A friend of mine once told me that Union Pacific Railroad was the second largest US landowner, second to the US Government.  I might have heard that Ted Turner now is number two, but my point is this;

Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway has just purchased Santa Fe Burlington Northern Railroad.  I listened as the tv stock analysts speculated on the future of rail transport, coal and how the premium paid is way high. 

Don’t forget,  Berkshire owns Mid American Energy, currently run by a Buffet successor favorite, David Sokol.

What Berkshire and Mr. Buffet just purchased isn’t just a railroad.  It is right-of-way ownership that connects every piece of land adjacent to the railroad to a network of electrical transmission facilities that currently use coal delivered by Burlington Santa Fe across its rail and sidings.  Those facilities already have right of way to businesses and consumers of electric energy. 

Now take Mid American Energy or, for that matter, any wind farm or solar farm adjacent to the rail line and you have a single lease to clear the way to market for your green energy generating facility, not on the rail, but buried next to it or on lines hanging above it.  Boone Pickens outlined plans a few years ago to build the world’s largest wind farm in Pampa, Texas.  He opined at the time as to the difficulty in connecting that electricity to consumers.  The Santa Fe Railroad runs right through Pampa.

So, for now, maybe it is about coal.  But as coal loses its glow, later, and not in the far distant, but just a little later, it is about an incredible stroke of genius that simplifies and solves the single greatest challenge of wind and solar farms…..transmission. 

If it isn’t the plan, maybe it should be.  One question that may have to be addressed is whether or not it is in the public interest to concentrate generation and carriage of future energy into so few hands.  It could create a new generation of robber barons.  That aside, I think I’ll buy my grandchildren some Berkshire stock (post split, of course).


We went to Lake Tahoe and look at what I saw!

The Falls Above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

The Falls Above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Like it? Buy it!

So, believe it or not, CBS5 in San Francisco actually ran a report on Monday, April 20, 2009 that a new study by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  has put forth the theory that fat people may be causing global warming because, among a number of allegations, they (the obese) are more apt to drive a car to a destination instead of walking or riding a bike.

Sheesh!  How could I resist submitting the following…. 

Managing Editor Peter Saiers
CBS 5.com

Your report that fat people are causing global warming.

Fighting Global Warming As Best We Can

Fighting Global Warming As Best We Can

With regard to global warming, in 1900 there were 1.6 billion people pooping, etc. +-.75 gallons per day.

In 1999 there were 6 billion people pooping, etc. +-.75 gallons of poop per day…not to mention the amount of cow poop from milk, cheese and beef production to feed an additional 4.4 billion people in the course of a mere hundred years.

Then consider the amount of pork poop, chicken poop and Al Gore poop generated every day.  Gore alone could probably take out a glacier.  Who cares about whether fat people in the USA drive more than thin people in Vietnam (as the study cites)? 

This kind of study is what you would expect from a couple of stoners with a calculator after a couple of loads.  Frankly, I’m amazed that the earth can continue to rotate smoothly on its axis with all of the added weight concentrated in the USA.  Never mind that population growth has exploded in Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

It is all about the poop!….and who is shovelling it.

Remember where you heard it first, or better yet, prepare yourself for the coming earth wobble.

It is going to happen and soon.  A force so dedicated, so committed to their mission, so, dare I say, zealous as to capture the entire earth in a single day.  You are no more able to stop it than to stop the light eminating from the sun.

The date; Sunday April 26, 2009

The place; Everywhere on earth.

The event; Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day!

They're coming!

They're coming!

Yes, tiny pinpricks in metal uncovered, allowing light to spill into oatmeal boxes, paint cans, spam cans and every other imaginable kind of light tight recepticle.  Passing through the otherwise darkened void inside, the light will strike a plane of film, photographic paper or, in a more modern take, a digital light sensitive device on the opposite inner wall of the device to be frozen in time.

On that day, in every corner of the planet, this army of impassioned adventurers will be creating the most pure, lensless, visual historic record proving that we were here, that we were committed and what we saw.

The craft is quite different from the way “photos” are taken today by holding a “camera” in front of you, watching a screen with a video feed and clicking when you want to grab a frame you can later load to your blog.

This is about planning, measurement, calculation and, finally,  letting go.  The constant to the medium is that, while frought with angst and driven by anticipation, the result is seldom what was expected, but usually far more fanciful and revealing than we could ever hope.

So once a year, on the appointed day, the group ventures forth to capture the beautiful, the fanciful and the common that constitutes life, here, on this planet, at this time. 

The repository for the images is then placed where all can see and share in the celebration of who we are, or were, on the appointed day, each year.  Future generations will look at these images with curiosity and wonderment about what we were thinking and the significance of these people, places and things.

Yes, an unstoppable force is about to unleash itself upon the earth. 

I am proud to count myself among them.  You can see some of my other pinhole images at my online gallery.  Click on the “galleries” tab and select the “pinhole images” gallery.

Zach and Joe

Zach and Joe

So on April 26, 2009 beware or you may find yourself in one of our fields of view.

You’ve been warned.  Be careful.



Great passion.  Great food.  Great wine.  They even had chickens.  Then….

Robert Mondavi’s homage to the culture of fine wine and great foods, which had empowered his own life’s passions, has passed on to the place where organizations of great promise run by people who don’t get it go.

Copia was to be an experiential quest, alive with sensory inundations and discovery.  Instead, it became a naked emperor in search of a compliment on his wardrobe.

When I first visited Copia, shortly after it opened several years ago, a portion of Julia Childs’ kitchen wall was on display on the second floor. 

No rest for those with zest!

No rest for those with zest!

A docent told me that they had built the gardens 10 feet deep with virgin topsoil brought down by barge from Alaska.  Another had a group of people wandering through, tasting fresh herbs and smelling lavender.  No less than 3 wineries were hosting tasting of wine and olive oils. 

I even paid an admission fee.

What I saw, because of my background, was an enormous media opportunity for branded programming on food, wine and gardening/sustainability.  Copia could have been the brand and Napa, its home, and the Napa Valley would have benefited from the draw of cable tv stardom.

More recently I returned.  Julia’s kitchen wall was no longer upstairs. 

Try to find this at a Super Walmart!

Try to find this at a Super Walmart!

When I asked where it had gone, a docent told me that the exhibits change all of the time.  Later that day, I found the wall down by the restaurant and realized the docent didn’t know who Julia was.  The wine tasting had become a credit card type vendo-tasto display of automated machines which, for a swipe, would charge and dispense a sip, gulp or full pour.  Kind of a Redbox for winos.  MmmMmmMmm.

Admission that day, seemingly overpriced, was free.

While I’ll always remember the gardens for their unique varieties and the care that was spent on their beauty, the rest of the place will fade easily. 

The saddest part for me is that the failure of Copia, now in bankruptcy, will tarnish the legend of Robert Mondavi, who inspired a valley full of grape farmers to become an industry of dominant brands complete with palatial estates and cultural fitness for global acceptance.

The old man (Mondavi) just passed away months ago and it sickens me to hear Copia referred to as his folly.  I never met the guy, but I respect anyone with that much passion. 

I’ll think kindly of him when I uncork my next bottle or crush my next garlic clove.  The fact that I think I get it means he can rest in peace.

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

So there’s this little neighborhood, outside some small town, where some guy lives in a house.  It isn’t his house, he just lives there.  Some other guys hang out there, too.

There’s a lot of traffic at that house at night.  Neighbors wonder what might be going on.

The guy who lives there almost died, but not quite.  He was gone for a while and the neighbors thought he might not come back.  Sadly, he perked up and returned.  So he’s still there, doing whatever it is that he does.

Then came the news.

Somebody died.  Some guy, suffering from a spider bite apparently took the drugs he’d been given for treatment and chased them down with a lot of alcohol followed by a number of other drugs.  He went to sleep and never woke up.

When asked if it was a particular person (who liked to shoot at targets in his yard at 2AM), the neighbor who reports on these kinds of matters, said “…no, the police took that one off to jail some time ago.”

So to date, one nearly died, another was hauled off to jail and some guy died, but not that guy.

This is better than some cable networks.

I forgot how much I love New  York. 

Watch your step at the Met.

Watch your step at the Met.

 The art, the people (except David Letterman) and the hustle all complement each other to create a place that invigorates and inspires people from everywhere on the planet.

Having spent the past 10 years in California, I forgot that there are people who don’t worry about life’s minutiae and who spend their time on things more important than how George Bush screwed up the country today.

New York is a place where things get done.

Even the subway is clean.

Even the subway is clean.

Yeah, its tough, but now, today, the city has a distinctively friendly side.  People look at each other.  They smile.  They help each other get through the day.

I had heard that after 9/11 the city became a town, a big neighborhood, where everyone looked out for each other.

Its true.

Mind you, there are not a lot of “”New Yorkers,” of the Rockefeller or Roosevelt pedigree, left in New York.  But once there, and working, you qualify for membership.  In California, we call it diversity.  In New York, they call it Tuesday.

Ambition, and a path to success.

Ambition, and a path to success.

We can never forget about the promise this country provides to people from all around the globe.  The hope to live a better life than those who came before us.  The promise to make this a better place for those we leave behind.

Big shoulders push big ideas and innovation.  It is impossible to walk around this city and try to deny that little is impossible.  To come back to this from the devistation of 2001 is beyond comprehension.

Tuesday, by the way, is just another day at the crossroads of the world.

It happened like a temptress in the night.  Funny or Die has sucked me into her web of time suckery with the caption of the day competition.

Refresh….refresh…how many funny votes?….oooooowh, some jerk just gave me a die.  Is this rigged?  Is there a cabal of f-or-d caption hoggers who have hundreds of relatives casting “funny” votes?

Crap.  That lame ass just got 7 more “funnies.”  It has to be a conspiracy.  My captions are the funniest.  Why don’t people “get” me?

After 23 years as a devoted Apple owner and advocate, I sit here today having set up this blog and writing this entry on a 5 year old Dell running Windows XP.

You see, Apple finally pissed me off.  The istores.  The istaff.  The free ipods with purchase for students and educators.

What about me?

I’ve been loyal.  I put up with all kinds of difficulties in the early days of Apple.  I even contributed to the antitrust list with Nader’s group to stop Microsoft.

But, after purchasing 10 Apple computers and tens of thousands of dollars worth of drives, cables, printers and software, I’ve had it.

I was ready to buy a new mac, but I saw that they were offering a free ipod with purchase for students.  I wanted the ipod.  I visited a number of stores where i-clerks asked me if I was a teacher, if I was enrolled, had a kid who was enrolled or even a neighbor kid who would come in with me to show I knew a student to qualify for a free ipod.

I explained that I finished school a long long long time ago, but continue to learn every day.  I explained that I had trained numerous employees and several classes of college students in the use of Apple computers for audio, video, photography and multimedia creative endeavors.

No luck.

I was first attracted to Apple in 1985 as an anti-computer, a culture of rebels who were intent on changing things.  As happens with most revolutions, Apple has grown to become a culture I no longer recognize or relate to.  Please don’t be offended, but it is kind of a digital Amway.

The last long line of iphone buyers I saw sent a chill down my spine as I remembered marching and standing in line to pee at Holy Trinity School.

There was a group of us who figured out a way around that (the Sisters of Mercy didn’t get guys).  The early Apple adopters would never have put up with that.

Steve Jobs was a college dropout, for Christ’s sake.

For that matter, so was Bill Gates.

So I walked.  I took an old Dell laptop to a guy who tuned it up and now I’m here.

I’m kind of liking it.

Not a joiner, never was.