Saturday, October 31, 2009

Brown Stumps At Irvine

With Gavin Newsom having dropped out of the race for governor, all eyes turn to the only known undeclared candidate in the race: Jerry Brown. The Orange County Register has a write up on a speech Brown recently made in Irvine. Looks like he did well, at least from the way the reporter writes it, although lacking in some of the specifics at least a couple of other candidates have put forth.

I know I hated Brown as Governor but, for the life of me, I can't remember exactly why. Still, I can't help but kind of like the guy after reading the account of his speech. With Newsom out of the race, it looks like we've got 4 half- way decent candidates running for governor next year. Actually, we had four half- way decent candidates earlier on, and one bad one with Newsom.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

California: Whose Fault?

The North Coast Journal's cover story this weekend is a guest commentary first published in the Bay Area Guardian. Taking my first look at the Journal's web page, I might have been appalled as I was when they ran the Obama fluff piece by Tom Hayden as their cover story back during the last presidential race. No opposing opinion was published back then. Shameless, I wrote (Aug 28,2008) at the time.

But I'd seen the actual hard copy of The Journal yesterday in a news rack and noticed they did provide an opposing view by local writer Ron Ross so I can't complain about that.

No surprise in what the two Bay Area writers think the problem is with California: We don't have high enough taxes. Not sure Ross could have said much more than he could of in response, but he does raise the point the Left won't consider: For whatever reason, businesses have left and are leaving California and not because we don't tax enough.

Amazing to me that so many lefties don't realize that it's the money from the private sector that funds the government they're so fond of and those businesses aren't likely to stick around if you keep beating them over the head over one thing or another.

As an aside, here's a nice piece The Journal ran some years ago about Prop 13 that shows what some local people would be paying in property taxes if Prop 13 hadn't passed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Which is the bigger problem?

I don't believe I've read anything from the San Francisco Chronicle's, Debra Saunders, in a while. She has a column in the Chron today about San Francisco allowing unlicensed and uninsured drivers to keep their cars. Seems a lot of them are illegal immigrants that can't legally get a driver's license.

I had to wonder, though, about a statistic she brought up: 20 percent of fatal car crashes involved one or more unlicensed or improperly licensed drivers.

What isn't mentioned is that 80% of the fatal crashes seem to have involved properly licensed and insured drivers. That's four times as many as caused by the unlicensed drivers. Shouldn't we be trying to get the properly insured drivers off the road instead? They seem to be causing most of the accidents.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Tax On Meat

This guy proposes a 50% tax on the retail price of meat. He knows what's best for you.


Tom Campbell's Budget Fix

The San Francisco Chronicle pointed out yesterday that only two announced candidates in next year's gubernatorial election have come up with specific plans for solving California's perpetual budget crisis. Both Republican Tom Campbell and Steve Poiser have both put forth, at least in some detail, how they'd get the state to live with its means.

Since I've been a Campbell follower for some time, I naturally took a look at his plan (I actually saw his plan first, then read the Chron article). Campbell points out on recent blog entry that nothing was really solved with the passage of the last budget so we'll likely be back to square one before the year is over. He's come up with a bold proposal: Use the money we spend for MediCal and Healthy Families to buy private insurance for all the people currently in those programs.

I think his numbers add up, at least superficially. The problem is, people in those programs are there for a reason. Either they have chronic, serious illnesses that make them ineligible for private insurance, or, they don't make enough money to pay for health insurance- never mind pay the co-payments and deductibles that go along with it.

Even if they could work out some agreement where insurance providers didn't require co-payments from former MediCal recipients, since so many of those recipients have critical and/ or chronic illnesses, the costs to the insurance companies would go through the roof and they'd have to drastically raise premiums for everyone as a result.

I appreciate Tom Campbell's initiative in trying to tackle the 800 pound gorilla in the budget crisis: MediCal. Still, I don't know how his plan to basically rid the state of MediCal would work. Then again, maybe that's the only thing we can do to close the deficit?

Addendum: Health insurance companies don't make as big of a profit as some like to think.


Friday, October 23, 2009

U.D.J. Does MJ

Wow. Looks like today's entire Ukiah Daily Journal is about marijuana. Quite honestly, I'm getting tired of reading about the stuff. I was surprised, though, to find out they no longer burn confiscated pot plants. They stopped doing that back in the mid- 80s. They bury them now.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zombie Does the S.F. Obama Fundraiser

Zombie did another one of her excellent photo essays. This time she covers the rallies that took place in San Francisco on October 15 when Obama gave a speech there. Unlike other rallies Zombie has covered, the Tea Party folks were the largest group present at this one according to Zombie.

The Scrappers Edge

I'm gonna give these guys a plug because they're so nice and friendly. Went in there earlier this week to get the affadavit for that BBQ I won last week notarized. One of their gals is a notary public. It's not often I go somewhere where the people actually act like they're interested in what I have to say so, this is their moment on my blog. They do copies, sell scrapbooking supplies and, of course, have a notary public on staff.

Best Frozen Pizza

I think these Freschetta pizzas are the best frozen pizzas I've ever had. Other frozen ones are a bit too spicy for me. Connie's been buying these at Grocery Outlet in Eureka. Love 'em.

Now, if someone could just come up with a decent frozen burrito, life would really be good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crescent City is Pretty

The Daily Triplicate is proud to announce Crescent City has been picked as one of America's prettiest towns, according to Forbes

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Times- Standard vs. Tri City Weekly

It took me this long to notice the Tri City Weekly is thicker than the Times- Standard?

Monday, October 19, 2009

State's Singletons Focus of Meeting

Looks like there's a meeting in Sacramento today that will be taking a look at bottom feeding lawyers (like Eureka's very own Jason Singleton) that are abusing the system of American's with Disabilities Act regulations. They even mention Singleton's aborted attempt to burn the Squeeze Inn earlier this year.

No mention of what actions this California Commission on Disability Access might take to deal with such issues but, from what little is said in the story, I suspect nothing. The way I read it, while they mention the Squeeze Inn case, the story makes it sound like Singleton's just doing what's needed to be done and all these cases are simply a matter of businesses not paying enough attention to existing law. Businesses just need more education!

The least these committee folks need to do- assuming they have at least some power in that regard- is to require separate warning of violations be given before any monetary penalties or damages can even be considered. In other words; Singleton couldn't try to sue anyone until the business had been notified of the violations and been given a certain time (6 months or so) to make corrections.

I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Hair Stylist Available

Lisa, over at the Life blog, needs more clientele. Head on over there for all your hair cutting and styling needs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Speaking of cell phones...

...the Times- Standard had a story today about people still chatting on cell phones while driving. Well, maybe some of us who get annoyed by the danger imposed by these folks might get a laugh back at them...or maybe not?

It seems the State Air Resources Board has come up with a new regulation that requires all cars sold in California to have special glazed glass. This glass supposedly reflects heat from the sun and thus requires less air conditioning in the car which supposedly leads to better gas mileage.

Aside from the dubious claim this move will save gas, the clincher is the glazed windows supposedly degrade radio signals like those that come from cell phones and GPS systems. So, it might be fun for some of us when the cell phone chatters are screaming over not being able to talk as easily from their cell phones in their cars. Maybe some won't be able to talk at all?

That will only be a short laugh, though, as it won't be long before all the chatters that don't already have external cellphone antennas buy one.

Nope, we won't be laughing long. This will certainly be costing us all money in the long run with the Detroit News reporting it will take 5 to 12 years to recoup the increased car costs by supposed reduced gasoline use. They don't seem to consider that it's likely a lot of people might start buying cars out of state to save money after this takes effect. None of us will be laughing then. Not even the people who don't own cars.
As an aside, in regards the claim that reducing air conditioner use will result in better gas mileage, I'm not so sure that's true. Can't say that for sure but my understanding is that a car without air conditioning gets better mileage that one with. The reason being the air conditioner itself puts a drag on the engine because the air conditioner is run by a belt, just like the belt that runs a water pump. My understanding is the air conditioner reduces gas mileage because it's run by the engine. It doesn't matter whether it's on, or off.

Some mechanic told me that years ago and suggested that, for better mileage, I could just cut the belt that ran my air conditioner (so long as that belt only runs the air conditioner). Don't know how true that is but the truck ran fine without that belt, although it still had to drag the weight of the rather large air conditioner.

Addendum: I've been trying to find out more in regards air conditioners and gas mileage. Did a Yahoo search and got these results. Not sure what to make of them. They seem to say yes, no, maybe, kinda, depending on a number of things. None specifically refers to my understanding that the air conditioner itself drains energy from the engine although they suggest that turning it on drains more in some cars.

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Cannabis Petitions Available

The California Cannabis Initiative folks are circulating petitions now. Their petitions are available for download on their web site. Unfortunately, the petitions are on 8 1/2" x 14" legal size paper only so I'll have to go find a couple sheets of paper that size before I can print one.

This is one of two or three marijuana initiatives in circulation. I'm a little confused as to which one is which and which one does what from looking at the list of initiatives on the Secretary of State's page.

Since this seems to be the only one available for download- at least that I've found- I'd suggest printing one out and getting as many signatures as you can. Then send them in, even if you only have your own signature to submit. Be sure and fill in all the blanks.


A Political News Quiz features this political news quiz today. Twelve fairly easy questions that I answered correctly although I wasn't sure about two of them- the one on health care spending and the one on the national unemployment rate. As with all tests, I don't know that I could of done nearly as well if it wasn't multiple choice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reason TV on Whole Foods' Health Plan

Perhaps a little late for issue, but it deserves to be seen:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Balko On Texting While Driving

Regular visitors here know that, while I opposed laws against talking on cell phones while driving when they were first proposed, I've been more than happy to see people get tickets for such behavior now that those laws have been passed. Now some states have passed- or are trying to pass- laws against even dumber behavior: Texting while driving.

Radley Balko
, from The Agitator blog, gives a really good argument against such proposals in the U.S. News and World Report. Here's the counterpoint argument. I say Balko wins.

Addendum: Just out of curiosity, I thought I'd put up a poll for all of you on the issue of cell phone use while driving. Be honest now:

Do you talk or text on your cellphone while driving?
Yes, but only with a hands free device
Free polls from

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disappointing, so far

Not even an eighth of an inch of rain, so far, according to my rain gauge. It looks like it's raining pretty good south of us, though, with some snow on the east side of the Sierras.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Latest Win!

Got a phone call about an hour ago. I was a little annoyed as I was in the middle of a fight in Aces High and didn't want to have some telemarketer jerk me around.

Turned out it was the rep from some sweepstakes I entered telling me I was chosen as one of their Grand Prize winners. The prize is a Webber grill. I think it's like the one pictured at left, if I'm remembering the prize and sweepstakes (some "blah, blah tailgate sweepstakes") relation correctly. Or, maybe it's one of those bigger ones. Cool, huh?

The only thing is, we already have one of these Webber portables. No biggie, though. As we often do, we'll find someone in the family that might want it.

Now I'll wait for the affadavit the gal said she'd mail to me. I fill that out and send it back and then she'll have the grill shipped to me. No idea how long that will take.

Pretty neat. I've been thinking this has been a slow year for wins. All I've won, so far, was a Nurf basketball set. Maybe this means my luck is changing?

Skelton Looks At Campbell

Los Angeles Times columnist, George Skelton, takes a look at GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Tom Campbell this morning. It's no secret Campbell has been my preference out of all the major party candidates running for Governor. I still can't help but like the guy but I'm wondering again if I might just end up voting for whoever ends up the Libertarian Party candidate.

Shame, and I'd like to think I'm not being overly focused on some issues. He already seems to have backtracked on decriminalizing marijuana- assuming he ever supported that in the first place. That should be expected, though, shouldn't it? He'll have a tough enough time winning the GOP primary as it is without calling for an end to the pot wars. Still, I would of liked to see at least one candidate stand up on that issue.

Skelton mentioned a few other issues I hadn't brought into the picture in regards gubernatorial candidates: Campbell opposes offshore drilling, supports the so- called open primary and opposes moving back to a part- time legislature. I'm strongly in favor of offshore drilling and, though not firmly entrenched on the opposite side of an open primary or part- time legislature, I'd say I'm on the opposite side of the issue on those, as well.

Ahhh... what do I know? He still might be the best choice among the major party candidates, but it's highly unlikely he'll make it past the primary. We'll keep an eye on the candidates but won't worry about who to vote for until we've narrowed down the candidates a bit.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Energy Savings: A Comparison

I received an almost unpleasant surprise yesterday. My bill from PG&E showed up in my inbox and it was over double last month's bill. How could that be, I asked myself? Did they raise rates as I thought they were going to do? Nope. Turned out I neglected to pay last month's bill so I had to pay for two months.

Whew! Close one.

But it got me to thinking. I mentioned earlier this summer that we'd been chosen by PG&E to participate in a program they had to promote energy efficiency for poorer people's homes- us being on their poor people's program. They had some contractors show up and put in weatherstripping, replace light bulbs and such.

So, this last bill showed around $22.00 total for both electric and gas with the usual nickel and dime fees added in. Pretty good compared to most people's but, it seemed to me, our bill was usually close to that this time of year, anyway. With the energy efficiency work by the PG&E contractors, I wondered how this year's bill would compare to last year's for the same billing period.

Turns out I was wrong about the bills being about the same. PG&E has a bill comparison application on their web page (you'll have to register and log in to the page to use it). You can pick a billing period from this year and compare it to last year's. They even break it down further and tell you why your bills differ. Here's what mine showed:

This year's: 9/11/09- Total bill: $22.50
Last year's: 9/9/08- Total bill: $40.87
A difference of $18.37 lower than last year's.

Here's how they explain the difference:

Gas rate changes ( they provide a link to show the difference in prices) caused an $8.00 decrease in the bill. That confirms recent news that natural gas prices are lower now.

Gas usage decreased, contributing to savings of $5.00: .45 therms this year to .56 therms/ day last year. That could be the result of at least some of the energy efficiency work they did although I wouldn't be surprised if some of our lifestyle changes contributed- taking fewer showers being an example.

Electricity usage per day contributed to $4.00 less than last year's bill: 5kwh/ day to 6.59 kwh/day last year. That could be the result of some of the energy efficiency work, too.

Shorter billing period for gas this year saved us $2.00.
Shorter billing period for electricity saved us $1.00.

Definitely some savings there from the energy efficient upgrades. More so than I think could be credited to lifestyle changes alone. The real test should come this December and January when we're running the heater a lot. It will be nice to see a big difference in heating costs then but I'm not counting on it.


For The Mill

For those that don't frequent Richard Marks' blog, there will be a rally in support of the proposed Freshwater Pulp Mill on Thursday, October 22 at noon. Here's the company's new(?) web site. I'm wondering if Xandra Manns or any of the others who have expressed relief at Evergreen shutting down will show up to counter- protest?

Man On A Mission

Let's wish this fellow godspeed in his mission to convince our congresscritters that carbon dioxide isn't a toxic substance.

Hat tip to for the link.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Outlying Areas Get Recycling

It's kind of nice that people who live in outlying areas of Eureka get curbside recycling service now. All this and nobody's being forced to sign up for it, at least not yet.

Interesting that the county met their state mandated waste reduction goals over ten years ago. From today's Times- Standard:

"The county's state-established waste reduction goals have been met and surpassed, Smith-Hanes said, largely based on wood waste diversion that took place in the 1990s."

Hmm??? I'm guessing that has something to do with logging?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Heating Less Expensive This Winter?

This news item showed up as a condensed version in the Times- Standard's sidebar this morning. They're expecting as much as an 8% decrease in heating bills this winter due to lower fuel costs and predictions of a mild winter. I wonder if we'll see the savings here? I thought I heard not too long ago that PG&E was planning to raise rates.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Neat Quote

At least I like it. From Lisa's blog:

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves. .....

Some, including Lisa, have attributed the quote to Abraham Lincoln, but a quick search showed others are attributing it to William J. H. Boetcker.


I can't help but wonder how appropriate it is for a Eureka City Councilguy to lobby Fortuna on behalf of the Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA), as reported over at Heraldo's. I've been given the impression that, by joining the HWMA, Fortuna would be required to implement mandatory garbage and recycling services as has been forced upon Eureka.

This whole thing stinks, to me, of some sort of corruption. I've read time and time again of what seem to be behind- the- scene deals between cities and counties and their garbage services. Sonoma County just made a mysterious back- door deal down there that the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat editorialized about.

This sort of thing seems to be happening more and more and I can't help but wonder if these garbage companies and some reps in local government are involved in some racket? Hey, I know it sounds far- fetched, but maybe the State Attorney General's Office needs to be looking at the forces behind the scenes of all these mandatory trash pick up proposals that both city councils and garbage companies are falling over themselves to impose upon us?

Somebody must be making a bundle on this.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Clove Cigarettes Banned

And the bans go on! Obama's first (and hopefully last) ban took place without most people even knowing it was going to happen. Clove cigarettes, a popular tobacco substitute, have been banned as part of the anti- tobacco bill Obama signed earlier on.


Friday, October 02, 2009

EPD Charging Drunks For Accidents Now

The Eureka Police Department has joined others around the state and jumped on the revenue bandwagon. They'll be charging suspected drunk drivers a fee of $350.00 if they're involved in an accident requiring emergency services.

(The story appeared on the top of the A2 section of today's Times- Standard but strangely isn't featured on their web site. You have to wonder: Is that by accident, or design?)

I certainly find such policies troublesome. Hey, I'm not condoning drunk driving, but this just seems like another case of kicking someone when they're down- something I definitely don't approve of. Someone suspected of drunk driving already has a major life problem on his hands and, if convicted, will likely be paying all kinds of fines and possibly facing imprisonment, anyway.

And this fee is due even before the suspect goes to trial- within 2 weeks of the incident. There also doesn't seem to be any recourse, as of yet, for the suspect to get their money back should they be found innocent of the drunk driving charge.

City Attorney, Cheryl Staffner, doesn't see that as much of a concern. She's quoted in the article as saying because these fees are a civil matter, "Civil consequences are generally money, it's not going to cost you your liberty.". Gee, I feel so much better about this now.

I'll have to say that Ms. Staffner's cavalier attitude about individual liberty sounds akin to Larry Glass'.

The bottom line is, this is likely here to stay and gives EPD additional incentive to push the envelope when it comes to evaluating possible drunken driving cases as they make money for the city whether the suspect is guilty, or not. You can bet this won't be the last we've seen of such fund raising gimmicks and they'll be dragging more and varied groups people down with such efforts. They're just starting with drunk drivers because most of us don't mind kicking someone when they're down.

I've suggested it before and I'll do so again: Maybe it's we take our various law enforcement agencies out from under the purview of the Justice Department and place them under the Franchise Tax Board?

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Martin Niemoller

Thursday, October 01, 2009

USPS Charging For Address Changes Now

Online, anyway.

Just got through the process of changing a mailing address for a friend of the wifey. The friend is a 98 year old lady that was moved into a care home. So, Connie goes to the post office and was given a card by someone there that had instructions to change mailing addresses online.

I'm guessing if they still offer the old change of address cards they're still "free", but the online address change ends up costing you a dollar. They use the debit card info to make sure it's a legitimate name change and not someone playing a nasty prank on somebody else.

I will say it worked fine enough, except their change of address page was down every time we tried it yesterday. I don't know that I blame them for charging a dollar, either, although it does seem odd that this supposedly more efficient way of changing addresses costs you more money than the old way.

It did seem a bit shameless when I got to the end of the process and they offered me a list of commercial e- mail lists to sign up for- shades of Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. What was that all about?