Wanted: Seeds to Grow Pizza in my Vegetable Garden

Pizza is a Vegetable

Well well well. Congress: Pizza IS a vegetable.*Saw this brilliant tweet from McGarry’s Ghost:

Thinking about planting pizza in my garden next spring, now that Congress says it is a vegetable. Anyone know where I can buy pizza seeds?

So, on Facebook, I said this:

I guess this is the result of one of those genetically modified crops: I gotta get my hands on some pizza seeds. Do you think that’d work in a kitchen window garden?

Amy C responded:

Susan – it’s better to grow the personal sized pizza in a kitchen window garden. The full-size ones get too top heavy.

Steve M said:

I try to eat only freshest locally-grown, organic pizza that has been given just the right amount of water, nutrients and sunshine, and plucked at the moment of maximum ripeness. The crisp, watery crunch of a fresh pizza is just remarkable, and packed with nutrients.

Now, if they’re saying that it’s the tomato sauce that makes pizza a vegetable, do you think this is a pastafarian conspiracy promulgated by the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? It’s kinda surprising that the FSM would touch his noodly appendage into the deep details of lobbying congress by ConAgra and Schwan and the American Frozen Food Institute.

*Congress: legislating weird things. Why next thing you know they’ll make it a law that Pi is actually 3.0, not 3.14… Oh wait, someone tried that. Oops, no they didn’t. It’s a too “trueâ€?-to-be-good hoax!

Things I learned the hard way: Transferring cel fone pix to computer

Phone: Samsung Alias. It has a micro SD card.

What I want to do: Move cel phone pictures from the internal memory to the memory card and then transfer to the computer

Problem: When I move all photos to card, take card out and then insert into USB card, connect to computer, do my file copying, then put back into phone, the phone’s desktop (background) images go away.

Solution: Power off phone before taking memory card out. Do all the transfer, re-insert memory card into phone, power on again. Voila!

Keeping My Money Local: San Gabriel Valley Credit Unions

Move Your Money To Your Community

After the last post‘s revelation of the 5 days for money to travel to USAA’s otherwise excellent bank in San Antonio, Texas, I’m taking a look at local credit unions again.

The idea of keeping my money local is very appealing. Here’s one description of a what a credit union is.

A co-operative not-for-profit financial institution, owned and operated by our members. We offer most of the consumer financial services offered by banks. Unlike banks, however, our earnings are returned to members in the form of superior loan and deposit rates, lower fees, and higher quality personalized service.

Find a Credit Union. Enter your zip code and how far you’re willing to travel to the closest Credit Union branch.

The ones I’m mentioning here are the Credit Unions open to local people, regardless of employment (well, with one exception).

First City Credit Union‘s About page has that quote at the top of this post. Started in Los Angeles, merged with several along the way.
Eligibility: “Membership eligibility at First City is available to people who live, work or worship in many communities throughout Los Angeles County and parts of San Bernardino County.” They have a communities/zip code page. If you’re in the zips there, you can be IN. Plus employees of several different organizations, including medical centers, City of Claremont concerns and L.A. County, too.

Wescom Credit Union About Page and Eligibility Page:
“You’re eligible to join Wescom if you live, work, worship, or go to school in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Diego, or Santa Barbara counties.”

Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union. Eligibility: “People who live, work, worship or attend school in, Altadena, Arcadia, Pasadena, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, and the unincorporated area of 91107.”

A couple of others that are local, not open to everyone in a geographical locality:
Caltech Employees Federal Credit Union: Eligiblility. If you work for CalTech/JPL/Huntington Library/Polytechnic School/Carnegie Observatories:

Employees, volunteers, retirees and family members of California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Graduate and Undergraduate Caltech Students, The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, Child Educational Center, Polytechnic School in Pasadena and The Carnegie Institute, and JPL/Caltech independent contractors.

Hmmm. Liveblogging Mars rovers some time back. Is that considered volunteering?
I can say for a fact that members of this credit union get the awesomest credit cards evar. With images of Mars Rovers on them.

And the Pasadena Federal Credit Union. Eligibility

Work for the City of Pasadena, City of San Gabriel, City of Sierra Madre or City of South Pasadena
Work for one of our many Select Employer Groups (click here for a list)
Have a family member or household member who is a current member of PFCU
Are a retiree or pensioner of the City of Pasadena or a Select Employee Group
Are a volunteer with any of our member groups
Are a member and volunteer of the Friends of the Pasadena Public Libraries organization [more on Friends of Library]

In comments to previous post, a review of Pasadena Federal Credit Union by West Coast Grrlie Blather

ATMs at the Co-Op Network
Use the Credit Union Co-Op network for ATM transactions. Most (or perhaps all) of these credit unions participate in the Co-Op network. Where are they located? Here’s the Co-Op ATM finder.

Check them out. Are you a member of these (or any other) credit unions? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Liveblog: Reading USAA Bank Account Agreement

Okay, Okay, this is guaranteed to be the most boring liveblog evar.

In the spirit of Occupy a Bank Other than Bankof AmericaChaseCitiGroupWellsFargo (i.e, 1 of the Supremely Consolidated Too Big To Fail banks), I’m making a second attempt to move my money from Big Bank to USAA.

The consolidation of the Big Banks. Too Big To Fail? They just got bigger

Big Banks from 1990 - 2009. Click to embiggen.

I hear all the good stuff about USAA. Thanks to Dad (a veteran), I’m already a USAA member. But until I get through this lengthy user agreement, I’m not yet one of their bank account holders.

Here’s the start: USAA Banking Page.

Clicked through to the Open An Account Link. The title of the resulting page is teh funny: “Open a Bank Account in a Few Easy Steps” Ha.

Let’s go back to the last days of 2009, shall we? I saw the Move Your Money project. Those banks that are too big to fail? If you move your money, the bank will get smaller. Great idea. Start off 2010 by moving your money. I didn’t get very far.

Finder Window. PDF, date, and my *placeholder* folder

The User Agreement is 83 pages.

eighty-three pages.

Yikes. Are your eyes glazed over yet? When I saved the PDF, it was dated December 31, 2009. I guess I made it through the first 19 pages, with all those good intentions of getting back to the PDF again.

Nearly 2 years later, I’m back at it. But I went online to get the latest one. It’s 84 pages.

hmmmmmmm.

Let the reading begin!

9:43 pm: “Important Notice | Amendment to USAA Federal Savings Bank | Depository Agreement and Disclosures | July 2011”

Ruh roh. The first 3 pages are little bitsy amendments. On this pages 6 & 45, it says blah. Here is the little change, noted right here. Does this mean that pages 6 and 45, when I get to them, will read the old way? Can’t they just amend the damn document?

There is a fascinating couple of paragraphs devoted to hair splitting between Applicable Law and Governing Law. Governing Law went away, replaced by Applicable Law. Gah. Kill me now.

9:48 pm. Lots of mentions of San Antonio, Texas. As in:

Deposits are not accepted by the Bank until received and entered on the Bank’s records at the Bank’s headquarters office in San Antonio, Texas.

How far away is that? Google Maps directions (mostly via “The 10” as we in SoCal call it, but I-10 or Interstate 10 everywhere else) says the distance/travel time is:
Driving: 1,343 mi, 21 hours 13 mins
Walking: 1,350 mi, 18 days 8 hours

I wonder if this info is going to bite me in the butt. USAA offers that nifty “scan the check to immediately deposit it.” (for some customers, am I one? I don’t know) But if it takes 21 hours to drive there, or 18 days (!!!) to walk there, what happens to money? Will it work to do wire transfer of funds from bank to bank?

Now I’ve gone back to their site for the User Reviews of USAA’s Checking Accounts. Ruh Roh. 6 days till your money is available to you, according to the 1-star thumbs-down reviews.

Hmmm… Now I’m going through all the thumbs-down reviews, and saw this one, that’s disconcerting. Electronic funds transfers from one bank to USAA are subject to holds. As in 5-day holds.

[From USAA moderator’s reply on 9/16/11: ]The section on ACH deposits on page 28 of the Depository Agreement & Disclosures pertains to ACH credits such as direct deposits. The USAA Funds Availability policy states that all transfers from an external bank are subject to a hold. We may hold all or part of the funds transfer up to 5 business days. USAA discloses the funds availability on the Funds transfer page and also prior to the completion of the funds transfer transaction.

Wow. That’s a surprise. I’ll have to skip forward to page 28 of the pdf. This little item may be a deal-killer.

This is why I read the fine print. And the reviews. The Thumbs down reviews are a shortcut to find all the ugly surprises in the 80+ page document. The bad bits of the fine print. The ugly surprises that people complain about after the fact.

5 days for transfer from banks to banks. That’s a count against USAA. I may go looking at other credit unions and local banks in the area.

I know of someone who recently opened an account at Gilmore Bank. Distance to me is less than 1,343 miles. But not around the corner, either.

10:19 pm. I skipped forward to pages 28 and following. Feh. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in the table listing this and that and local/non local checks. Then, under the table it says the following:

Local Checks: Under current federal regulations, all checks are local checks.
Non Local Checks: Under current federal regulations, there are no non-local checks.

Then why in hell did you write about local and non local checks in your little table describing when deposits are available? I am sorely tempted to commit mental violence against the person who wrote those sentences. This hurts my head.

If I had to make a decision right now based on my hour of reading/research, USAA would be a No Go.

To be continued….

Do you bank with USAA? Your opinions? Are you moving your money out of Bankof AmericaChaseCitiGroupWellsFargo to a credit union or small local bank? How’s that working for you?

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs’s influence on our lives is all-encompassing. Profound. We are as aware of it as we are of the boundary between air and lungs, between water and gills.

The road to illumination

“The road to illumination is paved with bad assumptions.”

(I coined that. Yesterday. Topic of conversation: Project Management, specifically defining all the pieces and parts of the project. And you know, discovering my assumptions about it. Including the bad ones.)

Mighty Yosemite

Mirror Lake View Half Dome Vertical Pano
Crossed another item off my bucket list: Go to Yosemite.

Specifically, go to Yosemite Valley, the central place of it all. (too many years ago, I backpacked on a trip that went somewhere inside the boundaries of the national park. But that was far, far away from Yosemite Valley itself.)

I went there the weekend before Memorial Day. The timing of our trip meant we got there just before the place gets crowded and crazy. (And makes this post at least a month old. Ah well. I’m trying, peeps. I’m trying to blog again here at 2020 Hindsight.)

May, I was told, is the best time to go to Yosemite. It’s spring, when the temperatures are temperate, and the snow-thaws make for big, swollen waterfalls.

[Click any photo to enlarge – the “patchworky” photos are multiple photos stitched together. See note at bottom for more.]

Those are two views of Bridalveil Falls.

Did I say temperate?

We stayed in Camp Curry’s tent cabins. No insulation, no heating. It was cold at night!!

I had no idea about the timing of dogwood blooms; I’m just glad that I was there when they were in bloom.

But this late spring (it snowed two days before we arrived) meant that the Dogwoods were still in blossom when we were there.

Walks and hikes. There was lots of that to do.

First, to warm up, easy walks to Lower Yosemite Falls…..

Lower Yosemite Falls bridge panorama

Here’s a view of both the Upper Yosemite Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls cascades.

Yosemite Fall Tall Pano

The other easy, warmup hike was to Mirror Lake.

We tried to take a trail around past Mirror Lake, but were stopped at a rockslide. (That’s HalfDome at the upper left of the image):

Rockslide above Mirror Lake (and below Halfdome)

Then, warmed up and acclimated by mild hikes, it was time for some real hikes.

Up the Upper Yosemite Falls trail.

Yosemite Fall Hike Relief Map

1000 foot elevation gain in one mile means switchbacks. Lots and lots of switchbacks.

Merced River from Upper Yosemite Falls trail

The view from Columbia Rock

Panorama view from Columbia Rock on Upper Yosemite Large

A little ways past Columbia Rock, there’s a great view of Upper Yosemite Falls.

(Oh yeah. Must mention. We turned around before the next big ascent to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. Pacing ourselves. Conserving energy for the descent. Because we Are Older Than We Used To Be and this was Day Two of a several-day trip.)

Upper Yosemite Fall Panorama

The next day we went on a ranger-led stroll on the valley floor.

Cook's Meadow, Yosemite Valley Floor

Ranger Walk heading toward The Sentinel

Superintendent Bridge

Later, we biked around Yosemite Valley.

The final day of hiking called for two waterfalls, a 2000 foot elevation gain, and nearly 7 miles. First, Vernal Falls, then Nevada Falls.

Heading up Mist Trail toward Vernal Falls. (quiz time: why is this called “Mist Trailâ€??)

Mist Trail to Vernal Falls

Stairsteps that go up, up, up, up, up until hikers reach the edge of the waterfall. (Much better to go up this misty trail. We were advised to go down a different route, and are glad we did.)

After a bit of a break there, we pressed on to Nevada Falls. Here’s a panorama view of Nevada Falls from our downward trek, taking Muir Trail.

Nevada Falls Panorama from Muir Trail

The last day, on our way out of Yosemite Valley, I stood under Bridalveil Falls. Got soaked.

Under the mists of Bridalveil Falls

(Pixel technical note: Several photos were made into panoramas by using Photoshop’s wonderful Photomerge command)

Fracking

What is fracking?
Here’s an explainer movie.

MIT has created a website to help landowners rate Landmen — the gas company representatives who get landowners to sign leases.

Reuters describes the site:

“We have a lot of information [about drilling] from the industry, and from the states,” explains Chris Csikszentmihályi, director of the Center for Future Civic Media, “but very little info from actual people who encounter the industry as regular citizens.”

The rating service is a kind of Yelp for individual Gas Company representatives.

Many landmen receive some form of positive feedback. Knowledgeable. Forthright about development plans. Others are tagged with a slew of critiques. Unethical business practices. Misinformation. Unavailable for contact.

Migration

Hey? What’s this? I just get myself back on this blog and then I say I’m going quiet again? Well, there’s old business, and there’s old business. Like old techy server business.

It’s time to migrate this blog from one server to a different one. With all the creakiness of a 10-year history, including legacy cruft left over from previous blogging software, it’s a bit of a pain. Anyway, I’m back. I’m still back. But quiet. Cause of technical stuff.

There is a fork in the road

in Pasadena, right near Huntington Hospital. I saw it in my rear-view mirror when I drove downtown the weekend before last. There’s a fork in the road located at the fork in the road at 866 S. Pasadena Ave, Pasadena

Just now, I got whispers (and pictures!) of it in my email inbox.

I hear tell that this should make you all feel all giddily anticipatory about Valentine’s Day.

There will be roses in our futures. There will be music and love and romantic guys with long hair, guitars and frilly white shirts. Good taste will be abandoned for another day as ladies will be romanced with flowers and music. And Golden Hugs.

There will be photo ops and silly stuff and thou shalt be pleased. And The Coffee Gallery Backstage will, again, brighten all of our lives with wit, humor and imagination. Oh, what is The Fork In The Road Gang going to do next?

Oh, and it has something to do with The Coffee Gallery Backstage, a cool Altadena hangout that hosts the monthly IWOSCAWG Friday freelance writer meetups. And concerts galore.

UPDATE: Well, I haven’t been driving to downtown L.A. that much. I just learned that said fork in road at fork in road has been there since Hallowe’en. All rightie then. Did you read my previous post? I been otherwise occupied. No doubt there’ll be other things I point to as new new new, only to find out that they’re so three months ago. Wotev. Oh, and get this. The fork in the road at the fork in the road has a blog. A blog, I tell you. You know what I’d really like to read? A crosswalk blog. Pick a random intersection. Observe. Blog.