Saturday, December 31, 2005

10 greatest gadget ideas of the year

Just for fun!

Conspiring Against the Voters -

Why is this not surprising?

Tapped

Good Stuff
Nice to read...without a lot of the yelling and other rude noises that seems to be present on most "conservative" blogs.
Question: Why do conservatives think they have to yell?

Hatred Returns to the Political Arena

- With a Vengeance - The War on Immigrants
Wrong. Hatred has always been there. It's the politicians tool of choice because it requires no thought.

More Rain

This is it; the last day of the year. And it’s wet and stormy. I can hear the rain pounding down this morning, just as I did last night when I went to bed. According to all of the experts, a flood surge will be coming down the river today and tonight as the storm continues, and releases from Shasta Dam will add to that volume of water. Here’s the official forecast for the river levels.

Hamilton City 1 am stage 143.0 ft forecast to rise to near 148.0 ft late Saturday evening then forecast to recede to near 146.5 ft   Sunday morning monitor stage 143.0 ft, flood stage 148.0 ft

Ord Ferry 1 am stage 112.6 ft forecast to crest near 118.0 ft  early Sunday morning monitor stage 110.0 ft, flood stage 114.0 ft danger stage 122.6 ft

For us, Hamilton City is the closest point (5 miles east) to the Sacramento River. And if we were to visit my oldest daughter in Durham, we would travel there by way of the Ord Ferry road over the river. Neither of those places is close enough to pose any threat for us, just an inconvenience. The only river close to us, Stony Creek, is running high right now, but it’s not anywhere near flood stage. Traditionally, the western side of the Sacramento River floods less often than the eastern side.

But all of this talk of flooding has to be worrying those who live in the Natomas flood plain, just north of downtown Sacramento. The newspaper has been running a series of articles that detail the extent of flooding possible if and when a levee fails. And fail they will. It’s only a matter of time. When I was growing up, my grandfather lived in Sacramento and I remember the news accounts of the flooding that occurred almost annually in the 1940’s and 50’s.  

And here’s the weather forecast; Today: Windy with a heavy, steady rain this morning. Rain showers continuing this afternoon. High 56F. Winds S at 20 to 30 mph. Rainfall possibly over two inches. Tonight: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Low 44F. Winds SSE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Tomorrow: Wind driven rain showers early with a steady, soaking rain later in the day. High 52F. Winds SSE at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near a half an inch.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Anywhere...Except Inside and outside:

Caution: This guy thinks smoking is OK.

Unbelievable! Smoking has no merit, has no redeeming value except to make a great deal of money for tobacco companies . Those companies are protected and coddled, while they deal only in death. So, why aren't they prosecuted for dealing in dangerous drugs?

Hypocrisies?

Uzbekistan and Bush

And here's some more from our own State Department...Boiled alive? Nah! That's not really torture...

Another Compassionate Conservative

LaMalfa, R-Richvale, doesn't want felons to get food stamps, people in jail to get worker's compensation and sex offenders to go onto school grounds to vote.” Well, he certainly knows how to push all of the “hot buttons” that the non-thinking electorate favors.

The first item got my attention…the other two items are no-brainers; he chose them to make sure he got some press attention.

“In 1996, Congress passed a measure barring persons convicted of felony drug offenses from receiving food stamps for the rest of their lives.

I was raised to believe that when you broke the law, you were punished. You did the time, as they often say. Seemed fair to me. But, LaMalfa believes that when you commit a crime, you are punished…forever. In his narrow and spiteful world, you’re a “good guy” or a “bad guy”, never a “bad guy” trying to become good.

“However, states were given the option of not following this federal law. Legislatures in more than 30 states have voted to extend food-stamp eligibility to convicted drug felons.”

“In 2004, California joined these states when a bill supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans passed and was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.”

The federal ban on food stamps for drug felons has been criticized by many drug treatment providers … they argue the ban unfairly targets people of color (especially women) and that it may interfere with ex-convicts' efforts to kick their drug habits. No kidding!

“David Reade, LaMalfa's chief of staff, said his boss believes all felons -- not just drug felons -- should be ineligible for food stamps, and he'll introduce a bill calling for such a ban.” Sure, if someone is trying to climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves, why not take the ladder away…and kick in some dirt while you’re at it!

Wall Street Journal - Something about Tom

OpinionJournal - Featured Article
It must be obvious by now that Mr. Tancredo has never read a history book. Or he would know exactly why "walls" fail...and they always do.

Almost Over

Just two days left in this old year. It has been a most wild year, or so it seems. As often said, perception is reality, and to some it has been a year of peace and tranquility. I wish I lived where they did! No, I can’t really say that. If I think it has been a wild year it’s my environment that has caused that perception. With all of the various news feeds, newspapers and magazines that I read, I’m surrounded by news most of my waking hours. I have it all right at my fingertips. Good thing? Or bad thing? Since I can’t imagine life without “data”, I’m going to guess that it’s a good thing.

And now I’m using Google Alerts to manage some of that news. Google searches out news that fits your criteria and then sends you a link to it on a daily basis. I have Google Alerts for nanotechnology, oil, science, and Iraq. No wonder I think it’s been a wild year!

This morning I received a link to the Seattle Post Intelligencer and a story on the semiconductor industry and how they have officially declared nanotechnology to be on the “road map” for the future. “A handful of futuristic chip-making technologies at the atomic scale have been added to a planning effort that charts the future of the semiconductor manufacturing industry every two years.” Now they are talking about transistors being smaller than individual molecules and doing that in less than 10 years. Apparently the only thing that will keep computers from disappearing from view altogether is the fact that we have to interact with them and we need “normal” sized I/O hardware to do that.  

Another Google Alert for today…“Oil Prices Remain Above $60 a Barrel
SINGAPORE (AP) - Oil prices held above $60 on Friday after the US government released data showing a significant drop in domestic gasoline inventories…” Sorry about that. Better fill it up today.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Definition Of Family

Manassas Changes it
Absolutely disgusting...the people of Manassas should be ashamed. How dare they tell anyone that only city approved relatives can live with you. The city has a right to limit the numbers of people in a house but never based on relationships.

Weather...or not

According to the forecast, it’s supposed to be a cloudy day today; no rain in sight for almost 24 hours. I can hear an owl nearby, so it isn’t raining and I can’t see any stars from this window…so it must be cloudy. Forecast correct!

Without any rain, today would be a good day for us to visit Chico and do some downtown strolling. We have no plans and that’s always good when strolling. The students (some) are still on vacation and so the downtown area will be fairly quiet.

This time between Christmas and the New Year has always been a good time to pause, reflect and re-order your priorities. The coming year will certainly change all of that, but it’s still rewarding to think that you have a handle on it…even if it’s just for a day or two.

And speaking of forecasts; the business forecasts for 2006 are all very favorable. I like that! Now if we could only relegate politics to a back seat for the year, life might be even more pleasant.

And speaking of politics; our acting governor is quickly losing his Republican friends as he moves to the center in an attempt to win fans once again. After all, that’s what all actors do; seek adoration. Does this mean that we will see Arnold driving the g├╝bernatorial Humvee at Union rallies and parades?

Now you know...More!

How To Make A RFID Blocking Wallet
I can see it now. A rider will be attached to some ordinary bill in Congress and the next thing we know...duct tape possession will be a crime!

Washmatic

Now you know!
I wonder if this would work for kids?

Another Day

Thursday already! It certainly doesn’t take long for the week to disappear. And yesterday flew by while two of our grandchildren visited. We picked up Karlee and Kyle around 8 in the morning and took them home. It was raining heavily at the time so there weren’t any outside play activities available. Kyle and I found some stuff to do in the garage for awhile and Karlee colored with her new gel pens. Also during this time, the cat took a mental beating as the kids pursued her in their vain attempts to hold and pet her. She’s a good natured cat, so no injuries resulted. Soon it was lunch time and shortly after that, a wrestling time in the front room. The best time came when I, seated on my comfortable chaise, had two children and a cat for company in that spacious chair. We practiced being “Quiet” for a few minutes and it was great. I even got in a real catnap. Of course it didn’t last very long; they are 5 and 7 after all! And then the cat suddenly decided that beneath the hutch looked like a more promising place to nap. Day over!

Next week promises more of the same…sort of. The twins, aged 2 years and 10 months, are coming to visit for a week. They are not identical twins, and even if they were, they have wildly divergent personalities, making for an interesting week ahead of us. But I have a feeling that I will get another chance to share the chaise with grandkids and cat and that’s always nice.

And what’s your point?

“Almost a quarter of corporate email is really personal communication, says a recent study of North American workers. 23% of the messages in employee inboxes are personal in nature, the study says, and about 33% are spam. That means that more than half of corporate email has nothing to do with business. (Source: Mirapoint and the Radicati Group.)”

As long as we’re talking about meaningless data; how about this? Over 50% of corporate meetings are a useless waste of time. Over 50% of all business calls involve some personal conversation.

Most “smart” corporations know that the personal and social interchange between workers via the lunch room, the water cooler and email are valuable; to the corporation. Ideas are exchanged and rumors dispelled by personal conversation, not by corporate edict. The good that comes from this kind of interaction has always outweighed the bad. Yet there are always a few managers that can’t stand to see all of those noses away from the grindstone…

What's New -

In Bakersfield?
Here is a very clear and understandable argument for making Intelligent Design part of the Philosophy curriculum...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hello?

He just doesn’t get it…

"This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people."TRENT DUFFY, a spokesman for the White House, on reports about the government's terrorism inquiries.

What is disturbing is not that they are monitoring phone calls, but they get to determine who are, “very bad people”. No one should have that right without oversight.

Shopping

Wednesday is already here. How quickly the time flies. It seems as if it were only yesterday that we were shopping for Christmas presents. Oh, it was yesterday! And we were checking out the various on-line shopping sites for presents for next year’s big event. And the more on-line the better! I’m following my sisters’ lead on this and I have established a Wish List at Amazon.com. That allows me to browse their many stores and to place items that I like onto a list that can be viewed by others. If I want to know what “Aunt Kitty” really would like, in books for instance, I can search the Amazon database and see which books intrigued her enough to place on her Wish List. Now, if everyone in the family would do that… shopping would be quite easy! Amazon is no longer a book store and so there are thousands of items to choose from.

We experienced two disparate events yesterday that affected how we perceive shopping on-line. One, we stopped at Petco to buy some nail clippers and the person who waited on us was deliberately rude. And not just to us…the person ahead of us got the same treatment from him. (And his name tag stated that he was the Manager?) Later, we stopped at Tuesday Morning and the clerks were overwhelmingly friendly; sincerely friendly. What to do? Our experience is what will drive us away from the brick and mortar store, so if a store wants to survive in the physical world, it has to offer something that Amazon can’t…smiles.

Then I read an article about “Baby Boomers” that made me rethink the whole on-line shopping thing…it seems that a large number of “Boomers” are wary of technology. So much so, that they will not arrange for direct deposit of their Social Security checks. This costs the government something like 80 cents per check versus 8.5 cents for a direct deposit. What are they thinking? Old people, like me, and Gen X, Y and Z think direct deposit is great. So will “Boomers” really embrace on-line shopping?

I once put together a business model for local shopping on-line and the basics of it depended on the answer to the question, “When do you want it?” You paid more for a special trip to put the item in your hands “Now”. If you could wait till the truck was in your neighborhood, you paid less. Now imagine Amazon doing that on a regional basis and involving even more shopping choices. Groceries as well as books. Oh, Oh! Sounds like a Wal*Mart! On Technical steroids!

But my model would make it possible for a local retailer to do the same thing and even better, because they would know the variables that affect the local economy. They would know you…

But what am I thinking? We are in the middle of revolution. This is a time for global economies and since we can’t be a strict isolationist country anymore, we must accommodate the new economy of the world. And use it to our advantage. What happens anywhere and everywhere in the world effects us now. That will require a whole new way of thinking.

Quantum Trickery:

Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory
Don't attempt this at home! A good story about the stumbling blocks in quantum physics. "The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it seems," Einstein once wrote to friend.
(New York Times article...may require registration)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kansas City Star

For Bush, math and science legislation is a gift horse
"Compared to 1970, the percentage of America’s gross national product invested by the federal government in physical science research has declined by half.
Asia and Europe are graduating thousands more engineering and science majors every year than the United States — and the gap is growing.
Almost half of U.S. patents now go to foreign-owned companies and foreign-born inventors. Our high school students test poorly in math and science compared to those of our major trading partners."


Here's a chance for Bush to do some good...

State's Tobacco Revenue Surges

Taxes, anyone?
"several large healthcare groups have drafted a measure they hope to place on the November ballot that would quadruple the tax on every pack — to $3.47" They shouldn't wait till November. Some smart politician should draft a bill to increase the tax right now.

Haiku-sort of

What a beautiful word picture! Somehow the reporter has captured the grace and beauty of politics. It elegantly says…”Government!”
“WASHINGTON — As night settles over the Capitol, Tom Tancredo is seated in his congressional office, smoking a fat cigar and nursing a plastic tumbler of scotch. Tancredo exhales a billow of blue smoke. Life is good.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I hate this stuff!

Every time I see fonts this big and bold, I get suspicious
Sure enough, among the warnings of disaster there are plenty of "Subscribe Now!" messages. OK, now what's the real deal? I'm sure there is some truth in here, but it's going to be hard to locate it among the headlines.

Did You Read?

The most often “blogged” books last year…
FREAKONOMICS: A ROGUE ECONOMIST EXPLORES THE HIDDEN SIDE OF EVERYTHING By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow, April 2005)

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (BOOK 6) By J. K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine Books, July 2005)

BLINK: THE POWER OF THINKING WITHOUT THINKING By Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, January 2005) (With a title like that it must be a conservative book.)

THE WORLD IS FLAT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY By Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2005) (Has to be a conservative book!)

GETTING THINGS DONE: THE ART OF STRESS-FREE PRODUCTIVITY By David Allen (Penguin Books, January 2003)

COLLAPSE: HOW SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED By Jared Diamond (Viking, December 2004)

BLOG: UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION REFORMATION THAT'S CHANGING YOUR WORLD By Hugh Hewitt (Nelson Books, January 2005)

THE TIPPING POINT: HOW LITTLE THINGS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE By Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay Books, January 2002)

THE DA VINCI CODE By Dan Brown (Doubleday, March 2003) .

STATE OF FEAR By Michael Crichton (HarperCollins, December 2004)

THE WISDOM OF CROWDS: WHY THE MANY ARE SMARTER THAN THE FEW AND HOW COLLECTIVE WISDOM SHAPES BUSINESS, ECONOMIES, SOCIETIES AND NATIONS By James Surowiecki (Doubleday, May 2004) (Since we already know that the majority of college graduates can’t read…why does this book make sense? It doesn’t.)

THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: WHEN HUMANS TRANSCEND BIOLOGY By Ray Kurzweil (Viking, September 2005)

1984 By George Orwell (Signet) (An old favorite!)

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA By C. S. Lewis (HarperTrophy)

UNHINGED: EXPOSING LIBERALS GONE WILD By Michelle Malkin (Regnery, October 2005) (Must be a conservative book.)

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?: HOW CONSERVATIVES WON THE HEART OF AMERICA Must be a conservative book.
By Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books, June 2004)

HELP! MOM! THERE ARE LIBERALS UNDER MY BED By Katharine DeBrecht (Kids Ahead, September 2005) (Must be a conservative book.)

PODCASTING: THE DO IT YOURSELF GUIDE By Todd Cochrane (Wiley, August 2005)

THE FAIRTAX BOOK By Neil Bortz and Jon Lender (Regan, August 2005)

Accidental Acetaminophen Poisonings Rise

Do You Think?
Read the story in the previous post...it tells me that college graduates are most at risk for this sort of thing.

Disturbing

It certainly is…
"It's appalling -- it's really astounding," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. "Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. That's not saying much for the remainder."
Actually it says quite a bit about the remainder…69 percent CANNOT read a book and extrapolate from it.
“…far fewer are leaving higher education with the skills needed to comprehend routine data, such as reading a table about the relationship between blood pressure and physical activity, according to the federal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics "What's disturbing is that the assessment is not designed to test your understanding of Proust, but to test your ability to read labels…”
Labels? Warning labels? That’s scary!

It's Over

Christmas is over. (And there are 364 shopping days left till the next time we “celebrate”.) We had a good time and everything we gave and everything we received was simply perfect. Not everyone in the family was there, and as parents and grandparents, that was the only significant flaw in the day. Maybe next year.

And the world resumes its normal activities as well. I seem to remember that today is supposed to be the second most important shopping day of the year. I have never, no…never ever, gone shopping on the day after Christmas. Just the thought of all of those people in the stores gives me a shudder or two.

I wonder if there are just as many bargains on-line? It follows that there would be. Perhaps I should look around the virtual malls this morning. There won’t be any parking problems.

And what are the normal activities of the world? According to the headlines, what is “normal” probably needs to be redefined. Scary! But on the lighter side, a story about the guy walking across the country. I had forgotten all about him so I found this to be an interesting story.

Extraordinary

Wow! Who would have guessed?

“"Something is very wrong here. Our federal government is paying an extraordinary amount of money for services that are not being performed adequately. "Frank Leach, a supervisor in Jackson County, Miss., speaking about cleanup efforts after Hurricane Katrina.”

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Another Present For You

You didn’t get all of the presents you thought you deserved? Well, take heart, Bucky! Doubletree loves you…

“Get a free cookie this week just for stopping by any one of the 150 Doubletree Hotels in North America. The chain, known for presenting guests at check-in with a warm chocolate chip cookie, is again offering its ``Cookies for the Holidays'' promotion, which runs through Saturday (while supplies last). No purchase is necessary, and cookie-eaters of all ages are welcome”.

Ps. I was a frequent guest of the Doubletree in Overland Park, Kansas. And the cookies were the best part of the visit. Yes, the hotel was rundown, shabby and overpriced, but they had great cookies!

Merry Christmas

The Federated Church in 1945.
Christmas has arrived. And it’s quite late; for me. We went to the midnight services last night and so we weren’t in bed till almost 1 this morning. The service was very good, a real celebration of His birth. An odd thing though…there were very few “old” people there. There were lots of strangers’ present, young strangers, and that was a good thing! There had been an earlier service, at 7, and that is probably where the older members had been. We have always enjoyed the late service with a candle light processional and so we will probably try to stay awake for it next year as well. We may have to take a nap, but there is nothing wrong with that.

Now that Christmas has arrived, perhaps we can declare the War on Christmas to be over…Christ won, at midnight last night, as He always does and always will. And those that were so eager to defend Him can go back to doing whatever it is they were doing before they became convinced that Christ was under attack and needed help.

We will be back in church later this morning and then we are going to Chico to celebrate with our family...Good times!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Oops!

Just noted today…

Burgan Oil Field now past Peak

The second largest oil field in the world has been verified past peak. The Burgan oil field accounts for more than half of Kuwait's 96.5 billion barrel reserve. At a maximum output of 1.7 million barrels per day, the field has fallen short of the 2 million barrels per day estimate that was supposed to be good for another 30 to 40 years. Farouk al-Zanki, chairman of Kuwait Oil Co., has said production capability is now "much lower than what it used to be." Kuwait is budgeting $9 billion to shore up production over the next three years, but the downside is already here for the Burgan Oil Field. So much for estimates…

Senegal Celebrates Christmas

The War on Christmas has gone international!Should we allow Muslims to "worship" Santa Claus? I don't think so...He's our Santa Claus and not to be trifled with!

Waves


1953...The Triangle Shopping Center. I didn't take this picture, though I still have a few old photos that show something close to this. In this picture, the ocean is about 200 feet to the right.

Mammoth waves in South Bay

draw surfers, onlookers
It's been many years since waves like this were seen in the South Bay.

Memories: When I was much younger, in my early teens, I would go to Redondo Beach whenever there was big winter storm like this. At the time, there was no marina and no jetty to protect the city and the waves would roll over the highway and into the stores along the shore. The Triangle Shopping Center was always hard hit, as were the houses along that stretch of the beach. I would sneak past the Civil Defense volunteers that were guarding the abandoned houses and try to get close enough to get some exciting photos with my Kodak camera.

Voting Machine

Warning!
I found this "operator error or misunderstandings about how the software was to be used" in the article and I couldn't help but think about my own experiences when working in software development. The disconnect between the programmer and the user is always a huge problem, and one that the programmer always wants to deny exists. Oddly enough, users are rarely consulted during software development. Ego?

Christmas...almost

Tis the day (morning) before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. That’s true; I checked the traps and couldn’t find a mouse anywhere. At this early hour I am the only creature stirring, and that’s a good thing.

I was reading the mail first thing this morning and I came across another e-mail from The Daily Reckoning. I subscribed to their mail offering for some obscure reason. Probably because I enjoy their writing style. The email always contains a pitch to buy their book (I haven’t) and some short and pithy comments on life in general. They are also “Gold bugs”; people who trade in gold and think that gold will rise in value to over $2,000. (It currently trades just below $500 and they might be right.) Included in this mornings message was the following…

“…Globalization meant that his employer could go to someone in Nicaragua or China and get an employee in 2005 at 1905 prices! Factories and cheap machines worked just as well on the banks of the Wazu as they did on the banks of the Hudson. And now the poor American drudge has to struggle to make any headway; his real hourly wages haven't gone up much for 30 years. That doesn't mean he's worse off. He benefits from the lower prices globalization brings. And he goes further into debt to be able to buy even more.

Meanwhile, his old employer is doing fine. The company saves on labor costs. It may even be one of these 'platform' companies - outsourcing its factory work and labor costs overseas. Typically, a company has to pay its employees...and gets the money back when the workers buy things. But now the workers buy things with cash the employers never paid out. Instead, workers buy with credit...and the employer's profit goes up (because he has no offsetting labor cost).

It is almost too wonderful... The employee gets a better standard of living without actually earning more money...and the employer gets higher profits without having to make anything.

Have Americans discovered some new way to wealth? Without hard work...or hard money...or hard savings? Or are they just enjoying an illusion of late empire...before the cheap energy runs out...and the barbarians break down the gates?”

Friday, December 23, 2005

Data!

How are we doing?

Year Poverty population Unemployed Average Income Bankruptcies
2000 31.6M 5.69M $42,148 1,253,000
2001 32.9M 6.37M $42,228 1,492,000
2002 34M 8.37M $42,409 1,577,000
2003 35.9M 8.77M $43,318 1,660,000
2004 37M 8.14M $44,389 1,597,000
2005 Not available yet...

Statistics are so cool!

And this from the Jesus Center in Chico; meals served to the poor and homeless are up 22% over last years numbers.

News from the front lines...

of the War on Christmas

Hey, Don!

And speaking of Donald Rumsfeld. Wasn’t I? Even if I wasn’t…I heard this story yesterday. Apparently, the National Guard, which makes up 1/3 of our armed forces in Iraq, is forced to leave Iraq without the “stuff” they brought with them when their time of service is over. If they brought their trucks, they stay in Iraq. Helicopters? They stay. Heavy machineguns? Yes, they become the property of those who are left behind. Now that actually makes sense…except for the fact that none of this “old stuff” gets replaced with “new stuff” once the troops are home again. Now we have National Guard troops without the equipment they need to train and stay ready for their next deployment.

New Dollar Coins for 2007

The third time is a charm?
Let's see now...The Susan B. Anthony coin...a flop. The Sacagawea coin...a flop. Hey! Why not try a third one? It's only money.

"Who are my mother and my brothers?"

- The Gospels don't preach family values.
A good discussion here...

Cookies

It’s Friday and it’s early. The rain seems to have stopped for awhile and that’s a good thing. A break in the weather will be appreciated by all; especially the merchants who are hoping to see a flood of last minute shoppers. Every day brings a news story about the Christmas economy and quotes from some experts who say it is good and from others who say it is a disaster. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it.

And speaking of merchants; I was out among them yesterday as granddaughter Meghan and I went shopping for odds and ends. First we had to visit Barnes and Noble, the book sellers, to buy a book that Laurae was giving as a gift. That was easy as there were few shoppers around at 9 and the book was in stock. Then we headed to Food Maxx to see if we could find some chocolate Almond Bark. I was hoping to make some of those chocolate covered Ritz cracker/peanut butter cookies and that was the one ingredient I needed. I already had some white chocolate, but my plan was to try and make some multi-colored cookies. Like a lot of plans, it didn’t go well; Food Maxx had no Almond Bark.

Then we went over to the pet store to buy an I.D. tag for the collar of my cat. This store was also empty and we spent a few minutes checking out the mice, rats and hamsters…would a stocking full of white mice make a good present?

We still needed the Almond Bark, so I decided to go where I was certain to find it. It was against all of my principles, but I knew that the white chocolate bark had come from the Wal*Mart store in Susanville, and I was going to have to go to the local Wal*Mart if I were to have any chance of finding it. So much for principles…so in we went. And then I find that this Wal*Mart didn’t have bark of any kind, white or regular chocolate. What a waste!

It was time to move on and I vowed (anew) to never darken the doorway of Wal*Mart again. We went to the nearest Raley’s and searched all of the aisles for the bark, but found none at all. A clerk told us that they had been sold out for a week or so. We headed home to Orland. But…since there was one more Raley’s store along the way, I made another stop to see if we could find the elusive bark. Of course not. Now I have to make a new vow; along with the Wal*Mart vow, I have to promise to shop for cookie making supplies at least 3 weeks before next Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

True

From MSNBC six days ago:
Mr. Bush, in an effort to force passage of the bill, warned on Friday he would veto any temporary extension of the [Patriot] act.
From AP today:

(White House-AP) December 22, 2005 - The White House is hailing the Senate's vote to extend the Patriot Act for six months, a day after vowing President Bush wouldn't accept a short-term extension.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan calls Wednesday night's Senate vote "an important victory for the American people."

It’s amazing, isn’t it? You could swear that someone makes up stories like this…but they don’t.

Something I Heard

I heard this poem yesterday as I was traveling and it really struck me...as it will most fathers.

Fishing Lessons


Thursday is here once again and I have returned from my trip to Susanville and some fishing at Eagle Lake. Fishing is what I did, catching is what I didn’t do. I returned last night after a long journey through the storm that was hitting Northern California one more time. Luckily, it was a warm storm and so snowfall wasn’t my concern this time, rockfall was. The rain had loosened rocks throughout the length of Deer Creek Canyon and they were littering both lanes of the narrow road. This road is tricky enough during the summer months; winter driving just adds to the perils.

But, before I got to the canyon…I passed the solitary chimney and mantel that sits alongside the road between Westwood and Goodrich Creek. The structure that housed the fireplace is long gone but the chimney endures; I have seen it for almost 30 years now and every year it has been decorated by persons unknown. This year, a large wreath hangs from the chimney while a handful of ornaments sit on the mantel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Rain

I'm still in the mountains above Susanville. We did go fishing yesterday, but that wasn't the success we hoped for. The weather was just too good. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. That's a formula for disaster when fishing for Eagle Lake trout. Around 11 we headed into town for breakfast at the Grand Cafe, a restaurant that can claim a history of close to 100 years in Susanville. After a great breakfast, the skies began to turn gray once again so we headed back to the lake for another try. But...no luck.

Later that afternoon and into the evening, the skies opened up and it began to pour. This morning we have more of the same. Thankfully, it's not snow, as I'm headed home this afternoon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Snow!

I am sitting in the front room of my son's house and I see plenty of snow in the front yard. But it's melting fast as the temperature climbs. I drove up around 11 and pulled into Chester around 1 for something to eat. There was some snow there but the roads were mostly wet from the rain and the melting snow. Another hour and I dropped down into Susanville and that was where all of the snow was. The city was busy spreading it around with a loader, hoping to melt it with traffic. I headed out of town and up the highway to the Willow Creek valley and the roads were clear once again. It was a great sight as I looked back across the valley and saw every hill and peak covered in white. The two mountains, Diamond and Thompson Peak were cloaked in clouds...Tomorrow we're fishing!

Gonzales:

It's the Law!!
Gonzales says so...

The Rest of the Story

I took a poll the other day, decidedly un-scientific, but a poll none the less. And I can report that there have been no casualties among those polled. I’m speaking of casualties from the War on Christmas…Body count=0, injured=0 and MIA=0. (Laurae did get a paper cut while wrapping presents, but it was only a minor wound) Christmas appears to be doing just fine!  

US border fence

'shameful'
Does anyone (anyone?) think this will work? I'm willing to bet that it will work just as well as our War on Drugs does. The money will be spent, the wall will go up and nothing will change. Then, after a time, we will need higher walls and more of them! And more money will be spent, ad infinitum.

I bet that the native Americans wish they had thought of this back in the 1600's.

G'morning!

Monday has rolled around once again as it always does. And once more I can hear the rain pounding down. According to the forecasts, (Ha!) we will be seeing rain all week. Even Susanville, at 4,500’, will have rain as these new storms are warmer than the ones last week. That’s good for me as I will be driving up through Almanor and over the mountains to Susanville later this morning.

In the news, Bush’s speech is making all of the headlines. In it, he repeats all of the tired and expected lines, but with somewhat less bravado this time. Yes, we have to support the new Iraqi government…but it would be nice if this president would support our troops with something more concrete than another speech. How about adequate supplies and additional troops as needed? How about treating the war…as a war?

After all of these years, I wish I could find something commendable about the man. But he still plays at being a politician. And he still appears to be a politician controlled by his environment; those advisors that he surrounds himself with. Will the real George Bush ever appear? I doubt it; he has been involved with politics all of his life and his father and mother are notorious for being “clueless”. I don’t think he knows reality…and that gave me this thought; our acting governor and our president are very much alike, except for one thing. One knows that he is an actor and the other doesn’t.

All presidents have the opportunity to rise above politics, but very few ever take the challenge. And once again, this week…an opportunity was lost.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Advent Bells

A great Advent service! And a very good sermon as well…

The only thing wrong with the service was the bells. Yes, it was time for the bell ringers to do their stuff and this is where I have a problem. Oh, it’s only me and it’s certainly not the fault of the bell ringers. I love to listen to them but I can’t handle watching them. It has something to do with my INFP personality type; I can’t stand the suspense as I watch a bell ringer who might have 3 or 4 bells to ring. Will they pick up the right one? Will they reach it in time? I spend so much time agonizing over the performance that I never even hear the music…so now I listen to them and keep my eyes focused on something else, perhaps the bulletin.

A busy afternoon for us. We will be having dinner with our Chico family and then we return to Orland for an open house at the pastor’s residence. And I have to get ready for my trip tomorrow, as I’m heading to Susanville for a few days of fishing with my son. Eagle Lake trout are what we’re hoping to catch and this kind of weather is perfect for them!

State urged to embrace the tiniest science

Nanotechnology
Are you looking for a GOOD project to spend your tax money on? This is it! Although I'm sure that Grover Norquist and the Flat Earth Society will be against it.

More

And another headline

Australian police seize petrol bombs, swords and iron bars in a major effort to prevent further racial violence.”

Swords? No, I’m certainly not denying the lethal power of a sword. It just seems so odd when compared to an American headline for something similar.

American police seize Molotov cocktails, AK-47’s, UZI machine pistols, 50 caliber machine guns, M-16 automatic rifles and iron bars in a major effort to prevent further racial violence.”

Startling News!

I just ran across this headline

US Vice-President Dick Cheney visits Iraq in what is thought to be his first post-war trip to the country.”

Post-war? The war is over? Why didn’t someone tell me?  

A Wet and Rainy Day

Sunday morning is here and it’s quite wet…outside. I can’t see the rain but I can certainly hear it as it pounds on the patio cover. So I imagine that it will be another cold and gloomy day here. It certainly was dismal yesterday; never getting much beyond the 45 degree mark and the drizzle continued all day and into the night.

Speaking of yesterday, I can report that I was able to convince Kyle to try my homemade waffles in lieu of the frozen creations that he usually favors. Of course I had to include chocolate chips to influence his decision. Now I wish I had taken a picture of his face midway through breakfast. Chocolate from ear to ear and a big grin.

More News from the War on Taxes; last week: On December 15th, Senator Proxmire died. A truly great American. You might be interested to know that he wasn’t against taxes at all, (On principle? What principle, Grover Norquist?) but he was definitely against government waste.

And being against taxes is an intellectually bankrupt position. Are you against all taxes? Or just some? Do you get to pick the ones you like? And since this is a free society, don’t I get to pick the ones I like?

I did some prowling around on the ATR website and found that it had more misinformation and plain old-fashioned lies than most websites of the Radical Right. These people are scary! And to top it off, Mr. Norquist had decorated the site with this quote from that most famous of American Presidents…Grover Cleveland. (who?)

"I will not be party to stealing money from one group of citizens to give to another group of citizens; no matter what the need or apparent justification. Once the coffers of the federal government are open to the public, there will be no shutting them again. It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens."
-- President Grover Cleveland  Now is that a great campaign speech or what?

Emphasis added…I guess Grover didn’t notice that part of the quote.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

ATR

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)Grover Norquist, a high-powered unofficial Republican strategist, heads this organization dedicated to smaller government. According to the ATR's mission statement, it "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle." (In other words, don’t bother me with any facts, my mind is made up. The man is brilliant!) ATR has a Taxpayer Protection Pledge which it lobbies for state and federal representatives to sign. The pledge reads: "I (name) pledge to the taxpayers of the (district #) district, of the state of (state), and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." (Obviously he is looking for people with the same mental capacity that he has. He has reduced government planning to the absolute minimum…just vote no on everything. He’s my hero!)

The Red and the Mondegreen

What?
Some of these are funny...but the ones I liked the best were from the comic strip, Pogo, created by Walt Kelly.
"Deck us all with Boston Charlie!"

More...

Big news! Google buys into AOL…oh, Google, what are you thinking? The good news is that maybe, just maybe…Google can fix AOL. That would be a big project, but Google has the money to do it.

Second big news! Robert Novak leaves CNN and goes to Faux News…why does that not surprise me?

Shame On You

They ought to be ashamed…but I think that shame is a foreign concept to these judges.
“Though the Supreme Court has prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded, a Texas death row inmate who may be retarded cannot raise the issue in federal court because his lawyer missed a filing deadline…”
The inmate, Marvin Lee Wilson, has "made a prima facie showing of mental retardation," a unanimous three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the wrote in an unsigned decision on Tuesday, meaning the court presumed Mr. Wilson to be retarded for purposes of its ruling.
But the panel said it was powerless to consider the case because Mr. Wilson's lawyer filed papers concerning his retardation in a federal trial court without first obtaining required permission from the appeals court…until a deadline had expired. Deadline, how apt!
"However harsh the result may be," the panel said, its hands are tied by deadlines established in a 1996 federal law, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The same law now forbids Mr. Wilson, convicted of killing a police informant, to appeal the Fifth Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court. Harsh? Yes, I would call death harsh.
“At a hearing in state court in 2004, Mr. Wilson's lawyers presented evidence from a psychologist, Donald Trahan, who said Mr. Wilson's I.Q. had most recently been measured at 61. A 1971 test had measured it at 73. In 1987, it was 75.”
What is it about Texas? Is it something in the water?  

Good Morning

It’s a Saturday and so there is no pressure to get the day started. I’m taking it easy of course…but I always do! And this morning I’m enjoying my second cup of coffee while I browse through the news of the day. Now that is more like work than relaxation to a lot of people, but I enjoy it. The house is quiet for now; Karlee and Kyle are asleep in the television room, but they are early risers and so I think we will soon be enjoying waffles with butter, syrup and laughter with our grandchildren. Or maybe I can talk Kyle into trying some chocolate chip pancakes?

Here are some of the headlines…

Bush Approved Eavesdropping, Official Says
President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night. “There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," declared Republican Sen. Arlen Specter

What’s really odd here is that the courts have always allowed this when asked…so why didn’t Bush ask?

Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act
Republicans spurned calls for a short-term measure to prevent the year-end expiration of law enforcement powers first enacted in the anxious days after Sept. 11, 2001. "The president will not sign such an extension," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and lawmakers on each side of the issue blamed the other for congressional gridlock on the issue. Well, that’s certainly productive.

House OKs Bill to Tighten Immigration Laws
But lawmakers left for next year the tougher issue of what to do with the 11 million undocumented people already in the country. Yes, when the going gets tough, the tough (lawmakers) get going…on vacation.

The House legislation, billed as a border protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration control act, includes such measures as enlisting military and local law enforcement help in stopping illegal entrants and requiring employers to verify the legal status of their workers. It authorizes the building of a fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. Requiring employers to verify the status of their employees has always been a requirement, but never enforced. This administration would rather build a wall around the U.S than enforce a law that could possibly cost businesses some money.

But it put off consideration of a guest worker program, which President Bush and many in Congress say must be part of a lasting solution to the illegal immigrant crisis.
And they are right. But not enough congressmen are brave enough to face this issue. They are quite content to cater to the demands of businesses that use the cheap labor of illegals.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's the Law!

I think?
An interesting article. And the Justice Dept. has a weird take on this...The Justice Department has said it could identify the secret law under seal, which would be available to the judges in the case -- but any public description of the contents of the law would not be permitted, and defense attorneys wouldn't be allowed to see the law.

The department argues that national security concerns make it necessary that directives dealing with transportation be kept secret, refusing even to confirm or deny the existence of the law.

But in America, said James Harrison, an attorney representing Gilmore, "we do not have secret laws."


Imagine being stopped by the police..."OK, you're under arrest." "But what did I do officer?" "I'm sorry, but it's a secret...now put your hands behind your back."

Death and Taxes

I just read that the Butte County Library, through its Advisory Board, has lobbied the County Supervisors to place a 1/8th cent sales tax increase on the ballot to help fund the library. And according to what I read, Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi said, “I think that asking the public to accept a library tax at this time is unacceptable.” Because “it would stifle the economy.” What? 1/8th of a cent will cause the economy to deteriorate or stagnate? I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Yamaguchi has ever been in a library? Read a book from the Economics section? Luckily, someone reminded him that the request was only for the chance to let the public decide the question in an old fashioned way, to vote on it.

Polling Data

A Gallop Poll taken November 17th…“How would you rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields?” The respondents could rank them from very high to very low. Here are the results for Very High.

Nurses 82%
Druggists 67%
Medical Doctors 65%
High School Teachers 64% (?)
Policemen 61%
Clergy 54%
Funeral Directors 44%
Bankers 41%
Accountants 39%
Journalists 28%
Real Estate Agents 20%
Building Contractors 20%
Lawyers 18%
Labor Union Leaders 16%
Business Executives 16%
Stockbrokers 16%
Senators 16%
Congressmen 14%
Advertising Practitioners 11%
Car Salesmen 8%
Telemarketers 7%

Do you think our acting governor made a mistake in taking on the nurses in a political battle? Ah! Isn’t data fun?

Of Course

There was some interesting local news…when I say “local” I mean California.

One, the Douglas/Sunrise Flyover and Tunnel freeway interchange on I-80 will open this afternoon. I know everyone is hoping for a miracle here…I will wait and not make a special trip just to see how it works. (Laurae noted that the 800’ long tunnel is apparently a single lane…does anyone see anything wrong with that?)

Two, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Football Stadium in Austria's second-largest city Graz is to be renamed as a sign of displeasure with the city's most famous son. Oh no!

And speaking of our acting governor…and speaking of flip flops. The State Republicans are now saying that all is well and good with their governors’ choice of Susan Kennedy as his Chief of Staff.

And last, the surfing world is in shock as Clark Foam quits making…foam.

Laugh of the Day?


“General Motors Corp. should see improved revenue in 2006, driven by its new line of full-sized sport utility vehicles and trucks, Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said on Thursday.”

That’s right…giving the public what they want!

Let’s say we take a look at this prediction in about 6 months.

The 25 Dumbest Quotes of 2005

- only 25?
One of my favorites was, "You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." ---President Bush, to a divorced mother of three in Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005 Until the president set her straight, she probably thought she was disadvantaged in some way.

Flip Flop

It’s the end of the week. Friday has arrived and I’m right on top of things. I have my coffee, laced with eggnog and a dash of syrup, here in front of me. (Two Tbs eggnog, two Tbs Torani Italian Eggnog Syrup, place in empty coffee cup and microwave on high for 22 seconds. Add coffee to desired level) I’m good to go now…

The full moon is revealing the fact that it is foggy outside. Darn! I was hoping to get some burning done today, but with everything wet from the fog, it may be more of a chore than I want to tackle.

I suppose I should take a look at the headlines and see what’s new. The White House concedes defeat and agrees to Sen. McCain's amendment banning "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of any detainee in U.S. custody, anywhere. The White House had spent the past few months threatening to veto it and more recently to water it down. Don’t forget; this is the same president that has never vetoed a bill. None. Never. But, earlier this week, the House joined the Senate in overwhelmingly supporting the amendment. (Traitors?) After that, the White House announced that the president thought that McCain's proposal was the finest thing since sliced bread. "We've been happy to work with him to achieve a common objective," said the president, who had invited McCain over to the White House to celebrate. My, how time flies. Just a little over a year ago, that kind of behavior was called Flip Flopping or Waffling and only Democrats did that sort of thing.

The other big headline is that the White House has promised to spend $3 billion on flood protection for New Orleans. That will not be anywhere near enough. One; it’s a government project so all costs will double before they start. Two; they have not begun planning, and after planning, all costs will double. Three; after completion and after all the Change Orders are billed, the costs will double. It’s just normal government operating procedures. Example; a pedestrian walkway was proposed to be added to the bridge crossing the Sacramento River at the Capitol Mall. First proposal was around $1.5 million. After some additional scrutiny by many agencies, the cost went to $3 million. Obviously more review was needed. The final cost to walk across the Sacramento River is still unknown, but the contract to do the work was made for $9 million. I’m just guessing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go over $11 million after all of the Change Orders are figured in.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Work Harder!

Interesting news from the financial front…From the Daily Reckoning.

"According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government spent nearly $2.5 trillion during the 2005 fiscal year. This means that, on average, the federal government spent nearly $6.8 billion each day, or $78,418 per second. The Census Bureau estimates that in 2004 (the latest year for which data are available), median household income in the U.S. was $44,389.

"In short, the federal government spends almost twice as much money in only one second as a typical American household earns in an entire year."

"Yes, but American businesses are becoming more profitable than ever," say the Feds. "That's why so many people want a piece of this economy...that's why foreigners are willing to lend...and that's why we don't have to worry. The economy is in great shape."

At least in theory, American businesses are able to trim payroll costs - either by directly outsourcing to lower-cost areas, or benefiting indirectly from the globalization of the labor markets that has kept real U.S. hourly wages from rising for the last 30 years.

The problem is obvious. Unless U.S. businesses are able to sell overseas as well as buy overseas, their main market is still right here at home.
How then can they sell more and more product to people who don't earn more money? There is only one way: by expanding credit. The buyers have to go further and further into debt.

"Well, why can't they just keep going into debt? After all, the value of their assets (presumably, value of the nation's ever-more profitable
businesses) is rising."

But rising asset values are a feint and a fraud. You can't really sell off your house one room at a time in order to improve your lifestyle. Nor are companies that sell more products to more people who can't afford them really worth more. At the end of the day, the apparent strength and solidity of the economy just evaporates.”



And from the Wall Street Journal:

"Over the last five years, total annual borrowing through student loans has soared 85%, easily outpacing the 41% rise in public-college costs and the 28% increase at private schools." So, kids are following the example their parents set: borrow like there's no tomorrow. And they're not only borrowing for school, they're borrowing to buy beer and pizza, too.

Perhaps that's why McDonald's decided recently to accept credit cards.

"Even amongst the most well-to-do, borrowing a lot of money at a very young age seems to be vogue...among kids graduating last year from private non-profit four year colleges, 73% had taken out loans, typically borrowing $19,400, according to the College Board. These kids have credit cards, too - 91% carry at least one card and have $2,864 average balances."

Shopping (Not On-Line)

We did some more shopping yesterday and it went well…no crowds and there were plenty of items to choose from. And while we were out, I decided to stop at Jiffy Lube and have them fix the headlight on the Jetta. Good move. Right now, Jiffy Lube is my new Favorite Place to Shop. I had taken the truck there for service and had been very pleased and so I thought it made sense to try them again; just for a test. Service was quick and pleasant. Only $19, labor and material and it took about 20 minutes to replace the headlight bulb. (That was the passenger side bulb. The driver side bulb is estimated to take about an hour. German efficiency!) The store is clean, bright and they have New Magazines! Free coffee and clean restrooms add to the customer satisfaction package. Wow! Customer satisfaction…there’s a clever idea. Sorry, VW dealer. You’re history!

Aging computers

and Homeland Security
Beyond this story is another one that affects every governmental agency and every school. Computers become obsolete; quickly. And no one wants to address the problem, especially the manufacturers.

In a perfect world, computers would be built with industry wide, standard plug and play modules that could be quickly replaced without throwing away the computer case, the monitor,the keyboard and other peripherals...The data would remain stored on a separate drive while you upgraded components and operating systems. Dell, HP and Compaq would sell modules, not computers.

A Musical Interlude

Thursday arrives on time; just as I thought it would. And I can see quite a few stars from the study window, despite the brightness of the moon. Apparently we have no fog in Orland this morning. A good thing!

We were out and about last night, going to Durham for the winter concert at the Durham high school. We were there to watch our granddaughter play the flute in the 6th grade band and it was delightful, of course. Although it’s difficult to pick out the sound of one particular flute from among all of the instruments in the 6th grade band, I think I succeeded and I can tell you that she performed flawlessly! The Durham schools musical program is a miracle in this era of slashed and lean school budgets. They have five (5) school bands and one (1) very dedicated music director.

At the conclusion of the 2 hour program, a community sing was held with the Symphonic Band doing the musical accompaniment. We sang Silent Night, Adeste Fidelis, Joy to the World and 3 or 4 other “religious” songs. I can report that the building didn’t fall down and that the crowd didn’t riot at the mention of the words, Christ and Lord. In fact it was more of the opposite…I was singing but I took the time to look at the audience. From my vantage point, high on the bleachers, I noted that about half of the audience was not singing along and were looking at their watches. A few were trying it out, but looked slightly confused at some of the more difficult lyrics. There was also a number of the audience that was holding conversations with each other and treated the sing-along as a minor irritant. In other words, just a normal audience for today’s world. (Audience behavior is a lengthy subject all of its own.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Word of the Year?

'Infosnacking'
Oh, oh! I guess someone noticed...

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday has rolled around again, right on schedule. And I have had a few moments to enjoy the coffee and the silent comfort of the house while I read the morning news. It’s not all that dark outside as the moon is very close to being full and the western sky is bright. And in a another week or so, (December 22) we will experience the Winter Solstice, that wonderful time of year when we see the promise of Spring as the days lengthen once more. C’mon Summer!

Some of the morning news is interesting; with a promise of taxing the smokers out of existence! California is considering a $2.60 additional tax on a pack of cigarettes. I’m all for it, though I think an outright ban on it would be better. And addicts should have to have a prescription from their doctor to be able to buy nicotine. Yes, an ex-smoker is the least tolerant…

And there is quite a lengthy story about our acting governor and a closed door meeting with his fellow Republicans. Apparently they are upset that he isn’t following the party line in all that he does and says. And that led me to thinking about that “party Line” business…I guess one to the things that bothers me the most about our current political climate is the fact that most of our representatives, state and federal, have forgotten that they serve the people, not the party. And until they remember, they will deserve the low opinions that the public has of them. I’m speaking of both Democrats and Republicans…

And in other news, I read that in order to rent a two bedroom apartment; not a house, you will need to earn $19.38 an hour if you live in Sacramento County. Nationally, that dollar figure is $15.78 an hour. I would imagine that North Dakota has the lowest numbers. Can you commute to Sacramento from; let’s say, Dunn Center, North Dakota? (It’s right there on State Route 200, between Killdeer and Halliday.)

Hate torture?

Consider boot camp
I guess I haven't kept up with who is who in the conservative camp. The author of this piece is Max Boot, a Senior Fellow, etc, etc. But with this bit of odd logic, you would think that the conservatives would want to disown him. His premise is that torture (in moderation) is OK because that's what we do to our own armed forces when they are in "boot camp". Hello? Now I have been to boot camp and it was torturous...but I was free to go any time I wanted. I could simply quit and tell them that I didn't want to do this anymore. There would have been legal consequences of course, because I had signed a contract. Sorry, that's not torture.

And Mr. Boot goes on to say that our little bit of torture is OK because Saddam did worse things...so there! We wouldn't accept this kind of logic from our young children, so why would we accept it from this "scholar"?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sign of the Times

Shopping! That’s the thing we do these days…and I just finished another *satisfying shopping excursion on-line. It’s getting easier all of the time and most merchants are becoming aware that even on-line shoppers can be discriminating. The websites are friendlier and filled with all sorts of gift ideas, sorted by $ value and recipient.

And when the merchants fail to satisfy…you can simply leave your electronic shopping cart in the middle of the aisle and walk away. I love it!

*Satisfying…When Amazon failed to notify me that the one item I had selected did not have gift wrap available, I abandoned my cart and went elsewhere. Hah!

Survey says...

I was reading the results of a survey about the opinions of those who had retired and then decided to go back to work, compared to those who had stayed in retirement mode. Here is the one item that the two groups could (almost) agree on. “Having the freedom to pursue other interests is an element of a successful retirement.” 87% of those who had returned to work agreed with this, along with 82% of those who had simply retired. So what does that mean? At first glance it tells me that most people hated the jobs they had. Maybe “dislike” is a better term.

Money:

The golden years grind (12/13/05)
Would I? I suppose if a job found me and the money was very good...I would consider it. For a moment or two. (I'm not holding my breath) A good article with lots of thought provoking data.

Amazon

rents access to a copy of the Web
Caution; this is geek news. But good news all the same...
Imagine if this sort of stuff spreads.

Awake

The aroma of fresh brewed coffee has my mind on alert. It’s early, but I’m almost ready for the coming day; just a sip or two more of this magical brew and I will be fully functional.

The news is in and I have browsed through some of it. Stanley Williams is dead, executed at midnight. Archaic. Other than that, the news for today is less than exciting.

While looking through the Letters to the Editor of the local paper on Sunday, I found a reference to Lin Jensen. The name was newly familiar to me because that is the name of the racewalker I see in the park most days when I’m training. I had spotted him in Portland as well; we had both competed in that cities marathon. (He beat me by 10 minutes!) Looking up his bib number on the Portland Marathon website I had found out his name and his age…73. This morning I decided to Google the name and came up this link, among others. Apparently, Mr. Jensen is not very popular among the right wing il-literati of Chico. Well, I don’t know about his views; I haven’t read any of his work and we don’t speak very often. He once congratulated me for having “good form” as we passed. I think that’s the most I ever heard him say. Racewalkers are generally solitary folks and we like it that way. I do know one thing about him; he’s faster than I am and he’s also 8 years older. What a stroke of bad luck for me…there can’t be more than 2 racewalkers in all of Butte and Glenn counties, and I’m the slowest one…Curses!

Monday, December 12, 2005

National Debt Graph

Look at those numbers roll!)
Interesting numbers. I wonder if I should pay my share right now and get it over with...before it goes any higher?

The Grinch Who Doctored Photos

-The RNC's fraudulent new ad
Just in case you were wondering if ethics had improved in Washington, DC during the past 24 hours...the answer is still no.

How Very

Weird.
I don’t know what’s wrong with my e-mail server…or is it the server? I use Direcway, the satellite service for my ISP and it operates in both directions. The old service depended on a phone line out to upload any files or mail. The service I use now, works by beaming my outgoing messages to a satellite and then they are sent down to the Direcway server. So far, so good…except for occasional missing mail, in either direction! In my imagination, I see a stream of 0’s and 1’s (my mail) hurtling through the atmosphere and into space, but just missing the satellite by a fraction of an inch. Darn! Now off they go, into deep space, never to be seen again. And when they send me a mail message, I see the satellite controllers taking careful aim at the tiny dish on the roof of my house…the binary “arrow” is released and oops! Missed! All of the 1’s and 0’s lie shattered in the middle of Road P.

Technology, ya gotta love it!