Saturday, February 28, 2009

How About That

Things I didn't know… I can copy Flair from Facebook and post it right here… sure, it's juvenile. I'm OK with that.




How They Do It

Monsters of Snow Removal

Memories of Interstate 80. What's really scary is to see one of these in your rear view mirror when you're already going as fast as you can in the snow...

Minor Grumbling

I know it rates fairly low on the irritation scale these days, but Californians are still talking on cell phones while driving. What's the problem? Can't they figure it out yet? It really does cause accidents! And…now we can add one more cell phone problem that needs to be addressed. Talking while piloting a shopping cart. I stopped my car in the middle of the parking lot at Costco the other day while a shopper and his cart strolled directly toward me with the phone held to his ear. With just a couple of feet to spare, he glanced up and shifted direction. The collision was avoided but he never stopped talking. I wonder where he is now?

The California legislators have irritated me again. Our vehicle license fee has been doubled. But I'm not irritated for the usual reason, I'm irritated because they have returned the fee to the level it was before Arnold took over as governor. As soon as he took office, he promptly slashed the then current license fee in half to much conservative applause. But we thought there was nothing wrong with that fee? We had always budgeted for it and it seemed reasonable. So the fee is back where it was but now it's not in my budget! Idiots!

O Street Meat

From the Shorpy Photo Archive

Nostalgia. Not because I remember stores like this, but because I think of my Mom and Dad. They were born in 1915 and would have been 10 years old here. True, they were in Seattle and Duluth, respectively, but I'm sure the same scene was repeated there. And my grandmother; Nana, she would have been watching the scale!

Yes, it does

Life goes on. And once more I'm searching for words. It must be the winter doldrums that have me staring at my monitor while my fingers remain motionless on the keyboard. Hello? Anyone home in there?

Maybe I should try some outrageous quotations; just to get the mind in gear. Make of them what you will…

Some fellows get credit for being conservative when they are only stupid. - Kin Hubbard

A religious conservative is a fanatic about a dead radical. - Anonymous

I do not know which makes a man more conservative—to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.  - John Maynard Keynes

Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. - John Stuart Mill

Now to compound my difficulties, Boo the Cat has claimed my lap for her throne, which makes typing problematic. (If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.  - Alfred North Whitehead)

I did hear a story on the radio yesterday that got my attention. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has authorized the Russian Army to shoot & kill demonstrators. Crowd control is off the table and deadly force is now on. The story included the fact that 'legal' demonstrations would be allowed. Now there is an oxymoron!

It made me think about the status of demonstrations here in America; Odd, but most Americans are of the same mind as the Russians. Legal would be fine, thank you very much. But illegal demonstrations should not be allowed. Luckily, only a few Americans would support the use of deadly force to keep demonstrators off of the streets. It's as if we have blinders on…demonstrations are as American as apple pie! They are demonstrable symbols of our freedom. Imagine an America where we are afraid to show dissent because we might be killed for it. It has happened here in our past. Think
Kent State.

 
 

 

From the Unsilent Generation

My kind of reporting!

Consumers

Getting Less Food for Their Money as Companies Shrink Grocery Items - AARP Bulletin Today

This is theft. Plain and simple. To try and deceive me while taking my money...sounds like robbery to me!

We're lucky enough to have the time to shop and compare price and volume as we cruise the aisles of the market. But that's not how most people shop. Most people shop where they can get in and out in a hurry. But in these tough economic times, it might be wise to slow down and read the labels.

Hmmm, sounds like a good idea for a consumer website, one that does volume comparison shopping for you, and in your home area.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Conservatives

Seek Next Ronald Reagan -

The first one wasn't scary enough?

From Flickr

Photos & video from everyone!

Imagine...4,631 uploads in a minute. I could sit here all day! View. Refresh. View. Refresh.

My son-in-law likes to call these things 'time bandits' but he's wrong. It's serious social studies. I may get a degree from this.

The Demise of

The Post-Intelligencer - Seattle Weekly

A shame. And this one is personal as I know one of the columnists and his family.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get Jiggy

Wit the GOP -Another from NAM

My problem with 'Bobby' is the fact that he doesn't use his real name. (It's Piyush) And to choose a diminutive for a name? Why would anyone do that? He could have used Robert. My motto - never trust a politician with a folksy name.

Barely Getting By

Seniors Struggle to Survive - From NAM

"I don't mind paying for it, but I got to find a job," Lewis said. "And who is going to hire a 72-year-old?"

Shameful and it won't be getting better soon.

Shave and a haircut

Life goes on. And this morning; early, I will be off to see the dentist. A fun thing to do as I will be sedated for the entire event. Asleep. Copping some z's. It's not that I'm afraid of dentists; no, not at all. Well, I might have been once when I was about 9 years old and the dentist didn't want to use Novocain because he was afraid the injection might hurt me. (What did he think the drill would do?) Other than that, I've had a fine relationship with most dentists, even the ones that hurt me on occasion.

I will be asleep this morning because, besides being very uncomfortable, sitting in the dental chair for over an hour is an incredibly boring thing to do. I dread that and not the occasional pain. It's the same reason I have for not going to a barber. What a waste of time! So I cut my own hair. Though I might go to a barber if they offered sedation…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Born Every Minute

Was reading the story about VIA, the new instant coffee from '4bucks', the giant coffee house chain. Apparently it is quite good. One hopes so as it will cost around 80 cents a cup for you to mix your own. It's also patented…

And all this reminds me of the story I heard the other day about the new coffee. According to instructions, you are supposed to stand in an imaginary line for ten minutes before brewing it. And then, take $4 out of your wallet and tear them up, placing the fragments in the trash before taking that first sip. Supposedly this will give you the ultimate '4bucks' experience in the privacy of your own home.

Three (3) Count Em’

I just heard the other day that the inhabitants of the Planet Orland will be getting a new pharmacy in town. How very cool! Yes, I can see where we desperately need another pharmacy in a town that has one (1) grocery store and two (2) existing pharmacies.

Yes, Walgreens has decided to join the battle for our drug dollars. Why is that? Because due to inflated drug prices and a government that allows such inflationary pricing for Medicare, drugs are the biggest game in town. Did anyone else notice how Walgreens, CVS and others have set up shop any place they can? Department stores, restaurants and others are closing their doors, but drugstores/pharmacies are a growth industry.

The inflationary pricing? Courtesy of the last administration. Can you say 'doughnut hole'?

The collapse of manufacturing

From The Economist:

"surely it is right to give industry special support? Despite manufacturing’s woes, the answer is no."

Some good reasons to wave goodbye to GM et al...

Amazing Sky



I really need to pay attention more often...

Yikes!

Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World

In case you missed the real thing again this year.

As an introvert, you would never catch me here...

And yet, when I was 17/18, I was all set to drive across country with a friend, working for gas money and food as we went and then becoming a 'starving artist' in New Orleans. That was my career goal!

Life as I see it…

Once again, Ronni at Time Goes By has a very good post and this time it's on the nature of blogs and friendships. I know I have tried to explain the blogging phenomena in the past and have not always succeeded. But she explains it quite well.

A blog doesn't replace human contact as the many detractors claim; it enhances it. It's real conversation with real people. Just as real as if they were sitting across the table from you at a coffee shop. When blog posts fail, it's because the writer tried to be more than they were capable of being. Out of character. We are who we are and our thoughts need to reflect that. Yes, warts and all.

Just as there are conversations that I wish had never taken place; when I misspoke…there are blog posts of mine that I wish had never seen the light of day. That's life and that is what it (blogs) is all about.

Time Goes By for today

Morning Mumble

Life goes on. And if I had to guess, I would say that the President's speech fell on deaf Republican ears last night. 'La La La La La La La La La…I can't hear you!'

Congressman Jim Moran had this to say, "We're going to have to get our act together - particularly the Republican party. They need to do something more than just say "no" to everything he proposes."


You mean, like having an idea of their own that they want to share with us? I don't get it; here's a perfect opportunity for the Republican leadership to show us some leadership, to show Americans that they can rise above the pettiness. They could steal the show from the Democrats if only they would act like adults. What do you think would happen if the Republican leadership gave a speech without mentioning the 'other party' and concentrated on a plan of some sort. (Not like their previous one, of course.) What if the leaders treated us as intelligent listeners and refrained from using material leftover from the Rush Limbaugh show?

Well, I don't care much for the leadership of either party, but the one in power is less odious than the previous one. That aside, I already know what will happen; the leadership of both parties will remain firmly in the gutter and the electorate will be dismissed as irrelevant.

Hopefully, our President will remain above the fray. He has so far and no one can fault him for being less than open or accommodating. And if you want to see where the money is going or voice an opinion, you can go to Recovery dot Gov and contribute your two cents worth.

"Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles."
  - Pat Paulsen

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just wondering

I had a thought… I wonder if anyone is looking at the possibility that 'program trading' is causing the deep losses on Wall St.??? Software driven trading is the norm now and doesn't rely on human emotions. Maybe we need some 'hope' added to the lines of code that drive the buy/sell orders.

From Barbara's Blog

Her Role in the Torture of Binyam Mohamed

Yikes!

Required Reading

Life goes on. But where's my mail? Google Mail is down? Luckily, this doesn't happen very often and so I'll give them a few minutes to come up with the goods. In the meantime, everything else works and I can scan the headlines and read the blogs. All is almost well.

The first thing I read this morning is the news about a new assault on Social Security. What's the matter with these people? Do they live in an alternate universe where white is black and black is white? Yes means no and no means yes? Or have they become so enamored with their deception and lies about Social Security that they actually believe them?

I know, I know…'if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth'. I'm just hoping that in this case, people will spend some time reading to find out the truth.

Since we are of an age where any changes to Social Security really won't affect us, why are we and most elders against these proposed changes? Because it will affect our children and our grandchildren. What will they do for security in 20 years? 40 years? When their privatized retirement accounts go south on them? It affects society. What kind of people will we become if we ignore our elders?

OK, enough…read the post below this one.

From Time Goes By

The Coming Attack on Social Security

They haven't given up and will resort to any lie that will push their agenda. Social Security is not broken and it only takes a little bit of reading to discover the truth about it...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Law and Order

With Judges Like These, Who Needs Juvenile Justice? - NAM

Start Packing

This, just in…Poll Shows Broad Support for Obama's Leadership

President Obama is benefiting from high levels of confidence among Americans about his leadership, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most Americans faulted Republicans for their response to the president.

Mr. Obama will deliver his first address to Congress on Tuesday evening against a backdrop of deep economic anxiety among the public, with worries spanning party, class and regional divides.

Sad. The Republicans just don't get it. The old politics don't work. This economic crisis rises far above the pettiness of partisan politics and demands the full attention of our representatives in Congress and the Senate. Anyone who doesn't understand that needs to be sent home at the next election.

Should I mention that the stock market has reached new lows today? OK, I didn't think so.


 


 

Something New

New posts at my other blogs, Working and Short Laps

Uplifted at last

I have the window open this morning, inviting in a cooling breeze, as the wood stove has performed too well. It was 76 in here when I woke up. I wish we had a more efficient wood heater, one with a thermostat and one that burned wood pellets as well…but, since the Depression has ravaged our discretionary funds, that purchase won't be made anytime soon. It's the same with our bathroom remodeling plan. It's back on the shelf.

Yes, I called it a Depression and with an upper case D. Gotta call it what it is! No, it's not the Great Depression, but it certainly has the potential. And all this financial destruction has come to us with the compliments of the recently departed administration. Way to go!

Depressions are so…so, so depressing! I need to find something positive in the news this morning and hang onto it.

How about this quote? Is this positive or what?


"If we give the money to the widows, they will spend it unwisely because they are uneducated and they don't know about budgeting. But if we find her a husband, there will be a person in charge of her and her children for the rest of their lives."
MAZIN al-SHIHAN, director of a city agency in Baghdad, on his plan to pay men to marry Iraqi war widows.
(it never occurred to him that education might be the better answer?)

Isn't it wonderful to know that we have made a real difference in that country?

Well, perhaps that wasn't all that uplifting. I'll look some more…

How about this? I just read Paul Krugman's op-ed piece on nationalizing the banks and I would have to say, why not? But, even though the idea has great merit and would be fair to you and I, the taxpayer that is bailing out the banks, the conservatives would have a field day with this proposal. To arms! To arms! The socialists are coming!

OK, moving on; that wasn't much more uplifting than the previous news item, so I'll keep looking.

Here it is! FOX news came up with it…an article all about what kind of food is being consumed in the White House. That's the kind of news we can't live without and we can always trust FOX news to find it for us.

Link to Krugman article

Link to FOX news?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From Dinosaurs and Robots

Motorcycles!

Scroll down through these images and see what's old is really new again.

Parabolic Template

Just what I needed!

As is normal for me, I was browsing through today's posting on Time Goes By and found this link. Now I don't have a secure wireless network ; too much trouble when you live out in the country anyway and if a welcome visitor shows up with a laptop, you can let them borrow your bandwidth easily. But this solution will keep those signals within the house! And they might even make it out to the garage...

(Note to my daughter: This might work to get a signal out to the 'barn' where you want it)

The Hay Group

All About Hay Group

Speaking of salaries, as I was in the previous posting... a little known fact is that if you receive a salary, 9 times out 10, that salary was determined by the Hay Group. They have classified and grouped just about every possible paid position in the world and assigned Hay points to it. The higher the points, the higher the wage. This takes the emotions out of assigning wages to an employee. "I would love to offer you more, but this is the best we can do." And since almost everyone uses the Hay points, the employee will rarely find a better offer. Sweet!

A Primer

Now that California has a budget, sort of, it's time to see what damage has been wrought. And since the Republicans held the budget hostage for over 4 months, any necessary tax increases have been gutted from it. Way to go! (clueless b&/#*@$s!)

From what I've read so far, the average school classroom will lose about $11,000 over the school year. How many classrooms in a school? Let's say 20 classrooms; that means a loss of $220,00 dollars for my hypothetical school. No problem! Just have a bake sale… a quarter million dollar bake sale.

Of course I have a better solution than cookies and banana bread; I say that the teachers should all quit. En masse. It's obvious that they aren't valued and why would they want to work where they are treated so shabbily?

I did some looking around and found these numbers; median wages for elementary school teachers is $47,600. And for a construction superintendent, the median wage is $66,000. These numbers will be higher in California. A good superintendent can make a six figure salary in Los Angeles or San Francisco. And without a college degree of any kind! Teachers? Nope, you have to have your degree.

I know that people love to complain about the teachers and how they aren't doing a good job. But then again, you do get what you pay for, don't you? If you pay the best, you can demand the best. Simple. I happen to know that is the same argument that California university presidents use to justify their half million dollar salaries (and more!).

OK, enough said, that's my solution; the teachers need to quit and let the conservatives handle the problem. Hey! Maybe the teachers could all go to Sacramento and hand over the classroom keys to a legislator?

Put Another Log on the Fire

Life goes on. (Always a good thing) And after a spring-like respite of three days, we're heading back into another period of winter storms. Well, I got to wear my shorts for a few days so I'm thankful for that. Now I have to gather some kindling and get the wood stove ready to go again.

Wood stove? That's another one of those irritations of rural life. What's to love and what's to hate about them; they are so comforting and yet they are so expensive and so dirty. You save nothing when you give up natural gas and switch to wood. The thermal output of wood (BTU's) can't match that of gas. Wood fires poison the air outside and they litter the family room with ashes and wood debris. But I love them! (and so does Boo the Cat)

And wood stoves also create a political divide here in the north state. There are restrictions, mostly voluntary, as to when you can use your wood stove during the winter months in neighboring Butte County. Yet agricultural burning is seen here as one of our elementary freedoms and whenever we have a clear and windless day during the winter, you will see great plumes of smoke erupting all over the valley. They burn the rice fields to the south of us and orchard pruning's all around us. You can't escape it.

I had the orchard pruned this winter and I suggested to the pruners that they could take the two trailer loads of pruning's over to the 'green waste' dump nearby. At that dump, all wood waste is converted to chips and trucked off to a small power plant to be used as fuel. I was told that they were going to take the trailer load home and add it to their 'burn pile' in the orchard they own. Should I have insisted that they use the green waste dump? I suppose so…

I don't know what the answer is, but until we see the ag fires extinguished, we'll never see an effective ban on wood heat.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama

declares love for Canada, banishes Bush era

He's making me proud!

All he has to do is say the same thing to about a hundred more. There's a good chance he will!

Hairy

Amidst war, rumors of war, depressions, bankruptcies, and general economical malaise, there is the ongoing crisis of far too expensive razor blades. Yes, I went to Target yesterday and had to spend $18 for eight (8) razor blades. You take the 18 and divide by 8, carry the two, etc and you come up with $2.25 per blade. Criminal!

I have googled for 'mach 3 cheap razor blades' and the best isEbay with 8 blades at $13 + shipping. I imagine shipping will be at least $4, so we're right back where we started. It's a conspiracy! And I'm thinking about growing that beard once again…

March on Washington

1925 | from the Shorpy Photo Archive

I have to wonder if the 'Family Hotel' in the picture had any sheets left after these bozos left town?

After Wrangling

California Senate Passes Budget - NYTimes.com

OK, now let's do what really needs to be done. Fire these idiots!

New

Something new on my Short Laps blog

Odds and Ends

Life goes on. And it looks like we have a few days to dry out around here before the next storm. And that will give me a chance to clean the ashes out of the wood stove. I stopped feeding wood into it yesterday, so it should be easy to clean it today. And then the next, and supposedly wetter, system will arrive over the weekend. I haven't read the precipitation totals yet, but I imagine we're seeing an impact on our drought status.

Looking at the news from yesterday, I read that Eric Holder, our Attorney General gave a speech at the Justice Department and told it like it is regarding 'race relations' and ruffled all sorts of political feathers. That's what happens when the truth is told. And how refreshing it is to hear the truth now and then!

And after looking at the news of California's tax impasse, I was definitely ready to read the latest column from Rosa Brooks. Ack! Politicians…a pox on all of their houses! Perhaps I should go back to bed…

Link to Holder'sSpeech

Link to Special Weather Statement

Link to Rosa Brooks

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An NYT Editorial -

- Rating Doctors Like Restaurants - NYTimes.com

An idea that is overdue! You can use Yelp to do the same thing, but people rarely do. A shame. Maybe this one with Zagat will gain some traction,

(Comics)

Hurray! Arrgh! It's time for Tom

What if, indeed!

Also on a different subject; I was reading once again about the dilemma the newspapers face as readers/subscribers disappear. And a whole lot that problem can be laid at the door of the newspapers themselves. They refused to believe in the technology that would replace them. Some still do.

I remember posting something about electronic media a few years ago; epaper to be exact. The technology is here and now, it's just the news media that hasn't bought into it.

Imagine; on your kitchen table is a thin and flexible piece of plastic film, just the size and weight of a newspaper. On the face of it, are today's headline stories. Black ink on white. These stories were downloaded via a wireless connection and subscription. Press on an icon displayed at the lower right hand side of the film and the display changes to the reverse side of that first page. Move on; now you begin to see advertising. Just like the old days. And don't forget the comics! You can flip pages back and forth electronically as often as you want. Or, you can follow a story immediately, without having to find it on page 14. Spill your orange juice? Wipe it off the display. What's not to like about this?

What if…newspapers had put their money and their clout into this technology? They still could.

ps Another bonus; even the smallest of newspapers could afford this. Sell the printing press and buy a computer.

Link to epaper

 

Reading Assignment

On a different subject altogether; I'm almost through with the book, A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré. It's a great book and it's definitely relevant in today's world. Saying that John le Carré writes well is an understatement. I've been reading every word and I have even found myself whispering very real threats to some of the villains in the book. That doesn't happen very often! Mr. le Carré draws you right into the action like few authors can. And those villains? Most of them are bureaucrats. The people we love to hate! (I got my copy at the library…)

More Grumbling

After looking at the dismal financial news, both state and federal, from yesterday, I'm wondering just how many more shoes will have to drop before the Republicans/conservatives get it?

As I've said before, these are fascinating times to be living in, but… I can feel a certain tension building among the electorate. Will these become ugly times as well? It's been rumored that politicians are becoming worried about the masses; no, not about their well being, but their mood.

Living in a rural area insulates us from the negative realities that effect millions of Americans every day and so we only hear of or read the rumors. And then, only if we seek them out. Rural America is only a very small part of the whole despite our wanting it to be more important. We really need to be listening…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lights, Camera!

I see that the California legislature will be working tonight to solve the budget crisis. (No rest for the wicked!) And I can already see how this will all play out in the end. The TV cameras will be there as the weary legislators finally emerge from their grueling struggles in that smoke filled room. Republican and Democrat alike will smile and pat each other on the back and tell the story of how they fought the good fight and that the citizens of California should be proud of what they have accomplished. Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye…

I’m so confused

I just read that GM wants $12 billion from the 'government'. But…we are the government and that's really our money, isn't it? Do you want to give GM $12 billion? I don't. They have a lousy reputation and their credit rating is in the basement. Besides, they are a multinational corporation; they have offices and plants in all of the major countries of the world. Perhaps Brazil or China could loan them some money? Canada? And let's think about repayment; how are they going to do that? Sell us their cars? That way we can pay back our own money to ourselves with our own money. Wait a second; this isn't making sense. Maybe it's the other way around? Either way, I'm out $12 billion dollars and all I have to show for it is this crummy Chevy.

Oops! Now the number is up to $16.6 billion and they have their eye on even more. And Chrysler would like $5 billion please. That's the same 'Chrysler' that is now owned by Renault, the French car company.

California

Lawmakers Struggle to Strike Budget Deal - NYTimes.com

This is what partisan politics does... it's time for change. Heck, it's past time!

Read this post from Always Question. Now tear up your membership card for whatever political party you belong to and register to vote as an independent. You are independent! And that makes you powerful again.

I got it!

A little while ago, I posted the comment; "I have to ask; what did we do before there was an internet?"

That comment made me think once again about the fact that we really do have two very different cultures in the world. The connected and the not. And what disturbs me the most are the 'not's' who are apathetic about the fact that they aren't connected and there are millions of them Some are even world leaders. (Bush was one) Why wouldn't they want to be connected? ARE THEY CRAZY? Even now, President Obama is taking flack from the 'not's' because he wants to spend money to help us all become connected. They just don't get it…

Curiouser and curiouser

My sister just sent me this note…


http://improveverywhere.com/2009/02/09/high-five-escalator/

 Also, check out some of the other scenes they create.  The Slo-Mo Home Depot is pretty wild and the Best Buy video shows how really paranoid stores have become.

I have to ask; what did we do before there was an internet? The world was a sad and lonely place back then...

Still mumbling

The other day, when I was mumbling about the different supermarkets and how they were faring during this Depression, I forgot to mention Trader Joe's markets. Well, I can report that they seem to be doing quite well. The local store is as full of customers as it always was. And we were right there in amongst them. In fact, we had a Trader Joe anniversary dinner last night. We bought two nice Top Sirloin filets and our side dish was the new (to me) Crinkle Wedge potatoes. Our salad contained the really inexpensive avocados the Joe sells and we also enjoyed some 'fricos' made with TJ's freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

If you're a family of two, TJ's is a great place to shop and it's less expensive than the big name markets. We didn't finish the two filets and they will become dinner again. A $5 filet just became a $2.50 bargain.

And how do you make a frico? Heat oven to 425. Put parchment paper on baking sheet and lightly oil it. Take 3 heaping teaspoons of Parmesan cheese and place (in a heap) on the parchment. Make as many little piles of cheese as you want. Keep about 2 inches between them. Put into oven for about 8 minutes. The cheese melts and the frico become golden and thin, like little cheese cookies. Use them anywhere you want; salad? or just snack on them. I understand that they keep for a week or two when put into an airtight container.

(No, I don't work for Trader Joe…)

H2O

Life goes on. And so does the rain. We'll be crossing the Sacramento River in a little while when we go to Chico this morning and I'm looking forward to seeing just how much water is coming downstream. One hopes that they are saving a little of that water in Shasta Lake.(Photo stolen from here...)

The Sacramento River watershed is very difficult to manage as a certain amount of water, by law, has to flow into the Delta and out to the ocean. The water keeps salt water from advancing into the Delta and getting into municipal water supplies. And a certain amount, by law, must be sent south to keep Southern Californians green and happy. And a certain amount, by law, must be used to support riparian habitat. And…whatever is left is ours to do with as we please.

But, in the meantime, it's raining and more is forecast for the weekend.

Minor Rumblings

The New York Times had a great Quotation of the Day, "Part of his job is to stay in touch with the American people, and the White House can be a very suffocating place if you don't get out and talk to people." DAVID AXELROD, a senior adviser to President Obama, speaking of the presidential visit back home to Chicago.

How refreshing. Talking to people… Imagine that!

And this from the Los Angeles Times… "Meg Whitman says she would make trade-offs as governor to put the state's financial house in order. She hopes to open voters' minds to a former corporate CEO after a run of movie stars and professional politicians."

Ah, yes. Corporate CEO's are very popular these days. Perhaps a former corporate CEO is different in some way? How? Get a grip! She's a conservative and she is delusional!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Africom

a U.S. Military Maneuver or Real Help? -

"Activists, advocates and scholars worry that the true purpose of Africom is to increase U.S. power over African nations, exploit natural resources like oil and strategic minerals and pursue American military objectives."

I think they have a good point. We didn't worry about it enough in the past and look where we are now...(Think Iraq) Why would I think that the Pentagon has anyone else's interest at heart?

From Shorpy

Sanitary Ice Cream Cone: 1917

Ah, the good old days! Just like hot dogs; you really don't want to see how they're made.

Imagine

The New York Times had a great Quotation of the Day, "Part of his job is to stay in touch with the American people, and the White House can be a very suffocating place if you don't get out and talk to people." DAVID AXELROD, a senior adviser to President Obama, speaking of the presidential visit back home to Chicago.

How refreshing. Talking to people… Imagine that!

And this from the Los Angeles Times… "Meg Whitman says she would make trade-offs as governor to put the state's financial house in order. She hopes to open voters' minds to a former corporate CEO after a run of movie stars and professional politicians."

And a former corporate CEO is different in some way? How? Get a grip! She's a conservative! She can't be different…

We Are

a Nation of Junkies Hooked on Media-Fabricated Outrage

Very appropriate. I love finding this stuff!

From Time Goes By...

The WPA...

Yes, it's an older article, but I was reminded to read it again. Glad I did.

A note about Texas; we have been to San Antonio and to the Alamo. And what struck me was the atmosphere in that building, as if we were in some sort of shrine, the Holy of Holies. Very odd and disquieting.
I also had the feeling that no Texan I saw that day was interested in knowing the true history of the battle. They had something to worship and everything else was irrelevant. I could have been wrong.

About The Art of O. H. Vilag

Customized Calendar from Zazzle.com

Speaking of Facebook, as I was...I just happened to notice one of those ads in the right hand column. I clicked on it and it brought me here. I like it!

And since Facebook lets me customize/choose the ads I want to see, the advertising they sell becomes an even more powerful tool. Focused.

So I have found some inspiring art work, a new (to me) artist and a new (to me) marketplace for art; Zazzle. Not bad for just a few minutes time on a rainy morning.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Mr. Vilag, honest. I just like what he does...

More on the way

Life goes on. And it's another marvelous day of rain. No wind, just delightful rain, soaking the ground everywhere. And more forecast for tomorrow. And then it gets better… "The break still looks good Wednesday through Friday with more rain next weekend and still the potential for a sub-tropical tap into that system. Snow levels look to be much higher with that weekend storm then with this one."

 It's also a marvelous day as it's our 46th wedding anniversary. We were married in a small church in a small town. Manhattan Beach, at that time, didn't have a single celebrity residing within the city limits. Imagine! Almost all residents could be called middle class and lower as most of them worked at the aircraft factories like Hughes, North American and Douglas. It's a different world now and so are we. Viva La Difference!

On a different note; I was just reading the article, I Facebook, Therefore I Am by Cristina Fernandez-Pereda. Interesting, but I think she is missing part of the picture because she treats the subject as if it were simply a phenomena relating to those in their 20's and 30's. From personal experience, I see it creeping into the older mainstream as well. It has a lot of potential and it's not just social; though, for elders and their families, the social aspect could be the most attractive. (But it's not quite there yet…sigh.)

Of course, at the end of the article, there is the usual link to let you post the article on your own Facebook page. I will.

Link to article

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Let it Pour!

Life goes on. I'm walking and talking, whispering actually, and so I must be alive this morning. Always a good thing. And outside the house it's storming; fierce wind and rain with more yet to come. I've let Boo the Cat in and we spent a few minutes together, stretching on the floor in front of the fire. Stretching seems to be one of those favorite 'cat' things that they do and so I've been trying it. It makes the early morning aches and pains go away for awhile. Smart cat. I have not tried scratching the furniture. Smart human.

Also smart is being inside this morning. I'm listening to the scanner and I hear reports of wind gusts to 40 mph and trees are starting to fall. We have the emergency lantern all ready to go and we have plenty of water as well. The woodstove is keeping us warm without using the forced air unit, so if the power goes out, we'll still be fine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Business

is the big winner in California budget plan - Los Angeles Times:

"About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks -- directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies -- is tucked into the proposal."

And the corporations will spend that tax break on new jobs and expansion - in California. The money will trickle down to the poor - in California...Yeah, right. That has never happened and never will. The basic fact is this - there will be an additional $1 billion dollars for you and I to pay, somehow.

From The Tyee

Is Breeding a Sin?

I guess it all depends... as usual.

Sheriff Joe

Arpaio Marches Immigrants Through Public Square - NAM

You have to ask...how did this make the citizens of Phoenix safer? Isn't that his real job?

From Chez NamasteNancy:

U.N.C.L.E.: United Network Command for Law and Enforcement

And the Avengers! Television as it was supposed to be...

Random

Thoughts on the economy. We were shopping for groceries at Food Maxx the other day and noticed that the parking lot was crowded and the store seemed to be filled with customers. It was a weekday morning and yet it looked like Saturday AM. Laurae asked the clerk what was going on and he said business has been growing steadily as the Depression deepened. (Or the perception that there was a Depression.) Food Maxx is a no-frills supermarket and has quite a few bargains; certainly more than Raley's or Safeway. And then we decided to go to Quizno's for a small lunch, a Sammi. That's a $2 sandwich that we have found to be just right in size. But Quizno's' had a 'For Lease' sign on the door and so we went to In-n-Out and splurged on a cheeseburger, fries and a malt. (It was OK, we skipped dinner) In-n-Out was filled with customers. It always is.

So what's happening in these examples? To me it says that a smart business owner will do well in these tougher times. Food Maxx is not just a cheaper place to buy groceries, it's also perceived as being friendly. Same with In-n-Out, they are always friendly. It's the culture of that corporation. Quizno's? Never a smile. Businesses that are run by bookkeepers never get it. And they will fail. It's the human touch that will save businesses during the hard times.

I think Raley's will make it through these times because they are also perceived as being friendly, despite their higher prices. We will still shop there on occasion. I really don't care what happens to Safeway. They never cared much about me.

Has anyone seen ‘it’?

The fire is going well and Boo the Cat is well situated in front of it. I am turning on the furnace just long enough to send a blast of warm air through the colder parts of the house to stir up the chilly air. And just as I typed that… I noted that once again, I'm leaving small words out of my sentences. Words such as 'it' and 'if', sometimes 'in' or 'to'. Not in my spoken sentences, just those I type. I can hear myself 'saying' them in my mind as I type, but they never make it onto the page. So if you notice any of those words missing, please insert the correct word for me. Thank you.

So, I am thinking that this 'small word' problem is associated with aging or it's a misplaced trust in my computer. I may be thinking that my computer is smart enough to see a word missing and correct it. Wrong! So this really is an idea in need of an inventor, a software genius. Imagine a program that would allow you to talk directly to the word processor and just let your thoughts flow. Stream of consciousness. And when you have run out of ideas, click on some icon that would tell the program to assemble all of that verbiage into something readable. Perhaps you could even pick literary styles? Hemingway or Koontz. OK, I get 10% if this idea ever comes to market.

From cab drollery:

What's That Screaming?

One hopes that this story will get a lot of a news media attention. It deserves it. As noted in the story, the stimulus bill has been ravaged by the Republicans, but this little bit of revenge on the bankers is a glimmer of hope. A little bit of sanity.

From Mother Jones

Why You Can't Buy a New Car Online

I never really thought about it before. I only know that over the years I have tried every possible way to avoid buying a new car directly from the dealer and was successful twice. I used intermediaries... a long story.

And today, the only possible way to avoid the traps that the dealer has set for you is to know the price beforehand and have the cash (financing) already in your control. Luckily, you can do most of that on-line, long before you walk through the doors of the dealership. Can you imagine being able to buy a car on-line? Awesome!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rain vs. Snow

I was just looking at the various traffic cams on I-80 and this morning you can get a real sense of just how the 'Rain Shadow Effect' works. Before the summit at Donner Pass and just below, it's storming big time! It's a blizzard… but just a few miles to the east, as I-80 descends (Floriston) into the Truckee Meadows, the snow is minimal. All of that eastbound moisture laden air is blasted by high winds past the summit and won't descend until it's past Reno… maybe Fernley will get some snow.

Rain shadow

Cal Trans

Gregg

Ends Bid for Commerce Job - NYTimes.com

Me? I think Gregg was stooge. This was a setup deal by the Republicant's.

On the Other Hand

And to be fair, here's one from Dave Barry…

"The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club."

Quote From Andy

"Democrats (I think to myself) are liberals who believe the people are basically good, but that they need government help to organize their lives. They believe in freedom so fervently that they think it should be compulsory. They believe that the poor and ignorant are victims of an unfair system and that their circumstances can be improved if we give them help. Republicans (I think to myself) are conservatives who think it would be best if we faced the fact that people are no damned good. They think that if we admit that we have selfish, acquisitive natures and then set out to get all we can for ourselves by working hard for it, that things will be better for everyone. They are not insensitive to the poor, but tend to think the poor are impoverished because they won't work. They think there would be fewer of them to feel sorry for if the government did not encourage the proliferation of the least fit among us with welfare programs."

I have always liked what Andy Rooney had to say. And yes, I'm in a mood. But…the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Something new

New post on my other blog, Working.

Snow Day

Today will be a great day to watch the traffic cameras on Interstate 80, over the Sierra's. Snow will be falling, drivers will be chaining up and chaos will reign. A great time to be home and watching it all on the little screen while sipping a warm beverage.

Link to CalTrans

Just a Rant

Life goes on. Hallelujah! The weather forecast is filled with little icons of gray and sad looking clouds; raining down upon us for the next week. If you live in the Northwest, this is a phenomenon known as 'normal'. For us, in the Southwest, it's a miracle.

And after reading the headlines this morning, it seems to me that it is painfully obvious that the Republicans will do anything to avoid looking as if they were interested in working for the common good of the nation. I really hope they continue. I think, this time, that the voters are smart enough to see them as the party of spoilers. But…I'm an incurable optimist. Realistically, I know that the voters can certainly be fooled again.

Again, it's history that we avoid and it trips us up every time. When, in history, have the Republicans ever brought peace and prosperity to the nation? It's never happened and yet, at times, they are able to convince voters that black is white and wrong is somehow right. And they are trying to do it again.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think highly of Democrats either. I'm an independent and still hoping that the nation will someday rid itself of this self serving two party system.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

From Foolery:

Why I Blog

I have to say that Foolery has got it right. Nuanced and everything.

She says, "I don't blog to be understood, or even to be heard; I blog to flush the cache in my head."

I listen to the news, I read magazines and books, I read the news on the internet and sometimes I even read a newspaper and sometimes, more often than not, I simply have to write something about it so that it can said that I did... so there.

U.S. Rep. Austria

blames Depression on Roosevelt
from the Columbus Dispatch

That scoundrel Roosevelt!

(we actually pay this guys salary)

Afghan Arms Are at Risk

Report Says - NYTimes.com

Maybe, just maybe... it's time to think about outsourcing all of our 'wars' from now on. The lowest bidder gets the job and we're off the hook. Gosh, that idea makes so much sense! (makes as much sense as all the others I've heard)

ps I added up all the numbers and came up with 499,000 weapons and we haven't a clue as to where they are…

From cab drollery

If It Ain't Broke ...

I usually start my morning among the blogs with a visit to Time Goes By and then over to cab drollery. And if I see an update, I visit Citizen K. These are always guaranteed to get my brain working. And they all worked as they should this morning. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From Dinosaurs and Robots

Amateur Commercial for Trader Joe's

You have to watch it, you'll love it. (of course you will!)

Again?

"Evidence of alleged torture is suppressed, after alleged American threats"


 "…they expressed surprise "that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress…evidence [that] was relevant to allegations of torture…" Mr Miliband's lawyers confirmed that under the Obama administration the position had not changed."

This short article in the Economist has me irritated with our new administration. It's past time for us to be open regarding our treatment of prisoners, and allegations of torture should be investigated fully. This sounds too much like what's his name's administration.

Link to the story

There's that Melody Again

Tom does Comics

Just Say No

I've been reading the almost constant criticism of Nadya Suleman, the mother of the octuplets, and I'm really quite tired of it all. Get over it! The babies are here and if you think punishing Nadya will do anything to change that fact, you're an idiot. Work on changing the rules that make such things possible. While at the same time, still providing the care that that is needed for those without resources. That's what we're supposed to do, take care of one another. That's what makes us human.

And it really bothers me that these complainers are the same people that allow; even welcome their representatives in the halls of government to rip them off for millions. Can you say 'Iraq'?

Kogi Korean BBQ

a taco truck brought to you by Twitter - Los Angeles Times

I love this idea! Why not Greek taco trucks? Italian! Indian! There's no end to the possibilities and this could really spread. (Are there taco trucks east of the Mississippi? Or is it just a West Coast thing?)

About Yelp

Yelp’s servings could use a dash of candor - Los Angeles Times

Like the author of this piece, I'm a fan of Yelp... and I can't imagine them getting very far if they tried pressuring businesses here on the Planet Orland. For one, there aren't more than half a dozen people here that even know about Yelp.

Most of my reviews are for businesses in Chico where the technology climate is somewhat friendlier. And I like to use it because it gives me a voice...

From The Economist

Reassembling the wreckage

Mr. Steele doesn't have a chance among the conservatives...

"A recent Pew poll found that even white evangelical Protestants—traditionally the staunchest Republicans—narrowly prefer Democrats these days."

A.B. Normal

Life goes on. But it is life in the slow lane. There's something to be said for that. Anyway, after yesterday's warning that it is still winter – the temperature made down to 26°F. (it's currently 41° and holding.) It hasn't been that low in quite awhile. And there are buds, blossoms and even leaves on the trees these days because of the abnormally warm temps. Or are these the new 'normal' temps? The next few days will be critical as the plants try to recover from this frigid blast.

I did read that there is a chance that the federal 'stimulus bill' could pass as early as today. With at least 3 Republican Senators acting responsibly, there is hope. Now if only we could find a few responsible Republicans in our state assembly…sigh. It won't happen; the Republican minority are simply too delighted in the power they have because of the 'super majority' rule in this state. These are all team players when what we need are individuals who can think for themselves.

I know I've said it before, but what we need from the news media are the opinion poll numbers for legislators to be published as often as they publish the ones for the President. Name some names and put them on the front page or on the 6 o'clock news.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A life of crime

Life goes on. And so does the pain from a toothache. I've been to the dentist; x-rays were taken, but nothing could be concluded as the infection hasn't reached the point of being visible in black & white. Best guess is that it's the result of a leaking crown on top of an old fractured tooth. So, for now, it's antibiotics and drugs that don't quite take the pain away. Truth is…they don't touch the pain, but they do befuddle me. On the positive side, the pain gives me instant clarity when it flares up, so between the two of them, I might be 'normal'. Normal is nice.

Interesting; the big news in California is that federal judges have ruled that the prisons here must reduce their populations by 55,000 in just 3 years. This is the same prison system that has no rehabilitation programs. And even if there were such programs, you have to wonder about the chances for employment that a just released felon has. Slim to none? But that won't bother the judges; the problems caused by this move will be for others to solve.

It seems to me that the best way to solve it is to revisit the laws that send people to prison. Mandatory sentencing makes no sense at all and should be abolished. It's the same for the '3-strikes' crime laws. The majority of drug crimes are simply misdemeanors and should be treated as such. Just a simple review of the statistics on crime and punishment should enable the legislators to come up with something better. Right!

Monday, February 9, 2009

$15,000 tax credit

won't help low-income home buyers, experts say - Los Angeles Times

As usual, the 'Devil (and Republicans) is in the details'...

Humanity First

For some reason I've found myself being irritated and frustrated by the recent rise in tribalism in the world. Or is it really recent? Probably not; it's just the same old thing, going on year after year. I think my frustration may have to do with some of the books I've been reading recently more than anything else. And since tribalism is still so prevalent, I wonder if it isn't genetic? I've always assumed it was cultural and education could remove it, but even though we have become statistically 'smarter' we have not given up our hold on tribalism. It's as strong as it ever was.

As I was pondering this, I had a thought; suppose I went to the Mexican/American tribal border and stepped across that arbitrary line. A line created by man and not nature; an invisible line. I take up citizenship. Then I return to the line and step across. What has changed? Aren't I still me? Just another human being? According to the 'tribalists' I have changed somehow and I'm no longer welcome. All I have to do is reveal the name of my new tribe, 'Mexican' and I'm ostracized. Does that make any sense at all? No.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

From the WSJ

U.S. to Target Afghan Drug Trade - WSJ.com:

"...to take stronger measures to combat opium production"

Just one more attempt at the same old thing. Unless the world is ready to subsidize the Afghan farmer after destroying his 'cash' crop, this will go nowhere.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

He’s Only Human

I just finished the book, Dreams From My Father by Barack H. Obama. A good book, written before he was a Senator and well worth reading. No, it's not the best book I ever read, but it certainly has its moments. Some of the early chapters were truly brilliant, while a few of the later ones were plodding and dull. But what's best about the book are the insights you get into the character of the man; those things that made him into the human being we elected to be our President. I think we made a good choice.

From Entitled to Know

Why Can’t the Media Stick to Facts on Social Security?

Time Goes By has some good links this morning and this is one of them. The other one that caught my eye was the graph showing statistics for older drivers and accidents.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

GSA Auctions®

All the good stuff

Back in the day... I used to subscribe to periodicals from the government that would let you know what was being offered up for auction. It's all electronic now, but still interesting in a weird way. And this is just from the GSA; you ought to see what's available from the Defense Dept.!

Republican buzz

on stimulus plan has no sting - Los Angeles Times

What an idiot! In this very 'Red' county that I live in, bees are very important. Farmers spend a small fortune on bees every year and they can't farm without them.

Tom Tells it Like it is

The Incredible Shrinking Republican Party (Comics)

From cab drollery:

More Unsurprising News

Diane points out the obvious...

Forecast: Rain

Life goes on. And rain is likely for today. Always a good thing. But even more so since I got my annual letter from the Orland Water Users Association. That's the association that provides us with flood irrigation water (ditch water) for the summer growing season and their letter gave us the bad news that we will be receiving less than half the water that we received last year. That means I will have to supplement that water with water drawn from my own well and using electrical power to do so. My electric power and my bill. Of course this is happening statewide so I will have plenty of company for my frustration. Let the 'water wars' begin.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

From Code Name Nora

Purple is back! (At least intermittently)

The lady has a great sense of humor and it's always been fun to read about what's happening in the 'Zone'.

Perception, perception…

Perception is everything. I just read that Americans bought 656,976 cars last month. Wow! I thought that was a lot…but apparently we bought a little over a million cars in January of 2008. A million! I can't even imagine a million cars. So how many did we buy for the entire year of 2008? 13.2 million. That's another Wow!

War crimes

accusations rattle Israel | csmonitor.com

No matter who you are or what side you are on, killing civilians during the waging of war is murder. Plain and simple. Calling it 'collateral damage' should be a felony in itself.

Apropos of Nothing

Silly kitty! I was typing away here in the study and I knew that Boo the Cat was asleep in the family room, sprawled comfortably in front of the wood burner. Suddenly, I heard the sound of footsteps racing down the hallway, yikes! But, it was only Boo, the cat that can sound like a herd of elephants when she wants to. I thought cats were supposed to be stealthy? Anyway, she raced into the study and slid to a halt. I stood up and she turned and raced back to the family room! I followed her as she bounced off the walls and then caught up with her under a table. After getting down to her level, I petted her for awhile and when I left, she was sound asleep again in front of the fire. Weird.

Your Turn

Life goes on. A simple declarative sentence that tells it all. I should start every post with this; if you don't see it, then it didn't happen.

From my meanderings through the news, I see that once again, non-payment of certain taxes is the political sin du jour. How very droll! Couldn't they have caught Tom Daschle with something more exciting? Maybe a little espionage? After all, cheating on your taxes is so all- American. Everyone does it! For the Republicans this is like shooting fish in a barrel. They're overjoyed by it until it's their turn in the barrel.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Once Again

Another nice day ahead of us. Highs will be into the low 70's. It's not at all like winter and that's a shame. But it will be a good day to get outside and stretch some aching muscles; that will hasten my recovery.

I've finished Palestine Inside Out and now I'm working on the book, A History of Palestine by Gudrun Krämer. This is a scholarly work and doesn't contain the raw emotions found in Palestine Inside Out; that's a good thing. I'm not sure I could read two books like that. This book takes the reader to the bronze age in this part of the world and then moves through time until the time of the founding of the State of Israel. My book mark has me somewhere in the middle of the Ottoman Empire, the early 1800's.

What I've learned so far is that this part of the world has always been coveted by other nations; it has no natural borders except for the Mediterranean Sea on the west. It has always been a place where cultures met and traded, yet the wealth always went away with those who did the trading. The economy was agrarian; in good times the Palestinians stayed in one place and farmed. In times of drought, they would pack up and move to better pasture, if they could find it.

These were resilient people. In Biblical times they were known as the Jebusites and were the only tribe that couldn't be evicted from Jerusalem by the Israelites. No matter who conquered the land, the Palestinians endured. One can only hope that they can endure once again.

Link to A History of Palestine
a pdf file

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sad

I'm reading Palestine Inside Out by
Saree Makdisi and I'm about halfway through it. It's a fascinating book, but I wish it had come with the warning that it could cause pain and suffering while reading it. My intent was to have some knowledge of what is actually happening in that sad land, but I may have found out too much…


 

Link to Palestine Inside Out

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lucky Me

I'm back from a short day at the hospital and oh, do I hurt! It was simple enough surgery, an umbilical hernia repair and that's a laparoscopic procedure with a minimal incision. Even so, I've been taking Lortabs every 3 to 4 hours for the pain. Of course that makes me a very dull boy.

I can truthfully say that I had a good time at the hospital. Lots of funny people and everyone was enjoying themselves, even the patients. Sample; as I was being wheeled into the OR, I was introduced to everyone. We didn't shake hands but we gave each other a wave and a 'hello'. (Should I have given everyone a 'high five' instead?) Then the anesthetist called for volunteers; "Can I get a volunteer over here to give Mr. Dunn some oxygen? Anyone? Anyone?" Someone stepped over to do the job and the anesthetist responded, "OK. We have a volunteer! Very good! Diane will be giving oxygen today…"

I don't remember much after that so I'm assuming that the frivolity ceased when the surgeon began his work. But, I could be wrong.

An oddity; everyone involved in my care was quite nice, but I thought it was odd that almost everyone, including the anesthetist, told me the same thing; "Good luck with your surgery today." Luck? Now that was scary! Because I don't have good luck. I don't win lotteries and I don't win door prizes, so I was really hoping that skill was involved and not luck. At least the surgeon didn't tell me that, but I suppose he could have had his fingers crossed behind his back and he might have had a rabbit's foot in his pocket. Sterile of course.