Monday, February 28, 2005

Prison facts

Just reading the latest Economist and there is an article about California's prisons...lots of interesting data!

California Prison at Los Angeles...Mission Statement. "The purpose of prison is punishment"

California prisons house 163,000 prisoners @ an annual cost of $31,000 each.

163,000 is more than the combined numbers of prisoners of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The recividism rate is 75%

The prisons are designed to house approximately half the number that are currently incarcerated.

There are 30,000 prisoners serving life terms

The good/bad news: over 100,000 prisoners will be released this year. The bad/good news...more than that number will be sentenced or returned to prison.

As one inmate said..." If I go back to the streets, I can make $60,000 a week selling drugs. What's the Correction Department doing to give us jobs? Basically this is a big warehouse for human beings who've done wrong."

Don't Blame Wal-Mart

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: Don't Blame Wal-Mart

Ya know, I don't blame Wal-Mart at all...but I don't shop there. (as a rule...had to buy some wipers there while in Susanville.) I avoid any retailer I don't like. It's the American way! I don't shop at Home Depot because I don't like the color orange. Also the stores are always dark and the service is lousy. I don't shop at Best Buy because they are noisy stores. Same thing for American Eagle...noisy! I don't shop at stores that sell branded merchandise, like Old Navy...why would you wear an advertisement for someone? I don't have a grudge against any of them, I'm just practicing my "Freedom" and so should you!

Just wondering

"MOSCOW – Dismissing American concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia Sunday cemented its commitment to Iran's atomic-energy program by signing a deal for the supply and return of Russian nuclear fuel for Iran's Bushehr reactor."

Back in the day, when w looked into Putin's soul...did he see this?


An odd thing...our pastor spoke of "idolatry" yesterday and this morning, as I was reading Swindoll's book on David, the author mentions the perils of idolatry in chapter 6; then he mentions Tozer's book The Pursuit of God. I didn't have that book, but I did have Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy and I opened it to this passage...

…“When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, He is not, for we have constructed our image out of that which He has made and what He has made is not God. If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end up with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.”

Food for thought!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Taxes, anyone?

Education has been on my mind lately and not just because my wife works as a teacher’s aide. It (education) has been the center of much controversy in this area as the local school board tries to find a solution to a million dollar shortfall in the budget. (A little non-gift from Arnold) The obvious solution is for those who value the educational system to raise their taxes and pay for it. Either you value education or you don’t…there is no middle ground here. Nor should there be; middle ground is a place for people with no vision and we already have far too many of those.

As responsible citizens, we can’t be shirking our duty to provide for that which we value. Parents, grandparents or have no children, we all have a responsibility to provide the best possible education for the generations that will follow us. And that brings me to this subject…

Vocational instruction. Why, oh, why has it been abandoned? I know it’s an old story, brought up every 4 or 5 years and flogged in front of the school boards. There is a muted expression of regret that nothing has been done recently and then the whole vocational instruction subject is sent away to some obscure committee, there to perish. Why doesn’t W spend some time on this subject if he truly doesn’t want any child left behind? The answer is obvious.

Red Ink

I can’t help myself…I just have to comment on our governor’s latest insult to common sense; specifically, his press conference with the “red ink” props. I simply can’t imagine an intelligent person doing this…What was he thinking? My first thought was that he had lost a bet with someone and this was how he had to pay it off; by making a fool of himself. And then I had to wonder; just how much did that stunt cost the taxpayer? Oh, I know that there were plenty of other, more important dollars being wasted that day, but those are usually wasted somewhere out of sight and not in the glare of television camera lighting. So why wasn't he doing something constructive, instead of trying to be amusing?

Perhaps it’s time for us all to realize that he can’t help himself. This is really as good as he gets and he won’t get any better. After all, if you have seen his movies, you already know this…

Another day in the life...

Ah! Another day, albeit a rainy one…and I have already read the newspapers and explored the internet news for items of interest. Sad to say, there are far too many items to comment on. In fact, as I was reading the newspaper, I was thinking that it would be a “mental luxury” to have 4 or 5 people get together (myself included) every morning, just to read the newspaper together and comment as moved. Wouldn’t that be great? Everyone with a cup of coffee (to stimulate!) and all the time in the world to enjoy the flow of the news driven conversation.

A ways back in history, it was common to see that group of 4 or 5, sitting on the porch of the general store, all discussing the events that happened in their small world…But that isn’t today’s reality and so I have to pick and choose what I want to comment on. Sometimes, with a busy news day, it’s easier to simply ignore those feelings that make me want to post to this blog.

What do I have to choose from this morning? Standardized testing in schools: Bad. Almond crop won’t be as big as last years: Sad? State’s handling of parole violators: Mad.

OK, that’s it…I could go on and on and on. But I think I will just get off of the porch for awhile.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


I see from the news that Wal-Mart has successfully avoided being unionized in the US once more. (They are unionized in China…their new “home town”) From the news accounts I read, the union election wasn’t even close after Wal-Mart brought in their anti-union team from Arkansas and added six new employees to the unit that was going to vote.

I am at a loss when I hear the anti-union rhetoric from Wal-Mart and others and I can’t understand the position of those who voted against being represented by a union…it simply baffles me! What were they thinking? That Wal-Mart cared for them?

Yes, I have a history of union membership and I’m glad I do. I joined the Carpenters union after I left the Navy and it was the best thing I ever did. Was the Carpenters union fair in all of its dealing with me? No, of course not. Is your employer always fair? The fact is, people are not always fair…unions and employers. But I had some protection from unscrupulous employers by joining the union.

A story…when I was a young carpenter I used to install drywall as a pieceworker. I was paid by the square footage of the material that I installed. The faster I worked, the more money I made. Simple! And it worked well for both employer and employee, as long as the unwritten rule of fairness was observed. But what happened quite often was that greed entered the scene. A contractor would negotiate with the owner to finish a tract of homes for a certain dollar amount. I would go to work for that contractor and he would agree (verbally) to pay a certain amount per square foot. Then the contractor would watch the labor market and once he saw that building trade employment was slowing down, he would immediately lower the price he was willing to pay for installing the drywall. He didn’t get a reduction in his contract (written) with the owner, so he made quite a bit more in profit when economic times were slow for the workers. Some ethical contractors, and there were only a few, continued to pay the agreed upon amount. Eventually, after many years, the union was able to negotiate a piecework contract that protected the workers by ensuring that the agreed upon price was paid from start to finish.

My point…you cannot trust your employer and you need the strength of a union (and a contract) to protect yourself.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Blogger of the Month?

Thoughts on blogging…

I read a good article on blogs the other day. The story detailed the rise of Mr. Robert Scoble. This, from the Economist of 2/10/05, tells you a little about him.

ROBERT SCOBLE, known in the blogosphere as "the Scobleizer", is a phenomenon not just because he has had an unusually strange career of late, but because his example might mark the beginning of the end of "corporate communications" as we know it. Mr Scoble is, first, a blogger--ie, somebody who keeps an online journal (called a "web log" or "blog") to which he posts thoughts and web links several times a day. But Mr Scoble is also an employee of Microsoft, the world's largest software company, where he holds the official title of "technical evangelist". Those two roles are intertwined. It was his blogging prowess that led to his job, and much of the job consists of blogging.

The article goes to say that blogs could eventually replace the normal PR channels for corporate promotion. But there was a warning from a lawyer type.

"people blogging get taken in by the immediacy and the hotness of the medium and say things they later regret," …and I can certainly relate to that. No, I don’t fear being sued, but I do know that it is very easy for me to become emotionally charged by some subjects that I choose to write about.

So I decided to think some more about blogging and why I do it is the first question for me…and my first response is (predictably) because I can. But beyond the obvious is something more complicated. In real life, you probably wouldn’t expect me to blog. In social settings, I am the one that is listening and not speaking. Get me in a group with some extroverts and I will clam up, keeping all of my thoughts to myself. Unless those extroverts speak ill of something I value, and then the chances are 50/50 that I will simply leave and say nothing; removing the possibility of embarrassing myself with poorly chosen words of rebuttal. But in a secure setting, such as with my family, I am quite vocal and express myself without hesitation. Typical INFP behavior…Sorry, family!

That said, I suppose I see my blog as a secure place. I’m here…you’re there. And I can say what I wish about whatever I want. And if you don’t like what I say…get your own blog! I like that.

Also, it’s the kind of stuff I used to do while reading the newspaper, early in the morning. I would comment on the news, making snap decisions on what I had just read and expressing myself. And that brings me back to the warning from the lawyer types, about saying things I might later regret…

OK, enough wandering around my psyche for today…I did read Mr. Scoble’s blog and I enjoyed it. And I learned from it. What else should be expected? Isn’t that enough? Of course it is. After all, it’s only a blog…a simple conversation with myself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tuesday revisited

Earlier this week (Tuesday...yesterday, whatever!) I had written about the trust issue that Californians have with their government…Well, after rereading that article a few times, I have a slightly different viewpoint. I don’t feel better. And that’s because the legislators and the governor still don’t “get it”. Yes, there is a “disconnect” and it is up to those who govern to remove it. That is why they are elected. They are supposed to communicate with us and invite our opinions. That is part of their job. When was the last time that you were asked for an opinion by your elected representative?

Every time I think about this, I am reminded of a time when I was taking a late afternoon flight out of Sacramento. In the waiting area was a large group of “public servants” and because they were in a group, they forgot that they were surrounded by ordinary citizens and they began to talk quite loudly. Their comments in regards to their constituents were quite revealing and probably effected how I feel about elected officials.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Is there a doctor in the house?

A memory…

It was 1949 and I was 9 years old. On this day in memory, I was ill and so my mother had called the doctor. And about an hour later, the doctor was ringing our doorbell. No, this wasn’t because I was afflicted with some dreaded contagious disease. This is what doctors did for those who were sick; they made house calls.

Now, we knew this doctor and we knew his family, but that isn’t why we were privileged to have him making house calls for us. All doctors did it.

This doctor was also wealthy; owning a new home on a large corner lot and driving a new car, a Buick. Smart doctors always drove Buicks as that brand gave them the look of sober responsibility and wealth without being ostentatious. He also owned one of the few television sets in town, so we were sometimes invited to join the crowd that sat around the little 9" screen in his front room on Saturday nights.

Our family didn’t have medical insurance, if it even existed in those years? We paid cash or made arrangements with the doctor to pay monthly.

I know this sounds like a fairy tale…doctors making house calls to patients without medical insurance. But this was life in the 1940’s and 50’s. And it’s my memory. What’s yours? And where did we go wrong?

Early morning questions

It’s early in the morning and I have been reading my mail and looking at the current news from internet sources. (It’s too early for newspapers) And I’ve been sipping on a great cup of coffee, of course. My coffee has two shots of Almond Roca syrup in it…a bad habit; but it does get my brain engaged.

Now, what to write about…there are so many choices! And so many questions. Such as; why aren’t we hearing more about the Jeff Gannon, Ace Reporter story? How did a guy, with false credentials get into the White House? Unless, of course, the White House “knew” who he really was. And the continuing story of how the government is missing the boat when it comes to maritime security measures. (Sorry about that) Why aren’t our ports secure? And our chemical factories? An awful lot of money has been thrown at these areas of concern and nothing has changed. And why the sudden quiet about Social Security? Nothing much is heard from the White House these days as they are obviously regrouping. And we don’t hear as much about the Iraq elections…now that Chalabi appears to be a big winner. Ooops!

Perhaps I should write about something else…something local. OK, back to the news and another cup of coffee.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Curses! Foiled again...

More on profanity…no, I’m not preaching again. But, when I told my granddaughter that I didn’t care for the Daly Show because of the profanity, she told me that I hadn’t heard anything; that it started in elementary school and only grew worse as the children grew older.

So I was happy to learn about the method used at the local school (K-8…where Laurae works) to discourage that kind of language. They use detention as the punishment for foul language. So? You say?…well, it’s detention with a twist. First, the student has to call home and tell their mother exactly what it was that they said. Then they have to spend a full day in a small workroom adjacent to the cafeteria. Here their work is brought to them and they are only allowed to use the bathroom and go to lunch. What’s interesting about this room is the fact that it has full length windows all across the front of it and everyone in school passes by this room. No hiding in there! And it’s only used for one purpose, so everyone knows why the unlucky occupant is in there.


I read a fascinating article in the Sunday edition of the Bee, all about the distrust the citizens of California have for government. After reading the referenced article, ( ) I actually felt much better! Apparently, my fellow citizens are not as dumb as the news media makes them out to be.

I printed out the entire report and will read it should you!

What's Cookin?

When I retired in January of 2004, I took on the nightly task of making dinner for the two us. It has been over a year now since that practice began and we are still fairly healthy and I get few complaints from the customers. It has been a learning process and therefore it has been painful at times. For both of us…though as a rule, most people are smart enough to never complain directly to the cook. Faint praise will sometimes get the point across that the meal was less than what was expected. Ouch!

I was reminded of just what I didn’t know about cooking last Saturday when I decided to make some cookies from a recipe I saw in the Bee…Great recipe…bad cookies. They were flat, very thin and tasted sort of odd. Of course I made the whole batch, trying all sorts of timing and temperature tricks to improve their looks. Then, as I was putting the dishes away after cleaning up, it came to me…I put the beaters away, the mixer and cookie sheets, the measuring cup and teaspoon. Teaspoon? Oh no! I had ASSUMED that the measure I held in my hand was a ½ teaspoon measure and I had filled it twice with baking soda and with salt.

I found it amazing that such a small mistake had made such a big difference. Compare the volume of salt and soda to the volume of flour and sugar and you would think that a little more of each couldn’t hurt…I’m sure there is a good scripture lesson in this somewhere.

To be honest, before I learned of my mistake, Laurae had volunteered that she thought that there wasn't enough flour in the recipe and that was the reason for the failure...Hey! Sounds good to me!

(Talk about irony! I write paragraph 3 and then go on to write paragraph 4...didn't I learn anything?)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Detail of the new upholstery job that Laurae did so well...
Here is a view of that table and chairs...

Sandy Gulch

We always like to shop at Sandy Gulch furniture store as they have a great selection of very old oak furniture. And we like the owner of the store as well, ever since Denise took us there some years ago. Since he is open on Saturdays and Sundays only, we don’t get there as often as we like. But a few weeks ago, we stopped by and saw this drop leaf (or gate leg) table with barley twist legs and two chairs and Laurae said she had seen it earlier and thought it might be right for our bedroom. Well, it is and it looks great in there, especially now that Laurae has done a beautiful job of upholstering and the chairs have been restored to their former beauty. I have also spent some time looking up the possible value of this set; as we paid only $350 for it. I saw one (table only) in Australia for $900 and one in the UK (table only) for approximately $4,000. During the search for information I also found that the finish of the oak is called “fumed oak” and it was done by exposing the oak to ammonia fumes. This information comes from a story about horses and urine and furniture making that I won't go into...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

God's Politics

I just started to read the book, God’s Politics, by Jim Wallis. So far it is a good read; and challenging. From the first chapter, Mr. Wallis quotes Jesus and forces you to think of just what those words mean.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Mat 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

And this…

Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Mat 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
Mat 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

What you need to remember here is that these are not simply the words of a good man, a wise man who lived and died 2000 years ago. These are the words of God; God in Jesus…the triune God that we all worship if we call ourselves Christian. And the words He spoke are very clear.


I don’t remember…did I mention that I have begun to explore the world of “podcasting”? Well, I have and in its own way, it’s something I had always been interested in. I’m a big fan of public radio and the smaller the radio station, that’s all for the better as far as I’m concerned. I particularly like the idea of the neighborhood stations that operate with less than 5 watts. That’s my idea of public radio…that’s public with a small “p”. Some operate as “pirate” stations and I approve of that as well. As long as they’re good neighbors and don’t mess with others use of the airwaves, more power to them…or is it less power?

At one time I daydreamed of being the host of a radio show on KVMR, 89.5…a very real public radio station. All the hosts (non salaried) have programs that showcase their own interests so you never know what you might hear. And I figured that I had eclectic enough tastes in music to be a host…

Want to know more about podcasting? Google that term and you will find a bunch of material. Or, try this link…

The immediate problem with podcasting is avoiding some of the foul mouthed jerks that inhabit this part of the internet. It is no worse than, maybe not as bad…as a lot of other stuff to be found on the net. But it’s still a problem. And you have to pick and choose carefully.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Global Warming

Yahoo! News - Ocean, Arctic Studies Show Global Warming Is Real: "Ocean Conveyer Belt "

There was a good show on PBS the other night that detailed the facts about the Thermohaline conveyor. ( ) Alan Alda was the narrator and he always does a good job of making the dull facts into interesting facts. If you look at the map from the CSULB page, you can see that Greenland is right next to that point in the ocean where the conveyor dives down and then travels south. If you mix in a large amount of fresh water (melting ice cap) the fresh water won't sink and the conveyor stops.

This happened once before in recent history. The "Little Ice-Age" affected millions of people in Europe and it wasn't until the late 1800's that the cold began to abate.

It is probably too late to do much about the current causes for global warming, but it is irritating that some people still think it's a hoax, cooked up by "tree huggers". I hope those people have parkas...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tricky politics of Social Security

Tricky politics of Social Security |
“This year, the cap on wages subject to payroll taxes is $90,000. It was $29,700 in 1981 but has been adjusted upward each year since then according to the gain in average wages. Back in 1981, some 90 percent of wage-and-salary earnings in aggregate were subject to the payroll tax.
But since then, the distribution of wages in the nation has shifted toward those in upper brackets. So only 85 percent of all taxable wages are subject to the payroll tax today. To restore the coverage to the 90 percent level, the cap would have to be hiked to $138,000. Such action would close about one-third of the 75-year gap that Social Security actuaries foresee between tax revenues and benefit payments.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina has been proposing a hike in the cap during the current discussion of changes in Social Security.
One other alternative being discussed would be to remove the cap entirely, as has happened with the payroll tax for Medicare. That would close the 75-year gap further.”

I have an idea…let’s do what is fair. I know Republicans have a problem with that concept…as well as some Democrats. Fair is all of us paying the bill. Not 90%...make it 100%. Remove the cap. SSI is supposed to be for all of us and what is so terrible about paying money towards the future care of others as well as for you? Aren’t we supposed to do that?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Birthday memories

We spent the weekend up in Lassen County, attending the birthday party for our youngest grandchildren...

The twins enjoyed their party, including the ceremonial eating of large amounts of chocolate cake. After all of the guests were gone and the wrapping paper, cardboard and paper plates were cleaned up and the new toys all neatly put away in the toy box, we all sat down to relax. That was when Abby decided to liven things up by vomiting all over her mother, her grandmother, into the toy box, onto the carpet and the carefully arranged stack of new clothing. So it was clean up time all over again. By the way, the cake had blue icing…Yes, it was very much a typical birthday party for a couple of two year olds. And Abby explained it this way; “I burped!” she said, quite proud of herself.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


The New York Times > Washington > Bush Vows Veto of Any Cutback in Drug Benefit - -#

As I was reading this article, I noticed that there was a hyperlink to a Reprints and Permissions section. Being curious and hoping to find an easy way and legal method of posting interesting articles...I clicked. After filling out a short form that told the Times that I wanted to post the article on the web for informational purposes, I clicked on the Quick Price button. Whoa! $600 for a year. So, I'm sorry...but I won't be publishing anything from the Times very soon. You can get a free subscription and read it yourself.

Friday, February 11, 2005


The things I have to do to post an article I enjoyed in print!...first, since it's only available to Atlantic subscribers, I went to the website and logged in. Then I was able to e-mail the link for the article to myself; which I copied and then pasted it here (below) Why? Well, I enjoyed the article and it made me laugh when I read it. It's not heavy, it's hidden meanings here. But do let me know if the link doesn't work for you...I will e-mail the article to you.

Click here to access the article.
This link will expire three days after it was sent. Also note that, if you are not yet an Atlantic subscriber, you may access the article only by following the link

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Audioblogger: F.A.Q.

Audioblogger: F.A.Q.

You just know I have to try this some day...but as verbally challenged as I am, I will need to write myself a script!

Tuesday, February 8, 2005


This, just in...
"Employment figures released last week provided a reprieve to the White House. While the addition of 146,000 jobs was small, it gave Bush a net gain of 119,000 jobs during his first term and allowed him to escape being the first president since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss of jobs on his watch."

A few weeks ago, here in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties, it was revealed that there had been an increase in the number of jobs available. At the same time, the net worth ($$$) of all jobs in the counties declined. Business leaders were shocked! Yeah, right...

You cannot contribute to the economic growth of the country when you make $10 an hour...


Why does this idiot still have a job?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Marine Corps general who said it was "fun to shoot some people" should have chosen his words more carefully but will not be disciplined, military officials said on Thursday.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, made the comments at a conference Tuesday in San Diego.
"Actually it's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," said Mattis.

What also disturbs me is the fact that the news services have dropped this story like a hot potato...why? Are they afraid of the new and dangerous power of the Pentagon? And what about our elected representatives? Where do they stand on this issue? I haven't heard a word from them.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Green thumb

It's time for a farm report...

Last weekend we went to Mendon's Nursery in Paradise and observed a pruning clinic and demonstration. Afterwards, fueled with a little pruning knowledge and a "can do" attitude, I went about the task of cutting our orchard down to a manageable size. For practice, I started out in front with the Crepe Myrtle, cutting them down to about 8' tall. Then I headed out into the back and some real fruit trees...Hey! It was easy. I have done about 3 trees so far and have about 10 to go. Of course the proof of my skills will be in the spring and summer, when the trees leaf out and the fruit sets...


Smoke-free zones gain new territory |

I love it! This isn't "big goverment" in action, it's cities, towns and the company that you work for that are pushing the ban. We should encourage them to go even further; make tobacco products available only by prescription and then that product must be consumed only outside the home, but on private property...perhaps the backyard?

The more difficult we make it to smoke, the more people will want to quit. In fact, the anti smoking forces should be eligible for support money from the "war on drugs" campaign...

Yes, I'm an ex-smoker and we're (ex-smokers) the most vehement, mean and nasty critics of smoking around. We don't want to give the smoker any rights at all...They don't deserve rights!

Ah! That feels so good to rage against the smokers and see (according to this article) that we're finally in the majority...

Sunday, February 6, 2005

The Cynic writes...

LaLa land has moved from Hollywood to Washington, DC...

Reading the Fine Print: "Neither the president nor his aides have been willing to acknowledge the extent of benefit cuts that would be needed. And no wonder: All in all, they would leave the average worker with a government benefit worth only about 10 percent of his or her preretirement earnings. (Currently, Social Security replaces about 35 percent, on average.)
Various proposals to strengthen the current system's solvency via modest tax increases and benefit cuts - without resorting to costly private accounts - could guarantee a government benefit that replaces about 30 percent of preretirement income on average. But for all his talk about 'an open, candid review of the options,' the president refuses to consider any plan that excludes private accounts or includes tax increases, no matter how small. His stance makes severe benefit cuts unavoidable.
Even the feel-good tidbits in the president's speech really fail to stand up to close examination. Mr. Bush assured listeners that the government would prevent people from making bad decisions by restricting their investments to a conservative mix of stocks and bonds. But the more restrictions there are, the harder it would be for people to achieve the outsized returns that the administration has generally promoted to sell the public on private accounts.
And the much-touted promise that the private accounts could be passed on to one's heirs, as it turns out, is also less than it seems. That works entirely only if you die before you retire. Under a scheme that is going to take a while for the public to digest, the White House wants to require new retirees to use their private accounts to buy annuities large enough to keep them above the poverty line for the rest of their lives. The most they could leave to heirs, then, would be what is left over after after the annuities are purchased."
and the article goes on to say...Mr. Bush is expending tremendous energy to sell his plan - daily impairing his own credibility and shredding whatever confidence remains in the country's fiscal outlook. Members of Congress would do him - and their constituents - a favor by reining him in and moving on to more pressing matters.

Good luck!

This, just in...
"President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday.
Such limits would help reduce the federal budget deficit and would inject market forces into the farm economy, the officials said."

As much as I applaud this move, I also have to laugh at the chances of it coming to pass. When it comes to taking government monies, no one beats "Big Business" at it. And agribusiness is one of the biggest Republican hogs at the trough.

I live in "Rice Country" and they have grown so much rice here that the world market is glutted on it. Last years crop is still in the warehouses, but the farmers got their bet!

That squealing you hear? That's the Republicans reminding "dubya" of just who runs the farm...

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Why can't we fire him?

The New York Times > Washington > Secretary of State to Resign in California Amid Inquiries

Don't you hate this? Apparently, and by his own admission of glaring mischief, here was a guy that needed to be fired. Instead he gets to hold a press comference and look somewhat like a victim. He should have been sent back to his office with a cardboard box and told to "clean out your desk"...

Friday, February 4, 2005

More Thoughts About the Mayoral Race

"Attorneys Fred Woocher and Bruce Henderson argued in their challenges -- brought on behalf of five San Diego voters -- that city law should have applied in the case.
San Diego's municipal code states that every write-in vote should be counted.
Woocher said he might appeal Brenner's decision to the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego. "

Let's see now...the election was held in the city of San Diego and it was for a position in the city of San Diego. Yes, you would think that the laws of San Diego would apply...But hey, I'm only a citizen. What do I know about the law?

I know that the law is commonly abused and what should happen is that the 5,000 voters who were disenfranchised by Brenner and McPherson should file 5,000 separate lawsuits. Now that is using the law and not abusing it.

Disputed Mayoral Race

Orange County Superior Court Judge H. Michael Brenner speaks:

"Those people did not vote," Brenner said. "To vote a ballot you have to fill in the oval."

What did he think they were doing? Practicing their penmanship?

The Quilts of Gees Bend

The Quilts of Gees Bend
I watched a special on PBS last night that told some of the stories behind these quilts. It was fascinating and well worth looking for on your own PBS station. Hopefully, they will run it again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Credit where credit is due

I had the good fortune to watch Front Line last night and the subject was "The Secret History of the Credit Card"...

Do yourself a it on-line.

State of the Union

Here it comes…the annual Presidential Display of Verbal Nonsense.

Yes, it is the State of the Union speech; and a speech that he didn’t write. He will stand in front of the nation and mouth the words that are prepared for him, all the while trying to impart some illusion of sincerity by appropriate facial expressions and the proper intonation.

The speech itself will have been written by a team, headed by (get this!-) a Director of Speech Writing. Those who do the writing are known as Deputy Directors of Speech Writing. And like all good bureaucrats, they have Senior Writers working for them.

Here are some comments from Matthew Scully, special assistant to the president and deputy director of speechwriting for President Bush until last August.

“I always like to explain things," President Bush reminded his speechwriters last year as we prepared to draft the State of the Union address. In the matter of Iraq, he said, as we went over the outline in the Oval Office, "We have to explain why we came to a reasonable conclusion." It was a demanding assignment, since our forces in Iraq had yet to find weapons of mass destruction.”

Scully further explains- “The first great challenge of a State of the Union address is common to every annual presidential ritual - to freshen it up-”
-In the case of the State of the Union, Mike Gerson (Senior Writer) could always be counted on to go off into the wilderness, and return with some intricate outline to vary the structure, and a fresh batch of big themes to carry us forward. Thanks in part to these visions; the president's major addresses present a running argument, each carrying forward the themes of the last. For instance, the central idea of the second inaugural address - that by spreading freedom we also spread peace - can be found taking shape in the speech to the joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001.

You should visit the website (below) for a detailed explanation of just how this speech is written.

For myself, I will avoid the television tonight, as I am not a fan of forced drama and bad acting, followed by endless hours of theatre review, all provided by the “talking heads” of network television.

A thought: Am I asking too much of our president to ask him to write his own words?