Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Herbrand Street (P)imp

Special thanks to my buddy Ryan, who shared this photo with me via email.

D*mn it feels good being a Lannister.

Why Do DJs Suck So Much?

While Dr Desert Flower and I had a wonderful vacation last week, I have to say that the Cancun resort at which we stayed - Excellence Playa Mujeres - had a terrible night club who employed a distasteful, untalented, obnoxious DJ.  The resort was 15 minutes away from town, driving, through a coastal jungle road, with formidable three gates to get into the resort, so it's not like we could just 'walk down the street' to someplace else. All the bars and restaurants closed by 10:30pm, leaving just the night club / disco called "Alegria" open until 1am.  The night club was crammed into a small space, not much bigger than average sized 2 guest rooms with a 10ft by 10ft dance floor and a semi circular bar that sat perhaps 10 people. 

On one of our first nights there, we ventured to "the club" at 10:00pm and it was dead.  Not even a bar tender was there. Some techno was playing in the back ground, but DDF didn't want to be "the only people in there" so we left, and took a nice walk down the beach instead.  A few nights later, we walked over to Alegria at 11:30pm and there was a DJ, with 1/2 a dozen people dancing, and about 2 dozen people standing around.  The blaring "music" was unbearably loud, and we appeared to be in the 2nd standard deviation of age group distribution, when I convinced DDF that we should sit down and get a drink.  A few seconds later, we were assaulted with the first verse of Mystikal's classic love ballad "Shake Your Ass" (link here) [warning, for those with youngsters reading over your shoulder, or sitting beside you, don't click that link]
"Came here with my d*ck in my hand
Don't make me leave here with my foot in yo ass" 

Hearing this, DDF said to me "we're outta here".  As we headed out, we were serenaded with the classic verses:
"Nastier than a full grown German Shepherd Motherf*cker keep steppin
They don't f*ck with me and they won't Yall b*tches cant catch me and you won't
Pay ya fare, fix ya hair throw that p*ssy" 

Apparently, the bard Mystikal doesn't understand how to make a subtle point.  And whoever the side-ways hat wearing, flat biller DJ little boy was who was playing this audio assault didn't comprehend the resorts paying guests' preferences. 

I don't understand adults who like this kind of false bravado rap garbage.  I get why the so called "artists" use obscenity, profanity, and sexism repeatedly in their "songs", as they try to compensate for not having a father who loved them, not growing up in a nurturing house hold, never having read anything deeper than a Playstation or X-box game manual, and treating all the women in their lives (including their mothers, grand mothers, and sisters) as things, instead of people.  I understand how these types of lyrics are the rapper's desperate cry for help and recognition to a world who are not as maladjusted as they are.  But I do not understand the adults who like this, or dance to it, or request it from DJs to be played, nor do I understand the pathetic little DJs who spin this bombastic nonsense to a mostly Caucasian audience in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. 

While over-all the Playa Mejures resort is wonderful, the Alegria night club is a glaring failure, and a smudge on an otherwise excellent vacation. If you go to Playa Mujeres, avoid the disco, and bring your own iPhone loaded with music (the rooms have iPhone compatible stereos).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jindal's Hypocrisy Continues To Amaze!

Bobby Jindal's Hypocrisy Continues To Amaze!  CBS news (along with many other outlets) reports (link here) that Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has said that Federal funding for Hurricane Isaac's land fall are not enough, and his state needs more reimbursement.  Seriously?  What ever happened to Republican small government?  To conservative self sufficiency?  Where's Louisiana's boot straps? 

How does Bobby Jindal have the gall to ask for more federal funding while his entire party wants to SHRINK government, lower taxes, defund all programs that are not corporate welfare for the richest donors?  The hypocrisy is deafening, and it gives me a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

What Can Be Carried Into Mexico

Shortly after take off out of Phoenix, on August 17th, USAir (AKA US Scare, if you fly into or out of Reagan National) handed out Mexican Immigration and Customs documents to all the passengers.  Upon reading the English version I bust out laughing.  Dr Desert Flower had the foresight to retain a copy of the instructions, so that I can post it here.  I highlighted some of the most amusing parts, and scanned it in this afternoon.

Some of my favorites are:
  • items to clean and entertain babies
  • a copy machine
  • two complete personal sports equipments [sic]
  • three surf boards
  • trophies or awards, provided they can be comfortably carried by the passenger
  • a treadmill and a stationary bicycle
  • five toys  (6 are just way too many!)
Just HOW exactly can a plane passenger carry some, or any of these, is completely beyond my comprehension.  A treadmill, really?  And a stationary bicycle?  Which boarding zone does one need to be in to get THAT in the overhead?  LOL!  Sure, a boat passenger or someone driving into the country in a U-Haul rental might be subject to these limits, but on a plane, it is superfluously silly.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Jet Ski For Old Men

On Thursday afternoon, Dr Desert Flower and I took a nice para-sailing trip up in the air, about 200 or 300 feet, behind a large towing boat.  It was great fun and we had a nice time para-sailing (had never done that before).  But then after the para-sailing, the aqua sports sales-guy says "you can take the jet ski for 1/2 an hour, it is only $20 when combined with the para-sailing."  Normally, we'd been hearing all week form other tourists, that it was $67 for 1/2 an hour on a jet ski, so I foolishly jumped at the offer.

The last time I was on a jet ski was more than 30 years ago, at Disney World Florida, where they had these little 15HP under-powered jet skis that slowly tooled around the lake between the Gold Resort & Polynesian Resort on Lake Buena Vista.  My older brother and I had "raced" each other in these wimpy little jet skis on a calm lake with tiny wakes and no wind-driven waves.

The Yamaha 200cc jet skis that the Playa Mujeres Aqua Sports guys rented were "tuned down" to 60 HP, according to "Pee Wee" the main young man who hot rodded around on them, worked on them, and could frequently be seen ramping off the wakes of para-sailing tow boat to get substantial "air", landing effortlessly.  Now, I'd been sitting on the beach, being brought drinks, and slathered in sun screen for the previous 6 days, and as I say and laid there, I noticed the people who rented jet skis exhibited the following characteristics:
 1) most of them were young, much younger than I
2) after going over a wave that made the jet ski "land hard" in the water, nearly everyone eased off on their throttles, right after the THUD of the landing
3) those who stood up 'appeared' to handle the waves and thuds much better
4) those with rear seated passengers went slower, and the rear seated passenger appeared to take the vicious brunt of every wave's impact, while the front seated driver tooled along with visually less apparent abuse
5) the jet skis ran up and down the beach, outside of the roped off swimming areas, at speeds that seemed to approach about 40mph

Pee Wee took this photo of DDF and I, just before we took off.   I eased the throttle, not wanting to jolt the heck out of my wonderful wife.  We went up and down the beach twice, for about 5 minutes, and then she wisely asked to be let off at the shore, before she was thrown off in the deep water somewhere.  I was trying to be gentle, but the waves made it impossible to glide smoothly along at speeds over 5 mph.  I obliged her, and Pee Wee sent me back into the water, pointed away from shore on the jet ski, where I gunned it full throttle.

Um...  Wow.  I was not prepared for the impact, thrill, adrenalin rush, full direction of power, and velocity that "full throttle" unleashed.  Remembering my previous days of repeated observations, I stood up, bent my knees slightly, kept the throttle fully gunned, and plowed through through the Caribbean, somewhat recklessly.  Crashing through wave after wave of other jet ski's wakes, and wind driven waves (it had begun lightly raining and the wind was picking up), I tooled around for about 15 minutes, and (lacking a watch) returned to shore at the Aqua Sports rental area.  Pee Wee said to me "Sir, you steel (h)ave 10 MEAN-uhtes. You can kEEp going.  I will wave the blue jacket when it is time, so you can see to come back."   Ok, why not?

Foolishly, I accepted Pee Wee's offer, and GUNNED it again, crashing through the waves.  My arms (gripping the handlebars and throttle) and legs (bent to absorb the repeated wave impacts) aching just a little by this point.  The Yamaha had a broken speedometer, which constantly read "0" so I have no idea how fast I actually was going, but I charged back and forth, making ridiculously tight turns at the breakwater, and trying not to hit the Hobie cats and sea kayakers who were slowly touring the shore line - I was trying not to be a typical "jet skiing dirt bag".

Pee Wee got very busy helping a squadron of Hobie cats set sail, and I could have continued to tool around for alot longer, but by now, 30 minutes or so since first getting on the jet ski, my middle aged body was screaming at me that it was time to stop.  I think I have pretty good quads, but my  ilotibial bands (IT bands) were aching.  I turned in the jet ski and life vest, thanked Pee Wee and his colleagues, and staggered off on wobbly legs to find Dr Desert Flower on the beach chairs, and get some tequila shots, before the adrenalin wore off.  I am glad I did.  Don Julio Reposado shots, Don Julio Reposado lime margaritas, and a few Courvoisier-coladas later, and I was "feeling no pain" Thursday afternoon and evening.

But the flight on Friday was 4 hours, in coach, ugh.  And hours before that, I had to try to hobble out of bed on legs whose quadriceps had apparently turned into a lead-copper-depleted-uranium alloy where each leg weighed several hundred kilograms and the IT bands had the elasticity of peanut brittle.  But we were STILL staying in an all-inclusive resort, and the Don Julio Reposado bottle in our room was 80% full, the Havanna 7 year old rum 40% full, and the mini-bar still full of Diet Cokes to mix with it. Going DOWN the stairs one floor to get ice was blindingly painful, but going up the stairs was fairly easy.  So fully lubricated and anesthetized with high quality ethanol, we checked out after lunch and got driven to the airport for our 3pm direct flight back to Phoenix.

Upon landing in Phoenix, DDF convinced me to go and get a massage at Massage Envy (where she goes frequently, a few blocks from our home) that concentrated on my forearms and IT bands.  Today, I am ambulatory because of it.  Sitting here at the computer to make this post, is the longest I've sat still all day - and if I don't get up and move around, the IT bands tighten back up again.  Ethanol in moderation, now that I am home and have to pay for each drop that comes out of each liquor bottle.  Surprisingly, my calves and hamstrings are fine... but I attribute that to many accumulated weeks of desert mountain trail hiking, and many accumulated years of 12-speed riding around NW Indiana roads and sidewalks. 

On the bright side of things, I now know that I will NOT be buying (ever) or renting (again) a jet ski, having gotten it out of my system and paying the price for the multiple wave impacts last Thursday.

Time to do an hour of yoga...  as best I can this evening.  =)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mexican Barracuda

We snorkled in the shallows on the beach yesterday, and saw a 12-14 inch baby barracuda who was hunting little fishies in the shallow water.  Very cool.  Tomorrow, we go snorkeling on the 2nd largest reef in the world, one shallow session, and one deep session, where we are supposed to see barracuda, sting ray, manta ray, and other large fish seen normally in aquariums..  Il faut voir.

Sea kayaking this afternoon was fun, but the current and wind conspired against us to keep it less than an hour.  A good upper body work out for me  =)  .. and DDF did a good job paddling in the front of the kayak as well.  Lots of rum after kayaking..  and now off to a beach Caribbean buffet.  Plantains anyone?  =)

Jello Bird & Cognac-colada

Saturday and Sunday, Dr Desert Flower and I spent the afternoons sitting on the beach, in a chair under a grass covered hut-roof-umbrella-thing, drinking free alcohol brought to us by attentive wait staff.  It's a rough vacation.
View of the Executive Club pool and Ocean beyond, from o

After a daiquiri, a pinacoloda,  and a "Miami Vice" (1/2 daiquiri, 1/2 pinacolada - I learn something new every day), I began experimenting with rum combinations.  Havanna Club 7 year rum is awesome.  High quality.  No hang over.  Delicious stuff.  DDF go a drink called a "Yellow Bird", which of course, the bar tender and waitress pronounced "Jello Bird".  A recipe for  Jello Bird can be found here (link).  I had 2 or 3 Jello Birds (no hooves included) before the bars closed Saturday at 5pm (other bars remain open until 11pm or 1am, but they're farther from our room - and our room is fully stocked with free alcohol - LOL!).
The bottles stocked in our room, by request.

So Sunday, as I finished another 5 or 6 chapters of Guns, Germs, and Steel, I asked the bartender if he could make a pinacolada with Courvoisier instead of rum.  Yes, I know Cognac is supposed to be sipped straight, and not mixed with anything, but heck, it's all inclusive..  so why not?  It was, the best pinacolada I'd ever had, in the hybrid form of a Cognac-colada.  Highly recommended.

In another 5 years, if you want to join us for our 30th, and you can find a sitter for your kids, let us know.  We can come down as a group - the groups of 4 and 6 here appear to be having a Blast together.  And, it is $2k cheaper than going to Hawaii  =)

Now that our lunch is done digesting, we're going sea kayaking.  

Tener Mi Culo Beso

Dr Desert Flower and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year by staying at an all inclusive resort on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula that is on the beach, 25 miles from down town, with 3 security gates (the first gate was armed and formidable, the 2nd two were bureaucratic niceties).  It is not cheap, BUT, it is about $2000 less than trying to go to Hawaii for the same amount of time and staying on any of the less populated islands there. Oh, and it's "adults only" - no kids running around, crying, screaming, or taking up beach or pool chairs. And the alcohol...   it flows as fast as free bottles of water, which are ubiquitous here.

I've never stayed at an all inclusive resort before, so I had no idea of the level of ass kissing (tener mi culo beso) that was 'standard fare' at an all inclusive.  The company that runs this resort is named "Excellence" and every single staff member is trained and responsive to make sure that every single guest has an "excellent" time, addressing their every need for cold drinks, good food, fresh towels, a comfortable room, etc.  It's impressive that if you say anything - like "the mini fridge in the room is not really keeping the drinks cold" - that the staff Takes Action immediately.   We mentioned this Saturday, went to dinner, and came back to our room to find that they had changed out the mini-fridge to a new one while we were at dinner.  When you get up to go in the water, a beach attendant runs over to your lounge chair, and changes out the towels that are wrapped around the comfy cushions if they are wet or sand covered - at first I thought this was sort of excessive... but heck, it's nice to be catered to.

The bar tenders will make any drink you can imagine, with premium ingredients - Camus and Courvosier cognac, Johnny Walker Black, Jack Daniels, Absolute, Havanna 7 year rum, Don Julio tequila, etc etc etc,  Tips are not required, and you won't find a tip jar anywhere at an all inclusive, but I gave the bartender a 50 Peso note (about $4) and he calls me by name and asks what my wife and I would like to try next.  There's  a preponderance of the construction worker beer "Corona" here - I say "construction worker" because in Monterrey, where I have traveled for business 3 times previously, they said "in Mexico, the locals drink Modelo or Bohemia or Pacifico; Corona is cheap & nasty and only drank by the poor and low paid construction workers, day laborers (in Mexico!)".   Every bar here has Corona on tap, in bottle or cans, and it fills every minibar as well.  I avoid it for the headache producing swill that it is.  With so many other delicious libations around, it is easy to do.  =)

All the food is free, and it's pretty good. Each meal we've had here, either DDF or I had something we didn't like, and the other had something we liked.  I can't recommend the Chinese Spicy duck (last night) nor the French duck l'orange Friday night upon our arrival.  DDF's Mediterranean  vegetables at the 'Barcelona' restaurant were inedible Saturday night, but the sauteed chick and shrimp that came with it were tasty.  I've had succulent protein - hot wings, juicy ribs, yogurt, cheeses, hamburgers (no bun), shrimp cocktail, omelets, crust-less quiches - and DDF has had sushi, sashimi, pastas, seafood, tacos aand sandwiches - and have not been hungry once in 4 days.  There is a "dead spot" between 4 and 6pm where all the lunch places are closed and the dinner places have not yet opened, but that's more time to sit in hot tubs, cool bubbling hydro tubs, snorkel, swim, walk on the beach, and of course, drink more.

I need to end this post now, as yoga class is starting soon, and when I went Saturday, I learned a few new positions and breathing techniques.   So we're going back this morning, both DDF and I this time.

I'll try to post more this week, later about drink combinations I have created, as well as "white people problems" that DDF and I have thought of while here (like having a white cloth napkin while wearing dark pants - lol!).

Thursday, August 16, 2012


The United States is officially now, the fattest nation on the planet.  The Economist (link here) breaks it down, state by state. Consume, consume, consume, and remain sedentary my fellow patriots!  All the HFCS you could ever want!

Paw Paw

"Paw" in Polish means "Peacock".  I found this photo to be lovely indeed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Eid

Eid's coming soon (this Sunday), and a billion Muslims can break their daily fasting.
Happy Eid-al-Fitr everyone!

Everything Needs Maintenance, Eventually

Everything needs maintenance, eventually.  If it moves, it needs lubrication, or resurfacing, or it will wear out.  If it grows, it needs nutrients, or it withers.  If it gets hot and cold, it will eventually crack from thermal fatigue (and it is still 'moving' incrementally).  High cycle fatigue (HCF), low cycle fatigue (LCF), creep (both bulk & local), wear, cracking, oxidation, erosion, corrosion, rubbing, material loss, fretting, pitting, telomeres truncation or mutation, decomposition, materials phase changes... all of these lead to required maintenance, and if the maintenance is not performed, expect it not to work.  That's true for everything, not just mechanical things.

The lovely fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas is spectacular when it works.  But Monday morning is the time the casino takes to do perform maintenance on the 100s of hydraulic motors, values, and lights in their fountain.
Our GE Profile refrigerator lasted 4 years and 11 months, before it stopped cooling our food.  I called a GE technician, and he diagnosed that it was "unrepairable" so we got a whole new fridge, with another 5 year warranty on it, for free (but I have to say, the new fridge's function, exterior appearance, and interior space, is not as nice as the old one). 
Our 9 year old pool started to crack, again, a year after it had a massive patch applied to stop the wall cracking.   The skilled pool specialist didn't want to charge me for fixing it, but I want him to stay in business, so I asked him to charge me a nominal fee for a normal 'service call' since he does remarkably good work.

Our 9 year old  sliding glass door, with a cheesy vinyl frame, decided to stick and no longer slide, that it took literally all of my upper body strength to force the door open and closed.  I called All Patio Doors from Higley AZ, and the next day, for just a few hundred dollars (of about 1/3 the price of a whole new door) we got a nice new replacement rail and rollers installed.  The door slides so smoothly now, in comparison of how bound up it was, I find that I've conditioned myself to pull MUCH Harder than necessary, and then have to Slow the door down. 

It's a good problem to have.  I asked All Patio to go ahead and put in brand new rollers, so that the old, worn out rollers wouldn't ruin their new track - for $75 they were happy to do so.  Since we go in and out of that door 1 to 10 times a day (to swim, garden, pick lemons, grill, eat, etc) this was not an "optional access door".

It has been hotter than 90F at night here, for the last week (a new record) and the days have gotten into the mid teens (115F, 116F, etc), so having a reliable, functional air conditioner, is paramount.  Custom Cooling LLC is a small, responsive, reasonably priced, professional HVAC contractor who does my yearly maintenance.  I've neglected to call them in the Spring, but they were happy to come out in July and check my condenser, evaporator, compressor, expansion value, blower, and system temperatures and pressures, and even adjusted the temperature splits so that it is delivering a 19F differential across the cooling coils instead of 17F (as the system had degraded to over the last 9 years). The technician found a starting capacitor on the blower motor had degraded a few farads, so for $5 replaced the capacitor and saved me the cost of a burnt out $250 blower motor later.  Could I have waited until the Fall, or next year to call Custom Cooling?  Probably, but I am glad I didn't. 

I planted some organic cat grass in a sectioned 4 part container.  Oat, wheat, rye, and barley.  I followed manufacturer's directions, and 3 of the 4 compartments grew just fine.  One of four got a light gray mold infection.  I added some lemon juice to kill the mold, but it didn't work (I should have used a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide).  While I was on my business trip to my company's head quarters last week, 3 of the four shriveled up and turned brown.  The gray mold thrived, and covered one of the compartments with a blanket of nasty light gray.  Three shriveled because I didn't water it for a week.  One wiped out by an unexpected disease.

Everything breaks, if it doesn't get the right maintenance, the right attention, eventually.  And sometimes, even when it does get the right maintenance, unexpected things can happen and it breaks or fails.  I didn't understand this when I was in college, choosing a major.  I was too focused on not entering into an industry that would lay me off, on having job security that my father never had when I was growing up.  Engineers, medical doctors, plumbers, mechanics, HVAC technicians, electricians... they're always going to have jobs, as long as they have things and people to try and maintain.

Kramden Cold Case

Music / Time

Thanks to for this excellent graphic.

Muller v MacCracken, Climate Rumble

Diane Rehm had a great show this morning (link here, transcript here).  Two of her guests were renowned scientists.  Professor Richard Muller - former Climate Change skeptic, converted to a Human Caused Climate Change schooler after his Koch brothers study could not prove conclusively that Human Caused Climate Change was a Hoax (professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines."), and retired scientist Mr Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at Climate Institute and lead editor for the book “Sudden and Disruptive Climate Change: Exploring the Real Risks and How We Can Avoid Them.”  I've heard both of these scientists speak before on television and radio.   They're both very smart guys, and they each stuck to their guns.

They debated how fast the climate has been and will continue to change.  They sparred with scientific facts and their interpretations like:
Muller "Leaking natural gas is terrible 'cause it's 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide."
MacCracken:  "Richard's number, when he says it's only 23 times as much as CO2, is based on its warming influence over 100 years. If you think about its warming influence over 20 years -- its lifetime in the atmosphere is 10 to 20 years, assuming -- it's 75 times as important as CO2."
[Both are correct... it's important on what Time Scale one considers it]
...and causes of intense hurricanes, melting of ice caps, el ninos, solar flares, Earth orbital variations, and many other aspects of climate change.  It was an informed intellectual debate.  A battle royale.  And they were both right, most of the time concurring, but with slightly different interpretations.

And they both agreed, most of the time.  They disagreed on data selection bias, poor station quality, and other aspects, but they are both excellent scientists, and respected pillars in their fields.

Why climate deniers, Tea Party activists, Roger Ailes, Quick Creationist Fundamentalists, and hardcore Republicans who listen only to the misinformation that Fox broadcasts refuse to listen to them, I do not understand.  I mean, I get the massive energy companies wanting to preserve their subsidies and the status quo, to grow the US Economy into a "Hunger Games" dystopia, sure, that's understandable.  But I don't understand how they want to destroy the future for their grand children, their church congregations (unless they're all hoping to be Raptured [TM]), their supposed legacy.  

I am a red blooded American male who doesn't enjoy watching boxing.  Two guys with gloves, beating the hell out of each other.  So what.  I don't enjoy mixed martial arts very much, though it is incrementally more useful than boxing, since in a coal powered, resource poor, future dystopia, MMA would help to determine who leads which tribe, once all the ammunition, food, and fuel runs out.  But I DO enjoy a lively scientific debate, and one that relies upon massive amounts of data, from thousands and thousands of data points, with n= (very big), is irresistible in its draw upon my thinking mind.  Kudos to Diane Rehm for putting such a battle royale together on her show this morning, and moderating it beautifully.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Office Linebacker

Having just spent a week at the division's HQ, I can say with a large degree of certainty, that Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, would indeed be a productivity improvement.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Comin Down The Mountain

My son and I spent about 32 hours together in the car last weekend.   Sadly, we did not have any Jane's Addiction in the car to play as we drove through Tennessee and Kentucky.  The descent on I-75 north bound towards Jellico, it would have been appropriate to play Mountain Song, as we did 19 years ago when he finished kindergarten and I drove him up to Chicago to spend a few weeks with his grand parents.  This is a good "rocking" balance the electronica posted earlier in the week.

Old Republican Voters

I am not sure why really old Republicans would vote for Romney / Ryan, when Ryan's proposed budget plan has the average senior citizen's Medicare co-payments TRIPLING.  You see, medicare is funded by those in it, for Medicare and Medicare Part D.  My godfather, who worked for 40 years of his life and then retired, PAYS about $300 a month for this Medicare, and about $80 a month for Medicare Part D (or about $380 a month).  He's a rather healthy 60-something year old.  Under the Ryan budget, that would go up to nearly a $1000 a month.  Now, my godfather was the president of his craft labor union and an excellent machinist and wood worker.   He kept a small pattern making shop alive in Chicago suburbs even when the owner reitred and put his idiot son in charge to run the business into the ground, alienate customers, and decimate the skilled workforce.  He worked hard for a living, for 4 decades, helping automakers and tool and die and pattern makers manufacture usable, real, tangible goods in America.  He didn't earn a living through "investing" or "venture capital" or "inheriting it", and thus, he usually votes Democratic.

If you are an older, retired, middle class Republican, without inherited wealth, and you strongly support Romney / Ryan, I would like to hear from you, so as to understand why you strongly support two rich white guys, who were born into wealthy families, and have never suffered or had to scrape by for a living, and  who have their own self interests and the interests of their rich, country club and corporate executive friends in mind.  I won't mock you, I promise.  I just want to try understand you, and what motivates you.

My wife and I make good livings.  If we wanted to truly vote in our own financial self interests and say "F.U.!" to our maternal families and consciences and the rest of the international world, we could easily vote for the rich guys too.  But we'd feel...  I don't know...  guilty.  Dirty.  Ashamed.  Remarkably selfish, in doing so.  I am no fan of President Obama, and his lack of prosecutorial diligence against those who caused the 2008 financial melt down, his embracing of corporate money and super PACs, his failure to close Gitmo (though large strides have been made to de-populate it), his continuing of Bush era Patriot Act Constitutional trouncing, and his cozying up to corporate interests... but I think over-all, he's done more good than harm.  He's the lesser of two evils.  He didn't grow up wealthy and spoiled, and he's known what it's like to have to work for a living.  He married the daughter of a sewage plant worker, not an heiress or stuck up sorority snotty girl. 

When I hear Republican ideologues say how Obama is "destroying the country" I just don't get it.  Just how is he destroying the country?  By not giving Boehner and McConnel everything they want?  By deporting more illegal immigrants in 4 years than Bush did in 8?  By ordering the mission that killed Osama bin Laden and not listening to his advisers and VP when they all told him to abort the mission?  By not having Single Payer included in the Affordable Care Act - a health care law that has allowed our son to stay on his mother's insurance until he is 26, and paid for the end of life care to our dear friends' son who recently succumbed to a fatal cancer?  What actual, real, terrible things has President Obama done to the country, or to any of it's citizens?  I don't watch or listen to Fox News so I don't have all the rhetoric memorized - I only get it through a Daily Show hilarious filter. 

Please help me understand.

Han Long Long Ago

This was the Han Solo my wife got all dreamy over in the 70s.  Somehow I didn't evolve into an interstellar smuggler and reluctant hero.  I did become the "international engineer of mystery" I guess, over the last 25 years (it's our anniversary later this month).  Never did the Kessel run though, regardless of parsecs.

NFL Preseason 2012

The NFL pre-season opened this week.  Somehow, I don't feel ready for it.  Maybe because it is 116F here in Phoenix.  Maybe work's been weighing down on me too much.  I don't know.  It just doesn't seem like it's really football season yet.

This is supposed to be an animate gif of a bear growling....  but it appears to be static in my google-blogger creation screen interface.  Lemme know if it works for you, and animates.

Music, Over Time

This logical progression makes perfect sense.
Which means it will never come to actually be reality.  Thanks,

Chateau L'Ermitage Rose

Chateau L'Ermitage makes a delicious Rose in the Rhone valley of France, Costieres De Nimes appellation controlee, 2010.  Mis en bouteille au chateau (bottled at the estate), Castillon & Fils proprietaires.  This Rose was 50% Syrah, 30% Grenche, and 20% Mourvedre.  Imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains NY (  Rose wines are (in my opinion) best drank chilled, in warmer weather.  It hit 116F here in west Phoenix this week.  I'd say that was "warmer weather" by most standards.

The wine comes in a clear bottle with a white label that doesn't photograph well.  When looking for it at the store, look at the French Rose selection.  I got it at Trader Joes for less than $10 (I think it was about $6 a bottle).  And, it is the last bottle I have stored on my desk next to my desktop.. so the wine blogging will cease for today.  To be continued next month (likely).


Drudgery is no fun, but there's some German recruiting marketeers at who can put a creative twist to it.

What if Don Draper had been German?

Maison Maurel Vedeau, Pinot Noir

Vedeau Les Cepages Pinot Noir, Saveurs Veritables 2009, Vin de Pays d'Oc.  I found this Languedoc wine from Southern France at my local Fresh & Easy, and enjoyed it with an organically fed, pasture raised, hormone free Double Check Ranch ribeye grilled to a perfect rare red.    Yes, this is a negociant bottled wine, which is not my favorite way to make wine (too much anonymity and lack of control in the quality) but it was drinkable, and fine for am inexpensive Pinot Noir, at less than $6 a bottle on sale.

Purity Ring, Fineshrine

Listening to XM radio all last week, I kept hearing Purity Ring played quite frequently.  Megan James' voice sounds like a little girl's in many respects, and my son, who saw them live at the South by Southwest music festival, said they were very good live.  He told me that in person, Megan is a tiny young woman.  The song Fineshrine has an alluring nature to it.  One can take it anatomically (which is rather gory), romantically (which is sort of sweet), or metaphorically (...about creation, or harmony, or whatever other connotations one might choose to assign).  I just take it in, and enjoy listening to it.  The video is visually stunning.   Included here:

If you liked this song, listen to Ungirthed, at the link here: link.  It's modern, contemporary, high quality electronica.

Sud Salice Salentino

Sud Salice Salentino DOC, Di San Marzano, bottled by Feudi di San Marzano Italia S.R.L. is a wonderful Salice Salentino.  The wines from the South of Italy is under-rated, under-appreciated, and largely unknown to the uniformed international wine drinking public who largely migrate to massive corporately branded Merlots, Cabernets, and Charonnays.  I strongly prefer the path less traveled, the wines undiscovered by the common man, the rarer finds.... and I try to bring them here, when I can.

I try Sardinian, Puglia, and Sicilian wines whenever I can.  I've not yet been disappointed. 

There is no reason to just stick to the Yankees and Manchester United, when there so many other teams out there who play remarkably well. 

Vecchia Cantina Chianti

Vecchia Cantina Chianti (DOCG) 2010, from Total Wine ($9) is a delicious Chianti.  90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo.  Bottled by Soc Coop, Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano Soc Agr, Montepulciano Italia, it's another Alfio Moriconi selection, and I've come to trust Mr. Moriconi.

If you're looking for a good, reasonably priced Chianti, try Vecchia Cantina.

The xx - Shelter

Romy Madley Croft's voice reminds me of a cross between Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Tracey Thorn of Everything But the GirlThe xx just needs to let her sing, please, on every single song.  Oliver Sim, remain reticent, for your own good and the sake of your band's success.  Romy's voice is angelic, melodic, ethereal, music to my ears.  Sim's voice is Gorrilaz-like (without the experience and depth) and his barely-post-pubescent droning vocals grate upon my consciousness.  When I hear him start to sing, I wind up fast forwarding through the album.  It's a reaction akin to when I hear the group Mogwai start to sing... and my brain and senses and very being (which had been enjoying the album up to that point) goes "ew ew ew!"

Don't get me wrong, I like Gorillaz, they've been around a while, and at first I didn't like them much, but they've grown significantly on me.  And I like Mogwai (thanks to my buddy Ryan's introduction of them to me) as long as they don't sing.  I love listening to Romy Madley Croft's voice.  Can't say the same about her bandmate's.   I hope their September 2012 release features her much more than their 2009 debut album did - wasted $10 on iTunes buying an album that has only 3 songs not contaminated with Sim's droning.  Oh well.

To illustrate my point, listen to Night Time.  It's a great song (link here).  Then...  3/4rds through it, Sim's voice ruins the mood, destroys the connection the listen has made with Romy...  grrr.

Never Underestimate The Power of Stupid People

Wisconsin residents elected Paul Ryan.  Mittenberg the Third selected the young ideologue as his running mate this morning to try and appease Tea Party stalwarts and extreme libertarians who want to privatize (corporately raid) Social Security and gut Medicare with voucher programs.  If Americans elect this dumbfounded duo, a dark spiral down into a massively polarized have-and-have-not society will likely precipitate within what is left of my lifetime.  4 more years from now... the strangling grip of corporate money will be so strong on the electoral process that an individual's vote will no longer matter (not that it really matters much currently).  Il faut voir - we shall see.

Conte Priola Chianti

I've been behind on my wine blogging, and have accumulated quite a stack of empty bottles in my office.  So we're going to do some house cleaning this afternoon.

Conte Priola Chianti DOCG bottled by I.P. Fossalta de Piave Italia 422/VE, is not bad.  We found it at Total Wine for about $10, and I had it with some spicy, tomato saucy, fully flavored, hearty dish a month or so ago.  yes, the Italians love pasta, but I abhor the gluten in wheat, so it was a meat and veggies dish, but I don't recall exactly.  Chianti, by definition, it about 95% Sangiovese grapes, and the Italians (like their French and Spanish cousins) know how to make a high quality wine when it comes along with governing bodies of regulation and quality control.  Bravo Conte Priola.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Republicans Allergic to Facts

Romney spokes person Andrea Saul gets enraged Republicans to call for her firing after she accidentally speaks the truth about her boss's health care plan that he engineered and passed in his previous job. (link here) and here:

I thought Republicans were supposed to stay "on message" and not say such things, especially truthful things that contradict the official party message.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Purity Ring

Take The Bangels Susanna Hoffs voice, make it 20 years younger, combine it with OMD's & New Order's synths, and sprinkle a heavy dose of ethereal, mystical, allure on it, and one can approximate Purity Ring's music.  No "auto tuned" vocals here.   They don't need it.


(just 8 Million hits)
and Belispeak

My  son told me about this band last weekend.  It's been playing through my head repeated this week in my hotel and in the office. It's not the traditional "music one can rock out to", no...  but it does have a nice beat and I could dance to it  =)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hyatt is for short people

I've stayed at 2 Hyatts in 2 days - Greenville SC and Atlanta GA - and both have showers built for hobbits.   My chin and mouth are even with the shower nozzle's height.  I can look at where it comes out of the wall.  If I was in New Zealand and filming a Peter Jackson movie, ok, but I am just a normal 6ft tall human. 

Hyatt, you have nice rooms,  excellent service, reasonable prices, comfortable beds... why do you have showers for such short people only?

The x x Angels

Heard this on XM radio last weekend as I drove with my son for 14 hours through the Appalachians.  Her voice is beautiful. The x x. Angels.