Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Damned Dam

A long, long time ago....when men were still men....around 1906 to be precise....a group of folks in central California came up after the San Francisco earthquake and fire....and asked for permission to dam up this valley in the far distance.  The valley?  Hetch Hetchy.  Not a catchy name, I know.

In those days....there were environmentalists, so this turned into an odd fight.  For seven years....back and forth, this went.  Finally, the local guys found enough support in Congress and the Senate and achieved a vote.  The dam was finally built and operational in 1923.  As you can imagine....it was a pretty fierce fight for the region to win.  The volume here?  675k cubic yards.  Yeah, it's a pretty good bit of water behind that dam.

Now, the positive over the years was that San Francisco had just about all the fresh water they needed.  It was enough to keep over two million people happy.

In the last couple of years....this odd relationship popped up.....some Republicans and some environmentalists.  They've got this ballot going up in November with folks in San Francisco.  Basically, if a majority votes in favor of this.....the dam comes down.  An entire glacier valley will suddenly appear, where a lake stands today.

Course, this would make you ask....where exactly San Francisco would get it's water, and no one is really sure about that question.  The amusing thing is that Nancy Pelosi and a host of local Democrats have come out against the destruction of the dam.  You can imagine this odd crowd of Republicans and environmentalists working together.

The rent that the city pays for the water they get?  Thirty thousand dollars....ever since 1913.  It's never been increased....ever.  Even now, most folks question the logic in this, and it ought to be into the hundreds of millions, if you asked most economic experts.  What does this relate to most households in the bay area?  Well....imagine having a new water bill that runs an extra $2k per year.  Which pocket would you find that extra $2k?  Don't know.

Some folks generally think as a minimum....the city ought to pay some extra...maybe not the extra $2k a year, but certainly a quarter of that.

What you have to worry about in a ballot effort.....is that some folks will just walk in and do something crazy.  If they vote for the dismantling of the dam....it might happen somewhere down the line....maybe a decade or so.  The folks in the bay area would have to come to a plan B, and force themselves to cough up billions.  Obviously, they'd want the US federal government to also cough up billions.  And the new fresh water?  Where would it come from?  Well....you just might have to lay in a eight-foot pipeline all the way to Canada....to find that much free water.

The curious thing out of this whole mess is that you'd have a whole new national park available, and thousands of folks would drive out each week, on freshly paved asphalt, and stop at fancy rest-stops along the road.


The Reid Thing

For the past week, I've watched this Harry Reid accusation against Romney.  It finally occurred to me that there is this one strange connection between the two....both are Mormons.

About five years ago....I worked with a Mormon guy, and we had a number of chats over the Mormon system.

The Mormons have a pretty long list of stringent rules.  One of them says that you must donate ten percent of your income to the church, period....before taxes, social security, etc.  I asked if there were waivers....like you were heavily in debt?  No....no waivers.  You pay, or you get kicked out.

So naturally, being from Bama....I asked how they would know what your percentage amount was.  My associate grinned for a moment, and explained it in a simple fashion.  You have a meeting once a year with your bishop, and you present evidence of your income.  It might be a tax form, or various forms from your company or accountant.  The bishop would note all this info on a Mormon form, and then come to the magical amount you owed.  You'd send it by electronic or check means.

You sit and think about this.  The bishop has this form with your name, income data, and probably even your social security number.  How much security is involved in this form business?  You don't know.  Do the forms go to the central office in Salt Lake City?  You don't know.

I'm guessing Harry Reid went out two weeks ago for a Mormon conference in Utah, and met up with a guy or two....who are friendly toward the Democrats.  They pulled out Mitt's paperwork for ten years (which is odd that Harry would continually quote "ten") and everything would fall into place.

You have private and personal info....that the church simply didn't keep private.  Mitt knows that the church has screwed up and done something to harm his election chances.  I'm guessing that a number of upper-class Mormons are beginning to grasp that the Bishop and the church just aren't going to be helpful in controlling financial data.

My humble guess is that some big-wigs in the Mormon Church are meeting up this weekend, and realizing the impact of what some guy did....releasing personal financial data to Senator Harry Reid.  I'm also guessing that a minimum of a hundred millionaires in the Mormon Church have given notice that they won't play by these rules anymore because the church can't protect their personal data.

Rich folks quitting the church?  That would be the next thing I'd worry about if this whole story gets out and proven true.  You can imagine a country that relies on 300-odd millionaires for its functionality and income.....then suddenly, they walk out the front door.  The Mormon Church would have to step back and cut massively along the lines of whatever they use their income for.

I'm thinking....come Monday and Tuesday....some bishop is coming to visit Harry and tell him to shut up. If Harry pushes it....the church loses in a massive way.  As for Mitt?  I'd just keep talking.  Harry can't produce the info, and if he does....the Mormon Church will dissolve into a minor-league operation.

Bama in the News

Yesterday....out in the neighborhoods of suburban Huntsville....the cops got called out to a house.

Over the past couple of days....there was this gal who had been acting strangely.  At some point, she'd taken some saltine crackers and walked out to some tree in the yard.....dropping the saltines, and then poured kool-aid over the top of them.  A ceremony?  Well....you tend to think that.  Folks in Bama don't normally do things like this.

After that episode....this older gal (55 years old) introduced herself as an "incubus from Egypt".  Course, folks in Bama don't tend to meet many folks from Egypt.  I would imagine that they kinda stood there for a minute or so.....wondering if they ought to welcome this Egyptian over to the front porch and offer up cookies and ice tea.

Now, the thing about the introduction is this term of "incubus".  If you pulled out the old history book....you find that a incubus was actually a lewd male demon who was supposed to take possession of normal regular mortal women.  Yeah, a myth of sorts.  It was the Egyptian method of associating slutty or lusty women with some demon deal.....to explain things around the neighborhood.

Naturally, you'd come to realize the meaning, and that'd dissolve away any chance of you inviting the Egyptian gal to your front door or the front porch.

Somewhere on Saturday....a relative of this gal had called up the cops and tried to make them understand that this woman had stopped taking her medication.  My guess is that she'd stopped well over a week ago.  Some cops were sent over, and noted this woman walking around with a pistol.  They kindly asked her to put the gun down, but she turned to walk toward them with the gun....in a threatening manner.  So they shot and killed her.

The police department put the guys on paid leave until this is sorted out, but my hunch is that four weeks from now....they will agree that there was nothing much they could have done.

Neighbors will sit there for years.....repeating this story....in amazement that someone was that bad off and had a gun around.  Then they will discuss this incubus story, with various theories that she was actually possessed and should have had a Catholic cleansing or Baptist intervention deal.  I imagine that relatives will just say that she ought to have been in a permanent facility, under a controlled environment.

I know that folks will say that Bama has an unfair share of crazy folks.  Sometimes, I will agree but then put it in the better context that we have a large significant number of eccentric folks, who generally aren't dangerous.  To be honest here....life in Bama is a bit more interesting with the eccentric folks.  I kinda doubt that you'd find any enthusiasm to lock them away because they tend to make life a bit more entertaining.

So, if you are sitting around on the porch, and the local gal next door comes up to note something about incubus.....it'd be best to keep your distance.  This demon business just goes up a notch or two in the direction beyond just being plain eccentric.  Just some humble advice.

November Worst Case Scenario

The November election has this one scenario which promises to really drag things down....if it occurs.

Let's say that President Obama wins the election by an Electoral College edge of 70 votes.  The President can walk back into the White House in January and feel pretty positive.

But let's say that 53 Republicans come out and win in the Senate, and a simple majority of five-plus Republicans win in the House.

You end up with a Senate that can't really accomplish anything unless a couple of Democrats cross the line....which they won't.

So we start January of 2013, with a pretty lousy situation.  The President is stuck with no real budget fix, and simply moves forward with nothing much on the plate except signing treaties and making speeches.  The whole of 2013 is worthless, and by the summer of 2014....we are back into a four-star election frenzy....where the Senate gets shifted around to a fifty-fifty mix, and House that might be one-vote plus-up for the Democrats.

So we move onto 2015 and 2016....with mostly a President of almost no accomplishments, and a health care program that most Americans now say is failed but they can't really say what the fix ought to be.

You end up with a marginal four-year period that no one can say much about for historical purposes....except the economy was locked into neutral and not moving in any direction.

That is the worst case scenario.....sadly.

A Summer Bar-B-Q Memory

About ten years ago....I went on a summer vacation to Denmark....a two week trip which I kind of planned to some degree, but the amount of charcoal lighter and charcoal that I brought along....were not enough.

So I went downtown to the local village, and searched through the Danish options for charcoal lighter.  Frankly, there's not much to chose from, and it was a clear plastic container, like the one you see in this picture.

I came back to the vacation house, which had a nice grill out back, and laid out the charcoals.  Then I doused the charcoal with what a typical American would spray.  It was average....at least in my humble opinion.

It took forever for the fire to catch onto the charcoals, which I found kinda strange.

Then, it burned.  And burned. And burned. And burned. And burned. And burned.

Ten minutes into this....it was still a rich hot fire burning away, and I was kinda wondering when it would die off.

So it kept burning.  By twelve minutes, the charcoals were a ash-like color.  By fifteen minutes, I was trying to spray a little water over them but even that would not put out the fire.

To make a long story short.....by twenty minutes....my fire was dead, and the charcoals had nothing much left for heat.  The intensity of the fire and the harsh nature of this combustible substance....made wonder what the heck was in this.

So I emptied the grill, laid out another thirty charcoals, and used maybe half-a-shot of this jet-fuel-like substance.  The fire did finally go out around nine minutes and these charcoals were burning awful hot.  The steak cooked up well.

From this container that I acquired....it probably lasted me eighteen months. I never used more than half-a-shot of this stuff, and always wondered what the heck they put into the stuff.

Of all the bar-b-q's I've ever done....this was the weirdest and most unusual.  A guy in Bama could have poured the whole bottle over a tree stump, and I guarantee the fire would have kept going for twenty-four hours and likely burned the tree stump to a crisp.