Black Friday

Well, this is a crummy way to start a day:

  • Congress is more of a dumpster fire than usual. Can’t (won’t) promote military leaders. Can’t agree on a budget. Can’t be decent or polite to a visiting leader, Zelenski. Zero interest shown in actual governing. Southern border in worse shape than usual and all Congress does is yell at each other about it. They’re a complete embarrassment.
  • Some asshole has had my Turo car parked on the side of the freeway all night in Louisville. I can think of several reasons why, and none of them are good. Now trying to find out what’s wrong.
  • My annual SDG&E bill (electricity) is ready and it’s worse than I thought.

With all this shitty news I think I’ll (a) start a good book, and (b) get some exercise. The day has to get better.

Out in the world

Today I have to go out into the world for meetings. No Zoom for you! First, an in-person chat with my nonprofit’s Executive Director, and then a board meeting. Ugh. That means a commute to San Diego, south on the accursed always-under-construction I-15. I don’t mind the meetings; I mind the commute.

You know you’re retired when a single trip to town feels like an ordeal. It’s been five years now since I did this *every day*. Feels like a lifetime ago.

There are other errands I’ll do on my commute south. As long as I’m out in the world, might as well make the trip count. And I can be flexible on the way home if (when) the traffic going north is bad. Maybe a stop at my old favorite wine bar in RB, or maybe a stop at a golf shop. Anything beats fighting Socal traffic at rush hour.

Or even better, this. The Golf Bar just opened in RB. Kinda seems designed for people like me. They want reservations, but I may just walk in and check things out before committing to use one of their simulators.


CA has sure become an expensive place to live. Had to call a plumber yesterday to snake through a clog somewhere downstream of our kitchen sink. A cool $514 later, the drain worked again. ($514!!) Gasoline is now $6 per gallon throughout SD county. Electricity for the house is now $300+ per month, even with a big solar roof. My old employer SDG&E has changed the rules about buying and selling rooftop-generated power so that the benefits of having a solar roof are almost gone.

We have nothing to whine about financially, but I’ll still note that the Socal “good weather tax” is getting pretty high.


Joke of the day: My doctor asked if anyone in my family suffers from mental illness. I said, “No, we all seem to enjoy it.”


This is the week I’ll get the next Covid booster. Given my age and weight, anything I can do to avoid infections (bacterial or viral) is smart. I plan to start traveling again in October, so…shields up, Mr. Sulu.


There was a swotting incident – a fake 911 call about an active shooter and hostages – next to our grandson’s school in Louisville yesterday, forcing the school into lockdown. The kids had to hide/huddle together in closets for about 90 minutes. Grandson is OK, but damn, what a hateful thing for someone to do. I hope whoever made the fake 911 call gets a bad case of kidney stones and spends weeks in a hospital with infections. Then I hope that person has to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. Then I hope…you get the picture.

Stand up for science

Was reading this today, an interview/discussion between two overachievers, Dr. Eric Topol and Dr. Peter Hotez. The core idea in their discussion is the rise of anti-science and how dangerous it is. The extreme factions of the US Republican party are busy selling the idea that scientists are the common person’s enemy, and the rest of US Republicans are just letting that happen without challenge. So if you watch Faux News or OAN or Newsmax, you are being led to believe that scientists are part of some secret liberal plot to control you (pro tip – they’re not – that’s crazy town), and you shouldn’t believe what they tell you. Hotez has gotten on the radar of extremist/conservative groups and is now in the running to replace Fauci as the most hated scientist. That’s a problem.

The trouble with that is twofold. One, Hotez’s professional story is just short of mythical. His life’s mission is finding treatments (cures!) for parasitic and viral disease. He tackles the problems that big pharma won’t because there’s not enough profit in the cures. He and another MD have created an open-source (no patents) Covid vaccine (Corbevax) now used around the world, all without big pharma baggage or US taxpayer funding. There are now hundreds of millions of people who have gotten his vaccine and get to live their lives without serious disease, all due to this one dude. Not Pfizer, not Glaxo-Kline – just one dedicated and smart person. That’s damn impressive.

The second problem with Hotez or any other serious scientist being demonized by extremists is that we need them more than ever going forward. We *need* serious, accomplished scientists working on global problems of overpopulation, hunger, pollution, species extinction, climate change, and disease. Humanity’s problems are bigger/tougher than ever, and science is our only way to avoid massive loss of life and suffering. More pandemics are coming. Environmental problems (pollution, deforestation, etc.) are only getting worse. The last thing we need is for 50% or more of the world to be taught to distrust the very people who have a chance of solving some of our big problems.

I’ll say this – the demonization of science and scientists by the extreme Right is nothing but evil. It is pure nihilism, intended to hasten the downfall of what little civilization we’ve achieved. I don’t have any problem calling those who promote anti-science as evil. It’s like something out of The Wheel of Time – a dark force aimed at destroying the world, breaking the wheel.

Regular people need to stand up and defend our geeky brethren, the folks who have a chance of changing our course in the face of global problems.

Dude, where’s my F-35?

How the fuck does this happen? No Airtags? No Lojack? There’s a lot weird about this whole thing.


While the Air Force was looking for its lost F-35, I was outside helping install my birthday presents – two nice owl boxes. A little one for screech owls, and a big one for barn owls. They look pretty good up in the trees. Little box below, the big box for barn owls is the title picture.


Not even Florida deserves this asshole as Governor. A few years ago I wouldn’t have given a creep like Gaetz a chance to be elected for any office, but these days…who knows. Anything seems possible.


Update – here’s the little owl box, designed for screech owls. Attached to a melaleuca tree, another Aussie import.

Walk through the valley

It’s time to write about our (very) local winery, Monserate Winery. The paths around a through the vineyards are where I’m taking my Happy Hour Walks. Ironic, because I’m trying to break the habit of popping open a bottle of wine around 5pm and replacing it with a habit of a 2-3 mile walk – at a winery. Go figure.

There’s a lot to say about the place. It’s beautiful, and its establishment probably saved our home value back in 2016-2017. At that time the venerable Fallbrook Golf Club was closed, bankrupt, and it seemed no one wanted the rapidly-decaying property. Developers were licking their chops at 116 acres of ready-to-build land. Our low density rural valley was at risk.

But then Jade Work came along with a plan to build an ambitious new winery on the property, and over the last 6 years, that’s just what has happened. The fact that we can now look down into our valley and see vines, a well-managed world class vineyard, instead of apartment buildings or cookie cutter homes, is a blessing. We got lucky.

Earlier this year a Bay Area transplant bought a home just across Gird Road from the winery, and almost immediately began complaining about the live music played at the tasting room, outdoors in the summer. There was a huge debate on Nextdoor, and I weighed in. My take – you knew what you were buying, the winery had been operating for a couple of years at that point. They have a permit for the music and it’s actually quite nice to hear, wafting up from below. So STFU. Sadly, it does seem that the idiot complainer has had an effect. We went to the winery for some wood fired pizza and wine on a Friday recently and learned that (a) the live music now stops 4pm-ish, and (b) they now close at 6pm and stop serving food at 530pm. So no more cool evenings with good food and wine at their place – we’ll have to stay home for that.

One thing I didn’t expect when the winery and vineyards were built was the resurgence of wildlife in Gird Valley. On my walks recently I’ve seen so much wildlife – herons, cranes, hawks, ducks, turtles (so many turtles), a resident osprey, fish and frogs. Part of the reason is that the vineyards now feature three good-sized ponds (small lakes, big ponds), and those plus the running stream through the property make for a nice local ecosystem. To be fair, most of that wildlife was already here, but the stability and peace of the vineyard has brought more of them out to play.

We really did get lucky. Gird Valley will remain tranquil and beautiful through my lifetime, and now I’ve got a great place to walk.

Get off my lawn

I’m feeling my age lately. When did:

  • Something that used to get published or released, get “dropped”?
  • A writer become a “content creator”?
  • An essay, story, and/or pictures, become simply “content”?
  • Every smiling young person become an “influencer”?
  • Humans exist in more than two sexes?
  • DWI become DUI? And now it’s OVI. WTF is OVI?
  • Half of everyone stop trusting scientists and doctors (i.e., those who actually know things)?
  • Everyone get so damn sensitive about everything?

I suppose this is a natural part of getting old – you notice the little things that the next generation(s) have “decided” without consulting you. Or in direct opposition to you.

The whole content creator / influencer culture is hard to stomach. A cult of personality for those with no purpose in life. I know, I shouldn’t care. But I’m an old dude and that’s what we do.

Listening, writing, and watching

My first podcast (yeah, I’m late to this party) turned out to be a doozy. I’ve listened to most of Sold a Story while on my new Happy Hour WalksTM, and consider my mind blown. I had absolutely no idea that this war over how to teach kids to read was happening. Please, save us all from zealots, true believers, evangelists and marketers. The story of how a wrong idea poisoned US education or decades is…astonishing.

The “Happy Hour Walks” thing is my attempt to reverse a decades-long bad habit. Instead of settling in around 5pm, relaxing and having a drink, I’m getting out and taking a long walk. Turns a negative (health-wise) into a positive. And so far, so good.


Finished my proposal project yesterday. It was frustrating – everyone thinks they are an expert writer and editor. I had half a dozen people going into the document and changing my work into something…worse. Lots of nonsense, gratuitous changes of “happy to glad”. And *everyone* who tries to use the word “comprise” in a sentence fucks it up. At least I get paid to fix and re-fix my wanna-be editors’ errors. And now I can get back to some creative writing.


We’ve watched The Wheel of Time on Amazon the last week or so. It’s my second time through season one, and of course season two is brand new. I like it more than I did the first time. The events in the series sometimes follow the books closely and sometimes not at all. Lan is completely different than I imagined, Moraine more somber/serious than I remember, and the Matt stories are just unrecognizable. Liandrin is a central character in the TV series, but not so much in the books. The series *has* made me consider going back and reading the books again, but…15 books, 12,000 pages, 4.4 million words! It’s a big hill to climb. (Good source for WoT stats here.)

My brother Mike hates the series, but I’m coming around to liking it. There’s no way to translate that much material from word to screen without changing a lot. If Jordan were alive, watching the series would probably kill him. Tough to see your creation re-interpreted.

A couple of conservative heros

My hometown has gotten interesting all of a sudden. First Calipari visits, and now this. After eight years, an Ashland, KY jury and judge delivers $100K in damages to the couple wronged by the county clerk from Morehead. I’m pleasantly surprised.

Bottom line: your religious beliefs don’t trump my civil rights. Not that complicated, but a powerful message to Christian Nationalists.


I sure hope Colorado does the right thing and rids us of this Congressional pest in the next election. She’s pretty much always in the running for Worst Person in the World on any given day. CO residents should be embarrassed.

Notes about nothing

I’m finishing up a for-pay proposal writing project today, and that’s good. Working on it has reminded what I don’t miss about corporate America.


I’m reading another very good book from Chuck Wendig, a book titled The Book of Accidents. It’s well-written, but it’s not really my genre. It’s a fairly classic Stephen King-ish horror story, and I’m having trouble staying interested.


Natalie Dressed (whoever that is) apparently really, really hated the movie Oppenheimer. Scathing review. I hadn’t planned on watching it anyway.


As for politics, it’s the usual shitshow. Republicans are gonna try to impeach Biden with zero evidence of wrongdoing. It’ll just give them an opportunity to shout and fling shit around – the canonical shitshow, I would say.


UK basketball can’t get here soon enough.

Dreading Wednesday

Some unusual news from my hometown. Royalty visits Ashland, KY.


My new Vera-Link Bluetooth devices are in, and I like them a lot. It’s a great idea – add a VL micro-amp to any old speaker and turn it into a wireless stereo system. I’m still trying to get the information that’ll tell me what audio quality I’m actually getting – need to know which Bluetooth codec is used – but the music sounds fine. Now I can play with all the old speakers I’ve got lying around without constructing a full wired system. Just laptop (source) and Vera-Link powered speakers. Electrical engineers just make the world more fun.


This is interesting. And weird. Sony releases a chip that powers itself and downstream devices by harvesting energy from thin air. Well, not thin air, but from electromagnetic noise produced by other local devices. I think in Star Wars they call that The Force. We live in magical times.


Joke for the day: I told my wife I wanted to be cremated. She made me an appointment for Wednesday.