September 2015

Schrecklich Shkreli

Martin Shkreli has been much in the news recently over his acquisition of Daraprim and hideously jacking its price up several hundred fold, but this shameful behavior is nothing new, as described in the above link.  I’m especially outraged at Shkreli because i know how awful toxoplasmosis can be since Allen lost a significant chunk of his brain function to it in 1988, making his last six months of life even more difficult for both of us.

A particularly egregious case of drug price manipulation not covered in the above link, and one with which i was personally involved, is that of Abbott’s Norvir.  Here’s a link to a 2007 article in POZ magazine, which quotes extensively from a Wall Street Journal front-page expose on January 3, 2007.

Do click on those links.  The one to POZ is of course more patient/drug-activist oriented, but both detail Abbott’s dishonesty and avarice.

So what’s my involvement?  Well, i was one of the patients who were briefly on the full 1200 mg. daily dose of Norvir before the side effects drove us off and we switched to 100 mg in combination with other drugs.

A point not directly covered in either of the above articles requires my giving you a little help with the math.  Before Abbott quintupled the price, Norvir was wholesaling at $615.60/month for the full dose.  Not, of course that anyone was taking the full dose by then, it having been discovered that 1/12th of that dose avoided the dreadful side effects while providing the benefit of potentiating the other AIDS meds.

So a factor not mentioned in the above links was that folks were getting the benefit of Norvir at 1/12th the price of the full dose, a terrible impact on Abbott’s profits.  I guess we should have been grateful that Abbott only quintupled the price rather that upping it 1200%.

Meanwhile, i went digging back through my photo files hunting for something sufficiently horrible to illustrate this post and finally found this one from last August.  That’s Shkreli in the middle after all his juices had been slowly sucked out.

Shkreli's reward


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New Route

A cousin once made fun of the ludicrous names that so many modern blacks are given.  Her mother was named Rohte Gene and her aunts were Alyf Bell, Bess Faye, and Kathryn LaMerle (my mother).

At my current rate, i’ll expire of a surfeit of joy in a few days, as so far it’s been just too good to last and there’s way too much i want to tell about.  Where to start?

How ’bout an embarrassment?  Oh, just a minor one.  I’ve stopped telling about the major ones so i can run around loose as long as possible before they have me committed.  I’m getting senile but i retain my low cunning.

I ended the post titled “Settler” with a photo of a bridge i described as “the little pedestrian bridge at the foot of B Street”.  Oops, my bad.  In the first place, the bridge i had in mind is at the foot of Western Street.  More importantly, the bridge in the photo is nowhere near B Street and is a new bridge of which i was completely unaware and mistook for the old one.

With fine dramatic irony, the incompetent military instructor in Henry Reed’s “Judging Distances” inverts the usual order and says, “Maps are of time, not place”.  In any case, an outdated map is of only partial utility, and my paper map of Petaluma dates from 1983, a time at which there was not a single pedestrian bridge in Petaluma although i’d spotted on a visit several years ago the handsome rough wooden one at the foot of Western Street between the Washington Street Bridge and the D Street Bridge.  Its proper name is the Balshaw Bridge, it dates from 1989, and here it is.

Balshaw Bridge

And here’s a shot into the mouth although you have to look very close to see just how rough the roadway is.  It’s almost a corduroy road, and i’m gonna have to do some serious practice to be able to take it at full speed on the Segway, spraying splinters in my wake.

Balshaw Bridge over the Petaluma River

And doncya just love that “No Diving” sign?  It was a wonderful Aha experience many years ago when it struck me that laws in thirteenth-century England requiring the use of French in courts meant that English was being spoken.  Laws are almost always reactive; and since they prohibit existing behavior, they are proof that the behavior was taking place.

Still, how was i to know that Petaluma now enjoys two pedestrian bridges, that wooden one i’d incorporated into my favorite route to and from downtown even though it passed right in front of a siren (not Thelxiepeia luring me to my death with attractive song but rather Baskin Robbins with enticing carbohydrates), and a much newer one of similar design but of steel with a smooth concrete roadbed (located north of the Washington Street Bridge between it and the Lakeville Bridge.

I discovered the new bridge thanks to another joy of Petaluma, that folks here seem every bit as gregarious as i am.  See, i was looking for a route downtown that would minimize the Segway hostile Washington Street experience, it being probably the busiest street in town and there being no bike lane.  So last Sunday i tried heading west on Madison off Payran to reduce travel on the irregular Washington Street sidewalks to two blocks.  And whaddya know, a couple of little girls had a lemonade stand.

Who can pass a lemonade stand operated by little girls?  Certainly not i, so i whipped an immediate u-turn and pulled up in front of the stand.  Hard u-turns display the Segway at its finest, and the girls squealed with delight.  I seem to be the only Segway in town, and few people here have tried one although i’m rapidly remedying that want.  One of the girls asked to try it before i could even offer, and her mother said yes to my inquiry.  So after both girls had demonstrated the immediate facility of the young on the Segway, i offered their mothers trials and we got into conversation while i sipped my complimentary lemonade.

And they told me about the new pedestrian bridge serving a bike trail which is now my preferred route downtown.

So here’s the new route, starting from Lakeville Street.  It’s clearly a southern extension of the Lynch Creek Trail and leads downtown to connect with the Petaluma River Trail.


The route is now a work in progress, but the northern end is well paved, lined on both sides with fragrant wild fennel, and leads to the new bridge named Copeland Crossing.

new steel pedestrian bridge over the Petaluma River

It’s structurally pretty much identical to the Balshaw Bridge and handsome in its own way.

new steel pedestrian bridge over the Petaluma River

After you cross it, though, the pavement ends and there’s a gravel portion before you hit Water Street.  Segways don’t like gravel.


Water Street itself is a bit nondescript.

Water Street

However, there are points of interest.

Water Street

And finally, you reach Washington Street, where there’s no traffic signal to tame the heavy cross traffic, not even a crosswalk.

Washington Street crossing

If you survive the crossing, though, the ride down the Petaluma River Trail to the Balshaw Bridge is lovely, especially if you avoid the cobblestones and stay on the nice, smooth bricks.  Segways don’t like cobblestones, either.

Water Street

You can continue along a unscenic aperture along the riverbank to B Street, beyond which the landscaping becomes lovely.


At the end of Water Street you find the Petaluma Yacht Club.

Petaluma Yacht Club


Opposite the Yacht Club are the beginnings of 1st Street and C Street, where you enter what Petaluma’s real estate community is now labeling “The Theater District” (a lovely space, but oh please).  I am supposing that that ridiculous hype comes from a Deco movie theatre on C Street.

Petaluma cinema


Hmmm.  This seems to have turned into a rather too exhaustive photo essay, but hey, it’s a break from the “pages all black with words”, as a critic remarked before i started adding pics.

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Culinary Petaluma

I may look like a doddering old redneck, but i am still fully equipped with taste buds, educated taste buds.  So you can imagine my horror when on one of my reconnointering visits here i went into the très très upscale Della Fattoria, paid $6 for an eclair, and discovered when i bit into it that it was filled with chocolate flavored whipped cream.  Look, i quite like chocolate flavored whipped cream, but a real éclair is filled with (crème pâtissière), a rich French custard that for use in an éclair is flavored with chocolate.  Humpf.  Shoulda known that people who spell éclair without the acute accent couldn’t be bothered to make a custard filling.

Oh, and while i’m dishing Della Fattoria, i’ll point out that their website mentions their being in the building that formerly housed US Bakery.  Yes, that wonderful downscale bakery i made a point of visiting when i came here in the eighties, nineties, and oughts.  Thank goodness i got here before the gentrification was complete, so the old Bovine bakery is still open on Kentucky Street.  Tasty and not the least bit pretentious.

In my previous post i wrote of discovering the night i moved here Fourth and Sea, a fine fish and chips place.  That was the night of Wednesday the 16th.  Today, Sunday, i’ve just finished lunch at McNear’s, and it was the first meal i’ve had in Petaluma that was not at Fourth and Sea.  And since the first night there i’ve refrained from their superlative chips and had only one piece of their sublime fish with a little cup of their tartar sauce into which i’ve mixed the juice of a lemon slice.  Yes, i don’t eat breakfast, so that means every lunch and supper.  Yesterday at lunch i rolled up on the Segway and walked up to the takeout window, where my favorite clerk said, “Hi, Matte, one piece of fish with tartar sauce and lemon?”

So i kinda feel like i’m betraying them by eating elsewhere, but see, i wanted to write this post and they don’t have wifi.  I’ve stopped at McNear’s most nights and am working my way through their list of local draft beers while i go online.  But today i actually ate something.  Figured i’d just test ’em with the basic eggs Benedict, and omigod, i honestly do not recall eating a better.  The only down side was that their home fries were so delicious that i could not stop myself and ate every last one.

Which i guess is ok because before lunch i’d stopped in at 24 Hour Fitness across the street and turned myself in for my first visit to a gym in a couple of weeks, having been too occupied with moving to go in SF for a while.  I’d rather expected the local 24 Hour branch to be a smaller, dingier version of the sparkling new place in San Francisco, so i was astonished to discover that they’ve taken over both floors of the southern half of the Old US Post Office building, so the venue is enormous with lots of space between even more machines than in SF.  It’s also gorgeous inside, with big exposed wooden beams and rustic brick.  Well airconditioned, of course.

Petaluma is a sleepy little middle class town that has just been Discovered by upscalers like me, so it now has all the amenities but retains its charm.  Dear God, i’m in paradise and not even dead yet.  But wait, after i’m dead i’ll of course be somewhere else.

Meanwhile, here’s a delightful old grist mill in the 24 Hour Fitness lobby.  I’ll edit this post later with more information about that building, but chiseled into the stone in the front are the words, “US Post Office” even though the current post office is in a handsome old building on 4th Street.



OK, and a better shot of that pedestrian bridge.

pedestrian bridge over the Petaluma River


The problem with that bridge, even though i’d incorporated it into my favorite route home, is that after you’ve rolled across it you are pretty much forced to pass directly in front of a Baskin Robbins store.  I hadn’t eaten Baskin Robbins ice cream in decades, confining my ice cream to that made by local gourmet shops, but i have to say that BR’s Chocolate Mousse Delight, or whatever they call it, is every bit as good as any of that upscale stuff i’ve been raving about.

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Well, yes.  That’s what i feel like.   The move went splendidly, not a single hitch, and now i’m settling in and discovering more and more nice features of my new apartment…and developing workarounds for the other stuff.

Unpacking continues apace, and i’ve found all the critical stuff like my meds, my toothbrush, and my coffeemaker, grinder, and cup.  Not to mention a bar of Guittard bittersweet chocolate so i can make my hot chocolate reward on days when i’ve kept the carbs down.

The movers recommended a fish and chips place called Fourth and Sea after its location at the corner of 4th Street and C Street, so i had the fish and chips dinner with cole slaw and a chocolate milk shake my first night in town.  OMG!  Everything was utterly delicious, both fish and chips being better than the ones at Woodhouse in SF, better than any i recall having in recent years.

It was so good that i swung by the next day and had just a single piece of fish for lunch.   And then dropped in at suppertime for another piece of fish.

Afterwards went to McNear’s on Petaluma Blvd (the main drag) for their wifi connection and a local beer called Porterluma.  Yep, a quite tasty porter, especially if you like porters.

Here’s Fourth and Sea

Fourth and Sea


Oh, and i lied when i wrote that my apartment is a hundred yards from the Petaluma River.  I’d estimated that from glancing at a map.  Went out and checked and discovered it’s only 25 yards away.   Yow.  Checked at Target and they were out of sandbags.

Meanwhile, since i have to be crossing the Petaluma River several times a day, here’s a shot of the little pedestrian bridge at the foot of B Street.

Downtown Petaluma railroad bridge

Aargh.  I seriously misidentified that bridge and describe it properly in a later post.

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Petaluma Or Bust

What they mean by “religious freedom” is the freedom to restrict mine.

It’s looking more and more like we’re going to have a very wet winter this year, and since the ground over the entire state has been baked to concrete, the rains will not soak in but rather run off immediately and cause terrible flooding.  So of course, i’m moving to an apartment less than a hundred yards from the bank of the Petaluma River.  Seriously, that’s true, but the saving grace is that at that point the Petaluma River has dwindled to nothing more than a little creek, its watershed being so small.

Oh, and i already know the subject of my next photo essay.  Since the Petalama River is so short, it’ll be easy to get shots of every single bridge over it.  Fairly soon, you’ll be able to tune in the Bridges menu for this addition.

We love shopping in markets for the famous local delicacy.  In Austin, that’s Pecos cantaloupe. In Amsterdam, nieuwe haring. In Hamburg, the Krebse.  In San Francisco, Dungeness crab. The Japanese have a word for this practice:  meibutso.  And Petaluma?  Well, the eggs, of course.

Another Petaluma plus – my auto and rental insurance is now over a hundred dollars a year cheaper.  Up there, they drive slower and steal less.

I move on Wednesday the 16th.

Meanwhile, some San Francisco detail on Valencia Street.  Too much of a good thing?  You decide.





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Petaluma Progress

“We know no court decision can undo this tragedy”, said a Time Warner spokesman after a court ruled they had to pay $5.78 million for blowing up a Kansas City building. The tragedy was the $5,782,391.57.

When i went to switch my PG&E service from San Francisco, i learned that Petaluma is served by Sonoma Clean Power, whose electricity is 33% from renewable sources and costs less than PG&E’s Reddy Kilowatt’s®, not of course that PG&E’s isn’t considerably cleaner than that black stuff from coal sold in most of the country.  If you want to pay a bit more, you can get electricity that’s 100% renewably sourced, and i expect to switch to that after i see how much my power bill is up there.  I mean, considering all my loose talk about being green, it would be hypocritical not to opt for cleaner power if i can afford it.

After he finished switching my service, the PG&E service rep asked if he could connect me to something called AllConnect, which would offer me additional service options.  So i said yes, whereupon the Allconnect guy told me that Sonic – my long time provider of Internet service, telephone, and web hosting – does not serve Petaluma, but he could offer me fabulous deals with Comcast, AT&T, etc.  Fortunately, the lying scumbag was so eager to get me to sign up that i smelled his innate rodentry.  Caveat emptor.  I contacted Sonic and discovered that they do, in fact, serve Petaluma although in keeping with it being a sleepy little town, the Internet connection is only half as fast as in SF.  Well, they drive only half as fast, too, so chill, dude.

The rest of the good news is that Sonic can keep my current landline phone number for me even though i’ll be in the 707 area code.  I’d never have dreamed this would be possible, and i’m overjoyed since i’d never be able to learn a new phone number in my state of senility.

Meanwhile, some of the San Francisco quirk i’ll be soon missing, The Wiggle.

The Wiggle


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A Tidal Wave

“It’s hard to believe that only half of Americans are dumber than average.” – Warren Hellman


Much in the news of late has been the tidal wave of migrants swarming Western Europe by land and sea from Africa and the Middle East.  And yes, nobody can contest that they’re fleeing dismal conditions, so it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for them.

But still, there’s a problem, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has pointed out – they’re Muslims.

Americans will recall that after all those Catholics we let in during the 19th and early 20th centuries became sufficiently numerous, the first thing they did was foster legislation enforcing Roman Catholic doctrine.  And they’re still fighting tooth and nail against their current pet issues, abortion and gay rights, although they do seem to have given up on outlawing contraceptives.

The Muslims flooding into Europe will do the same, and anywhere they outnumber the non- Muslim population, they’ll institute sharia law for everyone.

Then they’ll blow up all those idolatrous sites like Notre Dame, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Stonehenge.

Like they just did the Buddhas of Bamiyan and, more recently, Palmyra.  Not to mention many, many more in between.

Meanwhile, some leafy Portland brickwork, as yet still standing.

Portland brickwork

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