Thursday, May 31, 2007

Darkness Falls?

I really like this photo that my wife took one day in San Francisco. I wasn't sure after looking at it for the first time in a long time if it was day or night. The sun was a big tip-off for me though.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Silly Hippies!

I just had to laugh as I read this L.A. Times article about how things have changed at ground zero for the counterculture movement of The Sixties, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury.

Actually, things haven't changed that much at all, but the article mentions the disgust that old-time flower children have for what is going on there today.

Arthur Evans has lived at Haight-Ashbury for 34 years, but he is not happy with the current group of "gutter punks" that he sees roaming the streets.

"I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior."

Hah! He doesn't get it! He is reaping exactly what he has sown! You don't tell people to "tune in, turn on, and drop out" and expect the slide down the slippery slope to stop at long hair and colorful clothing.

Evans' very own "standard of civilized behavior" was decidedly uncivilized in the 60's.

What people in this article are complaining about is the exact byproduct that we expect: out of disorder you get more disorder.

Instead of criticizing, Mr. Evans should do as Dr. Frankenstein before him: look down upon his creation and bellow, "What have I done?!"

As much as we hate them, rules exist for a purpose. Actions have consequences. Right and wrong used to have a meaning; you can't marginalize those meanings and expect things to run well any more than you could plant crabgrass and expect to gain a rosebush.

Silly hippies. They got exactly what they bargained for while infecting the rest of society with the same plague!

Now that is not something that makes me laugh.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Are you in the 92nd percentile?

I'm smarter than at least ninety-two percent of the country!

The current issue of "The American"--it has a decent online version too--has some interesting numbers regarding the citizenry's opinion of global warming.

As a human-caused global warming denier, I am thrilled to be part of the eight percent of the populace who thinks concern about the make-believe disaster is unwarranted.

Unfortunately, it seems like the Chicken Littles of the world make up the rest of the populace. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that sixty-four percent think some action should be taken to combat global warming. At least twenty-five percent think we should at least do a little more research before taking any more action.

The magazine also has some other interesting findings:

*In 1992 fifty-three percent felt they understood global warming well or fairly well; that number has steadily increased so that by 2007 fully seventy-six percent think they know the subject well.

*Only fourteen percent actively participate in the environmental movement. Forty-eight percent of the people are sympathetic, but not active. Twenty-nine percent are neutral and only seven percent are unsympathetic toward the movement.

*As far as top concerns as a nation, only three percent cite the environment. Thirty-five percent of respondents chose the war in Iraq as a top priority for policymakers, followed by heath care, job creation (both fifteen percent), and terrorism (thirteen).

This is just a small sample of some of thought-provoking discussion in the issue of this magazine. I am pleasantly surprised with the subscription I inherited when my all-time favorite magazine, "American Enterprise", ceased publishing when editor Karl Zinsmeister took a job with the Bush Administration. Check out the link above for a look at the online version.

Monday, May 28, 2007

How to lower gas prices

I am not sure why the gas companies would do this--and I am certainly against the government mandating it--but what if they stopped making mid-grade and premium gasoline?

Even when the price of crude per barrel falls we can't gain ground on pricing because of refinery capacity, so why not stop devoting 15-20% of that capacity to fuel that our cars don't need anyway?

If there were more low-grade gas on the market--the type recommeded by the vast majority of auto manufacturers--wouldn't that increased supply lower the price?

Just wondering.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I forget what this is

I can't remember whether this was a deck I was walking on, the side of a building, or the side of a boat. I guess I should have made a note of it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My laundry can beat your laundry!

Sometimes the passionate sports fan in me collides with the pragmatist.

One of those moments occurred a few days ago when I was on a sports blog somewhere and someone profoundly noted that "we are really only rooting for laundry."

I don't think I will ever forget that quote for the simple reason that it crystallized and gave voice to something that I have thought about for many years.

What is it about us humans that we can be so loyal to a group of guys who happen to be wearing a uniform that we have grown accustomed to pulling for?

I really began to question the logic of being a fanatic when my beloved Los Angeles Rams skipped town and moved to St. Louis. Why do I still root for them even though they aren't from my hometown? Why will I still be a Rams fan even when L.A. finally gets a new team?

At least you can't say I am provincial.

Logically it makes no sense to root for a team from St. Louis. The only thing they have in common with the team I grew up loving is the name and the owner whom I despise.

Logic be damned, I can't stop myself!

What if the entire team and coaching staff were completely swapped with another team in the league? I've thought about that before and I can tell you with all certainty that I would still root for the Rams! Am I mental or what?

I think this mystery wrapped in an enigma can probably be explained by studying the implication of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Isn't there something about the importance of spending large portions of time on the couch with a remote, chips and a favorite beverage?

Go Angels (red uniforms), UCLA Bruins (blue and gold), Rams (blue and gold), and Lakers (yellow and "Laker" blue)!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nothing Means Anything Anymore

It's springtime and love is in the air--too much love if you ask me.

I think people say "I love you" way too much. I think I tell my kids that I love them way too often. (Bet you never heard someone say that before.)

Back in the day, parents were a lot more stingy with the "L" word and I think the pendulum has swung waaaay over to the opposite side. I am seriously beginning to wonder if there is so much love talk being tossed around that we have de-valued what was once a strong currency.

It seems to me that kids were better citizens, more polite, and more respectful when there was at least a smidgen of a doubt whether they were loved.

Maybe that's not it. Actually, I don't think I ever had a doubt that I was loved, but it's not because I heard it all the time; I knew for some other reason. I knew even though I rarely heard it, though my parents rarely bought me anything, though I was yelled at constantly for minor missteps, though I was spanked often.

These days people don't spank, don't yell, and don't hold back on the gifts. Somehow it doesn't seem like this works as well as the old way.

But it isn't just parents and their children: teens are expressing their love for one another before they have any idea what love really means. It seems like everybody loves everybody.

People didn't toss the four-letter word around so lightly when I was coming up. It meant something to tell someone you loved them. My son is constantly telling girls that he loves them and they tell him the same.

What is he going to tell the one he really loves? Do we have a new word that I haven't been told about?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bad student, great kid

The bad news with schools is that they aren't good places for kids who are different.

The really bad news is that everybody is different.

My student Nolan is one of 161 differences I encounter five days a week.

Nolan is in the eighth grade and he does a number of things that drive teachers and his parents crazy:

He can't seem to leave his neighbors alone with his incessant talking. He often blurts things out in the middle of my lessons. He turns in work that looks like hieroglyphics--that is, when he can find the work in his backpack or remembers to turn it in. He struggles to earn higher than an F.

In spite of this, I insist that Nolan is a GREAT, GREAT kid who is unfortunately stuck in an institution that wasn't made for him.

The words, "Individually tailored to your specifications, to meet your unique needs," is not the mantra of institutional schooling, public or private.

Don't get me wrong: I place great value on learning to follow directions, figuring out how to work within a system and adapting to situations that aren't exactly a natural fit. We need to know how to get along in various life situations.

What I am not so sure of is whether there is much value in learning how to fit into such a system as we currently offer. Let me tell you what distresses me most about the Nolan situation:

Like I said before, Nolan is a handful. This means that his parents continually hear what a pain he is from his teachers, and they always have to be cajoling him, threatening him, and begging him to be different.

By the sound of his voice over the phone and in the tone of his e-mails, Dad is none too pleased with this continual struggle. It is clear to me that this puts a strain on the father/son relationship.

What if Dad focused on something else? What if he thought more about how lucky he is to have an adolescent son who genuinely looks up to him, enjoys being with him, talks about his day to him, brags to his teachers about him?

What if he measured his son by something besides his school performance? Is that what we reduce our kids to, a GPA and a citizenship mark?

It really saddens me that Nolan's dad is missing out on some precious time spent with his son because he has to constantly ride him about being something he is not.

Nolan is a friendly, caring kid. He is one of just a handful of my students who doesn't act as though talking to the teacher is the most uncool thing a 13-year-old could do. Also, I would be willing to bet he is among the top students as far as IQ.

I think this kid will go far. I think he is way too smart for the state-mandated pablum we have to shove at him year after year. He needs something different.

He needs to be an apprentice and do some work of some kind; he needs to go out into the forest and run around, exploring nature; he needs to build something side-by-side with someone who can guide him and teach him; he needs to go to the library and find something he is interested in and become a 13-year-old expert at it; he needs to build a rocket, a race car, a computer...

He does not need to sit in a chair for six periods a day, straining to sit still and be quiet. Someday he must be able to master this, but now is not the time for him.

The time is different for everybody. That's why school sucks.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Talking out of both sides of their mouth

The illegal immigration mongers can't even get their stories straight.

According to a Modesto Bee article last month, there will be tremendous shortages in farm workers this summer because immigrants have recently found better-paying jobs in construction. The article says that sixty percent of the one million jobs in the housing market went to immigrants.

Today, in the same California newspaper, farmers say the shortages are due to the fact that Congress hasn't passed a new immigration bill yet.

So which one is it guys?

When Bush pondered an amnesty bill in 2004, some experts estimated that illegal immigration increased twenty-five percent. That makes sense.

But it doesn't make sense for them to wait until the bill is passed; wouldn't they want to get here before the bill goes through since it only benefits those who are here at that point? Duh.

I am sure that right now people are pouring across the border since this goofy "Z" immigration thingy will only help people who came across before January 1st.

What the heck? Are they somehow time stamped when they come across? Otherwise, how do we know who was here before January 1st and who came yesterday?. (I know, the bill says they have to "prove" they were here by then, big whoop.)

All this is pretty interesting, but perhaps the most telling development is that we have so many illegals now that they are taking over the construction business too.

Now not only is farmwork something that Americans won't do, Mexicans won't do it either!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Larry Flynt Proves my Point

Talk about your support coming from unlikely places.

Earlier this week I wrote about Reverend Jerry Falwell's death and how the man was being judged and reviled for the opinions he held rather than how he lived his life and actually treated people. I said that his life--who he really was--was taken out of context like the quotes the media used to build him into a monster.

Noted pornographer and long-time Falwell adversary Larry Flynt wrote an opinion piece in today's L.A. Times that essentially validates what I said:

"My mother always told me that no matter how repugnant you find a person, when you meet them face to face you will always find something about them to like. The more I got to know Falwell, the more I began to see that his public portrayals were caricatures of himself. There was a dichotomy between the real Falwell and the one he showed the public."

I say again: it is not the opinions people hold that dictate what type of person they are. It is whether in spite of their views they still treat people with respect and kindness.

Larry Flynt figured this out and clearly will not be celebrating the death of a man he called, friend.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Love that Cheap Gas!

The guy on TV said that gas is not too expensive.

I'm so glad to hear that because I was about to get worried.

That's right, some dude from Allstate Insurance (this is not a paid post, so they owe me) said that gas is very clearly NOT too expensive. This is because--get this--we are still buying it!

The smart guy went on to explain that if gas were too expensive, we would be buying less of it. What he didn't explain is how exactly one goes about buying less gas.

I can use less gas about as easily as I can use less air!

I thought gas was too expensive as soon as it cost me a buck fifty! Now that it is approaching four bucks, I can't figure out how I can use less. What do I cut out?

Do I tell my 14- and 16-year-old boys that I can't take them and pick them up from Bible study?

Do I stop going to church to sing and serve in various capacities four times a week?

Do I figure out a way to teach from home?

Do I stop taking my kids to music lessons?

Believe me, as cheap as I am, EVERY trip we have to take has me seeing dollar signs!

Maybe I just ought to relax and listen to the guy on TV. Fill 'er up!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Go Google Yourself!

Come on, we have all done it when there's no one looking...

Your alone late at night. You've surfed so much that you're checking the same sites for the tenth time and you realize that it is already the next day's issue of the L.A. Times and it's not going to change for another 24 hours unless a major disaster happens.

Then you do it: you type your own name into the magic box and hit the enter key. What did you find?

For most of us, depending on how you look at it, you find out you are either a nobody or unique. I found three things that matched my rather unusual name--my real name, not Ugly Naked Guy--exactly.

Mostly I am one heck of a golfer. This is extremely ironic. If there is anyone out there bored enough to be googling my name, they will get a big laugh out of that one. I am actually a horrible golfer, but there is a guy in Minnesota who is tearing it up on my behalf.

I also can be found providing "high tech financial solutions for businesses." It turns out that I have a BA in economics and a masters in international business. Wooo hoo, I must be making the big bucks!

Unfortunately, the real me can only be found commenting about the Terry Schiavo case on somebody's blog. I don't know why out of all the blogs I look at I would only find that one, but I must say, I thought I was very polite while making my point quite lucidly.

How about you? What do you find out about your clones-in-name-only when you go google yourself?

Coming soon: What does spellcheck do to your last name?

Thursday, May 17, 2007


When are we going to have our rally?

Maybe if legal residents of this country take to the streets in protest, our representatives (huh?) will get the message. I am surely not the only one who is disgusted that we are going to have yet another round of amnesty.

Sorry Mr. Bush, but I vote for animosity.

Every time we give years worth of illegals a new get-out-of-jail-free card, we are ensuring we will be pressured to do it again in ten more years. Do our laws mean nothing?

And every time we give millions who already cheated a pass, we are giving it to every relative not yet here too.

It's kind of like a buy one get ten free sale.

Even the tough-sounding aspects of this provision won't be enforced--how can they when there isn't a law enforcement agency around who is even allowed to ask people for proof of citizenship!

I've had enough! Canadians go home!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

San Francisco Restroom

I took a lot of pictures of these unique art deco (?) public restrooms along the shore in the Marina District.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Purple Teletubbie is Gay

The Reverend Jerry Falwell is dead today at the age of 73. So far as I know, at least one celebration is planned to mark the occasion, while media from the national news to the blogger down the street will be telling us what he was all about.

Too bad they will get it mostly wrong.

Like most public figures on both sides of the political spectrum, Falwell was often taken out of context.

I want to suggest that his was a life taken out of context as well.

We have all heard how he said homosexuality and abortion were immoral. Many know that he suggested 9/11 was partly attributable to America's moral decline. Everyone remembers the Teletubbie thing, even though he never actually said what is attributed to him.

Those things aren't The Reverend Jerry Falwell anymore than the things we think and occasionally verbalize is any one of us. We all believe and think things that can be used by our enemies to make us look dumb or evil.

I don't know Falwell either, but it is my guess that America is all the poorer because we don't know the full context of the man's life.

There are many people who are grieving today because they do.

I am so glad that there is something higher than the media that is the ultimate arbiter of a person's legacy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Take a bow or two

Here is a picture that I don't think I actually took; I believe I was standing next to my wife when she took it. Either way I was somehow responsible for at least some part of the fact that this picture exists.

And here is another...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A little too much reality

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.

The Leomiti family of Santa Fe Springs, CA either didn't know that, or they decided to tempt the gods of fate anyway--they are currently being sued.

Today's L.A. Times recounts how a story that was aired on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition quickly turned into an example of extreme ingratitude.

When five brothers from the Higgins family found themselves orphaned,their friends the Leomiti's, who had three kids of their own, invited them to move into their house.

The story was so heartwarming that ABC selected the Leomiti's to have their home remodeled to accommodate them all. The home was expanded to include nine bedrooms and cover over 4,000 square feet. The mortgage was paid off, and six cars were given to the kids of driving age.

Within weeks after the show aired as an Easter Special in 2005, most of the Higginses had moved out, citing racism as one of the reasons. The Higgins are black and the Leomiti's are Samoan.

You can read the story and draw your own conclusions. I must admit that I don't believe everything I read in the L.A. Times or any other paper, but it looks as though the Higgins siblings didn't take to the discipline standards and expectations that the Leomiti's imposed on them.

One of the Leomiti's neighbors said the Higginses started giving an attitude.

Reminds me of a time I tried to do a good deed.

I had my own gardening business and I hired a homeless young man to work with me. Being the thrifty person I am, I used to bring a sack lunch to work everyday. When I noticed that my helper had no food, I would bring him a lunch everyday too.

Guess what? He complained about the type of sandwich I made him!

Monday, May 07, 2007

I know what causes climate change...

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?

"Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?

Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?

This is what the LORD says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the LORD Almighty is his name.

Verses taken from the 38th chapter of Job and Jerimiah 31 (taken out of context).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Goodbye "Freedom" Fries?

After a record 75 percent voter turnout, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected president of France.

Although some solid conservative ideas seem to be on the horizon with his victory, he can't be all that smart because the article states that he urged the United States to do more to combat Global Warming.

Perhaps we can loosen the ban on the term French Fries for now, but still keep a sharp eye out for any funny business.

We are, after all, talking about the French here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pandering or Marketing?

It's Cinco de Mayo and for the San Francisco Giants it is also Mexican Heritage Day at the ballpark where the home team will wear their Gigantes uniform tops for the occasion.

Does the Chivas soccer club, one of the most popular in Mexico, translate their name to Goats every July 4th?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Not Inappropriate??????

Somebody is out of their mind and I don't think it is me.

Has our society become so base that the once intolerable has not only become tolerable, but no one even understands why anyone would object?

I gave my eighth-graders an assignment where they were to find a poem and read it in front of the class. The first instance of cluelessness occurred when I was explaining the task and a student asked:

"Can we choose a poem that is inappropriate?"

Just ponder that question for a moment.

This would be one reason why I never tell people that there is no such thing as a dumb question.

I think my response was something like, "Exactly which part of inappropriate do you not understand?"

That was a few days ago. Today was the day when the reading would be done. Get a load of the poem that I pulled the plug on (and my advanced class didn't understand why):

My First Time

The sky was dark,
The moon was high,
All alone, just her and I.

Her hair so soft,
Her eyes so blue,
I knew just what she wanted to do.

Her skin so soft,
Her legs so fine,
I ran my fingers down her spine.

I didn’t know how,
But I tried my best,
I placed my hands on her soft sweet breast.

I remember my fear,
My fast beating heart,
But slowly she spread her legs apart.

And when I did it,
I felt no shame,
All at once the white stuff came.

At last I finished,
It’s all over now,
my first time to milk a cow!

When I shut it down, all of my students were laughing and telling me, "It's about a cow, it's about a cow; it's not what you think!"

How is it that they didn't understand that it doesn't matter what it ends up being about? And don't they know that cows don't have blue eyes?

But wait, the most disturbing thing is that I later found out the math teacher loved it and read it to his own class of 13-year-olds!

Do you ever get the feeling that you are the only sane person left on earth?