Tuesday, March 26, 2019

GET REAL PEOPLE: The Electoral College will NEVER be Eliminated in our Lifetimes!

The founders went with the ELECTORAL COLLEGE for Presidential elections and it was brilliant. Not only should we not overturn the Electoral College, but it will never be rescinded by an amendment to the constitution. If you didn't know that, you don't understand the electoral college and the constitutional amendment process.
http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/16/the-electoral-college-still-makes-sense-because-were-not-a-democracy/?fbclid=IwAR1bAnvkrPsRPzbEQuKWnqm_C9tbbelkDLMrHxaGJPOObeQ85QbOTx7e6-Y#.XJEzW90SpDU.facebook

From the article:

"Think of the Electoral College like the World Series. One person-one vote equates to the World Series Champions being determined by total number of runs scored. If the Dodgers win the first game 10-0, and the Yankees win the next four games 1-0, the Dodgers win the series. Even though the Yankees bested the Dodgers in four games, it doesn’t matter because the Dodgers scored 10 runs to their 4. One anomalous game decides the whole series. Without the Electoral College, a few heavily populated states decide the whole election."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

RV Improvements: 2006 19' Trail Cruiser

INTRODUCTION: We plan to use our travel trailer quite a bit in the future, so I've been making some repairs and improvements to it. Thought it'd be fun to document them here, and provide ideas for others who are doing the same.

SPECS: The maker of this RV (R-Vision Trail-Cruiser by Trail-Lite) is out of business. We bought the trailer in 2014 from a family in north county who was no longer using it, and it was in good shape. Though we had NOT heard of R-Vision, it was hardly used and seemed to be of good quality, design and layout.


This is what it looked like when we first bought it:


Here's the Spec Sheet that came with it. Note that even though the manufacturer lists the RV at 22 feet, 5 inches, the trailer "box" is 18 feet, 8 inches, leaving a "discrepancy" of 3 feet, 3 inches, 9 inches, which is assumedly account for by the length of the tongue. When comparing RV trailer lengths, make sure you are making an "apples to apples" comparison (box length to box length, or full length to full length - including tongue). While shopping, I prefer to use the "box length" for comparison, as tongue lengths can vary a little bit.

Interior headroom is 6' 4" which is sufficient for us. Also, it neatly sizes all 3 tanks at 30 gallons (fresh water, black water, gray water), which makes it easy to remember! Though the trailer is quite light compared to others of the same sizes (dry weight of 3,000 pounds), the trailer frame is stamped with a "Gross Weight" of 6,250 pounds, leaving a theoretical "Cargo Weight" of 3,250 pounds - more than the weight of the trailer. We were happy that the builders chose a high capacity trailer frame, giving us confidence that they had not "under-built" the trailer. On many RVs, the "Cargo Weight" is much lower, and would be a cause for concern to us. Note that these types of specs are confusing and contradictory, and because of that, I tow the trailer with a 2006 Dodge Diesel 2500 with a 6 speed manual transmission and a 12,500 pound trailer towing capacity.

LAYOUT: Our basic criteria for our travel trailer were as follows:
- No slide-outs, but still a functional layout
- 2 Beds with room for 2 full-size adult couples 
- Large Dinette with room for 2 full-size adult couples
- As small as possible, but would still meet the above criteria
Our Trail-Cruiser met our basic criteria. As we have owned RVs previously, we know from that experience that modifying an RV to fit our needs was mandatory. Fortunately, I find the mods to be fun to do, so I don't mind, and it sure makes the RV more fun to use!


Less Than Human: Why We Do Not Really Want to Help the Homeless in SLO

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN SLO COUNTY: There are plenty of effective, affordable solutions out there, once our community realize that the homeless are people like you and me - I truly believe they are still seen as "Less Than Human" which is a major factor in our lack of desire to help them. What is the matter with us? NIMBY-ism rules! I've got mine - screw them!

I read this book "Less Than Human: Why we Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others" (by David L. Smith) in search of an answer to how we can treat fellow humans so cruelly. Obviously, not just the homeless, but slavery, indentured servitude, genocide, etc. - how can we do it to a fellow human? In large part, it is because we can convince ourselves that the homeless are "less than human". 

Book (link to Amazon): Less Than Human

The homeless are the last group where we feel free to demean them without guilt or public criticism (except for white men, of course). I hear it constantly. Lazy. Stupid. They deserve it. Why should we help them? Outside of SLO, many west coast municipalities at least recognize the seriousness of the problem and are trying to address it — here in SLO? Not so much. Sad. Makes me cry, because I love these people.

PHOTO: Blue Heron, Avila Beach

Monday, January 14, 2019

FEDERAL: Government Shutdown 2019

1. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Really? Federal Government Workers? Sorry to hear you can't go 2 weeks without a paycheck: I'll tell you what I told my boys when we were raising them: ALWAYS save AT LEAST 10 to 15% of your income, NO MATTER WHAT! Put it away before you see it: if you never have it, you can never spend it. There. Lifetime savings plan started. Parental advice administered. 2. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: This is a PAID VACATION - TAKE IT! After the Partial Shutdown ends, our tax dollars are going to pay you for ALL THE DAYS YOU WERE SCHEDULED TO WORK BUT DID NOT! If I were you (ONLY thinking of what I would do), I would hope it would go on long enough so I could take a vacation to Mexico, Death Valley, and the Virgin Islands - all while getting paid and NOT HAVING TO TAKE A VACATION DAY! WOW! AWESOME! HOW LUCKY ARE YOU? Alternatively, take a "temporary" job and go for the double income score. Work while furloughed, and when the shut down ends, receive payroll checks for all the days you were scheduled to work but didn't. What a great opportunity for a bump in pay, or to do a different job for a change. With the sub-4% unemployment rate, job opportunities abound. 3. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Emphasis on "Partial". Who really notices when Federal "NON-ESSENTIAL" personnel do NOT show up for work? Probably nobody. NOT saying that they don't do an important job - just saying that its likely that nobody will miss whatever important service is being done. Heck, its the Christmas Holiday - nobody is doing any working anyways, are they? (except Retailers and Utility companies). 4. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NUMBER: Look how "serious" our leaders are taking this SHUTDOWN CRISIS! Pelosi luxuriating in Hawaii (also getting paid), and Trump canceling all vacation plans to be at the Whitehouse to be available to negotiate an end to the shutdown. Heck, Trump even through in a quick trip to the troops in Iraq, which, not surprisingly, he was roundly criticized for making - go figure! (seems the troops appeciated it, anyways!). Not supporting EITHER POLITICIAN, but the contrast is striking to me. During a shutdown, I believe CONGRESS and the PRESIDENT should be in Washington DC sitting at a table (Trump/Congress: nobody leaves to go to the bathroom until we get this resolved! <HUMOR>). 5. PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NUMBER: Emphasis on "Partial". The VAST MAJORITY of our Federal Government remains open, and everyone gets their Social Security checks, etc. Remember, STATE and LOCAL governments are still open, unless they get most of their funding from the Feds (which MOST don't). 6. (dedicated to Mike S.) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SCREWS ITS EMPLOYEES: PRIVATE EMPLOYERS must pay their employees for time worked, or face STIFF FINES. The Federal Government EXEMPTED THEMSELVES from these rules, as they do with almost every employment law they impose on private employers. The Federal Government exempts itself because they feel that laws like these are too cumbersome and difficult for them to abide by, yet the make private employers like me do so. Why don't government unions push for changes, such as requiring payment for labor on time? Because they'd rather push for benefits and pay raises, as they KNOW that after a shutdown, they will get paid for every penny they worked, and for many, get paid for time they did not work. To my fellow Furloughed Federal Americans: Enjoy your PAID vacation, and don't forget to say THANK YOU to those of us who are paying for it! Peace and Happy New Years to All!

PHOTO: Yuma Crossing map from Mission Days

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

FACEBOOK: I Don't Care What You Think!

I guess this is the new trend, so here goes: Dear Face Book Friends, This is where I stand. Period. I make no apologies to any or all of my FB friends for this. I don't listen to what politicians SAY - instead, I pay attention to what they DO (WHICH IS ALL THAT MATTERS). For the issues I most care about, all American political parties show little or no concern for these issues, as far as I can tell: - Reducing INCOME INEQUALITY (California has the highest in the nation) - "the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer" here in California. - Reducing POVERTY (California has the highest poverty rate in the nation). - Create GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION POLICIES that do not disproportionately burden the poor (California leads the nation in this one too: our "Climate Change" laws disproportionately increase living costs for Latinos, African-Americans, and American Indians.) - Increasing INCOME OF PERSECUTED CLASSES. - Reducing COLLEGE COSTS and BRUTAL STUDENT LOAN DEBT. - Allowing AFFORDABLE HOUSING to be built. - Feeding those who are HUNGRY. - Housing those who are OUT IN THE COLD TONIGHT. - Addressing the OPIOD CRISIS that is now KILLING 70,000 people in America each year. - Addressing the SUICIDE CRISIS that is now KILLING 40,000 people in America each year (mostly the young). - Addressing the CHINESE THREAT posed to America (Russian is a shrinking power, while China is a rapidly growing one); the Chinese people are OPPRESSED and have FEW FREEDOMS. - Addressing the FEDERAL DEBT, climbing towards $22,000,000,000,000 (that's $22 trillion dollars) - that means LIVING WITHIN OUR MEANS AND STOP SPENDING LIKE DRUNKEN SAILORS. - Helping the MENTALLY ILL and the PHYSICALLY DISABLED. - Removing American Troops from perfectly capable countries like Germany and Japan, who are rich and can defend themselves. - Removing American Troops from various quagmires across the land (mostly the Middle East): Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Jordan, Pakistan (I can't think of them all right now) where we spend $TRILLIONS$ of dollars and thousands of lives, and end up causing NOTHING BUT PAIN AND DESTRUCTION. - Provide our military veterans with appropriate MEDICAL TREATMENT that they have earned. - Ending CORPORATE WELFARE like the billions recently heaped upon AMAZON and primary owner and $160,000,000,000 (that's $60 billion) Jeff Bezos, who clearly does not need welfare. - Addressing (lowering) Health Care Costs to make them more affordable for more Americans. - Institute TERM LIMITS for all politicians, and remove their massive permanent pensions for life after one term served in office; they should be working for the people and not to line their own pockets. - The MEDIA and POLITICIANS seek to divide us to serve their own petty interests: we have much more in common than we have in differences, but in our "click bait" world, conflict is what "sells", so that is what we get - PLEASE KNOCK IT OFF - IT BRINGS OUT THE WORST IN EVERYONE. - Change the laws to allow AMERICAN INDIANS to have more say over how their reservations are run, and let them do what they have to do to reduce the POVERTY of their tribal members (American Indians have the highest poverty rate of any group in America by far - and nobody seems to care). - Parents: control your children's Smart Phone, Computer, and Tablet use, which studies are showing to be EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL to their health and their futures. - Compromise and Resolve IMMIGRATION ISSUES, and bring back things KIND OF LIKE the Bracero Program of the 1940's - 1960's. - Move the world towards ZERO POPULATION GROWTH; there are no Worldwide problems that can't be reduced by LESS PEOPLE! The world is still expanding the human population across the planet like cockroaches! - Businesses Employing FELONS when they get out of prison so they don't RECOMMIT CRIMES AND GO BACK TO JAIL (ban the box!). - Ensuring equal access to PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR ALL, especially in the inner cities. - Removing Unconstitutional Laws that MAKE BEING HOMELESS A CRIME. Yes, I wrote this entire listen off the top of my head in about 10 minutes. I'm not a drone, a robot, or play for one team (D's or R's) - I try to be an independent thinker that resolves the issues of the day - so SUE ME! There are plenty more, and I'll add to the list as I have time. This will do for right now. Peace brothers and sisters.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

NATION: Gender Pay Gap - A "Peek" at the Truth?

The current "Gender Pay Gap" (GPG) currently reported in America is in the 78% to 82% range. Many studies have shown that the gender pay gap in America is smaller than what is reported, once male and female "work dynamics" are taken into account. A recent study, summarized below, reinforces that dynamic.

DEFINITION: "gender pay gap" (Cambridge English Dictionary)
noun, also "gender wage gap"
​...the difference between the amounts of money paid to women and men, often for doing the same work:
The Government's aim is to enable women to know whether or not their employer has a gender pay gap.

An interesting new study offers compelling evidence that the choices and priorities of women account for much of the pay gap disparity. Information for this article comes largely from the Wall Street Journal article cited immediately below:

ARTICLE: Wall Street Journal -  "Parsing the Gender Pay Gap"
https://www.wsj.com/articles/parsing-the-gender-pay-gap-1542917969
Appeared in the November 23, 2018, Wall Street Journal print edition.

The study examined data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) union shop. The MBTA has uniform hourly wages in which men and women adhere to the exact same rules and enjoy the exact same benefits. Workers are promoted based on seniority, not performance. Male and female workers of the same seniority have the same options for scheduling, routes, vacation and overtime. These rigid work rules would appear to give little to no latitude in providing men preferential treatment.

Nonetheless, in the MBTA study, female train and bus operators earned LESS than men. Harvard economists looked at time cards and scheduling from 2011 to 2017, factoring in sex, age, date of hire, tenure, and whether an employee was married or had dependents. 

SOME OF THEIR FINDINGS:
• Male train and bus operators worked about 83% more overtime hours than their female colleagues.
• Men were twice as likely to accept an overtime shift on short notice.
• Twice as many women as men NEVER took overtime, which pays time-and-a-half.
• Male bus and train operators also took 48% fewer unpaid hours off under the Family Medical Leave Act each year. 
• Female employees were far more willing to take less preferable routes if it meant working fewer nights, weekends and holidays.

MARITAL STATUS FINDINGS:

• Married fathers wanted more overtime cash.
• Married mothers wanted more time off. 
• Single mothers took 59% fewer last-minute overtime hours than did single fathers.

Monday, November 5, 2018

No Substitute for "Due Process": Kavanaugh "Victim" Recants

The #MeToo movement continues to promote "believe the victims of sexual violence", which in and of itself is simply a defensible philosophy. When it strays into the implied belief that the victims testimony alone is enough to put the perpetrator behind bars, or lose their job, and certainly be publicly shamed in the media and elsewhere, then the long tradition of "due process", no matter how flawed (mostly expensive and time consuming), goes by the wayside. This often can result in errors that punish and incarcerate the innocent. 

This approach is best described at the web site "Start by Believing" - check it out: http://www.startbybelieving.org/home

"The Innocence Project", which overturns the convictions of those who are innocent but wrongly jailed for many years anyways, has for many decades proven that the wrong people are often jailed. Read about their philosophy here: https://www.innocenceproject.org

A recent example is the Kavanaugh accuser, Ms. Munro-Leighton, who has recanted her made-up story. Should we blindly have believed Ms. Munro-Leighton, who claims Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and a friend raped her in his car. She later recanted this story as made up, simply because she wanted attention, and was angry. Read about how Ms. Munro-Leighton conceded that she made false statement.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-kavanaugh-accuser-recants-1541371466

I believe that we all want justice, but until we find improvements to "due process", this should be how we operate in this country: "innocent until proven guilty" is in danger of being thrown out the window for good. Americans are waking up to the realization that some of those who are victims of "accusation with no supporting evidence" turn out to be their husbands, children, parents and friends.

We are so far down this road that sexual assault defendants are no longer referred to in the media as "alleged", and are automatically assumed to be guilty. I claim that this is not who we are as Americans. I support justice and fairness wherever possible, independent of political party considerations.

As hard as it may be, the solution should be to report assaults as close in time as possible to when they occur, and not years later, when memories, not to mention evidence, disappear. I have close family members who are victims of severe sexual assault, and I understand why they are hesitant to come forward - a situation that is rightfully identified as a difficult hurdle to overcome.

For instance, though due process mandates the right to "question your accuser", it could still be done in a manner that is less threatening (and less public) to the "alleged" victim. 

Think about Munro-Leighton and what that could mean for any of us who are wrongly accused. The Kavanaugh accusers got all kinds of media coverage during the accusation, but I am willing to bet that the recanting of testimony by Munro-Leighton gets almost none - so far, that is an accurate observation.


Blog posts without photos are boring. Boat on a lift at King Harbor, only feet from destruction.