Friday, August 31, 2007

End of the month

That went by pretty fast. With August out of the way, there’s only 4 months of the year left. And just to remind me of that fact…we were in Costco yesterday and I spotted the Christmas decorations. A whole aisle of them. Is this the earliest date for the holidays to begin or have you seen them somewhere else, earlier?

We made the decision to renew our Costco card once again. We’re justifying it by saying it has some entertainment value. Just looking at what is in other peoples shopping carts can be quite amusing. Our own cart? It’s pretty much empty most of the time. For instance; we had a case of water, some Caffe mix and a bag of apricots. But the bill was over $200 because of the fact that we had to buy new cell phones. (My old one had died)

Buying the phones was an exercise in frustration. It took over an hour to complete the deal. I know technology. If we had been in Europe or in Asia, we would have been walking out of the store in less than 10 minutes; and with phones that worked to their full potential. And the phone kiosk was located in the TV department, so we had to try and listen to the salesperson while screening out the sounds from a dozen TV sets. I believe I had to give her my SS number 5 different times. Remember the stories about carelessly giving out your SS number? And the danger of identity theft? But you can’t even buy a phone without it. The little card that states, ‘not for identification purposes’.

This morning, the odor coming in the study window reminds me once again that we live in the country. Darn cows! We could use a good north wind right now. And of course that reminds me of the dust in the air from the ongoing harvest. Hawai’i is the answer to the problem. The trade winds blow almost constantly, bringing in a fresh supply of sweetly scented air every day. I wonder how much a house costs on the ‘Big Island’? Should we?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pentagon Gives Up;

Hands War Over to Bush

I thought it was his to begin with?

Aww...Nuts!

It’s that time of year once again. Harvest time. The roads are clogged with farm machinery as the harvesters move from orchard to orchard. And the air is filled with the fine dust stirred up by those machines. The valley haze grows until you can barely see the mountains. Mt. Shasta disappeared a week ago and Mt. Lassen is fading fast.

Almonds are the most common crop and the nuts fall like rain when the machine grabs the tree and shakes it. Plums and prunes are also harvested by shaking, but the fruit falls onto a soft, upside-down umbrella like contraption that is wrapped around the tree.

Of course, none of this activity is good for the human respiratory system and I have had a persistent cough ever since the harvest began. Plus the red and irritated eyes. And, in another week or two, the almonds will be heaped up in storage and the walnut harvest will begin. More shaking and more dust. I’m already looking forward to the rainy season.

I posted something about healthcare the other day, all about the government deciding that Medicare shouldn’t pay for preventable hospital mistakes, like leaving surgical tools in the patient. Sounds reasonable. But did you notice this part of the article?

“Wall Street analysts are not so sure that loss of income, estimated at about $20 million per year spread over just under 5,000 hospitals in the U.S., is incentive enough for hospitals to reduce errors. ($20,000,000÷5,000 = $4,000)

“Medicare pays hospitals over $100 billion a year, so $20 million is less than 0.02%,” [says Bear Stearns analyst Jason] Gurda…”I’m not expecting a significant impact although it is a first step toward paying for quality.”

According to Wall Street; it’s all about money. I think they’re right.

Proportions and the news. I read that the proportion of overweight children in the US has tripled over the past 20 years and now stands at 17%. The proportion of children who exercise in high school has dropped from 42% in 1991to only 28% in 2004. Is there some link here?

I do know that I was stopped at the signal in Hamilton City yesterday, just as the high school students were returning from ‘lunch’ at the taco wagon and market across the street from the school. Lots of students. So here’s my question; we claim to be a nation that cares deeply about the safety of our children and yet we allow them to leave the safety of the school in the middle of the day… to do what? Answer; we don’t know. We just give them the freedom (and money) to do whatever children like to do when they aren’t being supervised.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reading

I’ve made my trip to Chico and brought back a fair amount of books for the library book sale in September. Maybe 12 boxes. According to Gary, we now have the largest amount, ever, of books in storage. We’re no longer sorting them as there is no room to do that anymore. And we’re planning on giving away (or recycling) all of the hard back fiction novels after this sale. We have close to 100 boxes, with 20 to 30 books per box. And they continue to be donated.

What I find fascinating about these fiction novels is the fact that they are all available in the local library…for a total cost of nothing. Zero. Zip. Are we idiots? And I’m not absolving myself in that indictment. I buy books that I shouldn’t.

On my way to the library, I was listening to NPR and heard a story about the growing prison crisis in California. Apparently, they need over 3,000 more officers. And they need more cooks. And doctors. Plus a prison or two. Mandatory overtime of up to four 16 hour workdays per week is the norm now. And that is happening in dangerously overcrowded prisons.

They are recruiting officers anywhere they can…which only results in the lowering of standards for the officers. Got a warm body? Be a highly paid (with overtime) correctional officer!

I think it’s time for a prison to be built in the Sacramento metro area. The legislators seem to think that Folsom is too far away for them to be concerned. How about one right across the river in West Sacramento? Would that be close enough for the governor and the lawmakers?

Lives may founder

but yacht sales will flourish -

Here is what I see; Arnie and Ronny are very much alike. Both Republicans. Both bad governors. Both bad actors. And both don't believe in mental illness. The only difference I can see is that one is dead. (You think, maybe, Arnie is 'channeling' Ronnie?)

In the news

This was in the news…

Idaho Senator Says He Regrets Guilty Plea in Restroom Incident
By Patti Murphy and David Stout


Senator Larry E. Craig said that he regretted his guilty plea in connection with an airport restroom incident and he accused an Idaho newspaper of hounding him.

Let’s see… he ‘regretted’ his guilty plea. Would it be fair to ask him why he did plead guilty? Did he not understand the question?

“How do you plead?”

“Guilty, your honor.”

“Oops! My bad… Did I say guilty? Can you repeat the question?”

A Tale of Coffee

I just posted a 'clean hospital' story a few minutes ago. And right after that I was in the car and headed to the canal to open the irrigation flood gates. But, on the way back, I thought some more about that story and I don’t think it’s a ‘hospital’ story as much as it’s a story of our society in general. For instance, my long running feud/irritation with Starbuck’s is all about the cleanliness of the stores; or that is where it began. The Starbuck’s closest to our house in Roseville was filthy. Oh, it looked fine as long as you kept your eyes focused straight ahead and never looked up or down. But, being an old construction guy, I had to look everywhere. And it was dirty everywhere else. And it’s the same in every one of their stores. I wrote to the corporate headquarters and was told that cleanliness was high on their list of priorities and I could be assured that the matter would be corrected. Of course it wasn’t.

And it doesn’t end with Starbuck’s. The same conditions exist in almost all retail establishments. Take a look for yourself. And then ask; is this because of the fact that ‘bottom liner's’ rule? That bookkeepers have more power than janitors?

I’m certainly not a neat freak and you will always find dust in our house, but there is a difference; I don’t ask you to pay money to stay in my house and I won’t charge you for a cup of coffee.

Fashion Sense

A late breaking news story…”Children detained with their parents at a Texas center for illegal immigrants will receive better meals, better healthcare, increased freedom to move around, and the right to wear pajamas, under a legal settlement announced Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal government.”

That’s it? Do you mean I have to look elsewhere to find the rest of the story? Where’s Paul Harvey when you need him? C’mon! I thought the right to wear or not to wear pajamas was a fundamental one. Are little children, with pajamas on, a threat of some kind? Are adults, with pajamas, a threat? Inquiring minds want to know.

Hmmm? I wonder; did they have the children dressed in prison stripes before the ruling? Probably not, but there is a sheriff in Arizona that might do that.

Time Goes By

Healthcare and What it's really like to get older

Some years ago.... but not that many; Mom had to enter the hospital in Roseville. As an ex-Navy Hospital Corpsman, I had an interest in how the hospital was run and I remember being disappointed in this large and quite modern hospital. It was dirty. No, there wasn't blood on the floors and the trash cans weren't overflowing. But it was obvious that no one had dusted higher (or lower) than waist level, or swept out the corners in a very long time.

As it turned out, Mom didn't die from some nasty hospital acquired infection. But were there safeguards in place to ensure that didn't happen? Not that I could see.

The next time you're in a hospital (just to visit)...take a look. Look up and down. Pretend you're a Navy commanding officer and it's Saturday morning and time for the weekly inspection. Run your fingertip around the top of the door frame. Look behind doors that are always open. It could be enlightening.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Photomania

I can’t seem to get going this morning. My thoughts are all jumbled up, as usual, and not coherent enough for publication. Perhaps a third cup of coffee will help?

But, I did find the camouflage photos on the internet and that was a good discovery and I have saved them. I seem to remember seeing some old photos just like that in mom’s collection, a very long time ago. But they must have disappeared along the way, as Kitty and I went through all the boxes of photos and I never saw them.

I suppose most families have their ‘valuable’ photographs stored much like we do; in cardboard boxes. There they sit; silently accusing me of sloth, with no index and no order to them. I think we have 4 large boxes, plus half a dozen albums that represent times when I tried to make some sense of the collection. Even those have pages with photos out of order and without dates.

Now, with the advanced technology available, my digital photos are in much better shape, sorted by subject and in the appropriate folders. True, I do have a folder titled ‘miscellaneous’ and it has grown to quite a large size. Embarrassingly large. But, even without a proper folder, a simple right-click will give me the date that the photo was taken. Love that technology!

How To Hide

An Airplane Factory

This site was a great find! Some of my favorite stories from my father were his recollections of how he worked on the camouflaging of the Burbank Airport during the war. Later, every time we went to this airport, I tried to imagine how it looked, all covered with netting.

Now, it's a real treat to see these photos and know that my father was there...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Alberto Gonzales

Resigns As Attorney General

Happy days are here again! But... ya gotta watch out for the crony that the Decider has picked to replace him.

The Long Walk

of the Kuchi

Another story out of Afghanistan...

Humans Rule!

After all of my recent reading I can’t help but think of the differences between Afghanistan and the USA. It doesn’t have to be Afghanistan; it could be any Middle Eastern/Asian country. The USA is all about immigration and most of the others aren’t. The native civilization present here in the 1600’s wasn’t organized well enough to keep the Europeans out and immigration quickly grew the country; and continues to do so. Can you imagine wanting to move your family to Turkmenistan? Kyrgyzstan? The culture of those countries has remained static. Tribalism rules.

Our own family demonstrates how immigration works to make a better country and a better world. I have Scotch, English and French (Norman) ancestors. Laurae has German and Welsh ancestors. (That’s only the ancestors we know about.) Now our grandchildren have other ancestors adding to the gene pool. And our great grandchild, Colum, has even more! A lucky boy. We don’t (logically) have a loyalty to any one of those ancestral countries or cultures.

When I was younger, I used to think of myself as a Scot. Sure, that’s tribalism and it was comfortable! It also appeals to a younger mind. But the truth is I’m no more a Scot than I am French or English or? And since I can’t ‘be’ any one of those… I guess I have to ‘be’ human. That’s something we should all aspire to.

Kite Runner

Monday and all is quiet. The Ice Cream Social is over for another year and the Orland Library got a few more bucks…for books. If only we could get enough money to keep the library open 6 days a week. Yes, that is how libraries operated back in the ‘old days’ before Reagan. It was a system designed to serve the public and was open evenings and Saturdays. I know it’s an odd concept these days; serving the public good? Why do that when you can just as easily serve private interests.

And speaking of books, as I was… I finished the Kite Runner. This was the first book by Khaled Hosseini, published in 2005. It’s definitely another great book, but, it wasn’t quite as good as his latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Well, maybe it was as good...it was just different. I think he’s close to perfecting his writing style now and I’m looking forward to another book from him.

By reading these books, you can begin to understand the complexities of life in Afghanistan. But it’s only a beginning. Tribalism governs every aspect of life there and it’s almost impossible for this western mind to comprehend. At the same time, the book should make us aware of the fact that we are only one step removed from the same deadly affliction. Tribalism represents a comfort zone for far too many of us. Real freedom requires constant vigilance.

A Little Late

I never got around to posting yesterday's floggings, so here it is; late....Nothing much out there in the way of earth shattering news. Is it because it’s Sunday morning? A day of rest? The only thing of interest is the fact that the stock market recovered somewhat on Friday. Will it make it back to the good numbers by September?

Funny cat! She raced in to the house this morning; jumping in the door when I opened it. She wandered around for awhile and then, 10 minutes later, she wants out again. Of course. Should I even try to understand cats? I don’t think so.

Maybe I should look at the weather and see what’s in store for us. See how exciting my life is? OK, no big deal; mid-90’s and then up to 100 by midweek. Cooling again by the weekend.

Today, after church, it will be time to setup for the Ice Cream Social at the park in Orland. We have to gather the tables and chairs and then set them up in whatever shade we can find. This is one of the annual events to benefit the Orland Free Library and is sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Besides ice cream and cookies, there’s a lot of music but it’s not the kind I care for… I would rather scrape my fingernails on a blackboard than have to listen to a barbershop quartet. So our plan is to do the chores and then hide out at home till it’s time to go back and work on the removal and storage of all of those chairs and tables.

An oddity; I was looking at various blogs this morning, all linked from the Time Goes By blog. That was when I ran across this blog, Resident Curmudgeon. And that’s where I read this excerpt from one of his postings…

“What is something about you that most people don't know - I sometimes suspect that I am on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. They call it Asperger's Syndrome. That would explain my difficulty in fitting in; my social and physical ineptitude. I've never been diagnosed and probably won't be because if I'm not, I'll have no excuse for being unable to find a place for myself on this planet. Actually I do have a place with Dorothy, my children and grandchildren, but I'm very uncomfortable venturing beyond my own psychic territory. Now, I'm not saying that I'm mentally or emotionally disturbed, just odd. In fact, some famous people are suspected to be somewhere on the autistic scale, including Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, and Edison. All of them were considered a little odd by their peers.”

Weird. That’s exactly what I said about myself a few years ago. And then he writes a review of A Thousand Splendid Suns. As I did a week or so ago.

And he also indicates that he thinks most sports are a waste of time…

I don't watch sports. When I see men gathered around a TV yelling and jumping up and down over a football game I just don't get it. There's so much in this life to get passionate about, but a game played by grown men? It's beyond me. I sometimes think that I'm missing a small part of my DNA that causes men to spend so much of their intellect and energy following professional and college sports and yet not play them.”

And another curious comment.

Favorite brand of clothing? - Anything that has the brand name on a tag on the inside of the article and NOT on the outside. If some designer wants me to advertise his shirt he'll have to pay me.

It was one of those moments when I realized that I was not completely alone in this world; me with my odd perception of how the world should operate. Don’t like pro sports? What? Are you a communist or something? And why don’t you wear an ‘Old Navy’ shirt? Are you against capitalism? Nope, I'm just different and proud of it!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

CN&R

Mr. Porter writes another good one... all about a subject we hold dear.
Customer service

Stumbling

Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction?

OTR.Network Library

The Old Time Radio Network

Good idea! And I'm listening to The Adventures of Phillip Marlow... haven't heard this in a long time. Check it out and see if there are any shows you might want to hear again.

Toward More Effective Hate Mail:

A Return to Freshman Comp -

Oh, Mr. O'Neill...you've done it again. Your wit appealed to my base nature and I laughed. Out loud. I know I shouldn't have; these people can't help themselves.

Looking Good!

Sometimes it’s the little things that make my day. I got my mower back from the shop yesterday and it runs and cuts like a champ! I mowed the orchard in record time and it looked great.


I should mention books that I’m reading. I think I have about four with bookmarks in them right now and I wander from one to the other, depending on how I feel. One that I pick up only a few times a week is Stones from the River, by Ursula Hegi. I’m avoiding it because I know it can only end badly. I have less than a hundred pages to go, but I’m already depressed by what I imagine will happen at the end.


I’ve been reading the book with an eye on history as well as our current political situation and find troubling similarities. National pride that has no room for admitting error is one. Ignorance of the people when deciding who would lead them is another. And overall; avoiding any recollection of history.



Put Up

or Shut Up.

Or; 'Would you like to Supersize that?'

"I'm calling for the President of the United States to increase the occupation by 500,000 more American troops"

I think he has something here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hit & Run

Not-So-Secret-Voting in Ohio

Oh, oh...and in Ohio of all places. Who would have thought? Florida would have been my second guess.

The Reader

This is where I want to be...

Do You YouTube?

I really need to keep a camera handy while we are driving. During the past week or so, someone has put up a sign along Highway 32 that reads, Need a Laugh? And then the sign directs the reader to the YouTube site, to view the Orland City Council in action. They all seem to be old videos and so I don’t get the attraction. But I like the idea! YouTube has the power to make politicians think twice before speaking and acting. I know that thinking ‘twice’ gives them a headache; it’s hard enough the first time! But, it’s good for us.

Woes

I am sore this morning. Lots of aches and pains once again. Moving the couch? Possibly. And it’s hard to get my mind in action. I’ve read the internet news for the past hour but haven’t found anything that really stimulates the brain. It’s all been predictable news. Yes, Bush has wandered far from the truth once again as he brings up our Vietnam experience in relation to Iraq. He doesn’t twist history to validate his opinions; he simply makes it up as he goes along.

Unfortunately, the majority of US citizens weren’t around during the war in Vietnam (1950 – 1975) and for those that were alive during this time, they are either too young or too old to remember the headline stories. And the lies.

Well, it’s still early. Maybe there will be a change in the news during the first part of the morning and I can become a little more interested in it. And since it’s Friday, I will be going to Chico to enjoy a cup of coffee at Cal Java while I read stories from the ‘alternative press’. That usually gets my mind in gear.

That last paragraph tells you that I’m a creature of habit. Darn! I’m always an advocate of change but I do love the comfort of old habits. I guess it’s an aging thing. So that means that I need to be aware of it and avoid falling into those habits. This morning I will have a cappuccino and not the usual latte. There! That’s a change…

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Watching, not reading

We watched a movie last night, just before getting in an hour or so of reading. (See, the television is still useful.) And we watched The Score. A most thrilling movie. A nail biter. The movie had me up and pacing the hallway, listening but not watching the action. Then I would come back in the room and sit for awhile. You see, I have this problem with good movies; I really get into them. I become part of the action and this one made me really nervous. I suppose you can understand why I wouldn’t want to watch this on a big screen in a theatre?
Now that I think about it; good movies help me to stay fit...all of that pacing has to use up some calories.

Readers

........Wow! Dreams… they kept me asleep all night long. Heavy duty dreams that have me tired out just thinking about them, now. But what were they all about? I can’t remember a single one. I wish there was a Tivo for your brain. I joke now, but somewhere, someone is working on that idea.

An odd fact was heard yesterday; 25% of adults did not read a book last year. 1 in 4. Now that’s scary. The results for those adults that read just one book were not given. One book. One year. Maybe another 25%?

You can’t blame the internet for that dismal figure of 25%, though it’s the favorite whipping boy for librarians. It’s television. I use the internet enough to count as 4 people and I still make a trip to the library once every two weeks to restock on books. When television was part of our life, I rarely found the time to read. I was sound asleep in front of the tube.

Television isn’t evil; it’s just a distraction for people like me. If we had a decent connection, I would be falling asleep in front of it once again. And kicking myself for it.

Anyway, the source of the odd fact above was an NPR story on the rise in popularity of the book on CD or tape. (Tape is so 20th century) I’m tempted to check some of them out. The library has a small collection of them. But, I heard two or three comments about the fact that the choice of ‘reader’ of the book is just as important as the title itself. Bad reader=bad book. I wouldn’t want to buy a great book and then have the ‘reader’ spoil it for me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daily Brickbats

I shouldn't read this...

Stuff like this only makes me crazy!

Reason Magazine

Why Big Things Fail

I've said as much myself and many times...but the author here says it so much better than I.

Oregon

I just finished reading the current post on Time Goes By. And I was reminded of all of the things I like about Oregon. Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland. And the Portland Steak and Chop House, only a block away. We’ve been to the Cannery CafĂ© in Astoria and enjoyed a great brunch. That was the morning that I had thought about taking the bridge across to Washington, but a cloudy and drizzly morning stopped me. I took one look at the roadway, far above me, and I saw it disappear into the clouds. No thanks! You can see the bridge in one of the photos on her blog, but it seems quite tame in the sunshine.

We had come to Astoria from our vacation spot in Cannon Beach, a wonderful place to be alone…during the first week in December. It seemed as if we had the whole Oregon coast to ourselves. Good times.

Of course the Portland marathon figures into my love for Oregon. I’ve done it 3 times and I will do it again next year. I’m really disappointed in myself this year. Could’ve-would’ve-should’ve…but didn’t.

Oh, did I mention Mother’s Bistro & Bar? I should have!

...and Omega

I couldn’t help myself and I went to the I Hate Crocs blogsite. I had to see just what it was about an innocuous pair of shoes that so offended these people. From what I read, they were grasping at anything to substantiate their belief that Crocs were a sign that the world would soon end. Then, I wondered; could the people at Croc’s be responsible for this blog? Are they secretly writing it? It would certainly get people to thinking about the product. But - I guess not; they really don’t need any additional advertising.


Maybe it’s simply a very human need to hate something? We seem to do it an awful lot. I hate telephones and see nothing wrong with that. We all should. Some people hate okra. I think my sister has an intense dislike for PT Cruisers? If we could only restrict our hatred to inanimate objects we would be just fine! You wouldn’t eat okra. I wouldn’t answer the phone and my sister would never ride in a Cruiser. Oh, and some people would never wear Croc’s. And we could all live happily ever after. (Be sure and visit my new blog – I Hate Telephones dot com)


And apropos of nothing at all… I have been fooling around with the Microsoft PhotoDraw program, trying to come up with a good logo for my daughter’s sorority, Omega Nu. I told her that I would post my efforts here…


I think it’s a little too glittery and it needs to be softer…more green? Less clouds? Lose the shadows? How about ‘start over’?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Crocs

The ugly footling

Yes, I have 3 pair and will gladly buy more when they wear out. But do they? My daughter gave me a pair 3+ years ago and they're still going strong.

Good article all about the Croc industry.

swissinfo -

Volunteers strip down to warn of climate change on Swiss glacier.

600 naked people on a glacier? Well, no wonder they are melting! Duh!

Very Interesting

I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president.
--George W. Bush, as quoted in Bob Woodward's ‘Bush at War’

Don’t you just love this guy!

And, on another subject altogether...I was reading the latest issue of Wired magazine yesterday and ran across an article detailing the cost of broadband. I know you might find it amazing, but we’re getting ripped off by the cost of broadband in this country. Really! (That is if you can even get it) The US of A pays 49 cents per 100Kbps. Japan pays 6 cents and South Korea pays 8 cents for the same throughput. The most expensive? Saudi Arabia at $571 per 100Kbps. You think that might be a political move; to keep the masses free of any ‘corruption’ from the outside world? You know that politicians of any stripe or country of origin just hate the internet!Especially YouTube...

mental_floss

Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix

Everything you wanted to know about ZIP codes. Yes, you did...c'mon, admit it.

How Does She Do That?

A cat story. She has done it again! I invited her in early yesterday morning. She stretched and yawned, obviously interested in finding a place to nap. I got my cup of coffee and when I turned around, she was gone. I thought no more about her until about 10, which was when we decided to see where she had gone for her nap. She was nowhere to be found. Two adults searched for about 20 minutes and came up with nothing. Flashlights were used, drapes were opened and closed and the doorbell was rung; a sound that usually makes her run. Where was she? We gave up.

And then, just like the Cheshire Cat, she appeared again. In her own time. There she was in her usual spot behind the drapes in our bedroom. Grinning.

Not cooler

The power bill from PG&E has arrived and it’s lower than last month’s. A good thing. But why? Part of the answer has to be the practice of using the fans early in the morning to suck out the hot air and pull in the cool. And a new thermostat that allows us to manage the temperature easily. But… this morning the heat has returned. Summer isn’t over.

On the light side of the morning…. I found this site for photographers to enjoy. Flick’r Toys. I need to explore it some more.

And on the dark and heavy side, I see that the legislators in California are still having a tantrum about the budget. It looks so classy when adults do that. But what I found odd was the notion that somehow, the public wasn’t interested in the impasse and that was a bad thing. Since the budget war is an annual event with grand posturing and silly rhetoric; why would we care? Lawmakers live in their own universe. When they decide to come back to earth, we might care.

Susanville

The Past

When we first moved (1977) to the Susanville area , I spent a lot of time researching the local history and buying books suggested to me by a local librarian. And an odd fact came to my notice. When I first started in the construction industry, I had to buy all of the tools of the trade and the preferred hammer was a Plumb #2 Box Hatchet. This was the same tool used in mills like Fruit Growers; used to construct the millions of boxes that came out of Lassen County.

The new hatchet had to be remodeled slightly before use; the head taken off and the handle modified to increase the 'set', or the angle at which the head struck the wall. This would save your knuckles from being beaten bloody. My hatchet finally disappeared somewhere and I have spent a lot of time looking for a replacement. No luck.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time

Ouch! I’m a little sore this morning. We were helping Denise with her move yesterday and I must have used some muscles that haven’t been stretched for quite awhile. I was moving pretty slow this morning when I first got out of bed. Creak. Groan.

And there’s more for today. Plus, the remodeling work continues at the Senior Thrift Store. And I mustn’t forget to mow the orchard today. Then I have to get the mower over to the saw shop for some much needed tune-up work. I mustn’t forget to work on the wireless router at the church.

Busy. But would I want to give it all up and go back to getting on an airplane every Monday? Never.

Now, where was I before I began complaining? Looking at the news and my favorite blogs. Oops! No time for posting…must get going.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ka-boom:

Guy from Orlando Exchanges Surface-to-Air Missile Launcher for Reeboks

Was there anything else in that shed?

Dinner Time

Grandchildren are asleep in the house once more. Karlee and Kyle are doing a sleepover. We had a great time in the pool yesterday and then Karlee helped with the dinner preparation; picking tomatoes for the salad and peaches for dessert. They’re both at a great age now, (9 and 7) an age where we can communicate! And once more I scored big time on the dinner. They both had multiple helpings of my macaroni, cheese, chicken, and corn salsa casserole. Plus additional helpings of salad. It’s those Sweet 100’s cherry tomatoes that make a great addition to the salad. And of course I had to share my fresh peach ice cream with them. With chocolate sauce.

It was a partial Trader Joe meal. I had some fancy noodles from TJ’s and they resembled elbow macaroni; sort of. I layered the al dente noodles, chunks of barbecued chicken, cheddar cheese and TJ’s corn salsa into the casserole dish. Then I made a roux of milk, flour, ½ teaspoon of dry mustard and cheddar cheese. When it had thickened, I poured it over the casserole and let it bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Good!

And I should mention the chocolate syrup we use for the ice cream. Abuelita, by Nestle. We spotted it at the store and just had to try it. It has cinnamon in it and that makes a great addition to the taste.

And then I had to go looking for some info about Abuelita on the internet. That’s when I ran across this…

Nestle Abuelita Chocolate Syrup With Cinnamon Flavor. $2.49 per 22-ounce bottle.

Bonnie: I've enjoyed cinnamon-accented Mexican hot chocolate when south of the border but couldn't imagine that cinnamon chocolate taste in cold milk -- that is, until I tried this new syrup from Nestle. It's quite yummy. Not too cinnamony, very different and, of course, sugary sweet. Two tablespoons of this syrup will add 100 calories to whatever you drizzle it over. Try it in milk and milk shakes or over ice cream, cake or, better yet, fruit!

Carolyn: Cinnamon-chocolate syrup may be standard in Mexico, but it raises a lot of questions for this American. Questions like: How do you pronounce this? Why did Nestle feel the need to package this in an upside-down container when the syrup is so thin? Why is Nestle using an Anglo-Saxon-looking old lady to try to sell this new product? And, most important, does cinnamon go with chocolate?

Oh Carolyn; you pronounce it just like it’s spelled. The upside down container is convenient and the Anglo-Saxon-looking old lady is the same image that Abuelita has used for decades. Anglo-Saxon? She looks ‘human’ to me. Cinnamon with chocolate? Try it and stop asking so darn many questions!

The War as We Saw It

- New York Times

Well written thoughts from those who are there. Ordinary soldiers. (Nothing 'ordinary' about them at all)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why

Are So Many Americans in Prison?

"...our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century."

That's one way of solving the unemployment problem.

Small Beer

Sharing a Favorite Web Site

Arts and Letters Daily. Now there's a name that ought to make you add it to your Feeds or your Favorites right away.

Granny Geek

Congress As Sheep

Include me as one who thinks the same way.

My Mom's Blog

by Thoroughly Modern Millie

A light! Every once in awhile I see a light on the internet and this is one. 82 years old. This is what I want to be doing when I'm this age. And you should...

Gotta Go

Gotta get some groceries. The cupboards are looking bare and I can see empty spaces on the refrigerator shelves. With the sudden reversal of fortunes in the stock market, yesterday, I guess we can afford it now. Does this mean there is an upward trend in consumer confidence? I don’t suppose our one trip to the market really means a lot, statistically. But, we can hope.

Speaking of good things; we saw a very good movie last night. The Illusionist. Starring ‘unknowns’. (OK, unknown to us) A most delightful film! We had watched Zoom: Academy for Superheroes a few nights before and felt that we had been ripped off. What a disaster that movie had been. We had been looking for something ‘light’ and had fallen for the hype in the trailer. I felt as if the ‘stars’ had deceived us. Ugly. But now…The Illusionist has restored our faith in cinema. There are some good films; not many, but certainly enough to warrant the cost of our membership with Netflix.

And as I was on the Netflix website this morning, registering my displeasure with Zoom, I ran across the View Now page that allows you to download movies to your PC. And right there, in the upper right hand corner of the screen, was the warning that my browser was inadequate for the job and I wouldn’t be allowed to download a movie. I must be using IE 6 or higher. What? Firefox is far superior when compared to IE. What are these people thinking?


Yes, the internet and computers are frustrating at times. I suppose it is because I used to spend so much time working with programmers in application development. (In my previous life.) We would see something that needed ‘fixing’ in an app and it would happen. Now, when I see things that need fixing, I can only shake my head and sigh. Sigh.


Thought: I’m sure my sister can relate to that, as she works in the field of application development. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make your own changes to your own apps? Not just the Tools/Options changes, but deeper than that. But the rule is...programmers don't trust users.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Firedoglake

Reflections On Padilla

...and justice for all.

DaysAgo

digital day counter is brilliant!

And it leads to my next 'free' invention. (You use it...you pay me just 10%. Cheap!)

Little timers with 'bluetooth' capability. A receiver display on your refrigerator door that lists the timed contents and displays the days remaining in a color coded fashion. Red=Use it or lose it!

Lake Whatcom?

I’m having a terrible time getting started this morning. The words seem to be stuck somewhere between my brain and my fingertips. Do I need more coffee? Or a vacation?


Oh, sure…you say I’m on a permanent vacation. Retired. What would we need a vacation for? And with the drop in the stock market; can we afford it? Must think positively! Must not become an ‘old person’.



OK, it’s time to visit some other blogs and see if there is anything that will jolt my brain into active normality. Time Goes By helps my mind a little; though I feel a little bit frail, physically, after reading the guest blog.


I must stay away from the political blogs this morning. It’s too nice of a morning to get my mind all dirty right away. My brain is spotless right now. I haven’t thought about whatshisname, the president guy, all morning long. Darn! I just did and now there’s a smudge.


So, how about this blog? This is far away from the political arena and it certainly caught my eye. No wonder people enjoy collecting old photos. Conjecture is so much fun! And with Photoshop and other programs, you can have a lot of fun with them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Edge

THE CHANGING ARCTIC

Food for thought...or you can put your fingers in your ears.

Ignored

The headlines are simply the usual. Once again, history is ignored.

"Shades of 2001? Afghan, U.S. Forces Pound Tora Bora

U.S. forces and Al Qaeda battle again on the Tora Bora mountain range."

…the difficult terrain has been used by tribal warriors fighting foreign invaders since ancestral times.”

If you study American history of the 1700’s, you will find that the British were outraged that the American rebels wouldn’t come out and fight like a ‘real’ army. They hid and shot from concealed positions. They ran away, only to ambush the British troops that followed. The Americans wouldn’t wear uniforms and would hide among the civilians. Does any of this sound familiar?

Over?

Once again; all is well. The brakes are working once more. All that was required was some time and money. $260 to be exact. That bought me a new vacuum pump and some peace of mind. As I replayed the events in my mind, I remembered that I had stopped normally at a signal less than 500 feet away just before the brakes failed. It was maybe a minute or less between success and failure, and believe me; a vehicle that weighs over 3 tons has a lot of kinetic energy. Stopping a failure like that is no fun.

Summer is definitely on its way out. Grandchildren are heading back to school and the early morning hours are growing dark. And we are even contemplating the cleaning of the wood stove. Buying firewood. Darn!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Who to blame?

Really odd.

Chinese toy recalls show need for stringent quality control
Recall puts focus on need for stringent quality control for imports. By Mark Trumbull


Isn't it strange that the focus is on China, when the real culprit was Mattel. They ordered, paid for, and distributed the tainted goods. The public didn't buy the toys from China, they bought them from Mattel. Larceny (and greed) knows no borders.

How the world really shapes up

From the Daily Mail

Check out the Toy Import map. That would fit in with todays news.

How Very Interesting

What an interesting morning. All was normal enough; the orchard was irrigated slowly, and then I went to Chico to buy some more material for the Senior Center remodeling project. After loading that in the truck, I stopped by the Plant Barn to check with my daughter. Got to see the two new cats that will be inhibiting the mouse population in the Barn. Daughter Alicia and granddaughter Karlee showed and we made plans to meet and celebrate Kyle’s birthday later today. Then it was time to stop by the Chico library and load my truck with the donated books for the Friends of the Orland Library. 11 AM and I was headed home. Then I saw the signal change ahead of me and I tapped on the brakes. Oops! No brakes! I quickly put both feet on the pedal and pushed…hard. The truck slowed and finally stopped. I then navigated off of the highway and into the nearby Les Schwab dealership. That was when I noticed the BRIGHT RED brake warning light on the dash. When did that turn on and why wasn’t it accompanied by a loud and insistent noise of some kind? Did they really expect me to keep an eye on my dash at all times? Grrr!

Now I’m home and waiting for someone to call and tell me how much this will cost. And thankful that I wasn’t coming down a freeway off-ramp when the failure occurred. That did happen once a long time ago and I wouldn’t want to do it again. I think it was 1965 and we were living in Tarzana. I was driving home from work in my trusty 1958 Chevy 4-door sedan, tooling along at about 70 mph on the Ventura Freeway. Suddenly, there was a hood from a 49 through 51 Ford sitting in my lane. Sorry, I couldn’t tell you the exact year and model, but I was preoccupied with making sure I straddled it as best I could, since there was no room for me swerve left or right. There was a terrible noise from under the car but as far as I could tell, I, and the car, had survived intact. And I guessed correctly that the noise I heard was the chrome bull nose trim that had been on the hood and was now trapped under my car. No problem; it would fall off soon. Just to make sure, I decided to get off at the next off-ramp and pull it loose. Down the off-ramp I went. I put on the brakes to slow near the bottom and the pedal went to the floor. Jeekers! I grabbed the parking brake and swerved to the right, missing the stopped cars by inches as I flew around the corner. It seems that the bull nose trim had severed the brake line. No; I don’t want to repeat that! Yes, I got home safely; just later than expected.