Friday, September 20, 2019

Berkeley Enforces the Law

Blowing through a stop in Berkeley (Chron)
Your humble blogger only rides a bicycle for weekend recreation, but even that limited experience enables me to understand why serious riders, including those who ride bikes for a living or use them to commute, hate to stop. A bicyclist expends some effort to build a full head of steam, wastes that effort by coming to a stop, and then has to start all over. Also, everyone has grown accustomed to cars' acceleration, and by comparison bicycle acceleration after a stop takes excruciatingly long.

Bicyclists--though not everyone, just to be clear--have long operated under the belief that the rules don't apply to them, for example, that they can ignore stop signs and stop lights if there are no cars, or even if cars are slow--often because of their presence! (Some states now allow bicyclists to yield at stop signs.)

However, the increasing crowdedness of our streets has made it more important that everyone follows the rules that apply to them, for example, pedestrians must use crosswalks and only when the "walk" signal is on, cars must come to a complete stop and proceed with caution when making a right turn on red, etc.

Now the City of Berkeley is strictly enforcing the bicycle laws:
Berkeley has taken a different approach to traffic safety: penalties of more than $200 for cyclists who roll through stop signs.

The enforcement campaign, carried out by police officers who patrol the city’s quiet bicycle boulevards on motorcycles, has caused anger to spill from Twitter into City Hall.

Police say they are trying to prevent collisions and fulfill the requirements of a $250,000 state grant to promote good behavior on roadways.
The progressive nanny-staters who are fond of passing laws--no plastic straws! no free grocery bags! penalties for not sorting trash!--to regulate everyone's behavior don't like it when they have to follow the law.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Needling the Opposition

(Photo from ZeroHedge)
San Francisco needle exchange programs--both non-profit and government-sponsored--have been in existence for nearly 30 years. While probably preventing disease, the costs are significant: [bold added]
in 2018, the program distributed 5.8 million syringes and collected 3.8 million, an improved collection rate of about 65 percent. There was a significant uptick in dropoff of needles at kiosks which increased to 241,080 in 2018, a more than 300 percent increase from the 59,000 in 2017.
An unaccounted-for two million syringes with drug residue are an environmental disaster, whether they end up on the streets, on playground and parks, in landfill, or are swept into the Bay.

President Trump entered the fray by announcing that the EPA will cite San Francisco for violations because of needles flowing into the ocean. Predictably, San Francisco politicians and "experts" denounced the President by asserting that San Francisco sewers don't allow needles to get through.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city has a combined sewer system that “ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants.” She called Trump’s remarks “ridiculous assertions.”

“No debris flow out into the bay or the ocean,” Breed said.
The whole premise behind the ban on plastic straws was that the straws end up in the Pacific Ocean, hurting ocean wildlife.

It's a very strange system that catches all the needles but not all the straws.

Update (9/21/2019) -- once again Willie Brown, tongue firmly in cheek, has the final word:
But, of course, Trump overplayed his hand by falsely claiming drug needles on San Francisco streets are washing into the ocean. Rather than having to deal with a national focus on the city’s homelessness failures, local officials got to turn the story around as just another Trump lie. And they were right, of course. The needles don’t wash into the ocean.

They end up on sidewalks and in parks.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Easy to Fool

Today I drove a 97-year-old lady to Palo Alto for an outpatient procedure. She has no relatives in the area, and remarkably she lives alone, without assistance, on the second floor in a condominium complex. She didn't want to pay $55 each way for a van service, and, after being contacted by a mutual acquaintance, I didn't have an excuse to say no.

A task for burly men and the right equipment
The afternoon was far from stress-free: 1) traffic on the Bayshore Freeway was moderate, but in Palo Alto it was murder; 2) the maps app kept guiding me to the wrong building; 3) another car scraped ours in a parking lot while we were asking for directions--I'd have let it go but the other was a late model Camry, so we exchanged information by the book; 4) lacking a disability placard, walker, or wheelchair she could barely limp the distance to the front door; 5) the procedure and tests were inconclusive, so she has to return next month after the biopsy results.

Adding to her agitation was that she had locked herself out of her condo. The spare key was with a relative, two hours away. One ray of hope was that her balcony was unlocked.

Maybe I could go home and get a ladder? Nope, just one glimpse showed we needed professional help.

And so it was that I found myself at the Foster City Police Department explaining our predicament. The after-hours dispatcher totally believed me--I wore my most open, trustworthy expression--and a fire truck with three burly men solved the problem in less than 10 minutes by climbing to the balcony and unlocking the front door.

After I walked her safely upstairs, my new friend asked how I could remain calm throughout the afternoon. When one's interlocutor has poor eyesight and hearing, she's easy to fool.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Green Privilege

California trumpets its leadership on global warming climate change by pointing to the decline in carbon emissions over time. The analysis, however, is both strange and strained: [bold added]
2018 Mendocino fire: no CO2 to count
here, please move along (Chron photo)
The state does not include every source of gases that contribute to climate change when measuring its progress against the 2020 goal of 431 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions — or its even more ambitious 2030 target.

Significantly, California does not factor in emissions from wildfires, even though trees release carbon dioxide when they burn and people often provide the first spark. Out-of-state and international air travel is another area that is excluded, according to the California Air Resources Board.

There are reasons for these omissions: California officials use international standards that track the direct results of humans burning fossil fuels and other such activity within the boundaries of the state.

But the numbers left out of the state’s calculations are staggering. Last year alone, wildfires released 45.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, according to state estimates. That’s more than half as much as the state’s industrial sector emits in a typical year.

If California factored wildfire estimates into its final count for 2017, the last year the state tallied all of its greenhouse gas emissions, the state would have seen overall emissions rise, not fall.
The one-party state first makes the rules, then uses them to judge others.

Now I'm feeling especially virtuous. Excluding my five trips to Hawaii (so far) this year, my carbon tracker says that I'm reducing California's carbon footprint!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Crooked Solution

Lombard St. (Chronicle photos)
For decades Lombard St. ("the crookedest street in the world") has been a San Francisco tourist attraction. The street has become so congested with cars that the City will implement a pilot reservation system at $5 per car. One problem: Gavin Newsom may not sign the proposed bill.
Local governments, however, cannot charge people to use a public road without state approval.
Your humble blogger does feel sorry for the homeowners who must put up with the sightseers.

(Lombard St. is part of my 1-day SF quickie tour.) However, a successful implementation ("The estimated toll revenue would be $2.1 million a year") will tempt San Francisco politicians to tax other venues. Why not have a car reservation system for Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park, Fisherman's Wharf, or Chinatown? Suffering Californians by many measures pay the most taxes and fees, but politicians will always come up with reasons to tax us more.

There's no need to give them another revenue source. Here's hoping that Governor Newsom doesn't sign the bill.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lux et Veritas

Like the missionaries of yore, the church held a commissioning ceremony for the pre-school and Sunday School teachers as they began the school year.

May God guide them and protect them as they venture into hostile territory....

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Slicing It Thin

Urology patient's nightmare
Amazon sells a ceremonial ribbon-cutting scissors for $99, but a co-worker needed one the next day.

Fortunately a party supply store in San Francisco had one that we could rent for three (3) days at $45.

So off to SF on Thursday, the Friday event came off without a stitch hitch, then back to SF on Saturday to return the item.

That was cutting it close.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Science Says Settle In

Research has proved not only what I believe, but what I want to believe; naps improve heart health. [bold added]
(Graphic from CBS News)
researchers found that Swiss adults who took one or two daytime naps per week had a lower risk of heart problems, including heart disease and strokes, than non-nappers....Almost 3,500 Swiss adults ages 35 to 75 took part in the study. They provided researchers information about their napping habits, nighttime sleep, demographics and lifestyle information, and underwent a range of medical tests meant to assess their overall health....

During up to eight years of follow-up, 155 people had a heart problem. The researchers found that people who took one or two daytime naps per week had a lower risk of cardiovascular issues than non-nappers, even after adjusting for excessive daytime sleepiness (which can be a symptom of underlying health issues), nighttime sleep duration and demographic and lifestyle factors. The connection between more frequent naps and heart health was not as strong.

These short snoozes could be a valuable way to relieve stress and compensate for inadequate sleep at night, thereby protecting heart health, the paper says. Sleep deprivation is a known risk factor for conditions including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and mental distress, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So naps could help the roughly one-third of Americans who don’t get the recommended minimum seven hours of rest per night.
However, more research is needed on your humble blogger's cohort:
The new study did find an exception for adults older than 65. They did not see heart-health benefits associated with occasional napping, perhaps because they tend to have more health problems and nap for longer amounts of time than younger adults, according to the study.
We shall rest until we find out more!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Aloha Also Means 'Til We Meet Again

Maybe next time.
We would have stayed longer, but some of us had to get back to work.

Also, having too much fun didn't seem appropriate. It's schizophrenic to embark on a multi-mood holiday, i.e., participate in a memorial service and party at the same time.

We walked around Waikiki for the evening constitutional but didn't stop anywhere. When I return in October, that will change.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Living with No Resolution

9/11 has been called this generation's Pearl Harbor, but unlike World War II the problem wasn't mostly resolved in 3½ years. 18 years later the threats are still active, and we continue to wait in security lines at airports. Whatever anxiety the rest of us feel, however, pales before that of New York City inhabitants:
9/11 Memorial (Architectural Digest)
“What we’ve seen lately, is an unusual amount of propaganda directed at attacks on U.S. soil and an unusual amount of that pointing to New York as a target,” said John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism...

Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors and tracks radical groups online, said New York City remains a top target for terrorists because it “embodies American culture, making it a highly symbolic location.”

The NYPD operates the largest counterterrorism apparatus of any law enforcement agency in the U.S., with hundreds of staff officers and analysts and extensive relationships with outside intelligence agencies.
Like West Coasters who live on a fault line, New Yorkers have learned to live with the threat of a sudden turn for the worse.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

You Are What You Eat

A man and a woman ordered breakfast at a Honolulu restaurant. Who ordered the "Waffard"--waffles, custard, berries--and who ordered the pork belly, eggs, and fried rice? (Neither is on a diet, obviously). The gender stereotypes regarding food are so strong that it should take only a second to answer.

Included among the differences between men and women is what each chooses to eat.
Men eat more meat and bread, while women consume more fruit, yogurt and diet soda. There are also gender differences in eating styles. Women take smaller bites and take longer to eat than men.
While I have ordered fish while my favorite dinner companion slices into prime rib, with us the stereotype generally holds.

I enjoyed the pork belly on last year's visit to Liliha Bakery, and I ordered it again.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Morimoto Asia, Waikiki

Tuna pizza appetizer
Though the trip to Hawaii was chock-full with family obligations, there was still time for fun. Friends said they "owed" us dinner--though truthfully we had lost track and weren't sure whose turn it was--and we headed for Morimoto Asia, a Waikiki restaurant that we would never have gone to on our own.

Morimoto Asia is part of Iron Chef Masahuru Morimoto's expanding culinary empire. The cuisine is Asian fusion, and sure enough the beef, shrimp, fish and fried rice dishes were fundamentally Asian but with European or tropical overtones. Our hostess did all the ordering, and we shared the dishes family-style.

The conversation with fellow baby-boomers extended to the closing hours, as we compared notes about parents who have lived a blessedly long life, and adult children who are not as self-sufficient as we were ourselves, or mis-remembered ourselves. We resolved to keep our bodies and minds healthy as long as we could to make a positive contribution to the lives of our children and possible grandchildren.

Working on that resolution will have to start tomorrow. The chocolate sphere takes precedence.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The Narrow Path

Encampment by the neighborhood library.
At yesterday's memorial service the Gospel reading was the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan, whom Jesus held up as virtuous despite the Samaritan's low social status.

Mom chose the passage because of my father's lifetime of service to the church and the Shriners. Dad's generosity did not blind him to the real world. He erected thick iron gates and installed 3rd-party security systems to protect his property and tenants from the homeless who roam the neighborhood.

Wariness and caution have always been our default states, and I'm finding with age that I have to work harder at being open and trusting. My father, even at the age of 94, could walk the narrow path.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

An Afternoon Both Sad and Joyful

People say it gets easier, which I suppose is true because the world demands attention, breaking up the wallowing. One must continue to work, pay the bills, shop, exercise, tend to the house and garden, and do the myriad things one has to do to live. This week, however, the emotions returned because the focus was on Dad.

A little over two months after he passed away, we held Dad's memorial service. After a one-hour visitation there was, in accordance with his wishes, the 15-minute Masonic ritual that honored his 54 years in the Freemasons and Shriners. Then came the Episcopal service of Holy Communion, the presentation of the flag by the honor guard, and the committal of his urn to the church's columbarium.

At the reception in the Parish Hall were relatives I hadn't seen in decades. I was happy to greet Dad's friends, some of whom I frankly thought were dead.

I was especially happy and proud of Mom, who engaged with everyone through the long afternoon.

I think Dad liked how it all turned out.

(Eulogy in written form after the break.)

Friday, September 06, 2019

Not Impartial

The flagship branch of the Honolulu Coffee Company at Kalakaua and Kapiolani is a convenient quarter-mile walk from my parents' house. (Or one can drive...there's ample free parking, a distinguishing feature in congested Honolulu.)

At HCC the walls are plastered with information about coffee--its history, sourcing, roasting, and brewing. The owners' love of the business is shared by the employees, who eagerly explain the workings of the roasting equipment in the center of the room.

Sure, the Honolulu Coffee Company is more expensive than Starbucks, but the paneled room is pleasantly spacious, and the WiFi is clear.

I'm not impartial; my nephew works here and this is one of Dad's favorite places. Perhaps I should have led with that?