Friday, April 29, 2016

Hell on Earth-Khe Sanh

I was rearranging some books the other night, I ran across an old book called "Vietnam in Their Words" I happened to open it to a section about the Siege of Khe Sanh.

I had a close friend in broadcasting who lived through that nightmare as a Marine Infantry Platoon Leader. The NVA shelled Khe Sanh all day, all night, for months. Over a thousand artillery shells a day. The Marines lived in underground bunkers 15-20 feet in the earth. When you were outside, you could die any second, any day. Lots of Marines died while they in the latrine. Their bunkers were filled with rats, the food sucked, they went months with out a shower, their clothes rotted off them. Literally hell on earth.

My friend got a Dear John letter from his fiancée back in North Carolina during his first month at Khe Sanh. He was always on duty, seldom slept, so he wiped her from his mind.

He decided to buy a new Corvette when he got home. He wrote his dad and set it up. He combed through the Vette specs, designed his own from the ground up and placed his order. It was set up so he could pick it up the day he got home. He would spend a few days with his family and then hit all the beach towns he remembered from college for the rest of his leave. The Vette was red, a convertible. He put a picture of the red Vette over his bed.

He finished his tour with only a small shrapnel wound and bad hearing. He flew from Vietnam to California, changed planes and got home to North Carolina in the early evening of the next day. His dad drove him straight to the dealership to pick up his dream car.

They got to the car store, the car had been sold that afternoon. My friend went into the owner’s office and demanded to know what happened. The dealer said, “I had a chance to sell it without the military discount, a guy needs to make a little money on a car doesn’t he?”

My Marine officer friend lost it, he picked up the dealer’s desk and flipped it over on him, cursed the dealer with every word he’d learned from his Marine DIs. He was arrested, taken to jail in his uniform. His Dad had to bail him out on his first night home.

He went to court the next week and the judge dismissed the case. Never did buy a Corvette or a Chevrolet.

He died of cancer a few years ago.

Why Retail is in Trouble...

I had to make a run to the drugstore the other night for Cakes, she needed saline solution for her contacts.

The drug store is huge, at 8 at night they had three people on duty, one at the pharmacy counter. 2 up front.

Rite Aid stores in Cali have ice cream counters, one of the check out people was busy making cones for a family, the other was doing the check outs.

There were 17 people in line, I counted. 18 if you count me. The store has 5 cash register stations.

The guy in front of me had a 6 pack, a bottle of Southern Comfort and a liter of Sprite. We were wanting in line for maybe ten minutes, he turned to me and said, "Why don't I just open this and we'll have a drink."

The line thinned after about 20 minutes when a guy put about 40-50 bucks of merchandise on the floor and walked out. I thought the woman in line behind me was going to scream, she was so angry, she was muttering to herself the whole time we were in line. Finally she said to the guy in front of me, "Why don't you open that Southern Comfort?" It was insanity. 

I figure for around $400 dollars a week, Rite Aid could stop pissing off their customers. Grocery stores too. The only store I go to that never has this happen is Trader Joe's. A year or so ago I wandered around Macy's for a half hour looking for help. Macy's used to be a great store with plenty of help for their customers.

And another thing, it would be nice if Lowes and Home Depot trained their people so they knew something about what the hell they were selling, or attempting to sell.

Sports Authority just filed for bankruptcy and California based Sports Chalet just closed their doors, ever shop at either one? I have and they both had lousy customer service and untrained employees. Sports Authority had people selling running shoes who didn't know an Adidas from a Nike. Sports Chalet had people selling sleeping bags that didn't know down from synthetic fill.

It's not the employees fault, nobody trains them, nobody encourages them, they get treated like meat sacks.

Sports Authority required employees to be at work 30 minutes before their shift. Guess what, when they showed up they were put to work immediately and they didn't get paid for the time. 5 days of work, 2.5 hours of unpaid labor. Across 460 stores. That's the new standard for retail, that and "on call scheduling". Think of all the free labor Sports Authority used and the idiots still couldn't make it.

Sports Authority was bought by the private equity firm, Leonard Green & Partners in 2006, in ten years they accumulated over a billion dollars in debt. Before the buy out it was a profitable, well run company. Same thing happened to Guitar Center stores when Mitt Romney's company bought them out, same story with radio, print, name the business.

You know why so many MacDonald's suck? They are owned by large investor groups. Those investors could care less if your fries are soggy or the cheese on your double cheeseburger isn't melted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blame the victim, take no responsibility...


Steve Loomis is an asshole!

The head of the Cleveland rank-and-file police union says the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice should use money from a $6 million settlement to educate children about the use of look-alike firearms.

When a 12 year old with a BB gun is killed by cop, it's the kid's family who needs to change things?

"Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.
We look forward to the possibility of working with the Rice family to achieve this common goal."

I guess the Cleveland cop shop can't get their shit together enough on their own, so they want the Rice family to pony up the cash from the settlement to do the training?

The Rice family attorney, Subodh Chandra … said that Loomis' comments “reflect all that is wrong with Cleveland’s police division — Loomis managed to (1) blame the victim, (2) equate the loss of the life of a 12-year-old child with the officers facing scrutiny, and (3) demand money from the victim’s family and counsel. Loomis’s continued posturing shows he and the union still don’t comprehend that the police division needs a cultural change — not hiring incompetents, better training, and greater accountability.”

The Cleveland cop who shot and killed Tamir, a split second after leaping from his car. had been dismissed from a suburban police department for emotional issues before he was hired by the Cleveland PD. He's still a cop and working. He faced rather light discipline and he's alive and Tamir Rice is still dead.

Being a cop can be a tough job and it can be dangerous. (not as dangerous as the cops would like to us to believe it is) A tiny percentage of cops are the cops who cause problems, make stupid decisions and kill kids like young Rice. The Rice family settled with Cleveland for 6 million, they lost their son and the Cleveland Police Department took no responsibility.

Be nice if guys like Steve Loomis looked in the mirror occasionally.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Yes these People really are Assholes

Writer David Akadjian is a very brave guy. He waded in the one of the many cesspools on Reddit and engaged the anti-PC whiners. They are really angry about political correctness. As you scroll through his Reddit adventure is what these people want is the right to be an asshole and never get called out on it.

Akadjian wanted to hear what they had to say about PC. Instead of arguing, he asked, “What is it that you want to say but don’t feel you can?”






Here's another...

You can’t call midgets midgets and you can’t call gays fagots (sic).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Man radio Sucks

I'm an old radio guy, haven't been in the business for 6 years, I don't listen to commercial radio very often, but yesterday, I listened to KOST-FM during our half hour drive to our friend Ann's birthday party.

One of KOST's positioning statements is "Your favorites from the 80's, 90's and today."

Okay, a decade is ten years and we're 16 years into a new century, maybe I'm being picky, but that's, on the surface anyway, kind of a stupid thing to say, isn't it?

I have no idea who produced KOST's ID package, they're terrible and irrelevant, they don't fit the station and they're poorly produced.

Speaking of production, the audio levels of KOST are all over the spectrum. The mic was too loud, some of the music was too low, the commercials were loud and harsh. KOST's audio is just terrible. The high end is shrill, the bottom end is muddy and the midrange is squeezed to death, none of it worked. KOST is hard to listen to, very hard.

We heard a commercial set, with a live intro, into a produced station promo, then 8 commercials another produced promo and then a live liner read over the intro of a song. After the first song of the music set ended, the jock read another liner over the intro to the next song. Once again the audio mix was so garbled, it was hard to understand, something about a ticket give away.

In the middle of the music sweep, guess what popped up after some over produced piece of music from today? "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, a hit in 1967, followed by Madonna's "Lucky Star". It made my teeth ache. The jock then hyped the ticket giveaway again. When he finally revealed the ticket giveaway a few songs later, it was for a concert at the OC Fair, which is months away. Exciting? No it wasn't.

We finally gave up on KOST and switched over to 95.5 KLOS the classic rock station. "Rock you like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions was playing. Once again the audio was so bad about a 1/3rd of the music came out of the speakers. The sound was muddy and shrill at the same time, hard to create an audio mix like that, ask an engineer, they'll say, "it's damn near impossible". Somehow in 2016 radio gets it done.

When I look back on my years in radio, it's not always as good as I remember or I'd like it to be, but Jesus people at least we gave it a try and put some effort into it.

I was relieved when we shut off the radio when we arrived at Ann's party. On the way home we listened to music I've downloaded into the car's infotainment system. It made for a pleasant drive home and the audio was perfect.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Former GOP Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert...what a guy!

From the "Sick, Twisted, Bastards" files...from Lawyers, Guns and Money's :

I’m not sure Dennis Hastert’s supporters are doing him any favors.

Federal prosecutors portray former House Speaker Dennis Hastert as a serial child molester who agreed to pay millions to cover up his shameful secrets — but former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay describes him as a man of “strong faith” and “great integrity.

(The notorious crook says you’re A-OK? You’re free to go.)

"We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few,” DeLay wrote to Hastert’s sentencing judge.

(And such small portions! Or something.)

"He is a good man that loves the Lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through.”

(And after the Lord drove out the moneylenders, he did pocket all of the shekels he could grab, for some of the younger disciples were threatening to tell.)

Apparently Hastert’s one-man crusade against Title IX is also a good thing?

Leo Kocher, the head wrestling coach at the University of Chicago and an associate professor there, wrote that Hastert helped when the U.S. Department of Education created a strong incentive to eliminate intercollegiate athletic opportunities through Title IX.

“He never said no when it came to his being able to help in any way to stem the senseless devastation of non-scholarship sports opportunities,” Kocher wrote, adding Hastert “was driven in this by pure concern for, and loyalty to, the youth — boys and girls — whose development was at stake.”

(Yeah, probably don’t want to mention his concern for the youth.)

And from Mrs. Hastert.

“If one of his students or wrestlers ever needed anything of him, he would be there for them, and he was never happier than when he could watch someone he helped succeed,” Jean Hastert wrote.

(OK, she’s just trying to get him killed.)

FYI, If Hastert has slipped your mind, when he was a high school wrestling coach, he like to “play” with his wrestlers.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson

I've loved music my entire life, my mother had stacks of records and played them all the time. I know lyrics to songs from the 40's and 50's, I know who played sax in which big band. I have eclectic taste. I love opera and classical music, but I mostly love rock and roll.

What I love most about music is great musicians, no matter the genre, which brings me to my point. Prince Rogers Nelson was a great musician.

Prince was a great guitarist, how great? Eric Clapton was asked in an interview, "How does it feel to the greatest guitarist in the world? Clapton's answer, "You'd have to ask Prince." That is one hell of an endorsement.

Great songs have to have hooks, think of the guitar riff that opens "Satisfaction" by the Stones or vocal opening of "Rave on" by Buddy Holly. A song has to grab you, like the opening notes of "Daytripper by the Beatles. Grab you and not let you go. And when it's over you feel the need play it again and again, then you play it some more. Prince knew how write those songs.

Great songs have to have drama and majesty, think about the slow build of the Allman Brothers take on "Stormy Monday" or Jimi's "Little Wing". Prince understood that too.

Great songs have to have great lyrics, Dylan comes to mind, listen the words of "Positively 4th Street" or "Blown in the Wind". Prince checked that box.

Great songs have some party in them, "Stand" by Sly Stone comes to mind, almost anything Motown or great dance classics like "I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor or almost anything by Donna Summer, Beyoncé or Madonna. Once again, Prince got it. Check out Chaka Kahn's "I Feel for You", Prince wrote it.

Great songs have to have sex in them, lots of sex and sensuality. I was a little kid, in the 6th grade, when I heard Gene Vincent's "Lotta Loving", I knew what he was singing about, I knew what Elvis meant when he sang, "One Night with You". Prince knew.

As a tiny, epileptic boy picking out notes on his father's piano in Minneapolis Prince Rogers Nelson must have taken all of this music in and internalized it. 

Prince could do it all, he could write a funky dance song, he could write about relationships, good and bad, as bad and nasty as "Darling Nikki and as sweet and good as "Nothing Compares 2 U". There isn't a guy in the world, who has been in love who doesn't understand what he was saying in "If I was Your Girl Friend" or "When Doves Cry".

Prince could rock his tiny ass off. Listen to his solo on "Let's Go Crazy" or his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame appearance when legendary musicians saluted George Harrison. Prince lit the place on fire.

Has there ever been a Super Bowl half-time show like his performance in a rain storm in Miami?

Prince played 21 straight nights in LA, three venues, the Forum, the Troubadour and the Hard Rock. Every show was outstanding.

My daughters loved Prince, his music pounded out of their bedrooms when they were alone or with their friends. Was I irritated? No I wasn't, because the music was so damn good and I remembered being their age and how important music was to me.

Prince made music for almost 40 years, he aged gracefully and he seldom looked back, he was shy except when he was on stage. He was a kind and gentle man. He stayed in Minneapolis, the city he put on the map musically, he gave back to his community. 

In the 90's Prince did a late night benefit at CITI in Boston. Patrick Lyons, a club and music venue owner for years and years, said after the two hour show, "There's never been anything like that happen here."

Musicians like Prince don't come along very often, we were fortunate to have him for as long as we did.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Hope you're happy Republicans, because here is your standard bearer this November....

Trump today in Indianapolis:

"When our country continues to go forward even when it has massive problems, massive deficits .. our country is being taking advantage of and eventually our country is going to be in such trouble and I'm not going to use because I would never use the word, that our country is going to die. It's going to be a much different place if we don't get smart very, very quickly on trade, on defense.


We have to build our military strong, we have to build it big, strong --- powerful!!  So that we're not messed with. Look at what Putin's doing in Russia with nukes! You look at what Putin is doing in Russia with his military! It's modernized. They're building all over, wherever they feel they need they put! We don't do that! We're getting smaller, smaller, weaker, weaker. WE HAVE TO BUILD UP OUR MILITARY. WE HAVE TO MAKE IT STRONG![ WILD APPLAUSE.]

We're gonna build the wall. [Audience chants "Build that wall! Build that wall!"]

Those are direct quotes, btw. Here are a few more:

"Here's the story folks: our country doesn't win anymore, We don't win on trade, we can't even beat ISIS. Can you imagine if you gave the word to General Douglas MacArthur to knock out ISIS? It would take him three days.

General George Patton who was not a politically correct person so he could probably never be a general as colonel probably couldn't even be a sergeant or a corporal. General George Patton. You say, General? Knock out ISIS. Yes sir! Three days later, "where's ISIS they're gone..."Oh, and "we should have kept the damn oil. "

Then he says we're going to kill oil truck drivers. Then he talked about how much he loves waterboarding, how he's stop Carrier from moving to Mexico.

.....And be sure to make America great again.

That 35% import tax he is talking about? Will if have an effect on his clothing made in Mexico or in China, Malaysia or Viet Nam?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Cakes is from New York

Here's something...From the Washington Post, “New York has plenty of values that Ted Cruz wasn’t counting on”:

With the New York primary just days away and the airwaves filled with presidential candidates talking about New York values, two guys were discussing the subject during a coffee break on Wall Street.

“Hey Steve,” one friend called to another. “What’s a New York value?”

“Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness — and Ted Cruz is a complete a–hole,” said Steve Giannantonio, who works in finance.

“That’s a New York value.”…

“Where is Ted Cruz from anyway?” said Freddy Aponte, 35, a building super from the Bronx.

“I don’t know, Kansas?” said his co-worker Elijah Moses, 30, from Harlem. “Ohio?”

“Some place with 99 people,” said Jeury Jimenez, 19, a baker from Harlem…

Just down the street, two guys in nice-looking suits were standing outside, not far from where the World Trade Center had once been. They looked like Wall Street bankers, but it turned out that one of them was a lawyer who was a part-time actor, and the other was a writer, director and actor, and they were about to film a car commercial, proving the point that another New York value is not making assumptions about people.

“I think he meant to distinguish New York Jewish elite liberals from the rest of the country,” said David Denowitz, 59, the lawyer, referring to Cruz’s jab. “I took it very badly, because I’m a New York Jewish elite liberal. Well, upper-middle class and educated.”

“New York is really a shining example for the rest of the world — we’re Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, and we all ride the same subway, we all sit at the same lunch counter, and no bombs go off because no one feels the need,” he said, pointing out that the obvious exceptions were the work of outsiders

Monday, April 18, 2016

Inconvenient Facts

Fix our problems, why no we wouldn't think of it...

Mississippi (God Damn) ranks at the bottom of all states in the US in almost every category, income, poverty rates, teen pregnancy, if it's a bad thing Mississippi wins the category. What is the state government in Mississippi doing about their state's problems?  Nothing.

Last week, rather than taking a long hard look at why their state is a loser. The legislature passed a law allowing people to bring guns to church, no concealed carry permits, no training, no nothing. In Mississippi you can pack heat for Jesus.

Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in the US...

Kansas has spent millions of dollars to root out voter fraud. They found 3 cases, two of the fraudulent voters were a husband and a wife, who had a home in Kansas and another in Colorado, they mistakenly believed they could vote in local elections in both states.

The 'crusade" against voter fraud is really a crusade to keep the "wrong" people from voting. Wisconsin actually slowed down their vote processing machines in Madison, the most liberal city in the state, making the lines even longer.

Republican controlled states have cut the number of polling places. They've also made it even more difficult to register to vote. Maricopa County AZ, slashed the number of polling places for their primary citing budgetary reasons. Maricopa County is a blue spot in a red state. Funny the red counties had the same number of polling places as they've always had.

In Texas a University picture ID doesn't qualify you to vote, but a Texas gun permit without a picture does.


Our election campaigns are far too long. Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for president 11 months before the first primary. 

Voting is a pain in the ass in the US, it's hard to register and for a lot of people it's hard to get time off to vote on a Tuesday.

Why not automatically register everyone to vote when they turn 18?

In California, when you get a driver's license, you check a box to register to vote and yes, even though we issue driver's licenses to non-citizens, they don't get to register to vote.

Why don't we vote on Sunday?


Les Moonvies, the Chairman of Viacom made less money in 2015 than he did in 2014, he dropped from over 70 million in compensation in just over 67 million.

Uber drivers in Charleston, SC make a $1.70 on a five dollar fare and they buy their own gas and pay for their insurance. Uber is simply a cab company without the overhead.

Investment bankers destroyed the radio business, it took them less than 20 years to do it.

Tesla has 267,000 deposits on their new lower priced car.


By 2020 over 52% of the US population will live within 100 miles of the coast. I'd like the talk about "Coastal Elites" to just stop.

I read a story the other day that those of us who live on the coasts don't understand the "real" Americans because we don't eat at chain restaurants and or watch network television. I see a lot of cars in the parking lot at Olive Garden restaurants and all the other major national chains in California and the LA television stations are doing just fine.

As a coastal elite I don't eat at Olive Garden because the food sucks, same reason I don't eat Pizza Hut pizza or eat at Taco Bell. One the other hand I could eat a double-double animal style from In 'n Out Burger at 6:45 in the morning with no problem.


HBO's "Confirmation", the show about the Clarence Thomas' hearings for the Supreme Court drew a complaint from former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson. Simpson didn't like the way he was portrayed. When it was pointed out to him that the dialogue from the hearings was word for word from the hearing transcripts, he shut up and went away.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Dissertaion on Life from Rusty in Winnipeg

I'm a member of a group, it's a loose group , but still a group of sorts. We're tied together from being or having been North American broadcasters...Rusty Smith posted his story the other day....

WINNIPEG MANITOBA—The best years in the life of Rusty Smith—veteran, husband, and father of five—are never going to happen, the 43-year-old broken man realized Monday.

"Well, I guess that's that," said Smith, sitting in his pickup waiting for the light to change on Talbot, the realization finally smacking him full in the face. "This is it—it's not going to get any better. In fact, it's probably just going to be a gradual but steady decline from here on."

Rusty, who for years had waited for something to bring him satisfaction, then pulled over to the side of the road on Regent and watched cars pass by for an hour and a half. By the time he returned to the split-level ranch home on Horton he purchased at a high mortgage rate in 1999 and has yet to pay off, his wife was angry with him, his favorite TV show was over, and his cold dinner had been given to the family dog.

"I guess I always just figured the really good years were right around the corner," Smith said. "What a pantload. I remember in high school, thinking that as soon as I got a car, the best years were really gonna kick in. I'd be able to go anywhere, get girls, maybe get laid, and people would think I was cool. Then, when I finally got a car, it was such a shitheap, I figured that once I got a better car, then everything would be fine. Well, you know what? I've owned 11 cars in my life, and I thought the same exact thing about each one of the fuckers. Not one in the succession of cars I've bought since I was 16 has ever done anything for me but drag my sorry ass to and from work every goddamn day of my life. That's it."

Shortly after returning home, Rusty, feeling himself inexorably drawn into a vortex of despair, made his way to the upstairs bathroom, where, despite having no need to use the facilities, he sat on the toilet for approximately 20 minutes to avoid all human contact. The last seven of those 20 minutes were spent trying to ignore the pounding and whining of his teenage daughter Robyn, who pleaded with him to unlock the door so she could "get [her] face on."

Rusty eventually relocated to the garage, where he stood next to his workbench and made patterns in the floor dust with his foot. While doing so, he pondered the fact that achieving his goal of getting laid merely resulted in the birth of another human being who wanted to get laid, too.
"I know Robyn thinks that if she gets one of the boys at school interested in her, she'll be popular, and that the best years of her life will begin," Smith said. "Little does she know she's just perpetuating an endless string of DNA replication that isn't going anywhere."
After nearly an hour in the garage, Rusty Smith walked to his driveway and stared at a rake lying on its side on the front lawn.

"After I graduated high school in '90, I joined the Navy. I thought the best years of my life would finally arrive because I'd get out of this boring hellhole of a Province," Smith said. "I now see that the feeling was oddly similar to the one I had in '92, right before I finished my first tour in the Navy, and all I wanted to do was get back to Transcona where things were so much better. Why couldn't I see it at the time?"

Over the course of Rusty's life, each time he reached a milestone, he believed that his best years were about to begin. Among these life events were losing his virginity, getting married, fathering his first through fifth child, having his children move out, buying a better house, and getting his overbite fixed. None of these events, however, made the slightest impact on his overall happiness.

Compounding Smith's misery were depressing thoughts about the many things he has never gotten around to doing, including playing harmonica in a blues-rock band, breaking a 250 score in bowling, traveling to the ancient pyramids of Egypt, and learning to play harmonica in the first place.

"It's like you're thinking, 'The world's my oyster and anything is possible,'" Rusty said. "'As soon as this next immediate obstacle to happiness is cleared, I'll be able to do anything I want.' Then the goals become less and less realistic as you pass 35, and you start to set more modest goals for the best years of your life, like making shift supervisor at the goddamn shipping company where you work. Eventually, even these pathetically scaled-down fantasies prove unworkable, since some asshole named Ron Stanke has seniority at the plant and obviously isn't going anywhere. Suddenly, you're 41, and at long last, you figure out that whatever it is you're hypothetically still waiting for, it's pretty much irrelevant. Then you go to bed and have to work at the shipping company for another nine hours the next day, and that's pretty much that."

"I guess I should stop thinking about life as something that even involves the term 'best years of my life,'" Smith told the rearview mirror of his car while parked behind a local Wendy's, eating a burger, Biggie fries, and Biggie Frosty. "I guess a more appropriate term would be something like 'least intolerable meals at fast-food drive-thrus of my life,' or something along those lines."

Still in relatively good health for a man his age, Rusty Smith then girded himself for the remaining 30 to 40 years before he dies.

I sent Rusty this note,,,

And I thought Americans were the only people who worried about shit like "best years of my life".

If you're ever in SoCal Rusty, stop by, I'll pour you a nice glass of Scotch or make you one of my "Geo Special Martinis" and we can discuss just how fucked up we all are, were and will be.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Practical trigonometry

We have a huge Eucalyptus tree next to our garage. the garage is across the road from the house and because it's so windy today (gusting to 40mph) while watching the big tree sway in the wind I wondered if it would hit the house if it came down. Hmmm.

I remember from taking trig in high school there are multiple ways of accurately calculating the height of a tree, hill or any tall object. Here's one of them:

O=AtanθO=Atan⁡θ where O is the opposite length of a right-angled triangle, and A is the adjacent length. Hence O is the height of the tree, and A is the distance from the tree.

All right then....enough of that.

I called a tree guy I know, here's how a guy who cuts down trees for a living does the calculation.

"Take a square piece of paper or cardboard, and fold it along its diagonal to form a 45 degree angle. Start at the base of the tree and pace away from it, turning occasionally to sight the top of the tree. To sight it, sit down on the ground (to minimize error), hold the paper so one flat side is parallel to the ground and you are looking up along the diagonal edge. Repeat this enough times to find the place where you are able to sight the top of the tree along the 45 degree line of your paper. You are now as far away from the tree as it is tall."

He says he can
estimate the height within 10% every time.

I got a large triangle out of my old sailing navigation kit and went to work in the wind. Here's what I came up with:

The Eucalyptus is 206 feet tall, give or take ten percent.  If it falls towards the house, it will miss the house by around 20 feet but it will take down all the power lines, the cable line, the fence, the gate and a couple of smaller trees. It will block the road for hours until it's cut up.

The only good news is that it would supply around 20 cords of wood or more for our stove.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Making the difficult even more so

I know and have worked with a transgender person. Born a male, she suffered until middle age with the knowledge that she was born with the wrong body.

She made the transition to becoming who she really is in her 40's. She had to do this with the knowledge that her successful business would certainly suffer.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be, how desperate you'd have to be to give up what had been your life for well over 40 years and finally give in to your personal reality and take the difficult steps needed to become who you really are.

If she travels to any of the states who have passed the new "Religious Freedom" laws she can be discriminated against. All of these new laws require, this chubby middle aged woman to use men's rest rooms, because on her birth certificate says she was born a male. The only thing that ever made her a male was being born with external plumbing.

Do the people passing these laws ever consider the damage they do. Do they think that she gets off on using a ladies room so she can catch a glimpse of a woman hiking up her skirt? They seem to think transgenders are perverts, that they made a choice to be who they are. They didn't.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has been bombarded with photos like these:

Hi Governor, I'll be using the bathroom with your wife...

or like this...

Don't mind me Governor when you see me in the men's room touching up my make up.

Transgender Americans go through things that we can't even imagine going through and that's on top of all the BS that everyday life hands us all.

They deserve our support and most of all they deserve our understanding, compassion and empathy. They don't deserve what they are getting from right wing politicians, religious fanatics and their state governments.

It isn't a choice, you idiots. If it was, nobody would do it.

If you'd like to read more, here's Digby on the subject.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I had my annual check up yesterday. Believe it or not, I got to see my Doc early. I did the routine with her nurse, my vitals looked good, got my pneumonia shot booster, then I had a nice chat with the Doc. 

I've never had a woman doctor until Dr Patrice Ferguson. I couldn't be happier. She is the best doctor I've had in years, at least since old Dan in Boston. He is the guy with the office manager named Rose. Rose kicked ass and took names. Rose got over 3 thousand dollars knocked off my bill when I was hospitalized for 5 days with a minor stroke in 99.

I'm a member of Kaiser Permanente, it's a non-profit. My co-pay for the doctor visit was $10.00. No charge for the booster. She sent me to the lab for  a complete set of blood tests. My co-pay, $20.

KP has sophisticated, computerized medical record keeping, when Dr Ferguson sat down in the examining room with me, she had all of my records in front of her, on a computer, at her finger tips. I can log in right now from home and see the same records.

I had my blood test yesterday at 12:30. I ran some errands, when I got home a few hours later there was an email from Kaiser. I logged in and had the results of my blood test, everything except the cholesterol results, I got those last night around 9. No waiting, no calling. Guess what? It's easy to understand too.

I've been a Kaiser member since 2011. I can log in and see the results of every visit, every test. I can pull up a test, let's say for cholesterol, there's a graph I can use to track my levels. I have a health management file too. Later today I'll get a follow up, personal email from Dr. Ferguson.

There are three Kaiser clinics within a 20 minute drive of our house, there's a Kaiser hospital less than 30 minutes away. If I had a problem in Santa Cruz, Fresno or Lake Tahoe I can go to a Kaiser clinic or hospital and get treatment. I can do that anywhere in the 8 states where they operate. If I'm in Boston, I can go to Mass General or any other medical facility, with one phone call Kaiser handles the problem and the billing. I can do that anywhere in the country and Canada. If I travel out of the US, I can get additional coverage from Kaiser for short money for the length of my travel.

Kaiser has pharmacies at every clinic and the Kaiser hospital down the road in Woodland Hills has a 24/7 pharmacy for emergencies.

What does KP cost? $5.00 a month for the Medicare Supplement. Dental and vision add another $20 a month. I'm going to have a corneal transplant in Woodland Hills, my cost $10. The transplant I had in Boston in in 95 cost me $1100 out of pocket. 20% of the total bill. They have plans for as low as $299 a month for younger people.

I have my choice of Doctors in the system. I like Ferguson. One of the reasons I like her is she told me yesterday to quit whining about getting old. She said, "Didn't you take a look around the waiting room? Most of those patients are younger than you are." Then she gave me a pat on the back about keeping my weight down. Then she turned around and kicked my ass for not exercising more and sent me on my way with a smile.

I truly believe this is the way our medical system should work in this country.
I wonder why every insurance plan and doctor/hospital system doesn't operate like Kaiser, oh that's right, how could I forget, KP is a non-profit.

Here's more on Kaiser.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The New Neighbors. (hats off to Vonnegut.)

Kurt Vonnegut died 9 years ago his honor, I'm stealing his style. Apologies to the great man, but this just popped into my head during my 2nd cup of coffee.

The New Neighbors...

They grew up in a city in the Midwest, actually more of a town in the Midwest, a small town in the Midwest. No, it was a small, insignificant town in the Midwest. But they had big dreams.

Don't we all?

One night after a heavy necking session in his car. He dropped her off right on time. He was a good boy and she was a good girl. At the door, under the porch light, she said, "Look at your poor blazer." He looked and noticed it was covered with pink angora fuzz from her sweater.

"Oh well, that's what you get." He said.

After a brief kiss, he got in his car, drove down the block. Parked. Walked back to her house, hid in the bushes for a few minutes and smoked a Marlboro.

Everybody smoked in those days, didn't they?

He climbed up on her front porch. It was easy enough for him, he was quite strong and athletic athletic in those days. Through her window he said, "Look, let's get the hell out of here, go to New York and pursue our art. This town is killing us." The girl agreed with one caveat, "We can't leave until we graduate from high school."

She was a very smart girl!

Two days after graduation, they left. Nobody knew where they went. Rumors were rampant. A certain percentage of people thought she was with child, others thought they ran away to California. The vast majority of people after thinking about them for 30 seconds, shrugged their shoulders and thought about other things. Things like, what was playing that night at the Empire Theater?

Their parents were frantic of course.

They arrived in New York, a town they had never visited, but they had seen it a lot in the movies. He sold his car to a Puerto Rican kid. He wouldn't take a check and gave the Puerto Rican a cash discount. She said, "That guy looks like Natalie Woods boyfriend in "West Side Story". He counted their money and said, "Yeah, he does, a little." She hummed "Maria" as they walked the 237 blocks to Greenwich Village. He missed his car after the first 112 blocks, he didn't say anything but she did. "Gosh, maybe we should have that Jesus guy give us a ride?" He didn't say anything, he couldn't because it was 91 degrees, humid and he was carrying three suitcases, two easels and twenty seven pounds of art supplies. She was carrying her purse and singing "I Feel Pretty".

"West Side Story" made a big impression on kids from the Midwest. New York kids thought it was all bullshit. As one of them later told them, "Sharks and Jets, my ass."

He had a point.

The car money got them a one room apartment over a night club in the Village. It was hard to sleep because the bands played until three in the morning. The apartment had a single bed, she claimed it and he slept on the linoleum floor, the reason? She was committed to not sleeping together until they got married.

It was hard to do their Art because it was so hot in the apartment in the daytime. Not a breath of air. They decided to paint in Washington Square. The first day they painted for 7 hours. Because they had no sleep the night before, they fell asleep on the grass at 5 in the afternoon. When they woke up at 6 thirty their art equipment was gone.

No surprise there.

The third week in New York, she was sitting in a coffee shop weeping. She'd just quit her job at Marco Delacontini Insurance. The reason? Marco couldn't keep his hands to himself. While she was weeping and trying to eat a jelly donut. Lou Reed invited her to a party at Andy Warhol's loft. The party lasted for 4 and half days. The party was filmed for all 4 and half days with the exception of an hour, when Andy had to send out for more film. During the party she was propositioned almost 100 times. She said "no thanks" every time.If you have the patience, you can see her 6 or 7 times during the film. She is on screen for 49 seconds of the 59 hour movie. She is the blonde girl weeping.

An impressive debut.

While she was at Andy's party. He was working in the back kitchen at Abe Lipshitz Village Deli. It was the only job he could get. He missed her, but at least he got to sleep in the bed at night. He guessed she'd left for home. He was so tired from his 18 hours days at Abe's he didn't notice her suitcases were still in the apartment.

He was so tired, he didn't even hear the bands at night.

When she finally came home, she was wearing a new dress, it was made out of an expensive Italian scarf, over it she was wearing an extra large motorcycle jacket. Lou Reed gave her the jacket at Andy's party because he said, "it's too fucking big for me, take it."

Lou was kind of a punk ass, but he was unfailingly generous.

She sat down on the bed next to him, she told him she was going home. "This has been fun, but not quite the picture you painted of life in New York. Here, you take Lou's jacket, my cab will be here any minute." She kissed him on the top of the head and left for home. "Bye, bye."

He was too tired to care.

After a few months, Abe grabbed him by the collar, "Come here you son of a bitch. I need to talk to you." The talk proved to a god send. Abe promoted him to the front counter. At the front counter, he worked alongside Abe's daughter Deborah. Debbie worked and went to school at City College of New York. They got along. One day Debbie said, "Hey, you fucking jerk, why don't you ever ask me out?" He did. They went to see a folk singer that night, some guy who called himself Bob Dylan. He was pretty good.

He lost his virginity that night. He and Debbie had sex everyday for 6 months, sometimes twice a day and one Sunday they had sex 5 times in 18 hours.

It was great.

Abe grabbed him by the collar again one day, it happened right after he sold 7 pounds of sliced brisket to Milly Schwartz, for her Hadassah get together . "Hey Asshole, you poking my daughter, right?" All he could do is admit it. Abe said, "I don't give a shit, just don't knock her up, okay?"

He breathed a sigh of relief. Abbe had a cleaver in his hand.

He did knock Debbie up. They sat down with Abe and his wife Elishiva. "Here's the deal you assholes." Abe said. "We both decided you two should get married. But, you have to convert, you need to be a Jew. Me I don't give a rat's ass, but Deborah's mother here thinks it's a big deal, aint that right?" Elishiva just nodded and wiped her eyes. "I got it all set up with a rabbi, won't take long, a couple of lessons and it's done. The bastard really held me up, so keep that in mind, you two little shits."

"I've got a question Abe."

'What's that?"

"I'm okay with this as long as I don't have to wear a yarmulke."

"No fuckin' problem." Elishiva stopped weeping, wiped her eyes and started making wedding plans.

Abe handed him a cigar and they settled back on the plastic covered furniture, drank some whisky and smoked. They would continue that practice until Abe died of a massive heart attack, 10 years later. Dr. Gottleib at Mount Sinai  said Abe's heart looked like it was stuffed with schmaltz.

No wonder it quit.

Being a modern Jewish couple, they only had one child, the original love child that brought them together forever. Little Rebecca was spoiled rotten and why not? After Abe died, Elishiva moved in with them and spoiled Rebecca even more. He and Debbie worked hard, partied hard and grew the Village Deli together to 6 locations in New York, one in Darien, Connecticut, one in Boston and another in Boca Raton. Debbie's cousin Lance Lipshitz urged them to open an LA location, saying "There's a shitload of hungry Jews out here."

They bought 16 year old Rebecca another new wardrobe, her third that year and flew first class to LA. Lance was right, the market was ripe. They found a spot on Rodeo Drive, rented it and sent Antonio Morales and Morrie Weisman from their Manhattan location out to sent it up and run it. It was an instant success. Lance had been right, after all he was a sharp New York Jew lawyer in LA, why wouldn't he be?

The Dominican Antonio Morales came up with the Village Deli of LA's signature sandwich, a 5 inch high corned beef on rye with raw red onions, sauerkraut and a house brand hot deli mustard made by a Chinese guy named Tu Wong in the Bronx. It was called "The Famous Sandwich that Killed Buppa Abe." The customers thought it was funny and bought thousands of them.

Little did they know. 

More years went by, they decided to leave New York and move to LA, they had nine west coast locations by then. They sent Morrie and his Mexican wife Delores back to run the East Coast operations. Promoted Antonio Morales to VP of West Coast Operations.

The spoiled. but brilliant, Rebecca finished medical school at USC. "Becca opened a plastic surgery practice in Beverley Hills. By the second year of private practice she had done 1141, as she called them, "Tit Jobs."

She offered financing to her customers who needed it. It worked really well, since porn stars and strippers were a big part of her practice. Her Uncle Lance set up the financing through some close friends of his in the LA banking community. Once again Lance Lipshitz was right on target saying "They love big tits in LA."

Lance was a funny guy, but seldom wrong.

They bought a big house in Brentwood, too big really. Reality says two people with an aging mother in law in tow don't need a house with 9 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, do they?

The house was a pain in the ass, they had a maid, two part time house keepers, a live in nurse for Elishiva, who wasn't sick but needed someone to listen to her stories of the old days in Greenwich Village. They also had a large group of immigrant men from Central America who took care of the yard, they worked on it all day every day, six days a week from 7am to 6pm. The smell of 2 stroke and 4 stroke motors and the sounds of lawnmowers and hedge trimmers filled the air and scared the shit out of the squirrels and the birds. Not to mention the pool guy, who was gay as Rock Hudson and better looking.

Once Debbie thought the house was in shape they decided to throw a big party. A lot of people came, including Bob Dylan, when reminded of the set he did in Greenwich Village so long ago said, "That was me, me in another time, me in another place, the man on the corner needed 11 dollar bills and I only had ten. You've got a lot of nerve, Johnny's in the basement, cannon balls fly, go away from my window, leave at your own chosen speed, white dove fly, you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows do you Mr. Jones?"

Dylan is an interesting guy.

The neighbors from across the street arrived, they came in a silver Rolls Royce Corniche convertible even though they only lived one hundred and 9 yards away. He watched them get out of the huge car. She was a tall, elegant blonde woman in a designer dress and Jimmy Choo shoes that cost north of 4 thousand dollars. he only knew that, because both Debbie and Becca wore them, loved them. The woman looked familiar. Her husband was the principal in one of the biggest talent agencies in the world, they had offices in LA, New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Beijing. He was short, fat, jowly and always looked pissed off. As they came up the walk to the house she instantly recognized him, she smiled, extended her hand and then her cheek.

She whispered in his ear, "interesting isn't it, we both married Jews."