Rough start for the second half of 2022

Let’s start the day with a political cartoon. I can’t wait until Life imitates this particular Art.

As if the Supremely Wrong Court isn’t doing enough damage lately, Arizona just decided to kill all the public schools in their state. AZ will pay families $7000 per child if/when they’re pulled from public schools. Insanity. How long will it take for a pack of for-profit non-schools to spin up, ready to take the money and not teach the kids much of anything? Or for poor families with 3-4 kids to do the math and say “pay me”, then send their kids to a low-cost day care rebranded as a school? Or just keep the money and homeschool them via Youtube or Masterclass. Nice job, AZ. I can’t think of a worse way to harm the next generation, so I guess you win the contest for “worst decision in the world today”.

I’m thankful that I’m reading a good book today. I need the escape.

Update on our water problems

The Socal drought continues unabated, relentless. In two years we’ve had about 14 inches of rainfall. With the rivers and reservoirs of the west drying up, it’s an existential problem for 40 million people in Socal. There are no fast solutions, but there *are* solutions (desal+PV farms).

Meanwhile, we’ve cut over to city water while our well gets repaired. After about 10 years of service, our in-acquifer pump has died. It needs to be retrieved from its spot 650 feet underground (and about 70 feet underwater), pulled to the surface and replaced. This is the second time we’ve had to do this in 18 years.

We’ve been on city water exclusively, for home use and irrigation, for about a week. I shudder to think what our city water bill will be. We have no usage history, so the charge could be…anything.

The good news is that the low(er) particulate and chlorinated city water is scrubbing the red rust stain out of our pipes. For a few days we had to put up with nasty-looking orange-ish water – not dangerous to consume, but unpleasant looking. Now things have cleared up. For the first time in memory, dishes come out of our dishwasher sparkling clean. Shower heads and toilets are losing their perpetual lime scale. So there’s definitely an upside.

We’re going to work harder this time to improve the quality of the water from the well by adding a treatment stage – filtering more of the particulates and iron out of the water before we even put it in the storage tank. We have filters on the water that is used in the house, but that single stage isn’t enough.

Given the big picture of water in Socal, I continue to think that our drilling a well 18 years ago was smart. Over the next decade, it could be immensely valuable. But we have to invest in improving the water quality, making it closer to city water. I never thought I’d have to become a water expert, but living here…it’s crucial. One of these days 40 million people are going to wake up and ask…”what are we going to do, please help”. I don’t intend to be one of them.

The title picture above is from South Elkhorn Creek near Midway KY, where Weisenberger Mills still produces corn meal the old fashioned way. With 45 inches of rainfall annually at Midway (6-7 times what we receive!), they don’t have any water problems.

Coming in hot

After watching and the thinking about the Jan 6 Committee hearing yesterday, I’m more impressed by the process than I was at the beginning. For Republicans, this is like a slow-moving train wreck in which they’re trapped. They’re sure it’s going to hurt; they might even die, and they can’t stop the action. They can only look on in horror. The people who supported Trump’s actions are getting a spotlight placed on them, and it isn’t pretty. And I don’t know what motivated Cassidy Hutchinson, but I’m thankful for it. Someone had to come forward, and she womanned-up.

Weather-wise, July is coming in hot in Louisville. Looks like we’ll have 90+ degrees and humidity in Louisville through at least my first week there. Good weather for tomatoes. And maybe I’ll sweat off a few pounds.

On the lighter side of things, we watched the first two episodes of FX’s The Old Man last night. Very, very good new series starring some great actors. Recommended. And I *love* those dogs.

McSweeney’s tells the sad and funny story of the fearful last bottle of ketchup left at Mar-a-Lago. Hilarious. I’ve always found humor in dark and hopeless realities – this fits. “We lost Daryl that day…”.

I’ve seen too many friends meet what we call “The Wall.” When he gets angry, we get scared. And he gets angry a lot. Sometimes he gets mad about people saying he should be in prison for trying to overthrow the government, sometimes because he can’t drink water from a glass, or sometimes because his hands are too tiny to cut his well-well-done steak. Sometimes he’s not even eating. One time he got back from trying to walk down a ramp and was so mad he ordered food just to throw it against a wall. We lost Darryl that day. Every time his ire matches the color of his makeup, another friend meets The Wall.

I’m the last bottle left. Surrounded by plastic brothers and sisters who no longer are willing to risk their own safety to protect me. I keep telling them there’s this poem: “First they came for the mustard, and I did not speak out — because I was not mustard.” They don’t care. Most of them can’t read. I asked one if it supported the peaceful pouring of condiments, and it said, “I plead the fifth.” I’m alone here.

A good month’s work

It’s just a little over a week until my visit to Imaginarium. It should be fun being surrounded by writers, filmmakers and fellow geeks for a couple of days. I’m not doing any creative writing lately – too much paid consulting work – but I’m hoping this visit to the other side gets me going again. And i just noticed that the venue, a Holiday Inn out on the east side of Louisville, is right next to Cask, a most excellent brunch spot. I figure that’s how I’ll begin a day or two at the conference.

Here’s some fun video of the ever-cringeworthy Lauren Boebert lecturing a receptive group on how the church is supposed to lead the government, and how she’s tired of this stupid separation of church and state junk. It’s hard for me to believe that there are people who think this way, but…there they are. You couldn’t make this shit up.

As the US moves ever closer to becoming a theocracy, I’ve been thinking about where I’d like to live. My first choice is The Culture, a post-scarcity galactic society in which the irrational human animal is governed managed kept from doing most stupid things by a benevolent federation of all-powerful AI starships. When I write it like that, it sounds dumb. But Ian M. Banks could make it sound wonderful. I sure miss that guy.

Great news! I received this message today, and our financial future is now assured:

Hello,

I am Mrs. Mavis Mconnor, I won the Powerball Jackpot worth
$758.7million Dollars on 28th August 2021. I am granting 3 individuals
$950,000.00 each and you are among the 3 lucky winners in this year
donations. Contact me for more details at: mavismconnor1@gmail.com

Mrs Mavis Mconnor

What a lovely person she must be. So generous.

More Louisville news. A two-year-old girl from Crestwood has become the youngest Mensa member ever. That’s very cool…I hope she does great things in life. The story is behind the Courier-Journal’s online paywall, so I can’t link to it.

Just waiting for this next SCOTUS boot to drop. Here’s the tally:

  • Remove women’s rights to control their body….check
  • Remove several separations of church and state….check
  • Remove Federal authority to regulate corporations’ tendency to pollute air and water…check
  • Remove states’ ability to control gun culture…check

That’s a pretty good month’s work, SCOTUS. Nicely done. Now please go back to whatever demonic nth-circle-of-hell dimension you’re from and leave us alone for a while.

The hits keep coming

Yes, the images of young men praying together after a football game are inspiring. It’s good to have them participate in a peaceful, collaborative meditation on life and the game. No argument there.

But the real test of this decision will be if a Muslim coach gathers players to lay down a prayer rug, face east, bow down and pray to Allah. If that is also protected and accepted, then the Court’s latest decision has some logic. I hope someone tests that theory soon…

The coach is in a position of power. He or she can have great impact on the players, and can not-so-subtly pressure the players into following his/her lead along with the rest of the team. That’s kind of the definition of being a coach – you teach and influence. But what about the Muslim kid whose parents don’t want him joining in a Christian prayer? Or the atheist kid? And again, what about a Hebrew coach who wants to lead the team in a piyyut – a prayer chant? Will the WASPy parents respect that coach’s right? Based on my experience in football America, I don’ think so.

Sunday trivia

Well, I’m not happy about this. Not a fan of Sapporo, and I’ve always liked Stone’s IPAs. So much for San Diego being a craft beer leader.

This Onion headline isn’t far from true: “Supreme Court Votes 5-4 To Reclassify Women As Service Animals“.

Very interesting perspective here.

The most surprising thing is that you wouldn’t let anyone steal your property, but you consistently let people steal your time, which is infinitely more valuable.

New worlds

Today my brother and sister-in-law fly off to a new life two thousand miles away. They quit their jobs, sold their house, sold their cars, packed/shipped their stuff and today fly from San Diego to their new location in Louisville KY. Costs of housing and living are the big reasons – they’re joining the thousands of people each month leaving California. We’ll miss seeing them in Socal, but we’ll see them in KY.

Meanwhile, the Roe v Wade demise is starting to sink in with folks. I hope that people realize that this is just the first step in the conservative/evangelical push to make sure that every person in the US abides by their rules. That’s the whole problem with this – it’s OK to be a white evangelical and have specific, strict beliefs and practices. Good for you; I’m happy for you. Or an Orthodox Jew. Or a Buddhist. But when you decide to impose your belief system on me, it’s not OK. Particularly if your belief system includes taking control of my (your) body, in any circumstance.

Every woman in America, every gay person in America, every non-white person in America, make no mistake – they’re coming for you and your rights. So get out there and vote.

Not much good news today

Travel day today, not much time to write. We *do* have a problem to solve once we get home – turns out our well isn’t working, so we have to figure out why and fix it. No water in Socal – that seems about right.

OK, this has a lot of creepy use cases. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear my dead friends and relatives talk to me via Alexa.

The Supreme Demonic Court is at it again this morning. They’ve struck down New York’s law requiring licenses for concealed handgun carry. <Sigh.> Archdemon Justice Alito mused about the rights of law-abiding citizens wishing to carry a weapon on the NY subway to protect themselves. Absolutely, I want to carry a gun to protect myself on public transportation (NOT). Welcome back to the 1850s, I suppose.

Hell and politics

The Hell’s Kitchen visit last night was good. Small-ish restaurant, inside a casino. Service was excellent, food was excellent, not a lot of menu choices, and it was rather expensive. When I look at it overall, it seems designed to maximize profit. I mean sure, all restaurants want to make a profit, but every little touch here was something that enhanced profitability. No bread served. All menu items in a category (starters, salads, main courses) approximately the same (rather high) price. Small portions for the salads and starters. One dessert choice. Wine prices at about 3X retail. And I’m betting young, just-starting-out cooks and chefs who aren’t as expensive as more experienced staff. Chef Gordon Ramsay has designed a money-making machine. All that said, it was a really nice meal.

News came out yesterday that Sen. Ron Johnson of WI tried to hand VP Pence a false slate of electors only minutes before the official vote counting. I find this particularly egregious – pretty much direct treason. He should be in jail, this minute, if it’s true. Hell, based on what I’ve read of Johnson he should be in jail on general principles. These guys are so used to committing crimes in plain sight, they think they can gaslight everyone and just move on. Here’s what Heather Cox Richardson reported yesterday:

Striding quickly past reporters today, Johnson told CNN’s chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju that he had “no idea” who asked him to share the fake electors with Pence. He said he had “no involvement” in the attempt to provide fake electors to overturn the legitimate outcome of the 2020 election and claimed he didn’t know who handed his office the envelope that was supposed to go to Pence. It was, he said, “some staff intern” who handed another staff member the envelope. When asked if he would try to find out, he said, “No. No, because there’s no conspiracy here. This is a complete non-story, guys. Complete non-story.”

Complete non-story, huh? Not for me, and I hope not for many others. These assholes committed crimes trying to keep their crime boss Trump in power. They need to pay.

In other news, evangelicals have daddy issues. They just want a strong male authority figure to take care of them. Poor snowflakes.

Good start to the longest day

It’s the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. We happen to be in a beautiful place for this year’s longest day, in the mountains above Gardnerville NV. K’s sister and husband have a palatial home tucked away in the shadow of Job’s Peak, and the views from here are stunning. Here’s a picture from the main room.

The big event for today is dinner at Hell’s Kitchen Lake Tahoe. Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, so much for separation of church and state. The conservative SCOTUS lives up to expectations – Supreme Court says Maine cannot exclude religious schools from tuition assistance programs. We’re on a collision course with a theocracy, and I don’t think folks will like it once it’s here. Take a look at Pakistan or Iran for that future.

Napa, day 2.5

Ahhh, Napa. So much of a good thing. We had a great Fathers Day here, with a members-only event at Quintessa, a short but fun stop at Reguschi, and an evening meal at Compline.

Working backwards, the meal at Compline wasn’t up to expectations. Their duck fat fries were some of the best ever – absolutely perfect. But service was slow, and K’s scallops were overcooked and mostly missing. To top it off, we encountered a service charge of 15%. Not the tip, but an unadvertised surcharge for “the back of house” – the cooks, dishwashers, etc. So it’s basically an unadvertised 15% increase in menu prices that you don’t see until it’s too late. A terrible idea that I hope runs its course quickly.

The main event, the Solstice/Father’s Day event at Quintessa, was perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing. Beautiful setting, great little social hour before the meal, and then a Michelin-class meal alongside Quintessa wines, in their oh-so-cool production cellar.

At the social hour before the meal, we were served by a mobile caviar waitress, something I hadn’t seen before. That plus superb fresh oysters, micro-lobster rolls and crisp Quintessa sauvignon blanc – elegant and tasty. Then there was the guy playing an electric cello – he specialized in classic rock smoothed out for the cello. Amazing

The meal itself was just as elegant and enjoyable as the prix event. Here’s a shot of one table next to a Quintessa aging “egg”.

I’ll write up the Reguschi stop separately. Didn’t take any pictures there; was just taking in the ambiance.