03 July, 2019

The worst first date ever.

I wouldn’t say that I was actively pursuing Keite Davis, but I certainly had been interested in her since we had become friends on a proto-social media site called Friendster.

I think the first thing that attracted me to her was her butt.

I doubt that it was a random profile view that prompted me to befriend her years before October 1st, 2009. We probably had friends in common. Her Friendster profile was a photo of her posterior in a well fitted pair of blue lace panties. Her face was also lovely. She was a pixie blonde. Blue eyes and an elven face.

Sometime around 2000 or 2001 we got to chatting, and we continued chatting for years. I had lovers and girlfriends, she had boyfriends, we would bounce our fears and insecurities off one another.

In the fall of 2009 she broke up with a boyfriend she had been with for a couple of years and moved to San Francisco. We talked about getting together to meet in person.

On Thursday, the first of October 2009, I was drunk, she was flirting, and I took a leap of faith and called a taxi to go to her apartment.

Two years later I obtained a copy of her death certificate for my folder of “memento mori.”

Earlier that day I attended something called the “Change Advisory Board” or “CAB meeting” at work.

For the young punks of the “continuous integration/continuous deployment” stripe, as well as the lay people out there, a CAB meeting is a meeting of project managers, systems administrators, support technicians and managers. The purpose of the CAB meeting is to review changes to the production service, discuss the potential impact, and vote on whether or not a particular change would be enacted during the two planned maintenance windows: Monday evening or Thursday evening.

Generally, this would entail reviewing code bug fixes to one of the several dozen service components that comprises what we call “The Danger Service”.

That Monday, an upgrade to the Oracle Database software was proposed. We were storing large binary objects in the database: photos, videos. The database performance was taking a hit. In hindsight, the solution would have been to take all large binary objects out of the database and create something like a CDN (content delivery network). I had run into this problem before, but I am not a DBA (database administrator), so I could only offer up anecdotal evidence that what Danger was attempting to do might be a bad idea.

A firmware upgrade to the storage grid that held the database was also proposed. This is a complex system involving hundreds of individual disk drives attached to a million dollars of hardware, connected by another million dollars of fiber-optic cables and switches, connected to millions of dollars of Sun Microsystems hardware.

Keite was a thespian. She had a pure, true and clearly well trained voice. A high, natural soprano. During the brief time Keite and I dated, my roommate, also a singer (albeit not professionally trained) would gently mock Keite for approaching rock standards like “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benetar with too much vibrato.

The database update and storage upgrade were punted to the next CAB meeting, that same Thursday.

Thursday, October 1st, 2009.

Again, other systems administrators and myself objected. Concerns were raised. Microsoft, which had purchased Danger Research Laboratories, Incorporated, had not ponied up money for any kind of “warm backup” for the production database which served millions of end users.

To do so would have cost Microsoft between three- and five-million dollars.

The production database was Oracle. This database ran on Sun Microsystems hardware. The storage array backing this database was on Hitachi Data Systems RAID equipment, connected to the Sun systems over fiber-optic cabling using Brocade switches.

At work we had a regular on-call rotation. Should a problem arise that the technicians in the Network Operating Center (NOC) could not handle on their own, a page message would be sent out to the on-duty systems administrator.

I was not on-call that Thursday.

I was drunk, and getting very intimate with Keite. My Nokia kept ringing. Yes, Nokia. This was an age before the hegemony of the iPhone. Keite was becoming annoyed with the incessant ringing, and demanded that I pick up the phone to “make them go away.”

I was in Keite’s bedroom, on the border of Nob Hill and the Tenderloin, colloquially known as “the tendernob”. My co-worker P was at my apartment, probably having sex with my roommate C. There’s a long story explaining how that came to be which we will get into later.

The NOC was calling me, over and over, in desperation. They didn’t want to speak to me per se, but they knew P was seeing my roommate and they needed his expertise.

P was the go-to expert for anything involving large storage arrays. The same arrays described above: hundreds of hard drives, millions of dollars of storage hardware, fiber optic cables, fiber optic switches, and of course host adapters on several million dollars of Sun Microsystems hardware.

P was not answering his phone. He was probably face down in a pile of cocaine or balls deep in my roommate, or both.

The NOC was calling me to get my roommate’s number. Apparently there was some sort of emergency at work.

Enough so that the NOC had to ruin my first data with Keite.

“The service is down? What do you mean down?”

In spite of the fact that I wasn’t on-call, I went through the outage playbook with the NOC over the phone, pulling my pants on.

“Did you restart the directors? No? The database is offline? Did you restart it? What do you mean the data is gone? Gone gone? Well what did the DBAs say? The data is gone? How the hell is the data gone? The SAN (storage array) is redundant… Ok, ok, I’ll try calling P again…”

Meeting up with Keite was exciting for me, it had been a while since I had been with a woman. I went over to her apartment, and we went out to get a drink. Her and I had “known” each other for a decade before meeting face to face. I think she wanted to suss me out first, introduce me to some of her friends, and then maybe if I passed all of the tests, take me to her bed.

Her apartment was tiny, and she had a small mattress on the floor that served as her bed. In my apartment, I had a mattress on a box spring that I got from a former roommate.

That former roommate was a guy we would call Robert Victor Irish, but his real name was Brendan Sheeran. Brendan died in June of 2019.

The data from the database wasn’t completely gone per se, but the indexing system that Oracle used to organize the data stored to disk was complete gibberish. The reason the index was gibberish was because the first 100MB of each of the hundreds of hard drives had been accidentally overwritten during the SAN firmware upgrade.

Myself and several other systems administrators had been urging Microsoft, who had acquired Danger Research Labs for about $400M, to install a warm backup for the production service database. This could have been accomplished for $1.5-3M.

Various lawsuits were filed in the wake of the outage, which lasted more than two weeks. The amount of money Microsoft paid out to settle the lawsuites is not known, but conservative estimates put the amount at around half a billion dollars. Figuring in the money spent during the recovery effort, that figure skyrockets to nearly ¾ of a billion.

Keite was a bit clingy, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I didn’t have much time at all to deal with Keite after being put on the graveyard shift after the outage, an on-sight systems administrator should the NOC come across some issue they couldn’t deal with.

For the most part, me and the NOC manager would sit at our cubes at 3am and chug Maker’s Mark bourbon.

At 4am my shift would end, and I would maybe flirt with the cute Accenture project manager before heading to the California Street Station of the local commuter rail Caltrain. The first northbound train came through around 5am. I would pull into SF 4th and King around 6:30am, when most folks were headed to work. I’d go to the news stand to grab a pack of Newports and a handful of airline bottles of Jameson, maybe get an egg sandwich from the coffee shop or, if I was really hurting, Subway.

On a few occasions, early on in our relationship, Keite would stay in my bed and be waiting for me when I got back home, defeated and exhausted.

I don’t normally care to sleep next to someone because the bed gets too hot to sleep comfortably, you can’t sprawl your limbs akimbo, and if you are on the wrong side of the bed, you will have to extricate yourself should you need to go take a leek.

Keite ran cold enough that it wasn’t like sleeping next to a heat sink. She had put on a few pounds since her glory days of offering up pictures of her ass in blue-lace lingerie.

It was nice to put my hand on her smooth, soft belly, in spite of her protests that she was “fat.”

“Baby, you’re not fat. I’m fat. And I love the way your belly feels.”

She would grab my hand and twist around to kiss me on the lips.

Bob was a manager at Danger, and he sent out a strongly worded missive in email explaining that each of us on the operations team were to be available 24/7, and failure to answer a call would result in our termination.

I sent a sternly worded letter to Bob explaining how my grandmother’s first husband was assassinated right in from my grandmother. A shot in the head, but the papers reported it as a suicide. Grady started out as a strike-breaker before meeting my grandmother Mildred, who was heavily active in the labor movement. When Grady switched sides to side with labor, he was killed for it.

“My grandmother’s first husband lost his life fighting for labor rights and I will be god-damned if you are telling me that I am on-call 24 hours a day in perpetuity and that my job is at stake.”

I forget what I actually wrote, but words to that effect. I sent it to Bob, I BCC’d my coworkers, and I copied the VP of HR for Microsoft.

I was instantly a hero among my peers. I was laid off the following March.

Keite and I stopped seeing each other regularly. I had not made enough time for her, and when she did see me, I was exceedingly grumpy and probably self-medicated.

Six months later, I was at her wedding to a really nice guy named Kenny who could devote time and adoration to Keite.

Six months after that, I was at her funeral.

10 January, 2019

Coventry - 1

Mise en scene.

This is where the writer, or director, establishes the setting of a scene. Here is where the action will unfold, the story will be told.

Myself, Rold Gold, Spig (real name Ken), and a blue haired girl named Sadie were huddled in a structure that was part of the playground of Coventry Elementary School smoking weed. I was maybe 17 or possibly 18 at the time. We were listening to Alice In Chains on a Sony Walkman with the headphones rigged to a styrofoam cup.

The corner of Euclid Heights Boulevard and Coventry Road was christened "Harvey Pekar Park" in 2015 but I can't recall ever encountering the famous writer there. I recall brief sightings of Trent Reznor and his band mates. Nine Inch Nails guitarist Frank Cavanaugh's little sister Catherine, who had beautiful blue eyes, was a frequent presence.

I met Jon Bon Jovi on the concrete steps, and I didn't even recognize him until our local den mother and schizophrenic caretaker, Nebraxis Rock Star, pointed him out. I had a lovely conversation with him and his wife, smoking Camels, sitting on the stoop.

Harvey Pekar Park will forever be known to most of us, however, by its local nickname: Monkey Island.

Monkey Island transformed my life, and many others, and just writing those words feels like the understatement of a lifetime.

How do I begin to tell the story of Monkey Island? Through vignettes? Ephemera? Chronologically?

Before I had my first apartment, in East Cleveland, when I was still living with my mom at the house I am convinced "Little Fires Everywhere" is based on, I was given a half ounce of mushrooms. I ate all of it, not knowing what the correct dose was.

That's when I discovered Ween.


11 August, 2018

human kindness

by most adult standards, little kids are complete shits.

they want what they want, and they want it NOW.

when told to wait, or that they can't have gummi worms for breakfast, they sulk or they throw a tantrum.

the coolest thing i saw today when babysitting my god daughter was when i took her to the playground and she shared her toys with some other girl she had just met, and they played together.

three and a half years old, and she's learning compassion.

now if she can just learn to say please when she wants something or to look at me and tell me with words what she wants when she's upset, then we'll be cooking with gas.

kids. *shrug*

08 August, 2018

14 February, 2014

Ford

I love my grandmother, my father's mother, who died more than two decades ago.

She had a file of cards on which she wrote so many terrifying recipes involving awful post-Depression and World War II era processed foods, which my step mother lovingly transcribed posthumously in a binder entitled "Meals With Mildred."

Her first husband, a contrite former strike breaker cum labor activist, was murdered. Her second husband, my grandfather, a trucker cum shipping executive, was active in the labor movement as well.

She loathed Ronald Reagan almost as much as she loathed Satan himself.

She was a Southern gal, and she had many "black friends." And I do believe she did.

Her home in Akron was one of the first test markets for a service we called "cable" (prior to what we now call it, "broadband"). My first exposure to MTV was on her green couch in her modest Akron living room with it's brown carpet. Brown and green and orange, the swatch of ugly 1960s midwestern homes.

My first video: "Hurts So Good" by not John Mellancamp, not John Cougar-Mellancamp, but John Cougar. My second? "Don't Fear the Reaper."

I will always love her mostly for inadvertently steering me away from religion.

She would donate money to a ridiculous huckster called Earnest Angley.

She would hip me to incongruous facts like "some people go to Hell, but children never go to Hell because children are innocent in the eyes of God."

I knew better, having been a child at the time and knowing how cruel children could be - how could God forgive all children when some children could be so evil?

"But the races shouldn't mix," grandma Mildred would continue with all the seriousness of a funeral, "God cannot love the child of a black person and a white person."

At that time I wasn't fully aware that most black people in America were in fact very likely the product of some miscegenation, but I was aware of the conflict between "God loves all children" (which I already had some reservations about) and "God hates mulattos."

Of course I politely inquired more about this "God" person with her, and I even entertained the idea of religion.

Grandma took me to her church, of course, because she worried so about the eternal soul of her grandchildren (who God supposedly loved so much that, as long as I was of pure breed, would not go to Hell).

And so I went to church, and there I solidified at an early age my atheism.

So thank you, grandma. I wish you were in Heaven and could see my words. But you aren't. You're dead and you've been dead for a long time, and the only thing left of you is our memories and your recipes for ambrosia salad featuring candied fruit.

This message was inspired by a Ford commercial that Hulu forced me to watch featuring a clearly bi-racial actor. God might forgive him, but I have my reservations about him shilling for Henry's racist car company.

22 January, 2014

Anniversary

Anniversary.

The first time I saw her, after nearly 16 or 17 years had elapsed, she was noticeably thinner than she was in high school. But she was also stylish, in a way I didn't recall her being as a teenager. There was an anxious confidence in her. She talked in stuccato, gesticulating sharply. 

We dined on bacon and eggs and talked about LA and TV and the Scientologists across the street, in their color coded collared short sleeves filing out of their Scientology busses as the Scientology private police force circled the big blue building on bicycles.

We walked to her house, passing a vitamin store (a Scientology front, but I was just as fascinated to hear the dirt as she was to dish it). She offered, smiling, "did you know my maid is a Scientologist?"

We passed a Spanish-Mexican church. This was unglamorous West Hollywood, where staff writers and upstarts scrape by. Of course Emily was also on SSI, for her problems.

I browsed her selection of books - novelized fiction from popular Sci-Fi. She showed me her picket sign from the 2005 Writer's Strike... it was signed by Carter Bays and several others (someone called Seth McFarlane?). How I wish I could touch that sign once, to smell it, to see if it gave off any spark of who she was, just to be in her presence once again.

Later she wasn't quite so... manic. We had coffee in Oakland. We made plans, we talked about big projects.

The last time I communicated with her at all was November of 2012. We'd really get together soon! Promise!

Her heart stopped one year ago today, and mine hasn't been the same ever since.

28 July, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Maudlin and the Elite Tribe Who Will Speak Kindly Of Me When I'm Gone


She said she was the penultimate, and then explained that she meant she would be the last before I settled down.

I told her that I was not sure I'd ever settle down and that I was glad to have her as a member of my "elite tribe", and that I hope they would be kind to me in their remembrances should they out last me.

She called me goth-y. I quoted Elliott Smith. My mind wandered, thinking about other women. A world without jealousy expanded in my mind, but it always turned sour. Conflicts arose and slowly poisoned Utopia. In my dreams, as in my real life, I found myself managing others' emotions and juggling their expectations.

This is why we can't have nice things,...

I wonder if my Dad steered me toward "A Stranger in a Strange Land" in my precocious, fumbling youth to convey something about my congenital wandering eye and love of lust. He was transitioning to the arms of another. Perhaps he wanted me to grok this.

I have yet to grok it fully, relative to his life or mine. His first marriage is still a bone of contention, but I do not carry ill will to any of the members of my tribe, even the ones who deserve it (you know who you are... especially you, KW).

I try to spend less time resenting. I must not think bad thoughts.

--

I shall soon discuss elsewhere how I lost a contest where I put in hundreds of dollars and hours of labor, as did my also-rans, losing to someone who rolled up cheese in sausage and wrapped it all in bacon for pennies to my dollar, seconds to my hour.

I guess you still can't beat cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped.

It was a tony affair, a proper affair with ladies and gentlemen and dick jokes and boozy ice cream drinks and lots of whiskey, public displays of affection and even more public displays of gross gluttony.

There was bacon deep fried in bacon fat, as it should be.

There were ex lovers and also-rans.

There was a pig face mask. Fuck it up, pig face. Fuck it up.

It marked the halfway mark in a year of kept promises: be with your friends, don't hold grudges, don't harbor regrets, take care of yourself but have fun. Don't presume, don't take for granted.

In the last few years I've lost too many.

I forgot what else I was going to say. Now it's time to soak in a hot bath and to go be with friends, and maybe find a way to say "I love you" without it being too sentimental by half.

--

You cast your shadow everywhere like the man in the moon.

09 June, 2013

How To Fail At Life And Have A Great Time Anyway: preface

cow-orker
I'm going to fix everything!
me
oh, louis… we all said that at first
cow-orker
:)
me
"i'm gonna fix these damn alerts!"
cow-orker
Naw I know I'm not going to fix everything but at first I want to jump on everything to get a feel for what I can ignore.
me
ok ;)
you'll get a feel alright
write up what you've observed in notes for eugene in 10 minutes and we'll handoff to him a little after 10 when he gets settled, k?
cow-orker
You goti t
*got it
me
I'm going to get started with my laundry, be back in a couple
cow-orker
haha ok :)
me
now i'm going to start my Psych marathon
cow-orker
haha
me
I'm keep you updated on the developments with Julie and Shawn's relationship, and whatever silly stuff Gus says.
cow-orker
Great man I sincerely appreciate that.
;)
me
last week (a couple months ago, I'm really behind), Julie kicked Shawn out when she discovered that his psychic powers were a fraud.
cow-orker
Oh no she didn't!
me
Well, he father lied to her her whole life, so honesty is really important to her.
cow-orker
ah I see
Well honesty is pretty important in a relationship
me
yes, it's key to make sure the other person thinks you are being honest
cow-orker
haha
me
i'm writing a self-help book
cow-orker
oh yeah?
me
"How to Fail At Life But Have a Great Time Anyway"
working title
cow-orker
haha that actually sounds funny
Good luck with your book!
9:57 AM

Let me know when you're ready for someone to proof read

17 March, 2013

a story for @sab

January 22, 2013, 09:37 PST

the premise of the story is vignettes of what people are doing the exact moment your heart stopped. starting with your neighbors, then random people in oakland. maybe a few of the many people around the world you knew, that very moment. some stories are longer, some short - then we go to a montage. then finally to your poor bewildered dog, licking your hand.

21 February, 2013

seal rap

Story:

I am riding the 33 Stanyan - I get shot - I become a ghost - I am a bad ghost, an ineffectual ghost - I retreat to the ocean - I am reborn as a seal - a rapping seal - the most famous seal rapper.

24 January, 2013

Goodbye, Emily

My garment bag - Seigel's Fine Clothing - looks like a body bag. My minds eye can see your grinning face asking "can I fit in it?" and trying to zip yourself up. You probably could, you were 90 pounds soaking wet carrying 5lbs of bricks.

Now I lay it with care across my chair, over top my guitar cases, so that if I manage to bring myself to leave the house any time soon I can get my dress jacket and shirts dry cleaned for your memorial.

That will be two weddings, two funerals. I wish I could erase the death by dousing it in gasoline and setting it on fire.

Your size was the only small thing about you.

I'll never forget sneaking out of the dorms for study hours and you being a fixture misfit in the computer lab most nights - all of us forming a ragtag tribe of proto-geeks. What was it you were always typing? I never knew until later the depths and breadth of your wondrous creativity - only that your joy was infectious and your curiosity boundless and that you had a hilarious sense of humor.

Later, I was touched to see how brave you were in the face of all the struggling and suffering you endured in your short life. I am awed at how many lives you did manage to touch, but not surprised.

"She was a real dame, old friend, a real broad." -Leo McGarry.

I will miss you like crazy. Love always.

Emily Sara Salzfass, February 1, 1976 - January 21, 2013.

09 January, 2013

cop[13]

(fictional) Letter to a friend:

You're not in the doghouse, per se.

Well, certainly not with me. But you have made your bed, and there you shall sleep.

It's a thing with you, it's a pattern.

I mean, you tell me - you say, "oh I can't date an alcoholic," so it never quite worked out with Mischa. But then you turn around and poach Jake from Lauren. Drunk Jake, that's his nickname for fucks sake. Don't tell me they were broken up - it's more complicated than that. That's cover, you're justifying it to yourself. Its a lie you tell yourself and you believe it so well you actually had the gumption to get indignant TO ME when I suggested that maybe he didn't tell you exactly the truth about that.

You talk about love, true love, sweep you off your feet romance, as if you have any idea what it means, or would recognize it if it lived with you for three years in Chelsea. Yeah, I went there.

Remember when you left Ron for Patterson, and I was like, what the fuck? Did that wedding and all that mean more to me? I mean, were you really done, you and Ron, or are you the cheater you so revile? And a military man? You picked a state-sponsored killer over the sweet, sensitive artist/scientist. Did being treated well bore you?

I mean, here's a guy who goes all over the world and confirms every stereo type of the gun-toting foreign service thug that so many have about American "State Department" black-helicopter types right down to the dozens of bastard children and proclivity for whores. You are lucky the worst you got from that was a case of the clap.

You're damn lucky he didn't get tired of your ass and leave your corpse in some jungle, frankly. And even then you had again the audacity to get mad a ME when I told you I thought this guy was all wrong, all wrong for you.

So, no, that doesn't make me eager to shift around my social obligations, which are hard enough -- you know how I am and the difficulties I have -- so that I can slot you in without exposing you to the dozen or so people who you've pissed off with your current relationship status.

As for Mischa. I get it, he's a drunk too. But he's honest, and he cares, and he probably would have treated you like a queen. You remember we talked about his girl trouble, the issue with Valerie getting too close. You couldn't grasp it: how dare a boy reject the advances of a women, and at the same time bed her? But that's the deal they had, and it was straight-forward: no twists or turns or intrigue about it. She chose to break the rules and he had to distance himself - for both their good.

He's an honest broker, he's not going to lie and tell you what you want to hear, but you always choose what you want to hear over what you need to hear. Don't you?

You have so much tunnel vision that you can't see what's going on around you. I don't want you to be hurt by Drunk Jake but he has a pattern just like every one else and you'll get caught in it and spit out of it and then come to cry on my shoulder about it (and it's there, promise, but not without a long talk and a long hard look at why this keeps happening).

Maybe I'm wrong, you've found true love and will be happy forever. I'd love that.

Let's get lunch soon.

XXXOOO

cop[12]

10 November, 2012

cop[12]

You see some hardass motherfucker coming down the street, that guy will give it up in less than an hour.

I've stared down the hardest, bad-est killers and thugs on the planet. Tough mothers, hard headed and scarred. Tattooed up, cut up, calloused thugs that would cut your throat open if they could.

But not a single one of those shit heads ever gets out of the box without giving up their best friend, their mom and Jesus Christ Himself, if He worked the job with them, did the dirty.

Those cocksuckers don't scare me.

Kids.

They scare the shit out of me.

Kids ain't got no sense, no idea about consequences, no reasons not to spit in your fucken eye and tell you to go fuck yourself.

You can't get in their heads, cuz there ain't nothing there.

I don't mean all kids.. of course you can scare the shit out of some punk from the suburbs, some mommy or daddy's kid that fucked up, got caught up in some shit they didn't plan on. That's like stealing candy from a baby. Literally.

But there are some kids that just don't have no fucken "give a fuck".

Got to have the perp give a fuck about something and dangle that shit in their face hour after hour, shit, I'm getting paid. They're chained to the table and I'd getting overtime. I got all the time I need to turn most scumbags into a plea deal, 'cept those fucken whack ass kids who truly do not give a fuck.

You ever been mugged?

No?

Here's how it goes: some fuck will come at you, maybe with a gun, maybe a "gun", some bullshit in their pocket that ain't a gun, maybe a knife.

Every cop on the planet will put 99% of them fucks in their place before they get word one out. Muggers are lazy cowards, and you look them right in the eye when they have a gun pointed at you and you say "fuck you."

They don't know what to do with that. They run away. Muggers are like sharks, punch 'em in the nose and they pussy out, find some other mark.

But these psycho ass kids... man... shit.

This one kid, I'll never forget it.

Killed his mom. He dad was long in the wind. Killed his sister. Basically cut her fucking head off. Covered in blood when we brought his ass in.

He just laughed at us and drank soda.

But he had this empty, wild look. I will never forget it. Seen it again and again in young bucks who just do not give a fuck. Go to juvee and cut off the other inmates ears for fun.

God forbid they get out, they turn into the kind of cold killer you are lucky to get a clean shot on, no matter how much paperwork, because they are fucking feral.

Don't worry about some tough coming at you, because the laws of science and reason still work on someone who bothers to live long enough in these parts to get long in the tooth, but don't mess with the kids. They shoot first and think never.

cop[11]

05 November, 2012

2012 San Francisco Ballot Cheat Sheet

President of the United States of America/Vice President: Obama/Biden
United States Senate: Boxer
United States Senate: Feinstein
United States House of Representatives: Pelosi
State Assembly: Ammiano [ *]
Bay Area Rapid Transit Director: 1) Klivans, 2) Lucas, 3) Radulovich (incumbent)
San Francisco Board of Education: See: http://und1sk0.blogspot.com/2012/11/official-voting-instructions-from-lefty.html
San Francisco Community College Board: See: http://und1sk0.blogspot.com/2012/11/official-voting-instructions-from-lefty.html
California Ballot Measures:
Prop 30 - Yes.
Prop 31 - No [ * ].
Prop 32 - No.
Prop 33 - No.
Prop 34 - Yes.
Prop 35 - No.
Prop 36 - Yes.
Prop 37 - Yes. 
Prop 38 - Yes.
Prop 39 - Yes.
Prop 40 - Yes.
San Francisco Ballot Measures:
A - Yes.
B - Yes. 
C - Yes.
D - Yes.
E - Yes.
F - Yes [ * ].
G - Yes.

Official Voting Instructions From Lefty HQ: San Francisco Measures

Read through all this shit so you don't have to.

US Representative District 12:


I'll be voting for Nancy Pelosi.

John Dennis seems like an earnest enough guy, but the first thing I see on his webpage is a plea to "End the Fed." The Federal Reserve is vilified and misunderstood. Whenever I see a plea to end it, I know that there are other dog whistles a-blowing in the wind:
  • Dramatically cut federal spending immediately. Savings could be realized by abolishing the Departments of Education, Commerce and Agriculture and reorganizing the Department of Homeland Security. Budget savings for these changes would be approximately $300 billion.
  • Abolish capital gains taxes for at least 10 years, if not permanently. This will attract the necessary offshore capital to start businesses and create productive jobs.
  • Drastically cut, with an eye toward ending, the income tax. This puts real buying power back into the hands of the consumer.
Nice try, Libertarian!

State Assembly, District 17:


I report, you decide. State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed a bill that would bar law enforcement from cooperating with Federal Immigration holds for non-violent offenders; this is considered a justice issue in the immigrant community, as ICE holds often lead to summary deportations, render asunder families and is a cog in our unjust and cruel immigration policy - one that is arguably racist.

On the other hand, Governor Brown (not at all the hippy-dippy cartoon from the 1980s) vetoed the bill, with lots of cheer-leading from those opposed to immigration reform or in favor of stricter enforcement of immigration (presumably targeting Latinos).

Tom Ammiano's opponent, Jason P. Clark, praise Governor Brown for his veto of AB1081.

Whatever Clark's motivation, he has some unfortunate company, and Ammiano's bill, while characterized as flawed by opponents, was lobbied and offered up as humanitarian relief against an increasingly militarized ICE.

I tend to side with Ammiano, and for Clark to call Ammiano out as out-of-touch with "California voters" is a dog-whistle. I think Clark is on the wrong side of the debate, acknowledging that he has at least put together a coherent  and un-shrill argument in favor of siding with the Governor on AB1081's defeat:

http://www.jasonclark2012.com/uploads/1/1/6/3/11637462/20121001_clark_for_assembly_press_release_on_ab_1081.pdf
That said, Clark opposes attempts to dismantle Hech Hechy, is pro-development of SF's blighted districts and is a "proud member" of the LGBT community - all areas where if I am not in total agreement, I and willing to cede some ground.

Most Californians will not be significantly effected either way unless they have a personal stake in immigration policy, a growing and plural minority who will have an increasing influence on local politics in years to come.

I will stick with the incumbent, SA Ammiano, however I urge you to vote your conscience.

BART Director, District 9:


Of the much maligned local public transportation systems, BART trails behind MUNI as most hated (although a close call against Caltrain, which IMO has shown improvement since the switch over this summer).

Here's how I would rank my choices:

1) Peter Klivans

A seemingly non-political "outsider", Klivans, an attorney, says all the right things in his ballot information packet:
  • Extend service to Oakland Airport, Silicon Valley and the Marina
  • Improve sanitation of trains and stations
  • Improve customer service and employee visibility
  • Encourage development near transit corridors and
  • Lateral transfers between BART and MUNI
  • Make BART more bike friendly 
2) Luke Lucas, City Transportation Commissioner

3) Tom Radulovich, BART Director

This would be an upset vote, sending a message to the establishment.

San Francisco Board of Education:

There are three seats opening up and 12 candidates running. Here's a quick run-down:

Sandra Lee Fewer: Incumbent and endorsed by Mayor Lee. Her webpage contains the standard bureaucratic bons mot and platitudes.

Kim Garcia-Meza: CV includes lots of early childhood development work as an educator. Endorsed by Fewer (see above) and Norman Yee, current BoE President. Union leader and SBO.

Matt Haney: UC Student Association Executive Director, Standford JD, community organizer and former State Senate legislative aide.
 
Victoria Lo: Pediatric healthcare professional, interested in engaging low-income and minority students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Rachel Norton: Incumbent. No particularly controversial positions or endorsements.

Beverly Ho-A-Yun Popek: Educator, SF native. Budget hawk.

Paul Robertson: SBO, USMC. Worked with CORE.

Sam Rodriguez: Parent and policy wonk/operative/etc with a lot of high-gloss endorsements (including with Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom). Do not see any radical or revolutionary (eg, game-changing) proposals.

Gladys Soto: Parent of public school student. Focus on outreach to Latino community. Emphasis on early education (K-3). Pro- "Restorative Practice", which educates children throughout disciplinary and administrative actions. Endorsements: Campos, Leno, Fewer.

Shamann Walton, MPA: "Executive Director." One giant paragraph of corp-babble and passive voice.

Jill Wynns: Incumbent. 20 years on BoE. Money raiser. Endorsements: Ma, Leno, Chu, Yee, SF Parents PAC.

Community College Board:

Dr. Amy Bacharach: Professor and policy wonk. Promises to bring faculty perspective to college board. Endorsements on web page.

Dr. Natalie Berg: Incumbent. "Students first."

Nathan Cruz: Financial analyst. Oh boy. Touts successful budget cuts among accomplishments. Went to Diablo Valley Community College and earned Masters in Public Policy from Carnegie-Mellon.

Chris Jackson: Incumbent. Cutting for the cure. Ensure re-accreditation of City College. Expand vocational curriculum.

Hanna Leung: Workers' Compensation Attorney. Chinese immigrant outreach. Endorsed by SF Board of Supervisors and Local 21 (teachers' union).

Rafael Mandelman: Local government attorney. Holds degrees from Yale, Harvard and Berkeley. Worked with various locally known and loved non-profits and commissions. Endorsements include Ammiano, Assesor Ting, Treasurer Cisneros and Sup. Avalos.

Steve Ngo: Trustee, Education Lawyer. Incumbent since 2008. Endorsed by Ammiano, Controller Chiang, DA George Gascon, Avalos and Campos.

Rodgrigo Santos: Structural Engineer. "Cares about education." Endorsements include Gascon.

George Vazhappally: SBO. Actually, it says "Small Businessman". Don't know if that means he, as a man, is small, or his business is small. Or, like, small business, man. Enthusiastic use of all caps, the first seen so far in the city voter guide. Also, he is a successful businessman. He asks for your vote.

William L. Walker: Student Trustee, SF CC District. "It's time for a student to lead." Take your best shot, champ.

...And finally, the ballot measures (there a zillion of them, so we're going to just blast through them).

San Francisco Municipal Ballot Measures:

A: City College Parcel Tax.

Yes.

B: Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.

Yes. 

C: Housing Trust Fund

Yes.

D: Consolidating Odd-year Municipal Elections.

Yes.

E: Gross Receipts Tax

Yes.

F: Water and Environment Plan

Undecided. Measure added to ballot by petition. Board of supervisors opposes, national environmental group support. Leaning toward yes.

G: Policy Opposing Corporate Personhood.

Yes. Non-binding and symbolic.

02 November, 2012

cop[11]

Marsha was out cold when John heard Tony pull into the driveway. She was chewing on her hair, snoring softly.

John looked into the bathroom mirror. "What a mess." He frothed his face up with her shower gel and considered wiping down his pits. Nah, not today, not for Tony.

The fall air was clean, smelled of pine and burning leaves. Eugene, Oregon.

"Hey Tony, that's a lot of truck you got here," as John hoisted himself up into the passenger seat. "You know what they say, right?"

Tony said nothing, his hands gripped the wheel with his eyes fixed forward.

"They say, 'nice truck, sorry about your dick.'"

John laughed nervously.

Engine still running, Tony shifted the truck into gear, and the pickup shuddered before backing out onto Willamette Avenue.


cop[10]

31 October, 2012

Official Voting Instructions From Lefty Central HQ: National Elections for Northern California

The party line ticket.

The good (Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi), the not-as-good (Barack Husein Obama) and the ugly (Diane Feinstein).

Diane Feinstein, for all her faults (and there are many) is the devil we know, same as the incumbent POTUS.
--

So let's deal with the 800-lbs gorilla in the room: Democrats acting like Republicans.

DiFi and Obama are both (the former enthusiastically and the latter more moderately) in the "blue dog" camp, which is a Democrat who is willing to court votes on the right, wants to appear business friendly and will often vote in spite of the will of the party constituency (or at least stated orthodoxy).

They are hawkish on defense and willing to play games with civil liberties (especially those pertaining to due process - looking at you, Mr. President); they can be coy or waffle regarding civil rights, especially marriage equality (though Senator Feinstein has always been pro- and POTUS has come around due perhaps in no small part to his disaffected base).

Finally in the past Blue Dogs have been not as enthusiastic supporters to the right for choice.

This has resulted in the passage of a number of laws, nationally and in state legislatures, that are obnoxious to anyone who cares about reproductive health (as organizations such as Planned Parenthood are in the crossfire of the culture wars) or a woman's right to choose.

Those Blue Dogs may not be willfully malicious, but theirs is in this and many other cases a sin of omission.

It is the Blue Dogs loyalty that Obama courted in his first months in office and throughout 2009 in order to pass the Health Care Bill, with all its blemishes, and the approval of the Blue Dog caucus (officially, the Democratic Leadership Caucus or DLC).

In the name of "bipartisanship" the DLC, Obama and the Blue Dogs have allowed the extreme right to run rough shod over legislatures on the state and local and national theatres, sometimes by malice but usually in the name of pragmatism.

--

On the right, or among the famously annoying undecided (eg, the audience for this post), there seems to be a lot of anxiety fomenting about the injustice of a two party system; hence the Tea Party and Libertarian resurgence.

These are the same people that confuse property with liberty and think that the right to have a gun is more important than the fact that I'd rather be alive than shot in the face, how's that for rights?

Not that gun control laws work. But the right has taken a bullshit reading of the 2nd Amendment and twisted it into an extreme ideology. I enjoy popping off a few rounds from a rifle as much as the next guy, but I'd rather dip my balls in fire ants than give 1¢ to the NRA, a organization dedicated to defending a single "right" over all others.

Pro gun or against gun, everyone should realize that since the NRA is so powerful, and that the candidates they support also support an extreme right-wing vision of the country. Supporting gun rights is practically akin to being anti-gay rights, anti-choice, pro-Dominionist, pro-Zionist and anti-union.

Support the NRA and you are buying the whole bill of sale.

Is the Democratic platform on guns wrong? Maybe in 1986, but it has evolved. Gun control has been abandoned because it's a poison pill with moderates (Americans who believe in the primacy of 2nd Amendment rights but may be open to socially liberal ideas or entitlement or fair taxation).

No, the ACLU forever gets my money, not the NRA, despite defending people whose ideologies I find deplorable, because at least they fight for real rights. Put that in your "well-organized militia and shove it", wingers.

--

Make no mistake, up is down, black is white and Libertarianism is the crypto-fascist authoritarian dreams of people who aren't satisfied with the chest pounding jingoism the GOP today embodies. If you need any more proof, see the welfare programs for corporations and the rich they want to embolden and strengthen (fascism) and the entitlement programs they would gut (class warfare, anti-poor, anti-middle class, Plutocratic) and the programs they have no interest in, or worse, a desire to raze like public infrastructure, education, "tort reform" (code for: immunity for corporate citizens and the very wealthy) and the like.

Libertarianism is a non-starter for me, and it should be for anyone who can think past "I got my own, screw you."

Unfortunately it has a certain faux intellectual appeal and has attracted many intelligent people into lockstep with the designs of people like the Koch brothers who do not have their best interests in mind.

I'll skip the extended discussion about self-taxation. I'm glad the Kochs pay for things like NOVA and the like, but I still think they need to contribute to birth control for at risk women and harm reduction for drug abusers, like it or not.

--

Ron Paul is a racist. I said it.

The race baiting of the right has been talked about exhaustively.

Gary Johnson is at least an honest broker of the above flawed Libertarianism. Paul is just a crypto-racist with a wing-nut following. Sorry.

The GOP is racist. I hear the dog whistles and you are fooling no one when you claim innocence. This whole issue of voter fraud has one goal: keep Democrats (blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the elderly) from voting.

It's Jim Crow, plain and simple. Shame on you.

Stop asking the leader of the free world for his papers. He's your president too, show some respect. No one asked for Bush's papers.

--

I'm voting for bomby-McDrone, yes I am, because the alternative is killy-McMormon, ready to pull the trigger at Israel's beckoning on Iran. Then we all die, and the Dominionists get the last laugh (except they don't, because they will all be dead too, and there is no heaven or hell: Imagine that!).

--

The skies have parted above central Oregon as I listen to Yousef Islam (né Cat Stephens) singing "I love everything, so don't it make you feel sad?".

The weather has been a bit drizzly in Oregon, as is seasonal.

On the East Coast it's been an apocalyptic shit-storm, literally, and it's only going to get worse as Climate Change drags on unabated.

Romney talks about disbanding and de-funding FEMA, and mocks the President's pledge to "slow the rise of the oceans."

Well, at least someone has pledged to try something, you and your God bothering party. I don't know what Romney really believes, if he believes in another other than himself and his magical underwear.

He shamelessly catered to Dominionists in the primaries, that vocal wing of the Republican Party that believes, quite literally, that God created everything for Man to have total dominion on. It's an Evangelical stance that has no room for climate science, or science at all, that forces women to have rape babies and that yearns for a reunited Israel, reformed in its original Biblical footprint, in order to bring about the Second Coming of Christ and the apocalypse.

These people are delusional and dangerous, no more advanced in their thinking about the world than the Taliban. They are the American Taliban, and they must be stopped.

I'm sitting in a hotel room now and on the TV there are back to back "ghost hunting" "reality" shows on Travel and SyFy. At least the latter is on a channel that at one time purported to be dedicated to fiction, which ghosts certainly are.

Click... click... "Bigfoot Hunters"... on the Science Channel? Discovery? History? "Sarah Palin's Alaska", "Hoarders", "True UFO History" and with a numbing coda of "COPS" and the like in case you didn't hate your fellow American enough ("this insane criminal was caught trying to flee the police, who he should have no reason to fear if he wasn't a bad, bad, drug using law breaker" rambles on John Walsh, who understandably lost his faith long ago).

These messages, they stick, they get into someplace deep within us, and they help us believe the lie that we aren't all in it together, that the next guy doesn't deserve the same breaks as I do, and that being lucky is a virtue of hard scrabble effort and not a combination of birthright, dumb luck, societal support, education, military hegemony and legacy.

You didn't built that. We did.

They say "there are no poor people in America, just temporarily embarrassed millionaires." And the chumps on reality TV. And ghosts. Ghosts everywhere, at least on the dial (pro-tip: in the olden days, dials were used to "tune" televisions to the dozen or so on-air channels), screaming incomprehensible banshee choruses at our faces ("FUCK IT, WE'LL DO IT LIVE!").

We have to turn the tide of the dumbification of America, and we need to fight ignorance with knowledge, fear with love and the Culture War with cultural progress.

--

Still undecided?

You can take any position and pose them as binary choices (since they are). Iran war or not? Choice or not? Gay rights or not? Tax cuts for the rich or not? Austerity or not? Social security privatization or not? There's really only one clear choice. I will Jill Stein all the luck in the world, but she or Gary Johnson are not viable opponents to the Romney machine.

I believe in science, fair taxation of the wealthy, gay rights, a woman's right to choose, standing up to Israeli foreign entanglements, ending wars not starting them, clean energy, equal pay, the right for laborers to organize and I'm against corporate personhood and I'm voting Democratic.

24 October, 2012

Nacho Bike

Re: This bike isn't your stolen one :(
Inbox
x

Terry
11:19 AM (26 minutes ago)

to me
I'm sure the police have contacted you and given you the bad news ,it's not your bike.

Sent from my iPhone
Thanks a lot, jerk. I am sorry the PD wasted their time checking the bike you were selling out.

I am more sorry that you have wasted my time so thoroughly. Next time, when someone asks for proof of sale, you should consider offering it up on request.

Thank you SO MUCH for taunting me about it in email. I hope you never sell you bike, asshole.

20 October, 2012

Official Voting Instructions From Lefty Central HQ: Ballot Measure Edition


Prop 30 - Yes. The proposition asks the wealthiest Californians to invest in the state whose treasure they enjoy and whose economy enriches them.

Prop 31 - Needs more study.

SFBG says no, "gives governor too much power". Likes the idea of a 24 month budget, and some of the other proposals (more municipal control over funds), but does not like the bills complexity, suggests it is a grab-bag approach to fixing several critical problems at once and is leery of using propositions as legislative fixes for issues this critical.

I may be leaning toward "yes", throwing caution to the wind regarding executive power in lieu of budgetary fixes. Will need to look at polling data - would rather it lose by a slim margin that pass.

Prop 32 - No.

SFBG is emphatic that this is a no vote, citing SuperPAC's bearing down on Unions. That's good enough for this liberal.

The measure presents itself as an even-handed effort to reduce political spending by both unions and corporations. "Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors," reads the official ballot summary. 
But while payroll deductions are the main source of funding for labor unions — which use that money to advocate for the interests of their members and the broader working class — few corporations deduct money from their employee paychecks for political purposes. They tap the many other sources of funding at their disposal. 
Similarly, the measure claims to ban "union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees," yet it exempts many of the largest corporations from that restriction, allows even the corporations it does cover to bypass the restriction by forming super PACs, and it still allows corporate officers to funnel contributions to their favored candidates, making the corporate controls almost completely meaningless.

Prop 33 - No.

Attempt to undo consumer protections of insurance rates couched in discount for continuous insurance subscribers. This is a cost-shifting measure that would impact a sizable portion of California insurance subscribers negatively and would effectively dismantle many consumer protections. 

Furthermore, it specifically would target infrequent drivers or people who have giving up insurance for long periods due to: alternative transportation, unemployment, illness, etc.

Prop 34 - Yes.

The death penalty is immoral and does not accomplish what it claims: deterrence.

Furthermore, the death penalty is expensive. The prison system in general and death row specifically takes money out of the hands of teachers, emergency first responders, vital infrastructure projects and protecting the natural beauty of the great state of California.

We're a first world state, why are we employing a third world, barbaric punishment?

Prop 35 - No. "Tough on crime legislation" will further victimize sex workers.

Be ware of any law purporting to be "tough on crime," they are either ineffectual, like our gun laws, or succeed in furtherance of injustice, incarceration, civil rights violations and misery toward minorities and the poor (the drug war, three strikes laws, harsh minimum sentencing guidelines). These are almost always election cycle show pieces ("look at how tough on crime I am! Re-elect me!") and they are usually more damning than helpful, if helpful at all.
Former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, mad that the state Legislature wouldn't pass a trafficking law to his liking and looking for an issue to run for office on, put up the money to place this mess on the ballot. It would rewrite the section in California's Penal Code that defines human trafficking, and impose harsher sentences on those found guilty. It requires that all those convicted of human trafficking — under an expanded definition that includes such non-sexual crimes as extortion — register on the sex offender registry, and that all registered sex offenders turn over their Internet usernames and passwords to the government.
Prop 36 - Yes.

Three-strikes reform measure to exclude non-violent crimes. A half-measure, but I'll take it:
Prop. 36 wouldn't repeal three strikes. It would simply require that the third strike offense be considered violent or serious. And it would provide a means for people currently serving ridiculously long sentences for relatively minor crimes to appeal and seek relief.
Prop 37 - Yes.

Chowbacca! makes this argument probably better than I could: http://www.chowbacca.com/2012/09/news-roundup-gmo-edition.html

Prop 38 - Yes, suck it up.

The state needs to raise funds for education, period, and will only be able to do that through a tax increase. The sliding scale starts at $7,300 a year (+0.4%, or about $30) and skews heavily toward a middle class tax burden, but is totally necessary.

Prop 39 - Yes.
Prop. 39 would change a loophole in the state's tax code that helps multistate businesses to avoid state taxes. In essence, the current law lets companies choose whether to base their state tax liability on in-state sales or a combination of sales, employment, and property. Companies with a lot of out-of-state employees are able to reap huge tax breaks — if anything the current law encourages outsourcing.
Prop 40 - Yes.
This referendum challenged the California Senate districts that were created early this year by the Citizen Redistricting Commission, an independent body that voters created as an alternative to the previous practice of letting politicians draw their own legislative districts after the decennial census. Those new districts aren't perfect — indeed, San Francisco was placed in a single Senate district instead of the pair we had — but the process that created them was widely lauded as "open, transparent, and nonpartisan," as the California Supreme Court ruled in rejecting a challenge to the districts. That ruling has caused the proponents of this measure — the side urging a "no" vote, which would invalidate the districts and let a judicial panel redraw them, whereas a "yes" vote upholds the existing districts — to drop their campaign and accept the commission's results. Vote yes. 

08 October, 2012

Fkn Bike Thieves.

I hope you all get gangrene.

Wo est mein bycicle?

Reward if found (unless by me, then probably a punch in the face):