Saturday, October 13, 2018

Promises vs Reality, Mexico

On my Aeromexico flight from LAX to Monterrey Mexico this morning, I was unexpectedly upgraded to Business Class.  Instead of a cramped coach seat in this Embraer 190 (2 x 2 seating in the back, 1 + 2 seating in business class, x four rows), I have a rather spacious left hand 3A seat, with a window all to myself and no neighbor.  Very nice.

Not having flown Aeromexico Business class for many years, I was curious as to what kind of alcohol they might serve.  I of course, looked at their in-fight magazine and immediately located the whiskey.  Whiskey Bushmills - international flight…. well, that’s what I’m on.  Cognac Courvosier - International Flight.  Mmmmm, choices choices.  I also noted that they had Johnny Walker black for those who love peat and smoke, various beers, 2 tequilas, 2 vodkas, and one rum (or Ron).  The white wine list included a Bordeaux, a California Chardonnay, a Riesling, and 2 others.  2 bubblies, and 3 or 4 reds. I’d ask for Courvosier, then go to the Bushmills if they didn’t have it, and then step down to the vino blanco if that was low as well.

“Courvosier Cognac, por favor” I said in my best Spanish to the flight attendant.  I received a blank stare.  I showed the flight attendant the page from GranPlan Aire magazine.  She looked, and said “whiskey?”  Si, Bushmills whiskey for favor.  She then walked back up to the front of the plane, 10 feet away, and opened a 1750 ml bottle of Johnny Walker Black, pouring me a generous serving.  Not my favorite by far, but drinkable compared to its red cousin, that is better off thrown as a molotov cocktail.  After lunch was served she politely asked if I wanted more whiskey.  “No gracias. Vino blanco for favor”.  I am now on my 3rd glass of vino blanco - I am not driving when I get to Monterrey.

Why am I not working? - you might ask?  Well, the company paid for a non-refundable cheap coach class ticket, where there is not room to open a lap top.  I’m up in business class not because of work, but because of the funerals and vacations I’ve taken with Delta this year that have almost made me gold medallion status.  The domestic and Tijuana based work flights I’ve taken have barely moved the needle.  If work wants me to work on a flight, they can pay for business class, and i will drink less, work more, and be a happier camper.  After 5 decades on this mortal coil, I have no patience for trying to placate cheap employers who drive to the lowest common denominator.  Therefore, I am composing my first blog post in many many many months.

I named this post “Promises vs Reality” because in Mexico, there are No Shortage of lofty promises.  Can you makes these parts? Si.  Can you meet the delivery date?  Si.  Will the parts be made from American bar stock and sheet metal?  Si.  Can you mark each part according to the instructions on the specification?  Si.  All promises made to try and make the customer happy.  None of the promises were kept…  no, not even slightly, remotely, partially kept.  Late parts, unmarked, with no data, made from very cheap Chinese sheet stock… a lie on every front.   This is what the last 4 months of dealing with Mexican suppliers has been for me.  And today’s Aeromexico flight is emblematic of what I’ve seen at various supplier throughout Mexico this year.  

No one ever wants to tell you know…  but they will slowly show you (demonstrating) no.

At least I got to sit in a nice, comfortable seat to compose this post... unexpectedly pleasant.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Marketing Failure As Success

Fareed Zakaria's GPS program this morning said it best.
Link here:
"Trump's true talent is marketing failure as success"
I really cannot add anything more than Fareed's succinct summary here.

Why Umerikuns fall for this immoral, misogynistic, sophomoric, bombastic, uncurious, ignorant, narcissistic, illiterate, con man's rhetoric, is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Boosters Return Safely Simultaneously

When I was a kid, I remember sitting in front of the 25 inch tube TV in my parents' living room watching Apollo space capsules splashing down in the ocean and US Navy divers jumping out of helicopters in wet suits to attach lifting cables to the outside of the floating capsules.  It had always fascinated me, and I've seen Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo re-entry capsules in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Washington DC at the Smithsonian, at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.  Those capsules exited the atmosphere, and returned, carrying live astronauts, and surviving re-entry through he atmosphere, and the heat and pressure scars on the surface of the capsules was always jaw dropping to me as a kid, as a teen, and as a young adult that we, as puny humans, could design and build and launch something that was so tough it could survive re-entry and return the astronauts back to terra ferma safely.

Then today, South African immigrant Elon Musk's company SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy as a test flight for future Mars missions, making it the largest rocket (3 million pounds) launched since Apollo moon missions more than 40 years ago.  Yes, SpaceX has launched and recovered boosters before. Sometimes on remote controlled barges, sometimes on land. But they had not done a double booster return yet, and watching today's double simultaneous landing was... amazing... jaw dropping... awe-inspiring... remarkable.  See here:

Sure, the rocket's  "payload" was Elon's personal Tesla Roadster convertible, being driven by a mannequin in a space suit, and outfitted with 3 cameras that have been giving fantastic views of the car and the Earth as it heads into orbit around the Sun and a rendezvous with Mars in about 6 months... and that's cute, and stylish, and amusing, and FAR BETTER than launching a dummy payload of bricks or steel or something really boring (but safe).  Elon had given the launch a '50 to 66% chance of success', setting realistic expectations.  The boosters came back safely, and beautifully.  The main core malfunctioned after separating from the payload at MACH 15, and did not make it to the remote controlled barge in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as planned... but 2 out of 3 safe returns for usable rockets is not bad. And I anticipate, it will only get better with more practice.

Going into space is hard.  It's not easy nor simple, and few nations have done it successfully.  Fewer companies have done is successfully, and Only One has returned two booster rockets, simultaneously, to a precise launch pad, without using heat sheilds, the ocean, US Navy divers, or parachutes... very impressive indeed!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Balboa Park Botanical Garden

On Sunday, Dr Desert Flower and I had zero interest in watching the Superbowl since it was the New England perennial cheaters against the Philadelphia obnoxious fans underdogs.  [Note: I clearly state "cheaters" not because of just 'deflate-gate', but because of the pattern over years of coach Bellicose's reign, where he sent spies to opposing teams' training camps to video tape their practices, hired professional lip readers to spy on opposing teams' offensive and defensive coaches to gather intel on what plays were coming next, and generally played very dirty, making every under-handed, sneaky, below-board move possible].  Not wanting to spend time in front of the TV watching the glorification of two teams we despised, we decided to go somewhere that normally would have many people, but hopefully would have Much Fewer persons and be far less crowded than than usual.  We decided upon Balboa Park's Botanical Garden, as we'd never been there before and it was less than an hour's drive away.

Much Smaller than Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden, the Balboa Park garden is cute, compact, a pretty little spot to visit.  It's perhaps 5% the size of Phoenix's botanical garden, but of course much cooler.  The weather was in the mid-to-upper 70s (Fahrenheit), with low humidity in the 30% range, with gentle breezes of 5 mph every now-and-then.  Quite pleasant.  Crowd-wise... it was a different story.  We arrived around noon, and could only find parking in the vast lot behind the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.  Not a long walk, but a good 1/2 mile or so to get to the Botanical Garden.  By the time we left 90 minutes later, that large parking lot was jammed full with cars circling like sharks looking for parking spaces.  The crowds were international.  I heard Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese and Thai being spoken as we walked through the park and passed various families; International visitors who Also could not care less about the Superbowl spectacle.  We tried eating at 2 of the cafes inside the park and found 30 and 45 minute waits... and not being British, I don't queue very well, so we headed over to Banker's Hill and had a delicious leisurely brunch at Parc Bistro.

Next year, when two teams are playing that we are equally apathetic about, we'll head out to a remote national park and enjoy the serenity and tranquility, devoid of human interference.  = )

Monday, January 15, 2018

Perfect for Today

I saw this on the book face earlier today, and I've been thinking about how appropriate it is all day.
Sad that in my life time, this 'democracy' has empowered the worst among us.

Maybe something good will come out of this misappropriation of hopeful-but-misinformed-quasi-populist protest vote... like #MeToo, or equal pay for women, or awareness of how Oprah is actually a billionaire while Drumpf is a charlatan thrice bankrupt, thrice divorced, who preys upon his rivals' wives and the worst fears of easily manipulated Umerikuns.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Please, Let This Be The LAST Jedi

We went as a family this afternoon to see "Episode VIII The Last Jedi" at the San Marcos Regal Theater.  I'd hoped it would be better than Episodes I, II, and III... and it was, for the most part.  The Original Star Wars (Episode IV) still remains the best, most impactful, memorable Lucas Film of the series, in my humble opinion.  This Last Jedi could probably have been much shorter, included fewer meaningless plot dead-ends, and flowed better than it actually did in the film we just saw... but that's probably the grumpy old man in me commenting openly ("back in my day, you cut people in half with light sabers; you didn't stab them!").

Sure, it was a western / space opera with multiple themes introduced, but it was not the tour de force that the lonnnnng intro & ramp up led the movie-goer to believe.  Hamil goes out far better than Ford went out, in Episode VII, and some of Fisher's appearances look almost computer generated, in the varied lighting she is depicted compared to those with whom she is speaking to or interacting with.  Admiral Ackbar, sadly, is no more.

Several issues I had with the film that still stick in my craw are:
- in space, you don't need bombers (there's only microgravity, or no gravity)
- furry penguins should be delicious, or comical, but not both
- tasting white crystals form the ground, is stupid & potentially deadly (could have been anything more toxic than just salt)
- since when are dueling weapons strong enough to withstand a light saber blade? (in IV-VI there was nothing stronger than a light saber blade)
- if the evil emperor is so knowing and omniscient, why would he be so careless to leave Luke's lightsaber on an oversized arm rest next to him?
- if a ship can be piloted into light speed directly in the path of enemy ships to obliterate through them, why wait until 80% of your fleet is blasted into nothing before making that last spectacular jump?
- if a casino full of the top 1% of the 1% of war profiteers is so opulent, why do they have only 5 cloaked foot guards and 2 little flying police cars?  (ever been to Monaco? I have...)
- if a rebel fleet is trying to run away on regular engines, and are running out of fuel, why doesn't the Imperial fleet just just into hyperspace ahead of the fleeing ship, surround it, tractor beam it, and obliterate it (or force it to surrender)?

Much of the film, depressingly, appears to be made to introduce more toys, more marketing, more character "bling" and accessories that I, as an adult man, could not give a care about.  ALL the previews leading up to the film (we got there 25 minutes early to get good seats) were for inane movies and products that I could not care less about seeing, buying, or mentioning here... but obviously idiocracy seems to be crazy about them.  There were no less than 3 major motion pictures previewed that are coming out that were video game extensions of concepts or movies that I consider irrelevant.  Just because making a CGI model is possible, doesn't mean it Should Be Made, every time.

If you're a HUGE Star Wars fan...  enjoy.  It's not that bad.  I just hope it's the Last Star Wars film I see now that all of the original characters, expect the droid and Chewbacca are gone (and Carrie Fisher is gone in the real world).

Three Billboards

Last night, Nathan Jr, Dr Desert Flower and I went to the old La Paloma theater in Encinitas where they were showing Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.  We'd heard it was good.  Mistakenly thought it was a Coen Brothers movie, as Francis McDormand is it in the lead role,  and the 90 year old La Paloma was somewhere we'd never been, so we bought our tickets in cash at the old time box office (they don't take credit cards), sat in the dilapidated non-reclining seats (circa 1928), and breathed the chilly air of the theater, waiting for the show to being.

It is a somber, moving film.  It is a Very Violent film.  It is a sad film.  It's a well acted and well directed film.  And, as someone who lived in semi-rural the South for 16 years of his adult life, I'd say it is a fairly accurate depiction of life, prejudices, and culture in rural American "fly-over" country.   Beautiful country-side combined with a deep, thick, undercoat of lawlessness and a loose-sense of imposed community that often times runs no deeper than superficial pleasantries.

Francis McDormand should win an Oscar or Golden Globe for her role.  Woody Harrelson is great in it, throughout.  Sam Rockwell - who admittedly is NOT one of my favorite actors as he often plays a goof (Hitchhiker's Guide), clown, a fool, a cocky & flawed playboy (F is for Family) - makes you Hate him, viscerally in the first 2/3rds of the film.  Clarke Peters (Lester, from The Wire) is under-stated in the movie.  I don't want to spoil it, but it was both a great movie and very disturbing at the same time.

After the movie, we were all somewhat down, silent, depressed, retrospective... pondering life & existence... akin to how my buddy Ryan and I were after seeing Schindler's List in Atlanta back in 1993, but without the genocide.  So we got a good meal and some strong drinks at the Encinitas Bier Garden, before driving back up to the homestead.

Friday, December 15, 2017

полезные идиоты, Useful Idiots

Vladimir Lenin coined a term while he was alive, called the "Useful Idiot" (полезные идиот).  To Lenin, a "Useful Idiot" was a Westerner who agreed with the Soviet view on the world, who idealized the Socialist system, and who willfully over-looked the downfalls of collectivization - downfalls like disincentive to work, disincentive to become an expert on anything, disincentive to be productive (since whether you work or not, you're not going to get ahead... sit back, and let others do the hard work).  A "Useful Idiot" could be manipulated by the Soviet Union to spy, gather information, be counted on as a sleeper cell that the Kremlin could activate when needed... to be useful.
полезные идиоты (Useful idiots)
Now, I don't speak Russian as Roy Moore of Alabama does, to be able to pronounce the phrase correctly.  Roy is apparently very good at speaking to teenage girls, at the mall, at their high school, at the movies, and in his car parked in the darkness behind the restaurant where the girl worked as a waitress.  Roy was also romanticizing about how AWESOME the United States was before the Civil War, when slavery was still legal in the South, families were stronger, and homosexuality "did not exist"... sure Roy, keep convincing yourself of that, in English, or Russian, whichever you prefer.  Had you won your recent Senate race, you'd have been a very полезные идиот.

I've not travelled to Russia, met with their operatives, or colluded with any foreign power to influence the course of a national or local election in the United States as many in the White House staff have done in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  For a very small investment, Vladimir Putin's dictatorship has gleaned a remarkable windfall of apologists, sycophants, Manchurian candidates, "but what abouts...", and shrill voices on Faux News, at all levels.  Impressive R.O.I. for Russia - they probably never thought that So Many Americans would willingly become полезные идиоты for them to leverage.

If you voted for Drumpf, and now you feel remorse or regret for doing so, after the childish buffoon in chief has shown repeatedly how easily baited he is, how his attention span is shorter than most 2 year olds' (even the best behaved ones), how he's going to trash the US economy the say way he ran his own businesses into the ground 4 times, shorting his contractors and declaring bankruptcy 4 times, how know-nothing he is about everything that is not Drumpf-centric, how truth-challenged he is on 99% of everything he says, tweets, expresses and rants about.... if you regret casting your vote for this remarkably unqualified puppet, I can unstained how you're feeling.  I once threw my vote away on Ross Perot, and helped to enable the governor of a rural chicken producing state to become Commander in Chief where he indulged his libido, cozied up to the despicable Newt Gingrich and his "Contract on America", and presided over the dot com bubble that grew the world economy strongly despite Congress's and the Federal Reserve's best efforts to spoil that success.

But if you voted for Drumpf, and you're doubling down on your support, embracing all the lies and vitriol that Faux News spouts out on a daily basis... if you have no regrets whatsoever, and still cling to the unjustified belief that Drumpf will make everything better, then I have only pity for you, and I encourage you to learn Russian as many of the other полезные идиоты have done.  This way, you can better understand what your Russian masters have in store for you, AND, if you learn all the colloquialisms, you'll understand when they are mocking you, snickering, and laughing about how easily manipulated you are as their полезные идиот.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Welcome Back Dial Up Speeds!

Hey, all you Trump voters who voted for a disruptor who would shake up the system...  well, congratulations!  You just got dial up speeds back from your ISP!  Yes, you too can try and download and stream movies, live sports, youtube and other internet content at 14.4kps, or 9.8kps, or some other nauseatingly slow download and upload speed, akin to when Windows 95 was the dominant operating system!  Trump's FCC just voted today, in a 3-2 vote, to annul the Obama era Net Neutrality regulations!!!  Isn't that great!!

Now, when I flew through Atlanta last week, I was TSA Pre, because I wasted a day of my life and $100 of my personal money, down in Otay Mesa, signing up for Global Entry, in an effort to make getting through border (airport) immigration checks faster than the majority of the other 400 people on an international 747 flight.  When I got to the front of the TSA-pre line, I saw "Clear", which had 5 people in line, and dumped Immediately to the TSA ID checker station.  With "Clear", if you PAY MORE, you get to skip the normal lines AND the TSA-pre lines.  For ANOTHER $180 a year, on top of TSA-Pre, I could get "Clear", and use it infrequently.

Why did I mention Clear here, on post about the end of Net Neutrality?  Well, Trump admin spokes-persons have quoted Clear as their model as to why having more money, and more access, is always a good thing.  Disney world fast pass, airport Clear, and now... if you have Koch Brothers levels of money, you can stream Amazon Prime, Netflix, or anything else you want while the meager peasants who make 1/10th or 1/100th or 1/1000th what you do wait, endlessly, for their data to download, so they can enjoy their internet content as well!  It's not a dump truck, it's a series of tubes!!!!

Congratulations Trump voters!  Even though 98% of you can't afford it, you've helped the richest 1 or 2 percent of your comrades.  While I read my book (on paper, not electronically), work in my yard (no electronic connections needed), or enjoy time at the beach, you can curse your slowwwwwww internet connection.  Obama pushed for net neutrality, and the FCC maintained it.  Trump's corporate friends and monopoly alliances reversed that ruling so that 98% of Umerika can suffer!  Fantastic!