How Things Work.

As of today, I am once again unemployed and I’m going to tell you why. San Francisco had a program that was funded by the federal government that San Francisco called Jobs Now! Here’s how it worked. A company signed up to be a part of the program and if they were approved then they had the ability to hire an unemployed parent who was a member of the program [i.e. me] and they would be reimbursed for the salary.

This plan worked great and employed over 250,000 people, but it ended as of yesterday, September 30th, 2010. President Obama saw that it was working very well and wanted to add an extension of a year onto the plan to keep people working while the economy is trying to recover. The extension passed the house and had to be approved by the senate before it could go into effect. Unfortunately, there are a few more Republicans in the Senate who pushed back to keep it from going through. Why you may ask?

As of today we now have over a quarter of a million people unemployed. This will work to the Republicans advantage as long as we the people don’t think. The Republicans will start using the rise in unemployment as a rally cry in the upcoming elections. “Can’t you see that the Democrats are destroying our great country! Look at how they’ve increased unemployment!”

So stop thinking and vilify the Democrats because they did a bad job when in reality, it was the Republicans who  are responsible for the rise in unemployment by not passing the extension. This my friends is a raw deal. Don’t doubt me that they won’t try and use this to their advantage. I am positive that they will. I just want you all to think and pass this along to your friends so they will think as well.

Yes, while it may not feel like it, the economy is starting to come back slowly, but the Republicans have now made the recovery take a step back by putting over a quarter of million people out of work. Think about that before you go to the polls.

Save our JOBS NOW!

When people talk about the evils of the stimulus package by President Obama they here about the car company and bank bailouts and start pointing fingers and complaining about how Obama is killing America. What they don’t talk about is the employment stimulus that has given over 250,000 people jobs. These are jobs for unemployed parents [like me] whose wages are reimbursed by the government.

This wasn’t talked up too much and I found out about it quite by accident after reading a fairly well buried story on SF Gate. I got in and started making calls and got lots of interviews. I finally got a job in July from a very persistent employer who wanted me and kept in contact from March until the day I started my job.  The problem is that at the end of this month the program ends and I will be out of work again. The problem is two-fold here. The first is that I took the job and lost my unemployment benefits.  Unemployment is based on your earning of the last 18 months minus the current quarter. Since I’ve only worked in the current quarter I won’t be eligible for unemployment unless they make an exception for me. Second is that the our government is trying to extend it for a year, but while it passed the house, the republicans in congress have been filibustering against it.

Over a quarter of a million people will be unemployed once again because the Republicans hate Obama. The Republicans will be the cause of this unemployment because they believe that a cut in federal spending will help America. Unfortunately what it with do is put most of these people on unemployment which just moves the government spending from one room to another, so I ask you all to forward this piece to all your friends and neighbors and have them sign the online petition you’ll find here to ask the government to extend the program and keep the country from adding over a quarter of a million people to the unemployed list which will lead to an increase of the unemployment statistics, lower economic recovery because a quarter of a million people won’t have the money to spend and we’ll have more children going hungry…all because of a few Republicans, not Obama.

Think about this. A quarter of a million people unemployed, all of whom have families with kids who will have trouble living and making ends meet. I am only one, but it’s helping me provide for my wife and my daughter and we’re able to give back to our community by spending our money to purchase goods and services that in nine days will stop coming in. So we’re not talking about over a quarter of a million people being affected but closer to a million people being affected. Please, help do what is right so we can get America back on it’s feet.

California Academy of Sciences: Praise and Rants

I’ve been going to the California Academy of Sciences since I was a little kid. I’m talking before I could walk and I loved the old place. There was tons of things to do and see and oh how I remember the awful cheeseburgers and fries served in the downstairs cafeteria by a company called Duchess.

For a kid like me who was into science this was an awesome space because there was everything you could learn about, the Hall of Birds, the Hall of Minerals, Wild California, The Hall of Man, The fish roundabout, Life through Time, The Farside Gallery, the Elkus Gallery and of course the Planetarium and Aquarium. They also had a little know “Junior Academy” downstairs that offered Saturday courses to kids in the sciences from 5-18. The little kid classes didn’t work out so well, but that lead to the adding of the Discovery Center upstairs.

They also had regularly rotating exhibits that were usually pretty big. They had one on Shakespeare, Earthquakes, geez I a can’t remember them all. Then because of the 1989 earthquake there were a few problems and they just decided to rebuild the whole thing again and make it all snazzy and eco-friendly. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that they decided to twist a few heads with the bio roof and solar panels, but it’s not the same anymore. It’s all about the Aquarium.

When you walk in you get to see the Piazza which one of the places to purchase an overpriced, but healthy organic snack. You head through there and can see the tops of a Philipine coral reef on one side and the Northern California coast on the other. The old grungy hall of reptiles has gone, but they saved the swamp area at least with a couple of gators and snapping turtles. Walk down a few stairs and you get the sparse swamp area. You can look into gator tank from below and there’s a few snakes and a lizard or two there. Of course they have to have a swamp/aquarium shop there as well. Then travel down a few more stairs and the Aquarium hits you. Big huge tanks with lots of fish. Not the 10’x10′ tanks you used to see in the old aquarium. Of course to balance this they have many more 10 gallon tanks in the walls, but over all you’re going to see a lot of stuff you’ve never seen before. My daughter loves the aquarium and even though she’s only three she has her favorite tanks she likes to hang out at and stare down the fish, That’s a whole ‘nother story I’ll get into later. So pretty much, the aquarium is very, very cool. So what else is there?

Well they’ve added something new and that’s the rainforest exhibit. To balance out the global shape of the planetarium the rainforest is a globe of glass that you have to enter through special doors so none of the stuff that’s inside gets out. Inside they have birds flying around, yet while I hear them I have yet to see them other than a macaw that tethered at the bottom of ramp just before you start traveling through the jungles. Each level has a different theme to it and  in the small flattened areas to stop at they have…more fish tanks! plus some reptiles as well and it fits in nicely, but still, it’s all about the fish. When you get to the top which is the warmest place you’ll find lots of butterflies swarming around. They’re all pretty small so nothing freaky there. Now you can go back down and out so you go down an elevator after you’ve gone through a check to make sure there are no butterflies on you and that takes you all the way down to the aquarium. If you decide to go I suggest you start with the rainforest and head down to the aquarium because there are some things you’ll miss in the aquarium that aren’t too obvious when you first enter into it.

OK, what’s left? Well there’s the planetarium which I’d love to tell you about because I worked at the old one for four years, but I haven’t had the time to see it yet as I’m always there with my daughter and I’m not sure she’s ready to sit still for 45 minutes to an hour in the dark. I’ve seen videos of it and it’s real state of the art, so I’m looking forward to going once my daughter starts pre-school. They did manage to keep South African Hall, but made a few changes. Nothing too major, except for the addition of a tank of cichlids from lake Malawi and Tanganika in Eastern Africa that was originally the Charles Bange Memorial tank that was put in place by donations by the San Francisco Aquarium Society [note I was the president of the SFAS for 4 years and on the board of directors for 10 years]. Now it has someone else’s name on it so apparently the Academy has forgotten that many years ago the aquarium was kept afloat by donations from the SFAS and now the SFAS isn’t allowed to meet at the Academy anymore. The Herbst auditorium has been replaced with the Herbst Forum on the second floor and there’s also the Naturalist Center which is sort of a small library with displays of dead things or parts of dead things from the mammalogy and ornithology departments, but that’s it for the 2nd floor.

Other than that there’s a few small exhibits that don’t make up for what they didn’t keep in there. I noticed something when I was there today though. While they made it a little bit wider which is really mostly with outdoor garden areas, it’s much thinner. The swamp is at the back of the academy and that’s it. The aquarium used to run around it with other exhibits behind that. They gave up a lot that people can learn from. I’m not sure where the scientists do there work as in the old place there used to be two levels up with offices and labs and all the ichthyology and aquarium labs were down in the basement where the aquarium is now.

Now here is where the rants will begin. The real rants. When my wife and I got married in 1996 we got a family membership to the academy. It cost us…$25. With it we each got a card that would allow us to bring in a guest as well as 10 guest passes we could give out to our friends. It cost $7 to get in back then. We also got invited to a members only night where we could walk around the academy and get behind the scenes tours and feed for free.

Now, that same membership will cost you…$500! You can get the Family Plus membership, but you’ll have to pay $75 each for the behind the scenes tour. Ticket prices to get in are now $24.99 for adults, $19.99 for 12-17 and $14.99 for 4-11.

If you have kids, get a family membership. It’s $159 and you’ll get that back 10 fold in a short period of time. There is one thing to remember though, if you’re going to go you should take advantage of the members only hours of 8:30-9:30 on Tuesdays or 10-11 on Sundays. Especially if you have small kids. We went there about 12:30pm today and the place was packed. We couldn’t even let our daughter out of the stroller because we’d have lost her in seconds.

If you want to go on the cheap the last Thursday of the month is Nightlife where it will only cost you $12 to get in, but you have to be 21+ because they have bars set up all over the place. I haven’t been to one of these, but being a member I would still have to pay $10 in addition to the drinks.

I have to admit that I like the cafe that they have as they serve a wide variety of all organic meats and veggies with enough variety to suit everyone, but that all comes at a price. We tried it once and we got a breakfast quiche, muffin, coffee and an izzy’s soda for just under $15. The quiche was small, the muffin wasn’t very large, but the coffee and soda were good. Today, I noticed as we walked through the piazza that while there were people in line to buy food, most of the people there [some of which had to sit on the floor as there were no more tables] had brought their own food. The line to purchase tickets was at least 4 deep and 100 ft long. So I imagine that the wait would be close to an hour.

If you’re a member you get to put on your best smug face and walk through the members entrance where they not only ask for your card, but you ID as well to verify you aren’t loaning your card to friends. You also get a lot of other little discounts and benefits that you can find here. The funniest thing is that maybe we should have gotten an individual membership for $99 because it says you can bring a guest in with your card. It doesn’t say that with a family membership. So if you’re a couple and don’t expect to take any out of town relatives there that’s the best way to go about it. Overall, I’d have to say that the California Academy of Sciences has changed from a museum of science to a political show off piece. Gavin Newsom is even quoted as saying it’s his favorite place in San Francisco. You don’t get to talk to the scientists who are doing the work behind the scenes, but you can watch them through glass sometimes in the lab that’s open to the public for viewing, but no entrance.

Make Me A F*cking Supervisor!

D*ck of the month club

Supervisor Chris Daly has made a new year’s resolution to include the word f*ck in every meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Such a noble venture for the most hated of all the Supervisors. He is antinomian to core. His job is just to anger people in this city by saying no to everything we say yes to and say yes to everything we say no to.

Chris serves the government less and himself more. Therefore it is at this time that announce, nay, I proclaim that I should replace Chris Daly as Supervisor of District 6! I have lived my life in San Francisco. In the Sunset District, The Mission District and Midtown Terrace. Chris Daly lives, just like Ed Jew, outside of San Francisco. He is the governing Supervisor over the Tenderloin and Treasure Island. My college thesis was on the construction of Treasure Island and I have visited it many times, probably more times than Chris f*cking Daly.

Being one of the few who was born and raised in San Francisco, I know San Francisco and you Chris Daly, are not San Francisco. I will serve this city as Supervisor as a true citizen of San Francisco, by helping to clean up the Tenderloin and create a new green community on Treasure Island by implementing the best plans that have been suggested as well as building concrete walls around the perimeter to keep the rising water from flooding our Treasured Island build in 1939 for the epic San Francisco world’s fair celebrating our city and the construction of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

I call upon our esteemed Mayor Newsom to hear my call and replace Chris f*cking Daly for a dereliction of duties as a Supervisor of San Francisco and for his misrepresenting our fine city to the world. He has no right to besmirch our image as the great city that we are with his foul mouthed antics and disregard for performing his job as a supervisor of this great city. I shall offer to meet Chris f*cking Daly in public debate and will offer my services to the community he presides over as well as offering to replace him for under 6 figures a year since no one in the district he presides over makes that much a year. I will also attend every Board of Supervisors meeting unlike most of the board and I will walk the streets of my district proudly meeting with those who live there other than during re-election time.

If this does not happen I will do as Emperor Norton once did and proclaim myself the royal sovereign of the Tenderloin and Treasure Island and make myself the Commander-in-Chief of the area to protect it from the pompous ways of its public enemy #1 Chris f*cking Daly!

The Ady Gil does down

This isn’t a story about San Francisco per se, but it is about a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco. I won’t share his name to protect his anonymity, but he’s  flown off to join the crew of the Sea Shephed Conservation Society to serve a noble cause–the end of whaling. When was the last time you woke up and thought, hmmmm I want some whale today? Probably never. Part of that fact is that there has been a moratorium in place on commercial whaling for many years. The Japanese have made an end run though and saying their doing it for scientific research. What exactly is so scientific about killing and cutting up whales then putting them in cold storage?

My friend on board is an average guy yet remarkable. He is risking his life as well as his career and the possibility of facing jail time for what he believes in. Yes, you could say he’s a “Berkeley hippie type”, but he’s not. He’s the type of guy who’s trying to protect our environment and the animals that live in it. He was on a boat in the Antarctic Ocean watching as a Japanese whaling boat turned and rammed  a much smaller trimaran boat injuring several of the people on board who had to dive into arctic waters to save themselves. By international maritime law, this falls under piracy, by the laws of Australia and New Zealand it is considered an act of war. The Japanese on this ship aren’t just researchers as why would researchers need Swat armor and flash bang grenades or LRAD systems that our soldiers use? If you visit Animal Planet’s website you’ll see this for yourself.

Australia and New Zealand have condemmed the actions of the Japanese, but are also afraid of the possible loss of $52 Billion Australian dollars they get from the Japanese. From my understanding of this, while the Aussie might loose a bit of money, it will be for a short period of time. The coal and beef going the Japanese will not stop once they start getting cold and hungry.

I’ll be the first to admit, I like my meat, but I have to send out a word of thanks to a friend of mine who’s doing a good job in a place where it’s way to cold for me to go under conditions I don’t think I could tolerate. This is what San Francisco is all about, not smug yuppies that came from somewhere else who sit around drinking latte’s and swearing during our Board of Supervisor’s meetings, oh wait, that’s our local government.

‘Til death due us part…no seriously

chains_of_love_t-shirt-284x300I just finished reading an article about a man who wants to ban divorce in California. I thought this was funny, but also made a good point. He’s doing it because the people against prop 8 say that gay marriage goes against the sanctity of traditional marriage. If the traditional man/woman marriage is so holy then why are half of them ending in divorce?

I suppose his point is that if you’re going to be holier than thou then damn it be holier than thou and prove it! Personally, I am straight and I’m in favor of gay marriages. Why? Because I have lots of gay friends and I know that they’d all be FAB-U-LOUS! They would spend lots of money on making sure everything was just right and that in itself would bolster the local SF economy. People have said [and I’m not quoting this as a fact] that gay marriages don’t last because being gay you don’t take it as serious. Even better! More gay marriages then and more money being spread around. This is a win/win situation. The gay population tends to have more spendable cash, at least that’s been my observation from my friends who are gay who have all the latest gadgets with all the hot new bells and whistles. My god, I’m wearing shoes I bought 8 years ago. I am so outre compared to a gay man in San Francisco. I did spend $75 on a shirt last year that was my one extravagance, but it’s been several years since I’ve had an extravagance spending if you ignore the occasional gelato.

But I’m digressing. I think this idea is a real punch in the face to the anti prop 8 people. The whole idea behind was started by a man in Sacramento who thought similar to what I started out with in this post. If you feel the sanctity of your marriage is being eroded then maybe you should stop cheating on your spouse or leaving them for someone else. Catholics ban divorce, but substitute it with an annulment. That’s their way of saying, “this never happened” even when the couple is still paying off the bills for an event that never happened. If you really oppose gay marriage and you’re married and get divorced then you’re a hypocrite. Once again half of all straight marriages end in divorce. So where is the sanctity there?

P.S. Even though I’m straight and have been married for 13 years, I’m also  licensed as a Reverend by the Universal Life Church and for a small fee I’ll marry any couple. Trust me, I’ve done the research and I’m legal in California to do it. Now why am I hearing Aretha Franklin singing “chain of fools” running through my head.

Marijuana as a commodity

Marijuana, the crop of the new millenium

I’ve been seeing a lot lately about California making marijuana legal and taxing it in the same sort of way it works in Amsterdam.

Personally, I think this is a good idea. Everyone knows that California is the biggest pot growing place in the US if not the world and cash it’s bringing in is in the billions of dollars. Yes, it is a drug, but so is alcohol and vicodin and valium and all the other prescription medicines out there that. Yet if your company drug tests, none of these will keep you from getting a job, marijuana on the other hand, will.

Historically from what I could find there has never been anyone who has died of an overdose of marijuana [leaving out the possibility of them being stoned and crashing their car]. Alcoholism has killed thousands of people an when you mix in the people who mix alcohol with prescription drugs the numbers jump up even more.

We have medical marijuana clinics now and that makes it easy for people to get a card and get marijuana for it’s medicinal value. These are more of a minor blip in the marijuana cash crop business. Now think about this. If it becomes legal and taxed large companies would jump in and set up farms that would end up producing more marijuana as less cost which would overall end up dropping the price to offset the taxes placed on it. This could overall make it cheaper to purchase than it would to try and grow it similar to common vegetables like lettuce.

California needs cash badly and when you have a billion dollar industry that if legalized and taxed could turn into a trillion dollar industry I firmly believe that California would get a good boost to it’s economy. Not just from sales, but think of all the people who would come as tourists just because they could purchase marijuana legally. This would obviously boost border towns that usually need some help, but it would also boost the economies of metropolitan areas. Which would also help increase the hotel and restaurant business as well. All this would help to bring back the economy in California which while being the 8th largest economy in the world, has some of the worst marks in our school systems.