Archive for July, 2013

Captain Rick: It is said that a dog is man’s best friend … but is man a dog’s best friend?

The dog in the photo below reminds me of ‘Pete’, a neighbor’s dog. Even though we had a block wall between us, we were both good friends. Every time I was up on the ladder pruning my trees and plants, Pete would come over and sit below and watch and listen. We had many conversations over the years. I can only trust that he knew what I was saying by the contentment on his face.  He never said anything … but if he had … I think he would have said “Remind me why there is a treat limit again? Cuz I don’t agree”. 

Sadly, Pete passed away a while back. The moral of this story is … if you are fortunate enough to have a ‘mans best friend’, return the kindness and be your dog’s best friend. The best treat that your dog can receive is your love and friendship … with no limit.

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View Captain Rick’s entire ‘Pet Talk’ series

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Captain Rick: I share how my passion for photography and journalism began and how my nickname ‘Captain Rick’ was born 40 years ago on the waters of Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

I have revamped my ANJ ‘About’ page to expound on me and the history of my passion for photography and journalism … and how my nickname ‘Captain Rick’ originated.

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I am a mechanical design engineer, with 8 United States Patents accredited for inventions used in surface cleaning & maintenance vehicles and lawn & garden equipment. My engineering career spanned 4 decades, working for manufacturing companies in Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Arizona.

I am retired in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun in a town called Gilbert, where I have loved to call home since 1997 and hope to for the rest of time. Retirement has allowed me to pursue the things in life that I enjoy the best…

PHOTOGRAPHY … a life long hobby of snapping well over 20,000 photos.

It originated when my father gave me his old Mercury 35 mm half frame camera in the early 1960s. It was totally mechanical. I had to load a 35 mm roll, feeding the film across and wrapping it around the take-up spool. I had to wind the film ahead after each photo. If I forgot, it would result in a double exposure, of which some turned out ’pretty cool’. I went on to own several 35 mm SLRs.

The advent of digital photography allowed me to explore the world of shooting and editing digital photos. I was a Webshots member in the early 2000′s. My photos received over 1 million views. Webshots listed me as the number one photographer shooting in the ‘Arizona’ category. In 2007, as a pioneer, I established a photostream on a tiny, new web firm called Flickr. It has since grown to become the world’s grandest photo site with over 6 billion photos. My current photo view stats are well over 100,000.

When HDTV’s and widescreen computer monitors became popular, I began formatting all of my new photos for viewing full screen on an HDTV in Blu-ray quality. I present my 5 most recent Flickr photos in the left column of my blog. I created several photo groups on Flickr, including ’A Virtual Journey’, with views from over 8,000 people from 96 countries. My group ’16×9 Widescreen’ is Flickr’s top group for HDTV quality photos.

JOURNALISM … a newly discovered talent that was a lifetime in the making.

I took typing class in high school back in the early 1960′s. There were not many boys in the class. It was mostly a girls skill needed to become a secretary working for a future male boss. I saw it differently. To me it looked like a way to more efficiently put my thoughts on paper. I started keeping a journal when I was very young. I still have some of the early hard copies, which contain some very awesome reading. I hope to share them one day.

I purchased my first typewriter in the late 60′s. It was one of those big ugly black mechanical things called an Underwood. In the early 70′s I bought a Smith Corona electric. I was like typing in ‘dreamland’. The 80′s gave way to the electronic typewriters. The 90′s introduced the computer keyboard. My fingers were typing away during the entire spectrum. Today, I can type up a storm. I owe it all to that ‘girls’ typing class back in the 60′s.

I have always had a great interest in news, economy, government and much more. I have insight of these subjects and zeal to share my thoughts with the world. For several years I published news letters via email. In 2010 I discovered WordPress and established this blog. It remained dormant for over a year due to a lack of ‘guts’ to project my words to the world. It took my friend Bill, who was facing stage 4 cancer and undergoing multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, to give me the courage to energize this blog. I convinced Bill to tell his story on a blog I created for him. He agreed and told his story with excellence. You can read Bills testimony and click a link to his blog in the comments on my ‘About’ page. Seeing the wonderful effect his writing had on his audience, I knew I had to begin writing and sharing my thoughts with the world via this blog.  Since then, I have ‘let loose’ … saying it like I feel in my heart, with hope that the world is listening and benefiting from my journalistic words.

CAPTAIN RICK … how did my nickname originate? 

As a child, I enjoyed boating/fishing trips with my father. We often caught some excellent walleye, northern and bass in Lake Michigan and the lakes near my hometown in Wisconsin. I loved the water and I loved boats.

During the early 70′s in Minnesota, I seized my dream of building my own boat. I bought plans for a 17 foot ocean racing boat … a design that had won many ocean races in New Zealand. It took several years and over 1000 hours of construction, using lots of oak and mahogany wood and the installation of a Chevy Corvette 4-barrel engine with a Muncie I/O drive. I also designed and constructed its steel trailer. After launching, it became a dominating presence on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, especially when the water was rough and most other boats headed for safe waters. At 40 knots (46 mph) in rough water, it’s heavy wood, 20 degree deep-V hull split the big waves and sprayed them far to the sides. It was a sight to behold. It road the waves with power and excitement like no other boat I have experienced. It was one of my greatest prides and joy.

My friends called me ‘Captain Rick’. The nickname stuck and has lived on ever since. I hope one day to tell the rest of this amazing story, complete with photos, of the construction and enjoyment of that great boat.

Read this and more on my totally revised About Captain Rick … Atridim page.

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Captain Rick

Captain Rick: Detroit, motor capitol of the world, has filed for the largest public sector bankruptcy in U.S. history … $18.5 billion. This is prime example of the destruction caused in a major way by labor unions.

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Detroit, pictured above with excellence, has filed for bankruptcy, the largest in the public sector in U.S. History

Words from the Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

“The fiscal realities confronting Detroit have been ignored for too long. I’m making this tough decision so the people of Detroit will have the basic services they deserve and so we can start to put Detroit on a solid financial footing that will allow it to grow and prosper in the future. This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making. I have reached the conclusion that this step is necessary after a thorough review of all the available alternatives, and I authorize this necessary step as a last resort to return this great City to financial and civic health for its residents and taxpayers. This decision comes in the wake of 60 years of decline for the city, a period in which reality was often ignored.”

He also said that 38% of the city’s budget is being spent on “legacy costs,” such as pensions and
debt service. He said police take almost an hour to respond to calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes, and that 40% of street lights in the city are turned off.

Labor Unions are destroying America

Once serving a great purpose of job safety, labor unions have become an empire of greed for wealth over past decades. Their greed has destroyed millions of American jobs. Auto companies in Detroit were forced to build plants in and source parts from places that were less union friendly in an effort to stay profitable. Unions helped destroy Detroit. This bankruptcy of Detroit, once America’s fourth largest city (now 18th), is the culmination of that destruction.

My purpose with this report is not to expound on the details of this record bankruptcy, for they will be broadcast around the world by the media in coming days. My focus is on the destruction to America, caused in a significant way by labor unions.

Across America, our companies, cities and states are significantly influenced by powerful unions, especially those representing police, fire and civic service. I urge all employees who are members of a union to consider severing your membership in an effort to protect the future wellbeing of your company, so that it does not have to relocate … or your city, so that it does not eventually have to file for bankruptcy, like Detroit. I urge city and state officials to do what is possible to curtail or limit agreements with unions, in an effort to help prevent the need for our cities and states to file for bankruptcy, like Detroit. Many more American cities are following closely in Detroit’s path. America has not yet experienced its first state bankruptcy … but its just a matter of time. There are thousands of fiscal ‘time bombs’ waiting to explode across America, especially those concerning employee pensions.

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Labor Unions

Captain Rick: The 2013 floods in Alberta were historic. Heather Rankin’s ‘For Alberta-Love Echoes’ hit video on YouTube excellently displays Alberta’s outpouring of love in a massive volunteer effort during and after the floods to help their neighbors recover from a disaster that took lives, created billions in damage and will take years to recover from.

After I presented Heather’s video in my July 7 ANJ report: Love echoes in Alberta after historic flooding I was able to link up and asked her if she would consent to telling her story on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL. She replied “Sure go for it”.

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About Heather Rankin

I asked Heather to contribute a photo and tell us a bit about herself. Heather contributed the above photo and replied “I am a recently retired professional curler here in Canada at the precipice of moving into coaching once my 6 year old boy gets a little older. It is truly the story of who I am as it is a sport I have competed and excelled here in Canada for well over 30 years and it has allowed me to meet many Canadians and Americans on my travels around the globe playing a sport I love. As for other labels, I am a business analyst and project management consultant presently working on Operational Excellence at a large oil and gas company. My specialization is software engineering and data, which is a very linear left brain profession (and let’s admit it boring), so I like to supplement my day job with many creative endeavors like trying to capture the way love echoes throughout our world, the art of Qigong, and the beauty of nature and hiking. I have love (ai) tattooed on my left arm in mandarin Chinese, to remind me to be and spread love everyday in every way. My son and Australian Labradoodle puppy help me to see the echo of love and to watch life unfold through their eyes is enchanting. How he gets lost in a moment of play with his cars, watching the boy with dog explore and discover the wonder of nature and each other, and the joyful way he makes best friends everywhere he goes by smiling and saying hi (now that is the best echo).”

I asked Heather to share her special thoughts. She replied “I want the story and movie to be the focus not so much me. Thank you again for showing the world the greatness that lives in Canada and more specifically our wondrous beautiful province of Alberta. Come on up y’all, we are open :)”

Guest Commentary

by

Heather Rankin

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“For Alberta – Love Echoes”

Thanks Captain Rick for focusing the video I made for the people, first responders, city workers, and all those affected by the Flood in Alberta, Canada. It was so shocking for many reasons to live through this emergency in the province and city of Calgary that I call home. For those that may not know Alberta is the oil and gas backbone of Canada, we are a province of many different types of Canadians coming west for many reasons to make Alberta their home. Many have come in search of money, of a large multi cultural white collar city with many different kinds of experiences and jobs, some have come to live a western lifestyle, for education, for sports and training for the Olympics (as we hosted the 88 Olympics and a lot of our training places are located here), or to live in the beauty of vast open spaces, wildlife and the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. Others have grown up here with the Alberta engrained ethics of family first, hard work and play even harder which you adopt when you move in. To see the beauty of our land devastated, our infrastructures collapsing and our homes ruined destroyed much for us Albertans including our innocence and armour that we have it all. What grew out of this devastation was such intense love, family, hard work and the reminder that we are more than what we have accomplished but that we are the sum of our parts. It showed that the true beauty of Alberta is the beauty of the people, from a mayor who managed the event with a classic style of love, sense of humour and dedication that made everyone feel safe despite the walls falling down around us, to the hard working dedicated fearless caring first responders to the souls who opened their doors to people in need. Did you know that 120,000 people were evacuated from their homes but only 1500 ended up in evacuation centres, the rest were put up by people opening their homes to complete strangers. Did you also know that the downtown core of a city of 1.2 million people was closed, had no power or lights for 5 days and we had no crime, no looting and no deaths. Did you know that the City had to stop people from volunteering and helping because it was too dangerous. They asked for 100 volunteers and 30,000 showed up. Once people were allowed back in their homes to see devastation and didn’t know where to start, groups of hundreds of Albertans showed up and knocked on doors of complete strangers homes with a smile and a shovel and stayed for days in mud, heat, mosquito and sewage invested waters helping people they did not know recover. Did you know the Greatest Outdoors Show on Earth is on right now as I type and the complete facility was 10 feet under water for a week just 10 days ago. The Calgary Stampede is an event that stands for Alberta. It shows pride, family, the cowboy work ethic and the joy that our people have in their hearts to survive, succeed, live, love and laugh. Some from afar have criticized why we would go forward with the Stampede, but it has never not been held, wars, depression, nothing has stopped it and the people of Calgary wanted it to go on to celebrate after all these hardships, come hell or high water (the motto of this year’s stampede).

I hope my movie depicted the depth of the disaster, it will cost Alberta billions of dollars and 10 years to get back to where we were. I also hope it depicts loud and clear the strength of our people, the resilience, the belief we have in the process, the faith we have in each other, the sense of humour that Canadians often show the world as being part of who we are and how we roll and of most importance that we are all connected, we are one energy, one formidable humanity that when powered by love we can do anything.

Please share and show how the Love Echoes…… Thank you for showing the World Captain Rick.

Heather Rankin

View Heather’s video in my previous report: Love echoes in Alberta after historic flooding

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Canada

Disasters of our World

Guest Commentary

Historic Events

Captain Rick: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will resign and be named as the president of the University of California system. Did she give up on President Obama or was she fired?

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I was pleased to see Janet, perhaps the most liberal governor or Arizona, give up her governorship and head for Washington to become Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security. While in that position, she seemed to seize every moment to slam Arizona on issues of illegal immigration and border security. I suspect some of those actions were a result of her desire to show Arizona that she ascended to higher ground and was now ‘boss of the homeland’. I suspect the balance came from Obama pressuring her to do his ‘dirty work’ against Arizona. It has been obvious that he has a loss of respect for Arizona, a state that has presented one of the biggest ‘thorns in his side’ on the subject of illegal immigration. The case of Arizona’s SB1070 illegal immigration law is a prime example. Obama’s Department of Justice vigorously fought it. Arizona appeals took it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with a partial win for Arizona, which I am confident he did not enjoy.

Perhaps Obama had enough failures relating to illegal immigration or other homeland issues and pressured Janet to find other employment. Perhaps Janet had enough of being the ‘whipping gal’ for President Obama. Perhaps we will never know what prompted this move. It does not surprise me that Janet chose a state other than Arizona to relocate to. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that her anti-Arizona actions under the Obama presidency caused her to loose the ‘Arizona Welcome Mat’. Her choice of California, a ‘blue’ liberal state will provide her safe haven.

Agree? / Disagree?

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Arizona Law

Illegal Immigration

Arizona SB1070

U.S. Supreme Court

Captain Rick: An abundance of love echoed across Alberta Canada during the historic flooding in late June as people worked together to survive and recover. This 10 minute YouTube video captures photographic moments of those ‘love echoes’ with excellence.

Receding waters gave way to a mammoth cleanup of affected areas, aided by a spontaneous volunteer campaign in which many home owners were assisted by complete strangers.

Appreciation:

I extend my appreciation to June of Tennessee for sharing this excellent video by Heather Rankin. I invited Heather to share her thoughts on this excellent video masterpiece (which has already been viewed by 50,000 on YouTube) in a comment below.

I extend special appreciation to Sandi of Calgary Alberta for contributing an eyewitness report to my breaking ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report on June 21, 2013: Historic Flooding in Alberta

2013 Alberta Flood Stats
Worst in Alberta’s history. Areas along the Bow, Elbow, Highwood, Red Deer, Sheep, Little Bow, and South Saskatchewan rivers and their tributaries were particularly affected.
A total of 27 local states of emergency were declared and 28 emergency operations centres were activated as water levels rose and numerous communities were placed under evacuation orders.
Four people were confirmed dead as a direct result of the flooding
Over 100,000 people were displaced throughout the region.
Some 2,200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) troops were deployed to help in flooded areas.
Preliminary estimates suggest damage from the flood could be between C$3–5 billion.

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Captain Rick: Councilmember Victor Petersen says Gilbert Arizona’s new budget represents a decrease in government efficiency by spending more tax dollars per citizen. The Town Council recently adopted a $466 million budget for FY14 that included a massive increase in employee compensation due to a new over-inflated pay structure and addition of several new $80,000 to $100,000 positions. The $12 million (12%) increase in general fund spending results in a spike in general fund costs of an average of $39 for each of Gilbert’s estimated 233,000 citizens and presents a 6% decrease in government efficiency.

The spreadsheet Victor presents below demonstrates this spike in costs. As an engineer, I examined its calculations and confirm they are accurate. The slope of the incline for the coming year closely resembles the incline experienced during the three reckless spending years leading up to the stock market crash and ‘Great Recession’. Considering the anemic condition of our economy, with GDP growth well below what is considered healthy, this new spending spree concerns me greatly. We can not afford another year or two of addition reckless spending. I applaud Victor for bringing this important information to our attention. I believe cities across America and beyond will be interested in the data Victor presents.

Victor was one of two councilmembers that voted ‘NO’ … against adoption of the budget as presented. This has earned him Captain Rick’s “PROPER VOTE” on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL’s “Gilbert Council Scorecard”, which keeps track of how Gilbert Councilmembers vote on important, controversial issues.   

I invited Victor to present guest commentary on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL concerning his vote on this important fiscal event. He graciously accepted. I am honored to present …

Guest Commentary

by

Victor Petersen

Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona

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The latest budget adoption represents a decrease in government efficiency in Gilbert. One of our strategic initiatives is "High Performing Government," which is a worthy goal but our council has settled for less performance by spending significantly more tax dollars per citizen than in years past.

It is especially troubling that the data suggests that we are heading off in the same direction that lead to the demand for a tax increase which is represented in this graph by the bubble from FY 06 to FY 10.

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This data shows that the amount we are spending for ongoing costs per citizen are increasing significantly. It’s troubling that it appears to be heading off in the same direction we saw before the big push for a sales tax increase. The simple fact is that where spending leads taxes must follow. I fear the direction that has been taken will require correction just like the data shows happened for the tax push years and correction was and is a painful process.

The bottom line is that instead of getting more efficient by making each tax dollar work harder we are actually seeing the opposite trend. I believe we owe it to ourselves and the taxpayers to improve in governmental efficiency and raise the bar we have set.

It must be recognized that most of this ongoing increase is due to the massive increase in compensation passed by the council. While some increase was merited Councilmember Taylor and I proposed a lesser increase which would have put total compensation more inline with the market and saved millions per year.

I am all for progress when it means replacing something good with something better, but I am a conservative when it’s proposed to replace what’s best with something less. I want to conserve the successes of the past and build on them for greater successes in the future. I believe in the right of our citizen’s to expect and even demand this and I believe in our staff’s ability to achieve it. We have set the bar here in Gilbert in government efficiency and we are the only ones who can raise it. We owe it to our citizens and to ourselves to do it.

Victor Petersen

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Gilbert Council Scorecard

Previous Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Reports

Gilbert Town Council Reports

Gilbert Arizona Reports