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The Non-Profit Scam

My general view on non-profits is that their status is too high relative to profit-seeking firms. In the for-profit sector, I think of the example of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos. The company had a noble vision, and she made compelling presentations, but the product didn’t work. Because she claimed that the product worked better than it did, she got in trouble. She was ousted as CEO, and she faces a lot of legal jeopardy.

In the non-profit world, there are no end-users to hold you accountable if what you are doing doesn’t work. Just having the noble

From my direct experience, I would go further.  There is a tranche (I don't know how large) of non-profits that are close to outright scams, providing most of their benefits to their managers and employees rather to anyone outside the organization.  These benefits include 1) a salary with few performance expectations; 2) expense-paid parties and travel; 3) myriad virtue-signalling opportunities; 4) opportunities to build personal networks.  This isn't just criticizing theoretical institutions -- people I know are in such jobs in these organizations.

Advice to commenters -- please do not purposely misunderstand the point I am making.  Clearly great non-profits doing good work exist, but their existence does not invalidate the point I am making.  And I think their ability to continue to survive without creating value beyond that they provide for their employees is closely related to the point that Kling makes.

Update -- Osteoarthritis and Changing My Running Gait to Toe-First Landing

Almost a year ago, I wrote that I had had to give up running due to my osteoarthritis but that I was looking for ways to at least still run a bit.  I really enjoy running, especially when I travel as a way to explore new places.  I am not a fan of bike riding, which is always the first suggestion people make as an alternative, but I do like my elliptical scooter and ride it from time to time.  But I can't take it on trips with me and I still like running.

It was at that time a year ago that I read an article about running gait and the potential for different gaits to have less impact on the knees (sorry I can't find the article now).  I realized I was a heavy heel-first landing runner, landing so hard each time it felt like I pile-driving my knees and spine.  So I started experimenting with different styles of running, including the classic old-guy waddle.  But what seemed to have the most benefit was running on my toes.  Whenever I ran uphill, my knees never hurt.  What if landing toe-first allowed the foot to be a sort of shock absorber?

Well, changing one's entire running gait at 56 was pretty much as hard as you might imagine.  The first few times I tried it I pulled something in both calves.  While that healed, I decided to strengthen my calves by walking on my toes.  I got to doing 5 miles with a pack totally on my toes which I am sure made me an oddball around the neighborhood (though to some extent this ship has already sailed as I do Pimsleur language courses as I walk so I am also the weird dude mumbling in Mandarin around the neighborhood).  I tried using Newton Gravity running shoes that have a design that almost ensures a toe first landing, but they just made the calf problems worse.

Today, I am finally turning a corner.  I ran five miles last weekend in my best time since I was last marathon training -- even a bit better in fact.  My endurance is still not great because I took so much time off and because I am sure this gait, being less natural for me, is not as efficient.  But being able to run 3-5 miles a couple of times a week, and maybe the odd 10K, really is all I was looking for and so (knock on wood) I will declare victory.  As an aside, and perhaps entirely unrelated to any of this, I have had zero problems in the last year with my heretofore recurring plantar fasciitis issues.

I am not a doctor, so ymmv.  My theory here may be complete BS, or counter-productive, or just a placebo.  Actual people who know things about this are encouraged to comment and dissuade folks if this is all terrible advice.

A Plea to Packaging Designers

Of late the design ethic for hotel shampoo bottles has led to 1) all text in 8 point or smaller fonts and 2) all text is printed in low contrast colors, something like cyan on a turquoise background.  Please designers, a lot of us are growing older and it's unlikely I am going to have my reading glasses in the shower.  I shouldn't have to guess which bottle is the shampoo and which is the hand lotion.  There has got to be a way to make the packaging look elegant but still be readable.

Two Words You Might Not Know Were Acronyms

I am on the road but trying to stay in the blogging habit so this is a bit of a throwaway.  But anyway...

You probably know words like SCUBA, SNAFU, laser, lidar,  and sonar are all acronyms.  But here are two you might not know about:

The first word is "posh," which generally means a luxury experience (or Beckham's wife).  But it was originally an acronym for ship voyages from the UK to India.  Because it was a hot trip and there was no air conditioning, the best cabins were on the north side of the ship (at least above the equator) or the east side of the ship (ie facing away from the heat of the afternoon sun).  This would be the port side going to India and the starboard side coming k彩平台登陆.  So to get the best cabin you asked for port out, starboard k彩平台登陆 or "POSH".

The other word is "Pakistan" which is the name of the country that split from India in 1947.  As India was approaching independence, Muslims (who were quite numerous all over in India but particularly in the northwest and the far east) proposed the new states formed form the old British Empire in India include a Muslim state.    They were seeking a state made up of the Muslim-majority whole provinces of Punjab, Afghan, Kashmir, Indus, and Sind.  This forms the acronym PAKIS-tan with the "tan" meaning "land of".  The word Pakistan also means "land of the pure" in Sanskrit.    It was a powerful piece of branding.

As a postscript, these 5 provinces were all in the west.  The original Pakistan also included parts of the state of Bengal in the east which formed East Pakistan.  East Pakistan was actually more populous than the West but the West tended to dominate the country's leadership, leading to E. Pakistan breaking away in the early 70's to form Bangladesh.  The entirety of these 5 states in the acronym were not included in the final borders of Pakistan.  In particular, Kashmir was divided between Pakistan and India and has been the site of a lot of fighting between the two countries over the last 70 years (queue Led Zeppelin song).

Absurd Click Bait

is so hard no one will get more than 10 or 20 right.  That is absurd, I nailed them all (yes, I have lots of grammatical mistakes in this blog because I am a sucky and indifferent proof-reader, not because I don't know what's correct).

That has to be just click bait or some sort of self-esteem reinforcement process.  The only other explanation is that there really has been a divergence between going to school/college and education.

A Few Tequila Recommendations

I do not consider myself a tequila expert, but I do live in Phoenix where the tequila aisle at the liquor store is longer than the beer aisle in most other places.  Of late, I have discovered that while I am may not be the world's expert, a lot of my friends and family in other places are buying bad or overpriced tequila.  So here are some good choices (these are not the only good choices, but I would rate these as "you can't go wrong" at each price point).

Inexpensive:  .  I prefer the reposado, but both it and the blanco are good and they often can be found at the supermarket at a price that will make you hesitate to buy it because it is so cheap.  But get it, way better than that Cuervo stuff.  If I remember right, it was created by an British company trying to take on the high price of tequila in that country.

Moderate to premium:    My go-to brand for general use.  If you want to pay a bit more the super anejo is really terrific.  As presents we give bottles of k彩平台登陆made pepper-infused tequila to our friends and when we want it to be really good we infuse the Cazadores super anejo

Expensive:  :  Don't even think about putting this stuff in a margarita.  It is an amazing sipping tequila.  I did not even know there was such thing as a sipping tequila until I drank this.   Honestly, it is an entirely different experience than most any other tequila you have had.  It comes in a distinctive bottle that looks great on the shelf, too.

Postscript:  The tequila descriptions relate to the amount the tequila has been aged.  Regular or blanco tequila is clear and has not been aged.  Reposado is a golden color and is lightly aged -- I think personally this is the sweet spot in the aging scale.  Anejo and Extra Anejo means aged even more (anejo means "old" in spanish).

RIP Snuggles

She was the first dog either my wife and I ever owned, and probably the last (given all of our travel).  But she was awesome.  In the picture above, she is in her favorite spot, able to interact with the family at near-eye-level.

She lived nearly 13 years and survived two previous bouts with death -- an attack by a coyote and a disease that caused her to waste away to barely 7 pounds (in her youth we used to call her the world's largest Maltese as she tipped the scales in the high teens).  She was named by my (then) 8-year-old daughter and my son and I spent her lifetime trying to find names to call her that did not involve yelling SNUGGLES! all over the neighborhood.  Usually, we defaulted to "Snuggs".  As you can see, she was not really the showdog Ferrari-style Maltese -- more the all weather 4x4 model.

I feel guilty as she probably bonded with me the least, but she spent her final hours in my arms (as the rest of the family was out of town).  We will miss her.

Your Once-A-Decade Coyoteblog Beauty Products Recommendation

Yes, I know that blogging women's hair care products is not really in my wheelhouse but my wife reports that the she gave herself for Christmas is the greatest hair dryer-like product ever.  Expensive though.

Bleg: A Reliable LED Christmas Light String for All-Year Outdoor Wrapping of a Tree

The subject says it all.  I have wrapped this damn ironwood tree twice and both times the lighting has not lasted.  Since a lot of lighting is designed for holiday use of 3 weeks a year, even something designed for 5 years of life dies in 4 months of continuous use.  For those who do not know, an Arizona native ironwood is gorgeous, one of the most sculptural trees I know of, but it is covered over every single surface with the sharpest thorns imaginable.  I lose a pint of blood every time I wrap this sucker so I want this to be the last time.

Luxardo Cherries Are the Bomb

If all you know about maraschino cherries are those unnaturally red, sweet ones you buy in the grocery store, you are missing out.  and have pretty much nothing in common with those other ones.  They are fabulous in most cocktails, but I love them with bourbon drinks.  I even use them and some of the juice them come in to mix with bourbon to make a quick and easy old fashioned.  has them in jars and cans but be prepared, they are expensive.

Things Guaranteed to Make Me Do the Opposite

When the first words of an incoming phone call are "Do not hang up..."

I Feel Like Maybe I Have An Addiction Problem If I Am Seeing This on My Diet Coke

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One Unintended Consequence of the Transgender Movement for Women

I am not particularly in opposition to or enthusiastic about the current transgender movement.  On one hand, I have no problem with people managing their lives however they wish.  I met Dr. Renee Richards in 1982, for example (she was coaching a Princeton tennis player I knew) and liked her.  Deirdre Mccloskey is freaking brilliant, I wish I had met her.   On the other hand, as with most social movements on the Left nowadays, mere tolerance and live-and-let-live acceptance is not enough -- the movement demands complete conformity, and mercilessly shames anyone even the least bit slow to discard 5000 years of social norms around gender.  And the movement tends to descend into self-parody from time to time, such as demanding that tampons be provided to people who cannot possibly have a menstrual cycle.

Anyway, most of that is beside the point and is just background to an issue I was reminded of this weekend when I was visiting San Diego.  As many of you know, my company operates public parks and campgrounds for the government.  As such, we were largely subject to Obama-era orders that in Federally-owned bathrooms, people had to be allowed to use the bathroom that matched whichever gender they self-identified as (not necessarily the one matching their birth sex).  Unlike in past rules, there was no requirement that the person had taken any surgical or hormonal steps to transition -- only a self-declaration was required.

I will have to admit that the most entertaining part of this new requirement was explaining modern gender theory to my employees and managers, who tend on average to be over 65-years-old and without a college degree.  There were a lot of wide eyes and "wtf' expressions in the room.  Their main concern seemed to be potentially allowing male sexual predators into the women's room.  I explain to my employees that the extra risk here is trivial for a variety of reasons, but mainly because in practice this comes up vanishingly few times.  There just are not that many transgender people in the world, and campground bathrooms have never been targets for a lot of sexual predation.  Every single time I can remember our employees even being asked about our policy it turned out to be an activist testing us, probably to see if they could create grounds for a lawsuit.

From my experience, then, most public fears about transgender bathroom rules have turned out to be overblown. But, it turns out there is one issue that no one is talking about that could be a real, though not particularly serious, downside for women.  Let me explain.

The one major change in the public bathroom world as a result of the transgender movement is the accelerating shift from having multi-stall female and male bathrooms to having single-stall, gender-neutral bathrooms.  If bathrooms are all single-stall, then all the culture wars over gender and bathrooms are completely sidestepped.   Every public bathroom I have seen a government agency build over the last 5 years has been of this new design, and our company's policy is only to build this sort of facility rather than the old two-sided male/female bathrooms.  Here is an example from new construction at the children's pool in La Jolla:

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OK, I am going to have to criticize one gender here but since I am going to criticize males, I will be OK.  Men's bathroom habits are terrible -- we tend to pee all over the place.  Even if the median guy is careful, the marginal guy is not and makes a total mess.  We had this problem when my kids were young -- my wife would ask me to take our toddler daughter to the men's room with me and I would tell her that was impossible, that the men's toilets were likely awful.   I can say from experience from cleaning over 1000 public bathrooms a day that men's rooms take way more cleaning than women's rooms.

So if one has these single stall bathrooms, they have to be cleaned a lot.  On busy days, our staff cleans ours 4,5,6 or even more times a day.  But there are many public agencies that apparently do not have the focus or resources to clean on this kind of frequency.  The City of San Diego, or whoever cleans these bathrooms in La Jolla, clearly does not clean enough, because these bathrooms were disgusting.  I did not really want to go in there and I could stand and do my business.  My wife would never have gone in there.

So there you have it women -- something else to look forward to.   That irritating long women's room line may become a thing of the past, but it could be replaced with much dirtier bathrooms.

 

My Favorite Hawaiian Shirt Maker

I was going to post my Friday Hawaiian shirt, but I have come to the conclusion that I look like a serial killer in selfies.  Perhaps I need to do the teenager thing and practice a selfie pose.  Anyway, instead, I will post my favorite shirt-maker, which is .  (I am wearing today, which has a puckered fabric I like).

One downside of a lot of Hawaiian shirts is that I don't love the fabric.  Even my Tommy Bahama shirts, which are expensive, give me problems (the raw silk gets really stiff if I wash it and hang it out to dry -- my wife says ironing it would soften it but forget that).  Tori Richard shirts feel great and though they are not on the wildest end of Hawaiian shirts, they look great.  I like the fit of the orange label, which are more tailored than the typical Hawaiian shirt.

You Have to Respect Hawaiian Shirt Friday...

...even if you work alone in a one-person office

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When Your Dog Is 90% Hair

About once a year we have to go beyond getting the dog trimmed and let her be shaved in order to get rid of a bunch of matted fur  (we are not very good at brushing her but to be fair she does not do it either).  She is a lot cooler in summer this way but I worry about sunburn.  Before and after:

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It is interesting, for a couple of days after she is shaved she acts super-vulnerable, like a person walking around naked or who has body image issues.  Don't worry, it grows back fast.

Personal Umbrella Insurance - Consider It If You Can

Some time ago I was sued by a large corporation over a negative review I posted on this site.  The case was eventually settled, and I am not allowed to talk about the terms or mention the company's name any more.  But I will say the review is still up and unchanged and sits on the first page of results on Google for that company's name, so draw what conclusions you may.

But the case generated over $50,000 in legal expenses for me.  I probably would have paid that out of pocket just because I am curmudgeonly and was not going to back down, but in fact the legal costs were 100% covered by my personal liability and umbrella insurance.  Basically an umbrella means that if anything goes over the coverage limits of your policies, or slips through the cracks of your policies' various coverages, the umbrella kicks in.  The cost for the umbrella is close to a rounding error on my other insurance costs.   I am not even sure I asked for it initially, my helpful insurance guy just threw it in there for a few extra bucks.

A lot of people have to knuckle under to bullsh*t legal threats from corporations and the wealthy (think about all of Donald Trump's silly libel suites) because they can't afford to fight.  Arm yourself with the financial tools to fight such things.  Now, there may be (as with most insurance) good versions of this policy and bad ones.  I am sure we have some insurance folks in our readership who can say more in the comments.

The Culture That is Ausralia

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Wow, This is My Life

is pretty much a re-enactment of every discussion I ever have with my wife about our social calendar, with me as the dude on the right.

 

My New Pet Peave: Uber Drivers Who Stop For Gas After Taking My Job

Third time in a row I have had an Uber drive stuck at 5 minutes away from me for 20 minutes, with their car sitting right on top of the nearest gas station.

Quest Complete, Achievement Unlocked

About a year and a half ago when I was in Asia, I saw a lot of folks has laundry racks that were essentially lifts, where one could put the laundry out to dry and then lift it up out of the way.  I thought this would be awesome for our laundry room, which unusually for a laundry room has a 12 foot ceiling.   Since we live in Arizona, I hand a lot of things like my cotton shirts to dry, it reduces the wrinkles and in our 4% humidity it tends to be bone dry after just a few hours.

But it was impossible to find one in the US.  I even had a contest on this web site to try to find one, with no real luck.  So after nearly a year of searching, multiple false starts, language issues, shipping issues, disappearing orders, and a general contractor who had absolutely no idea how to install the thing, we finally meet with success:

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It is awesome for us -- lowers to about 5 feet above the ground to make it easy to hang things on it, and then raises high enough that the laundry clears me head.  Down & Up:

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I'd buy the US distribution rights for this thing if I thought anyone else had similar applications for it over here.

Our New Favorite Gift - Spicy Tequila

It is possible to buy all sorts of infused liquors nowadays, but I have never seen my personal favorite sold in stores -- red pepper infused Tequila.  We first had margaritas made from pepper-infused spicy tequila in Pacific Beach at a restaurant called JRDN and since then it has been a favorite of ours.  Not finding any in stores, we make our own, cutting up 5-6 small red and leaving them in the tequila for 1-5 days -- the length depends on how spicy you want it and how fresh the dried peppers are.  The first time you do it, you need to try it frequently as the spiciness is unpredictable.  Also, you may want it spicier for drinks where it gets diluted (e.g. margaritas) vs. just drinking straight.

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My current favorite every day, reasonably-priced tequila is (the one with the stag on the label).  IMO, it is way better than some more famous, and more expensive, brands like Patron.  The gift bottle show above was Cazadores Extra Anejo infused for about 4 days.

If I really want to blow it out, my favorite sipping tequila (do not make a margarita out of this stuff unless you light cigars with hundred dollar bills) is .  Pero, es muy caro!  If you do light cigars with hundred dollar bills, you can try the Clase Azul Ultra, but I have never had more than a taste given that it goes for thousands of dollars a bottle -- sort of neck and neck with a 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle.

PS-  as with most things that are harmless and enjoyable involving alcohol, this is probably illegal somehow.  Please do not turn me in to the FDA or BATF.

Darwin Award in 3, 2, 1....

Awesome Web Site - Radio Around the World

This is a pretty cool site - spin the globe, click on the dots around the world, and .  There are other web sites with links but I find this interface way more fun to play with.

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Finally, Passing the Mantle of Responsibility to the Next Generation

Years ago I got tired of store-bought cards and cards with pictures of the family taken at Disneyland or skiing or whatever, so I created my own holiday card.  We got positive feedback, so I did another (past examples here, here, here).  I kept on with it, though over time it became a burden -- the weight of it would hit me about November 15:  What am I going to do next year for a card?

But this year my daughter, who is off to art college in Pasadena this January, picked up the mantle and drew our family portrait for our card.  Wow, what a relief.  I feel like a tired 16th century farmer whose son just grew old enough to do the plowing.

So Merry Christmas, or happy whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year.

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PS -- OK, I don't want to nitpick, but I guess the 16th century farmer probably criticized the straightness of his son's furrows.   She made the drawing square, which necessitated a square envelope, which in turn cost us 20 cents extra in postage for each since square letters take special handling at the post office.  But it was a small price to pay.

Update:  To the comment that the choice of 16th century for my farmer analogy was sort of random, I happened at the time to be listening to yet another in the Great Courses series (love them) and it was just discussing agrigulture in the 16th century.