April 25, 2019

Day Three: Noosa and Rainbow Beach

Day three and my third flat white. The first place was the best thus far but all have been good. None of the shops actually present a menu of coffee drinks, which I find interesting. It’s a kind of coffee challenge: you have to know what you want!

We spent the morning packing up the 4×4: ice, camp gear clothes, off road stuff. And then headed up the M1. We hit a bit of traffic along the way but that made for good scenery watching. A lot of green lushness along the way.

Noosa Beach was fantastic. Beautiful Beach and while you can’t really tell from my pic, really lovely.

We had lunch at a neat spot with craft beer and an Asian menu. Fantastic. After lunch we walked around town a bit and then headed out to Rainbow Beach our jumping off spot for Fraser Island.

April 24, 2019

Day Two: Brisbane downtown and replacing the washer

Another good flat white to get the day started. Then home for buttered toast with Vegimite (salty and delish) and then off to the big box store to buy a replacement washer and then put it in.

We walked to the train to get to Brisbane proper for lunch and a pint and then walked the riverfront. Gorgeous. A very pretty city!

Many bridges across the river and also giant fig trees that are part of the Banyan tree family.

Homemade dinner and tomorrow off to Fraser Island!

April 23, 2019

Day One: Brisbane

Our friends Mark and Sue fetched us from the airport and took us immediately to a coffee shop. Nothing says “welcome to Australia” like a perfectly made flat white!

Next stop was their house in Brighton to stash our stuff and then we walked into town along the beach for a pint.

Back home for a home cooked meal and then a long sleep!

April 21, 2019

LA To Brisbane

14 hour flight on Quantas. Our first with that airline. Not especially looking forward to 14 hours sitting up, but vacation awaits!

April 21, 2019

Travel Day

Here to LA to Brisbane. 15 pound carry on limit which looks like this:

Could have squished it all in one bag but wanted to have a small bag in case they force a gate check!

April 20, 2019

Australia Adventure: Getting Ready

We are off to Australia! We get to see our friends and travel up and down the north coast: Brisbane to Cairns, and then Brisbane to Sidney.

Australia North Coast
North Coast

Should be super fun. Who doesn’t like a Fosters and a Flat White? And while we’re traveling light (15 lb carry on only) unlike our previous trips we have a pretty good idea of where we are going and where we are staying.

Travel day starts tomorrow!

April 30, 2017

Trump Score April 30 2017

I admit that my scoring is far from scientifically sound. And it’s after the fact – I’m scoring based on what has happened thus far, and am intentionally avoiding the “what might happen”.

So after 100 days – my math has the score at less than a point. And the “taking action to split town” score is at least 5.

The score, and then some notes:

trump score april 30 2017


Okay. Most of the scores are still a zero.

  • Citizens have to register? Nope. Travel ban wishing aside – this is still a wish for the administration.
  • Judicial Branch subverted? Not yet. The administration would like to breakup the 9th Circuit because they disagree, but they don’t have the capacity to actually do that – that requires an act of Congress.
  • Military deployed? Nope.
  • Term limits? No change
  • Separation of church and state? No better or worse.
  • FOIA requests denied? Not that I can tell.
  • Peaceably assemble? BANG! Happening all of the time, and I’m not seeing even a hint of “you can’t do that”. Lots of “we don’t like it”, but that’s exactly the point, right?

    Take Berkeley for the moment. Ann Coulter has the right to say what she wants. And those that disagree and wish she would shut her gob have that same right.

  • Safe in my own home? As much as ever.
  • Speedy trial? Same as it ever was.
  • I just tapped a new IPA. Yep, still making and drinking beer here at home
  • Still able to get a travel visa? Yep. Some hints that a few countries want to retaliate for the travel ban, but since that ban isn’t happening yet – nothing going on here

So – I’m some comforted that our systems are holding. I still don’t like all of the things the administration WANTS to accomplish. But am some heartened by their inability.

There are troubling things, to be sure – but they fall into the category of “I don’t agree” which I treat differently. Things like:

  1. Rolling back net neutrality
  2. Budget cuts to USAID
  3. Loose language regarding North Korea
  4. An alarming lack of filled administrative positions
  5. A clear desire to make our water and air less clean

I’m not cavalier about these – but want to be super careful about the difference between subverting the constitution and things I just don’t like. I can see that some of these might, in total, rise to the level of subverting the spirit of the constitution. I’m  note sure yet how to measure those, but I’ll keep my eye out!

What worries you these days? How do you measure if those worries are founded? I’m interested, so drop me a note!



April 2, 2017

Trump Score April 2 2017

Ten weeks in and wow, what a show. I’m glad I’m keeping score still, because the sheer volume of things that might happen could keep me hugely agitated if I didn’t have a fallback.

But I do, and at the moment – as they used to say in Texas, the Trump effort is “all hat, no cattle“.

So the score remains unchanged. Per my metric – we’re still less than a point, and the danger zone is a 5.

Leave Score April 2

Still – things could change quickly. Which reminds me, it’s time to write another letter to my elected officials.


March 5, 2017

Trump Score March 5 2017 – Slight Uptick

No burying the lede here: Score rises a bit this week to .45

(If you don’t recall – each line item is worth up to 10 points. So I’m adding all of them up, and dividing by line item to get the score).



The good news:

Not much is actually happening. Texans used to say “all hat, no cattle” to imply that just because you had a hat, it didn’t mean you knew how to be a rancher. At the moment – despite the horrible accusations and the sheer incompetence – not much is happening. I’ll take as much of that as I can get.

The bad news:

There are a few things happening that are worrisome, even if they don’t impact my scoring sheet.

  1. The incompetence itself threatens our country. What happens in case of a national emergency? I’m not confident that we have filled needed positions, and even less confident that if we had that those individuals know what they are doing.
  2. The executive order rolling back water rules is super troubling. I’m baffled that ensuring clean water is controversial. Sure – it’s cheaper and faster to pump your chemical stew into a river. Remember the Cuyahoga River? The one that caught fire? Well – 48 years later, it is far more safe.  Closer to home, Lake Washington is also a success story. When I first moved here, anyone in the know would tell me not to swim in it. The cleanup of Lake Washington started 1n 1963, and has been a thumping success.
  3. The use of private prisons, curtailed under the Obama administration, is back. Plenty to get upset about here, too.

Populism, the ends and the means

I’m reading “all the kings men” right now, a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. The author says it’s not about Huey Long, a populist governor and senator in the 1930’s.

The word “populism” has been tossed about a lot lately, to describe politicians of all sorts. The irony here is that President Trump is no populist, although he’s certainly using those tactics.

In short, populism is a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.

The thing about populism in the flavor we get from Donald Trump is that it isn’t actually doing anything at all to help people with less privilege.

Back to Huey Long. If Wikipedia is to be believed, here are some of the things he accomplished. In other words, the “ends”:

  1. Free textbooks for school children
  2. Night courses for adult literacy, which taught 100,000 adjults to read
  3. Established LSU Medical School
  4. Elimination of the poll tax (you had to pay to vote)
  5. Paved highways and other transport related infrastructure (9,700 miles worth)
  6. Statewide public health initiatives reduced the death rate, and increased the immunization rate

The list goes on. Rich companies and individuals paid for those things, by the way, until the time that the previously poor also started to contribute to the tax base.

And the means?

Not so great. Documented items that violate norms, if not actual laws, include:

  1. Fired hundreds of opponents upon taking the governorship
  2. State employees had to pay a portion of their salary into his re-election funds
  3. Fired the relatives of opponents
  4. Founded his own newspaper and if you wanted state funding you had to advertise in his paper

That list goes on, too. I’m left feeling I wholly support the ends, but not the means.

The thing is, I want both ends that support every person, and means that increase civic participation, make it more democratic and less prone to the influence of the already rich and moneyed (both individuals and corporations).

How to make that happen? That’s tough to answer. The “what” seems more straightforward:

  1. Get rid of the electoral college
  2. Remove gerrymandering at all levels of government
  3. Changing corporate personhood, especially the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling

Some non political good news

Don’t despair, people! Did you listen to either Barack or Michelle Obama talk about hope?  I think they are right; we won’t make it (no matter who is in the White House) without it. It might be in short supply unless you go look for it. So go look! You really can see the hope and the despair, and you should. But don’t get caught looking only at one or the other.

Here’s a small thing, about men and women experiencing homelesness. A local nonprofit (Low Incone Housing Institute) has had startling success with their Tiny house program. In 2016, LIHI case managers moved 157 people into housing, helped 103 people obtain employment and helped 30 people reunite with relatives or friends.

What is your, tiny good news?


March 5 2017

February 19, 2017

Trump Score Feb 19 2017 – No Score Change This Week

I’m composing today from lovely Galiano Island, in British Colombia, Canada. It seemed like a good idea to go experience a bit of relaxed island living in a country I like a lot, especially given that Monday celebrates US Presidents.

I’ll get right to the score: I didn’t see anything this week that makes my up my risk level any. Lots of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). But no action that changes the score.


(This is a simple, non-weighted score – 11 items, each with a possible score of 0-10)


Worrisome Things:

EPA Appointment

The new EPA chief and his actions don’t align at all with mine. I’m trying to better understand how “good for the environment, good for local, national and global health” seem to equal “bad for business”.

Sure – doing things right costs more. But doing things wrong costs even more. If you are my age or older, go ahead and leave a comment here about how you used to change the oil in your car. While you’re at it, comment on if your car had a seat-belt or not, if your window sills and walls had lead paint, if it was allowable to install asbestos without wearing a mask and a protection suit, if cigarettes were good for you or not.

(Hey! This is fun! What else has happened in your lifetime due to government regulation that has made you and yours safer?)

Sure. I bet Dow Chemical wasn’t super pleased about not being able to dump their shit into the nearest open body of water. And the tobacco industry hated the idea that their money making product was poison.

So here’s the question: what gives a profit making business the right to earn at the expense of everyone else?

So that’s it: we get rhetoric about “job killing regulation”. But without it, we have “people killing profit for the rich”.

I don’t think this is a zero sum game: Smart business leaders and job creators and entrepreneurs can make a ton of money – while also protecting our health.

Immigration Executive Order

Thinking about the “extreme vetting” stuff and the immigration ban that my Attorney General blocked. (Go, Washington State!).

No one has said what MORE is going to be done. I’d like to pose a question to the folks in favour – goes like this:

“What numbering scheme are you going to use to keep track of immigrants, and where will you put the tattoo?”

That sound horrible, right? Because it is. But short of a tattoo or an RFID chip – hard to imagine what else might be done to keep track of people. Already doing a 1-3 year review process which includes numerous in person interviews, fingerprints, retina scans and more. What gets added to that list that makes it more extreme?

And then the last note about the ban, which reminds me of the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. It’s as if we think that ANY restrictions, bans, vetting, interrogation and so on will give us 100% assurance that we’ll be safe. It simply isn’t true, and we all know it at some level – accidents happen. People change their mind. Tools and systems age and fail. I’d love to find a way to shift this conversation to one that discusses the appropriate level of review. Are there things we can do differently?

My day job is managing projects. And we do risk assessments all of the time. But having a risk, without weighting it, is silly. You need to know three things:

  • What is the risk?
  • How likely is it to occur?
  • What is the severity if it does?

If you start and stop at the top item – you don’t have anything actionable – every fear is equal.

Finally –  the irony! God forbid that we legislate clean water, but by all means, let’s legislate huge government bureaucracy for immigration review!


My friend Miguel pointed out that the 13th amendment didn’t abolish slavery, as I was taught:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

That clause in there is super important, those words between the first set of commas. Because it didn’t take long for me to remember that white people were super good at creating laws that targeted black men and women that would in fact allow you to put someone in jail and on a work crew. Different words, same thing. Slavery.

Which begs the question of Guantanamo Bay, doesn’t it? Our jurisdiction. Hmm, go figure.

Trump Score Additions:

My friend Dan wonders if adding another item to the tracking list makes sense.

-Deploying US troops against an ally, such as against Mexico, as Mr Trump has threatened

Shall we add? What else should I keep track of?


February 19, 2017