Friday, July 27, 2018

I Wish I'd Thought Of That

The always interesting and thoughtful Arnold Kling recently reviewed a book on Askblog.

The book, High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil, focuses on companies that are transforming from startups to having several hundred employees.  One of Gil's recommendations is for an executive to circulate a document that describes “how to work with me.”  That's something I think would have been useful to do during my working career.  Over the years I had more people working for me and became, at least to some extent, more self-aware of my own preferences and managerial traits.  At times I alerted individual people to these but on reflection it would have been useful to do it systematically.

Kling, who ran a successful startup in the 90s, agrees.  Below are his thoughts.  You'll notice that some are directed towards people he works for, others to those who work for them.  Mine would be different, except for #4 and #9, but you get the idea.
1. Don’t give me too many things to do at once. I need to feel like I have my work under control.

2. If you want me to do something that requires my utmost concentration, let me work on it in the morning.

3. If you want me to do something that I hate doing, find someone else to do it.

4. I often give vague project assignments. Push back with clarifying questions, until you know what to do or until I back off because I realize that I don’t really know what I want.

5. When I give a deadline, it is the last possible moment to complete a project. When you miss a deadline, I am devastated. When you just make a deadline, I am disappointed. Get it done sooner.

6. I hate it when people focus on assigning blame. When something goes wrong, focus on fixing it.

7. I like sharing interesting articles and books that I come across. Feel free to do the same with me.

8. I believe in hiring people for attitude and ability, not for experience.

9. The key attitude is being oriented toward solving problems rather than just complaining. I will not tolerate a chronic complainer.

10. I’ll let a software developer get away with being a prima donna*, if you’ve got the right combination of ability, conscientiousness, and stamina. Show me you can really get stuff done, in which case I’d rather keep you happy and let other employees get annoyed than the other way around.

* [NOTE: I've substituted my footnote for Kling's]
And these times are so hard and it's getting even harder
Tryin' to feed and water my seed, plus
See dishonor caught up between bein' a father and a prima donna
Baby mama drama screamin' on and Too much for me to want to Stay in one spot,
another day of monotony Has gotten me to the point, I'm like a snail
I've got to formulate a plot fore I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only motherfuckin' option, failure's not
Mom, I love you, but this trail has got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem's lot
So here I go is my shot.
Feet fail me not 'cause this may be the only opportunity that I got  
- Eminem (Lose Yourself)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

On History And Timing

We've written posts on both Ottoman sieges of Vienna, the first in 1529 and the second in 1683, but what I neglected was their relative historical significance.  If Vienna had fallen in the first siege there was a significant chance that the Ottomans would have advanced further into central Europe perhaps sending the course of history into a new channel, while the city's fall in 1683 would have been an endpoint for the Ottomans, rather than a signal for further conquest.

In 1529 the Ottomans were at the peak of their powers under Suleiman the Magnificent.  After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 they had proceeded to solidify their hold on the Balkans.  Early in the 16th century they turned their attention to the Middle East, quickly conquering Syria, the Holy Land, Egypt, Iraq, and Arabia, becoming the protectors of Islam's most sacred sites including Medina and Mecca.  Returning to Europe they conquered the island of Rhodes evicting the Knights Hospitallers who had been a thorn in their side for decades (read The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of) and capping it all by destroying the Hungarian monarchy in 1526 bringing them into the heart of Europe.  The Ottoman dynasty was dynamic and its military sophisticated by the standards of the times.

By 1683 the situation was much different.  The mid-16th century was the highpoint of Ottoman expansionism.  Turkish fleets roamed the Mediterranean, in cooperation with the King of France, against their mutual enemies.  On land the Sultan's army seemed invincible.

Then, in 1565, the Ottomans attempted to capture Malta, the new home of the Knights Hospitallers.  It was a disastrous failure, followed six years later by the devastating naval defeat at Lepanto, off the Greek Coast in which the allied Western navies crushed the Ottomans.  After Lepanto, the Ottoman fleet slowly degraded and the naval threat from Constantinople diminished.

On land, while the Ottomans were still effective on the defence, they faced a stalemate in central Europe, where they and the Hapsburgs traded incremental territorial gains back and forth.  It was only in the steppe lands north of the Black Sea where the Turks attained some permanent gains, but in lands with no larger strategic impact.

After Suleiman's death in 1566, the Sultanate was occupied by a series of ineffectual sultans.  Along with the navy's deterioration, the army became resistant to changes in military technology and tactics, areas in which the West was beginning to move ahead.

In retrospect the campaign of 1683 should be seen as nothing more than a large-scale raid, a last effort to reclaim ancient glory.  In the Balkans and Central Europe, the Ottomans followed a tradition of slowly assembling armies in the spring, with the forces meeting near Belgrade and then slowly advancing north along the Danube River.  With its borders now so far from Constantinople, the Ottoman army would usually not reach the frontier until mid-summer leaving little time for campaigning before it withdrew in the fall, which is precisely what happened in 1683.

But what would have happened if Vienna had fallen in 1683?  The city would have been sacked, robbed of its possessions, and its remaining inhabitants ransomed or carted off into slavery.  It is unlikely though that Vienna would have been permanently occupied.  It was well beyond the existing frontier, and difficult to supply and maintain even a small occupying force.  It could have been easily reconquered.  The city's fall would have been a shock to Western Europe, but one without lasting consequences, and one easily reversed.

What the second siege did mark was the definite end of Ottoman dreams of expansion in Europe and psychologically is freed Europe from its fear of the Sultanate.  A counteroffensive led by the Hapsburgs quickly conquered Hungary and though the Ottomans remained in the Balkans for two more centuries their power was broken.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

They Can Get You If They Want To

"If there is one thing a defense lawyer knows, it's that the government can get you if it wants to.  Any government.  Federal, state or local.  Law-abiding private citizens do not believe this until some government sets out to get them, and they have to pay good money to a man like me to fight for them, but their disbelief is like unto the very dew of May; it evaporates fast.  Along with their bank balances, cheerfulness, and the order of their lives."

George V Higgins in Defending Billy Ryan

Having been through this experience myself, let me just add Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Poncedeleon Lands

On May 9, 2017 Cardinals minor league pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon was struck in the head by a line drive in a game against the Chicago Cubs team in Iowa.  The injury was so bad that Daniel required emergency brain surgery and was hospitalized for three weeks.  You can read about it here and watch the incident below.

For many pitchers an injury like this can be the end of the line.  Either they never return to the game, or are so marred by the incident that it impacts their ability to pitch effectively.

Poncedeleon returned to pitch in the minors this season and was outstanding.  Called up to the Cardinals he made his major league debut last night, and it was something no one will ever forget as Daniel threw seven innings of no-hit ball before leaving the game.  You can watch here.  What an amazing story!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Great American Ballpark Ranking

Since THC completed visiting all 30 major league parks, he thought it only proper to present his completely objective ranking of the sun-dappled (except for domed stadiums and night games) fields of play.  Our methodology was to arrive at least an hour before the game (we couldn't do this in all cases), walk the entire stadium, sample the food, and then stay until the last out.  Below are my top three parks, along with the rest divided among three tiers.  You may notice that there are not an equal number of teams in each tier.  I don't care.  This is my post.

Bottom line, any park is a good place to watch a baseball game.

Extra bonus feature - learn which park is best suited for you to survive a zombie apocalpyse!

Top Three

Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox, 1912) - Hey, I'm a Red Sox fan, what'd you expect?

AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants, 2000) - Views of surrounding area, sight lines to field, and food all top notch.

PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates, 2001) - Views of the bridge and city.  Good seating and food.

Top Tier

Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs, 1914) - Some advice; don't go to a June game on a sunny day if there's a brisk wind blowing in from the lake, or at least sit in the bleachers where you are protected.

Petco Park (San Diego Padres, 2004) - Tied for best food with AT&T.  Also like that factory facade built into the stadium.

Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners, 1999)

Kaufman Stadium (KC Royals, 1973)) - An older stadium with a nice feel to it.  Very comfortable and open.

Coors Field (Colorado Rockies, 1995) - I may have been unduly influenced by the magnificent fireworks display at the end of the game.

Busch Stadium (St Louis Cardinals, 2006) - Great atmosphere, great fans and food.  And that's even with us ending up in last row of third deck in left field.

Middle Tier

Marlins Park (Miami Marlins, 2012) - A lot of folks don't like this one but I did except for the stupid statute in center field which they should blow up.  Instead, they blew up the team.

Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers, 2000) - Much better than anticipated.

Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1962) - Great location, memorable history, but the park itself is looking old and tired.

Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles, 1992) - The state of the art stadium when it opened, it's now been surpassed by the competition.

Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks, 1998) - I've developed a soft spot for the park of my new hometown team.  Decent in every category, plus you can buy a Paradise Valley Burger there.  On the other hand, team management wants out of the stadium because of dispute with city over deferred maintenance.

Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers, 1994) - Interesting park to walk around with good vantage points.  My advice: don't get seats on third base line for afternoon or early evening games in the summer.  I left some skin.

Target Field (Minnesota Twins, 2010) - Fun place, right near downtown.

Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds, 2003) - Like the river setting.  Good BBQ in left field corner.  So, do you think Joey Votto takes too many pitches?

Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers, 2001) - Fun place to watch a ballgame.  Also the ballpark best suited for you to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillie, 2004) - Like the promenade and food area around the outfield.

Citi Field (New York Mets, 2009) - If you go try to tie in a visit to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in nearby Corona, Queens.

Nationals Park (Washington Nationals, 2008)

Bottom Tier

SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves, 2017) - We saw it last year when it opened. It left me cold.

Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees, 2009)) - Yes, I hate the Yankees but hear me out.  I've been to both the original Yankee Stadium and its 1970s replacement and thought highly of both of them.  The new stadium, which I've been to several times, is a nothingburger, and a number of my Yankee friends agree.

Rodgers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays, 1989) - Nothing special in any way.  Needs renovation.  My view is admittedly colored by our seats behind the right field light stands.  Devoted fans however.  48,000 showed up for a mid-week game with the Tigers with neither team in contention.

Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians, 1994) - Impressed on my first visits to the stadium, but it had aged badly by my last in 2012.  The field was renovated in 2014 and 2015 so maybe some of the old glory has been restored.  I hope so.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland Athletics, 1966) - Last there in 1972.  I'm told it's not gotten any better.

Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros, 2000) - Like watching a game in a shopping mall.  Great scoreboard though. The team is not too shabby either.

Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox, 1991) - Winner of Worst Name for a Ballpark award.

Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels, 1966) - Low-rated otherwise, but don't miss the bacon and cheese sandwich which comes with a ton of bacon.  This Trout kid may amount to something.  Keep an eye on him.

Somewhere Between AAA and Major League

Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays, 1990) - Like watching a game in a circus tent.  It was so ridiculous I found it enjoyable, at least for one game.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Dividing Line

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Friday, July 20, 2018

Are You Positive It's 4th Street?

From The Daily Mail via a Slate Star Codex post on sentimental cartography.  Created by Daisy, a UK creative agency, it's a street map with 390 geographic themed song titles.  And check out the names of the parks!

This map features 390 song titles with a geographical theme, spanning the districts of Funkytown, Ghost Town and a A Town Called Malice

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Moonlight Graham

Moonlight Graham.jpg(Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, from wikipedia)

I recently caught the last part of Field of Dreams (1989) on TV.  It remains highly rewatchable.  If you haven't seen it, I won't describe the plot because it makes the movie sound ridiculous, while it is really wonderful.  And it is about much more than baseball.

For some reason, it got me interested in the background of Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, one of the movie's characters.  I already knew that the real Archie Graham played in the outfield for two innings in a June 1905 game after being called up from the minors to join John McGraw's New York Giants.  It was his only major league appearance and he never batted.  In the 1970s, author WP Kinsella ran across a mention of Moonlight Graham and when he wrote Shoeless Joe (the book on which Field of Dreams is based) he included him as a character.

What I had not realized was how closely the fictionalized version of Moonlight Graham in the movie was to the real Archibald Graham.

In the movie, Graham's one appearance with the Giants takes place in 1922.  He later retires from baseball and moves to Chisholm, Minnesota, becomes a doctor and dies in 1972.  Doc Graham, as he is known, becomes a beloved figure in that small town, with a sterling reputation, and devoted to his wife Alicia, who always wears blue.  Doc always walks with an umbrella.  In one scene, Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) interviews older townsfolk about Doc Graham and they tell endearing stories of him.  In another scene, Terrence and Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) go to the local newspaper where a reporter reads to them from Doc Graham's obituary.

It turns out the real Archibald Graham was a college graduate, unusual in baseball in those days, and got his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1905, the same year he played for the Giants, and after seeing an ad for a doctor, moved to Chisholm, Minnesota where he became the beloved Doc Graham, married Alicia, who always wore blue, and he always carried an umbrella.  Doc Graham died in 1965.  The anecdotes used in the movie are from the life of the real Graham, and the reporter in the film is reading from his actual obituary.

From the Chisholm Free Press & Tribune (1965)
"And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or
clothing. Yet no child was ever denied these essentials because in the
background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity,
the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into
the child's pocket." [This was the portion read in Field of Dreams]

From a 2005 article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

While still new in Chisholm, he grew sweet on Alicia Madden, a
schoolteacher. She was a farmer's daughter from Rochester, and they married
in 1915.

They never had children. Instead, they showered their affection on every
child in town -- he as the full-time doctor for the public schools for more
than 40 years, she as the director of countless community plays.

They built a house that still stands in southeast Chisholm, on the fringe of
a neighborhood known as Pig Town, for the livestock kept by the hardscrabble
immigrant miners' families.

"That was Doc," said Bob McDonald, who grew up in Chisholm and has coached
high school basketball there for 44 years. "He and Alicia could have lived
up with the high and mighty on Windy Hill, but they chose to be among the
common people."

McDonald remembers a wiry, athletic man, dapper in an ever-present black hat
and black trench coat, walking everywhere and always swinging an umbrella.
Yes, he said, Alicia did always wear blue.

On the opening night of all of her plays, Graham would sit in the same seat
in the back of the high school auditorium, a dozen roses in his lap,
Ponikvar said.

People were poor, but schools used mining company taxes to meet needs. Under
Doc's care, kids got free eyeglasses, toothbrushes and medical care. He
lectured them on nutrition, inoculated them, rode their team buses, made
20-year charts of their blood pressure, swabbed their sore throats, made
house calls if they stayed home sick.

He bought apartment houses but charged rock-bottom rents, and no rent to a
single mother and her eight children, Ponikvar remembers.
"Doc became a legend," she wrote when he died. "He was the champion of the
oppressed. Never did he ask for money or fees."

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Summit

Today's the Trump-Putin summit.  Last year Walter Russell Mead, writing in The American Interest, had an interesting take on Trump's policy towards Russia.  Mead is a mainstream foreign policy expert, who seems to be an old-style liberal.  I have no idea who he supported in the 2016 election.  Mead pointed out:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:
  • Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
  • Blocking oil and gas pipelines
  • Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
  • Cutting U.S. military spending
  • Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran
He then goes on to note that while these were President Obama's actual policies, Trump was doing the opposite in each area.

From a policy perspective not much has changed since then.  As noted here a couple of days ago, the United States has just entered into an unprecedented joint security arrangement with Sweden and Finland designed to address the Russian threat.  The President just caused a storm of controversy by accusing Germany of becoming too economically dependent upon Russian natural gas and has been demanding our NATO allies increase defense spending.

On Friday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Trump appointee, gave a speech at the Hudson Institute in which he said cyberthreats were our #1 security risk, and that the threat came from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, calling Russia as "no question . . . the most aggressive".

However, I am uncertain how this summit will turn out.  I was not convinced of the need for it in the first place (I think the meeting with Kim was much more justifiable).  My concerns are linked back to the last paragraph in Mead's piece:
America needs an intellectually solvent and emotionally stable press to give this president the skeptical and searching scrutiny that he needs. What we are getting instead is something much worse for the health of the republic: a blind instinctive rage that lashes out without wounding, that injures its own credibility more than its target, that discredits the press at just the moment where its contributions are most needed.
While I fully agree with Mead's sentiment regarding the press, and believe the situation has only gotten worse since he wrote, I think it also fair to point out that I don't consider the president "intellectually solvent and emotionally stable" (unfortunately that was not on offer from either candidate in 2016).

Most of Trump's actions, and certainly the actions and words of those in his administration, whether Coats at DNI, Pompeo at State, and Mattis at Defence have been consistent in confronting Russia.  The problem is Trump's own statements are erratic, unpredictable, often hard to decipher, and he is the ultimate decider.

In addition, Trump's personality poses a risk in a one on one meeting.  He is not an ideologue, he is transactional.  Unlike Putin, he will not be knowledgeable in the details of issues or their back history, but he believes in the ability to do deals on a personal basis.  These characteristics are very similar to those of President Franklin Roosevelt in his dealings with the Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union.  FDR was not ideological, had a vague notion that our two systems would somehow converge in the future, and believed he could charm Stalin into moving in America's direction.  While FDR was a superb wartime leader, his complete misunderstanding of Stalin and the Soviet system would like have had significant negative repercussions if he had survived to serve out his term.

And Trump has one additional trait beyond FDR's - he is susceptible to flattery.  As he himself has said, if you say something nice about him he'll say something nice about you.  It led him to make some of those atrocious statements about Russia during the election campaign, statements reminiscent of Obama's apologetics to foreign countries.  What that means for the Putin meeting we will find out, but I wish it was not happening.

UPDATE:  Well, my worst fears were realized.  First, we had last night's disgraceful tweet blaming problems with Russian-American relations solely on the United States followed by Trump's awful performance at the press conference with Putin.  I'll end with this from the conservative blog Powerline:
Trump seems unable to handle that truth. All that matters to him is the absence of any suggestion that his 2016 victory was tainted. Thus, he puts his own ego ahead of the national interest in responding to a Russian assault on our democratic process. That’s disgusting.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:  The President's course of action since the summit only compounds his problems.  His retraction of his controversial Helsinki statement, followed by his retraction of his retraction, followed by something I can't even figure out, along with his entertaining (however briefly) Putin's offer to trade interviews of US and Russians, and his seeming endorsement of Russia's second gas pipeline to Germany, after telling the Germans they were foolish to allow it make him look foolish and inept.  I don't like the idea of the fall summit with Putin in DC, because when Trump is with Putin he acts like a star struck teenage girl.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ballpark Roadtrip 2018

After seven long, grueling years, THC and LDC reached the end of their quest to see games at all thirty major league ballparks, with our recent visits to Denver Seattle, and San Francisco.  For all of our annual trip reports go here.

Ballparks Visited

Coors Field
Safeco Field
San Francisco
AT&T Park

Game Results
July 3
Rockies 8, Giants 1
July 5
Mariners 4, Angels 1
July 8
Giants 13, Cardinals 8
July 9
Giants 2, Cubs 1
(11 innings)

Winding up our travels with visits to three outstanding ballparks was a treat.  As nice as Coors and Safeco are there is no doubt that AT&T is the best stadium we've seen (excepting, of course, Fenway - hey, THC is a Red Sox fan, what'd you expect?), edging out PNC in Pittsburgh.  We enjoyed AT&T so much we changed our plans and went to a second game there the following day.  Adding to the enjoyment was going to games with two old friends from high school and with the THC Son and his girlfriend.

(Old Friends - MG, LDC, and THC)

AT&T gets the #1 rating by virtue of the views (our right field seats in the upper part of the upper deck featured views of McCovey Cove, San Francisco Bay, the Oakland Bay Bridge, and the SF city skyline), the sight lines to the field (excellent from anywhere we looked in the stadium), and the food which ranks with Petco Field in San Diego (try the tri-tip steak sandwich in the food area behind the center field scoreboard).

The July 3 game at Coors Field featured a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the game which drew a huge crowd (second biggest to the Rogers Centre in Toronto).  We had to wait for a least a half hour after the end of the game as they emptied the bleachers, moving fans onto the field, because the fireworks were launched from the back of the bleachers.  We were close enough to have debris fall on us.

Photos and our annual awards follow.



Seahawks and Mariners stadiums.

Mike Trout hitting a double.

AT&T Park


Best Pitching Performance
Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs made it look easy on July 9 against the Giants, pitching 8 innings of five hit ball, walking nobody and fanning eight.  Very few hard hit balls and a game he should have won 1-0, but for the joint efforts (or non-efforts) of our next award winners.

Best Heads Up Play & Worst Fielding/Lack of Hustle Play
Alen Hanson/Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez.  In the bottom of the 5th, with the Cubs leading 1-0, Pablo Sandoval hit a weak ground ball on which Rizzo made an error catching the throw.  The next batter, Alen (that's really how he spells it) Hanson hit a grounder, forcing Sandoval at second. Hendricks made a pick-off attempt on which Rizzo made an error.  Rizzo and Javier Baez showed a lack of hustle getting to the ball, allowing Hanson, who turned on the jets, to score all the way from first.  Watch the play here.

Best Pitching Performance By "Who Is That Guy?"
Antonio Senzatela was recalled from the minors by the Rockies on July 3, in time to start that night's game.  We had no idea who he was, but he tossed seven innings of three-hit shutout ball.  Unfortunately, Antonio gave up six runs in six innings in his next start.

Most Enjoyable Player to Watch
Pablo (The Panda) Sandoval.  He doesn't look capable of playing the field and falls over a lot but he was very effective at third base.  Pablo also hit a three run homer into McCovey Cove (see next award) on July 8, and the next day had the walk-off game winning single in the 11th inning.  To the chagrin of this Red Sox fan, Panda was more productive in those two games than during his entire Red Sox career (look up "debacle" in the dictionary and you'll find his Sox free-agent contract).

Most Home Runs Into A Water Body
And the winner is McCovey Cove, the inlet behind the right field stands at AT&T Park.   Two balls reached the Cove on July 8, Sandoval's homer and a smash by Matt Carpenter of the Cards.  One was picked out of the water by a kayaker, the other by someone onshore with a fishing net.

Most Exciting Player
Dee Gordon of the Mariners hit a triple and can that guy fly!  He also made a tremendous play at second to stifle an Angels rally.  Watch his catch here.

Best Repeat Performance Arguing Balls & Strikes
Baseball's best player (I'm required to write that) Mike Trout usually doesn't get too excited but he twice got into an argument with the ump on called third strikes.  Trout has a pretty good eye (he leads the AL in walks) so he probably had good reason to be upset.  He lost both arguments.

Best Game To Take Someone To Who's Never Seen A Game Before 
The Giants-Cardinals game which the Giants won 13-8.  Lots of action which gave old-guy THC plenty of opportunity to explain the details of the game to a novice, who kindly pretended to pay attention.

Best Ballpark For A Willie Mays Fan
As my readers know, Willie Mays is my favorite player, so you know the answer.

Best Drive

From south of Portland, Oregon to Petaluma, California (over two days).  We drove through the Willamette Valley and then the mountains and valleys of southern Oregon on I-5 before turning off at Grant's Pass and heading towards Crescent City, the northernmost town on the California coast, where we stayed overnight.  The next day, we took Route 101 along the coast until it turned inland south of Eureka, got off for thirty miles to drive the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park, and then followed 101 to Ukiah and through the wine-growing valley to the south.

The Sunday morning drive the next day on 101, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Francisco, and the on I-280 to Palo Alto wasn't too shabby either.

Most Exciting Drive 

LaHonda Road in Woodside, CA.  Several miles of twisting, turning and narrow pavement, with sheer drops along the side, up the mountains to Skyline Drive which runs along the spine of the peninsula south of San Francisco.

Biggest Tree

Best Place To Watch Junkies Shooting Up 

Courtyard Marriott Pioneer Square in Seattle.  Very nice room but it was in rear of hotel, facing an old brick building with broken windows.  Glancing down into the alley below we saw one apparently homeless person doing odd stuff with scraps of something scattered on the pavement and who was soon joined by another person sitting several feet away who was clearly shooting up.  Actually, a lot of downtown Seattle, particularly near the Pike Street Marketplace was occupied by a motley collection of characters and it was pretty grimy.  Like NYC in the 70s although we walked a lot of the city outside the immediate downtown area and it was quite pleasant.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Bad, Bad Thing

1 John Lee Hooker riff
A tablespoon of seductive vocal stylings
A mess of suggestive lyrics
A cup of rockabilly guitar
Two spoonfuls of vocal and musical modulations

A tasty Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing by Chris Isaak.

I think it was very bad indeed.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Things That Make You Go Hmmm . . .

Found this interesting in light of the uproar over the recent NATO summit.

Just became aware (thanks to Austin Bay at Strategy Page) that in May, the Swedish and Finnish Defence Ministers came to Washington and signed a Trilateral Agreement with the United States regarding the national security relationship between the three countries, in response to what is seen as a growing threat from Russia. Neither country is a member of NATO.

While the US has had informal bilateral agreements in the past with each country this is the first time America has joined in a tripartite agreement. Among the items agreed to was a joint military exercise in 2021 to be hosted by Finland.

Announcing the agreement, Secretary of Defence Mattis praised the two European nations for “providing a steady anchor of stability in a region more tense as a result of Russia’s unfortunate, unproductive and destabilizing choices from the Ukraine to Syria.

Here is an article from a Finnish paper on the agreement.
And one from a US publication.