Rumblings of a middle aged mad man

A lifetime ago I sold college class rings at various Universities and community colleges throughout Northern California. In 1991, a woman at Santa Clara gave me a term that I’ve never forgotten; male madness. She was getting a degree at Santa Clara because the father of her children caught male madness after 21 years of marriage. She was in her late forties and so was he.
So am I. I’m not leaving my wife, but I’m not sure I’m not suffering from the beginning stages of male madness. My father did. He didn’t leave me, my brothers and my mother either. I know he wasn’t sure who he was or who was going to be. He had been an advertising executive and a pharmaceutical sales rep. He quit that and was unemployed for two painful years. He did macramé. He spent time with his sons. He became a truck driver. He made up for lost time by sitting behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler, rolling up and down the pacific coast for 18 hours a day (I know his driver’s log didn’t say that, but I was with him. I know). He was traveling without arriving.
I lost a job I loved, 3 years ago. It wasn’t a good, clean break. It was a death by a thousand cuts. Clueless management administered everyone one of those cuts. One day, a woman who I wouldn’t interview because her resume was so bad, was hired to replace me. 13 years were flushed down the drain because a young lady with full lips and a seductive canter slid into the office and captured the imagination of the small, incompetent president. The boss I loathed, agreed with me; this woman was trouble and she wasn’t going to lead my team in any productive direction. He was fired, too.
Since then, I have had 2 successful years selling hi-tech products for a HUGE silicon valley legend. They’re abusive. They cut my pay, made me hourly and threatened me if I asked for overtime time for the hours I actually work. They provided no extra money or recognition when I smashed my first year’s quote by 24%. They matched their anemic level of love when I squeaked by last year’s bloated quota by 8%. I’m not finding happiness at work.
Home is all good. Our son is getting better grades and growing into a young man I’d like know (even if I wasn’t his father). My wife and I are fine. We respect each other’s work and each other’s contribution to our home. After 25 years, that’s not small.
A few months ago, I “enjoyed” a chilling epiphany. This is it. There is nothing after this. This life is everything we get. We’re animals, like cattle, horses, apes, dogs and cats. We’re biological creatures who learned how to be social. We developed intellects that understand that we will die. We form strong bonds; some emotional, some sexual, some superficial. We learn how to be liked. We decided if we want to go through the trouble and responsibility to be liked. We live with our fellow humans. We hope for a life everlasting.
There is none. That was a story developed a long time ago for reasons that are as dead as their creator. Our last breath ends our being. There is no overcrowded hereafter brimming with generations past. There is no selection process for eternal happiness that is understood by a supreme being and his designates. We’re like the Llama who wanders into the brush and bravely tastes its last sip of air on this world. They’re not afraid. We are.
So, that’s where I am. If that isn’t existential angst, I don’t know what is. I already have a sports car. It got me into a ton of trouble (that I didn’t deserve) in June of ’10. So I can’t become that cliché.
That is why I disappeared. Perhaps I’m back. Who knows?
I’m simply trying to figure it all out. Perhaps that’ll make a good, less selfindulgent post.

American idiots

Like you, I worked in the title industry and I had a front row seat to the disaster. I felt the excitement of the surging market. My numbers looked good, your numbers looked good. We all worked hard. We made some money. The future looked limitless.
We all knew real estate agents and mortgage agents who made boat loads of money (title company owners and executives, too). They found buyers and sellers and money for transactions. That was their jobs and the made some money.
From my front row, around 2001, I noticed something was a little weird. The financial markets were being battered by the collapsing tech sector. Remember that? Money flowed into tech. Start ups had no idea how to make money, they provided services that consumers wanted so the money would follow. Their ideas were perceived valuable beyond their value. Hardware and software companies sold goods and services to those start ups. The start ups weren’t credit worthy, but they were extended credit. At some point, the bills came due and the start ups couldn’t pay. They defaulted. The companies who extended them credit never got their money back. They defaulted, too. Soon the new economy was the newest failed economy. The money that flowed to tech hadn’t evaporated, but where’d it go? Real Estate.
Around 2001, we moved from one bubble to another. Just like tech, homes were perceived as valuable beyond their value. Banks would lend without end, therefore homes were valuable beyond their value. A home is worth whatever a lender will finance (that’s still true today). Because of the valuable collateral, investors were lined up to buy bonds secured with real estate (especially since the rest of the economy was flat circa 2003-2004.). Investment products were created around the rising real estate market. We all know the rest of the story. Many made some money, a few made a killing. We’re all paying for it. At the bottom of the pyramid were consumer financial products. Mortgages.
I’m not a fan of Frank-Dodd reforms passed by the 111th congress. They don’t go far enough and it codified the rights of financial institutions to bugger the hell out of us until its provisions took effect. The one part I thought was long over due, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. We would have a seat at the table, as financial product consumers. If you have a bank account, a credit card, a car loan, student loans, investment accounts, a MORTGAGE, you’re a financial product consumer. There is no agency that represents your interests. According to cynical proponents of the status quo, the “market” does that for you, . The market failed to prevent two bubbles the second of which may have killed our economic health. Sorry, the market is broken because it’s fixed and it is fixed against most of us. The president appointed Elizabeth Warren to head this commission. It will be part of the federal reserve and it will operate under the fed’s budget (that mean congress can’t mess with it).http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/Pages/cfpb.aspx
For some reason, the GOP doesn’t want us to have a seat at the table. Please listen to the contempt shown Ms. Warren by Patrick McHenry.

Dating back 10 years ago, Warren detailed how the credit card industry manipulates your charges and payments to generate fees. She is a professor at Harvard Law School. He is plain spoken and she is smart. Her mind relates complex financial industry regulation, practices and profits to how the industry works with the consumer. She is the perfect choice for this position.
While we’re waiting to hear of Wine Dog’s tales of velo jackassery and two wheeled hijinks, please think about why we’re not represented. Think about the ugly confrontation between a lying congressman and Ms. Warren, as it was shown in the video clip. Think about how this WHOLE mess could’ve been prevented if a consumer product regulator understood the damage that could be done to consumers and the nation’s economy because of no doc, $0 down, neg-am, teaser rate front loaded mortgages. What if.
Then write a nasty gram to your representative, house leadership and senate leadership. The game playing has got to stop!
This weekend is the Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners’ Festival. I’m sampling some of my neighbor’s juice and I’ll report back by Monday. If you’re interested, here’s a link http://www.scmwa.com/wsdevent/eventview/action/view/?WSDSESSID=4f5e1cf2093898ee62ed631ad61ea08e&/1/frmArticleID/16

Tsunami town USA, The King’s Speech

Sometimes living in a small coastal town lets you take life at your own pace. The bay regulates the temperature, never too hot and rarely too cold. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. Whales migrate off shore, in their turn; humpbacks, gray whales, orcas and blue whales all linger over the nutrient rich up swells from the submarine Monterey Canyon. The dolphins and the surfers play, in the same surf, all year long. At one point we enjoyed calling ourselves Surf City, USA. Seems that Huntington Beach made a claim on that name. So as of March 11, 2011, we should be Tsunami City, USA (take that Crescent City!).
That being said, I finally went to see the King’s Speech. Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter are always worth watching. The film was 2010’s best picture! What could go wrong?
The film could’ve been an Adam Sandler flick. It should have been called, “We’re terribly sorry for making and distributing The Queen. See, the Royals are just normal folk, not stuffy turds”.
Please consider; Bertie’s (Firth) biggest fear is his stammer (and what it represents). Yet, he’s about to ask another generations of Britan’s boys to fight and die in a war. Lionel (Rush) earned his degree is speech therapy at the UHK (university of hard knocks). He rehabbed damaged Aussie boys after the Great War. He found their fear and got them past it. This dichotomy was never explored.
Lionel’s methods were great. Listen to music, not your voice. Do you stammer when you talk to yourself? Bertie was a fearful lion. I get all that. However, there wasn’t an unlikable character in the lot (Perhaps David and Mrs. Simpson were loathsome character sketches).
In our time we’ve seen the linguistically challenged call us to war. We’ve known the irony of those who work cleaning the messes made by those who don’t. We’ve seen mixed words representing unclear thinking. Why then, was the tension between the two major characters never addressed. Because it’s like a Adam Sandler flick.
Our own King’s speech.

All the noise, noise, noISE, NOISE

I was looking for advanced quiet. I wanted to escape the frenzied, masturbatory noise of election season. I had just turned 47 and the Giants were on the cusp of a world series. I decided to take a drive up to Healdsburg (no speeding alleged or actual took place during this day trip).
Lack of disclosure time; No one gives me nothin’! I don’t identify myself as anyone but a vino dilettant. I haven’t been asked to give a qualified accounting and you should probably disregard anything that follows.
I’m happy to report the state of the grape is good. The juice in bottle and juice in the fermenting tanks were all anyone wanted to talk about; that was like a prescription. Fruit in the tank: the 2010 growing season was weirder than the political season. We had a long cool summer and few scares. You’d think that’s good. When I asked the growers in Dry Creek and Russian River how the harvest went, they got all perplexed. They talked about some cluster shatter and they talked about rapid sugar spikes. They talked about the threat of mold and they talked about the threat of dilution (due to the grapes soaking up the rain water). They talked about low, difficult harvest yields. I heard from two different growers that stems had shut down prior to full veraison (veraison is the process where the grapes mature and develop sugar). The stem works like an umbilical cord; it delivers water and energy to the maturing grapes. If the stem shuts down, the grapes start to decay.
Why did I say the state of the grape is good then? Because no one knows what this harvest will be like. No one can remember a growing season like this one. I hope the complexity of the season will be evidenced by the complexity of the resulting wine.
In the bottle; We stopped by Thomas George, Arista, Lambert Bridge, Quivera, Preston of Dry Creek, Ferrari-Carano/ Lazy Creek and Longboard.
Pinot was uneven. The fruit at Thomas George was intense. Great berry, anise, flint all stacked on awesome acid. Arista had some elegant Pinot, too. However, they had a berry bomb of a Zin and a perfectly dry Gewürztraminer. I LOVE dry Gewertz ala Alsace. This one has 0% residual sugar. It blooms as it warms with aromas of lychee, honeysuckle, peach and spice. They made it with the help of Rod Berglund of Jospeh Swan. Rod was the first winemaker that I’m aware of who has successfully taken Gewertz to 0% residual. The fruit was from Anderson Valley, near Booneville. It was a treat (for a real treat, go into Booneville and Philo. Taste the Gewertzs Navarro, Toulouse, Breggo and Handley produce. They’re spectacular).
Lambert Bridge has followed a trend into being a small, expensive producer. They try to sell all of their wines through the tasting room, exclusively. They specialize in Bordeaux blends. Their Sauvignon Blanc wasn’t too hot. It lacked acid and the gooseberry fruit and pungent cat pissyness that I enjoy in SB. They had elegant Cabs, Merlots and Meritage blends. They were aged beautifully. They were soft and complex. They were expensive! They have a 2 year old St. Bernard who looks like a bear skin rug, with a pulse.
Quivera was the stop of the day. They changed ownership a couple of years ago. The new owners have changed wine making staff and I’m here to tell you this is Change you can believe in! They produce Mourvedre, Grenache, Sauv Blan, and many other varietals. The staff was great. The wines are lovely and priced well.
Preston’s LP is gorgeous. It is velvety and full of mature berry. It is a Rhone blend so it features Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvedre, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne and maybe some Grenache. Matt, the wine maker did a great job of blending the 08 vintage. Their Zin was great example of Dry Creek zin, too. Not too ripe, great acid and luscious fruit. If you’re up there on a Sunday, they have a 3L jug. Lou pours it out of the barrel and into the jug, while he chats you up (at least as much as Lou chats). The 09 is a very nice mix of red wine. That’s it. You can taste some of the elements of the LP plus a big helping of the zin. It’s $30, so it’s a great value, too (that’s the equivalent of 4 750ml bottles).
Longboard had the best Merlot. Their 08 Dakine Merlot is spectacular. Forget Sideways. This Merlot is worth tasting. It’s soft with good acid and abundance of dark berry.
The drive back over the Golden Gate was highlighted by the Orange erection propped up in the middle of the city. Coit Tower was lit orange in support of the Giants. We went to the base of the tower and snapped some pictures. Even under threatening skies, this was the perfect day to get away close to home.

And I dreamed your dream for you and now your dream is real

We’re in the heat of a mid-term election. Politics and government and their roles in our daily life won’t leave the front part of my mind. I promise to move away from politics, but I have to get some of this out.

In sales work, a primary function is to learn what the decisions makers want from the product/process/deliverable you think will help them. There are many roles, in a complex sale. Each role represents its group. One has to assume each group will acquiesce to the whole’s greater good. There is research that indicates this isn’t so. Ultimately, a skilled sales person will figure out who can say yes and focus on them. But until you can figure that out, you have to consider group dynamics. The American electorate is a whole body with many groups and many interests. Here is how I apply some basic complex sales technique to looking at American politics.
Now is the time to ditch the Republicans and the Democrats. I think this exercise will illustrate why it’s so important we ditch the parties together.
Picture several groups are gathered in a room. Each group has a vote to agree or disagree. What we are agreeing to isn’t important; rather our intent to agree or cooperate or disagree and withhold our cooperation is what we’re determining. In this exercise, If every group decides to cooperate, each group gets a point. If you’re the only group to say you won’t cooperate, you get 5 points. If you’re part of the groups that cooperates when a single group decides not to cooperate, you’re penalized 3 points. If you’re the only group to cooperate and all other decline, you’re penalized 1 point. If your part of the uncooperative groups, you’re penalized 2 point (I’m not certain of the point system, because it’s not that important.). The idea is gain as many points as possible. The only way to be certain to gain points is to cooperate with all the groups (assuming they’re all cooperating with each other). Everyone must trust the other will do what’s necessary to advance the larger group.
The group theory goes; if all groups cooperate, they all prosper a little. If one group withholds cooperation, they’re at an advantage and they’ll do better. The other must give up something, so they’ll do worse.
Here’s the thing, once a group withholds cooperation, the game’s over. Each group will look for their own advantage. They’ll stick it to the other groups, given the chance. It becomes a game of unknowable risk and undefined reward.
Consider voting as a real life example of the model. Our current climate is hostile to the incumbent. Yet most incumbents will be re-elected. In our real life example, we’re terrified if we cooperate and vote our congresscitter out of office, and others don’t, we are at a disadvantage. The implicit agreement becomes; we’ll do it if you do it. Except, we are all afraid the other side won’t do it. They won’t vote they’re side out, even though the status quo is failing and needs to be replaced. in our game model, we all lose. There is no acquiescence to what the larger set of groups need to succeed.
Here’s the bottom line; the two parties don’t care about your vote. They care about benefactors’ money. Once they have the money, they’ll run the ads to scare you to their side. Some of the benefactors have offices and jobs in your area. If your congresscritter is re-elected, they get to help the benefactors in your area more.
We’re afraid that if we give up our privilege, other groups won’t give up theirs. We’ll be at a disadvantage. Therefore the only way to vote is for the status quo. In our case, that is the Democrats and the Republicans. If we don’t return our party to government, the other side will enjoy an advantage.
That is a false dichotomy. If we all vote for the bad parties, we will never have the change we want. If return the bad parties we’ll have more of the same (and presumably we don’t want that).
It’s time to take a chance that our neighbors will do the right thing. Vote for a person who isn’t a Republican or Democrat. Talk to your neighbors and your colleagues and your friends and your relatives. Convince them the time for change is now. The only waste of a vote is voting for a Republican or a Democrat. They have delivered us here and it isn’t by accident. They’re served by the current anger. Are you?
That’s the first step. Once we have an independent voice, in government, we have to make elections publicly funded. That will eliminate money from the process. Those you elect can’t be from the two governing parties and they have to support public elections.
It is that simple. We just have to do it.

The Place has Character

In my last post, I was able to introduce you to Oded Shakked of Longboard Vineyards. There are many characters who make the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley appellations great. Rod Bergland of Joseph Swan is a francophile wine nerd who is a warm patient teacher. Ask Rod about where a wine is, (in its maturation) or about high alcohol wines or how dry is a dry Gewurztraminer and you’re going to get a lesson that you never saw coming. Rod is married to Lynn. Lynn is Jospeh Swan’s daughter. If you seen Rod and Lynn you’d assume they’re a couple of hippies hangin’ in the wine country. Great folks.
Lou Preston and his wife Susan own Preston of Dry Creek. Lou loves natural processes. He bakes bread (without yeast; wheat and yeast makes beer not bread, according to Lou). He cures his own olives and makes wonderfully pungent olive oil. Lou used to make 20 different varietals and his production must have been around 80K cases. Within the past 10 years he decided to go smaller. He decided to return the land to the way he found it. He found it supporting pigs and cattle and goats and wheat and olives and grapes. He felt the land was in balance when he bought it (and the surrounding farms were owned by generations old Italian families who welcomed him and taught him, sometimes implicitly, how to farm in balance.). Two years ago, when Lou slaughtered his first pig, he wanted to smoke ham, bacon and sausages they made from the pig. Their smoker was much too small. One of the guys, a man from El Salvador (I think) who worked in the vineyard, had the solution. They repurposed an old, wooden outhouse. They cleaned it out and mounted it over a hole stuffed with a stove pipe (pointing up through the crapper). The upturned pipe led to a pit filled with wood that was slowly burning. The smoke flowed without the heat. Beautiful natural process. Lou knows growing nothing but grapes is unbalanced. He did something about it. He grows grapes, olives, wheat, livestock, veggies and roses organically and sustainably. When you talk to him you don’t get a warm feeling. He’s curt, but he’s genuine.
Nicolai at Woodenhead is warm and gracious. Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards works his ass off. He harvests grapes in New Zealand, when it gets too dull down on the ranch. Ed Sbragia is regal. He earned his status after crafting some great Cabs at Beringer.
Seghesio Famly Winery is one of my favorites. Rachel Ann Seghesio died last week. She was married to the founder’s son, Pete. Her son, Pete, runs the winery with his cousin, Ted. Rachel Ann was the daughter of a grape grower (Passalaqua). Many of the Italian winemakers had come over to work the Italian Swiss Colony. The colony had a program where the immigrant workers could live cheap and either send the money home or save it. Mr Seghesio saved. He hoped to bring his love, who was still in Italy, to America. By the time he had saved enough the managers at Italian Swiss Colony (yes, the same winery Matthew Perry’s father used to advertise for) convinced him that his one true love has probably given up hope and married someone else. He was convinced to court Angela, a local Italian woman. Angela became Rachel Ann’s mother-in-law. Rachel Ann lived the post prohibition history of wine. If you tasted at Seghesio’s family table, Rachel Ann would come in with samples of her mother-in-law, Angela Seghesio’s, lace work and many family pictures. She would walk you through 60 years of the Dry Creek wine business. Rachel Ann was at all the winery events and she’d greet you by name. She remembered where you were from and she’d ask about the weather or the beach or a favorite dining spot. She was from my parents generation and she loved her parents generation. She loved her grandsons hanging on her hem, too. She is what the mega winery conglomerates (read Foley wine) can never become; a human face in front of a human business. The Seghesios have neighbors; the Raffanelis, the Rochiollis, the Parduccis, the Pedroncellis, the Teldeshis and I’m sure there are others who I’ve forgotten. Rachel Ann will be missed although the tradition of family owned and operated wineries lives in Sonoma County (not so much at Chalk Hill Winery, or Sebastiani winery, however). A little more on Rachel Ann can be found at;
http://www.seghesio.com/
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20101002/ARTICLES/101009872/1033

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Oded Shakked is the founder of Longboard Vineyards. Initially, he made some Syrah and Cabernet from vineyards he lived on (next to Rochioli), along side Westside Rd., in the Russian River Valley. He started Longboard when he was the winemaker at J vineyards. He made their delicious sparklers, great Pinot Blanc (one of the best food wines I’ve ever tasted), and a Pinotage that is better than any I’ve tasted from South Africa. He vinted the Piper Sonoma sparkler for Piper, too. Oded and some partners left J to take Longboard to the public.
I met Oded at Vintner’s Holiday at the Ahwahnee Lodge, in Dec. 2002. The Vintner’s Holiday features 4 winemakers who offer a lecture on a specific wine making subject. They use their wines to illustrate whatever point they’re making. Each segment goes 2 days. At the conclusion of the 2nd day, The Ahwanhee holds a wine makers’ dinner for all four wine makers featuring their wines. It’s a great event, and it’s fairly affordable, too (considering lodging at the Ahwanhee). He was the winemaker at J.
Oded is a confident, dynamic man who is passionate about wine and even more passionate about life. He surfed his way into the wine business. He learned surfing in his native Israel (Tel Aviv is a surfing hot spot). He surfed his way to France, where he learned wine making. It’s no accident he is in Sonoma County. He loves to surf Bodega Bay (and anywhere else with surf.) and he loves great wine. Oded writes an occasional blog. His current posting is pretty good. He addresses marketing v wine making. He touches sulfer, biodynamics, organic and more. Cut and pasted this url, into your browser to find his blog; http://longboardvineyards.com/blog/

Buy fresh, buy local is near and dear to Oded’s heart, too. We all like a good deal. We like the cheap foreign wines we can find at Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus World Market. Oded’s take is worth reading (also in one of his blog entries). Those wines aren’t local. We don’t know the winemakers. We don’t know how they treat the folks in their cellars or vineyards. We don’t know how they grow their grapes. We only know that their wine is cheap (and some are darned tasty). Fresh and Local are better, but it can be more expensive.
We know fresh and local fruits and veggies are best. We know, too, that Safeway and Lucky aren’t great places to find fresh and local, but your local grocer or growers’ market have great fresh and local produce.
Produce isn’t the only thing that is better fresh and local. Government is better fresh and local, too. The Republican party and the Democratic party are versions of Safeway and Lucky. They had their place, but when it comes to the food that sustains us, they’re not good for us. We should be voting for fresh and local candidates just like we shop for fresh and local produce.
Disclaimer time; my brother is running for congress. He wants to represent California’s 4th Congressional District (the Sierras from Oregon to Placerville). He isn’t running on a Republican or Democratic ticket.
In the 4th, the Democrats and the Republicans are running candidates who aren’t from Northern California. The Republican represented Thousand Oaks for 22 years, in the California Legislature. The Republican party asked him to run for the seat 2 years ago, when the incumbent became tainted. He’s there to represent the Republican party, in Congress. The Democrat failed at getting elected to Congress when he lived in Florida. He has come to California to run. Both will represent their party, in Congress. Neither has a long term interest in the 4th. Neither are fresh or local.
The parties raise money for campaigns. It is what they do. Campaigns have become very expensive. Their costs have exploded like health care costs and higher education costs. The parties are complicit in the inflation. The more they spend, the more it costs. Once a person is elected, from one of the parties, they sit with that party’s caucus and they get their committee assignments from that party’s leadership. They are plugged into networks of lobbyists and interests and fundraisers through the party leadership. If they play well with the party, they get the money they need to win elections. Did you notice who’s left out of that description? You. The party’s interests are considered, but not yours. Money is necessary to win. Parties are necessary to get money. You’ve been trained to vote for one of the parties (ergo your vote is taken for granted).
Parties also come up with talking points. The talking points often scare us into one party’s camp by describing the other party as evil. Next time one of the party leaders speak, think to yourself, “who are they chasing me from and where are they chasing me to”. I think you’ll see my point. Both parties do it.
In November, will you vote for the Safeway candidate or the Lucky candidate? Please join me in voting for someone you know. Vote for a dentist or a shop keeper or a real estate agent/broker or a teacher who you respect. You’ll be voting for an Assembly seat and a Congressional seat. Find someone you know and respect and write them in. I know we’ve been taught that is “wasting” your vote. Neither party has earned your vote, have they? Giving it to them confirms the value they’ve assigned your vote; assumed and valueless. Withholding your vote and endorsing a person you trust and respect, dignifies your choice. In the next election, find a true grass roots candidate you can support and try to convince a few friends to buy fresh and buy local, too.
Government and wine are part science and part Alchemy. When done well, the product is greater than the sum of its parts. When done poorly, it’s vinegar. Know your winemaker. Know your elected representatives. Buy fresh, buy local.

It wasn’t me (you clocked goin’ 114 MPH!)

“Got a lump on my head and a boot print on my chest.
What the guys in here call the Tillamook county lie detector test.
Well I did my best,
but as a you mighta guessed
it’s a tough test not to fail.
I’m sittin’ here waitin’ in the Tillamook County Jail.”
Todd Snider, Tilimook County Jail

A few months ago, our beloved Wine Dog talked about being set up and railroaded. Her story was so inspiring, I set out to follow her lead.
On 6/28 I was dressed in my best Orange and Black to match my son. The Dodgers were in town and we were going to boo them into submission (or fail to do so). It was a long game and the ghost of Steve Garvey and Walter Alston were too strong. The Giants came in 2nd. Damn Dodgers!
We took Interstate 280 South to get home. Traffic was moving very fast through Daly City, so I took the teaching opportunity and slowed to 70 mph and moved into the #3 lane (my son is 16 and studying for his learner’s permit). I stayed there until some jackhole jumped on my bumper. He was really going fast, too; asshole! Then the inbred through on his red lights. I just passed the Sand Hill Road off ramp. I pulled to the right and the jerk started yelling in his horn, “exit Alpine rd and park under the light!”. I did.
He yelled at me to tell him how fast I was going. When I said, 71/72, he stopped me and said I had one more chance to tell him the truth. I said I hit 80, in Daly City but slowed down after I moved right. He said he clocked me at 114 mph in the #4 lane, back at Edgewood Rd/Canada rd on-ramp. I was gong so fast it took him that long to catch me. LIAR!
I tried to convince Officer Fife that he was mistaken. I never drive in the number 4 land and I’ve never driven 114 mph! He cited me anyway. 114 mph is a major big deal of ticket. Its a mandatory court appearance. I was lucky they didn’t arrest me and impound my car. This asshole was causing me some major grief and this was just the beginning.
Today I had my day in court. I brought my 16 year old son, who was with me in the car and who saw everything. He had to watch 2 officers lie. They lied in their report and they lied when I questioned them. They said I was doing 88 mph, when they finally caught me. They said my car (Honda S2000) has a distinct and unique sound to its exhaust. When I asked how could they hear the exhaust with my 4 cylinder engine allegedly screaming at 114 mph, they had no answer. They lied with they said they confirmed the sound of the exhaust when I came to a stop (I stopped the engine before them came out of their car). The fat Sr. officer (Officer Bilbrady was training), lied when he said he confirmed the car they clocked was the car they pulled over. The told the truth when they said they lost eye contact with the speeding car at Woodside Rd (that’s where I would have exited if I’d been going 114 mph and the dumbass cops weren’t on my butt yet). The judge took note. I said, the speeding car must have gotten off there, but it didn’t pass me and I never went north of 72 mph (after Daly City).
The judge asked them 3 time if they’d consider amending the citation to a simple speeding infraction. They refused. The judge then decided I was guilty (of speeding in excess of 100 mph).
I’m being fined nearly $800 and getting two points against my record and I’m, grounded. That’s right, a restricted license for 30 days means I’m grounded (I’m home officed, so the to and from work allowance really means I am free to walk or ride a bike anywhere I need to go.). I haven’t had a moving violation or accident for 17 years! Higher insurance rates are in my future. I’m fairly certain the keystone cops did clock someone going that fast, but it certainly wasn’t me.
I can’t believe my tax dollars pay these low achievers! My son saw a judge without balls and he saw Officer Ponch and his side kick lie under oath. Not a proud day.
time to move on!

Take it away, Todd!

Takin’ what they’re givin’

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to loose but your chains.
We Americans are an ironic lot. The “greatest generation” were laborers. They were laborers who formed the first middle class, in history, who bought their own homes and sent their children to college. They were laborers who paid union dues, went to work and made things and after a lifetime of service they retired with a pension. They were paid well enough to buy the things others, of the greatest generation, made. America prospered. While America prospered with a growing, working middle class, there were some crazies who thought the communists were hiding under the bed and around the corner. Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy, insisted he had a list of communists who had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. Rep Richard Nixon and Rep John F Kennedy made their names on the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC). The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China were our enemy. It would seem this is an ideological fight except for our anti-labor history.
From the coal mines of Colorado to the Pullman car plants in Illinois to the auto plants in Michigan to the docks of San Francisco, we have a history of mobilizing police and military to crush and kill organized workers. While the rest of the world celebrates May 1 as the day of the worker, we moved the holiday to the end of summer. Why does the country who built the greatest working class in the history of mankind fear labor?
I don’t know. I know it sucks that labor is viewed as a necessary obstacle between capital and their profits. If capital could produce the same amount with fewer workers their profits increase. If capital could fire just a few more of us, they’d earn even bigger profits. In 2009, CEO’s who fired the most were paid the best. America is an ironic place.
We are a country of people who need to get back to work. We are nation of crumbling infrastructure. Why can’t available labor be put to work shoring up levees and re-building roads and repairing schools and painting court houses and building rest rooms in public parks? We all benefit when people work. We benefit from infrastructure improvement. We have the workers and we have a need so why?
I live across the street from a cemetery. Every July 4th, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day a local civic organization decorates the cemetery with big, bright American flags hung on tall flag poles. There must be at 500 flags waving in the breeze. Waking up and seeing the flags is emotional. You are reminded of all the people who sacrificed building and protecting our country. Please re-read the list of holidays. Labor Day is missing. Today is Labor Day and there isn’t a single flag flapping in the breeze, across the street. The soldiers who died were laborers (or they wanted grow up to be laborers). Labor did the work that built this country. Why don’t we celebrate Labor. That great socialist, Abraham Lincoln said,
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.”
America is an ironic place, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Happy Labor Day!

The Road Goes on Forever

Today marks the end of an era. A friend of mine, if you met her or if she helped you she’s a friend of yours, too, concluded her service to the title industry. She didn’t choose this date. It was chosen for her by the data company that many of you have worked with. It isn’t part of the Evil Empire nor the bloodless empire. It was independent. She helped grow the company. She helped you and your sales rep grow your book of business, too. We knew this company succeeded because its chief competitors were incompetent. We knew, too, that if a competent competitor came along, we’d be in trouble. Mr. Foley bought a company and grew that competitor. Our company became just one more incompetent competitor to conquer. Our company’s lame management helped the Evil empire every way it could. She watched in horror as the company turned its back on the title industry and it turned its back on her. Today she is on the outside looking in. Another title expat. We welcome her to our very large and distinguished community.

Please excuse the following stream of consciousness. Somewhere between the beauty, they pomp, the injustice and today there had to be something to pull it all together.

This weekend I was in San Diego for a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding in a pretty church in La Jolla. The bride’s parents did a great job planning and throwing a first class ceremony and a first class party. Unfortunately the guests of honor weren’t so good. The bride and groom and their friends, in the wedding party, stood before the assembled friends, family and well wishers. They didn’t mingle (none of them did, including the bride and groom). They kept to themselves as if they were at the kids table at a family gathering. Weddings are a celebration of inclusion; the community of adults welcomes another couple into the community. We celebrate their relationship and their decision to join us and to become productive neighbors and friends. Their mothers and fathers let go of the celebrants as children and welcome them as equals. Somehow these upper middle class, college educated early 30 somethings thought they had accomplished something and they were being celebrated. They deserved a $40K party, in their honor, and they were going to take it. When did that happen? When did the expectation that children become adults instead of adult children change? When did kids think anyone cared when they woke up or how much they drank the night before “OMG, I’m sooooo hung over!”? Watching these kids was like watching the final episode of Seinfeld; after it was done you realized there wasn’t a likable character in the bunch!
They weren’t being celebrated. We, the assembled, were celebrating the continuation of community. We were welcoming them into the community of adults who make commitments, plan for the future and participate in the lives of others.
The church was conservative Catholic. One of the gathered was a nun. She is a well educated hospital administrator. She ran a Catholic hospital in the Phoenix area (I swear, Arizona is challenging Texas as my least favorite state). The hospital had a patient who was 11 weeks pregnant with her 5th child. The pregnancy was killing her, literally. She was experiencing heart failure. One side of her heart had failed. She had 2 days to live, at the most. She was too frail to be moved into the OR much less another hospital. The nun allowed her faith to guide her decision. She allowed the doctors to terminate the pregnancy so her 4 children would have a living mother. The Bishop excommunicated her for allowing an abortion to take place. He said her faith should have told her it was God’s will that this unborn, unviable fetus claim her life and leave his/her sibling without a mother. She knew that God would forgive her sins if she understood them and she asked for forgiveness. The Bishop thought we aren’t supposed to question God’s will (and implicitly he knew what God’s will is). She needed to be punished so he excommunicated her. There were priests, in that diocese, who weren’t excommunicated after molesting children! This woman, should inspire us. She should inspire the bride and the groom, the data company who lost its way, the Burgermeister and the evil empire should take notice, too. Sometimes, in a community of adults, you have to do what’s right. If you know what you’re doing is right, the rest will take care of itself.