Monday, July 30, 2007

Hate Crime? Or Littering? You make the call

A student at Pace University in New York has been charged with a felony hate crime for placing a Quran (the Muslim holy book) in a toilet on the University's campus. I find these felony charges to be truly astonishing. No one was injured from the placing of the Quran into the toilet; to my knowledge, the Quran did not belong to anyone else, so he didn't damage someone else's property; at best this should be a littering or maybe a vandalism charge. But a hate crime? I don't agree with the whole concept of charging someone with a hate crime in the first place, but I see an even more dangerous slope being slipped on here. In the past, people who have been charged with hate crimes received the charge in conjunction with another, usually violent act - such as a skinhead beating up a black guy while shouting anti-black epithets, or something to that effect. The main charge is the beating, or the shooting which caused an actual injury, and then added penalties are tacked on for the "hate crime".

This is not the case in the Quran-in-the-toilet. The accused - one Stanislav Smulevich - did nothing more than place the Quran in a toilet, and now he has been charged with a felony simply for ruffling some feathers; something that is not difficult to do in the case of the oversensitive Muslim community which tends to have huge chip on their collective shoulder and is constantly looking for an excuse to seethe.

My regards to Michelle Malkin for beating me to the punch before I could manage to finish my post on this subject, but when I first heard about this case, some images from the past came immediately to mind. Mrs. Malkin has already posted some of them, which I will also, but I thought of a couple more that she didn't post. Before I display the images, let's think this through for a second. A man is charged with a felony for desecrating an object that is considered holy to some people. With that as the standard, where were the felony charges for the following?

Here is the first offending hate crime. A piece of "art" called Piss Christ, by "artist" Andres Serrano. It is a crucifix with Jesus on it submerged in a jar filled with the "artist's" own urine. To this date, Andres Serrano has not been charged with a felony hate crime.

This may not be a religious icon, but the American Flag is still a revered symbol that represents everything our country stands for, and millions of American men and women have fought, suffered, and died fighting for the ideals embodied in that flag. Shouldn't burning our flag constitute a hate crime? To my knowledge, the man in this photo has not been charged with a felony hate crime.

The above two pictures were posted by Michelle Malkin in her post, but I thought of two more examples that show the absurdity of a man being charged with a felony simply because he put a Quran in a toilet.

This is a painting (?) of the Virgin Mary which was created by "artist" Chris Ofili. Upon further inspection, you would find that one of the ingredients of the painting is elephant dung, and those butterfly looking things floating around the Virgin Mary are images of female genitalia that were clipped from dirty magazines. To this day, Chris Ofili has not been charged with a felony hate crime.

This photo was taken in Portland, Oregon earlier this year. The man with his pants pulled down is defecating on an American Flag, which it appears, is also on fire just a little bit. Now, you could easily arrest this moron for public indecency, or littering, or violating toxic waste laws, but to this date, this man has not been charged with a felony hate crime.

People who would try to justify the felony charges against Mr. Smulevich, would undoubtedly argue that Smulevich committed his act on public property, rather than on private property. However, it is quite easy to see that every one of the images you see above also occurred on public property. Even worse is the fact that both of the works of "art" that are pictured were not only on public display, but their display and, in the case of Serrano's abomination, their creation, were financed with public funds.

I have spent much of my post speaking in hyperbole and asking rhetorical questions. I want to make clear however, that although all the images above thoroughly disgust me, in none of those cases would I even dream of charging any of the idiots responsible with a hate crime. No one in this country has a right to not be offended. If someone burns a flag on the courthouse steps, by all means, arrest him for endangering people with a big burning cloth. If someone defecates on a flag on a public sidewalk, by all means, arrest him for exposing himself and for dropping a dirty dookie where people walk. If someone dunks a crucifix in urine, then by all means, walk up to him and call him the asshole that he has proved himself to be. But charge these people for a felony simply because of what they think and believe? Before you know it, I could be arrested for speaking out against the teachers unions!

As the old quote goes, "Actions speak louder than words." The actions of Slanislav Smulevich hurt nothing and no one except the easily bruised sensibilities of a bunch of people who spend their lives looking for ways to be offended. Now if Mr. Smulevich had walked up to a Muslim and thrown a Quran at the Muslim and beaned him in the head, then by all means, book him... but only for assault, not for hating a Muslim.

Good Day to You, Sir

Scroll these names...

... then find out at the end why I listed them:

1. ARISTIDIO - 10-57


3. JUAN CHANG - 9-57


5. EUTIMIO GUERRA - 2-18-57



8. "EL NEGRO" NÁPOLES - 2-18-57

9. "CHICHO" OSORIO - 1-17-57




1. RAMÓN ALBA - 1-3-59**



4. FÉLIX CRUZ - 1-1-59



7. J. MIRABAL- 1-59


9. CORNELIO ROJAS - 1-7-59**

10. VILALLA - 1-59


12. CANO DEL PRIETO - 1-7-59**


14. JOSÉ GRIZEL SEGURA - 1-7-59** ( Manacas)

15. ARTURO PÉREZ PÉREZ - 1-24-59**


17. FRANCISCO ROSELL - 1-11-59




2. PEDRO SOCARRÁS - 1-12-59**



1. VILAU ABREU - 7-3-59





6. PEDRO ALFARO - 7-25-59

7. MARIANO ALONSO - 7-1-59

8. JOSÉ ALVARO - 3-1-59


10. ANIELLA - 1959

11. MARIO ARES POLO - 1-2-59

12. JOSÉ RAMÓN BACALLAO - 12-23-59**

13. SEVERINO BARRIOS - 12-9-59**

14. EUGENIO BÉCQUER - 9-29-59


16. RAMÓN BISCET - 7-5-59


18. EUFEMIO CANO - 4-59





23. RAÚL CASTAÑO - 5-30-59

24. EUFEMIO CHALA - 12-16-59**

25. JOSÉ CHAMACE - 10-15-59

26. JOSÉ CHAMIZO - 3-59

27. RAÚL CLAUSELL - 1-28-59

28. ÁNGEL CLAUSELL - 1-18-59


30. JOSÉ CLAUSELL - 1-29-59

31. ELOY CONTRERAS 1-18-59

32. ALBERTO CORBO - 12-7-59**

33. EMILIO CRUZ PEREZ - 12-7-59**

34. ORESTES CRUZ - 1959

35. ADALBERTO CUEVAS - 7-2-59**

36. CUNI - 1959

37. ANTONIO DE BECHE - 1-5-59

38. MATEO DELGADO - 12-4-59

39. ARMANDO DELGADO - 1-29-59


41. JOSÉ DÍAZ CABEZAS - 7-30-59


43. ANTONIO DUARTE - 7-2-59


45. RUDY FERNÁNDEZ - 7-30-59

46. FERRÁN ALFONSO - 1-12-59

47. SALVADOR FERRERO - 6-29-59


49. EDUARDO FORTE - 3-20-59

50. UGARDE GALÁN - 1959



53. ALBERTO GARCÍA - 6-6-59

54. JACINTO GARCÍA - 9-8-59

55. EVELIO GASPAR - 12-4-59**








7. OSCAR GUERRA - 3-9-59








15. RAÚL HERRERA - 2-18-59

16. JESÚS INSUA - 7-30-59


18. SILVINO JUNCO - 11-15-59

19. ENRIQUE LA ROSA - 1959



22. ARIEL LIMA LAGO - 8-1-59 ( Minor)

23. RENE LÓPEZ VIDAL - 7-3-59

24. ARMANDO MAS - 2-17-59

25. ONERLIO MATA - 1-30-59


27. ELPIDIO MEDEROS - 1-9-59

28. JOSÉ MEDINA - 5-17-59

29. JOSÉ MESA - 7-23-59

30. FIDEL MESQUÍA DIAZ - 7-11-59


32. JOSÉ MILIAN PÉREZ - 4-3-59


34. LUIS MIRABAL - 1959


36. PEDRO MOREJÓN - 3-59

37. DR. CARLOS MUIÑO, M.D. - 1959



40. JOSÉ NUÑEZ - 3-59

41. VITERBO O'REILLY - 2-27-59

42. FÉLIX OVIEDO - 7-21-59

43. MANUEL PANEQUE - 8-16-59

44. PEDRO PEDROSO - 12-1-59**



47. DIEGO PÉREZ CRELA - 04-03-59

48. JOSÉ POZO - 1959

49. EMILIO PUEBLA - 4-30-59

50. ALFREDO PUPO - 5-29-59


52. RAMÓN RAMOS - 4-23-59

53. PABLO RAVELO JR. 9-15-59


55. MARIO RISQUELME - 1-29-59

56. FERNANDO RIVERA - 10-8-59

57. PABLO RIVERO - 5-59


59. MARCOS RODRÍGUEZ - 7-31-59


61. PABLO RODRÍGUEZ - 10-1-59



64. JOSÉ SALDARA - 11-9-59

65. PEDRO SANTANA - 2-59

66. SERGIO SIERRA - 1-9-59

67. JUAN SILVA - 8-59

1. FAUSTO SILVA - 1-29-59

2. ELPIDIO SOLER - 11-8-59


4. RENATO SOSA - 6-28-59

5. SERGIO SOSA - 8-20-59

6. PEDRO SOTO - 3-20-59

7. OSCAR SUÁREZ - 4-30-59

8. RAFAEL TARRAGO - 2-18-59



11. JOSÉ TIN - 1-12-59



14. TRUJILLO - 1959


16. MARCELINO VALDÉS - 7-21-59

17. ANTONIO VALENTÍN - 3-22-59

18. MANUEL VÁZQUEZ - 3-22-59

19. SERGIO VÁZQUEZ - 5-29-59

20. VERDECIA - 1959

21. DÁMASO ZAYAS - 7-23-59

22. JOSÉ ALVARADO - 4-22-59

23. LEONARDO BARÓ - 1-12-59


25. ElADIO CARO - 1-4-59

26. CARPINTOR - 1959



29. CORPORAL ORTEGA - 7-11-59








37. ALBERTO CAROLA - 6-5-59

38. EVARISTO GUERRA - 2-8-59


40. PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ - 1-10-59


So why did I list these names? These are the authenticated names of people who were either personally executed or ordered to be executed by Ernesto "Che" Guevara. There are plenty of other people who should be listed, but in the chaos of their "glorious" revolution, it is hard to obtain documents that can verify other executions that undoubtedly happened on the orders of Guevara.

This list comes from an article released by FrontPageMagazine. The impetus for the article is that there are two apparently fawning movies coming soon out of Hollywood about Che Guevara. One of these movies stars actor Benicio Del Toro, who does have an uncanny resemblance to Guevara.

As someone who has done extensive reading about the atrocities committed by Che Guevara, it will be interesting to see how much of his butchery is portrayed, and if it is, how it is explained. If his gleeful enthusiasm for executions is played out on the movie screen, I am willing to bet that the execution victims will be portrayed in a way that makes it look like they deserve it.

Of course, the tongue-clucking part of all this is that, as the article points out, many of the same people who love Che Guevara and wear his likeness on their chest, are often the same people who oppose capital punishment and fought to keep murderers like Tookie Williams from his date with the death chamber. Apparently, capital punishment is OK after all, as long as it is a greedy bourgeois capitalist who is getting a bullet in the head.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A clarification of my motives

I received a package in the mail today. It was my initial membership paperwork from the Association of American Educators (AAE), which is the professional educators association to which I will belong instead of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and National Education Association (NEA).

I previously blogged about my decision to leave the Teachers Union, and I wanted to take the time to lay out in greater detail, the reasons for my decision.

It is not the case for every state in the Union, but in California, if you want to be a public schoolteacher, you must pay dues to the Teachers Union, which in our case is the CTA. Notice I didn't say you must be a member; but you must pay the dues. Even if you choose not to join the CTA, you must still pay dues to them. The dues you pay are divvied up between the NEA, the CTA, and your local union organization in your district. Much of these dues go toward the yearly contract negotiations between the teachers and their district, but a good-sized chunk of a teacher's yearly union member dues goes toward pet political projects and activism that leaders of the union choose to support.

If you are a union member teacher who is a leftist or a Democrat (or both), I'm sure you are usually quite happy about where your union dues are being spent in regards to political activism. However, if you are a union member teacher who is an unrepentant conservative-libertarian like myself, then you are most likely afflicted with a sense of revulsion when you see where your union dues are being spent, and that is why I recently sent my resignation letter to the CTA/NEA and my local organization.

To give you an idea of what I find revolting, here is a partial list of some of the donations that were made by the NEA in 2004-2005, when I was paying my full dues like a good little union member. This list comes from the EIA blog, which is a very well respected resource:
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC): $45,000 - This is a pro-illegal alien organization which calls for opening our borders.
  • Protect Our Public Schools: $500,000. The anti-charter school campaign in Washington state. - I support charter schools; why would I want to fund an organization trying to do away with charter schools?
  • North Carolina Democratic Party Building Fund: $25,000 - I sure as hell don't want to support the Democrats in any way, shape, or form!
  • The Fund to Protect Social Security: $400,000 - I think Social Security should be relegated to the ash heap of history. Why would I want to fund its protection?
  • Rock the Vote Education Fund: $10,000 - A thinly veiled attempt by MTV to persuade their young minions to vote for leftists and/or Democrats.
  • Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition: $14,000 - Anything with the word progressive in it should set off warning alarms.
  • Alliance for Nevada's Working Families: $250,000 - As should the term working families, which usually means non-families who don't work. A rich family is also a working family, but I'm sure that is not what this group has in mind.
  • Amnesty International: $5,000 - An America-hating organization that often turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by governments which share AI's leftist politics.
  • Center for Women Policy Studies: $5,000 - A feminist organization that calls for taxpayer-funded abortions on demand.
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation: $39,940 - A bunch of congressional leftists who once tried to exclude a black congressman because he was a Republican. I thought they were the "Black" Caucus; not the "Black Democrat" Caucus.
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute: $35,000 - Not to mention, I get testy about these segregated organizations in the first place. Wasn't the idea of the Civil Rights Movement to get rid of this kind of thing?
  • Economic Policy Institute: $45,000 - A pro-socialist organization whose motto says it all: Research for broadly shared prosperity
  • Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund: $5,000 - MALDEF is another pro-illegal alien organization which advocates open borders, free college tuition for illegal aliens, and voting rights for criminals.
  • National Association for Bilingual Education: $5,000 - I don't support bilingual education; why would I want to fund efforts for its continuation?
  • National Council of La Raza: $7,900 - A pro-reconquista, pro-illegal alien organization. La Raza means The Race, and that's what these people are: a bunch of racists.
  • National Women's Law Center: $5,000 - Another feminist group calling for taxpayer-supported abortion-on-demand. They are also a bunch of Title IX zealots who believe that if not enough women are engaging in sports, then it is all the fault of us men, and that men's sports teams should be cut in the name of fairness.
  • National Alliance of Black School Educators: $30,000 - I'm sure it's a fine organization, but I do not support this trend of self-imposed racial segregation. Describe for me the reaction if there was a National Alliance of White School Educators?
  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards: $5,000
  • Human Rights Campaign: $15,000
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN): $5,000 - There is quite a contrast between benign indifference to the gay lifestyle - which is my philosophy - and support of these three radical gay groups who advocate the teaching of homosexuality to kindergartners, and the teaching of "fisting" and other non-intercourse sexual techniques to high schoolers.
  • Rainbow/PUSH Coalition: $5,000 - Jesse Jackson's racist extortion racket: "Hello multi-billion dollar corporation! Either you donate a few million dollars to Rainbow/PUSH, or I am going to the media and tell them you are a bunch of racists... even though you're not."
  • Democratic Leadership Council: $25,750 - Again, I don't want to support the Democrat party. And where is the NEA's financial support for Republican organizations? Didn't you know about 1/3 of NEA members are Republican?
  • Wellstone Memorial Fund: $5,000 - The late Minnesota senator, Paul Wellstone - God rest his soul - was a loony left-wing moonbat. I don't want to support any part of his memorial fund.
  • Children's Defense Fund: $10,648 - Headed by Hillary Clinton crony, Marian Wright Edelman. This group constantly calls for increased welfare spending, no matter how ludicrously wasteful it is, along with socialized medicine and higher taxes to pay for it all.
  • People for the American Way: $51,200 - The tens of thousands of dollars given to this Orwellian-named organization may well be the most insulting donation of all. PfAW is a despicable organization that finances just about every destructive, deceitful, loony left-wing cause under the sun. It sickens me to think that my union dues went to pay for anything those moonbats did.
And two more interesting items:
  • Joe Ragan's Coffee, Ltd.: $25,962 - That's alotta java!
  • Initial Tropical Plants, Inc.: $42,472
You mean I have to pay for their office decor and their coffee too?

As an Agency Fee Payer, I am still required by California state law to pay all union dues that go toward paying for teacher contract negotiation, even though I am not a member of the union anymore. The difference is that now that I am no longer a union member, the union must return to me the amount I pay that would have gone toward their political activism. From what I have heard from teachers who have done this, out of about $900 in annual union dues, they get back around $300. Since my annual membership fee for the AAE is only $150, this all works out quite nicely. The bottom line is that my hard earned money will no longer go toward supporting any of the crap that you see listed above. Maybe some of you readers support one or more of these organizations; that is fine by me. Give all the money to them that you want. But what angers me is that as a teachers union member, I had no choice about supporting these organizations, even though I find them to be abhorrent.

In addition to their heinous political activity, lets talk for a second about salary. Teachers make somewhere between, say, $30,000 and $70,000 a year. Let's see what employees at the NEA make. This quote is from an illuminating article from the Wall Street Journal about the NEA's spending habits:
We already knew that the NEA's top brass lives large. Reg Weaver, the union's president, makes $439,000 a year. The NEA has a $58 million payroll for just over 600 employees, more than half of whom draw six-figure salaries. Last year the average teacher made only $48,000, so it seems you're better off working as a union rep than in the classroom.
What further angers me is that as a non-union member, even though I still will be required to pay all union dues pertaining to contract negotiations, I am no longer eligible to hold union office, or to even vote on the contract that my dues helped pay for. There is the "pro-worker" union for you. Even with that bit of sacrifice, I am ecstatic that I am no longer associated with these charlatans who run the state and national teachers unions with such disregard for the beliefs of a significant portion of their membership.

Good Day to You, Sir

Friday, July 27, 2007

Skewed priorities regarding local graffiti

Here is a "man bites dog" story if I ever saw one. The other day, some racist, Nazi, anti-black graffiti was found scrawled on a bike path in the Natomas area of Sacramento.

I have linked to pictures of the graffiti, but I will post one pic here just in case the link ever becomes no good:

That is indeed a hateful, racist, and horrible thing to do, and I condemn whoever did it. However, my question is why did this make local headlines in the Sacramento Bee and the lead story on the local TV news stations, when graffiti like the following can be found all over the place on a daily basis:

Graffiti like this may not be as "sexy" as the racist scrawls that have everyone in such a tizzy, but the violence that is borne out of this common gangland graffiti kills a hell of a lot more minorities than the relatively rare white racist graffiti that is apparently rare enough that it makes the newspapers and the local TV news when it is discovered.

If people want to wax indignant about hateful graffiti, how about concentrating their efforts on the graffiti that truly leads to the excessive violence that is turning vast segments of the city of Sacramento and other cities around the country into the hellholes that they are.

You see this same syndrome when there are protests and riots in the street when a police officer shoots a black suspect, but the crickets chirp when yet another black thug guns down yet another black victim. It is all about going for the easy feel-good position that makes one feel superior. Until these professional grievance mongers can get their priorities straight, I'm not going to lose much sleep about how upset they are about the swastikas that are spray-painted on the sidewalks.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To whom do I appeal this one?

Free Online Dating

The funny thing is that the biggest factor listed when I checked my blog rating is because the word "gun" is mentioned twelve times in my almost 500 posts... that and I have used the word "bitch" twice.

Click on the flag if you want to know if your blog is naughty or nice.

Good Day to You, Sir

Monday, July 23, 2007

Taking the sans-union plunge

On Saturday, I mailed off a resignation letter to the California Teachers Association. I had previously mailed an application to the Association of American Educators (, which is a professional organization for teachers that provides legal representation and insurance but doesn't spend any of my dues on left-wing politics (or any politics for that matter) like the NEA/CTA does.

Every year, I have read articles about how the NEA and CTA spend their money, and about the stupid resolutions that are passed at their yearly conventions; resolutions that have noting to do with education (minimum wage, gay marriage, the Iraq War, etc.). I couldn't stand it anymore.

There is a famous quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson. He said, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." As long as I was a member of the Teachers Union, I was being compelled to furnish money for beliefs which I do not share or support. That is now coming to an end. From now on, the CTA will be required - by law - to return to me all of the dues I pay that would have gone to political activism on their part. With that returned money, I can easily pay my $150-per-year dues to the AAE. Not a bad deal.

For more information about Teachers and the role of the Unions in their profession, visit the site for the California Teachers Empowerment Network (CTEN) located on my blogroll at left.

Good Day to You, Sir

She said what?

Maybe this photo of Mother Sheehan and me isn't such a travesty after all. It seems that after taking way too long to figure it out, Cindy Sheehan has finally discovered what a bunch of hypocritical slimeballs the Democrats tend to be, and is supposedly going to run against Gloria Swanson-wannabe, Nancy Pelosi for Pelosi's San Francisco congressional seat.

As part of her media blitz, Sheehan wrote a column for the San Francisco Chronicle where she said some rather surprising things about the Jackass Party. The money quote was this one:
I was a lifelong Democrat only because the choices were limited. The Democrats are the party of slavery and were the party that started every war in the 20th century, except the other Bush debacle. The Federal Reserve, permanent federal income taxes, not one but two World Wars, Japanese concentration camps, and not one but two atom bombs dropped on the innocent citizens of Japan -- all brought to us via the Democrats.
I still think Sheehan is a loon in many respects - calling the head-chopping terrorists in Iraq, "Freedom Fighters" comes immediately to mind - but I have to give her credit where credit is due when she has the stones to mention the Democrat party's long legacy of slavery, whether it be their past and present efforts to keep the black man down, or their continuing efforts to enslave us all by denying us a choice regarding income taxes and the dysfunctional government school system.

Atta girl Cindy! Now please go back to Vacaville.

You want to see what I am talking about regarding Nancy Pelosi and Gloria Swanson? Please observe this juxtaposition of Pelosi on one of the talking-head shows and Swanson from Sunset Boulevard:


Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another trip to God's Country

As far as being true God's Country, this place was pushing it, but all in all, I think it qualifies.

My family and I of course live in Sacramento, while my brother and his family live in Las Vegas. With our hectic lives, it can be rather difficult to synchronize schedules so that we may visit. It was rather important that we see each other soon, because we each had a new child that neither had ever met. My daughter was born in April of 2006, and his son was born in September of 2006, but we had yet to meet each other's new additions. At the same time, the last time we had seen each other's older children - they are both three and only two months apart in age - they were younger than our younger children are now. Yes, I know, I have confused you. The bottom line is that I hadn't seen my brother for two years, so a visit was overdue. What we decided on was to split the distance. The original plan was to meet in Bakersfield, because it is roughly halfway between Sacto and Vegas. We were never really enthused about meeting in Bakersfield because quite simply, the city is a dump, and in July, it is a very hot dump.

Instead, we agreed to meet at Lake Isabella, which is in the Sierra foothills east of Bakersfield, but still equidistant between Sacto and Vegas. Lake Isabella is still hot in the summer, but at least it is somewhat rural, and in the mountains. We ended up renting a house for the weekend, but instead of getting one on the lake - which would be much more expensive - we rented one that was eight miles away from the lake and was nestled up in the forests of the southern Sierra Nevada.

I have been to a lot of places in California, but this area to which we were going was one with which I was very unfamiliar. After looking at a map to plot our route to the rental house, I found that we would have to travel south from Sacramento on HWY 99 to a town called Delano, which is about 30 miles north of Bakersfield. At Delano (which is just an absolute armpit in case you're wondering), we would get onto HWY 155 and travel east toward and into the Sierra Nevada for about 50 miles, where we would reach the rental house, which lay just off HWY 155 near the town of Wofford Heights. Here is a map to orient you. I have drawn a rectangle around the area in question. You can click on the map for a closer look:

Now, even though I had never been to this area, I know enough about California's geography and map reading to come to a startling conclusion. Let's do the math. I knew that Delano was a farm town in the Central Valley and probably lay at an elevation of no more than 100 feet above sea level. I knew that our rental house was at approximately 6,500 feet above sea level. Yet, the trip from Delano to our house was only 50 miles. Not to mention that the mileage would be even less if you count from when you leave the the Central Valley and actually start to climb into the foothills, then you are talking no more than 40 miles to go from 100 feet or so, to 6,500 feet or so. Therefore, my conclusion was that this ride from Delano to Wofford Heights was going to be one curvy, steep S.O.B. of a drive. I hate it when I'm right.

I have driven some steep curvy roads in my lifetime, but they all pale in comparison to this one. The 50 mile drive took almost two hours, because once you get into the mountain part of the journey, the curves and the severe uphill limit you to about 25 mph... 30 mph if you're lucky. I had never seen anything like it. My wife and my daughter both got carsick, although neither expelled anything. The other part of the journey I found interesting was the different vegetation. Up north where I live, if you travel to 5,000 or 6,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada, you are going to be surrounded by Pine, Fir, Cedar - It looks like a forest. Down south, we were at almost 6,000 feet and nearing the end of our journey, and we were still surrounded by scrub and oak trees. Then suddenly and dramatically, we went around a bend in the road
and literally, the vegetation instantly changed to the familiar evergreen forest I had been anticipating.

The rental house was just past the summit of this long climb. If you wanted to go to Wofford Heights to get groceries or something, you had to drive 8 miles down the hill from our house to the town. Now lets do some more math! The rental house is at approximately 6,500 feet. Wofford Heights is at about 2,000 feet, and there is 8 miles of distance between the two. I didn't feel like I was driving to Wofford Heights; I felt like I was falling to Wofford Heights! Before this trip, the steepest downhill grade I had ever driven was 7%; you've seen the signs warning truckers to check their brakes and all that. Beginning the descent into Wofford Heights, we passed a sign warning us of a 12% (!!!) downhill grade ahead. Then we passed another sign that said All Vehicles: Use lower gears for the next 8 miles. Holy Crap! Use lower gears my arse! I had our Honda Pilot in first gear, yet I still had to use the brakes because we were gaining too much speed and the tachometer was reading 6,000 RPM on the engine. By the time we neared the bottom of the hill, I could smell our brakes.

I found it funny that just looking at the California map and mulling over the distances and elevations in my mind, I had a pretty good idea that the ride would be interesting. It was.

I did manage to snap some pretty photos. I will show the rental house and its surrounding area first.

You can barely see it, but there is a large pine tree growing right through the roof of the house, above the front window on the right. Hence, this house is called "The Tree House". Get it?

The view from the back deck is quite striking though. Behind the house is Sequoia National Forest for miles around.

My son and his cousin certainly enjoyed being boys in the woods! My son is in the striped shirt. And full disclosure: My wife took this photo, not me. Great shot, Honey! Nice use of shadow.

Meanwhile, just a scant 8 miles away, the landscape quickly changes from high evergreen forest to rock and scrub near the lake. Nevertheless, I find the harsh looking landscape to be quite beautiful in its own right:

It's not exactly Mount Shasta, but it's mountains ain't it? Additionally, the Kern River runs through these parts on its way to Lake Isabella. My brother and I took the older kids into the drink with us:

Just so you know who is who, I'm on the far right, and my son is wearing the green baseball cap. One of the funniest things about this entire trip is that we never even went to Lake Isabella, let alone took any pictures of it. We had enough fun up at the Tree House, I guess. I have most certainly been to prettier parts of California, but there were enough redeeming features about this place to make photographing it just worth my while.

Good Day to You, Sir

Four Things Meme

I have been tagged by Polski3 (see blogroll), so without further ado:

Four jobs I have had:
1. Bagboy/stocker in a grocery store
2. Pump jockey at a gas station (this was in 1987-88 when people didn't always pump their own gas)
3. Soldier in the U.S. Army (administration, investigation, and postal functions mostly)
4. File clerk at an insurance company (worst 8 months of my life! Seriously.)

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Saving Private Ryan (The combat sequences are just breathtaking)
2. Patton (George C. Scott turns in one of the best acting performances in history)
3. Good Will Hunting (Profane, hilarious, and touching)
4. Predator ("Bunch of slack-jawed faggots around here. This stuff'll make you a Goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus... just like me." Best. Line. Ever. And uttered by a former governor of Minnesota no less)
5. Stakeout (Luuuucy, you got some esplainin' to dooooo!)
6. Jaws (Robert Shaw's adlibbed story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis always sends chills down my spine)

Yes, I know that was six instead of four, but I take my movies very seriously. My proper list would number about 20 or 30 at least!

Four places I have lived:
1. California (five different towns)
2. Giessen, Germany
3. Skopje, Macedonia
4. Fort Lewis/Tacoma, Washington

Four books I love:
1. Treason by Ann Coulter
2. Proverbs in the Bible
3. Pictorial History of the Civil War by Paul Angle
4. The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald
5. The Bathroom Reader series by the Bathroom Reader Institute
6. Original Intent by David Barton

What can I say? I take my books very seriously too!

Four places I have vacationed:
1. Paris, France
2. Rome, Italy
3. Positano, Italy
4. Happy Camp, California (Yes, it is a real place! Look it up.)

Four of my favorite dishes (Yes Polski, I assume it means food!):
1. Any plate with seafood and pasta mixed together.
2. Polenta with sausage and tomato sauce
3. Fried chicken
4. Fish tacos from Rubio's (I have yet to find a better fish taco, and believe me, I have looked!)

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Neal Boortz's Nealz Nuze
2. Michelle Malkin/Hot Air (two different websites run by the same person)
3. World Net Daily
4. Little Green Footballs

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Mount Shasta, California area
2. Sipping coffee and eating a chocolate croissant and a quiche lorraine at a boulangerie in the Porte Doree district of Paris, France
3. Walking the battlefield at Gettysburg
4. San Francisco (It's a screwy town, but I do love it so)

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. Feel free to put it in the comments section if you don't have your own blog. Darren, c'mon buddy, let's hear it!

Good Day to You, Sir

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Return from God's Country

For the last few days, a buddy of mine named Mike and I, having bid farewell to our wives and children, braved the mountains of the Shasta-Trinity wilderness of Northern California, and went camping on the shore of a beautiful alpine lake located about 20 miles west of Mount Shasta. The scenery was breathtaking, the lake water was refreshing, and the peaceful isolation was nourishing.

I took about a hundred pictures, so I present to you the best of the best right here. I feel so privileged that I had the opportunity to camp in the Mount Shasta area, which is one of my favorite places on the entire planet.

Mike and I stopped in Mount Shasta city to buy some coffee filters and eat some lunch, then we departed for Little Toad Lake. We drove about five miles on a paved road, then another 12 miles on a rough dirt road which ended in a little parking area. From the parking area, we had to negotiate a rather steep 1/2 mile hike to the lake. Mike looks ready to do some walkin'!

One we arrived at the lake, there was one other party camping there already, so we hiked to the opposite side of the lake and found this spot. It had a picnic table, a fire ring, and a nice open spot for a tent, and as you can see, the spot had plenty of shade and was right on the lake. It was perfect!

We had arrived at the campsite in the late afternoon, so the sun started to go down soon thereafter. As dusk was settling, I was rather startled to turn around and see a deer in the campsite. I was even more startled when the deer didn't run as I walked over to my pack to get my camera. This is a very seldom used lake, so I am at a loss to fully explain the docility of the deer.
The next morning, after a breakfast of fruit and oatmeal, Mike and I set off on a hike. The first part of the trail took us out of the basin in which the lake is located. Near the top of the first ridge, I looked back and got my first view of the lake from a distance. Past the lake, you can see Mount Shasta looming behind me in the early morning haze.

Mike and I hiked for a good four or five hours, covering about eight to ten miles by our estimation. Toad Lake lies right along the Pacific Crest Trail, so much of our hiking was done on that. Occasionally however, we left the trail and climbed to the top of ridges like this to get a better overall view.

We went back to our starting point on the ridge above the lake, then took off on the Pacific Crest Trail in the opposite direction. This hike took us along a barren ridge line that gave us breathtaking and unobstructed views of the wilderness below. The following pictures give you an idea:

It was a tough hike, and we were glad to get back to our campsite, but the funny thing is that we really didn't feel all that sore, even for a couple of out of shape men in their mid to late 30s. After returning to camp, we swam in the lake, read books, and decompressed after hiking for the previous five hours. That night, the group of people who had camped across the lake were gone, and Mike and I had the entire lake to ourselves. There wasn't a soul in sight for probably at least 8 or 10 miles. I can't remember the last time I felt that isolated:

To make things even more interesting that night, there was a major thunderstorm going on way off in the distance. The trees to our southwest were silhouetted by the constant flashing of lighting. The storm was so far away that we never heard any thunder, but just to be safe, we covered our stuff with a poncho, and put up the fly on the tent to keep out any possible rain. We never did get any rain.

The next morning, I woke up around 6am, and the lake was like a mirror. As the sun came up, I pointed my camera at the water and captured these images:

After the sun came up the rest of the way, Mike and I ate some breakfast, and I took one more dip in the lake. We then packed up and prepared to leave this little piece of heaven. As we walked away from our campsite and headed toward my car which would return us to civilization, Mike snapped this fitting picture that will end this presentation. Here I am doing one of the things that I love to do best:

And that is the story from God's Country. I can't wait to do it again!

Good Day to You, Sir

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My New Hero

Whilst vacationing at the beach house in Aptos, my brother-in-law and I were watching some cable TV one night, and we caught a show on the Discovery Channel that I think is one of the coolest shows I have seen in a while. It is called Man vs. Wild. It stars a man's man named Bear Grylls. This guy just impresses the hell out me. He served three years in the British Special Air Services (SAS), which is comparable to our Delta Force in the United States. He scaled to the top of Mount Everest at the age of 23, and has done other feats of derring-do that I would never attempt myself.

Man vs. Wild is a very simple show. Bear is flown over some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth, such as the Kimberly Wilderness in western Australia, the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada in California, and the Amazon, then he skydives into these places with nothing more than the clothes he is wearing, a knife (sometimes), and a canteen. Once he lands, he takes the role of a stranded hiker, or lost tourist, and shows the audience how to survive in these situations. In just three episodes, I have seen demonstrations of field techniques (some I learned in the Army) of how to orient yourself, navigate, build shelters out of local flora, plants you can use to find moisture and even clean your teeth, how to build a fire without matches, and various other things that are so simple and can keep you alive when you don't have anything else.

One of my favorite parts of the show is when Bear is having trouble finding food. He is not above eating bugs such as spiders and ants, and while in the Sierra Nevada, he caught a small non-poisonous water snake, bit its head off, and swallowed that snake like a thick piece of spaghetti. He also kills and eats a rabbit, a rattlesnake, a python, piranha, trout, and fir tree needles. Did you know fir tree needles have eight times the amount of Vitamin C that orange juice does? I didn't either until I watched this show. Needless to say, I doubt PETA members are fans of this show. I could just hear their distressful shrieks when Bear killed a wittle bunny wabbit with a club made out of a stick of cedar. So in addition to watching some great survival techniques, the show also tosses a jab at the sensitive animal lovers out there.

This show was a timely discovery, because tomorrow, I leave for a short camping trip with a buddy of mine, and I would like to try some of the simpler techniques (such as the stick method for finding east and west) once I'm in the woods.

In the meantime, check out this show. I am definitely going to start DVRing it.

Good Day to You, Sir

The machines... they're alive!

Have you ever seen the (not so good) movie Maximum Overdrive? Released in 1986 and starring a young Emilio Estevez, the movie was inspired by a Stephen King novella in which machines on earth, including trucks, cars, and even soda vending machines come to life and try to kill us humans. In one scene, an unmanned military jeep with an M-60 machine gun mounted on the back approaches some humans holed up in a restaurant, and the M-60, by itself, begins firing at the people inside.

Sometimes, I think the anti-gun crowd believe that guns can really do that. Oh, you don't believe me? Check out the front-page, above-the-fold headline in today's Sunday Sacramento Bee. In bold white letters against a dark background photo of some confiscated rifles and shotguns, the headline is: Sacramento's KILLER GUNS. No, this is not an ad for an upcoming movie, this is the headline in a major American daily newspaper. That's right folks, guns get up in the morning and decide that they are going to kill someone, then the guns go out and spontaneously fire at passersby... or something like that. That's what came to my mind when I read this insipid headline.

Reading further into the article, the blame (other than on inanimate objects) rests on Nevada. Yes, Nevada is the cause of California's crime problem, because some criminals travel into Nevada to buy their guns at gun shows, especially in Reno. The little hood rat gangbangers who cause most of this chaos seem to only receive a passing acknowledgment of blame as the Bee zeros in on the tool of their malevolence rather than the user of that tool.

California is a textbook case of being full of outlaws with guns, because by and large, only the outlaws have guns; out in public anyway. In most if not all places in California, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon outside your home. Yeah, yeah, some counties issue CCW permits - just try to get one, especially in the urban counties like Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Just where people need armed protection most are the places that don't allow people to arm themselves. The rural counties in California - especially up north - have less stringent CCW requirements, but not much crime happens there anyway. In the cities, criminals have free reign, because law-abiding citizens are not allowed to protect themselves.

The funniest part of the article is where a pro-Brady Bill California legislator extols the stringent gun controls in California, then blames all our problems on Nevada because of their less-stringent gun controls. Nah! California's strict gun control couldn't possibly have anything to do with our state's crime problem; it's all Nevada's fault. The one thing the article fails to mention, yet seems like a rather logical question to ask: With their loose gun laws - loose enough apparently to spur California criminals to shop for guns there - what are the rates of crime in Nevada? Nevada criminals obviously don't have to sneak into another state to buy their weapon of choice; how do Nevada's per-capita crime rates compare to California's? This is not a rhetorical question because I honestly don't know. I am going to guess however that even in Nevada's twin Sin Cities of Vegas and Reno, their crime rates pale in comparison to the cities in California. This is a statistic into which I will dig deeper and get back to you.

There used to be a series on (I think) HBO called Tales of the Gun. The fictional show chronicled the bad luck that happened to people into whose hands a certain pistol fell. This was a perfect metaphor for how anti-gunners (usually Leftists) feel about guns. It is not an evil heart that commits violence with a tool called a gun, it is the gun that turns a heart to evil. The Lefties have it bass ackwards. Contrary to their belief, some people in this world are simply evil. Trying to take away their weapon of choice will not make evil or violence go away. Evil people will always find a way around the rules that are imposed on the society at large. Gun laws only disarm law-abiding people. As one of these law-abiding people (who happens to be firearm owner), I can assure you that my 9mm Beretta has not injected evil into my heart. In fact, it serves as an expression of the love that I have for my family, and my intention to defend them against evil, even if it means I have to kill that evil person in order to ensure the safety of my wife and children.

Good Day to You, Sir

Saturday, July 07, 2007

July 4th, Left-Wing Style

I am back from my family vacation in the Monterey Bay area. A more beautiful and quaint area you would be hard pressed to find, but my, oh my, there are some loony people out there.

I was reminded of this once again when we attended a 4th of July parade in the town of Aptos, which is just south of Santa Cruz, a town famous for being a loonyville. When we arrived at the parade, I was actually pretty impressed and a little weirded out. I know the reputation of that area for being full of America haters and flag burners, yet here were a couple thousand parade participants and spectators filling and lining the streets of Aptos. As it got under way, at first glance it was your typical small-town parade. First you had your fire trucks trundling along as they blew their horns and whistles. Then a 1950s-era police car came by with the county sheriff waving to the crowd. Then a troop of wiener dogs being walked by their owners walked by, followed by a ukulele club strumming and singing God Bless America. Then the Santa Cruz County Democrat[ic] - there's nothing democratic about the Democrat Party - Party was next, carrying signs calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. One Dumbocrat was carrying a U.S. flag with a peace sign in the blue field rather than the 50 stars. Soon after that came a group of pro-Barack Obama myrmidons. They had one of those old Volkswagen bus vans with Obama posters on it followed by people with Obama signs and others handing out bumper stickers and literature to the onlookers. I made sure to grab one of the bumper stickers of course... seriously. Other entries in the parade included all kinds of local peace parties (as opposed to war parties?). They carried all manner of signs calling for impeachment, indicting our evil country, calling for peace at all costs, the usual. We left the parade just before the local Planned Parenthood chapter marched past.

I realize that being in Santa Cruz County, I was in the belly of the left-wing beast, and I fully expected to see what I saw at this parade. However, I still have to ask: couldn't these people have left their hatred at the door for just one day? Just this day, when we were observing not so much the events that are happening now, but the common heritage of our independence as a country; a heritage that has been going on now for over 230 years? Just this one day, couldn't these people have kept it non-partisan?

I know that it's too much to ask, especially since I am sure that many of these people are truly mentally ill. No, not all of them; but you can't look at some of the things these people do and not question their sanity, let alone their patriotism. If you want to attack me for expressing these feelings, all I can tell you was that *you* were not at that parade that day. I was, and I witnessed the left-wing attack machine in all its unmitigated glory. Remember, they were on their home turf and had no problem letting their vicious politics hang out on what should have been a gracious and honorable day.

The other tragedy of all this was that I was unable to take any pictures of this madness. Our five year-old digital camera puked just before the parade started. We are going to OfficeMax this morning to buy a new one.

Good Day to You, Sir