Time – How barbaric is DST

Having lived for 11 years in the civilized enclave that is Arizona, my first cycle back to barbarism is today. I speak of the biennial changing of the clocks.

Today is supposed to be the “good” switch, where you gain an hour. At 2:00AM the time is magically 1:00 and you get this extra hour of sleep. And you get to hear all the people at work say how they “gained an hour” over the weekend.

Balderdash, you gained nothing, because in the spring you set the clocks ahead, and lose an hour. That week you hear nothing but grumbling about the hour that they lost when the clocks switch ahead.

Of course the common misperception is that Benjamin Franklin was the father of DST, and that it was instituted to serve the farmers of our agrarian population. Again, more bollocks.

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House Selling Blues

Down in the dump today. I am being relocated from Phoenix back to the San Jose area, and things seemed on track for a smooth transition. Got our house cleaned up, fixed up and ready to sell. A month earlier, houses like ours was low inventory, and in demand.

Cool

Put it on the market April 2, and priced it to sell (about $12 – $18 sqft below the comps), and did our thing. Went out of town the first weekend so as to not be disturbed by the viewings. Got 6 or so that weekend, and an offer.

But the offer fell through due to some of the restrictions of the relocation company. Bummer. Back on the market.

And very few showings. We just had a non-holiday weekend without a single call.

I am wondering what the listing kryptonite is? A few blocks a way (short walk) three single story houses went on the market about the same time as ours. All three of them sold within 5 days (to property management companies and investors who will turn them into rentals).

We are still well below the local comps, so I really don’t want to reduce the price. But we may need to do something to get interest back. This sucks.

Leaving Arizona – Some more good stuff

While Arizona has many flaws, there are some wonderful things that are worth bragging about.

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Truly a wonderful place to get a good snapshot of the ecology of the desert. Well run, fabulous docents, and a great place to get a feel for the diversity of the desert.

We were members every year, and we were certain to take all our visitors to the ASDM.

The Pima Air and Space Museum

Located adjacent to the Davis Monthan AFB, the Pima Air andSpace museum is a jewel. A fabulous overview of the history of flight, and many fabulous planes (including a complete SR-71 Blackbird, worth the price of admission on its own).

A real treat that everyone enjoys.

Cafe Poca Cosa

A restaurant in downtown Tucson, it is a local favorite. We used to take all our out of town guests there. Fabulous food, made fresh every day, with a menu that changes twice a day, it is well worth the drive.

The owner, Susanna Davila, also the principal chef, loves to mingle and interact with the guests. Their bar makes terrific Margaritas, and if you are interested in a less alcoholic experience, their white sangria is fantastic.

Recommendation: Get the Plato, a mix of three of their entree’s at the Chef’s discretion, it is sure to please. No ability to pick what is on the plate (but if you have a shellfish allergy, they will accommodate you), it is the best way to get a taste of Cafe Poca Cosa.

The Musical Instrument Museum

Up to Phoenix now (actually Scottsdale), the MIM is wonderful. When I visited, I expected it to be good, but I was completely blown away.

They have assembled a huge collection of music, musical instruments, and related it to cultures and the spread of civilization.

Music is something that is innate in all of us, and it was fascinating to see the most humble of components, how they were assembled, and then to hear the music that came from it.

Truly a wondrous display, and a worthy trip! If we weren’t moving, we would definitely be annual members. It is that good.

The Butterfly Wonderland

This is a new addition. Also in Scottsdale, the butterfly wonderland is a bit out of the way. It seemed expensive, but with the AAA discount it was better.

You start with a 3D movie that explains the cycle of the Monarch butterfly. It was cool, but not great. Then there is a display of butterflies and moths in their metamorphosis. Again cool, but not overwhelming.

Then you go outside. Wow. Butterflies, Moths, in all different sizes and shapes. Vibrant colors, large, small, they were all there.

Summary

Plenty of great things to see and do in Arizona. If you should visit, I can recommend these (in addition to the standards: Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Antelope Valley, Monument Valley).

Leaving Arizona – Part II – the politics

I moved to Arizona in 2003 to take a job. Landing in Tucson, solidly in the southern part of the state, I grew to love the area. Fabulous weather (albeit blazingly hot in the summer), quirky neighborhoods, and outstanding outdoor activities like hiking, and biking.

I lived in Tucson for almost 10 years, and while I enjoyed it, there are problems with the area. Civic planning is at best an afterthought. Poor growth policies and pathetic allocation of greenspaces was a frustration. Still, it was home.

2012 found us moving to a suburb of Phoenix for my job. It was a culture shock to say the least. Urban sprawl everywhere, yet with some clear planning so that the neighborhoods are well laid out. Plenty of green space reserved. Adequate distribution of shopping and restaurants. It “feels” like a real city, where Tucson felt like a town that just kept bursting at the seams.

While I lived in Tucson, I was aware of how bizarre the politics of Arizona are, but we lived in a pocket of rationality. Moving to Phoenix was a culture shock. Arizona has always been a Republican leaning state, with some characters that make you facepalm often. You get this front and center in the valley. Intolerance, bigotry, hatred are front and center.

I used to read about places in the deep south and shake my head at their antics, but Arizona seems to want to outdo them at every step. I shouldn’t be surprised at a state that didn’t observe Martin Luther King‘s birthday until the loss of tourism dollars made it really painful (they were denied the 1993 Superbowl due to their backwards-ness)

Things that should be no brainers, like shoring up public education, improving the lot of the residents, and promoting freedom and equality are ignored, instead the politicians here want to punish gays, and hispanics, protect the unborn (or restrict women’s reproductive freedom), promote the propagation of firearms, and in general hassle brown people.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is hailed by the constituents here as a great man, but he is a walking liability, and is probably costing the state more in defending his inane tactics at the federal level than the cost of illegal immigrants. All the rest of it is just being mean, trying to extend the old white male domination.

Oh, and making it legal for anyone without a felony conviction to be able to just carry a concealed handgun, no permit required. Fairly often, there is a push to allow college students to carry concealed on campus. Yeah, barely out of their teens, lots of emotional issues, and rampant alcohol (and drug) use goes great with deadly weapons. SMH.

On concealed weapons, it is really bizarre here. Getting a concealed permit is easy. Take a class, pass a background check, and some pretty easy marksmanship test, and you are golden. While I think it should be a bit mroe strenuous (particularly the safety and marksmanship part) I am cool with that.

However, a while back the legislature made it legal for anybody with a clean record to carry concealed. No background check, no safety training, no basic shooting skills. Sigh. Anyone who thinks that random people should be able to just carry a weapon anywhere should be required to watch a class of their fellow citizens who are taking the extra step of getting a CCW permit do their shooting qualification. Some of the worst marksmanship I have EVER seen, and they are the “good” ones who are taking the effort to get the permit. They would have trouble hitting the side of a barn from the inside.

Summary

Arizona has a lot of good things going for it. However, the politics are a bit wacko. In most of the backwards states (like Texas) the tide of demographics will reduce the power of the old white male bigot. Alas here, while demographics are changing, a unique phenomenon seems to happen. Being a destination for retirees, we seem to be replenishing our dying racists with imports from the north faster than the population browns.

This leads to some of the most insane policies, and laws from our legislature. Things that make most rational people shake their heads in wonder.

There are plenty of sensible people here, it is just that their voices are squashed via gerrymandering, and the inanity of legislature.

There are some signs of progress. Last election saw Joe Arpaio coming ever closer to losing his office, we often have a democrat in the governor’s mansion to balance out the wackos, the racists, and the homophobes that seem to win local seats.

I am under no delusions, California has its own problems, but 11 years in Arizona has given me a new appreciation for my home state.

Leaving Arizona – Part I, the good stuff

We moved to Arizona in 2003 for a job. We spent nearly 10 years in Tucson, then in 2012 moved to Chandler for another job.

In general I liked Arizona, and will miss much of what the state offers. This post is what I will miss. Some of it greatly, some of it less so, but I am headed back to a place that has equal yet different charm.

The Weather

While my wife will grumble about the brutal summers, you do get acclimated, and the mild winters are awesome. With planning and preparation you can do outdoor activities all year.

When we lived in Tucson, there was an impressive summer monsoon pattern. Brutally hot in the morning, building clouds by noon, brief but INTENSE rain in the afternoon, and then a remarkably pleasant evening.

The monsoon rains really brought out the fresh smells of the desert.

Chandler/Phoenix, not so much monsoon pattern. This leads to a more brutal summer, as there isn’t the rain to bring respite, and the monsoon storms are replaced by brutal haboob dust storms.

The Critters

Living on the edge of civilization in Tucson was always exciting. We had plenty of wildlife walking through our yard and property. Javelinas, Coyotes, a variety of snakes (venomous and non venomous), wolf spiders, tarantulas, and even our local den of gila monsters.

Our last year there, we had a nest of Cooper’s Hawks and their fledglings flying around the neighborhood. It was always exciting.

In Chandler, the closest we get are scorpions (lots of bark scorpions) and stray dogs.

The People

We were fortunate to make several good friends in Tucson. There was a very nice “homey” community there that felt great to be part of.

We also were quite involved with the local Greyhound rescue organization. Great people and great dogs.

Our neighborhood in Chandler is also full of great families and friendly people. But Phoenix is a major metropolitan area, so it has a much more detached feel to it. I will not miss Chandler too much.

The activities

I touched on this with the weather, but if you like outdoor activities, Arizona is hard to beat. Great cycling, motorcycling, hiking, shooting, it is all good.

From our house in Tucson, less than 3 miles away were trailheads with 50+ miles of great hiking.

25 miles and you are up at over 9000 feet, with a completely different climate. Go to the south, and there is Patagonia, Tombstone, and Bisbee.

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a true jewel of the area, and the destination of choice for our visitors. We were members every year we were there.

And the Pima Air and Space Museum, with their complete SR-71 is a stunning attraction.

Like food? Great restaurants, and the bonus of the summer is that the population drops by the departure of the snowbirds and the students from University of Arizona. Walk into any restaurant, even on Friday or Saturday evening and be seated instantly.

Phoenix is different, but in some ways better. A bit more cosmopolitan, but we haven’t lived here long enough to really get the lay of the land.

Wrapping up

Regardless, I will miss Arizona. It is a beautiful state, it has many wonderful sites from the Grand Canyon, to the Sky Islands, from San Francisco peak to the White Mountains.

Next up, what I will not miss.