Friday, August 31, 2007

Filling my iPod one song at a time.

I know that some of you more sophisticated technophiles out there can, and probably have, written you doctoral thesis on the evils of Apple's iTunes. The proprietary way Apple makes you purchase and manage your music must be frustrating to those of you who could write your own software in an open source format.

I, on the other hand, cannot write a single line of code and if I didn't have Steve Jobs and his evil Red Bull swilling minions doing their thing, I would be driving my tractor around the ranch listening to my Sony Walkman CD player.

I ran across a song on a Warren Miller film called Cold Fusion last night. The song is 'Free' by the band Train. It is not a popular song, but it really hit me when I heard it and it stuck with me until I purchased it on iTunes today. I also bought 'Copperhead Road' by Steve Earle.

Isn't it funny how so many songs you wore out on the cassette deck and then forget about until you hear them on the radio fifteen years later? I went through my Steve Earle phase when he released 'Shut up and die like an aviator' Steve is a pure musician, full of emotion and addictions. Now it seems he wants to write songs about the American Taliban and hate all that America stands for. Thats ok, without self loathing musicians, who would write the songs we want to listen to when we get our hearts broken?

As I continue to fill the 4 gigs of storage on my nano with songs that seem to be conjured up in the vapors of cyberspace through freakin magic, I think back to the first time I walked into the Tower Records store in Sacramento. I was a kid of 11 or 12 and the store was stocked to rafters with 45s. I think they were 49 cents or 59 cents each and the problem I faced was two fold, first I didn't have more than two bucks in my pockets and my mom wanted to buy one album and leave. I could have stayed in that store for days.

I will keep trolling through my memories and finding gems from my musical past, and I will help Steve Jobs to build his mansion, 99 cents at a time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Maybe among the scientists getting huge cash grants to find that humans are causing global warming, as for the rest, they are not buying Al Gores' koolaid.
Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

Maybe the rest of the scientific community looks at global warming as science, not religion?
All hail Al Gore!
Or not.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I would have bet money he was dead.

Apparently not. Manuel Noriega may get a trip to France where he will face money laundering charges.

A US judge has approved the extradition of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega to face money laundering charges in France when his long Florida prison sentence for drug smuggling ends next month.

The decision by Magistrate William Turnoff followed a separate court ruling last Friday rejecting arguments from Noriega's lawyers that his status as a "prisoner of war" under the Geneva Conventions meant he had to be immediately returned home when his US sentence ends on September 9.

"This court will issue a certificate of extraditability with respect to General Manuel Antonio Noriega," Turnoff said at the end of a 30-minute hearing in Miami.

Turnoff said he would issue the extradition order tomorrow for the now 73-year-old Noriega, who was jailed in the United States almost two decades ago for drug smuggling and racketeering after he was captured by US forces following the 1989 invasion of Panama.

What else do have to do Manuel, sit around your cell reliving your glory days? Check out the city of lights, eat some smelly cheese, set fire to a car or two. Make the best of it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Speaking of resignations......

Larry Craig shouldn't be in the United States Senate one more minute. You need more than a public apology, a teary eyed tale of a terrible misunderstanding, you need help. This should be your sole focus for the near and foreseeable future.

Larry, you are not representing Massachusetts, Barney Frank can get away with this sort of behavior. Barney Frank is openly gay and if his lover runs a gay brothel out of his home, hey its just Barney going a little over the top, the people from Idaho will have kittens over this, and well they should.

I have friends and family in Idaho, I think soliciting sex in a public bathroom is pretty high up on the 'we can't look past this' scale.

I'm pretty sure if Larry Craig showed up at a town hall meeting in Boise tonight, the locals would start boiling tar and plucking chickens.

Loyalty does not equal competance Part II

The President does have one huge blind spot in his leadership style, loyalty. First you had Harriet Myers as a Supreme Court nominee, then Alberto Gonzales as AG.

I know you always want to have 'your people' in crucial roles, but they better have the skill set and the communication skills for the job. Being a behind the scenes advisor is much different than being in the hot seat where you are held responsible for every decision you make.

It seems Gonzales is gone and I am not upset at all.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

From the Holy Crap! files....

This pic is making its way through the web.

How terrifying.

The lul before the storm?

I'm not sure if its just me but are you all that wrapped up in the 08' Presidential election yet?
I know if I lived in Iowa or New Hampshire I would be ready to throw my television set through the window because of the non-stop political adds, and the election is some 14 months away!

Maybe the reason for my malaise is by the time the California primary rolls around, the nominee has already been chosen in a few small States I don't care much about. I have often wondered why a few million voters in Iowa and New Hampshire get to play king maker while out here in California, where one in eight Americans live, we get to rubber stamp the nomination that was set in stone months before? I know if the small states didn't have early primaries, the Presidential candidates would fly over them on their way to where the most votes are and the small states would get a few yard signs and bumper stickers from them, thats about it. On the bright side, not being the first state to hold a primary means I don't have to endure a three month nonstop media blitz for our primary. Well, not so fast.

With the rush to gain prominence, money and attention, it seems like every state is now trying to cut in line to be one of the first battleground primary states. California is not an exception. We have jumped into the Super Tuesday group and will get some attention for for a change. While I like the fact we will most likely get the chance to meet or at least see the front runners for 08 nomination in person, close to home, I will not be looking forward to the media onslaught.

Here is my idea, any of you political campaign managers want to run with this, you will be on CNN and FOX shortly to explain this new campaign style. Here it is. The Non add.
They must be quick, they must be funny or entertaining.

Here is what I mean. Think of yourself as a Iowa voter, your television and radio have been running non stop attack adds for months, you are so sick of them, you hate the candidates faces and voices, you long for the days of that bearded guy yelling at you to buy Oxiclean.

Then you see an add with a four second title screen saying "We know you have been overloaded with campaign adds, even ours, you deserve a break. Please enjoy" Then you either show a funniest home video type clip, something with a funny animal or someone doing something amazing, maybe juggling funny animals, or you go the other way and show some home video of the candidate caught sleeping on his campaign bus, I don't know come up with your own stuff. I think the buzz of the non add would have great appeal and if your opponent stays on the attack, you double the buy and fade out with a four second title screen saying, "Wow, we must really be getting to "blank" he/she just keeps on with the attack adds, have a great day"

Now you know why I work with computers and cows and why I am not a campaign manger, but I swear this would work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The surge is working, bad news for Democrats.

I have been saying for a year or more that the military owes the American people an explanation of what is happening in Iraq. Not the explanation Harry Ried and Nancy Peloisi want, an explanation of why we are loosing and how the military is broken down and falling apart at the seems and in desperate need of retreat, I mean redeployment, far away from Iraq. No what I have been asking for is what Paul Harvey calls 'The rest of the story"

How many hundreds of newscasts begin with a smoldering car in the background and scenes of broken bodies being rushed away? That seems to be what most Americans think of the war in Iraq. American soldiers driving around doing little good and waiting to be blown up in an IED attack. The Administration has done a terrible job of showing the people they serve just what our brave soldiers are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. US soldiers are killing the enemy, and they are very good at it, when given the opportunity.

President Bush today, in a speech delivered to a VFW gathering, told the public what it desperately needed to hear; we are stacking up dead terrorist like cord wood. The US has killed 1,500 a month since January, over 10,000 jihadists sent to paradise in 8 months. That is good news, better news would be that these numbers trend down as the news gets out to the rest of the radical Muslim world that a trip to Iraq is one way ticket to a speedy death.

Al Jazeera is not telling the world that we are laying waste to the terrorist, they want to talk about this being Bush's Viet Nam, well so does ABC News but that not a surprise either. The surge is working and Democrats are troubled with its success. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be “a real big problem for us.”

If all you hear from the MSM is the number of Americans killed a month without any context as to the amount of terrorist they are killing, you will get the impression these soldiers are dying for no reason, a claim trumpeted by the left with every breath. These soldiers are not sacrificing their lives to enrich Dick Cheney or to 'take the oil', these brave American soldiers, young and not so young, men and women of all races all religions and all backgrounds are fighting to change a region of the world where change is not easily made. They are fighting to keep the terrorist pinned down and if possible, kill them.

Now before you start in with the Iraqi government isn't doing anything, and they never will and the surge is failing because the politicians aren't getting anywhere, let me just say that I am not very happy with the Presidents praise of Maliki. I have not been impressed with what I have seen from the man and his government, but then again, I don't sit in on cabinet meetings where there is a good chance the meeting could be interrupted by a random mortar attack.

The first decade of our democracy was one roller coaster ride of crisis after crisis that threaten to dissolve the government. We should be patient, but not lethargic. We need to see political progress and soon. The surge cannot last at these levels without holding troops over their deployments. In January many soldiers will be scheduled to rotate home. They deserve a hero's welcome. I think they will get it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Indentured servant update

The finish line is in site. After what have been three very long weeks, my wife is due to have the cast taken off her leg on Wednesday. Oh the joy! ( hopefully she will not read this and crush my skull with one of her crutches)

All kidding aside, I must say that I have learned a few valuable lessons from my time as domestic emperor of the castle. I will share them with you now.
  1. Plants need to be watered every day, not just once in while or every other day. Every flippin day.
  2. The dog will break through the expanded metal grid you thought had closed the hole in her yard, and howl like a herd of rabid mountain gorillas at 3 AM at the irrigator in the field across the road, when you need a full night sleep the most.
  3. Two adults and two children produce enough laundry to fill a 40 foot cargo container every week.
  4. Scrubbing and mopping the kitchen and laundry room floor is actually much harder than you imagine.
  5. Kids want to eat dinner, every night. Oh how I wish for the days when I lived within delivery distance of Mountain Mike's Pizza.
  6. Don't prune the roses with a pair of electricians side cutters.
  7. I don't care for the new 'tablets' of dish washing soap they sell now, I want a big jug of liquid, thank you very much.
  8. If you scratch your wife's leg inside the cast with a long plastic shoe horn one time, it is then your duty for the entire length of the cast wearing process. And finally-
  9. Smile and say, "Yes Dear"
I think I hear the sound of crutches coming from the front room,,, gotta go!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Professors on the battlefield

A great read over at Opinion Journal.

Marcus Griffin is not a soldier. But now that he cuts his hair "high and tight" like a drill sergeant's, he understands why he is being mistaken for one. Mr. Griffin is actually a professor of anthropology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. His austere grooming habits stem from his enrollment in a new Pentagon initiative, the Human Terrain System. It embeds social scientists with brigades in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they serve as cultural advisers to brigade commanders.

"Anthropologists have the opportunity right now to influence how the national security establishment does business," writes Ms. McFate in an email from Afghanistan, where she is a senior adviser to the Human Terrain System project. A Yale University-trained anthropologist, she has been the target of bitter criticism from the anthropology establishment on account of her tireless efforts to convince the military that cultural knowledge is key to winning over the people in war-torn societies like Iraq and Afghanistan. She insists that a growing number of anthropologists are questioning the conventional wisdom and reconsidering whether the most effective way to influence the military is "by waving a big sign outside the Pentagon saying 'you suck.' "

Could the tide of anti military thinking be changing at our Universities? I hope so.

I remember the Marine lieutenant I ran into who was finishing his Bachelors at UC Davis. He was a bright young man, and if I remember right, he is shipping out this fall for Iraq or Afghanistan to lead other bright young men.

Friday, August 17, 2007

'Fair' weather

I'll take all the upper 80s in August I can get. Usually when the County fair, and the State fair for that matter, roll around its hotter than a 10 dollar car stereo. The fairgrounds in Woodland is a mixture of grass areas and asphalt, so it doesn't get as hot as the blacktop ocean of Cal Expo, but on a few 105 degree days I have taken one lap around the fairground and called it a day.

This year, high 80s and maybe low 90s. Perfect, well I take that back, perfect would be 78 degrees but I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

See you at the fair, save me corndog!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steak Dinner in Esparto August 23rd!

The Yolo County Cattlemen and Wool Growers Association will be holding their annual Fall Tour on Thursday, August 23 at the Esparto fire hall in beautiful downtown Esparto.

A chance to meet and converse with real cattlemen and even a sheep man or two. I know cowboys and sheep ranchers are supposed to be mortal enemies, the Sheepman with Glenn Ford comes to mind, but in todays environment with the livestock industry being assaulted on all sides, it comes down to reality of hanging together or hanging separately. (Don't tell anyone, I like lamb when its cooked right)

The Fall Tour is an evening of informational presentations and a great steak dinner. A representative from the California Cattlemen's Association will talk about current legislation effecting the cattle indusrty, a profesor from UC Davis will be speaking on e coli issues and our County Agricultural Department representative will be on hand to answer questions.

Now for the good part. Dinner, steak dinner and for those who would care to indulge, there will be libations.

Program starts at 5:00
Bar opens at 6:30
BBQ Steak Dinner with all the trimmings served at 7:00
All for the low, low price of $20.

If you are interested, shoot me an email so we can get a headcount. See you there.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Its Yolo County Fair time!

The second week in August brings the Yolo County Fair and I for one am looking forward to it. I don't often have the chance visit with some of my old friends and it seems as though the fair is the place to meet up and see how their kids have grown and what life has thrown their way. Having moved to the area just out of high school, I didn't know a soul when I walked through the fairgrounds in 1983. Never being one to shy away from meeting people, when the fair rolled around again the next year, I went with a few friends.

I am not sure what makes people outgoing or introverted, but if you put me in a room with 100 people, give me an hour and will have met two or three that I would feel comfortable playing 18 holes with the next day. I don't know if that is a good attribute or not, but that is how I am wired. I like people and I enjoy talking to them.

As my circle of friends grew in Woodland, it wasn't long until I could not walk through the fair without tripping over people I knew. I may have been tripping because I was the 'beer garden' but thats a different story. That was also before I was married and had children. As college students and young adults, it was easy to see the same people at the same events throughout the year. The County Fair, the Stoneyford rodeo, the Almond Blossom Festival and the 18 and over concerts held at the community center in Madison lovingly called "Oakie Stomps". The same group of twenty to thirty friends would be there and it was great time to be young and foolish. And boy were we ever foolish.

In 1994 we moved to Sacramento and lived there for 9 years. In that time I lost touch with many of my old friends as they settled down with families of their own, The Yolo County Fair was the only place I would have a chance to see them. It was a constant. Everyone comes to the fair.

When we moved back to Yolo County in 2003, Esparto to be exact, it was great to be home. While I went to high school in Redding Ca, after spending 10 years in Yolo County, I had come to know it as home.

The fair is the only free fair left in California, so it everyone comes. The FFA and 4H kids with their animals are always great to visit with. The rodeo is being replaced this year with a Bullriders only event and while I enjoy watching those guys getting their legs braided by the bulls, for me there is nothing as pretty as a great saddlebronc ride. They perfect timing and rhythm of the cowboy and the horse as they spur and kick their way across the arena is a thing of beauty, unless you get out of time and get thrown over the horses head. That is not so pretty, but it is entertaining to watch. No horses this year, just the 1,800 pound bovine gladiators against the 130 pound cowboys.

This year you may find me at two places at the fair, I will be stopping by the Bayside Woodland booth and the Yolo County Republican Party booth to hang out with friends. I don't like to mix my church and my politics but I can't seem to avoid it this year.

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mike Thompson and the hard hitting jounalism of the Daily Democrat

Thompson reflects, regroups over recess.

Thats the headline. It may be more telling than we realize.
Rep. Mike Thompson visited the Daily Democrat Thursday to meet with the paper's publisher and to discuss with reporters his thoughts on the gains and setbacks since the current legislative session began, as well as his hopes for progress in the coming months on divisive issues such as the Iraq war. (insert question from anyone in the room here, like this one maybe, "Congressman Thompson with more and more reports coming in about how well the troop surge is working in Iraq, don't you feel conflicted in your position to pull our troops out right now?")

When House members return from recess next month, Thompson said he hopes legislators can finally make meaningful progress on the Iraq war. He said he supported a "long overdue" redeployment of U.S. troops. ( With all due respect Congressman, isn't there meaningful progress happening right now in Iraq? I mean even Dick Durbin says there is real progress in Iraq. Have you ever read Michael Yon or Bill Roggio?)

"There's a civil war going on in Iraq right now," he said, "and we shouldn't leave our troops in the middle of that civil war. We've done all we can do, militarily. The economic and social costs (to the American people) are just enormous."( Not to belabor the point Congressman, but the surge started in earnest this June and our soldiers are now walking down the streets of little towns and cities throughout the Anbar province and other areas where they couldn't just months ago, the Sunnis are turning on Al Qaeda and we just broke up a huge Iranian backed Shiia IED making ring in Baghdad, does any of this sound familiar?)

In order to achieve compromise on Iraq and other issues, certain legislators' tempers will need to cool, Thompson said, noting the "contentious" atmosphere that presided over the House in its final week before recess as certain Republicans "made mischief."

"There's a certain group within the minority that, it's safe to say, isn't happy with their new role," he said. "They continually tried to slow things down with procedural motions." (Mr. Thompson were you in the House chamber when the House President gaveled the vote closed with a tie when he knew the Democrats were going to loose a close vote on a motion to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal funds apportioned in the agricultural spending bill for employment or rental assistance? Is that the kind of mischief you are talking about?)
I guess when you are a small town newspaper you don't go asking tough questions of any big name office holder lest they put you on the blacklist, but c'mon, can you ask just one question of Mr. Thompson? If I wanted hear his talking points, I could just go to Mr. Thompson website, or talk to one of his staffers at his office.

Yolo County journalism at its finest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Barry hits 756 (yawn)

I like Barry Bonds, you know the skinny kid who used to run like a deer, hit for power, hit for average and actually chase down fly balls in the outfield. I often wondered who would break Aaron's record first, Bonds or Ken Griffy Jr? Jr was traded to the Reds and has been hurt almost every year since. Barry kept playing, hitting dingers and then around 199 he started growing like a steer in a feedlot.
That may be the best description of what happened to the Barry I watched and admired as a kid.

I can't get too worked up about Barry's 756 home runs. Unless Barry hits about 150 more while he's off the 'clear' and the 'cream', Hank Aaron is still the home run champ in my book.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A long, long day and a backstage pass.

The things we do for our kids.

I woke up in beautiful downtown Salinas at 6:00 after a night of sharing a queen sized bed with my 14 year old who is taller than I am, and he snores, and he's a blanket hog. Suffice to say I did not have a restful night's slumber, but we hit the shower and headed off to breakfast at the Black Bear restaurant. After a few cups of coffee I was ready to head out to the concert. We drove through the early morning coastal fog into the bright sunshine at Laguna Seca raceway to enjoy the day at the Spirit West Coast music festival. That is when I realized that the musicians are not early risers.

About 15 cars were stopped in line at the entrance to the park by a closed gate. I guess 8:00 is too early for parking so we sat in our cars for a while until we were finally set free by a park ranger. OK, lets get to the concert! We drove for a few miles of twisting one lane roads to be greeted by a group of youth parking volunteers. We followed the direction of their orange safety flags and found a spot to park. OK, lets get to the concert!

We walked up to the entrance to find a sign stating the ticket booth would be open promptly at 9:30. I glanced down at my watch hoping that it was on the latter side of 9 o'clock, it was 8:32. Crud. We waited in line for an hour passing time with other concert goers and getting a lay of the land from a program that would serve as our navigational guide for the day. The concert was held at 6 different stages, the main stage was an arena sized venue, holding 10- 12,000 people and the other stages were set up for 1- 2,000 and some as small as 2-300 concert goers.

Alas, 9:30 and as promised, we were let into the concert. I brought along a small business size shoulder bag to carry a light jacket and a few souvenirs if we purchased any. Some families brought 60 quart ice chests and folding chairs in rolling gardening carts. I wondered if they had ever been to Laguna Seca, it is not a flat piece of real estate, it is rolling hills and spread out. My son and I were set, we looked at the schedule and found a band named My Second Chance playing at the Air1 stage. They were first up and since they are musicians, and a 10:00 curtain time can be rough so they showed up in their pajamas. They were pretty good. My son bought their upgrade EP at their booth later in the day and had them sign it. That is one very cool thing about Christian musicians, they are very approachable and will talk to you for fifteen minutes if you would like.

We kept on stage hopping, checking out all kinds of bands when we ran into the Air1 stage emcee Brad, he had mentioned that he might just have a few back stage passes and I asked him what it would take to get one? He said that he takes bribes and anyone who sponsored a child through Compassion International at the concert would be pretty high up on the list. I told him that I already sponsor a child in Columbia and I love the work CI does, he said if I made a cash donation to Compassion, that would get some consideration.

I went to the CI booth and made a cash donation, if you don't know about the work Compassion International does, please check them out and then check out the marks they have with the folks who rate charities for honesty and getting the money where it is supposed to go, you will find out what a great job they do.

So after a long day of checking out bands and looking at t-shirts and other vendor booths, we headed back to the Air1 stage just before Disciple hit the stage. I worked my way to the front and finally got Brad's attention, he motioned me to the security gate and we made it in. I was cool just being backstage with my son but Brad invited us along with two other CI sponsors onto the stage where we watched the set from the corner right next to the drummer. It was pretty cool. Along with a bunch of pictures I asked the drummer for a drumstick and he gave me a stick he was playing during the show.

Tim Barrett pounding the skins.

Here is Brad Noah on guitar, that guy can flat out play.

After the set was over, we were both tired and hey, how could we top that? We decided to hit the road and missed seeing Switchfoot, we are going to see them when the come UC Davis this fall anyway.

We pulled into the driveway at 10:00 last night after the 3 hour drive. I wanted to make sure were we not scheduled for the set up team at church the next moring but sure enough, it was our turn. So when the alarm went off this morning at 5:30 I was groggy and a bit leg weary from the hills we walked the day before. We made it church for set up 6:50 and came home after the we tore down around 2:30 this afternoon. I took a nap.

My son and I had a great time and it was cool to spend that much time with him doing something he loves. I hope we can do it again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Painfully un-hip part II

As many of you may have guessed, I am painfully un-hip. Its not that I have crawled into my comfortable little box and shut lid on the outside world, I listen to my son's music, mostly to see what kind of musical influences he is taking in, but I try to stay open to new things. I let my co workers take me to try Vietnamese's food, which I like and I have been known to buy a new music CD that I have never heard if its a local band, but try as I may, I am cannot break through the un hippness that sticks to me like dog hair on a new suit.

This weekend my son and I are heading down to Monterey to check out the Spirit West Christan Music Festival. I wanted to go down Friday and see Third Day and my son wanted to see Kutless, but we will probable miss them by the time we get down there.

I love the ocean and it doesn't get much better than Monterey. The festival is at the Laguna Seca racetrack which is a few miles from the ocean and can get very hot in August but the weather is supposed to cooperate and stay in the 70s.

I haven't been to Laguna Seca since I was cool. My buddy Dan and I rode our crotch rockets down to watch the Superbike races. I think that was 13 years ago. Like I said, it has been long time since I was hip, but dang it, at one time I was pretty cool. I could always hang on to those times with a death like grasp, but I am comfortable in my un hipness.


Best fever swamp bumper sticker yet

Frodo failed, Bush has the ring!