The Cost Of Living IS Too Damn High

You’ve certainly heard by now that Social Security recipients, including SSI recipients, aren’t getting a cost-of-living increase this year, a fairly rare occurrence.  Apparently the way they calculate the cost of living gives great weight to the cost of gasoline,  which hasn’t risen much in the last couple of years while everything else has skyrocketed.

All I know is that at Winco, a lot of the stuff I buy has increased by at least 50% from a couple of years ago.  Broccoli used to be $.99 a pound, now it’s often $1.99. Tuna used to be $.59, now it’s $.89. It all adds up.

My cousin,  also a retiree, shared with me the following statistics from EPI. Bloomberg and the USDL.:

Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has increased by 1,120%.

Medical care has increased by 601%

Food has increased by 244%

Shelter has gone up by 380%.

MEANWHILE the pay of typical workers rose by just 10%

The pay of minimum wage workers fell by 5.5%

And the pay of average CEO’s increased by 937%.

No wonder everyone’s feeling squeezed, whether on a “fixed income”  or not. I really feel for the many folks who have no other income and hope that Sen Elizabeth Warren’s bill or some other fix will be appllied, and soon.  For those who, like me, have other sources of income, it’s just an annoyance  but it cannot be denied that increased discrepancies between income and expenses force more people into homelessness. The rent IS too damn high.


No One Shows Up To Vote Anymore

They didn’t even mail me a ballot this time but I swear, I would have voted if I could have.  I don’t care if this was an “off-year” election, the voter participation rate was abysmal. Fewer than 25% of voters bothered to vote at all. Of these, 67%  voted by mail, the sensible way, and 32% trekked to the polls like grandma did.  WHEN will we get smart and conduct all our elections by mail like they do in Oregon?

Another thing that strikes you is the anomaly of the School District elections, where you would think that anyone having kids in school would be seriously interested in the results. As our friend Fred pointed out earlier, the County BOE Trustee Area 4, which is apparently in Eureka, will be represented by a woman named Loretta Eckenrode who garnered votes from a whopping 1.8% of those eligible.  With 1600 voters in the Area you would hope that there was a lot of precinct-walking and retail politics going on in those neighborhoods, since the rest of us have never heard anything about these elections.  There was a remarkable lack of online info also. 

The HCBOE elections were decided by 12% of the electorate. The Division 2 Harbor election drew votes from 21% of those registered, the Division 5 turnout was 25% and those were hotly contested elections. Surely we can do better.


StreamGuys Launches New Oceania Service


Press Contact:
Brian Galante
Dimension PR
(207) 494-8428

StreamGuys Launches Oceania Service in Alignment with Regional Business Growth

Strategic move will reduce streaming costs and network congestion for consumers of local content from NZME and other broadcasters through a regional point-of-presence

BAYSIDE, CALIFORNIA, October 22, 2015 — StreamGuys, a pioneering content delivery network and streaming media provider, has launched a new service to benefit its growing roster of broadcasters and their listeners across the Oceania region of the Asia-Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand and other surrounding islands. The new regional service will further strengthen StreamGuys’ overall Asia-Pacific strategy, which includes a Tokyo point of presence that services broadcasters in Japan, the Philippines and other northern Asia-Pacific countries.

Importantly, the Oceania service provides an overall better user experience for local residents, since the content is being consumed from a local point of presence (POP). Most Australia and New Zealand consumers are bound by metered accounts from ISPs, and international connectivity often becomes a bottleneck when consuming content delivered from overseas. This is a side effect of the higher expense of international bandwidth in comparison to local connectivity.

Up until recently, consumers streaming content from broadcasters in the Oceania region, including New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME), were served by StreamGuys’ data centers in Tokyo, Amsterdam or Chicago.

“Having the ability to serve content from within New Zealand greatly improves the end user experience, as consumers don’t have to use international transit to consume streaming content,” said Eduardo Martinez, director of technology, StreamGuys. “This move ensures that local listeners are not penalized for consuming content over congested international links, while getting the same exceptional quality of service from StreamGuys at a much closer point-of-presence.”

Wayne Sleeman, iHeartRadio NZ technical lead for NZME, adds that his online audiences get a great user experience as a result of the streams being delivered from the regional StreamGuys point-of-presence. StreamGuys is the exclusive content delivery network for NZME’s mobile streaming, and supports 74 online and mobile streams today.

“StreamGuys has supported our needs as a broadcaster moving beyond terrestrial-only deliver for the past several years, and continues to add new services and capacity to grow with us,” said Sleeman. “The establishment of a local point-of-presence confirms their commitment to our business model by helping us keep costs low for our regional online and mobile listeners.”

The new service, available today, offers plenty of capacity for other broadcasters in the region, and integrates the latest high-end, cloud-based streaming equipment. This includes virtualized servers to minimize hardware and maintenance; and software-defined transcoding equipment to accommodate multiple streaming formats. The flexible infrastructure offers high availability for quick deployments, and scalable streaming options based on changing broadcast dynamics.

About StreamGuys, Inc.
In business since 2000, StreamGuys is an industry-leading service provider of live and on-demand streaming, podcasting delivery, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) toolsets for enterprise-level broadcast media organizations. The company brings together the industry’s best price-to-performance ratio, a robust and reliable network, and an infinitely scalable cloud-based platform for clients of any size to process, deliver, monetize and playout professional streaming content. StreamGuys supports many of the world’s largest Podcasts, global TV and radio broadcasters, video and audio production companies, houses of worship, retail and hospitality businesses, government organizations, medical and healthcare services, and live venues for sports and entertainment. The company excels in developing and deploying technologies for business growth and revenue generation, including dynamic ad insertion, mobile streaming and detailed business and data analytics.

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Train Nuts, Morons, and Our Wack Harbor Election

Well, our sleepy little Harbor District is stealing all the attention in the upcoming November election.  As a First District resident,  I didn’t even get a ballot since the two doofuses who were supposed to run and were too incompetent to turn in their signatures left the field to Larry Doss who gets the job unopposed. Disgraceful!

So the action is all in the Second and Fifth Districts, and might be summarized as Higgins and Dale vs. Rotwein and Angeloff. There have been many strange issues and red herrings brought up in these races and very little clarity. Greg Dale either DOES or DOES NOT have a conflict of interest.  The Harbor District DOES or DOES NOT owe millions of dollars to the EPA. It IS binary!

Leo/Hank: One of the mini-issues has been Leo Sears’ shyness about being named a rail supporter  by Hank Sims of LOCO. Hank, of course, is famous for having labelled rail supporters “morons” in a discussion about restoring the North/South, or Eel River route.  I remain  proudly one of those “morons”  and I believe that restoring rail traffic to Marin would be a reasonable investment in our infrastructure, considering  it could be done for half a billion and would result in a world-class tourist attraction if done right and properly integrated with trails. On the other hand,  the East-West rail line being promoted by Angeloff  is lunacy.  It would cost at least a billion, have no tourist potential and have nothing to haul that doesn’t already have more efficient ways to get to market.

I cannot stress too strongly the difference between the two rail routes. East-West is a joke; North-South a noble endeavor.    No one who has ever personally ridden the train through the Eel River Valley is opposed to opening it up again.  No one. Yes, it will be expensive and will require more environmental safeguards than before but we would end up with a world -class tourist attraction which would attract folks who don’t necessarily enjoy backpacking.

 I was for several years a member of an amorphous group called the  Committee for Port/Rail Development.  At least I think that’s what they were called.  I have no written records of them although I must have attended several dozen of their monthly lunches at the Cookhouse.  Kaye Strickland was the wonderful lady who ran those lunches. I’m almost positive that’s where I met Leo. The group was not only amorphous-it was pretty much chaotic.  I don’t think they kept any attendance figures nor was any money collected.  Every once in a while Charles Ollivier would stand up and give an impassioned oration. There was a lot of discussion but nothing ever HAPPENED. Out of frustration, Mark Matteoli and some other guys started a committee called RAPIT but it was pretty short-lived. If you stroll into one of the monthly lunches being held by the “Humboldt Bay Harbor Working  Group” that evolved out of the 2012 Prosperity campaign,  you might think you’re in a time warp.  About 80% of the HBHWG were also involved in the CPD. More disclosure: I bailed from the Prosperity effort when we got to the point of recommending a full study of the East-West rail option. I didn’t think East/West would fly and I thought that would be the end of it.  Silly me! The CPR-backed Rotwein and Angeloff campaigns are pushing East/West as a route for moving their chesnuts or cherries or something.   If I’m a moron, these guys are lunatics.

A delicious complication appears to be on the horizon: Leo has taken out a Fictitious Business Name Statement in the Mad River Union announcing the establishment of something called “Economic Growth and Stability” located at TWO addresses in Eureka, which seems like a typo. The nicer house is located in the heart of Henderson Center and sports a huge Rex Bohn poster in the hedge. All roads led to Rex, apparently. So what’s Leo up to?  We could call and ask but what would be the fun in that? Stay tuned.

When I get around to having my “MORON AND PROUD” t-shirts printed up, I’ll let you know.  Meanwhile, the Times-Standard ran my letter the other day in which I advocate voting for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins. Wish I could vote!I

Letter to the Times-Standard, “Vote for Greg Dale and Pat Higgins”

The current Harbor Commission has, by and large, done a fine job in getting the District’s finances under control and setting a new course in the post-pulp mill era. The incumbents who are running for re-election, Greg Dale and Pat Higgins, deserve your vote. They bring experience and dedication. Their challengers bring flimflam and half-truths. The choice is clear. Vote for Pat Higgins and Greg Dale on November 3!


The August HSU Economic Index Is In

The August Economic Index as developed by Dr. Escher and his team at HSU is in, and we should recognize the folks who make it possible. the Index is sponsored by the California State and Federal Credit Union, Coast Central Credit Union, Redwood Capital Bank and Umpqua Bank.


“We have suspended the Lumber Manufacturing Index until we can obtain a sufficient number of data providers.”

“The Home Sales Index increased over the previous month, while all other indices fell or stayed the same.”

“30-year mortgage rates in Humboldt County have decreased from 4.125 percent to 4 percent, while the median home price rose from $269,500 to $271,500.”

“Northern California’s average price fell from $3.52 per gallon to $3.33 per gallon, and Eureka’s average gas price fell from $3.63 per gallon to $3.17 per gallon.”

Wow, I sure missed that last one! Click HERE for the Index, and have fun!

Here’s the Humboldt Anglers’ Summer Newsletter

The Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers have provided their beautiful and informative newsletter again. It can take a few minutes to download but it is definitely worth the wait. In the near future our salmon and Black Rockfish populations are in trouble.


LOCAL Resolution Care featured on PBS News TONIGHT

Jonathan Speaker of StreamGuys forwarded the following  regarding Dr. Michael Fratkin’s local initiative re: palliative care.  Sorry for the short notice!

While ResolutionCare has enjoyed a fair bit of media interest to date, the bar is raised dramatically TONIGHT with the broadcast of a seven minute segment on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. From my perspective, the strength of the piece is the participation of three people and families that generously and bravely shared their stories and experience to a national audience.

The nature of news broadcast scheduling has limited our ability to notify the community to these few hours of lead-time on the day of broadcast. A link to the segment will be available shortly after broadcast, and I urge you all to share that that link with your families, your networks, and everywhere you think that it might make a difference to support this work.

Here’s the info for the broadcast in Humboldt County:

▪ KEET HDTV TV Channel 13.1 at 600pm and Midnight
▪ KEET World Channel 13.2 at 700pm
▪ PBS Newshour Live Stream at 300pm

Home Values Compared

Here, courtesy of Zillow and the HSU Economic Index, are some figures to ponder.

Current Median Home Value US:  $180,100

Current Median Home Value Humboldt County:  $251,950

ALL TIME HIGH Median Home Value Humboldt County: $340,000 briefly in Jan 2008

Current Median Home Value Sacramento:  $339,600

ALL TIME HIGH Median Home Value Sacramento:  $442,300 in December 2005

Current Median Home Value San Jose:  $894,700

Hopefully you didn’t buy in Sac in 2005.  Take heart: you can still get houses in Cleveland for less than $70K. Hey, if it’s good enough for Michael Symon…