Thursday, October 31, 2013

EFM Trying To Fleece Suburbs To Benefit Detroit

The Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit you must remember is a Democrat, and as a Democrat his first thought is to grab for other people's money to get revenue after decades of squandering of monies in a now broke Detroit due to corruption and mismanagement.

The Detroit Free Press: Suburban leaders blast plan to lease water, sewer assets for $9B

Suburban leaders are blasting a plan by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr to get customers across the region to pay the city as much as $9 billion over 40 years to lease the assets of the Water and Sewerage Department.

For those not up to speed on the Detroit Water and Sewage Department that EFM Orr is now trying to lease to the Suburbs for $9 billion let's recap: This is the same entity that was used as a political slush fund and source of no-bid contracts by Detroit's politicians, most notoriously Kwame Kilpatrick and friends, This was a department that has been sticking it to the suburbs with rate increases for featherbedding and passing the money to other Detroit departments while critical infrastructure was not properly maintained.

And now he wants to lease it, deferred maintenance obligations and all, to the same suburbs that have been getting the short end of the department's operations this entire time in exchange for the suburbs paying Detroit 9 Billion dollars?

Oh, hell no.

Dive 245 - Union Lake In The Dark

Unbelievable, it's the end of October and this was the first dive I've done all season that was pitch black from start to finish. Clearly I haven't been getting out much this season.

I arrived at Union Lake at 7:30 as scheduled. It turns out that Jeff and Nate and Brandon had got there early and already done one dive, so Fred, Chad and I suited up and got ready to go in.

Thankfully there was only one boat, and he pulled out as we were prepping to go in, so we had an easy entrance via the boat launch, which beats tripping around the grass hill with 120 pounds of gear on your back in the dark. This made for a nice easy entry.

Then we headed out on the north line, playing with crayfish as we came across them and seeing quite a number of bass both large and small out and about.

We also came a cross a large mudpuppy which was cool to see as they're not something you come across every dive.

We made it to the A-Aron boat and had a bit of fun hanging around it, then did a diversion tot he north shore boat and headed back.

One benefit of night diving is you can really see each diver's light much more distinctly than in the day so its a lot easier to keep track of people and maintain formation,

A nice easy night dive, and my buoyancy and trim were quite excellent if I do say so myself, making the dive a lot more relaxing and enjoyable.

After the dive we headed to the Library pub to warm up with some rum and cokes and tortilla soup, which hit the spot nicely.

The Dive:

Water Temp: 52 degrees

Dive Time: 52 Minutes

Max depth: 45 feet

Breathing gas used: 1000 psi.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Detroit's Pro-Obama Union Members Suddenly Find Out Obamacare Sucks

Yep, some of the most supportive Obama backers just found out what they get for backing Obama.

The Detroit News: Obamacare haunts Detroit union retirees

Yes, the bankrupt city is throwing workers and retirees onto the exchanges, as the city certainly can't keep them on its gold-plated healthcare plans any longer as it doesn't have the money, and they're not happy about the sticker shock.

The unions are suing to block Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to reduce the city’s $180 million retiree health bill by replacing benefit plans for retirees under 65 with a $125 per month stipend to shop for coverage on the Michigan health insurance exchange.

Pensioners aren’t happy, and not just because the federal government can’t tell the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services whether anyone has yet been able to sign up on the glitchy state exchange. Michigan retirees will likely face sticker shock on the Obamacare exchange relative to their present plans.

While current coverage promises deductibles as low as $175 with an $825 cap on out-of-pocket costs, the city’s stipend would enable retirees to buy basic bronze or silver plans on the exchange that come with higher deductibles, more cost-sharing, and a narrower choice of doctors. A study of Michigan exchange plan options by the Heritage Foundation also found retirees age 50 will see average premium hikes of 43 percent.

Detroit Unions, you voted for Obama and Obamacare and now you're getting exactly what you wanted, right? Enjoy it.

Merchantmen Unveil New Anti-Piracy Measure

Yes, the best anti-piracy measure they can come up with is this, via the Global Times:

Britney Spears’ most thought to be ‘hated’ songs are blasted out to scare off pirates in Somalia

It's a sad state of affairs that merchant ships these days unable to carry firearms for protection are now forced to rely on spears.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Preparations

With Halloween approaching, the kids' thoughts turned to Pumpkins:

So we bought some and they and a friend made some pumpkins.

With three pumpkins carved, we had a ton of pumpkin seeds that we're going to toast and have later.

Abby carved hers all by herself this year:

Here's the Pumpkin undergoing a full candle test once done:

Abby's friend, who is a couple years older made this one from a pattern and did a very impressive job:

While the kids did pumpkin preparations, we prepared libations:

Leelanau Cellars' Witches Brew - a nice spiced red wine, served warm is just the thing for Halloween. An excellent and very tasty Michigan product well worth a try.

It's gonna be a great Halloween.

If That's All That Duggan's Opposition Can Come Up With....

This being a Detroit Mayoral election year, dirt and dirty tricks are to be expected.

Considering that Mike Duggan is white, the expectation was for his opposition, namely the Detroit powers that be, would get every scrap of dirt and mud they could throw at him was high.

And the best they could come up with, as breathlessly related by The Detroit Free Press, was: Detroit mayoral hopeful Mike Duggan racks up 10 speeding tickets in 5 years: 'No excuse for it'

Yeah, that was the best scandal they could come up with, an average of two moving violations a year for speeding with none over 10 mph over the limit. All of which I might add he both took responsibility for and paid.

Note that unlike during the Kwame administration, there's no hint of any scandal or any instance where Duggan got out of a speeding ticket by demanding of the cop "Do you know who the (expletive deleted) I am?".

I guess the appointment of an EFM and the bankruptcy has really put a crimp on embezzling city funds and using them for partisan opposition research purposes.

Only The Credulous Would Be Surprised By Either Story Coming Out of The Middle East Today

Two stories that show the real state of the Middle East, as many a clenched fist meet's Obama's appeasing open hand:

The first surprise: Chemical weapons inspectors in Syria miss deadline

I mean who could have seen that coming?

From the Detroit Free Press:

International inspectors overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile have missed an early deadline in a brutally tight schedule after security concerns prevented them from visiting two sites linked to Damascus' chemical program.

The chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog disclosed for the first time in a report obtained by the Associated Press that Syria has declared 41 facilities at 23 chemical sites where it stored approximately 1,300 tons of precursors and agents, and over 1,200 unfilled munitions to deliver them.

Ahmet Uzumcu said in his first report to the U.N. Security Council that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had corroborated the information provided by Syria at 37 of the 41 facilities.

But the OPCW said inspectors were only able to visit 21 of the 23 sites because of security risks - which means the tight timeline for visiting all declared sites by Oct. 27 was missed.

However all is not lost, as with Obama, the red lines aren't really red lines, and dead lines are certainly not dead lines:

While there are no consequences for missing the deadline.....

So, in return for letting Obama off his self-stated red line requirement for action, both the Syrians and the UN don't really have to act in a timely manner, or perhaps really have to act at all. Any bets they'll just run the clock, destroy a few chemical weapons for show and then let it fade from the headlines with the mandated job left undone?

Meanwhile, the second surprise headline of the day:

The Detroit Free Press: Iran sentences activist actress to prison

The latest headline out of Iran belies both Iran's declaration, the leftist mainstream media's declaration, and the US State Department's hope that Rouhani is a reformer. One should note that the State department seems to be on the verge of striking out in accurate reformer declarations, with one strike and on the verge of a second with Rouhani, so at least they haven't crowned him as a reformer quite yet.

An Iranian actress known for her political activism in support of the country's reformists has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after facing security charges, newspapers reported Tuesday.

So much for the nonsense that the appointment of Rouhani means Iran's leadership is in a "reform" mode, as in more democratic, western mode and less expansionist and religiously motivated terror-supporting state mode. While the public face of Iran may have changed,for show to entice the credulous leftists of the west, it's ruling council that holds the real power has not.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dive 244 - Drills In Union Lake

Union Lake is getting colder, but the visibility is yet to improve, and some people are still putting their boats in and kicking up the bottom.

The lake was a consistent 52 degrees from the surface to 34 feet, which is as deep as we went today.

Pretty decent sized group diving today: Keith, Chad, Maki, Jeff, Fred and myself.

Today was also an opportunity to watch Chad and Keith drill the heck out of Fred as he's off to take a cave diving class in Florida in November, and they'll be going down to Florida with him to do some more advanced cave classes.

On the way out we passed the paddle boat

Then we tied off the flag

So Fred got to start to run a line

At 9 minutes into the dive:

Then they started beating on him:

That's a simulated valve failure where the other diver runs his primary regulator non-stop beside Fred's valve post. He needed to diagnose the problem and shut down the valve and go to his backup, which he did quite well.

Next they went out of air on him:

The out of air diver is in front breathing off Fred's primary long-hose, with Fred on his backup necklace regulator.

Fred did a good job the whole time.

Once that calmed down, Jeff and I did some valve drills.

Then we all stopped by the mirror to see how good we looked.

The mirror rests against the frame of a Model T:

Then it was time to untie the flag and head in.

I had my heated vest on under my drysuit and it helped chase the chill away, except by the end of the dive my hands were getting quite cold.

72 minutes of diving in 52 degrees of water - A good, cold dive full of good clean fun.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Festivities At Cranbrook

As members at Cranbrooks' Science Museum, We took the kids to their Science of Halloween night.

The kids had a blast.

The staff were all in costume, including this very impressive Darth Vader:

First on the agenda was the liquid nitrogen demonstration:

He also demonstrated how it could take the bloom off a rose real fast:

He tapped the dipped rose with the mallet and it broke into itty bitty rose pieces.

One of the cool things you can do with liquid nitrogen is make ice cream! Really good and really fast ice cream:

Take cream, sugar, milk, vanilla and add some liquid nitrogen and stir - a very creamy and delectable treat we all had a chance to sample:

Now I want some liquid nitrogen....

Then we went on to the presentation on, well, the question of the possibility of surviving dinosaurs still roaming the Earth today:

During the presentation, the mad scientist had to deal with PETD (People for the Ethical Treatment of Dinosaurs) protesters:

Silly protesters, Dinosaurs taste like chicken!

It turns out some have indeed survived:

And he was hungry:

Yes, it was corny as heck, but the kids loved it and a lot of science about dinosaurs was related in the tale.
After that, the kids went and made marker robots out of cups, markers, an electric motor and some tape and voila they had robots that would make artwork automatically.

Then we toured the fossil exhibits, some of which were already dressed for Halloween.

They had a very impressive huge prehistoric turtle fossil on display -

To see how big it really is, let's get a few people in the picture:

How big is it? 17 feet wide at the flippers, 15 feet long and it weighed 4,500 pounds when alive. Most impressive.

After that, we went to the bat house to see the creatures of the night. It was dark so no pictures for you, but again a great time.

The kids had a fantastic time, and the Cranbrook Science museum is well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Plastic Nail In The Gun Controller's Coffin

Widespread 3D Printing will make any claim to the potential for effective gun control to keep guns out of criminal's hands rather laughable.

The Detroit News: UK police cast doubt on 'gun parts' from 3-D printer

Note that this story comes to us from the place where Great Britain used to be - a small-sized island nation with borders that can presumably be sealed and movement of items scrutinized. Oh, and the UK has some of the strictest gun control and gun bans extant, yet unsurprisingly has heaps of violent crime (surpassing the United States) including gasp crime committed with guns.

Police in northern England thought they’d made a major discovery, but they may have jumped the gun.

Officers said Friday they had seized what appeared to be gun components made on a 3-D printer — then, hours later, cast doubt on the find after technology experts said photos released by police appeared to be of parts for the printer itself.

The police department in greater Manchester initially said officers found what appeared to be a plastic magazine and trigger, along with a 3-D printer, in a raid targeting criminal gangs.

Forensic specialists were examining the parts “to establish if they could construct a genuine device,” police said.

If the gun was viable, it would be the first such seizure in Britain, police said. Authorities worry the technology could allow anyone to manufacture guns that would pass unnoticed through metal detectors

While it is most likely a false alarm this time, when people desiring a firearm no longer need even the equipment found in a basic machine shop but can simply print out zip gun in the comfort of their own homes, the prog's vile dreams of effective gun control are all for naught.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Well, That's A Special Kind Of Journalistic Ignorance Right There

Many journalists don't seem to understand how businesses work, much less publicly-held corporations.

This could be because they've gone from jo-jobs right to the newsroom, stopping only in University to get a journalism degree how journalism's purpose, instead of reporting the news, is to "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable (unless the comfortable is a Democrat)".

In short they've likely never held a business position above asking if the buyer wants fries with that; or if madam would like a kerchief to match her dress; and thus have no clue how a business runs, the profit motive or the mystery of shareholder dividends. There's no room in a head full of mush to learn how the world actually works.

The Detroit Free Press' writer Ellen Creager certainly doesn't get it.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan Traveler: Hey, Delta, where's profit sharing for passengers?

Today, Delta Air Lines posted a $1.2-billion third-quarter profit. Billion with a B.

Most of it was from what’s officially called “passenger revenue” — you know, tickets, baggage fees, change fees and other fees that you and I pay to fly Detroit Metro’s biggest airline.

Thrilled Delta executives told investors that it “began returning capital to shareholders” with $51 million in dividend payments. It also touted its employee profit-sharing program — $357 million so far this year. It also said its fuel prices are way down and should stay that way. It’s predicting a good fourth quarter.

So I am very excited.

I am watching my mailbox and sitting by the telephone.

I am expecting that any day now, I will get notice from Delta that they are also going to share their profits with me!

The article rapid;y goes downhill form there, getting dumber by the sentence.

Ms. Creager, there's a very easy way to get a share of the profits - it's called buy some Delta Airlines stock.

Let's recall that airlines have been having a hard time of it for years now - 9/11, high fuel prices, and with the TSA groping their passengers, there's been a real crimp in the industry.

That Delta is finally showing a healthy profit should be celebrated, as healthy airlines mean competitive airlines where through the competition of multiple healthy airlines, ticket prices may decline or at least be held steady in these economically uncertain times.

Also, coming form the Detroit area, Delta should be celebrated for taking over the execrable Northwest Airlines and actually introducing Detroiters and South-Eastern Michiganders to a strange new concept - a flight that actually departs and arrives on time! We flew Delta from Detroit to SFO and back, and I have to say I was impressed with the fact that both flights were on time, with the first flight actually arriving in San Fran early, the efficiency of the Delta ground staff, and the competence and friendliness of the Delta cabin crew. I'm glad they're making a profit on their work so they'll keep doing it and hopefully do it even better in the future.

Yes, Delta isn't perfect, but the fact that it is finally making a profit should be celebrated and not castigated in the childish faux-naiveté fashion of her article.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More Detroit City Council Idiocy

It's not enough to the Detroit City Council that Detroit is so broke and has been so neglected by them, the fomer mayors and the rest of the Detroit political class that a recent survey of two neighborhoods in Detroit found at least 50% of all the streetlights didn't work, and its estimated that at least 40,000 of 88,000 streetlights in the city in total do not work.

When faced with a deal from the EFM that would settle the insane debt swaps the Kwame administration and city council went for that ended up costing the city dearly, and free up money for the city as a result, the City Council voted NO.

The deal would free up about $11 million per month in casino revenues currently tied up in the swaps.

It's a no-brainer and hopefully the EFM can overrule the city council on this one as they continue to play politics to cover their malfeasance in this affair and to play to their base and continue to ignore reality.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Detroit It's So Bad That The Few Good People Left Are On Their Own

An astonishing article in the Detroit Free Press, at least for those who don't live in Detroit, about how flagrant burglaries and home invasions have become in the city. So frequent that they're not even considered a high priority crime by the Detroit PD.

The Detroit Free Press: John Carlisle: Even in Detroit's best neighborhoods, home invasions steal residents' sense of peace

There were more than 13,000 burglaries in Detroit in 2012, according to FBI statistics — but the true figure is hard to gauge because residents say they often don’t report burglaries anymore, because police are slow to come out, or don’t come out at all.

In a city with so much violent crime, burglaries fall lower on the priority scale. “We don’t try to belittle the crime at all or pass it off, but we do have to prioritize,” said Sgt. Michael Woody, spokesman for the Detroit Police Department.

But burglaries in the city are so frequent that some people’s homes get broken into over and over, usually by the same thieves who come back to either steal their replacement items or get the second-tier things they didn’t get the first time.”

It's so bad that criminals are openly occupying abandoned houses or porches on streets to case the neighborhood to wait for law abiding citizens to leave their houses so they can break in and rob them.

Detroit has adopted the reverse-broken window theory, namely ignoring, under-reporting and indeed tolerating crime until it gets increasingly serious. As anyone could have told them, when you ignore serious crime and declare it a low priority, you get more of it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

San Francisco Day 5 - To The Superb Science Center and A Mediocre Night Bus Tour

For Day Five we got up early and jumped on the Big Bus hop on/hop off tour to go to Golden Gate Park.

The bus dropped us off at the entry to California Academy of Sciences which is located in the park, and after paying the rather steep admission fees we headed in.

With 3 floors and a living roof you can walk along, it's a huge facility with tons to see and do.

As you enter, you first view a Philippine reef site exhbiit, complete with black tip sharks:

Going down the stairs, you can see more of the reef in a viewing area, complete with a diver giving a lecture on the reef's ecosystem:

It's a very neat exhibit, and the Water Planet area comes complete with a touching pool where the kids (and adults) can pet starfish and sea urchins and you can see lots of different fish and marine life, including a tunnel you could walk through with fish swimming all around:

The living roof was interesting if you're into that sort of thing. Here's a view of the solar panels on the roof, surrounded by the grasses covering the rooftop, that they proudly proclaim as 18% efficient!:

Earthquakes are obviously an area of special scientific concern in California. We saw a very cool planetarium show on earthquakes and went on the earthquake simulator which was very cool as it replicated the feel of being in a house in both the 1906 and 1989 Earthquakes. Interestingly enough, after the simulator we got to talking with a lady near the exit and it turns out not only was she living there during the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake and he r house was damaged in the quake, but she had moved to California from West Bloomfield and had lived only a few blocks from where we are now - quite a small world.

Of course, there had to be snakes:

From this Anaconda:

To these very large Timber Rattlers. The one nearest the glass followed anyone who approached very intently and pretty clearly indicated that if that glass wasn't there he'd be merrily biting the hell out of the visitors to the center.

There was also a multi-tiered rainforest exhibit with yes, more snakes, including the flying snake that was kept behind glass.

We also got a chance to meet the star of the Center, Claude the Albino American Alligator.

Rumor has it they let him roam around the center at night to keep out trespassers.

We spent a very full day at the Academy with tons to see and do and I'd highly recommend it if you're visiting San Francisco. The kids learned a lot and had a great time doing it.

After the Academy of Sciences, we took a Big Bus night tour, which was part of the 48 hour Big Bus pass and the only let down of the trip. Even as the day Big Bus tour pass got us to the pickup point for the tour 30 minutes before it left, it was already packed and we were crammed into the lower area at the back of the bus. Not only did we miss the views available to those on top, which was the point of the trip as you couldn't see what the tour guide was talking about most of the time, but we also got to sit right against the engine and it was pouring out heat the whole trip - and no window could be opened either to relieve the heat. In short, it sucked.

The only upside to the night trip was we got out of the darn bus at Treasure Island and got a great view of the Bay Bridge at night:

In short, we could have easily passed on the night trip with no great loss and a lot less sweat.

On Day 6 we rose, after a night interrupted by drunks or lunatics yelling outside the hotel, had a quick bite and headed to the airport, and that was the end of our travels in San Francisco.

Some Quick thoughts on San Francisco:

1. It's a very walkable, vibrant city with tons to see and do and excellent restaurants.

2. It's absolutely overrun with the homeless, including drunks, beggars, and mental types screaming at all hours of the night, including right outside the hotel. I haven't seen this many vagabonds in so many places, just about every street corner had at least one or two.

3. Probably due to number 2, The city has got quite a smell about it, with many bus stops having quite a urine-like aroma and on the streets as well.

4. Mass transit is not bad there given the small size of the city and the bus lines made sense once you puzzled them out. But, whoever thought having two cars on a subway train at a time made sense needs to get their head examined - each subway was packed to the gills. They should look to Toronto where the subways have multiple cars and actually move enough people around so there's not crowds waiting as full subways keep passing them by. The transit system seems to work reasonably well otherwise, and the transfer system was very useful.

5. For all their claims about tolerance and respect for civil rights, the San Francisco municipal government certainly needs to learn to respect some essential civil rights a lot more there.

Basically, San Fran is SWPL heaven writ large. The city really appears to be its own bubble powered by the tech industry and isolated from the rest of the country's economic reality. A very nice place to visit for the most part, but you can't afford to live there with a family.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dive 243 Union Lake To The A-Aron Boat

Quite a group of us showed up this morning to dive Union Lake.

Brandon, Chad and Fred showed up with scooters. The Jeff, Nate and me, the three of us without scooters kicked the dive off on fins before the scooters got in the water.

The water is getting colder. Here's a shot of the gauge showing 59 degrees at 30 feet, 19 minutes into the dive. At 44 feet, it read 56 degrees.

On the way to the boat I found a golf ball:

Just Dive It.

So we kicked out to the north boat, which is a pretty distant swim, and found it had been renamed:

Where did the A-Aron variation in spelling come from you ask? From here:

So here I am by the newly named A-Aron boat:

Here's Jeff and Nate at the boat:

We then kicked over to the pontoon boat and did some drills including out of air drills and valve drills and then headed back in.

After 67 minutes, at the end of the dive, you could say we were getting tired.

A darn good dive.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

UnaFOIAdable - Wayne County Would Charge $1.6 Billion To Retrieve Emails In Response To A FOIA Request

One effective way to hide corruption is to make the cost of revealing it far too high.

Wayne County, Michigan (The corrupt county with its county seat being the corrupt city of Detroit) seems to have adopted this technique.

The Detroit News: Open records at issue in Detroit conference

Last year, Wayne County informed reporters that it would cost some $1.8 billion if they wanted months of emails from Executive Robert Ficano and three former aides.

The explanation: The county’s computer network would need to be backed up to retrieve a single email and lawyers would need to spend 66,000 hours — about 7 1/2 years working around the clock — reviewing all the data.

Anyone accepting that explanation at face value also invests in land in the Everglades and bridges for sale in the Brooklyn area. Clearly, they're hiding something, either that or their budget has a $1.6 Billion dollar hole in it somewhere.

Meanwhile counties that are well-organized, less corrupt, (and dare I say, not dominated by Democrats?) seem to be taking a different view:

Oakland County Deputy Executive Phil Bertolini said the rationale was simple: “It is a public record. The easier it is to get, the better.”

Imagine that.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Well That Would Suck.....

Small chance a big asteroid could hit Earth in 2032

From the Detroit Free Press:

As far as chances go, it's a lot more likely that an asteroid named 2013 TV135 will smash into our planet in 2032 than it is that you'll win Powerball.

But before you panic, know that the chances are still quite slim: one in 63,000; NASA says it is 99.998% positive the asteroid will fly by us.

. . .

But if it did hit, the impact would cause an explosion "50 times greater than the most powerful nuclear bomb ever used," the Telegraph reports.

Yeah, even though the chance of impact is slim, that would ruin your whole day.

An impact event will be even more terrible because the Obamacare exchanges still won't be working by 2032.....

Another Deep Shipwreck Discovered In Lake Superior

Hot on the heels of discovering the resting place of the Henry B. Smith, the same team has found the location of the missing Scotiadoc.

The 424-foot long Scotiadoc sank in 1953 after a collision. Sitting in 850-870 feet of water, it is far beyond recreational divers and a very, very select few technical divers. Far safer and far more likely that people will see it via research submarine or remotely operated vehicle.

The Detroit Free Press: Another sunken freighter found in Lake Superior

Yet another very cool find.

San Fran Trip Day 4 - Brunch and Seeing The Sights

The morning after the wedding we were invited to Jared's work for a brunch. His workplace is in an industrial area with a spectacular view near 8th Street and clost to where Zynga has an office.

Since it was way too far from the hotel to walk, we had to either take a cab or the bus, and Natasha came up with a briliant third option: Sign up for the Big Bus Tours Hop On/Hopp off tour bus that makes a circuit around San Fran and from one of the stops take a bus down 8th to the building.

So we bought a 48 hour pass for us and the kids and took the Big Bus route from the hotel to the stop nearest 8th and then took a Muni bus southward. Into quite an industrial, run down, and rather spotty area. We then found the building and got in without further problems.

The office had a balcony area with great landscaping and a spectacular view:

It was a very nice brunch with family and friends both old and new and then we headed off to catch a Big Bus for more of a tour of the city and its environs.

8th is a one-way street, so we were planning to walk up it to get to the Big Bus stop after having trouble figuring out where to get a Muni bus to take us back up in the direction we needed to go. However, we were clearly warned in no uncertain terms by quite a few helpful passers-by near the Zynga building that you simply do not walk up 8th street as it is unsafe, and they directed us where to go to find the right bus, which was very nice of them.

We took the Muni bus to the Big Bus stop and then got on with our tour.

This tour bus had a live guide and she added a lot of fun local content to the tour, other buses had recorded audio but the live guides were certainly better and a lot more fun and informative.

One of the stops was to see San Francisco's city hall:

We then drove by Golden Gate Park, which we were to visit the next day, and entered the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

H-A was the nexus for the hippies and the whole Season of Love thing, and apparently is still a locus of hippie culture and a distribution zone for lots of brownies with herbal additives in them (no, we did not get off to partake). We passed by the mural of Jimi Hendrix:

We took it over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito.

Going over the bridge on the top of the bus was very cool - the wind roared along and it was a very cool experience.

Sausalito is a very pretty and very expensive town across the way, with some lovely views of San Francisco. We had lunch there in an Italian cafe - the wood burning pizza oven made some incredible pizza.

Then we took the bus back to San Fran and got off at Union Square, where we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. First time having gone to one, and it was pretty full with a 20 minute wait to get a seat. It was worth it, and the cheesecake was at the very least to seriously maim for.

It was a very fun full day indeed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Michigan On Its Way To Becoming A Freer State

In the Michigan Senate, SB 610 was just introduced in the Judiciary Committee.

The bill reforms Michigan's law, with its current ban on short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles, ending the unconstitutional ban on them and allowing Michiganders (Michigunners in this case) to join the citizenry in the majority of other states where citizens can posses these items so long as they comply with Federal law.

Expect the usual uninformed hand-wringing about "blood in the streets". Ignore it as violent crimes with such legally owned Title 2 items are few to none with the emphasis on none.

A good step in the right direction for civil rights in Michigan.

If you're in Michigan, write your senator to support its passage and try to get it through the process to become law.

San Francisco Trip Day 3 - The Wedding

After the Mythbusters Show, we hurried back to the hotel to change and get ready for why we were in San Fran in the first place - the Wedding.

My little brother Dorian was getting married.

This was to be the first wedding to be held at the Mission Club, a new high-end bar and bowling alley in the Mission district of San Fran.

With all of both side's families there it was standing room only.

Here's the happy couple:

Yes, it's two good men, Dorian and Jared, getting married. It is San Francisco after all.

It was a rather mixed marriage: A Jew and a Mormon entered a bar, so they got married. By a Buddhist officiant, of course. And there was much rejoicing.

What conservative opponents of Gay Marriage are missing is the conservative case for Gay Marriage (libertarians have already got the "if it's consensual between consenting adults so what" part down pat):

Marriage is a stabilizing force that helps form families. While non-traditional, a couple in a stable loving relationship is certainly more desirable than not, and they're then far more invested in greater society as a result rather than being on the outside looking in.

I'm very happy that he's happy in what has been a real, long-standing, loving, and stable relationship with another great guy.

So surrounded by friends and family, these two took their vows and were legally married.

There was then a great party with speeches from the parents and then there was dancing with the first dance being the happy couple:

This was followed by eating, drinking with an open bar, and a sampling of fine Bourbons in the upstairs alcove, and more dancing.

And of course, there was bowling.

Quite simply, out of 20 or so weddings I've been to, this one was one of the best.

Congrats Dorian and Jared!