You know I’ve always been a dreamer

Once again, as Californians we’re asked to hold our noses and vote.  Our choice is between a bitter, egotistical CEO with apparently unlimited personal funds and Governor Moonbeam.  Whenever I think of the moniker Governor Moonbeam, it reminds me of the Moonman, Greg Minton.  Back in 2004 Greg was a rep for California Gunite.  His buddy was the Regional Manager and couldn’t get good help.  Greg was sitting down in Scottsdale with his brain melting because it was 108 by 10am.  He told me he’d get in 18 holes and end up spending the rest of the day in the house and his mind wasn’t getting any exercise.  When his buddy complained that he couldn’t get good help Greg said “I’ll come up and help you.”  So my pool was remodeled by the Moonman.  Greg got that nickname because instead of buying fast cars and big houses like all the other guys did, he put his money in the bank and drove an F250.  He liked to hunt elk up in Idaho, with a bow.  Greg is my kind of guy.  He zigs while everyone else zags.  And they call him the Moonman.

Governor Moonbeam was Mike Royko’s label.  He gave it to Brown because he appealed to the young idealistic non-traditional voters.  And Jerry zigs while everyone else zags.  Royko actually apologized to Brown in 1990 for hanging that albatross around his neck.  A lot of politicians have musicians play for their fundraisers now.  Jerry dated Linda Ronstadt who was a rock musician back then and she and the Eagles did his fundraisers. Jerry was rock and roll.

Photo from “Just Another Blog (from L.A.)

Meg Whitman has run an ugly, mean spirited campaign.  Do I think she would be any less mean-spirited as Governor?  No.  Do I think she’s out of touch?  Absolutely.

Apparently she thinks that she doesn’t need the vote of the teachers, nurses, Teamsters, firefighters, police, State employees, Operating engineers, carpenters… because as a State employee I’m sure going to vote for the person who wants to attack my pension.

And watch this and tell me that Fox is unbiased.

How about Fox thuggery?  They are not a news station, they are a propaganda station.  The funny thing is that video was posted by a right wingnut. And how about that jackass that says “Atherton is going to have to hire 25 more police officers for this protest”.  Honey, Atherton can afford it.  Whitman can afford it.  The assessed value on her home is $3.193,649.  Think it’s probably worth a hell of lot more?  The whole country saw that and thinks the CNA is wasting taxpayer’s money by having this supposedly illegal protest in front of Whitman’s Atherton mansion.  Two words for you assholes.  Fred Phelps.  (Wonder if the landscaper has his greencard?)

I don’t know that Jerry is going to get it right.  But I know that we’re going to be in a lot worse shape with Whitman.  She doesn’t understand what the average California is going through.  She’s never been there.  She’s worth a gazillion dollars and thrown half of that at this race in order to paint a different picture.  I’m not buying it.  It’s almost as if she’s running for Benevolent Leader, not Governor.

This story has been on my radar for a while.  Since we’re talking unions, in a pissing match between the City of San Jose and the Firefighter’s Union, the union lost.  There’s already been problems with response time due to this layoff.  Should the union given in a little?  Every other union in San Jose did.  But be proud, there’s less taxes to pay now.  You’ll just have to pull you’re own dumb ass out of a burning building.

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.

After 5pm please slip brain through slot

Months ago I planned a cheapo mini vacation.  The kind where I could get lost for a few days, yet not go anywhere.  Leaving this place is expensive.  It’s more expensive with Ike and Little Sister here.  Little Sister really needs a new home.  The local boarding facility is $27 a day for the first Doberman and $23 for everyone after that.  $96 a day.  A 30 minute visit with the dog sitter is $20.  I would need three a day and then they would get 90 minutes of attention each day for $60 and that’s it.  Now I’m going for overnights.  That’s going to be $75 a night to have a professional spend the night with the Hellhoundz.  Twelve hours of attention a day.  But for this cheapo vacation, I didn’t leave so I saved $225 in dog sitting charges.  I volunteered to be a standard bearer with the LPGA while they’re here in Blackhawk.  And yesterday was just like I was a 1000 miles away.

I was assigned to the afternoon shift which got me lesser ranked players.  Only one of our threesome made the cut last night, Silvia Cavalleri, a veteran on the tour, although this year she’s earned like a California Realtor.  Her best year and only career win was in 2007.  She’s from Milan.  Next up was Gloria Park.  I believe she started the day one over and ended up three over.  She had moments of absolute brilliance and moments that would make the average golfer throw her clubs in the water hazard and walk away.  She was really nice and interacted with us a little bit.  We were told to only speak when spoken to, and both me and the scorer did exactly that.  She’s been on the tour since 2000 and has two career wins.  The third player was Alison Walshe.  She’s a rookie this year.  She finished three over and that was heartbreaking to watch.  She stunk up an easy putt, one we’d seen her make several times earlier in the day.  Clearly a mental mistake by a rookie player.  She was fun to watch and I think she will only get better and will be on the tour for some time to come.  She’s made three cuts this year, but didn’t make the cut yesterday.  She’s only 24.  I think she has a long career in front of her.  Her missed cut was mental, she’s young, she’ll get it.  And she was cool.

Housekeeping

I’ve been inundated with user registrations from Russian spammers and bots.  Registration at PBE is now a little more cumbersome but trust me deleting these assholes every day is a lot more cumbersome to me.  Thanks for your understanding.  I may have accidently deleted a real account, I don’t think so but shit happens.  If I did, just re-register and you should be fine.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes

I’ve got a question for y’all.  What makes everybody think that business people can solve government problems?  Arnold found out the hard way that such is not true in California.

Last night there was a Humorous Speech Contest with my Toastmasters group.  This guy got up and said he had the solution to all of California’s problems.  First, he opined, we could not add just one star to the flag.  That’s why Puerto Rico wasn’t a State yet.  To make the flag aesthetically pleasing we needed to add 7 stars.  California should become seven states.  Mojave, Sierra, Santa Santa (essentially the area from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara) I wish I could remember what he called the central valley.  It was some bastardization of San Joaquin, Fresno and a few other city names in the central valley.  Eureka and San Angeles from San Diego to Los Angeles and of course the Real California which was the nine bay area counties.  Some one asked from the audience which California the current candidates would represent if elected, and naturally it would be the Real California since they’re both from here.  He won.  Possibly for his flags for each of the Californias which were hilarious.   Santa Santa had naturally two Santas for their flag.  Eureka had a pot leaf.  Silly stuff like that.

It was a great speech, the guy reminded me of an aging hippie who had to get his act together in order to hold a job.  It just proves that good speakers can come in all shapes and sizes.  And so do Californians.  We are the most diverse State in the country.  Probably a good reason for at least two Californias if not seven.  And we cannot be run like a business.  And really, why would you want to?

Lets take a look at what business has brought us and explore why we would want to bring that to government.  Business has cut our jobs, our pay and our benefits and has caused hundreds of thousands of Californians to lose their homes.  And you want to bring this to government why?  Business is responsible for the high health insurance premiums.  No one else.  It’s a big old freaking shell game with slimy executives taking huge pay and bonuses and squeezing the policyholders for every dime they can pay while towing the line on not paying any benefits.  In the end when the policyholder picks a shell there’s nothing under it.  The insurance company wins.  Why is it ok to fix my car with substandard parts?  Yet business says that’s just fine.  The same business that brought us the Ford Pinto, the rollover Explorer and the runaway Toyotas.  The same business that assesses the risk to allow a substandard product to remain on the market versus the cost of a recall and somehow that’s good for government?  The same business that put melamine in our baby formula and dog food.  The same business that allows lead and lead paint in offshore produced children’s toys…until they get caught.  How does putting business in control of government make sense?  The biggest problem with the mining business is that the regulatory agencies are controled by the mining companies.  And miners die.  Not because mining is inherently dangerous but because mining companies cut corners and risk miner’s lives.  And whistleblowers end up losing everything.  The Supreme Court already said that business was now a person and could control contribute to political campaigns as if they were one of us.  It seems like more of the Republican fox watching the henhouse kind of thinking.

There are companies out there right now who are telling us that they are being responsible.  I don’t believe them.  BP was one of the ones running that sort of campaign.  I think we see what their true colors are.  Chevron is another one.  I don’t believe them.  Then there are companies like Patagonia and Starbucks.  They walk the walk from the top down.  But they are few and far between.

For the most part, the business culture in this country is corrupt.  One of the big problems in this State is that Gray Davis wasn’t smart enough to beat the thieves at Enron.  I was never a Gray Davis fan.  I always thought he was a limp dick politician.  But Enron’s behavior was criminal.  Every single one of those contracts should have been voided.  Yet we want business to run this State because they did such a good job of what?  Hoodwinking Gray Davis?  Who on God’s green earth thinks this is a good idea?

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.

And they snuck right out of the door

Where to start?  This is what happens when I get busy.  Let’s start with the bad and end with the good.

How many times do I have to sound the alarm before somebody figures out there’s a problem?  There is a freaking problem people.  Cops are shooting dogs.  Family dogs.  There has been consistently no repercussion for shooting someone’s family dog.  And a ton of stories about it.    If the cops came into my house or yard, I promise you that one or two or three or even four dogs might be barking at them in a threatening manner.  Did these jackasses ever stop to think that if the family dog is standing them down they probably stood down the bad guys too?  If the dog isn’t covered in blood, there probably isn’t a bad guy in the house.  So why go in and why shoot the family dog?  How about calling the alarm company and asking the homeowner to come home PRIOR to shooting an 11 year old arthritic Lab?  These asshats shot Marley fergodsakes.  When is enough enough?

The family says they don’t blame the Oakland Police for shooting their dog. I do.  And yeah, this story is in the legitimate news, but this link is more fun.  I think OPD is taking out their aggression on innocent animals.   Since when is Bambi a public safety issue?  You don’t have a protocol to deal with deer so you shoot Bambi?  WTF.

Breath in.  Breath out.  Breath in.  Breath out.

I’d been following a tragically starved dog at the Martinez Animal Shelter for almost three weeks.  I’d gone down there and asked to view her and they wouldn’t let me see her.  She was supposed to be off of her hold last Friday.  I called Friday, Saturday and Tuesday to inquire about her status.  She was on a medical hold and I couldn’t see her.  Then I get a call from the rescue coordinator on Wednesday afternoon.  If Doberman rescue wants her I have to pick her up by 5pm the next day.  I run my ass off on Thursday to get everything done and arrive at the shelter at 4pm to pick her up.  And then I go and look at her.  She’s not a Doberman by any stretch of the imagination.  And I know, if I don’t take her she is getting the needle in the morning.  What do you do?  You take the goddamn trainwreck of a dog and figure it out.  Meet Little Sister.

Seriously.  Could you let this little face get the needle?  Me either.  I’m kind of hoping she’s a German Pinscher.  If so, they have room and will take her.  If not, I’ll be stalking Tony LaRussa’s wife in hopes that I can circumvent the system and get ARF to take her.  I named her Little Sister because she’s not a Doberman, she’s a little sister.  And I didn’t have a name.  And I asked my Dad to name her and Sister came right to mind.  That’s what he used to call me.

Dear Concord Police, she’s really cute.  But she’s going to bark at you if you come on premises.  Don’t shoot my dogs.  Thanks.

The Hallocks say they want to know what police didn’t use Taser, mace or pepper spray on the dog instead of going right to the deadly force of a handgun. They say they don’t want to sue the department, but they want the change the department’s policy nobody else has to go through same turmoil their family is dealing with now.

Me too.  Is anyone else listening?