Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Au Revoir Mme. Bachmann

Paid for by Bachmann for Congress

   As is my custom, I leapt out of bed this morning ready to start my day. It was a little early for me though... 3:00AM, 40 minutes before my alarm clock would announce the morning by playing the “William Tell Overture (if you had your alarm clock hooked up to a 1100 watt amplifier coupled to two JRX225 speakers you’d leap out of bed too!).”
   I wasn’t sleepy and wanted a good start so began my morning routine anyway. It was a little chilly so I threw a couple of logs of Douglas fir I’d split last night in the garden into the fireplace, brewed up a pot of Moreninha Formosa, let Herkimer, my invisible cat out, then checked my Email.
   There wasn’t any emergency’s I needed to deal with in the Emails, just the usual stuff, different entities asking for donations (I laugh at them with disdain), daily news sources, like the New York Times, The Planetary Society, Save the Frogs, AlterNet, AARP, The Cato Institute, The Media Research Center, Socialist International, Amtrak... on and on, you know, the usual stuff.
   I got through all of that and had time to read excerpts from Paddy Chayefsky’s “Gideon,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” Bill Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” “Don Quixote,” “Finnegans Wake,” and “Moby Freaking Dick,” before exercise time.
   Since I began taking yoga lessons with Beth on a weekly basis I’ve incorporated what I’ve learned into a daily workout routine combining common calisthenics with yoga. This morning for instance I continued my attempts to master the Utthita Pada Sirsasana, Astavakrasana, and Pincha Mayurasana positions, intertwining them with your standard Downward Dog, Bridge, Sun Salutations, combined with common Twisting Crunches, Weighted Cable Ball Crunches, Abdominal Barbell Rollouts, Jack Knives, Wiffersniffels, Baby Farts, Butt Kickbacks, Abdominal Dragon Flags, Elbow Instep Lunges, ending with traditional 76 count Burpees.
   That took a good 15 minutes, after which I hit the shower.
   Before letting Herkimer back in I meditated for 400 breaths (actually 410... 10 extra for good luck).
   Next it was time to walk over the 6th Street Bridge.
   I went out there... was perfectly willing, even eager to walk all over that sucker, but for some reason today the powers that be had closed it down. I felt discouraged and saddened.
   I’ll get over it eventually.
   I returned to my box and ate a nice buttered bagel, and fed Herk. I switched on the Bill Press Show. Bill wasn’t on this morning. He was off lollygagging somewhere. Probably had hit the sauce a little too hard over the Memorial Day weekend. Some guy name Masters had taken his place.
   But I did learn something interesting. Minnesota Representative, and former Presidential candidate, Michele “Certifiable” Bachmann had run a video last night announcing her intention not to seek a 5th term in office.
   “Huummm, that’s interesting,” I thought to myself.’
   Ms Bachmann is an old friend of Joyce’s Take. Early on we’ve written about her, here and here, and have often wondered what it was that the folks in the 6th District in Minnesota were drinking, smoking, snorting, or shooting up, to have voted her into office. The same state that brought Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar to the Senate.
   I continued listening to the radio while cutting my massive toenails. The Stephanie Miller Show came on next. Stephie (I like to call her Stephie) was very upset over the news. Very upset, and if I were in her position I would have felt the same way.
   “This is the day that comedy died,” she lamented.
   Stephie was referring to the many gaffes, outright distortions, and frivolous lies that came out of the mouth of Rep. Bachmann which had provided so much easy material for her and others to use, over and over throughout the years.
   All that would soon be gone.
   Take her resignation video for instance. In it she announces that she will not seek a 5th term, claims that this decision had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that she was facing a tough reelection bid in 2014. She had just squeaked by the last one winning by less than 2%. She wasn’t basing her decision on the fact that she was facing ethics probes from her failed presidential bid. No, those had nothing to do with her decision to quit.
   She managed to compare herself to the President, stating that because the President terms out after 8 years, so should she (why?). That she had never intended to be a career politician (Ahhh, forget about that Presidential run Michelle? Did you intend to resign after winning like Palin?). Then she spent about 5 minutes bashing the President and his policies, before saying she’ll continue to fight for all of us Americans, whether we like her or not.
   Thank God someone is!
   Well, might as well take a moment now to review Michele’s (I like to call her Michele) Congressional career, shall we. We might not get another chance.
   She’s done absolutely nothing.
   Boy, that was easier than I thought.
   Since coming to the House, Michele has been the lead sponsor on 40 bills and resolutions, as well as several amendments. She has also co-sponsored hundreds of other bills. Not one of them has become law. Not one.
   She’s never headed a committee, even with the House under Republican rule.
   In terms of policy, she has pushed for a balanced-budget amendment and major cuts in spending and entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security. She has called for new oil drilling on federal lands and in Alaska, as well as greater use of nuclear power and clean energy. Michele has advocated large tax cuts, especially for private business, and she has backed legislation requiring congressional approval for all major federal regulations.
   In other words, the typical republican agenda, which of course is completely detrimental for the country.
   And like other republicans she wants to cut federal spending, unless it’s within her own state of Minnesota, where she wanted to restore a bridge for $700 million, an expenditure in infrastructure that I actually agree with.
   And what was that made Michele so popular with Stephie, and other talk show hosts? Here’s a list that’s been bandied about on the Internet Machine today listing just 8 reasons.
   There’s many more.
“1. Bachmann peddled a dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracy. Bachmann pushed the disproved theory that the vaccine for HPV — which prevents cervical cancer — can cause mental retardation. That misinformation has had a wide and lasting impact: Vaccination rates are still remarkably low, and experts blame figureheads like Bachmann who communicated misleading information to the public.
2. Bachmann called being gay ‘personal enslavement.’ On the issue of LGBT rights, Bachmann has a long record of either mocking gay and trans (like when she said she’d mistaken ex-gay therapy for anti-aging therapy, ‘pray away the grey‘). But when she isn’t mocking sexual orientation, she has treated it more like a mental disorder. Famously, Bachmann once said, “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay. [...] Because if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that’s why this is so dangerous.”
3. Bachmann considers climate climate change ‘a hoax.’ While experts warn that global climate change is already set to have a lasting impact on our environment, Bachmann calls climate change “all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” She also cast doubt on the entire field of climate science. At a town hall in her district, Bachmann informed constituents that climate science is not “real science” but “manufactured science.”
4. Bachmann led an Islamophobic witch hunt. Last year, Bachmann sought to “expose” members of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government. The totally unfounded witch hunt was essentially Bachmann’s personal indictment of one of then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s aides, Huma Abedin, but it also served to fuel anti-Muslim bigotry. Bachmann’s fellow party members came out against her, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slamming her on the Senate floor for her “unwarranted and unfounded attack.”
5. Bachmann claimed Obamacare would ‘literally’ kill people. In a screed against Obamacare on the House floor, Bachmann warned that the law “literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.” She also questioned, in an interview with a fringe website that peddles conspiracy theories, whether Obamacare would allow the IRS to “deny or delay access to health care” for conservatives.
6. Bachmann told the American people that Iran had plans to nuke the U.S. During a presidential debate on the issue of national security, Bachmann falsely claimed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had laid out plans to bomb the United States with a nuclear weapon.
7. Bachmann called on the American media to investigate ‘anti-American’ politicians. Bachmann’s first witch hunt of her career was against her own colleagues in Congress. In 2008, Bachmann told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that she hoped the media would investigate Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress,” she said, “and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?”
8. Bachmann wanted to ban all porn. As part of her crusade for conservative values, Bachmann has pushed to ban “all forms of pornography.” This is actually contradictory to the Tea Party’s focus on the constitution, given the fact that pornography clearly falls within First Amendment right to freedom of expression.”
   Here’s some more compiled by Janet Allon for AlterNet
1. Unintelligent Design: Bachmann stated her firm support for the teaching of so-called Intelligent Design, and said the scientific community supported it too. She advocated that it be taught in schools so that students could decide which science they want to believe (pseudo or actual).
2. Headscratcher: During a debate about health-care reform in 2009, Bachmann suggested reform would lead to abortion field trips. Huh?
3. Turn of Phrase: She also called Planned Parenthood "The Lenscrafters of Big Abortion." Again, huh? ANyone know what big abortion is?
4. Mixed Metaphors: Bachmann called the tax code a "weapon of mass destruction" and suggested abolishing it.
5. Gangsta Rap: Bachmann called the Obama Administration a 'gangster government,' in the context of healthcare reform, of course.
6. Karate Kid: On a campaign stop, she bragged of her karate skills and said she could "take out Obama."
7. Tea Party Fail: She got her American history mixed up when she told a New Hampshire audience that the Revolutionary War started in their state. (Uh, sorry, that would be in neighboring Massachusetts, also home to the Boston Tea Party.)
8. Paranoid Dreams: She said Obama was turning the country into a nation of slaves, and accused him of trying to brainwash our youth with re-education camps. Also, by the way, did you hear? The census is a conspiracy.
9. Debate Flub: Mentioned both Libya and Africa, pronounced them correctly. Failed to realize that Libya is in Africa.
   And there’s many more.
   And perhaps many more to come, because we still have... Shelly, until the end of next year.
   Like a fine wine, let’s cherish her until the end.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


   Some people prefer to live on the east coast of this country of ours. Some near the Gulf of Mexico. Both of these rather large geographical locations are prone to being struck by hurricanes... annually.
   A lot of other people, myself included, prefer the west coast, which happens to be prone to earthquakes... and volcanic eruptions... and frog rain, but here at least we don’t expect these disasters every year.
   All of the rest of our citizens are forced to live by default somewhere within the United States proper, some in the east and some in the west.
   My dear sister Cheryl at one time worked  as an exotic dancer (Watusi, Charleston... ironically the Twist) in the southeastern part of the country, Louisiana I believe, where she could have expected to be pelted by said hurricanes each year.
   Cheryl now has the good sense to live in Arizona, where it only gets hot. She left that area of the country (map above) where the tornadoes live.
   A tornado of course is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud (a dense towering vertical cloud associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability). They often develop from a class of thunderstorms known as supercells which contain areas of organized rotation a few mile up, and 1 to 6 miles across. As this area lowers beneath the base of the cloud it takes in cool, moist air, which converges with warm air in an updraft, forming a rotating wall cloud. As the convergence of cool and warm air intensifies a visible funnel descends to the surface of the earth. Tornadoes can last anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour.
   We’re number one! Tornadoes are more common in the United States than in any other country in the world, receiving more than 1,200 each year, four times the amount Europe gets (eat that Ireland!).
   We also get most of the biggest tornadoes, and most violent, those rated EF4 or EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (a scale introduced in 1971 by Tetsuya Theodore Fujita which rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada based on the damage they cause, EF1 being the least damaging, EF5 the most).
   The numbers vary slightly from whichever source is used, but this is the gist of it.
   Just over a week ago, when I was still in a coma, between May 18th and 20th, 76 tornadoes (or twisters, or cyclones) touched ground in 10 states, causing an estimated $2 billion to $5 billion in insured losses. The worst.. the most powerful of these, tragically, devastated the town of Moore Oklahoma a week ago last Monday, on May 20th.
   The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center provided the town with a warning 16 minutes before the tornado touched down at 3:01PM local time, which is greater than the average 8 to 10 minutes of warning, said Keli Pirtle, a spokeswoman for the center in Norman, Oklahoma.
   The notice was upgraded to emergency warning with "heightened language" at 2:56 p.m., or 5 minutes before the tornado touched down.
   The tornado, an EF5 with peak winds estimated at 210 miles per hour,  touched down west of Newcastle, staying on the ground from 39 to 40 minutes over a 17-mile path, crossing through a heavily populated section of Moore. The tornado was 1.3 miles wide at its largest.
    24 people died, including 10 children. 377 were injured.
   Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency on the day the tornado hit. President Obama declared a major disaster in the state, and offered federal aid to those affected. FEMA,  the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed Urban Search and Rescue teams to the stricken areas, and provided incident command personnel to organize and support rescue efforts.   The Oklahoma National Guard was deployed. On Wednesday, the 22nd, the republican led Oklahoma State Senate voted 33 to 8 to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the state’s most reliable health care providers.
   Not to be out done the republican led House followed with a 65 to 12 vote to redirect funds allocated to private family care providers to public hospitals.
    While most of the state’s citizens attention was diverted toward tornado disaster relief the state Senate passed Senate Bill 900 without mentioning the bill on its legislative agenda, meaning that even if constituents were paying attention, they would not have known this issue was coming up on the Senate floor.
   One republican lawmaker, State Representative Doug Cox, who also happens to be a doctor, disagrees with the vote.
    “They perform a valuable service as far as breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, parenting classes, many things that benefit our state that we’re sorely in need of,” he said. He also said the vote was purely political, and that while some of his colleagues knew of Planned Parenthood’s value, because of the organization’s public perception as an abortion provider, they felt pressure to vote to defund it anyway.
   Despite former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s 2011 assertion: "Everybody goes to clinics, to hospitals, to doctors, and so on. Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," which his office very quickly explained was "Not intended to be factual statement (which would make it a flat out lie)," only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion related.
   So what’s really up here? Only the idea of abortion is a political issue that has been tied successfully by the republicans, like Jon “Not Factual” Kyl, to Planned Parenthood, which has suffered through recent years with financial cutbacks despite the valuable and needed services it provides for women.
   This is not only stupid at face value, but it’s mean spirited, and detrimental to women who live in states controlled by republican governments.
   However republicans are mostly sociopathic and abortion happy, and though it is not currently an election year, republican controlled state legislatures have been in a prolonged campaign to restrict, or abolish abortion services within their states, simply forcing women to seek services elsewhere, which of course they will do.
   You get what you vote for I guess.
   Oklahoma’s two federal Senators, Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, are dealing with the Moore disaster in interesting ways. Both long time opponents of FEMA, Senator Inhofe (what kind of foreign sounding name is that anyway? Sounds like a commie to me) is now facing  criticism for trying to secure relief aid for his own state, while having voted down relief funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in states like New Jersey just a little while ago. That makes him... what is the word... oh yeah, a  hypocrite.
   Coburn on the other hand is trying to use Moore as a bargaining chip for further federal budget reductions, demanding cuts elsewhere before providing financial relief to his own state’s victims. I sincerely hope his constituents are watching.
   Being republicans they’re both climate change deniers, Inhofe being the most infamous in the entire Congress (who coincidentally received $550,950.00 from oil and gas interests in the form of campaign contributions through 2007-2012, according to, so it’s not a little bit ironic that scientists believe that global warming is a top cause of the rise in the number of tornadoes, as well as other major climate events.
    More than 450 federal employees remain in Oklahoma a week after the tornado ripped through Moore. Officials said about 4,200 people had registered for a total of $3.4 million in immediate aid made available by FEMA. Rebuilding will cost billions, a portion coming from the federal government. This is one of the reasons we have a federal government, a fact tea party members of Congress choose to forget, dismiss, or ignore.
   Like Inhofe and Coburn, Governor Fallin has repeatedly claimed that the federal government is bloated and inefficient and needs to be reduced in size, including agencies like FEMA.
   “Our success stands in stark contrast to the record of dysfunction, failed policies and outrageous spending that occurs in Washington, D.C.” she told state lawmakers. “In Oklahoma, we could teach Washington a lesson or two about fiscal policy and the size and proper role of government.”
   Now, faced with the overwhelming size of the destruction and need for immediate emergency relief, and the future costs of reconstruction, she acknowledges “FEMA was very good to respond, and the president did call yesterday, and they did give us notice last night that our federal emergency disaster declaration was approved,” she said.
   Like those politicians, tea partiers, and others who clamer for reducing unemployment benefits for those out of work, or food stamps for those who can’t afford to eat, or welfare for the poor and disabled, you can’t really know what’s it’s like until it happens to you.

   “Plaza Towers Elementary, home of the Panthers, is located in the Southwest part of Moore. We have approximately 310 excellent students that continue to rank among the highest API for our district and state. Use the links to the left to learn more about our superior school.”
   The above statement can be found on Plaza Towers Elementary’s website. The school itself no longer exists. The third picture above is that of what is left of Plaza Towers. This is where 7 children were killed by the tornado. There was no safe rooms, or shelter in the school for them to go to. Why?
   Now of course  Mayor Glen Lewis has promised to propose an ordinance requiring every house built in town from now on to have a reinforced tornado shelter to reduce the number of deaths the next time a monster storm hits, which more than likely will happen again. But it seems it’s always after the fact, after the deaths, when these promises are made.
   Tornadoes have hit Moore in the past. Witnesses said last week’s tornado appeared more fierce than the giant twister that was among the dozens that tore up the area on May 3, 1999, killing more than 40 people and destroying thousands of homes. That event ranks as the third-costliest tornado in U.S. history, having caused more than $1 billion in damage at the time, or more than $1.3 billion in today's dollars. Only the devastating Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornadoes in 2011 were more costly.
   The President visited Moore on Sunday, walking through the ruble that was once Plaza Towers Elementary.
   “This is a strong community with strong character,” Mr. Obama said as he stood with Governor Fallin, and other local officials. “There’s no doubt they will bounce back. But they need help.”
   “When I say that we’ve got your back, we keep our word,” Obama said outside the school.
   As for the community. Randy Sanders’ home, and that of his wife and daughter, was one of those completely destroyed by the twister. A picture of them together which had been in their home had been found... 120 miles away.
   His plans for the future?
   "We have every intention of rebuilding," Randy said " ...with the biggest storm shelter you've ever seen."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sequestration? What Sequestration?

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Matthew 25: 41-46

   I hesitate to write about this because everybody else is, but the hypocrisy is just too blatant to ignore. 
We’ve talked about what is known as sequestration before.
   That of course was written before the sequestration cuts began. Once they did begin to take affect last March the only budget cuts the media seemed concerned with were the cancellation of White House tours (which took place so the Secret Service would not have to furlough staff).
  Before it took place many on the right, or libertarian front didn’t think it was such a big deal, like Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of the dubiously titled “” He presented three questions for those worried about sequestration:
1. Under what sort of math do you figure that cutting $44 billion or $85 billion from a total tab of $3.6 trillion is anything more than a rounding error? Half of the cuts are slated for defense spending, which has grown massively over the past decade-plus. Do you really think that the military can't cope?
   There’s actually two questions here but let’s forget that for the moment. My answer to the first question is this: The regular kind... the abstract study of topics encompassing quantity, structure, space, change, and other properties. The second, nope. I think they can cope quite well with spending cuts. But will Congress allow them to, ah, that’s a good question:
2. Do you really believe that the sequester cuts will tank a $16 trillion economy? And if so, what's the multiplier on that? GDP is counted in such a way that most government spending automatically gets counted as increasing the amount of economic activity (the same doesn't hold for private spending, where different conditions hold). Do you at least agree in theory that government spending has been cut in the past without ruining the economy (and if you don't, why not)?
   Three questions here. 1. No, I don’t, but I also think it won’t help. 2. I’m not bright enough to understand what this question means, and have little desire or energy to try to figure it out. And 3. I’m not sure what Mr. Gillespie means by “ruining,” but historically I can site many instances where cutting government spending in a depressed economy has been detrimental for said economy, such as the current austerity measures in Europe that those governments steadfastly embrace (due no doubt by outside influences such as banks and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)), but which bring untold grief among those countries citizens. Austerity measures that have never proved successful at invigorating economies anywhere, ever. Austerity measures that have been thoroughly debunked: 
   And this from NPR:
   “Four years into Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential term, the worst of the Great Depression seemed behind him. Massive jolts of New Deal spending had stopped the economic slide, and the unemployment rate was cut from 22 percent to less than 10 percent.
   ‘People felt that there was momentum,’ U.S. Senate historian Donald Ritchie tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. ‘Finally, there was the light at the end of the tunnel.’
   So Roosevelt, on the advice of his conservative Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, decided to tackle the country's exploding deficits. Over two years, FDR slashed government spending 17 percent.
   ‘All of a sudden,’ Ritchie says, ‘after unemployment had been going steadily down, unemployment shot up, the economy stagnated, the stock market crashed again. And now it seemed we'd come out of the Hoover Depression to go into the Roosevelt recession.’
   And 3. When will conditions be right to actually cut spending? There's a raft of anti-sequester people - such as Barack Obama - who pay lip service to the idea that government spending (especially government deficit spending) needs to stop or be reduced at some point in the future. But like St. Augustine in his partying period, they don't want to get straight just yet. So when might that be? If we can't afford to cut a tiny fraction of current spending now - after a year-plus of knowing this was coming and a major punting on the original deadline - when might we?
   Again, Mr. Gillespie would have us believe, as do the Tea Baggers and Republicans, that government spending is the root of all evil, and that said spending and the national deficit are the country’s greatest problems.
   That’s just a big bunch of what I like to call, hooey. Unemployment, income inequality, and slow economic growth are the largest problems facing the country right now (as far as the economy is concerned at least). And I’m not the only one who thinks so. My girlfriend thinks so too.
   And so do these people:
   Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton:
   And economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman:
   And our janitor here at the Las Americas, Theodore:
   “Deficit reduction moves us in the opposite direction. That’s because most consumers (whose spending is 70 percent of economic activity) are still losing ground, and businesses won’t expand and hire without more consumers.
   So government has to be the spender of last resort.”
   I mean it’s really rather obvious.
   Anyway, after the sequester cuts went into affect there wasn’t a whole lot of response from the public and media except to say that the sequester predictions of government shut downs, and furloughed FBI agents, and soldiers having to cook their own meals, etc., were bogus, and that the President was only trying to scare the American people and Congress by predicting dire economic results.
   A late March Rasmussen poll showed:
       Only 12% say the sequester cuts have had a major impact on them personally. Despite predictions that the sequester impact would grow over time, there’s no indication of that happening yet. The number experiencing a major impact is basically unchanged from the weekend the sequester first took effect. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
   The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey now finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters say they have experienced no impact of all in their personal lives from the sequester. That’s up seven points from the beginning of the month. Thirty percent (30%) say they have experienced a minor impact.
   Looking ahead, 59% of voters think the sequester cuts will have either a positive impact on their lives or none at all. Thirty-five percent (35%) still anticipate a negative personal impact, including nine percent (9%) who say it will be Very Negative. These figures reflect little change as well.
   The good folks at Fox were calling the budget cuts a “no-quester.”
   They’e pretty clever over at Fox.
   But most of those people polled were not poor... or young... or unemployed... or hungry. The poor, unemployed, sick, and hungry don’t have lobbyists in Washington to plead there cases. They are not considered an important voting block. They tend to get ignored by those in the government.
   Yet they are real people. If we cut them they bleed. They have children who need to eat and be educated.
   Mahatma Ghandi said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members," and a lot of our right-wing friends will say, “Who cares what Ghandi said, he wasn’t an American.” Okay, here’s an American... a Christian American. "Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members -- the last, the least, the littlest."
~Cardinal Roger Mahony, former as Archbishop of Los Angeles.
   Quite frankly, we treat the least among us, in this wonderful Christian nation of ours, like shit.
   Here are 12 ways sequestration are affecting the least among us, and others, compiled by by Travis Waldron and Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress:

1. Long-term unemployment: There are 4.7 million Americans who have been unemployed for longer than six months, but sequestration cut federal long-term unemployment insurance checks by up to 10.7 percent, costing recipients as much as $450 over the rest of the year. Those cuts compound the cuts eight states have made to their unemployment programs, and 11 states are considering dropping the federal program altogether because of sequestration — even though the long-term unemployed are finding it nearly impossible to return to work.

2. Head Start: Low-income children across the country have been kicked out of Head Start education programs because of the 5-percent cuts mandated by sequestration, as states have cut bus transportation services and started conducting lotteries to determine which kids would no longer have access to the program, even though the preschool program has been proven to have substantial benefits for low-income children. In all, about 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

3. Cancer treatment: Budget cuts have forced doctors and cancer clinics to deny chemotherapy treatments to thousands of cancer patients thanks to a 2 percent cut to Medicare. One clinic in New York has refused to see more than 5,000 of its Medicare patients, and many cancer patients have had to travel to other states to receive their treatments, an option that obviously isn’t available to lower-income people. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) proposed restoring the funding, but the legislation so far hasn’t moved in Congress.

4. Health research: The National Institutes of Health lost $1.6 billion thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing important health research into AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. That won’t just impact research and the people who do it, though. It will also hurt the economy, costing the U.S. $860 billion in lost economic growth and at least 500,000 jobs. Budget cuts will also hamper research at colleges and universities.

5. Low-income housing: 140,000 low-income families — primarily seniors with disabilities and families with children — will lose rental assistance thanks to sequestration’s budget cuts. Even worse, the cuts could likely make rent and housing more expensive for those families, as agencies raise costs to offset the pain of budget cuts, and sequestration will also cut from programs that aid the homeless and fund the construction of low-income housing.

6. Student aid: Sequestration is already raising fees on Direct student loans, increasing costs for students who are already buried in debt. The budget cuts reduce funding for federal work study grants by $49 million and for educational opportunity grants by $37 million, and the total cuts will cost 70,000 college students access to grants they depend on.

7. Meals On Wheels: Local Meals on Wheels programs, which help low-income and disabled seniors access food, have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts, costing tens of thousands of seniors access to the program. Many of those seniors have little access to food without the program, but Congress has made no effort to replace the funding.

8. Disaster relief: The Federal Emergency Management Administration will lose nearly $1 billion in funding thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing aid for families, cities, and states right as the spring storm season begins. The aid package Congress passed for Hurricane Sandy relief will also see more than $1 billion in reductions.

9. Heating assistance: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps nearly 9 million households afford their heating and cooling bills. Sequestration will cut the program by an estimated $180 million, meaning about 400,000 households will no longer receive aid. These cuts come on top of $1.6 billion in reductions since 2010.

10. Workplace safety: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long suffered from a lack of funds, which means its staff is so stretched that many workplaces go without an inspection for 99 years. The fertilizer plant that exploded in West, Texas, for example, hadn’t had a visit from OSHA since 1985. That will get worse, as sequestration will cut the agency’s budget by $564.8 million, likely leading to 1,200 fewer workplace inspections.

11. Obamacare: Sequestration cuts a number of important programs in the Affordable Care Act: $13 million from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program, or CO-OPs; $57 million from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program; $51 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund; $27 million from the State Grants and Demonstrations program; and $44 million from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program, or the insurance exchanges.

12. Child care: Child care costs can exceed rent payments or college tuition and waiting lists for getting assistance are already long. Yet sequestration will reduce funds even further, meaning that 30,000 children will lose subsidies for care. For example, Arizona will experience a $3 million cut to funding that will force 1,000 out of care.

   But what does Congress, the entity that has brought about sequestration and allows it to continue, really care about?
   We shall see.

To be continued.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Skid Row Diary 11


July 31   Thursday     Day 19

   I got up in time to go down to the front desk and sign in for both yesterday and today, then returned upstairs to shower and dress. I had a 10:30 appointment with my caseworker at the DPSS office, and thought I might go to Trimar afterwards.
   I made a tuna sandwich for breakfast, brushed my teeth afterwards, and found John Manzano in the bathroom.
   “Where have you been man?” I asked him.
   “In Camarillo,” he told me.  “They kicked me out.”
   “They kicked you out?!”
   “Yeah. They said I was gone over seventy two hours and packed out my room.”
   We went to my room and he told me all about it.
   Much like Gary Porch, John had to get another referral from the VA Clinic to re-enter the Weingart. The Weingart claimed John hadn’t signed in since last Thursday. John maintained he had been here last Friday and had signed in. I don’t think it matters. The Weingart can throw anybody out for any reason whatsoever. If John hadn’t returned until yesterday he’d been gone well over 72 hours. It was unclear (because I forgot to ask) if John had even asked for permission for a leave of absence before going. When he found out he didn’t have a room here anymore, he spent last night at his mom’s house before returning today to be re-admitted. Fantastically he’d been assigned another private room.
   I told him I had to leave, and that I’d see him later.
   I left the building and walked to 4th Pl., to the DPSS office, arriving at 10:15. It being the last day of the month there was a long line of people waiting to enter the building. To get inside everyone had to pass through a metal detector. As for these clients, being mostly homeless and unemployed people, the county sheriffs felt no particular need to hurry the process up, as they do at the courthouse and federal building were nicer people come. One rent-a-cop was in charge of checking each person entering the building, while a whole office of sheriffs sat just behind him in their sheriff’s office jacking each other off. It took me half an hour to get inside making me 15 minutes late.
   I was not concerned. I almost didn’t bother coming at all. The only reason I did come was out of respect for my caseworker, Lydia Montoya, who had always been nice to me.
   I was here to discuss my upcoming hearing regarding my GR cash payments. The county had already begun deducting money from me in violation of its own rules. Money was not to be deducted if I had requested a hearing, which I had. I requested a hearing two days before my payment date, on June 30th to be exact.
   Since my money had already been stolen from me I would not be losing anything by not showing up, but I did because I like my caseworker.
   She called me to window 13 shortly after I checked in.
   “Hi Mr. Joyce. You’re here for your hearing?,” she asked me.
   ‘I’m here to discuss it,” I told her.
   “Fine. I’ve notified the Hearing Officer that you’re here. He should be calling you shortly.”
   I was dismissed.
   What the hell? I wasn’t here for a hearing. The letter I received indicated specifically I would be discussing the hearing with my caseworker. I had received nothing indicating, or allowing me to prepare for any type of hearing on this date and time.
   And I was going to let this so-called Hearing Officer know that, as well as a few other things I had on my mind.
   Now remember, I was well aware that I had no case whatsoever. I had not reported income last year for three months that I did work. I personally did not receive any county payments of benefits, the Salvation Army had, but that didn’t matter, and I knew it. The reason I had requested the hearing was because I disagreed with the amount the county was withholding from me. I had been lied to by the county rep who had assured me that the cash would be withheld in increments, not all at once, which was what was happening.
   So I would discuss these things at the hearing. Why not? What harm could it do?
   It seemed to me from the reaction of those county reps I had discussed this with, they seemed to be unsure of how the appeal process actually worked. Mr. Chony appeared offended that someone would challenge his assertions, and said he would not talk to me further, even though his name and phone number were indicated on the county’s Notice of Action, as the person to contact if I had any questions concerning this matter.
   So I thought about what I would say to this hearing officer when I was called, first of all I would wish to qualify his impartiality.  I waited and waited. When I got tired of thinking about what I would say, I read from “Ghost Story.”
    After an hour and a half I left the building, first asking the customer service rep to let my caseworker know that I had left, and that I would be writing to her soon to request another hearing to the county and state.
   I wasn’t going to wait for these people all day. The definition of the word “appointment” is for two parties to meet at a pre-determined time and place so neither party has to wait for the other any disproportionate amount of time. I made the mistake of assuming that county officials also understood what the word meant.
   I walked over to the HOP office to get my dental referral, and was promptly asked to return after 1:00. They were all busy gaining sustenance in order to maintain an energy level equitable with the continuance of helping homeless people.      
   Not many businesses actually close up for lunch these days. Even the DPSS doesn’t do that. But HOP does. So does the Housing Authority. So does McCree’s Service Spot.
   I caught a bus on 5th to the Arco Plaza and checked my mail. I had received my college transcripts from Pasadena. English 1A… 3 credits. I also received my social security statement, which told me that since 1973 I had earned $224,964.32, and that if I live until age 62 I would be eligible to receive $508 a month for the remainder of my life.
   Wow! I’ve got it made!
   I stopped at the Housing Authority to sign in, and the One Stop to check my voice mail. I had received a call from Time Warner who wanted me to call them back. The call came from the 714 area code. San Diego, and I was unable to return their call using the phones at One Stop.
    I went back to the Weingart and worked on this account while drinking plenty of green tea, with NPR  on the radio. John Manzano stopped by and told me he was now required to attend anger management classes as he seemed to have gone off on Labren and the social worker at the VA clinic while he was being re-admitted.
   That wasn’t all he was upset about. He’s very worried about his kids, who live in Fresno. His ex-wife won’t let him talk to them, and he’s requesting legal redress, but that’s taking a long time, and he’s concerned about his two boys being mistreated.
   He isn’t receiving any work from the Laborer’s Union, his unemployment insurance is running out (he’s going to apply for GR tomorrow), and he doesn’t want to be an imposition to his mother, or brothers, who he could live with. One of his brothers in Velejo has offered to put him up and help him find a job, but John’s reluctant.
   Sounds like a good deal to me, but I don’t know his brother.
   I had my own problems with my lovely caseworker. Feeling ambitious I hoped to get in our weekly session. I went to her office and was told to wait outside a moment.  I stood in the hall just to the right of her office. I could see her in there applying correction fluid to some papers.
   I waited. Approximately 5 minutes later Mrs. Sanchez, the vets housing specialist, walked by. Labren called to her, and together they began chatting amicably about this and that. Personal BS. When a third counselor was called in to join the conversation, I took off, returning to my room.
   I tried again an hour later. She was just leaving her office, closing and locking her door. She told me to come back later.
   “I’ve been available for a long time,” she told me, “you should have come and seen me then.”
   I told her I had been waiting outside her office when she had called two other people in there… when she began to harangue me, stating she wouldn’t come searching for me, and this and that.
   I listened to her a moment then walked off. I didn’t recall asking her to come looking for me when she was finished bullshitting with her co-workers, but it wasn’t really a bad idea. After all, it wasn’t my requirement to meet with her each week. It was hers.
     I reacted emotionally to her little tantrum, and calmed myself down in my room. I told myself that whatever she says or does is not important, and she, and this place are just tools for me to use, and I must use finesse and patience while utilizing them.  I blamed my emotional response to nicotine withdrawal. Now, that’s my own fault, isn’t it?
   I calmed myself, went back to her office, and we had our session. She seemed to suffer from CRS, and we go over the same material each time I come to see her. Today she asked when my next mental health appointment was, and asked if she tested me right now (urine) would I be clean. I told her to go ahead, bring it on. I only wish there was a test for what really ails me.
   John Manzano wants me to go deep sea fishing with him on Saturday. He insists. I told him I don’t want to. Killing, or torturing fish is not my idea of a relaxing time.
   John left, saying he’d stop by for breakfast in the morning. I watched “Married with Children,” which was re-running the first season. I’m surprised the show made it to a second season, because the first one sucked.
   Later I watched a 2000 TV movie, reuniting Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper, revising their roles from one of my favorite sit-coms. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” It sucked too.
   Before going to sleep I read from “Ghost Story,” then dreamt of  me and my ex-girlfriend, Jan Williams, getting our souped up dune buggy ready to explore the many and varied dunes of Atascadero, up in the northern kingdom.
   She was wearing a yellow bikini.
   Oddly so was I.

August 1       Friday    Day 20

   I did return to the HOP office and secured a September 23rd dentist appointment at the Buddhist Clinic. They must be very busy there providing free dental work to people like me.
   I finally got to Trimar today. I was down to like my last dollar, and sure as hell needed the money.
   My friend Aurica was off, and no one else talked to me.
     Poor, poor, pitiful me... poor poor pitiful me.
   Another nurse, Luda from the Ukraine, doesn’t talk to me anymore. She doesn’t even look at me and refuses to stick me or remove the needle when it’s time. At one time we were friends, before I got to know Aurica. I used to give her Kit-Kat bars when she stuck me, and I gave her a birthday card two years ago. She must be jealous of Aurica, that’s it. Or else she thought I was trying to get too friendly and personal, which I probably was. In any case, whatever problem she has is her problem, not mine.
   “Black Hawk Down,” Ridley Scott’s version of the book which recounted the true story of the  1993 Battle of Mogadishu, which the United States armed forces lost while Bill Clinton was in office. Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. American Delta Force Rangers, along with Chuck Norris, fought Somali militiamen and armed civilians. Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and the resulting rescue attempts drew out what was to be an hour long extraction mission (U.S. forces were there to capture two lieutenants of the self proclaimed president of the country, General Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid) into an overnight battle, which resulted in 18 deaths, 80 wounded, and one helicopter pilot captured among the U.S. raid party and rescue forces. We estimated between 1,500 and 3,000 Somali casualties, including civilians, although Aidid’s people claimed a lot less. Who knows? I certainly don’t.
   It was a big mess, which brought about the political pressure needed to force Clinton to announce that all U.S. forces would withdraw from Somalia no later than the end of March in 1994.
   Americans are usually surprised when we find out that we’re hated in other parts of the world. We are spoiled and nieve.
   I’d read the book, and had seen the movie. They’re both good.
   A silly movie, “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever,” staring Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas was next. The stunts, and the way they were choreographed were done well. The production values were high. The problem was it was just too silly. I’m sure Graham Chapman would agree with me. There was nothing that was not a cliche within it. No real acting was involved with this film, unless you consider looking stern, bored, or tirelessly indifferent, acting. And I like Mr Banderas, but this was horrible. His character, an FBI agent, was presented as an invincible spy, who could kill anyone, or get out of any life threatening situation for so many years it had become boring for him. He couldn’t even be bothered to turn around and look at all the explosions he had just set off (I hate it when they do that). He just plodded on with disdainful determination. He won’t even look at a villain when he comes up from behind him, as if there was nothing the bad guy could possibly do (like blow the back of his head off with his 12 gauge) to interest him, having already stepped into the deadly trap Antonio had set for him. The trap? Antonio had been keeping his foot pressed down on a land mine which would instantly detonate as soon as he stepped away.
   “No matter how fast you think you are,” he wittily proclaimed, “I don’t think you’ll escape this one,” or something like that.
   Now I may be crazy, but Antonio’s the one directly over the land mine, right? And he’s telling the other guy he won’t be able to get away?! It is not a method I’d choose to kill my enemy, by jumping off a live bomb and hoping your advisory stumbles right on top of it. But I may be the one who’s crazy, as everyone involved with this film, from director, producer, actor, writer, and all the grips, thought it was just fine.
   But I go on too long about this movie. It had a hell of a lot of explosions, so it probably made a lot of cash. Ms Liu’s character and performance was even more deadened and unencumbered by humanity than Antonio’s, which didn’t seem possible.
   I took the needle out of my own arm and left the donation center in disgust.
   A curious thing happened to me as I approached the 7/11 across the street to purchase my weekly Super Lotto ticket. I became enveloped in a localized whirlwind. For a moment I thought I had been caught up in an angry hurricane. People fifteen feet away from me were unaffected. The wind howled, and leaves and debris raced around my poor, troubled head.
   It was quite refreshing, and abated as soon as I opened the door to the convenience store.
   I didn’t win the lotto. I never win.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store and picked up some canned goods, pizza rolls, and a birthday card for Aurica. I’ve forgotten exactly what day her birthday is, the 20th I think, but I know it’s this month. In it I would write a traditional Irish prayer, and thank her for being the person that she is, for being nice. I would tell her I would miss her when she moved back to Romania later this year with her husband and children.
   I got back to the Weingart in time for dinner. John Manzano had disappeared again, he’s probably back in Camarillo.
   There was nothing worth watching on television, so I listened to KFI on the radio, the Phil Hendrie Show. Tonight Phil was interviewing a gentleman promoting a new book.
   “You’ve got to see it to believe it! Pictures of fat people in gyms!”
   I wrote for a while, then read from “Ghost Story.” I went to sleep at around 11:00, and dreamt I was in Las Vegas at the poker table. Usually there are several people playing at the same time, but not in this dream. In this dream  I was only playing against Cassandra Peterson, the lovely alter ego of one of my favorite people, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
   For some unexplained reason I couldn’t concentrate on the game at all and she beat me handily.

August 2    2003       Saturday    Day 21

   I learned a few days ago that Bob Hope was buried in the same cemetery in Mission Hills where my father rests. They will each have good company.
    Perhaps my father saw one of Mr. Hope’s USO shows during World War II, but I don’t think so. He never mentioned it to me, at least. He was too busy being surrounded by Germans in the city of Bastogne.
   I’ve visited my father’s grave exactly 3 times. Once when he was buried. Once a few years ago when I was still working in Pasadena, when I couldn’t remember where he was buried, and once last Father’s Day.
   There’s no headstone. Just a plaque in the ground stating his full name, the years he was alive, and that he was a WWII vet.
   It’s in a nice location, just right from a medium sized tree which provided some shade. I ate lunch while I was there, and brought my dad up to date on current events and family business. He didn’t hear me though. I cried a lot while I was there.
   I got up rather early today. 3:00AM, or just before the “Seven of Nine Gets to Act Like the Hologram Doctor,” episode from “Star Trek, Voyager,” wherein Jeri Ryan performed with disarming grace.
   Attempting to get back on track I wrote, exercised, and meditated after Star Trek, going to breakfast (pancakes) at 7:00. At 8 I watched the “Universe, the Infinite Frontier,” telecourse, narrated by Kate Porter (before this show began at 8, I lost my heart to Alyson Court, the clown on the children’s program, “Big Comfy Couch.” I lose my heart easily).
   At frequent intervals I left my room to see if the day room had been opened yet. I wanted to reserve some time on the computer so I could pick my classes at LACC. At 9:15 I checked and the door was open. Someone was already at the machine, and it was booked until 11:30. Son of a bitch! These people have no lives around here, I told myself. All they want to do is play fucking computer games on the Internet.
   I was working the other non-Internet computer, using it’s word processor, when Gary Porch and a friend of his walked in.
   “There hasn’t been this many white guys in this room at the same time since the building was built,” I observed.
   I asked Gary if he had gone out to pick up his GR benefits yet, it being our pick up day.
   “No,” he said.
   “You know, it’s at a different place now,” I reminded him.
   “Yeah? Where is it now?”
   “I’m not telling you,” I replied.
   “Come on... please...” he begged and begged.
   Finally we agreed to go together at 10. Gary, his friend who wanted to borrow $5 from him, and myself walked west on 5th to the Red Line station at Pershing Square and took the subway to MacArthur Park on Alvarado. They were all worried because they didn’t have bus passes and were risking getting $250 tickets if caught riding without them.
   Gary related a story of how he once beat up a guy who he caught trying to sell his backpack after he had abandoned it during a fit of drunken stupidity.
   “So he really didn’t steal it from you. did he?” I said. “He had just found it where you had left it before walking off?”
   “Yeah, I guess.”
   “You’re not going to go out today and start drinking. are you? After you get your money?”
   “Naw,” he said. “I can’t do that anymore. Last time I wound up in Duluth, Minnesota.”
   We got our benefits from the check cashing facility on Alvarado and 7th. I only received $126 in food stamps, the county not waiting a minute to collect it’s 10%.
   We separated afterward. Gary and his buddy to McDonald’s, me back on the Red Line to downtown where I sold my food stamps for $101 to a nice Middle Eastern couple who owned a snack shop on 7th. I then bought a VCR for $45 from one of the small electronics shops that litter Broadway, all of them run, it seems, by Lebanese refugees.
   I took it back to my room and immediately discovered that I needed an adaptor to hook it up to my antiquated television set. I expected this, and tried to determine exactly what I needed before setting out again. I wound up taking the VCRs instruction manual with me which had a diagram of the needed adaptor.
   I bought a copy of Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show,” for $5 at the shop in the mall at 6th and L.A. in anticipation of being able to watch it with my brand new VCR. The little girl was gone today. Her pretty mom sold it to me.
   Next, on to Radio Shack at the Macy’s shopping center on 7th to find my adaptor.
   Nope. They didn’t have one. My eternal faith in Radio Shack had been destroyed.
   I forgot about the adaptor for the time being and took the Red Line from 7th to Union Station, where I walked the short distance to the outdoor Gold Line on the upper level which had just opened last weekend. Part monorail, subway, and train, I found the ride remarkably smooth, and visually intriguing.
   It began by passing the largest jail in the country, the Twin Towers complex of the Los Angeles County Jail, then we passed a building so close I could see the expressions on the faces of the slave garment workers inside on the fifth floor. First stop China Town, then it makes it’s quiet way north, over the Los Angeles River, through Highland Park, on into South Pasadena, up then to Pasadena proper, where the elves live.
   I exited at the still unfinished Del Mar Station, which is located at the very same spot I used to sleep in Ryder rental trucks about 13 years ago. The Park is right across the street, Raymond Ave.
   It hadn’t changed at all.
   I walked into that park and sat for a moment at one of the benches where I had at one time spent all day sitting and drinking rum, smoking cigarettes, and reading Tom Clancy novels.
   I thought about how outwardly, how materially, my life had changed little during those 13 years. And I thought about Robert Vasquez, and my recent encounter with him.
   It was just in passing, at the downtown VA clinic. He lived in Pasadena somewhere, and that clinic is actually the closest VA facility to him. All we did really was to say hello, ask how we were doing, and then went about our business.
   He hadn’t changed a bit.
   I got up and walked to Colorado Bl., to the Barnes and Noble bookstore where I picked up a few copies of “Nolo’s How to Change Your Name in California,” Stephen Kings UFO book, “The Tommyknockers,” Clark’s “2001, a Space Odyssey,” “Fundamentals of English Grammar,” by Azar, “Zen Training,” by Katsuki Sekida, Peter Straub’s “Shadowland,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by some guy name Twain (not his real name), “Crime and Punishment,” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the last two novels of John Nichol’s "New Mexico trilogy,” “The Magic Journey,” and “The Nirvana Blues.” I already had the first one, “The Milagro Beanfield War.”
   Across Colorado Bl., just east of the UA theaters, I stopped at Moby Dick, and found the “Led Zeppelin IV,” CD I had previously hidden away, and bought it for $7.95. I looked over some other CDs, but didn’t have my heart set on spending anymore money for music.
   I did buy some postcards with pictures of Christina Applegate, Kate Winslet, and Gweneth Paltrow for a quarter a piece, and one for 75 cents which promoted the classic motion picture, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” starring Jay and Silent Bob, in which the iconic phrase, “Get into the car, pie fucker!,” said to Jason Biggs of “American Pie” fame, were first uttered.
   They sell video tapes at Moby Dick as well. I found a copy of “Paths of Glory,” an early Kubrick film starring Kirk Douglas, for $5, which I bought, and the best find of the day, “Lobsterman from Mars,” one of Tony Curtis’ last films, for only $2.99!
   My God! They must not have realized what it was they had, and were practically giving it away. Not only do you have Tony Curtis, but you’ve got your Patrick Macnee as well. That’s right! John Steed, from “The Avengers,” both battling giant Martian lobsters.
   It doesn’t get much better than that.
   Happy with the days acquisitions, I had only the VCR adapter to consider. I took a bus east on Colorado, to the Target store near El Molino. Surely they would carry the simple and common electrical device.
   Nope! Of course not!
   They didn’t have many parts at all as a matter of fact.
   I was ready to return downtown and walked south on Lake Ave, remembering there was a Lake Ave. Gold Line station somewhere, I just didn’t know exactly where it was.
   I reached Cordova St., when I became aware of the possibility that the station might be north of Colorado, rather than south, where I was. I seemed to remember the construction of what would be a tunnel just east of Raymond, which would take the train under Colorado Bl.
   “Huumm,” I said to myself.
   I turned west on Cordova, heading back to the Del Mar station rather than spend time looking for one to the north.
   It was hot and sunny. A long walk carrying (now) a heavy backpack. And that’s good exercise. I’m at the age now where the saying, “Use it or lose it,” has real meaning.
   I made it back to the station in one piece, and took the next train headed south. Not surprisingly, it followed the same route I had taken getting to Pasadena, only in reverse.
     Back downtown, I tried one electronics shop on Spring and 6th looking for the adaptor. No luck. They suggested I try the Rite-Aid drug store. I asked myself, why would a drug store have my adaptor?
   I returned to the Weingart to have dinner. Breaded fish cakes and fries. I got back to my room just as the “Chinese Spare parts,” episode of “The X-Files” came on the network of Fox. I put away all of my new possessions while I watched, and made myself a cup of hot, Irish breakfast tea.
   I wrote for awhile, and read from “Ghost Story.” At 8:00 I watched the 2000 biographical TV movie, “The Three Stooges,” which was well done. The reproductions of some of the stooges greatest bits were very funny. Very good cast, well written and acted. I was ashamed when I realized I knew next to nothing about these guys, who had brought me such pleasure throughout my life.
   At 10:00 I caught the last half of NBCs television movie, “Behind the Camera, the Unauthorized Story of ‘Three’s Company,’” which mainly told the story of ABCs clumsy handling of the successful 70s sit-com. No one came out of this looking good, with the possible exception of Don Knotts. Joyce Dewitt made an appearance at the end, and made a brief statement claiming that no matter what it had been a privilege to entertain America on a weekly basis.
   I suppose it was.
   Later, after scaring myself by reading of Gregory Bates walking up a staircase to bash the brains out of Jim Hardie, in “Ghost Story,” I quickly retreated to the dream state, so as to escape the horror, and be with Suzanne Somers, whom I’ve been secretly in love with for years and years.
   In my dream Suzanne and I worked out using matching Thighmasters, until I couldn’t take it anymore. Not the exercising, but watching her exercise.
   She then talked me into a game of strip chess.
   She may play a dumb blonde on TV, but she’s a better chess player than that damn video chess machine back at the Pasadena ARC.
   I lost, damn it.