Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tony Brandenburg: The March of Folly

Pasadena: World Class City
Last night I heard a couple of politicians refer to Pasadena as a “World Class City.” I had no idea. I kinda guessed it, I mean, after all there is a music hall, orchestra, a couple of museums, lots of churches, a light rail, and that classy 35’er joint. All of these are certainly indicators of a world class city. Heck, because of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, Pasadena is pretty much world famous. Never mind that I have been to thirty countries in the world and all of their people stare blankly at me when I say, “You know, the home of the Rose Parade” (click here).

Don’t  they know that the Rose City is a famous World Class City? I certainly didn’t way back when, but I do now. I watched them turn a skid row into a Cheesecake Factory. I know that when I think of the great cities I like to revisit -  Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Hamburg, London ... I always think of Pasadena, too. I mean, who doesn’t, right?

Long gone are the days when blowing things up in the Arroyo Seco was a cause for panic (click here), and JPL is practically an American institution (click here) but still, the nagging question remains: Will we ever have a Jack Parsons Parade?

Back to my point: of all of the great cities in America, Pasadena is only outclassed twice - by Baltimore and Cleveland.

You go, Rose Kings.

A Waste is an Awful Thing to Mind
I got to thinking today. That’s never a good thing. It inevitably leads to more thinking. It generally devolves into trouble and misfortune. I was thinking about one of those useless pearls of wisdom: I think the phrase is Idle Hands are the Devil’s Plaything, or some such nonsense. My friend’s mom used to always say that when I was a kid. She also called me devil spawn.

Anyway. When I get to thinking too long on something the outcome can never be good.

Give Me Plastic, or Give me Death
The Tattler has discussed the folly of our northwestern neighbors and their green obsession, specifically in regards to plastic bags (click here). I have never really chimed in on the topic, but I am a little behind the beat sometimes.

Listen:  I am all for stupid rules, especially when they are engineered by well-meaning buffoons in suits (click here). I also support higher taxes, unlimited fiscal waste, more Federal holidays, covert meetings, smash-up derbies, and city government members meetings wearing beer sipping hats. I love hearing the Pasadena Board of Education president Renatta Cooper talk about taking tequila shots after my friend Mary and I speak at meetings. It makes me feel validated that the truth drives people to drink, but who’s going to eat that nasty worm?

In fact, I think all meetings of this caliber should be conducted with the members of the BOE passing around a bottle of Jack Daniels. Now that’s integrity! There is also the other method of conflict resolution (click here), right Mr. Honowitz?

So. There are a few things I have learned from this little rule, and to the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, take heed. I live in a city that is surrounded by neighboring cities. That means I can drive in three directions for shopping. I may drive to Pasadena, or to Arcadia/Temple City, or to Arcadia/Monrovia. Pasadena’s  ban on bags, which I may purchase for 10 cents a piece if I forget mine - annoys me on two levels:

1 - I do not appreciate paying a dime to promote branding i.e. showing my neighbors I use your product so that they might be influenced to as well (as if they can’t think, right?); and

2 - I feel cheated by you because you are profiting at the expense of the cause you supposedly support.

My friends the dolphin free tunas, the range-free bison, and the Sierra Madre illegally bred chinchillas do not get saved. In fact, their plight is being exploited, and they are being used. Maybe that ten cents a bag emblazoned with the Whole Foods logo should go straight into the kitty to help Save the Whales, to euthanize encroaching wildlife, to build a dog park, promote a flea circus, save a panda for the WWF (click here), or some other charity.

Every day Ralph’s sells a bag, another Unicorn loses its Horn.
My solution is to do my big purchase grocery shopping in Temple City, Arcadia, and Monrovia. When I do that I also spend my money there on gas there. If I feel the need to go to Target? I go to Duarte. Staples? I go to Rosemead. The City Council of Pasadena has cost Pasadena stores and gas stations in Pasadena more than ten thousand Brandenbucks annually, as well as grossly hiked taxes that could’ve been transinflated into ‘denas, but will instead become recused as ‘rcadians and ‘rovians. I suggest you consider what I am saying, and follow suit. It’s time to stand up to these so called “environmental” bullies and tell them to back off.

Thank your City Hall, retailers of Pasadena.

The Eco-Police
The best part of this policy is the Orwellian drive to rat out your neighbors and shopkeepers. According to the policy, enforcement of the ban will be complaint driven. Code Enforcement within the City’s Planning & Community Development Department will investigate any complaints.

Amazing. On one hand the Pasadena City Council spend countless millions of dollars - your tax dollars - to build pack-n-stack apartments, a train line, a special road for bicyclists, and a plan for community schools. They do this, allegedly, to build bridges between the communities. With the other hand they encourage people to snitch on the environmentally unsound. They even have a crack-shot investigative team of handle it

Obviously these people are totally insane and should be institutionalized, but they are not. In fact, instead of locking them up, we put them in charge of the very junta that keeps are children imprisoned every day. They are in charge of mandating the very School Board we are indentured to. But wait! There’s more.

Our taxes pay for this insanity.

Why Pasadena Cares Less About the Poor than You Do
Some people are exempt from the policy, and thus cannot be touched by the long arm of the Eco-Police. You may ask, just who are these special people? What is this special class so beholden (click here)?  Who is it that has been exempted from paying the fee? The lucky people who are exempted are those who cannot afford the bag fees, those of us who are just flat broke:

The charge will be waived for customers participating in either the State Department of Social Services Food Stamp Program or the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children

This all was the result of the Green Fascistic Accords, as you’ll recall, and a study, which probably cost the magic number ($50,000) (click here) and which stated:

On September 18, 2006, the City Council adopted a comprehensive environmental Green City Action Plan (GCAP) based on 21 specific actions identified in the United Nations Green Cities Declaration and Urban Environmental Accords (UEA). The adopted plan identifies the development of a plastic bag reduction program to support the goals of achieving zero waste to landfills by 2040, reducing the use of a disposable, toxic, or non-renewable product category by 50 percent by 2012, and protecting the watershed.

Let’s get this straight. If you are the poorest among us, you have the permission of the Pasadena City Council to skip this rule. You can also skip it if you are a farmer’s market seller, or a restaurateur.

In other words, one of the groups most affected by damage to the watershed - farmers - are encouraged to cut their own environmental throats.

Brilliant!

Another group, the poor, are allowed, even encouraged - to destroy the watershed and abuse the landfills. Technically, they aren’t even allowed to be part of the Green Machine because they are below the poverty line.

So, the City Council members will exempt the poor?

Well, no, not exactly. Actually the City Council choose to hand them the very material needed to destroy the environment, and they will do it free of charge. If you or I want the privilege of wrecking the landfills, we have to give ten cents  a pop, payable to the supermarkets. Obviously, they want to destroy the environment, too, or they wouldn’t make the bags with their company brand lasered on them in the first place.

Does any of it even make sense?

Oh I forgot: Don’t worry, be happy. The guys who brown bag their tall-boys can do it right out in the open. In doing so, they are being environmentally sound alcoholics.

Devil’s plaything, Devil’s workshop. If you overthink it you’ll go to Hell. OK. Got it.

Obviously the City of Pasadena cares less about the farmers and about the poor than you do. Even the Pasadena bicyclists feel the eco-love. That’s why the ‘Dena is a world class city, and that’s why we all are just a bunch of Sierra Madre hillbillies.

Man, I wish we were forward thinking and cultured enough to have an orchestra, a couple of Denny’s, a few museums, and other cool pointy-headed stuff, too.

Oh. Did I mention Luis Ayala is an attorney? (click here)

Please save your questions for the candidates until after the resolutions are passed. Thank you.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

82 comments:

  1. My understanding is that the 10cent fee per bag is supposed to go into a "public art" fund. I guess this means that after they collect enough of our money, they will grace the city of Pasadena with some type of "art". I have an idea. Why don't we pay those "poor" people on food stamps to collect plastic bags, bring them in for recycle, and then the city can use those very same bags to create some type of public art to display. It can be done.

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    1. How about large statues of bag ladies?

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    2. There are many public art Installations in Pasadena. They are called "The Spirit of Pasadena" by many because they capture the true spirit of the Rose City. Some people call them parking meters.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Not that we're against your stalking people here, you just need to do it with a little more originality.

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    2. killjoy. always zaps the good stuff before i can read it. like space invaders or pac-man. john just gobbling up the naughty-naughty words.

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    3. Maybe he's saving the zapped stuff for the book... By the way, how's the book coming, Crawford?

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    4. You're reading it. It's an e-book.

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    5. I like it. Serialized. Kinda like the Saturday Evening Post. Kinda.

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    6. Having seen the kind of remarks the Dirts and the Downtown Investment Club members can come up with on the obscene websites they supported during the Measure V fight, I'm, grateful that Crawford monitors and deletes.
      The Civility Party behaves as anything but.

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    7. Readers Digest.

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    8. Moderator, can you start saving the zapped comments in a file. Could make a funny unrated Tattler article.

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    9. Trust me, it would be about as much fun as visiting an outhouse.

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    10. The Mod is right. I've seen some of the bad ones - no cleverness, no creativity. Just a primitive kind of nastiness that ends up being depressing because it's from an adult.

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  3. I don't get the bag ire. This has been done in other cities and it's accomplished what it set out to do: get people to use re-usable bags and reduce landfill and street trash.

    What we want to do is be so lazy we take things that seem free, and use them, and damage things like our watershed so we get to pay more to fix it later.

    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. We pay for it one way or another. I agree with solving the problem up front.

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    1. Plastic bags are one of those bad ideas that never should have made it out to the public. They should have been biodegradable in the first place.

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    2. it's not ire. it's independent choice. i find it significantly easier to just buy less locally, and that's a good thing. No one needs to tell me to reuse bags, i generally carry a back pack and just throw things into it.

      these rules we are handed are just another subtle way in which your government makes decisions for you centrally, then hand it down to your local government to deliver to you locally.

      Do you really need to be told by your government how to shop? how about this? no bags at all like they do in europe. you can take the train or bike to your stop and shop and carry just what you need right now out the door in your arms, put it into the basket on your bike, and pedal home.

      That's what they want you to do here. Get rid of your car and be slaves to their transit lines for long distance travel. that's not ire, that's what you are being set up for.

      I actually think it's funny, and the whole write up is a goof.

      Lets have our government tell us to get rid of all plastic containers,too. pour bleach into a glass jar and take it home when you need some. bring a glass into the market and get the milk straight from a cow with a "whole foods" logo painted on it. get nabisco crackers,tm, from a trashbin like i do at petco, tm.

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    3. I shop at Costco. No bags there - plastic or otherwise. Actually I don't mind bringing my own reusable bags and I don't see the difference between declaring you use a backpack and carrying a large bag (like many women) or two or three reusables. I've also been experimenting with online staples buying at Vons.com, Amazon.com, and a couple of other sites. Times are changing. Adapt or go the way of the original 35er.

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    4. Every time I have to fish those dirty old cloth bags out of the trunk of my car I send a little curse Bill Bogaard's way.

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    5. What? Bill won't let you wash them?

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    6. i hear you 859, but for a man who carries a backpack into retailers, i am asked more than not to either open it up, or to leave it at the counter. i mean, i don't see this happen to women, ever. double standard.

      it isn't the end of my life or anything, but sometimes i wish i would open it and snakes in a can would spring out of it.

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    7. 9:00 - having to do extra laundry might be Bill's most enduring contribution to my life.

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    8. My "reusable" plastic bags break and end up in the same landfill as the "bad" ones. The only difference is that I now get to pay for these bags.

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    9. Doesn't laundry detergent pollute our oceans?

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    10. The point being if there is one pollutant, why not have more?

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    11. I have been told in many Pasadena stores that the store has to buy the paper bags , but the City gets the .10 charged for each bag.

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    12. The reason I think you were misinformed is the nightmare accounting that would ensue in trying to get the .10 for each bag back to the cities - Pasadena, the County, all the other communities that have a similar policy. It's too silly to even contemplate. Does anyone have a better handle on this than "I've been told" which is seldom very reliable?

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    13. I don't think it is having to maintain a collection of cloth bags that bothers me as much as the people who forced me to do it. Most local pols only being marginally better than sewer rats.

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    14. Or, Costco-shopping 8:59, you could just do this -- no nasty plastic bags here!
      http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/02/01/man-allegedly-tries-to-walk-out-of-costco-with-24-quarts-of-oil-strapped-to-his-body/

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  4. You didn't mention Luis Ayala can click his heels four times and say, "technology, technology, technology, technology" and all that nasty ICE stuff will disappear.

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    1. ICE Man Looie hates it when people bring that up. So please bring it up every chance you get.

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    2. The ICEman is getting a little frosty these days. He's losing that cool composure and taking digs at his opponant. That TB tells me that he's feeling it.

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    3. How is all of this technology going to magically transform all of the children in to performing at grade level? It's not. It's just political blah, blah, blah from a guy who lives in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley and sends his children to a pricey private school in SW Pasadena. Frankly, he shouldn't even be running for school board. He has nothing to offer. This is just a stepping stone to run for higher office.

      Unless and until the parents in PUSD are willing to demand their children get to school, on time, each and every day, respect their teacher and fellow students, and do their work in the classroom and at home, nothing will change - Even if the taxpayers foot the bill for IPads for all of the students.

      Note to Ayala: Technology will not cure lazy, ineffective teachers who care more about how the unions can negotiate them more taxpayer money and benefits. Nor will it cure inept parents.

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    4. ayala is way out of his league here, but that is the tragedy of school boards. most of them are, too. they can't focus on governing schools any more than city council can govern a city. there are too many monied interests dangling money carrots at them, and they are worried about re-elections. classic case of distraction; no wonder it takes 30 years to impleent a 5 year plan

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    5. Well 9:30, the research doesn't show that homework is all that. I also don't believe creating a generation of worker bees will do anything but stagnate our society. Getting to school on time, at an hour that especially teens has proven to not be their most productive time- does nothing but make the school district happy.
      Public schools need to go through some major overhauls- top down. Families need to be treated as part of the mix, not just those that need to comply.
      BTW- Ayala made a quick turn around from saying that technology was not necessary. He's just a puppet.

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    6. Yeah, and so you have photographers, sign makers and lawyers serving on the board- rather than those who have a background in education.

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    7. 9:50 - the only overhaul California public schools need is to be abolished. Parents should be able to choose the school that best fits their children's needs. Private schools can fire bad teachers and administrators without the stranglehold of unions who fight to keep bad teachers/administrators employed.

      Take the $11,000-$12,000 the taxpayers spend on public education, and give it to the parents in the form of a scholarship to the school of their choice. The private market will adjust to the market with a proliferation of new innovative schools, and schools that will serve special needs students. Private industry will fire a bad teacher or administrator, unlike public schools which let child molesters and crappy teachers sit on a time out in a room and collect their taxpayer funded salary.

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  5. I also remember the previous Fair Oaks and Colorado. Wonder where all the guys went, the ones who used to sleep on the ground there and beg for money from the dinner patrons of Ernie Jr.s.

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    1. Dead. That sort of lifestyle doesn't lead to a long lifetime.

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  6. Thanks for bringing up the amazing story of Jack Parsons and his detonation crew up in the Arroyo Seco way back when. Parsons lived up on Orange Grove, was a satanist, hedonist, and leading rocket scientist- with a high school diploma. This is a part of Pasadena history that not everyone know about- unicorns don't like this kind of stuff.

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    1. Which are worse, Satanists or atheists?

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    2. In Going Clear by Lawrence Wright, Jack Parson's allegiance to the dark arts is fully explained, as he provided a place to live for L Ron Hubbard for a while. They both admired Alastair Crowley, who thought of them as pikers.
      Creepy indeed.

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    3. Satanists, 9:15. Atheists can still have regard for the rights of others.

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    4. mary's just glad i'm blabbing about parsons to someone else now and she doesn't have to suffer alone. parsons= classic battle of hobbyist swallowed up by government interests. when the fun becomes incorporated by big business. murdered, or killed accidentally? the story with all the elements of intrigue and conspiracy.

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    5. Atheists are required to shoulder the burden of coming to a rational agreement with the world. Something that leaves them little time or energy for hedonism.

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    6. it's classic fun guy vs. uptight guy, too. parsons vs. l.ron hubbard, as ken kesey vs. timothy leary. i always prefer the clown

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    7. Crowley thought Hubbard was a con artist. I wonder how many Scientologists are aware of their "Church's" quasi-Satantic origin?

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    8. Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons- next on my must read list.

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    9. Where is David J when you need him?

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    10. enlighten please, what is this David J of whom you speak

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    11. Crowley probably felt that way about all of the California group. Stuffy old English prat, didn't know how to have a good time SoCal style.

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    12. parsons sounds like my kind of guy

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    13. Antonio VillaraigosaFebruary 2, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      Yes! Please introduce me to him!

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    14. Maybe he can run for Bogaard's seat.

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    15. See 8:45 AM above.

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    16. I like the idea of a Jack Parsons parade/rocket launching

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    17. me, too, 1028, me too.

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    18. Massive long 138-comment thread on this subject in a local group on Facebook. Public page. Click on Parsons link above

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    19. It's gone, 5:39.

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  7. Heads up on the Hubbard comments. The "Church" seeks any comments online and has full time devotees to defend Hubbard and his fantasies.
    The whole thing is a paranoid-schizophrenic's delusion, made real with the adoration of the people who believed in him. And he believed it too, which is a little different than your average con, and a little more like your average crazy.

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    1. cool beans, new readers!

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    2. I think they're all too busy trying to find a new wife for Jack Reacher.

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    3. Tom Kat needs a kitten.

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  8. Oh Tony Brandenburg, you've nailed it once again! I laughed through my tears.
    Just to comment on one item, I figure that if you and I independently had the same idea to shop in nearby cities, imagine how many others had the same idea? Result: thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of Dena Dollars the city never sees. Dopes.
    Also re the urge to rat out one's neighbor I'm convinced that it wasn't the competing campaign lawn signs but Pasadena's Water Conservation Ordinance, whose purpose was not to save water but to justify an extreme increase in water rates with nobody daring to yell at them about it, that turned our neighborhood from tight-knit to aloof and suspicious practically overnight.

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    1. You want water rate agony, come to Sierra Madre. The information City Hall puts out on the topic can only be classified as pulp fiction.

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    2. Thanks TB, some fun weekend reading.

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    3. you are welcome. i'm glad it gave you a chuckle.

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  9. Water districts across California have become the new source of "GOLD" those who have can sell at what ever price they want and those that have to buy are up a creek with out a paddle.

    The state of California needs to rein in some of these crooks, for either operating like a RICO Org. and hold sway and monpoly over all the residents who are forced to pay the piper's.

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  10. If you want an extreem example of Pasadena at its worst, just visit the Parking Garage (all 2 blocks of it) under the "Paseo Center" boxed in by Colorado Blvd, Los Robles, Marango, and Green St. It holds thousands of vehicles, three levels deep with no particular means to enter, exit, or weave through the Garage. The City outsources the facility to mysterious Companies who utilize recent emigrants to administer the garage operation. The City employees an executive as the Parking guru who oversees the Paseo along with all those multilevel garages sprinkled throughout downtown Pasadena. I have witnessed angry drivers involved in disputes over charges for Movies (because waiting in line took the better part of an hour not the movie) as well as the breaking down of the control gates at various exits, because a "mamager" was not available to apparove something or other to get the line of cars moving. Nothing though beats the "flow of cars" in the garage itself where you are encourged to "go right to end up left", go up to another level in order to down to an available exit, choose the wrong line to access pre paid, or cashier not on duty, or just wait for some resolution. Pasadena may be a world class City, but only when. compared to Mumbai India where bicycles and animals make up most of the traffic. One of the most interesting forms of entertainment provided by Pasadena are their Council Meetings where citizens rail on the Council about the gross injustices administered over Parking.

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    1. it is almost comedic, that one, isn't it? i read your post and laughed. i have been hit with that movie overage before, totally funny. i have done the donuts in that parking lot to the point that i thought i was in existentialist hell for a while. thanks for the smile. i just avoid that place instead

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  11. As much as I'm against the Green Accords and hope the City of Sierra Madre comes to its senses and drops the whole idea of mass transit parking lots and the such, I don't see any harm to bringing my own bags to the market. When I forget mine, I just leave everything in the cart to take them to the parking lot. I haven't bought a single bag - Athens gives out cloth bags at events, Trader Joes gives out sturdy paper bags at their Monrovia store, and I even have a few from Vromans prior to the ban. There are lots of things I would gripe about, but paper vs. plastic? Come on!

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    1. I got my trash cans from Athens. Good to see they have containers for things before they are garbage.

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    2. Agreed 4:25. "Give me plastic or give me death" is written the wrong way around. It's more like "Give me plastic bags so I can spread a little death around."

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    3. how about this rule, every time a bag that says RALPHS or OLD FOODS ends up in the tstomach of some animal that ate it, the government fine the company for making the bag and giving it or selling it to a fool. would that work for you?

      the bag law, btw, had nothing to do with the ocean, but was based on landfills and watershed.

      did you catch that part? not. about. the. little. fishies.

      maybe someone should help write up that new law for the fishies.






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  12. Imagine that you are urged to put your groceries in reuseable bags by one of the many marine animals that would otherwise ingest our plastic bag wastefulness by mistake and starve to death as it clogs their stomachs. Some years ago, when you could get 6 packs of sodas or beer connected by plastic rings, there was a public awareness program to cut the rings open when many shore birds and sea mammals were strangled by swimming into these rings floating in the ocean. You could do that or just be annoyed that "government" is trying to tell you what to do.

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    1. We as Americans consume more than anyone else. I am sure that involves all sorts of environmental damage in all sorts of ways. How far do we go?

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    2. When we see an unintentionally life-ending detriment to other species, it's a good time to change behavior.

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    3. If Americans stopped consuming products at the world's leading levels many countries would experience economic disaster. The suffering in some 3rd world regions would be immense.

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    4. I imagine talking to Mr. Limpet every day about ingesting bags. He said the law wasn't about him eating the bags, but about the landfills. i guess you missed that part.

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    5. Whales and dolphins are committing suicide because of noise pollution, so let's all take a vow if silence.

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  13. I swear, I have never thrown a plastic bag in a waterway. Give it a break.

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  14. if you missed the joke, it's ok.

    i didn't create plastic, i prefer to drink without straws, from glass whenever possible. i carry a fork and eat with my hands wenever possible. i don't use paper plates or styrofoam unless it is forced on me. convenience is nice, not mandatory.

    no one ever had to tell me to cut a sixpack plastic because i drank by the case. i didn't need the government to mandate accords to me because i recycle and use sensibly. I cut the rings found because I CHOSE TO not because I WAS TOLD TO. big difference. i still choose to drive a gus chugging machine because the only thing i hate more than spending money on gas is the thought of getting rid of something that still works and replacing it with a debt that i don't need.

    if you are cool with paying for bags when you forget your canvas bags, that is great. it is a gimmick, and it is just another rule to force someone else's will on you. it isn't working on me because regardless of its alleged premise, it isn't enfoceable and shouldn't be a rule in the first place.

    read it again and explain to me why its ok to give bags to people who are poor, and how that is consistent with the rule being enforced. if 1/2 of the population were under the poverty line, it would be ok to give them the bags, right? so how does that work again?

    I am sure there are some among us who thought you had to pay those tickets when they took your picture running the red lights. that's cool, get in line, stand straight, face forward, don't question their inane rules. i promise they will hand you ten more. Just say, "thank you sir, may i have another?"

    you don't have any chickens, right?

    paper vs. plastic to me is an existential question. it's not a gripe.

    the march of folly, btw, is a book written by Barbara Tuchman. It is about the stupid things governments did that led to war.

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