Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It Ain't Necessarily So

Reminiscent of the Harper's Index, the current issue of Time is chock-full of answers to questions that you didn't know you had.
Why do we laugh?

Scientists think laughing evolved to promote social group activity–you laugh 30 times as much when you’re with others

Why is a Cheerio a circle?

The “o” matches the cereal’s name, which was originally CheeriOats when it debuted in 1941

What are we most afraid of?

One study found that Americans’ biggest personal fear–even more than public speaking–is walking alone at night
And so on.

All very interesting, until the reader comes across a subject that he knows something about, for example , where's the best beach in America? Time's answer: Huntington Beach in Orange County. The only Hawaiian entry that made the Top Ten is Hapuna Beach (#8) on the Big Island.

Hey, Time, having computers and data analysts doesn't change your opinions into facts.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Genuinely Glad

It was a birthday party that turned into a family reunion. Fewer and fewer of the World War II generation are still around, and cousins who used to decline these invitations made a special effort to attend Dad's 90th birthday celebration.

Everyone seemed genuinely glad to see each other. Old differences seemed petty, if they were remembered at all, and the party continued long after dessert was served.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fresh Eyes

Only three of the buildings existed when I moved away.
Growing up in Hawaii, I rarely went to touristy areas like Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana, and Hanauma Bay.

Living half a lifetime on the Mainland has brought an appreciation for what was left behind. I am beginning to see why visitors to the Islands marvel at the white sands, warm oceans, and easygoing pace.

Fading memories bring fresh eyes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Important First Step

Last September we wondered about the house that had been enveloped by the monkey pod tree. Decades of growth were chopped away two weeks ago, and the long-hidden roof was revealed. Sure, the owner has a lot of repairs to do, but he's taken the important first step.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Irrational? We'll Soon See

Asking price: $599,000. Lot: 2,414 sq. ft.  Bldg: 766 sq. ft.
Built: 1941, The yellow dumpster is overflowing.
The house in the old neighborhood is nearly unlivable.

After their parents died, the son moved to the Mainland, and the daughter, who 50 years ago would have been institutionalized, lived by herself. The weeds climbed over the fence, and the eyesore became a health- and fire-safety hazard.

A few months ago the brother returned and moved his sister to a mental-health facility. Because of its central Honolulu location, he is trying to sell the property for $599,000. However, modern zoning restrictions (for example, set back distance from the sidewalk) make a tear-down strategy very hard to make work.

We'll soon see just how irrational the Honolulu real estate market may be.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rooting for a Relative

(Star Advertiser photo)
The Star Advertiser profiles a relative :
[Richard] Fassler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2013 and had surgery to remove his prostate. Four months later the prostate-specific antigen in his blood tests began to climb, signaling a recurrence, and he was put on hormone therapy to lower it.

Hormone therapy, though, could have nasty side effects, including hot flashes and muscle weakening, Fassler said. A lifelong tennis player who met his wife on a tennis blind date, he preferred to combat the cancer with intensive exercise and a change in his diet.

“There are some risk factors you can’t do anything about, namely, age and genetics,” Fassler said. Although prostate cancer can strike men of any age, the risk rises after age 50 or if one’s father or brother has had the disease.

“Then there’s lifestyle, which you can do something about.” To try to keep his prostate cancer from growing, Fassler follows the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations: Eat a diet low in red meat and dairy fats and high in fruits, vegetables and fish; and avoid being overweight.

“It’s basically a heart-healthy diet and weight-control regimen,” said Fassler, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. Lean all his life, he exercised to gain back the weight he lost after surgery — “I’ve got much more muscle,” he said — and now focuses on staying at this healthy weight and not gaining body fat.
Richard was always been ahead of the rest of the family with his notions of mind-body-spirit health, but the times have caught up with him.

Note - the article includes a troubling comment (for me) from his oncologist:
“If you’re sedentary and have excess fat tissue, cancers thrive and can even become more aggressive,” said Fassler’s doctor, Charles Rosser, a urologist and oncologist at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Gentlemen, Start Your Masticating

HNL departure line in November
Various activities had gotten in the way of returning to the Islands earlier, but the happy occasion of Dad's birthday got us on the plane. The Honolulu terminal was busier than last November; we had to wait 40 minutes for our bags. No worries, our ride circled until we were ready and took us home, where a huge lunch spread awaited. Let the eating begin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"The Most Powerful First Lady in the Country"

Anne Gust Brown and husband (Sacramento Bee photo)
California Sunday Magazine runs a profile of Anne Gust Brown:
Gust Brown has been at the center of nearly every major political feat for which her husband can claim credit: closing the budget deficit; persuading voters to pass ballot measures to raise taxes, sell bonds to update the state’s aging water infrastructure, and create a rainy-day fund to protect against future budget crises; shrinking the staff of the governor’s office; recruiting some of Brown’s top advisers, including executive secretary Nancy McFadden; nudging a stalled high-speed-rail project back into motion; and, last year, getting her husband re-elected.
In the early 1990's (California
Sunday Magazine photo)
Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Anne went to Stanford (BA 1980) and the University of Michigan Law School (JD 1983). A successful corporate lawyer, she met Jerry Brown in the early 1990's. She became general counsel at the Gap, eventual rising to "chief administrative officer, a senior position reporting directly to the CEO." Anne and Jerry got married in 1995, after which "she left the Gap and a salary of $600,000 to run her husband’s [State Attorney General] campaign for no pay."

What's fascinating--at least to this Californian--about Anne Gust Brown are her Midwestern values and her willingness to give up her career to support her husband's. Snippets:
I certainly would want people to think I was helpful — that I helped Jerry be a good governor — but I don’t actually sit and think, I want to be known for this. Maybe I’m deficient that way.” This could be “a Midwest sort of thing,” she said. “You know, we’re not real navel gazers.”

She seems unaware — or maybe just unconcerned — that her goal of helpfulness can appear old-fashioned. The modern image of a powerful first lady is of someone who pursues policy objectives that complement, but are often separate from, her husband’s projects. Gust Brown suggested that she approaches her position differently because of her deep involvement in the governor’s office rather than despite it. “Jerry and I are partners all the time in almost any issue that’s going on in California where I think I can be of help,” she told me. “I don’t feel the need to say” — she took on an officious-sounding tone — ‘These are the Anne Gust Brown goals.’”

“I just think for social issues,” she said, “the government should be out of all that stuff. I’m very pro-choice, I’m very pro–gay marriage, and on those social issues, I just think the Republicans are so off-point on that and off-track. Fiscally, I just think that we should live within our means, and I’m a conservative that way. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be investing in certain things, but I don’t think we can just keep spending off a cliff.”
But the First Lady of California is not demure and retiring. She's also Jerry Brown's campaign manager and (unpaid) chief counsel. From the 2010 gubernatorial campaign:
Brown left a voice message for a police union in Los Angeles; afterward, thinking the call had concluded, someone from Brown’s circle called [Republican Meg] Whitman a “whore,” a comment the union caught on tape and released. A number of people thought the voice sounded like that of the candidate’s wife, which the Brown campaign deflected. A couple of years later, Gust Brown acknowledged that it “probably” had been her after all. (Several people who know her told me they recognized her voice.)
Anne Gust Brown rejects all suggestions that she enter politics on her own after her husband retires. But it's not unheard of for First Ladies to seek--and win--political office, and in this heavily liberal state she may just be the Democrat that Republicans can get behind.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Action vs Inaction

Left: Burnt-out ballast;  Right: lightweight replacement
The builder of our home went crazy with fluorescent lighting. Two years ago the ballasts that power the tubes began going out. Like with most projects that are a bit of a hassle, I procrastinate until increasing inconvenience and guilt force me to take action.

On Father's Day weekend the family left me alone to "relax." While they were away I brought out the tools and fixed a couple of banks of lights. Action can be much more relaxing than inaction.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day, 2015

Resting after exercise, 1942
Dad has slowed down a little from the days when he was on the high school track team, but he walks every day, sleeps soundly, and sees the doctor regularly.

He continues to take care of himself, one of the best gifts that a father can give to his children.

If you, dear reader, are lucky enough to have a father who is still in your life, give him a call today--advice that is more for your sake than his.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"My Glutes are Shutting Off"

Tiger Woods' decline is so remarkable that your humble observer still has trouble processing his fall from golf's pinnacle. In 2009, before his infidelities and marital struggles became widely known, Tiger was the favorite to win every tournament he entered; there was no one close to challenging him as the world's best golfer.

Today at 39, an age when professional golfers' skills should still be near their peak, Tiger Woods could reasonably be expected to contend for championships. After all, in the past 50 years six golfers who were in their 40's have won major tournaments.

This week Tiger Woods missed the cut at the U.S. Open by a wide margin:
He finished 16 over par in two days at Chambers Bay....It was his highest 36-hole score above par at a major in his career. At the time he stepped off the course, he was tied for 154th place in a 156-man field.
His latest excuses are ripe for mockery [bold added]:
It's just my glutes are shutting off. Then they don't activate and then, hence, it goes into my lower back. So, I tried to activate my glutes as best I could, in between, but they never stayed activated.
Gluteal analysis by Golf Digest
What happened to Tiger isn't a tragedy in the modern meaning of the term because he retains many millions of dollars from his golf endorsements and wins, no one's died, and he's still famous in a mostly positive sense.

His persistence in the face of criticism and even pity is commendable. In fact expectations are so low that, if he can pull off a victory or two, his comeback will be lauded enthusiastically. I, for one, am hoping that he's got another run left. May his glutes activate more strongly than ever before.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Uniter, Not a Divider

On Tuesday Donald Trump declared that he was running for President. The near-universal mockery resurrected posters from 2012. (Above left: Atlantic; above right: alicublog)

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza treated the announcement seriously:
Republicans know Trump. And they really, really don't like him.

Trump, of course, knows this. His goal is attention, not winning. And in truth, even that would be fine if Trump had an issue (or issues) that he cared about and wanted to draw attention to via his presidential bid. He doesn't. He just says stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And it's not clear that he's spent more than the five seconds before he speaks thinking about what he's going to say.
I beg to differ with the naysayers. Donald Trump's candidacy can teach valuable lessons to the children:
1) Having a lot of money doesn't mean you are smart.
2) Having a lot of money doesn't cause people to love you.
3) Democrats and Republicans both dislike Donald Trump. See? the country can still come together.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hospital Construction on the Peninsula

The new hospital rises next to the radiology building.
We thought that the $618 million Mills-Peninsula Medical Center was an impressive facility, but the $2 billion new Stanford Hospital, scheduled to open in 2018, promises to raise the ante on health care on the Peninsula.

Our various medical conditions have occasioned visits to Mills-Peninsula, Stanford, and Sequoia Hospital, which has recently completed its own construction project.

Wealthy benefactors (foundations, endowments, individuals), prosperous corporations that are willing to pay for premium medical plans, and the availability of medical and research talent are the prime movers behind the explosion of construction. This is one arms race that we're lucky to be living next to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baseball Justice Restored

Rare sight: Giants congratulate each other after a win.
In the important Bay Area sports news of yesterday (kidding!), the Giants broke a nine-game home losing streak by defeating the Seattle Mariners 6-2 behind the pitching of Tim Lincecum and hitting of Matt Duffy.

It was an interesting game to witness, and not just because the home team won.

Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan got thrown out for arguing two called strikes in the middle of his at-bat (manager Bruce Bochy, who unfailingly supports his players, was also ejected) in the 8th inning.

Rookie Jarrett Parker was substituted for Pagan and promptly took a third strike. The scoreboard showed that poor Parker's batting average fell from .111 (1 hit out of 9) to .100 (1 for 10). It seemed to this casual baseball fan that it was pretty unfair to charge Jarrett Parker with the strikeout after one pitch, but professional statisticians must know the rules, right?

Faith in the justice of baseball was restored when a check of the box score this morning showed that Pagan, not Parker, was assigned the strikeout. Now, if they can just do something about the designated hitter...

Laughable Exercise

Laughter yoga classes at UCSF (SF Gate photo)
Yoga is renowned for its health benefits, but its practitioners rarely look like they're having a good time.

Students seem to enjoy themselves, however, at sessions of a yoga offshoot, laughter yoga. No, the instructor doesn't crack Henny Youngman one-liners. Apparently, laughing without humor can be learned.
Anyone can laugh for no reason without relying on humor, jokes or comedy and one can feel the benefits on the very first session....We initiate laughter as a body exercise in a group and with eye contact and childlike playfulness. It soon turns into real and contagious laughter.
If yoga's mental, physical and spiritual benefits don't appeal, at least one can learn how to be more convincing in feigning laughter, a skill that is useful throughout life.

Note: Oprah seems to approve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Talk to the Hand

Talk to the hand, 'cause the ears aren't listening.

(At least, that's what my audiologist says).

Vaguely Un-American

Arriving a few minutes early for today's Giants game against the Mariners, I picked up a roasted vegetable sandwich from the Garden section in center field. Sure, it was healthy and delicious, but meatless at a ballgame? Seems vaguely un-American.

The Apple Watch: It's Not You, It's Me

Barron's writer Tiernan Ray, on why the Apple Watch hasn't taken off with the fashionistas [bold added]:
The company made an all-out push to court fashion critics and watch aficionados: This turns out to have been a terrible mistake.

Just last week, the New York Times’s fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, said she was “breaking up” with her watch after a month and a half of wear. Friedman had many valid points about the whole category of smartwatches—including questioning the whole notion of the “quantified self” and the need to constantly monitor your pulse, potassium intake, or how many steps you’ve taken.

More telling, though, was her reaction to being the focus of a marketing phenomenon: People who saw her wearing the watch “made certain assumptions about me”—exactly what she herself does for a living.

Fashion editors don’t want to be courted, they want to discover and anoint, to be the excavators of style. Pandering to them is just asking for rejection.
The mistake begins with the name of the product. The Apple Watch is not about you, Apple. An "iWatch" would have focused attention on what's paramount in the world of haute couture....me, myself, and I.

However, the Apple Watch campaign in China shows promise.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cut Price and Make it Up in Eyeballs

3-Ad Revenue Decline Continues to Slow Down - Copy
Newspapers: Circulation revenue may have stabilized, but
ad revenue has fallen off a cliff (Pew Research Center graph)
With subscriptions and ad revenue dropping, newspapers across the country have been closing their print operations (and staying alive on the web), merging with rivals, or shuttering their doors completely.

The economics of print journalism have proven to be so daunting that newspaper ownership is becoming the province of extremely wealthy, extremely patient individuals....like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought the Washington Post in 2013. After two years of watching and waiting, he is now trying out some strategies that built Amazon.
Mr Bezos has been actively involved in a new app, code-named Rainbow, which presents Post articles in a glossy, magazine-like format....the Post is putting scale before profit: the Kindle version is free for the first six months and $1 for the next six (the cost is higher on other devices).
(techcrunch image)
I intend to give the WaPo Rainbow app a try when it becomes available on iOS devices. Though I disagree with most of the Post's editorial positions, the news division is largely just-the-facts-ma'am nonpartisan.

Having been burned several times by low "teaser" rates that were subsequently raised hundreds of dollars (I'm looking at you, leading financial newspaper), I trust Mr. Bezos will moderate price increases à la Amazon Prime. Here's hoping he succeeds in keeping one venerable platform alive.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Another Beautiful Day, Unfortunately

The lagoon consists of salt water, in case you're wondering.

A few wispy clouds skitter over the Bay. A breeze ruffles the lagoon. At 70 degrees, it's another perfect day, with at least ten in a row expected. In the fourth year of drought Californians wish that their days weren't so perfect.

The lawns are wilting, the cars are looking dirtier, and two-minute showers are becoming the norm. Oh yes, and we're holding it longer, if you know what I mean.

But Bay residents' difficulties are nothing compared to those living in the Central Valley:
An awful new reality: Bathing from buckets hauled from outside. Family visits to Burger King restrooms. The impossibility of financing a deeper well, the hopelessness of selling a house without water. [SF Chronicle]
For all our vaunted technology many are doing what their ancestors did as a last resort: praying for rain.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Man is the Measure of All Things Dept.

From  i.imgur.com via James Grahn via Mother Jones via
Glenn Reynolds  
Growing up with Fahrenheit, then converting to Celsius, is like learning a second language. It's the rare individual who intuits the second as well as she does the first. Besides, as the graphic shows, Fahrenheit is more relatable than either Celsius or Kelvin; human beings can experience both zero degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and live to tell about it.

Other comments:

1) Learning metric so that it's second nature involves re-learning scales for temperature, distance, weights, and volume. So it's like learning four languages.

2) Don't waste your vanishing brain cells on doing something that your phone can accomplish in a few seconds.

3) Forcing happy natives to change: when Americans do it to others it's called cultural imperialism!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Philosophy Lesson from the NBA Finals

In game 4 of the NBA Finals Warriors center Andrew Bogut fouled Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who then stumbled into the crowd and hit his head against camera equipment.

Bogut: "I think he jumped into the cameraman." [Note: presumably so that the referees would exact a harsher penalty for the foul.]

Reporter: "Is that how you saw it?" [Subjective truth]

Bogut: "No, that's how it was."[Objective truth]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Manly Pedi

NBA players, including some on the Finals teams, get regular pedicures. Of course, the 'ballers say that pedicures aren't for beautifying.
players say athletic pedicures clean up their calluses, clear off unhealthy skin and stamp out injuries that can come from cutting back and forth while running more than 2 miles in a single game.
Delicate sensibilities prevent me from showing gnarly photos of athletes' extremities, particularly Shaquille O'Neal's.

But let's bring this back to what's important, namely me.

Yes, children, Dad had to count beans in a suit and without
looking at his fingers
. (shutterstock.com)
40 years ago someone should have told your humble observer, who wore out his fingers running 10-key adding machines (audits then required tapes proving that computers added properly), that manicures were not a lady-like indulgence. Keeping hands soft and supple was absolutely necessary to first-class performance.

If I only ticked and tied faster, I coulda been in the Accounting Hall of Fame....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June Rain

Ducks on brown grass
Lawns are browning in our neighborhood due to rising temperatures and watering restrictions.

Today's June rain was as welcome as it was rare. Perhaps intermittent sprinkles can keep the grass alive until the predicted El Niño storms in the fall.

Ducks on green (2012)
When it's cooler like today, the ducks leave the lagoon and walk around the neighborhood. They leave their droppings on lawns, sidewalks, and decks. I walk toward them, and they waddle away, protesting noisily.

Ducks and geese in SF Bay are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty, and their insouciant quacking hints that they know it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

LabCorp: Investor Beware

We've been customers of Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp, ticker: LH) for nearly 20 years, ever since LabCorp began offering
hundreds of tests on blood, tissue, urine, and worse [blogger's note: the Barron's columnist's diffidence is charming], generally providing results within 24 hours, using 39 primary labs across the country and 1,750 patient-service centers.
LabCorp's rates are a fraction of those charged by hospital labs. It has been a preferred provider in every medical insurance plan we've participated.

Barron's likes LabCorp's positive fundamentals: increased demand for services, Medicare's greater scrutiny that favors low-cost providers, synergies from a recent merger, and overhead cost-cutting. And LabCorp has a history of outperforming the stock market (chart below).

LH's appreciation is double that of the S&P 500 over the past 10 years.
LabCorp has a great story, but I'm not planning to invest. Technological disruption is looming.

Item: A cheap new test can reveal every virus that invaded you—and help stop infections. The cost is $25.

Item: Palo Alto-based Theranos can run hundreds of tests quickly using only a few drops of blood. Theranos testing is already available at Walgreen's.

LabCorp's business model is vulnerable. Investor, beware.

Monday, June 08, 2015


The Kindle or iBooks version of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep is on sale today for $1.99.

This product would be self-defeating in my case:
1) I do most light reading right before bedtime and
2) Reading on a tablet worsens sleep.
3) Of course, reading the book during the day---and acting on its advice---might bring its own untimely problems.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Tempus Per Annum

Between Pentecost (May 24, 2015) and Advent (November 29, 2015) lies the longest season of the church year: ordinary time.
Rather than meaning “common” or “mundane,” this term comes from the word “ordinal,” which simply means “counted time,” because we number the Sundays from here on out in order from the First Sunday after Pentecost, all the way up to the Last Sunday after Pentecost...

this is the usual time in the church, the time that is not marked by a constant stream of high points and low points, ups and downs, but is instead the normal, day-in, day-out life of the church. This time is a time to grapple with the nuts and bolts of our faith, not coasting on the joy and elation of Christmas, or wallowing in the penitential feel of Lent.
No joy, elation, wallowing or other mood extremes as we head off to summer vacation. The church calendar does seem to be thoughtfully and Intelligently Designed.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

High-Stakes Move

Ellen Pao, right, and attorney Therese Lawless (SF Gate photo)
After losing her sex-discrimination suit against venture firm Kleiner Perkins in March, Ellen Pao filed an appeal last Monday. Yesterday Kleiner Perkins revealed that
Ellen Pao offered to forgo her right to appeal if her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers paid her $2.7 million, according to court documents filed on Friday in San Francisco Superior Court.
The firm did offer to waive recovery of its own $1 million in legal costs from Ms. Pao, but now that offer was rescinded.

By continuing the battle Ellen Pao risks piling up more legal expenses--including those she may have to pay her former employer---against the uncertain reward of winning an appeal. Comments:

1) One needs to have a credible path to victory when facing a foe with superior resources;

2) The court of public opinion matters much to some businesses, but not to venture capitalists and others whose livelihoods aren't reliant on it.

3) It's very difficult for successful people to acknowledge failure and cut their losses.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Before You Really Need To

Rice paddy near Sacramento (bizjournals.com)
Barron's: rice prices may spike this year. The reasons are current low prices that discourage planting and bad weather [bold added].
Prices have been on an almost continuous slide for the past 17 months, discouraging growers even as demand increases. Rice is trading around $10 per hundred pounds, down nearly 40% from the end of 2013.

“Current levels of supply against demand are very similar” to the food crises of 1972-74 and 2006-08, says Shawn Hackett in a recent edition of the Hackett Money Flow Report.

The stocks-to-trade ratio, a measure of how much rice is in storage relative to how much is shipped around the globe, is 225%, a tad lower than the 233% seen in 2007-08 when prices started to surge, according to the Firstgrain Rice Market Strategist newsletter. The lower ratio means smaller stockpiles. [snip]

Hackett sees unusual weather harming crops. Specifically, he pinpoints a “super” El Niño weather system in the Pacific Ocean as a potential problem....El Niño tends to cause droughts in the summer and floods in the fall from typhoons in all three countries, which produce about a third of the world’s rice.
You may not speculate in commodities, dear reader, but do yourself a favor and pick up that 25- or 50-pound bag of rice before you really need to (white keeps 4-5 years, brown lasts 6-8 months).

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Sorely Disappointed

Earlier today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a study that measured the effect of fracking upon drinking water. Both environmental groups and the energy industry claimed that the results supported their respective positions [bold added].
We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States. Of the potential mechanisms identified in this report, we found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells. The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.
In other words, fracking can proceed with safeguards.

Image from ecowatch.com
From perusal of the comment boards some environmentalists, hoping for an expansion of the EPA's war on coal to fracking, are sorely disappointed.

Expect challenges by them to these findings,  but not to global warming, where the science is settled.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Living Tinily

Like flowers after a rain, the "tiny house" meme is spreading across the Internet. Living in a house that's 100-400 square feet appears to be an idea whose time has come.
People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons are because of environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom.
196 ft2 Boise house (SF Gate photo)
SF Chronicle:
tiny houses are popping up around the country as more people decide to downsize their lives....some homeowners have discovered a small house actually leads to a simpler yet fuller life, connecting them with family, friends, and nature while freeing them from mortgages, wastefulness, and an urge to keep up with the Joneses.
Tiny living not only appeals to middle-class and wealthy downsizers but also to some homeless and their advocates. In the Pacific Northwest tiny-house villages are springing up as shelters.
Opportunity Village, Eugene (Buzzfeed photo)
These villages tend to be a hybrid of two trends. One is the tent city, a kind of homeless encampment that goes back at least as far as the Depression and that received revived attention from the media once the recession hit, then again in 2011 when several emerged amid the Occupy Wall Street movement.....The other trend is the tiny-home movement, which has become increasingly chic in recent years as Americans look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and to live more economically. [snip]

Tiny-home villages for the homeless have retained the idea of everyone having their own tiny structure to sleep and find privacy in, but have, for the most part, consolidated bathroom, kitchen, and recreational space into one or two communal buildings.
Here on the Peninsula, where homes, rents, and land prices are skyrocketing, the homeless problem is so acute that tiny houses may be a solution that overcomes a thicket of regulatory, environmental, and NIMBY obstacles.
Samaritan House is looking toward tiny houses as a creative solution to house the homeless....Samaritan House is not pursuing tiny houses on wheels but rather to find an architect who can design a single-floor community with about 100 tiny homes, about 250 square feet each, with porches and green space on an acre or two, [CEO Bart] Charlow said. The homes would be fixed to the ground and less costly to build than traditional housing, Charlow said.
Based on the 5-10 years it has taken to approve other projects--even those benefiting "worthy" populations--the Samaritan House had better be prepared for a long slog.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Good News That You May Not Have Heard About

Map: U.S. News
Some North American hurricane zones are experiencing a remarkably quiescent period [bold added]:
For millions of Americans living in hurricane zones on the Gulf and East coasts, recent decades have been quiet — maybe too quiet. Cities like Tampa, Houston, Jacksonville and Daytona Beach historically get hit with major hurricanes every 20 to 40 years, according to meteorologists. But those same places have now gone at least 70 years — sometimes more than a century — without getting smacked by those monster storms, according to data analyses by an MIT hurricane professor and The Associated Press.
Pity poor global warming climate change: it gets the blame for 2005's Hurricane Katrina, but no credit for an extended hurricane-free period in parts of the U.S. that normally get hit. No storms? That's just "a matter of luck."
It has been more than nine years since the U.S. was struck by a major hurricane — Superstorm Sandy did major damage but didn't qualify meteorologically as a major hurricane. That's a streak that is so unprecedented that NASA climate scientist Timothy Hall went looking to see if it could be explained by something that has happening with the weather or climate. He found that big storms formed, they just didn't hit America, coming close and hitting islands in the Caribbean and Mexico. The lack of hurricanes hitting the U.S. "is a matter of luck," Hall concluded in a peer-reviewed study.
Fear not, global warmists. If you want to read about your favorite topic, just wait for the next big storm.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Sandwiches on Sunday

Four Sundays a year our church serves a hot lunch to whomever shows up at the Redwood City community center. Yesterday was our turn.

The bad news: we were short of cooks due to the overlap with the Arts and Wine Festival (yesterday's post).

The good news: last-minute volunteers made enough hot meals for 80 people. St. Pius Catholic Church prepared 100 bag lunches for people to take home, JetBlue contributed a carton of airline snack boxes, and Lucky Supermarkets donated bags of rolls and bread.

The bad news: only 50 people showed up for lunch.

The good news: the guests came back to the line for second and third helpings and took home everything that they could carry. At lunchtime's end there was only a small box of food to be dropped off at the Catholic Worker house.

We'll do this again on August 30th. We had some anxious moments yesterday, but if the results are the same we'll take it.