by Dante DeAmicis
I’m turning 60 tomorrow. I guess I can’t be called too young to know what I’m talking about anymore. Of course, I’ve noticed that many people can live to a thousand and they will still be too young to know what they are talking about. Knowledge and wisdom is progress forward minus backsliding. Even with the support structure of organizations and intellectual models it seems that humanity keeps getting dumber and dumber. Its all so sad. I’ve had to leave behind so many fellow travelers, babbling nonsense on the side of life’s highway. Ideological baggage was shed piece by piece so there would be space to pocket gems picked up along the way. Sometimes its just a grain of gold I caught in the light of day.
But the journey is not over yet, not by a long shot. In fact, the path forward is studded with manifested truths, large and small, just waiting for me to stumble over them. Such as, just recently it occurred to me that what we call the holiday season is really an obstacle course. It is not really a specific period at all. Thanksgiving appears to be a warm up event for the real holiday frenzy. It doesn’t seem to have a coherent point by itself. Right after this weak excuse for a four day weekend not much happens except isolated zombie shopping with no special regard for the time of year or our fellow man.
Gradually, as the Winter solstice approaches, people start taking various numbers of vacation days to begin an extended circuit of family whistle stops around the country. Coverage at businesses and hospitals gets thinner and thinner even though we are still only “approaching” the holidays. The calendar becomes a free-for-all on Christmas Eve, defined as the whole day before Christmas. Some are off some aren’t. Most get off early. Christmas is holiday ground zero, ignoring the pagans’ claim that the original Bacchanalia started on the Solstice. Once again, some get a day-after rest period, some don’t. And again, some lucky employees are off and some small businesses are closed until after New Years.
Bottom line, there is no clear holiday shut down and ramp up section on the calendar. Its more of a series of skirmishes of varying participation. What is the reason for this? Obviously capitalism is to blame. The 10 day pagan Saturnalia was to be reduced under Christian management to a day off in the middle, a day off at the end, and maybe an hour off early the night before. We weren’t supposed to mention the Solstice unless we wanted a lump of coal in our stocking.
The problem is that rather than either one big week and a half party or a sweat shop two days off, we get an indeterminate period of poor functioning. The solution: bring back the Solstice. That’s around December 21st for the astronomically challenged. This way we get a clean holiday shut down and a building of the festive mood, then a mellowing til January 1st. People who have to work would get double time during this official holiday season.
…..On a more political note, Lake County is a job destroyer. There is no money here except from State and Federal checks. A few pot farms and vineyards are arguing over who is in second place but neither produce many jobs. This year I had two low paid jobs shot out from under me by government policies.
Clearlake put in a taxi regulatory scheme that was proven to be boiler plated from a large city. But there is no big city taxi money here so drivers and owners would be working for less money under a morass of regulations that the City itself does not understand. After I complained the City Administer said the regulations were required by the Motor Vehicle Code, the PUC, and their cooperative insurance carrier. These sources were easy to check and easier to disprove. Did anyone care that the administrator was proven to be a liar and had a class war agenda? No, it passed the council unanimously.
My next job was driving the transit bus during a period of tense labor negotiations. The managing political authority wrote up a contract with a private managing company that basically let them do whatever they wanted labor-wise. Then the Board threw up their hands and said “The contract won’t let us interfere.” When these out of county goons forced a strike they had already lined up a flood of union busters from five of their bus companies in three states.
The end result was the elimination of wage structures that had existed for years. Every driver was to make starting wage…forever. Well, that’s not quite true. After a driver is licensed, trained, and minimally experienced they can get a decent driving job elsewhere, ultimately leaving no one except beginning drivers behind. Many striking drivers and non striking but problematic drivers such as myself were not called back. Check out my video on this sorry story “Report From Driver 39.”
Most of the jobs I’ve been applying for are “temporary/part-time/on call/minimum wage. The managers dug in here are psychopaths who were exiled from decent places that don’t promote hostile work places. That’s Lake County and that’s the way the small minded goobers who run things want it. Taking the bus to Napa or Ukiah is looking better and better.
Now about my birthday bicycle trip. I’ve been researching the old surveyed railroad route from Napa to Lake County. It never happened but it was an exciting attempt that occupies a place in history. The idea is to plan a bicycle event that roughly follows where the tracks would have been laid. Who knows what this line would have been called. But I’m declaring this train themed bike tour the “Konocti Kannonball Run.” Kind of catchy, don’t you think? My birthday ride will be a partial recreation with video and photos. I’ll take a lot of notes.
The high points after leaving Highway 29 in Middletown are Pope Valley, Butts Canyon, Chiles Valley, then dropping down into Napa Valley through Saga and Conn Canyons. Going into the city of Napa by the original identified roads, the trip will officially end at the old trestle site on Napa Creek. The trestle is long gone but there is a new foot and bicycle bridge in its place. This is in the new old town tourist district. After basking in glory, its a pizza and a bus back to Lake County. Look for the photos.