No, I don't want to talk on your phone.

Am I the only one creeped out by some stranger wanting me to hold their phone up to my face? 

I have customers come in to the parts counter who are not the decision makers.  Sometimes, indeed, they are not very good communicators -- their Spanglish doesn't even seem to include very good Spanish.  Finally I ask, "¿Hay alguien ahí que habla Inglés más?"  (Is there anybody there who speaks more English?)  

They fish for their phone.  The phone emerges from a grimy pocket, is manipulated by fingers uncontaminated by soap.  "Here, talk to my boss."  They thrust a petri dish smart phone at me.

But for the past six weeks, I have had a new policy:  I don't talk on your phone.  If your boss wants to talk to me, he can call my land line.  Here's my card.  We're done here.  You can communicate and make decisions yourself, or you can have el jefe  call me on MY phone.  

Because, face it:  the pockets those phones have been lounging in are too close to some icky sweaty parts.  That's majorly creepy right there.  In addition, you've had it up against your face -- YOUR FACE!  Eeeeew.  Lastly, there's those hands that are handing that phone toward me, with their fingernails that remind me of the black moldy grout in the corners of poorly maintained gymnasium shower rooms?  No, I don't want to talk on your phone.  

Is this unreasonable?  No, it is not unreasonable.  It is the rational policy of sound public health.  

Now go home and dunk that thing in Clorox. 


Waist of Time

August 2011:

 June 2012:

September 2013:

The evolution of the Crowndot jeans sizes.

Well, yeah, "relaxed fit" ... 

I guess that's because as I age I'm just more of a relaxed guy!


Left Coast Twilight of History

On 25 September 2013, the California legislature passed AB10 to raise the minimum wage to $10 by 2016.  The bill was passed in both houses late on 25 September and was signed by Governor Brown the same day. 

The signing took place in Los Angeles, not California's capitol Sacramento.

The minimum wage in California is set to raise to $9 per hour on 1 July 2014.  The timing of the first increment is calculated to diminish the felt effect of economic damage until after the 2014 elections.  The minimum wage under the bill rises to $10 per hour 1 January 2016.

The only news stories I am finding as of this writing (26 September 2013, 0740) are the bullshit AP wire feed.  I heard but cannot find in text some audio from the signing ceremony (the first signing ceremony in L.A. -- there will be another one later in Oakland) in which Governor Moonbeam basically said, "Oh yeah, and screw you, California small businesses." 

I remember back in the Clinton years, in response to being asked about the economy-crippling consequences of her proposed health care bill, Hillary Clinton said, "I cannot be responsible for every undercapitalized business in the country."  Basically that is the Democrat party platform.  Screw the job creators.  Because to them, there's no way to turn the graft key on small business.  There's no payback to the party on supply-side economics. 

Minimum wage laws actually hurt low-income workers as a class.  As the minimum wage rises 25%, watch while hours and jobs are cut.  I would be surprised if the first $1 jump does not cost a quarter of a million entry level jobs. 

Just looked again for the off-hand remark at the first signing ceremony.  Can't find.  Well, Governor Moonbeam can't be responsible for every undercapitalized business in California, I guess.


NYT: Which Planet are you on?

And which sun are you looking at?

The New York Times' Kenneth Chang writes:
A week ago, a solitary sunspot blemished an otherwise blank yellow disk. In the ensuing days, a few more specks appeared, but even a small explosion, or coronal mass ejection, last Thursday seemed like the halfhearted effort of a slacker star.
Say what?  While it is true that there have not been flares pointed at us lately, that does not denote a lack of solar weather. 

From the Big Bear Solar Observatory solar activity report:

BBSO Solar Activity Report 24 September 2013 19:21:45 UT
    Solar activity is low. No significant flare events have been observed overnight or so far today. No significant flare events are expected today.
NOAA 11849, N19 W33 (X= 494,Y= 217). Beta region.
NOAA 11846, S18 W13 (X= 205,Y=-402). Alpha region.
NOAA 11850, N08 E15 (X=-246,Y= 21). Beta region.
NOAA 11851, S16 E46 (X=-663,Y=-340). Alpha region.
Positions as of September 24, 2013 at 15:00 UT.
The NOAA positions listed above are trackable solar weather systems moving across the surface of our favorite fusion engine.  These areas are active.  These areas produce X-rays and particle streams that cause the current state of the earth's magnetosphere to be listed as "unsettled".

The image here looks different than the plain yellow circle published by the NYT. 

Solar maximum has to do with sciencey lingo about long-term solar weather patterns, not today's or this week's or this month's solar weather. 

Note that some of my links above will always show the latest information, and conditions change.  Talking about solar weather is still, well, talking about the weather.  If you hunt around the N3KL site or the BBSO site you can find archive information by date. 

I wonder what NYT headline we may see in January:  "What Lind of Winter is This? No Killer Blizzard in Weeks!"


My Daddy's birthday

I used to have trouble remembering to call him on his birthday. 

Since he lost his brave and all-too-brief fight with cancer in 2005, I never have trouble remembering his birthday. 

He used to say, "We should get together and do something together one of these days." 

"I'll line something up and give you a call," he would say.

"Yeah, I'll think of something and give you a call," I would say.

There was one time we met by chance -- at the cemetery.  It was shortly after my mother's death, and I would go and spend hours.  Pulling weeds, placing flowers, crying, praying, talking, crying.  I would pack a lunch.  Anyway, Dad found me there all red-eyed and weird, and said, "Hey, let's go get a cup of coffee or something."

But I just couldn't.  

Of course now I wish I had.  Of course now that the pain of that time is only a memory I wonder why I hadn't.  I beat myself up about that and many other things on a semi-regular basis. 

Okay I'm done here since it looks like I'm only spiraling downward.


Old and slow, old and slow...

I worked so hard.  I pushed.  I ran way past my comfort zone.  Every time I was boxed in, I put on a burst of speed rather than hold back.  I felt utterly drained at the end. 

And my time for today's 5K was slower than my last one.




Tropical moisture from down Mexico way is giving us the first gully washer since... when was it?  Back in May? 

The truth about The Golden State is that the nickname refers to the color of the dried grass on the hills. 

We have a dry spell every year.  It's called Summer. 

Right now, the air smells deliciously like Real Autumn. 



Remember -- or repeat -- history

On 16 September 1922 the United States Navy was engaged in assisting the evacuation of ethnic Greeks (mostly Christians) from what is now called Turkey. 

Wikipedia explicates a bit:

The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, and Pontus during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments.

Worth noting:  when the terrible Burning of Smyrna began, the Ottoman troops had recently occupied the city;  the general officer in charge was Mustafa Kemal, called Atatürk, the "Father of Modern Turkey".  Non-Turkish residents who survived the fire, and who were not evacuated by the Allies, included Greeks and Armenians who were force-marched to the east, where most perished. 

The modern government of Turkey has never acknowledged the Armenian genocide.  This sick sister of Europe has attempted to distance itself from acts of the previous government.  How can personal involvement in genocidal acts be denied if there was a continuity of the chain of command personnel?  The genocidal acts were not instigated by some antique Ottoman rulers, but by the "Young Turks" that became modern Turkey. 

As Prime Minister Erdogan steers Turkey ever closer to sharia law, Turkey appears poised to claim its own brand of death-eating Islamism.



It's Jesse Owens' 100th Birthday

In 1936, the great Jesse Owens totally pwnzd the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning Gold Medals in 100M, 200M, Long Jump, and 4X100M Relay. 

12 September 2013 is the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Owens is shown here on the medal podium after the Long Jump, beating members of axis powers Germany and Japan.

Reports were that der Führer was not pleased. 

Sucks to be an "inferior race", don't it Adolph?! 

[wiki pic]


Does that star-spangled banner yet wave?

On 13 September 1814, the issue was in doubt due to the British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry.
That event inspired certain lyrics, which say in part:
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
On 11 September 2012, the issue was not in doubt at the American consulate in Cairo -- the star-spangled banner was down and burned.  And at the consulate in Benghazi, the flag was down and we had four dead, abandoned by the Obama administration. 

Today where the flag still waves, does it do so over the land of the free?  Less and less free, I am afraid. 

But by glory -- yes, by Old Glory on every staff and mast -- she still waves. My hope is that ours will indeed prove to be a home of the brave -- home to a people who act bravely enough that there may truly be a land of the free. 


The Turtle Submarine - 7 September 1776

"David Bushnell (1742-1824), a Yale graduate, designed and built a submarine torpedo boat in 1776. The one-man vessel submerged by admitting water into the hull and surfaced by pumping it out with a hand pump.

"The Turtle's torpedo, a keg of powder, was to be attached to an enemy ship's hull and detonated by a time fuse. On the night of September 7, 1776, the Turtle, operated by an Army volunteer, Sergeant Ezra Lee, conducted an attack on the British ship HMS Eagle. However, the boring device that was operated from inside the oak-planked Turtle failed to penetrate the target vessel's hull.

"When Sergeant Lee attempted to shift the Turtle to another position beneath the hull, he lost contact with the target vessel and ultimately was forced to abandon the torpedo. Although the torpedo was never attached to the target, the clockwork timer detonated it about an hour after it was released." [about.com]

[Wikipedia image]

Inventor David Bushnell is credited in the wikipedia article with having proven while at Yale that gunpowder could be exploded underwater -- also with building the first time bomb. 

While at Yale. 

Ah those innocent college days.  Try to remember THAT kind of September!


In which we examine the principle that the grass is always greener on the other side

The short answer is, it really IS greener on the other side of the fence.

The cows wouldn't be straining their necks against the barbed wire if there was plentiful long green grass on their own side of the fence. 

"Ah, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, me lad."  I always imagine it being said by a strict Scottish Presbyterian uncle.  His meaning is clear:  "Be content with your lot in life, and change not your course." 

Which is hogwash.  Or, cattle droppings, lest we mix metaphors to excess. 

The reason the grass on the other side of the fence looks better to the cows is that they never looked over there, until the grass on their own side ran low.  It's a cognitive dissonance thing.  You don't look for something better until your current something good seems to have become something less. 

Personal example.  I run on fire trails.  The vehicles that move over these dirt roads make the familiar double ruts through grassy loam, hard cracked adobe, or broken sandstone.  A runner (or cyclist or equestrian) chooses his rut and travels in it.  Until the rut you're in starts to afford some tricky footing, you don't even think about the rut you're in.  But when you realize you're in a rough rut, you look over at the other side of the road ...  Mirabile dictu!  The grass really is greener   trail really is smoother on the other side of the fence road!

It seems that way, not because it merely appears  (falsely), but because it really is -- because it was not examined until you needed to examine it. 

I leave the finding of a moral to this story as an exercise for the reader.  Or just ask the Duchess. 


Stress -- can be helpful?!

I know.  I seem to be putting up a lot of these lately.  After ignoring this method of sharing the ongoing pocketa-pocketa-pocketa of my life for some weeks, I decided it would be better to just share some content that I find interesting/helpful/makes me cry. 

Humor is where you find it

I happen to have severe binocular vision dysfunction.  My two eyes swim around a lot independently before they gather enough information for my brain to process what's out there. 

One of the consequences is that sometimes I read words wrong out of the corner of my eye. 

Like the line about the IRS misuse of power that said something about a midlevel  official (yes, the article omitted the hyphen), but which I first thought said something about a medieval  official. 


Nobody is expecting the Spanish Inquisition!


Changin' my mind - you're doin' it wrong

That's when I realize how they got all that money.  They pinched every penny every step of the way till they could see it bleed.