Monday, December 31, 2012

Oliver Stone: U.S. An Orwellian State

A rather strange interview with film maker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznik about the United States becoming an "Orwellian state". I thought it rather odd that someone like Stone, one of Hollywood's glitterati, would do an interview critical of Obama. After all, I was sure he voted for him.

Or did he? Perhaps Stone is one of Hollywood's rare libertarian types?

Checking Wikipedia, I had to read all the way to the bottom, but was surprised to find this:

"In 2012 Stone endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican nomination for President, but ultimately voted for Barack Obama in the general election."


Oh, more on the Orwellian police state here and here.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eureka Garbage Bills Climbing

Just received my bill from Eureka City Garbage (Recology) and was surprised to see the total for 3 months was $72.39. Wasn't it around $68.00 last time? Actually, taking a look at my last bill it was $69.59. It has gone up but not as much as I'd thought.

Looking back further, though, it was $68.19 back in 2009 when we first signed up for the green waste bin. That broke down to $3.00 a month for the green waste and $17.33 for weekly trash pick up (20 gallon container). Now, it's $3.60 for green waste and $20.53 a week for trash pick up.

On the bright side, maybe, is I could have sworn they were also charging $3.00 a month for recyclables pick up. I don't see that anywhere on the bill. I must have misunderstood how that worked. Maybe what they were saying is that you're paying for garbage service whether you wanted it or not, not recycling?

That's still at least a one dollar increase each year. Garbage bills will be sky high before we know it at that rate. That's why we dumped Cox Cable a few years ago. Their charges went up about a dollar year, too. The problem is, due to the infinite wisdom of the Eureka City Council, we have no alternative with garbage service since they mandate it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Mail Order Mattress

I hesitate writing about buying a mattress online but I didn't feel we had much choice. I'd looked at some local ads recently and it seemed as if even a run- of- the- mill basic mattress started at around $500.00, or more. No way we could afford that and I figured I'd end up dying on the mattress we've been using for over ten years.

Turned out the wife was thinking the same thing. Her parents bought a mattress via Costco that cost around $400.00. She tried it, liked it and wanted to get one. For whatever reason we didn't get one of those, but I could see Connie had her heart set on a new mattress so we looked online for something along the line of what her parents had bought.

We ended up finding this one fairly quick. One of those memory foam types that only cost around $274.00 delivered(?). I was leery at buying something we couldn't try out first, but Connie seemed to have her heart set on it so I filled out the online order form. There; SOLD on December 17. Now we'll just have to see if it was worth the money. I'm guessing for that price it might well be junk, or at least not last very long.

Got an e-mail right away saying it should arrive around January 2, which was fine with us. I received another e-mail with a tracking number for UPS the next day. I didn't bother checking the tracking number until the morning of the 24th and it said the mattress was scheduled for delivery that day!That was fast!

The UPS delivery guy showed up around 4pm in the afternoon. Having read reviews on the mattress, I was expecting a medium sized box, but the guy showed up with a large roll that he carried over his shoulder. I had him set it down at the bottom of the driveway figuring I could just pick it up and take it into the house.

Nope. Age takes its toll and I couldn't lift it, at least without likely hurting myself. I don't know that it was so much the weight as its bulk. It was the length of a mattress and maybe two feet or more in diameter. I couldn't get a good grip on it so I brought out my Harbor Freight Tools hand truck, put it on that and rolled it up to the front door.

I didn't expect it to be packed like that. It was in a nice nylon bag. Untying the knot at the top took longer than you'd expect. Finally we realized we should just cut it as I couldn't think of anything we could use a bag that large for, yet Connie could still cut up and use the nylon.

We lay the bundle at the foot of our bed for the night to be deal with next morning.

Next morning we still had a plastic wrap to deal with and some kind of a nylon/burlap type layer. It took some expert slicing on Connie's part to remove the plastic cover without cutting the mattress. Once we got all that stuff off from around it, the mattress popped open and started expanding to its normal size. We laid it on top of the bed so it could expand naturally. Amazing they could roll something that big into a bundle that size.

Online instructions advised taking the plastic cover off and letting it set for 72 hours if for no other reason than letting the odors dissipate. We didn't notice it at first but, after reading mention of it in online reviews, Connie could. She said it smelled as if someone had been painting, but didn't find it as offensive as some reviewers did.

I was of the mind to just lay it on its side in the bedroom for a couple days, per instructions, but Connie seemed to have her heart set on sleeping on a new mattress so later in the day we dragged the old mattress out to the front porch where it still sits.

We let the mattress sit on the bed until just about dark and then Connie put on the sheets and covers. I didn't really like the idea of sleeping on something with odors of God knows what chemical, but Connie said she couldn't smell it after she put all the sheets on.

Yes, it was a nice mattress to sleep on these last two nights. I don't know that I felt all that much better the next morning as some reviewers have wrote, but I did notice I didn't toss and turn so much as I did on the old mattress. When Connie woke up the next morning she said it felt so good she didn't want to get out of bed, so it works for her.

We'll see how long it lasts. I'll be happy if it lasts a couple years at that price. Ecstatic if it lasts longer. I suppose I should write my own review for the web site, too. I'll give it five stars, so far.

Now the issue is getting rid of the old mattress. I've been trying to call City Garbage to set up an appointment for one of my two free bulk item pickups we get each year but nobody answers the phone number listed on their web site. What's with that?  

Update: They answered the phone this morning and pick up is set for January 2.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Local Recycling Update: Beverage Packs OK

Beverage 12 and 24 packs are ok for recycling now. I suppose it may not matter to most folks since they've already been dumping them in their  recycling bins, anyway, but beverage packaging- the 12 and 24 pack type boxes that beer and soda come in- used to not be ok for recycling. I was told that some time ago at City Garbage in Eureka.

I was under the impression it was considered "cold pack", which are containers used to store food and beverages under refrigeration. They're made differently than regular paper and cardboard, I was told.

Then I read a comment to a blog a while back that you could recycle beverage containers, but I read lots of stuff on blogs where people say things that aren't true. I decided to look further into it yesterday and noticed the Mckinleyville recycling depot and Willits Solid Waste Services, where Eureka's recycling is shipped now, both made no distinction between cereal or beverage containers. So I e-mailed Willits to ask.

The gal that replied says it's ok to recycle beverage packaging. So much for that. I noticed they also accept milk cartons (rinsed out) so I guess those are ok, too.

Since one long held belief of mine had been shattered, that made me wonder about the other "cold pack" stuff, like frozen food containers. Surely they're still not recyclable? Wrong again. I sent another e-mail to Anita Furia at Willits Solid Waste Services:

My question:  Thanks for your quick reply. Would you know if frozen food containers; the boxes for frozen pizza, lasagna and such are also recyclable?

Her answer:  Yes, those containers are recyclable,; however, the cardboard piece the pizza sits on would not be recyclable if soiled. Also, the container the actual food is placed in needs to have the recycle #1 thru #7 on it and must be clean. The plastic that covers the foods would not be recyclable.

Hmmm...According to her you can throw frozen food containers in the recycling bin. I've never bothered looking at frozen food containers for the numbers as I knew even non- recyclable items have numbers on them. Guess I'll have to look again.

Monday, December 24, 2012

White House Petitions To Sign

Here's a couple of those White House petitions worth signing:

This one asks that Piers Morgan be deported back to England for attacking American's 2nd Amendment rights. I'm surprised it didn't take long to get the minimum 25,000 signatures on this one. I've seen other more important ones, as with the one below, that lag despite being of more serious nature.

This one urges the President to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Hagel is an outsider of sorts with Republicans as he's generally against U.S. interventionism and such. Antiwar dot com explains the War Party's attacks on him. This petition needs many more signatures, oddly enough.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Legislative Inflation?

Democracy lovers might like this new idea to reform state government. Former Republican presidential candidate, John Cox, is working to get the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act on the ballot in 2014.

How it works is we'd still have the same number of legislators, but they'd be elected differently. He wants the current senate and assembly districts broken into a bunch of smaller neighborhood districts. Those neighborhood districts, as part of a larger district, would elect each senator and assemblyguy.

There would be something like 12,000 paid neighborhood representatives. Passage of any legislation would need to be approved by the neighborhood reps before it could be passed into legislation by the senate or assembly.

This would supposedly make government more representative of the people and lessen the power of individual elected legislators by diluting their influence- inflating the legislature he calls it, just like inflation of money.

I suppose it's fun to consider but it seems like more California born political masturbation to me. Another idea along the lines of ....if we just elect the right people the right way...and the state will finally be run efficiently. I doubt it.

No matter how you try to mix it up you'd still have the same people running things as we have now- the same people that have run this state into the ground. Democrats would still vote for Democrats and they'd be the majority. Republicans would still vote for Republicans and we'd still have government meddling in more and more places it shouldn't. Probably even more so with so many more people in the mix and empowered politically.

On the bright side, one thing I could see coming from such an arrangement would be, with so many people involved, it could clutter things up enough that government might not get as much done. That would be a good thing, but I wouldn't count on it.

Let's see if this makes it to the ballot.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tax Eureka's Empty Storefronts?

Yet another one of those Craigslist political movements. In this one, local blogger highboldtage seems to think owners of empty commercial buildings in Eureka have an agenda and are ripping off... somebody because their buildings remain empty.

It's their fault those buildings aren't filled with thriving businesses so we should tax them further. He goes on to suggest that those additional tax revenues to the city will "stimulate the local economy", among other things.

Never mind the owners of those empty buildings probably pay fairly hefty property taxes already. They don't have any revenue coming in from those empty buildings to help pay those taxes, either. We should be glad they're able to pay the taxes they can.

I suspect with so many empty buildings in town rent prices for commercial property must be relatively low compared to many areas of the state.

I hardly think those property owners are responsible for the lack of businesses coming to Eureka. You certainly won't find me supporting this idea.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Speaking of Education...

Some interesting numbers from this CalWatchdog article on education back-in-the-day compared to a few years ago:

"According to the Friedman Foundation, “[B]etween fiscal year 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees grew 386 percent.'

“Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eureka's Pension Tsunami?

I can't find the earlier posts from a few years ago where I casually asked where Eureka and the county might stand in regards the public pension crisis that's caused some cities in the state to declare bankruptcy. With Eureka's city council working on purchasing bonds to fund their public employee pension fund, maybe we'll be able to find out soon?

Santa Rosa has a growing pension problem, according to the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat. There was also a commentary in the Press- Democrat yesterday suggesting Sonoma County is facing some serious problems with funding its pension plans as well.

It might be interesting to juxtapose City of Eureka's (and Humboldt County's) pension numbers with those of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. I wouldn't be surprised if we're worse off. I won't be disappointed if I"m wrong, either.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's In A Name?

The Times- Standard reports there's talk of changing the name of the Arcata/ Eureka Airport to the Redwood Coast Regional Airport. The idea being it will attract more people to the area. Tony Smither, Director of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau cites at least one example where such a name change supposedly increased traffic to an airport in Wyoming.

That line of thought doesn't really make sense to me, though. The few times I've flown anywhere, I've never made that decision because of the airport name. Heck, I usually didn't know the name of the airport until I arrived, if I even noticed it then.

I pick a place to go and have the airline or travel agent make arrangements for me- the airport name never enters the process. Either that, or pick the location then find what airport services the location, not the other way around. I'm sure most people do the same thing.

Whatever. It's not like it's going to cost a bunch of money and it likely won't cause any harm.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Implementing Legal Marijuana Laws

Reason magazine takes a look at two states that recently legalized marijuana. Focusing on Colorado, the writers suggest the proper way to implement marijuana policy. If they do it right, it could serve as an example to the rest of the country. Do it wrong and it could jeopardize legalization efforts in other states.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Obama Strategy For Attacking Legal Pot?

Reason magazine analyzes a New York Times article on possible Obama Administration strategies for clamping down on states that recently legalized marijuana. We should know by next year if they got it right.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A Homeless Bill of Rights?

Not sure what to make of this. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced AB5 which targets local ordinances against homeless folks. Here's what Ammiano sees as homeless "rights":
-- Sleeping in public spaces such as sidewalks and parks
-- 24/7 access to bathrooms, showers, water and clean syringes.
-- Car camping on city streets without restrictions
-- "Life sustaining activities" such as urinating and collecting recycling trash
-- Welfare cash payments
-- Meditating or praying in public
-- Panhandling
-- Payment for possessions seized in a roust
-- Right to refuse the offer of a homeless shelter
-- Right to a lawyer in most encounters with the law

I've probably been as supportive of homeless "rights" more than most. I strongly opposed Arcata's anti- panhandling ordinance, for example, but I don't know that it's fair to anyone to override local ordinances to this extent.

I'm not sure what the answer is to vagrancy problems, if there even is one. Leaving things as they are and letting it work out at the local level is probably better than passing this law.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Save Drakes Bay Oyster Company Petition

Here's one of those White House petitions you can sign to try and save the Drakes Bay Oyster Company that was recently shut down by the Obama Administration. Spread the word!

Raimondo Does Maddow's Justin Raimando slams Rachel Maddow for being a war propagandist. He then goes on to take a look at both sides of the War Party. A fun read.

Hat tip to the Rational Review News Digest for the link. You can subscribe to their five day a week news digest for free.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Global Warming Stuff

A couple commentaries on global warming I stumbled upon that I thought were pretty good.

This first one is from Forbes magazine back in February. The writer tries to "explain" the global warming debate. I have a hard time following him but think I see where he's coming from. Do you?

One difference between his line of thinking and mine is he seems to accept the planet is warming. I'm more skeptical, but I don't think that's exactly his or my way of looking at it. After reading it twice I think his thinking might be close to mine:

That the atmosphere might be warming (or might end up cooling, imo), but man's contribution to it is insignificant. Not sure he'd want to use the word insignificant, though.

This second one is from The Independent Institute. The writer starts out by opposing carbon taxes but accepting the position that man's CO2 is causing global warming.

He believes carbon taxes will be bad for the economy. They could also make the carbon problem worse as more manufacturers move to countries without the environmental regulations we have.

The comments show how polarizing the issue has become. The first one claiming the planet isn't warming, the second one claiming it is- an argument the writer points out he was trying to avoid.

It's hard to get past the is vs. is not on issues like this no matter how you try to frame the discussion, isn't it?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Humboldt Dentist Shortage?

I was surprised to read this letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee from a dentist in Ukiah. He claims there's a shortage of dentists in California. I'm sure that's true in some places but I was wondering if the opposite wasn't true in Eureka?

Driving around town I see so many dental offices I've often wondered how they all stay busy. I know there's a shortage of primary physicians up here, but dentists? Anybody had a problem finding a dentist? I wouldn't know because I haven't even tried to see a dentist in decades.

Addendum: Maybe I'm not too far off about how many dentists are up here? Just noticed another comment to the letter I've referred to which claims there's plenty of dentists, just not ones that accept government insurance (as is an ever growing problem with physicians).

I'll copy the entire comment here since SacBee is a pay site and many may not be able to read it:

If you're a real dentist, Dr Lewis, then you know that many dental practices in CA are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. There is not a shortage of dentists. There IS a shortage of dentists willing to accept DentiCal reimbursement that doesn't even meet their overhead. And you also should know that the various federally funded clinics operate is via an infusion of additional federal funds, either grants to the clinics, loan repayment lures to the dentists, or both.

If the feds simply ensured everyday practicing dentists could be adequately reimbursed, there would be no shortage. If the feds allowed cash basis offices to write off the cost of pro bono care, there would be no shortage. Please be honest.

Read more here: