Sunday, July 31, 2011

Perch Fishing For CalPers

Interesting piece many might have missed in the news regarding the Surfperch Tournament held for the Samoa Fire District this weekend. I had no idea:

”Every year our CalPERS (retirement fund for state employees) bill is nearly 100 percent of our budget,”

And that's just for the few firefighters from back in the days of old when the Samoa District had paid firefighters. It's been an all- volunteer department since 2001.

I suppose it shouldn't be any surprise that retirements are 100% of their budget. Still, that has to be one of the best examples of where we'll end up if we don't do something about the public employee retirement systems.

Addendum: Here's the commentary Ernie refers to in his comment.

One thing that we need to keep in mind when discussing public (or any other) pensions, is that these pensions shouldn't be the only income public workers should have to look forward to after retiring.

The commentary mentions social security, but nothing says these 20 to 30 year employees can't save and invest money on their own throughout their lifetimes. Very often they do just that.

There's also nothing saying retired employees can't find employment after they've retired and a LOT of them do. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, but I can't think of one retired government employee I know that didn't go out and get another job after retiring.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Don's Rent All Closed Sundays

Called up Don's Rent All in Eureka a couple Sundays ago to rent something only to find them closed. Who'da thunk? I would think Sundays would be a big day for a place that rents equipment to homeowners who need things on the weekend?

I was in there today to rent a hedge trimmer and I had to ask why they started closing on Sundays. I was told it was the first time in 50 years. They closed for Sundays over the winter. When they opened on Sundays again, they found they made more money when they were closed. Bummer, for me, at least a couple of weeks ago when I needed to rent something.

As an aside, I was a bit confused by their web site at first. One banner somewhere on the site said they were open 7 days a week. The other said only Monday through Saturday. I e-mailed them and mentioned the discrepancy. Looks like they've corrected it now.

Good to see at least one business that pays attention to their e-mail. I've seen a few that seem to ignore it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rose= Top Commenter?

I agree with our very own Rose Welsh's comment to Sue Brandenburg's My Word in today's Times- Standard.

More important, though, is how Rose got that label next to her name: "Top Commenter". How do you get one of those? Who decides and what's the criteria? I want one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Am I The Only One?

I'm hoping this is an area wide DSL outage. Why? Because if it's just happening to me, then I have to figure out what's wrong! If it's happening to everybody, then AT&T will fix it.

Was having problems from the get- go this morning and was only able to get to a few of my sweepstakes sites. Came home from work around 1pm and figured it had to be fixed by then but, nope, couldn't get anything at all with DSL.

Finally, I decided to try my dial- up connection and it's working quite well. Much better than last time when I had to use it. I can hardly tell the difference between it and DSL right now. Rather odd, as I often can't connect with dial- up if I can't connect with DSL. Lucky me.

Anyone out there?

Now to see if I can finish entering my sweeps.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

North Coast Travelogue: July 24-25

Went down to UCSF again on Sunday. A little different trip this time as we changed a couple of stops: Our lunch/ bathroom break and the overnight accommodations.

Left around 10am Sunday. About an hour earlier than normal, but the motel we were staying at was a bit further south. Connie offered to make some iced tea for me so we didn't make our traditional stop at Taco Bell on the way out of town.

That turned out to be a bit of an annoyance. Connie had used an old Taco Bell cup for the iced tea and fabricated a lid out of the lid from another container. She'd punched a hole through the top for a straw. That seemed ok to look at, but when I tried to take my first sip of tea, I got a bunch of air mixed in with the tea. There was a leak in the straw, probably caused by the rough edge where she cut the hole in the lid.

I put up with that for a while but finally figured out I might fix it by turning the straw upside down, thus putting the hole in the straw beneath the liquid. That worked, and we got another straw at our first stop.

It was nice to see water in the Eel River, although it wasn't as high as I'd expected after hearing so much about the high water in local rivers and the resulting drownings. I guess much of the Eel's water gets sucked up by counties south of us.

First stop was The Peg House for food and bathrooms. We traditionally stop at the One Log House in Piercy but since they stopped offering hand made sandwiches, we decided to try somewhere else.

There was a bit too much hustle and bustle at The Peg House for me, summer vacation being in full swing. People all over the place. Connie wasn't happy with the bathroom as she said it was pretty dirty. I think I'd heard that from someone else, too. I used the porta- potty outside the fixed bathrooms and thought it was remarkably clean.

Connie bought one of the store's deli salads for $6.00 and later said it was great, although they didn't seem to offer different salad dressings. You get what comes in the container. I wasn't that hungry so just bought a Toll House ice cream cookie for about $3.00.

So the food was ok and, taking a brief walk around it seemed like a nice place to stop with their immaculate container gardens. The Peg House Grill, out back, seemed a bit pricey though, with a hot dog going for $4.00.

Will we be back, or go back to the One Log House? I'll let Connie decide next time.

As we got to Willits I was getting a bit of a headache. It didn't help to be surprised by traffic backing up at the north end of town. I'd forgotten it was summer and congestion was to be expected so it took a while to make to the Willits Safeway for gas.

As we approached the Safeway I noticed the Chevron station to our left seemed to have cheaper gas than Safeway. I think it was $3.50 something at Chevron and $3.69 at Safeway. How could that be? It might have been a mistake as when we came back through on Monday Chevron gas was once again a bit more expensive than Safeway's.

The Safeway gas station was packed. The vacationing motor homes added to the mess. I thought I'd have to wait but the car in front of me passed by an open pump and I slipped in and got my gas right away while other cars piled up behind me. Connie bought some cold drinks for us at the Safeway's Starbucks and off we went.

A bit slow south of Santa Rosa all the way through Petaluma then it cleared up. We drove by our usual place to stay, the Novato Day's Inn, and I didn't think much of it. It would have been nice to put an end to the drive right then, but I was game to try some place else.

Connie had expressed a bit of frustration over the Day's Inn. The rooms not being furnished with microwave and refrigerators seemed to be a big issue with her. I had to admit I was getting a bit tired of the same place, too. Connie took to the internet to look for a new place and then I got involved. Eventually, we came up with The Villa Inn, in San Rafael.

As we got into San Rafael I went on alert for the Lincoln Avenue turn- off. I usually just drive by without looking when we go through there. Now I had to pay attention. The instructions gave me the impression the turn- off was right after you enter San Rafael. Turned out it was like the third or fourth exit.

Directions also gave me the impression it was just two blocks down Lincoln Avenue. Seemed more like four to me, although there wasn't much in the way of cross streets to gauge that by. On the way out it seemed like it was definitely two blocks as we were back on the freeway before I expected it.

The Villa Inn is in a mostly residential area and it's remarkably quiet being right next to the freeway. When you see those walls alongside the freeway in San Rafael, that's where the place is and those walls really do cut down on the noise.

I won't go into a full account of the good and bad of the place. I did write a review for Yahoo Travel that you can read here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. As I write in my review, I wouldn't say I'd look forward to staying there, but I never look forward to driving to San Francisco to begin with. The place is ok and if we can't find some other place to try, we might well stay there again.

One good thing about Villa Inn is checkout is at noon, a bit later than some other places, but I wanted to get to UCSF before the parking garage filled up. We left a bit after 9am and arrived at UCSF about a half hour later. Still the same hassle of a drive, albeit a little less of it since we started from a ways further south.

Plenty of parking in the parking garage, as there was when we left. If it was always like that and, if I wasn't such a worrier, we could hang at the Inn for an hour or so more instead of being stuck at UCSF.

While we waited I tried to check e-mail on my laptop. I couldn't get into the UCSF wifi. It's always worked before although I'd have to remember just how to log in. I was connected to it but I couldn't seem to log in. Not sure if it was me, or the system. I finally gave up.

Despite a chart showing the doctor was running on schedule, she showed up at least 15 minutes late, if not later. After Connie got her consult the doctor asked her to get a pulmonary test done and I was bummed. We both wanted to get out of there, but we went along and the place for the test was on the same floor.

Remarkably, we got there and were in and out within maybe 20 minutes. Not too bad, although I'd prefer she do tests like that up here when she has more time.

So, off we went, with the parking garage tab coming to $17.50. That was more than we usually pay and Connie suggested maybe the rates went up. They might have but we were there a bit longer than usual.

So we race away from UCSF only to get stuck in a traffic jam a mile or so out from the Golden Gate Bridge. I thought it was from the road work being done but the radio said something about a traffic accident near the bridge.

A problem developed earlier on: I was getting really sleepy back at the clinic. Usually when we get headed home that goes away. This time it wasn't going away. As we headed north I was getting sleepier and sleepier. I was worried.

We got to discussing were we should stop next and both agreed to get something to drink and take a bathroom break at the Cloverdale Starbucks. Turned out to be a good idea. After we got going from there I felt half way decent again.

Some burritos at the Willits Taco Bell for dinner on the road and gas at the Willits Safeway. We were both surprised and relieved there wasn't the usual bottleneck in northbound lanes of Willits that is the norm for summer. I think getting out of UCSF about an hour later than normal saved us from the traffic jam in Willits.

It was straight through to Eureka after that, arriving home a bit after 8:30pm when there was still light out. I love getting home when it's still light out.
Next time we won't be so lucky.

Addendum: Looks like the page with my review of Villa Inn shows my ratings one time but not the next. Just to clarify, I gave the place a 2 for Cleanliness only because of the water stains and peeling wall paper in the room. The rest of the room seemed quite clean.

Some of the other reviews of the place, both good and bad, I find a bit out there. Especially ones saying how it's the best place in town. Then again, each to their own.

While I wouldn't exactly recommend the place, I don't have a problem with staying there. There's only one motel that comes to mind that I would recommend and look forward to staying at although I rarely stay there: The Discovery Inn in Ukiah. It's generally not near enough to where we're going but, when I do get a chance to stay there, it's something for me to look forward to.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What a deal!!

Just noticed this great deal in the Humboldt Craigslist Sporting classifieds:

Pig Hunt

I have a pig that has gone feral on my farm.
I can't catch the bastard and if you would like to pay me $100 for the opportunity to shoot him you are welcome to it. We will be butchering him and keeping the meat. You are only paying for the opportunity of killing this pig. A weekend morning is preferred.

Any takers?

Friday, July 22, 2011


Hard hitting commentary in a Times- Standard My Word column by a number of former city council critters this morning. They're taking current Eureka City Council gal, Linda Atkins, to task for her Us vs. Them attitude and actions on the council.

I'd be interested in having an election or some sort of objective poll taken to see how well Ms. Atkins popularity is faring amongst Eureka folk now, at least among those who pay attention to the issues.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eureka Streetsweepers Up Again?

The streetsweeper came by the house this morning. I think this is the second time in at least as many weeks. The first time I might have heard it but mostly noticed it because of the telltale sweep marks on the side of the street. This time I actually got up and looked and, sure enough, it was the streetsweeper.

You'll recall they stopped doing regular sweeping some time ago due to budget concerns. I'm wondering if they're starting regular sweeping again and, if so, why? Maybe it's just a temporary thing to make sure the sweeper doesn't fall apart from sitting idle?

I suppose it's nice to have them running but it really doesn't make much difference to me. I pick up the trash in front of my house regularly and find it kind of fun. The streetsweeper does get a lot of the leaves and other debris in the gutters I tend to ignore so I guess that's a plus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hate Them Damned Queers!

Too funny, but something I've felt for some time was true: This study showed "homophobic" guys are more likely to get turned on watching gay porn than non- homophobes.

Had a very good friend who was relentless in putting down homosexuals. Brought up the issue fairly often. One day we were sitting in my back yard talking. He'd just got done with some anti- homo diatribe. It got quiet, he looked at me and said a bit softly; "You know, they say guys who rant about queers the most are often queer themselves". I replied, "Yep. That's what they say". Then we went about other business.

I've often wondered if he was trying to tell me something?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Kneeland Post Office

Shame to hear the Kneeland Post Office might be closing. I had a little bit of experience there back in the late 70s. A gal I met, Becky, used to live next door to it and her mother was the postmaster. What a cute little place it was.

Becky and I only hanged around together for a month or two, but there were some memorable events. I recall her calling me to come rescue her and her daughters after a fairly heavy snowfall. I took my four wheel drive truck up there and brought them into town to do some grocery shopping.

As far as the post office went, I remember once when the mail contractor for all points southeast of the post office had his car break down. I think he was Becky's brother or uncle. He drove a long route to the outlying ranches delivering mail. Becky asked me if I could help him get his route done so we got in my truck and drove him miles and miles around to the outlying ranches to drop off the mail.

Neat job that guy had and I would think it would have been fun to run that post office. But all things must come to an end eventually. I can't imagine why the owner of the building would want to end the Post Office's lease. What else might he have in mind for the building?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No More Drug Czar?

Sounds like a fun idea to me. What does the Office of National Drug Control Policy do to earn its keep, anyway?

The Marijuana Policy Project reports that Congressmen Jared Polis and Ron Paul have introduced an amendment that will defund the ONDCP. They even provide a pre-written e-mail so you can add you personal info and send it to our very own Congressman Mike Thompson to urge him to get on board this effort.

I don't recommend e-mails but, if that's all you can do, it's better than nothing. I just typed up a fax and sent it to Thompson's Napa office. If you'd like to do the same, his fax number is 251-9800. Call or write Mike Thompson now and ask him to vote YES on the Polis- Paul amendment.

Addendum: That Napa fax number may not work. I just noticed my fax program said there was no answer. I'll figure that out later.

Update: I guess you leave off the area code for making that call as it's same as ours.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Is This?

Take a guess. This is something we wanted to get rid of. I ended up posting an ad in the "Free" section of Humboldt Craigslist (with a description) and was surprised at how many responses I got by this morning.

I also tried posting it on Humboldt Freecycle but, as has been the case the last two times I tried Freecycle, they wouldn't accept my post because of one thing or another. Last time I had to submit my post 3 or 4 times to get it right. Craigslist looks like the way to go.

Anyway, take a guess. Winner gets the satisfaction of me telling them they're right.

Oh, and if you're interested in it, it's gone now. The first guy to reply to my ad picked it up about a half hour ago.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

GO Gary Johnson

Radley Balko reports all Republican candidates for president are being asked to sign a "Family Leader Pledge". Former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, is the first to say he won't sign it. I can't help but love the guy for it. I'm with Radley: How many others will have to guts to say no? Probably none.

It never ceases to amaze me how Republicans feel they always have to bring up something to try and appease the Religious Right. Will they never learn?

Saturday, July 09, 2011


This doesn't grow around here but it's all over Southern California where I used to live. It's Stramonium Datura, known as Jimson Weed. The reason I bring it up is there is a Datura species that grows up here commonly called the Japanese Lantern.

Years ago the Japanese Lantern made local news. If I recall correctly someone ate some seeds and had to be hospitalized. The press made an issue out of the plants and mentioned they could be used as a hallucinogen. They even showed one that was growing in the front yard of a customer's house on A Street, down on the west side. The morning after the news cast that plant was all cut up- some ne'er- do- wells recognizing it from the news and wanting to try it out themselves.

I don't know if the ones grown up here are the same as Jimson Weed, but Jimson Weed is indeed a drug. We found out about it as teenagers after Carlos Castanendas' Teachings of Don Juan series was published. One of the local guys ended up mixing some up and spreading it around amongst us Irvine kids. I wouldn't recommend playing with it.
This was brought to mind by this Sacramento Bee article that I stole the picture from. They also brought back another memory about datura plants: The seeds. I guess those were those hard thorny seeds we used to hate as kids. The article is right. They could puncture tires and, as kids who often ran around barefoot in the summertime, we'd be hating it if we stepped into a patch of them. There wouldn't be just one or two. There'd be a whole bunch. They sucked.

Anyway, just some old memories.

Oh, and another supposed hallucinogenic: Morning glory seeds, which do grow up here. I've never tried them. Takes hundreds of them to do the trick from what I've heard, though.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Show And Tell: My First .pdf File

I've been playing around with the Open Office program the computer guys put on this system after they reformatted it. I decided to just use it instead of reinstalling MS Word. Seemed like a simpler solution.

I noticed it lets you convert documents to .pdf (Portable Document Format) files. Not sure if the latest version of MS Word lets you do that but I thought I'd give it a try, having never created a .pdf file before.

I actually hate it when links send me to .pdf files, but I can see where it might be useful. So here's a copy, with some additional commentary, of the latest (and first) fax I sent with that lame Microsoft Fax Services program I recently installed.

On this computer- since it has Open Office(?)- .pdf files are opened with a Fox It Reader. If you don't have that, Acrobat Reader will probably open it. Let me know if the link and file works. It works for me.

And be sure and drop a line to Mike Thompson in support of the bill I mention. We need him to become a co- sponsor.

Addendum: Hmmm??? Link doesn't work with blogspot, but worked when I just dropped it into my browser. Have to figure it out.

Yep. Still works fine if I copy and paste this link ( Fax.pdf ) in my browser, but won't work if I click on the link I inserted in the post. Any idea why?

Addendum #2: Let's see if the commenter's link works pasted here: Link

Addendum #3: Ok. Mike noticed something I didn't. Let's see if this link works. Yep, it does. Not sure how I missed that. I've been pulling what's left of my hair out trying to figure out why one works and the other doesn't. I'll have to try it again. Maybe tomorrow.

Let's try it again: Here's the link.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict

An absolute travesty. She should have been convicted on at least some of the charges related to her daughter's death, other than just lying about it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Saved By The Bank

Or credit union, I guess.

Some of you may remember a few weeks ago, back in the middle of June, I suffered a major virus attack that resulted in me having to reformat my hard drive. The trojan allowed all kinds of stuff in, including programs that could steal information. I was worried about that and kept an eye on my bank account for a while. Turns out the bad guys waited even longer before trying to use my debit card info, part of which I had stored on a form filling program.

Got a call from the credit union security folks a couple hours ago. They were inquiring into the validity of a couple debit card purchases that had been attempted around 10:30 this morning. I'd made neither of them. Both were for small amounts of around 80 or 90 cents. I'd read elsewhere that's how the crooks check to see if the card info is good: they try to charge small amounts and that's what I kept checking my account for.

I told the gal I hadn't made the charges. She told me one of the flags that got their attention was that they tried to use invalid expiration dates with both purchases. I guess it's a good thing I'd decided a year or so ago to use invalid numbers when I stored that card number info on Roboform. I just kept the real date in my head and insert it when needed. Good thing I did or they'd probably be charging things to my card as I write this.

As for now, the gal canceled my old debit card as soon as she knew the bogus charges were attempted. I haven't added my debit card info to Roboform since I reformatted my hard drive and have no plans to. Should be ok now.

Kudos to the security folks at Provident Central Credit Union for catching this and giving me a call. I love it when they do that. I've had calls from them every now and then over the years, but this is the first time it was an actual crime in progress.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Tyson: Firing Allowed Dignity

I'm glad to read Tyson's brief account of the firing differs from the widely distributed version posted elsewhere- that version suggesting Tyson gave Nielsen five minutes to hand in his equipment and leave the office. According to Tyson, it was Nielsen's idea to turn in his equipment and he was given plenty of time to gather up his things. I'll take his word for it, unless someone can come up with compelling evidence to the contrary.

I still feel Tyson could have just told Nielsen he had until Monday to clear out his stuff, absent serious reasons that would suggest he need be shown the door immediately.

The feeling I've had from the start was that the firing was simply the result of some serious bad blood between Tyson and Nielsen. I still tend to feel that way. However, I find it hard to believe that four out of five council folks would support that firing if that's all it amounted to.

This puts the majority of the council in an unfortunate position: They can't discuss specific reasons for the firing because of the privacy involved with personnel matters. If you disagree with that, consider how you might feel if you were fired and your employer went public with the reasons for it.

As a result, they end up looking like the bad guys, especially to the Nielsen supporters, many of whom weren't happy with those council folks to begin with. They can't win in this situation.

But I have to wonder about Linda Atkins? Why would she be the sole vote in dissent? Might she think the specific reasons for the firing aren't valid? Or might she be simply voting against the rest as she feels that's her proper role in this ongoing us vs. them/ Left vs. Right situation?

Hard to say since she can't comment on the specifics of a personnel matter, either. But it wouldn't surprise me, given what seems to be her self- appointed role as council contrarian, that she might vote against the council simply because she feels she's supposed to be on the opposite side and that she's supporting the wishes of "her" constituency.