Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's True, and What's What? In Short: WTF???

Perhaps I'm one of those conspiracy theorists. Except, I have no definite theories in that realm. Experience tells me that battles fought on the public stage may very well not be as they seem, but that is just fact, not theory. Knowing the truth of one or two such issues which pitted one interest against another with Congress playing watchdog, referee, bad cop, good cop, etc., the general technique is clear. What is tedious to track or prove is when that scam is being used.

One key give away is when anyone in power, who has ridden to power on a well funded campaign, pretends to abhor "special interests". Every lobby group from unions and oil companies to churches and animal rights groups is a special interest and represents a piece of the election money pie. That is irrelevant.

What I don't get, one thing I don't get, is why would you more deserve to have your college loans paid for you if you take a government or tax paid job? That is bullshit. Sorry, my linguistic skills are lacking. There should be a more succinct, less profane way to put that. Did you know of all union members more work for government than private companies? That may give a clue as to where union management's bread is buttered.

I wonder what the real truth is regarding the last four wars or so. That thing in the Balkans I did not get at all. I thought Gulf 1 was pretty much set up in advance, but I have no idea why. Only myself and an ex Marine friend were pissed and opposed as we saw that one developing. Only us out of the circle of people I knew at the time--to clarify.

As far as Gulf 2, first I was opposed, then waffled slightly for, then I don't know. Actually I was and am against it, as I have been opposed to involvement in that part of the world since the 60's. We arm them then fight them and the reasons given just don't wash. I am not quite convinced.

Regarding the terrorist angle of that, why were known nitwit extremists not rounded up before they could do harm when we knew who they were and where they were? I'm talking ones who were right here in the USA, inexplicably.

Dammit. The rest of this post was lost and it was the good part.

Maybe I can summarize:

Things are not as represented, and rarely the thinly veiled supposed underlying structure, either.
It is idiotic to play favorites, especially by rewarding students who want to be bureaucrats. If they want to reward, do it on merit, like top .5% of the class,

Does it make sense to blackmail banks into making shaky loans, then cover the loss with tax money, then charge the banks extra fees? That is the biggest scam going and it is so confused no one will ever trace how that money is laundered. Give us someone to blame and hate while ignoring the fact that the root of most pain and evil is government sanctioned, spawned and enforced.

If I wouldn't die for it, I wouldn't expect someone else to die for it. The last four or five wars are bullshit. I'm not positive but pretty sure. I hope someday to know the real truth behind how these things are conceived and by whom and for what purpose. There was no doubt that we'd eventually be in the mid east long term, given our stupid involvement there the last fifty years. It is a set up. Someone wanted it this way.

Whatever the crisis; be it drugs, terror, the worst economy ever, global warming/cooling/climate change, you name it---the end result of the solutions and policies to fix it always result in further control over the individual's conduct of his/her life. It always is an excuse to restrict and infringe on individual rights. Rights once considered self evident and inalienable, at least over here. I think in europe rights have always been considered a privilege bestowed on citizens by the state, provided the citizen proves worthy. That is now the case here as well. It p[isses me off.

I believe republican and democratic parties both assault the sanctity and freedom of the individual. They attack on different fronts and have different special interests to which they show outward allegiance. In reality they are funded by pretty much the same entities. It doesn't matter because neither is willing to hold to the concept of freedom as spelled out in letter and spirit in the constitution (prior to 16th amendment) and declaration of independence. It was a new concept that you could actually put it together like this and form a country. Elements of it were conceived throughout history but not put together like this and actually used as the basis to from a country.

people want benevolent dictators. They never are benevolent. If they were they'd believe in the idea that the nature of man is to be free and innocent until proven guilty, not view him as an applicant who may be permitted rights if he is deemed worthy by the state.

Don't wory, even my own family doesn't agree with me. My very closest relative thinks I'm a moron. Obviously I don't. But if you do, you are in good company, and a misguided idiot, lovable though you may be.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finally, Out of the Recurring Fog

That is the only way I've ever known how to describe it. Maybe I knew some other way but, if so, I forgot. Periods of a foggy perception of the world and the life around me. Those are the days when I function at very low IQ. Lower than it ought to be. Seems like it, anyway.

They did tests several years ago and assured me it wasn't in the category of "everyone feels like that sometimes", and it wasn't my imagination. That was a huge relief because the alternative would be that I'm just nuts. Since then I tried various prescription drugs and home remedies. I quit the RX several years ago because of side effects I did not like and because I felt like a piece of me was missing.

Anyway, in the end you just compensate or adjust. Now that is something most people have to do in one way or another. I've at least learned not to make rash decisions when I'm fogged out. Usually there is a tendency to get all down and out during those periods. Sometimes my work is not too good when that happens, but how would I know?

The more I have to do the less the chance of falling into the fogola. There is never a guarantee. This stretch lasted over a week, maybe longer.

Probably the fumes from the stripper I was using on saltillo tile helped pull me into a good mood again. I can now think. And you said I should stop sniffing glue. Ha! Just goes to show how often conventional wisdom is wrong.

That would be a perfect note to flow into a rant regarding the state of the union but I won't. Instead I keep thinking about all that water in the ocean a few miles from here, and the fact that most of the water comes from way the hell up north, and most of the time there are warnings about water usage and how low the supply is. Got to be ways that don't break the bank. Of course if the cheap, possible ways of producing power became legal, that would help the situation, too. Most everything you do with water takes power.

In any case, problems like that can be solved. It just takes someone figuring out how, then having the wherewithal to implement it. Those things aren't done by bureaucratic fiat. It is just something that isn't done cheaply at this time. I'm sure there is way it could be.

Here on Ballistic Mountain we use well water. I grew up on well water in Miami. Much of unincorporated Dade county had wells. Some of the newer places didn't. I doubt Kendall had that luck. There is a certain freedom to it. There are always different ways to do things, and always ways that aren't yet discovered or tried. That last bit is what is so often missing when people discuss these matters, especially in the public forum. A few options are laid out and that's that. Usually they all have drawbacks either functionally or philosophically.

Please send me an ipad when you get around to it. I think it is a go.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Football Analysis and Coins

The best way to enjoy football even if you have a home team is to have several second favorite teams as well. Otherwise, if your team beats themselves in the playoffs you can still enjoy the rest of the season. If you hate all the other teams then you stay bummed out because your guys blew it on the way to the Big Show.

Part of the deal when I moved to San Diego county was to become a Chargers fan. If not you get run out of town and it would get ugly. Fortunately, I found the Chargers an easy team to like, although I was skeptical of the coaching at first.

Now I support the coach, most of the players, and take it personally when the few rotten apples mouth off at the wrong time, commit really dumb fouls, on and off field, and when the refs make bad calls against my team. Maybe next year things will be better. They certainly made a good run and had it within their grasp. In my opinion a few key players just didn't hold the focus and want it enough when it counted. The others, who don't go to strip clubs until 2 or so in the morning the Friday before the game (technically the day before since it was actually 2AM saturday morning they were out clubbing), couldn't carry it by themselves.

Anyway, what do young millionaires need with cheesy strip clubs? If you are paying to see live naked women, and you can buy the best, why pay for what you can't touch? These guys have women throwing themselves at them, why pay at all? Not to mention that it is dumb to go drinking during playoff week. It really irks the locals who like to support them, buy tickets, team jerseys and generally help pay their salaries. Maybe they should give players some classes in community relations, common sense, and a general "where the rabbit ate the cabbage" rundown.

Be that as it may, today was a day that included four of my second favorite teams, so I wasn't heavily invested in any of them. My Charger friends still hold the Manning grudge since Eli snubbed San Diego when they drafted him back when. I am a Payton Manning fan, I like his advertisements and on field audibles antics. They barely tolerate this so I can't push it too far. The grudge carries to the whole family, even Archie.

At the same time, I had become fond of the Jets, when not playing us, because of Sanchez and their general style of play. They could be a force to to be reckoned with next year. Why did they lose to the Colts? My theory is that what happened is that the Colts scored more points before the alloted time was up.

As for the Saints vs Vikings, that came down to a coin toss. Normally, if you are using a quarter, call heads. It has a slight advantage for some reason. However, I think they use a special NFL monopoly coin in pro ball, so if you go into overtime and get to make the call, always call tails. As soon as the guy from the Vikings said "heads" I knew it was curtains. In sudden death overtime with those two teams whoever got the ball first was bound to get at least a field goal. And they did.

The fact that Minnesota fumbled regularly did not help matters. They could have avoided the loss. I will concede however that there was a defensive player alertly prying the ball out, which helped the fumble happen in about every case. I was sentimentally pulling for Favre (pronounced "Fah VRAY") to make it to the super bowl and win.

As much as Brett got beat up in the game I hope he goes into coaching or something like that. He can still do all the things of a quarterback except survive the hits like the younger guys. He's already won the big deal and he did an amazing job this year. He can be proud of that. I'd be worried that another season would be less successful and probably take a few decades off his life.

On the up side, New Orleans has never made it this far, to my knowledge, and they have a great attitude. Plus when Brees is hot few in the sport have ever been better. This brings me to a slight dilemma. Who do I bless with my wishes for the win? I like Indy, but it would be cool for N.O. to win. I predict that Colts will take it 33 to 20. I think I may pull for the Saints, though.

See how easy it is when you are OK with so many teams when yours punks out? It is not very stressful although I would be happier to see the Chargers headed to Miami to whip up on the Saints.

If either of the coaches calls me for advice, all I can tell them is to pick tails if they get to call the coin toss, and to score more points than the other guy. I'd also suggest minimal posturing and dancing every time a good play is made in the early going. It gets old and obnoxious, and often you look stupid if the other guys win.

****weather was back to near perfect today, a little chilly, maybe in the 50's and 60's. You can cut the relief with a knife. We thought the sky was falling. All that wet and frozen stuff spoiling the view. Scary. I could easily become a real life mad as a hatter SoCal citizen. Maybe I already have..

Friday, January 22, 2010

Benefits and Puzzles

All I get is antenna TV, and only CBS and ABC. That sucks because NBC is doing the winter Olympics. So, I came in from the sleet, and helping the neighbors fill in the 18 inch ruts in the road out front. A little bit of shovel work.

Someone got stuck to the gills as she spun her tires until she bottomed out the van. A recuer came with a tractor and pulled her out but the road was a mess from her and from the heavy rain making creeks and crevices where none had been for many years.

It surprised me to see a fundraiser for Haitian relief on all TV stations I could pull in, except for the talk show in spanish. That reminds me, Hugo Chavez is claiming the USA caused the quake with some hypothetical or fictitious weapons test. Creep. Who in the world is doing the most to help? The US f***ing A, Hugo. Like most socialist dictators, his game is not a generous one.

Unfortunately I don't know most singers and musicians on sight. This benefit doesn't mention the names of the performers. Most of the actors who give a spiel do not introduce themselves. The most well done money drive I've seen in awhile. The low point is Anderson Cooper, who introduces himself each time the camera cuts to him. He is such a ...I don't know. Words fail me with that piece of work. beats Chris Matthews.

So far the most incredible tune was a rendition of Hallelujah (?sp) by, I think, Justin Timberlake, and some guy, maybe John Mayer or someone. Not sure. I think it was Timberlake. Whoever it was purely jams out. What a singer. If you saw it and know who was playing, let me know.

It does bug me that this is the only choice on my limited TV, but not as much as wondering whether they have figured out how to use all the men and material already there. I wonder if the people asking for money actually give a substantial amount themselves. Usually when you do a benefit, it is as if your big effort playing for free is some wonderful gift. A lot of times they pay your expenses, feed you, etc. Either way, they must have raised a huge amount of money.

What other country gives so much to people in other lands? And that is just the voluntary part I'm talking about. Something is upside down in the rhetoric that's been floating about for a number of years.

I'm impressed with how few celebrities had to say their name as prelude to their message regarding the relief effort. No one better ever claim we are racist bastards again. This aid to Haiti is probably the quickest, largest relief effort in the history of the world. The effectiveness won't be known for years. With luck the place will get a new start with less of the two class stupid dictator form of government, etc. To put it back how it was would probably not be a good idea.

The sleet came down so fast and hard here, it was almost like being peppered with bird shot for riding motorcycles through that guy's yard. OH. You weren't there. It was back in the old days in south Miami. Actually unincorporated Dade County.

In a matter of a minute the ground was covered so it looked like snow.

Finally, I was able to do something helpful here on Ballistic Mtn. My landlord and his son were out there with shovels, and the road was not passable beyond our drive, up the hill. Another guy came down with a tractor with a scoop attachment. He'd go get dirt from the side of the road, or down the road, then dump it by us and we filled the ruts. About 40 or 50 feet of road was in real bad shape. Good thing they had an extra shovel or two.

There was a kid named Erik hanging around. The tractor guy's son I think. He decided I was the go to guy, so we became pals. There was a small shovel by the one I went to the house to get, and he wanted to help. so that worked out. What a cool kid.

It is pitch dark up here but we had a portable light out there, and the tractor had lights. Even so the kid fell in a ditch by the road that was deeper than he is tall. I guess he's about 8 or 9. I had to pull him out. He found it as funny as I did. If all kids were as cool as Erik, the world would be a better place. I get attached to kids fairly easily. Same with stupid animals. That's why I don't take on pets if I may move away or something like that. It is easier to get hurt through affection than one might think.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here We Go Again

In more ways than one, we're awash in waves of whatnot. I use the word "we" rather loosely. It is a matter of integrity that I admit I can only speak for myself, even if I think others experience something similar. I don't know your pain or your exuberance.

However, I can speak for my immediate surroundings when I say it has been raining cats and coyotes, and the wind has hinted at becoming rather forceful. Again. Storm of all history continues. It came in a number of waves, the last of which should amble through this evening and be gone by tomorrow morning sometime.

My neighbor witnessed a palm tree blown onto a 4runner on I-8, The Eight, in California speak. Floods here and there and surf which makes the hardcore wave riders want to risk the the currents. I think at some point they had to let their desire for the big surf go unsated.

Clouds have sometimes blown through at eye level across the back canyon. It is odd that they drop down over there but rarely seem to engulf the ballistic cabin itself. Probably a technical explanation which eludes me. Coyotes have been silent so I imagine they are pondering this question as well.

Other storms of a more abstract nature threaten to blow through my mind. That can't be allowed. OK. So I messed up about ten thousand times. Get over it. Over doing regret or confoundment won't be constructive. Being a human is not as easy as it looks. If I knew what I really am I'd form a special lobby group and get myself included in hate crime, health care, and various other types of legislation designed to ease my burden, whatever that might be. Or else I'd go back where I came from. Obviously I'm not an English major or I would have said "from whence I came" or similarly inconvenient phrase.

The blanket of low dark clouds, weeping and moaning, triggered thoughts of turning points in my life. Most of these involved things heard and things ingested. Then there are times when it involved things said. Rarely did it involve things seen, at least not often without other interaction. I mean serious turning points which caused turns in path. Ears and mouth. You'd think the pivotal moments would have involved more interesting parts. Not so much as far as the deeper level of things.

Not to say that there haven't been some very strong motivations otherwise sensed, but the guiding compass was most influenced by words and other things which enter through the head somewhere. I don't like the way it feels to recall or ponder such things. It feels deadly.

So, I run. That's what I do best. Figuratively, or with the aid of motorized vehicles, not so much the old fashioned way, actually running using my feet and all that. I don't really know why. It just seems that I manage to disappoint people and I don't always know why they feel that way. In my mind I don't put others through that same hardcore set of secret rules. Possibly I do, and don't see it. I don't understand people much of the time. Never have.

There's a difference between being critical and just not getting it, where people are concerned. I'm in the don't get it camp. That has screwed up big chunks of life. Yikes, I do something really stupid, but it was because I thought that was what they wanted or liked, or how it is done. No, I guess it wasn't what they like. It didn't make sense to me either. I was just going by the clues and cues as I saw them. Either we live in a world of mixed signals, or else the rules are elaborately disguised.

In retrospect I had the priorities confused. Now those same possible priorities aren't there. Being my own priority is no good and not motivating. I could care less about my own best interest. I'm just as confused as I was way back then.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Storm of the Millennium

The little bit of news I've been able to catch tags this weather event as big REAL BIG. Flash floods, possible avalanches, likely power outage, and the ever prevalent collateral damage resulting from slippery roads and drivers who get drunker and drive faster when it rains.

In SoCal the roads get much more slippery when it rains like this than they do in paces like Miami. That's because we don't get much rain and the humidity is not very high, generally speaking. The mountains and desert and sea shore are all within a good marathon runner's day's work. Certainly within a day's tour for the hardcore bicycle warrior.

The wind here on Ballistic Mountain is reminiscent of hurricanes in South Florida. The big difference is that it is colder and the ground is not so porous. I'm hunkered down up here, eying the camping lanterns hoping power won't go out any time soon. It almost seems inevitable, but you never know. I'll do a Dan Rather and hope against hope, or against the wall.

They claim winds could exceed 60 MPH, and from the sound of it out there, I don't doubt it. The deck faces north, and wind is from the south, so I can go out there without much trouble. Open the front door and it s another story. This is not the perpetual warm springtime fare to which I've become accustomed. I didn't sign on for such hostile treatment from the elements. When I finish here I've firing off a complaint to the chamber of commerce, the governator, and the city council.

This is an outrage. Wind is whistling and growling and throwing sticks at the walls of the cottage. Good thing this cabin is built as solid as a bomb shelter. Other little piggies are in danger of their house being huffed and puffed and blown down.

Yikes, I'm not liking the sound of these angry gusts. I wonder if the mock windmill will survive. Let me look. Wow, the windmill was uprooted and blown over.

Priorities. Got a pot of Cuban espresso brewing. It's easier to use the electric method, so better get that done in case the lines fail. Wish against wish that I had more reading material. I still have 100 ages left in a Grisham novel. I sent the last of my Haissen ones up north. I'd already read it but it has been awhile.

No doubt this is the result of CO2 and cow poots. I'm doing my part by not exhaling. Still, the panoramic view out back is splendid enough. There is much to be said for being born in the USA, hiding out in the best of cabins in Southern California rather than being born in Haiti with the world caving in on you. I'm stocking up on water in case the pump loses power. Relatively speaking this is pure luxury. I'm not wondering if I'l ever get food, but what food I will consume.

I don't think of these things with a guilty conscience. Not a zero sum game. My good fortune does not create lack and want elsewhere. Just saying, one man's angst is another's heaven in some cases. High class problems.

The action outside has calmed. Those things come in waves. It is supposed to storm again Thursday and rain more tomorrow. I'm hoping to begin some indoor work up the coast tomorrow, provided rads are passable and not too crazy there. You can't trust news reports because they'll indicate a place is flooded and disaster has struck when conditions aren't that bad. A temporary mud puddle becomes reason to build an arc.

I have video but the connection is slow. Maybe I'll pull a still of the windmill on the ground. It's only about seven feet high. One of those that just spins in the wind for appearance sake but serves no other function.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pillar of the Community Busks to Fund Lawsuits

That's right, I am a pillar of the community, anonymously and invisibly. However I did agree to play a sort of gig prior to a town hall meeting here in East County. That is boondock hilly mountain region of SD county.

My partners in musical crime are heavily versed and involved in the effort to thwart a very devious and dishonest scheme being perpetrated by the public utilities board and SDGE in very southern CA. The catchy, happy go lucky name of the project is Sunrise Power Link. It is supposed to provide power from "sustainable, renewable sources" like wind sun, and maybe cow flatulence. A wonderful project to bring GREEn energy to Caleeforneeya del Sud.

The reasons my neighbors are not pleased are myriad. One primary concern is that they'd run the lines right through Ballistic Mountain. These aren't like regular lines, they are very large towers carrying something like 500,000volt lines. In that range you run into electro-magnetic issues, some of which are suspected to influence humans on the cellular level, promoting not such good results. But that is only a fringe concern.

Before I list the highlights of the scam, let me tell you about the busking. My compadres wanted to play a bit before the meeting, just acoustically at the entrance to the community center. They laid their guitar cases on the ground and I saw the chance to live the dream. I always wanted to play on the sidewalk with a hat or open guitar case for people to drop in tips. I convinced Kevin to leave his case open, and toss in a few dollars of shill money--give the people the idea.

It worked, we raised a double digit figure to contribute to the legal efforts now underway to squelch this tyrannical boondoggle.

The project is being touted as something to bring clean energy to SD county in a way that will be wonderful for all. Here's the real story:

* By their own data, SDGE does not actually need this, as it has been shown that they cut back supply purposely to simulate shortages that don't exist

* The actual hookup is to unregulated plants across the border in the Baja which are oil and gas fired plants.

* the proposed path of the lines looks like a gerrymandering scheme for congressional districts. It zigzags everywhere, and could be run down the median or side of I-8, but some other agency doesn't want that.

*Plan A was a route north of here and while pushing that they said they'd never run it here.

*they claimed the board hearings on this were open to the public yet the neglected to let any public know about their meetings.

*Locals found out the plan when surveyors showed up on their property. More than one property owner ran them off

*they got caught by Mexican officials bribing other Mexican officials to secure that end of things.

*they actually plan to run the power to LA, not San Diego as advertised.

All these things are fact, not conjecture.

They'd go underground with the part they plan to run down the main street of Alpine. Two large underground conduits down a two lane road which is like many of the western towns, bike, pedestrian and horse friendly, small shops and businesses on either side---a nice little stretch of things.

Construction of that part would take 2 years, and the whole time it would be down to one lane. If there is a fire that will make evacuation a nightmare. It was bad enough in the past when they had to skadootle under normal conditions.

The process of erecting the towers involves a lot of water, not sure why. It also requires blasting and that could collapse the veins which feed our wells.

So many issues which SDGE clearly is not addressing and has no intention of "mitigating". They like that word, mitigate.

The meeting itself was one designed to give information and to provide a forum for people to ask questions of our county representative and SDGE. The county has no direct power over it. That goes to the state's Public Utilities Board, appointed by Arnold. He threatened to fire them if they did not ram this through. Must have skin in the game. It is not a case of logical development being opposed by modern day Luddites and people who worship all of nature except their own species.

Totally irrelevant, but I became bored with this post. Surf's up off Sunset Cliffs.

SDGE classes one issue as one which simply can't be mitigated---that is the fire danger issue. The towers and lines prevent air support in case of wild fire for a broad distance around the towers. Air support is crucial to the fire fighting procedure. That means any property near the towers is a greater risk, and could possibly be destroyed in cases which otherwise would not happen. It also means that in cases in which the spread of fire could be squelched before it got out of hand, it would have to be allowed to go unchecked.

My thinking is that from all standpoints the plan smacks of corruption. I've never been fond of long distance power transport anyway. If you don't use many local points of generation, then put a damned nuclear plant somewhere and be done with it. I also thing the waste ought not be trucked out but secured in the deep down, on site. Peeling away the knee jerk fears and emotional aspects, it turns out that nuclear is actually a better deal than most methods, when properly done. The horror stories of Chernobyl and such had mitigating circumstances which were way out of the realm of reasonable practice.

Anyway, we have a project to supply that which may not even be needed according to the power companies own data, running a route which is not only more expensive than other routes, but which disrupts more private property, and would pretty much ruin businesses in Alpine. It would transport relatively dirty energy from Mexico, which has nothing to do with the friggin windmills and such, draining more money from the US.

The path of the lines across the border apparently makes for a bad security situation and a better opportunity for people to sneak in.

So much information came out of the meeting, I was impressed. The people kept their tempers down and let the SDGE reps have all the rope they wanted to hang themselves. Townspeople were incredibly articulate and well informed. They had facts figures and data that none of the power company people could or would dispute. They just tried to side step. The county rep was obviously on the side of her constituents and couched her info without much spin, but she let them know the who, what and where if they wanted to influence the outcome of this thing.

The place was packed, maybe a couple hundred people, plus. Here I kind of thought the place was populated by California rednecks, and there are plenty. Maybe so, but they sure are a bright bunch. How many times, in a setting which fires passions, do you see a crowd like that be quiet and let people talk, even when they disagree? It was absolutely the most well conducted and most substantive town hall or civic function I've ever seen. It made me kind of proud.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Maybe a Good Omen

As I tested something to do with saltillo sealants over at the O house, it occurred to me, once again, that SoCal is the land of humming birds. Maybe I was near a nest because one with a very bright ruby head buzzed me when I least suspected it. He was like the Red Baron, buzzing in out of nowhere.

I've gone years of my life without seeing one of those little birds. Now I can see them from my front door, back door and in the fountain at the sometimes residence of my indirect employer.

Yesterday this character was perched at the edge of the fountain. He just sat there while I stood on the other side, not three feet away. He finally took off, but now he likes to buzz me when I don't expect it. So far he hasn't attacked, but he's come close enough for me to feel the breeze created as he buzzes by at near supersonic speeds. Those things are quick.

I take it as a good omen. Not as good as it would be if he landed on my hand and told my fortune in English with a slight southern accent, but good enough.

My friend K's boyfriend, M, who is now also a friend, had a very good humming bird omen. They are young punk kids, about 21. He was at a friend's house which is undergoing renovation, and a humming bird was upstairs, confused and trying fly out the closed window. It was just bouncing off.

M saw this and said the bird kept it up even when he walked up to it, so he gently scooped it into his hands. The bird was exhausted so it just sat there resting on his hand while he took a picture or two with his phone, walked downstairs and out the back. After awhile he set it on a bush and it flew away. It could have flown anytime because it wasn't confined, just sitting on his hand.

To me that is a remarkably good omen. I think young K has done well in her choice of this guy. He may be living a charmed life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

About Smiles

Here in the out country of SD county I've casually encountered a couple of people whose countenance set me to thinking. One of these guys drives an older Cadillac, and from over hearing conversation, seems to fancy himself a ladies' man and rock star.

He is never without a grin of sorts. I think he's proud of his teeth. We've had a few words and I noticed the smile doesn't match the eyes. It is more a sneer than a smile. It is the sort of smile I do not trust. Not a real smile but a posturing of some kind. He'd slit your throat.

Then there is the Smiling Cowboy down at the bottom of my road. He owns the alpaca, some horses, cows and a pig or two. He's always got a big grin and friendly wave when I pass by. I mentioned him to my guitar playing insurance friend and he volunteered his theory on this man. "If you've ever seen his wife, you'd understand the smile."

It turns out he is a successful lawyer of some kind in San Diego. Apparently he spends large blocks of time breeding horses and doing work on his place out here. And his young, healthy wife seems to work along side him. His smile appears to be the real thing. Just a guy doing what he loves and having a fine time with the company he keeps. Maybe the relief of being away from the lawyer game is key, I don't know. I guess it is possible for a lawyer to be real. Jury is still out on that. Probably 80% of them give the other 20% a bad name.

The other type of suspicious smiler is the perpetual smile talker. People who smile when talking to you about things that don't warrant a smile. Some people smile and tell you things in a way that is either condescending or just things they don't want you to question. They have some compulsion that makes them smile while they talk, no matter what the subject. That's different than those who smile because the idea is stimulating or amusing. Al Gore is a smile talker. It is a defense against dispute, I think, or the reflex of one who has something to hide. I find it hard to trust.

People in small positions of power sometimes smile talk while informing you of some ridiculous hoop you must jump through to get past whatever hurdle, or maybe while escorting you to the strip search room. Usually you find that in the sort of snitwit who manages to inform you of some catch 22 situation. "I'm sorry but you can't get there from here, but you must go here before going there." Smiling as they deliver the bad news.

I like the spontaneous smile that has no deceit or affectation. Honesty revealing itself involuntarily. Now that sort of thing can be magic. It definitely feels good when I catch myself actually smiling. Sometimes I go much too long without that experience. Since I headed west, it has been far more common. I know for sure I've laughed more in the last year and a half than I did in the ten years before my journey out west. That is a understatement.

Anyway, the subject caught my attention as I saw the sneer guy, with his pasted smile,/sneer, checking himself out in the mirror before backing out of a parking lot. That guy gives me a bad vibe.

I also crossed paths with the smiling cowboy who doesn't give me a bad vibe. And that is that. His wife seems to have a cheerful look but not quite the same gregarious countenance. He nabbed a mysterious beauty. I guess cheerfulness pays off. Then again he could be a smile talker of a lawyer. I doubt it. The other people down there working with him seem cheerful too. I can't imagine they are a cult of smile talkers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Coyote Hope

I've been under the impression that no one ever raised coyote pups to be manageable pets, but now I hear that maybe they have. I still have no specific instances of it, only that some people out in the country have big dogs that play with them some, the dogs being big and tough enough that coyotes don't push their luck.

These are smart animals and made to be formidable predators. Maybe I should go live with them long enough to steal a couple of their babies and raise me some hell dogs.

Then again I don't want to become delusional like some of the bear people who think that grizzly isn't really a wild unpredictable eating machine. Still, if a coyote could be trained to behave like I want, that would be a cool pet. Cheap to feed. Just let him out to find his own. Sorry if that turns out to be Fifi, or your cat. I'd rather raise a couple of them, and train them to whip up on really jerky helldogs with jerky owners. Miami has more people and dogs like that than anywhere I've ever lived.

I still bear the inner scars of the trauma inflicted while the dog owner said, "Just don't make any sudden movements", while the 200 pound hound from hell growls at my crotch. Boy would I love to have a gang of coyotes at my command for those people and their psycho dogs.

How-To Book Recall, a good illustration of...

A little while ago I caught some news describing how a company had to recall a bunch of books which purported to give readers the info needed to do their own electrical work. The problem is, if you follow the guide, you could get shocked, electrocuted or simply burn the house down.

Obviously a case in which editors and publishers did not exercise any reasonable degree of quality control. To me that shows a lack of pride in one's work.

I've worked for companies, too many times, who rushed the product at the expense of quality. Unfortunately the more consumer oriented portion of the population chalks such negligence up to the ways of capitalism and freedom. That is not good in my opinion because the usual conclusion is that more regulation and maybe new agencies will make it all better.

The trouble is that what results is a blueprint which those who can afford it dance around while stifling honest competition. The facade of the thing is one of reasonable guidelines, but the meat of the matter is much less pure.

I do find that lack of effort to determine that the product is what it should be quite prevalent in the market, and very frustrating when I've been in the employ of such firms. Come to think of it, only the smaller companies I've been part of tend to deliver in a way that engenders pride. Diversified Controls under Bill Grant, and Able Equipment Company under Lennie Ellis are the only two I can think of that were larger than a one man operation. Bill was someone they should do a movie about. But that's another story.

Textbooks have forever been a sham as far as accuracy and quality is concerned. I don't know how many math books had wrong answers to problems in the back of the book. Fortunately, the few times I bothered with homework, I was sure enough of myself to know when they were wrong. To me, that is inexcusable. Either taxpayers pay or people trying to put themselves or their kids through school pay. Texts at universities were rarely better than the trash used in public school. It seems there was an economics book that was flawless. Probably written by Sowell or Milton Friedman.

The trouble is that such haste too often carries over into tangible products. You expect the defects when it comes out of China because it is cheap and you know they crank it out under any conditions they can can.

Perhaps the problem is that you cannot legislate self respect, pride or integrity. The host of agencies and oversight which has cropped up over the last hundred years has not done a whole lot to lessen the assault of junk in the marketplace. Some things may have improved but the overall effort to slide under the radar hasn't. None of the very large "reputable" companies which have enjoyed my services in the past were even remotely honest in how they put out their service or product.

What frustrated me most was that, in the long run, it would not have cost them more to do it right. In the case of textbooks, especially math and chemistry, it was as if they had relevant words and terms in a giant salt shaker and just sprinkled them on the pages at random, calling it an explanation of the principles at hand. I've tutored math and always had to go from the sample problems in the book ignoring the alleged instructions in order to teach the poor tutoree.

It is a challenge to make the information interesting and intelligible, but that is the job of a teacher and a textbook. They do their job quite poorly. At least they did. I am from the pre-handheld computer school of mathematics, and I was quick enough at arithmetic that I rarely used a calculator.

Anyway, I think the issue is actually a mindset, not regulation. Half the book distribution is controlled by organized crime anyway, and that might be part of the trouble with textbooks, but why makers of things and providers of major services follow the same half baked path is a mystery. People will say it is money but a profit motive is not necessarily married to a lack of integrity. Another misconception we've been fed over and over.

Oh well. If you don't understand anything about electrocution, and wiring principles, it may be best to get a friend to test out the how-to book's methods in his home before you try it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coyote 2, research yields brilliance

My search for things related to vile coyotes brought me to this picture. It pretty much speaks for itself, I guess.
He's feeding the coyote. Very sweet. Brilliant!

I'd not have felt bad had this guy been feeding it poison or pointing a crossbow at the sneaky coyote.

The guy who took the shot chased the critter away and tried to explain to the people both the danger of feeding coyotes and the law. It is a federal crime. But so is killing a bear in many places. Being law doesn't mean it is wrong or not.

A kid who somehow killed a bear with a rock because his scout pack was surprised and scared when the bear came into their camp was actually prosecuted. We live in a world run by unabridged fuquits. Seriously, what a freak shot that must have been, like hitting a basket from half court at the buzzer. They say it is better to make noise than throw things at bears. You may just annoy the bastard and get mauled. To me that kid is a hero, and possibly a great future pitcher or quarterback.

****story of possible coyote shooting in the night, which just occurred down the hill, at my keep connected live sometimes mirror blog, sometimes not.

Coyotes conspire in the shadows

They have been laughing and taunting me--the coyotes. I think they may be reading my mind. They are more cruel than bratty young kids born of nitwits. Their eyes glow yellow.

They wait until I am almost asleep, then they laugh and yelp and howl, just out of sight. It is dark enough up here that ten feet away is plenty enough to be hidden from view. But I hear them. They laugh arrogantly, smugly and with malice.

Just wait until I get a fresh load of marbles for the slingshot. Throwing larger stones has yet to yield a hit. All I can do is throw toward the sound. The cowards generally tone it down until I return inside from the deck. I'll bet they are forming some kind of animal union with the bears. Soon we'll have an Obnoxious Animal Czar to ensure that no one hurts their feelings or turns them into ugly hats and coats.

I hope to find a way to nail one, knock it dead, then laugh maniacally as its comrades have it for dinner without the slightest hint of conscience. But they will know I have drawn the line. I will at last be respected by these heartless bullies. I will have revenge.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Something Must Be up--I don't feel like writing--but I did

It used to be that I could think of almost any word, or idea, and write a page on it, often zooming off on five or six seemingly unrelated tangents in the process. Lately, I think of things I want to write, writing what I think still being a compulsion, but then when I am home and fire up the computer, I lose the willingness. Often, I just shut it off again before I even look to see if I have any email.

The reason is not all that clear and any theories I have on the subject are too personal to discuss. Or stupid. In the old days of the HarpO blog I did not get many comments but I knew a number of people dropped by to read. Even a nasty stalker. I pushed it a little because I'd write things that I knew would anger a few people who kept up but pretended they didn't. Band members and offshoots.

That brings me to the latest California fun on the news. The state is broke. Taxes are high and it takes a lot to keep up with the general cost of things. State workers here think they should not cut back hours or benefits at all while their employer goes broke, unlike any private company that has to cut costs or go under. It is baffling how they go on the news with no suggestions other than that it would be OK for everyone else to be taxed more. Unions of tax paid workers make no sense to me. And they have the nerve to call it "public service".

But, this is such a beautiful and varied state that people just shrug and go on with it. I kind of like that, as long as I can pay the rent, and as long as I can still live in this awesome cottage. With a view. And coyotes having parties down the hill out back. Not very far down there, but it is so dark I can never see them.

Last night they were yipping and howling like crazy. It sounded like ten of them all together having a macabre festival. I shined a flashlight out there and saw nothing until the light caught the eyes of one. That was all you could see, two yellow luminescent dots. At least they shut up until I went inside.

This year I have to make more progress toward gaining some control of things. That means money and endeavors which spark a little passion. Other than the spring loaded zipper idea, I have a couple of plans but not along the invention lines. They will best be implemented if I don't go around not knowing my fly is open, so I guess it all ties in and works together.

The stark fact of my life is that some of the most basic things have taken me half a century to begin to grasp. Things that most people pick up by age 30 or younger. Of course, in other ways I've been ahead of my time, so I'm not a total idiot. Apparently it is not genetic because others in my family don't share my empty spots. They lack where I don't but have a hell of a lot more to show for it.

Not having anything to show for time is a tough one for me. I guess that is why I can enjoy fixing teak or doing other things which have an obvious end. It was one of the things about different jobs I've had which frustrated me; the work was a repeating process, but you had nothing tangible to look at. It never felt like anything was being built. I'm wanting something project oriented, unless I happen to get paid well to play music. But in that case, you can record it and have that as something to show.

I think if a guy hasn't got kids, a wife, and a family built, he missed the boat along the way. In my case, I know how, when and maybe why. For a long time I thought I drank myself out of it. Now I think I probably wasn't equipped for it; judging by the things I am just now learning. That's the glitch.

OK. 2010 and no looking back. Screw any bad judgement ever made, person hurt or sincere heartbreak experienced. All there is is from now on, depending on how you define "is".

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Idea To Prevent Chagrin and/or Possible Arrest: and a useful tip

It's a great idea, born of necessity. Spring Loaded Zipper.

How did I ever think of such a great invention? I was out and about, hitting WalMart's*** auto parts for an air filter, then washed a somewhat oil soaked drop cloth at the local laundry. I doubt I did much damage to the Speed Queen. I'll get to the oil situation in a minute.

So, there I was when I noticed someone's gaze reflected just a hint of alarm, aimed in the region of my lower belly. I continued walking to my car then checked the situation. Damn!! Open fly syndrome. In retrospect I think it was open for about three hours. Oh great, the ones with the horizontal red stripes on a field of navy blue. Beats going Apache at a time like this.

There it is. If zippers were in some way spring loaded, like those doors which close themselves, I would have been spared, as would the public at large. If the El Cajon highway patrol had seen me, I'd be up on charges and forever labelled as a sex offender. That would suck.

Another stroke of brilliance occurred when I drained the oil. I was supposed to do it days ago when I first obtained all the materials. But I froze up. It's a personal issue. Anyway, this oil plug is mounted at an angle, not vertically. About fifteen degrees or so up from vertical. That means the first rush of oil does not go straight down or just a few inches off to the left.

It goes way the hell over there, clearing the pan altogether. I had a drop cloth down and doubled to make a better work environment and because I didn't want to soil the soil--my drive is not paved.

I think a half cylinder made from a milk jug or big soda bottle could be used to deflect the oil downward next time. As it drains, the stream comes closer to running straight down, so even a regular oil collector pan that has screw on side and end is too small to cover the range an unfettered oil stream from this car travels.

The thing is, I was laying there, zipper wide open to the world, trying to minimize oil damage as my neighbor/landlord walked by saying, "hello". Was she talking to me, or what? I answered as if she were talking to my mind. No wonder she scurried off quickly to points unknown; probably warning the people on this hill to keep children and pets indoors until I drove away.

This is all part of my new effort to save money and not have commercial oil change people lose the little fasteners which hold the cover underneath, and not have leaks. Last time they did it, I had a leak. The oil filter, allegedly. I'm missing a couple of the fasteners, too. It's a bad design, but I notice the oil change people lose them without fail.

I admit, it was a rookie mistake and an indication that I've been lazy for too long. Long ago I learned not to be tricked by oil drains. I'm rusty.

The only troubling part of the spring loaded zipper is that you do not want it to be forceful or close tight if any obstruction might be in the way. Perhaps an electric eye, laser device could be installed.

***What they've been saying about walmart may be true. I was dirty and my fly was wide open, yet I didn't feel at all out of place. If I were on a search for mutants in America, I'd park myself in Walmart.
What is it about those people that they leave the cart between their car and the next even though only fifteen feet away is the cart corral?

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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