 80% of the American people were in favor of some sort of military action, if memory serves me correct. Then, shortly after that when the attack plan for Iraq was made up, seems to me about as many people still favored military action on Iraq. Only after the casualties started mounting and the case against Iraq started falling apart did the polls show people changing their minds.

So, all that's needed is some sort of attack on American soil, and a lot of these so- called anti- war types will be looking for blood again.

Still, even the 20 or 30 per cent that tend to oppose military action more on principle could be a substantial voting block, if unified. But could they unify? It's doubtful. The Voters For Peace organization mentioned in the article looks to do just that. That will be tough row to hoe and I wish them luck, despite not being an absolutist pacifist myself.

I have to wonder, though, if Voters For Peace is really just another version of is just a shill for the Democratic Party. They rally people around a certain issue, like the invasion of Iraq, and then try and convince their followers that the only way to solve whatever problem they're focusing on is to elect Democrats. I know. I'm on their e-mail list.

I had to laugh when they were focusing on Iraq and put up an online poll for members to vote for who they deemed the best candidate to support in the last presidential election. All the choices were Democrats. For the life of me I forgot who won that poll, But it wasn't Kuccinich, who was probably the only anti- war candidate on the list, if memory serves me correct.

Will Voters For Peace end up being another I don't know, but their job of unifying the anti- war vote seems almost undoable to me.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peace March Peaceful

Looks like yesterday's peace march in Eureka went off without a hitch. Why do those always go so well and the last few smaller ones end up with problems? Maybe those bicycles from Critical Mass? Who knows.

As for me, I didn't go. I went to the first one, years ago, for about 20 minutes. I'm not comfortable in crowds. I thought of going yesterday but I had other things to do. Besides, it was too cold and windy.

I hate cold winds. It's supposed to be cold and windy again today, according to the weather folks. Damn! I hate that. Where's that Global Warming when you need it?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Not Much For Saturday

Not much for the blog today as I've got another project I'm dealing with, plus I have to go to work.

I was going to mention how jealous I am of Jerry Partain for having Congressman Mike Thompson write a letter to the editor to the Eureka Reporter in response to a commentary he posted there. I won't, though, since for some reason it didn't show up on the ER web site.

In the meantime, if you want to test your mental mettle, head on over to the Right On Blog and check out the Would You Pass post of March 17. He has the questions of a Final Exam from an 8th grade class in Kansas, circa 1895. Needless to say, I failed miserably. I don't recall them asking questions like that back in 1969.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Neely's Kick Off

Bonnie Neely kicked off her campaign for the Board of Supes yesterday at a press conference in Eureka. Apparently I mis- read the announcement sent out by Local Solutions about the event. I thought it said that Chesbro, Berg and Thompson would be there. Looking at the announcement again, I realized it was just referring to their support for her so I guess they weren't expected to show up.

No real mention of who did show up for her press conference, other than a reference by the Times- Standard to "people from all political persuasions..". Although mention was made of Richard Marks also being in the race, I guess he didn't show up either, at least no mention was made of him being there. I had double dared him in a private e-mail to show up and try to get some press but apparently his cooler mind prevailed.

There still doesn't seem to be any sharp policy differences I can see between Neely and Flemming, other than proposed solutions for the Balloon Tract. I definitely won't be voting for Neely. Whether I vote for either of the two other candidates I'll have to decide later. Either that or I might not vote in that particular race, as I sometimes take pride in doing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clever Scammers

I'm sure you've all gotten those e-mails from people phishing: posing as a bank, or some such, and trying to get you to give them your personal info. Some of those scammers put out some pretty clever stuff. Just noticed something really sneaky today:

Got a couple e-mails from someone posing as PayPal. One mistake they made was sending it to an address I don't have registered with PayPal. Otherwise it was pretty good, both of them telling me someone tried to access my account and I needed to go to their phony web site and verify something or another.

I generally just trash that sort of stuff but, after getting a legitimate communication from PayPal asking users to forward phishing e-mails to, I decided to try and help get these creeps from now on.

So, I tried to forward the two e-mails and noticed all the text of both e-mails disappeared when I clicked on the Forward tab. Hmmm...wouldn't do any good to send a blank e-mail to Paypal, thought I. I wondered if it was something with Yahoo mail that messed up the e-mail so I decided to forward them to my regular inbox in Eudora to deal with them there.

I check the mail in Eudora and nothing shows up but a legit message from an e-mail list I'm on. I thought maybe I sent them to the wrong box in Yahoo so I go back to find them and they're nowhere to be found. Apparently they set it up so if you do anything but click on the links in their e-mail, either the text gets deleted or the e-mail self destructs so you can't forward it to anyone. How clever.

I'd really like to get those guys. I'll keep trying.

Fed Spending Watch

Dismal news from yesterday's USA Today:

"A USA Today analysis of 25 major government programs found that enrollment increased an average of 17% in the programs from 2000 to 2005. The nation's population grew 5% during that time. It was the largest five year expansion of the federal safety net since the Great Society created programs such as Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960's. Spending on these social programs was $1.3 trillion in 2005, up an inflation-adjusted 22% since 2000 and accounting for more than half of federal spending."

Thanks to Peggy Noonan and her commentary in today's Wall Street Journal for the heads up.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another Group?

Yet another interest group is formed over the Balloon Tract controversy. This Preserve Our Waterfront bunch has put a local initiative on the ballot that would provide for a public vote to decide what the fate of the waterfront will be. Does that make sense? Maybe.

Whatever. I've never seen any evidence that the collective wisdom of the masses has any beneficial effect on the community or anything else. We certainly have an element in Eureka that seems to think anything that happens in town needs to be put up for a vote, just like what we keep seeing happen in Arcata.

I question these folk's motives, though. Just look at their name. They want to "preserve" the waterfront, not decide what to do with it. Seems to me they just figure the majority of voters will oppose Marina Center and this is the best way to shut Marina Center down. Do the majority of voters oppose Marina Center? That remains to be seen.

Another Tribune?

Thanks to Cap'n Buhne for the heads up on this latest (apparently) local blog. Some are suggesting this is actually Cap'n Buhne himself doing the ranting. I don't know, but I doubt it. It almost seems like a parody blog to me but, then again, I've seen plenty of serious right wing blogs that are along the same lines. Seems perfectly believable to me. Scary, though; How could anyone have a beef with Cap'n Buhne?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Right or Left: What Am I?

I've mentioned here before that I get a kick out of some on the Right calling me a "left winger"- one prominent local Republican referring to me once as a "left wing extremist"- and those on the Left referring to me as a conservative or, as someone recently described me in an e-mail, a "right wing Republican in Libertarian clothes". I figure that puts me somewhere in the middle?

Of course, the political spectrum is more complicated than can be described as being on a left/ right axis. It's more along the line as is shown in the political grid map of the World's Smallest Political Quiz, which I've linked to here before. But even that's a little bit simple in trying to indentify a political ideology, since it's based on a limited number of issues.

So what exactly am I? I consider myself a libertarian- not sure whether of the small or large L variety. Let's look at a few current issues and see whether my position fits with the Right or Left as we commonly identify them:

Same Sex Marriage: I've gone on record a number of times as being a supporter of same sex marriages. I feel safe in saying that puts me at odds with the vast majority of Right Wingers.

Invasion and Occupation of Iraq: I've tried to avoid the Iraq issue here, for the most part, but I was strongly opposed to the invasion before it happened and still am. I suppose that would put me at odds with the Right, but, there are a number of conservatives and/ or Right Wing types- Pat Buchanan quickly comes to mind- that opposed the invasion of Iraq. I would tend to think support of military action would be considered Right Wing amongst most people (although it isn't), so I would probably differ with the Right on that.

Drug War: The vast majority on the Right support the continued prohibition of recreational drugs, but so do many in the Center and, yes, the Left. Opposition to the drug war is pretty much a Libertarian position.

Pollution Controls: Advocacy for more stringent controls on pollutants would be belong with the Left and opposition to more controls usually goes to the Right. I'm probably somewhere in the middle on that issue but would probably lean more in with the Right if I looked at it closer.

Forestry Practices: Advocacy for more controls on private use of forest land and acquisition of more "public" lands clearly goes to the Left. I probably hang with the Right on that one as I think we have more than enough government land now and more than enough restrictions on private land already.

Campaign Finance Reform (CFR): While it seems that's a Left issue, I know of those with the Right who promote different laws to "take money out of politics" too, but I'll brand that a Left issue. I tend to dismiss proposals that end up making it more difficult for people to run for office.

I'm a bit more ameanable to limits on contributions, all else still being equal, but think the vast majority of campaign reform effort is just feel good legislation. I probably hang more with the Right on this one as they're the ones we hear the most about "freedom of speech" being attacked via CFR legislation.

Education: Since the Right generally shares my belief in separation of School and State, I'd generally put myself on their side on that one. I think as long as government schools and rest of the Educational- Industrial Complex is run by politicians, bureaucrats and the teacher's unions, they're a lost cause.

Ok. That's just the issues that came to mind right away. I know I'm forgetting some but from those issues alone that has me right leaning with the Drug War being more of a strictly libertarian issue that I don't feel could really put into the Left category. Most people might feel it is a Left issue. Any obvious common issues I missed?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Election 2006: A Look Ahead

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat gave the first overall view I've seen of the upcoming elections this year, at least as far as candidates go. No link to their story cause I couldn't find it. Someone just sent me the text of the article. Here's what it looks like for the state and federal offices. I can't help but wonder if they're missing a few names:

For 1st District, State Assembly, Patty Berg is running to keep her seat, as one would expect. She'll be opposed by her past Republican challenger, Ray Tyrone (at least I think he's the one that ran against her last time) and Libertarian, Tom Reed. Both Reed and Tyrone hail from Coverdale.

Wes Chesbro's finally out of the 2nd State Senate seat due to term limits so, as has been mentioned here before, Pat Wiggins will run in his place. She'll be opposed by past Republican candidate for U.S. Congress, Lawrence Weisner.

I was told that a local libertarian would be filing for that seat, as well, but his name doesn't show up on the list so maybe he decided against it? A shame, as it doesn't look like I'll have anyone to vote for in that race. I generally would vote for the Republican for state level offices if there's no libertarian in the race but Weisner's a bit too hard to the right for me. I don't know why Weisner even runs as he never shows up for any of the candidate forums.

Congressman Mike Thompson wants to stay in his office again. He'll be opposed by three others: Republican John Jones, a retired cop. Perenniel left wing candidate, Pam Elizondo, representing the Greens and Timothy Stock from the Peace and Freedom Party. There was supposed to be a libertarian in this race. I'm surprised not to see his name as he frequently runs for office so shouldn't have had a problem getting on the ballot. Maybe they missed him somehow?

Pam Elizondo used to be with the Peace and Freedom Party until she switched to the Greens. She probably only did that cause the Peace and Freedom Party lost their status as an official political party in California due to low vote percentages. They regained ballot status a couple years ago only because low voter turnout ended up giving them a high enough percentage of votes to give them back their recognized party status.

I was almost tempted to vote for Elizondo last time she ran against Thompson. Hey, anyone that would show up for a candidate debate wearing a t- shirt is ok by me. To hell with the issues.

For U.S. Senate, Dianne Feinstein has it easy, although she apparently has at least one Democrat facing her in the primary. The Press- Democrat doesn't show any Republican running against her, which is hard to believe. Then again, I understand the Republicans are having a hard time finding someone to run in that race. Amazing as it is to me, Feinstein is considered a shoo- in for re- election. Unbelievable.

I've been told that a libertarian, Michael Metti, is supposed to be in the race for U.S. Senate, but no mention of him from the Press- Democrat. Wonder if he had second thoughts? Maybe he'll pop up later.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Cost of Government

State Assemblyman, Keith Richman, had a hard- hitting commentary in the S.F. Chronicle today about the cost of government employee pensions and health care. Some frightening numbers there. Even more frightening when you consider most elected officials, either local or at the state level, are ignoring the issue.

Earth First! Live

I almost forgot to check out the North Coast Journal this week. I see Earth First! now has a live web cast once a week. I'll have to check it out. Not expecting any surprises since, if you subscribe to the Redwood Peace and Justice Center e-mail list, you've likely heard it all before, and heard it umpteen times.

I wonder about that Shunka Wakan guy: Does anyone know him? From reading the article it seems all he does is Earth First stuff. Does he have a job or is he on the public dole?

Calabasas Makes It Simple

Looks like the City of Calabasas, CA came up with one of the simplest smoking ordinances of all: No smoking allowed anywhere "except as otherwise provided...". The ordinance takes effect March 17. Funny that this is the first I've heard of it. You'd think something like that would have generated more news coverage. My question is, will any cities or towns in Humboldt follow Calabasas' lead? I would think, around here, only Arcata would be likely to consider such an ordinance.

The Reason Foundation's, Jacob Sullum, takes a look at the Calabasas Smoking Ban here.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Witnesses Are Out Today

The Jehovah's Witnesses are probably my favorite religion, but not because of anything they believe. In fact, I don't really know or care what they believe. I just like them because they don't vote, or so I've been told. If they were libertarians, I'd probably be more annoyed with them for not voting, but since they're pretty much apolitical, that makes just one less group to keep an eye on.

That said, we're lucky we don't have a very large, active group of Jehovah's Witnesses up here. At least we don't seem to be pestered with them knocking on doors as much as I remember them doing when I lived in Orange County. I've had few religious types knock on my door in the fifteen years or more I've live in this house, and some of those weren't even Witnesses. This is good.

One thing they're generally pretty good about is not pestering people at work. Today was the first time they approached me while I was working. I'm unloading my lawnmower out of my truck and there were two pairs of Witnesses working the neighborhood of K and Huntoon Streets in Eureka.

One pair happened to be heading to the house I was working at and asked me if I lived at the house. I told them I was just there to mow the lawn next door. She says something like "Oh, I see. What a great day to be mowing lawns. Have you ever seen our Lighthouse publication...?". I told them they drop them off at my house on occasion and I'd seen them and start to go about my business. Luckily, she just says, "Oh, ok.", and off they went.

I think it's somewhat rude to interrupt someone with a religious pitch while they're working but I don't see a problem with them going house to house trying to evangelize people, despite how annoying it is. Just made me wonder if they're getting more aggressive or if that was an honest mistake on her part?

Eureka Reporter Tries Crossfire

No reference made to it yet on their web page, but the Eureka Reporter is looking for opinionated writers for a point- counterpoint column they're planning. You know; where one person takes one side of the issue and someone else takes the opposite side.

That should be interesting. I'm almost tempted to throw my hat in the ring for that one. One thing that holds me back is I prefer to pick and choose the subject I write or argue about. It's hard to come up with a good argument if you're given an issue that you don't have a strong opinion on.

I wonder how they'll do that? Will they just send you an issue out of the blue and request an argument for or against it? Maybe a better way would be to just post the question in the paper and see who responds with the best arguments for and against. Then again, isn't that kinda what letters to the editor already are (in a way)?

But this column would likely have pro and con arguments side by side and, if they did select writers randomly, some people's arguments would be used and some wouldn't be. Feelings might get hurt and we'd end up with the same accusations of bias in the media we see already.

Still, however they end up doing it, any volunteers? One caveat, though: You won't be able to opine anonymously.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Rain, Rain and Snow

Seems to me this is the kind of weather we get in February. This is driving me nuts. I need to get to work. Actually, I need a job that doesn't rely on the good graces of the Weather Gods. What to do, but blog away.

I'll just blame the lost income on global warming.
Kat; I saw your comment on the weather but couldn't find where you posted it. I should mention in my blog header that if someone posts a comment in the archives, or even something from a few days back, it's often hard to find where it's been posted. All I get in my e-mail is the comment with no reference to what subject the comment was made on. If any of you do post in archived subjects, try to remember to include the date of the original post you're commenting on so I know where to find it.

Mayo vs. Geist

I was surprised to see Dennis Mayo come out so strongly against Supervisor Jill Geist. I could see him maybe not being too supportive of her but I didn't think he'd be so down on Geist he'd write a guest commentary denouncing her.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Richard Marks Is Back

Complicating the race for Fourth District Supervisor, Richard Marks throws his hat in the ring. He came in third last time he ran and I suspect he'll come in third again. I was actually kinda bummed when I saw him running because that race was already interesting enough for me and I wanted it to stay simple.

So now we have two left leaners, if not left wingers, in the race against one right winger conservative type. The question I have now is who will Local Solutions and the Democratic Central Committee endorse? I don't see how either group could have any beef with Bonnie Neely but maybe I'm missing something. If there'd be any problem at all, it would be that Marks is the only Democrat in the race.

I don't think partisan affiliation is as important to Local Solutions, but will partisan loyalty trump pragmatism with the Democratic Central Committee? We shall see.

Preschool Propaganda

I'm enjoying watching skuzbag Rob Reiner take heat over his organization's use of government money to promote his "universal preschool" intitiative. The Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub takes a closer look at what his organization was actually doing in this commentary.

Some of the excerpts of the memos are downright creepy to me. Dan Weintraub hits the nail on the head when he suggests: "If that's not illegal, maybe it ought to be."

St. Elsewhere

Speaking of hospitals; Let's hope we don't end up like some other places around the state. Looks like Los Angeles is having some real problems with their emergency rooms. Some of them are refusing patients for up to 20 hours a day(!!!).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

St. Joes Layoffs

Eeeghads! What is happening with St. Joseph's Hospital? Probably a year or so ago I commented here on some plans St. Joes had for expansion and I suggested that perhaps some of the other hospitals in the state that were failing should look to St. Joes for the way to get their house in order. I guess I spoke too soon.

This isn't too much of a surprise to me, though. I figured something might be in the works when I heard of their upper management shake up a few weeks ago. Seems often as not, when management gets shaken up, so does everyone else. I just hope they can keep the place up and running with the level of service they currently provide.

I'd like to know how they went in the hole in the first place? I realize it costs an awful lot to run that place but you'd think they'd at least bring in enough money to break even. Looks like they're millions of dollars in debt. We need to keep our hospitals up and running. You don't want to have to drive to Redding or Santa Rosa just for an outpatient visit to a hospital. Trust me. I know what that's like, and worse.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Berg Runs Again

I guess I'm not as an astute observer of state politics as I like to believe. Patty Berg filed papers to keep her seat in the state assembly again. I was under the impression she couldn't because of term limits but a quick check showed the limit was three terms, not two as I'd thought.

I see her around town every now and then. I'm always surprised to see her by herself. You'd think she'd have an entourage following her around as so many pols seem to have. Then again, maybe they don't. I've never seen Mike Thompson in person. Anyone know if he travels around by himself?

I know I saw Wes Chesbro at the Elections office on Harris and H Streets in Eureka one time and he was by himself, although he was there for some press conference announcing him running again and there were a number of people attending that function.

I even saw Barry Goldwater one time, right next to me as I was walking down the aisle of a commercial airliner in San Francisco. I wasn't sure at first it was him but then I heard the people in the seat next to me referring to "Barry" being up in the front of the plane. He was sitting in his seat with no one around him.

In fact, the people that picked me up at the airport in Phoenix said when Goldwater came off the plane, he looked around like he was expecting someone to be there for him. There was no one there and he walked off all by himself. You'd think there'd at least some political groupies following him around.

Maybe it's just a myth that politicians always have an entourage of aides and such following them around?

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Plug For Joy

Joy Finley asked me to give her a plug on my blog. She's the manager at Pacific Guaranty Mortgage and business is real slow cause of the price of homes nowadays. So, give please give her a call if you're thinking of buying a house around here. Heck, give her a call even if you're NOT thinking about buying a house. She'll give you a good deal. She has to stay in business if for no other reason than my wife will have a job to come back to after her transplant.

Pacific Guaranty Mortgage, 925 Sixth Street, Eureka 707-269-7159

Out Of Control!

Crime in Eureka, that is. So says Jerry Droz. At least I think he's the one saying it.

I found a flier on my front porch yesterday. Didn't see who left it there. It starts out with, "STOP Eureka's City Council and Mayor. We are having to support the same people that are destroying our city...". He then goes on to request volunteer petitioners and asks readers to send a postcard to a Eureka P.O. Box saying you'd like to add your name to a petition to eliminate the Council and Current Mayor this November.

The pamphlet then says it was sponsored by the Campaign to elect JERRY DROZ for Mayor and Head of City Government with the remaining space on the right side of the page filled in with Eureka Police Officer, Mike Quigley's commentary on the problems in Old Town that ran in the Eureka Reporter a while ago.

Don't know that he's got my vote. Something kinda creepy about that pamphlet to me. Wonder what solutions he's proposing?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Balko vs. MADD

One of my least favorite organizations is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. One of my favorite commentators is Radley Balko, who often writes for FOX News, among others. I was pleased to see Radley take on MADD in one of his latest commentaries. I agree wholeheartedly with him.

Govt. Supplied Wireless Internet

Privatization Watch, a monthly publication of the Reason Foundation has an interesting article this month. It deals with governments getting involved in supplying wireless broadband, which at least one local candidate (Nancy Flemming) seems to support. Unfortunately, the links on their web site to the .pdf files containing the articles are dead. I'll have to check back and see if they work later.

Privatization Watch is a pretty interesting publication. It deals with privatization of services often supplied by government. It comes out monthly and I have no idea how much it costs. I've been getting it in the mail for at least a couple years now and I don't recall ever ordering it. I know I've never paid for it. If any of you are interested in receiving it, there's some e-mail addresses and phone numbers on their web site. That would be the only way I know of to subscribe to it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bandow On Mosque Bombings

I generally avoid the subject of Iraq and some other popular blog subjects intentionally and I will continue to do so. I try to to avoid the popular blog subjects that everyone else has more than enough commentary on. I'll break that tradition this one time by passing on this short commentary by Doug Bandow on President Bush's proposal that the U.S. pay for rebuilding an Iraqi mosque.

Well said, Doug. I wish I would of written that.

Humboldt County Laptops

I thought I'd give a review of the trials and tribulations of my first use of a Humboldt County Laptop this last weekend. HCL being the name famous journalist, Hank Sims, coined for those of us that don't have the real thing and have to make our regular PCs serve the purpose.

I couldn't take my good computer with me to Frisco this last week. It's an Alienware tower and is just too big. So, I had to make do with my old 600mhz E-Machine and my old- style 15in. monitor. Problem was, I was taking the pickup and, with the wife coming along, there wasn't room for everything inside and it was raining. I figured I could put the tower and keyboard behind the seat as that wouldn't take up too much room, but what about the monitor?

At first I thought I'd put the monitor between us on the seat, but then realized that would be a bit much for a six hour drive, even if it could fit there in the first place. So, it had to go in the back. I looked around for some kind of container to put it in but came up empty. I figured I'd have to put it inside some garbage bags and tape them shut. The wife then suggested I use one her locking plastic tote bins she had upstairs to store sewing material in. We tried one and the monitor just barely fit along with my mouse and all the cables lines I'd need.

Problem was, although the lid locked, it wasn't water tight. So, back to the garbage bags. I actually managed to fit the bin into one garbage bag with just enough plastic left that I could duct tape the end shut. Using a ratchet style nylon tie down strap, I hooked on to some cleats on the lower part of the bed and just ran the strap over the top of the package thinking it would hold it in place if I put it on tight enough. It actually worked, although I was worried that the wind would probably rip the plastic bag to shreds so I took some extra garbage bags and duct tape with me.

Off we went, and I was surprised when we stopped at Piercy that the plastic bag was completely intact. But would it keep the rain out, I wondered? We hadn't had much rain since we started and it turned out to be the opposite of what I predicted from checking the doppler radar map on Intellicast. It looked to me like it would be raining fairly heavy off and on through Humboldt, then clearing in Mendocino and raining again towards the bay area. As soon as we got around Laytonville it started raining and it rained more and more as we drove on, coming down in buckets. Then, as we cleared Mendocino, it started tapering off.

So we arrive at the quaint Carl Hotel in San Francisco just before dark and I was thinking that kind of rain should show if my rainproofing works. We check in and find the rooms in the Carl are the smallest we've ever seen with hardly enough room to put all the computer stuff. This ought to be interesting, I thought, were do I put the computer? There was only a small nightstand and a small table the TV sat on and the phone jack was near the door and TV with only one wall socket.

They had told me they had wireless broadband but no accomodation for line connections so I had to be near enough the phone connection to connect to it and I didn't have an extension cord to get to another wall socket. Then I noticed an extension cord was used to hook up the microwave and refrigerator so I used that to set up the computer next to the door, disconnected the phone line and hooked the computer into the phone jack. The monitor package was opened and everything was fine so I quickly got all that hooked up and tried to connect using the SBCGlobal dial up numbers for San Francisco. Nothing.

I could hear the modem go on and some noise but I couldn't hear anything else because I hadn't brought along speakers. I tried for about fifteen minutes using three different numbers and I tried using the #9 prefix before dialing and without. Nothing. I don't know what the problem was.

So much for that plan. So now I'm sitting in a small room cluttered up with a computer I can't use. What really bummed me was I was going to have to haul the monitor back to the truck in the morning and wrap it up again. What a hassle. I didn't mind the tower and keyboard but the monitor was already a pain. I was getting to think I shouldn't of bothered bringing the computer along but I really did want to see how connecting away from home would work out.

We loaded up in the morning and made the one and a half block trip to UCSF and actually found a parking spot in the parking garage. Then the recurring hassle of unstrapping the monitor and putting the whole package on the front seat and locking it in the car while we were gone.

We go to the oncology clinic and take care of business there only to have them tell us at the end of the process they didn't have a bed available for the wife that day and we'd have to come back. They asked us if we could just stay around one more day and maybe then they'd have a room. I explained that we could go on doing this for days and it was costing us over $100 a day, never mind the work that I'm missing each day. I suggested maybe we should just go home and we could be back in six hours when they know for sure they have a room.

We compromised and said we'd head North. When the transplant coordinator returned around 3PM, he could call us on our cell phone and tell us whether there was a chance of a room at the hospital the next day. If we didn't get a call (I'd never used my cell phone outside Humboldt so didn't know if it would work on Roam) we'd stop somewhere about 3pm and call them. Right as we got out of Santa Rosa the cell phone rang and they said they were pretty sure we had a room the next day but they'd call us at 9am to confirm.

It was rush hour by now and we weren't going to turn around and drive back. Most of all, I wasn't going to stay at the Carl Hotel for more than one night. We'd originally thought of staying at the Day's Inn in Novato but didn't want to turn around and hassle with the rush hour traffic so we took an off ramp at Healdsburg and looked for a hotel. The first one we happened to pass by was the Dry Creek Road Travelodge.

Looked like on ok place. Of course, after the Carl Hotel, anything was an improvement. I asked the clerk if they had broadband access. The clerk didn't speak english too well but she said they had DSL hook ups. I think it was my fault for the misunderstanding as I was under the assumption she was referring to wireless broadband, as that's what most hotels, including the Carl, provide. I kept telling her for some reason I couldn't use the broadband but I could use the phone lines. It was a somewhat silly exchange on my part. It turned out, she was right. I was wrong.

So we get to our room. At least we had some room in there. I start looking for the phone lines and wall sockets. With the Carl Hotel you really don't have many options but here there were more choices. The limiting factor was the power source. I'd strongly suggest to all that when you take your HCL traveling with you take along an extension cord with a surge protector. That way you might be able to set up on a desk or table and still get to the power source, wherever they might be.

As it was, the phone jack was behind the bed's headboard, as was the closest wall socket to the phone jack. It was a bear moving the bed back for some reason. It was real heavy. I ended up putting the monitor and the rest on the floor next to the bed. I realized later, with a little strategic rearranging of the furniture, I probably could have gotten it off the floor by just moving one of the tables closer to the bed. Didn't want to go through the hassle at the time, though, especially if I ended up like I did at the Carl and not be able to connect to the internet.

So I have all the stuff in place and go to hook up the phone line and I see some sort of wall socket beneath the phone line. It looked like a DSL data cable. Hmmm??? I followed the cable and found a coiled up line next to the nightstand with a connector that looked about the same as my DSL line back home. I'll be damned, said I, they actually have hard line DSL here! I thought the girl was talking about wireless. I plugged the cable into my ethernet card and was online right away. CooI I'd wondered if there might be some kind of login hassle with a foreign system but that was easy.

So I had fun that night. Only problem was location. I was sitting on the floor and had to bend down to see the monitor. It hurt my back to type and the mouse was working a little jerky because I have an optical mouse and it didn't work well using a phonebook for the mouse pad. I soon found out that the optical mouse worked fairly well just on the carpet, which was a surprise, but the way I had everything laid out had me crossing the keyboard and mouse cable when I'd moved. Then the wife suggested using her suitcase as a table for the keyboard. That worked a little but it wasn't really flat so it still made for some rough typing.

All in all, though, it worked, and I was able to clear all the spam out of my mailboxes and do my daily sweepstakes entries. Made the trip a lot more bearable for me. One thing I should have done, in hindsight, was switch the table with the nightstand so I could put the computer on the table and sit on a chair while doing my stuff.

We left next morning, going through the same monitor packing hassle that, while it didn't really take too long, was just...well...a HASSLE. We got back to UCSF and went through a bit of a fiasco, not getting the wife into her room until around 4pm'ish. Damn. They said for us to get there by noon. I figured if she got right in I could make the trip all the way back to Eureka rather than spending more money on another hotel stay. Oh well. Now I'm stuck driving out of the area during rush hour.

I actually made pretty good time and traffic wasn't bad for that time of day. As I got around Healdsburg, I started thinking I could still make it home if I was careful and took my time. Then again, having my computer available I was able to check doppler radar and the weather forecast and knew a storm would be coming in. I figured I'd play it by ear.

As I got up toward Hopland it started clouding up and shortly after that it started drizzling. I gave up the idea of making it home and decided I'd stay over in Ukiah at a place I'd stayed before, the Discovery Inn. When I got there it was light rain with a cold wind behind it. I was glad I decided to stay there as the weather had gotten ugly.

The clerk at the Discovery told me they had wireless broadband only but he thought I should be able to connect using dial up. Later on I thought I should have asked is whether they charged for phone calls. Some hotels do. I wouldn't care about some 35 cent charge for a local call but you never know what they might try to pull on you.

So I get to the room and do my analysis: Phone jack there, a couple wall sockets, one there and over there. How do I put this all together. I really needed an extension cord to make this easy. I ended up turning the desk a different angle along the north wall so I could get everything closer to the power and phone jack. Had to unplug one lamp that was on the wall socket I was going for. I ended up with the everything on the desk at a weird angle with some of the cables crossing over each other. It was a mess and a bit uncomfortable but useable.

I put the Ukiah SBCGlobal dial up number in the dial up connection window and gave it a try. Couldn't believe it connected so quickly, especially after the lack of success I had at the Carl. Worked great and hardly noticed it was dial up and not DSL.

It was comforting to have access to all my weather and road info. When we were at the same hotel before there was a big storm and we wanted travel info. The Weather Channel doppler radar only showed the area around Ukiah, whereas Intellicast shows the whole north state from just below Frisco to Southern Oregon. I like to know what I'm getting into when I'm driving somewhere.

The next morning I woke up and headed home. No wrapping up hassle with the monitor this this or when I left the hospital as the passenger seat was sadly empty.

Overall, that experiment worked out pretty well but these old style monitors are a pain to drag around. I need a laptop or, lacking that, a new flat screen monitor. I keep trying to win one. I can't count on that but, then again, that's how I got my high speed Alienware computer; I won it in a sweepstakes.

I guess I'll have to keep an eye out on Humboldt Freecycle for one somebody wants to get rid of. I haven't jumped on some of the older ones I've seen offered there because you never know what problems you might be inheriting but, you know what they say; Beggars can't be choosy.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

I'll have to say I have a hard time following the writing of our two "Peace Embassadors" from Humboldt County, Ellen Taylor and Mike Evenson. They've been sending in fairly regular commentaries to the Eureka Reporter on their experiences of late in Washington D.C.

If I'm reading them right, both of their last commentaries seem to have a common theme: Both political parties operate the same way and for the same reasons- to keep themselves in power. That's just my interpretation of this one by Ellen Taylor, and this one by Mike Evenson. Again, maybe I'm misreading what they're trying to say or just putting my own spin on it.

I find it refreshing, though, to find something other than the ordinary partisan loyalty that we see brought to the debate by writers on just about any issue nowadays. Frankly, I would have expected the two to join the others in blaming all the ills of man one either the Republicans or Democrats as Mike Thompson seems to do in Evenson's piece. Refreshing indeed. I'd like to see more of such commentary in the future.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Stampeding Rats?

Apparently not. Looks like for the first time in years more people are leaving California than are coming here. I'd like to think it's because more and more people are fleeing California but, according to this news story, it only looks like that cause fewer people are coming here because of housing prices. I suppose that's a good a reason as any to not come here.

Still, it would be interesting to see the reasons most people leave. The news media generally say it's because of housing prices as well, but I tend to think there are a lot of other reasons. Oh well, I'm stuck here now. All I can do is sit here and wave good bye.
Oh; Thanks for the tip on photobucket, all. Took me a while to figure out how it worked, but now you're all blessed once again with my ugly mug on this page.