Saturday, September 30, 2006


I always find the downtown section of big cities to be quite interesting and Portland is big enough to be included as one of the interesting cities of this country. There are lots of tall buildings and that’s what fascinates me. I can look at them and I know exactly how they were built.

Looking at the one across from our hotel, my imagination takes over and I can see beyond the polished glass and the stone and I see the skeleton, the steel framework, clad in the customary gray fireproofing. I even see myself working, measuring and snapping chalk lines for future walls on the concrete of freshly poured floors. I see electricians and plumbers; iron workers and glazers, all leaving their mark on the building.

But, come down from the building and wander the streets; now that’s fun! And that's what we did. We were on our way to make a dinner reservation at Pazzo Ristorante, a favorite of ours. With all of the people in town for the marathon, the best we could get was an opening at 4:30…or one at 8:15. We chose the earlier one. Afterwards, we stopped and had a coffee at Peet’s and the only chairs we could find, looked out onto the sidewalk and the passing scene. There are definitely some strange types to see; with hair in every color of the rainbow and with tattoos and piercings to stagger your imagination.

"I'm No Bush Hater" by

Rosa Brooks - from the Los Angeles Times

Good article and worth reading...


If you looked at my Shortlaps blog, you already know that we’re in Portland once again. We got in yesterday after a safe and somewhat boring trip. The most exciting portion was in the downtown area where I saw the skyline filled with tower cranes…my favorite sight!

But there was one odd object on the skyline that I couldn’t identify. A large and very tall (200’+) silver tower that had a network of cables attached to it. I was driving, so there was no way for me to take time to identify its purpose. This morning I tried using Google and searching for the words “Portland skyline”, but it only netted me thousands of scenic postcard type photos and none of the mysterious object. I must find out what it is!

On another subject; coffee…the small pot provided by the hotel isn’t enough for the two of us and so I got dressed early (6:30) and headed out to find a good cup of coffee. The goal was to avoid Starbuck’s if at all possible. Right across the street from the hotel was a likely looking shop, but not open on Saturdays till10? What are they thinking? I kept going, and going…and going further in my quest. I saw a Seattle’s Best shop and decided to try that. Yes, it’s owned by Starbuck’s, but I really wanted my coffee. Sorry, closed till 8.

Here I am; downtown Portland and it’s almost 7 in the morning and I can’t get a cup of coffee? I finally gave in and went up a block and over two to find the only coffee shop open. Starbuck’s.

Business As Usual

“WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans attached a measure cracking down on Internet gambling to a bill aimed at enhancing port security that passed Saturday.”

Republicans have always been keen on legislating morality and it looks like gambling is their latest target. I wonder how much this war on gambling will cost us in the years ahead? I already know it won’t be won.

“Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-Tenn), and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz), pushed for the gambling provision to be added to the larger bill.

“Kyl and Frist previously tried unsuccessfully to put the measure on a bill authorizing funding for the military, but critics said the Defense Department bill was no place for the gambling measure.”
but it’s OK for these two bozos to add it to a port security bill?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

Fences…there’s something about fences that draws people to them. And they go around them, or under them…or even over them.

"The Senate set the stage Thursday for a vote by week's end on a bill to wall off 700 miles of the U.S. border from Mexico, but a last-minute push by senators concerned about the severe shortage of agricultural workers could derail the measure's progress."

And only 700 miles? Isn’t our border much longer than that? Our Canadian border alone is close to 5,000 miles long; shouldn’t we be keeping the Canucks out as well?

Coming To A Theatre Near You Soon

Republicans On A Plane!

A "Must See" movie!

Mobile Computing

I will have to pack up a computer to take with us this weekend. I’m sure I can find a network to link up with while we are in the hotel. I want to be able to post something about the marathon and I would like to be able to upload some photos as well.

Of course I also want to be able to keep up with the news. A good reason to take the computer; but for news like this?

“The main players in Hewlett-Packard Co.'s corporate spying drama faced outraged lawmakers Thursday, agreeing on only one thing: Someone else caused the mess.”

Isn’t that some form of an oxymoron? “Outraged lawmakers”? Similar to “Government Intelligence” Maybe it’s more properly just a typo…Outrageous Lawmakers? It’s hard to tell; but the phrase, “Someone else caused the mess.” sounds like something a lawmaker would say.

The Game

Mental! A marathon is not so much a physical exercise as it is a mental one. And so here I am, early in the morning; psyching myself…Yes, I can do it! And I haven’t even made it to Portland yet; I’m still sitting in my usual chair... at home. We’re leaving this morning and I will have to continue this mental exercise for the next 24 plus hours.

As part of my mental exercises, I have already finished the marathon and I can see ourselves driving north from Portland to Vashon Island for a restful day or two with our friends. The skies are sunny and the temperatures are mild. Let me add a little breeze; not too much though. Ah, the power of the mind!


What is it about torture that makes some people rush to defend it? It’s a fact that it doesn’t elicit the truth from its victims, so why do they do it?  Oddly enough; those who enjoy torturing other human beings, don’t even have to be present when someone is being tortured to enjoy it. They only have to know that it is being done, that’s enough for them. Is that why they defend it so fiercely? There has to be some defect, some genetic wiring gone bad in those who even consider torture. They are less than human…and that is sad.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

As Usual

As part of my early morning ritual, I always check the weather report and locally it was as expected; low 90’s today and finally dipping into the low 80’s by next week. Fall is on its way. Then I looked at the Portland weather report to verify that the earlier forecast for Sunday was still valid. Not! The forecast 70° and partly cloudy has disappeared and the revised forecast now tells me that I can expect to see a high of 63° and I should also expect a few showers. I’ve never walked a wet marathon, but it looks like I may have a chance to do just that.

After the weather report, I check the headlines to see what’s new internationally, nationally and then statewide. I really wish there was a local news on-line with a RSS feed that I could subscribe to, but it’s not happening here, not yet anyway.

As I was browsing, I found this odd news, from Reuters… “The length of a girl's ring finger could be an indicator of her future sporting potential, researchers at King's College London said on Thursday. The findings, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that women with ring fingers longer than their index fingers had performed better at running and associated running sports such as soccer and tennis.

In women the ring finger is commonly shorter or the same length as the index finger, while in men the ring finger is generally longer.”

I will continue while you check the length of your fingers...

And then I read this news about aging… “those born between 1946 and 1964 — began turning 60 this year and are rapidly approaching retirement age. By 2030, the number of people over age 65 in the United States will exceed 71 million — double the number in the year 2000…” and the report adds that most communities are falling behind in planning for this event.

And speaking of falling behind; donations for my participation in the Crop Walk are lagging. I guess I will have to begin nagging. Here’s the link to use if you want to avoid my e-mails.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 you believe in them?

Well, here's a whole bunch, all put into one place for you to read and weep...or laugh hysterically.

Olbermann's special commentary

Clinton vs Fox

Thanks, Julia…this is good. And you’re right, everyone should hear it.


breakfast of champions

OK, I found out that Bill Richardson is a Democrat. Despite that...I do like what he says; always have. I remember being in Rio Rancho a few years ago and reading about him; enjoying his comments about the war on drugs and immigration issues. I hope we see(and hear) more from him.

No Water!

The weekend is rapidly approaching. And that means that the first of a pair of marathons will be on tap for Sunday morning. We’re driving to Portland on Friday and will be in downtown Portland traffic, looking for our hotel at just about the time for the local rush hour! Not a good scenario but the only one available…unless we start driving north about 3 in the morning and that doesn’t sound like much fun.

We have had an interesting week as Laurae was picked to serve on a jury in a Superior Court case. Luckily, it was a simple case and was over and done with in less than two days. And to top off the final day of deliberations, the jurors were given souvenir coffee mugs and pens with the Glenn County Superior Court logo on them. These lovely items were all stamped, “Made in China”. That’s a first for me; I have served on a few juries, but I was never given a coffee mug in return! I wonder how they describe those items in the county budget?

Glenn County has a muck-raking newspaper, the Sacramento Valley Mirror, and I’m surprised that they haven’t spent some time and energy reporting on the local courts. Maybe they have and I just missed it. I can only take so much of that paper before I begin to gag a little. But their website did have a link to Eagle Lake trout fishing reports…now that’s handy!

Although it’s Wednesday, the irrigation season is over with early this year and I won’t have to make the hike up to the canal. Oddly enough, I was called by the ditch tender and told that the water allotment for the year had been used up and if I wanted more water I would have to go to the district office and pay for it…ahead of time? No thanks!

That message made me look in my Journal to see when I stopped irrigating last year and it might have been a few weeks later, it always depends on the dropping of the walnuts. We have a few neighbors that sell their walnuts and once the nuts start to drop from the trees, they don’t want any flooding around the trees. And while I was browsing last year’s entries, I did see that pecans and pomegranates didn’t become ripe until the end of October.

Very cool! I used yesterday to advertise for a wanted overhead projector. And this morning I received an e-mail from someone in the UK that had one for sale and needed my postal info for a quote on delivery charges. But…along with the e-mail, came a warning from CraigsList that most out of country offers are scams. And since the e-mails have to come through their servers, they are able to scan them and attach the warning notes. A great use of technology. And a good reminder that not all is as it seems…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

History Lessons

The 'surprising tenacity' of the Taliban
US, NATO confront 'ferocious resurgence' of Islamic extremist influence in unstable Afghanistan

Why is it surprising? Has no one read the history of this region? Of course not.

I was re-reading Myths America Lives By, written by Richard T. Hughes. In it, he makes the point that Americans, as a rule, shun history. We don’t want to hear about it. We are of the opinion that we make history…not study it. Sad.


Do I have something to say today? I’m hoping that my muse will become active again and I can simply begin typing as the mood strikes me. Right now and for the past few days, I’m out of ideas.

There was a story about the Superdome in New Orleans that got my attention for a few minutes. Because? I keep hearing stories about the large number of neighborhoods in New Orleans that are still devastated. Homes still ruined and people living in trailers and motels. But the Superdome is newly renovated! And it was all done in less than a year…somehow that doesn’t seem right; I guess I have my priorities all wrong.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's all about $$$$

And this…
“The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.” OK, the amount of money spent in Iraq so far is over $300 billion. What’s a few more billion? After all, look at the results we have for our money. Don’t you feel safer?

A history note; the Soviets left Afghanistan after they realized that no amount of money was going to change the outcome. They spent billions and were hated by both sides in a civil war. And even further back in history, Great Britain was forced to leave the Middle East or face bankruptcy. Does any of this sound familiar?


Something from the news…
“President Bush has said he will enforce the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions”
First, you have to trust him to do that. Why would I? He’s a politician first and foremost. He has never displayed much common sense and his ethics are certainly questionable. I don’t know about others, but I do know that I want my president to be held accountable for all of his actions and he has spent his entire presidential career removing any accountability that he could, starting with his very first day in office when he sealed all presidential papers.

Congress has failed us once again. They had a chance to become the necessary 1/3 of our government and they threw it away by caving in to the “Decider”.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Boing Boing: Secure your checked bags -- fly with a gun

Secure your checked bags -- fly with a gun

Oh! Why didn't I think of this when I was flying and worrying each time if my bags would be on the plane with me. A small hassle but peace of mind! Now imagine if everyone did this...what a riot!

What's Wrong With Calling Bush A Devil?

Not a lot...
Name calling is as American as "Apple Pie". Don't believe it? Just listen to the politicians...

The rest of the story

Things you rarely see or hear mentioned. China, the country that our Pentagon always mentions when asking for new weapons…has no aircraft carriers. Nope, not even one. And the Chinese defense budget does not even equal the amount that the Pentagon gets as an annual increase in their budget.

Report: Intelligence assessment

says Iraq war has worsened terrorist threat
It took 16 government agencies to come up with this fact...Amazing! They could have simply asked any halfway intelligent citizen and learned the same thing.

Way to go, girl!

I guess it’s time to note here that the Plant Barn in Chico has a new owner and is definitely open for business. Yes, Denise is now an “official” entrepreneur. She took over yesterday morning and already has some great plans in place for improving the business.

The Plant Barn has been at this same location for 25 plus years, so it’s certainly established. That’s a big plus. And it’s connected physically to Chico Propagators, a wholesale nursery. That’s also a plus, as Plant Barn customers can wander through their greenhouses and select plants from a much larger collection. It makes the Plant Barn appear to be three times its actual size.

I am (still) working on a logo for the Plant Barn, using an old scanned image. I’m using Paint and changing the colors, pixel by pixel…very tedious, but since it was a scanned file, there aren’t a lot of other options. We may still find the original file, but in the meantime this will have to do.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Silicon Photonics

Intel Platform Research

Great stuff here. By using photons, everything (data) moves at the speed of light. And that means you could download a weeks worth of movies in less than a minute! And this should increase the performance gap between AMD and Intel...Buy Intel?

More Odds and Ends

I finished the book on Lincoln, Team of Rivals. It was great book and I can certainly appreciate Lincoln far more than I have in the past. A brilliant man! But…something to always remember; he was still just a man and subject to all of the temptations, failures and pitfalls that accompany those that seek power. And it’s quite plain that he wanted the power; he was simply smarter than his rivals. And then to place those same rivals in his cabinet was sheer genius.

And now it’s time for another book; but which one? I want one that holds my attention…if that’s possible. Luckily, the semi annual Orland book sale starts next week and I get first choice on books if I show up to help set things up for the sale.

I was reading my latest issue of Walls & Ceilings magazine and found an article that seemed to indicate the fact that steel framed houses are becoming more popular; at last! When I first became a carpenter in the 60’s, there was talk of this happening and during the past 40+ years a small number of steel framed homes were built. At one time, in the 1970’s, I taught a Journeyman Re-Training class on steel framing for wood carpenters to improve their skills for the eventual transformation of the industry. But, it never seemed to catch on, despite the obvious benefits of steel.

If Only

Another “duh!” moment from the Pentagon…

US general's key to victory in Iraq: 'Unlimited time, unlimited support'

And from Israel…yes, they have the same brilliant minds in their own version of our Pentagon.

“Israel troubled that war in Lebanon drove its enemies closer
Lebanese and Palestinian militants are now showing greater coordination.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

States say

new IDs could cost billions -
In New Mexico, they are seriously thinking of saying, "NO" to the feds. I hope some other states have the same kind of courage.


From New Mexico...
First, a shot of the blue sky from Taos, near the Plaza

Here's a view of Santa Fe, near the Museum of Fine Art (Right)

View from the hill...Kitty was driving the Jeep across the street. Our condo was on the right in this picture and the city is directly below us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


It’s the normal time of day for me, early, and I have my first cup of coffee down and it’s working to get my mind in gear. And while I type, I have to work around the cat in my lap. She is asleep and purring while I struggle with the keyboard here. In another minute or two she will have to move…I want that second cup! Sorry Boo…

Speaking of cats and especially this one; she was acting weird after her rescue from the veterinarian’s office. She wanted to stay close by and it wasn’t till later in the day that she ventured out into the garden. She spent some time out on the patio, basking in the sunshine, but would come over to the sliding door and peer in, apparently to make sure that we were still in there. She didn’t want in…just checking!

And the vet told me that she has picked one person in their office to bond with; the rest of the staff she scorns. Pretty much typical behavior for this kitty, and though she seems to like the two of us, she has no use for anyone else that visits…except, maybe, Meghan. Meghan has been able to convince Boo to hold still and to be petted.

I know she will be unhappy in a few more days when I take her back for boarding while we are in Portland/Seattle, but it’s unavoidable. I feel better knowing she is safe…

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Our Town --

Or Is It Theirs? -
A story from the Los Angeles Times all about a small city (Williams) just south of where I live (Orland)...actually 43.1 miles south. And I can see Orland in this article. Oh, yes!


Home again. There’s no place like it; a place where I can enjoy my favorite cup of coffee early in the morning while I sift through all of the news. We, or I should say, “I” went without a computer for four days and although we had a television available for use full-time, we watched the Weather Channel. OK, we did watch HGTV on Sunday night, but I fell asleep before it was over.

What I found amazing to me (among many things…) were the number of WiFi hot spots along the way. If I had brought our computer with us, I could have been connected everywhere we stopped. Airports, hotels, coffee shops…even seemingly remote Taos was a WiFi center with free access everywhere. But Orland or Chico? Nope. So it was nice to see that the rest of the world was becoming connected and who knows, maybe we will be someday.

I should report that the flights home were much better than the ones on Thursday. In Albuquerque, the agent at USAir made us feel very welcome and by the time we finished checking in for our flight, we were smiling at the great experience. Thursday, the Sacramento agent seemed determined to challenge us to have a good time. He was scowling throughout the time he grudgingly accepted our business.

Even with one good experience, the feeling of relief at exiting the airport system is tremendous. I suppose that is how one feels after being released from jail.

The only thing that I need now is to rescue my cat from her cage at the veterinarian’s office. We arrived home too late to secure her release and so I will try to be there as soon as they open. But…I also need to get to the park and get in a few good miles of walking. I think I had better walk first. There aren’t many training days left (about a week) before we must drive to Portland for the marathon. And of course we must drop off the cat once again…luckily; she doesn’t seem to hold a grudge.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vacation Time

As you can see, we did take a vacation, though somewhat abbreviated, and I still have more than a few gripes with US Air/Air West. They gouged us unmercifully and I’m not forgetting it. Please, don’t fly on this airline…

With our bags packed and with brave hearts, we arrived at Sacramento Interdenominational Airport on time for our afternoon departure. But first we had stopped at Fry’s to buy Laurae a new digital camera, a Canon A430.

It was after 8 that evening when we touched down in Albuquerque and close to 9 by the time we had secured our bags in the extremely small luggage area of our rental car, a pearl white Nissan 350Z. Then it was time to head north to Santa Fe. Fun!

We had forgotten how difficult it was to find your way around Santa Fe and we had never tried it in the dark before. After many wrong turns and repeated drive-bys of the Plaza, we gave up and called Kitty and Dean to get us out of our predicament. Luckily, we were not that far away and it was only a few more minutes before we were safely parked at our weekend home, a small condo that was just about 5 blocks up the hill from the Plaza.

When we woke up the next morning we found that it had rained over night but it was quite pleasant, sunny, and the forecast was for a 75 degree day. We headed into town for breakfast and then began our walking tour of downtown Santa Fe; a place that I really enjoy visiting. And walking slowly was recommended; 7,000 feet is the altitude and none of us were used to that.

One of the first places we toured was the long line of artisans that sit along the wall of the Governor’s Palace and sell their art (Jewelry). I was looking for something special to take back with me, but although a few items tempted me, I didn’t see anything that I couldn’t live without. But later, in a nearby store, I found a great pair of earrings and bought those.

It was a great day…we toured many, many art galleries and stores; we found a Trader Joe’s and stocked up on essentials; we had a great lunch and an even better dinner. And by 9 that night, we were all ready for bed.

Saturday was going to be our day to tour Taos and since we already had the fixing for our breakfast, courtesy of Trader didn’t take long for us to get on the road. It’s only an hour drive to Taos and we were there before any crowds showed up, so we had time to stroll slowly and to enjoy a cup of coffee. Once again the weather was perfect, about 70 degrees and with a breeze that kept white clouds sailing across a perfect blue sky.

OK, I really like Santa Fe. But I love Taos! Art is everywhere! I was like a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately I had a limited budget and so I had to content myself with just looking at a lot of the art and trying to commit it to memory. And while I was strolling alone, I ended up in a jewelry store, The Mesa’s Edge, that had many one of a kind pieces in it; all quite expensive but fascinating. Within half an hour I walked out with a very nice (and somewhat reasonable) new silver bracelet. I had done it. I had some very beautiful items to always remind me of this wonderful trip to New Mexico.

Right across the street from that store, we saw a very nice hotel and decided to see what it had to offer. The Casa Benavides, a bed and breakfast inn, would be a perfect place to stay if we are able to return to Taos someday. I certainly hope we can.

After a long day, we headed back down the canyon alongside the Rio Grande River and back to our rooms. And after dinner we were back in bed quite early, resting up for one more day of art and more art; in Santa Fe once again.

We spent the morning in the area around the Plaza, seeing all sorts of things that we missed the day before and then we decided to move our explorations over to a different part of the city; Canyon Road, Wow! Who knew that there were even more galleries in this part of Santa Fe? Within a few hours we all had gallery “burnout” and decided we had seen enough for the weekend; it was time for dinner and then time to pack for our return on Monday.

We’re back home now and my mind is still filled with the images of the artwork that had really moved me during this weekend. Fantastic stuff! Now I need to get it out of my mind and onto paper, in the form of sketches and notes.

And I can say that if we had no ties to where we currently live, New Mexico would be high on my list of places to move to. It’s a magnificent state. In fact I’m a big fan of their governor, Bill Richardson. As I’m writing these words, I have no idea as to his political affiliations; I just think that he makes sense when he talks.

Imagine living in a state where the sun always shines on a vista that includes earth and sky and nothing else. No buildings, no roads…limitless viewing of the beauty of this world.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Due to an emergency we had to modify our travel plans…the flight to New Mexico fell victim to bad luck. And so I thought that by calling America West and telling them of our problem, they would be helpful enough to give us tickets for a later flight. Sure, there would be a charge for that service and I expected it. Our original tickets, two of them…cost us a total of $620.

Sure enough, they could get us to New Mexico by 8:30 tonight and we would return on the same tickets that were originally issued. Price for this service? $391 EACH. Or $782 for the two of us. On top of the $620…and the only tickets that changed were the outbound ones.

Mad? You bet! That’s not an exorbitant fee; which I expected. That is gouging and should be punished.

OK, at this point we’re out of pocket some money…and that’s what I hope will happen to America West/Usair. If I can convince just one person to avoid that airline, I will be happy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Interesting data…

Currently 53% of college students are female and it’s expected that 3 out of 5 graduates will be female.

Only 43% of adult Californians belong to a political party and the percentage is dropping daily. The number of adult Californians who are independent voters grows daily.


I’m fully awake and waiting for the “magic” hour of 6 so that I can go up to the canal and start the flood irrigation process. We’re getting close to the end of the season now; no one wants water once the walnuts begin to drop and that will be in a few weeks. Some walnuts are already on the ground and the ground squirrels are already busy hiding them.

I have a busy morning ahead of me; first, the irrigation process and then I have to take a load of prunings to the dump. With the truck empty, I can go to the Chico library and pick up a load of books for the Orland Friends of the Library…we’re having the semi-annual book sale in a few weeks. Then I have to start packing for our early morning departure on Thursday. Plus, I have to sneak up on the cat and somehow get her into the transporter for a ride over to the vet’s office where she will stay while we’re away. This may be the most dangerous part of the day!

While waiting on my appointment with the water, I ran across this page that details all of the world’s earthquake activity. A most impressive map!


$3.3 Billion!
And bigger than golf..who would have guessed?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


and Dems spar over Bush speech on 9/11

Excerpt; "I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks," Bush said. "The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat." A clear threat? Why couldn't we all see it if it was so clear?

A thought; I'm really glad I'm staying fit and healthy. My job is to stay that way and to vote in every election I can. By doing that, I will help to throw out each and every fat conservative. Yes, it's true...the majority of conservative politicians are fat (They live on "pork") and I'm going to outlive them! It's my patriotic duty.

Time and Again

Interesting! Time Magazine has seen the light! They are about to make amends and become righteous once again. From what I have read, the magazine has decided to become serious and do battle with the Economist. They intend to lose market share and they will move their publishing date to the Friday, the same day as the Economist.

I was once a fan and a subscriber to Time. My mother had always subscribed and I followed suit after marriage. And then, sometime in the 80’s, Time decided to cater to a different audience and it was soon such a light piece of fluff that it made its way from my hands to the circular file in just a minute or two. I stopped subscribing and looked at U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek, but neither one was satisfactory. Far too light! Then…my mother rescued me when she began subscribing to the Economist. She would give me her old copies when she was through with them and after she died, I kept the subscription going.

When I sit down to read the Economist, I know that I have enough timely and well written material for at least 3 days, maybe more. I read stories again and again. I never call an issue “well read” until at least 3 weeks have passed.

I would like to see Time do well; maybe even subscribe once again. But they are going to have a battle on their hands if they want to dethrone the Economist. I heard that they have had a 300% subscription increase in the past few years and what’s most important; it’s the people that subscribe…not the numbers. Heads of state, ambassadors, etc are seen as writing letters to the editor of the Economist. Time is still a little bit light and not taken all that seriously…yet.

Crooks and Liars

Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you

Keith Olbermann has a few things to say and says them well...

New Mexico

The departure day is drawing closer and we will soon be at the airport for our ride to New Mexico. We’re certainly looking forward to it; Santa Fe and Taos were great destinations some years ago (August of 1999) and the weather at this time of year makes the travel to these high altitudes very pleasant.

It’s only been about 3 years since the last visit to Albuquerque/Rio Rancho and that was a business trip and I spent most of my time in Rio Rancho, as that was the location of our office; just up the road from the big Intel plant where we did most of our work. Now Intel is in the middle of resizing as they have to let over 10,000 workers go, worldwide. I wonder how that will affect the business in New Mexico?  Especially in Rio Rancho, as that cities growth was determined by the growth of Intel.

Speaking of news, I found this item a few minutes ago, Dead stingrays with their tails cut off are found in Australia, amid fears Steve Irwin fans may be avenging his death.” Is there no limit to human stupidity? Silly question. Of course not.

Monday, September 11, 2006

History Strikes Again

Daughter of the Desert: The Remarkable Life of Gertrude Bell
By Georgina Howell

I was looking at the review for this book today and was struck by some of the history contained within it. It’s too bad those in power haven’t read it. Oh, what am I thinking? It really wouldn’t matter to the wise and powerful; it’s simply history and has nothing to do with today’s problems.

Let’s go back to the years right after the end of World War I; Gertrude Bell, a former intelligence officer*, was at the Paris Peace Conference and she wrote; “I think that there has seldom been such a series of hopeless blunders as the West has made about the East since the armistice.” It seems that Britain had promised self-determination for the Arabs in return for their cooperation against Turkey. (Turkey had fought on the side of Germany in WW I) But the British wanted Iraqi oil more than a little bit of fairness and so in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Arab world was parceled out into “Mandates” to be shared by the Western powers and Britain grabbed Iraq; installing King Faisal as the ruler. Faisal was not an Iraqi, but he was loyal to Britain and that was all that mattered.

The book is not available in the U.S. but I found another (Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia) and I found this note about Gertrude…

“A biography of the woman who, indirectly, was the catalyst for many of the troubles in the Middle East, including the Gulf War. In 1918, Gertrude Bell drew the region's proposed boundaries on a piece of tracing paper. Her qualifications for doing so were her extensive travel, her fluency in both Persian and Arabic, and her relationships with sheiks and tribal and religious leaders. She also possessed an ability to understand the subtle and indirect politeness of the culture, something many of her colonialist comrades were oblivious to. As a self-made statesman her sex was an asset, enabling her to bypass the ladder of protocol and dive into the business of building an Empire."

And we still wonder why the people of this region hate Westerners? I simply can’t imagine why.

*The first woman officer in the history of military intelligence


Jokes of 'Hot' Bloodlines
Do you know what part of this story about our acting governor I found the most disturbing? It's this statement..."The governor respects every member of the Legislature and holds them in the highest regard" Oh please!


Along with 3 or 4 million or more other bloggers, I will probably say something about the fact that today is the 5th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. And yes, I remember the day perfectly. We all do. But what I don’t remember nor will I ever remember is the picture of that day that is being painted by the politicians and hate mongers of every description. The film about 9/11? It’s a film…a movie. What kind of a society are we that we allow films to portray our deepest injuries? Sick! Sick! Sick! Everything about 9/11 has been co-opted by the politicians and their hacks for purposes that have nothing to do with the pain of that event. The WTC memorial? It’s all about money and politics and because of that it is still a hole in the ground. There are far grander memorials where anonymous widows and widowers, children and grandparents, have placed small photos of those they loved and lost on that day, on their mantels. The movies are simply images of actors speaking lines created by writers. Why would you believe that?

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Those wild and crazy Republicans!

“ABC will air a five-hour "docudrama" on the 9/11 attacks. The movie was written and produced by a right-wing activist who fabricated key scenes to blame Democrats and defend Republicans. It's so partisan that even Rush Limbaugh was surprised ABC decided to air it. And an FBI agent who was brought in to consult on the docudrama quit because, he said, "they were making things up."

Can you imagine surprising Rush? About anything at all? He's a guy who will take any ordinary lie and expound upon it for hours!

“Big parts of it are simply untrue. The producer himself even admitted to simply improvising a key scene which depicts the Clinton administration letting bin Laden go when they had him in their sights—a complete fabrication. Last night, the movie's star, Harvey Keitel, said "It turned out not all the facts were correct."”

This doesn’t surprise me…and for once Rush and I agree.

And you want how many more years of this kind of governance?

Evading Jesus

And Looking for Cheap Grace?

Go ahead, think about it!

Climate change

The heat is on
A great article...lots to think about here.

Technically Speaking

I was looking around this laptop I’m using for the weekend and noted that I didn’t really have a good homepage for the internet connection. At home I use my Pluck news page and I can always go to my Yahoo account for things like stock market news and comics…the staples of life! Then I followed a link to my old and rarely used Google homepage. My, how it has changed since I last set it up. Google has a huge and fascinating array of choices to add to your homepage. For instance; the moon phase is waning gibbous, 89 % of full. Aren't you glad to know that? When I get home I will have to add some of these features to that computer as well.

The War At Home

I was just reading an account of the secret prisons that Bush and Co. have been using and of the growing divide between the F.B.I and C.I.A on the use of torture. First, Bush denies ever using “torture”, yet he does say that the C.I.A. did use “approved” methods. Approved by whom? The Department of Justice lawyers of course; those are his own lawyers and not a court. And the F.B.I. said (through unnamed sources) that they disapproved of the C.I.A. methods and came close to calling it torture. Both agencies now refuse to comment any further…

And from what I have read, whatever “method” the C.I.A used was not successful as the prisoner didn’t have the information to begin with.

I find it simply amazing that Mr. Bush can claim Christianity as a shield for his actions. What did Jesus say that allows him to act as he does? I don’t want to ever doubt anyone’s faith, but I usually find their actions speak louder than their words of piety and that’s where the truth of their faith is revealed.

Now the subject of Dick Cheney is a different matter altogether. He doesn’t pretend to be a man of strong faith; except in himself. And now, five years later, he appears to be losing some power. “Mr. Cheney’s friends and former aides said they were mystified about how the same man who as defense secretary in 1991 warned that “for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire” managed, 15 years later, to find himself facing that prospect.”

Good question. Will Mr. Cheney answer it?

Friday, September 8, 2006


It looks like travel is in our future for the next month. We will be going to Susanville this weekend where I hope to get in some good high altitude training on the Biz Johnson Trail in preparation for the next two marathon events. Then, next Thursday, we will be going to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a long weekend of exploration and general good times. At the end of the month, it’s time to travel to Portland for the marathon. Immediately afterwards (the next day) we will travel up to Vashon Island for a day or two. Then we return just in time for the second marathon, starting in Westwood and ending in Susanville.

Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it…

RU Serious?

Cats! Not always the brightest stars in the firmament. We have been trying to teach Boo how to use her cat door into and out of the garage, but it appears that she only knows how to use it for an exit. When she wants back in, she cries pitifully outside the door until I reach down and swing it open for her. Am I being used?

On a different subject; without the satellite television service, I have been watching some old movies, DVD’s and tape; plus we still subscribe to Netflix. Last night I watched Lemony Snickett again, one of the best films that Jim Carey ever appeared in. And the night before that, it was Yahoo Serious in Mr. Accident. Next on tap for re-viewing will be Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon.

And speaking of Mr. Serious; I wonder what ever happened to him? Why didn’t he obtain the stardom he deserves? After making the hit film, Young Einstein, he should have made a lot more films. What happened? Of course I had to Google him and find out more about his story. After reading his bio, I know that I have to get a copy of Reckless Kelly, one of his movies that I haven’t seen.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Life and Death

“Baghdad morgue tally triples August death toll - US still stands by claims of 'significant reduction' in violent deaths in Iraq.”

So, most of those people died peacefully in their sleep?

Odds and Ends

I made that same mistake again; gardening without long sleeves. And I’m paying for it this morning as I scratch a thousand itches. No, make it a million! And although I took a shower about 30 minutes after the event, it wasn’t soon enough.

It looks like a repeat of yesterday as once more I’m enjoying a good cup of coffee while listening to a new collection of flamenco and classical guitar music that I have downloaded.

I’m going out for a 13 mile walk this morning; I should make that a little more than a half marathon distance, perhaps 14 miles. Racing; it’s all in the mind and so it’s very important to make certain that you exceed the “normal” distances. Never stop at 5K, go just a little bit further.

It’s time to scan the news this morning. And yesterday I noticed that while we have given up on regular reading of the newspapers and have abandoned our television set, we are better informed than we would be if we had continued our subscriptions. I can’t pass a news stand without looking at the headlines of the various papers and I keep seeing headlines that are at least a day old as far as I’m concerned. And yesterday, I saw a headline from the local paper that was at least 4 days old! Internet news rocks! But there are some negatives to living without a physical newspaper; I was going to do some spray painting and had nothing to put down on the garage floor. And I do miss the comics…

I’m looking at the weather forecast and that’s not very encouraging. 99° is the forecast high for the day. Darn! I was hoping to see something a little cooler. We’re having our sprinkler system repaired and some parts of it are no longer operational; this heat doesn’t help the lawn at all.

OK, no good news…World War III continues as usual, and if you weren’t paying attention, it wouldn’t be noticed at all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


Here's a sample of some odd mail making it's way around the internet...


HERE THEY ARE. Akaka (D-HI) Bayh (D-IN) Biden (D-DE) Bingaman (D-NM) Boxer (D-CA) Cantwell (D-WA) Clinton (D-NY) Dayton (D-MN) Dodd (D-CT) Domenici (R-NM) Durbin (D-IL) Feingold (D-WI) Feinstein (D-CA) Harkin (D-IA) Inouye (D-HI) Jeffords (I-VT) Kennedy (D-MA) Kerry (D-MA) Kohl (D-WI) Lautenberg (D-NJ) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Lieberman (D-CT) Menendez (D-NJ) Mikulski (D-MD) Murray (D-WA) Obama (D-IL) Reed (D-RI) Reid (D-NV) Salazar (D-CO) Sarbanes (D-MD) Schumer (D-NY) Stabenow (D-MI) Wyden (D-OR)"

OK, I don't get it? Who cares? It's very similar to what's the "official soil", or the "official bird", it makes no difference! Please, feel free to speak any language you like...except Rap, as I don't think that's a real language, or is it? If it is; my apologies. I would much rather see a list of the Senators who voted against raising the minimum there's some real "evildoers"! In fact, who is the idiot that thought we needed such a law? Where's his or her name? We really need legislators to work for us and not waste their time on vote getting this obviously is.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Walking Revised

Tuesday, and it’s time for another longer training walk this morning. The days are quickly slipping by and it’s only 26 days and 1+ hour before the start of the Portland Marathon. I read that they were going to add a thousand more runners/walkers to the mix this year, bringing the total up to over 14,000 contestants. It will be mighty crowded at the starting line! Funny, it’s the only time that I enjoy a crowd.

I also spent some time looking through the news headlines and found nothing new and startling. The human condition is still the same, no one in power has learned anything from history and so the wars continue. In fact, if this were the year 1506 and if headlines were available…they would look eerily familiar.

But, in a “good” news story, the headlines state that the owners of the Steamboat Arabia museum have found another steamboat to dig up. We have been to the Kansas City museum to see what was onboard the Arabia and found it fascinating! These are people who take their history seriously.

And speaking of history…recent history. I was talking to my daughter and recounting the story of how we would stop at some desert “oasis” to get a soft drink from an old cooler filled with icy cold water. This was back in the 40’s and early 50’s when we would travel through the Mojave Desert on our way to Lake Tahoe. Afterwards, I realized that my story didn’t include all of the facts. Facts that make the story. Such as the fact that our 1947 Oldsmobile that held a family of 6, had no air conditioning. The fact that Highway 395 was a narrow off-camber track and the trip to Tahoe would usually take 12 to 13 hours. Ah, history!

Monday, September 4, 2006

Holiday Rambling

The holiday is here and even at this early hour, I’m already enjoying it. I’ve got a few chores to do today, but they are things I enjoy doing. Creativity is what I enjoy and I have to build a few things down at the Senior Thrift Store; a fitting room, handrails for the stairs and a planter box for the front of the store. And I need to get some previous projects (around here) finished as well. I have a feeling that this early morning cooling will help to make it a pleasant day to get some work done.

Labor Day; a great holiday, but few remember what it’s supposed to honor. But isn’t that true of all holidays? Is there any one holiday that has the power to hold us enthralled for an entire day? For more than one hour? We may remember the reason for the holiday when we first wake and make note of the fact that we don’t have to work that day, but that’s usually the extent of it. Merchants and politicians are the true beneficiaries of holidays.

I suppose it’s the holiday that has me thinking of work and the fact that I don’t work anymore. And the more I think about it, the more I see how complicated a subject it is. For instance; how many of us work, or worked, at a job we loved? I can’t imagine it being more than 10% of the working population.

I had half a dozen jobs before I found the one that suited me, and that was construction. It was also the one job that my father warned me to avoid.

Construction suited my personality type. I could be creative and I was in charge. Usually. Very early in my career I became a foreman and then a superintendent and it was all because I would make decisions. Those who are really in charge, the “suits”, love decision makers! The decision maker gets to make the mistakes and is punished while the “suit” says, “I told you so!” No, it’s not really that simple; but I do remember that many of the people I worked for were always looking for the one worker that would make a decision quickly. And so it was that I would often be free to run a job the way I wanted. In fact, the only painful memories I have of my time in construction are of those times when I was supposed to be in charge but had to deal instead with some micro-managing “suit”.

Yes, that’s the way construction used to be…workers versus the “suits”. There was a certain “pirate” mentality in construction work then. We obeyed the rules we wanted to and ignored all of the others. We were hardhat workers. We performed a dangerous job. In fact it was the danger that made the days work so much fun! I have to admit that I looked forward to the days when I knew we would be doing something both monumental and dangerous. Stuff that bank tellers and clerks would fear doing…we reveled in our persona as hardhat workers. When we were standing on the edge of the building, 30 floors up and directing a crane to swing this way or that, we knew that people were watching and envying us. Were they really? Or was that simply wishful thinking?

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Just Send Money

From the Daily Reckoning…and AlterNet's article, "Student Debt Crisis: Are There Any Solutions?"

"2006 has been the worst in history for government action against student borrowers," continues the article. "In February, President Bush rolled out the Deficit Reduction Act, which cut $12 billion in federal student aid money. Part of the plan includes a hike in interest rates on federal student loans and loans taken out by parents. The interest rate on Stafford Loans to students rose from 5.3 percent to 7.14 percent on existing loans and to 6.8 percent on new loans. Interest rates for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) loans increased even more dramatically, from 6.1 to 7.4 on existing loans and to a whopping 8.5 percent on new loans."

I’m trying to understand how this fits in with Bush’s “image” of being supportive of education. After all, he bills himself as the “Education President”. I’m sure there’s a connection here, I just can’t see it.

But I do know what the results will be… "We are faltering while other countries are making investments -- China graduated 500,000 engineers in 2004; the United States graduated 70,000. We have to do better for families if we want to stay on top,"

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Day Two

Life goes on. You celebrate for a day and then it’s time to get back to reality, whatever that is…And this morning the reality will be a long training walk in the park. This means I need an early start if I want to avoid the heat.

In September, “early” now means “later” as we get closer to fall and the time change. The sun doesn’t rise till 6:38 this morning and I won’t be able to start as early as I would like. And in the park there are two groups of people; those who use the sun to determine when to exercise and those who use a clock. Eventually we overlap and begin to crowd one another.

I have already experienced some problems with the “Mommy Brigade”, those young mothers who take their children in strollers to the park and then form a solid line across the path as they walk and talk. Approaching them from either direction, they present a formidable obstacle. A month ago, they were just arriving at the park as I was leaving and there was no problem, but now…it’s a problem!

Friday, September 1, 2006


An interesting blog...

Like minds

A New Year

A red letter day! I’m now 66 years old and I have passed through the dreaded age of 65. I suppose it wasn’t that bad of a year, but…in the back of my mind was the thought that all of my close male relatives have died at the age of 65. My great grandfather, grandfather and my own father. OK, it’s over now and time for me to set some new record; 95 would be nice.

With a new month comes a change in the seasons. The leaves are beginning to fall throughout the park now and by the end of the month, the temperatures will be down into the 70’ and 80’s once again.

And it’s harvest time for the big crop in this part of the valley; almonds. My daughter told me that they are already shaking the trees in her neighborhood for the early season variety. In another week or two we will see the same thing here. And once they start shaking, the dust and the mosquitoes are everywhere!

After the almonds are harvested and sometime near the end of the month, it will be time for the walnuts to hit the ground as well. Olives will be the last major crop to harvest and that will be near the end of the year; if they can find the labor to do it. Farm labor is in short supply this year and labor intensive crops, like olives, feel the pinch. And weeding is something that isn’t happening either. They grow sunflowers for oil around here and the weeds are sometimes taller than the crop!