Friday, July 19, 2024

While some rural-dependent brands dump LGBT and CEI - there is Campbells Spoon

 I totally get how John Deere and Tractor Supply felt the need to publicly repudiate their DEI and LGBT support positions; they are, after all, dependent on rural customers who have turned against even mentioning DEI or LGBT. Since I don't use either, so I get they go where their bread is butter.

With that said, I am happy that Campbell's Soup has not discarded its support of human values.

Campbells' response is Chef's Kiss.



The Massive Success of Electric Cars in Palm Springs and England

 Since moving to Palm Springs, I have been very much surprised and pleased by a number of electric cars. California, in general, and Palm Springs, in particular, is fertile ground for EVs. Out here, most distances are easily coverable within their range. The solar panels and expensive gas make owning an EV a price-effective choice, particularly if you use this as a second car.

Then there is England. I thought expensive energy and cloudy weather would make the EVs undesirable there. I was utterly wrong. 

Some of the popular EVs in the desert (rich people here). Genesis GV 60 (luxury EV SUV) - super popular out here, Rivan (growing numbers out here), Cadillac Lryic, Tesla is popular everywhere.

EVs are everywhere in England, much more popular than in most of America—with the exception of Palm Springs and other areas I don't know. But here is what works for them, and it isn't mandates.

1st, the distances are much shorter. A hop down to a pub a few miles away, or the supermarket, which is even closer, makes perfect sense for an electric. It is very different than our "tests" here that travel from Florida to New York and have to stop to recharge a lot.

For example, the distance from Miami to New York is 1,285 miles, and the distance from London to Edinburgh is 401 miles. Everything is closer and nearly everything is within a distance where a charge is not needed.

2nd, British gas (petrol) prices there are super high. They are significantly higher than even California. It is the same in all of Europe, where gas taxes are very high - comparatively.

Third, there are more varieties and options of cars in the United Kingdom and Europe than there are here. There are everything from small, less expensive options (MG and Fiat) to large luxury cars, such as Rolls Royce and Mercedes.

4th, the infrastructure is mainly in place. Europe and the United Kingdom use 220-volt outlets. Given the small distances and connected electricity at 220, plugging them in doesn't require the home improvements needed for the US.

It made me smile.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Went to the Doctor Today - Not Gary

 Well, with Medicare, I have a new doctor in Palm Springs. Don't worry Dr. Gary is available if I want him. Which is great.

This doctor's office has 1 Doctor in on Thursdays who handles the "gay" patients and a couple of others who handle the other older patients. 

I think maybe most of the "other" are older women. Because this waiting room SCREAMS old crazy lady / gay interior design choices. They wouldn't be mine - but I admire the kitsch factor.




The tale of Chiselborough

 Our second dog sit in England this past month was in Chiselborough. Which is a village of about 100 - 125. It was in the middle of nowhere.

Okay, nowhere USUALLY. While we were dog-sitting, there was the Glastonbury Festival. It was about 10 miles away and attracts between 200,000 and 250,000 people. It is like their version of a mix of Chowchilla and Burning Man, but with fewer drugs and a healthy percentage of people way over their 30s. 

Anywho, the house was in the middle of this tiny village surrounded by fields, and in England there are public paths through many of them. That is where these dogs were mainly walked.

And these

In the lower left of the picture above is the Cat Head Inn - a lovely pub with good food. In that same picture, the house across the street is where we dog-sat. That little blue MG in front was our car.


Wednesday, July 17, 2024

I get the anonymous sex advice column idea - I love reading them.. . but

 I really do enjoy the advice column posts, particularly from Slate.

And, even when I find it very uncomfortable, it is enlightening and sometimes fun to read them.

But then there are those letters that are, as the kids say, cringe. Not gross, but just cringe.

Example:

What are the ethics of fantasizing about dead celebrities when masturbating? I recently rewatched a film from the early 2000s starring someone who has sadly since passed away, and they played a character I found very charming the first time I watched the film and all the more so the second time around. The character later popped up in my thoughts during a self-love session, but I felt a little weird about it…

Hum....

Part of me thinks, yuck? But the other part of me wants to know what dead celebrity they are thinking about. Also, is this the same or similar to fantasizing about a live celebrity, but only when they were younger and cute? No reason, just asking.. (see, it is weird, right?).


Mosaic of Hypnos

Just outside the town where we stayed at in Montenegro is a recovered Roman House/trading post. The city of Risan sits at the crossroads of old trade routes.





The mosaics and foundation have been excavated and are shown as found. The outline of the house and central atrium can still be seen. It was cool.

The mosaics include the only known image of Hypnos, the God of Sleep, found in floor mosaics anywhere. It's kind of cool. The Hypnos figure is also the only mosaic in more than two colors.


And just a picture of me and the Bay. The city of Perast, where we stayed, is in the background.

 

It was humid. I am not pretty in humidity.

I think I might literally be checking out

Silly as it sounds, I suddenly feel FANTASTICALLY OBSOLETE. Not for any physical or mental reason - not that I don't have problems with that - but morally.

I was raised by the Bible's Golden Rules as I was taught them:

  • Be kind to others
  • Give thanks for your state in life
  • Do not steal
  • Do not lie
  • Be a good neighbor
  • Do not be the first to cast stones
  • Be aware of the gifts you have and be humble about them in public
  • (Implied) Don't be a dick.

These life precepts are no longer remotely in the minds of Americans: MAGA in particular, but many Americans and nearly all politicians. This is not a "both sides suck" idea - but the reality that the new ethic in the country rewards hate, bullying, being selfish, and being anti-intellectual. *


Will I PERSONALLY be okay going forward? Probably. 

I will never need body autonomy as I am not a woman (and it is totally safe for men). I won't have kids, so the attack on public schools, libraries, and teachers doesn't personally affect me. I am not homeless, so the movement to put the worst off in our society into a jail cell rather than help them doesn't apply to me. 

I am a well-off white gay male and will hopefully know when to get out of Dodge and have the funds to do it. 

But the idea of where this country is going - loudly, proudly, and hatefully - is the antithesis of my moral compass. It is crushing me. CRUSHING.

I am checking out the news for a while.

 Again. 

This time, not out of frustration or anger. This time, out of despair. I am slightly afraid that if I don't check out, I will fall down a black hole that will suck the hope and love out of me.


* It's funny because, as atheists, people always ask if we have any morals if we don't believe in God. How could we have morals? 

Look, I say. You don't have to believe that one guy 2,000 years ago popped out of a virgin as God, to understand that the New Testament of the Bible presents a valuable moral code. I don't have to think Plato was a God to follow some of his precepts. I don't have to believe that Seneca was a God to follow the principles of the Stoics. I don't have to believe Franklin Roosevelt was a god to believe that the Four Freedoms are a significant moral compass.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

I'm not sure they understand how travel photography works

 I get a newsletter called "Daily Passport." They usually have a few stories, some local, some international, most travel, some nature, etc.

Well, Today they featured the 10 cities in America where the tourism flourished, but prices have risen a lot. Think of places like Orlando or Las Vegas.

Two of these write ups have pictures that would discourage tourism, in my opinion. Look at the explanation and then the image they used with it.

5. Jackson, Mississippi – 28.68% Increase

Average Daily Cost:
2018: $233.78

2023: $300.82

There is much to do and see in Mississippi’s capital city, perhaps an overlooked tourist destination by many, but unfortunately, it’s become one of the most expensive cities in the state to visit. Hotel prices are up 47.48%, from $113.87 to $167.94. Meal and rental car prices also increased by around 11%, making it a bit more costly to enjoy the town’s dozens of museums and historical sights — including the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Mississippi State Capitol. 

Yes, this image calls to me.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Allentown, Pennsylvania – 29.94% Increase

Average Daily Cost:
2018: $253.50

2023: $329.40

Located about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, Allentown is Pennsylvania’s third-most-populated city. Allentown’s small-town charm becomes apparent the moment you step foot here, from its minor league baseball games to its many farmers markets, gardens, and museums. But despite flying under the radar as a tourist destination, this Lehigh Valley city isn’t cheap. Hotels are up 45.5%, with an average nightly cost of $193.35 in 2023, compared to 2018’s $132.89 average. Rental car prices are steady, but food costs have also increased. The average daily meal cost has risen by 16.74%, from $78.69 to $91.86. 


This picture doesn't scream, "Visit my cultural highlights!"



Monday, July 15, 2024

Grahovac

 One of the more impressive monuments in Montenegro is "Grahovac."

Grahovac is a beautiful monument to the people of the area who fought in the three national wars: the Ottoman / Balkan War, WWI, and WWII.

Very soon after it was dedicated, the town and area were struck by a massive earthquake, and the city emptied. Grahovac's monument was forgotten. Recently (just as Covid hit), the nation had updated the sculpture. It is a modernist sculpture that creates Yugoslavia (expressed by the form of Marshall Tito in the front) arising from the more modernist representation of generic forms.




At the foot of the monument are several cement monoliths bearing the names of local fighters lost and their birth and death dates. I find it moving to be in a quiet and contemplative place. The monument brought up a lot of emotions that surprised me because we didn't know these people at all.


Gareth and the parent down from the sculpture to the remembrance area.
Cement blocks as commemorative monoliths. 

The "city" of Grahovac now numbers less than 100 locals, and the destroyed buildings haven't been completely removed. It is a surreal experience.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

I'm Home

 First, I will recap my trip highlights later.

Second, I am posting this picture because it makes me happy (look how cute I am). 

My dad, mom, Uncle Timo, Grandmother Honey, Granddad (mom's family) and me!
On the table are my cousins, Debbie and Danny

I was kind of a ham.


Finally, This was my trip home. It was not good.

Here was our horrid itinerary.

1. Thursday PM - Left Montenegro Thursday night for Istanbul. Only flight got in at 11:30.
2. Thursday PM - Checked in and slept at an airport hotel.

3. Friday AM Istanbul Time - Left hotel at 6:00 AM. Fly from Istanbul to London - leave at 8:30AM
4. Arrive in London at about 10:30 AM local time (body time now 12:30PM)
5. Leave London to Dallas Fort Worth about 1:00PM (body time is now 3:00 PM)
6. Arrive at DFW local time 5:00PM (body time is now at MIdnight)
7. PSP flight scheduled at 8:55PM was moved to 9:35PM
   7.a - Go to gate and board 1st plane near 10:00PM
     7.b - Sit on plane about 10 minutes
       7.c - Then asked to deboard plane after everyone is on board. Note: Asked to take all our things, including luggage that's not good.
         7.d - Told that we "will hear more later". But there might be some seats to Ontario, San Diego, and LA. We could get those if there were some available AND you ran (we didn't, but those that did were super screwed as the San Diego Plane was later canceled).
           7.e - Hazzah. Told at 10:45, there was a flight at 11:30 in Terminal B (we were in Terminal D). We all shelp
             7.f - We wait at the gate, and wait. At about 11:15 we were told that the particular plane wasn't available, but a new plane in Terminal A would leave at 1:35.
               7.g - We all haul it to Terminal A and wait until about 1:30. Captain and crew get on. All looks good!
                 7.h - We all line up; they put the wheelchair people in line, and the door opens....
                   7.i - Whant Wa... door closes with us on the wrong side. Crew timed out.
                     7.j - At 1:35, we were all told that the new flight is at 5:00 AM. But hey, if you want a hotel voucher for the 3 hours you have go to customer service (where there is already a 30 minute line). Same with food vouchers. But that is okay, because every place to eat is closed by midnight at the latest.
8. We try to rest and sleep at gate 14, a quiet place where many sleep on the disgusting, dirty, trod-on floor carpet.
9. Back at gate at 4:25. People are lined up. Old ladies are back in wheelchairs again. We wait. At about 4:45, nothing has happened. At 5:00 AM planes leave for San Diego and San Antonio (two other cancelled flights).
10. Scott, who has been reasonably pleasant, has small issue and talks with counter ladies at 5:10AM - On Saturday

 Now, this is where I am annoyed. I go up and ask the counter people what the problem is. They say, "They are waiting." 
I said, "I have been waiting as well. And I slept on the floor." 
Counter lady is not impressed, she has been here a little while too. She asks "DO you want to make an announcement to everyone?" and hands me the microphone. 
I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. I reached for it, and she grabbed it back. 
The other one asks me "Are you done venting?" 
I said "I don't even know why we are waiting; any idea?"
She says (this is her downfall), "There is one flight attendant missing." Mistake. The people waiting to board were appalled at my actions but were listening intently.

Tribal calls of "Where are they?" begin to rumble in the crowd.
Counter people say, "We don't know, she is supposed to be on her way here."
I walk away, annoyed, but slightly less tightly wound.
Counter people make their second mistake, as I walk away, one holds out microphone and trys to embarass me by saying, "Does anyone else want to vent?" 
This brings a lot of response from the audience who would, in fact, like the microphone to vent. Counter people say they were joking.
Counter people call police.
Counter people announce they have called the tower, and the tower doesn't know where the flight attendant is either.
This does not have the calming effect she anticipated.
Rumbles are made, but two large police officers in back of crowd enforce a sense of quiet dread.

We wait.
.
.
Finally, after about 45 minutes, the poor flight attendant has to walk through this crowd to get on the plane. Calls of "finally" and "where have you been" ring through the crowd.
Before everyone goes completely feral, the counterperson pushes the first wheelchair down the ramp without waiting for those chair-pushing guys. They start boarding as quickly as possible while taking one wheelchair down the ramp at a time while others are being shuffled in.

The tardy flight attendant is punished by having to welcome everyone to the plane. She hides deep back in the galley as people glare at her. At this point, even I feel sorry for her. 

The minute people are in, they close the door, help put bags up, and we drive to the runway, turn, and take off without any of the normal stop-and-go.
They make up time and we land at 5:47AM. Two days after this entire shit show started.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Second Monument

 Nikšiç is a city in Montenegro. It was also a valley that the Italians, Germans, and Chinits occupied. The region's people lost 1,000 men during the battles to liberate it. There are only 65,000 people in total, including women and children. That is a pretty big part of the population.

It is an abstract of a phoenix to identify how the city grew back up out of the rubble.

Nice.












While some rural-dependent brands dump LGBT and CEI - there is Campbells Spoon

 I totally get how John Deere and Tractor Supply felt the need to publicly repudiate their DEI and LGBT support positions; they are, after a...