Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The November Election

I received my absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. Only one office up for grabs on my ballot: Humboldt County Board of Education, Trustee Area 4. Only two candidates: Lorretta Eckenrode and Bernadette Arwood. That should be a real cat fight, huh?

But seriously, I just went to the League of Women Voters' Smartvoter site to see if there's any info on these two. Nope, not yet anyway. They both have Facebook pages but nothing pertinent there, either. Not sure I just want to blindly choose one or the other. Unless more info shows up, I might just skip this one.

Some Phones Need Modems

Phones nowadays are quite a bit different than the old ones. The old phones that you plugged into the wall jack had their own power source. Actually, it was the phone companies power- separate from your other electricity source- that allowed those phones to work even if the power was off. Never knew that until a phone company guy told me. We have one of those old phones upstairs.

With the new cordless phones, it's not quite the same. Your power goes off, the phone's receiver won't work so no phone calls. I have our current cordless phone on a battery back. That might help but the battery is years old so maybe not.

Then there's the cable phone systems, which I think the guest writer in the Times- Standard is referring to. Must be, because our cordless phone doesn't have a modem. I was surprised to learn that those cable phones need a back up battery in their modem to work in a power outage. I guess they used to give everyone a back up free, but now they've stopped doing that. Check your phone's modem and see if you have one installed if you want to make calls during power outages.

Then again, there's always the cell phone for that.

Local Movie Maker Has U.S. Debut

Maria Matteoli's movie, "The Wine of Summer", has made its debut in this country, reports ScreenDaily magazine. Maria and some of her family drove down to Los Angeles for its official opening. She won some film prize overseas for that same movie.

Maria was born in Eureka and currently lives not far from me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Harbor Commission Lawsuit

The Times- Standard reports on the lawsuit filed by Leo Sears over supposed impropriety on behalf of the board members Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. The problem seeming to be a deal having been made between the district and Coast Seafoods Co. 

The District borrowed a bunch of money from the company to clean up the old pulp mill on Samoa. In return (not sure if this is being questioned), the district extended Coast Seafoods' lease. The issue seeming to be that board member, Greg Dale, is employed with Coast Seafood, thus a conflict of interest existed.

I'm underwhelmed. The deal made seems, as best I can tell, to be in both parties' interest and there was no down side to it that's being claimed. Greg Dale apparently wasn't present on the board when the decisions were made. He broached the subject earlier at some Chamber of Commerce meeting. You have to wonder what else public officials are supposed to do at such meetings? Talk about the weather?

I also have to wonder if this same deal might have might have been made if Greg Dale wasn't even on the board? I suspect it would have. We can quibble about the fine points of conflict of interest, but in this case it seems to me no harm, no foul.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Syria & Russia: Truth or Lies

Or maybe somewhere in between? In regards my last post on Syria, we've seen since then statements in the news from western powers that the Russians are hardly hitting ISIS and are, in fact, just making things worse. According to this news report- from a source I've never heard from before- Russians have dealt devastating blows against ISIS. 

Good news, if true but, I do notice other pages from this web site seem to be strongly pro- Russian. Perhaps this is another Russian propaganda site? Still, that doesn't mean what they wrote is untrue. It just means they get to tell their side of the story. 

I'm not sure the United States needs its own web sites. We have CNN and the rest of the major news organizations to put our spin on things.

Hillary The Unlikable

The Daily Sheeple looks at what I'm guessing is a recently published book on the lives of Secret Service agents. According to the book agents consider being assigned to guarding Hillary Clinton to be a form of punishment. Believable to me as I've read similar sentiments elsewhere. 

I might have mentioned here before a commentary by a guy saying Hillary would never be elected because of the same sort of thing. He wrote, to paraphrase, "When husband Bill walks into the room, the place lights up because people liked him. When Hillary walks in, the room goes cold...".

Perhaps she's the most unlikable current politician, or at least most well known. Back in the day I read something about older presidents and agent's impression of them. Worst president to work for: Lyndon Johnson, him treating agents like servants and having them carry his bags and such. 

Best one to work for: Jimmy Carter, who let them stay in guest housing on his farm and them fish in his pond, among other things. A genuinely pleasant guy!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Putin & Syria: So?

Reason magazine knocks it out of the park again with a look at Russia's interest in Syria. A good case made that it really shouldn't concern us. About the only thing I disagree with is the second to last paragraph:

"Obama's critics portray him as weak and lost in the face of the bold Russian challenge. But the truth is he's engaged in geopolitical jujitsu, using the opponent's strengths against him. He's avoiding risks that carry no commensurate rewards. "

I don't think Obama is weak, but I'm not happy with the saber rattling I've heard from the U.S. government. I have a hard time believing he's being strategic with "geopolitical jujitsu". He seems to just be playing the the tough guy card as is often the U.S. role. 

In fairness, though, recent news reports of U.S./Russian dialogue don't sound quite as bad as they did earlier on.

Water Folks Agree With The Freddy

It's been frustrating to me to keep hearing people saying we need to conserve water in Eureka and the surrounding area. I've wrote here and elsewhere time and again we have plenty of water and water we don't use just goes out into the ocean.

Thus I was pleased to read in the Times- Standard this morning others are questioning the need to conserve water for the very same reasons I've brought up. Those quoted include the boss at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District:

In the rest of the state, where a lot of the supply is interconnected through a series of reservoirs and canals, conserving in one metropolitan area can benefit other large metropolitan areas,” he said. “In our situation up here, we’re isolated.

In other words, whatever water we use up here isn't at the expense of the parched areas.  We also have millions of gallons a day of water considered surplus.

When you think about it, if there was a need to conserve water in the greater Eureka area, it would make more sense to be drawing more water from the Mad River and storing it somehow rather than letting it just run out to the ocean.

No need to applaud, but you can be sure I'm basking in my greatness.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Neighbors and Local Ordinances

I've mentioned before the Nextdoor Neighborhood e-mail list. It's a relatively easy way to communicate with the rest of those in your neighborhood, although the neighborhood boundaries can be quite large. Most seem to use it for neighborhood watch activities.

I had my doubts about it when signing up with it again earlier this year. Could it be used by neighbors to snipe at each other? Yes, and it has been, at least once. Had a incident a couple months ago where one neighbor complained- perhaps falsely- that her neighbor was engaged in criminal behavior. That led to him posting about her and creating a rather difficult situation I got involved in which almost resulted in a physical fight on my front porch with one of them.

I thought maybe this sort of thing wasn't for me. It still might not be, but that died down. Today,  someone in the Eureka High Neighborhood posted something a bit different. She suggested the City of Eureka be more proactive in enforcing local ordinances. Here's just part of it:

"I don't agree with the laissez faire attitude the city seems to have. We live in an incorporated city, you can't just do whatever you want, otherwise, what is the point of municipal codes? I don't accept the excuse that it's this way because we live in Humboldt Co. That excuse has kept us from having nice things long enough. If a person wants to live outside of the municipal codes, then maybe some other unincorporated part of the county would be more to their liking. I pay property taxes, and I expect the city to enforce the codes that were passed for the benefit of its citizens.
These are just basic codes I'm talking about that are part of any modern community. And that's my point, neighbors wouldn't have to meddle if the city enforced its own codes."

That was in response to my reply to her where I suggested nothing wrong with complaint driven enforcement, but part of what I liked about the area since I moved here over 40 years ago was the live and live attitude of most people. We also don't need The City going around hassling everyone as a matter of course. Complaint driven enforcement should be the rule. 

This gal would have none of that. I can't help but wonder how long she's lived up here? Seems like someone that moved up here from the big city wanting to bring the big city mentality with her. To be fair, though, probably more than enough natives up here with that mindset.

Regardless, my main point in posting was the the Nextdoor Neighborhood list and the resulting block party held at Carson Park in August. Get to know your neighbors! What's to not like about it?

It might be a plus that you get to know your neighbors. On the other hand, you may find you don't like them. I can think of at least two I've found I don't.
On a related note, years ago when the late Tish Wilburn ran for Eureka City Council, she called me up- or did I call her(?)- wondering if the Libertarian Party of Humboldt County would endorse her candidacy. Her main campaign issue? Enforcing local ordinances.

I had to tell her that isn't the sort of issue I would think most libertarians would rally around, much less as an organization. She didn't understand that no matter how much I tried to explain it. Oh, well, at least she took it well.

My Last Time At Church

Speaking of church, I've never understood why any guy would want to go to church once he's old enough that he didn't have to. I had to go all the time, mostly at my mother's insistence, but quit around age 13 after getting in some trouble. My mom didn't argue about it. She just knew I didn't like it and realized it didn't seem to do any good for me.

I was a happy fellow on Sundays until '76ish when I went to basic training for the national guard. Off to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo I went. I'd asked a friend a lot about the army and basic training- he was a Viet Nam veteran. I asked about church, telling him how much I hated it. He said I'd want to go to church in basic as they'd put you on work details if you didn't go. I told him I'd rather be on details than go to church and never backed down from that.

The first week in training, Sunday came. The drill sergeant told the company we had the opportunity to go to church but, if you chose not to, just let them know and you wouldn't have to. He didn't say anything about work details, but that didn't matter to me. There was my opportunity, or so I thought.

Except then they ordered the company en masse onto buses and we were driven across post to some Catholic church. When was I supposed to opt out? No one ever asked. We get to the church and fall out of the buses into formation. I'm thinking this might be where they ask if you want to attend. Nope. Drill Sergeant calls out, "Files from the right, March", or some such, and we file into the church. 

Uh, oh. I'm trapped, and that early in the training cycle I was too intimidated to approach the drill sergeants while in formation about anything. Into the church I went. Oh, NO!

Once inside, nothing really new. I was raised Episcopalian, pretty much the same as Catholic except Episcopalian priests can get married. They had their little march down the aisle carrying the cross up to the pulpit, or whatever it's called up at the front. Then the prayers and songs. 

I didn't really participate. I stood up when everybody else stood up and knelt on cue, but I didn't say anything or sing. What really got me was the guy to my right seemed to be a church boy. When they'd do some song he'd move his hymnal over to me so I could read the words and join in. I didn't, but made it look like I was singing. I was hating it.

Finally, when I got the impression things were winding down, I'd had enough, got up and walked outside. Thank God that's over with was about the closest I got to saying a prayer.

That was the last time we did church en masse. After that they had it set up so troops could go to church but you went on your own. Not me, of course, and I have to wonder if I was the only one hating that first Sunday? As I recall after that, most everyone stayed in the barracks on Sundays having a nice, quiet day off reading the Sunday paper. Now that was pleasant.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Losing Faith In America

I watched a show on Fox News a couple nights ago called "Are We Losing Faith In America". The first few minutes showed it was about religion, not about faith in country as I first assumed.

The first twenty minutes or so they described fewer people having interest in church and documented a number of churches actually closing. That's good news to me and, no, I'm not saying I want to shut down the churches. I'm just glad to see them declining by people's own volition. Of course, the theme of the show overall was that this is a bad thing. Oh, well.

Last half hour or so of the show went into ways the church is trying to rebrand itself and find new ways to make the institution relevant to people's lives. Good for them. 

One interesting thing they showed later on was a baptist(?) church somewhere in the southeast. Can't remember the state, or for sure if it was baptist, but it was losing members. So much so they couldn't afford to keep it open. Who'da thunk that could happen in the Bible Belt?

Then came the Arabics to the rescue. Actually, I'm not sure if that was the exact word, but they were arabic speaking baptists (maybe protestants). There were enough of them and they bought out the church, took it over and the old congregation joined them in a mixed language church. The english speakers had a translator and used earpieces to understand what was being said.

Kinda neat the way they joined together, although the xenophobe in me didn't particularly like middle easterners taking over an American church, lol. 

Anyway, maybe something for both sides in that show. I found it interesting and good news that church in America seems to be declining. I'm also not all that sure it's a bad thing that the churches are trying to stay relevant. 

I believe the link above has video of the show for those interested in watching it, but the web site drives my computer nuts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Hate Neckties

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this piece in The Telegraph over why neckties should be worn at work. Why would anyone advocate in favor of wearing neckties? As much as I dislike Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, he's a no tie guy that wears t- shirts and hoodies to even more formal events. I'll give him credit for that.

I was thinking about ties years ago and realized there probably is some....not sure what to call it...value to them. They give at least some people an air of respectability and competence. Back when I had a retirement account, the guy who managed it at Dean Witter was always dressed in a suit and tie. I liked and respected him, but had to admit I might not have as much respect if he wore sweat pants and a t- shirt when he saw me as I nearly always do. The tie helped him seem professional and worth listening to. 

I won't go so far with everyone else, though, and still think ties are crap for most of us. One of the few nice things to look forward to in the future might be the decline in people that feel the need to wear a necktie.