No Santa! Don’t Do It!

Today’s post courtesy of my neighbors. On a serious note, though, you have got to read this. No wonder Santa’s thinking of jumping. Please remember those in need this holiday season, and please help if you can.

In Closing: “The world’s biggest banks are still hugely overextended” (but heaven knows we can’t do anything about it); don’t tell the Republicans, but hundreds of thousands of unemployed people are applying for thousands of low-paying jobs; and Reaganomics Redux.

Prepare for Battle


Yes Sir!

Assemble the troops for inspection.

ATTENTION POINSETTIA ARMY! This is Commander Potted Palm. The time has come to rise up! You’ve trained long and hard for this mission, and I see all of you are in your dress uniforms. Let’s get out there and make people believe that yes, we do indeed celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in Las Vegas!

In closing: stopping terrorism with pork; Computer Engineer Barbie got a phone upgrade (and she’s reasonably priced); body image fail; a few items on employment, unemployment, jobs, and our clueless government; it’s hard to hate a benevolent dictator; stop trying to kill Social Security!; now we might be getting somewhere, a couple of Harvard Law Students suing the TSA; Fed lent trillions of dollars rather than admit that our biggest banks should have been taken over by the government as insolvent; even a Fed Governor says some institutions are “too big to succeed“; it’s been a good week for Senator John Ensign; please, some freaking sanity about the Bush tax cuts!; close the Washington Monument; a strategy so simple even a Democrat can do it; I’m wondering why I canvassed for that man; and finally, Kim Jong-Il looking at things. Enjoy.

Grape Leaves Changing Color

Fall has officially arrived in Vegas.

In Closing: 22.5%; a brave man confronts ignorant women; it’s the continuing adventures of Harry and Sharron!; glad I’m not in Chicago this week; accidental gay marriage; is anyone really, honestly surprised they’ve found oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Really?; no wonder things are tough all over; Vote For Jobs (and in my opinion, against ballot initiatives); the Problem with Charity; I bet that there may be jobs at the worlds largest solar-thermal plant; what is the Treasury hiding?; BlueGal‘s got your Contract With America; Hup, two, three, four, keep it up, two, three, four; trial balloon (notice that the things under consideration mostly effect working class people?); gee I can’t imagine why; the “step 2” problem with austerity; President Obama created more jobs this year than President Bush created in 8 years; on poverty and student performance; ZAP!; and Janitors with PhDs.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Taken at Clark High School in Las Vegas.

In Closing: Foreclosure mess (update, Bank of America has halted all foreclosures nationwide); new 300 year old Vivaldi concerto; progressive agenda; we have to be better; I hope the FDIC bankrupts these [redacted]; always check your work; on Afghanistan; 30% of unemployed have been out of work for at least a year, and the number of jobs in the economy went down last month (no wonder bankruptcies are up); good idea; speaking of food stamps; “none of the above“; new style CPR; sometimes it’s how you say it; and cell phones don’t and can’t cause cancer (“physics shows that it is virtually impossible for cell phones to cause cancer”).

Oh and one more thing! Surf over to Vegas Video Network to see my new show later today!


That’s one expensive yearbook!

In closing:Maybe we can get Yaphet Kotto to play Captain Picard”; inside Trader Joe’s; a criminally misleading article about what doctors make; investors are nervous; Japanfilter double feature, Space Cruiser Yamato and the truth about Kobe beef; banks still only follow laws that they want to follow; 5 fastest growing occupations (the top two paying jobs reflect a premium for people willing to work the overnight shift); orders for durable goods — things that last longer than a latte — are up a whopping 0.3%; Turn Off Fox; when you start calling the citizenry “a cow with 310 tits [sic]”, you shouldn’t hold down a government position; Direct Instruction is a little more complicated than “nuns in a classroom,” but his point is taken that it in fact works; the smartest thing on unemployment that you’re likely to read this week; “cut government spending… someplace else!”; the next Dalai Lama could be an attractive woman?; you’ve got the time, get out and vote; Righthaven is perfectly willing to go after bloggers, but not a Senate candidate; on American Apparel; mysterious heiress (Clark County, Nevada is named for her father); and finally, The Doctor is In.

What I did on Summer Vacation

You probably weren’t aware that I spent most of the last week in San Francisco. Something that few people will mention to you is that takeoffs and landings from McCarran in 110+ degree heat can be a little, um, bumpy. When we arrived at SFO it was substantially cooler. I do have to give Virgin America points for having really nice seats on their planes and a nifty in-flight entertainment system. Oh, and just a little word about air travel in general: if it’s big and heavy enough that it needs wheels, it is by definition not a “carry on“.

We rode the subway from the airport into downtown and from there walked to our hotel, the Westin St. Francis. It’s a great hotel on Union Square that actually survived the Great Earthquake. The Clock Bar in the lobby is a very nice place to have a drink, but it does fill up in the evenings. Pro-tip: you don’t have to leave the building to get to Victoria’s Secret but you do have to go outside to get to the Pink boutique.

I know this sounds dumb, but riding BART gave me a new appreciation for 20th Century music.

After settling in, walked to Chinatown, wandered through some shops, and ate at Sam Wo’s. This place has been there over a hundred years now, and there’s just no way it would ever open today. Here. Let Conan explain it to you:

In any event, we recommend the pork rolls and the chow fun. And try not to look like a tourist. Just go up the stairs, find a place to sit down, and pretend you’ve been there a million times.

In the morning, it was back to Chinatown for the kind of treat you just can’t get in most neighborhoods, dim sum for breakfast! Ask about where to get dim sum in San Francisco, and a lot of people are going to start telling you about Yank Sing, a wonderful little place that you have to know exactly where it is to have any hope of finding it. It’s always packed and frankly, kinda pricey. We bagged that in favor of the Hang Ah Tea Room, off one of Chinatown’s historic alleys. The food was just almost as good, but a third the price.

Then it was back onto BART towards Daly City, where friends picked us up at the station to go to a little place called Montara. Last time we were out there, we got to see whales breaching, but no such luck this time. It’s still just gorgeous out there. A great time was had by all, even their dog.

The next day was a bit of a hike. After some yoga in the morning, we walked to the Ferry Building, had coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee, and a late breakfast of sandwiches at Il Cane Rosso. From there, we walked down the waterfront, occasionally distracted by interesting things, until we arrived at Pier 39, or as we like to call it, Admiral Ackbar’s Pier. It’s a tourist trap! The smell of sugar and fried stuff is overwhelming, and you’re on the ocean! Just about the only thing you can do for free is see these guys, the famous sea lions of Pier 39:

A bit further down the waterfront is Fisherman’s Wharf, from which you can easily see Alcatraz:

But wait… what’s this?? A World War 2 Liberty Ship and a submarine! We went ahead and toured the sub, the USS Pampanito. By chance, there happened to be a gentleman touring with his grandkids who had actually served on such a vessel. Nothing exists on a sub that doesn’t have a purpose. Oh, and there’s no way Tony Curtis’s character on Operation Petticoat had private quarters.

Now, I haven’t the faintest idea why I decided to put a couple bucks worth of quarters in my wallet before leaving town. Perhaps I was thinking of vending machines? In any event, I was happy to have them when we arrived at the Musee Mechanique. Free admission, and an amazing array of picture viewers, player pianos, mechanical plays, pinball machines, music boxes, and even old video games, all operational and taking quarters.

Once we got down to the Cannery, we started back towards Little Italy. Not as famous as Chinatown by any means, but it has a special place in American History. Specifically, the history of banking in America. By this time it was mid-afternoon, and a great time for a snack! We stopped for pizza (and a bit of the house Chianti) at Panta Rei Restaurant. We wandered back through Chinatown to the hotel to chill out.

Dinner was at John’s Grill, home of the Maltese Falcon. The original. Honest. It’s one of those places that people have told us we just have to try. I don’t think the menu has changed much during my lifetime — seriously, you can still get the lamb chops with baked potato and sliced tomatoes that Sam Spade ordered in the book — and under normal circumstances that makes for an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. However, they pull it off perfectly. And don’t be afraid to order a cocktail; they serve all the classics in that department too.

Now, for those keeping track, that was all on foot. No rent car, taxis, buses, streetcars, trolleys, bikes, or boats. Over 5 miles of hilly sidewalks.

After our workout the next morning, we headed back to the Ferry Building. Moar Coffee! The farmer’s market was open and that meant plenty of tasty little food vendors. Pastrami burger for the win! Fresh organic peaches for dessert.

Again we went down the waterfront, but not too far. Next to the famous Fog City Diner is a peaceful spot called Levi Park:

Back behind the park, there’s this stairway. It’s a big, big stairway. And if you turn around at the landings, you get to see some spectacular views. Keep going all the way to the top — as if there’s anyplace else to go — and you end up on Telegraph Hill at Coit Tower. For $5 you can take the elevator to the top and get a truly spectacular view of the whole city.

Getting down from Telegraph Hill is almost as fun as getting up there in the first place. Remember that although pedestrians may have the right of way there are certain laws of physics that can’t be changed: cars are heavy and hills are steep. On the way back to Union Square, we stopped at Sam Wo’s for an afternoon snack. We’ve got to get our Chinese food when the getting is good. And so that’s why we ended up walking back to Chinatown for dinner at the Far East. Somehow we had trouble making our waitstaff understand that yes, we understand that certain dishes are spicy, and moreover we like it that way!

Another 5+ mile day. In the immortal words of Tony Horton, “It’s fun to be fit!”

Unfortunately, in the morning we had to start getting ready for the trip home: pack up, get breakfast on the go, walk to the train station (realize that yes you can get into the mall from the subway station), back to SFO, figure out what terminal we need (the international terminal? Really?), get through security, go home, do laundry.

More of the usual stuff later this week.

Oooh! A kitten *and* a ducky!

Heh, I promise, the Latte Economy later today or at worst tomorrow morning.

In Closing: Tony Horton says Soldiers need yoga; mystery trader buys all Europe’s cocoa(!); 10 ways to conserve water; Wall Street Journal whores itself to lets Sharron Angle lie; a follow up, is Dipak Desai competent to stand trial?; Virgin Galactic one step closer to passengers, takes a flight with a crew!; Wacky Arizona (thanks to Brian); FDL notices that banks only follow laws they want to follow; “Link to this“; ghost in the machine at Facebook; geta; and a few words on Social Security.