The Inevitable

My humblest apologies for the lateness of this post. Sadly, my beloved smartphone passed away last night, and I’m in the throes of grief. Ah, Nexus 5X, we hardly knew you.

Well, okay, considering that I’d had the phone since April of 2016, I’d say I knew it pretty darn well. So did you all, for that matter, since 99% of the photos I post are taken with my phone. And I wasn’t spending (much) time weeping and wailing; I was trying to revive it.

The fatal disease in this case is the so-called “boot loop,” in which the device gets partway through booting, then starts over or shuts down–mine fell into the latter group. It’s a known hardware problem with the 5X. Apparently some component unsolders itself from its circuit board. And in retrospect, I probably should have seen this coming. The phone has been having increasing difficulty connecting to Wi-Fi for the past few months–which some websites suggest is a related issue–and the constant attempts to reconnect raise the phone’s temperature, which hastens the major component failure.

I have to give kudos to both Google and LG (the actual makers of the phone) for their handling of the situation. The Project Fi customer service representative had me do one simple test to confirm the problem, then told me that LG had extended warranty coverage to all devices that fail this way, so there would be no cost for a repair, not even shipping.

He then conferenced in an LG customer service representative and introduced us before dropping off the call. She was equally polite and efficient, confirming that the repair would be done under warranty and would take about two weeks. It took her longer to get my address into the computer than everything else combined*.

* To be fair, the address problem was not the rep’s fault, nor, really, was it LG’s. Blame the US Post Service. My zip code is shared between two cities. Companies that auto-populate the city based on the zip code using the official USPS database always get it wrong, and usually have to fight to override the default.

I’m currently waiting for LG to email me the FedEx shipping label; that should come today, I was told, but may take a little longer than usual because of the address override. Fine. What’s a day or so in a two-week process?

Because, really, two weeks without a phone? Inconceivable!

The Google rep suggested that if I have an old phone, I could temporarily activate it with Fi, but I’m not sure that’s feasible, since my previous phone was with Sprint, which didn’t use SIMs at the time. But I’ll try, because why not?

But I’m not counting on it working, so I’ve ordered a new phone. Yeah, I know. Bad timing: Google is widely expected to introduce the Pixel 3 series in October. But let’s face it, about 95% of my phone time is either listening to baseball games, sending email, or taking pictures of cats. And the Pixel 2 camera are still widely regarded as among the best phone cameras available. It’ll be a major upgrade over the 5X camera, certainly. And spreading the payments across two years makes it more or less affordable.

In the worst case scenario, if the Pixel 3 series renders the 2 series totally obsolete, well, I’ve got a phone that’s a major step up for what I do. By the time it’s paid off, I can trade it in for a Pixel 5 (which obsoleted the Pixel 4 that made the Pixel 3 look like trash).

If you believe Google’s estimate, the new phone could arrive as soon as tomorrow or as late as Monday. Four days is a hell of a lot easier to face than two weeks. With a bit of luck, next Friday’s cat post will feature photos taken with the new phone.

So why am I getting the phone repaired if I’m buying a new one? That Google rep again. He pointed out that the trade-in value of a working 5X is almost double that of a dead one and that I’ve got thirty days–four weeks, twice as long as the repair should require–to send in the old phone. Logical and helpful. Thank you, Google Support Guy!

Or, heck, I may keep it around as an emergency backup. Maggie has a 5X, after all. It probably won’t drop dead–it seems to be from a newer production run which may not have the same unsoldering issue–but keeping the old phone would provide a little peace of mind.

Rest in peace, Nexus 5X, secure in the knowledge that your resurrection is pending.

Who’s Next?

Sorry, but I’m going to get all political on you again. Feel free to ignore my paranoid rantings.

One of the things that QA and writing have in common is the need to answer the question “Why?”

When testing, it’s not enough to know that a certain sequence of steps causes the program to go blooey*. The tester has to try to determine why; the answer to that question will have implications for who’s going to fix the bug and when–or even if–it’ll get fixed.

* Technical terminology.

Similarly, when writing, it’s not enough to know a character takes a certain action. The author needs to know why; characters who act illogically or do something stupid because the plot requires it make readers throw down the book and not buy anything else by the author.

So I’m doubly inclined to ask “Why?” when my government goes blooey.

In this case, the question is “We have a president who continues to spew lies, ignore the advice of his councilors, threaten war, and generally do the exact opposite of working for the benefit of his country. Why, then, has not a single member of his party–the majority in Congress–acted to restrain him?”

Let’s ignore for the moment the question of why Trump acts the way he does. For the most part, it’s irrelevant to the question we’re looking at now. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that his actions are driven in part by Russian influence. We’ll take that as a given and move on.

Possibility One: No Congressional Republicans are acting to counter Trump because Russia has something on every single one of them.

It’s possible, but improbable. Diogenes notwithstanding, moderately honest people aren’t hard to find. Granted, the ratio is probably skewed in Congress, but the odds still say that there must be one or two Republican congresscritters who haven’t taken money from the NRA or another Russian front organization, been recorded cheating on their spouses or stealing from church poor boxes, and don’t relax by pushing old ladies down the stairs.

More likely, what we’re seeing is a mass case of mental paralysis. Suppose you’re chatting with your friends at a restaurant. The waitress asks “Would you like some dessert?” and you haven’t even looked at the menu. You stare at her while you try to process the question. Finally, she takes pity on you and says “The cheesecake is good,” and you immediately say, “Great, I’ll have that!” even though you don’t much like cheesecake, and would really prefer the strawberry shortcake.

That’s mental paralysis. The honest Republicans never expected to have to decide between party and country, re-election and personal honor, and they’re frozen. They go along with whatever the party wants because it gets them past the brain lock. And maybe cheesecake isn’t so bad after all.

Sooner or later, though, they may start to decide they’re tired of cheesecake and want that strawberry shortcake. We may have seen the first sign of that with Senator Scott’s move to block the appointment of Ryan Bounds to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Kudos to Senator Scott.

But then, why–there’s that question again–does the party leadership not at least act to replace Trump with somebody less polarizing?

Even if we leave Trump’s value as a distraction, allowing them to push their agenda through, who could they replace him with?

Consider the succession. President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore.

If Trump is removed–impeached, forced to resign, assassinated, whatever–Pence becomes president and chooses his new vice president. Who must be confirmed by both houses of Congress. The Republicans would need to get their choice past the Senate without a vice president to break a tie. It would only take one Republican breaking ranks to block a candidate.

And if you think Congressional Democrats have mobilized against Brett Kavanaugh, you ain’t seen nothing yet. That fight could easily drag past the November election.

And let’s get real here. If Trump is actually guilty of conspiring with Russia to swing the election, would anyone believe Pence wasn’t also in the plot up to his eyebrows? If Trump goes down, the Democrats block the appointment of a new vice president, and take control of either house in November, then the games get really interesting.

Remember, while the Speaker is an elected position (voted on by the members of the House), the Senate President Pro Tempore is not. That’s based strictly on length of service in the Senate. If the Democrats flip the Senate–which seems more likely than the House–Patrick Leahy of Vermont steps into the succession. Nominally, he’d be fourth in line, but if the vice presidency is vacant, he’d move up a step.

Meanwhile, over in the House… Suppose compelling evidence of wrongdoing by Pence turns up after Trump’s departure. Pence goes down (eventually). With no vice president, we get President Paul Ryan [shudder] and the same logjam in appointing a VP. Assuming, of course, this all goes down before a new Speaker is elected in January. Yes, we really could have a lame duck Representative become president.

Logically, Ryan is as likely to be guilty of collusion as Pence, if not more so. But that might even be beside the point. If Ryan becomes president, he can’t also be a member of the House. Imagine the confusion if the Republican governor of Wisconsin has to appoint somebody to fill Ryan’s seat until the new Congress is seated in January–especially if a Democrat wins Ryan’s district.

Bottom line here: the current situation is chaos, and there’s no clear path to stability for Republicans who, for whatever reason, won’t or can’t relinquish power.

Stay tuned. December may be a very interesting month, especially if Democrats flip both houses in November.

Eternal Verity

In trying times like these, when everything seems unsettled, it’s a good idea to take a step back and remind yourself that some things don’t change.

A sleeping cat is, by definition, cute.
20-1

Yuki needs a pillow to sleep soundly, and Rhubarb needs to be used as a pillow before he can doze off.
20-2

Synergy!

So when you’re stressed, when you need a break from the insanity, go pat a cat.

Better yet, take a nap with one. Your psyche will thank you.

I’m Not Touching You

If you missed the alerts for the first six parts of this series, please check your spam folder… No, not really, but it is tempting.

Corporate over-communication is getting to be quite the fad. Consider these two examples, which occurred within a week.

We have a home alarm system. When it triggers, the alarm company first tries to contact us at our home phone number. If we don’t answer, they also try a cell phone, a mobile email address, and a text message. Only if all contacts fail do they pass the alert to the police or fire department. This is good–it only adds a couple of minutes to the response time, and it cuts down on false alerts, which can be very expensive.

But.

We had a false alarm recently. The trigger was a sensor falling off one of the doors. No harm, no foul; the system worked as intended: I spoke to the alarm company, the police didn’t come to the house, and I set up a service call to have the sensor remounted.

The false alarm happened on a Friday, in the evening. When I made the appointment for the service call, the representative first offered Saturday, “between noon and five”. Well, we had plans for Saturday afternoon, so that wouldn’t work, and we settled on Monday afternoon. A few minutes later, I got an email confirming the appointment.

That’s when everything went off the rails, thanks to the alarm company’s zealous need to stay in touch.

Over the next few minutes, I got two more identical emails. Probably a hiccup in their email system. At least, I hope so. I deleted the extras and went on with my day.

Saturday morning, a few minutes before eight, we were woken up by the phone. Caller ID said it was the alarm company. We hadn’t set the alarm when we went to bed–no sensor–so we knew it wasn’t a break-in alert. So we went back to sleep. Or tried to. Shortly after I pulled the covers over my eyes, my cell phone rang.

You guessed it. The alarm company, calling a number they’re only supposed to use for an alert.

“Hi, this is [name] with [company]. We have a technician in your area who can come fulfill your service request today between eight and noon.”

The conversation went downhill from there.

Note, by the way, that the window had changed from afternoon to morning. If morning was an option, shouldn’t the original representative I spoke to have offered it? But I digress.

And yes, the caller had left a message on our answering machine before calling my cell phone.

Saturday afternoon, I got an email urging me to upgrade the alarm system to their latest system which has an all-new app for iOS and Android. You all know my feelings about apps that let you arm and disarm alarm systems from anywhere. Trashed the email.

Sunday brought a reminder email about Monday’s service appointment.

Monday, a few minutes before noon, I got a phone call from the technician. “I’m on my way, I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.” Hopefully he wasn’t actually on his way; I’d hate for him to risk getting into an accident because he was calling ahead while driving.

And, about two minutes after that, I got an email informing me that the tech was on his way. (Excuse me, I just checked: it says “on their way”. Kudos to the company for not making gender assumptions in their annoyingly redundant messages.)

So that’s four emails and three phone calls for one appointment. I was about one contact away from telling the tech to rip out the system, take it back to headquarters, and shove it up the rear end of the executive in charge of customer service.

Oddly, now that the appointment is over, there’s been complete silence. Not a single phone call or email begging me to take their customer satisfaction survey. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if one came in somewhere down the road; some companies seem to wait for months before sending those out, perhaps in the hope that you’ll forget just how horrible the service was.

Another example.

My doctor gave me a referral to a clinic I’ve never dealt with before*. When I called to make an appointment, I had my choice between two days away, two months away, or three months away. For obvious reasons, I took the first option, and set up the appointment for just over 49 hours in the future.

* This is for a minor, but annoying condition. Nothing life-threatening. No need to express concern, but thanks in advance.

One hour later, I got an automated phone call to confirm the appointment. No problem, that’s standard practice these days.

Then I got an email confirming the appointment again and including paperwork I was supposed to fill out and bring with me. Again, fine. I’d rather fill out the forms at home than on the Group W bench at the office.

This was accompanied by a separate email urging me to set up an account on their “patient portal”. This would, it said, allow me to send secure messages to my “care team” at any time; view my bills, test results, and appointment details; and schedule “visits”.

I ignored it. I don’t plan to be a regular client, thanks.

Then I got another email asking me to click a link to confirm my appointment. Didn’t I just do that on the phone? Oh, well. I clicked the link.

Then came another email, this one demanding that I set up the portal account and offering the ability to fill out forms online. Fine. If I can fill out this five page questionnaire online, it’ll be easier for everyone. I won’t have to carry it with me, and the doctor won’t have to read my handwriting.

I signed up. Noticed that my address was wrong*, so I fixed it and went looking for the form. Surprise! It’s not in the system.

* This is not uncommon. There are two cities sharing our zip code, so any business that uses the Post Office’s zip-to-city database gets it wrong.

Logged off in disgust, just in time to get two more emails. One informing me that my portal password had been changed and urging me to call the office if I hadn’t made the change. And one to “confirm the recent changes made to your profile”.

Mind you, I didn’t change the password, I set it up. But that’s a grammatical quibble. The profile change message, however, is more annoying. It doesn’t give any clue what has changed. I presume it’s regarding the address change. But since it doesn’t give any information, I can’t tell if it’s alerting me to the change I just made, to their system reverting the change because the city I entered doesn’t match their database, or some other change.

At this point, I’ve spent as much time dealing with the emails as I expect to spend at the appointment–and that’s still almost thirty hours away. Plenty of time for another half-dozen messages.

What gives the alarm company the ability to use contact information I gave them for one purpose for something else entirely? Is it really that hard for the clinic (or, more likely, their outsourced techies) to get their phone and email systems talking to each other and to merge portal notifications that happen within a short amount of time into a single contact?

[Shrug] You tell me: am I overly sensitive, or are these companies overly aggressive?

Either way, don’t expect anything to change. There’s no economic impetus. Emails are effectively free, after all, but it would cost money to reprogram the systems.

Late Midway

Here we are at the middle of the season.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Most teams are past the ninety-five game mark and several are at ninety-eight–60% of the season. But the All-Star Break is still the traditional mid-point, even though–thanks to this year’s schedule changes–it’s never been later.

And we all know how important tradition is to baseball. (One assumes that Tevye and the rest of the gang fleeing Anatevka became rabid fans when they reached the U.S. Though they probably would have rooted for the Trolley Dodgers, so there’s that. But I digress.)

Jackie’s Orioles, while not exactly covering themselves with glory, at least made it to the break on a two-game winning streak, giving them 28 victories on the season and putting them percentage points ahead of the Royals in the race to avoid the “Worst Team in Baseball Dunce Cap” (not a real award).

The Giants (hi, John!), despite dropping their last two games to the Athletics, are still two games over .500 and have a legitimate chance to challenge for the NL West crown and a playoff spot.

And, of course, the Mariners, flying high as recently as two weeks ago, have lately put on a performance that makes the Orioles look stellar. They’ve lost four straight and seven of the last ten. That they’re still sitting in the second Wild Card slot says a lot more about the way the rest of the American League started the season than it does about the Ms themselves.

Vexingly, they’re not in the Machado sweepstakes. They’ve got a pretty darn good shortstop already, and their third baseman isn’t exactly shabby either. So, while Manny’s bat might be just what they need to kickstart the offense again, they don’t have anywhere to put him. (As I write this, it appears he’ll be going to the aforementioned Trolley Dodgers. Feh!)

Anyway, the All-Star Break means the Home Run Derby. You know I love me some Derby, even though it’s not really baseball. (If preseason baseball is methadone, what does that make the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby? Nicotine gum, maybe?)

This year’s HRD may have been the best I’ve seen. Certainly the best since I started blogging. No gross mismatches, a couple of dramatic comebacks, an exciting final round, and a complete lack of distracting charity gimmicks. (The key word there is “distracting”. T-Mobile is donating money to Team Rubicon based partly on the number of home runs hit during the Derby. Good for them. And doubly so for not hitting viewers over the head with their message as has been the case with previous charitable donation promotions.)

I could have done with a bit less Bryce Harper adulation during the event. Yes, I know: local player, heavily favored, plays well to the camera. But the frequent cuts to his latest mugging felt contrived. But it’s a minor complaint, all things considered.

The youthful ball-shaggers were good. I saw a couple of nice catches and only one incident that put me in fear for a kid’s health. And it was great to see them get some on-screen recognition as Pitch, Hit & Run winners. Nobody robbed a competitor of a home run as famously happened to Ryne Sandberg in 1985, but I did see a clean snag just short of the wall.

More nicotine gum tonight with the All-Star Game, then two days of withdrawal before real games resume. (Yeah, okay, there’s a Cardinals/Cubs game on Thursday to help tide us over to Friday, but outside of St. Louis, it’s not a big deal. Certainly unlikely to have significant playoff repercussions.)

Friday the Thirteenth

A brief tailtale in honor of Friday the Thirteenth.

Yuki, you see, had an unpleasant encounter with a monster.
13-1

Nervous? Uneasy? You be the judge.
13-2

Here’s a hint: A few seconds later, he made a break for freedom.
13-3

What do you mean, ‘Did he get away?’ What do you take me for? Today may be Friday the Thirteenth, but I don’t do horror films.
13-4

Sheesh!

World What?

I believe it’s a well-accepted truism that to develop life-long fans of a sport, you need kids to grow up with it. My own experience certainly supports that notion.

While I played soccer as a kid, I didn’t have a local team to follow during the critical years where my tastes in sports formed. Yes, there were the Seattle Sounders–the original Sounders–but they didn’t start playing until I was eight, too late to have a chance at a central spot in the sport-related portion of my brain.

(It probably didn’t help that, while professional soccer in the US was a summer sport, the Seattle kids’ leagues played in the fall and winter, probably to avoid competing with baseball for space on the recreation center fields. Seattle Octobers are a miserable time to be wearing shorts while running up and down a muddy field.)

All of which is a long-winded way to say that I haven’t been following the World Cup beyond an occasional glance at the headlines in the Chron.

That being the case, I was, at most, mildly pleased to see Croatia boot Russia out of the competition, given the state of political relations between the two countries–and because it put a halt to the claims that Russia was advancing due to bribery, political influence, and general FIFA corruption.

Let’s be real here: given FIFA’s reputation, most people would find a team doing well solely because of their athletic prowess more surprising than otherwise.

And in a vague way, I was hoping for an England/France final. Considering the historical antagonism between the two countries, it could have been the first World Cup match played with crossbows.

But on the other hand, everyone loves an underdog, right? So it’s hard to be upset about Croatia playing for their first ever World Cup championship.

One does have to wonder what the viewer numbers will be like in England. Is the love of football stronger than the sting of elimination? And of those who tune in, how many will be rooting for their traditional rival and how many for the new villains on the block? It must be like a Bostonian watching the Yankees in the World Series.

No, I’m not going to watch. At 8am Sunday, I plan to be curled up in bed, warm and dry, with nary a rain cloud or mud puddle in sight.

Back to the Basics

First, a belated apology to Jackie on behalf of the Mariners, who swept her beloved Orioles in a four game series at the end of June. I know she was disappointed, but in the Ms’ defense, they needed the victories a lot more than the Os did.

Which isn’t much of an apology, I realize. But it’s sure in line with baseball tradition, where the “apology” for nailing a batter in the ribs with a fastball is often, “He deserved it.”

But I digress slightly. Despite a recent absence of hitting–especially with runners in scoring position–the Mariners are still 23 games over .500, only three games out of first in their division, and holding a solid (if hardly impregnable) six game lead over Oakland in the Wild Card race. They’re on pace to win 101 games, which is pretty good for a team few expected to win 90.

So, sorry Jackie–but would you please ask your guys to beat the Yankees a few more times this year? Thanks, much obliged.

Moving on.

We went to our annual minor league game last week. The last couple of years we went to Sacramento for a AAA game, but this year the schedule worked out better to go back to our previous stomping grounds, San Jose.

The San Jose Giants are a Class A Advanced league team. The quality of play is not, to put it politely, at anything close to a major league level. The odds say that the majority of the players we saw will never get more than a cup of coffee, if that much.

But.

We had good seats–not that any of the seats in a 4,000 seat facility are bad.
10-1

And when you sit that close to the action, you really get a sense of how good that so-called bad play is in reality. When someone hits that proverbial screaming line drive, you can hear it scream. And when it knocks the third baseman on his ass, you understand why he didn’t catch it in a very visceral way. One you’ll never get watching, say Nolan Arenado, from the third deck of a 50,000 seat park.

Which is not to say you forgive that third baseman, of course.

Still, A-class baseball is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon or evening, and it’s a damn sight cheaper than the majors.

But be aware that Municipal Stadium does have its quirks. Many parks are afflicted with seagulls that descend on the field after the game, sometimes not waiting for the final out before they come shrieking in, chasing errant french fries. Municipal Stadium has a similar problem.
10-2

It’s a self-inflicted problem, of course. What you’re seeing there is the clean-up after a regular promotion. During the game, fans can buy a bag of numbered tennis balls, which they get to throw at targets set up on the field. Get a ball into a bucket or plastic ring and win a prize: leftover bobbleheads from earlier promotions, for example. Though, to be fair, the day we were there, three people won tickets to a San Francisco Giants game. That attempt at balance isn’t quite fair, though: big winners aren’t all that common, and three winners at one game was an all-time record.

We had a good time–and that’s without figuring in the post-game fireworks show. It was short and didn’t have many large, spectacular blooms, but the launch point in center field, less than 100 yards away, and the heavy emphasis on rapid-fire curtains and streams of sparks more than made up for the limitations.

Moving on.

If we believe the commissioner, the biggest problem facing professional baseball right now is pace of play. Based on the game in San Jose, I think he’s got the wrong end of the rope. It’s not really about speeding up the game. That’s just one approach to the real problem: keeping fans actively involved and interested.

Maybe we don’t really need pitch clocks or electronic umpires*. Maybe what we need is something a bit different.

* We don’t. Nobody who’s seen the home crowd react to their cleanup hitter strike out looking at a pitch three feet outside would ever say getting balls and strikes right is the best way to keep fans involved in the game.

Hey, Commissioner Manfred, how about reintroducing the beer batter at the major league level?

For the uninitiated, one player on the visiting team is designated the “beer batter”. If he strikes out, beer is half-priced for a period of time, typically fifteen minutes or for the next half-inning. And, boy howdy, do the spectators cheer when the beer batter swings and misses.

Sure, there are issue to be worked out. Nobody’s going to want to sell those $12 craft beers for $6. But the mass-market beers shouldn’t be a problem, especially if you limit sales to a subset of the concession stands. And most, if not all, parks halt beer sales after the seventh inning, and half-priced soda isn’t going to satisfy anyone when the beer batter comes up in the eighth or ninth. Maybe a deal on beer-battered corn dogs?

But the beer batter is only an example. Give the fans a specific thing to root for that has a direct payout to them, and they’ll engage. Case in point: if an Oakland player hits a home run, everyone in a single section of seats gets a free pizza. But fans can’t cheer for that. Homers can happen at any time, and the section isn’t announced until after the hit. How about changing it up a bit: if the ninth batter hits a home run, everyone gets pizza?

You’ll have fans screaming for guys with a lifetime .200 average to swing for the fences, and crying in mass agony when his fly ball dies on the warning track–and if he bunts, well…!

Sure, it might be a little pricey for the Giants when MadBum is pitching, but that’s what corporate sponsors are for, right?

Call it unenlightened self-interest. It’s not as obnoxious as the increasingly ridiculous between-innings antics most parks have turned to, and it’ll work just as well to keep fans in the stadium.

And it’s certainly more true to baseball tradition than putting free runners on base in extra innings.

Rufus Beans

And so we come at last to the final stop on our tour of the local toe beans. It might have been longer, but MM adamantly declined to participate.

So, instead of ending as we began, with a feral foot, we’ll close it out with a formerly-feral foot.

Rufus is of the single-color school. But he eschews plebeian pinks and blacks. His handsome silver-gray coat demands something a little out of the ordinary for proper contrast.

06-1

Note the subtle, yet elegant, lavender tones, which elevate Sir Rufus’ toe beans to a realm most cats can only dream of attaining.

Good News

Because “A Few Things I Learned At Our Local Fourth of July Event” is too long for WordPress’ title field.

Actually, it’s probably not, but it’s not a limit I want to test.

But I digress–and I haven’t even gotten started yet.

Anyway, in this era of divisions, isn’t it nice to know that some things haven’t changed?

Faced with an unobstructed patch of grass, kids still break into spontaneous somersaults and cartwheels.

An ordinary spherical balloon, inflated with air, can still lure children away from their cellphones.

Giant slides and rock-climbing walls…
05-1
draw block-long lines of kids and putative adults.

Mexican hot chocolate is a perfect drink for those moments when you’re waiting for the fireworks to start and freezing your tail off.

(Would it be crass to point out that without immigration, we wouldn’t have Mexican hot chocolate? What the heck, I’ll be crass. I’ll also point out that two of the four food vendors were of Latin antecedents, and the pizza sellers were Indian. I’ll let you guess about the folks selling kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried oreos, and cotton candy.)

Moving on.

Speaking of tails, the police still come up with–dare I say it? Oh, go ahead–wacky ways to project a friendly image.
05-2
Realistically, the officer wearing the suit was probably the only person there who wasn’t freezing his tail off.

Even in a time of drought, climate change, and consequent heightened fire risk, amateurs still feel the need to stage their own firework shows.

A firework show doesn’t need music, nor does it need smiley-faced and heart-shaped fireworks to be compelling.

And children still find ways to be amusingly cynical. One young girl last night had been oohing and ahhing along with the crowd until a particularly bright, spectacular, waterfall bloom appeared. While the rest of the crowd gasped, she proclaimed in tones of great boredom, “I saw that at Disneyland.”