Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today is Thanksgiving. It is a common practice to give "Thanks" on this day. Though many people are materialistic here in the USA, we usually give Thanks to things that are not materialistic. Unless you're being facetious, you usually don't give Thanks for having an iPhone.

People are Thankful for many things. Sometimes it depends on Current Events. Today in 2008, people may be Thankful that they have not been laid off, and still have a job. Others may be Thankful to still have their homes, and are not in foreclosure.

Most of the time, we are Thankful for Family, Friends, and being able to stuff ourselves with Turkey and all of the trimmings. And for Pie. Save me a slice of Pumpkin pie. Please?

You may get different responses if you live in another part of the world. Someone in a Third World Country, may be Thankful just for having a cup of rice to eat today.

In that sense, we are very spoiled. A Comedian once said, "When it comes to food, we are so spoiled in America, that some of us get allergic to it. You never hear someone starving in Somalia, say that they are Lactose Intolerant." And we have choices. In the same vein, you'd never hear a starving person say, "I'll pass on the Turkey, I'm a Vegetarian."

We are also spoiled just for having the Freedoms that we do. How many times has it been reported that someone from the USA has been arrested in another Country and jailed, for something that we do everyday? Get drunk in the Middle East? Jail! Oh boy, I have a lot of friends who should be Thankful they do not live in the Middle East, just for that reason.

It's great that we can be Thankful for what we have in our own lives. But why be Thankful for only one day? We spend more time complaining about something or someone. No matter what it is, there will always be something to complain about. Why not start being Thankful every day? Then you start appreciating things, rather than taking things for granted. Maybe then we will start being the solution to problems, and not be part of the problem.

Friday, November 21, 2008


That's the sound you hear when you touch two wires together. The ones you're not supposed to touch together. The ones that you were supposed to go and shut the power off for. Sometimes you get a blinding light, and depending on the voltage and amps, anything from a slight tingling sensation, to a kick in the chest. YOW!

Yes, I know from experience. I've even had the tip of my screwdriver "melt" once. I probably should be dead by now, or at least have all of the hairs on my head sticking straight up. Wait-a-minute....... Have you seen me lately?

Anyway, ever since the Professor made Gilligan pedal the bamboo bicycle with wires connected to coconut shells filled with some kind of liquid, we have had Electricity. But it comes from other sources now. Most of it is generated from Coal-burning plants. Some from Hydro-electric generators built into Dams. Some from Windmills on wind farms. And some from Nuculer Power. Some places like Hawaii, have generators that run on Diesel fuel. Some small generators run on Gasoline, Diesel fuel, Natural Gas or Propane.

Anyway, Electricity, no matter how it is generated, is brought into the Los Angeles area from somewhere outside. Most of it is "transported" on lines that are stringed on Power poles that ruin the look of our Mountains and then our Neighborhoods, though some are placed underground in newer developments for a cleaner look.

But at any point along those lines, your Electricity can be interrupted. From the Pole, you don't have any. From the Grid, your neighborhood doesn't have any. From the Source, no one has any.

Electricity is a luxury, and you can live without it for the most part, unless you have a machine that keeps you alive. Mr. Obvious here. But other than lighting, how else does it affect you?

Here are things that you may not realize will NOT work without Electricity, some are obvious, some are not.

Obvious. Refrigerator, Stove, Microwave, Clock, Computer, TV, VCR, DVD, Radio.

Not so obvious. Cordless Phones, Traffic Signals, ATMs, Gas Pumps, Cash Registers, Elevators, Radio and TV Broadcasts. I think Cell Phone Cell sites have some kind of battery back-up power.

Some of these things may work if it is backed-up by a generator. But think about it. What would you do if these things did not work? Eventually, the food in your refrigerator will go bad. Buy more? How? You have no cash, and the ATM doesn't work. You say you have cash or will use your Debit/Credit card at the store? The registers don't work, and the Debit/Credit machine doesn't work either! You are SOL! And now you're stuck because you ran out of gas in your car.

I was vacationing in Maui, Hawaii, when an Earthquake hit off the coast of the Big Island. It triggered the safety systems of the Electrical grid on all of the Islands, though Kauai and Oahu was not as affected as Maui and the Big Island.

I was driving in my car to get breakfast, when the radio went dead. The radio worked, but there was nothing being transmitted to the radio. I had NO idea that there was an Earthquake, though I did see small rocks had fallen onto the roadway. I ran over one of those rocks on my way to Lahaina, and my tire went flat. I drove a few miles with the flat tire, and got to a gas station. I parked next to the air filling machine. It didn't work, so I changed the flat to the spare. BTW, that Shell Station owes me 50 cents. By then, I was getting radio transmissions from Oahu, and figured out what was going on.

Now I was really hungry. The place I was headed to was closed. Most restaurants would close, because in Hawaii, the stoves are Electric, there is no Natural gas there. So I drove to a Super Market. All the lights were out and none of the cash registers worked, so you couldn't buy anything. BUT, this store had a generator, and it was just 30 minutes before they had all of the systems up and running. Great! Now I could buy and have a sandwich and soda for breakfast. MMMMMMM

Luckily for me, it was my last day on Maui, time to go home. I took my car back to the rental agency, and they said they would bill me later. Fine. I get to the Airport, and nothing is working. No Air Traffic Control. It was hours before planes were allowed to land or take off. The Computer Registration/Booking system was also down. No one could get a boarding pass, to a flight that was not going to take off anyway.

Needless to say, those last few hours on Maui was heck. At least the power was restored to all of the Islands before I left. And I was patient. I knew there would be problems, even though I didn't foresee everything. But you should have seen other people. Yelling, screaming, demanding. What did they expect? For a Pilot to fly a plane without Air Traffic Control?

Maybe if the Professor was around, he could have rigged a bicycle to generate some Electricity to run the Island. You know, there's enough coconuts to do that in Hawaii.

Ninety-eight Percent

I learned from a "Star Trek" episode, where an Alien race turned most of the crew into hexagonal cubes to hijack the Enterprise, that we are made up of about 98% water. No. Although I may have been around to watch the original airing, I saw it on multiple repeats during syndication. But geez, that's not the point here!

Water is something we all take for granted, especially here in the Los Angeles area. Technically, we live in a dessert. But our forefathers made sure that we were able to live long and prosper by purchasing land North of us, so that water could be brought to us via the Aqueduct. This is the only time that our Politicians thought ahead concerning our future and infrastructure. Can you imagine what our Freeway and Mass-transit system would be like if they also had used the same foresight?

However they did not use the same foresight when it came to saving water. Some parts of Los Angeles used to flood, almost as bad as when Katrina hit New Orleans, and many lives and homes were lost. So the sewer system was designed to remove water, not to save it. Rain water gets diverted and goes straight to the ocean. We are always in a drought situation because we do not have enough catch basins, reservoirs and/or lakes where rain runoff could collect.

Anyway, you need water to survive, there's no doubt about that. You can go without food for several days, but without water, that time is lessened.

Threats to our water supply have been increasing for some time.

Just our constantly growing Communities are causing shortages and redirecting of resources. The farms want water, industries want water, the North, South, East and West want water, and there's NOT enough to go around. Really, there isn't. We are on an 8-year drought, and it's only now that our Politicians are telling us to conserve water. They should have done it years ago, but were hoping that it would rain. Look at lakes such as Big Bear and Arrowhead lakes. They are at their lowest level, and getting lower every year.

We contaminate our water system everyday with chemicals, by either putting it directly into the water, via the sewer system, or allowing it to seep in through the ground. And not just in Los Angeles, but throughout the World. Our Oceans have contaminants, and the Sea supplies a lot of our food.

Besides drinking and cooking, there are other uses for water. These uses are wasteful, when water is NOT readily available. In emergency situations, bathing and washing hands could be done with baby wipes. Toilet flushing as well. If the water supply is damaged, then the sewer system probably is too. Time to dig a hole in the ground. Can you think of other things?

Water is very important, it means 98% to you. Without it, you will not survive. Period.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

F'en Magic

Flip a switch, turn a knob, open a faucet. That's all you need to do to turn on the electricity, gas or water. How spoiled we all are to have within reach, all of our Utilities at our fingertips.

But Gas, Water and Electricity are all imported into Southern California from other parts of the State and Country. What will you do when one, two or all of them doesn't work? The lights don't go on? No water from the tap? Can't cook or heat the house? No, I'm not talking about not paying the bills. What if there's another reason? Like a natural or Man-made disaster.

The recent fires in LA County threatened electrical lines leading into Los Angeles. What if they were damaged? How do you think we get our electricity? It comes from generators from far away, and come to us from those large transmission lines you see in the Mountain passes. It isn't generated from the DWP building in Downtown. If the lines go down or are damaged, you may be out of electricity until it is repaired.

Natural Gas, like water, is pumped to us through gas lines. Mostly from out of State. What if there is an interruption? A break in the line from the main or anywhere along the line up to your home?

And what about Water? Because of past flooding, Los Angeles designed their sewer system to eliminate water from the streets and flow into the ocean. Almost none of it is saved in reservoirs, catch basins, and/or lakes. And currently there's an 8 year drought. Yes, it's all water down the drain. So, we get it from Northern California and the Colorado River, and then it's pumped to us through the water mains all throughout the City. Water has other limitations. Because it is pumped through pipes to all of the houses in a community, there is only so much that can be delivered. Anything that causes the system to lose pressure will mean little or no water for you. A break in the system? A pump shuts down? No Electricity to make the pump work?

Think about these things. How will you make do without one, two, or all of these Utilities? From a few hours to several days. Prepare for this, and you will not suffer as much if something like an Earthquake happens.

More on each later....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stubborn or Hard Headed?

I wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle. Why? Because it's the law? No, I value my life, and believe I am much safer with it on, then off. But when I ride my bicycle, I don't wear a helmet. Why? Because I'm traveling at a slower speed, and well, I don't have to, according to the law.

I have been on many accidents involving bicycles, and though some bicyclists have been badly injured, I have not been aware of any who have died. They may have, but I am not aware of it.

One bicyclist wearing a helmet, took her eyes off where she was headed, and rear-ended a parked car. She flew off her bike, and went through the back window of the car. Picture a car with two legs sticking out of it's rear window, and you can figure out how much she was injured. Did you imagine a bloody mess? Well, she only had a few cuts and scratches. This is a good example of how a helmet protects you. Of course we took her to the hospital so she could be checked for internal injuries, but I believe she was okay.

I have also been on two skateboarders who fell and hit their heads. Neither were wearing a helmet. One was going too fast down a hill and hit his head on the street. The other got hit by a car when she crossed a busy intersection, and her head hit the car's windshield.

Both died. The first a few days after, the last on the way to the hospital. Both were over 20 and under 30 years old. Do I think they would have survived if they wore helmets? Yes, especially the first one.

Do I think you and I should wear a helmet whenever we do anything where it's possible to hit your head on a hard surface? (Like cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, skating, skiing, snowboarding, etc.) Yes, we should.

Don't be stubborn, because no one is really hard headed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Addenum to Hope for the Best

In all of my "Political" blogs, I believe I have a recurring theme. I don't believe what any Politician tells me, even Obama, I wait to see what's actually done. I've heard it all in my time, and I fell for some lines before. Now I want results. That's what you should all ask for. If you're one who believes in Obama 100% and he doesn't produce, you should not vote for him again. you should think, "NEXT!"

I understand all of the feelings brought up by Obama's election to President that has been expressed. In this Country, electing a person of "color" has been long overdue. It's the first time a Caucasian male has not won. This really does "open the door" or break any perceived and/or real barriers to minorities. Even for women.

But who really "makes" these barriers? Is it really only the Caucasion males of America? For the last 4 years, we have had a African-American woman as Secretary of State, a very important position. To be honest, I really don't know how Condelleeza Rice rates as one, compared to others who held the same position. But the fact that she is in the position, and not recognized, well the silence speaks volumes. If the silence is because she is a Republican, and she has been appointed by Bush, then that is really sad.

But this Country is ailing. And it doesn't matter what your race, gender or creed is. We will all suffer, no matter who we are. We need help, we need to get back on our feet. If we as a people were as naive as we were in the early 1900's, I believe we would be in a Depression, for we would have panicked and made a run on all Banks and cashed out on all stocks by now.

I'm hoping that Obama will put together a team that is NOT of payback to friends, lobbyists, or to people in his own Party. I hope he finds the best person for all Cabinet positons, no matter what Party they belong to, and goes from there. Payback is over, we had enough of that.

And talk is over. It's time to acutally do something. And you too, don't sit back and wait for it. HELP make it happen. Stop wanting FROM your Country. Do something FOR your Country.

(See, I'm all talk.....)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope for the Best.

As of this writing, Senator Obama will be the next President of the United States of America.

I must say, that even though I don't believe Senator McCain would have been a better choice than Obama, I do believe McCain would have done a better job than President Bush, had McCain been elected 8 years ago.

What really concerns me about this election, is NOT that Obama has won, but the Election itself and the attitude of Obama supporters,

First, the Election. Why hasn't anyone from EITHER Party done anything to do away with Electoral Votes? It's been 8 years since the 2000 Election, what's the hold-up? YOU did not vote for the President, Electoral Votes have. I DO believe that Obama has also won the Popular Vote, so the point is moot for this Election, but when is it going to end? Don't you want YOUR vote to count? I do. I don't want another Florida debacle ever again.

Second, the Politics. McCain's record shows that he believes in Bi-Partisanship, IMO. And IMO, that is a great quality. Did McCain vote 90% of the time for President Bushes polices? Yes, and unfortunately, that's Politics. That was the only way McCain could get the Republican nomination. Here is a man who went against the Republican majority, and he even supported Immigrants rights. Then he went against his values and said, "I get it now," to his Party, meaning he knew he had to "play the game" to get nominated. This is why he lost some votes. Had he stuck to his "Maverick" ways, it would have been closer, IMO, but then he may not have even gotten the Republican nomination. Sure, it's the Republican Party's fault for not knowing what the public wants. They are just as clueless as Democrats were after President Clinton was in office 8 years.

BTW, neither Party works for you, they work for themselves. We need a valid third Party.

Third, the McCain bashing. You hate Bush, you hate Bush, not every Republican in the world. So you don't want to vote for him, that's no way to treat a Veteran who was a Prisoner of War in Vietnam. Most Liberals were Vietnam Veteran bashers when the soldiers returned from Vietnam, calling them "Baby Killers" and other things. More recently, Popular opinion swayed, and Liberals were deemed wrong to do what they did. Now it's "I support the Soldiers, but not the War." Were Liberals gnashing their teeth at this way of thinking? And now "letting it all out" in frustration, for holding it in too long? Maybe being a Veteran and a tortured prisoner is not enough reason to get your vote for the Presidency. But it should at the very least, get your respect. Not dis-respect.

Fourth, falling for the rhetoric. It is said that the Election was a dead heat until the Economy went sour. Then people blamed President Bush for all the troubles. This created an Anti-Bush and Anti-Republican attitude that ultimately caused McCain to drop in the polls, and out of the race. But when reality sets in, you will see that the Democrats had just as much to do with our souring Economy as the Republicans did. Could this have been the "October Surprise" that people were looking for? But instead of it coming from the expected Republican corner, it actually came from the Democratic side? Only History will tell. And the Economy? IMO, most of "Wall Street" will right itself, and when it recovers, it is because of the things that are being done right now, while President Bush is still in office. It may be the only good thing he did, IF it works.

Many have said that the Economy has done very well when a Democrat was President. I actually said this to a friend last June. But it is only half true, and I told him the other half that most people overlook. The Economy has done well when the President is a Democrat, AND the Congress is controlled by Republicans. It has not done well when a single Party was in charge of both. That is what's happening now. We will have a Democrat for President and a Congress that is controlled by Democrats. For our sake, I hope History doesn't repeat itself.

Fifth, the Obama worshiping. As far as Obama goes, I'm saving my applaud for the future, if and when he does something that deserves it. His record as a Senator is not enough for me, it's almost nothing. That doesn't mean I am not a supporter, or I didn't vote for him. I just don't have the fantasy of him being our savior, as a lot of his supporters do. A reporter interviewed one of his supporters, and the person was so enthused, he said, "Now we'll get our mortages paid for, and free health care......" WHAT? I don't blame Obama, I don't think he ever promised to give us free health care or pay for our mortgages. I blame people for having stars in their eyes, when they should have magnifying glasses to look through, when they choose a President.

I once talked to a friend of mine who worked for a Politician. We talked about the diversity in the LAFD. He mentioned that there could be more, and that the LAFD could use more integration. I told him that if he was in trouble and had to call 911, did he really care who was coming to save him? A male? A female? A heterosexual? A homosexual? A minority? No, you want someone qualified and capable of saving you, otherwise you die.

I heard Obama being describe in many good ways. But I really hope he is not JUST someone of Color, who's Young, of "our" Generation, or anything you make him out to be. I hope he is qualified and capable, and not just because of an image he portrays. Here's to change, and praying it's for the better.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Birthday Week of Sushi

One of my favorite places to vacation in is Hawaii. The different Islands offer different things. This time I spent a week on Maui. And since it was my birthday week, I decided to spend most of my dinners at Sushi restaurants. Fish is very fresh in Hawaii, and it is very hard to find "bad" fish. I think that is why you'd never find an Urasawa in Hawaii. The competition gets the same fish. The differences are how they prepare the rice, and how creative they get.

Here is my recommendations for Sushi on Maui.

On the high end side:

Sansei Restaurant in Kapalua. Follow these instructions and you will not regret it. Call and ask when Chef Masa is working. Sit in front of him and ask for Omakase. Masa's special creations are unforgettable. If you dine between 5:30 PM, when they open, almost everything you order is 25% off until 6 PM. Without drinks, this will only cost about $35 to 40 per person with a 25% discount. Otherwise it could be $45 and up.

Koiso Restaurant in Kihei. This is a very small place consisting of just a Sushi bar and one 2 person table. Great quality and great tasting Sushi for about $50 per person. The bargain here is the Sashimi plate. It consists of maybe 5 kinds of different fish for $25, but you get the "scraps" of fish that are left over from making the pretty Sushi. Prices are a little higher than Sansei.

Medium price:

Kobe Restaurant in Lahaina. Kobe has 3 different "sides." One is the Teppan-yaki or "Benihana" side. Another is the regular restaurant side. And in between is Oku's Sushi Bar. Here the sushi is a tad bit larger, a little larger rice ball, and larger cut of fish. Even the simple Tuna roll had a thick cut of Maguro down the center. Tastes great, and fairly reasonable in price. Slightly lower than Sansei.

Ichiban the Restaurant in Kahului. A family owned Japanese restaurant in Kahului. The most reasonably priced Sushi that also tastes great in Maui. I usually order a combination plate with a Soft-shell crab roll. Other individual pieces are great, except for the raw shrimp, which was just okay.

Places to avoid.

Unisan in Wailuku. Better for the Korean food that they also serve, the Tempura is something to avoid. Also doubles as a Night Club, so it gets a little loud.

Sansei Restaurant in Kihei. Sushi here is hit-and-miss. Listen to me and miss it. I had the worst Soft-shell crab roll here, and the last time I ate here, the rice was not made correctly, it was a little on the mushy side.

Genki Sushi (Kahului and Lahaina) and Kozo Sushi (Wailuku) are both "Fast Food" chain Sushi restaurants found in Hawaii. Genki has the revolving counter. It's just okay at these places, though I haven't eaten here more than once. Prices are the cheapest here.