Bending the knee

 

Like the rest of America, I can’t help but think about the implications of the last several weeks or months coming to a head because a bunch of football players decide to make a stand and a President who can’t help but send his judgement across the Twittersphere, igniting an already complex conversation that America has needed to have for years, since probably the civil rights movement.

Of course, the way that this is being framed, set into context, is that is isn’t about American citizens still being judged by the color of their skin, no instead this is about disrespecting the flag, which somehow equates to additional disrespect to those who CHOOSE to fight for that flag.

We learned about this in University– Cognitive Dissonance.  The act of creating a conflict above another conflict in order to distract from the original conflict.  This is a classic rhetoric being used and its amazing that so many people are falling for it.  The President and his followers are actually creating a conflict about Veterans and the Flag in order to avoid having to discuss the real reason these people are protesting– its a cloud of dissonance.  The reality is it has nothing to do with Flag, Country or Vets, it has to do with racism and ignorance.

First of all, Veterans choose to fight for this country– there isn’t a draft, so people who heed the call to serve do so on their own volition.  If you fight for freedom, that’s great, but the American people don’t owe you anything other than what you are given in salary and benefits– its a choice you make with your own free will.  Just like I choose to go to University and I chose to be in debt for it, I don’t ask people respect me because of a choice I made when I was younger.

Second of all, read the statistics,  being black in America is rough for the vast majority of blacks– lets remember that 34% of black males are incarcerated at some point in their lives.  Most are racially profiled and accused of things, live in poverty, etc.. the data is easy to find and present.  Now we are starting to see a rise in Hate Speech and White Supremacy that was haven’t seen in decades– plus uprising in places like St. Louis over police getting acquitted again and again after killing people.

We live in a complicated society, everyone is aware of that.  We aren’t perfect and the way we protest also isn’t perfect–sitting during the national anthem is probably the most non-violent way to protest that we have seen, yet it seems to resonate more with the other side of the fence than thousands of protesters filling the streets to make their pleas heard– that’s what gets me.  We should be smarter than this as a whole, but we keep falling for the same rhetoric and propaganda.  We have to do better for equal rights and standing up for those equal rights!

…and I am not trying to be preachy here.  I get it– but what I don’t get is when celebrities use their platform to speak out injustice, people get so upset about it. I always think about when Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder spoke out against W– and people would tell him to shut up and play music and keep the politics out of it– but our politics are a fabric of our identity.  If we don’t speak out about things, how are people supposed to know that there are things out there that others don’t agree with?  How am I supposed to know that fucked up things are happening to black America?  (Well, I actually pay attention).

Now, the Vets would counter this by saying that they are victims too, right?  Vets, of all people, should be sensitive to groups of people being unfairly treated– look at how the VA treats its own, right? Instead of take a moment to acknowledge that suffering is happening, some choose to further victimize and delegitimize these people.  To me, that is a very slippery slope.

The presence of mind

Where to begin….

Our vacation was abruptly changed by a tropical storm which pounded Cabo San Lucas over a couple of days.  Barely a blip on the American Media frenzy that was too busy repeating stories of Hurricane Harvey, the storm packed 55-70mph sustained winds, but the real storm was the rain.  45-60 inches of rain in 6-8 hours in a lot for any area to handle, but the Baja peninsula is all sand and it doesn’t rain often, so when it does, it pools and doesn’t drain.

In brief, here is our timeline:

We arrived on Saturday afternoon on a beautiful day, Hot and Humid, but not unbearable by any means.  It’s the type of heat that challenges you, refreshes you, makes you desire the pool, water, a cold beverage.  By Tuesday, that heat became overcast, humid, unseasonal.  You could feel the weather changing, the Mexicans were also feeling the change– they like to inform us that a storm was coming and that they were expecting lots of rain– when they said it, you could see the seriousness in their eyes.  By Wednesday, the alerts were starting to be more and more frequent.  The property that we vacation at sent a note that a major storm was coming and that people on the beach property should move up to the Laguna, which is where our place is.  We read it, but weren’t concerned, we were in paradise!

Still, the more cautious side of me said we better go into town and get food and water to hold us until we at least Saturday, just in case.  We drove into town, which has both a Walmart and a Costco and stocked up.  The lines at the stores weren’t bad, which I took as a good sign.  If the Mexicans aren’t worried, why should we be?

By Thursday, we were closely monitoring the storm.  Given what Harvey had done to Houston, we were concerned, but given todays internet and all of the information being right there for you to consume and that just fed our imagination.  Lidia hadn’t touch the Baja yet, so it was unpredictable.  Being the people with the greatest access to technology, we feverishly began to consume all of the data we could about the impending storm.  The staff of the resort were busy packing everything away from the beach.  We used the NOAA site for the majority of our information, which, by the way, sucks because all of the information is different depending on which page you are actually reading.

Check it out for yourself, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.  There is a ton of data, but all of it seems to contradict, the wind data and the storm data aren’t totally inline– but after searching, I did find good data in the “discussion” topic, which actually was quite accurate with what we experienced.  The discussion said that the storm would hit us at 7:00pm with 25-30 inches of rain and the potential of a flash flood following were real events.  The storm kicked into high gear at 6:45pm in the evening and didn’t really let up until 4am.

Shortly after 7, our friends room begin to leak water.  At first it was from both of the doors leading outside, but the most notable concern came from the adjoining room, which was locked, which began to also leak water, which meant that room had a much larger leak and since we couldn’t investigate it, we assumed the worst.  We made a few calls to the front desk, who obviously had a number of other gringos they were needing to take care of.  After our third call, you know, just to let them know that there was more flooding, they decided to move us to the towers.

The Towers

Just before 9pm, we got a call that we were being moved to higher ground and we should prepare to take things.  Lili and I had prepared for this to potentially happen and were ready to go.  When the concierge showed up a few minutes later, they were ready to take us.  The move was swift and dizzying, we carried our bags through a foot of standing water outside of the suites– there is no where for the water to go, the ground is like a giant rock because it never really rains in Cabo, so the rain just sits on top of where it falls until it is either cleaned up or it becomes part of a raging river as you can see in the below video of the damage captured the next morning.

 

We thought going to the higher ground would take care of the issues, but we actually got a room in the towers that ended being more than likely worse than the one we left.  In the room in the towers, the ceiling was leaking from the massive amount of water that had gathered on the top of the building and had began to seep through the rock into the ceiling.  Luckily it stayed on the edges, but by the time we woke up in the morning, more and more of the ceiling was dripping, causing us to want to move again– all of the floors in the resort are tiled, so when they get wet, its like a skating rink, so it was dangerous.  We really grew concerned when they sent in a cleaning crew, who basically just mopped the floors, spreading the water that had leaked through the roof and the paint all over the tile, making it nearly impossible to get around without falling.

The next morning was where it all hit me, what we had been through and how tragic it could have been if the storm had been a little more powerful or would have lasted just a little longer.  It hit me particularly when we went up to the main part of the resort, The Dunes, which was fully functional within a few hours of opening– fully functional to the point where they were serving all the guests their delicious American style breakfasts and people were chugging down Latte’s and Waffles!  It was amazing to me.  Here we were in a second world country that had just endured a pretty major weather event, children died, swept away to sea, and I was ordering waffles for my kids.  Its surreal.  I ordered a Latte.

We talked to others, we had no idea of what was really happening beyond the gates of the resort, but no one wanted to leave the resort and check it out or try to help, we just wanted to wait it out and try to fly out the next day on schedule– after all, we were on vacation!

 

Flying Out

Later that day we began to hear that the road to the airport had been blown away.  The beautiful new toll road, which we drove in on, was now missing a 100 foot chunk of it (which you can see at the end of the video posted above).  The estimated time to get to the airport was well over 3 hours, so they were saying it was a 5 hour minimum to get to the airport, through customs and on a plane.

It took nearly 6.  We missed our plane by 45 minutes.  It literally took 5 hours to go from the resort to the end of Cabo, where we would need to go to the back of the Walmart to get the old road to get the airport– the problem was every Mexican in Cabo decided they also needed to be on the same road, but apparently not to get out of town because once we got half a mile past WalMart, there wasn’t a single car to be found.  This was probably the worst traffic jam I had ever been in my entire life and like most traffic jams, it didn’t make any sense why it was as bad as it was, except that the government should have been checking cars and forbidding people who didn’t have an immediate need (LIKE GETTING TO THE AIRPORT, HELLO?!?) to be on that specific road.  Again, I find myself pissed at myself for wanting things to be more organized and civil, but look, its Mexico!  Part of the reason why I love Mexico is because it is the way it is, like I said at the beginning of this, you feel alive, you feel on the edge a little, so it awakens your senses, makes you more alert and aware.  But it also pisses you off because you know it can be better, things can be better for these people… and it is getting better.  We felt constantly safe there and I will be taking my family back there, again and again, because Cabo does offer that out of your element experience, but the resort also offers a better than your normal element experience 99% of the time.  We just happened to be there for the 1% part too, this time, yet we made it out ok.

Here’s some additional photos of the storm and damage.

 

 

 

I'm back (you didn't even notice I was gone)

We had a little scare this week.

Hosting a website is a tricky business.  You have your domain, which you own, as long as you pay the domain fee.  Then you have to have a company which hosts the domain, usually the same company.  For years, I have been using Bluehost.  They used to be solid and pretty cheap, but I have had them now for over 7 years and last month, the renewal wasn’t on autopay, I didn’t pay attention and the site was brought down.  That was on July 5th.

On the 31st, since I still hadn’t renewed my hosting, they deleted the whole thing.  Databases, site, everything.  I called them, wondering what in the hell was going on– they explained that they don’t make backups and that data is deleted at the end of the month following non-payment.  Years of work, flushed away without a care.  She offered me to go to sales to start over… Lili cried at the loss of all that she had been working on with her craft site– it was unnerving.

I decided to contact technical support– maybe I had gotten some clown who didn’t realize that there were still backups, that all couldn’t have been lost…

Luckily, that was the case.  I spent a couple of hours working with someone in India who restored the databases and we are back up and in business once again.  Still– the situation as a whole is a nasty affair.  However, with the amount of files I have, its not easy to just pick it all up and move the stuff to a new home and most of the other sites are the same– and really, who has the time to think about the process of migrating the data to a new hosting provider and going through and republishing all of that content?  Well, I have a year to figure it all out now….

I am mainly writing this today to make people aware that if you do decide to run your own site for whatever reason, the business side can be challenging, even if you aren’t selling a product.  This site isn’t worth anything to anyone but me and someday when I am no longer here, maybe my family, but it still holds value to me personally.

The Culture of Celebrity

I remember as a young kid my grandmother would always get the National Enquirer in the checkout lanes in the supermarket.  My parents used to laugh because she would believe all that celebrity gossip that went on in that rag, even though they spent a lot of time fighting slander lawsuits.  She died before the internet really took hold, but its really amazing to see how the National Inquirer no longer exists but the internet has replaced it ten fold.  The news breaks immediately, everyone sends out the same scoop and then they spend the next several days getting any additional information about a “news event” to push viewers to their site to view their content and advertising.

Take for example the recent death of Chris Cornell.  I get a text alert at 3am on Thursday morning, informing me of his death in Detroit.  No cause of death, just that he is dead.  By the time I wake up at 7am, still no cause. but by 8am it appears that he may have committed suicide, but its just speculation.  Rumors.

Then it becomes known that his wife had been trying to reach him after speaking to him and him saying “I’m just tired”.

Then it becomes known that he hanged himself in the bathroom of his hotel room.

The next day the coroner comes back with a report of his death ruled as a suicide.  The family denies this and asks for toxicology reports.

Then it becomes known that he was on a strong anti-anxiety medication, that he took too many that night.

Was that final performance that night, was he off?  Did he make some mention of what was to come?

What did him and his wife talk about before she hung up with him?  Why did she have security guards do a welfare check 20 minutes after they hung up?

Why did it take so long for his own security detail to get access to his hotel?  Why did he have an exercise band around his neck in the shower?

When will his memorial be?

Is there going to be a memorial concert?

Can we visit his grave?  When can we do that?

It just keeps going on and on…. and guess what?  His death should be no more than a conversational topic for you.  You don’t know Chris Cornell.  You don’t know what he was feeling that night.  You don’t know the anxiety that all of this gave him.  You didn’t know he was on anti-anxiety medication and none of us knows why either.  It doesn’t matter either.  He’s gone, he didn’t leave a note, he didn’t leave a bunch of breadcrumbs leading up to that moment, you can go back through his whole catalog, his whole career and find some deep, dark areas that most of us have never been nor would we want to go there.

You also have probably never experience fame or wealth at that level, where everyone feels like they are judging your body of work.  Cornell was one of the biggest talents to come out of the Seattle music scene– he didn’t have many enemies, he wasn’t add odds with either Pearl Jam or Nirvana, although they were at odds with each other.  He lived more in his years than 10 of us will –he was one of the lucky ones, one of the guys that made it, one of the guys that survived an number of addictions in his life, even after he had made.  He was like a Tom Cat with nine lives, but eventually, they wear out.  He burned out, came back and now he will fade away…. and so will this crush so many people seem to have on his death.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how we die, it’s that we are dead.  Our moment to meet the maker has come and we have chosen to walk with him.  The rest simply doesn’t matter, except for his family.

I’ll never forget the moment that Kurt Cobain died– it was April 8th,  1994, my great friend TJ and I were driving back from a Pearl Jam show in Rochester, NY.  During the song GO, Eddie dedicated the song to Kurt.  He had been missing for a couple of days at that point and they found his body the next morning, the same morning we were driving back from the show.  The details of that death came out a lot of the same way that this one did, sketch details.  They wouldn’t say who it was they found at Kurt’s house in Seattle, only that they had found a body.  Everyone knew what that meant.  A few hours later they confirmed, it was Cobain.  Still, years later, people are still convinced he was murdered– but guess what?  It doesn’t matter.  These are troubled people and maybe that’s why we are so attracted to them, we covet them and the reality is, they are becoming more and more rare as music becomes more electronic and more about what everything else sounds like instead of being angry and original.

 

Greetings From The Wall

 

 

 

 

Where is Hogg?

I have been traveling quite a bit in the last couple of months– all of it for work.

First off, work travel generally sucks.  Airlines these days, suck.  Companies rarely let you travel business class and coach is always packed to the gills.  Then there is work, then the hotel and that’s about it.  Very little time to actually travel, see the sights, let alone scope out a place to get a decent meal.  My last couple trips have been to some of my favorite cities, Chicago and Phoenix.  Both great towns, while at the same time they have some crappy parts to them.  For this particular blog, we will discuss Phoenix.  I’ll tackle Chicago at another time.

I love being in the Southwest in the spring.  It’s a great break from the LONG, wet winters of Seattle, the gray can get to anyone this time of year, so it’s nice to come out to the desert and get some Vitamin D in your system.  Desert Sky airport is a nice, medium sized airport.  The only downfall is the car rental agency is a good 5 miles from the airport, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time when you return the car to get to the airport and get checked in– also, there are 3 seperate terminals, so you need to know which one you are flying out of.

I was able to go with my company to the Final Four National Championship, which was quite a spectacular event, with the 68,000 spectators — but I will say that once I have done it, I won’t be likely to go again.  NCAA basketball is a great office topic, filling out the bracket, assessing who might go all the way is entertaining, but the Championship game and all of the fan fare is something to see!  The game itself was obviously totally one sided with Gonzaga ahead most of the game, but in the end, I don’t think the best team won in that game.  I feel like the refs skewed the game to the point where UNC had an opportunity to win and they did just that.  Overall, it was a great game, but the result seemed unfair– but that is college basketball at it’s core.

This year the Madness seemed different– way less games that went down to the final seconds with foul line shooting and teams trying to come back by fouling the other teams– there was way less of that in the last minutes than previous tournaments and it made the games more exciting to watch– but I still don’t get how they can actually play a good game with all of the TV timeouts.  It takes forever!  Sitting in one of the boxes, you could see all the action unfold right in front of you and how long it actually took vs. how long they actually stood and waited while the ads went.  This obviously played in the Tar Heels favor and they ended up all but stealing the title from the Zags.

My buddy’s father in law sent one of his kids to Gonzaga and he stil wanted a t-shirt even though they had lost, so I headed down right as they won to get a shirt– and most of the stands had already packed up and headed out– so I had to search for one and by the time I found it, of course it was lined up with Tar Heels looking for the championship shirts, which of course they were selling, which means that some group of people in Africa will probably be getting a shipment of shirts to wear.  Long story, short… After waiting in line for way too long, I got the shirt, but I missed the bus back to the tailgate.  Suck.  Not only did I miss the bus, but I walked all around the sports stadium looking for the bus area — there were several, when the bus couldn’t wait any longer and it left me hanging.  Bummer dude.  Worse yet, the bus area that I was in when I discovered I was in the wrong area was about the furthest away from the Uber/Lyft staging area — which, buy the way, was off the Arizona Cardinals property– they don’t allow uber or lyft to pick up on the property– but they do allow cabs.

The one bright side of this story is that the weather was perfect for a walk and by the time I got there, the cab fares had dropped to a normal rate and I paid about $50.00 to get back to the hotel in Tempe.  Good price.

COPS.

Phoenix has a lot of cops.  Like ALOT.  The Final Four had more SWAT than I have ever witnessed at a sporting event– our network guys said that 300 armed SWAT were at that event– AR15’s at the ready.   One of the reasons it took me forever to walk to find the right bus was that each exit was sliced and barracaded so you couldn’t just walk out the entrance and find your way, you had to walk all the way back to the stadium and cut back into another silo — super annoying.  The assumption there is that most of the people going in there know where they are going, but if you don’t — best of luck!  That wasn’t the only experience with cops I noticed on my journey– they are ever present, they recruit on billboards openly offering jobs starting at 58k a year to be a cop and I must have a dozen cops a day just driving back and forth to meetings.  Washington seems to have hired less po  lice as the population has expanded here as I seem to go months without seeing a single one, but in Phoenix, you will see one every day it seems.

One has to wonder what that does to the psyche of a society.  Having an all out police presence everywhere, does it help to divert crime or does it exerbate the problem?  I am sure there is much more violent crime overall in Phoenix, given the police presence, so I looked up some statistics about Phoenix, but for every stat I found about how bad Phoenix is, I see the same about Seattle, so maybe I don’t know what the hell I am on about, which isn’t uncommon.

That being said, I must admit, Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale are growing on me.  I can’t see myself ever actually moving there or anything, but I am finally comfortable enough travelling there that it doesn’t feel super lonely being there without the family for a week– I actually wished I had more time there this time so I could have seen more people, but I ran into some good people I haven’t seen in YEARS from college, which is always good to see and good to see that we are all alive and healthy (relatively speaking).