Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Bike Ride, With Joe The Plumber

Now I know why Joe The Plumber gave me a bicycle: He wants someone to ride with.

On Saturday, he decided we should bicycle to Old Sacramento. I saw no escape.

It's been a long time since I did much bicycling, so I was fairly-unprepared. Instead of taking water, I decided to hydrate first. Joe decided to take his water bottle, dangling from a kerchief from the handlebars.

We first bicycled to College Cyclery, so he could get air in his tires. He left his water bottle behind there when it fell out of his kerchief.

We biked up 21st Street. At P Street, we stopped for the light. He pointed at 'The Press Club' and said in a low conspiratorial voice: "It's run by the Hell's Angels." I nodded gravely (knowing how unlikely that is likely to be).

We passed a locksmith that displayed a sign that said: "Think Keys." So, I thought keys.

Joe kept pointing out a variety of local plumbing mishaps along the way, like malfunctioning sprinklers and leaks from large pipes with old fittings. He pointed at pipes poking out of the ground at a street corner and repeatedly said something like: "Vacuum assembly! Beverly Hills!" I stared stupidly at the pipes in the ground, trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about.

We turned off 21st at K Street, eventually emerging among the crowds near the Convention Center. Joe found another water bottle near the IMAX Theater. This newfound water bottle was chilled. Joe decided it was a gift from God.

We continued down the K Street Mall. Joe stopped to take a drink, and spilled some water onto the pavement, to honor "those who are not with us any more."

We plunged into the Saturday midday crowd at Downtown Plaza Mall. We got separated for a while, when a security guard politely asked me to walk my bicycle through the pedestrian walkways, rather than rudely pedaling through, as Joe had done.

We passed through the tunnel under Interstate 5, and emerged in Old Sacramento. We bicycled a short distance north along the Sacramento River, stopping briefly to look at railroad work near the Train Museum, and ended up at the Water Intake Facility on the Sacramento River (pictured at left: christening date 2004).

At the Sacramento River Water Intake Facility, with Joe The Plumber.

Summer's day frolicking on the Sacramento River.

Suffragettes in Old Sacramento lambaste some misogynist Old-West coot who had the temerity to challenge their progressive notions of Voting, and Equal Rights.

Eating ice cream just opposite Evangeline's. Joe entertained himself by chatting up a parking meter reader.

Afterwards, we shopped among the spiked bracelets at Evangeline's.

We bicycled back, mostly by following the Light Rail tracks.

We stopped at the lone remaining tent at the weekly Farmer's Market, under the W-X Freeway, and looked at antique-ey stuff, like a school microscope.

The bike trip was very, very Sacramento, the way we hit so many key Sacramento landmarks.

You know what else is very, very Sacramento? This music video, featuring Krystle Morales (clearly identifiable at 0:18, and again at 4:43, with a trademark Red Rose), hits many of the same, key Sacramento landmarks we visited on this bike trip:

Uh oh! I guess Sacramento's ICE Dance Company wasn't the only one with this idea! Dance crews from all over the world faced off against each other on YouTube using the same song by Beyonce. This Russian dance crew is awesome!

Support our local dance crews against formidable foreign competition! If anyone is going to run the world, it's got to be our local Sacramento girls!

"Hairspray" - 'Bows' (July 6, 2012)

Friday, July 06, 2012

Blue Mink ~ Good Morning Freedom

The cumulative impact of the musical choices on "Breaking Bad" is to create a really odd, quirky sensibility. Most television series confine their impact to a few notable theme songs, but "Breaking Bad" is just all over the place with their choices.

From 1970, here is one of those favorite "Breaking Bad" songs....

Queasy About The LIBOR Scandal

I've got misgivings about the mortgage refinance I'm mulling this summer, and this LIBOR (1) scandal is playing an increasing role in that sense of unease. The adjustable rate mortgage I'm considering is supposed to be locked in for seven years, then allowed to float, based entirely on what the LIBOR rate happens to be then. Hearing that greedy British bankers have been moving the rate up and down, every day, as it happens to please their trading positions, does NOT make me feel more comfortable.

So, I'm supposed to pony up more and more cash if some callow banker in the City decides he needs a third vacation home in France, plus a new Mercedes? Really? Really!:
On a listserv I subscribe to, a seemingly knowledgeable participant (2) said the victims of the scam include investors who owned floating rate notes, LIBOR-linked CDs, or pay-fixed-receive-floating interest rate swaps; or anyone who traded LIBOR contracts on a U.S. futures exchange and lost money. And let's face it: that doesn't sound much like widows and pensioners, does it?

What's more, the LIBOR scam wasn't about pushing LIBOR systematically up or down. Sometimes it was pushed up, sometimes it was pushed down, depending on whatever happened to be good for the Barclays trading desk on any given day. So even if you are a widow or a pensioner with a CD linked to the LIBOR rate, it's not really clear if you were ever hurt.

Nonetheless, it's a big deal, and I think the Economist pretty much nails it here:

The attempts to rig LIBOR [...] not only betray a culture of casual dishonesty; they set the stage for lawsuits and more regulation right the way round the globe. This could well be global finance’s “tobacco moment”....Despite the risks of banker-bashing, a clean-up is in order, for the banking industry’s credibility is shot, and without trust neither the business nor the clients it serves can prosper.

That could end up costing the banks a lot of money. LIBOR is used to set an estimated $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, affecting the price of everything from simple mortgages to interest-rate derivatives. If attempts to manipulate LIBOR were successful—and the regulators think that Barclays did manage it, on occasion—then this would be the biggest securities fraud in history, affecting investors and borrowers around the world. That opens the door to litigation not just by the direct customers of implicated banks, but by anyone with a financial interest in LIBOR. The lawsuits have already begun.

1 LIBOR is the London Interbank Offered Rate. It's basically the current interest rate banks charge each other to borrow money, and it changes on a daily basis. So if you have an adjustable rate mortgage, for example, your interest rate might be LIBOR + 3, or something like that.

2 How's that for a reliable source?

Conservative Judge Posner Tells Movement Conservatives To Take A Hike

Striking out at those who strike out against Justice Roberts:
But over the past 10 years, Posner said, "there's been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking."

"I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy," he said.

Judge Richard Posner speaks to NPR

Posner, who was appointed to the appeals court by Reagan, speculated that the leaks about the deliberations over the national health care law — which are apparently designed to discredit Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding the law — would backfire.:

"I think these right-wingers who are blasting Roberts are making a very serious mistake," he said.

"Because if you put [yourself] in his position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?' Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position."

Sting - Synchronicity II

I wanted to post The Police's original video, but for some copyright reason, it doesn't seem to be available on YouTube in the United States. Nevertheless, this live version serves well!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Lots Of Thunderstorm Activity West Of Belen/Los Lunas

I just love the monsoon!

Trying To Anticipate What People Want

I remember manning DMTC booths at Davis Community Park in 2005, and 2009, and now, once again, in 2012. I didn't expect too many surprises. In fact, I tried to predict what we might expect in the way of cookie sales.

DMTC obtained $476.45 from Celebrate Davis in 2005. That’s nearly 500 cookies, but there was additional demand too, because we had the most bargain-conscious food item around. I remember how a small child complained that she wanted pizza instead of cookies, but her father explained to her that she was going to eat cookies, or nothing at all. It was the power of the market! Celebrate Davis was an efficient market!

If turnout in 2005 matched what the promoters expected from 2004 attendance (5,000 people), and if we sold nearly 500 cookies, we might expect to sell one cookie for every ten people who attend. If turnout was larger this year, it would mean more cookies sold. I thought 600 cookies should cover 2012's needs.

The 2009 example wasn't very instructive, because that year we won the lottery to sell both pizza and beer, so we were set up for big sales, no matter what happened.

In fact, this year, turnout appeared to be lower than in either Celebrate Davis in 2005, or Fourth of July in 2009. I'm not sure why.

The City of Davis provided free water, but did so at a location away from the food vendors. In theory, that should have spurred soda sales. In practice, it appeared to have irritated people. People purchased little in the way of sodas.

People nibbled away the cookies, but their real interest was in the popcorn. We provided popcorn almost as an afterthought, and had only a small cooker to work with, but people were willing to wait patiently in long lines just to get a taste of the maize goodness. We started wondering if there was crack in the corn, so inordinate the demand seemed.

When you read histories of the Great Depression, people talk about how that economic trial made for a more-sober, family-conscious people. I've noticed that the Great Recession of 2008 has had similar effects. We are now a better well-grounded people than we were in 2007.

What I did not expect, however, was the insatiable appetite for popcorn. There's just no way to keep up!

DMTC Fourth-of-July Booth At Davis Community Park

On the Fourth of July, DMTC supporters set up a fundraising booth at Davis Community Park. We got ready to sell cookies, popcorn, and soda. Where is Health Inspector, we all asked, as we prepared to sell.

The Health Inspector was delayed, but we did get a visit from U.S. Congressman (and former Lieutenant Governor, and former Insurance Commissioner) John Garamendi!

Garamendi expressed his interest in supporting the arts, and asked for our support in his reelection campaign.

Davis Mural, In Progress

North of Tres Hermanas; south of Ace Hardware.

Conservative Consistency

(Via Eileen, on Facebook).

Actually, conservative renunciation of all their previous positions is totally consistent with the American conservative movement.

Because they really aren't conservatives at all - they are radicals - and that's exactly what radicals do. George Orwell wrote all about it in "1984".

Remember that next time when conservatives tell you they care about deficits.

Barney Fife and the Preamble to the Constitution

(h/t Steve). Fourth of July special! More effective without the laugh track!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Back To My Favorite Summertime Sport

Watching gust fronts echoing back and forth across the Albuquerque area.

Feeling Sorry For The Spider In My Briefcase

Terrible insect selection in there....

The Mailman Doesn't Have To Knock Even Once To Get Past That Fourth Wall

"Mexican Shootout", by Rich Kelly

I got a nice E-Mail:
Just wanted to drop a line to say thank you for taking the time to go past the front door and take those who delve further into Breaking Bad.

As a USPS mailman for all of 87106, 87108, 87102, 87105 and 87110 the last 3 years, I’ve been oh so close to when and where they film a large portion of scenes. Only up until about a year ago, I started to mention it to friends as not to ruin the opportunities that I had to literally walk right through police barricades, across barriers, and into businesses where they were shooting scenes in the back.

This show is incredibly great and those who do like it, just don’t like it….they are completely passionate about it. I’ve literally met a dozen people who didn’t know about it, given them all of season 1, and gotten a call a day or so later asking if I can get them S2. What other show makes their viewers do this kind of thing? Binge TV. LOL.

Anyhow, just wanted to really say hi, thank you for posting up your Blog for others outside of “The 505” to see and wish you all the luck in your future endeavors.

We’ll all be reading.
I replied:
Thank you! I am honored!

That’s amazing, being able to penetrate past that fourth wall, all as a part of official duties (reminds me of that scene with the mail lady in “Peekaboo”)!

I started watching Breaking Bad fairly late - at the beginning of Season 3 – but one of the first things that caught my eye was the hillside behind the Mesa Credit Union, where Walt withdraws his life savings to buy an RV. That hill was a favorite hiking destination when I was in high school, but unless I said something about it, no one would ever know. So, I started blogging about BrBa, knowing that other Burqueños must have plenty of stories of their own about other locations they were familiar with.

Interestingly, even though I could sense interest, the folks from Albuquerque that I knew seemed reluctant at first to get too involved. Part of it I think was that they were simply too close to the action, and that it was enough to go about the daily routine, but part of it was a gracious humility: even if they weren’t very familiar with the show itself, they sensed they had a good thing going and they didn’t want to spoil things by pushing too hard or interfering too much. So, apart from folks at ‘Duke City Fix’, and maybe a few other forums, it was up to partial outsiders to speak first. Regarding locations, “WallDruggie” (initially, a part-time ABQ resident from S. Dakota) posted her pictures first, then me, then “OldeSaultie” with his maps (strangely-enough, he’s from Virginia and has never been to ABQ, but by using Google Earth he knows the city’s streets better than most Burqueños).

Now that Season 5 is starting, and the show’s end is in sight, I think the reluctance of the Burqueños will melt away, as the celebratory rush begins.

Once again, thanks!

Nothing Catches Them By Surprise In Scotland

Last night, I got carried away watching videos on YouTube (plus actually doing some real work), and so didn't leave work (which is located in Midtown) until shortly after the ungodly hour of 3:30 a.m.

Just as I set the alarm and shut the back door, the entire block went dark. Power failure! In addition, the building's alarm failed to set. So, I was torn between the need to sleep and the idealistic necessity of bodily defending my place of employment to the death from the blood-sucking spectral zombies of Midtown. Sleep sounded like the better option.

So, I posted the news - where else? - on Facebook, and had the following exchange with Norma Jean, who once resided in Rancho Cordova:
N.: ‎"KCRA news just gave a heads-up for Downtown Sacramento dwellers - SMUD has to "re-set some kind of equipment" (??) So we may have a brief power outage in the very very lat night /early morning 9 I think they said around 3am"

M.: Wow! Aren't you, like, in Scotland? Better informed than me!

N.: I am in Scotland :) I got that from Martha Kight :)

M.: I swear, the two of you are like watchful spirits over us mortals. You know when stock prices will crash, when volcanoes will erupt, and you can sing too! I feel safe against zombies now!

RIP, Andy Griffith - We'll Be Missing Your Vitajex

Sad, the passing of Andy Griffith.

Andy Griffith was best known for his heartwarming, eponymous TV show from the Sixties, but his most brilliant appearance was in 'A Face In The Crowd', Elia Kazan's amazing movie, and here Andy Griffith is, in the most brilliant appearance in that movie.

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

Perusing Paul Krugman's blog, a seemingly un-economic post. But welcome!

1971 was my family's most-calamitous year, and this song was the only solace.

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

(small instrumental)

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!


I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?


There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!



Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

And They Called Her "Gondwana"

Important geographic information, via Doug Barbieri, on Facebook.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Trespasser

Over the last week or two, the homeless guy in the neighborhood, the one with the shopping cart and the weird, alert dog, has been skulking around the DMV parking lot. Even Joe The Plumber noticed: "That guy isn't just hanging out. He's scanning the neighborhood. He's up to something." And it's true, the guy was in a perfect place to watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood, and notice the little things (like E. departing this weekend for a week at Minden Lake).

Two nights ago, neighbor Doug was walking his dog in the DMV parking lot, and we started talking. He had noticed the homeless guy too. "Yeah, he was on the ground over there at the corner, next to the broken-down car. He was asleep, but he was holding a lit cigarette. A few nights later, there was a burned spot there, like the cigarette had gotten away from him." Doug added that he had heard the guy was in poor health.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in Davis, involved in various theater activities. I returned home at 1 a.m. To my (not entirely complete) surprise, as I drove up, I discovered the homeless guy was camped out in my driveway.

I parked the car, got out, and unloaded the groceries from the trunk. The homeless guy was snoring softly. His weird dog was nowhere to be found. I decided I didn't want an abrasive and ugly encounter at one o'clock in the morning with The Trespasser, so let him sleep on.

By late morning, the fellow was gone, but had left his calling card: he had defecated under my bedroom window during the night. Pushing past the flies and cleaning that up was a joy.....

I told the DMV parking lot guard about The Trespasser. He hadn't seen the fellow camped out there (the fellow must have departed early). He pointed under the hedge and asked: "What are those eyeglasses?" I replied, "What eyeglasses?" Where The Trespasser had been the night before there was now a pair of eyeglasses. They looked nice: they had nice, stylish Italian frames. I offered them to the guard, but he demurred.

Joe the Plumber showed up. As he came into the yard he said: "Hey, I found these eyeglasses in the driveway! Do they belong to what's-her-name?" I told Joe the story, and he said: "That bastard! Let's break them!" But I told him not to do so, and so they remain still, on the ground next to the driveway, under the hedge, in the event The Trespasser wants them back.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Ned Roscoe Update

Last week, Ned Roscoe's wife updated friends and family on Ned's activities and adjustment to life on the inside:
On June 12 Ned moved from the Detention Center to the Satellite Prison Camp.

He now is able to take a horticulture class, which allows him to be outside daily, in 5 acres of gardens of fruit and vegetables and flowers, that he says, rival the Buchart Gardens in British Columbia.

He has taken a job as an orderly, cleaning the bathrooms, which by now, I am sure, are sparkling clean and will continue to stay that way if he continues with that job! That was always a special talent of his, even at home.

He is able to take out books from the Chemeketa (Sheridan) Public Library, with approval of his choices, of course.

Inside the facility, there are over 600 books available, including some DVDs from the Great Courses catalog. He is currently beginning the Calculus course.

If you have never listened to any of these college level courses, they are well worth looking into (and currently on sale at

He is also exercising daily, and goes to worship services on Sundays.

All in all, he is adjusting very well to his new environment and appreciates the letters he has been receiving.

The visiting form that I sent out in the last update should actually go to a different address than to the one I indicated.

Please let me know if you plan to visit and I will get you the address.

Thank you for all of your good wishes and love and support. We appreciate it more than you know.