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What a Short, Familiar Trip It’s Been!

This isn’t a WordPress theme designed for showing lots of photos, but I’m going to share a few from the drive.

Finally! I think I ordered the tickets for tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open, at Pebble Beach, at least eight or nine months ago. The day has arrived and we left Simi around 12:30 today, after a quick lunch at Mod Pizza. We drove up in Steve’s brand new Ford Edge, taking the 5 North to Santa Nella, which is somewhat East of Gilroy, which everyone knows is the garlic capitol of the world.

As we drove North I was pleased to see there are still some carpets of wildflowers dotting the hillsides, and I managed to snap this photo of some poiple flowers somewhere between Mt. Pinos and Tejon Pass.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve traveled this route and, even though descending from the Grapevine into the San Joaquin Valley portends a fairly boring drive for the next few hours, I’ve always enjoyed this part of it.

As a young man, I must have hitchhiked up and back from the Bay Area dozens of times; many of them were up the 99, before the 5 was completed. The first few years after completion, the 5 was faster, but depressingly boring. Here’s where those two roads diverged in a yellow field.

We passed this raceway, which we at first thought was the Buttonwillow Raceway, but it turned out to be the Kern County Raceway Park. It seems, from the highway, like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but the map shows it’s actually not far from Bakersfield. In case you didn’t know it, Merle Haggard was born in Oildale, a small town just North of Bakersfield. Back in the late sixties, I spent a week in Oildale one day, but that’s another story involving a school bus and an anti-war demonstration in San Francisco.

The two cups of coffee I had for breakfast, and the beer I had at lunch, finally caught up to me and we had to make a pit stop in Kettleman City.

According to Wikipedia, “The San Joaquin Valley has been called ‘The food basket of the world’, for the diversity of its produce. Walnuts, oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success.

Steve and I had no trouble identifying grapes, corn, and cauliflower, but I originally thought these trees were almond trees. However, after a reverse image search, we’re pretty sure these are pistachio trees.

We arrived and have checked in. We’re watching the end of the 3rd round. As soon as it’s over, we’re walking across the parking lot to have dinner at Pea Soup Andersen’s. After that, we’re heading to the Paraiso Brewery in Los Banos. Tonight is comedy night.

I’m hopeful I can capture some of the beauty of the course at Pebble tomorrow. We’ll see.

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Respect to our Indigenous Brothers & Sisters

My first foray into blogging was at Blogger, where I posted as The Cranky Curmudgeon (https://crankycur.blogspot.com/). My very first post was on Thursday, February 23, 2006, and you can read it here. I posted reasonably frequently for a while, but I’ve always been somewhat sporadic in my writing, mostly because I get deeply involved in my work and just haven’t been comfortable spending time coming up with subjects, then researching and writing about them. Now that I’m semi-retired and, more importantly, my girls are growing up (my oldest just graduated High School last week) I have more free time. I also would like to see if I can make a little money writing and posting to my blog is great practice. I’m contemplating a book about the Peace & Justice movement in Los Angeles during the late sixties and early seventies, when I was extremely active. That’s another story.

My last post to The Cranky Curmudgeon was on February 1, 2014, which seems a bit weird as it was long after I started Systems Savvy (where you are now) and over two years since my previous post at the end of 2011. I suppose I could do a little archaeology and figure out what I did back then, but I’ll leave that for some other time. What’s important now is I just want to share this video. I believe it was created to run during Super Bowl XLVIII. Unfortunately, it didn’t (as far as I know) and it really should have, IMO. It makes a very important point, which I don’t think has been satisfactorily settled yet. So I’m offering it here, where a few people may view it and it will remain until the Sun goes red giant and swells to engulf our planet. Which means it will be viewable for at least another billion or so years. Hope you enjoy it!


119th U.S. Open

Tomorrow, Steve (my former colleague, great friend, and gym partner) and I are heading up North for the final day of the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, California. We’re going to head out a little after noon and hightail it up to either Santa Nella or Gustine, CA, both of which are East and a wee tad North of the Monterey Peninsula.

I have been to Pebble Beach once before, about 18 years ago. We went to the AT&T and stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where I purchased a boar bristle shaving brush that is as lush and comfortable to use today as it was when I first purchased it. Wasn’t cheap, but I have no doubt it will last another twenty years, which is probably longer than I’m going to last, as I’ll be 92 by then!

I’ve seen a few nice courses in my life; even played a few of them, but I’ve never played Pebble. It is, however, surely one of the most beautiful places on Earth. One of my enduring—and moderately painful—memories of that tournament has to do with the pictures we took. Upon returning, we took our photos to Costco for processing. Back then photos were all just left in their envelopes in a big box on the counter and people were free to rummage through the box and find their own photos. Unfortunately for us, someone found, and took, our photos. They never returned them. I’m hopeful I can get a few pics this time around, though there are plenty of wonderful pictures available, so it’s no longer terribly important to me to have photos . . . unless it’s a selfie with Tiger or Phil in the background.


For The Little Man

Wishing (you know who you are) many more
preferably in some Federal Correctional Facility.

Reservoir Goodness!

I’ve only been following this chart for a couple of years, but this is the first time all of the reservoirs shown in it have been above their historical average. A lot of them are also fairly close to their maximum capacity. It would be nice if this trend continues for a few years. I’m tired of drought conditions. We still conserve water; I hope everyone in California does. Actually, I hope everyone, everywhere is thoughtful about water usage.


Will Someone Stand Up?

In the 2020 General Election, coming up waaaaay sooner than you think, time being what it is, there are eight (count ’em, eight) Republican Senators who are up for election unopposed. Actually, two of the eight are retiring but, in all cases, whether it’s a replacement or the incumbent, they’re all running unopposed. This is an intolerable situation, IMO.

Allowing any Republican, all (save for Justin Amash) of whom have shown themselves to be hapless sycophants, bowing to the whims of the most destructive and inhumane President in modern history, to run without any Democratic opposition is something we should avoid at all costs.

  • Bill Cassidy, Louisiana (In 2014 he beat three-term incumbent, Democrat Mary Landrieu, 56 percent to 44 percent. Don’t know if there are any Democrats in the running at present.)
  • Mike Enzi, Wyoming (Retiring – This seat is considered safe by most people.)
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi (Hyde-Smith defeated Mike Espy last November in a racially charged campaign.)
  • James Inhofe, Oklahoma (This is the schmuck who brought a snowball into the Senate chambers to make the argument that global warming can’t be possible because it’s still cold somewhere.)
  • Pat Roberts, Kansas (Retiring – Maybe a lost cause, as he ran unopposed last time and Kansas is a deep red state)
  • Mike Rounds, South Dakota (The entire state has approximately a quarter of a million voters. Unknown if there are enough Democrats to matter.)
  • Ben Sasse, Nebraska (In the 2014 election, there were a little over a half million voters; Sasse won every county in the State – 64% to 31%)
  • Dan Sullivan, Alaska (In the 2014 election, Sullivan won by 2.2% with a total of only a little over a quarter million voters. This state could be ripe for a flip.)

After the 2016 General Election, I worked with a group of people who were creating a canvassing tool that was designed to use AI to better prepare people who were out knocking on doors. It would have used demographics and historical voting data to train a machine learning algorithm on the patterns to be found in the data. Unfortunately, our primary investor kept adding requirements and ultimately squeezed the value right out of the app.

Nevertheless, our original concept we had discussed was to use machine learning to help political organizations make the most effective (not merely efficient) use of their various resources, e.g. time, money, people, connections, as well as understanding the political environment based on polls and overall news coverage.

Frankly, nobody I know of has sat down and begun to develop such a decision model, though I would dearly love to see it happen. It’s what we envisioned after Trump “won” and I still think it’s a viable approach. It does look like it’s a somewhat daunting challenge, however, when it comes to how expensive it would be to gather all the data we’d need access to, as well as develop the algorithms that would analyze and correlate the data.

Regardless, it seems a shame so many Republicans might run without any Democratic opposition. You’d think the least we can do is make them fight for their seats, which would include forcing them to shift resources around as well. It should be part of the overall pattern of the elections, which I’m unconvinced the Democratic Party really understands.


An Old Poem

My oldest is almost 18 and, as a result, one of the things we need to do is transfer ownership of several documents to her. This is turning out to be a bit more problematic than I had hoped. I can’t seem to find a couple of documents I thought I knew the location of. I have some serious searching to do or we need certified copies of a few things. I’ll have more to say about this but, while I was searching I found an old, fairly silly poem I wrote about 30 – 35 years ago and I thought I’d post it here so I can throw away the paper on which it’s written. So . . . here goes:

I can write a poem
I can pen some verse
I can make it florid
I can do it terse
I can be profane
I can wax profound
Or lay it on real thick
And sling it by the pound

I know. Makes no sense; means even less, but I wrote it and it’s my poem . . . and I’m stickin’ to it. So there!!


The Strategic Complexity Framework – for Dummies

Based on a post from my friend, John Husband, I came across this great article by Vinay Gupta, which simply and (I think) quite elegantly lays out an understanding of an issue I have long sought to internalize . . . but which I’m loathe to claim I actually understand or can clearly articulate. Part of the reason I’m posting this is so I have access to the two simple explanations of the framework. What follows is a bit of Gupta’s post, with a link at the end to the original.

I recently pestered my friend Noah Raford to summarize his understanding of Cynefin and complexity in a single page document. Noah called it the Strategic Complexity Framework.

I, being still a bit dyslexic, can never keep the “simple, complicated, complex, chaotic” thing from Dave Snowdon‘s Cynefin framework straight in my head. And I think about complexity as having three domains (but that’s another story.)

So I’ve taken advantage of open licensing to produce a version of Noah’s Strategic Complexity Framework, called the Strategic Complexity Framework… for Dummies.

A translation guide:
Simple (= Simple): put stuff in boxes.
Hard (= Complicated): build a rocket ship.
Fickle (= Complex): weather, economy, farming.
Borked (= Chaotic): war zones, collapses, volcanos.

There’s a ton of great work out there on the background to all of these models, but I have conveniently filed knobs off. Simple!

Source: The Strategic Complexity Framework – for Dummies | The Bucky-Gandhi Design Institution


Ode(o) to Ben Carson

Not quite three weeks ago Ben Carson was being question by Katie Porter, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. For those who haven’t heard about it, or (assuming you’re reading this long after it happened) hadn’t heard about it, she asked him if he knew what REO stood for. It is a technical term that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should have known.

Instead, Secretary (or is it Buffoon?) Carson thought she was asking him about Oreo cookies. Hilarity ensued, especially on Twitter. My response was to take to Photoshop for a moment and whip together what went through my mind when I heard of this.


Can’t Fight This Feeling

PS – If you’re really interested, REO stands for “Real Estate Owned” and is used to designate properties that have gone into foreclosure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_estate_owned


“Not a Big Fan”

The original anti-fascist movement prepares to disrupt a large Nazi gathering.

In an interview with Piers Morgan that aired on June 4, two days before the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, in France, Donald Trump was asked if he wished he had served in Vietnam. His response: “Well, I was never a fan of that war, I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was a terrible war. I thought it was very far away. At that time, nobody had ever heard of the country.”

I wasn’t a big fan of the war in Vietnam either, but I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the Spring of ’66, just as things were beginning to heat up again. I failed my physical, as I was born with club feet, which required surgery to correct my left foot when I was five years old. The doctors saw the four large incision scars on my foot, ankle and shin, and nixed my service.

I argued that sailors don’t do a lot of marching and I should be able to make it. They let me in. When I arrived at the United States Naval Training Center in San Diego, I immediately suspected I had made a mistake. As the bus I was on drove into the camp, I could see numerous company’s of men marching on the largest blacktop (we called it a grinder) I’d ever seen. As it turned out, marching was one of the things we did a lot of . . . and it was hell on my arthritic ankle and my shortened Achilles tendon.

There was on thing, one punishment that was meted out to us that sealed my participation and my eventual discharge. During graduation ceremonies, we would be required to bend our left leg at the knee so we could rest our rifles against the inside of our thighs (so the rifles wouldn’t clatter to the ground) while we screwed our white hats onto our heads in preparation for demonstrating some physical exercises with those rifles.

When our Company Commander thought we needed some admonishment or straightening out, he would make us stand in that position for up to a half hour. It required me to bend my left ankle in a way it just wasn’t capable of doing, as I have a shortened Achilles tendon. Needless to say, it was becoming quite painful after a while. All the marching wasn’t exactly helping either.

I decided to go to sick bay, where they x-rayed my left ankle and, after reading the film and seeing I had arthritis in my ankle, I was offered an honorable discharge. I declined. When I went back to my company, to a man they all told me I was an idiot and that I should take the discharge. Two days later, I decided they were correct and by early July I was a civilian, with a DD214 that said I served 1 month and 23 days. It also said I had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

I don’t think of myself as a veteran. I have never attempted to get veteran’s benefits, making a conscious choice after my discharge to not use benefits that others needed far more than I did. I know I wasn’t officially in long enough to quality, but I believe I could have made the case they should never have let me in and the hours and hours of marching and painful standing at “five-and-dive” exacerbated my medical issues . . . but I chose not to try.

After I was discharged, I became more and more opposed to the war and, by 1968 I was involved in the anti-war movement. I also joined a group of leftists, including a bunch of lawyers from an organization called Bar Sinister, in a Hapkido class. I could do most everything, but kicks that involved using the heel of my left foot were problematic and I almost broke it sparring one time.

We eventually morphed into a security team, doing everything from protecting demonstrators to armed security work for people like Jane Fonda, Roger McAfee, Hortensi Bussi Allende, and Vietnamese students in the U.S., among many others. I believed then, and I believe now, I was serving my country by opposing a cruel, illegal, and unjust war; a war that was killing my friends, one of whom it was my solemn duty to serve as a pall bearer for not too long after graduating High School.

I’m proud of what I did, though I frequently have wished I had tried a little harder to stay in the Navy. I do believe my work in the anti-war movement was important and valuable. Nobody paid us, and hardly anybody ever thanked us, but we prevented a lot of bad shit from happening . . . and helped, in many small ways, to end the war in Vietnam.


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