Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

Nov. 17, 2019 Blumbers

Seasons Greta

On Nov. 13, 2019 NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported Greta Thunberg’s last  message to America before sailing back to Europe. Thunberg said “We must realize this is a crisis, and we must do what we can now to spread awareness about this and to put pressure on the people in power,” she told The Guardian. “The U.S. has an election coming up soon, and it’s very important that for everyone who can vote, vote.”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 10, 2019 Blumbers

Who Flu Away

I was getting my flu shot and asked the doctor if there was anything else I could do to avoid getting sick. They dryly recommended I stay away from sick people. This is not practical advice. I can stop shaking hands but people tend to hug me even after photographing five hundred people. Bowing or nodding seems more reasonable. I could also switch to a telephoto lens. I could leave the retired lab monkey that carries my camera bag at home.

Note: Nice try guys, but you are too late.:-)

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 27, 2019 Blumbers

Safe Sox

Retail is in trouble and the trouble is retail. 

I was traveling and pulled into a discount store to buy some socks. The first thing I noticed were several disabled parking spaces near the front door had been replaced with online pickup spaces. The second thing were security guards patrolling the lot in white pickup trucks with flashing yellow lights. Instead of an older greeter inside, there was another guard. I was followed to the clothing section and discovered the socks are locked in a glass case. The guard said they locked them for safety reasons. At least I am safe from socks, lest I am attacked by argyles. I cannot tell the size of the socks or the fabric they are made of. The guard cannot unlock the case. He has to page an employee. Several minutes later I get to pick out the socks I want. There are ten automated checkout stations with no customers and only one human with ten customers in line. It will take over thirty minutes. The manager said it would go much faster if I used the automated checkout and a credit card. For five dollars worth of socks? He also urges me to use a smartphone and order the docs online. An employee would then deliver the socks to the pickup area or overnight anywhere in the country but not to the line I am standing in right now. I finally pay my money and head for the door. The security guard who has been at my side for the past hour turns me over to another guard who wants to see my receipt. I have had enough. I decline. State law does not require me to do this. He knows this. I walk to my car thinking flip flops are in my future. I won’t buy them here.

The receipt listed a website for complaints. I’d rather use my own. The service is better.

 Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 20, 2019 Blumbers

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Martin Luther King Jr.

A friend reminded me what King said in Montgomery Alabama back in 1957. I took it to heart. You do not have to do something extraordinary. You can help a little bit everyday by listening. I met lots of people everyday and started helping them find work. If I knew of a job somewhere I would pass it along. Eventually the people  who got a job would pass along another job for somebody else. I started a card catalog, then a list and finally a database. The  contact information starts with a name, address and phone number. It evolved to include fax numbers, email addresses, websites and social media. All records included their skills. It is a very large list. I joined organizations just so I could help other people find work in an increasingly crazy job market. You get an incredible view of the world when you see it all fit together.

King had a point. In the end, do you want to be remembered as somebody who helped strangers, friends, family or just yourself?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 13, 2019 Blumbers

Darkness After Midnght

Last week I got a message from Pacific Gas and Electric saying they were cutting off my electricity starting at midnight. They estimated there would be no power for a couple of days. They said they did not want to start a wildfire like the one that destroyed the town of Paradise last year.

It made me wonder about why we still have electric utilities. In the twentieth century, power generation was a very complicated capital and labor intensive business. You had to have access to coal or oil that had to be brought to a generator by railroad or pipeline. Maybe you had to build a hydroelectric dam or expensive nuclear power plant.  It was all eventually sent by wire on a grid to millions of homes. Apparently you needed a large organization to do that.

In the twenty-first century, you could put a solar panel on every roof to a battery in every building. No complex smart grid. No complex network of power lines to spark from one falling tree. Just a glorified extension cord to power your refrigerator. It would localize any damage and not disrupt entire regions. We could then choose if we wanted darkness after midnight.

Here is an idea. When the utility executives cut our power, how about they cut the power in their homes in solidarity? A little feedback as an incentive.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 10, 2019 SNR

On Oct. 10, 2019 SNR’s Jeff Vonkaenel wrote “Money’s All Spent Can’t Pay The Rent” about affordable housing. “In the last tweet years, those in the top 1% of net worth have increased their share of our country’s wealth from 30% to 39%.” To fix income inequality, Elizabeth Warren is proposing for a 2% wealth tax on the richest 75,000 Americans to bring in as much as 2.75 trillion over a ten year period.

Sammy Caiola wrote “Andrew Yang: I’ll show You The Money.” Andrew Yang proposes a universal income of $1000 per month to every American to lift people out of poverty. A pilot program in Stockton showed that most of the money went toward food, clothing and utilities.

SEIU Local President Yvonne R. Walker wrote “Making Changes One Bill At A Time” about California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). It turned more than a million gig working “contractors” into employees.

In other legislation, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would cap annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation to maximum of 10% effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Debbie Arrington wrote “Local Market Neared All-Time Record” about the housing market volume and median sales prices dipping downward. This is similar to the crash of 2008.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 6, 2019 Blumbers

The Best Defense

Why take offense when it is given so freely?

I heard that people who use social media get depressed. If it does why use it? I am barely on any of them. I use the extra time to interact with people in person.  My failure to read between the lines or even read the bold print online  has been very successful. If there is a problem with me you brought it with you. You will have to tell me directly and in person, otherwise I will never know and just keep right on going. Slights, insults, implications or bullying are never noticed.

Frankly it is easier to have human or digital assistants screen through what few social media I do subscribe. They cannot take it personally and neither do I.

The idea is to be funny and it works.

Note: Did you buy the bus just to throw people under it? I was taught to avoid strange people in vans. Naturally the color fits.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 22, 2019 Blumbers

What The Floyd

I was in a record store that was going out of business. I found Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here in the F’s not the Ps. Obviously some teen age employee thought Pink Floyd was a first and last name. This was funnier because there is a song on the album called Have A Cigar where a record company executive meets the group and wants to know “Which One’s Pink?”

I guess the next question is “What is Pink Floyd’s middle name?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Sep. 8, 2019 Blumbers

Successful Failure

Some wealthy conservative billionaires died last month and not many people wept. They thought having the money, big house, big car and connections was a sign of success. In fact everything they did was a sign of failure. They climbed to the top of the heap not realizing it was on the bodies of other people. They made the world a hateful, poisoned place where more people had less money, less education, less housing, less transportation and less vibrant communities. They discovered too late that they could not take it with them and left a mess behind. They succeeded at losing everything. Do they want to be remembered for the most horrible shortsighted thing they ever did? Do they want people to celebrate their life or death?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 18, 2019 Blumbers

Sunfall tm

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed July was the Earth’s hottest month since record keeping began 140 years ago.” Climate change is real. Political change is too. Why do we pay to dig energy out of the ground when it falls from the sky for free?

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Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 11, 2019 Blumbers

Gun Uncontrol

There have been a number of mass shootings across the country. It does not have to be this way. The gun lobby wants to stigmatize people with disabilities. Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room doctor, associate professor of emergency medicine at Alpert Medical School, Brown University, and chief research officer of AFFIRM Research, a nonprofit focused on firearm injury reduction talked about the dangers of linking gun violence and mental Illness. The result might be discrimination against disabled people. 

As for the shootings, what will it take? What will be the tipping point? Whose child will have to die before we decide to end these tragedies? If you could prevent a tragedy, would you pay that price?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 4, 2019 Blumbers

Years and Years Fears

Nobody does dystopian like the British. I just watched all six episodes of Years And Years. I would like to think their skepticism is because of their recent battle with Brexit, but there are decades of evidence that this not a recent phenomenon. I point out the 1930s film Things To Come, which was Mad Max in black and white. There was Orwell’s 1984, so sad it was released in 1985. I think the TV film Threads was made about that time and once you see it you will be afraid to fall asleep. About ten years ago Clive Owen starred in Children Of Men which might as well have been a BBC news documentary. Years and Years carries on this tradition where things get worse and worse. It is ripped from the headlines of obsolete newspapers. The heroes fight back but there are casualties. For taking place so far away, the series hits close to home.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 28, 2019 Blumbers

Compact Discstruction

I seldom paid full price for compact discs. I went to used CD stores, flea markets or garage sales. I thought anthologies, boxed sets, collections and greatest hits had more value than twenty bucks for one song. Occasionally you would find very eclectic music intended to be played in shopping mall clothing stores or plumbing conventions.

At that point I had a 100 CD player jukebox with the potential to play over 1000 songs. It became obsolete when I was able to load the music directly to hard drives with the capacity to play thousands of songs. Despite that, I never downloaded anything from the internet. I paid for it fair and square. I liked having the physical media as backup if the hard drives died (that happened more than once). I never uploaded to the cloud or streamed. As technology and business models progressed, record stores began closing.

The day came when one of the last record stores announced it was closing and I decided to browse for one last time. The crowds were crazy and the store was a mess.

One thing I noticed over the years is how hard it is to find used Pat Metheny. People seem to buy and hang on to it. I was looking through the jazz section for Metheny and found a misfiled Johnny Mathis singing the song 99 Miles. I had been looking for that song for years. There it was, like a crystal skull in an Indiana Jones movie.  Online shopping could not duplicate the feeling. A search engine is not as good as searching for it yourself.

Suddenly the lights in the store flashed on and off. It was closing time. I was last in line as I paid a dollar. I stood on the sidewalk as they locked the door behind me.

It is probably the last CD I will ever buy.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 21, 2019 Blumbers

Going Forward

I have been thinking about the moon landing and where we are now. Sometimes you can’t go back where you came from because it isn’t there anymore.

If you have worked with NASA, you have worked with immigrants. Many were attracted to the United States because of its space program. Some walked through jungles or deserts, ran from tanks, swam through shark infested waters just to work in the cubicle next to you. I know of one woman whose grandfather fled the Armenian genocide to Syria. His son fled Syria to Cuba. His daughter fled Cuba to America. She grew up in Florida and became an aerospace engineer. With a family history like that, the odds that her children would flee Earth is within the realm of possibility.

We need to help each other on our journeys through life.

We need leaders who are not so worried about where we came from and think more about where we want to go.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 14, 2019 Blumbers

In Spite Of Everything

The current president has ordered ICE to start rounding up people he does not like in major cities across the country. I kind of thought that the entire country was a sanctuary for all people, not just people you like.

I always get a little nervous when this happens. Where will it end? Seventy five years ago Anne Frank said “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Imagine if you knew someone was hiding. Just trying to survive. Would you go to your boss or authorities and give them up? Would you be able to carry that weight? Or would you fold yourself into a ball and close your eyes to the suffering in front of you?

What will you do when they knock on your door?

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 7, 2019 Blumbers

Plumbing Answer

Signs on restroom doors have gotten complicated. I saw solution and I’ll have to go back and take a picture of it. Rather than a stylized picture of a person, it was a picture of toilet. Sometimes the solution is not depicting the user, it is depicting the use.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun 30, 2019 Blumbers

Website 25

This marks my twenty fifth year on the web. My first website was painfully assembled HTML. Fifteen years ago Doug Wray came up with one of the first WordPress designs that you see here. I hope for many more versions over the next few years. Thank you for visiting. This site continues to do its work.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 16, 2019 Blumbers

Flag Of Many Colors

It is Pride Month. The old divisions and polarities are shredded and rewoven into a flag, with each thread a different person. Reinforcing old divisions or creating new barriers does not move us forward. When some people complain about emasculating this or defeminizing that, those terms are Victorian steampunk. They want to deny someone a job, housing, education or basic human rights because they are uncomfortable. The differences were always there and they will have get used to the rest of humanity. The flag is still there.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 9, 2019 Blumbers

Freedom Anniversaries

The last few days have seen a series of anniversaries for human rights. A hundred years ago American women got the right to vote. Seventy five years ago Allied forces invaded France on D-Day. Fifty years ago the Stonewall riots erupted in New York City. Thirty years ago Chinese students protested in Tiananmen Square. At this very moment there are a million protestors in the streets of Hong Kong. All these events are part of a progression toward greater freedom. If you can read this, it is working.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 2, 2019 Blumbers

Commencent Address

As I look out across all of you here today I am reminded of all those who could not be here. They never had a chance to go to college. Whatever personal goals you have, you should work toward making college free for all. Without the burden of debt, this investment fights poverty. It creates a middle class important for democracy.  

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 26, 2019 Blumbers

Snakes Skates And Automobiles

You see a lot of things in California. I saw a man skating down the street with a large snake wrapped around his left arm. I would have taken a picture but I was driving. I had a lot of questions. Was he on his way to lunch with a fire eater, a juggler and a small car full of clowns? Was it for personal defense? Was it a rescue snake? Was it an emotional support snake? Was he moving the snake away from actor Samuel L. Jackson? Was he just taking it for a walk… or slither?

Copyright 2019 DJ cline All rights reserved.

May 19, 2019 Blumbers

HBO Reviews

There is lot on HBO these days.

Barry

Bill Hader and Henry Winkler lead a great cast on a dark journey. A veteran hit man considers switching to acting. Tarentino meets Saturday Night Live.

Game of Thrones

Never watched it. I usually wait until a series is over. I then watch the first and last episodes. If it is worth it I watch the whole thing. That is rare. Frankly I already know a lot about medieval Europe and the reality is much stranger than fantasy. The good news is it is finished.

Chernobyl

An environmental catastrophe is denied by a powerful Russian elite while millions of people suffer. Quite a lesson. Some very brave people sacrificed themselves to save the rest of us. Years later we learn their story. The scariest moments are simple like a dead bird on a sidewalk or a flashlight going out.

Veep

It started out surreal but could not keep up with our current Surrealty. Kind of a warning of how weird things are right now.

Wyatt Cenac Problem Areas

Funny approaches to serious issues. Love the retro set.

Gentleman Jack

The story of the very real Ann Lister in 1830s England. If you studied gender issues or were there at the revolution you probably know about her. She left a large amount of documentation to future generations. I like the song played over the credits.

Behind her back
She’s Gentleman Jack
The Yorkshire lady of renown
Ever so fine
Won’t toe the line.
Speak her name 
And gentlemen frown.
At Shibden hall
She had them all
The  fairer sex
Fell under spell.
Dapper and bright 
She held them tight
Handsome Ann
Seduced them well
Gentleman Jack
Oh Gentleman Jack
Watch your back
You’re under attack
The husbands are coming 
You better start running
For nobody likes a Jack the Lass
Jack the Lass
Jack the Lass
No one likes 
A Jack the Lass
The code is cracked
Your bags are packed
The knives are out 
For Gentleman Jack
 
Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.
 

May 12, 2019 Blumbers

Lunar Library

Full disclosure, I am a charter member of the Long Now Foundation. They try to think about how to communicate with future generations, including launching time capsules into space. Last month an Israeli Beresheet lunar lander crashed on the Sea of Serenity. It contained data from Long Now’s PanLex and Rosetta projects in its Lunar Library. It is not the first time they have tried this. One time capsule was placed in Elon Musk’s Tesla and launched into solar orbit back in February of 2018. Also, a Rosetta disk is already on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. According to Long Now’s Executive Director Alexander Rose “If the Lunar Library remains intact, then all the analog and digital knowledge contained in the 25 layers currently resides on the Moon, perhaps for hundreds of millions of years to even billions of years.”

Imagine that. Imagine backing up everything you have ever written, every picture you ever took and having it seen a thousand, million or billion years from now. You would get the last word from a lost world.

By the way, this marks the twenty fifth anniversary and third version of this website. That is a lot of content to back up.

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 5, 2019 Blumbers

Scooter Litter

A disabled veteran uses an electric wheelchair to get around San Francisco. Lately he has found sidewalks littered with abandoned electric scooters blocking his path. He had several ideas on how to deal with them. The first was to put a cow catcher on the front of his device similar to what you would see on a steam locomotive to push the debris out of the way. The second idea was a using a small crane with a electromagnet commonly used in scrap metal yards. The third idea was to outfit his device with large monster truck tires to drive over the top of abandoned scooters. I suggested an app which would identify whoever abandoned a scooter on social media.

Copyright 2019 DJ cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 28, 2019 Blumbers

Candidate Census

Right now there are over twenty people running for president of the United States. At this rate, maybe the big question on next year’s census should not be “Are you a citizen?” but “Are you running for president?”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 21, 2019 Blumbers

Falternative

On April 16, 2019 Dave Davies of NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed Bill McKibben about his new book on climate change “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” Middle East and Indian inland countries are experiencing heat wave temperatures reaching 129 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks, making life dangerous or impossible. The coasts might be cooler but are experiencing more destructive storms. By 2050 humans will only be able to perform seventy percent of the work they use to do, including raising food. Drought is forcing farmers to move north as refugees and wildfires to wipe out whole towns. When it does rain, it floods more and faster. “I mean, in the end, this isn’t a fight between Republicans and Democrats or environmentalists and industry. It’s, in the end, a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is poor at compromise, doesn’t negotiate easily. We’re going to have to do what physics demands.”

Copyright 2019 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 31, 2019 Blumbers

California Rising Sea Levels

On March 23, 2019 in Mother Jones, Nick Bowlin reported “The Vulnerability of California’s Coast Is Terrifying.” Patrick Barnard of the US Geological Survey headed the study. Pacific storms can surge several meters on top rising sea levels of at least one or two meters by 2100. “A quarter-meter would endanger more than $30 billion in property—and more than 150,000 Californians””In that scenario, researchers expect that $150 billion in property and 600,000 residents would be impacted by flooding. And if sea level rise approaches three meters by 2100, an unlikely but possible scenario, more than 3 million people would be exposed to flood risk.”

Brett Milligan of University of California-Davis “San Francisco Bay would need to spend up to $450 billion on climate-adaptation projects—including higher seawalls, infrastructure protections, wetland and shoreline restoration, flood control and more—to defend itself against an extreme storm if sea levels rise by two meters.””Cities and officials need to realize that retreat from the coast is inevitable in some areas, and that retaining all low-lying areas and current infrastructure is unlikely” said Milligan. “There are lots of cities thinking about this study and assessing their vulnerability,” said USGS oceanographer and study co-author Juliette Finzi Hart.

“Rich homeowners may be able to rebuild, or move to higher ground, Barnard said. But others might lack the financial capacity to rebuild or relocate. Already, natural disasters have been shown to disproportionately impact economically disenfranchised communities and people of color. Milligan called it the hardest question: “How are we going to provide equitable solutions?”

Time to sell the beach house… in Fresno.

Copyright 2019 All rights reserved.