Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How to Beat Parking Tickets πŸ›΄ Chicago Style


  Recently, a fervor has erupted over BIRD Scooters. The scooter ride-share program arrived unannounced in Redondo Beach, which had more than a few of its reactionary residents seeing red. 

   Indeed, the scooter company should have gone through the proper channels and gotten a business license. This we agree on. Yet the naysayers' reaction was so far over the top that many of these human cuttlefish were calling for citizen confiscation of scooters, destruction of property by mobocracy, and a massive law enforcement effort to ticket the two-wheeled menace out of existence.  

Be careful what you wish for… you just might get it.


   πŸ›΄πŸš”πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ”₯πŸ›΄πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘ΆπŸ›΄πŸ”₯πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸš”πŸ›΄ 


  On sabbatical in Chicago, I have seen some truly horrendous stuff when it comes to Parking Enforcement and the lengths governments will go to drum up revenue. 

  Illinois has an unfunded pension debt of $250 billion and growing. Everything is taxed in Chicago. Between Gas taxes, City Stickers, metered parking, car registration fees, and even a $5 tire tax; living in Chicago can get very expensive. They'll even ticket you if the weeds outside your house are over 8 inches. They would put a tax on the tax if they could get away with it. People are making a mass exodus out of the state. Soon, I envision a Chicago where only three people remain; two bureaucrats and one real working person. Then the working person will leave and the bureaucrats will wonder why right before they start taxing each other. In addition to all these fees, fines, and taxes, Chicago has also taken to privatizing the infrastructure. Anything the octopus of plutocracy can get its slimy tentacles on is up for grabs. ExpressWays, parking meters, airports, CTA fare collection; is now all in the slicked palms of the ruling class. It's a racket. This town used to be run by Al Capone, now it's JP Morgan Chase calling the shots.  

  Over the past year and a half I've racked up an impressive number of parking tickets and automated red light camera violations. Most of these zaps came from my initial refusal to get a City Sticker and my unsuccessful efforts to get the car to pass smog.  I've had roughly half of these tickets dismissed, and here's how...

  First off, you got to contest the ticket. Select the 'In-Person' option on the City's website. Next, it's important that you get a sympathetic judge. I've found about half of them to be human beings with a soul and the other half to be stuffed shirts. They get shuffled around to different Hearing Stations every day, so it's a bit of a crap shoot, but worth the effort. After that, prepare a defense. Anything really. For instance, beat a meter ticket by stating that I was delivering food upstairs to a customer with Postmates. I had done some work with postmates in the past but not on the night in question. I slapped my Postmates card down on the dais, and that was that. Another time I got off a 'Parking within 15'' of Fire Hydrant' ticket by bombarding the judge with printed photos showing peeling/flaking yellow paint next to the hydrant on my block. Saved $150 there. When two 'No Residential Parking Zone Sticker' tickets were fought a similar defense was used; telling the judge I was visiting a friend who was in bad shape, and was only inside the house for a couple minutes

She soundly stated, "the law is 15 minutes. Would you say you were away from your car for less than 15 minutes?" 

I said, "Yes, your honor, I would say that. I was away from my car for less than 15 minutes."

  The ticket was dismissed. 


πŸ›΄πŸš”πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ”₯πŸ›΄πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘ΆπŸ›΄πŸ”₯πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸš”πŸ›΄ 


So, in response to some of Redondo's residents' moaning about more ticketing being the solution, I simply say this; get a grip. Bureaucracy never seems to shrink. It's a slippery slope and you won't like where this road leads...

πŸ›΄

πŸ›΄"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

- Ayn Rand

πŸ›΄

πŸ›΄



πŸ›΄ Epilogue: They finally killed my car... 




πŸ›΄πŸ›΄ πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄πŸ›΄

Friday, December 7, 2018

DIY CAR RACE

Class Activity Reminiscent of a Chicago First...




Chicago Times-Herald race

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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America's first automobile race map

Mueller-Benz car – second place finisher
The Chicago Times-Herald race was the first automobile race held in the United States. Sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald, the race was held in Chicago in 1895 between six cars and won by Frank Duryea's Motorized Wagon. The race created considerable publicity for the motocycle, which had been introduced in the United States only two years earlier.

Race
On July 10, 1895, the Chicago Times-Herald announced a race to be held in the city, prizes totaling $5,000 (approximately $147,300 in 2017). The promotion was an attempt to foster growth of the young auto industry in the United States and to boost newspaper sales. The first automobiles in the nation were produced only two years earlier, and they were so new at the time that the paper's editors could not easily agree upon a name for them. After considerable wrangling, the editors decided to call it a Moto Cycle race, and first used the term in a July 15 article.
The original course of the race was to run from Chicago north to Milwaukee, but the roads were found to be too poor for early cars to easily traverse. The route was changed to be only 54 miles (87 km) from Chicago to Evanston and back. The finish line was near what is now the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (what had been the Palace of Fine Arts at the 1893 Columbian Exposition). The race was intended to be held on November 2, but few cars had shown up, and the race was rescheduled. Eighty-three cars were initially entered into the race, but only six arrived for the actual competition. Many of the entrants did not have their cars completed on time, and several were unable to make the journey. Elwood Haynes' car, which was a favorite to win the race, was damaged en route and unable to compete.
Both Haynes and the driver of a Benz car were stopped by police while driving their cars into the city. They were forced to requisition horses to pull the cars: as the police informed them, they had no right to drive their vehicles on the city streets. The situation caused the race to again be postponed while the Times-Herald editors convinced the city leaders to pass an ordinance to confirm the right of these vehicles to travel on city streets. Once the ordinance passed, the race was held on November 28, Thanksgiving Day. The day was snowy and 38 °F (4 °C), the roads muddy, with snow drifts in places.
The first car to arrive at the starting line was a German-made car by inventor Karl Benz. In total, three Benz cars ran in the race. The only other four-wheeled car to run in the race was Frank Duryea's motorized wagon.  The two other vehicles that took part were two-wheeled automobiles. The "motorcycles" lacked the power to climb one of the course's grades. Another entrant was electric-powered, and its battery died because of the cold weather before getting very far. Just after starting, one Benz struck a horse, and was forced to leave the race. On the return trip the Duryea began to take the lead.

Drawing of the medal designed for the winner of the
Chicago Times-Herald Race Medal in 1895        
The Duryea car finished the race first, completing the race after 7 hours and 53 minutes of running time, 10 hours and 23 minutes total time, having traveled an average of 7 mph (11 km/h). The Benz entered by Oscar B. Mueller crossed the finish line an hour and a half later. From point 31 of the course to the finish Mueller's car was driven by Charles Brady King because Mueller went unconscious from exposure. King was originally an umpire to the race and of this motocycle. None of the other vehicles finished.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

New Product

Fear and Loathing in Redondo Beach
✨πŸ˜œπŸŽπŸ‘€πŸ€’✨
When Elko just ain't enough



In all my years as an Animal Control Officer, I have never experienced anything as terrifying as the night of May 26th, 1988. I was responding to a call of strange animals underneath the Redondo Beach Pier when I came upon a scene of such unspeakable carnage that it has taken me 30 trembling years to even begin to describe what happened that night.

The station had gotten a call about raccoons under the pier and I radioed in that I would check it out. Parking the containment van, I made my way to where the sand met the surf. Faintly an Amber glow trickled from the pilings. Punk kids, I thought. The wet earth crunched under my boots as I rounded the corner.

There was the Fire Department Chief perched, teetering on an obsidian stone. I recognized his weathered sooty face from the newspapers; youngest Battalion Captain in Redondo's history. He struck a match and watched it burn.

Without so much as giving me a glance he spoke, "Can I help you?"

A bit jarred I replied, "Oh I'm sorry I thought you were... I mean, we got a call about some wild animals..."

He twirled the match in his yellowed thumb and pointer. "What type of... wild animals?" He asked in a lecherously somber tone.

"raccoons," I answered.

The light was waning between his fingers. His voice cracked and reached a frequency only struck by the half mad.

"Raccoons... Huh? Ain't seen none of this them... however, if you're looking for a wild animal... you've come to the right place."

With that the Chief threw back his head and began to howl. I didn't know what to make of it. Is he serious? Could this all be some savage acid flashback? Abruptly he halted his barking and lit another match amongst the pier pilings. And another. And another. The Chief peered at me above the fire.

"... Creosote..."

"Huh?"

"I said, What do they call you? What's your name?"

"Seamus, sir. They call me Seamus."

The Chief turned his attention back to the dancing flame in front of him. "Yeah, that's a great story... Hey Seamus... Seamus, have you ever held onto a thought for so long, Seamus, that that thought became you… a thought that absorbed you, your ego like an amoeba who sucks up the whole pond, drop by drop, until it is the lake? A big slimy gelatinous lake.'

I leaned against a piling for a moment and finally muttered, "no."

"Yeah? Well, fuck you, Seamus."

With that, the Chief let out a roaring laugh that threatened to tear apart the Pier and bury us alive. His voice bounced across the ocean's crests.

Pivoting, I was about to leave, get away from this madhouse, when the Chief beckoned for me to come back.

"Hey, Seamus? Seamus? Listen. I'll let you in on a little secret. C'mere. C'mon, c'mere..."

Reluctantly I shuffled to meet the Chief on his rock throne. When I got closer I realized his face looked as if it were carved from clay. Heavily it weighed on his face. This monster wore a cheap skin suit, merely a husk. 

He rolled his head, looked up at me like a lizard and spoke, "Tomorrow will be the Anniversary of one of the worst fires in Redondo's history... I was there. First on the scene. Apartment fire. Beryl and Prospect. I remember seeing the purple-tinged flames shooting up from the building, the mark of an accelerant..."

The Chief stuck his meaty claw deep into the wet earth and produced a hand full of mud. 

He continued, "Later the investigation showed that the fire was an act of revenge taken against a man who'd made enemies of some high school football players... like anyone'd believe that. Ho ho."

Soon the Chief's mug was covered in mud. The Chief drew a line down his forehead and across his cheeks, like a Native American preparing for war, while he prattled on, "the man made it out alive, but others... others weren't so lucky. Two flight attendants and a boat captain in the apartment above... they were screaming... trapped up there... I watched them cook..."

The mud monster lit another match.  The light waltzed across his twisting face.

"They can't get saved if there ain't no fire. No fire... no hero. That's the part they don't tell you."

This was too much. I had had enough. I turned to leave and that's when his words struck me... first on the scene... Whipping back around the Chief lingered in my peripheral, he had put on the pelt of an animal. On top of the Chief's head was a skinned raccoon snout. Blood ran down the Chief's face mixing with mud. The beast snarled gleaming in the moonlight. Demonic laughing flooded my eardrums and threatened to detach my brain from its tether. It was at that moment I passed out from fright.

The last thing I heard him say was something like, "stay out of Borneo, buster. Stay out of Borneo!"  And I recall his purple lips flapping awfully.

I awoke some hours later. The tide had come in. The Chief was gone. The raccoon's pelt was nowhere to be found. It was almost as if the whole thing was a dream. I went home and went to bed.

The next day, May 27th, the Pier burned. 

This is what the newspaper read:

At 1:40 pm, the Redondo Beach Fire Department received its first call: “Station 1. Structural response. Breakers restaurant, 400 Fisherman’s Wharf. This is called in from Tony’s. They state there is  lot of smoke coming from under the building.”
Diners at Tony’s restaurant had seen wisps of smoke rising from beneath the Breakers Seafood Restaurant and notified the fire department.
The smoke came from a fire that had broken out underneath the Breakers from an unknown cause. The heat of the ensuing conflagration was so great that most clues as to its origin were destroyed, leaving the exact cause of the fire undetermined to this day.
Investigators later would theorize that electrical equipment and wiring knocked loose from high waves that had pounded the pier twice earlier in 1988 probably short-circuited beneath the restaurant and ignited the wooden pilings.
The pilings had been coated with creosote to make them water-resistant, but the substance also made the pilings burn easily and rapidly. 

I will never know if Pat Aust was responsible, but I'll tell ya one thing, that night was one night where we both actually almost went completely insane and I'm glad I survived it, albeit just barely.


FIN.

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Reference Source:










Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Essay from College

THE SILENT DEATH OF DEMOCRACY       

By: Eric Coleman  4/6/01

JFK, our last real President, was gunned down in the street like a rabid dog for assuming so

 In America we are told we have choice between Pepsi and Coke, McDonalds or Burger King, Democrats or Republicans. In 2000 a Toshiba commercial referring to its laptop computer capabilities made this advertising pitch; ‘what if they made a freedom machine.’ The fast and silent death of democracy is upon us.
            Begun as a noble experiment, democracy was envisioned by the founding fathers to be the last phase in the evolution of government. It was thought that the masses would finally have a voice in their collective destinies. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time until the ruling class discovered how to use this new political machinery for their own short-sighted interests.

THE PRINCIPALS

Democracy is based on the concept that a contract exists between the government and the people. Power structures in a free nation must be continually legitimized. If the government ever becomes tyrannical and oppressive the people have not only the right, but also the duty to cast off the corrupt regime and restore a new order. However, if the Boston Tea party were to take place today the authorities would quickly be dispatched, delinquents rounded up, and in a couple months, the offenders would stand behind many other victimless criminals in line for the ATM of justice.
            From Masons to Soccer Moms, special interests have long played a part in the political arena. They now have a stranglehold on our democracy. The people are so disillusioned and disaffected by their political system that over 50% choice apathy as the standard. At this point, there is no consent of the people and no true democracy. Democracy’s status was upgraded to critical during the November 7th  2000 elections and diagnosis made terminal on December 9th when the Supreme Court did what many saw as installing a president. George W. Bush’s ascension to power mimicked that of a legal coup.

CHIPPING AWAY AT THE FOUNDATION

At the time of the constitutional convention corporations only existed because of a charter which stated their purpose and how it was beneficial to the public good. The cancerous mutation of the corporate mission has progressed with the rise of the globalized marketplace. The tumor was visible from the surface in the Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad decision in which private tyrannies were granted the same rights as a ‘natural person’ protected by the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Corporations, with their armies of lawyers, greater access to resources, and seemingly unlimited funds are far from equal with the individual. And yet in 1886 a new entity was born. Another force took root in democracy. A government for, by, and of the people could no longer be defined. Basic enlightenment ideas like Hume’s, Touqueville’s, and Descartes' that people have the right to control their own work are relics today.

MASS INDOCTRINATION


Human beings are incredibly malleable. Nature shows us that we are a tribal animal. Early man had to work together to preserve themselves. Industrialization brought a price with it. New technology can produce a syrupy carbonated beverage for 65 cents but clean water must be bottled and sold for a buck. Man may belong to the corporate tribe but he remains distant from his fellow man. The worst of men have subdued nature in the interest of profits. Historically the divisions among humanity can be traced back to an effort by the ruling class to distract from their practices. Why have we not been taught in schools that an alternate reality is possible? We must be told what we want which is evident when 1 in every 6 dollars spent in our economy is on marketing. The corporate branch off of the public relations industry emerged parallel with mass communication devices capable of molding the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of man.
During the bitter labor union struggle of the 19th and 20th century, the perverse science of leading public opinion evolved into a high art. Of the information gathered on the psyche much of it has been devoted to instilling wants and desires where they previously didn’t exist. The tax-free marketing industry furthered the warping of culture by painting the business community as heroic fighters for the American way of life we all enjoy. If anyone mentioned that the masses only get to enjoy the brief portion of their day when they are not under wage-slavery they were instantly discredited as a communist. Corporate America coerced government into forming senate subcommittees, modern day witch hunts to investigate and denounce these threats to elite. Radicals will eat your family read the propaganda. Few found the truth that corporations through monopolies, conglomerations, price fixing, and other uncompetitive market practices are actually huge communist structures.
Regardless if you consider the television media overly leftist or if you find the AM radio media rampantly conservative one thing must be obvious, media in general is disgustingly corporate. With quiet passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by a Republican-dominated Senate the publicly built institution was to be privatized. With nothing more than a whimper from the public watchdogs that interpreted the world for us every night at 6:30. Corporations as large as states had been given the green light at gobbling up enormous chunks of Americans connection to anything else outside themselves. The TV talking heads and pundit fluffsters never muttered the question; can free speech be maintained without a free press.
Four conglomerate corporations have seized 90% of the media. The current popularity of viewing the world with your head up your own ass is a conscious manipulation of the franchise culture. The public has been marginalized and sold a version of reality with a laugh track. Witnessing mindless commercialism cannot even be avoided on the drive to work. Every election cycle quasi-sincere attempts are made by celebrities and other modern gods to register people to vote with little success. The masses have been turned off to politics, probably because beer does more to help the average Americans life.
There are still politicians who care more about the people’s concerns than where their next re-election campaign contribution is coming from. The problem is unless someone is watching C-SPAN at 3 in the morning on a Sunday night will a dissenting voice be heard. Not until we find the time between the commute home and evening classes to pick up a copy of an independent publication at only the rarest of newsstands will we ever break the duopoly extending the curtain call on our political stage.



SUPPRESSION OF DEMOCRACY OVERSEAS

There are many incidents in America's past that would make our government null and void. After WWII the U.S. government was driven underground. In the 1980’s the people were completely separated from many of the agencies erected for the public's protection. These secret institutions have done much more than deny access to knowledge of their activities. The CIA (Completely Illegal Agency) actually circumvented democracy in Italy after WWII. Italy had a strong labor party and when the allied troops liberated the region in 1943-44 they found Northern Italy had already been freed by the resistance. Worker control of the factories was in place. The elections of 1948 looked to popularly elect the worker and peasant-based organization. The CIA (Crack Importing Agency) could not believe that the traditional power hierarchy had fallen, worthless workers were being kept and bosses were being arbitrarily dismissed. In 1947 food was withheld, police restored to fascist control, and documents like NSC1 were produced. The CIA states in NSC1 that if ‘the communists’ come to power through a legal vote the United States will declare a national emergency and support military activities inside Italy to overthrow the democratically elected government. Similar situations have been seen in Greece, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba.

WHERE WE STAND TODAY

Where we stand today is grim. And the prospects for a future seem even bleaker. As long as Americans remain egocentric and continue collecting toys to prove their freedom the world will only slip deeper into an unannounced oligarchy. Corporations will exhaust the earth’s resources and destroy the environment in the name of capitalism and the free-market. More people will realize their vote really doesn’t matter. This is the point in the essay where I could offer some encouraging words on how democracy could be revived but I think we’ve been lied to for far too long. There is always hope, but when one examines how probable a sobering effect occurs. The bastards have succeeded in pre-packaging humanity. 

CONCLUSION



     After reading this collection of ideas if you consider me in any way un-American, first think about that term. Since at one time slavery and the systematic slaughter of the Indians was very American. There is no such thing as common sense, war has been used throughout history to revitalize the economy, and in 200 years we’ll all be proven wrong. Just give a homeless person a buck, even if it does go to booze. 

P.S. I think I got a C- on this paper and basically wrote it to spite my conservative Political Science teacher at El Camino College, who always referred to China as 'Red China'.
2001 was also the year where my College newspaper 'The Union' (formerly 'The Warhoop' or 'The Warwhoop')  refused to print my cartoon and went with the other staff cartoonist. I opened the September 21st issue of the paper to find David Pham's cartoon instead of mine. Pham's call for blood depicted a duck-faced Statue of Liberty crying as helicopters flew off over the ocean to indiscriminately kill brown people. Here it was poignantly reprinted by the Legendary 'Ad Infinitum Magazine'.


Ha ha.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On Teaching ESL

Teaching, while not the highest paying job, can be an incredibly rewarding profession.

The zookeeper thanked me for bringing them back.
The idea was had while visiting Shakun Batra in India. Soon after returning to the States, I waltzed into EF Redondo and climbed a flight of stairs to the second story. The reception desk gals were no where to be found. So I was traipsed my way down the hall, past the teachers' break room and right into the Academic Director's office. All in a serendipitous Buddhist happy accident. Bahut achchha.

I spooked the Director a bit, standing in his doorway wearing a shirt with Gandhi's face on it.

"Can I help you?" This head-haired fellow spoke.

"I don't know, are you a licensed psychologist," I replied.

"What?"


"Nothing," I said. "What does it take to be a teacher at this school?"



" B.A. and a T.E.F.L certificate," he answered matter of factly.





"What's a TEFL?" I blurted. 



He responded, "Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge." 


"Right I'll be back in a month," I said.



And I was. That was back in 2008


Man cannot live on bread alone and a classroom ought to be more than a place where students sit and do worksheets. A good classroom wants to be a laboratory and everyday an adventure. Not that I always hit my mark and they can't all be winners; still, I have some experiments in my back of tricks to ensure the entire class isn't a Snoozefest.
One of my signature moves is Baking Soda an Vinegar Rockets.

Which here became the Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Rockets when the Dollar Store down the street ran out of Vinegar. Go figure. But they’re both acidic, right? Figured… … Isn’t it strange how we capitalize Corporations... like people... Corporations are people!


Drive Through as if texted by a 13 year old girl
Advertising and the business (busyness) culture are the number one driving force in changing the English Language at this moment. For example, with one single advertising campaign, McDonald's was able to change the English language forever. Words such as like, love, and hate are verbs of strong emotion and have a timeless quality and, up until the 'i'm lovin' it' commercials, were not typically put in the continuous tense. Think about it, you really only love something or you don't. Using love in the continuous sense and tense is kind of goofy. It causes our ears to perk up and our head to cock to one side like a terrier who's just heard the mailman. 

Advertising execs broke a grammar rule to sell hamburgers and now everyone walks around saying rubbish like this. Make mine an unhappy meal, poleaze.

Don't get me started on dangling modifiers!
A hands-on approach to learning is the future of education as we move more and more into the Experience Economy. Einstein was right. And the natural conversation that springs between partners in building and problem solving is priceless and perhaps gives us insight into  the very origin of language itself.
Whether it be Homemade Rockets, the Great Egg Drop, or stress tests of Spaghetti Bridges, learning can also be fun.

Stress test activity 
(activity sounds a lot better than a game.)

This competition is to see who can build the sturdiest bridge utilizing only spaghetti noodles and hot glue to strengthen the design (turning adjectives and nouns into verbs with an -en suffix as well as superlatives are the grammar points for this lesson btw).


Even the grandest of designs can easily overlook some key detail. Such was the case with Galloping Girtie featured above, the Tacoma Washington bridge that collapsed due to 40mph winds. Yikes and yeesh.



In a nutshell, teams get one hour and as much Spaghetti and as many glue sticks as they wish. After building Teams present on their designs' influence(s), the bridge's history, and similar world bridges of the same sort. Then, much as Shiva unleashes Kali to do the dance of destruction, the other side of creation is realized, on with the the stress test.


Time to load the bridges up with books and let her rip. 

Bonzai!




Special Thanks to my students, who tolerate my rants!