Posted by: twotrees | May 5, 2019

Welcome to 40 million


Santa Monica Freeway circa 1965

According to estimates from California’s Department of Finance this week, the population of California was 39,927,315 as of January 1. This number is likely low due to the people living in CA that are illegal residents. Still, at the current growth rate of .47% in 2018 (the slowest in state history), the number should exceed the 40 million mark sometime this summer.  California needs only to add another 72,600 people to hit the 40 M mark. And while the change in population has to do with births, deaths and migration, it’s interesting to note that although August is the month with the highest birthrate, all months are close,

When I moved here in 1969, the population was approximately 19,710,000 or roughly half of what it is now. During that fifty year period, much has changed, some of it not for the better  If you watch movies from the 60s or 70s, you can see that freeway traffic in LA was very light compared to today.  Saturday morning light it seems.

Back then, the freeway system expanded throughout the Golden State and made travel faster and safer.  Over the years, increases in population and car ownership has choked out interstates and main thoroughfares to the point of gridlock.  Now it takes patience and time to make it through the system to and from work, etc…

In the long run, we need to figure out how people can move about without all the stress and waste of time that our current system offers commuters.  Ride sharing and alternatives to car ownership (such as Uber and Lyft) put fewer cars on the road and more people in each car.  It’s a start but not the ultimate best practice…

Posted by: twotrees | March 5, 2019

Confessions of a carbo-loader

When I was young, I wished that my dad owned a bakery, because I was hypnotized by the smells coming from the Helms Bakery on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Well, I didn’t really want the family to be in the business of making bread, it was just that I loved bread in an almost unhealthy way.  Still do.  Nothing better than a piece of perfectly baked bread with some butter or olive oil on it.  So when the LA Weekly wrote about the 30th Anniversary of the La Brea Bakery, it was my nose that reacted first, then my other senses and memories.  Without question, they have the best bread in LA and perhaps anywhere, unless you consider some old school sourdough from San Francisco.

Did you know that the taste of Bay Area sourdough is unlike that of anywhere else in the word, due to the bacteria in the air up there – Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. True story.

Read the LA Weekly piece here:





Posted by: twotrees | February 10, 2019

Beat ’em like a rug?

My how times have changed. Today’s example: A video of Hunter Thompson debating a Hell’s Angel on TV. The Angel, hailing from the Oakland Chapter, rides his chopper onto the stage in front of a

live audience to debate why and how Hunter got his butt kicked by members of the HA while researching his book Hell’s Angels: A strange and Terrible Saga.

It seems as though Thompson, after witnessing a biker assaulting his woman, walked up and said “only a punk beats his girl and his dog.’ At which point the guy and several others give Thompson the business.

The Angel then goes on to say that every now and then, you’ got to beat them like a rug’ while berating the writer for not delivering on a promised two kegs of beer for the gang.

The interesting this here is the audience reaction – laughing at the verbal sparing, and at the comments about how spousal assault is warranted. Imagine that same conversation happening now and what a modern-day (sane) audience would do.

Note at about the 4:20 minute mark that the camera pans to show Joan Baez in the crowd.

Posted by: twotrees | January 15, 2019

Is there anybody out there?

For thousands of years, humans has been wondering if there are other lifeforms out in the universe. Now comes a report that unusual patterns are being received by sensitive telescopes in British Columbia. These fast radio bursts (FRB) are estimated to be generating from over 1.5 billion light years away.

This is only the second time such frequencies have been detected and is of major interest to investigators.

Now, let’s think about The possibility of other lifeforms in the universe: astronomers estimate that there are 170 billion galaxies in the known universe, stretching over more than 14 billion light years in each direction from Earth.

And each galaxy potentially has many planetary objects… let’s just say it’s GINORMOUS!

So the potential for other life out there is pretty good. I think it’s just a matter of time before something avails itself to us humans, and that will be something indeed.

Read the BBC’s report on this here:

Posted by: twotrees | January 7, 2019

Our Blue Marble

This month’s Sierra magazine has an excellent article entitled There Is No Planet B. Kim Stanley Robinson writes eloquently about Earth being our only reasonable living quarters.

Speaking about solar radiation management and other strategies, he posits that while scientists may have created a new name for the present epoch that Earth is going through ( Anthropocene), we humans can help it turn into a more positive time than originally considered.

If you would like to see how quantitative easing can be used to help our planet, read on:

Posted by: twotrees | January 6, 2019

Hello It’s (not) Me…

According to the Harper’s Index, the percentage of cell phone calls in 2017 that came from spammers was 3.7%. That number was expected to jump to 45% the very next year. While that may not have happened in 2018, it just might in 2019.

In the first five days of January, I have received half a dozen calls from ‘Apple Support’, calls using actual Apple phone numbers but are not Apple at all. Calls from different phone numbers each time, so that blocking them is futile. All leave messages, which is bothersome and ask that you call them back at 516-344-1156, a non-Apple number.

Late last year, I received several calls from the ‘IRS’, saying that I had a debt which needed immediate resolution to avoid prosecution. When I called back, the ‘agent’, who generally had a foreign accent, would always respond affirming me and the debt, regardless of the fact that I was Jerry McGuire and owed $1,200 or not.  What’s a little unnerving is that they identify you by name when you call them back.  Most phones show the caller phone number (unless it is blocked) but how they get your name attached to your number is one of the tricks of the trade.

Scammers are finding new and creative ways to bilk innocent people of their money, personal information .  Don’t fall for it.  When it doubt, hang up.

Posted by: twotrees | December 4, 2018

Good Karma is Good Business

william benton

Going right by your customers, employees and community is a good business practice, David Leonhardt reminds us in Sunday’s New Your Times. The piece takes us back to an article penned by William Benton in a 1944 edition of Fortune Magazine, wherein he writes during WWII, “Today victory is our purpose, tomorrow our goal will be jobs, peacetime production, high living standards and opportunity.”

He was speaking not only for himself, but also on behalf of a major corporate lobbying group.  How times have changed.  These days, Reuters plans to layoff thousands and its stock price goes us.

Back then, more people knew and worked towards all boats rising.  Greed was less prevalent than it is now and the common good (especially during war-time) was a standard mantra.  This goes for our leaders as well (RIP George HW Bush) who looks better and better in the rear view mirror in light of the ‘leadership’ we see in The U.S.A. today.

I knew of Benton as the co-founder of Benton & Bowels Advertising, which was established in 1929 (maybe not the best year to start a business).   What I did not know is that he was a Senator to Connecticut and was publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica for 30 years.

There are things worth learning from the past as they contain wisdom that can be used in the future.  Let us not forget what came before us.

Read Leonhardt’s piece here:


PS – The New York Times, by the way, is not failing as someone in Washington keeps incorrectly repeating, but has in fact, over $1 billion is subscription revenue.

Posted by: twotrees | August 28, 2018


A photo taken in 1967 shows US Navy Airforce Major

America has many patriots; most are unsung.  The janitor working late at night, the teacher who spends their own money to provide for students, a farm worker toiling under the sun for years, the hospice angel holding someone’s hand in their final hours…

John McCain was one too:  having served and suffered through armed conflict, capture and torture to return to serve in the US senate.  He was, unfortunately, one of the few remaining politicians who said what he felt and stuck to his guns, even when unpopular.

Although he and I didn’t share all thoughts with regard to political views, I, like many who have come forward in the past 72 hours, would take a moment to thank him for his service, for his honesty and for his grit.  He had a loudspeaker for which to speak to people and he used it well.

His final letter to the public was an example of who John McCain was and should be remembered as.  Here is that letter:

My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s. 

“I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

“‘Fellow Americans’ – that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

“Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.

I feel it powerfully still.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

“Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.”

Posted by: twotrees | July 20, 2018

Man on the Moon

We all have an answer to where we were at the time of world-changing events in our lives. Today is one of those for many of us – the day, forty-nine years ago, that two American astronauts walked on Earth’s moon. Long before Michael Jackson made a style of dancing backwards famous, Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon, climbed down the metal steps of Eagle, the lunar module, lander and jumped on to the dusty surface of another heavenly body.

I was at summer camp in Maine with about 30 other campers, peering into the screen of a small, black & white television.  We couldn’t hear much and the image was scratchy, but the significance was not lost on this science nerd.

Human beings had achieved what a decade before had been thought impossible.  And partially because the president, Kennedy in 1961, challenged the nation to do this by the end of the decade.  Through the hard work of men and women of science, we did it.  Several moon shots followed, but without the drama of the first.  I remember them posting the U.S. flag on the surface, with wire holding the flag out (as there’s no consistent wind there).

I remember the words Armstrong uttered into his Plantronics headset as if it was yesterday:  That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Perhaps the most accurate words ever spoken.

Here’s a link to a 2 minute montage of that very special day:

And Kennedy’s challenge to go to the moon : “Not because it they are easy, but because they are hard” People thought he was crazy.But we did it:


Posted by: twotrees | June 24, 2018

We can do better…

Today’s LA Times editorial speaks to how there is a hardening of the heart in America. By that they mean that our leadership and many Americans are caring less about the we and more about the me.

Yet looking at the documents crafted by our country’s framers, the word me does not appear. For better or for worse, we’re in this together.

The editorial sites Philip Alston’s UN report on extreme poverty and reflects a few of his comments on how the Unites States treats its less fortunate. One quote of the report stands out when it states ”The principal strategy for dealing with extreme poverty in the USA is to “criminalise and stigmatise” (spelled such as Alston is an Australian).

From the report: “There is thus a dramatic contrast between the immense wealth of the few and the squalor and deprivation in which vast numbers of Americans exist. For almost five decades the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”

As the leader of world in so many ways, the United States must strive to do better in the things we don’t lead the world in, the things that mar our greatness, if you like. We can do it but the question remains – do we want to?

Read the LA Times editorial here:

Read the twenty page United Nations report here:

Read an interview with the report’s author Philip Aston:

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