Category Archives: Uncategorized

Restaurants we’ll go to again

I‘ll be updating this list with good restaurants we find in our travels so we can go there again, and so you can too.

Alaska

Craig

shelter cove salmonShelter Cove Lodge: An elegant restaurant serving delicious food in the middle of nowhere, it far outpaces the pizza parlors and such in town.  1-888-826-FISH  (2016)

Ketchikan

Fish HouseAlaska Fish House: A small, airy place at the south end of the cruise ship area, next to the SE Alaska Discovery Center.  Nice view of the marina.  Wonderful breakfast, and it opens at 6 AM.  (2016)

shogun sushiShogun: An unpretentious Japanese/Chinese waterfront restaurant, half a mile north of the tunnel.  About the only relief from fast food and fish in this town.  Very good sushi, and the miso soup is an antidote for a long, gloomy Alaskan dusk.  (2016)

New Mexico

Albuquerque

Artichoke Cafe: A small, elegant chef-owned restaurant.  If you’re like me and not wild about artichokes, there are other really good things to eat here.  You’ll want a reservation. (2016)

Utah

Boulder

Devil’s Backbone Grill: My theory; if you’re a good enough chef, you can have a restaurant anywhere you want to, even in a town that has nothing going for it except fabulous canyons.  Elegant and unconventional.  (2016)

Washington

Port Hadlock

 

Ajax CafeAjax Cafe: An innocuous wood frame building on Port Hadlock’s tiny waterfront conceals a very popular restaurant.  It’s cluttered with a jumble of historical and hilarious decor, and hats.  Customers are provided with sets of trivia cards to pass the time while waiting for the slow production of excellent food.  The Wooden Boat Building School across the street is interesting, and its dock is a good place to photograph the evening reflections on Hood Canal.  (2016)

H and SScampi and Halibut: A little diner in a double-wide that serves seafood, sides and desserts in monstrous portions.  We were impressed with the salads, crab bisque and decadent chocolate creations.  (2016)

 

Seattle

Razzi’s: This pizza and Italian restaurant in Greenwood specializes in accommodating people with food allergies and sensitivities, in particular gluten-free and dairy-free fare.  And even if they didn’t, their pizza is exceptionally good.  (2016)

LUX HD450 clip-on phone lenses; an honest review

spider-link“The power of a $2,000 DSLR in your pocket!”  If only it were true.  I’ve already written about the vile practices of the LUX HD450 company.  Now let’s take a close look at their product.  The important question is “Would these lenses help me take better pictures with my phone?”  Two quick pieces of advice:

  1. No.  The best use of these lenses would be as a gift to a child.
  2. If you still want to buy them, save yourself money and grief by ordering the identical product on Amazon.

Quick sample:  The “red hall” photo at the top of this post is a fisheye lens shot, using a tripod and self-timer. Notice that the balcony in the top left is out of focus.  The black corners are the lens’ interior, as if we were looking out of a tunnel, because the lens isn’t wide enough for the job.  I wasn’t able to center the lens on the iPhone 6’s camera because the clip mount was on the edge of the phone’s body; that may have made the distortion worse.

Unpacking

The set consists of a macro lens,  a wide-angle lens with lens cap (and these two lenses arrive screwed together), a fisheye lens with lens cap, a plastic clip with a threaded opening that holds a lens, and a velvet bag.  There are no instructions; the most informative text I’ve found is Amazon’s product description.

The lenses have metal barrels; I was expecting plastic.  Because they don’t have inside lens caps like serious lenses do, they’re harder to keep clean.  The velvet bag doesn’t work well for storage.  The drawstring doesn’t close the bag very well, so they fall out.  When I grope around in it for a lens, I risk getting the lenses dirty with my fingers, because they don’t have enough caps.

The clip-on mounting system is imprecise and insecure; so it’s liable to distort your pictures.  

  • There’s no way to make sure the center of a clip-on lens is aligned with the center of the camera’s lens.
  • Unless you’re careful, you may seat the lens at an angle rather than flush against the phone’s case.
  • There’s no provision for dealing with variations in the distance of the clip-on lens from the phone’s lens.  Some phones have protruding cameras; others don’t.  And you may be keeping your phone in a protective case that increases the distance between the phone’s lens and the clip-on lens.

Macro lens

  • If you’re having trouble unscrewing the macro and wide-angle lenses, slip the end of a wide rubber band over the rim of the macro lens to protect it, grip it gently with pliers, and grip the rim of the wide-angle lens with your fingers.

These boring pictures are meant to test the lenses, not to sell them.  To minimize camera shake, I mounted the phone on a tripod and took these pictures hands-off, using the self-timer.  I’ve drawn some figures on the pictures with Photoshop Elements; I haven’t edited them in any other way.

IMG_1647

iPhone 6

Here is a test grid, taken with the naked phone.  (Please reply if you think you know what this grid is part of!)  The rows of holes should all be straight; and as the purple lines show, they are.  I used autofocus, as I figured a user of clip-on lenses would do.  The picture is a bit unfocused, even tho the phone claimed it was in focus.  To check the focusing, I enlarged the parts of the picture where the circles are.

Here’s the same grid, photographed with the macro lens.  I had to bring the phone to within 7/8 of an inch from the subject to focus it.  The pink lines show that there’s quite a bit of inward bending of straight lines (pincushion distortion).

IMG_1617

iPhone 6 + macro lens

Magnified focus test areas:

 

Wide-angle lens

A brick wall serves as our test pattern.  Here it is with the naked phone.  The white lines check for distortion.  I see slight pincushion distortion along the bottom line.

IMG_1566

iPhone 6

Magnified focus test areas:

Here’s the same wall, looking thru the wide-angle+macro lens combination.  There’s quite strong barrel distortion.  In addition, the inside of the lens body intrudes into the corners of the picture.  The lens isn’t wide enough for the job.

IMG_1576.png

iPhone 6 + wide-angle lens

Magnified focus test areas:

 

Fisheye Lens

Here’s the naked-camera test shot.

IMG_1662 lines

iPhone 6

I’m skipping the straight-line test for this picture because I expect a fisheye lens to bend the scene.  Magnified focus test areas:

Here’s the iPhone 6 plus the fisheye clip-on lens.

IMG_1692 lines

iPhone 6 + fisheye lens

Magnified focus test areas:

Conclusions

  1. The clip-on mounting system can cause distortion.
  2. The wide-angle and fisheye lenses don’t focus as well as my phone’s built-in camera.
  3. The wide-angle and fisheye lenses intrude the lens interiors into the corners of the pictures.
  4. All of the lenses have edge distortion and focusing issues.

You might have a little fun with these lenses if you’re not fussy about picture quality.  But if you’re shooting with a DSLR now, you’ll want to keep it.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.



Related posts

LUX HD450; bad company

spider-linkIf you’re researching the LUX HD450 clip-on phone lens, I’ll tell you up front; I don’t recommend the lens or the company selling it.  

The photo above shows the headquarters of the LUX HD450 Company on 6/9/16.  Okay, lots of legitimate home businesses use mailboxes.  But stick with me; I have more.

Many hands, one mailbox

Let’s google the address, “2658 Del Mar Heights Rd #368”, and see what else was going on here on Friday, 6/10/16:

  • Garcinia Slim Fast (also, a Ripoff Report on this product)
  • Elite Test360 (also, a Ripoff Report on this product)
  • PrimalCut
  • Jacked Muscle Xtreme
  • Natural Medicines
  • RippedMuscle
  • Miracle Green Coffee

Looks like this enterprise is not primarily a photographic equipment supplier.  I see many references in these pages to Delux Advertising LLC, which is tied to several other companies. (Thanks to David Staub for suggesting this address search.)

Web site comedy

If you click on a LUX HD450 advertisement or a “Buy it now” link in a product review, you’ll likely land on this web page.  Turn your sound down, because it’ll blast you with techno music.  Nice video.  Now let’s look more closely at the content (as of 6/10/16).  (Per their terms of usage, I’m not permitted to include images from the site.)

  • The first paragraph begins with the words “(Michael Whitfield)” as if he were the reporter.  But I couldn’t find anybody by that name online who is a journalist or is involved in photography.
  • Third paragraph; “It automatically filters your picture to the perfect setting, and works in every time of day including the night.”  But the lens looks clear; it must be quite a subtle filter, if it’s a filter at all.  Filters block part of the incoming light, so they wouldn’t be much help in the dark.  And pictures don’t have settings; cameras do.
  • “Christie from Dallas went backpacking last summer …”  I wonder how Christie recharged her phone in the backcountry?  This is fiction; that’s how.  Check the disclaimers at the bottom of the page: “The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not actual news.”  I’m guessing the same applies to the tweeted eulogies further down the page.
  • The lens brand comparison chart has a scientific look about it.  But who created it?  What are its sources?  As for the advice “Grab your set before the low introductory price is raised,” I found the same product sold by SMU Global on Amazon for $9.99.  The printing on the rims of the lenses, such as “0.67x Wide,” matches exactly.

Most of the links on the website lead to the order form, no matter what their labels say.  Home?  Order form.  Learn more?  Order form.  Once you land on the Order Form you can’t escape it by clicking your browser’s back-button.  You have to close the browser tab.

But About takes you to another advertising website.  The bottom of this page boasts “Made by LUXHD Cameras.”  Google and LinkedIn turned up no evidence that such a company exists.  If you click Home in this website, you’ll see a page with a photo of completely different lenses.  They’re also labeled “LUX HD450;” and here I thought “450” was a model number.  This website disables your back-button, too.

Fun with terms and conditions

In the lower right hand corner of the original website page, click a link labeled Terms And Conditions.  The self-obfuscating “LUX HD450 Terms Of Sale & Use” rewards the labor of reading it with some entertainment:

  • Section 3 limits the final resolution of a dispute to binding arbitration; you give up your right to go to court or join a class-action lawsuit.
  • Section 4B says that the company can take money from your charge account before it accepts your order.  Only when they ship your order do they accept it.
  • Section 4E says you can request a refund at any time — as long as it’s within 30 days of the date you made your order (not the date you received the product).
  • Section G says the company would treat a reversal of credit card charges as “theft.”  And it warns that the company monitors your online activity to use as evidence against you.  (I can see the NSA doing this, but not these guys.)
  • Section 5, by which time you may have fallen asleep, says the website’s content is for illustrative and informational purposes only.  They don’t guarantee that the product meets their own specifications, that it’s suitable for any use, that the website is correct and complete, etc.  However, Section 7E requires that any information you provide must be correct and complete.
  • Section 7D forbids you to re-sell products you buy on the website, even tho you’re pressured to buy three or more sets of lenses to get the $29-per-unit advertised price.

In upcoming posts, I’ll write about customer buying experiences and my own evaluation of the lenses.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.


Related posts

Photoshop Elements 11; Put an arrow on an image

Let’s use layers and the Cookie Cutter tool to make an arrow that points at something on a screen-capture image.  This is a handy tool for making instructional material.

Bring the image into PE.  Make sure that the Layers window is visible.Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.31.57 PM

Add a layer, by clicking the “folded sheet” tool at the left end of the Layer Window tool-bar (top right corner of screen).

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.22.14 PMName the layer “Arrow.”  Make the layer translucent.  Click the down-arrow next to Opacity and drag the slider tool to set an opacity you like.  Even if you want a solid arrow, do this now so you can see what you’re doing; you can change the opacity later.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.23.25 PM

Make sure Arrow is the current layer, so you don’t wipe out your image.  Make sure your primary color is the color of arrow you want (I’m using red).  Click the Paint Can tool in the left tool bar.  Click on the image to turn the whole Arrow layer red.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.24.25 PM

Click the Cookie Cutter tool in the left tool-bar.  It has several settings to pay attention to.

  • First, pick a shape; I like arrows.  Don’t worry about the direction or proportions of the shape; you’ll be able to change them shortly.
  • Make sure the proportions are unconstrained.  (Because working with “Constrained” feels like writing while the teacher controls your pencil.)
  • Make sure “From Center” is not checked.
  • For an arrow that isn’t fuzzy, make sure the Feather slider is all the way to the left.
  • Make sure “Crop” is not checked.  Crop would chop off most of your image after you drew your arrow.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.25.36 PM

Draw a box to cut your “cookie.”  This is the part of the Arrow layer that will stay visible; the rest of the “dough” gets thrown away.  Don’t click the green check-mark yet.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.26.22 PM

Move, stretch, squeeze and rotate the cookie.  If you mouse near the handles, you’ll see your cursor turn into the appropriate tool.  When it’s the way you want it, click the check.  If you change your mind after that, just Undo.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.27.17 PM

You might be wondering how I annotated the images in this tutorial with yellow highlighting.  I used PaintCat, a much simpler program–but it doesn’t make arrows!  8)

Southwest wilderness adventures 2016 — part 4

Central Utah

Friday 4/15:  We planned to drive west to Boulder UT today. Our way led thru higher mountains where the forecast was bad; Boulder had a 70% chance of snow showers and a high of 40 F. We drove north around the Canyonlands area to Hanksville; and bought gas and treats in the “hollow mountain” gas station, which except for its pumps is built inside a tunnel in a sandstone cliff.

Rain and snow hit us as we drove over the Waterpocket Fold ridge in Capitol Reef National Park. We paused at the visitor center. A ranger, on learning our intended route, warned us that the Boulder Mountain Pass snowplow stops working at dusk. She urged us to get over the pass quickly. Anxious about getting stranded, we bought a bag of groceries in Torrey. The storekeeper pointed out that the temperature was 46 F., too warm for snow to be a problem. “It never freezes until 4 AM,” she assured us.

Boulder PassArmed with contrary opinions, we headed up U-12. We soon saw snow, first in the trees and grass and then on the road. For several miles on each side of the 9600-foot pass, the world was white; fog obscured the mountains, and snow blew across the road. The temperature dropped to 26 F. A blurry, puny sun peered down thru the mist. That storekeeper must have been speaking of the weather in Torrey, not up here. We crept along, watching for poles and signs to stay on the road.

We dropped down out of the storm and started looking for our rental house. At first I couldn’t get on the Internet with my phone. Then I could, but Google Maps couldn’t locate the address. We saw nothing like the instructions the owner had emailed me. After three phone calls to the owner and a visit to a cafe for directions, we found a back road with the right name. I remembered that the picture of the house on the Internet had a single gable in the middle. We found a house with no number sign that had a single gable in the middle. I walked all around it in blowing snow and gathering darkness, peering under the doormats. No key.

I was for driving back to town and calling the owner. But Pat remembered hearing something about a pansy in the driveway; so we continued up the road. A few driveways later, we came to one with a plastic sunflower and the house-number we wanted. It was a very nice house; but we were a bit upset, and hungry too.

We drove back downtown (a clutch of small buildings at a kink in the highway) and had a good dinner at the surprisingly elegant Hell’s Backbone Grill. I wondered what the owner of the first house would make of our tire-marks and footprints in the snow. “It’s probably happened before,” Pat guessed.

Saturday 4/16:  The wind roared around the house during the night. It was snowing a bit during breakfast; then the clouds started to clear up. We went to the Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder. Here are interesting exhibits of Anasazi artifacts and explanations of their technology, all based on an excavated pueblo ruin behind the museum.

This pueblo was built in about 1150, and abandoned after only 50 years. The pueblo had been purposefully burned–by whom and for what reason is unknown. We entered a replica of part of one building. Walls were formed of stones with adobe mortar (mud and stones). Small stones were used to fill in large gaps between the big stones. Ceilings were made of log crossbeams, covered by mats of small branches, covered by adobe. The ceiling was somewhat low. The Anasazi averaged 5 feet 4 inches tall–the same height as were Europeans at that time.

filntWe drove down U-12 to milepost 72, where a museum handout said there was a trail to a natural bridge on the Escalante River. We followed a faint car-track to a dry wash, and then followed the wash. Here and there pinion pines and juniper grew, or it was choked by flood debris. We came to a sandstone dome and clambered up onto it. We never found the bridge; but Pat found a sandy basin with a lot of thin, sharp, slightly curved shards of flint and chert. Flint-knappers had made spearheads here; or had done so nearby, and these fragments had been washed into this basin. Such relics are not to be removed; “Take only photographs, leave only footprints.”

Hole In The Rock Road

Sunday 4/17:  When we got up, we saw a bit of dry snow in the grass outside the kitchen window. It didn’t look like an auspicious day for wading; but we would soon be doing that.

We drove down to the Burr Trail Trading Post (a nice little café) to meet guide Keith Watt of Earth Tours for a day of hiking and canyoneering along the Hole In The Rock road. Keith was a geology PhD who’d opted out of working for corporations and academia; “If you hate your job, just walk away and live your life.” Our party also included Meera, a business analyst and amateur opera soprano from California; her dog Sadie; Ace, a local photographer, volunteer ranger and guide-in-training; and his dog Genghis Khan. This is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, so dogs are allowed, unlike the policy of national parks and monuments.

As our SUV followed twisty U-12 into canyon country, Keith donned a wig and did a hilarious impression of local explorer John Wesley Powell, raving about how every little rivulet below Boulder Mountain and 50-mile Mountain had carved a giant canyon. “I’m glad I’m driving today instead of him,” Ace commented.

Midway between Boulder and Escalante, we turned south off U-12 onto Hole In The Rock Road. It’s named for a notch in the Glenn Canyon cliff to which it leads. The 1879 Mormon Hole In the Rock (San Juan) expedition widened and graded the hole with great labor (and dynamite) to make a passage down to the Colorado River for their wagons and livestock. Pioneers seldom afterward used the road; but it has become a route for recreational access to the heart of the Escalante canyon wilderness. This was a good dirt road as far as we went. If it were wet, of course, things would have been different.

Candyland

We parked and set off down an unpromising trail thru desert scrub. I told Ace, who was hiking rear guard, that I was going up a dry wash to pee. He walked ahead to the rest of the group and deadpanned, “Where’s Paul?”

We paused while Meera summoned Sadie, who’d found a rabbit to chase. It was all Ace could do to restrain Genghis, who was desperate to join the hunt.  Another group of hikers approached as we were about to turn off the main trail. Keith started channeling Powell again, delivering a pompous geology lecture sprinkled with Latin terms, until they moved on. “Works every time,” he chortled.

candylandHe didn’t want anybody to see where we were going. Before we left the main trail, he and Ace placed some fallen branches over the start of the side-trail, regretting that they hadn’t brought a broom to wipe out footprints. Then they led us to the trail by another route. “When you go off-trail, walk on rock to protect the plants and crypto (cryptobiotic soil, a fragile ground-cover of lichen and other microorganisms). If you have to cross sand, step on grass, or as a last resort walk in each others’ footsteps to minimize the damage. Sand in washes is okay to walk on, because the crypto can’t grow there.” Where no grazing is allowed, Keith has seen the delicate, frothy-looking crypto reach heights of 6 inches. Like Alice, he broke up any cairns he found, while muttering darkly about how the Internet is ruining the wilderness.

We hiked over several slickrock domes and crossed more washes. (Slickrock is sandstone bedrock. It’s usually fine to walk on unless sand makes it slippery. Early settlers whose metal-shod livestock had trouble with it named it slickrock.) We came to a sand-bottomed canyon whose pink and white-striped walls drew together like a funnel. Keith calls this place “Candyland.” (It has a more common name on the Internet, which I’m omitting here.) We stopped to change to shorts and put on water-shoes, left our gear and dogs in Ace’s care, and entered the funnel.

candyland canyonFirst came what seemed like an endless wade thru ice-cold water up to knee-deep. It hurt, and it didn’t get any better; “Faster!” I gasped. Keith obligingly sped up. I worried that I’d step into a depression that was really deep, but that didn’t happen. Next came a tight squeeze between canyon walls as little as one foot apart at shoulder height that met at the bottom. (This is what makes it a ‘slot canyon.’) We waded some more, then scrambled and squeezed our way (and pushed and pulled each other) thru several tight spots with coaching and help from Keith. Meera unleashed an operatic trill to test the echo.

When we’d gone as far as we could (about 400 feet) we turned back, taking pictures of the striped, fluted canyon walls until direct sunlight entered the canyon and made photography impossible. We left the same way we’d entered, with the advantages of gravity working in our favor and a bit of practice.

After drying off and changing back to normal hiking garb, we worked our way toward Tunnel Canyon, another slot canyon. A guide friend had told Keith that the water here was waist-deep; so we merely looked in. I saw a narrow canyon full of water, and was grateful to leave it at that. Part of the canyon was a double-ended cave; thus the name. But we weren’t able to see that part.

moqui marblesThe beige-colored slickrock in this area had collected spherical nodules along crevices and in shallow basins. They were heavy, dark brown and up to about 1.5 inches across; and there were millions of them. They were “Moqui marbles,” formed by iron dissolving out of sandstone and then precipitating onto iron cores. Silica also precipitated onto the cores; they were about 25% iron, and covered in rust. We’d noticed them sticking out of the canyon walls; as the sandstone erodes away, the Moqui marbles fall out and roll into low spots on the surface.

I wondered if a Moqui marble had a magnetic field. Kevin checked one with a magnet built into the strap of his eyeglasses and said apparently not. The name “”Moqui” comes from Spanish explorers’ term for the Anasazi; and from early Mormon pioneers who noticed little rooms in cliff dwelling ruins and guessed that a race of midgets, the Moqui, had built them. (The little rooms were really granaries.) I wanted to take home a marble as a souvenir. But the BLM had placed a “No Collecting” sign at the start of our trail, and I’m a good boy.

Keith picked up a clump of marbles cemented together with sandstone, commenting, “You need to be careful when you pick these up. There might be spiders under them or something.” A minute later he picked up another one and gasped. There was a scorpion on it! It was a rubber one, the worst kind; fortunately, its stinger had broken off.

Keith and Ace gave an interesting description of the Boulder community. Its population of 200 is half Mormon old-timers and half non-Mormon newcomers. The old-timers take a dim view of environmentalists (“Greenies”). “Greenies obstruct progress and take away jobs.” Keith grumbled about having to attend a boring Highway 12 meeting, but issues were afoot that he couldn’t ignore. There’s been a proposal to pave the Hole In The Rock road. And the billboard industry has been donating money to local politicians with an eye toward loosening advertising regulations. Billboards on U-12, which dances thru a series of beautiful canyons, would be a dismal prospect.

Devil’s Garden

We made another stop at Devil’s Garden. This short, easy loop trail circles a group of distinctive sandstone formations, including a sweet little arch.devil's garden

The Crack

Monday 4/18:  Hoping to locate a canyon that Keith had described, we returned to the Anasazi State Park Museum for maps and advice. The helpful attendant sent us down the Burr Trail Road that weaves thru the canyons east of town. A “No Collecting” sign was posted at the start of the road. We descended through white Navajo sandstone into the orange layer below. We stopped at a short dirt road 11 miles from Boulder, and walked down a dirt ramp into a canyon that locals call “The Crack.”

Here a small stream weaved across the narrow floor of a canyon with dramatic layered walls. A cottonwood forest within the canyon displayed fresh green leaves. Mexican grass, tumbleweed and willows lined the stream; we saw no sign of the invasive Russian olive and tamarisk trees that we’d seen along the San Juan River. Pat pointed out that the willows had dirt and debris banked up against their trunks; most or all of the canyon must have flooded earlier in the spring.

Pat at the CrackThree times we crossed the stream on “volunteer” stepping-stones. Pat noticed an interesting tree, which turned out to mark a side trail. This led us to a dry wash that climbed the side of the canyon. We found a shady spot for a snack. Then we got curious about what might be further up. From far away a canyon wall just looks colorful; but standing on it reveals a complex world.

We left our packs and climbed a steep dome above our picnic spot. Part of a ledge around the base of the dome broke under my weight; so I wanted to find a different route back down. We found a level stretch of a higher wash, and followed it down to a dirt hill next to our picnic spot. But I didn’t want to climb that hill because I might damage the crypto on it.

I told Pat I’d find a way down to the first wash and follow it back up to our picnic spot. The wash I was following joined onto a bigger one with a pink sandstone floor. This led to a drop-off that made me nervous. So I turned back, missed the side-channel I’d come out of and was lost. I saw some interesting stuff while casting around for the way I’d gotten here, including a slot side-canyon that might be the real “Crack.” But I resisted temptation, and went back to the drop-off to see if I could climb down somehow. Pat was standing in the basin below it, looking for me.

It was about an eight-foot drop, shaped like the spout of a pitcher. Slippery sand was present; handholds were not. So I walked back toward the slot canyon until I could climb over the left-hand ridge between the washes and meet Pat. This turned out to be the place I’d started from. So I slid down the dome to our picnic spot, despite the broken ledge, and was unlost.

All this fooling around had used up an hour; so we quickly hiked back to the car. Pat stopped at an organic grocery in Boulder and emerged clutching a weapons-grade dark chocolate bar to propel us into Arizona. On our way out of Boulder we saw a school bus; the driver was wearing a cowboy hat.

We drove down U-12, past the Hole In The Rock turnoff, to Escalante; then on U-89 past Bryce National Park (what a thing to skip!) to Mt. Carmel Junction. We had supper at the ’50s-themed Thunderbird Restaurant, featuring “Ho-made pies,” and moved on to Page AZ. Upon crossing the state line we gained an hour, because Arizona doesn’t acknowledge daylight saving time.

Previous; Moab area     Map     More pictures     Next; Northern Arizona

Comparing Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

As preparation for my neighborhood Democratic Caucus, I’ve made these impartial notes comparing the Dems’ two major candidates.  I’ve listed sources at the end of this post.  Keep in mind that this is a comparison at a point in time (March 2016).  To enable comparison, this is just a high-level summary; see the sources for details.

Personal

Sanders

  • Born in 1941 in New York.  Jewish.  Father; paint salesman.
  • Brooklyn College, University of Chicago; Political Science degree
  • 1962: Congress Of Racial Equality, housing segregation sit-in participant
  • 1963: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer, March On Washington participant
  • Applied for Conscientious Objector status; this was rejected, but he was never drafted
  • 1970-1979: Member of Liberty Union Party (anti-war); thereafter independent
  • Israeli kibbutz
  • Head Start teacher; various middle-class jobs

Clinton

  • Born 1947 in Chicago.  Father; fabric store owner.
  • 1964: Campaigned for Barry Goldwater (GOP)
  • 1968; Joined Democratic Party
  • Wellesley College, Yale University; Law degree; Yale Child Study Center
  • 1971: Senator Mondale’s Subcommittee on Migrant Workers staffer
  • 1972: Campaigned for George McGovern
  • 1974: House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Nixon impeachment inquiry staffer; allegedly fired for unethical professional behavior
  • 1974: Taught at University of Arkansas Law School
  • 1976: Campaigned for Jimmy Carter

Public service

Sanders

  • 1981-1989: Mayor of Burlington, Vermont
  • 1991-2007: House of Representatives.  Opposed the Iraq War.
  • 2007-present: Senate
    • 2008: Protested proposed bank bail-out
    • 2010: Delivered 8.5-hour filibuster against Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
    • Skipped the 2016 AIPAC pro-Israel conference

Clinton

  • 1979: Arkansas state First Lady for 12 years
    • Arkansas Educational Standards Committee chair
    • Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families co-founder
  • 1993-2001: First Lady
    • Task Force on National Health Reform chair
  • 2001-2009: Senate
    • World Trade Center redevelopment; 9/11 responder health issues
    • Supported 2001 Afghanistan invasion, 2002 Iraq invasion, enlarging armed services
    • Voted against Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
    • Voted against Central America FTA
    • Voted against Federal Marriage Amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage
  • 2009-2013: Secretary of State
    • “Arab Spring” diplomacy
    • Military intervention in Libya
    • Advocated for women’s rights and human rights

Positions

Sanders

  • Campaign finance reform
  • Expansion of voting rights
  • Single-payer health care system
  • Environmentalist
  • Income inequality
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Pro-choice
  • Opposes fracking
  • Opposes use of GMOs in food
  • Opposes holding gun makers/sellers liable for crimes

Clinton

  • Lowering student debt
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Health care; improved coverage, lower costs
  • Women’s rights
  • Death penalty qualified supporter
  • Favors fracking
  • Favors or equivocal about use of GMOs in food
  • Has changed positions on gay marriage, trade deals

Weaknesses

Sanders

  • Vague over how to pay for social programs
  • Seems out of step with young peoples’ issues

Clinton

  • 1990s: Whitewater real estate project and bank failure
  • 2012: Benghazi attack led to accusations of State Department mismanagement
  • Used personal email address for government business
  • Financial and political ties to Monsanto

Potential to win over Trump

Sanders

  • Polls show him beating Trump by a wider margin than Clinton.  Quinnipiac University poll; 49% to 39%

Clinton

  • Favored over Trump in several polls.  Quinnipiac; 46% to 40%

Sources

Clinton, Hilary: Biography.com

fracking: Grist 9/5/14

GMOs, Monsanto: Institute for Responsible Technology 12/22/15 Washington Times 5/17/2015  Huffington Post 6/23/15

polls: RealClearPolitics

Senate: Wikipedia

Sanders, Bernie: Biography.com

fracking: Grist 1/28/16

GMOs, Monsanto: Huffington Post 6/23/15

guns: NBC 5/8/2016

polls: RealClearPolitics

Senate: Wikipedia

weaknesses: The Nation, 1/22/16

About comments

Normally, I publish all comments about my posts, unless they’re spam.  However, my policy for this post will be different.

I’ve been a moderator on another website that disallows any discussion of politics or religion, on the grounds that these topics tend to attract flaming and other stupid behavior.  I’ve seen that this is a good policy for maintaining a pleasant and respectful online community.  So that’s my comments policy for this post.

The Bookstore Move Adventure; May 2015

I love books.  And I love bookstores!  Today they’re an endangered species, and I mourn each one that passes. So, when I heard that Seattle’s East West Bookshop was in trouble, I wanted to help.

East West has survived this long because it’s a eclectic spiritual resource; and because it’s associated with Ananda, an intentional community based north of Seattle. But now Sound Transit was building the new Roosevelt District subway station next-door.  This project eliminated the parking lot of a nearby grocery and much of the street parking on the block. As much as Seattle promotes bicycling and public transit, without parking, most businesses die–not to mention one that’s competing with Costco and Amazon.  The final straw; the landlord had raised the bookstore’s rent.

A vacant store had been found in a mini-mall across the street; it offered free parking.  But getting the bookstore over there before its lease ran out at month-end, while keeping it open enough to avoid income starvation, was a big challenge.  A call went out for volunteers.

The move kicked off Sunday afternoon with a briefing in the old store. I had supposed that a book store would need to be somewhat systematic in such a move; but the procedure they laid out was awesome. We were issued “shopping lists” for each bookshelf in the new store. Each list itemized the shelves in the old store whose books were to be packed together in numbered plastic tubs, in reverse alphabetic order by author. When unpacked, the books would go up in alphabetic order. Slick!

Of course in practice it wasn’t quite that slick. Pat and I packed the New Arrivals shelves. But we kept getting confused about which way to orient the armloads of books we were putting in the tubs. Then we ran out of tubs. While we waited for empties to come back from the new store, we piled books on the floor in alphabetical order so they’d be reversed when we out them in tubs later.

We moved on to other jobs. I ended up in the new store, shelving New Arrivals. This didn’t go smoothly. The woman I was working with wasn’t sure which tub to empty next, nor in what order to get piles out of the tubs. We kept finding piles that started with different letters, and I had to move the shelved books again and again as the collection grew from the middle. “Who packed these books, anyway?” She grumbled. I was very quiet.

Books were just the start of the challenge. There were wind chimes, fountains, yoga props, toys, bookshelves, ceramics, track lighting, glass display cases, candles, greeting cards, clothing–and, everywhere, awkward, delicate things that needed to be moved. And then there was the back office, filled with desks, computers, printing supplies, catalogs, class material, a kitchen with all its accouterments, and decades of detritus. Now and then somebody would announce “I need people at the loading dock!” Or I would pester a staff member (who understandably didn’t want volunteers to goof up the store’s operation) for something to do.

Together with a variety of friends and strangers, I packed, loaded trucks, unloaded trucks, unpacked, took down, arranged and destroyed. I helped load a pickup truck, and jumped in with the driver. He pulled into the intersection of 65th and Roosevelt just as the light changed, and got jammed sideways. I heard only one protesting honk; Seattle drivers are pretty laid-back. The light changed again; he completed his left turn, drove to the end of the block and quickly made three more lefts. He parked and took off his seat belt.

“So,” I said. “Why did we come back?”

“This is the old store,” he explained. Then a pause; “Oh!” He slapped his forehead. “I just drove 200 miles; I’m kinda loopy.” He headed out into traffic again and parked in front of the new store.

The mini-mall had a huge freight elevator. If we didn’t keep pushing Door Open, the cage door would come down and scare us while we were loading it. When the elevator was well and truly stuffed, we’d squeeze in and exhale to make room as the cage door came down next to our noses; then the vertical doors shut their rubber lips. The wall crawled downward, a sight that normal elevator users never see; “Eighth floor; higher chakras, lingerie!”

An inclined corridor descended from the upper landing to the back door into the new store. I treated myself to a ride down the ramp on a four-wheeled stool. When furniture was coming thru, people returning to the elevator took refuge on the sills of the windows overlooking Roosevelt Avenue.

At ten o’clock Thursday night, the last day of May, Pat said it was time to go home. But there was so much left to do. The warren of storerooms and offices in the old store still had stubborn remnants of detritus, and the carpets were gritty. Pat thought the owner might not come for the keys until Friday afternoon; even so, it would be a near thing. The Event Room in the new store was crammed with boxes, tubs and furniture, and it was needed for a yoga class and the grand opening party.

On Friday I hurried to the old store after breakfast, and was put to work packing office supplies. I was unscrewing partitions from the wall with a screw gun when a young girl came in, working with her mother. She looked to be about 12; but she held up her end, sometimes fending off advice with “I know!” I invited her to finish unscrewing a partition, and she did it handily, zip-zip-zip. She said the gun was like her dad’s.

Another interesting job was unbolting a small safe from a closet floor. I had to do it thru the safe’s little door. What a fine tool a ratchet wrench is!

After a tasty lunch at Rain City Burgers, I spent the afternoon vacuuming, alternating between a shop vac and an upright. By now the old store was nearly empty, and its floor seemed to go on forever–like mowing a football field by hand.

Across the street, the new store had hastily opened for business, despite a room full of cartons and furniture.

IMG_0970Postscript; at the end of the year, I heard that East West Books is doing better in its new location.  (The old store across the street is still vacant; that landlord lost a good tenant.)  We came in to do some Christmas shopping.  It’s attractive, well-organized (albeit somewhat differently than was intended last spring) and full of interesting stuff.  How cool to know that in a small way I’ve helped push back the corporate monoculture by keeping this unique little bookstore alive.