Sunday, May 28, 2017

Urge & Jefferson

Several weeks ago, DDF & I went to a new(ish) whiskey bar in Oceanside, just North of Carlsbad Village, Urge Gastropub.  It had been open for less than a year, but we'd never been there before.  It was a remarkably pleasant evening.  Our bartender was attentive, friendly, knowledgable, prompt, and conversant.  He was also an aficionado of non-rye whiskies himself, with the phrase "I have bottle of this at home" and "I was given a bottle of that last year for my birthday".

I told the bartender I wanted non-peaty, non-smokey, delicious whisky and whiskey that contained zero rye, after I figured out in 2016 that rye just makes me an itchy whiskey drinker.  He steered me towards the Jeffersons flight, which I found noteworthy, tasty, delicious, and worth the curiosity.  There were 3 or 4 other flights to choose from... for our next trip there.

When a couple sat down at the bar several seats away who were interested in sake, the bartender helped them out as well, in detail.

The food menu at first glance looked like bar food, but upon ordering and devouring, it was far more flavorful and mouthwatering than most generic bar food.  Excellent local ingredients, ample portions, savory and memorable.  Good food, good drink, good atmosphere, good prices.

Impressed by Urge Oceanside, we tried to go to Urge San Marcos 2 weeks later.  That was an unmitigated disaster.  Parking is non-existent for the venue, as it is wedged BEHIND a not-yet-finished condo/commercial building complex, and while there's a parking garage, 75% of the spots in it are designated "for residents only" and widely posted that violators Will Be Towed.  When we finally found a spot in a dusty gravel parking lot several blocks away, and made our way to Urge San Marcos, we found a loud, crowded, Child Filled (WTF??) sprawling bar & game complex that was at least 10X larger than the Oceanside location, and it was packed to the gills.  Almost standing room only.  Who brings children to a whiskey bar?    Not having a place to sit, DDF and I went back to our car, and drove to a local Thai restaurant that was open, available, and delicious.

If you're looking for a good whiskey bar in North San Diego County, Urge Oceanside is the place to go.  Avoid San Marcos Urge, unless you love chaotic mayhem without parking and full of kids in an adult whiskey bar.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Recommended Trader Joe White Wines

So after last year's revelation that red wine was one of The main culprits driving my night time itching & scratching, I transitioned over to white wines, available at my local grocery store for the most part.  Trader Joe's is less than 2 miles away.  Sprouts is about 3 miles away.   Jimbo's organic grocery is about 4 miles away.  Each has a wide variety of different wines.  Trader Joes has the 72% cocao chocolate, and the lowest priced wines (and liquor) I've seen, so we tend to go there more.

The Barbadillo 2015, Castillo de San Diego, Spanish white is not bad.  It has a buttery finish to it, and a pleasant taste.  I can drink one or two glasses, and enjoy it.  If I drink the entire bottle over dinner and a movie in a single evening, it gives me a forehead-centered massive headache the next morning, so it is best to be shared with others, or limit to one or two glasses, max.  It was 6 or 7 dollars at Trader Joes, and was a successful experiment.

The David Front Sauvignon Blanc, wine of the Western Cape of South Africa, 2016, was one of my experiments to find a sauvignon blanc that is not grapefruity.  I really don't enjoy an overwhelmingly grapefruity sauvignon blanc like New Zealand makes, so I attempted the South African one from David Frost and it was not bad.  Crisp, some citrus, but not sour grapefruit.  Enjoyable. Only 7 dollars at Trader Joes.

The Trader Joes Coastal Sauvignon Blanc, 2014, Central Coast (California) has become my new "go to" white wine, as it has a wonderful buttery finish, extremely smooth, very tasty, and it only costs $5 a bottle at Trader Joes.  Highly recommended.  And your Trader Joes should carry it too... if they don't, ask them to order some and it'll fly off the shelves wherever you are.

Finally, the Javier San Pedro Randez Viura 2014 Rioja Spanish white is an unexpectedly find that turned out quite well.  It's a $8 bottle locally, but it is very smooth, flavorful, comes in a serialized bottle from Spain, and a bargain at $8.  Try it for yourself, and see.

Now, I can clean out the wine bottles that have been on my home office desk for weeks... and let the dusting begin.  = )




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Run Riot Asparagus Pinot

A few weeks ago, Dr Desert Flower tried a bottle of Run Riot Pinot Noir, Central Coast California.  (run riot.com, if you're interested)   I am not sure where exactly she bought it.  But she does love Pinot Noir.

The bottle had 2 glasses poured out of it.  One was the first taste...  and it had notes of asparagus and earthy mushrooms... not 2 great tastes for wine.  The 2nd glass, she let breathe for a few hours, and tried it.  Again, asparagine notes and a weird taste invaded the mouth and nose.  So the bottle sat, un-drank, since that time, and will be poured out tonight following this blog post.

If you prefer wines that taste like asparagus, or the metabolized asparagine scent you can smell in the bath room when you empty your bladder after eating asparagus...  then this wine is for you.  In our house, we do not prefer such tastes in our wine.  It May Have Been just a bad bottle - that happens from time to time, to even the best vineyards.  I am not condemning all of Run Riot, just this bottle, to the San Diego County sewer system.

In an effort to clean out old bottles from my office, there will be several more wine-related posts in the coming days.

Enjoy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Remember, Everything 45 Says Is A Lie

For American adults who are aware of politics, or follow election results and what happens in Washington DC after elections, 2017 has been a very bizarre, chaotic, inconsistent year so far, and it shows no signs of getting better.  I preface this with "American adults" because as kids, or even as teenagers or in my very early 20s, I really didn't pay any attention to what was happening politically in my state (Indiana and then South Carolina, both were led by Democrats back then) or in the nation's capital for that matter.  It was only after my son was school aged, and came home from parochial school during the Bill Clinton administration asking me 'why do people have abortions?' and 'what's a blow job?' that I began to pay more attention to who was running, why I should vote for them or against them, and what they might do once in office.

After we moved to Arizona in 2007 (10 years ago, yep), began this blog in 2008 at my friend Ron's recommendation, and then moved to California in 2012, I increasingly began to pay more attention, to filter out shrill voices, hyperbole, and nonsense, and embraced my own informed opinions about politics, our elected leaders, Congressional Oversight, and Constitutional checks and balances.  Visiting China, India, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Suisse, Austria, Australia, Romania, Poland, the Netherlands, UAE, Spain, Mexico, Canada, and Scotland for work also helped my perspective to compare parliamentary systems, command economies, and different versions of democracies with various levels of transparency, corruption, effectiveness, and quality-of-life for their citizens.  While some of my friends, 1/2 of my family, and many visitors to this blog may not agree with my view points and positions, I consider myself to be better informed than most Americans, and at least as informed about about American politics as a citizen of any of the developed nations I just mentioned (most non-Americans know far more about American politics than the average American, by at least one standard deviation on the curve).

So with that preamble, as I was trying to make sense of the election last November, and the aftermath and consequences it has led to in the subsequent months, with all the "disruption" and "chaos", the illogical choices and downright stupidity that has been unearthed, I no longer try and see a pattern or a reason behind anything except for these following 2 principles:

1) Everything that President Drumpf says (Drumpf is his real name, he got from his father, just like all the seed money daddy gave him) is a lie, or at best, a gross exaggeration.  He is incapable of telling the truth, except by accident - give a million monkeys a million type writers, and eventually one of them will type out a coherent sentence or two.  He is a habitual liar (pseudologia fantastica or mythomania) who believes himself a "disrupter".  Facts, reality, and the truth have no influence upon his actions or what comes out of his mouth.  Think of Jon Lovitz on SNL, and the Tommy Flanagan character he played where he was incapable of telling the truth.  That's who 49% of America elected.  When Donald accidentally tells the truth, he still thinks he is lying, or that there's a thread of obfuscation in there somewhere but in his perspective, the person he is speaking to is not bright enough to figure it out.  Everything he tweets, everything he says in interviews, everything he says in public, it's all a lie, or a gross exaggeration.

2) While he didn't think he was going to win the election, and he is completely unprepared to be chief executive of a local water district much less the largest economy in the world with the most powerful military the world has ever seen, he HAS and WILL take full advantage of his unexpected position of power to enrich his own coffers, empower his family and friends, and rake in as much money as quickly as possible, before anyone figures out just how corrupt 45's executive branch really is.  He doesn't want Putin to be the only plutocrat to be worth 60+ Billion dollars.  Heck, 45 doesn't even have 1/2 a billion to his name, or he would have proudly shown his tax returns, like a 4th grader who signs his name for mommy and daddy to see "look what I signed!".  Mark Cuban, a real billionaire (+3 Billion, with a "B") estimated that Drumpf's worth is probably south of 75 million dollars, and perhaps closer to as little as 25 or 50 million when all is said an done.  Drumpf doesn't want to "Make America Great Again".  No, America was already great.  He wants to enrich his own family's wealth and the wealth of his friends.  That's why he's appointed such incompetent-and-or-corrupt heads of agencies who want to dismantle the agencies they run.

Keep these two things in mind, and you won't be confused or shocked or aghast at what you see or hear in the news.  I've found that they help me tremendously, daily, or even several times a day on some days.

45 doesn't care about facts, or science, or helping the little guy, or being a "populist", or what is right or wrong.  He cares only about his own image,  his own self aggrandized "brand", which has become synonymous with corruption, incompetence, made-in-China goods, bluster, and a longing for a return to the 1950s by Americans who enjoyed outstanding economic growth and social privileges in that era (and to everyone else who was a 2nd class US citizen or not in the US at that time, too bad; "get him outta here!").

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Go FCC Yourself!

gofccyourself.com

Last Sunday night, John Oliver on Last Week Tonight reminded all internet users - left wing, right wing, trolls, white hats, black hats, everyone - how important Net Neutrality is, and how the newly appointed FCC commissioner Ajit Pay wants to reverse the Net Neutrality rules put into place during the Obama administration.  You see, Pai (pronounced 3.141592654), a former Verizon lawyer,  is an ideologue who believes that  "the more you regulate something, the less of it you get".  What he doesn't understand is that Title I and Title II of the FCC Net Neutrality rules, are not trying to regulate free and unfettered access to the internet, No, Not At All.  What they are trying to regulate is that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot scale back, throttle down your speed, in favor of their own content that may be competing with what you wanted to watch / see / download on the expensive and slow internet connection you have in America, land of the gouging ISPs [Asia's and Europe's ISPs are far better, faster, less expensive, and have multiple choices for hard wired as well as WiFi, while in America we're stuck with basically 5 monopolies who put their customers last].


"Why does this affect me?" you might ask?  Well, if you use an internet connection, it can and will affect you.

The most basic, simple example is as follows:  Say you want to download a show, and binge watch the whole season of it some Friday or Saturday, from Netflix or Amazon.  BUT, you have Comcast as your ISP... and Comcast has a series that is Similar to what you wanted to download and watch, so Comcast could then Easily reduce your download speed (loading.... loading....) for your Netflix or Amazon show while opening up extra fast-pass lanes for their own Comcast series that they want everyone to watch instead.  Your download becomes so frustratingly slow, that you search for something else... and your ISP (who knows that you were Just trying to download one of their competitor's products) SUGGESTS you watch their own 'original content series" instead.

Evil.  Despicable.  Enraging.  Yes.

And it is not just movies.  The same can be said for songs, youtube videos, live streaming, anything that requires data transfer, into and out of your home, your office, your mobile telephone, your iPad.  You THINK you're paying for 30 Gig a minute, or 100 Gig a minute, but every time you test it on a bench mark site, you find that it is 1/10th that speed for downloads... because you're not downloading the "recommended content" that your ISP wants you to see, is pushing at you, promoting to you, and making money from providing to you.

So John Oliver recounted how the first time Last Week Tonight did this 3 years ago, that they crashed the FCC website in minutes once the show aired.  And Oliver went on to state how TODAY, for this new period of public comment, the FCC has made it Much Harder to make comments on their website, requiring a multi-step search and entry process, one which Last Week Tonight streamlined by buying the URL gofccyourself.com - witty, hilarious, and most importantly, Easy to Remember.

So before I started this post this afternoon, I tried out the link.  You have to enter in your name, address, and phone number (perhaps for the re-education camps that 45 will implement in the future?) ... and you have to click on the     "+ Express" blue button on the top right of the page once it loads.  --------------------------------------------->>>>>>>

gofccyourself.com

But then you can write in, how you feel about having your internet speed reduced just because of your ISP monopoly's desire to push preferred content at you, instead of what you want to watch, see, hear, read about, download, upload, or enjoy.

For an example of what you could say, I have partially excerpted my entry here, to help spur creative ideas and other responses:

"Title 1 and Title 2 were created TO REDUCE or make it harder for ISPs to throttle, slow down, and give preferential treatment to content.  Ajit Pai is right when he says "if you regulate something, you don't get more of it, you get less of it". Exactly, Regulate ISPs who throttle content and slow down their competitors.  Get rid of Title 2, and throttling will become rampant, common place, ubiquitous.  Pai is right, but in the opposite way his idealogical mind thinks.  "

You can cut and paste mine, if you like, or create your own version.  But I encourage you, regardless of what part of the political spectrum you believe you are most closely aligned, to make your voice heard.  ISPs want to throttle EVERYONE down, to reduce our already slow American internet speeds even further, and promote their own ISP content preferentially.  This affects EVERYONE who uses the internet in America, except perhaps for ISP executives who have fiber optic nodes installed in their homes and who self-exempt from the throttling.

Take 5 or 10 minutes out of your day today or tomorrow, and let your voice be heard.

gofccyourself.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CA Drought Almost Over

Living in Southern California, I am keenly aware that the pleasant climate and attractive environment are really just an artificially irrigated desert that was never meant to have millions of humans living here (more than 1/2 of California's nearly 40 million - yes, forty million [39.8 million as of 2017] live in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas).  For thousands of years, there were less than 1/2 a million people inhabiting what is now California.  Today's population is massively disproportionate in a longitudinal comparison to what the natural resources can sustain.

So while being aware of the resource limits, I try to not waste water, sewage, electricity, and natural gas accordingly, and use as little synthetic chemical solutions and pollutants around the house, minimizing my footprint as much as possible.  It makes good environmental sense, as well as good financial sense, since Dr Desert Flower and I don't use $100 bills as toilet paper nor are we passing gold bricks when we use the rest room.

The recent inundation rain fall that blanketed the state in January, February, and early March 2017 have apparently reversed the 149 year record drought that the state had been experiencing.  Rain water reservoirs are full and over-flowing, and the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is at 200% of normal levels. Streams and creeks that have been bone dry for many years are now freely flowing.  All that being said, San Diego county is still "abnormally dry" and the eastern part of the county is in "moderate drought" ... a condition that is really isolated to the US / Mexico border currently.

Dr Desert Flower and I went to Borrego Springs in the southern California portion of the Sonoran Desert, just to the East of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last weekend, to see the record desert bloom of wild flowers.  There was a plethora of yellows, white, blue, magenta, orange, and red flowers blooming in a desert that is normally brown, gray, and tan.  It was remarkably beautiful.  Granted, there were 10s of thousands of other visitors who normally are not there in the desert, but our four wheel drive Volvo XC70 helped us to drive down significantly eroded dirt roads and get out to places where most of the other flower tourists could not reach.

The infrastructure in Borrego Springs is designed to take care of the 3000 or so residents, but was completely overwhelmed by the 10s of thousands of visitors who drove their cars there.  Bathrooms, restaurants, cafes, all totally swamped with lines of humanity.  Dr Desert Flower and I DID speak with a very nice elderly volunteer at the Borrego Springs visitor center who told us about the off road excursion since we had a four wheel drive vehicle (thanks to the experienced docents!).

The area has not seen this much rainfall in 2.5 months for more than a century.  The wild flowers were in full spectacular bloom.  The bees were busy trying to pollenate everything.  The lizards and rodents were all busy scurrying about in the under-brush, filling their stomachs and feeding their families.  Sadly, we saw no snakes... but we did see several raptors.  The ambient temperature was in the mid 90s, but there was a merciful light breeze that felt pleasant on exposed skin (exposed skin slathered with SPF70).  It was a great way to spend the day in nature.


Monday, February 13, 2017

How To Stop Itching, From Personal Experience

When Dr Desert Flower and I moved from Arizona to California 5 years ago, almost immediately, I began getting itchy for no apparent reason.  The house we rented at the time had a hot tub, and while soaking in it felt good, I'd get itchy after drying off.  "Southern California is basically an irrigated desert" is the saying around here... but... after 5 years in Phoenix, the actual Sonoran Desert where humidity of 20% RH was normal, and a day of 40% RH was considered "muggy", one would have thought that California environmental dryness should not be that bad comparatively, right?

Well, the rental house also had fleas, which not only spiked up the itching but also drove our cats nuts until I eradicated the fleas using a Boric Acid powder solution across the entire house.  Then we moved into the home we bought in Orange County, sans fleas, but with a pool and a hot tub, and the itching got gradually worse.  I'd wake up in the middle of the night itching myself so fiercely that I'd scratch my neck, back, arms, and legs until they bled, which was really disgusting.  I tried going in the hot tub and pool, but the heat of the tub made it worse, and the rapid drying from the pool dried out my already irritated and aggravated skin even more.  I tried drinking one of the many craft beers readily available in Southern California, and within a few hours of drinking the delicious beverage, I'd start itching some more.  I tried self medicating with red wines that I'd been enjoying for the last 15 years, hoping to drink enough to fall asleep, and not wake up itching in the middle of the night.  This Often Did Not Work.  It was delicious... but the itching intensified.

I tried going to acupuncture to a local practitioner near our OC home, since I'd tried acupuncture while I lived in Phoenix for muscle and joint pain and it had helped significantly back then.  The acupuncture treatment DID relax me, and temporarily calm the itching while I as on the table with needles in me, but it had no lasting effect, between visits.

I tried sleeping pills, which had helped me when I'd traveled over-seas, and gave me a sedative sleep, but the results were lack luster.  Sometimes, the sleep was sound.  Sometimes, the sleep was restless and itchy.  This went on for almost 2 years, maddeningly.  I went to a dermatologist who prescribed ALL SORTS of topical steroids as well as some oral steroids.  "Temporary magic" is what my current primary care doctor calls steroids.  They did temporarily calm my skin down, but they also thinned it out to the point where the tiniest little scratch cause the skin to break and bleed. Bloody sleeves, pillow cases, and sheets were constantly grossing me out, and forcing multiple laundry loads several times a week.  It was not sustainable.

I tried swimming in the ocean several times a week, with the idea that MORE natural bacteria would help Balance whatever had gone out of whack on my skin.  That didn't work, and caused itching as the skin dried on the 15 minute drive home.

I went to a respected immunologist who put me on remarkably nasty drugs that are given to transplant recipients so that they don't reject their new organs.  It suppressed my immune system massively, but the itching persisted, nightly.  It also attacked during my work day when I was on a stressful call with an argumentative customer or contentious debate. Histamines were reigning supreme.  Benadryl, even at high doses, was ineffective.  Madness had begun to settle in, as I was losing my mind.

I'd read online about the homeopathic method of taking concentrated epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) to reduce itching.   Costco sells inexpensive MgSO4 in five pound bags, so 2 or 3 times a week, about every other day, I'd soak in a highly concentrated brine solution in our garden tub.  it helped to moisturize my skin, make it less prone to bleeding when scratched, and was a good opportunity to meditate, and calm... stress reduction.  Which was great during the bath, but didn't last through the night after the bath.

By this time both of our elderly cats had died.  The immunologist ran some tests on me that showed my blood was totally allergic to cats, to a level that should have caused anaphylaxis. No new cats, sadly for Dr Desert Flower.  We'd moved into a new house, with new carpeting and new paint, and yet still the nightly itching and stress induced itching were dominating my day-to-day life.  At wits end, I called my buddy Ron, who reads far more than I do, and is one of the smartest people I know, and told him of my plight.  "Elimination diet" we discussed, with just grass fed beef, celery, and almonds. Any vegetable I might eat would have to be organic. No grains, no dairy, no wine, no beer, just water to drink.  I did a 4 day cross-country drive, where I at almonds in the car as I drove alone, ate organic bland beef jerky, and suppered on grass fed steaks.  No sauces, no BBQ, just bland, natural food.  I trimmed my nails SUPER short so that I disarmed the scratching / bleeding devices, and I moisturized like mad.  "Within 3 minutes of drying yourself off (after bathing or swimming), or the moisturizer would have no effect" my immunologist warned me.  I slathered Aveeno, Lubriderm, and all kinds of other moisturizers on.   The itching started to die down... unexpectedly.

Then, as a proper science experiment, I introduced one new food each week.  Let the body metabolize it, and if no itching occurred, kept enjoying it.  If itching occurred, stop consuming that food.  Through February, March, April, May, and June, I added one food at a time, with discipline.  Sadly, I found that beer caused me to itch almost almost immediately upon drinking it.  The better and more tasty the beer, the more crafty the beer, the worse the itch.  Even going near a brewery and taking a tour made me itchy that day, the following night, and part of the next day.  Nearly every red wine, by the time I got to glass number two, the itch would start up, and last for hours.  Spicy foods, sriracha, jalapeno, chilis, spicy curries, anything spicy... all made my skin hot and itchy, so they got avoided.  Then, the revelation that red wine caused a delayed itch response, usually 2 to 3 hours after going to sleep, almost drove me to clinical depression.  I'd grown to love my red wines from all sorts of regions of the world... and now, my immune system had conspired to make them dermal unenjoyable.  Bordeaux, Malbec, Burgundy, Chianti, Sangiovese, Nero d'Avola, Primitivo, Loire valley, Napa valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet...  it didn't matter. If I enjoyed more than a shot glass worth of a red wine, I paid the price that night with itching and restless sleep.

My primary care physician recommended bleach baths, a 1/4 cup per 10 gallons, soaking for 10 to 15 minutes, luke warm, NOT hot water, every other day, 2 to 3 times a week.  This helped the scratches on my skin heal, reduced the redness and inflammation, and served as a "rinse" after taking a normal shower.  [Note: one must be careful though, to avoid new variations in bleach that are "anti splash" types that have detergent in them that causes the bath to foam up rapidly... just get the generic old hypochlorite solution].

So I am happy to say that after 4 years, 3 of them physically bloody miserable, I am now containing and managing my over-reactive itching skin, and things have gotten MUCH MUCH better.
- Removed the external allergens (cats died, didn't replace them & I pay a guy to cut my grass, as I am terribly allergic to grass as well)
- Eliminated the internal allergens inside what I ate and drank (no beer, no red wine, no rye whiskey [rye is grass])
- Stopped taking all the steroids that were thinking out my skin terribly
- Massively moisturized, within 3 minutes of getting out of the tub or shower or ocean, slathering it on rapidly
- Keep nails very short, to reduce accidental self injury while sleeping
- Massively reduce dependency on prescription sleep aids, using them infrequently, and basically only when traveling, and relying upon totally natural products instead.
- Avoid all spicy foods... if a reaction starts, stop eating that food.
- Alternate between bleach baths and magnesium sulfate baths, 3 to 5 times a week
- Have supportive friends and a loving wife who put up with my annoying itching... so that I didn't become self-destructive & suicidal.
The work stress rarely ever causes an itching episode anymore (better management of work stress, plus reduction of biological drivers), and the vast majority of nights are no longer invaded by itching.

I am not saying that my methods will work for you, or for anyone who reads this... I am just saying that it took years to contain (after cropping up in a very short period of time), and it is something that has to continually be managed, with vigilance.  For me, there was No Easy remedy.  If you found one, I'd be more than happy to hear what worked for you.

May 2017 addition - Emu Oil.  The Oleic acid in Emu oil doesn't melt off you like coconut oil does, and if you've got dry, itchy, flaky skin (on your arms, neck, face, legs, or anywhere else) the Emu oil smoothes the itch, significantly reduces the flaking, and stays on you without creating a massive oil slick on everything you touch.  I wear long sleeves if I've put some on, but it works really well.  The stuff is expensive.  $11 for 2 ounces, $55 for a 10 ounce bottle, but it is local (Southern CA emus), available at Sprouts, and works pretty well.  Cheaper than $400 a tube tacrolimus that crappy United Health Care no longer covers in their "formulary", despite the fact it works well.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mr.Robot + Black Mirror + Inauguration = Tristesse X Hopelessness

Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map, screen capture 4February 2017
Back in January, I was stuck in a coach seat for 5 hours on a flight to Atlanta on a business trip.  My company decided it would save money by having all employees travel by coach globally, so instead of working and being productive on my company laptop on projects and presentations that I needed to get done, I watched Mr Robot, season 2, on the 4 x 6 inch screen on the back of the Delta Economy seat I had in row 35 of a 38 row 737 out of San Diego.  I'd not seen season 1 yet, but WOW, Rami Malek's & Christian Slater's performances and Sam Esmail's writing and directing is impressive, moving, engaging, amazing. Link here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4158110/

I made it through the first 4 episodes on my way East, before Inauguration day, and episodes 5-11.5 on the 6 hours in-seat on the way back West, the week after Inauguration day.  After working for 2.5 days at home, some kind of viral or bacterial infection set into my upper respiratory tract that made it impossible to work (talk, think, sit upright, answer email) last Thursday and Friday.  Stuck on the couch, I found that Amazon had Season 1, which I dove through in-between napping and resting on my sick days off.

The more news I listened to since returning home, or social media I visited online, the more national stupidity (mostly willful stupidity) I encountered, and I sunk deeper into a darkness that inspired me to look for "Mirror Black".  Well, I found a Funny-or-Die "Mirror Black" 2 minute spoof on Amazon that was amusing... but it was not Black Mirror on Netflix that I'd heard so much about: "The New Twilight Zone", riveting, enthralling, frightening... Well, Friday afternoon, night and all day Saturday (today) I spent watching Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of Black Mirror.  "Depressed" ... "disheartened" ... "keenly aware of threats"... "rather hopeless" ... this is the darkness that has descended over me.

With a white supremacist from fake news "Brietbart" named to Drumpf's national security council (links here, here, and here) pushing his fear & hatred agenda into POTUS's ear while violent domestic fringe groups cheer and "retweet" (Hate Map here, so you can see who is indoor backyard who really hates you)... my binge watching of such depressing material was fueled amply.  I will never look at another CD, DVD, USB port, social media post, "like", or online "comment" again in the same way that I had for the previous 1/4 century that the internet has existed and has been accessible to the masses.  "Dystopian" should not be applied to Mr Robot nor Black Mirror, since the future predicted in both series is far darker, depressing, and unsustainably self-destructive than "Dystopian" typically implies.

I think I am probably not going to post too much this year.  Backlash from the right wing fringe who have hijacked our democracy, including Federal scrutiny is something I don't want to have to deal with, and possibly something that I don't have the band-width to deal with, as I analyze all the Black Mirror and Mr Robot data I've recently assimilated.  I need to digest, ruminate, and consider the rapid degradation of rights in Umerika and to the whole planet has experienced in the last 2 weeks.... and perhaps we all won't be here in another 2 or 3 months with the patients running the asylum as they are.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tanks And Missel Launchers? No

This is my first post of 2017, and the first one of my 51st year on this planet.  The more I read and hear, I am seriously starting to doubt that we'll make it to my 55th year as a sane, relatively radioactive fall-out free, global community, since nationalism, isolationism, hawkish saber rattling, and ignorance are on a steep rise not just in the United States, but around the world.

I was driving from Greenville SC to Atlanta today, down I-85, listening to NPR (on Album 88) when Wait Wait Don't Tell me came on.  I always enjoy Wait Wait, and I was shocked as I drove through pouring rain to hear on the radio show, that the Drumpf inaugural planners requested that the US Army send armored vehicles, tanks, and missile launchers, for a Red Square, Kremlin style parade in Washington DC.  WTF?  Yes, Drumpf, show us your cards early please.  We know you admire dictators who hold such parades, and you so much wanna be one too... but thankfully, the US Army said 'No, our armored vehicles are too heavy, and they will damage Washington DC streets'.  I hope the US Military continues to put a check on Drumpf's desires.

Link to San Diego Union-Tribune article on the same:
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/the-intel/sd-me-trump-parade-20170120-story.html

Link to The Hill Article on the same:
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/315184-trump-team-wanted-tanks-missile-launchers-in-parade-report

Link to the Washington Post's report on the same:
https://www.washingtonian.com/2017/01/18/trump-proposes-military-parades-in-dc/

Wow.  What an idiot the vast majority of White Umerika elected, out of fear of being governed by a woman; out of a misplaced hatred of crony capitalism (yes, Drumpf has surrounded himself with millionaires and billionaires... common folk, like you and I); out of a misplaced hatred and fear of immigrants who have built this country, and minorities who they've successfully oppressed for centuries; out of a backlash against one of the coolest, most compassionate, best presidents we've ever had who just happened to be 1/2 black.  I spent Thursday and Friday in Greenville SC listening to my co-workers' stretched justifications of why they voted for Drumpf.  Total fabricated BS. "Who would look better in photos on the beach, Ivanka, or Hillary?"  Well, Drumpf's incestuous lover and advisor, of course... but that's no reason to vote for her father.

Soon, Frank Underwood (er.. I mean Mike Pence) will work with Ryan and McConnell to impeach Drumpf for his connections with Putin under the Alien & Sedition act of 1798, and then President Pence can do to the US what he did to Indiana - make it unfriendly to LGBTQ citizens, forced ultrasounds for abortions, gut medicaid, privatize as many state functions as possible (like prisons, toll roads for example), punish blue voting districts (like Lake County, where I grew up), and drive the economy into the ground, Kansas Brownback style.  I doubt I'll be posting much of anything once that happens... since it'll probably wind me up in a privatized federal prison if I do speak out against the state.

On a strange note... my "page visits" to JustJoeP have gone up 10X since the November 2016 election.  I used to get 50 or 60 hits on any single entry.  I now have over 500 hits each on the mere 3 postings I did in November...  Five Hundred and Fifty, for some of them.  That's noteworthy.

Go Falcons.  Thank you for beating Green Bay.  Cheaters from New England should never be victorious as long as they retain their despicable unpatriotic coach. (it's my blog - if you don't like it... don't visit it; and yes, comments are regulated.  Inarticulately attack me or rant against me, and your comments will be published and mocked accordingly).  If you are from New England, I understand why you would root for your local team, tribalism... we are all subject to it.  Same with Green Bay.  If you're not from those places, and you've chosen to root for them... keep in mind that the Patriots have cheated long before deflate-gate was a thing.  The Packers...  well... they keep picking really talented QBs, while the rest of the NFC central/north founders year after year.   I still blame GB defensive player Charles Martin for ending Jim McMahon's career early with a totally unnecessary and egregious late hit in 1986... but he died in 2005 at the early age of 45 from kidney failure, so perhaps karma does work.  That's brutal, yes, but McMahon could have led the Bears to multiple titles just as Favre and Rodgers have done, if his throwing arm was not ruined by Martin.