Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Year Later

One year ago, I wrote about my reactions to Trump's election. One of the bullet points was "I suspect this blog may return to its title and original purpose in the years to come." Mostly, and happily, that hasn't happened.

As explained in my welcome message, the blog name is because I was upset that others were not as outraged as I was about George W. Bush.

Well, Trump hasn't managed to accomplish much politically! Certainly not as much as Dubya. There was a stolen Supreme Court seat, but the theft preceded him. There have been lots of terrible executive orders and undoing Obama-era regulations, but that's pretty typical in a party shift Presidency, and, for that very reason, can be as easily undone by the next Democratic President.

The worst and longest-lasting Trump accomplishments are his judicial appointments. As I've written before, "For me, it's the courts, stupid!" Update, one day later: In today's New York Times, I find this piece: Trump's Most Troubling Legacy? His Judges

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Faded Poster

The painting on the left is by Doug West. I think it is titled Taos. It was used in the poster for the Music from Angel Fire festival sometime in the 1980s. I bought the poster in Santa Fe back then.

The photo on the right is what my poster looks like today. It has never been in a lot of direct sunlight, but it gets some. The reds are all gone. The large words below the illustration ("Doug West" and "Angel Fire") are completely invisible now.

Autographs ― ZAP 13: Moscoso, Shelton, Spain, Williams, Wilson

The front and back covers of ZAP Comix #13
(by Victor Moscoso)

I bought ZAP Comix #13 in June 1994, probably in San Francisco, and got autographs from most of the cartoonists. I forgot all about the autographs until I was looking at the comic the other day!

On the front cover, Gilbert Shelton's autograph is in the lower left corner, vertically sideways. Robert Williams' personalized autograph is in the bottom center. (Victor Moscoso's signature (bottom right) is not an autograph; he's the cover artist and that's his pre-printed signature. He did autograph my copy on the inside. See below.)

On the inside cover, S. Clay Wilson's personalized and dated signature is across the top margin of the page.

On the first page, both Spain [Rodriguez] and Victor Moscoso signed along the right-hand margin of the page.

(Index of autographs)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autographs ― Roz Chast

Roz Chast spoke at the Los Angeles Central Library last night as part of their Aloud series. I always enjoy her New Yorker cartoons. I sometimes post them on Facebook.

I had seen almost every cartoon she used during her talk, but she also spoke about her background and especially her life in New York. She had some hilarious things to say about standpipes, too. (The talk was taped; if I can find that part later, I'll link it here.)

(Index of autographs)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Visa application delay (sigh)

(Follow-up to: previously...)

Two months later than I expected, the feds did finally get to my fiance visa application. But at the end of last week, I saw that I was being sent an RFE ("Request For Additional Evidence"). It arrived yesterday. They now want two additional items:

1. Although I included a statement about our intent to marry, they want a statement from Victor about that as well. I've asked Victor to do that, but it will likely take another week for his signed statement to reach me.

2. Although I included plenty of statements and photos showing that we have been physically together repeatedly, they want some sort of outside-party proof of that, like airline ticket stubs ― who keeps those?? fewer flights now even use them! ― or passport stamps. I'll send some barely legible passport stamps and United Airlines records of some of my flights. I thought for sure they would have a complete record of every time I re-entered the U.S. from Mexico! Silly me!

Apparently, an RFE will usually delay the next steps by about three weeks. I still think Victor will get here, but it may not happen this year after all. Sigh.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Irrationality about gay marriage

In 2008, the Mormon church and the Catholic church poured time, effort, and tons of money into stopping same-sex marriage in California. Irrationally, they feared that the mere existence of same-sex marriage in the state would greatly harm them.

Now, equally irrationally, I devoutly (!) wish their fears were true.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Autographs ― John Dean

John Dean spoke about Watergate at Occidental today. The room was packed.

I bought one of his books a couple of days ahead of time and got his autograph before he spoke. I haven't yet read the book.

(Index of autographs)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Boxing is barbarism

I sent this note to the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times (not published):
The sweet science is nothing but barbarism.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My pathetic AT&T internet service

I hate my "high speed" AT&T internet service!

(It used be called U-verse, but they seem to have dropped that name now.) AT&T advertises "speeds up to 50 Mbps". At its very best, I get about 0.6 Mbps service. More often, half that. And much too often, service that internet speed tests say is too slow to measure. GRRRR!

It seems to be getting worse. It's unusable more hours of more days than before. In the past three weeks, it's been (barely) OK four full days and three half days.

It can't just be my 50+ year-old internal wiring, since sometimes it's (barely) OK, and sometimes not. It can't just be too much traffic in my neighborhood, since it's frequently just as bad in the middle of the night. It can't just be my browser; I have three browsers, and when it's bad, it's bad on all of them. Occasionally, stopping and re-starting the service helps, but usually not.

When I complain to AT&T, they refer me to websites. Fat lot of help that is when my internet service is terrible!

A few months ago, AT&T installed fiber optic cable about a mile away. I desperately hoped they would make it to my block, but no such luck. They haven't been spotted anywhere close since then. I've called and written asking when I will get fiber, but they can't say.

I only went to AT&T when my previous provider, Clear Wireless, went out of business. I only have three choices: AT&T over phone lines, Spectrum over cable, and Hughes via satellite. Each of these has some unhappy customers in my neighborhood, and Hughes requires a two-year commitment.

Google Fiber was supposed to be coming to Los Angeles before they suspended all expansion plans. I registered my interest.

Until shortly before I retired, I only used the net at work. I didn't even own a home computer. I was spoiled, and I knew it. Starting at PARC, one of the originators of the ARPANET, continuing at Oxy, and later at JPL, I always had reliable, high-speed internet service at work.

I don't stream movies or TV shows. I don't need super high-speed, just decent and reliable. I'm an Internet addict, and I'm only surviving these days by driving over to Oxy when my crummy AT&T service is down. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse — Oregon, August 21, 2017

The best my smartphone camera could do

I made a quick trip to Oregon to be in the path of the total solar eclipse. A few photos are here.

The two minutes of totality were spectacular! I've seen a couple of partial solar eclipses before, but being able to take off the eclipse glasses and see the blacked-out sun and the solar corona was special.

In addition to the sun itself, there were two other things I hoped to see: the moon's shadow racing along the ground, and the 360° sunset. (See this article, for example.) I did look for the moon shadow, but I didn't see it. And during totality, I was so taken by the sun that I forgot to check for the full-circle sunset. The two minutes of totality was over too quickly.

Getting to the eclipse, everything went very well. With traffic jams and flight delays, leaving was much more difficult. For all the details, keep reading.

Two months ago, when I finally decided to make the trip, I looked for a one-night room in the path of totality. Everything was booked or super-expensive. I finally found a standard-price Airbnb in Tualatin, a southern suburb of Portland, about a two-hour drive away from totality. I got a non-stop flight to Portland, but for the return, had a connection in San Francisco. I also reserved an eclipse viewing parking spot on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, where totality would last just over two minutes.

At Warm Springs, the partial eclipse would begin at 9:06 and totality would begin at 10:19. Worried about traffic, I left Tualatin before 5:30 am! As it turned out, I drove at top speed the whole way — no bad traffic at all. Along the way, I spotted the recreational marijuana retailer I hoped to stop at on my return; it wouldn't open until 10 am. I also saw a dead young bear along the side of the road, but, worried about traffic, I didn't stop to take a photo. I also didn't stop to photograph this sign (here's someone else's photo):

Views of Mt. Hood and the drive through Mt. Hood National Forest were beautiful. After that, I was in the path of totality, and even at the early hour, every available roadside parking spot was taken.

I arrived at Warm Springs before 7:30. There were a few hundred eclipse viewers there. I wandered around and read until the partial eclipse began just after 9. From then until totality, I put on my eclipse glasses every ten or fifteen minutes to check out the disappearing sun.

Immediately after the too-brief totality, I left. I was the first person to leave Warm Springs, but a few blocks later when I hit the highway, there was already a steady stream of cars! Ahead of time, I thought there would be bad traffic getting to the eclipse, but no problem leaving since most folks wouldn't leave right after totality. I was completely mistaken.

After only ten minutes on the highway, we came to a complete stop. For more than an hour after that, it was mostly slow going, with occasional stops. I began to worry that I would miss my flight! Because of that, I made none of the stops I had planned.

After traffic eased, I did manage to get through Portland, stop for gas, return my rental car, get my boarding pass, go through security, and get to the gate about 40 minutes before my flight.

But while I was at the San Francisco airport, Skywest's (aka United Express) entire computer system went down. The flight preceding mine at the gate had just finished boarding, and they soon had everyone get off the plane! After thirty minutes, and again after an hour, they announced that the computers were still down.

It occurred to me that while Skywest handled my flight to Burbank, maybe I could find a United flight to LAX, and go to Burbank the next day to retrieve my car. At United Customer Service, they switched me to a United flight to Burbank! When it left, Skywest was still not operating. I got home about 11 pm.