Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another Saturday

What a great day! 61 degrees. That's very cool for August in the California Central Valley where August temps are usually over 100. As usual, we drove into Chico for our morning walk. This time we brought our sweatshirts; I had to search for one. And once we had made the 2 mile walk into the park it was time to take the sweatshirts off. On the way back we went past our car and continued down the road to the Saturday morning Farmer's Market. It's really a great market and since we arrive fairly early, 8:45, we have a good selection to choose from and the crowds haven't arrived. Yes, there were a lot of people there but nothing like the crowds we see later in the day when the university students finally wake up and venture out.

We started off buying some locally processed, non-pasteurized garlic herb cheese. A little pricey at $14 a pound so we bought a small portion. Then we had to buy some green beans and red onions from one of the Hmong farmers. The Hmong really do a great presentation with their produce. It's all beautiful! Turning the corner at the end of the first aisle I had to stop for a cup of freshly ground Columbian Dark Roast coffee. It's a habit of course and I enjoy talking to the couple that have the space. As we were on our way up the last aisle I spotted a perfect small eggplant. Is there any color that compares to the rich purple of the eggplant? I bought it. And right across from that vendor was a guy selling eggs, including duck eggs for only $4.50 a dozen. I've seen duck eggs for as high as $12 so I'm going to grab some of them next week. If you've never tasted duck eggs, you're missing a treat.

On to another subject. We, the nine artists that paint every Tuesday morning at the Art Center, hung our offerings on the walls of the Chico Sports Club yesterday. All very stressful for those of us that had never shown any of our work as there were quite a few critics sitting around the café where the art was being shown. On the plus side, one of our groups paintings sold immediately. We had just hung it in place and someone wanted her watercolor of pumpkins for $125. She is a very good painter but always in watercolors where she paints 'realism'. Now, my paintings are all abstract and one canvas managed to offend a couple that were sitting nearby. I didn't hear the comments but one of our group heard the man say, "It must have been painted by some old hippy." They were taken aback a little when my friend told them that I was a retired superintendent from a nationwide construction company. Then they said something about how our President might like it. Not bad! To get a response like that is as rewarding as selling the painting. I'm of the school that believes a painting has to make a statement and I guess it did. Also, I'm not a hippy. Hippies are much younger than I am. I'm from the 'Beat' generation and proud of it!

The paintings will be up for 52 more days so anything can happen. It's a big sports club and they have a lot of traffic in and out of the café area. In the meantime, I'm moving on with my painting and hoping to create a collection I can show at Café Flo, a local coffee shop that shows local artists.

    I'll take pictures of the show when we have the reception…

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our local paper..

The alternative paper - has an editorial "Getting real on taxes"

The editors of the mainstream paper around here? They are of the opinion that all taxes are bad. Yes, they are Republicans. Thank heaven for the alternative press! A voice of sanity...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It'll Cost You

$300 To Blog In Philadelphia - The Consumerist:

Yikes! I hope this idea gets no traction. Possible argument; the blog exists on a server in some other city? And that thought makes me wonder if every city where the blog is viewed would want something? That's how a government mind works, you know.

And speaking of money...we just got a brand new 'Smart Meter' attached to our electrical panel. Unfortunately it's still a dumb meter as PG&E doesn't have the 'Smart' interface ready at the other end. Maybe next year. Or next century. Read here about 'Smart Meters'. The installer told us that the new meters are accurate to within 1/2 of 1%. Percent of what? 100% of my wallet?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The right to hold an opinion carries with it the responsibility to defend it."

Heck, that might even be the quote of the month! And it is found right here.

This is an opinion piece that should be read. By everyone. And if you think the author is wrong...prove it.

(Thanks Nance)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why is it?

When we say the word 'Christians', do we mean Southern Baptists, Catholics, Quakers or Mormons? There are a hundred more schools of worship and they all all call themselves 'Christian'.

When we say the word 'Muslims', do we mean terrorists? Why don't we think of the hundreds of other schools of worship that are collectively known as Islam? Hundreds that do not preach hatred.

Those opposing the mosque in New York don't know what the word 'Christian' means.

Am I paranoid?

"Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks Web site who is embroiled in a fight with the Pentagon over the disclosure of secret military documents, was caught up in a new drama on Saturday when Swedish prosecutors sought him for questioning on allegations of rape and molestation — and then announced the rape allegation was unfounded."

You don't think that the CIA had something to do with this do you? Nah! That wouldn't be right...

Some odds and ends

According to what I read, Americans take an average of 13 vacation days a year and leave behind an astounding number of unspent vacation hours. The British take an average of 26 days a year while the French take 38 days! Are we doing something wrong? Well, we certainly pamper our children as they spend the least amount of time in the classroom, both in days and hours when compared to the majority of other nations.

Then there was this...
In a new study, scientists found that the brains of introverts don't pay much attention to human faces, a reason why they prefer to remain alone while their socially outgoing counterparts love the company of others.

In fact, introverts' brains didn't seem to distinguish between inanimate objects and human faces, said researcher from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California.

So there, I'm not really ignoring you...I just can't tell if you're a lamp or a human.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A walk in the park

We started off in the usual way with a stroll through the subway and up the hill as we entered the south side of the park at One Mile. The weather was perfect and the distractions were few…oops! Hold that thought… we did see a very close call as the riders of three bikes came within inches of crashing. The lone rider never even looked back at the two startled bikers. She had entered the park, at speed, crossing the bike path without looking. We continued on. We kept up a fairly fast pace; 3.5 mph and it wasn't long before we were at the two mile marker where we stopped for a drink. Here we had time to look around at the beautiful park, amazed that developers had always been foiled in their attempts to ruin it. Okay, it was time to go for another ¼ mile before turning around.

I should mention my shoes; Sketcher Shape Ups. I don't know well they work to develop core strength but I do know that they have to weigh 5 pounds apiece and the awkward shape of the sole keeps tripping me up. Every few weeks I will put on a pair of my old racewalking shoes just to feel the ground beneath my feet again. Back in the old days…I had purchased a beautiful pair of racing flats from a new company, Nike. Those were the best! Light as air and so flexible. The sole was minimal and so I know that I will never see another shoe like that again.

On the way back we slowed it down to 3.4 mph and took more time with our heads up. And we need it here…the bike riders in the park play a game of 'slalom on wheels' and pedestrians are the course markers. I find it so odd that a guy can spend $5,000 for his bicycle and another $1,000 for the flashy compression shorts and jersey, not to mention the latest headgear…but there seems to be no money left over for a damn darn $5 bell to warn pedestrians that they are being overtaken. I know…it's priorities.

We arrived back at the car safely and with energy left over. A good walk. 4.5 miles. And each day will be better as the summer temps decline and then the leaves will begin to fall in the park. It's absolutely fantastic to look down the trail and see leaves falling, behind and in front of you in a gold and red shower, highlighted by the shafts of sunlight.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The things I read...

"A national Harris poll this spring found that 57 percent of Republicans believe that Obama is in fact a Muslim (and, for good measure, 38 percent believe he is “doing many of the things that Hitler did,” and 24 percent believe that Obama actually “may be the anti-Christ”)." 

Why would they believe that? Don't they read anything at all? A book? A magazine? A newspaper? How did these people get out of high school...if, in fact, they went to high school? This stuff just staggers my imagination. That many people and they are all that stupid. We're talking millions of people that simply don't have a clue...

You know what's really scary? These people have driver's licenses and are on the same roads with you. Buckle up!

Of wombats and wallabies -

from the Chico News & Review: "

“What is wrong with Americans that you don’t want to give each other health care? It’s a basic human necessity.”

Weird isn't it? The rest of the world gets the message that we're all human, but we don't...

Good little story here from a very Distinguished Fulbright Scholar.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Way to go!

My congressperson...hard at work.

On Tuesday, the House passed this bill to provide $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid assistance to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain teachers' jobs. The bill was then sent to the president, who signed it into law on the same day.

Rep. Wally Herger voted

(Herger is all for education. Just ask him)


A bit of wisdom...

"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian." ~ Pat Paulsen

Darn! Where's Pat when we really need him? He is sorely missed...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More odds and ends

Life is changing. My life. I'm still writing in my Journal but now the entries are short and forced; when I remember to write at all. It's the same with my blogs. I do have an increased interest in my art work and I'm painting more often. Also we're walking on a daily basis and getting in 4+ miles 6 days a week and that's before 9 AM. Of course that will change as the seasons change and we will be in the park at a later hour. I'm enjoying the walking as I can see my legs regaining the muscle mass I lost during the past two years of surgeries. We're walking pretty fast, right around 16 minutes miles. That's not as fast as I used to walk when I was racewalking and actually racing. I was able to do 11 minute miles back then and now it seems like a dream. Can I ever get back to that kind of performance? Some of this change can be blamed on the drugs I'm taking and until I no longer need them I'm sure that I will remain 'changed'. I sometimes feel as if I should carry a sign with me that states 'On drugs. Please forgive if I'm inappropriate in any way'.

Perhaps some of the change can be attributed to the 'House For Sale Syndrome'. We have to make the house presentable every morning with everything picked up and put away in case some prospective buyer should arrive while we are away in the park. I'm a person who is comfortable with clutter so you can see how that might affect me. Grrr!

Speaking of art, as I was…one of the members of the group I paint with has arranged with a local fitness center for some wall space. We're going to have a showing with our work up on the walls for almost two months. It's a very busy fitness center so we will have lots of exposure; probably more than we could ever get in a gallery. I have enough work to show and I'm working on one more right now that I hope to include before we hang on the 28th of this month.

And I was just reading about John McCain; he now seems to be in the lead once more in his race to hold his Senate seat. What a shame…I didn't care much for his opponent, but Mr. McGrumpy is far too old to be a Senator. Okay, I'm far too old to be a Senator. There should be an age limit of 65 for holding elective office. True, there are some exceptional elders, but the fact is, we, the majority, are living in the twenty first century and most (not all) older citizens are quite content to live in the past.

This same article spoke to the weird requirements of the conservative camp; apparently Mr. McGrumpy is now campaigning on the promise of securing the borders first before any talk of immigration reform. That, alone, should tell you that he is delusional. How would anyone propose to 'secure the borders'? The fence? The estimated cost for this 700 mile boondoggle is up to $49 billion dollars. That's a government estimate. Wanna guess how much it will cost in the long run? And how effective will it be? Think "War on Drugs'…that's how effective it will be and just as costly.

There are close to an estimated 14 million undocumented immigrants in this country…think a population the size of Illinois. Now let's see how we could remove them? Got any ideas? I guess we could ask them to leave and then if that didn't work, we could round them all up and put them into 800,000 buses and drive them to the border. Piece of cake!

Friday, August 13, 2010

From life on peach eater creek:

sociocapitalism: "-

Wally has a great post here and well worth reading. He distills many of my own thoughts into coherent sentences.

I tried to comment on his blog but the 'comment' wouldn't work for some reason...

Odds and ends

Did you know that Barnes and Noble is for sale? If the new owner (if there is one) can't come up with a gimmick to lure people away from Amazon, it's all over. And speaking of Amazon...a big time agent for a stable of writers has begun negotiating directly with Amazon as a way to market their books electronically (via the Amazon Kindle) and cutting out the publisher altogether. The story is...publishers are scared! For ourselves, we are not going to be using the Amazon Kindle anytime soon; at $9.99 per book we would have a $300 a month book bill. We'll stick with the library as long as they exist.

Did you know that almost a million Chinese citizens have emigrated to Africa? They are bringing their culture and their expertise to a continent that needs it.

Have you read about the 'pink slime' that is still being used in most American hamburgers? The story itself is almost a year old but I just heard about it. Slaughterhouse floor scraps that have the fat removed and then are treated with ammonia to kill the pathogens...except the full strength ammonia was created a terrible odor so they went to a lesser strength. Yes, Burger King, McDonald's and most other big chains use it. Also most large chain markets and the federal government are using it.

Did you know that Volvo was sold to Geely, the most ambitious of the Chinese automakers. Li Shufu is the owner and CEO of Geely and his bio is quite interesting. Look it up on Wikipedia...

Did you know that the sugar and fat laden diet of Western children may be making them subsceptible to Asthma and other allergies as well as inflammatory diseases. A study compared the gut bacteria between Western (Italy) and African (Burkina Faso) children and the difference was amazing. The African children had a much more diverse population of bacteria which leads to more healthy lives.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I was reading

yet another story about the flight attendant that said 'No!' Plus a few other choice words. And some of the stories I read were from other flight attendants who agreed wholeheartedly with his actions and some that wished that they had the same kind of courage...

I agree, sort of, with what he did. I can certainly understand why he did it. As a former frequent flier, I came to dread the weekly trips to the airport. Once upon a time, flying was an event to celebrate and I would look forward to it. The airlines destroyed that. And TSA shares the blame as well.

But it's not just the passengers that are a source of great irritation, it's also the all too frequent 'Flight Attendant from Hell'. In their defense, the attendants state that the Post 9/11 stress is the cause for their lapse in civility. Baloney. Statistically they have no argument for that. They have a better chance of being hit by a meteorite. The stress is caused by the Dept. of Homeland Security and it's that stress that causes so much bad behavior among the passengers.

Back in the good old days of flight, the passengers were given the illusion that they were still in control of their lives. Now, as soon as you enter the terminal you give up all control or you turn around and go home. And I was tempted many times!


It just came to me...we can solve our problem with the national debt by simply putting 'Red Light Runner' cameras at every signal in the nation. One day later, the national debt is history!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hair, beards and power:

Taking it on the chin | The Economist: "-

This story has some amusing parts to it but at its heart, it's a story about evil. You will notice that all of the governments mentioned here are nationalistic and very 'Conservative'. And the Conservatives in this country would love to do the same sorts of things you read about here. They are already trying to dismantle the Constitution, so it isn't a stretch to imagine them trying to enforce their views on a man's appearance.

Friday, August 6, 2010

From Doctor Grumpy in the House:

Doctor Grumpy in the House:
Things that make me grumpy: "-

You need to read this as it will give you a clear picture of how medical insurance works today. It also shows you why we should have had 'Medicare for all' instead of this useless bill that only perpetuates the hold that the insurance companies have on us.

Hold your nose

Since our house remains unsold, we make the thirty minute trip into Chico every morning for our hour+ walk in the park. And on those trips we have noticed chemical spraying at all of the orchards we pass through. The car windows are up and we're using recirculating air for cooling and yet the sharp odor of these chemicals makes its way in. Some mornings are worse than others. The road is a state highway that connects two major valley arteries, I-5 and US 99, and quite often the ranchers will use helicopters to spray and it's when they are spraying that the odors are the strongest. When we see the workers directly involved with the spraying, they are wearing full protective gear. Those workers not directly involved are not protected. Nor are we.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From Robert Genn - My state of confusion

My state of confusion: "-

I receive this Robert Genn newsletter twice a week and I always look forward to reading it. This letter focuses on Banksy, an artist I've enjoyed for some number of years. Okay...some will say his work isn't art but you should read the letter and then click on the link to the Banksy exhibit and make up your own mind.

Robert Genn writes - "Esoterica: So much of the art that many of us like to make is "skilled" (for lack of a better word) art. For most, it's difficult to do. Sure it can be done, but it's difficult to do well. Skilled art may take a few years of private effort, studentship, technique development and maybe even apprenticeship. Shock and awe art takes imagination and courage."

From Who Hijacked Our Country:

The “Independent” “Self-Reliant” American:

This most excellent piece tells the story as it should be told. (Be sure to click on the link to the column by Danny Westneat) I've been telling others this story for years and have been largely ignored...must be how I tell it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back in the park

Another 4.1 miles on a very humid day...for California. It was up to 52% and that made for a less than comfortable walk. But...we definitely enjoyed it because of the scenery. A little known factoid is that this park was the location for the original movie of Robin Hood and the park played the part of Sherwood Forest. Yes, Errol Flynn was once seen cavorting here among the trees in his green underwear.

We did the walk in 1hour and 14 minutes, which is a little slower than usual. The humidity might have been responsible for that or perhaps it was the fact that I was looking for that perfect piece of sycamore bark. I have almost finished the painting where I used the bark and now I want to start another. I was going to include a photo of it but my lighting scheme didn't work very well and the photo was unsatisfactory.

Heck, I might as well include it here anyway and I will tell you what's wrong with the photo...first, there are no gold colored flecks on the green pieces of bark. I guess that's reflections from the light above. And that same light seems to have washed out the gloss on the green. And I think I need to connect the shapes with a horizontal band of color.

I did find a few more interesting pieces of sycamore bark and with some heavy high-gloss acrylic medium on them, that might transform them into something quite nice...we will see. In the meantime, the park has an inexhaustible supply of bark and I have the time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Attention -

From the Edge -

Once again Mr. Porter has done a wonderful job with a minimum of words. His column is on the last page of the paper and I often turn there first...