Not the Best Way to Start a Day at the Beach

          Low tide.  About a half-mile from the beach access road—the closest people are more than 200 meters off—I swing a U-turn a bit too high off the wet-packed sand, intending to park facing the ocean.  Somewhere in that sentence there should have been a descriptive adverb...a 'stupidly' or at the very least a 'thoughtlessly'.

          I knew I was farged the moment I lost forward momentum, but we took a few minutes to insure it was so before calling a tow truck.  Twenty minutes later the guy hooked up, pulled me forward ten feet, and gave us the bill.  It cost slightly more than a dollar an inch.

          Is there a combo-adverb for extremely stupid and very costly?   

Make Self-Service Gas Illegal

          I have an unemployed friend.  Keeping a constant paycheck was a challenge for him even before the economy married the weather.  (Remember when Miss Weather was only occasionally crazy in public and Mister Economy appeared strong and confident?  In case you just awoke from a three-year hibernation, Mr. and Mrs. Weather-Economy are an extremely toxic couple.)  Every time my friend and I talk he says, "Believe me, I'm always out there looking, but there just aren't any jobs available."

          There are jobs.  Plenty of them.  It's just that there are none in the field he has experience in.  That's the full-time-with-great-benefits field where one got paid a 40+K salary to accomplish 8-hours of actual work every 40-hour "work week".

          Today, politicians don't dare open their mouths unless they can find a way to jam the words 'job creation' into every one of their paragraphs.  Do they understand the difference between rhetoric and action?

          My two cents:  If the other 48 states (or the US congress) passed full-service gas station laws, like those in Oregon and New Jersey...with the stroke of a (governor's or president's) pen they would create tens of thousands...hundreds of thousands...over a million jobs.

           That's right, over a million jobs.

           There are approximately 240,000* self-service gas stations in the 48 US states that don't have full-service laws.  A conservative estimate:  five additional full-time minimum wage employees, per gas station, would be required to be hired if every state (or the US government) passed mandatory full-service gas station laws.  1.2 million new jobs. 

           PROS:   Gas station attendant jobs can't be lost to oversea workers.
                        Required training and licenses prevent illegal aliens from filling these jobs.
                        Fuel spills and accidents at the station's pump are drastically eliminated.
                     
           CONS:  Price increase at the pump (about 10 cents a gallon).

           Disagree with my recommendation?  Feel free to tell me why. 

* 2007 census:  118,756 gas stations + 97,508 gas stations with convenience stores + 21,248 other gas stations + 10,131 stations without employees = 247,643.  Oregon / New Jersey stations: 1,061 / 2,545 gas stations + 618 / 749 gas stations with convenience stores + 443 / 1,796 other gas stations  = 7,212.

Can't Stop The Serenity


          Last weekend I was a volunteer for CSTS at the Hollywood Theater.  It's run annually by the PDX Browncoats and all profits are donated to charity.

          There were over 400 fantastic theater goers watching Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog and Serenity on the big screen, with an intermission Q&A with artist Patric Reynolds (of Dark Horse Comics fame).  The after-party was relaxing-interesting, except when I verbally stumble-said brownshirts after I'd imbibed the exact-right amount of libation to make that faux pas possible (corrected immediately by every Browncoat within earshot). 

launch monitor - swing statistics (golf)


          I used a radar to determine my current average golf club distances.  This is a first for me (and I enjoy tracking anything done for a first time).  As one ages and loses muscle, one's "numbers" change.  Hopefully, this will help.  Too often, I'm missing the club's sweet-spot...which is lowering my carry distance.    

Club (degree)  Speed (mph)   Loft (angle)   Carry Yardage     Total Yardage             

Driver (10.5)        96                13.5                    222                      245
3 Wd (15)            91                11.5                    187                      207   (should be 210-carry 225-total)
5 Wd (19)            92                15                       190                      208
3 I (21)                88                17                       175                      188
4 I (23)                84                17.5                    164                      176
5 I (27)                83                18                       150                      157
6 I (30)                84                21.5                    144                      152
7 I (34)                84                23                       133                      140
8 I (37)                83                25                       122                      126
9 I (41)                78                28                       110                      113
PW (45)               73                30                         90                        91

Hypocrisy — An Invaluable Discriminator

          I recall riding in cars in the 1970's with my step-dad behind the wheel.  In traffic, he would holler and gesture and 'talk a blue streak' (mom-speak) about other drivers and pedestrians.  At home, he would occasionally shout at TV newscasters.  In person, however, he was always polite...to a fault.

          Who was my step-dad?

          A reactionary, idiotic, rude, old man; intelligent enough to know when to filter himself?  Or was he a courteous, open-minded, thoughtful person who—when safely ensconced on the other-side of a protective barrier—ranted at the occasional egregiously-behaved fool or jester?  I don't know if the answer is important.  I suspect it's not.  But the question is.

          Immediate family were the only witnesses to his bursts of vitriol.  I seriously doubt he would ever have defined himself using negative verbiage of any stripe (even the concept of defining himself would have been foreign to him).  I think of all the co-workers, fellow congregants, neighbors and extended family members who thought they knew him but who never witnessed him shout, "Pick a fuckin lane you miserable cunt!" or "They otta throw all those longhair-draft-dodgein-fags in the slammer!"

          If you subscribe to the belief that people 'reveal their true nature' in times when their guard is down...my step-dad was Archie Bunker wearing a Jimmy Carter mask.  When I consider his behavior in the context of how it affected who I grew up to be, I focus on the hypocrisy.  His lifelong struggle to keep internal-Archie mute and fabricate the external-Jimmy persona must have been immensely difficult; as difficult as a homosexual who (in 1966 America) decided at the age of thirty-nine to forevermore deny his innate attraction and marry an aging divorcĂ©e with two grade-school children before moving his ready-made family half-way across the country (this unrelated suspicion I have about my step-dad is based on very few facts; I merely include it here to suggest there were possible other hidden layers to "who he really was").

          Back to hypocrisy.  I suspect it's a much more valuable discriminator than many people realize.  How often do you attempt to measure someone's normally hidden hypocrisy?  It's one of, if not THE primary tool I use to decide if someone is a trusted friend or merely an acquaintance.

          If I'd been friends with OJ Simpson... (This is a quote from one of the most un-hypocritical people I've ever known; I hope he remains my very good friend for a long time to come) ...and, back in 1994, I went to talk to him and he said to me, "Dude, I just snapped when I saw 'em together."  Then I'd have just said, "That's cool, let's go play golf."  But if he was all, "Hey, I hope they catch who really did it."  Then I wouldn't have been able to stay friends with him.

          Chris's blog post Don't call me a "liberal" begins with this excerpt (to the right) of commenters on a Weather.com article about the current drought in Texas.  As is often the case, give a hypocrite a protective barrier (the epitome of web-commenting) and they let their inner Archie Bunker out.

          I learned from my step-dad what I didn't want to be.  Who you read here is who you talk to on the phone is who you meet in person.  Liberal?..ok.  Hypocrite?..never.

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LIMBO - game review - ☆☆☆☆☆

          I enjoy puzzles.  I get a wonderful micro-instant brain fizz when, after extensive trial and error (or in the case of this game—trial, death, and re-spawn) 'I can't figure this one out' crystallizes, the solution clicks in my gulliver, and...'oh yea! Gotcha.'

          If Edward Gorey designed a side-scroller like The Humans, it would be Limbo; a game with good value for average invested entertainment time ($15 for ≈15 hours).  A few of its 39 chapters are time-sensitive, which seem more a test of hand-eye coordination than mental dexterity; others rely on pure deduction (path + tools = looks impossible but it's not); a few are sequence oriented; many are a combination of all of the above.  Add the occasional anti-gravity device, electro-magnet, huge insect, and...well...you get a great puzzle game.

Forest Camping