Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Anniversaries and Remembrances

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Sep 11, 2016 @ 11:27 am PDT

userpic=star_trekToday is a day of anniversary. Today is a day of remembrance.

This week has been a week of anniversaries. This week has been a week of remembrances.

Let’s explore a few of them:

  • 9/11. Two odd numbers, separated by a slash, that mean so much. Everyone is talking about where they were fifteen years ago. But I view 9/11 like I do highway naming resolutions. If you read my highway pages, you see these all the time. Someone gets their assembly-critter to sponsor a resolution that gives the history of a person, in order to put up a highway sign, that becomes a name no one knows, and a story no one knows. That’s a pointless remembrance. Similarly, to ask “where you were” 15 years ago is pointless; even to remember the people and the specifics of who was attacked is pointless.

    So what is meaningful? To remember what was attacked, and to stand strong. This country was attacked because of our values, because of our defense of freedom, because of our defense of the minorities. We were attacked because we permit religious freedom. We were attacked because we support one of, if not the, lone democracy in the Middle East. We were attacked because we stand up for the rights of women, of minorities, of Jews, of gays.

    So how do we best remember 9/11? By steadfastly continuing those values. By not giving in to hatred. By not giving in to restrictions on speech, on movement, on immigration. By standing strong with our allies, and standing by our word. By helping the downtrodden. By helping and interacting with those we do not like. I’ll note that in the upcoming election we do have a choice between a candidate who wants to continue those values, and one who doesn’t. We have a choice between a leader who wants to govern by listening, and a leader who wants to be a demagogue. We remember 9/11 by standing up for those values that make America America (and going with the candidate who most closely embodies those values).

  • Star Trek. This week is also the 50th anniversary of the start of Star Trek, and again the comparison between values is stark. Star Wars and Star Trek have two distinctly different value sets. Star Wars values are in its title and its outlook: conflict, battles between broad good and evil, a future where evil has triumphed and good is tenuously fighting to come back. Star Trek, on the other hand, was decidedly optimistic and exploratory. To boldly go forward. To build that world of mutual respect, of cooperation, of valuing every one and every thing. The key phrase that came out of Star Trek was IDIC – Infinite diversity in infinite combinations. This about this in terms of the 9/11 dichotomy I discussed above, and which of the values: Star Wars or Star Trek, are the values that would infuriate the 9/11 attackers more. When you do, you’ll see why the real value in Star Trek wasn’t the technology is predicted, but the values it held.
  • iPhone and iPod This month is also the anniversary of the introduction of the iPod Classic, and the introduction of the iPhone 7, and again, we have that dichotomy. The iPod Classic, when it came out, was the pinnacle: it was an advancement of old technology to serve a useful purpose — a purpose that was not necessarily enriching its manufacturer at every opportunity. The iPhone 7, on the other hand? It encourages streaming, it requires purchase of new equipment — which Apple will happily supply, and … it is hardly a technological advancement. Is it a step forward when there is a meme going around that the iPhone 7 is the iPhone 6 with tape over the earphone jack? Which of the devices embodied the forward thinking, and which is stagnation and profit centered.

Today is a day of anniversary. Today is a day of remembrance.

This week has been a week of anniversaries. This week has been a week of remembrances.

We have a choice: Do we look back and stare? Do we go boldly forward?

Some Tasty Afternoon Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 10, 2016 @ 4:20 pm PDT

Observation StewNow that the highway pages are done, and the water heater is repaired, I can start some stew cooking on the stove. Loads of interesting articles in here. I’ll group them the best I can.

Things Dying and Dead, But Then Again….

  • The iPod Classic. Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPod Classic. Last week, they introduced the iPhone 7. The iPod Classic had 160GB in a spinning hard disk, for $349. The iPhone 7 can have 256GB for almost $850. Is this the replacement for the Classic, finally? Or, is it still better to get a 7th Gen iPod Classic off eBay, or from that drawer you’ve been hiding it in, and replace the hard disk with a Tarkan board, some solid state memory (I put in 512GB), and keep the classic. Going the Tarkan route is less than $400, and gives you more memory for about the same cost. Oh, and it gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack as well, so you needn’t pay for adapters or lost AirPods. Then again, the headphone companies don’t care. They’ve got product to sell you.
  • The Colony Theatre. Oh, the poor Colony. We thought you would survive. Now you’re having to rent out your space just to stay alive. And your poor subscribers: We’re left holding the tickets for shows that we will never see (literally — there’s no way I’m gonna see Patty Duke in Mrs. Lincoln — both are dead). Will the Colony come back? At this point, I’m highly skeptical. What they need is new artistic direction, a new board, and a new way of thinking about things. Their collapse shows the perils of keeping the same leadership for far too long.
  • The Advertising Jingle. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the advertising jingle is dead. Who killed it? Cover artists and the licensing of modified lyrics, that’s what. Those are more easily recognizable. So, our hats are off to you, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, “Like a good neighbor”, and “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”. We’re just left with the Empire Carpeting jingle.

Los Angeles Development

Sensitivity and Culture

  • Tiki Bars. Here’s an interesting question: If you were going to add a third arm to your body, where would you add it? Whoops, wrong question. Try this: Are Tiki Bars offensive to Polynesians? NPR endeavored to figure that out. It is hard to know: Tiki bars are about as close to something really Polynesian as the Chinese Food you got downtown in the 1950s and 1960s was to real Chinese food.
  • Napalm Girl. The furor yesterday was over Facebook and “Napalm Girl” — the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl. First it was taken down. Facebook banned it. Then they reversed themselves. It makes me think about a debate that occurred many many years ago when that photo was first published: Should photos like this be published? When does news value override sensitivity? These questions are still relevant today.

And the Rest…

 

 

Changes to the California Highways Web Site – July / August 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 10, 2016 @ 3:14 pm PDT

userpic=roadgeeking

Labor Day weekend. A traditional time for me to do computer updates, be it writing code while on vacation in Hawaii listening to the Jerry Lewis Telethon when I was in college, or doing updates in the early morning while on vacation (while looking at I-15 in front of me, near one of the most spectacular bridges on that route). Hopefully, these will take less time than the last batch. [Update: They didn’t, which is why I’m finishing things post-vacation at my desk, listening to the music I picked up on vacation.]

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum. This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(1), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail) from Mike Ballard(2), Coatimundi @ AAroads(3), Concrete Bob @ AAroads(4), DTComposer @ AARoads(5), Jonathan Ledbetter(6), Sparker @ AARoads(7), Scott Presnel (ACSAMapCollector) @ AARoads(8), Quillz @ AARoads(9), Max Rockatansky at AAroads(10), Joe Rouse at AAroads(11), and Joel Windmiller(12): Route 1(7,8,5), Route 2(1,8), Route 4(1), I-5(1,7,11), I-8(6), I-10(1), Route 11(1), Route 14(2,11), I-15(1,7), Route 17(1), Route 29(1), Route 37(1), LRN 43(7), Route 45(7), Route 49(1,11), US 50(11), Route 58(7,11), Route 59(7), Route 65(7,4), Former US 66(1,7), Route 76(1), I-80(1,12), Route 85(1), US 97(6), Former US 99 and current Route 99(1,7), US 101(1,7,9), Route 102(7,11), Route 107(7), Route 116(1), Route 120(1,7), Route 140(7), LRN 161(7), Route 167(7), Route 172(7), Route 180(7), LRN 190(7), I-210(7), Route 262(7), Route 263(1), Route 271(7), Route 276(3), US 299/Route 299(1,10), Route 371(1), US 395(1,2), I-405(1,8), I-580(1), I-710(1), Riverside County Route R2(7,10). I’ll note there were some particular good background information posts on AAroads — I’ve hopefully been able to capture that information so it isn’t lost into the void (with attribution, of course).

Added a link in the FAQ to California’s Postmile Service, an interesting site to map postmiles to geographic locations. Hat tip to Jonathan Ledbetter for the link.

Noted a post by Quillz on AAroads on 7/16/2016 that provided the sign specifications for the 1934 “bear” shield signage. This was put on the pre-Interstate numbering page.

Added some observations on the chronology of LRNs from Sparker at AAroads.

(more…)

Vote Early, Vote Often – Election News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Sep 09, 2016 @ 11:48 am PDT

userpic=voteIn this collection of news chum, I’m clearing out some accumulated articles regarding the upcoming election. I’ll note upfront that some of these items relate to elections other than the Presidential one — yes, there will be other things on the ballot:

  • Changing Voting Systems. I’ve always liked LA County’s voting system: You mark a paper ballot with an ink-stamp, which is then optically read for counting (and checked, when you deposit it, for over/under voting). But LA County wants to change the system. An article from back in June notes how LA County envisions the future: instead of being directed to designated polling stations on a single Tuesday, voters will be able to choose from hundreds of voting centers around the county during a 10-day window leading up to election day. Further, instead of marking their selections with pen and paper, they will enter their selections on touch-screen ballot-marking devices, print out a paper ballot to review their selections, and feed the ballot back into the machine to be stored and counted. They have developed prototypes of the new machines. Further, LA officials believe that with voters no longer confined to a single polling place, many of the issues with voter rosters that led to provisional ballots will not occur.  Voters wanting to cast a cross-over ballot could have selected the correct ballot through the system’s user interface. This approach dovetails quite nicely with a measure reported on in August. The measure, SB450, which has been sent to the Governor for signature, would give local officials the power to close thousands of neighborhood polling places. In their place, counties would open temporary elections offices known as “vote centers” sprinkled throughout communities, locations offering a wide variety of elections services including early voting and same-day voter registration as well as a limited number of in-person voting booths. SB 450 would offer each of California’s 58 counties the chance to embrace an alternative to traditional elections. In most of those counties, every registered voter would receive a ballot in the mail and polling places would be scrapped. Voters would be able to turn in ballots either at secure drop boxes placed around the county or at the new “vote center” locations. Some of those vote centers would be open at least 10 days before election day, and would allow last-minute registration, a check of existing registration status and the ability to cast a vote in person even if the voter lives in a different city inside county lines.  Unlike traditional polling places, the vote centers are envisioned as staffed by paid workers with more than the few hours of training normally given to temporary poll workers. My thoughts on the matter: I can see what they are trying to do and the advantages, but there is also something to be said for local voting and knowing the people in the neighborhood.
  • A Gigantic Ballot. The hot air in California in election season will not come from the Presidential candidates (who just visit California for our money), but our propositions.  California’s November ballot is going to be very long. In additional to the Presidential campaign, a Senate race (between two Democrats), House, State Senate, and Assembly races, 17 measures have earned a spot on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot, a bumper crop of voter choices ranging from marijuana legalization to repeal of the death penalty and even new workplace rules for actors in adult movies. Four of the propositions earned a spot on the fall ballot with only hours to spare on Thursday, including two tax proposals and a sweeping prison proposal championed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Six of the 17 propositions seek to amend the state constitution. They include Brown’s effort to revamp the rules on parole from state prison, and a requirement that neither house of the Legislature pass any bill that hasn’t been available for public review for at least three days. Nine measures will ask voters to enact new state laws, with proposals on everything from new background checks for buying ammunition to a $9-billion bond for school construction and modernization projects. Voters will consider, too, the merits of an effort to impose a cap on prescription drug prices paid by state healthcare officials that will be fought with an expensive opposition campaign by the pharmaceutical industry. The ballot also includes a referendum —  voters will choose to accept or reject a law that bans single-use plastic bags statewide. They have just started printing the ballot guide for all those propositions. It is going to be 224 pages, and cost $15 million to print. It describes some of the most complex laws ever proposed, initiatives with details so granular that they could easily confound all but the most expert legal minds. Leading the pack is Proposition 64, the much-talked-about effort to fully legalize marijuana use for California adults. The broad question may be straightforward, but the initiative is not. Even the guide’s overview analysis of Prop 64 is 10 pages long. The actual proposed state law to make pot legal takes another 33 pages of the document, more than 17,000 words in all. My thoughts on the matter: I’m going to have to wade through all of this to come up with my ballot recommendation. How many other people are going to bother?
  • An Expert Negotiator. Donald Trump has emphasized his business skill at negotiating. It appears that skill may create a war — yes, expect a real war — with Mexico when they attempt to take back California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. You see, when the Donald was in Mexico recently, he intimated that he might suspend NAFTA, the free-trade treaty. Mexico’s response? A Mexican senator has filed a bill in their legislature that makes “full use of the foreign policy mandate given to the Mexican Senate by the Constitution,” and if Trump did break NAFTA and start a trade war, it would by law cause our neighbors to reconsider every treaty signed between our two nations. Every treaty. Think about that. Now research the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War and gave the U.S. ownership of California and land that would eventually become New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. If that treaty is reconsidered, Mexico could claim ownership of those lands. This is the impact of diplomacy by someone who isn’t a diplomat, or educated on the nuances of the impact of what they say or do.
  • Candidates and Teflon, Bullies and Good Kids. Have you ever wondered why anything outrageous is reported about Clinton and becomes a major scandal, whereas all of the outrageous things about Trump get seemingly swept under the rug. It turns out, there is a reason. The media has been trained to not trust Clinton, and to call to investigate her at the drop of a hat. Why? The reporter’s job is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” — a credo that, humorously, was originally written as a smear of the self-righteous nature of journalists. And so the justification for going after a public figure increases in proportion to his or her stature. The bigger the figure, the looser the restraints. After a quarter of a century on the national stage, there’s no more comfortable political figure to afflict than Hillary Clinton. The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest. Of course, never mind that all these scandals are not true, and have been proven to be not true. As for Trump, no one cares about his well-known acts of naked corruption. Why? It comes down to this: The difference between Trump and Clinton is that Clinton bleeds when they hit her. Writing about Trump’s corruption long ago hit the law of diminishing returns, because everyone knows he’s corrupt and his supporters like it. It is news to no-one. Clinton, however, is clean—but her supporters waver at the thought of dirt. In other words: The media beats up on Clinton for the same reason bullies beat up on kids: because they get joy when the kid reacts to their torture. Clinton reacts to the charges (I know, just like a girl 🙂 ). Trump bullies back and ignores the charages. The net result: Yet again, we give our attention to the bully, and not the good kid. Of course, in the end, it is meaningless, because facts don’t matter to Trump supporters. Again, this is like the real world, where the parents always stand by their child who is bullying (sometimes even after they drive someone — or a country — to suicide).
  • The Ultimate Question: Who Is Qualified?. Vox had some interesting analysis of why Trump will never be elected. It isn’t the stupid things he says or does; it isn’t his embrace of Putin; it isn’t his disclosing what happens at intelligence briefings. It will ultimately be because voters don’t believe him to be qualified. Here are the telling paragraphs:

    The problem Trump faces is more fundamental than mere candidate preference. He currently fails to clear the most basic bar of the presidency. A majority of voters simply don’t think he’s qualified to serve as president. And it’s not just qualifications — they don’t think he has the personality or temperament to serve as president (67 to 31 percent), they don’t think he has a solid understanding of world affairs (64 to 33 percent), and they don’t think he’s honest and trustworthy (62 to 34 percent).

    This is how Trump’s candidacy differs from Clinton’s. Observers often note that Clinton, like Trump, is viewed unfavorably by most Americans, and that’s true (though the 50 percent unfavorable rating Clinton posts in this poll is quite a bit better than Trump’s 63 percent unfavorable rating). But while many Americans don’t like Clinton, they do believe in her ability to do the job. Majorities think her qualified to serve as president (60 to 38 percent), that she has the personality and temperament to serve as president (61 to 38 percent), and say she has a solid knowledge of world affairs (72 to 25 percent).

    So this, then, is the election as it stands today: Most Americans don’t like Donald Trump and they don’t think he’s qualified, temperamentally fit, or sufficiently knowledgeable about world affairs to serve as president. Most Americans don’t like Hillary Clinton, but they do believe she’s qualified, temperamentally fit, and sufficiently knowledgeable about world affairs to serve as president.

    As PJ O’Rourke put it, when he endorsed Clinton: “I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It’s the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”

    Or, as the Dallas Morning News put it in their endorsement of Clinton: “There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. […] We’ve been critical of Clinton’s handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy. [… Clinton’s shortcomings …] Those are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups. We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent’s. […] After nearly four decades in the public spotlight, 25 of them on the national stage, Clinton is a known quantity. For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president.

November is going to be interesting folks, and it is rapidly approaching. Stay educated, stay informed, and learn the truth about your candidates. Don’t just live in the bubble chamber, but explore all sides, and recognize their bias. Remember that it is vital that you vote, and that you vote for the right person, not the bum. Now, I shall finish my lunch…..

Gluten-Free: Growing Faster than Bread Rises. But is it (insert word)?

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Sep 07, 2016 @ 11:50 am PDT

userpic=gluten-freeThis week, a large number of articles related to food and gluten-free diets have come across my RSS and news feeds. These articles are of interest because my wife is celiac and gluten-free, and we know a number of friends and relatives that need to be gluten-free for similar reasons. We’ve often discussed the growing “gluten-free fad” (which has now become the butt of comics), and whether it is good for Celiacs — on the one hand, there may be more places where it is safe to eat; but on the other hand, if they view it as a fad and not a medical necessity, they may not be as clean in their handling and true Celiacs will get poisoned.

Let’s start with the grown of gluten-free. An article came out this week on Vox looking at the growth of the number of Americans who say they are gluten-free vs. the number that are actually Celiac. The article noted:

The number of Americans who say they are gluten-free has more than tripled from 2009 to 2014.

But the number of Americans who have celiac disease, or the inability to digest gluten, has stayed pretty much same.

This means more people are simply choosing not to eat gluten, even when there is no good scientific evidence to support cutting grains from their diets.

New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the percentage of Americans practicing a gluten-free diet rose from 0.52 percent in 2009 to 1.69 percent in 2014. But the percentage of Americans with celiac disease actually declined slightly from 0.70 percent in 2009 to 0.58 percent in 2014 (although the study said this decline wasn’t statistically significant).

USA Today had a similar report, derived from the same research:

About 2.7 million Americans avoid gluten in their diet, but 1.76 million have celiac disease, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys showed from 2009 to 2014, participants who reported having celiac didn’t exceed 0.77%. During the same period, participants who didn’t have the disease, but avoided gluten more than tripled.

A study released in July, said those without celiac who experience abdominal pain, bloating and fatigue after eating wheat and related products could have a weakened intestinal barrier, another reason they might go gluten-free.

Why could this be? Why are people who don’t have Celiac seemingly feeling better off gluten? Here are two more articles that might bring the pieces together. First, there is a report that birth by Ceasarian section appears to increase obesity risks, seemingly because such newborns are not exposed to bacteria in the vaginal tract. Next, there is a report that a common bacteria is showing promise for treating Celiac disease. Now, add into that mix the info in my previous post about soap — namely, that the FDA is requiring manufactures to pull common anti-bacterial agents out of soap — and you might have the answer.

Our Microbiome, and more specifically, how we are screwing it up.

Consider this: There has already been research showing how the intestinal microbiome can influence our mood and our tendancy to obesity (or our ability to lose weight). We’ve also seen the growing use of antibiotics everywhere — not just as prescribed medicine, but in soaps and animal feed. We’ve seen more and more people trying to correct things with pro-biotics. I think it is conceivable that we’ve mucked up our guts, and created — through damage of the microbiome — guts that do better on a no gluten or low gluten diet.  This would explain why more and more Americans are going gluten-free and feeling better while doing so, while those diagnosed with an actual disease haven’t increased.

How is society reacting to the increased desire for gluten free? Not always in the right way — no big surprise there.

As I said: a collection of GF related articles. Something to certainly chew on (unless you’re sensitive to the subject).

The Simple Things: Soap. Ice. Orange Juice.

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Sep 05, 2016 @ 7:10 am PDT

userpic=foxy🎶 Soap. Soap. Soap. Soap. Soap. Soap. Soap. Soap. 🎶

Sorry. Just trying to sing about 8 bars.

Shall I go out on that joke? No, I’ll do a blog post first. That’ll help. But not much.

Seriously (and with apologies to the Smothers Brothers and Stan Freberg, whose material I just stole), I’d like to share some articles and commentary on some simple things in the news: Soap, Ice, and Orange Juice.

  • Bar Soap. You probably don’t think much about soap. I guarantee you use it every day, but have you pondered about the form it comes in, or what is in it? Probably not, but others do. For example, have you ever wondered which is healthier to use: bar soap or liquid soap? Bar soap is more convenient, but sales are going down, and the soap leaves that wet surface. Bar soap does indeed tend to let bacteria idle on its surface, but that’s not necessarily going to be a problem. In 1988, the Dial corporation subsidized a study [PDF] in which they purposely drowned bar soap in illness-generating ick like E. coli at levels 70 times higher than what would be found with typical household use. After washing with the infected bars, a test group of 16 hand-washers had no detectable levels of the germs on their hands. No one has gotten sick from bar soap, and commercial bar soap is required to have antimicrobal ingredients (even if not explicitly antibacterial).  I’ll also note that most artisan soaps (think Lush and such) are bars, not liquids.
  • Antibacterial Soaps. Most of the soap we use on our hands these days is antibacterial soap (think Dial). Many have railed against this, arguing that use of such soaps creates more resistant bacteria (and here’s an interesting digressive thought that went through my head: do anti-vaxxers use antibacterial soap, which can also harm children? If so, why do they like viruses over microbes?). However, that’s going to change. Within a year, antibacterial soaps as you know them are disappearing from the market. The US Food and Drug Administration just released a new, exhaustive report and ruling that there’s actually no good evidence they perform any better than plain old soap and water when it comes to preventing illness or the spread of bacteria and viruses. Further, the agency is banning companies from using 19 common “antibacterial” chemicals — such as triclosan and triclocarban — in products going forward. (You can see the full list of ingredients here.) Manufacturers have a year to reformulate products or remove ones with these chemicals from the market.
  • Ice. You (at least for most of my readership) probably think little of ice. You use it every day: In iced tea, in iced coffee, in your soda, in your drinks, in your cooler. You exist in air conditioned comfort, in your car, in your room. You want things cold, not lukewarm.  An interesting article opines that the desire for ice is uniquely American. Only in America are you served cold water with ice, do you find iced drinks everywhere, find ice buckets in your hotel room and machines with free ice down the hall. In Europe and other countries, ice is less ubiquitous. Things are served at room temperature — tap water, etc. It’s something I just never thought about it — but I’m American. [And here’s another digressive question: Is the desire for ice not only an American thing, but a white privilege thing? Do cultures of people of color have the same desire for ice, or is the desire for “ice cold stuff” a manifestation of privilege?]
  • Orange Juice. If you’re old enough to remember the 1970s (and weren’t stoned at the time), you likely remember Anita Bryant selling Florida Orange Juice. You probably haven’t thought a lot about orange juice since then, and you’re not alone. Sales of orange juice is dropping — and sales of frozen orange juice concentrate from Florida (think those cylinders of Minute Maid in the freezer section) are dropping significantly. They are dropping so much so that the frozen concentrated orange juice market has seemingly disappeared. Certainly the futures contracts are worthless; people have moved over to futures in those other breakfast staples: pork bellies (bacon) and coffee. Americans drank less orange juice in 2015 than in any year since Nielsen began collecting data in 2002, as more exotic beverages like tropical smoothies and energy drinks take market share and fewer Americans sit down for breakfast. The number of futures contracts held by traders has dropped by more than two-thirds from a 1997 high of 48,921, to 15,410 contracts last week. There were 71 players in the futures market as of last week, compared with 168 in 2004. As for Florida, it is already on track for the smallest harvest in 52 years. So what do you have with breakfast?

 

Covering Up

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Sep 04, 2016 @ 10:14 pm PDT

userpic=ipodI spent today recording LPs to my iPod (over 39,000 songs now!). A question came to mind: What do artists like Elvis Presley, Roger Whittaker, Theo Bikel, Chet Atkins, Al Hirt, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra all have in common. They are cover artists, not singer-songwriters performing material that they have written themselves. At one time, the cover artist was the main artist: others did the writing, they did the performing. That changed in the 1960s, thanks to duos like Lennon-McCartney.

So, here’s the question: Other than Broadway vocalists (who have always been cover artists), who are the modern-day cover artists — artists who primarily perform music written by someone else? Further, who of today’s singer-songwriters — not artists from before 2000 or Broadway — are the most covered artists?

California Highway Headlines for August 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Sep 01, 2016 @ 7:55 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingAugust. The beginning of brush fire season in Southern California. So far this month, we’ve seen numerous highways closed due to brush fires, from Route 14 and I-15, to Route 1, to the routes up in Lake County. We need the other LA to send us some rain. So while you’re staying safe (hopefully) on the roads, here are some headlines from the month:

  • Calaveras State Route 49 Rumble Strip Safety Project Complete. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has recently completed an $823,000 rumble strip safety project on State Route 49 (SR-49) at various locations throughout Calaveras County. This project installed rumble strips which are ground into the pavement and designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips…
  • Highway 99 rest area off-ramp to close for roadway repairs. The California Department of Transportation sent out two commuter alerts for Tulare County motorists. First, the southbound Highway 99 off-ramp to Dodge Avenue will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The exit also serves the CH Warlow rest area, just north of Traver.
  • Motorists flocking to newly opened I-580 express lanes in Alameda County. Motorists took nearly 1.9 million trips on Interstate 580’s new express lanes in Alameda County in the first four months the lanes opened to vehicle traffic earlier this year, according to a recent report. The $345 million project opened on the notoriously congested Tri-Valley corridor in mid-February to solo drivers, who pay an extra toll to use the lane, and to carpoolers, who can drive for free.
  • The Future of Neighborhoods: Removing Urban Freeways Gains Fresh Traction. Growing up on the north side of Charlotte, North Carolina, Anthony Foxx remembers the geography of his childhood being defined by a quiet neighborhood of ranch-style houses, well-kept lawns—and an imposing brick wall at the end of the block. On the other side of the wall, there ran a high-speed on-ramp that connected the eastbound lanes of Interstate 85 with the southbound lanes of Interstate 77, two highways that cradled the northeast corner of the neighborhood. For Foxx, the wall, the highways, and the hum of traffic blended into the background. He knew nothing different. Over time, he came to understand they weren’t part of the neighborhood at all but more like interloping house guests.

(more…)