Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hubble Space Telescope cheats time

In this video captured by astronaut and friend of Manteca Live! Michael J. Massimino,
John M. Grunsfeld and Andrew J. Feustel are shown discussing their "space walks" and repairs they made to the HST. At one point, Feustel floats a tribute. Maybe they were flying over city hall? (not possible - but a nice try - ha!)

(I'd put the video here but the format's giving me agita. The images above are actual screen captures with no alterations or monkey business. See STS-125 Flight Day 8 Highlights, at about 7:30)

Extra credit: can anyone speculate on what this is and what's it's relation to NASA?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guilty until proven innocent

Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the new justice system in America these days. We no longer require proof from an accuser or from the prosecution when determining if a person committed a crime. The mere accusation of a crime, especially if it is of a sexual nature, is enough to condemn someone to banishment from their community, to imprisonment without formal charges being read in court and without "reasonable bail" being set. In the case of Sid Reams, the accusations against him led to his death in an uncaring and harsh legal system.

Until his arrest, Reams was known as an outgoing humanitarian who was always lending a helping hand to anyone who needed it and had a special place in his heart for the homeless. We all read his articles in the Manteca Bulletin and saw his show "Manteca Magazine" on cable access TV over the years and many of us attended his rallies for the homeless in Library Park. In an instant, everything good this man ever did in his life was forgotten and friends and employers scurried to put as much distance between themselves and Reams as they could.

His employer, Exit Aragon Realtors, immediately fired him (we don't employ perverts!). The Manteca Bulletin repeatedly stated that he was an "unpaid" columnist and seemed to take some kind of perverse pleasure in enumerating the charges against him, even adding another charge after his death that no one else seemed to know about. Friends were afraid to speak out in any defense of him lest they be tainted by association with a criminal. I won't mention any names....the "friends" know who they are.

Sid will never get to face his accuser, will never get to have a trial by a jury of his peers, will never get to defend himself or clear his name because the California justice system killed him before he got a chance. It was well known that he had a heart attack in December (he wrote about it in the Bulletin!), yet the judge refused to release him for humanitarian and medical reasons "pending documentation." The documentation could have been easily obtained since he was treated at the local county hospital had anyone cared enough to do it. In fact, the judge even raised his bail to an unconscionable amount after the request... a quarter of a million dollars! Why? They hadn't even come up with enough evidence to try him yet. Was that the plan?... keep him in prison indefinitely until they come up with something that will stick? Who was really behind this effort to destroy Sid Reams?

Sid spent the last few weeks of his life in jail, alone and sick. When someone in authority finally decided maybe he really was sick and should get medical attention, it was too late. He died alone in a hospital with guards outside his door. His wife Karen, who stood vigil at the hospital, was never allowed in to see him. She never got to say goodbye or to say I love you one last time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

I’ve been saving this for a year. I hope the statute of limitations has expired. In honor of Memorial Day, here’s the "extra footage" from this event. I like the questions at 2:25.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remembering Sid

Sid would always extend a warm handshake and smile every time I saw him. I didn't know Sid well, I may have spent two hours with him in total. I wish I had gotten to know him better. We always think there will be time.

He reached out when I was wandering around the "farmer's market" thing at the downtown park. He yelled "I saw you on the TV!" Probably (I hope) a reference to my tirades insightful commentary complaining giving helpful suggestions about something the city government was doing. He asked me if I liked Manteca. (my response was "uh, well, eh...) He told me Manteca was the best place to live on earth! I could agree there were much worse places on earth. (Much worse and that's not so bad after all.)

He could tell I had things on my mind that day and said "let's take a walk" and he left his real estate sales table. I still remember his wise counsel. He introduced me to some of the movers and shakers in town and gave me advice on how to get along better with city officials -- a lesson I'm sure the staff and council would agree really stuck with me(!) But really it was helpful.

Another time I e-mailed him about something. I can't even recall what it was, maybe something about the taxes or the planning commission or tree program and I got a prompt response where he said he would look into it. I remember I hadn't really asked for anything to be done, I think I just wanted to know what he thought. But to Sid, any report of a problem was a call to action!

One day in the library some "kid," for some odd reason I'll never know (maybe it was my friendly face or something) asked me how some words in a book were pronounced and what they meant. I learned his name was Daniello and he had escaped a repressive regime in some Latin American nation (not Mexico, but I don't recall exactly). The book he was reading was interesting to me. Something about economics I believe. And as we discussed the concepts he was learning, he mentioned how he was helped by Sid Reams. Sid was teaching him something about the real estate business and how to be a success in America. He talked about how helpful he was and invited me to join them at that early morning meeting on Fridays (something like a "toastmasters" meeting). It occurs to me why he felt comfortable coming up to a complete stranger in the library and asking questions -- he knew people like Sid, and he probably thought all Americans were like Sid, ready and eager help. I probably disappointed him because I never went to the toastmasters meeting (at 6:30 am? Are they kidding?).

I did see Daniello a few other times though. Once was at the Street Faire where he was giving his story to people at the political booth, telling how America is such a wonderful country with all sorts of opportunities and he mentioned Sid then, too. Another time was at the local Burger King. Twice! Both times he was parked at a booth with a laptop computer and taking advantage of the free WiFi internet. It was like he'd set up his "office" in that booth. He had all sorts of spreadsheets and he told me how he was buying and selling real estate and how Sid had helped him. For all I know he was connected to AIG's computers and was speculating in credit default swaps. This was a few years ago.
Many of the photographs of Sid were taken at the two "rallies for the homeless" he helped organize at Library park. In addition to just grilling some hot dogs and giving away some used clothing, Sid encouraged the crowd. He set people up with getting medical and dental care. Some of his advice I still use today when I meet someone who needs to know where to get inexpensive medicine.
Sid didn't have illusions about the real world. At the rally I pointed out some guy who, the day before, either tried to kill me, rob me, or steal my camera (I couldn't figure out which, but I escaped). Sid said "oh, I know, some of them are a pain in the ... butt" and warned me to be careful. His wife, Karen, was there and she shook her head. Sid explained "Karen always tells me how dangerous it is." But Sid was determined, as if his life was in God's hands. He even mentioned "the homeless" tried to rob him a few times -- But his response was to be alert and aware but not to give up. People needed help!
I don't have much to comment on, at this point, on the last few weeks of Sid's life. There are too many unanswered questions and I'm not ready to close the book quite yet. Sid had been accused of heinous crimes incongruous with my view of his character; apparently based upon the word of one person of questionable reliability and no physical evidence. He was held in custody while the authorities couldn't answer questions. They claimed the "investigation was still ongoing." Sid was still waiting for the specifics of the charges to be outlined in court when he was finally evaluated by a doctor the day before the preliminary hearing was scheduled. The doctors determined, after being held in jail for almost a month, that he was so ill he couldn't be moved and needed urgent heart surgery. There hadn't yet been a word of testimony or a scrap of evidence presented in open court when Sid died shortly after surgery at U.C. Davis. The questions abound.
I did attend the all the court hearings except the one where the judged scoffed at his request for humanitarian relief and medical care. The next and last time I saw Sid he was obviously very ill. He looked at me and appeared to be in pain. I'd been sternly warned by the reporters from the Manteca Bulletin and Sun-Post not to try to speak to him -- court rules. So that was it. I never got to ask things; he wasn't able to tell me anything. The hearing was postponed (they were unable to provide him an attorney). Weeks passed before they finally decided maybe they should let a doctor see him.
In the America and the Manteca Sid loved, a man's entitled to his day in court and is innocent unless proven otherwise and that's how I'll think of Sid.
For those of you who want to celebrate Sid's life and all those he's helped, I've uploaded "proof sets" of photographs of Sid. These kind of photos were never meant to be published, but someone might like them. As you can see I'm a big fan of auto-drive (when you whale on the button and the hi-tech camera shoots a string of exposures).
Feel free to share anything you'd like about Sid in comments or if it's private you may e-mail me at .

Friday, May 15, 2009

Madonna - Don't cry for me Lathrop/Manteca
Uploaded by bebepanda - Watch more music videos, in HD!

We rented Evita this week. It was fantastic! I'd never seen it before. This is how I remember these events, but my memory could be a little off.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hope this cheers you up.

I don't know how it happens but according to the analytics there are two pages that come up when you search for "mayor of a small town dancing with monkeys in the jungle." One is on this site and the other is this video:

Happy Mothers' Day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Last night after the council meeting Mayor Sayles beamed with pride as she gave some of the press a "special tour" of the creativity of Lathrop citizens.

At right is a sneak preview of the mayor's prize winning art! I wasn't sure what she called it at first. Chaotic Sun? Psychotic Sun? Oh, the actual name is Complex Sun. I think I may have called it "Metal Cat Hacked This Up" but that's just me.

An additional image:
Mayor Sayles points out special features in some of the painting/photographs. I think. Hey, wait a sec... where's my monocle?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lets do lunch -- in prison!

Does anyone believe, as the Manteca Bulletin asserts, that prisoners eat better food and have better medicine than the taxpayers? How bad would the taxpayers' food and medicine have to be?

What's odd is that the editor admits in the next paragraph that the prison guard union spews forth propaganda in their TV ads in an effort to get more money and acknowledges the guards are making extra money selling "cell phones" to prisoners.

How do you assert that the guards are manipulators and corrupt and at the same time tell us to believe the story about how the prisoners eat great food and get the best medical treatments?

That's what propaganda is. It isn't a statement that people don't believe -- effective propaganda tells us what we want to believe. We don't like to think that our society is evil or has corrupt institutions, so we are willing and long to believe that that we wouldn't treat prisoners in any but the most humane ways. We're Americans after all!

But open your eyes and look at the facts. Read about the slop prisoners are forced to eat and the deplorable medical negligence. The medical system in California prisons is so bad the federal government has been trying to put it under their control to bring it up to constitutional standards -- with little success.

Why is the press practically locked out of the prisons? Why do the courts and jails not permit inspections by third parties? Why do the prisons hold Potemkin tours of their jail facilities for the press showing the wonderful humane treatment everyone gets. It's like when the Red Cross would inspect a Nazi prison, they would always have new blankets and clean clothes and good food. Yet we find corpses being dragged out the San Joaquin jail with boot marks on their backs.

At least Sheriff Arpaio has the decency to actually say he feeds the prisoners for 40 cents a day and justifies it.