Damned bugs

Everything in my pantry and every pot, pan and skillet on the pantry side of the kitchen is now out on countertops. We found ourselves infested with grain beetles and had to have the pest control guys come out and spray (it’s under contract, thank heaven). The little things had found two sacks of pasta that I didn’t even know were there way at the back of one shelf in the pantry, and they’d chewed into them, probably nested somewhere, and generally became a nuisance. They’re little bitty guys, about 2.5mm – 3mm, and they’re black (or the ones I have are, anyway). They show up real well on white formica countertops.

So tomorrow afternoon I can start putting all this stuff away again. On the bright side, I threw out a whole lot of canned goods with use-by dates of five years ago, so my canned goods shelf will be more easily organized now.

Sad but inevitable firing

The University of Hawai’i terminated the contract of its head football coach today. Norm Chow had a stellar career in the college ranks when he was hired by the University:

Chow was introduced as UH’s 22nd head coach and brought with him a resume that included being on the coaching staff of three national championship teams; having coached three Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks and six NFL first round draft picks. He also brought with him the pro-set offense, which he perfected at stops at BYU, North Carolina State, USC, UCLA, Utah, and at the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

He took over a team which had gone 6-7 the year before but had been to two bowl games in the preceding four years. His teams were 10-36 in his four seasons with the Rainbow Warriors including a 2-7 record this year after Saturday’s loss to Air Force.

I don’t think anyone including Chow understands why he was unable to coach players here to at least mediocrity. I don’t think anyone but the wild-eyed optimists thought he’d bring UH to national prominence, but most of us thought he’d get UH back into contention for conference titles and trips to the Hawai’i Bowl at least every other year. That’s why the dismay has been so great as his teams went 3-9, 1-11, and 4-9 before this year’s calamity. Both games prior to Saturday’s 58-7 shellacking by Air Force were within minutes of being won when the team’s defense collapsed amidst a sea of stupid penalties and missed tackles. Had they won those two games the won-loss record this week would have been 4-5 and I suspect Chow would have kept his job pending the results in the final four games of the season.

It’s very hard to recruit football players from the Mainland US to play for the U of Hawai’i, particularly if they have no family connections here. Trying to persuade a three-star or better recruit that he should come play for a team that’s 2,500 miles from the West Coast in the (second-tier FBS) Mountain West conference is difficult enough. Trying to persuade him to play for a team that’s in the midst of a five-season losing streak is even harder. That losing streak has also caused average attendance at the football games he’s going to play in to drop to the mid-20 thousands — yesterday it was 15,000, the lowest since 1976.

Recruiting home-grown players is not much easier. The really good ones have offers from the Pac-12, Mountain West and WAC schools and even further east, and because of the high cost of living here those kids may have aunties and uncles who live in cities where those schools are located. Those connections mean a lot to local kids and their parents.

What you end up with as a Hawai’i football coach is willing but undersized players with a sprinkling of Mainlanders. Oh, and there’s only room for 3,719 students in dorms and 1,200 more in on-campus apartments; there’s no dedicated football dormitory and rental units off-campus are very expensive.

There are no professional sports teams in the state. UH is all we’ve got, which is why even non-alumni take its travails so seriously.

It’s a conundrum.

Candidates lie, Senators lie

I heard Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) give the Republican weekly address today, and I was struck by one statement I know is a flat-out lie: that “the constantly-shifting regulatory environment recently forced a company to abandon seven years of work and $7 billion in investment.”

Well, no, Senator. Royal Dutch Shell abandoned its drilling plans because oil prices are so low it became uneconomic to continue. It had nothing to do with regulations.

“The decision by Shell to abandon its Arctic drilling program for now primarily reflects the realities of lower global oil prices,” said Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, who advises oil companies and investment banks. “When prices go down, the oil industry shortens their list of projects in development by removing the most expensive ones.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Republican officeholders and candidates for office lie, of course. We just saw examples of that in the debate among the party’s 2016 Presidential candidates last Wednesday. Examples:

  • Donald Trump said he had never called Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite Senator.” That very statement is on Trump’s website.
  • Ben Carson said “it’s ‘total propaganda’ to suggest he had any connection to Mannatech, a maligned nutritional supplement company,” when he was paid to appear in promotional videos for the company.
  • Ted Cruz said women’s wages have dropped while President Obama has been in office, when in fact their median salary has gone up, according to the Census Bureau’s data.
  • Carly Fiorina (remember her? Big winner in debate #2, according to the press?) claimed 92 percent of all job losses during President Obama’s first term were women’s jobs. “The number of women with jobs increased by 416,000 during Obama’s first term,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. One of the two major political parties in the United States has candidates and officeholders who will brazenly lie to its citizens and apparently not worry overmuch about being caught out in said lies.

Car safety checks

My inspection sticker was set to expire tomorrow, so I made an appointment to get the car inspected and the new sticker put on. It’s interesting that there are no walk-ins for inspections these days, at least at the places I frequent. I suspect that’s because fewer gas stations do repairs, which means fewer mechanics get the safety inspector license. The repair places probably don’t see the point in getting more than one or two of their employees licensed to inspect, which means customers have to schedule their inspection.

Anyway, I drove up to Lex Brodie’s at the bottom of my hill this afternoon, handed over my keys, and plopped down in the waiting room to watch the opening few innings of Game Three of the World Series. About an hour later the car was passed, I was out $20 (the price has gone up; it used to be about $13, as I recall), and the Royals had a 3-2 lead.

That lead didn’t last.

Republican debate results

The consensus seems to be that Trump and Carson didn’t hurt themselves and that Bush did. Since I was watching the World Series, I have no way of knowing whether that’s correct or not.

Jeb! must be a grievous disappointment to Mom, Dad and GWB, but he must really be frustrating all the people that ponied up his $100M warchest. Good. American shouldn’t be encouraged to vote for any more members of that family.

The consensus also seems to be that Rubio acquitted himself well last night, to the point where you’d think he was leading in all the polls, when in fact he’s far behind front-runners Trump and Carson. I hope he sinks. I would love to see the Republican Party nominate the reality TV/real estate guy or the neurosurgeon who left all his smarts in the OR and brought none of them to the real world.

Hey, MLB, what were you thinking?

What’s wrong with this group of people selected to discuss World Series games for the pre- and post-game shows? “Kevin Burkhardt Hosts Pregame & Postgame Coverage with Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, Raúl Ibañez and Frank Thomas.”

Great. One guy who was banned for life for gambling on the game (Rose) and one guy who was suspended for a year for his use of performance-enhancing drugs (Rodriguez).

Mr. Commissioner, what the hell were you thinking? Should you not have considered baseball’s image when presented with these two guys as commentators? It’s your product. Fox is paying you millions of dollars to put it on the air. You have a right to object to the product’s image being tarnished by the network’s hiring of two players who have been convicted of crimes against baseball.

Stupid. That’s what it is.

Hypochondriac’s delight

That’s the Internet, baby. I have some kind of odd soreness on the right side of my sternum. Plug “sore sternum” into a search box and Presto! I have costochondritis! What’s that? It’s an

inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone (sternum). Costochondritis causes localized chest wall pain and tenderness that can be reproduced by pushing on the involved cartilage in the front of the rib cage. Costochondritis is a relatively harmless musculoskeletal chest pain and usually resolves without treatment.

Well, since nobody has hit me in the chest recently, this is obviously what ails me. Pass the NSAIDs!

Plotting a birthday meal

My sister and I are ten years apart in age but only five days apart on the calendar. Over the past few years we’ve been going out to dinner once to celebrate both days. The last two years it’s been Mexican food at El Mariachi right down the hill, but I’m trying to sell the idea of beef at Stuart Anderson’s Cattle Company or someplace like it, ’cause I haven’t had a steak or prime rib that someone else has cooked in a long time.

We’ll see.

12 cents a page

That’s what it cost me to have 103 pages of medical records from a previous health care provider scanned into .pdf format. I wanted to get them to add them to the records I’m accumulating now, particularly things like colonoscopy results and vaccinations.

That’s not such a bad price ($13.20), but it only covered the years between 2005 and 2010 when I left Kaiser and started seeing doctors at the VA. I’m now considering whether I want to get the remaining years I was with Kaiser copied and scanned. That would be 1980 through 2005 except for about three years in the mid-1990s when I had another provider and my employer at the time didn’t offer Kaiser’s health care.

How often did I see Kaiser docs in those 25 years, I wonder? I remember one major event while they covered me and an additional one with the other provider. Hmm.