Wednesday, August 31, 2005

SojoMail

SojoMail
New Orleans had a poverty rate of 28%...more than double the national average.

Down on the Levee

This mornings Sacramento Bee had an article about the dangers inherent in levees and the similarities between New Orleans and Sacramento. What was not discussed in the article was the fact that the current levees around Sacramento are built upon levees that were first built in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. That work, done with mules and “Fresno’s” provides the foundation for the levees we see today. And, that work was contracted out to the builders by independent levee districts, formed by local farmers as a method of financing the land reclamation. Remember, money was an issue back then as well, and so the low bidding contractor got the job. And today, levee maintenance is handled by the same districts and in the same manner. You might remember that a levee failed a few years ago in the Stockton area…on a sunny day.    

Airlines and Outsourcing

Airlines and Outsourcing
I heard about this the other day and was quite surprised when I heard the figure of 53% of all airline maintenance being outsourced. (To the low bidder)
The Northwest Airlines representative defended the decision to outsource by saying that if a contractor proves to be deficient, they will terminate their contract with them and hire another firm. And how will they know if they are less than efficient? Should I worry if I find a little slip of paper in the seatback pocket that says, "Inspected by #37, Elbonia Airlines Maintenance LLP."?

New Orleans

We were watching the news last night and it was dreadful, filled with tragic stories of death and destruction in the flooding of New Orleans. And it continues today. It will be many months before anything resembling normalcy returns to this area. And Louisiana is a desperately poor state to begin with, despite the large number of oil companies that have made Louisiana their base of operations. (I wonder why that is?)

Please Deposit All Your Money

Please Deposit All Your Money
In California, this has been going on for years. Morally and ethically, it is wrong. The family of a prisoner is punished under this system...and the telephone companies are provided with obscene profits. Do you think that any of those profits are used in lobbying efforts to keep the "status quo"?

Dave

Dave, a frequent commenter here, will be leaving California in October and heading to Maine… http://daveswall.blogspot.com I hope he won’t give up blogging and commenting in his “new life”. Personally, I hope to hear all about Maine and what he and his family are doing as they settle into a New England lifestyle. Dave…pictures would be nice!

Early

I’m up early this morning. Very early. This happens every other Wednesday as this is the day that I have to flood irrigate the orchard, and that means that I have to go up to the main canal just before 6 and open the gates that allow the water to flow into the canal that serves the 5 homes on Road P. And since I was up, I took my cup of coffee and went out into the back yard to look at the stars. I do this almost every morning, but this morning’s view of the sky was better than most as the moon has disappeared for a few days and the night sky is a glorious sight…millions upon millions of stars! Yes, God is here.

Funny

Funny, not one Democrat has seized upon these numbers...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 07:46 JSTWASHINGTON — The official U.S. poverty rate increased in 2004 for the fourth straight year as more than one million people joined the ranks of the poor, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
The Census Bureau said the number of people living below the poverty line rose last year to 37.0 million people from 35.9 million in 2003, and the poverty rate increased to 12.7% from 12.5 percent.


37 million people in poverty and the number keeps growing. 4th straight year? What happened 4 years ago?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Big Business

Does any of this make sense to you?

The value of military weapons sales worldwide jumped in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, driven by arms deals with developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a new Congressional study.

The total of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both industrialized and developing nations was nearly $37 billion in 2004, according to the study.

"The United States once again dominated global weapons sales, signing deals worth $12.4 billion in 2004, or 33.5 percent of all contracts worldwide. But that was down from $15.1 billion in 2003."

How many of those weapons will end up being used against us? Oh, well...that's business.

Oh, number two and three in weapons sales? That would be Russia and Britain of course.

Windy

The wind is howling! How odd? I don’t remember seeing that in the forecast, but the forecast is rarely accurate when it comes to wind. I haven’t done much walking in the wind so I’m wondering how it will affect my performance this morning.

Speaking of wind, there has been a devastating hurricane in the Louisiana/Mississippi delta region. Hurricane Katrina was the name and it killed more than 60 people in buildings that it demolished. And the price of gasoline will rise even further as that area holds about 25% of US capacity for refining.

This price increase will generate even more “letters to the editor” from the outraged souls that are certain that there is a conspiracy involved in the higher fuel prices. The real enemy is ourselves of course. We use too much gasoline and in a free market, that means the law of supply and demand determines price. We now compete with China in our thirst for oil, so an increased demand for the same amount of fuel generates an increased price. All very basic. All the oil in Alaska won’t make a dent in what we demand for our everyday use.

The End of An Age

It's Tuesday, the 30th of the month and the last day that I will be 64. Oddly enough, I, who never pay much attention to birthdays, see this one as far more important than those in the past. For one, it marks me as an adult. That’s right; tomorrow I will no longer be a child. And that means that I will be able to do childish things without fear of repercussions. Secondly, I will be an “official” senior citizen, not worried about whether or not the proper age for some discount is 60, 62 or 65. And last…but most important; I will be forgiven any lapses of memory. “I know he forgot your anniversary, dear, but – he’s older now. And those things happen.”

Monday, August 29, 2005

Comment Spam

Comment Spam. That is a pesky problem with blogs and so I have added protection by using Blogger's "word verification" for comments. If you comment, you will see a series of letters that only a human can see... and you will have to type them in to post the comment.

Outsourcing

Another little known fact. India; the King of Outsourcing, has so much business of this type that it has had to outsource some of it (8%)...to China.

Copyrights

Here is a piece of news that I found interesting. Clothing and accessories are not copyright protected. Why not? Wasn't there some artistic endeavor taking place in the design of a new purse or fabric? Are some kinds of art more worthy of protection than others? Why?

Bunnatine Greenhouse

Honor roll: Bunnatine Greenhouse
You should also read the New York Times article on this sad affair. Golly! Who would have thought that Halliburton would want revenge?

Oil leaps above $70 as Katrina rips Gulf

Oil leaps above $70 as Katrina rips Gulf
The perfect storm...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Daily News

Let’s see; what did I accomplish yesterday? I bought four new tires for the VW at Les Schwab here in Orland. That was a pleasant experience. Competing stores will have a lot to do if they want to meet the level of customer service at Les Schwab. Then I went to my local bank and inquired about cashing in my large cache of rolled coins and it won’t be a problem. After that, I went into Chico and bought my racewalking shoes. I will try them out this morning. Also, I tried to buy an air rifle at Big 5, the “discount” sporting good store. That was a mistake. The one I wanted was $235 at Big 5, and I knew I had seen the same rifle for about $135 at Cabela’s, on-line. I wonder why I bother with Big 5? I’m always disappointed when I go there. (I have the same problem with Best Buy stores.) Finally, I stopped at Raley’s on the way out of Chico and I cashed in my collection of pennies at the CoinStar machine. $21.67 was the amount I received, and I didn’t stress over the 8.9% that CoinStar kept for themselves. Oh, yes…I checked the price again at Cabela’s’ and the rifle was now on sale for $129. I ordered it and it should be here next week. Ground squirrels, beware! Your days are numbered.

Of Course

"We will call on people to say no to this constitution. This constitution was written by the powerful people, not by the people."KAMAL HAMDOUN, a Sunni leader in Iraq.

Well, of course…that’s how “democracies” work. What was he thinking?

Bartleby

Bartleby
I received my daily e-mail from Bartleby.com and thought...have I ever shared this site? Well, here it is. If you like words and all of the tools to use those words, this website has what you were looking for and more. I have been receiving their daily e-mail for a couple of years now and I'm always surprised by the contents.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

SojoMail

More on Pat
Well written article. And a quote to make you think..."Who would Jesus assassinate?"

Plans for the day

Now I have to buy some new tires and I’m not happy about that. I was really hoping to buy new tires with a new car attached to them. But...I also realized that I have a huge collection of coins available for just such an emergency. I had collected them for years, saving my pocket change and putting it in rolls. I think I have close to $1,500 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. They certainly don’t do me any good just sitting in the closet.

My plans for today includes a stop at the grocery store to convert a portion of my change collection into real cash. I hate the thought of having to pay 8.9 percent to the CoinStar people for the privilege, but the banks no longer provide the service for free either. Then I will go to the tire store and buy some new tires for the VW. Also, I want to buy an air rifle (for ground squirrel control) and a power washer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

US must stay

US must stay
Yes, we must stay. bush got us into this war under false pretenses, but to abandon the troops and Iraq will not solve anything. But it's time for bush to start being honest with us, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.

And to make matters worse...the possibility of a new Iraqi Constitution is fading once again as riots and fighting have erupted in the south of Iraq.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050824/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

Read this today in Sojourner..."You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." Yes, when the shaking stops...who has won?

Evangelist backs off Chavez assassination call

Evangelist backs off Chavez assassination call - Yahoo! News
Misinterpreted? Pat, you're even more embarrassing when you stoop to lie. We could all do ourselves a favor if we simply ignored this man and let him slink off to oblivion. (Oblivion=a place where television cameras and reporters can't be found.)

What a Day!

It started off OK; I was a little bit late getting out the door as I headed for Bidwell and a long walk. It was 6:45. A few miles down the road I heard an odd noise and felt the rear tire going flat. Darn! So I pulled around the corner onto Road S and pulled over to see. Yes, it was definitely flat...

I opened the trunk and found the jack and the spare. The good news was that the spare was a real one, not one of those skinny donuts that is usually found in trunks these days. But what they provided for a jack was laughable, although I certainly wasn't in the mood to laugh. I tried the jack...and tried some more. Finally I called AAA and waited. And waited some more.

By 8, I was on the road again, with a serviceable tire. Should I continue on to Chico and get my walk in? The temptation to turn around and go home was strong, but I resisted and continued on. And at the park I discovered that my GPS unit had a low battery. So I had to walk without the benefit of watch and speedometer. Ain't modern life a real trial?

The good part was the fact that I was driving the car and not Laurae...

On The Border

On The Border
We should be afraid, very afraid! A man from the government has shown up and he says he wants to help us. Now that's scary! But he is serious and he says, "We have decided to stand back and take a look at how we address the problem and solve it once and for all," Mr. Chertoff said at a breakfast meeting with reporters." Once and for all? Wanna bet?

There are enough holes in his explanation of how he intends to do this to resemble the border itself...and no mention is made of the root cause for illegal immigration; employers. And since they are all card carrying members of the Chamber of Commerce and contribute heavily to the Republican Party, you won't hear much about them at all.

The Constitution

New Constitution
I was watching the news last night and I saw bush (in Idaho) making some sort of impromptu speech to the press crowd. (ordinary Americans aren't allowed to get that close) He was talking about the problems associated with the writing of the Iraqi Constitution and he made a point of saying that the new document would allow for religious freedom and women's rights. My ears perked up a bit with that news...I haven't been following every sticking point for the Constitution, but I thought those two items were still undecided. Of course I read this morning that I was right. bush missed the truth again. OK, who's turn was it to watch him?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Robertson

Robertson
What a tragedy...that a man who says he is a Christian would say something like this. To quite calmly and deliberately advocate for the murder of another human. All by himself, he has judged Hugo Chavez and found him guilty (of what?)and deserving to die. Shame, shame, shame...

mammatus

mammatus
Now here's a sight! This link was sent to me by our daughter, Alicia...Thanks! Surreal, aren't they?

The Simple Life

It's a Tuesday morning and I’m almost ready for the day. I just hope it’s a better one than yesterday. I will start the day with a walk in the park, a 6+ mile walk at a faster than usual pace. Maybe that will help with my disposition. Yesterday, I tried making catsup and that didn’t work. My pear butter was a failure as well. Although I do have 12 jars of delicious pear syrup! Then my riding mower stopped working, right in the middle of the orchard, and after I loaded it on the trailer and took it to town, I found that the mower repair shop was closed on Monday’s. So now the mower sits on the trailer and I will have to deliver it when I get back from my walk.

Also, I’m hoping for a cooler day, as it looks like I will have to mow the front lawns by hand. That wasn’t the plan, but it is now. The rest of the orchard will have to wait; I’m not mowing that by hand. And I will have to do some more tomato processing this week as the tomatoes are getting riper each day and the harvest is plentiful.

I really need to stop worrying about things like that. It seems as if I am not able to retire from a life of stress in the business world without finding something else to worry about. What do I care about tomatoes? See? That’s it, I do care and that brings me more stress. As I have said many times, it’s bound to be genetic and I seem to be destined for a stress filled life.

I’m already planning next year’s garden and it’s going to be different from this year by quite a margin. Simple will be the theme. And I’m also planning the trees that I want to add to the orchard. The apples are a pain and quite a mess. Do I even want more apples? I think I will prune them back severely and see what happens. The same with the walnuts. I would like more nectarines and peaches. And more plums. And I wonder about pluots. Those would be fun to grow. See? There I go again, looking for ways to expand my responsibilities instead of reducing them.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In the Garden of Armageddon

In the Garden of Armageddon
These WMD's do exist and at one time we had them in our hands...but what went wrong? A good read.

Monday, Monday

Monday has rolled around once more and this morning I am up just a little bit later than usual. My plans for the day don’t include an early rising so that’s fine. I’m intending to stay at home today and get some chores done. Tuesday and Wednesday will be my walking days and then another day off on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will find me in the park once again.

Do I have any special plans for the day? I’m cooking up ketchup right now and I hope to have it done around noon. And I have pear butter to make as well. Then there are more tomatoes to pick plus lawn mowing in front! I would say that there are plenty of things to do today. And I didn’t even mention all of the books I have to read. Retirement?

I’m involved in three books right now; A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren, The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene and Steering Through Chaos by Os Guinness. And I hope to see a copy of Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch by Max Lucado arriving from Amazon this week, before our study group meets again. It would be nice to have read at least one chapter before we meet. And I couldn’t help myself last night, as two books beckoned to me at the Friends of the Library book sale and I picked up Primary Colors by Anonymous and Last Refuge of Scoundrels by Paul Lussier. Perhaps I should re-think my plans to join the Friends of the Library? I surely don't need any more temptation to buy books.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Nanotube Site

The Nanotube Site
As you can see, nanotubes are hot!

Ice Cream

We just got back from an early dinner of ice cream and cookies. The Orland Friend's of the Library held an Ice Cream Social & Booksale at the Orland Library. There were folding chairs available on the lawn and a jazz band for music. Large bowls of ice cream (3 flavors) and plenty of cookies!

This event has been held for at least 22 years now, maybe more? I really find it gratifying to see a community that supports its library. I will probably join the group; and no, not for the ice cream. For the books! Big book sale coming in September...

Nanotubes

Nanotubes
This is so cool! I read about nanotubes a few years ago in Brian Greene's book, The Elegant Universe. If you want to know more about nanotubes, buckyballs, the quantum universe and the Super String Theory, this is the book to explain it. And now this...real production of nanotubes! This really is a landmark event.

Quick

Quick! Tell me what's wrong with this sentence..."The government and other experts say..." Yes, it's the use of the word "other".

Ranting

Early morning ranting...it doesn't change a thing but it feels good!
I was reading a letter to the editor in our local paper and the letter writer was complaining that people are not being respectful of the President and inferred that it was our patriotic duty to do so. I couldn’t help but think that the writer was stuck in some sort of “time warp” and was back in the second grade, where he was being told all about Plymouth Rock and George and the cherry tree.

Why on earth would you do that? Respect the President? How does one become President? By spending more money and lying more skillfully than the other guy. The election is not determined by popular vote, it’s determined by money. It always has been and I’m sure it always will be. If we really wanted a good president we certainly wouldn’t use the election process to pick one. We spend more time and energy choosing the right cell phone calling plan than we do on choosing our leaders. Can you hear me now?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Duly Noted

The Bush Administration is finally facing the truth about Iraq...

Noted and quoted: "A senior Bush official admits that administration officials can no longer cling to their own version of reality. "We are in the process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning," the official told the Washington Post."

Absorbing the factors and shedding the unreality? Does he even know what he said? And once they have absorbed and shed, will they do anything right?

What They Did Last Fall

What They Did Last Fall
Worthwhile reading.

Good Morning

World War III continues to plague us and there is no end in sight. Mullah Omar and “what’s his name” are still alive and well – somewhere. The story that bothers me the most is slowly fading from the pages of the newspapers, and that is the story of the mistaken identity killing by the British police, of the Brazilian electrician. Scotland Yard still refuses to comment on why their previous story had dissolved into a pack of lies. It turns out that the one policeman who could have made the correct identification had decided to go to the bathroom at the moment that Jean Charles de Menezes exited his apartment. And because of that, Mr. Menezes was killed…deliberately.

Even the story linked above turns out to be wrong, as Mr. Menezes never ran at all and was in fact, seated on the train when he was killed by 7 shots to the head.

Interesting

Now "blogs" can be hit with spam. I noticed this a few weeks ago and once more this morning. Some people can post advertising to the Comments section. I'm sure that they don't do this one blog at a time, but have a program doing it for them. I suppose if it becomes a problem, I will have to turn off the Allow Anonymous Comments feature.

Ethics As Usual

What does that mean, "heavily lobbied"?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 - The Federal Election Commission, after being heavily lobbied by several members of Congress, voted Thursday to allow lawmakers to raise unlimited "soft money"

John T. Doolittle, a Republican, and Howard L. Berman, a Democrat, were the ones that wanted the change, so that they could try and defeat the redistricting initiative in California. You would think that they might be embarrassed, but you would be wrong. These are congressman and as such, left their ethics behind.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Why?

Why do people want to teach? It can't be for the money...

"The nation's public school teachers are leaving that profession - or
say they expect to in the next five years - at a rate not seen in more
than a decade, the National Center for Education Information reported.
Among instructors at the high-school level, it said half expect to
retire or be in another line of work by 2010. It maintains that the
projected turnover rate will lower the level of teaching experience at
the very time that the push is on to staff each classroom with a highly
qualified instructor."


Can't say that I blame them.

$50 laptop

$50 laptop sale
I don't know if you read about this in your local paper or not...if you did, how do you explain this kind of behavior? I am completely baffled as to how people can act like this. It's simply beyond comprehension.

The article I read in the paper didn't have photos...this link does. It only makes it worse.

Sojo

Always a catch
It seems like there is always a little more to the story than when first reported and read.

The End

Ah, Hawai'i...Trade winds blowing and beautiful white clouds sailing across the sky. So sad! It's sad because I just found out the the company I used to work for (retired from) has closed their Honolulu office. It was always a marginal office when considering profitability, and that's what corporations do. I always enjoyed visiting those nice people and hope they do well in the future. (I would have enjoyed the visit with them even if they had been in Ohio. They really are nice people.)

Save $5 a Month



The good old days?

Stats

Yesterday, I was listening to a report that stated that only 30% of high school graduates continue on to obtain a college degree. So that leaves 70% without a degree. And what do we do for those students? From everything I’ve seen and read; we have not provided much in the way of support for careers for the majority of high school students. What about technical training? What about training for life?

Many years ago, these skills were often referred to as the “manual arts” and were appreciated, even given high value by educators. Today? Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are few carpentry classes in high schools and even fewer plumbing classes. Life skills? Not even considered.

In California, a carpenter can make $60,000 a year or more. An electrician close to $75,000. Not rich, but certainly not poor. But even those middle income wages are under attack by conservatives who wish to eliminate all union power and wages. So as wages go down, the attraction of the trade diminishes and the schools won’t even consider training for “manual arts”. Soon, the only choices are dismal at best for the high school graduate numbered among the 70%.

When I was in high school, I took Mechanical Drawing for two years, Auto shop for two years and one year of Agriculture. I was also on a College Prep course of study. I even went to college…a couple of times. But I found that college interfered with “life” and I soon gave it up. Some people do. But what I found in construction made up for it. Here I was productive; I built things! And my Mechanical Drawing courses gave me the skills needed to read blueprints and to understand how things were built.

We need more classes like that today, not less. Yet, the majority of educators continue to press for more college prep courses in high school, repeating their mantra that you must have a college degree or life will pass you by. And that is simply not true.

Isabel

I have been reading a new novel by Isabel Allende (yes, she is related to that Allende) and although I haven't finished the book, I felt compelled to comment on it. This novel, Zorro, is a light but fascinating read. Isabel is one of my favorite authors because of the way she uses language to paint beautiful images.

Back in 2003, I was in my hotel room in Overland Park, Kansas and watching Bill Moyers interview her...here are my comments, taken from my Journal entry that day.

I am watching Bill Moyers interviewing Isabel Allende and she is fascinating to listen to. She writes every day when she starts a book, every January 8th, and she uses a candle to tell her when to stop for the day. She says that she knows that the characters and the story are in her and it’s her job to write each day and let them out. If only I could do that! I wonder if you are born to be an author, a story teller, or can you develop that talent?

Isabel Allende’s granddaughter wrote in a school paper that, “her family was not very interesting, except for her grandmother, who had imagination.” Imagination? Isabel Allende’s granddaughter said this to her grandmother when Isabel questioned her about that statement, “You can remember what never happened” What a great quote!


I still love that quote...

Another good book of hers, The stories of Eva Luna. And if you dare, read her non-fiction story about the death of her daughter, Paula.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Many Going to College Aren't Ready

Many Going to College Aren't Ready
Disturbing report. The MOST important skill you can ever learn is reading. Yet it seems to be low on the list of priorities for high school students.

The Same Old Thing

From the Christian Science Monitor News...
By examining voting patterns in 237 cities with populations of 100,000 or more, the nonpartisan Bay Area Center for Voting Research determined where each falls on the liberal/ conservative continuum. "The great political divide," director Phil Reiff writes, "is not red vs. blue, North vs. South, coastal vs. interior, or even rich vs. poor - it is ... black vs. white." Result: Detroit, with a majority African-American population, ranks as the most liberal city. Predominantly white Provo, Utah, is the most conservative. The five most liberal and five most conservative US cities, as ranked by the center:

Liberal
1. Detroit
2. Gary, Ind.
3. Berkeley, Calif.
4. Washington
5. Oakland, Calif.


Conservative
1. Provo, Utah
2. Lubbock, Texas
3. Abilene, Texas
4. Hialeah, Fla.
5. Plano, Texas


Disgusting! How many years will it take?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Lena Baker Story

The Lena Baker Story
Here is the original story...

Pardon

Pardon
This was one of the worst things I've read in years...I also listened (radio) to the man who forced the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles to issue the pardon. He was in the county clerks office of a small rural Georgia county, asking for information about another case...the clerk asked, "Do you mean the Lena Baker case?". He had never heard of it before that time. Curious, he asked to see the paperwork and was immediately struck by the terrible injustice he saw as he read the transcript of the trial. Made me wonder how many other dark secrets are held in the files of rural courthouses in the South. Disgusting!

Amen

I was reading some of the comments and reviews of John Roberts’ early work as a White House hack in the 80’s, and I found some comments on school prayer. Those made me think about the whole subject of public prayer. Question; does God listen to public prayer? Are we really in communication with our Lord when listening to some speaker droning on with his or her carefully scripted words or are we reviewing and judging those words? Does the effectiveness of public prayer depend on the quality of the words used and how they are presented? Or is it “quantity” that counts?

My thoughts; Public prayer is usually an exercise in futility. We speak to God in private, or in very small and private groups of believers. And even in those small groups, we purposely distance ourselves from those around us when we seek God. Essentially, there is no public prayer…and we can create or remove laws that allow it or disallow it and it makes not a whit of difference to God.

'No-Fly' Confusion

'No-Fly'
A couple of things bothered me here...the list of persons not allowed to fly has grown to over 100,000? Come on! Just think of the implications of that. And who - exactly - decides which names go on that list? And is that person or persons (those named) ever notified that they are suspects? Obviously not. So we have a secret list of suspected people who are never given a chance to clear their names until after the damage has been done. Sounds like the American Way to me!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Now I See

OK, now I see why I heard Dobson on the radio this morning. I had left the house early this morning and hadn't read the paper...and hadn't heard about Justice Sunday II.

One of the speakers was Tom DeLay and he made this comment, "The Constitution is clear on the point that the power to make laws is vested on Congress." But what he doesn't say is that Congress has an obligation to follow the Constitution and the Supreme Courts job is to decide the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress whenever there is a question. Did you really want these congressmen enacting any law that was floated by some lobbyist? Of course not, but that is what we have happening right now. I want the Supreme Court to be vigilant and to decide which laws are worthy.

Without the Supreme Court...(even when I disagree with them) we would be better off having Manny write the laws for us rather than allowing Congress free rein. Manny? He's the used car dealer here in town, nice guy.

Good Day

Yes, it was a good day at the park. But before I started to walk, I was listening to the radio and heard James Dobson speaking about the “tyranny” of the Supreme Court Justices. He was purporting to speak for Christians but he certainly wasn’t speaking for me. I used to respect him and would listen to him on occasion, but I fear that he now believes that he has God’s ear in all matters.

Dobson spoke with undisguised bitterness as he reviled the Justices; intimating that somehow they were conspiring to destroy Christianity. Now I don’t know about you, but I felt free to worship God this morning and I freely read the Bible as well. I assumed that there were others doing the same thing without fear of government intervention. And I believe I can do it again tomorrow morning as well. Am I wrong?

Even if I lived in the most repressive of nations, no one could take away my ability to worship and commune with God. Our God doesn’t need buildings, or laws to touch us and He certainly doesn’t need the fervor of James Dobson to protect Him.

If we want to make certain that Christianity grows to include the whole world…we have to show others what God looks like and what God’s plan is by modeling him in our own lives. That’s hard enough to do on a daily basis, without the added pressure of doing battle against the “windmills” of the Supreme Court…I think Mr. Dobson needs to spend some time in introspection.

Another Week

Monday is here once again and the day looks promising. The weather is slightly better than last weeks, with cooler temperatures forecast. But still, I feel at odds with the world this morning. I guess I need to get some exercise (walking) and perhaps that will change my attitude. I know that I “extroverted” far too much over the weekend and that’s probably the reason for my attitude.

We went to church last night for a meeting with a new study group and I think it will be OK. I still feel “out of the loop” with the church (Federated Church of Orland) but I have hopes that will soon change for me. That’s good, because we are going to be joining the church shortly. The group will be reading and commenting on Max Lucado’s book, “Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch”. I would have preferred a Bible study, but it looks like I will have to wait. I guess I’m just naturally suspicious of authors who are too popular and Max Lucado fits that description.

Let it go

Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, John Gibson and others of that ilk...they have no right to criticize Cindy Sheehan. None. This is America and we can say whatever we wish, but no matter what our opinions might be, Cindy Sheehan lost her son and we should leave her be...If you disagree with her, let it go; out of respect for her sacrifice as well as her son's.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Breaking spaghetti

Breaking spaghetti
Finally! We have an answer...

Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars for 2005

Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars for 2005
Let me be subjective here...These are all very weird looking cars, especially the #1 car, the Insight. But, the one I like the best is the Prius and it's as ugly as the rest. I suppose the only one I could possibly like for looks is the Jetta TDI, which is not available in California. And of course the price of diesel fuel is out of sight these days, so that makes it a non-starter.

The Echo 4 door? Same story as far as "extra's" go. Everything costs extra! And it's not a wagon...

Rush to Finish Constitution

Poor Iraq! Once again they are being manipulated and molded to fit an image not of their design. If you care to read the history of this failed nation/state, here's a link.
http://www.angelfire.com/nt/Gilgamesh/1918.html

Since Iraq has no solid history or experience in actually being a nation, what else can we expect?

U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor

U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor
"The ensuing scramble to produce more plates was marred by a series of missteps in which the Pentagon gave one contract to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He was allowed to struggle with production for a year before he gave up."

Doesn't this give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about those in charge? And where, exactly...does the "buck" stop?

An odd experience

Our children have soundly condemned our plans to look at the Toyota Scion as the replacement for our VW. (The VW has earned our displeasure because of high dealer costs for parts and maintenance and the fact that it doesn’t get the best mileage.)

But what I find really odd is the fact that they can only mention how strange it looks as the reason for their disapproval. No technical reasons are given; why is that?

For myself, I have some misgivings because of the fact that everything costs “extra”. Oh, there are quite a few standard features included in the base price…and the maintenance/service costs are quite low, but I hate being nickle and dimed for extra’s like an arm rest.

Coming Home

Coming Home
I heard Terry Gross interviewing the author the other day...what was most disturbing was his account of the drug abuse (Valium) that was being quietly supported by those higher up the chain of command.

Friday, August 12, 2005

See?

See? It is all about oil!

"Four days before the deadline for finishing Iraq's draft constitution, senior Shiite leaders demanded that the oil-rich southern region of the country be granted autonomy. Rival Shiites in the interim coalition government rejected the idea, but it was not immediately clear whether it might delay delivery of the proposed charter on Monday. Sixteeen points of contention remain unresolved, a member of the multiethnic drafting commitee said Thursday. Kurds also have demanded continued autonomy for their region in northern Iraq, which is rich in oil as well. Sunni Muslims have been insisting on a powerful central government, out of concern that they be left in a central Iraq that lacks oil."

The Rise of the Stupid

The Rise of the Stupid
A Libertarian rant...Karen always calls them as she sees them. But she has some good points.

Immigration

Some excerpts from an article in the Monitor regarding a local crackdown on the hiring of immigrants in Idaho...

"They say these are jobs that no one else will take," says Tim Smallwood, an Idaho fruit and vegetable inspector, as he takes a lunch break in Caldwell. But if employers were denied that pool of cheap labor, overall wages would go up he says.

What Tim and most Americans don't seem to realize is the fact that the rest of the world will be most willing to supply us with even more of the fruit and vegetables we demand as soon as those wages rise. To be competitive; the market place will shift to South and Central America. We are in a no-win situation here. The same thing happened in Hawaii on a smaller scale as the pineapple industry moved to the Phillipines when wages rose to a non-competitive level.

Lori Morrison, who manages a night shift at Jack-in-the-Box to help support her family, shares the worry about wages. And she adds another concern: the social-service burden on government. "Taxes have gone up," she says. "They're killing us."

Lori needs to do some homework. Americans enjoy some of the lowest tax rates per capita when compared to the rest of the civilized nations...but we do enjoy complaining about them! What's killing her are the low wages at Jack-in-the-Box, not the taxes. And education? Why can't Lori get a better job?

It's far easier to complain than it is to do something positive about the problem.

And a note that is often ignored...for our economy to remain in neutral, not gain and not lose, we need to create 50,000 new jobs every quarter. Not replace jobs...create new. So if we got rid of the immigrant workers and replaced them with American workers, we would still need to create those 50,000 jobs.

Japan, because of its anti-immigrant stance, faces that problem right now. And their economy is forecast to grow weaker each year...

Big Bucks

Profits
1. Wal-Mart $288.2 Bentonville, Ark.
2. Home Depot 73.1 Atlanta
3. Kroger 56.4 Cincinnati
4. Costco 47.1 Issaquah, Wash.
5. Target 46.8 Minneapolis
6. Albertsons 39.9 Boise, Idaho
7. Walgreens 37.5 Deerfield, Ill.
8. Lowe's 36.5 Mooresville, N.C.
9. Sears 36.1 Hoffman Estates, Ill.
10. Safeway 35.8 Pleasanton, Calif.

Make those BILLIONS of dollars...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Failure

Thursday has arrived and all is well…or as well as can be. What I thought was going to be a simple drill and fill day at the dentist yesterday turned out to be more than that. The tooth in question had been filled previously and was in a somewhat weakened state; so when the clamp was placed around it, it only took a little pressure to break off completely. The final result was a root canal procedure and the promise of more work on the tooth in the days ahead. The dentist will fashion a two-piece porcelain crown that will fit into the remains of the roots. In the meantime, I’m toothless…

And now, to make my day complete…the coffee pot has stopped working! What an irritating event that is. It’s not quite a year old and it has failed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Get it?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0811/p01s02-usfp.html?s=hns
Is a bigger 'nuke club' inevitable? There is no doubt in my mind that Iran poses a threat to world peace...as does Pakistan, India and Israel. The last 3 named are not signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and are quite free to do as they please in the development of nuclear weapons, which they have. And oddly enough, they are rewarded by the US despite their behavior.

Pakistan sold nuclear secrets to other nations, and because we wanted to maintain a friendly relationship with the military junta that governs that country, we said very little and sanctions weren't even discussed. India's government, because of its increasing importance in the politics and industry of the Middle East is now being treated to the best we can offer in military aid and other perks. Israel, which denies that it evens owns a nuclear bomb, won't let anyone see its highly secret labs and manufacturing plants. The rumor is that Israel already has 25 nuclear warheads, a rumor that Israel never denies. While at the same time, Israel cozies up to the US for aid...

Want to be worried? Really worried? Russia, the old Russia we once feared has thousands of nuclear warheads and they are stored with little or no security to keep them safely in place. Some say that they don't even know how many they have (or had). And what are we doing about that?

We just passed an anniversary marking the first and only use of two of those devices. 60 years have passed since we unleashed this horror and we still don't "get it". Two of those old bombs killed over 300,000 people, mostly civilians. What will the new bombs do?

Why No Tea and Sympathy

- Why No Tea and Sympathy?
Good question...
"It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't."
What's he afraid of?

Golden

This morning I have to drive back down to see my dentist in Roseville, not my favorite thing to do. But I have a chance to get a filling repair paid for under my old insurance policy before it expires in a few weeks when I reach the age of 65. I now have supplemental health insurance to cover what Medicare doesn’t cover. (But no dental!) All of these expenses are manageable with our retirement income, although I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who don’t have retirement plans. That’s why it’s especially cruel to even think about removing or modifying the benefits of Social Security. Why do we want to punish people? Old people?

And speaking of retirement; when I think about my children, I wonder what their retirement dreams are? They haven't shared it with me if they do have a plan. And work till you die is not a viable plan! It would be interesting to hear what they want to do once they have the freedom to do as they please. Not that I have a specific plan…as I don’t, but I have a myriad of things I want to do and it seems like I don’t have time to do them all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Bad Guys

The Nigerian Bank Scam must be a dead issue anymore, so those who love to scam people are looking at all kinds of twists...and here's a new one that showed today. First one I've seen, but I doubt it will be the last.

My name is Eric Joseph, I am an American soldier, I am serving in the
military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, As you know we are being
attacked by insurgents everyday and car bombs.We managed to move funds
belonging to Saddam Hussien's family. The total amount is US$25 Million
dollars in cash, mostly 100 dollar bills.We want to move this money to you,
so that you may invest it for us and keep our share for banking.We will take
50%, my partner and I. You take the other 50%. no strings attached, just
help us move it out of Iraq, Iraq is a warzone. We plan on using diplomatic
courier and shipping the money out in one large silver box, using diplomatic
immunity.If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is
to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I
trust you? When you receive this letter,kindly send me an e-mail signifying
your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for
quick communication also your contact details. This business is risk
free.The box can be shipped out in 48hrs.Respectfully,
Sgt.Eric Joseph


Irritating, isn't it?

Drug War

Drug War
First we have to define "drug" don't we? Go ahead, read the article...

"Today we tolerate alcohol, even though it causes far more harm than illegal drugs, because we realize a ban would be futile, create more problems than it cured and deprive too many people of something they value."

No one likes hearing that and they usually tune it out. In fact I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you didn't even follow the link and read the whole article. But it's true. Would anyone drink bourbon or vodka or scotch solely for it's taste? Of course not! It's all about the effect of the drug, alcohol. And the war on drugs? We will win it when pigs fly. But in the meantime, it keeps a lot of people employed.

Air Fare or is it Fair?

Index
For those who must fly...this is an interesting site.

Too Much Pork and Too Little Sugar

Too Much Pork and Too Little Sugar
The Energy Bill...17,500 pages long. Most of it in added Pork that never saw the light of day, being added after the bill had left committee and comments were no longer permitted. All done late at night, the midnight provisions as they are called. The Republicans? These are the very best that money can buy!

I can only think of one explanation...Shortly after election, all new legislators are whisked away to some secret laboratory, where their consciences are removed. This allows them to function effectively in Congress...and later, when they become lobbyists!

Good Thinking

I just read that General Motors is doing quite well in China. In fact, they are the leading manufacturer! Their most profitable vehicle? A minivan that gets 43 mpg and sells for $5,000. This vehicle propelled them to first place in sales as they swept past all of the other manufacturers. But, to clarify…this is a joint venture of G.M. and Wuling. G.M. has a separate division in China that makes large cars and surprise! They aren’t doing so well. And the man responsible for the success of the G.M./Wuling enterprise, Mr. Philip Murtaugh has now departed from China.

Here’s what the Times had to say… “In what may be a telling sign of the corporate culture at G.M., Mr. Murtaugh's success in China led not to promotion but to his departure from the company. G.M. declined to discuss personnel matters, but both it and Mr. Murtaugh said he resigned and was not dismissed.

A soft-spoken man in a company known for autocratic leaders, Mr. Murtaugh ran the China operations for more than nine years from his base in Shanghai, repeatedly making some of the best calls in the industry. Now he finds himself unemployed and living in a small community in rural Kentucky.

His resignation in March, at the age of 49, came shortly after senior company executives’ reorganized management to give more power to Detroit executives to oversee design, engineering and various manufacturing disciplines all over the world, including operations in China.”


Wouldn't you think...that they would look at what succeeds when making decisions?

Monday, August 8, 2005

Protests in Texas

Protests in Texas
"If they won't cooperate, we won't,' Capt. Kenneth Vanek of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department, said of the marchers.
He said the group was stopped because some marchers ignored instructions to walk in the ditch beside the road, not on the road."

It's a good thing we have genuine heroes like Capt. Vanek around...otherwise people would be out walking on the roads everywhere, instead of in the ditch, where they belong! Yeah! And why should the sheriff cooperate? After all, he didn't start this demonstration...that crazy lady did!

The Cover-Up

The Cover-Up
A good article. I was almost 5 years old at the time; and in later years, I spent some time under my school desk doing "Duck and Cover" drills - as if that would have helped! But it was official policy and our government knew best of course...

The Male Condition

The Male Condition
A fascinating article about autism and gender. I have always been interested in Asperger's syndrome (a subgroup on the autistic spectrum) and this article has some possible answers for me.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Business (still) as Usual

What’s new with bush? The Energy Bill was signed and that rewarded all of his friends in the oil and gas industries. It contains just $85 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks. And the Transportation Bill was passed with some $24 billion worth of pork in it. (Yes, BILLIONS!) I guess this explains why corporations buy presidents. It’s a great investment!

Friday, August 5, 2005

Signs of Fall

Yes, though it's still the middle of summer, the first signs of an early Fall here in the Chico area were detected yesterday. A pickup truck, loaded with old furniture and a few mattresses passed me in a big hurry. The driver appeared to be of college age and his driving skills were appropriate to that age level. Actually, his was the third mattress laden vehicle I have seen in the past few days and that is a sure sign that the students are arriving for the Fall semester at Chico State.

Another sign of Fall would be the renewed controversy over the annual "Idiocy on the River" mass tube floating that quite a few students participate in during Labor Day. Local authorities are making discouraging noises..."No alcohol!" and "No parking!" are the current proposals to curb the clutter on the river.

Novak Walks

Novak Walks Off Live CNN Program
Oops! Sorry, Bob...you lose.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Odd and Odder

"Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.' That is, three out of four Americans believe that this actually appears in Holy Scripture. (Benjamin Franklin wrote it...) The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor."

Found in Sojourners Magazine.

Dreams

The debate over whether or not John Roberts should become a Supreme Court Justice continues, although it’s now reported on the second or third page of the newspapers. There are lots of questions being asked of him, but none address his core competency. The man has no practical experience in law or dealing with people. He will probably join the court, where only one of the Justices has ever tried a criminal case. And the rest have spent their entire careers reading the law and never having to deal with the people that make up this nation. And you wonder why the Supreme Court makes odd decisions? It’s time for us to have a real life Justice, one who’s not a lawyer, or if a lawyer…one who practiced law, not read it. Conservative or liberal labels aren’t near as important as competency. Ah, but I’m dreaming aren’t I?

News

I just read that 14 Marines were killed in Iraq this morning. Yesterday it was 7 killed, pushing the number of American fatalities in World War III to over 1,800. What a disaster! And a disaster caused by stupidity, lies and greed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Tuesday is here and it looks a lot like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, etc, etc. The sun will shine (in a while) and it will be warm. Just another summer day in the valley. I must admit that it is during the summer that I miss the weather pattern of the mountains. When we lived up there, we could count on some variety in our weather. Magnificent thunderheads would form in the afternoons, brilliant white against a deep blue sky, towering far above the surrounding peaks, and if we were lucky, we would get a summer shower out of them. And, although dangerous, a spectacular lightning show might develop as well. Nowadays, I can look off to the east and see those same clouds forming over the mountains, but from this far away they lack the power to fascinate as they once did. Weak imitations of the real thing...

Monday, August 1, 2005

Gospel Magic

Gospel Magic 3
As a Christian, do you ever get the feeling that people don't take you seriously? Maybe this is why. How very sad...flaming Bibles, indeed! What's worse; they are sold out.

Data

Since September of the year 2000, there has been more than 3,500 Palestinians killed and 29,000+ injured. During that same time frame, more than 1,000 Israeli’s have been killed and 7,200+ have been injured.

During the period between May and October of 2004, The Oregonian, largest daily paper in the Northwest, reported 100% of the deaths of Israeli children but only 28% of Palestinian children’s deaths. The headlines during this same time reported 88% of Israeli children’s deaths and 2% of Palestinian’s.

Sounds like a fair and balanced picture of violence (and its causes) in the Middle East, doesn’t it?

Data from the August 2005 issue of Sojourners magazine.

Part C


This is how it was planned...three of three views.

Part B


This is how it was planned...two of three views

Current Garden


This is how it was planned...0ne of three views.

Power Play

"President Bush today to name John Bolton to be nation's U.N. ambassador through recess appointment, senior Bush administration official says."

What's that quotation? "Power corrupts and absolute power...corrupts absolutely" Something like that.

Chores

My life is dominated by chores, both real and imagined. And the biggest chore is the garden and the orchard. And I mustn't forget the front yard and its lawns! The weeds are out of control in the garden and the tomatoes have taken on a life of their own. The tomatoes began to grow in the direction of the setting sun and as they grew larger, they began to crush their supports. I propped them up and propped them up again, but they can’t be stopped. They have inundated the marigolds on the west side and erased the garden path there. The tomatoes are finally bearing fruit and that adds to the weight of the plants. On the positive side…the tomatoes are beautiful and delicious. I especially like the Momotaro’s and the Azoychka’s; red and yellow heirlooms respectively. The Glacier cherry tomatoes are a little too big for my taste; being close to 1-1/2” in diameter. I do have one volunteer cherry tomato from last years plantings and it is beginning to produce the cherry tomato I love to pick and eat, warm from the sun. They rarely make it into the house.

Although it’s early, I have already begun to make plans for next years garden, using the knowledge gained so far. One; I must not be so ambitious! Large garden’s = lots of work and how much of that do I really want? But, I am fascinated by the whole growing process and consider it a blessing to watch God’s hand in it. Two; plan, plan and plan some more. And plan with minimizing the work. Ask my “garden daughter” for more advice.

Resolved so far: three tomatoes only. (I already know I can’t do that!) One yellow and one zucchini squash. One Bell pepper. No cucumbers. No eggplant. No corn. More green beans. One Tigger melon only. Add more gourds and snap peas. Add a musk melon. OK, that’s enough pre-planning. I’m certain that I will change it all in the future anyway.