December 26, 2008

Anticipation Is The Key

I have come to the realization that Christmas dinner in and of itself is enjoyable, but it's the preparation and anticipation of it that brings me the most pleasure.

This year we spent the GNP of a small third world country on a succulent cut of beef loin (filet mignon). Five and one half succulent pounds. It was daunting to say the least. I would be responsible for creating a masterpiece of culinary delight. I have cooked many a tasty steak on the barbie. I've flipped a darn good burger over an open flame, but never have I baked a loin in the oven. Certainly not five and one half pounds of anything!

I sifted through a plethora of recipes in countless cookbooks and Food Network links. I followed links of links to sites like Cooking Light , and I came to the conclusion that all recipes for cooking a beef loin have at least two ingredients in common;
1. Olive Oil
2. Spices

After you get past that epiphany, it's all downhill from there.

The only information I needed after my conversion on the road to Damascus was cooking times and temperatures. That was easy enough to find. All told I must have wasted two days fretting over "the recipe". They all had variations of the same ingredients. Some had butter, others had mustard, one had teriyaki. You get the picture. Pick your herbs and spices, load 'em on top and throw it in the fridge overnight. Iron Chef here I come! My choice of seasoning was a prepacked grilling/roasting "bouquet". It contained fresh sprigs of Thyme, Sage and Rosemary. Seemingly cliche, these herbs are truly a miraculous combination. Chop several cloves of garlic, which you can never have too much of, some salt and pepper and olive oil and you're off to the races.

Mrs. Farfromgruvin was intimidated with my choice of meat. Neither she nor I had ever attempted anything so brash, so outlandish a Christmas dinner. The usual ham or turkey was tossed out the window (figuratively of course). This pathway into the abyss was enough to have her hand the reigns of meat control over to me. She did not want to take the fall for a possible leathery, skunkweed smothered, disaster. Feeling rather emboldened I accepted the coronation, grabbed my sceptre and dove headlong into the task.

Our house was built in 1963. I believe only circus midgets and Amazonian pygmies dwelled in the United States at that time. The fabulous design and architecture of our kitchen allows nearly two people to be in the kitchen at the same time. Heaven knows there's only supposed to be one pregnant woman in there, in a pair of slippers if she's lucky. The close proximity of the confined quarters makes choreographing meal preparation a necessity. It goes something like this; I'll be doing task "A" on countertop "B" while Mrs. F uses countertop "D" to perform task "C". She will move stovetop item 1A to the sink for draining while I switch fresh chopped bowl of items 3D to pot on burner 4G. This frees up burner 5F for the incoming pan of sauteed items 6A and 7B. Once burners 4G and and 5F are vacant, tray 2C from the oven can occupy, temporarily of course, those burners during the turning and basting. Alerting one another to our next movements, we flawlessly (hmm) perform our ballet-like meal preparation throughout the day.

Christmas music played in the living room. The smooth and silky voices of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and other classic crooners hung in the air. The dog and cat lay patiently near the kitchen waiting for stray morsels to tumble onto the floor. The aroma from the stove and the oven infused the entire house. Fresh coffee, hot apple cider, herbs, scented candles. It was all so idyllic. We anticipated the arrival of family as we cooked. We talked, we laughed, we lived.

Dinner was grand. The meat turned out wonderful. The company was special.

Just as I anticipated

December 22, 2008

Christmas In The Nest

The empty nest, that is.

While it is my favorite time of the year for friends and family, meals and drinks and gatherings, this year is very different than all the rest. This year I do not work Christmas morning. Only the fourth time in twenty one years that has happened.

This year I won't worry about rushing home from work as soon as I can after punching the clock. I will not quietly open the front door or step lightly down the hall avoiding the dog sleeping by the bedroom doors. This year there will be no delighted little ones scurrying to the fireplace to dive in to the goodies in their stockings. Actually those "little ones" haven't been around for years, but it's a pleasant thought anyway. This year I can sleep in if I want to, which I don't. This year it will be just me and Mrs. Farfromgruvin.

The morning will be quiet. We'll have the Christmas music on. The fresh, piping hot pot of coffee will be brewing in the kitchen spilling it's fragrant aroma throughout the house. Maybe there will be cinnamon rolls in the oven or eggs on the stove. Slices of cranberry orange bread on the table with a selection of jams and jellies. The tree with it's warm glow in the early daylight will complete the scene. Everything will be perfect. Perfect except for the absence of our kids.

Both son and daughter are out on their own now. Both starting new lives as independent adults. Doing the daily adult routines, working, paying bills, cooking meals (maybe not that one!). No matter the age they will always be "the kids".

It's been a sobering month. The realization that "the kids" will never again jump out of bed and scramble into the living room to see what Santa brought them has dampened spirits in the household. Not soaked, only dampened. There are still nice plans for Christmas dinner with my folks. My brother-in-law and his girls are coming as well. My son should be there for a short stay. He says he has plans with friends and can't stay too long. My daughter will be in Los Angeles with her fiance's family. In the end, it will still be a wonderful and memorable Christmas. They always are.

December 21, 2008


In 1978 my family took a trip to New Jersey to visit relatives. My father's side of the family was spread around the state. I believe we were there because my grandmother was going to have surgery on her optic nerve. She was very active with friends and traveled all over the world. Most of her travel was by rail and the majority of it back in the 1930's through the 1960's. The heyday of rail travel. It was extravagant and lavish. Service was the centerpiece of the experience. She knew I had a fascination with trains from a young age and gave me a number of documents and souvenir's from her travels. At the time I wasn't overly enthusiastic. I was a fourteen year old kid that just got a bunch of "old stuff" from his grandmother. Granted it was old train "stuff", but it just didn't have the pizazz that a fourteen year old boy is looking for. I do recall enjoying the look of the publications and the musty old smell of the pages. I really had no clue as to what they would eventually mean to me in the future.

A few months back while looking for something buried deep within the black hole that is most peoples garages (unless you are one of the sicko's that parks a car in there!!), I came across an expandable folder with an elastic closure. I recall having had a few of these style envelopes with keepsake type items inside. They were being discarded at my fathers office and I felt they had a few more miles in them before they were relegated to the trash heap. I knew one folder contained all of my Naval discharge paperwork. Assuming this was that envelope, I casually opened it just to confirm before it placed it back into it's makeshift tomb. The first thing that caught my eye was a large 9x12 envelope. It wasn't the envelope itself that caught my eye, but what was printed on the outside. A blue Nickel Plate Road logo! I knew I was in for a treat. Some 30 years ago, my grandmother gave me some memerobilia and souvenir's that were now in the envelope I held in my shaking hands. I recalled the mild disinterest when she gave them to me thirty years ago. I also remember thinking I would someday come to appreciate their meaning. "I suppose that someday is here", I thought. I had a slight sensation of giddyness. That Christmas morning as a child feeling. I was grateful that my grandmother was able to see the interest within me for railroads, to part with souvenir's of magnificent trips and memories of a lifetime. I slid the envelope out of the folder and saw this.

Some vivid memories came rushing back. I recall looking through this very envelope at the pictures from her trip to Promontory, Utah in May of 1969 for the centennial anniversary of the Golden Spike Ceremony. That celebrated the completion of the transcontinental railroad. There was a recreation of an original poster on the wall of that room with "old west" style fonts announcing the "Great Event".
"Through to San Francisco in less than four days, avoiding the dangers of the sea!"

The room had a reddish wallpaper with some sort of design, probably paisley. There were toys from her childrens youth and some from her parents. An old wicker baby carriage, handmade dolls and clothes. The poster was placed in a way that it was a centerpiece for the wall.
"Pullman's Palace Sleeping Cars run with all through passenger trains."

Opening the envelope I gingerly removed the contents. Just beneath the envelope there was a dated publication. It was a Burlington Escorted Tours summer 1935 tour book. It described 20 tours ranging from seven to twenty five days in length.

Inside the cover of the tour book was a pocket itinerary

On the front page is the name of the Burlington escort, T.W. Coover. The itinerary was for tour "P". I didn't put two and two together at first. Later I realized the tours in the tour book were given letters. The pocket itinerary matched that of tour "P" in the larger book. The itinerary description...

What I found amazing, this twenty day trip had a maximum price of $321. Folded up further inside the tour book was a passenger manifest as well as a Southern Pacific passenger ticket for August 29th.

I looked on Google calendar to see what day of the week August 29, 1935 was. It was a Thursday. Looking at the pocket itinerary, they would have arrived in in San Francisco by ferry from Oakland that day. It's possible she took the Southern Pacific commute train that went down the peninsula to some location for the evening. Her ticket was punched for one zone only meaning she didn't travel very far. CalTrain currently uses the same type of zone ticketing. Your fare is determined by the number of zones you will be traveling through.

Digging deeper into the stack of discovery, I found a Pullman brochure from the 1939 World's Fair in New York. This page showing the average fare for a three hundred mile overnight trip.

I wish I could post each page of every item I looked through. They brought back wonderful memories of my grandmother and enjoying the same pages as a child. Unfortunately there is not enough time in the day to blog about all of life's simple pleasures. More fond memories of relatives and childhood will have to wit until another day.

You can see all of the scanned items on my Flickr page!

December 14, 2008

Remiss In My Duties

It's been 10 days since I posted. I've been on vacation so I guess I really have no valid excuse. I will say that I have the Christmas tree finally completed. Now it's a battle to keep the cat from destroying it.

I haven't been completely devoid of doing anything meaningful. Sunday 12/7 Mrs. Farfromgruvin and I went down to the Santa Clara CalTrain station to see the holiday train. It was a nice change of pace.

The station was open so families had their kids inside looking at the model railroad display in the historic building. Coffee, hot chocolate and cider were for sale. The Salvation Army had carolers and a band playing. Toys For Tots had a big toy drive going on.

Wide eyed kids all over the place. They were expending energy at a phenominal rate of speed. It's been awhile since we've been around a cluster of young'uns like that.

It was just brisk enough to have a wintery feel to it. It has been uncommonly mild this December (NOT due to global warming). I will definitely be placing this activity on my annual Christmas event schedule. More importantly, we have dibs on the grandbaby!! Probably not this next year since he will only be about seven months old. But Christmas 2010...

December 04, 2008

Atheist Plaque Next to Nativity Scene in Washington

The post title links to the article of the same name posted at The paragraph that jumped out at me and makes an incredible amount of sense is the following;
“I don’t believe in unicorns, so I just go about my life as if there are no unicorns. You’ll notice that I haven’t written any books called The End of the Unicorn, Unicorns Are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion, and I don’t spend my time obsessing about unicorns. What I’m getting at is that you have these people out there who don’t believe that God exists, but who are actively attempting to eliminate religion from society…There has to be more going on here than mere unbelief.”

That's a quote from Dinesh D'Souza in an interview for Salvo magazine. My buddy Joe would disagree with the premise if I'm not mistaken.

November 29, 2008

My Job Needs Resuscitating

Back in April, the job that I was doing for the paper that I work for was eliminated. I ended up taking an entirely new job just created that no one else had done before. I would be replacing three soon to be former employees. I received a grand total of about one hour worth of training from the outgoing guy who had all the single copy sales responsibilities. That's the papers that are sold in stores and in the vending machines. I received zero hours of training from the slacker who was responsible for the home delivery distribution. She decided to call in sick her last week of work rather than stick around to help out the poor schlep who was booting her out the door. The warehouse guy was really the only reasonable one to work with for the last week that they were employed. At least he didn't bail and stick it to the new guy. Well, not actually a "new guy". I have 21 years in circulation, just not the circulation they were responsible for.

The first month as the big cheese, I worked seven days a week around 12 to 14 hours a day. I was essentially training myself. I had to learn everything about this new position on my own. To top things off, one of the home delivery dealers had given a 30 day notice that was effective the day before I took over the area. Making matters worse, he had a carrier who quit on him two days before that. I was throwing a route that took about 2 and a half hours to deliver. It was, condos, businesses. I couldn't take a day off until someone knew how to do my job. Even if they knew the job, I couldn't leave them to throw the route. It would take them about 5 hours if they didn't know the delivery.

My "swing man" who works for me on my two days off could only be trained by me on overtime on my days off! He worked other districts his other three days. After about three weeks of training, (that's my 2 days off each week) he was able to have enough knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the job to at least let me have my days off. There were still things that he could not do that were necessary to the operation. I had to do these when I got back from my off days. This usually caused my Monday to be excessively long. I had become a zombie of sorts. Eat, sleep, work. Eat, sleep, work for weeks on end. My wife wasn't real pleased either. I missed some birthday's, doctor appointments, and various other promises of "I'll be home by....." all for the job. I felt obligated. I couldn't NOT be there and let the district blow up. How foolish to have such concern for a job well done. I could have easily taken the route of a slacker and been none the worse for wear. But that's not me.

Well the story goes along for a few months and I get the operation fine tuned. The operation is purring like a kitten and quite manageable. The home delivery dealers are doing a good job and I'm making sure they get paid. The single copy distribution is still a hassle for paperwork but that's the nature of that beast.

I get a call from my Teamsters Local Business agent. He says he has a meeting with the company the next day and he's planning a general meeting with the membership. This is never good news when those two events occur in close proximity. The news can only be bad and it generally costs us money or benefits. After his meeting with the company the rumors are flying. Layoffs, consolidations, cut backs. You name it we heard it from one source or another.

The next week I'm sitting in the union hall at the preordained meeting reading the informational page that was handed out and lo and behold, my district is being eliminated. The plan was to have my operation folded into the Mercury News operation in the same warehouse. In other words, I did too good of a job starting from scratch taking over from three people and making the thing work with just the one of me. Now I've worked myself out of a job.

The most galling part of all of it is the line that was fed to me by my supervisor. He had been on vacation the week prior when all this went down. He met with me and asked me what was happening like he hadn't been in the loop. I may have been born at night but I wasn't born last night. He said he just heard about it Monday when he came back to work. Yeah, ya lying sack of fertilizer. Nothing happens in his warehouse that he doesn't know about. He always sends some type of email when he's on vacation. He follows up on things even when he's gone, leaves voicemail, etc. Then he asks me what I thought would be the best way of implementing the "plan" for my area. I sat there thinking, "You've got to be kidding me!"

He was handing me rope hoping I would hang myself by telling him how to eliminate my own job. I don't get paid enough to create or eliminate jobs. The company can post the job description and I'll bid on it if I like it. If I don't, I'll bump into another department. The nerve of this guy. The longer I sat there the more upset I became. After repeatedly asking me what I thought I would do he came up with a scenario where I could keep my San Mateo Times district AND pick up the Mercury News circulation in Palo Alto. Let me see, here. That means I would have two jobs. San Mateo Times AND Mercury News. Along with that comes Wall Street Journal, Barron's IBD, Financial Times. Let me check the pay scale. Oh, right. Twice the work, same pay....sorry about that.

Never again will I assume that this or any other company has even a speck of gratitude at all for the work that the employees provide. For twenty one years I have worked Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, birthdays and anniversaries. I have missed countless family functions because of the ridiculous hours I work. I've gone to bed before my kids their entire lives. I work when the rest of the city is sleeping. I understand I chose freely to remain with the company all these years. The pay and benefits were just good enough to keep me from leaving. That has taken a turn for the worse as well. We have consistantly been diverting our raises to our health and welfare plan for several years now. This past September we actually took a pay cut to maintain our healthcare coverage levels. While we still have exceptional healthcare coverage, the company is moving closer and closer to eliminating the union. My hope is that they will stay afloat until I can secure a new career path. The newspaper industry is in dire straits with circulation in a free fall.

Get the paddles out, start an IV and CPR.

Terrorists Are Wussies

From an article title "Soldiers Kill A Very Feminine Commander" posted at
Six women and 12 children left the building, but while Soldiers were questioning the women they discovered one was actually a man dressed in a burqa, the traditional all-encompassing dress that most Afghan women wear. The man, later identified as the targeted commander Haji Yakub, tried to attack the Soldiers and was killed, the military said.

This is from The Australian
LONDON: A male suspect in a major anti-terrorist investigation in Britain escaped capture by allegedly disguising himself as a Muslim woman dressed in a burka.
The man, who was wanted in connection with serious terrorist offences, evaded arrest for several days as police searched for him across the country.
The fact that a fugitive remained at large after disguising himself in an Islamic dress that covered his face will further fuel the debate sparked by Jack Straw, the Leader of the House of Commons, about the wearing of the veil.

It is the first time a male suspect has allegedly disguised himself as a Muslim woman in Britain.

However, the tactic has been used frequently by Islamist fighters - including suicide bombers - in Iraq and Afghanistan. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, often dressed in a burka to evade American forces hunting him.

This from the BBC News
A suicide bomber, wearing a woman's burka, has killed at least 15 people in an attack at a busy police checkpoint in north-west Pakistan, officials say.

Police officials said the bomber was wearing a burka, a woman's garment which covers the body from head to toe.

The list goes on. Just do a Google search using the search terms "terrorist hiding burka" and you will see what I mean.

If you want to pick a fight you should at least man up.

November 27, 2008


My wife was reading my blog the other night while I was at work. She mentioned how she used to enjoy reading it (oops!). It used to be funny, she said. Now it's all anti-Obama posts.

OK, I get the hint. I'll knock off the politics. Nothing is more devisive than talking about politics and religion. Folks have their mind made up from very early on in life and it is nearly impossible to sway them from their beliefs. That's not to say that dialogue and vigorous debates are not encouraged. It just means I would be pretty hard pressed to cite an actual case where my opinion changed another persons mind on a particular subject. be be more apolitical and nonreligious I'll share this bit of humor with you!

Domino's Scientists Test Limits Of What Humans Will Eat

November 19, 2008


This would be hilarious if it were not so frightening. The people that are intervied in this video have NO CLUE as to who or what they are voting for!! They drank the Kool-Aide, they ate up the sound bites and fed at the slop trough of the mainstream media. Regurgitating the lies and obfuscations as truth and fact. America, I can proudly say with convistion and honor that I did NOT vote for the president-elect! If you did vote for the president elect I hope you get everything you wish for with his administration because at the end of his first term I will not be saying "see, I told you so." The country will be in such disrepair it will not be necessary.

Watch the video

I'm Corn-fused (what's new?)

I tweaked my layout to have the new Blogger "reaction" buttons added to my posts. They are a single word response button similar to those used in an online poll. Well, an esteemed blogger buddy over at Irrelephant who generally maintains only the highest standards in posting, tested my theory of Blogger functions.

The theory goes something like this.

You edit your layout to include a nifty new gadget that will wow all your readers. You write a post informing them of the nifty new functionality giving them the impression that you are some sort of code wizard and can produce a myriad of really cool fluff. Your readers will then stop by and implement this nifty new functionality and be amazed at your fluffiness. Your accolades will be spread across the series of tubes known as the internets.

I persued this righteous goal and failed miserably thanks to the demons at Blogger command. I followed their every instruction down to the last step. Their diabolical plan worked perfectly. I have been shamed in front of the whole of my audience (right Mom?). I must now crawl back into the hole from whence I came and ponder the injustice of what has transpired.

Oh, and I'll see if I can get if fixed, ok?

November 18, 2008

Layout Tweak

I added the new Blogger "reaction" buttons to my posts. They are customizable so I chose my own text. This way you can share your reaction to the post without necessarily leaving a comment. Try it out!

Marine Base Bans Anti-Islam Bumper Stickers

This one should stick in the craw (whatever those are) of my buddy, Joe. Being staunch defenders of the first amendment, we disagree on things at times but we both agree that we should not be censored in any way. This story is political correctness at it's evil worst. Regardless of your position on the war on terror, the actions of this military installation are heinous!

Click the post title for the full story

November 16, 2008


Well, actually it should make you cry because it's so doggone true!

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

November 08, 2008

Big Thanks To Joe!

My buddy Joe posted this for me on his blog. I just had to share it. Gotta love The Onion!!

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

November 06, 2008

Big Brother Is Watching

I loathe photo radar and photo traffic lights. Not because I could be caught by them, but because there is unmanned monitoring of activities. The idea that your every step (or mis-step in these cases) is monitored on a video screen for the purpose of collecting revenue for the municipality is a travesty.

The Washington Times has an article titled "Street Sweepers Turning To Spies". It's almost too Orwellian to believe. I suppose that statement in itself is incorrect in that a large portion of the fictional activities in the book "1984" have come to fruition. The sheeple mindlessly allow it to happen right under their grazing noses.

Democrats/Leftists - The Inclusive Folks, Open Minded

They always claim to be tolerant and openminded. Including all and nonjudgemental...except when it comes to dissenting opinions.

Amazingly Eerie, Large Marionette

I poached this video from my Flickr buddy, gentlemanrook who blogs at Irrelephant. It's giant marionette that is so surreal it's almost scary!

November 01, 2008

Pict -O- Game Is A Fun Little Website

I used a picture I had of my Brother-in-law goofing around to personalize the game.

October 29, 2008

Senator Obama's Four Tax Increases for People Earning Under $250k

Incredibly easy to understand article about the proposed Obama tax increases and the subsequent lies about those making under $250,000 a year not getting a tax hike. I have not read or heard a better description of the Obama obfuscation and outright lying regarding his tax policies.

Click the post title to read the full story.

Judge Rules Ohio Homeless Voters May List Park Benches As Addresses

Amazing...simply amazing. This in no way would lead to any type of voter fraud would it? No, probably not. Better to err on the side of allowing someone to vote than to actually verify that they are eligible to vote.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A federal judge in Ohio has ruled that counties must allow homeless voters to list park benches and other locations that aren't buildings as their addresses.
Click the post title for the full story.

It's Only A Matter Of Time

My job for the last 22 years has been in the print media. Specifically circulation. While the circulation of the paper I work for has declined exponentially over the last few years, it remains afloat through a series of sales/mergers/acquisitions. There has been an increased effort to promote the "eEdition", an online version of the paper that looks identical to the print version. The difference being you can click on links such as advertising or articles or you can download coupons, etc. This "eEdition" is just another step in the progression away from a "manufactured" product distributed by employees and contractors. The Christian Science Monitor has announced that they will no longer print their daily newspaper and become an online only publication. This does not bode well for my future in this line of work.

October 25, 2008

The problem is, this is not far from the truth!!


Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Funny Stuff From John Stewart and The Daily Show

October 24, 2008

Early Prep For Lawsuits

From, a piece by Mike Madden that is laying more groundwork for spurious charges of voter disenfranchisement. 72 year old Ted Ravelo worries that his daughters won't be able to vote because they have to work.
-- who have to work on Nov. 4, and who sent him to scout out the wait time -- might not get to vote at all.

Here we go with the laying of the foundation...
and once again, there's a very real possibility that a lot of people who support the Democratic candidate could have trouble voting.

Why is that? If there are no problems with the people who support the Republican candidate why should there be specific troubles with the Dems?

The idea that Republican operatives are somehow tampering with polling places is just ludicris. What affiliation does the group ACORN have? It certainly isn't Republican. They are under FBI investigation for fraud regarding voter registration. The article goes on to say that the group "Election Protection" will have lawyers roaming from polling place to polling place ready to help voters who can't find their precincts, etc. Strangely enough, ACORN just happens to be a member of Election Protection.
"Voter suppression is something that anybody who has any sense of commitment to democracy or civil rights would want to fight against," said Weeden, a criminal defense lawyer who also helped monitor election sites in 2004. Back then, he and other volunteers encountered people who had been called and told their polling places had changed, or found suspicious characters lurking outside precincts with clipboards, asking people if they had met rigorous requirements to vote that went above and beyond what the law says.

Those "suspicious characters lurking outside precincts" were obviously flown in by the right-wingers on their black helicopters.

Further into the article there is a ridiculous assertion that is pure speculation. Giving it print space is merely adding to that "disenfranchisement" foundation of sand they are trying to build.
Bill Richardson told Salon prior to appearing at an early-vote rally for Latinos in Kissimmee, Fla., on Wednesday. He noted that he's heard reports of rumors about voting problems among Hispanic communities in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico as well.

Who is it that benefits from spreading baseless rumors? The Democrats, of course. This way they can charge that they warned before the election that there were reports of voter problems.
But, he said of expected record turnouts, "It's very healthy for our democracy, and we should take advantage of it, not engage in negative tactics and voter suppression."

Referring of course, to the evil Republicans who are lurking at polling places.
The final paragraph of the article had me ROTFLMAO. What a self incrimination!!
Obama's most passionate supporters, meanwhile, say they're ready to show up no matter what they hear. "We're smart," said Sherrie Kendrick, a retired phone operator from Miami, who will turn 54 on Election Day. "We may not look it, but we're smart."

Good Read From The Canada Free Press

Aaron Goldstein from the Canada Free Press wrote an excellent commentary distinguishing between the actions of the left and right leaning electorate in this election cycle as it pertains to the losing side. His predictions of an Obama win with those on the right being unhappy yet resolved to win the next election and a McCain win sparking violence in the streets from those on the left is well founded (IMHO). Take a look, see what you think, decide for yourself.

Click the post title for the link to the full story.

October 22, 2008

Today's Quotes

This first quote from Samuel Adams is aimed specifically at Barack Obama and his associations that are rightly being called into question -
"He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections." --in a letter to James Warren, Nov. 4, 1775--

This too, is directed at Obama in regards to his "spread the wealth" viewpoint he expressed to Joe the Plumber
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
- Thomas Jefferson

This one can definitely be said of most of the recent sitting Congress'

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
- John Adams

The next two just happen to be for Joe. I know he'll give me a bucket of chum in return. I expect it and welcome the banter.
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.
- John Adams

It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.
- Patrick Henry

An appropriate quote in regards to the current financial meltdown throughout our country and the world.
History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.
- James Madison

Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.
- Noah Webster (the father of public education in America)

October 21, 2008

A Wonderful Storyteller

Trying to shy away from the political pulp that has been sticking to the bottom of my shoe, I'll point you in the direction of one of my Flickr buddies, gentlemanrook. He has a blog that is a real treat to peruse. His fabulous stories build a landscape rich in imagery. I tend finish the stories with a sense of having been there. His sense of humor is a bit tweaked as is mine. That may be one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

You should certainly judge for yourself, but please...take a look. You won't regret it. Visit Irrelephant now!

This Does NOT Make Me Feel Safe!!

After watching the video, got to The Return of Scipio and read the post. It certainly made me think even harder about my future.

The Founders Knew Not To Raise Taxes

So why doesn't Obama understand the concept? Joe was in agreement with me that Obama's statement regarding "spreading the wealth" made him cringe. I not only cringed, I hypothetically ran sreaming down the street pulling my hair out. Why don't people see Obama as the socialist that he is? Today's "voters" form their opinions on a 30 second TV commercial that says nothing. They listen to the alphabet soup networks proclaim him as the messiah and fall in lock step with the other drooling sheeple that get all their information from the idiot box. I really think that if you want to vote, you should be required to take a basic test of your understanding of the issues and players. If you haven't been paying attention, you don't get to play along.

This Howard Stern "Man on the Street" interview of Obama supporters in Harlem shows how clueless the electorate that I am describing, is.

Back from the tangent here and on to notable quotes from the founders about taxes.

Alexander Hamilton
1787 - Federalist No. 21

If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.

Here's Thomas Jefferson denouncing Obama's recent "spread the wealth" statement to Joe the Plumber nearly 200 years ago.

Thomas Jefferson
1816 - letter to Joseph Milligan

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

James Madison makes a point in regards to Obama seeming to think that those that make more money should pay more in taxes as a percentage of their income.

James Madison
1792 - Essay on Property

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.

October 18, 2008

Hey Kids, Listen Up!

Remember that song on Sesame Street that goes, "One of these things is not like the other things. One of these things just doesn't belong"?
Well, that's not the case in the quotes below. They are identical and dangerous ideologies.

From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need

-Karl Marx

“…when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

-Barack Obama

October 17, 2008

Did William Ayer's Co-write Obama's Book "Dreams From My Father"?

An amazing article over at American by Jack Cashill. He unearths the most telling evidence that William Ayers helped Barack Obama write his 1995 book, "Dreams From My Father". He provides comparisons of paragraphs with similar verbage and metaphors along with samples of Obama's previous writings. It really is a fascinating article and it raises some really huge questions.

Mr. Cashill's assesment of "Why this matters:"
The question is often asked why Obama associated with Ayers. The more appropriate question is why the powerful Ayers would associate with the then obscure Obama. Before Obama's ascendancy, it was Ayers who had the connections, the clout, and the street cred. Ayers could also write and write very well. By the mid-1990s he had had several of his books published. What Ayers could never do, however, was run for office on his own.

Click on the post title for the full article.

Why Does Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers Still Have A Job?

This story is exactly why we should throw ALL the bums out and start over with a new set of politically green politicians. Although being a politician is inherantly bad, I think a group of noobs at the helm would certainly do a better job.

This guy should be swiftly ushered out of his office at the next local election. If he is not, Nebraskans get what they voted for.

Click the post title for the full story.

How Cool Is This??

I came across this post on for the BumpTop desktop interface. It's something totally different from what you are used to looking at. Check it out!!

October 16, 2008

Obama Quote Regarding ACORN

Obama telling ACORN during a speech to the group in December 2007, that "before I even get inaugurated, during the transition, we're going to be calling all of you in to help us shape the agenda."

In November of last year, he told them... "I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work."

He accepted their endorsement in 2008.

Come clean Barack, stop the lies.

See the Obama ACORN Tree

Biden Can't Spell or Count??

He's quoted saying "Jobs is a three letter word" and then he spells out those three letters...J-o-b-s.

Amazing. They think Sarah Palin is unqualified.

Obama Spreads False Claims

Here's the story from the Secret Service

Quote of the Day - "Senator Government"

It could be classified as a "gaffe" for Senator McCain in last nights debate but I see it literally as a Freudian slip. He was responding to one of Obama's acusations and he referred to him as Senator Government instead of Senator Obama. He is as he's being described. He wants government to take over the healthcare industry (boy, that would work really well!) and create a Nanny State where all American's could nurse at the federal government teat. He wants the sheeple to rely on government for all of their wants and needs because government knows best. Obama mocked McCain's healthcare plan saying healthcare costs are on average $12,000 a year and McCain will only be giving a tax credit of $5,000 towards that. Obama wants to foot the healthcare bill for everyone while giving 95% of the people a tax cut. What drug is he still smoking?? How are 95% of American's going to get a tax cut if 40% of Americans DON'T PAY ANY TAXES! Here's how...those 40% of Americans who don't pay taxes will receive a check, courtesy of the 60% of Americans who DO PAY TAXES!! Tell me that's not socialism and the redistribution of wealth. We don't pay taxes to fund a Marxist charity program, we pay them to fund the military, protect our borders and provide specific needed services (police, fire, etc).

October 14, 2008

The "Tolerance" of the Left

If this is any indication of the supposed tolerance of the left, I'm keeping my distance on election day. Why is it that the left who spew hate and violence against the right, accuse the right of being hateful and intolerant?

Click the post title for the full story from the Wall Street Journal digital network

October 10, 2008

Congressman Barney Frank

Just came across this picture of one of our fearless leaders (insert extreme sarcasm here). Barney Frank, whom I loathe as a human being, seen here with one of his "constituents". Photo poached from the fabulous Here's a brief snippet of the accompanying essay.
We need to keep in mind several things about allowing likeminded creatures to rule over us. Frank has admitted to doing things—such as allowing a ephebophilic and homosexual prostitution ring to run from his apartment—that, if any school teacher had done them, would have resulted in his dismissal, arrest and prison. Yet Frank carries along unscathed, essentially above and beyond the law moral or otherwise.

A question: Why do we—or more accurately, the good and true folks who inhabit Massachusetts—put in power a man who is essentially an outlaw? What sort of society will the rulings of this man create? An answer: The very society we live in today.

And imagine this—but only if you have not eaten in awhile—that what the NAMBLA-mad Frank does to young men is fairly well the same thing he is doing to our nation.

I love the headline from the story in the Boston Globe on 9/28/08 that says "Frank's fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco". To put some icing on the cake, watch Bill O'Reilly go ballistic on Frank after reading the Boston Globe article. Scipio injects a portion of a classic John Adams quote that wholly applies to Barney Frank.
Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

Obama Audio Supporting Bad Loans

From the horses mouth....

And The Plot Thickens

Here's an article from that has some history of Obama's legal carreer. He sued Citibank to force them to make bad loans to people who could not afford them under the Community Reinvestment Act. The suit alleged Citibank was redlining.

Wake up people....connect the dots!!!

Watch the video in the previous post. It will make your head explode!

October 09, 2008

October 08, 2008

Obama Seeks Government Grant For Donor

We might as well just pile on. Here's more questionable activity from Obama reported in the Washington Times.

...ethics watchdogs said he left himself open to creating the appearance of a conflict of interest, a situation senators are encouraged to avoid in their code of ethics.

Whenever a politician seeks help for a project in which supporters are involved, it can “spawn all kinds of traps and minefields,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, an advocacy group.

“The appearance of a conflict of interest is almost as bad as a conflict of interest,” she said.

Obama Rakes In the Lobbyist $$ From Fannie/Freddie

Those contributions, however, are from the lobbyists who represented the failed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama, having been a Senator for a mere four years, out-received (to coin a new term) lobbyists dollars for even John Kerry who has been in the Senate for decades. Click the post title for the story from John Gibson at Fox News.

Some icing on the cake of incrimination: Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson in recent years were at the helm of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are both current advisers to and supporters of Barack Obama. Do we want a possible future President getting his economic advice from the very people who perpetrated this current financial mess on our country?

Excellent Explanation....

....of how the country got into this financial mess on the Glenn Beck website. He gives a historical accounting with reference links to the information he provides.

October 04, 2008

Barney Frank - Incapable of Telling the Truth

Here's a story from the Boston Globe, and one from Bill Sammon on the FOX News website showing just how disgusting a politician this man is. I happened to catch him on Bill O'Reilly's radio program the other day. While Bill did lay into him heavily and hardly give him a chance to respond, when he did he would point fingers and harken back to 1994. This slimy excuse for a human being simply refuses to admit that he had anything to do with the current mess we are in. He blames the "free market".

Pathetic. Throw the bums out. All of them!

October 02, 2008

Palin In The Post

Amazingly, the Washington Post did a fairly decent job on a biographical article of Sarah Palin and her family. In reading it I was getting the impression that it was leading up to a punchline that never came. There were a few paragraphs regarding her faith and background in hunting that were written rather condescendingly but never viscious. I think you see them for what they are. A conservative reader would see the valuable lessens she learned growing up in the environment she did. An urban liberal would see it as silly backwards upbringing. It depends on what you value in life. Self-relience, strength of character, rugged individualism are usually not the qualities the left looks for in a candidate (IMHO).

Hats (slightly) off to WaPo for a relatively non-hit piece. Click the post title for the link to the article.

October 01, 2008

It's All In The Accounting

I've been hearing more and more about how the impending "bailout" could be avoided by simply changing some of the regulatory language for the industry. Currently they are under Mark to Market rules (warning - possibility of article induced dizzyness after reading linked Wikipedia page). This article from the L.A. Times has more of a laymen's description. This one from the Phoenix Business Journal has detail about the current (Tuesday 9/29/08) talk of easing the mark to market rule. The Times Online piece has some good historical background on the current situation.

It seems to me (IMH-uneducated-O), that if this bailout can be accomplished without costing taxpayers a trillion dollars, that should be the course to take.

September 28, 2008

I Love eMusic

There is so much cool stuff to discover. I have found so many new bands that are my "new favorite" that I can't keep track of them. If you subscribe they usually give you about 50 or 75 free downloads just for trying them out. There is also a free daily download plus you can seach for albums that have free tracks on them. The price is right as well. You can be a "Basic" subscriber for $11.99 a month and get 30 downloads. That's less than .40 cents per track!!

One thing to be conscious of is that eMusic promotes independant artists and labels. You can find some mainstream stuff but you might as well go pay more at iTunes if you're looking for Top 40 fluff. This site is for adventurers looking for something new to listen to. A band or a sound or a style unheard by you before. It's like going on an expedition and making a discovery every time you log on.

Click the post title to check it out.

Newsweek Columnist Sam Harris Displays Sexism, Religious Bigotry

Elitist bigot Sam Harris believes Sarah Palin is not qualified to run as a candidate for VP because, in a nutshell, she is a regular person and has religious beliefs. Her beliefs are tantamount to lunacy.

He writes, " If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could."

Why is it whenever a candidate on the right has religious beliefs of any type they are steering our country towards a fanatical religious theocracy? I hear no fears from the left that Obama will do that. He supposedly has a twenty year association with a racist extremist pastor and nobody bats an eye. This pastor stands in the pulpit preaching "God Damn America" and no one on the left flinches. The reason? The left are in agreement. Obama only distanced himself from Pastor Wright when he absolutely had to because the story was mushrooming out of control. When he did finally speak out he made it sound like this was the first time Wright ever made any inflamatory remarks by saying, "Obviously, whatever relationship I had with Rev. Wright has changed as a consequence of this". What would "this" be? The exposure of Wright as a racist. You cannot attend a church for twenty years and not know something like this about your pastor. The left was defending Wright the entire time. In fact an editorial in the Kansas City Star calls the concern over Jeremiah Wright's racist sermon's a "made-up issue"

Harris deems Sarah Palin to be ignorant because she expresses confidence. Yet if an elitist, Harvard educated male unswervingly said, "I'm ready, willing and able", Harris would be seen cheering in the crowd. He would not be asking, "Why is he so willing to do the job?" Here he provides a ridiculous scenario as an example of his viewpoint.
"What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

Harris displays a frightening stance on Palin's minor daughter's pregnancy.
He espouses a position that a mother should not have any control of her minor daughter's unplanned teen pregnancy. The only topic he touches on is abortion. One track mind.
"We know, therefore, that Palin believes that she should be the one to decide whether her daughter carries her baby to term. Based on her stated position, we know that she would deny her daughter an abortion even if she had been raped."

He goes on to explain that she is ignorant because she is a regular person.
"What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth."

Read the whole editorial by clicking here.

September 27, 2008

"A Little Help From My Friends"

A picture of something not seen too often. Usually the Coast Starlight is headed by two Amtrak GE P42DC locomotives. Apparently one had some trouble. Union Pacific loaned Amtrak an EMD SD70M to possibly complete the trip to LA or to get to the next location that had available Amtrak motive power. They obviously would not want the Starlight to be stranded on their mainline interrupting their flow of freight traffic.

A Basic Human Right - The Pusuit Of Happiness

Unless you live an Islamic nation like Iran. Instead, they just kill you if you try to find happiness or disagree with them.

Leftists say we have nothing to fear from Iran trying to use nuclear power for it's countries energy needs. We need to have a dialog with them. We need to understand them.


A country run by neanderthal fanatics who could care less what the rest of the world thinks shouldn't be within a hemisphere of a nuclear reactor.

Click the post title for the full story.

Where Did This Financial Crisis Come From?

Essentially any and all Washington politicians are to blame for not really doing something before it was too late. However, we can specifically blame Bill Clinton. I know, I know, here comes the "Clinton hasn't been in office for eight years! Why do you always try to pin things on him" response.

Here's how the seed of this debacle was planted.

"...(This) crisis can trace its roots to Bill Clinton’s signature on legislation making it easier for minority constituents with bad credit to obtain mortgages. In 1995, he had his Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, rewrite the lending rules for the Community Reinvestment Act, opening the flood gates of mortgage lending to unqualified borrowers.

This legislation, in effect, applied affirmative action to the lending industry, which is to say that the current crisis is NOT a “free market failure” but the result of socially engineered financial policy by the central government. The financial markets welcomed their new customers with open arms, fueling a real estate boom across the board.

These so-called “subprime mortgages,” which were offered at variable interest rates, were widely perceived as good investments. Investors used the high-risk instruments to secure assets in other markets fueling profits for investment banks and mortgage lenders. The subprime market thus expanded rapidly and the mortgage instruments were used by other firms as collateral for investments in stocks, commodities and the like.

Unfortunately, no one questioned the pell-mell regulatory system of oversight for these transactions until large cracks appeared in our economy’s foundation, the first being the collapse of Countrywide, the nation’s largest subprime lender. Then banks and mortgage lenders large and small began downsizing, dumping assets and closing their doors. Bear Stearns filed for bankruptcy. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, holders of trillions of dollars in mortgages, were bailed out with 200 billion taxpayer dollars. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and insurance giant AIG was given an $85-billion taxpayer prop to keep it solvent.

From an article at The Patriot Post by Mark Alexander

Ignored By The Mainstream Media

Very few media outlets have chosen to delve into Barack Hussein Obama's past in any meaningful sense. His association with a known terrorist and murderer who now is a professor at a midwest university is blown off as being merely an aquaintance. Do we not as rational humans choose who we will associate with? Of, course we do.

This series of Investor's Business Daily editorials reveals more than I have seen or heard in my purposeful attempts at research on Barack Hussein Obama. There is a warehouse worth of information that is not being disclosed to the public. The alphabet soup networks and their talking heads, newspapers and nightly newscasts all ignore the FACT that Obama is a socialist and it can be proven by his own voting records. I really think there should be some sort of test formulated for voter registration. Maybe even at the voting booth. It could go something like this -

a) Who is the current Secretary of State
b) Who is the current Speaker of the House
c) Who is the current Vice President

If you can't pass this simple test (and it is simple if you even remotely follow the news) you should not be allowed to vote. I know, people will howl at the thought of denying anyone the right to vote. I believe voters that are informed by nothing more than a 30 second soundbite on the incredibly biased 6:00 news or a glance at a typical left-wing newspaper headline have no business making life and death decisions for the country. I am not being alarmist when I say life and death decisions, I am being a realist. The individual who moves into the Whitehouse come next January will determine our course through these extremely dangerous times.

Why Aren't We Drilling Here??

Can someone tell me why we don't have oil drills in the ground in Montana and North Dakota? Click the post title for details.

Here's more information from the USGS.

September 25, 2008

Information On Obama NOT in the Mainstream Media

The bias is dripping from the alphabet soup broadcast and cable networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc). My favorite derogatory network nickname comes from Libertarian talk show host Neil Boortz regarding CNN. He a calls it the Chicken Noodle Network. I love it.

Very few references to the connection between former Weather Underground terrorist and Obama can be found on network news sites. The articles that do appear usually make a faux argument that Obama was a child when Ayers was involved in the terrorist organization. The premise is he was loosely associated with Ayers.

Not according to Obama's own words.

In his 1995 autobiography, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritace", Obama says he deliberately chose who he would associate with. He wanted to make sure that everyone knew where he stood politically. So to say that Ayers was an "aquaintance" is intellectually untrue.

This article from the Chicago Sun Times has some excellent detailed information in the comment section. It gives a detailed list of the Weather Undergrounds terrorist activities. Ayers has never denounced or apologized for his actions. In fact, in a 1981 interview with David Horowitz, he said "Guilty as hell, free as a bird. America is a great country".

This article from Hugh Hewitt's blog is a guest posting by Bill Dyer who is making the point that Obama himself said he would align himself with extremists back in 1995 when he wrote his autobiography.

I'm sorry, but this is not the kind of "hope" and "change" that I want for my country.

September 21, 2008

Here We Go Again

Muslims asking for preferential treatment. Fortunately JBS Swift & Co. had the stones to fire them. When you get hired for a job, you understand the hours that you will be working. My company doesn't pay me for my lunch, why on earth would they pay me for a prayer break at sundown! Here's the link to the article.

I've been at my job for 21 years and have arranged my personal religious holidays and events around my work schedule. Six months out of the year I don't attend church services because I have to work on Sunday. I don't walk out in protest. I understand that this is the configuration of my job and I make do.

September 20, 2008

Cutting It Close in Capitola, Ca.

These two surfers would catch a wave and ride it all the way in to about 50 feet from these rocks before bailing out. No thanks. I'll stay on shore and shoot the pics.

Surfer at Soquel Point - Capitola, Ca.

I took my wife and daughter to a baby shower for a cousin in Aptos. neither one of them wanted to drive the highway 17 over the hill. Can't say that I blame them. It's a horrible road to drive. I took the opportunity to take some pictures while I was over there. I wasn't going to come back over the hill for an hour just to turn around and go back to pick them up.

I found a spot at Soquel Point in Capitola that was a dead end street. It had "No Parking" signs posted but I think that was a formality. I pulled up a spot and was getting some decent shots of a couple of surfers. The waves were really crashing into the rocks.

September 18, 2008

Back To The Real World

The vacation in tropical paradise is over. I've been back to work for three days and I had to get sick. Here I was the only person in our family to take "Airborne" for the trip and I'm the one that gets sick! I'm sitting in my recliner blogging in my pajamas. No waves crashing in the background, no tropical birds chirping, no ceiling fan gently whirling in the warm air. Just the unemployed next door neighbor listening to rap/hip hop at unhealthy decibel levels and the guy across the street drinking a beer in his garage staring into our front window. The neighbors two doors down sitting on the couch on their front potch listening to loud mariachi music. I don't know why I would rather be in Hawaii than at home!

Our neighborhood has steadily degraded over the last few years. One neighbor has a pot card which gives him the right to grow six pot plants. I'm sure it's for his terminal illness that he struggles with every day. No...wait...that would be his laziness that he "struggles" with as he sells his medicinal pot to the neighborhood hoodlums. I hope I don't sound too acidic, but I really loathe the fact that he is obviously sponging off my tax dollars in some way. In the 22 years that I have lived in this location, I am not aware of him ever having a job other than delinquent or drug dealer. His live-in girlfriend goes to work every day. His two older brothers go to work every day. All of his neighbors go to work every day and he just bilks us out of our tax dollars for whatever "assistance" he is on.


On a happier note, I will be a grandfather soon! Possibly mid-April of next year. I'm definitely way too young to be a grandfather. Although I can also say that about being a father as well. My daughter was born 10 days after my 20th birthday. I was deployed with the Navy at the time in Puerto Rico. I didn't get to see her for the first time until she was three weeks old. It seems hard to believe that she's old enough to have children! We were dropping her off at pre-school just a few short years ago. Time moves rather quickly and you really don't notice until there is quite a bit of it behind you.

I'll leave you with a very short video of what I had to leave behind in Maui.

September 08, 2008

Aloha! Part II

I took the above shot in the Iao Valley Park. I'm not sure what kind of flower but it's beautiful, eh? We are in the middle of seven glorious days on Maui. So far we have been to the Haleakala Crater,

the Iao Valley.

the Sugar Cane Train in Lahaina (Lahaina, Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad),

The engineer that operated this steam locomotive was a twenty-something woman!

September 01, 2008


Posting from the Outrigger in Waikiki! It's a beautiful hotel with really great service and amenities.
Our trip was mostly uneventful. One situation in LAX was a little tense. My wife and sister-in-law went to find a place to smoke after our flight from San Jose to LAX. My wife had her boarding pass with her but not her ID. My sister-in-law had to beat feet from the security check point to the boarding area to get her ID. My wife got through and returned to the boarding area in time to have our boarding numbers called!

Five and a half hours of flight is a long time! It's been a while since I've done that. We had a van pick us up and do the sardine squeeze to the hotel. They checked us in quickly and we went up to our rooms. My parents had a fruit basket and bottle of champagne waiting for them. It was sent by her neice Melody and husband Curtis. It was a nice touch.

After getting relatively settled in our rooms, we went to scope out the dinner situation. Waikiki is a twenty-something haven. The place is teeming with amped up "beautiful people". Most of the hotel restaraunts were filled with loud and boisterous youngun's just learning how to hold their liquor. Makes me feel like an old codger! I just wanted a place to eat that I didn't have to wait an hour and a half to get into and sport my own ear plugs. We ended up ordering Roundtable Pizza in the room! It still took nearly an hour but we could at least talk without shouting.

My wife and Sister-in-law had gone downstairs to smoke *see footnote*. My brother and I were going to run across the street to the ABC store to get some water. I wanted cerveza for the pizza as well. We didn't see them in the "smoking area". I said I would bet they were in the ABC Store. Sure enough! As we entered there they were shopping away. Fortunately no purchases were made since the 6 pack of bottled water and Corona came to $15.25, ouch! Most things are ridiculously iced so I'm really not surprised. That reminds me, at the Burger King inside the LAX boarding terminal, they had some of their meal combos priced at over nine dollars. Captive audience, right?

Slept fairly well. I'm not used to a regular bed since I have slept on a waterbed for the last 18 or so years. This morning we have our welcome breakfast where they will give us some tour/sightseeing information. They expressly said at the airport when picking us up "no timeshare". Nice to know they aren't trying to sell us anything. Today we are probably going to do some Pearl Harbor touring. Being Labor Day we will probably stay away from the Arizona and the crowds.

*footnote* - Smokers are mercilessly persecuted at airports and in Hawaii. Smoking is treated as a disease that should be exorcised from the planet. You actually sign an acknowledgement at hotel registration that you will be fined $250 for smoking in the room. The security at Honolulu International treated the ladies nearly as well as terrorist suspects when they were smoking in the wrong place outside. Security actually made them put out their cigarettes to walk across the street and smoke. Zieg Hiel!!!

August 16, 2008

RE: Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency

I saw the forum at Saddleback Church with Senator Obama and Senator McCain. I wasn't planning on watching it because I really don't care for either candidate. I suppose it's the "lesser of two evils" choice. Not that either one of them is evil, I just don't care for either one of them. If you missed it it's being rebroadcast again on CSPAN Saturday night and Sunday morning 8/17. It's worth catching if you didn't see it.

On a sidenote, in this blogger's humble opinion, McCain beat the snot out of Obama. What say you?

August 10, 2008

Vacation Anticipation

Three days on Oahu and seven on Maui. I'm getting a little light headed just thinking about it. I've been to Maui one other time in 2000. It was wonderful. There was a drought at the time so it only rained for a few minutes on one of the seven days that we were there.

Rather idyllic I must say. We did the road to Hana thing. Being dry it was probably not as impressive as when there were active waterfalls plunging through tropical foliage. Did the deep sea fishing trip. My mother-in-law caught a nine foot Marlin of about 250 pounds. It was interesting but I don't think I would do it again. The most memorable activity was the snorkling. Christmas morning the kids opened the few presents that we brought along with us and then we went to the 14 mile marker on the road to Ka'anapali. We must have been in the water for about four hours. It was just amazing. It was knee deep to chest deep at least one hundred yards from the beach. This meant you had to be careful not to brush up against the coral however. The aquatic life we saw was fabulous. Just like a National Geographic article. Fish with all the colors of the rainbow would swim up to you. I think that was because many people would bring various forms of fish food into the water with them. Kind of like pidgeons and seagulls, these fish were scavengers looking for the easy meal. We didn't have food but they would approach anyway.

This time around I would like to see more in the way of the countryside. There is the Haleakala crater, Iao Needle, the north shore. Tedeschi winery also sounds intersting. They produce pineapple wine. The grounds are reportedly spectacular. We had done a quick jaunt into Lahaina a few times on our last trip. We did the Old Lahaina Luau, Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump's. I think we may have shopped one afternoon. I would like to see some of the historic buildings in the town. I guess when you're an old coot like me (hmm) you want to do those kinds of things. I just find history extremely interesting.

On Oahu we will do the obligatory Pearl Harbor excursions. There is also an aviation museum I would like to check out. It's a mini New York so I guess we won't be bored. It will be my first time there except for being at the airport on six other occasions. If you have any suggestions for the off-the-beaten-path excursion, leave me a comment and any tip that would come in handy on the islands.

July 17, 2008

A Hole In The Sky

I was working in the field up the peninsula in Daly City and Colma and was coming over the hill to get to highway 101 when I came across this incredible light show. It was a very foggy morning. The small peninsula of land in the center of the picture is just south of Candlestick Park, the former home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. It was truly a spectacular display! I took a series of pictures over about six minutes. I've posted them on my Flickr page. Check them out if you'd like.

The reason I was up there was because we were trying to determine if a guy we have contracted to distribute one of our publications is just ripping us off by picking up the papers and dumping them (or recycling them for $.08 a pound). He gets a flat fee weekly to distribute and we have audited and found no papers at the locations that he is telling us he is selling at. Thieving dirtbag!

They're Taking The Hobbits To Isengard

I don't know why it's so just is!

July 10, 2008

Political Compass Test

I followed a link from Joe's Big Blog to the Political Compass Test page and here are my results. I have to admit that some of the questions on the test I had never pondered so accuracy is relative. I was not necessarily surprised by my results. I think I would consider myself a bit more libertarian, however.

Just Messin' Around

My new camera has movie capabilities and I was just trying it out. I just wish it had sound as well. I took this video at the Santa Clara CalTrain station. I was about 10 feet from the track steadying myself on a wooden fence. You can still see the movement as the wind "hits" me when the locomotive passes.

July 07, 2008

Great News!

I've found some stats on about my blog!

My Alexa traffic ranking - 12,349,496 as of 9/20/2008!

June 26, 2008

California High Speed Rail

Here's a page that has some very cool conceptual animations of the proposed California High Speed Rail system. I think we are certainly ripe for this as a state. Gas is becoming ridiculously expensive and airlines are cutting back on flights and increasing fares due to fuel prices. I think it's definitely an idea whose time is long overdue.

June 25, 2008

Not Just Gas Prices

I had a meeting with the business agent from my local, one of the other shop stewards and the company lawyer where I work. We were discussing the issue of our health and welfare fund and how to keep it in the black. By August the reserve that is used to cover the cost of our healthcare subscription will have run out. In order to maintain coverage we can do one of two things: pay the $350 a month increase out of our own pocket or go to a plan with less coverage and only pay $240 more a month. Pick your poison.

My personal preference is to maintain the higher level of coverage. It's a big hit on the wallet, yes. At this stage of life it's essential. When I was younger I would always complain of how much of our raise we would divert to the health and welfare fund. I rarely got so much as a cold. "I want that money in my pocket", I would say. The old-timers that were near retirement were bitterly opposed to keeping the raise and accepting less coverage. Twenty years later, I understand why.

One of the main reasons I declined the job offer I received from the Union Pacific Railroad back in May '08 was the costs related health care coverage. They talked about $20 doctor co-pays and $10 prescriptions. That alone would have a huge impact on my wage. I would have been taking a pay cut if I was hired and on top of that I would have the huge increase in helthcare costs. The math didn't figure in my favor. It would have been a real hardship to have accepted the job and left my current one.

I don't know the exact number of contractual raises where we have diverted most or all of it to the health and welfare fund but I can say it's been most of the raises in the last four years. The membership meetings that we have when we vote on whether to divert funds or not are always contentious. The young guys only think about the paycheck. Not that us old-timers don't, it's just that the young guys are not thinking about the benefits of the incredibly good healthcare coverage we have. Our business agent said that the only group in the local to still be on Plan 1A (the cadillac plan) is Young's Market Co. Young's is a statewide operation, essentially a monopoly on liquor distribution.

The bottom line is I'm going to have to hope that the other old-timers here will show up to the membership meeting and opt to keep the current plan. Personally, I'm willing to bear that extra cost because I believe that the plan with lesser coverage, in the long run, would lead to much higher out of pocket expenses. I would love to be proven wrong!

On a happier note....gas just went down four cents a gallon to $4.45 yesterday!

June 24, 2008

Pretty cool little video entry into an Ikea commercial contest.

A Country of Rocket Scientists!

I was beginning to wonder when a group of really intelligent people were going to surface and stake their claim as the most advanced civilization on the planet. The Netherlands can finally make that claim. My hat is off to Petra Faile for a stunning display of knowledge in the fields of tectonic plate movement and paleontology!

June 10, 2008

Hockey Fans Aren't Like Other Fans

Hired For My Dream Job

Well, sort of.

(edit 7/22/08) The title link takes you to an article by a fellow blogger, railfan, photographer and general rabel rouser that has been in the same situation regarding jobs.

For roughly the last 10 months I have rekindled my interest in all things railroads. Around February I had actually put in an application at the Union Pacific Railroad website. There were openings for "Train Crew Service" in Watsonville, Milpitas and Oakland. I had applied for all three to see what would transpire. I received an invitation to a reading comprehension test in April. I took the test scoring eighty five percent. It was a twenty question test to be completed in thirty minutes. Essentially you read from the freight handlers manual and then chose the appropriate answer. It was an interesting experience since this was a completely foreign area of knowledge for me.

A couple of weeks after I took the test I received an invitation to a hiring session at the Santa Cruz/Scott's Valley Hilton. They gave the lowdown on what the job was all about. Even though I had applied for specific locations, the job actually was a position in the Roseville service area. The geographic points of this service area stretched from Klamath at the Oregon border on the north side down to San Luis Obispo in the south and east to Winnemucca, Nevada. Once your training was over after about 8 weeks, you "mark up". You then bid with your seniority on open positions. Since you have little to no seniority, you may wind up bidding on a slot in Winnemucca, Nevada. You have 48 hours to report (on your own dime, I might add) to the location and find a place to stay. Admittedly, our HR rep doing the information session said a lot of folks sleep in their cars when they first arrive at their new location. However, there is a caveat. You could be on the way to this Winnemucca location and your cell phone could ring. It's the Crewmaster telling you you've been bumped off your newlty aquired position. Time to find a new job to bid on. You find an open shift in Bakersfield. Nine hours into your drive to get there, your phone rings again. Guess what? You've been bumped again. The process starts over. To top things off, you haven't even worked yet so you are not getting paid for any of this. The example is a worst case scenario but it could happen.

There is also a chance that once your training is over you could be furloughed because there are no open positions available. Accarding to the HR rep, thirty percent of the Union Pacific workforce is retiring in the next five years. That would seem to be good odds for moving up in seniority rather quickly. That doesn't mean that the service area you apply for has openings already. They may be hiring to prepare for future retirements.

The discussion also involved benefits. They spoke of co-pays for medical and prescriptions. Currently mine are infinitesmal compared to the described benefits of UP. The kicker was the vacation accrual. After two years you get a week. Nothing out of the ordinary. Four years, two weeks. Nine years, three weeks. Seventeen years for four weeks. Last but not least, twenty-five years years before you get five weeks. This may sound like a good deal to some. To me it was the straw that broke the camels back. I thought long and hard about taking a pay cut. I figured I could do it. I thought about the co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions. That would hurt a lot. The vacation schedule put a nail in the coffin of my dream job. With the inconvieniences and disruptions in your life and that of your family, the adjustment I would have to make to accept my dream job offer was more than I could handle.

At least I can say I got hired for my dream job! I'll have to keep my part-time "job" as a foamer for now!