Sunday, October 31, 2004

Problem solved

I had an idle thought yesterday morning…Oh! Oh! I probably should have left it alone, but it grew into something more than just a few stray synapses firing in my brain. So here it is…

Let’s get rid of state governments. What do we need them for? What is different about the needs of John in Iowa and the needs of Fred in Maine? Nothing substantial. (Besides, if you don’t look out the window, all the states look alike!) In fact we could rid ourselves of county government as well. We could make cities responsible for all local concerns and that is as it should be. The federal government would handle all of the housekeeping chores for us. I can hear you already…”big government is too big already!” but consider that by ridding ourselves of states and counties, we rid ourselves of 2 levels of government that are usually duplicating the efforts of the federal government anyway. Take the salaries and costs of the state legislature and apply it to health care or highway construction. Problem solved!

This idle thought came to me because I was thinking about the proposed pedestrian bridge widening on the Capitol Bridge in Sacramento. No, it doesn’t affect me at all, but it does demonstrate how government costs us more and more with each layer of it. The proposal to widen the pedestrian walkway was originally estimated to cost the taxpayers about 3 million dollars. Then the plan was reviewed and then reviewed again and again as one agency after another decided they had some interest in the project. The so called “final” estimate is now 9 million dollars. Want to bet it doesn't go to 18 million before the first pedestrian sets foot on it?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

World War III

I just read the daily news and I see that World War III continues. For some odd reason, a lot of the people in Iraq are unhappy with our presence in their country. The fact that we seem to bring even more death and destruction with us might be the reason for their dislike for democracy as we have presented it to them. What they want is some one to stop the killing, a strong figure that they can turn to for guidance and one to lead them out of this horror that seems to be engulfing their country.

In our own country, some people have tunnel vision when it comes to a discussion of an alternative to democracy for Iraq. Ask an anthropologist; it’s a fact that democracy is not the preferred method of governance among primitive people. Doesn’t that tell us anything? I think I can safely say that the majority of people in Iraq are primitive. Even more so in Afghanistan. Tribalism has a very strong grip on the people and until you educate them, it always will. Evil hates knowledge. And education is the key to defeating evil. Give them a king, an emperor, a dictator…but give them education as well and democracy can then grow in fertile soil. Until the people have knowledge, you might as well be planting in the sands of the desert.

Does that seem wrong to you? Look at America’s history and imagine a country without the educated leaders and middle class we had at that time. Imagine a country filled with yeoman farmers with a minimal education. Do you really think they would have chosen democracy over the safe relationship they had with a distant king? At the time of our own revolution, education already had a history. Yale University was already 75 years old and had almost that many graduating classes. Harvard had been established in 1636! That is 140 years of education before the events of 1776. Education was already a part of the fabric of American life long before we chose democracy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Left, right, left...hup two, three, four

In case you hadn’t noticed…the right wing has been doing their very best to demonize the word “liberal” and I must admit that they are doing a good job of it. People who should know better equate “liberal” with all manner of nonsense…all wrong of course. Education is what is needed; that and those of us who are liberal need to be proud of the fact and not hide behind the term “progressive”.

Just read these two definitions from the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change. 2. Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit. 3. Moderate; cautious: a conservative estimate. 4a. Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism. b. Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement. 5. Conservative Of or belonging to the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada. 6. Conservative Of or adhering to Conservative Judaism. 7. Tending to conserve; preservative: the conservative use of natural resources.
SYNONYMS: Traditional, conventional, conformist, unadventurous, old-fashioned, traditionalist, old-school
ANTONYM: Avant-garde

ADJECTIVE: 1a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded. c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism. d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. 2a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor. b. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes. 3. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation. 4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education. 5a. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman. b. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
NOUN: 1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions. 2. Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.
SYNONYMS: liberal, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, generous, handsome, munificent, openhanded These adjectives mean willing or marked by a willingness to give unstintingly: a liberal backer of the arts; a bounteous feast; bountiful compliments; a freehanded host; a generous donation; a handsome offer; a munificent gift; fond and openhanded grandparents. See also synonyms at broad-minded.
ANTONYM: stingy

Hey! I didn’t write those definitions…but I could have. Now do what is right and turn to the left. You will be a much happier person for it.

Oil facts

Oil is on everyone’s mind these days. I think the barrel price went to $52 sometime yesterday afternoon. That will translate to something like $2.35 a gallon at the local gas station.

Before I go further with this, a fact or two, starting with Supertankers; An Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) can carry 360,000 tons of oil, or more. A 42 gallon barrel weighs 315 pounds (more or less…some oil is heavier). 360,000 tons is 720,000,000 pounds and divide that by the weight of the barrels and the tanker carries 2,285,714.29 barrels of oil. This is worth $118,857,142.86…Whew! And to add to those numbers – we consume 17,000,000 barrels a day. Let’s see 17 million times $52, equals a daily oil bill of $884,000,000. And we need about 9 of those ULCC’s a day. And if the price of a barrel goes down 10 cents while the ship is sailing, the seller loses $228,571.43

OK, now you know more than you wanted to know about oil and its price. But what I really wanted to write about was how we are wasting oil. A good friend of mine and a brilliant mind as well…once told me that our grandchildren would one day condemn our generation and those past for how we wasted precious oil by burning it in automobiles and burning it for heat. Then he talked about all of the other uses for oil that we have just begun to explore…Not just plastics, but super plastics, structural plastics. Many pharmaceuticals are petroleum based. His list of uses and possible uses went on and on.

I understand that our petroleum usage is now divided up at 40% for other use and 60% for transportation. So saving gas is more than just an exercise to help you balance your personal budget, its giving a gift to your grandchildren.

Want to know more statistics about oil?

Super tankers?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Politics - as usual

It's politics once again, but with a twist...

I simply can’t get excited (positively) about the candidates. I detest the policies of the Bush administration, and Kerry doesn’t hold out the promise of anything different. I sometimes feel that this growing dislike of the candidates and politics “as usual” is a generational symptom. Growing up, I was fascinated by the election process that included national conventions of the two parties. I would listen to the radio with my mother and join in her excitement as the candidates made their pitch to the all powerful delegates. Votes would be cast and then cast again as the balance of power was swayed by the behind the scenes machinations of the party bosses.

Yes, we listened to the radio. We didn’t have a television till sometime in the early 1950’s and so the first conventions and election I remember was that of the Harry Truman versus Thomas Dewey contest in 1948.

What is different about today’s politics? I may be over reacting, but the level of animosity disturbs me. Mainly, because I find it too easy to fall into the trap of being just as angry, or angrier, as those who don’t agree with me.

Of course I am disturbed; it’s normal for my Type Index. I’m an INFP and here are some key points about that type.

INFP’s do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFP’s place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don't really care whether or not they're right.

INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don't understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFP’s will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it's not uncommon for INFP’s to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.

It’s not all negative…here are some positives about being an INFP.
Most INFP’s will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationship issues:
· Warmly concerned and caring towards others
· Sensitive and perceptive about what others are feeling
· Loyal and committed - they want lifelong relationships
· Deep capacity for love and caring
· Driven to meet other's needs
· Strive for "win-win" situations
· Nurturing, supportive and encouraging
· Likely to recognize and appreciate other's need for space
· Able to express themselves well
· Flexible and diverse

Monday, October 25, 2004

Moral Relativism and Strauss

Good article and well worth reading.

Moral Relativism and Strauss…the Bush/Perle/Wolfowitz Neocon connection to a dead philosopher.

Mira Costa

An odd thing happened as I was Googling “Mira Costa” the other day. That is the name of the high school I attended and graduated from in 1958. Anyway, in the Google results I spotted a name that sounded familiar so I investigated…it was Gary North, a Libertarian writer of some repute. So I took a look at my copy of Hoofprints, the Mira Costa annual. In my class there was a Gary South, but I did find Gary North’s name and picture in the class of 1959. (No, I don’t remember any Gary West or East, but there could have been in later years…)

And today I saw a column of Gary’s on the website; a somewhat radical Libertarian site. (They don’t like much of anything…) After reading his column, I began to wonder about the education I had received. Was I as stubborn and opinionated as Mr. North? I decided that, yes, I was…but about entirely different things. Maybe it was the salt air of Manhattan Beach that had warped our minds in some way.

A link –

Good news

We enjoyed a good sermon yesterday and then returned to church at 6 for the evening service, which was even more enjoyable. I can tell you that although the sermon was on Ephesians 6:10, it was the words I found in Ephesians 4 that held the most meaning for me yesterday. For simplicity, I am using the Good News Bible version here…

Eph 4:2 Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.
Eph 4:3 Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.
Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope to which God has called you.
Eph 4:5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Eph 4:6 there is one God and Father of all people, who is Lord of all, works through all, and is in all.
Eph 4:7 Each one of us has received a special gift in proportion to what Christ has given.
Eph 4:8 As the scripture says, "When he went up to the very heights, he took many captives with him; he gave gifts to people."
Eph 4:9 Now, what does "he went up" mean? It means that first he came down to the lowest depths of the earth.
Eph 4:10 So the one who came down is the same one who went up, above and beyond the heavens, to fill the whole universe with his presence.
Eph 4:11 It was he who "gave gifts to people"; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers.
Eph 4:12 He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.
Eph 4:13 And so we shall all come together to that oneness in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God; we shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ's full stature.
Eph 4:14 Then we shall no longer be children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful people, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent.
Eph 4:15 Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head.
Eph 4:16 Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.
Eph 4:17 In the Lord's name, then, I warn you: do not continue to live like the heathen, whose thoughts are worthless
Eph 4:18 and whose minds are in the dark. They have no part in the life that God gives, for they are completely ignorant and stubborn.
Eph 4:19 They have lost all feeling of shame; they give themselves over to vice and do all sorts of indecent things without restraint.
Eph 4:20 That was not what you learned about Christ!
Eph 4:21 You certainly heard about him, and as his followers you were taught the truth that is in Jesus.
Eph 4:22 So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to---the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires.
Eph 4:23 Your hearts and minds must be made completely new,
Eph 4:24 and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.
Eph 4:25 No more lying, then! Each of you must tell the truth to the other believer, because we are all members together in the body of Christ.
Eph 4:26 If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.
Eph 4:27 Don't give the Devil a chance.
Eph 4:28 If you used to rob, you must stop robbing and start working, in order to earn an honest living for yourself and to be able to help the poor.
Eph 4:29 Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.
Eph 4:30 And do not make God's Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God's mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.
Eph 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.
Eph 4:32 Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.

Recently, I have been worried about the anger I have felt about all things political and so these words are comforting. I can certainly be angry, but what I have to guard against is hate, malice and bitterness. Now I wonder about all of those politicians that profess to know Christ. They obviously need our prayers. Just as I need the prayers of the rest of the body.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

New math

Although it is still dark, I suppose it is time to go outside and look for the newspapers…World War III continues and I don’t want to miss the news.

OK, I did read the newspaper (local) and found an article that described some of the key parts of the $139 billion dollar tax cutting bill that *bush signed on Friday. There had to be something suspect about the bill as he didn’t invite the press to witness the signing. Since he signed the bill at an altitude of 30,000 feet while flying aboard Air force One, it was necessarily a pretty low key affair and during an election year, that is always suspicious. According to the article, one of the bill’s features is a $10 billion dollar aid package for tobacco farmers. This is the part that grabbed my attention. As you may know, there is no one more vindictive than a former addict and I am no exception.

First, one of the reasons that this caught my eye was a comment I heard recently (radio) from the lips of Doug LaMalfa, incumbent candidate for the State Assembly. He said, in essence, that tobacco was a legal product and shouldn’t be unduly taxed. I was troubled by this statement and had to question it. First, why is it a legal product? It’s a product that will kill you if you use it as the manufacturer intends you to use it. Smoke it, chew it, or use it as a poultice…it will kill. The only reason it is a legal product is because it is a moneymaker for both manufacturers and those who make the laws. It should be declared an illegal drug. But it would take a lawmaker with moral backbone to try and push such a bill into law. We don’t have any of those available at the moment.

Last, was the statement from the administration that this $139,000,000,000,000 wouldn’t increase the huge budget deficit that we now have. Let me see if I understand this…you cut taxes but they don’t appear as negative numbers in your budget? If this is true, why didn’t the administration use this kind of math with the first tax cuts?

Friday, October 22, 2004

More newspaper stuff

Todays newspaper also had another dose of reality for the right wing conservatives to chew on. It seems that the people of Iraq want a theocracy and not a democracy. No kidding! The US selected government of Allawi is behind in all of the polls now. Who would have guessed?

One more bit of reality to ponder. A column written by Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald) had this to say…”Pat Robertson tried to give President Bush some advise about the coming invasion of Iraq…he told CNN on Wednesday that he advised Bush to prepare the nation for the likelihood of casualties. Bush’s reply? “we're not going to have any casualties” That was 9,100 – dead and wounded – American casualties later.”

Here is a link to that column (Detroit Free Press)

His own words

I just finished reading the newspaper and I have a smile on my face. (Now that is rare!) One of the reasons for the smile is this little gem from a letter to the editor. “…I disagree with President Bush on several issues, but when it comes to the security of America – and of my own family – it’s a no-brainer. I’m voting for Bush.” Ah, truer words were never spoken!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Get Your Facts Straight

I just read an interesting article from PIPA (PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland. ) Take a look at’s a short article but long on substance. And it scares me.

I still find it amazing that Bush supporters can’t seem to consider any other views. Their minds are made up and they don’t want to be bothered by facts.

All of which leads me to post this joke that arrived in my mailbox a few minutes ago…

It seems the 2004 election was so close that the Electoral College vote was tied, and Congress couldn't break the deadlock, and the Supreme Court decided they'd better not make the decision themselves again.

So they sent Bush and Kerry to a frozen lake in northern Wisconsin to have an ice fishing contest. No one was allowed to accompany them, and they were on their honor to let the guy who caught the most fish in five days become president.

On the first day they went out in different directions. Kerry came back with ten fish. Bush caught none.

On the second day, Kerry caught twenty fish and again W came back empty handed.

When Kerry brought back 25 fish on day three and W still hadn't any, Bush got worried and telephoned Cheney for advice. "He's probably cheating," suggested the VP. "I hadn't thought of that," said W. "You're probably right. What do we do?"

Cheney suggested that, instead of going fishing the next day, Bush follow Kerry to see what he was doing.

At the end of day four, Bush called Cheney up and told him, "You were right, Dick, the jerk is cheating!"

"What's he doing?" asked Cheney.

"He's cuttin' holes in the ice!"

No, there is no connection between the article and this joke.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Oh, no!

First, the weather...Summer is gone. Disappeared. Rain has replaced sunshine and the heater has turned on for the first time this year.

Today is an auspicious day for us as sometime this afternoon we will be connected once again. Yes, I did it; I called the satellite service and signed up for service. After 5 months without a daily dose of televised reality, we are now willing to sacrifice our minds to the media gods.

No, no…I’m just joking. We are connecting but I’m determined to use the television for therapeutic means only. That means that I will block all of the network news, sports channels and Fox news. That leaves me with only the good stuff to watch! And it allows me to fall asleep while watching. (That is the therapy I mentioned)

I know this is a dangerous time to connect and it would be safer to do it after November 2nd. But, I had stalled long enough. We had already paid an electrician to prepare a space in a bedroom closet for the television, installing power and cable. And he had finished that work about two weeks ago. I couldn’t ignore it any longer and so I ordered the service on Monday, hoping that they would be so busy I wouldn’t be connected till next year. But no, they had this afternoon free and so we made the decision to rejoin the media world. But notice that we are putting the television in a closet. That means that we can always close the closet door if we need to.

Friday, October 15, 2004

One of us

“He’s one of us!” That’s the campaign slogan of a local assemblyman (Doug LaMalfa) and I have to admit that it is one of the best slogans I have ever heard. It’s certainly a one size-fits all slogan. How can you argue with it? It doesn’t make anyone mad. In fact, it’s the friendliest political slogan I ever heard. Everybody has to identify with him; after all…he’s one of us! Are you a whiskey crazed tattooed biker with strong anti social tendencies? No problem. Doug is your man. How about an illegal immigrant unemployed teenaged mother on drugs? Once again, Doug is your guy. I mean, after all – he said it. He’s one of us and I for one am very grateful. Now if I could only figure out who “us” are.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Oxymoron - political ethics

In the news this morning...

"A Pennsylvania court struck Ralph Nader's name from the state's ballot yesterday, declaring that nearly two-thirds of the signatures on his nominating petitions were invalid or had been forged in what the court called an unparalleled case of election fraud.

The decision, if upheld, could significantly change the equation in Pennsylvania, a swing state with 21 electoral votes. Polls show President Bush and Senator John Kerry in a dead heat, with Mr. Nader attracting about 3 percent of the electorate there. Republicans were helping him in the hope he would take votes from Mr. Kerry.. Democrats had led the challenge to the Nader signatures."

Are you surprised? And Pennsylvania is not the only state where Republicans have been engaged in this kind of activity. It just happens to be a state where someone was willing to do something about it.

I don't know about you, but just being around people like that would make me want to take more showers. How do they justify their actions?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Tonight is the night for the final debate between Bush and Kerry...more rhetoric than substance will be flowing into the nations homes. Who will believe them and what will they believe? The race is tied according to most polls...why?

I don’t understand it. It defies logic; admittedly it is my logic. Why would you vote for Bush? What has he done that makes you so eager to vote for him? He admits that he has made no mistakes. Or he can’t remember any…doesn’t that scare you? A resolute leader? Is that what you want? One who will march this nation off a cliff while being resolute? I don’t know about you, but I want a president that questions himself and everyone around him…every single day! I want a president that is brave enough to admit a mistake. We now have the largest budget deficit on record. The size of government has increased to record numbers, despite Bush’s vow of smaller government. He is the only president that did not cut the budget upon taking office. The list of his mistakes, failures and broken promises goes on and on.

Will Kerry do a better job? I have no idea…but I can see Bush’s track record and I know I don’t want any more of his kind of government. Kerry is a politician and will say whatever it takes to become elected. Just as Bush does. But I know Bush’s record and it scares me. Voting for Bush? If he wins I guess you will get exactly what you deserve.

Here is a good article from Salon that makes an argument for conservatives to vote for Kerry.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

No laughing matter

Have you seen the Doonesbury cartoons in the paper recently? Well, if you hadn’t taken the time to get a magnifying glass, you might not have noticed the URL’s printed as part of the text. I took the time to find the cartoons on the internet and then could read the text…Here are the URL’s referenced in today’s panels and the one from yesterday as well. I would like to have pasted the actual panels here, but copyright laws might be cited if I tried that. You will have to find the comics on your own. Or you could try this link.


Some memories of our recent trip..."We had a good day yesterday, going to Seattle by ferry and then touring the underground portion of Seattle. A good lunch and a short walk back to the pier for our ride back to the island. And, this morning, that has brought up the subject of taxation. Apparently the ferry system is out of money and some runs are in danger of being shut down, including the “foot” ferry we took from Vashon to downtown Seattle. There were probably no more than 40 people on board during the 25 minute trip. That trip costs the rider about $4. I think it’s obvious that $4 multiplied by the 40 riders is not enough to pay for the fuel the vessel, the crew and the facilities. I’m not even certain that a fare of $10 would cover that cost. But what is the ferry worth to the common good of the citizenry? As good citizens, shouldn’t we pay, through our taxes , whatever is needed for the common good? Does every service of the state have to show black ink on the bottom line? I say no. The ferry provides a service for all citizens. We may or may not avail ourselves of it. But we should not deprive others of that service just because the costs are going to be part of our taxes.

Here is a scenario to think about; a baby, not mine, needs milk. The mother has no money, so I gladly chip in something to buy the milk. A few days later, the farmer has to raise the price of the milk because the price of hay goes up because the price of fuel for the tractor went up. Do I stop feeding the baby? Is it the fault of the baby that my share of the milk money will cost me more? No, I don’t. And yes, I know that’s very simplistic on my part, but it demonstrates clearly how I feel.

I just happen to be pro taxation. I think that citizens have an obligation to ensure that all of the citizens are taken care of. That no one goes without food or shelter and that health care and education are available for all. I’m sure those on the right side of the political fence would call me a communist or a socialist. If you are so inclined, go right ahead. It certainly won’t bother me. I prefer to think that I’m a “humanist” if you must have a label.

If I’m pro taxation, then I must be anti something…and I happen to be opposed to those who would waste my tax dollars on anything other than the public good. For instance, how can anyone defend a congress that uses our taxes to subsidize farmers to raise tobacco and then turns around and spends our tax money to combat the use of that product? Why aren’t these people in jail for theft? If not theft, how about gross stupidity?

As obvious as the tobacco tax theft is, there are many, many more, less obvious instances of tax theft going on every day that congress meets. It happens in the state houses and in the city halls. If you are angry about taxes, this is where your anger should be focused, not on the taxes themselves. With taxes that are administered fairly and spent with oversight that is also fair and balanced, we would be able to lower taxes."

Now for the scary part of my posting...Did you know that the Washington Ferry system is the possible target of a terrorist attack? Security has been increased on all runs, with explosive sniffing dogs checking all vehicles.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Just a little thing

Despite our best intentions, it’s sometimes the little things that do us` in. Take for instance the interview I listened to today on NPR. (Yes, that conservative station…) The interviewee? was explaining that once you’re out of the Green Zone in Baghdad, the traffic is out of control. Speeders abound and accidents happen occur constantly. Traffic anarchy was his description of the motorized chaos. Someone, in the powers that be, thought to fix this situation by giving the Iraqi’s a new vehicle code. He gave them Maryland’s. It seems that the police took one look at the new vehicle code and threw up their hands. All enforcement attempts disappeared. And one of the tools that Iraq’s police force has used for years has been outlawed now. The acceptance of bribes. It seems that we don’t approve of this time honored method of dealing out justice in the Middle East. Tell me again how we are going to make democracy work…

Life on the farm

I have a lot of chores to do and I’m starting to feel the pressure of that. I need to get one thing accomplished and that is all it will take to ease the pressure. Which will it be? I should concentrate on the painting and trim for our Study (we used to call it our office), as that is something that can be accomplished without having to buy more material. Or…I could build the storage closet in the garage so that I could put even more stuff away. But that project may require a trip to Lowe’s for more drywall and trim. Or…I could install the new faucet and instant water heater in the kitchen sink. That would make Laurae happy. Or…I could borrow some hedge trimmers and finish the hedge cutting. (my trimmer broke) Or…I could install the two new sprinkler heads I bought to replace the ailing ones. Or…I could mow the front yard and the orchard. And of course the walnuts continue to fall as the wind shakes the trees, all demanding attention as well. The wind is a little bit lighter this morning. Maybe I can clean the pool today. The leaves and rose petals were littering the surface yesterday and I couldn’t remove them as fast as they were falling. As you can see, I have plenty to do! And I haven't even mentioned the hobbies that I would like to get involved in again...once the chores are complete.

I guess I spoke too soon about the wind as it has returned once more, with vigor. It’s too dark to see, but I imagine that there are hundreds of walnuts on the ground now. Not that that is a bad thing; on the contrary, “on the ground” is where you want them. The chore of harvesting is lessened when the wind does part of your work. The work now begins with picking them up and sorting the good ones from the bad. Then it will be the cracking and extracting of the nut meats. And after the wind dies down, I will have to shake all the limbs where the nuts remain, trying to convince the last stubborn nuts to make the plunge.

I am convinced that one walnut tree will give you enough walnuts for an eternity of nibbling. Yes, hundreds upon hundreds of nuts are produced by one tree. And I have 6 of those trees. Three of them are mature trees, at least 20 feet tall. The other three are younger and smaller. But they are doing their best to emulate the older trees by producing as many nuts as possible.

The life of a “gentleman farmer” is not as easy as I once envisioned it. The darn plants grow and grow, like crazy! I have two trees filled with pomegranates that are beckoning for my attention. Also, I have a persimmon tree that is loaded with ripening fruit. My garden, which is minimal this year, competes with the orchard for my time. The cherry tomatoes, which I love, grow and deliver fruit at an astounding rate. Will they ever stop? The only plants that leisurely do their work are the pumpkins. We have a dozen assorted pumpkins growing and they won’t be ready for about a month. And that’s a good thing!

Retirement. Only the brave and the strong should apply...

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Tsk, tsk...the things people say (or said)

“I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” – Defense Policy Board member Ken Adelman, 2/13/02

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” – Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/26/02

“We do know that (Saddam) is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.” – National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, 9/10/02

“It is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” - Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03

“My belief is, we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/16/03

“We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Deputy Secretary of War Paul Wolfowitz, 3/27/03

“We know where (the weapons) are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and East, West, North and South somewhat.” - Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld, 3/30/03

“Iraq will not require sustained aid.” – O.M.B. Director Mitch Daniels, 3/28/03

“Major combat operations have ended.” – George W. Bush, 5/1/03

“A year from now I’d be surprised if there’s not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.” – Former Pentagon Advisor Richard Perle, 9/22/03

Soup du jour

Before I forget...I promised to eat crow whenever necessary and I must see how crow soup will taste. I read the other day that the legislation to revive the draft had died as it deserved...

"Waiter! There's a fly in my soup!"

Vacation is over

Ah, reality sets in once again. We are back from our trip to Vashon Island. The vacation was just the right thing for us, helping us to relax before the onset of the rigors of Fall and Winter. (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas advertising!)

Also, we were out of touch with political reality for almost a week, as we avoided newspapers and the internet news. But we are back and I had a few papers to read.

Speaking of newspapers…I read an article the other day about group dynamics…or why we do certain things simply because others do them. The article leads off with a story about a young woman who led an exemplary life. She hadn’t taken as much as a paper clip for her personal use from the office where she worked. Then she and her boyfriend had visited the Petrified National Forest. There, she read a sign that advised visitors of the fact that many visitors, over the years, had taken small pieces of the trees for souvenirs and now there were only the larger pieces were left. The sign also included a warning that taking such souvenirs was illegal and violators would be prosecuted. To her boyfriends’ surprise, she told him that they needed to find some small pieces to take home. She became quite adamant about it.

What caused this strange behavior? The article explains that it was the wording on the sign that caused her to start gathering the illegal rock. “many visitors” was the key to her behavior. She didn’t want to be excluded from a group and the fact that it was “many” gave her actions validity in her mind. The possibility of being arrested and/or humiliated became secondary.

Have you ever been faced with choices like that? Have you ever seen this kind of behavior? How about all of those who knew there were WMD’s in Iraq?

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Quiet please

Yes, it is over...I received my ballot today and I voted. The ballot is in the mail.
Now please turn off the rhetoric.

It's time for a break anyway. We are headed to Seattle tomorrow morning, where we intend to visit with an old friend who now lives on Vashon Island. We will tour the island of course and then on Tuesday, I hope to take the "foot" ferry over to Seattle for a cup of coffee. The weather appears to be cooperative and only a slight chance of showers is forecast. The plan says that we will return on Thursday.

My friend, who is computer illiterate, does have a computer I can use, so I may be able to continue posting and maybe even include a photo or two of the island. I will have to take the laptop with us to manage photos as we travel.

(Say bon voyage, Steve...)
Bon Voyage Steve