Monday, June 29, 2009

NPR - Approaching Summer

It's the end of June. While summer has started, even with heat waves in almost every place in the US, it doesn't really start here in western Washington until the second week of July, after the Independence Day holiday. Around the 10th of the month or so. Then it quickly warms to the warmest period of the year, the last two weeks of the month when both the average for the highest high temperature and the highest low temperature peaks, the former around the 20-25th and the latter around the 25-31st.

After that, August 1st, its proverbially down hill. That's not always true but it's consistently true as August sees the greatest drop in average temperatures (highest, lowest, average) for any month of the year. By Labor Day we're back to June weather, only excepted by the occasional indian summer in mid-September to mid-October. In addition we average about 3 periods of 2-3 days a year over 90 degrees and 21 days over 80 degrees.

So living here is about the old adages about living without air conditioning, if you can survive, the last two weeks of July, you're home free for the year, more or less, meaning minus the occasional 2-3 days heat spells in August and early September, but by then the days are shorter and the evenings into night cool off faster, or so it seems. And once by mid-August, you can expect the possibility of cold temperatures, even at or below freezing, in the mountains.

What this also means is the worst time for hiking with pesky insects is mid-July into mid-August. Once the temperatures dip below 40 degrees and especially freezing, the insects are gone, or at least all but the few hardy ones who don't get going to late mornings and aren't much of a bother in the evening. But that also changes with the year.

Some years, the warm temperatures broke records for the temperatures, length of period - sometimes 3-5+ days, and the total number of days for the summer. And in some years we didn't break 80 degrees all summer. The same is similar for rainfall. July and August have about the same average rainfall, the minimium for us which is about one inch per month. In some years, it doubles or triples and the record for consecutive rainless days is 101 days, one entire summer.

So, what does all this mean? I'm a temperate climate person, meaning I thrive best in temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees. Anything colder and my body has issues, like joints. Anything warmer, say above 80 degrees and especially above 85 degrees and it shuts down. It's a rapid progressive fade from the high 70's, which physiologists say is the optimium range for physical activity, into the 90's, like falling off a cliff.

And especially days of 85+ degree days. It's my annual test for the average number of three periods of warm weather. The first one is a an adjustment, the second tolerance and the third impatience. The first hot period is where my body isn't ready and has to learn to just exist after the winter and spring cold and cool temperatures. The second is when my body knows and adjusts to survive through it.

But the third is the body simply being tired of it. Since these periods last 3-5 days, a warmup day followed by 2-3 days of warm to hot weather and then followed by 1-2 days of cooling but still warm weather. We forget during these periods everything gets hot and it takes a few days to cool off everything back to normal.

And those years we have longer periods are the worst. After the third day, my body simply quits altogether and I just get through them until the temperatures drop back below 80 degrees. And the record period we had of two weeks of warm weather and over a week of over 85-90 degree weather was simply what you think. I sat, barely did anything, and took a lot of naps.

This is because, like everyone's body, mine has adapted to the moderate weather. When I lived in Phoenix, yes I did live there for five years too, it took the first year to adjust and adapt and I was fine, even working and being active in 95+ degree weather. I always loved the mornings in the summer when it was 70-75 degrees, but hated it didn't stay there long once the sun rose in the sky.

And I actually learned to work in the remote deserts in the heat. I wasn't happy but I managed. Now approaching 60 this year, it's not the same anymore. The body and mind are slower, less tolerant of heat, and less forgiving of heat spells. It's just easier not to do anything that to do something. In a sense I get through, and occasionally do some things. Or at least try.

Ok, not much point here except venting about hot weather and getting old. Like folks in normally warm and hot places have any thought other than, "Awww." But as I've learned the two-plus decades I've lived there, at least around the summer heat waves, the weather and places is great, and we can go and do anything outdoors without it being too hot.

And why I continue to live there. A few weeks of uncomfortable weather in most years ain't so bad in the face of the rest of the time and place. I'll take it, and yes, even the occasional heat wave. There's not much else to do except accept it as part of life and living. In paradise of course. Mine anyway.

Monday, June 22, 2009

JMO - When AARP talks

When the AARP talks, check your wallet and your checkbook, because that's what they're after. They've learned to market their talk for retirees, especially members, but in reality they speak for the pharmaceutical (drug) industry. Even when the latter is offering deals and discounts, and the AARP stands with them, both of them are after your money.

This morning the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced working to lower drug costs by $80 Billion and the AARP is their cheerleader. Except that's a drop in the bucket for the drug industry, and they'll get it back in marketing and tax deductions. It may lower the cost of your drugs, and stress may, a little, but nothing beyond that except for some drugs they'll offer more discounts for awhile to get your business.

You see that's what the AARP is about. They're a commercial enterprise selling and promoting insurance, drugs and other things the elderly think they need. They don't represent anyone other than themselves. Sure they offer discounts for older people through their membership, and that's a good thing for those on fixed incomes and couldn't afford it otherwise.

That, however, isn't the AARP but the other companies who business who want your business. They know they can easily recoup the difference in other ways, so they're also not losing besides getting loyal customers. Do you stop to ask yourself if you didn't have the AARP card, would you still buy their products or services? You saved money but still didn't get what you wanted, you got what you paid for.

Even now almost 8 years after I returned my AARP membership card I still get trial membership offers from them and discount offers from other companies through AARP. They sell your information to everyone who wants to pays them. It's not free. You see, you pay them to sell your information to others for profit who market products and services to you. Would you allow another company to do that? So why do you allow the AARP?

As you can tell I don't like the AARP. I joined when I turned 50 when they started the program to the lower age group. But over a two year period I got tired of the junk mail, but mostly I realized they didn't want to really hear my view or voice, but simply wanted to use my name to do what they thought I wanted, and without even asking me what that was or if they had my permission to represent me.

You see when you vote you know, good or bad, you choose that person for their views. But the AARP takes your money then ignores you except to sell you goods and services you don't need. And what was the final straw was a response I got from them when I asked about the membership submission criteria for articles, etc. to their magazines. They said, "We don't accept unsolicited manuscripts from members. We have a professional staff who already know what members and readers want."

That was an, "Excuse me?" They don't care about you, just your money and the fact you're a member to give them more power to lobby Congress as "your representative". Remember when they met with drug companies to propose the last Drug Prescription Bill with the doughnut hole? They helped create that and supported it in Congress. Remember when they supported the bill which prevented the goverment to negotiate with drug companies for lower costs for Medicare and other programs? They also supported that too.

Is that representing you? They said they did, but they also met secretly with the drug companies. You see they profit from drug companies marketing to you. That's what they do. They don't represent you to the drug companies but the drug and insurance companies to you. You're their captive market. And you pay for it.

The AARP is a for profit company marketing their insurance and other companies' goods and services to you. Nothing more, except they disguise it as membership. They simply want your money. If that's ok with you, fine, just understand that. If not, then do what others do, protest, criticize and expose them for what they are, a sham and a scam. In my view anyway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

JMO - Fox Sports

I have to say Fox Sports is only just a little better than ABC sports and better than any sports show with Brent Musburger, but I have to also say Fox Sports is showing they're equally bad. They own Speed Channel which has the broadcast feed rights to distribute the world feed of Formula One racing in North America. And Speed Channel continues to do an outstanding job with the broadcast.

But their parent company knows how to muck up a good thing. They broadcast 4 of the 17 Formula One races this year, and this year in succession which began with the Turkey Grand Prix in early June. But they do two very stupid things. First, they broadcast the race later Sunday, not until the early afternoon, and second, they don't allow Speed Channel to broadcast the race live early in the morning.

What don't they understand that the results are already posted on the official Formula One Website within 30 minutes of the race? People can simply read about the race instead of watching the delayed broadcast. They're not adding viewers but losing them. They're broadcasting the race smack in the middle of NASCAR races, basball games and golf tournaments.

Who's going to watch a Formula One race then? Fox Sports has been doing this for several years, including the Monaco Grand Prix the Sunday of the Memorial Day holiday. This year they let Speed Channel broadcast it live and it was great, and we can watch the other races later.

Now for these four races I watch the live qualifying and then read about the race Sunday morning before Fox airs it. I can decide if I want to watch it or wait for the Tuesday rebroadcast on Speed Channel. They don't get that they're losing their faithful viewers by at least not airing the live broadcast on Speed Channel, which they should do on the either channel, and then rebroadcast it later Sunday on Fox.

Fox is doing what ABC learned doesn't work with viewers, delay live events. Even the World Cup Soccer and Olympics are first broadcast live and then rebroadcast for other viewers. What's not to understand faithful sports fan love the live broadcast. Knowing the race results beforehand loses the excitement and mystery. Fox simply screws the viewer.

I hope Speed Channel gets the point across to their parent company, because the complaints are long and often among the faithful. I will give Fox the credit for using the Speed Channel crew this year, something they didn't do in previous years. They had some really awful broadcasters and they kept going to commercials and self-promotion ads in the middle of some good racing.

I know this won't change anything, and all I wanted to do is vent at Fox Sports for being stupid. It seems Formula One is full of stupid people, whether it's Bernie Ecclestone or Fox sports management. There were better days, but at least the racing is still good. Watching it live is another matter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

JMO - Deficits

I've been reading the newsstories and editorials about the new budget deficit created by President Obama. And yes, while it's huge and will take decades to pay down along with the rest of the government's deficit, over $10 Trillion now and rising, it's not fair to put all the blame, as the republicans have, on the President. It's an inherited mess and unfortunately the only way out was to spend. It's what the republicans agreed with the democrats was necessary to rebuild the economy and this country.

So, it's not fair after the fact they're whining about it. They not only didn't flinch when President Bush passed the $800 Billion bailout package last fall. They jumped at it with joy for helping the financial industry get out of their self-created bottomless pit. And it doesn't matter half of that money is unaccounted for and was spent in violation of the terms of the bailout. They also agreed with the other $1 Trillion bailout to the banks and home mortage industry, even buying stock at inflated prices as the government did in the first bailout.

But to spend money on people, they're aghast. That' blasphamy in their eyes. Yet, President GW Bush added more to the federal deficit than any president in history, almost doubling it. And the republican didn't bat an eye, let alone raise a voice. It was republican money. But democratic money, God forbid it's evil, in their eyes. Like the people care what party the money was approved and funded by?

The republicans are only resurrecting the same rhetoric they spouted to the American people when President Clinton proposed budgets with deficits. Only the size of the deficit is different. And President Clinton left office with a budget surplus which President Bush quickly erased and we never saw again. President Bush never offered Congress a balanced budget let alone one with a surplus.

And still the republicans didn't complain that it was against their party philosophy and view towards government spending. And they didn't complain when President Bush increased the size of government and significantly increased the size and number of government contractrs and contractors, respectively. They said it was "good" government. That's not only hipocracy, it's pure unadutlerated (political) bullshit.

The American people see it and know what it is. What don't the republicans understand you're not fooling anyone? You know why you lost the election and Congress, and still you continue to spout your rhetoric likes it's new? We wouldn't buy a used car from you, so why do you think we'll buy your rhetoric? If you believe it, I know there's a bridge in Alaska with your name on it, nicknamed, "The Bridge to Nowhere.", which you also paid for already, with our, the taxpayers', money.

And remember it was Republican Governor Palin who proposed the bridge, and after it was killed, kept the money without building the bridge. That's an example of republican fiscal responsibility? Lie to the people and Congress and then take the money and run? And we're expected to buy her story and rhetoric? She's one of you. She only followed the standard republican model GW Bush established, lie, cheat and steal and then feign ignorance.

So, dear republicans, either stop whining or do something productive, like help the American people and this country, not your corporate and industry friends profit with government handouts. You bitch about handouts to people, but not corporations. That's what we see and know. You can't hide that truth and reality. So, just shut up or pitch in and help.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

JMO - Close Gitmo

I'm one of those 33% who favor and want the base at Guatanamo, Cuba, closed and the whole place returned to Cuba. We simply don't need it. We don't seem to understand terrorists are criminals, nothing more. They're not what the politicians try to convince us with their rhetoric about patriotism and nationalism. Terrorists are simply some of the worst types of criminals and should be treated as that.

No one in the Justice Department and Department of Defense wants to follow the normal procedures to prosecute suspected terrorists, yet it's exactly what the courts, including the Supreme Court has said should and must be done to ensure the law is followed and the defendants have their day in court with their rights. And that means transferring them to federal prisons, which already house some pretty violent criminals.

And that leads to closing Gitmo. It has no place or purpose in our society and country. It's not what we're about and it's not what we want the world to think we are, which is exactly what using it does, shows the world we don't care about the Geneva Convention Treaty, which we're a signatory, or International law, both of which we have claimed covers all Americans.

Just not those we want to call terrorists because we can. The reality is the vast majority of those at Gitmo aren't terrorists. Almost all weren't captured on the battle fields in Afghanistan or Iraq, and many aren't or weren't arrested or captured from either country. Many were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and were swept up and arrested. And then called terrorists.

We need to prove to the world we believe what our laws says, or else we're a sham to the world and a shame to ourselves. Even the experts have said the detainees can be housed in the US with the same level of security as Gitmo. But we like Gitmo because we can separate it from the rest of the criminals.

Yet, we've forgotten all the criminals who fit the same definition of terrorists are currently in federal prisons. But we've decided only Islamic individuals are terrorists. It's a political decision than a legal one, and one without merit or credibility. We all know what a terorists is and who's a terrorists. It's not a 14-year old kid who's spent a third of his life now (14-21) at Gitmo.

Before we keep Gitmo, the DOD and DOJ needs to prove to the American people the detainees at Gitmo are terrorists, in court, and in full public view with full public disclosure of the evidence. That's the law. For you and me, and for anyone arrested commiting acts against us. So what's the difference with them? Only being Muslim?

The US could do everyone a favor and improve our international relations by closing Gitmo. It's the right thing to do. After transferring the detainees to federal prison and putting them on trial in federal courts. Then we can not just tell the world we believe in justice, we can show we do and can practice justice.

JMO - When Socialism isn't

I get a kick out of republicans. One of the mainstays of their political philosophy, logic and rhetoric is about socialism. They're against it. Completely and whole-heartedly. Except that is when it's for and benefits corporations. The recent bailout of the automobile industry with the government investing in and even assuming partial ownership (60% in the case with GM) has them on the spot about the term.

The government is simply doing for corporations what it does for people and organizations who help people, give them money to live, work and be a productive member of society. In short, socialism. But it's not the same type of socialism to republicans. They want to use "capital" or other words to qualify it as anything else. But it's still the same.

If the government didn't bailout GM and Chrylser, they would be in full bankruptcy, hemoraging massive debts, angering investors, and frustrating creditors. But now they can survive, probably prosper under reorganization, and still be a productive member of our society. What? That's not socialism?

To the republicans it's not because it's not people, but corporations. Except corporations are people, the employees with all their salaries and benefits, the investors, the creditors, the dealers in the case of the auto industry, and most importantly, the customers. It's all about people, but they like being blind to that fact and reality.

They like being blind because it allows them to give government money to corporations under the guise of investing and ownership without using the socialsim word. And they can continue their normal rhetoric that government's help to people and families is socialism. It's pure and simple bullshit. Yeah, like distinguishing between cow and bull manure. The animal isn't important as the end result.

The republicans are going through a phase of reinventing themselves, but they always seem to go back to their basic tenets which don't and can't be sustained and has never been followed by any republican president. And worse, some of those presidents, eg. Reagan and JWH Bush, increased the size and cost of government more than democratic presidents. But they continue to believe what they think.

Being mentally blind has advantages. We've all seen that in politicians, especially in the last 10 years under Mr. Bush and co-horts. What they don't want to see doesn't exist, or so they think and say. But it doesn't change the facts, the truth and the reality. They can argue all they want about what they believe, because it's not what they do.

The records and history are always there, no matter how much they classify or hide. History has shown and will continue to show how empty their rhetoric is and always will be until the take off the blinders and see the whole world as it is, and not how they want it to be or think it is.

The reality is that we could lose the Republican party and nothing would be hurt. Many Democrats are conservative or moderate enough to assume the republican ideology while maintaining their democratic ideas. That's the neat thing, the democrats can easily move right but republicans can't move left. They're stuck in their own rhetoric, for themselves and the many republican pary members.

So when republicans spout the bailouts of the financial, banking, auto and other industries isn't socialism, ask them the tough questions why they distinguish between a government check to a person versus a corporation for the same purposes, survival.