Wednesday, May 31, 2017

To Catch A Predator...

Is it just me, or does overtime the announcers say "the Predators" I think of Bill Hader on SNL, when he parodied the "To Catch a Predator" MSNBC series...  "ohhhhhhhhh"

It makes ir impossible to imagine a saber toothed tiger as a "predator" when Bill Vader played the host so well.

Go Penguins.  Sorry Nashville.  You'l get another chance in the future.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hate Thy Neighbor Brilliance

My godfather Uncle Joe and I agree, Viceland is The Best channel on TV, and one of the only ones worth watching.  I started recording "Hate Thy Neighbor" with Jamali Maddix several months ago, on DVR, in an effort to try and UNDERSTAND WHY some humans CAN HATE another group of humans so viscerally, to tribally, so passionately.  Jamali Maddix, a very funny British comedian who wears a "Mickey" Disney jacket,  is a relatively big man, sports a massive Taliban-esque beard, wears black rimmed eye glasses, speaks with a British accent, and is generally a very funny guy has gone to a wide variety of places around the world to understand why people hate each other.  He has gone to Sweden to talk to nationalist groups who "hunt" immigrants, to Scotland to talk to white nationalists (one who is on "the dole" as w welfare queen, but he "has earned it"), to the southern US to go to a KKK cross burning, to the Ukraine where nationalists are fighting to "keep Ukraine pure", and to an Israeli nationalistic "anti everyone " training camp while he was enroute to the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, to Harlem to talk to a group of Black racist nationalists who believe they are the ONLY ones descended from the original tribes of Israel, and to Northern France where the Syrian refugees and North African refugees who are trying to get into the UK are kept from crossing the English Channel.  In each episode, Jamali talks to the crowd in a comedy club, recanting what idiocy and hatred he's encountered, and then he and his camera crew put themselves in harm's way to first-hand document the palpable hatred they encounter.

Jamali is a very intelligent comedian, quick on his feet, ready with the verbal retort, a keen observer of the human condition.  His physical size keeps him "somewhat" safe as he is fairly bigger and more intimidating than the average small statured, smaller endowed, self-hating and vocal racists who he encounters.  "Hate Thy Neighbor" has become my favorite and most depressing show on TV.  Jamali is brilliant, frank, straight forward.  He pulls no punches.  I fear he will be killed in each segment.  In the UK episode the main racist he confronted got violent and assaulted his cameraman and Jamali, and made me (as a viewer) very uncomfortable.

While I am drawn to watching "Hate They Neighbor" I still DO NOT understand the powerful hatred that drives the people Jamali is interviewing, talking to, dealing with, in each episode.  DDF does NOT like to watch this show with me... so it is another thing that I do when she is not home.

If you are confused as to why one group of humans HATE another group of humans SO Passionately, so viscerally, so passionately, you should watch "Hate They Neighbor" and perhaps it will give you some insight as it has given me.

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, 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.


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!

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 - 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.  --------------------------------------------->>>>>>>

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.