Music Break: Waylon Jennings

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys...


Quote of the Day: Don Bolles

Last Words...

"They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John (Harvey Adamson)."

Don Bolles
Investigative Reporter, The Arizona Republic
June 2, 1976


Arizona Landscape

In memoriam: Don Bolles...

The Clarendon Hotel 2010 (Hotel Clarendon in 1976)


Music Break: Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow


Live TV


Word of the Day: Tagging


2. Much like, but not to be confused with graffiti. Tagging is signing your name or other representation of yourself on anywhere public. (walls, bus-stops, alleyways, paved streets, etc.)

Unlike graffiti, tagging usually takes less time and skill as it is done in one color with a single can of spray paint or thick marker.

Man there is some nice graffiti down on the alleyways on queen street west, I just wish those idiots would stop tagging them over them. They gots no talent! 

Urban Dictionary

Arizona Landscape

Hinkley's Lighting Factory...

One way to combat graffiti and tagging

Grand Canal and Central Avenue


Music Break: R.E.M.

Orange Crush...

Germany Live 2003


Quote of the Day: "You Know You"

The Endless Phoenix Grid...

You know you live in Phoenix when you can drive four hours of mile square blocks in any one direction and never leave the Valley.

Local saying, unknown origin
Sad, but true

Arizona Landscape

Midtown Phoenix...


Music Break: Fats Domino

I Want To Walk You Home...


Quote of the Day: Fats Domino

A J.O.B....

A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately they don't have a J.O.B.

Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino
American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter

Only In America

We're all working class...

Americans have notions about the term working class often also associated with definitions of labor and lower end jobs, words that are also heavy with meaning relating to organized labor and unionism, farmers and farm workers. Depending on your position and place, being working class is either a noble thing or something a noble person wouldn't do. It denotes "blue collar" in the minds of many people and more specifically, working with your hands, the implication also meaning not with your brains.

It's a peculiar attitude for Americans to adopt since almost everyone, whether descended from original settlers or recent immigrants, works in this country in one fashion or another, to achieve their vision of the American Dream. The current assignation, associating working class with unionism, the labor movement and farming, is a result of mostly 20th century history. In reality, the Founding Fathers, although some of them considered themselves members of a new aristocratic class in the New World, were all people who worked at some occupation. Thomas Jefferson was a lawyer and Alexander Hamilton, an illegitimate orphaned immigrant child, worked his way up from being a clerk. Since WWII pretty much everyone has had a job, whether they call it a career, a profession or labor, it's still working for enumeration.

With few exceptions, everyone in America works to earn money to live, which may range from low end to high end. The haughtiness of a Wall Street white collar employee making a high salary looking down on a blue collar worker on Industrial Boulevard is an absurd affectation since they still both work for someone else. As we have recently witnessed, the CEO and Presidents of major banks can be fired and even if it is with a fat payout, they were still at the mercy of their employer as the boss.

That is not to say there aren't disparities between the euphemistically phrased white collar worker, pink collar worker and blue collar worker in more than just pay. Our society is naturally stratified by what type of job someone holds and the associated compensation. For all the talk about the "rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer" and resulting economic class differences, in America there still are no titled people of nobility and only a small minority live on inherited money or large sums of money they earned. Even for people of wealth, if they're smart, they must work at maintaining their assets, a job in itself based on fear of losing it all. That is still a small group. The vast majority of people, even high income earners who may have delusions about how important their career is and how much they earn, have as the average person says, a J.O.B. and work for someone else for their money. That sounds like labor to me.

In that sense, essentially we're all working class, especially in this current economic era.

[Written with a nod to Mike (7anby) of rock and confusion.]

Arizona Landscape

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act...

Putting America To Work

By the Dawn's Early Light


Music Break: The Wallflowers

One Headlight...

Live Alcatraz 2002


Quote of the Day: Willa Cather

Two Friends in Big Sky country...

"I suppose there were moonless nights and dark ones with but a silver shaving and pale stars in the sky, but I remember them all as flooded with the rich indolence of a full moon."

Willa Cather
Obscure Destinies: Two Friends I
"Three Stories of the American West"

Thinking Out Loud

Two fundamental points on mortgages and foreclosures...

Banks and mortgage lenders have essentially circumnavigated four centuries of property law and the concept of property rights in the United States, by treating legal documents as inconsequential papers. They need to rectify their past business practices to justify their mistakes.

Borrowers and mortgage holders, regardless of how the paperwork was processed, willingly and knowingly borrowed money with consequences for nonpayment. They are obligated to make an attempt to pay it back.

"Two wrongs don't make a right."

Arizona Landscape

October Moon...


Music Break: The Mavericks

There Goes My Heart...

Live Austin


Excerpt of the Day: Seth Godin

Ignorance is the opiate of the masses...

Possible explanation for the shrinking middle class?
Knowledge is readily accessible, to avoid it is willful stupidity.

Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year.

Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here.

Access to knowledge, for the first time in history, is largely unimpeded for the middle class. Without effort or expense, it's possible to become informed if you choose. For less than your cable TV bill, you can buy and read an important book every week. Share the buying with six friends and it costs far less than coffee.

Or you can watch TV.

The thing is, watching TV has it's benefits. It excuses you from the responsibility of having an informed opinion about things that matter. It gives you shallow opinions or false 'facts' that you can easily parrot to others that watch what you watch. It rarely unsettles our carefully self-induced calm and isolation from the world.

[It's] clearly a deliberate act- -in our infoculture, it takes work not to expose yourself to interesting ideas, facts, news and points of view. 

[I] know this rant is nothing new. In fact, people have been complaining about willful ignorance since Brutus or Caesar or whoever invented the salad...the difference now is this: more people than ever are creators. More people than ever go to work to use their minds, not just their hands. Forgive me for suggesting [that] it might be reading blogs, books or even watching TED talks.

As for the deliberately uninformed, we can ignore them or we can reach out to them and hopefully start a pattern of people thinking for themselves...

Deliberately uninformed, relentlessly so [a rant]
Seth Godin's Blog

Geography of the Mind

Balancing Act... 

Things of nature that are constant, like mountains and the sun rising and setting every day, are the everlasting backdrop of what is constantly moving, such as human nature and the course of societal events. The natural world provides for us a reminder, should we choose to stop and look at it no matter where we live, that it endures and goes on with a certain regularity and rhythm. It changes with the seasons but the regularity of the seasons and what they will bring is certain.

Similarly human events do have a pattern to them but they toss and turn in our day to day lives since we're immersed, by our very human nature, in the course of our lives and the society we live in. The world of people is in constant flux and irregular in our vision, as we partake in what each day brings, the good and the bad as well as the mundane. In the larger tableau of life, history really does repeat itself and overall the behavior of people is pretty predictable. We lose sight of that as daily miracles, commonplace events and problems present themselves, while we're caught up in conducting our activities.

There's something disconcerting about this lack of proportion in our minds between the background of the natural world and the foreground of everyday happenings. Very few of us are wise enough, especially in this workaday hustle and bustle world, to take even brief moments of time out of the day and put things in perspective of what is constant and enduring versus what is brief and ephemeral.

This year has been, in a gut-wrenching way, a period of change and growth for me. I accept the teeth gritting upheaval part and don't resent it but don't enjoy it either but embrace it only as a necessary part of getting to where I want to go on a personal level. Where I struggle is in reminding myself to observe the example of the constant of the natural world, to keep in balance the fluidity of the social world, at a time when I most need stability to stay on the right track. Therein lies the greatest challenge, since that balance also means simultaneously learning the freedom and peace of mind I am seeking for the long term.

Urban Landscape

Rain Drain...


Music Break: Johnny Cash

Daddy Sang Bass...

with The Carter Family and The Statler Brothers
Live TV


Quote of the Day: Robert H. Schuller

Good decisions withstand a time of delay, while a bad decision-making moment passes...

"Never cut down a tree in wintertime. Never make a decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be Patient. The storm will pass. Spring will come."

Robert H. Schuller

Thinking Out Loud

Better to hold your tongue...

Lately I've been growing impatient with people and their interpretation of the world, mainly because it's my belief we're living in a period that history will look back on as an era of monumental change socially, economically and politically. I'm not sure anyone ever fully grasps, while entering an epoch of a new period, the tremendous significance of what they are passing through, understanding fully what is happening in that moment of time. That includes me, although I am aware we are in historical passage, how it will transpire is not in my capacity to view while living within it.

Since I am convicted we are moving through an age of unique characteristics that seems so obvious to me, my frustration is twofold. First, my natural curiosity is to know what I cannot possibly know and that is what the present will bring forward to the future. Secondly I am intolerant of the time it takes for other people to see what I do, and conversely I'm aware there are others who see more than I do. On the former I want to impetuously tell people that I consider them late at arriving to conclusions that seem obvious to me. This is not only arrogant but would be an exercise in futility if carried out. People arrive at their own awareness at their own time in their own way. It is not for me to determine when that it is.

I'm reminded of the advice my father used to give me, which he himself had to struggle to follow: "Son, sometimes the best time for you not to say anything at all, is when you feel as if you absolutely have to. It will wait and come out a whole lot better if you do."

Urban Landscape

Trees from the ground up...


Music Break: Scott McKenzie

San Francisco...

Monterey Pop Festival 1967


Quote of the Day: Horace Mann

Time is gone forever, never to return...

"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, because they are gone forever."

Horace Mann

Jerome State Historic Park

Grand Re-opening...


Arizona State Parks video

Urban Landscape


Indian Summer


Music Break: Jimmy Cliff

Many Rivers To Cross...

Live Glastonbury 2003


Quote of the Day: Winston Churchill

It's all Point of View...

"A pessimistic sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the the opportunity in every difficulty."

Winston Churchill


Take the time to figure out how to do something well first...

Then when the task is repeated, speed and quantity naturally follow.

We live and work in a world where our competition, no matter who they are, is nipping at our feet and time is of the essence. There is never enough time and and someone always wants to horn in and tell us how to do our job, operate our business and worse, run our lives. This creates a sense if panic urgency where we can make the mistake of jumping and doing things without thinking of the whole process. We do the immediate chunks that need to be done without thought to the flow upstream or downstream.

There are quality experts in business and "how to" instructions everywhere for how to do this in operating a business. Quality is not a new concept, many of us went through the best decades of corporate training on quality, only to watch front line managers revert back to lizard brain thinking of what-is-in-front-of them-at-that-moment, the second they could. If you operate your own business, small or sole proprietor, take the time to find the resources on quality, learn and use them. The information is out there.

My belief is that the same principles that were developed for high quality production in the business world can and should be adapted to our personal lives not just in the things we routinely do but in making choices on what direction to take. With quality we can reason out our thoughts and opinions so we have a clear understanding of what choices to make so we take the best path for us. It also means doing seemingly mundane tasks in a well thought out plan so they become routines that are not grinding chores.

Through taking the quality route in even seemingly small details of our lives on a regular basis in our day to day decision making, it becomes habit and an integral part of our analytical and evaluation in everything we do, large and small. Through this integration our lives become easier and less stressful since most things we do will go smoothly and well. We accomplish tasks more quickly and our decision making is speedier and confidant. We are able to formulate new ideas and have conviction in our opinions on weightier topics. It takes time and work before it becomes habit but as we assimilate the quality process into everything we do we discover our daily lives become simpler and less stressful.

Urban Landscape

Fan Palm To Forehead Sky...


Music Break: Righteous Brothers

Unchained Melody...

Live TV


Excerpt of the Day: Mish

Hello Ben...

Consumers Need to Deleverage

Consumers are tapped out in need of further deleveraging. Boomers are headed into retirement with insufficient savings. Small businesses are suffering from lack of demand, with rising input costs and lower prices received.

Forcing prices higher now (assuming the Fed could do such a thing) would hurt demand. Yet the Fed is hell bent on trying, first by destructive Quantitative Easing strategies, now with absurd inflation targeting ideas.

Michael "Mish" Shedlock
"Inflation Targeting Proposal an Exercise in Blazing Stupidity; Fed Fools Itself" 10/15/10


Is a well thought out process that is followed through...

Banks and mortgage companies lent money for real estate without thinking out the consequences of not following a quality process in handling of documents. The result is deeper than "robo-signing" of documents and improper affidavits and notarizations due to the way the loans were originally securitized, which was in a manner contrary to the way property has been legally transferred and titled since the beginning of the United States. Lenders created their own process and procedures, without regard to established law and legal procedures or seeking sanction from the legal system to do so. To state that property rights as we understand them is at stake is an understatement.

The lenders want everyone to believe that the problem can be resolved as easily as it was created. They want to get out from under the loans processed in a system that had no quality control as quickly as they made the loans without proper procedures. It will not be as easy as that since the financial world has now tangled with the legal world. Unwinding "Mortgagegate," by the very nature of property law and legal procedures, requires a quality process and that takes time. How much time is yet to be determined but it is clear it will not be as fast as the financial institutions would like.

How this proceeds makes me think of the entwined, everlasting legal case, Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce in Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House.

graphic from WSJ "Mortgage Damage Spreads" 10/16/10

Urban Landscape

We're all in training to be Cage Fighters now...

"Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter." Kip


Music Break: David Bowie




Quote of the Day: Montana PSC Commissioner Ken Toole

This M&A deal doesn't trickle down...

On the acquisition of Baby Bell Qwest by Independent Telco CenturyLink.

"It's a heck of a payday for the top brass at Qwest," he said, noting that Qwest's board members and top seven executives will get payouts totaling $132 million if the company merges with Century Link Corp. "Imagine how many small towns in Montana could have better service if Qwest put that money to work on the ground."

Montana Public Service Commissioner Ken Toole
"State PSC Commissioner upset over executive pay"
helenair.com (Helena Independent Record)  10/13/10

The Economy and Me

Last gasp in last quarter of year?...

I'm an optimist who maintains a healthy dose of skepticism. 

I work with a small group of seven people, including the working manager, who works with us as well as manages our location and group. We are just about the only company that does what we do, which is provide testing for professional, technical and educational credentialing boards and organizations to a wide variety of professions, schools and industries. We have never been busier than the past few months and are scheduled out until the end of December. Earlier in the year we worked 20 hour weeks and now it's as much as we can stand.

I believe in hope and change for the better. I also believe in reality and being prepared. I don't quite trust the sudden influx of work with as high as unemployment is. I want to believe it's a good sign and will last but will the people who are our clients still have work themselves in a few months? I know doctors and dentists who are concerned because their practices are slowing down, people who work in retail who say their stores daily net is dropping, stock brokers, mortgage loan officers and real estate folks who are not experiencing much work, friends who work in small companies and large corporations who are nervous about their jobs because work has thinned out. On the other hand I know people who work in machine shops and warehouses who are as busy at work as I am. It makes me want to believe they are filling the pipeline for a recovering economy, yet I'm skeptical. It could be an end of the year flash in the pan in hopes of holiday season sales or end of year profit boosts.

I'm not quite believing that it is the beginning of recovery because fundamental Leading Economic Indicators aren't that sound and it seems clear we have a mushrooming foreclosure document crisis that threatens financial institutions. I'm also confused that there seem to be more job ads lately, albeit for relatively low paying jobs, with the hitch that the same ones keep appearing over and over again and they don't seem like stable work. Could it be some of that stimulus money is finally being sent to other than public sector and union workers, conveniently just before an election? Is some of that Quantitative Easing raising hopes in the short term? Or perhaps we are having a one or two quarter weak recovery that is heading for a "double dip?"

It feels too much like no doc plastic and not real money to me. I think I'll maintain my wits about me and make the most of what's available to me while I can.

Urban Landscape

Deconstructing 7th Ave again...

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 

AKA stimulating road contractors, construction and municipal worker unionists by reconstructing, tearing up and reconstructing a perfectly good Seventh Avenue multiple times. Meanwhile Camelback Road is full of dips and potholes. This same scenario is being played out all over the city.


Music Break: Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits

Sultans of Swing...

Sydney Live 1986
edited 10 minute version


Term of the Day: Foreclosure Mills

Thinly disguised forged document preparers...

Foreclosure Mills: "Law firms that specialize in quickly processing thousands of foreclosures on behalf of lenders."

"Document Mess Hits Fannie, Freddie"
WSJ 10/14/10

The Economy and Me

Conquering Fear of the Future...

Keep a clear head to fend off a sense of pending doom.

Since I live in a state that has been hard hit by the real estate collapse and the evolving mortgage-foreclosure disaster, in the epicenter of the economic damage of the resulting financial crisis, my perspective tends to get skewed on the larger US and world economy. To be sure the outlook is not very good in most places but Arizona, along with neighbors California and Nevada, has been particularly devastated and life often feels unstable with each bit of news about real estate and foreclosures making it seem even rockier. The news can be in the form of a headline, about someone we know, friends, family, workmates, a neighbor, friend of a friend or overheard in public. The feeling can rise suddenly, is unanticipated, unsettling and manifests itself in unexpected ways.

Even those of us that in spite of economic damage due to unemployment and other financial problems but have ourselves, our family and friends, managed to remain fairly intact and stable, relatively unscathed, are beset by unnerving raw thoughts and emotions. We wonder what is the next shoe to drop and even though we have made it through so far and have never been involved in too much debt, real estate transactions gone awry and the like, are concerned we will be hit by flying objects out of our control.

Most people here understand that this entire decade will be spent unwinding and reconfiguring the aftermath of Arizona's economy that collapsed due to an overblown building boom, that resulted in unrealistic real estate prices and far too much reliance on construction. This can cause moments of weariness at looking at the long road ahead or a sense of pending doom.

Truthfully, selfishly I suppose, I'm not worried much about what happens next for me. I'm a survivor and usually manage to make the best of whatever situation I end up in for the duration. My concern is more for what happens to society and institutions around me and how what happens to them will affect our daily lives. I worry about a breakdown in society around me that makes ordinary activity difficult. Since worrying never solved anything and the future can't be predicted, this is a futile waste of brain power. Good old therapeutic self-talk seems to work. These "memos to self" work for me:

Everything changes and in the long term it's usually for the better. A positive point of view and keeping perspective generally makes whatever happens turn out to be a good thing. 

Remind myself that just as surely as a bad thought or feeling arrived unannounced, it can be replaced in a flash with another, better thought or feeling.

This is a great opportunity to embrace my inner bohemian. If the future is up in the air, then conventional rules and practices are irrelevant. 

If nothing is the same anymore, then the future brings the chance to live life in new, unconventional ways. What is there to lose if the old way is gone? 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There is an element of truth in what you expect is what you get, so it's a good idea to expect the best.

Urban Landscape

Turn your gaze to heaven...


Music Break: James Taylor and Carly Simon



Quote of the Day: Dr. W. Edwards Deming

There is no substitute for knowledge...

"Any manager can do well in an expanding market."

Dr. W. Edwards Deming
American statistician, professor, lecturer and author


It's about process...

Somewhere along the way, especially since the telecom/tech bubble and the rapid advancement of electronic communications, doing things in an orderly, well-thought out and thorough process got lost. Speed won out over doing things correctly, the right way, the first time, and now we are paying the price for it. The implications of not following a quality process can no longer be scoffed at, as they have been for the past few decades.

The real estate foreclosure scandal that is now finally coming to the forefront for what it is, a breakdown of proper legal procedure that is factually fraud, is the epitome of disruption of process. There was a reason why for decades prior to the nineties, real estate paralegals and lawyers, mortgage loan officers and title companies demanded precise research and documentation on paperwork for property transactions.

On a large scale those values were lost in the desire to make big and fast bucks by facilitating transactions with speed and little regard for accuracy, expediting them by fax machines and the internet, without thought to the implications down the road. We've barreled down that road uncontrollably, dead ended, and now will be paying a heavy steep price for a long time to come. The repercussions are not limited to real estate, mortgages and financial institutions but ricochet to other segments of the economy also.

It all comes down to quality work. It may be near impossible to unwind who really owns what and who owes what to who in this real estate tangle, due to the sacrifice of accuracy and quality to satisfy speed and quantity. One thing is certain, we will have to figure that out with quality methods in mind. An orderly, well thought out process, that is repeated accurately over and over again over time, is just as speedy as well as correct, results in no or few repercussions in the future. Accuracy and speed are not mutually exclusive of each other and both are integral to a quality process. It is imperative we put quality back at the core of any business transactions we do, as we rebuild our economy and this country.

Urban Landscape

The earth is made flat...


Music Break: Gene Watson

Love In The Hot Afternoon...

Classic Country Live


Word of the Day: tongue typo

You know what I mean...

tongue typo: What happens when you know perfectly well what you want to say but it comes out wrong.

It's a tongue typo when you trip over your words and accidentally call your friend Mike instead of by his actual name, Mark.

Urban Dictionary


Our strengths and weaknesses...

There were so many of us because the young people, fresh out of the experience of WWII, started having children right away, creating the baby "boom." Since during the Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties and WWII the birth rate was low, there wasn't the infrastructure in the US or the UK to accommodate a large influx of children with the same needs. As a result, on both sides of the Atlantic, systems we're built and we had the advantage of the newest and most modern eduction, health services, food and nutrition and thanks to Dr. Spock (depending on your point of view) the most current ideas of parenting.

Everything was constructed around us, therefore we were unintentionally spoiled that way. We were told we were special and that we could do or be anything that we wanted if we tried hard enough, although that was an ideal to strive for and not the truth for everyone. These factors are the elements that are both our strengths and weaknesses. Both genders were empowered to endeavor for higher education or a better career if we wanted and as a result we made great scientific and technical advances along with social progress. We also have an over-developed sense of identity, self-worth and feel a sense of entitlement. Overall the good outweighs the bad but we should be mindful that our dominance in numbers shouldn't crowd out those older and younger than us.

Urban Landscape

Curl Up and Dye...


Music Break: The Everly Brothers

All I Have To Do Is Dream 
and Cathy's Clown...

Alma Cogan Show 1961


Quote of the Day: Arizona Capitol Times

Arizona at the epicenter of the housing foreclosure crisis...

Now that the issues over faulty paperwork are coming to light, attorney Tom Ryan said he expects many Arizona homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosures to hire attorneys to determine whether banks made a mistake. And he expects many homeowners to find them.

"It's going to be worse in Arizona because Arizona sustained such a high, high growth rate," Ryan said.

"Foreclosure errors may be more prevalent in Arizona"
Arizona Capitol Times 10/08/10

Deleveraging and Insolvency

The Real Estate and Mortgage Foreclosure problem is unresolved...

Unwinding will take years but we can rise above while resolution is occurring.

It seems to me that if the major banks and mortgage companies are placing moratoriums on foreclosures due to affidavit and auditing problems on tens of thousands of foreclosures already processed, the problem must be deeper than currently being admitted. Truth is bubbling to the surface. The banks and mortgage companies have been trying to get out of these loans as quickly as they got into them, without proper procedures, due diligence and documentation. Rationally, this situation will take years to unwind and cannot be sped up no matter how much financial institutions and the government try to force the process. The implications cannot be understated.

Essentially this quagmire throws the entire real estate industry into chaos and ultimately threatens the entire financial and banking system. The mortgage business as we know it will require an overhaul, at the very least. I don't think it is at all dramatic to state this, only time will tell exactly how it plays out. In the long term I'm not sure it's a bad thing, it is an opportunity to reshape these businesses back into more natural and free markets. There is plenty of blame to go around that can be affixed later, the important thing now is to fix the problem. The big players have been gambling on a fantasy accounting game for several years now, where everyone pretended that houses and commercial property were still worth in real life what was owed to the lenders on paper. The reality is that gap makes the lenders insolvent.

As the slang saying goes: "Da Nile isn't just a river in Egypt."

Now is truth telling time and recognition that there can be no further delay in dealing with the substantial readjustment of the value of what real estate, and subsequently other property and currency, is factually worth. This is a tough, difficult process that a lot of people are not prepared for but the longer it is delayed, the more pain there will be when it inevitably reaches a coda.

It is the end of the world as we knew it but not the end of the world, rather the beginning of a new one. History has many examples of such periods and humanity always rises to the occasion. I wouldn't paint a pretty picture on the heartache and burn this will cause a lot of people nor would I say that it will be impossible to work through it. How we face up to the situation as a people and endure while grappling with the problem will be a testament to our character as a country. I believe there are enough people with the mettle to forge a path for all of us to get through and rise above what difficulties may come.

Urban Landscape

Real Estate Mirage...

"Affordable Rental Housing for Arizona's Working Families"


Music Break: Janis Joplin

Ball and Chain...

Monterey Pop Festival 1967


Quote of the Day: William Somerset Maugham

Never settle for less...

"It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."

William Somerset Maugham
Playwright, novelist and short story writer


We overwhelm in sheer numbers...

In my lifetime, things seemed a whole lot more real and simpler to me before Disco and the TV show "Dallas" came out in the late seventies. After that, the rapidity with which my generation went from counter-establishment cotton wearers to tacky consumerists in polyester, alienated me for decades. Now I'm rather dumbfounded by how my generation seems stuck in a time warp. It's easy to understand why the generations in front and back of us are overwhelmed by our ubiquity.

We can be very boring, in spite of the energy spent by so many into looking and acting young, to stay "relevant." It's a delusion. We don't accept age well, yet we don't age very well because aging gracefully is just not in the repertoire. It's "buy now, pay later" coming home in a very personal way.

There are so many of us, yet I wonder what happened to a lot of my generation. The strongest traits, optimism and enthusiasm for the future, seems to be fading. Many boomers seemed to have disappeared to me, blipped off the radar screen, slipping into lookalike, cookie cutter living oblivion. I think it's because so many didn't change after the age of thirtysomething, reliving their daily lives over and over again in some comfort zone I don't understand. I never could stand still and seem to relate better to people of all ages who don't either.

You're either "in" or you're "out" and I don't mean that in the fashion or sexual preference sense. Rather to me it infers that life is a continuum that you keep learning, growing, moving on and challenging yourself to other things, which changes you as you go along. A lot of boomers are "in" the sense of change and have kept growing and moving on but I don't sense we're the majority. Many boomers are unfortunately "out" now in this era of economic instability and social disruption and I wonder what's going to happen to them as the world moves on to a new way of living.

Urban Landscape

1954: Peak Boom Year...


Music Break: The Bee Gees

New York Mining Disaster 1941

Live 1975


Quote of the Day: Michael Caine

On growing up during WWII in England...

He is unsentimental about the war. "I benefited from it. For a start I ate nothing but organic food for six years. We had no sugar, no biscuits [cookies], fizzy drinks [soda pop]."

Michael Caine
"Tea with the FT: Michael Caine"

The Sharpest Tongue

Is usually honed by fear...

Most likely someone who treats other people with disrespect by being abrupt, sarcastic or rude and speaking as if everyone else is an idiot, is in fear of being discovered an idiot themselves. They live in constant angst of their insecurities being discovered and their actions are a defense mechanism to cover up how they really feel about themselves. Which is contrary to the external image and actually an internal hell, a trap they feel they can't get out of.

Generally they are to be avoided if possible, especially on a social level, because they inject nothing but negative energy into any situation and sap useful energy. Sometimes though, such as in work or other groups, they can't be avoided. It's important not to let them intimidate you and buy into their behavior. One approach is to pick one piece of their negative commentary that can be turned neutral or positive, and turning the conversation around to a more positive level to redirect them. Also consistently treating them in small, subtle ways with respect and reinforcement of their good traits, will signal to them that you're not "going to play."

In that manner you have avoided the counterproductive bombardment in an unavoidable situation, particularly if it's work where it's ongoing, and set the tone for future interaction on a higher plain. It also may open the door a crack for them to feel less trapped and possibly work their way out of their insecurities. This takes a lot work and reinforcement, especially since it's easy to unwittingly fall into the trap yourself.

Urban Landscape

Branching Out...


Music Break: The Animals

House of the Rising Sun...

Early Music Video


Quote of the Day: Andy Warhol

Times change because we change them...

"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."

Andy Warhol
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again)

Rippling Tides

A small ripple is big in a small pond...

I tend to think that things we do, intentional or otherwise, can have an effect even if we realize it or not. If we're in a small group, the impact of small actions is much larger and easier to recognize, if we notice it. For example, a small work group, whether it's an office, machine shop, retail store, mechanic repair place or a banking center, may have three to ten people working there. It only takes one or two, maybe three people, to make the entire place dysfunctional until someone stops buying into it.

Say there are six people working in a place and one or two people have differences in style or opinion on the way things should be done. This causes discomfort and stress on the others but in such a small group, very often the path of least resistance seems to be best course. Except that it leads to a larger dysfunction in the entire group that is uncomfortable for everyone. If only one person doesn't buy into the behavior, by treating everyone and every task consistently and chooses to function without playing into the pattern, change can happen. Perhaps it just one small process that's doesn't have to be done one way or the tone of voice of one person that is the problem.

Choose not to do it that way, as long as what you do instead works or don't respond to the tone except civilly. It's possible, in fact highly probable, that at some point it will be met with resistance by the perpetrators, but usually by this time the others, who are long since tired of the situation, will either obviously or quietly go along with discontinuing the dysfunction. In a small way, you've made a big change in a small group. It's usually not easy to do this and doesn't happen overnight, but well worth the effort.

Urban Landscape

Grand Canal Mallards in Tandem...

Rippling Still Waters


Music Break: Procol Harum

A Whiter Shade of Pale...

Early Music Video


Quote of the Day: Washington Irving

Note to Self...

If you're not predisposed to a good nature, keep a good and patient friend who has one.

An inexhaustible nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the trouble sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.

Washington Irving

Everything Is Local

My trickle up theory...

social, economic and political

As great as widespread communication has been for our era, from telephones to television to internet, connecting us to people miles away in a wider world than our own smaller one...eventually we begin to discover that the wider world is just a bigger version of our smaller one.

Similarly, social, economic and political national trends really are just larger manifestations of what is happening all around the country in cities and states. It's human nature that behavior of all sorts trickles up, although sometimes it appears that it comes from a wider source. Fashion is like that.

Popular trends are an example of this. Somewhere, in some place, some people start doing something or saying something and some how it becomes a meme and goes mainstream. Although it appears to have started on a large scale and trickled down, actually the opposite has happened.

Urban Landscape

All Hail Breaks Loose...

Unexpected heavy rain and hail storm on 10/05/10


Music Break: Ray Charles



Quote of the Day: Bruce Willis

I'm only a Republican if... 

"I'm sick of answering this f*cking question. I'm a Republican only in that I want a smaller government. I want less government intrusion. I want them to stop sh*tting on my money and your money and tax dollars that we give 50 percent of...every year. I want them to be fiscally responsible and I want these g*ddamn lobbyists out of Washington. Do that and say I'm a Republican...I hate the government, OK? I'm apolitical. Write that down. I'm not a Republican."

Bruce Willis
American actor, producer, musician
February 2006
in response to a reporter who asked him a political question

Some Americans Are Unhappy With Each Other

Essentially two segments agree on the problems...

They just don't like each other's political answers to them.

It would be an understatement to say there is an ideological political war going on in this country and in this commentary I'll just use the simple "Left" and "Right" to refer to the opposing sides, although it is far more complex than that.

Basically it seems that the Left wants to preserve and create a lot of the government institutions and social programs that have evolved largely since the sixties. Their belief is that all Americans should pool their money by taxation and that the government should provide broad education and social services, provide health care, insure equality by a quota system and regulate business on a number of levels. The government is the mainstay of society and it is essentially a Statist point of view.

Primarily the Right appears wants to dismantle the majority of current government programs that have developed since WWII and increased over the last 40 years. They believe that Americans know best how to disperse their money and that the government should be limited and small, with elimination or privatization of public schools, social services, health care, Affirmative Action quota systems and allow business to operate in a free market. People on a local level know best how to operate society. It is essentially a libertarian republican (lower case) point of view.

For the most part the opposing sides have aligned themselves with the two major political parties, the Left with the Democrats and the Right with the Republicans. They argue over everything from the economy, social programs, immigration, business, individual rights, the role of government...ad infinitum. We all know the topics we've heard them so much and so loudly. They are both rife with hypocrisy and contradictions on what they believe in and what they do.

This is a huge over-simplification I realize.

In my opinion most Americans who align themselves with one side or the other, do not really pay much attention to the finer points of each side, the contradictions within them or the real implications of what each stands for. Really who could, unless you're a political junkie or social activist? I think a lot of people choose sides for cultural rather than political ideal reasons. Alliance relies more on who they are most comfortable and identify with for social and cultural reasons. Sure, they essentially agree with the viewpoint of their preference but often it is based on language, jingo and perceptions of what they think that party stands for. If you listen to the "base" of each, the complaints about "what is wrong with America," are essentially the same. The fundamental disagreement is how to resolve those complaints.

If I were a betting man, I know which side I would bet on that will dominate the upcoming midterm General Election. I would also bet that the majority of common complaints won't be resolved or if they are, in a manner that the dominating party professes to believe in. I would say the same about the opposing side if they were in that position.

That's because we are not even hearing each other, much less listening, we're too busy shouting down the opposition. There isn't recognition the answer isn't in political solutions to manipulate government their way, it is in resolution by finding common ground based in reality.

There is no reality in current politics. We don't recognize that all sides are Americans and do have a voice, whether we like it or not. It's political football, the winner takes all, but no one really gains anything but a cheap trophy. Politics is interesting to watch to me, but I hold no belief that there is a political answer to the present problems in this country. Power really does reside in the people in these United States of America but it isn't in the political arena and until people realize that, we're deadlocked. It really is in the power of people going out and doing constructive things and making change happen in the real world, without being sidetracked by current political party machinations. Our government was structured that way originally...to allow people the freedom to do these things. Early on in our history political parties got in the way but in the past 30-40 years they have all interfered too much and gained too much control. We allowed that. The Political Class has gained a power it was never meant to have and people will have to pay attention to stop that.

It remains to be seen if the Political Class, in my lifetime, is reduced to being representatives of average people, but not impossible.

Both major parties are failing, although it isn't obviously apparent now. If the party not in power now does regain the upper hand in the upcoming election, I would also bet their weaknesses and failings will be displayed (and exploited) in the same manner as the current majority party.

That could be the start of the recognition that neither party serves the American people well and that "the lesser of two evils" is not acceptable any longer. Is it possible for a third alternative to rise up in the near future? 

American Points of View

Across the cultural opinion spectrum...

What We Saw at the Glenn Beck Rally in DC
reason.tv 08/28/10


What We Saw at the "One Nation Working Together Rally"
reason.tv 10/02/10



Music Break: First Floor Jumpers

Portuguese Bandstand (You Do The Heston)...


Quote of the Day: Thomas Jefferson

A wounded ego in public service doesn't last long...

"I felt that these injuries, for such they since have been acknowledged had inflicted a would on my spirit which only will be cured by the all-healing grave."

Thomas Jefferson on being criticized for his actions as Governor of Virginia, which caused him to retreat back to private life, only to re-emerge again less than two years later.

from Thomas Jefferson: Writings
edited by Merrill D. Peterson, 1984

Economics 101

Free Markets and Small Government Produce Prosperity...

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, Freedom and Prosperity video


Music Break: The Seekers

Georgy Girl...

Hey There! Live 1966


Quote of the Day: Jack Ablin

Bulls and Bears in Tug of War...

"The market is dominated by huge betting from both sides, and this tug of war in strategy reflects the uncertainty of the direction of the market and outlook for the economy," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.

"US stocks post best September since 1939"
FT.com Markets

FWIW: FT.com Headline "US stocks post best September since 1939"

Uh, didn't WWII start in September 1939?...

'Short sales raise flags'

As well short sales should, not to mention low trading volumes and price-to-earnings ratios. I'm not clairvoyant nor superstitious and am not saying that a world war or market crash is imminent, but it seems obvious to me that the stock market is way overpriced and not proportionate within itself or with other key leading economic indicators. The philosophical conflict between negative and positive views of economic markets, the bulls and the bears, is creating the perfect storm for some Wall Street style cage-fighting.

Financial markets are like everything else, they may have short term imbalances with some doing better than others, but generally they must be in relative balance to each other for a healthy economy. The price of gold skyrocketing is countering the equities stock market and indicative of huge imbalances in other economic markets. Where all of this goes, no one really knows, in spite of what the so-called expert economist and market theorists say. As usual, time will tell.

"I'm just sayin'"

"US stocks post best September since 1939"
FT.com Markets

Urban Landscape Photography

Clean Machine...