Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wolfie Wins

Europe has signaled that it will approve President Bush's nominee to head the World Bank, in the latest sign of a new pragmatism.

There's that word again...and my definition stands.

Aha! Now I See...

Yep, the American people are crying out for tax relief...

"In Rhode Island, South Dakota, Louisiana, Oregon and, most of all, Nevada, taxes from casinos, slot machines at racetracks and lotteries make up more than 10 percent of overall revenues, according to a new report. In Delaware, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa and Mississippi, gambling revenues are fast approaching 10 percent. "

And why do they need tax relief? So they can spend it at the casino!

I do have to wonder though...South Dakota?

It's Only Money

Bill Whalen of the Hoover Institute notes that…Congress this past year approved more than 10,600 "pork" items totaling nearly $23 billion – a 13 percent increase over the previous year – at the same time the federal deficit was over $422 billion and the national debt had climbed to over $7.5 trillion.

If this is how Republican conservatism works, we’re in a heap of trouble!

Let me see now, how can we blame that on the Democrats?

Historical item of interest…The president did not veto a single bill during his first term in office. The last president who did not veto any bills was James Garfield (1831–1881). President Garfield had the perfect excuse, as he was assassinated during his first year in office.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Doing What's Right

Pragmatism is what I recently heard described as America’s policy when dealing with Pakistan. So what is pragmatism? I decided to ask Google for the definition…

A philosophical doctrine formulated and defended by Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, and C. I. Lewis. It was originally formulated by Peirce as a maxim for how to make our ideas clear. Having evolved into the theory of meaning, pragmatism insists upon the necessity of interpreting our utterances in terms of their conceivable bearing upon our conduct. As a theory of truth, it proposes that we conceive truth in terms of such notions as what facilitates our commerce with experience.

A method in philosophy where value is determined by practical results.

Theory that the truth of ideas, concepts and values depends on their utility or capacity to serve a useful purpose rather than on their conformity with objective standards; also called utilitarianism.

The theory that ideas or principles are true so far as they work. In general, pragmatists rely on empirical or experimental methods and reject apriorism as a source of human knowledge. Because pragmatists differ among themselves in their use of the term, it is difficult to give a short precise definition. For adequate treatment see Dagobert A. Runes' Dictionary of Philosophy. HA. 23-24,32.

Philosophies that hold that the meaning of concepts lies in the difference they make to conduct and that the function of thought is to guide action.

An ethical system based on the expedient way to accomplish a desired result, regardless of the means.

A philosophical system or movement stressing practical consequences and values as standards by which concepts are to be analyzed and their validity determined.

Part of the symbolic interactionist view, which suggests that meaning lies essentially in how people act or behave. James and Peirce believed that the function of thought is to guide human action.

the philosophical school of thought, associated with Dewey, James, and Peirce, that tries to mediate between idealism and materialists by rejecting all absolute first principles, tests truth through workability, and views the universe as pluralistic

The philosophy that holds that reality is physical and ever changing, knowledge established consensually through the scientific method, and values are relative.

There are many things and what benefits me most is true (if it works, fine. If it doesn't work, fix it. If you can't fix it, throw it away and start over). Pragmatism is not far from monism as the circle goes.

The practice of testing validity of all concepts by their practical results...

(philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value

realism: the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth.

So what is my definition? Pragmatism is doing what is expedient instead of that which is right to do.

Social Security

Political supporters of Mr Bush's proposals are fighting back. On March 18th two Republican lawmakers, from Texas and Ohio, sent a letter to the Department of Labour inquiring about whether the unions' pressure tactics have broken federal labour and pension laws. “When union leaders and pension plan trustees base investment decisions on politics, we question how they can do so lawfully,” the congressmen wrote.

I can’t believe those two wrote that with a straight face. Must have had their fingers crossed behind their backs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

OK, the last boat lift. This one was built in 1875 and that is impressive in itself. It's located in Britain.

Big Lift

This is the world's largest boat lift, located in Belgium. Although impressive, you must admit that it doesn't have the style and grace of the Scottish lift I posted here last month.

Odds and Ends Again

Interior Secretary Gale Norton has named Matthew J. Hogan to be acting director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

And who is Matthew J. Hogan?

Hogan was formerly the chief lobbyist for Safari Club International (SCI), an extreme trophy hunting organization. Arizona-based SCI represents some 40,000 wealthy trophy collectors, promoting competitive trophy hunting of exotic animals on five continents. SCI members shoot prescribed lists of animals to win so-called Grand Slam and Inner Circle titles. There's the Africa Big Five (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino, and buffalo), the North American Twenty Nine (all species of bear, bison, sheep, moose, caribou, and deer), Big Cats of the World, Antlered Game of the Americas, and many other contests.

Well, you have to admit that he’s interested in wildlife…

The world's principal languages, based on 2004 estimates, and the
numbers of people, in millions, who speak them:

Chinese (Mandarin) 873
Spanish 322
English 309
Hindi 180
Portuguese 177
Bengali 171
Russian 145
Japanese 122
German, standard 95
Chinese (Wu) 77

Who knew?


"Latest Target of Airline Cuts: Number of Seats"

I saw this headline and thought; Alright! Finally there will be more room on the's too late for me to enjoy, but my friends at PCI can stretch out. And then I realized that the industry was actually cutting entire planes out of the passenger/seating equation, not making the passengers more comfortable. Of course not! What was I thinking?

All the news that's fit to print...redux

OK, the coffee is good and I am getting my thoughts together. (Some would claim that I never have my thoughts together, but I dismiss them with a wave of my hand!) My thoughts have turned to Matt Weinstock and so I must google that name.

I did google it and came up with an interesting story about a former Daily News reporter, Lu Haas.

Now, back to Matt Weinstock…as you might have noted in the article above, Matt Weinstock was a columnist for the Daily News and I read his column every day while I was growing up. Also, that website has an image of the Daily News masthead for June 4, 1949 and so I am sure that I once held that same paper in my hands while reading Matt's column…

And finally, this link…

What you don’t see or appreciate in these web pages is the importance of newspapers to everyone’s life in those days. There were no “talking heads” to dish out the news; you had to read every word. (In the 40’s and 50’s, most people could read) In the 1940’s, in Los Angeles, there were 3 daily newspapers; the Daily News, the Herald Examiner and the Times. If my memory is correct, the Daily News was usually a morning paper as was the Times. The Herald was an evening paper. And at one time I seem to remember that the Daily News had both morning and evening editions. Imagine that...newspapers twice a day!

Ah! Great memories!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fast Food For Thought

11 years ago, and while I was at work as an estimator for Performance Contracting, I was handed a little booklet entitled “New Work Habits For a Radically Changing World”. This was all part of a corporate culture change project and like most in the corporation, I resisted that change. But I read the booklet and kept it.

Of course the culture did change and I gracelessly kept up as best I could. With some aspects of the change, I excelled; and at others…I kept a neutral face and pretended to go along. That worked.

Well, I found that little booklet the other day while working in the garage and I sat down to read it again. Here are some excerpts/quotes from it that I found to be quite interesting. Remember; the facts and the predictions presented here are 11 years old.

“As recently as the 1960’s,almost one-half of all workers in the industrialized countries were involved in making (or helping to make) things.

By the year 2000, however, no developed country will have more than one-sixth or one-eighth of its workforce in the traditional roles of making and moving goods.

Already an estimated two-thirds of U.S. employees work in the services sector, and “knowledge” is becoming our most important ‘product.”

This calls for different organizations, as well as different kinds of workers.”
(Peter Drucker “Post-Capitalist Society”)

“In 1991, for the first time ever, companies spent more money on computing and communications gear than the combined monies spent on industrial, mining, farm, and construction equipment.

This spending pattern offers hard proof that we have entered a new era.

The Industrial Age has given way to the information Age.”

“I have a microwave fireplace. You can lay down in front of the fire all night in eight minutes” (Steven Wright)

“Less than half the workforce in the industrial world will be holding conventional full-time jobs in organizations by the beginning of the 21st century. Those full-timers or insiders will be the new minority. Every year more and more people will be self employed. Many will work temporary or part-time – sometimes because that’s the way they want it, sometimes because that’s all that is available.” (John Handy – The Age of Unreason)

“There has been more information produced in the last 30 years than during the previous 5,000. A weekday edition of The New York times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime during 17th century England…the information supply available to us doubles every 5 years.” (Richard Wurman – Information Anxiety)

The first practical industrial robot was introduced during the 1960’s.

By 1982 there were approximately 32,000 robots being used in the United States.

Today, (1994) there are over 20,000,000.

In 1991, nearly 1 out of 3 American workers had been with their employer for less than a year, and almost 2 out of 3 for less than 5 years.

The United States contingent workforce – consisting of roughly 45,000,000 temporaries, self-employed, part-timers, or consultants – has grown 57% since 1980.

Going, if not yet gone, are the 9-5 workdays, lifetime jobs, predictable, hierarchical relationships, corporate culture security blankets, and, for a large and growing sector of the workforce, the workplace itself (replaced by a cybernetics “workspace”).

Constant training, retraining, job-hopping and even career-hopping will become the norm.” (Deveraux and Johansen –Global Work: Bridging Distance, Culture and Time)

“Look at a roster of the 100 largest U.S. companies at the beginning of the 1900’s. You’ll find that only 16 are still in existence.

Then consider Fortune magazine’s first list of America’s 500 biggest companies. Only 29 of the 100 firms topping the first “Fortune 500” could still be found in the top 100 by 1992.

During the decade of the 1980’s, a total of 230 companies – 46% - disappeared from the “Fortune 500”.

Obviously, size does not guarantee continued success. Neither does a good reputation.”

And finally, this quote…

“The first time I walked into a trophy shop, I looked around and thought to myself, “This guy is good!”’ (Fred Wolf)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Medium Sized Brother

I was just reading an article about, a search engine company that happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of The focus of the article was on the information gathering abilities of Amazon and how well they use them. And they certainly are good at it! Normally, I don’t like to give out any more information than necessary while visiting new websites, but with Amazon, it’s as if I’m visiting a friend and my reservations are soon forgotten. They greet you by name, (a simple “cookie” trick) and then they recommend some books, some films and perhaps something exotic, like a new 3/8” drill motor from Skil. Amazon is no longer just an on-line bookstore; it’s evolved into an on-line department store as well. And they know where you are in that store at any time while shopping and they remember it. They also remember everything you bought; so if you are looking once more at a book you purchased in the past, they will remind you of that fact. I also like their product reviews and I like the fact that I can choose to buy used books and CD’s at a greatly reduced price. And they have my address and my credit card information, so I can use their 1-click shopping technology to speed a book on its way without any tiresome filling out of forms.

OK, I’m hooked. So what’s wrong with that? Here’s some pro’s and con’s…

Technology that can accurately anticipate a customer's greatest desires is going to be crucial in the growing competition with Internet-based upstarts and traditional retailers moving online, said analyst David Garrity with Caris and Co.

"One would argue that this is the basis on which a great relationship with a customer was founded," Garrity said. "If only our significant others were like this."

But Amazon must build that relationship without alienating the customer. As customer tracking gets more detailed, Garrity said Amazon and other companies should start asking customers for permission to gather certain information.

To some privacy experts, Amazon has already crossed the line.

Most recently, Amazon tangled with privacy advocates over a patent on technology that aims to track a shopper's gift-giving habits, including the recipient's age and preferences.

Karen Coyle, a member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, worries that the technology would be used to gather information on children, perhaps violating a federal law that limits the gathering of information on kids under 13.

Amazon spokesman Craig Berman says the company hasn't yet used the technology, and he insisted it would not violate those federal guidelines.

Even some of Amazon's biggest foes say customer tracking can make shopping more convenient.

Despite the benefits, however, government-backed restraints are needed as technology gets smarter, said Jason Catlett of the privacy advocacy group Junkbusters.

"People need legal rights to see the profiles that are built about them and to change or delete what they want," Catlett said.

I would have to agree. I would like to be able to edit my Amazon profile. But as far as privacy goes, I think we all gave that up a long time ago.

So visit and see what's in the future...and don't be surprised when they greet you by name.

The Message

Even on a dark and cloudy morning, the message remains the same...He is risen!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Morning sky

The time is 5:40 and the sky is already a lovely shade of blue-gray, with bands of thin and dark clouds across it. And just below the clouds, and right above the horizon, the sky is turning orange as the sun illumines the underside of those clouds. (Red sky in the morning; sailors take warning!) This view includes a huge tree that sits in the northeast corner of the orchard. This tree has to be 90’ high. I suppose I could find the accurate measurement by searching the internet for the method used by foresters. I remember reading about it some years ago, but I have forgotten the details. 90’ or 110’, it’s a lovely sight as it’s silhouetted against the dark sky.

Also included in my view are the grape arbors and my new olive tree. All are doing well. Despite the damage from the hail, the grape leaves are prolific and a lovely shade of green.



"the power of Christian countries is of little help to the Christian persecuted where most Christians now live: the Third World."

Some eye opening and disturbing facts in this article.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Peace In Our Lifetime

Yahoo'>">Yahoo! News - Officials: Bush Agrees to Sell F-16s to Pakistan

It seems like just the other day that I was opining about the possibility of this happening...Exactly why does Pakistan need a nuclear payload carrying tactical jet fighter? With the US as their pal, who are they worried about?

(Part of Speech transitive verb Pronunciation o pain Inflected Forms opined, opining, opines Definition 1. to present or believe as one's own opinion.)

Another Step Toward Peace in Our Lifetime

Yahoo! News - Officials: Bush Agrees to Sell F-16s to Pakistan

It seems like just the other day that I was opining about the possibility of this happening...Exactly why does Pakistan need a nuclear payload carrying tactical jet fighter? With the US as their pal, who are they worried about?

(Part of Speech transitive verb
Pronunciation o pain
Inflected Forms opined, opining, opines
Definition 1. to present or believe as one's own opinion.)

End-of-Life Care

Sacramento Healthcare Decisions - End-of-Life Care

OK, here it excuses. Unless you want to see Tom DeLay or Bill Frist hanging around your hospital bed. Of course, that might just speed you on your way!

Oh, if only...

Excerpt from God’s Politics, by Jim Wallis.

“After the 2002 midterm elections, I attended a private dinner for Harvard Fellows in Cambridge. Our speaker was a Republican political strategist who had just won all the major senatorial and gubernatorial election campaigns in which he was involved. Needless to say, he was full of his success and eager to tell us about it. This very smart political operative said that Republicans won middle-class and even working-class people on the “social” issues, those moral and cultural issues that Democrats don’t seem to understand or appreciate. He even suggested that passion on the social issues can cause people to vote against their economic self-interest. Since the rich are already with us, he said, we win elections.”

The author then goes on to say that he stood and questioned the speaker, asking what they would have done if they had faced a candidate who…”Took a traditional moral stance on the social and cultural issues.”, “was not mean spirited…”, “would not criminalize the choices of desperate women…”, “was decidedly pro family…” Further, if the candidate were “an economic populist, pro-poor in social policy, tough on corporate corruption and power.” “…environmentalist,…” “…and committed to a foreign policy that that emphasized international law and multilateral cooperation over preemptive and unilateral war.” The answer was a long time in coming, but what he finally said was, “We would panic!”

The book is really worth reading and allows you to see that there are more choices than just “Republican” or “Democrat”.

Pizza Psychology

Early this morning, I was lying in bed and had these thoughts about pizza’s and liberalism. To wit; I have a liberal bent and when it comes to pizza, I always order the “super combination with loads of everything on it” pizza. I don’t even question them about what they will put on it…I don’t care! I want it all, including the anchovies. Is there a relationship between liberalism and what we eat? I see the same thing happening when I order a submarine sandwich. The sandwich maker asks, “mayonnaise?” and I say, “Everything.” “Sprouts?” “Everything” “Mustard?” “Every! Thing!” Finally, after about the 4th “everything” they get it and stop asking the questions.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Harvest Time

News Bulletin-- U.S. Supreme Court refuses to intervene in Terri Schiavo case. Lower court decision to remove feeding tube stands.

Just as expected…the politicians can now take all of that political hay and bale it up, ready to serve to their constituents at the next election…”As you know, I tried my very best, etc, etc,…”

I wonder how the term "self serving politician" ever got started?

I Never Said "Lie"

The Social Security trustees issued their annual report yesterday and according to them, the shortfall in Social Security's finances jumped from $10.4 trillion last year to about $11 trillion this year. That’s eleven trillion dollars! The trustees, 5 Republicans and 1 Democrat, are trying to sell misleading (Define “misleading”) numbers.

The sell begins with deceit (Define “deceit”) by using that $10.4 trillion figure. That number is arrived at by projecting the system's shortfall over infinity, rather than the usual 75-year time frame - as if the system's finances 10,000 years from now are of any concern. Are you worried about the state of the national debt in the year 12,005? Should you be?

The American Academy of Actuaries is already on record regarding infinite projections as they convey "little if any useful information about the program's long-range finances" and are, "likely to mislead anyone lacking technical expertise ... into believing that the program is in far worse financial condition than is actually indicated."

Compounding the subterfuge (Define “subterfuge”) is that the difference between this year's $11 trillion number and last year's number - $600 billion - is being used as evidence of a huge deterioration in Social Security's finances. That's just wrong (Define “wrong”). The two numbers are actually the same quantity, explained this way, “- different ways of expressing an unchanging level of debt at two different points in time. If you owe someone $1,000 in 10 years, for instance, you could retire the debt now with $500, or next year with $530. Your level of debt doesn't change, just the time point.”

Mr. Bush's misstatements (Define “misstatements”) regarding the Social Security system leave no doubt that he wants us to believe that the system is broken so that we will buy into his plan.

Let's revisit this idea in the year 12,005...


Yahoo! News - B.C.

I couldn't help myself...this was a good one!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


What an evening…or more properly, an afternoon. A very large and powerful storm cell moved through our neighborhood about 5, bringing with it a mix of wind, rain, hail and lightning. This storm ranked right up there among the top 20 that I have seen, maybe a 17 on the list. And my list includes 2 hurricanes.

The hail was most impressive…and devastating. It just wouldn’t let up and I could see it smashing into the blossoms and bright new leaves. Pretty soon the leaves were being cut off and the blossoms stripped from the trees. The grape leaves seemed most vulnerable and there are tattered green shreds under the vines now. The apple trees were especially beautiful before the storm, a riot of pink and white blossoms. Now…about half of the blossoms are remaining. I didn’t want to go out into the orchard tonight and see what else has been damaged; I will leave that for tomorrow.

All is quiet now and there is a full moon shining on the wet leaves…I have to remember that I didn’t need this crop to survive, but some of my neighbors make their living off of the orchards. I can imagine how they feel…
Some of the hail among the roses


I’ve been listening to NPR this morning, Talk of the Nation, and the discussion is centered on automobiles and fuel…how timely!

One view holds that fuel prices will rise to over $3 very soon. (That is already true at one station in Malibu) Now factor in the possibility of another terrorist attack that places the petroleum supply in jeopardy and the price will be over $4 in a hurry. And with that increase, everything else will increase in price.

Also brought out in the discussion was the fact that General Motors stock is in deep trouble.

“GM shares had plunged almost 14 percent last Wednesday, when GM cut its outlook for the year and warned that it would likely post a substantial loss in the first quarter. The stock fell a total of 17.1 percent for the week”.

Also noted was the fact that GM has shifted all of their marketing and development money to the promotion of more trucks and SUV’s… (contrary to the advise of most industry analysts.) SUV and truck sales gave GM a boost in the 90’s and they seem to think they can do it again.

“Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said last week that the automaker is making changes to allow new versions of its largest pickups to be introduced sooner than planned.”

I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that GM will have to re-invent itself by the end of the year or suffer a breakup. A “fire sale”.

The SUV is on its way out…At this time, no American automobile company is making money, so look for Ford and Daimler-Chrysler to make changes soon. The industry leader continues to be Toyota.

Tsunami Revisited

Why is this not surprising? (From Yahoo News)

Days after the December 26 disaster, the United Nations launched an appeal for almost one billion dollars of hard cash as governments outbid each other with aid offers that, if realised, would top 10 billion.

Concerns that graft and mismanagement would gnaw into funds have placed donations under heavy scrutiny, yet there are also fears that huge promises of help will simply fail to manifest into worthwhile assistance.

"The federal government wants to give loans for boats to the fishermen, while state government wants the money in the form of grants because it feels the people will not be able to repay loans," Kapoor said.

Bigger headaches have emerged in Sri Lanka, where President Chandrika Kumaratunga has griped that "not even five cents" of assistance had been directly received by the state.
Finance ministry officials in Colombo said that of more than 884 million dollars in pledges, 95.5 million had been received -- just 13 million directly to state coffers.

The Indonesian government said despite being the intended destination of at least half of all aid, it had only received three million dollars in cash, with the rest being channelled through the UN or non-government groups.

A Mother's Story

The Amazing Hypocrites by Cindy Sheehan

Cindy lost her son just about one year ago...and she has some valid points to make. You may not agree, but since her loss is so great, you should listen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends that the “talking heads” on the tube didn’t mention last night.

In World Trade News…
America’s Current-Account deficit hit $665.9 billion in 2004. That is a 25.5% increase over 2003’s numbers. Last week, America posted its second biggest monthly trade deficit in Goods and Services ever! $58.3 billion in January 2005. That included a 33% jump in its deficit in goods traded with China compared with January 2004. (Oh, Wal-Mart…what are you doing to us?)

Other World News…
Paul Wolfowitz (The man behind the war in Iraq)
Bush nominates him to head up the World Bank, although “Wolfie” is neither an economist nor a banker.

Oil News…
Best guess for the number of barrels of oil to be found under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 10 billion. The US currently imports and uses 10 million barrels per day. At the very peak of production, it is estimated that ANWR oil will amount to 1 million barrels a day. Translation: Don’t look for Alaskan oil to change the price at the pump!

More From Harry James Cargas

The following is from the book, Encountering Myself, Contemporary Christian Meditations by Harry James Cargas...a favorite author of mine. This piece was written in 1977 and the book is no longer in print. I found my copy by having Amazon search their database of book sellers.

Christians of Silence

History contains the stories of many Christians that were forced into silence to maintain their beliefs because of persecutions. In Japan, for example, Christianity went underground for several centuries because it was identified with political betrayal by the official government of that nation. Under such conditions, silence may be looked on as heroic and virtuous. But there is another side – a dark side – to the silence of Christians. There are circumstances when silence is sinful, is cowardice, is not only the easy way out, but it is an absolute betrayal of Christian, and therefore human, values. In the face of racism, say, in the United States, silence among alleged Christians is abominable. The historical fact of the holocaust , which was different from a long series of persecutions of Jews by Christians perhaps only in degree, proved a test that many of us failed. Some who called themselves Christians actively destroyed Jews. It may be that hell was created for the likes of those killers. But what of the many silent (and therefore cooperative) “Christians” who knew of those atrocities and were unmoved by the mounting tragedy? And how visible are we today, as Christians, regarding such problems as starvation in Bangladesh or racism in Rhodesia or gross public immorality on the part of entertainers or illegal and immoral practices by our local businessman or when our neighbors tell jokes at the expense of ethnic or minority persons? In large things or in small, the Christian is called to witness. In a true sense, there can be no such man or woman who claims to be a Christian who doesn’t want to be involved. A full definition of the term Christian implies involvement, discipleship, apostleship. A Saint Paul who did not wish to be involved is unthinkable. The same is true of Luther, Hus, Newman, Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa. Even those of us who “stand up to be counted” on one or two issues too frequently remain contemptibly silent on others. As such, we are probably part-time Christians. That’s a full-time tragedy.

Pandora Revisited

I can't make any meaningful comments on the Schiavo case or on Congress and the Senate as they make political hay out of tragedy. Human emotion and cold political scheming makes me more than slightly ill.

But I do know this; I want to make a Living Will, and soon.

Any lawyer wanting to make a fast buck could set up a website dealing in that commodity and make a fortune.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Saint Nicholas

We are currently worshipping at the Evenagelical Free church in why the link to an Orthodox church? In Los Angeles? (Click on Saint Nicholas, above)

We actually used to worship there, many years ago. And when compared to the EV Free church, it's a world of difference. And it is at this time of the year that the difference is very much evident. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and at Orland EV Free, it wasn't even mentioned. I have a feeling that there was a great celebration at Saint Nicholas.

You Did Not Notice But WWIII Has Started | You did not notice but the third world war started ? it is the fight for dominance in oil and trade | Energy and Peak Oil News

I started off this morning by reading the SacBee and they had an interesting article on this subject...Titled "Experts Fear Day When Oil Runs Low"

In the Bee article, it was said that most experts disagree as to when global output will peak. The government says sometime between 2021 and the next century. Some say it has already happened. The main reason for the disagreement is the fact that China and India are racing towards a higher consumption figure with each passing day. The US currently uses a per capita average of 25 barrels of oil per year. The Chinese currently use 1.3 barrels and India uses less than a barrel.

Sidebar...K. Deffeyes and M.K. Hubert accurately predicted that US reserves would peak between 1965 and 1970. They sure did. Using a similar formula...Deffeyes predicts the global peak occuring this Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!

Declining Oil Reserves

Declining Oil Reserves

The information on this site is old and that is what makes it so interesting...Take a look at the forecasts and see if any of it is familiar. Remember, the price of oil is now over $55 a barrel.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Other Option

The big news story (locally) is the fact the Chico school district will be closing 2 schools next year because of budget shortfalls. Those in charge say that is the "only option". Of course it isn't! If they wanted the schools to stay open, they could have raised taxes to pay for it. And those who are against the school closures could pay those taxes. That is how it is supposed to work...If you want the schools, take charge. Tell your elected officials that you want to pay for it.

Better yet...take the schools back and give them to the local parents. One school=one district. Then you will see accountability. Until that happens, it's all politics as usual.

Oddly enough, no mention was made of a decrease in administrators wages. It seems that there should be, since there will be two less schools to administer to...

Two years later

The war in Iraq started 2 years ago. Here are some of the things I wrote in my journal at the time…
“3/19/2003. Nothing has happened overnight, no strikes or raids upon Iraq. I was up at 4:30 after waking up many times last night. I have made my pot of coffee, using my new grinder, which I really enjoy! I have read the headlines and the news is all about the preparation for war. Not much is said about the lives of those most at risk in this war, the civilians of Iraq. When they die it is termed “collateral damage”, a phrase that should be termed obscene. It’s not damage, it is death! Those that fight in a war, on both sides, chose to do that. Death is an accepted risk for those who choose war. The civilians have no choice. War comes to them regardless.

What strange lives we lead. I can easily speak about coffee grinders in one sentence and then of death and destruction in the other. I don’t even feel guilty about it. War is still an abstract, a thought, without form and substance. Even when it is broadcast onto the large screen of the family television it has no reality. It’s just another documentary to watch; actors and actresses being blown apart and dying, never real people. It’s hard to place yourself, mentally, into the war…into the reality of it. Maybe it would be easier to fear war if we turned the TV sound down and had to imagine the sounds of war without the calm voice of the announcer to reassure us.

What does the day have in store for us? It would be a good time to ask the Lord for His support and blessing for all of those in danger today. Whether Iraqi or American, lots of lives are in danger today and for the foreseeable future.”
(Early the next day…3/20/2003)
“The war started last night with a strike by the U.S. at the supposed hiding place of Saddam. Forty Cruise missiles were launched from naval ships (at about 1 million dollars each) and targeted locations in and around Baghdad. Apparently they missed Saddam, as he or a body double showed up on television a few hours later. He supposedly has a half dozen or more people who resemble him ready to show up at various locations and fool whoever might be seeking to kill him. What a terrible job! But they probably have no voice in their choice of employment.

I have been watching TV and listening to the radio ever since early this morning. The news has been sketchy as the press is captive to the *bush administration. But what I just heard is encouraging, and that is the possibility that the Cruise missiles may have succeeded after all. Iraqi response since that attack has been erratic and not what is termed “normal”. If it is true that Saddam has been killed, the Iraqi response will probably be to surrender.

(Later) Nothing major to report at this hour (2:00 PM) I have been watching as the Marines have crossed over into Iraq and there has been some artillery dueling as well. Baghdad remains the main focus of bombing and missile strikes. There were 2 or more SCUD missiles fired at Kuwait, but they were intercepted and destroyed. The U.S. also lost a helicopter, but without injury, when it crashed in Iraq. It is currently 1:00 AM Friday in Iraq. An 11 hour difference.”
(And once more on the 3rd day of the war, 3/21/2003)
“Friday morning has rolled around again and the sad news continues. There have been casualties in the war, 13 combined American/British troops have been killed, but only one in combat. An American Marine was killed last night during a fight for control of an oilfield. There is still a lot of speculation about whether or not Saddam was killed in the first raid. Will we ever know? In the meantime, the war is changing its direction because of that uncertainty. The leaders/planners don’t want to waste “resources” if Saddam is, in fact, dead. I suppose I will spend a lot of time in front of the TV again today. I’m also listening to NPR radio, so I’m pretty well informed as to the current situation. I did try to visit some internet sites that might have shown real-time images of the war, but they were mysteriously blocked or unavailable. Hmmm?”

That is how my day started a few years ago. This morning’s news is different, yet it remains the same in some ways. We are still in Iraq and “collateral damage” still happens to Iraq’s civilians. As in all wars, soldiers die and the innocent suffer.

Of course this made me think, one more time, about war and all of its evil consequences…There are no innocent parties when countries go to war, yet each side always claims the moral high ground. Even in the most complex of political dramas, someone will say something, or make a decision that sets both sides on the path to that cruelest of engagements. A simple act that leads to horror.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I finished reading the morning papers and after digesting all of the letters to the editor, I have come to the conclusion that we can save a lot of money by simply getting rid of all of the judges and juries. It was quite apparent that most of the writers already knew the TRUTH. I'm not sure how they knew...even though they were never in the courtrooms, never saw or heard the evidence. Yet they knew! In some cases, there hadn't been any legal action taken...but the writers knew who was guilty and who was not.

Sorry. I keep forgetting that Letters to the Editor are found on the Opinion pages; not to be confused with the "real news" pages...and where is this blog found? On the Opinion pages of the internet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


The weather is a changing…once again it is chilly (as it should be) and rain is forecast for the weekend. As you can see, I managed to snap a few close-up shots of the orchard and you can see the promise of a good harvest. Unless…

Yes, there are lots of perils to face before the fruit is harvested and the biggest perils are the birds. The first fruit to attract them are cherries and I have two of those trees. I am already shopping on the internet for the latest in anti-bird technology; maybe something a little better than an obviously fake owl.

Also…Today I planted two Manzanillo olive trees in a spot where I can sit in my study and watch them as they grow. I have always loved the rugged beauty of the olive tree and I want to cure my own olives one of these years. All I need now is patience.
Granny Smith I believe!
Pears in blossom
Future Apricots

History Lesson

Yesterday I received the history book I recently ordered and it turned out to be better than I had imagined it would be. The book is simply a collection of old photographs of Manhattan Beach, from the early 1900’s to the present. There is a detailed explanation to go along with each image, but no narrative. And I have already learned some things from it. A photo shows the destruction (in 1946) of the World War II storage structures that were embedded in the sand dunes. These were used to store ammunition for the coastal defense guns that had been stationed in Manhattan Beach. I remembered them as “caves” where we once played. And I remember that one day we went up to the dunes to play in them and found that they were gone.

For Laurae and me, Manhattan Beach is the place where we grew up and so the images are quite powerful. Of course that small town is long gone and has been replaced by a large city that we no longer recognize as part of our “story”. Now, do I need to buy a second book? One that I can take apart and scan the images? I may have to do that, as I want to include images in the document I am writing about my life. I may write to the author of this book and see if there are any other sources for the photos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Later in the day...memories

I now have my last cup of coffee in hand and I am downloading some old music. I’m talking “old”, like in 1946 old. It’s quite a list; Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Dawn and Her Dawn Patrol, Bing Crosby, Shep Fields, Dick Haymes and Spade Cooley. Oh, there are easily a dozen more…and surprisingly I seem to remember some of the songs. Now I was 6 at the time, so how much of that music do I really remember? Or do I just imagine it? And as for Spade Cooley, I really remember him only as the announcer on the television broadcast of the wrestling matches and roller derby in the 1950's…which we had to watch whenever our grandmother stayed over for the weekend.


Tuesday and I’m no longer angry about the wasted billions of dollars that I wrote about yesterday. That kind of anger only lasts for a little while and then the government will do something else equally idiotic (Just Google gay marriage) and that will take the spotlight for awhile. Which brings up the question that I always love to ask; why should we support our government without question? Isn’t that…foolish? And none of the founding fathers did. Oh, it would be easier to do that and some people would even applaud your “patriotism”. But, isn’t that…foolish? Simile: If our government were our teenaged child, we wouldn’t allow it to have a driver’s license. Yes, we would still love it...but drive? No way!

I have no idea as to why I jumped right into a critical mode of writing, but there it is. It just had to come out. And I suppose you should know that I tend to lump all branches of government into one entity called, oddly enough, “government”. It’s sort of an “us” versus “them” mentality. City, county, state, federal, legislative, judicial and executive…it’s them! Versus, “We, the people”.

On to more important things; such as our mower, which now works and I used it yesterday to clean up the orchard. It was a very windy day, but it was warm enough to work in a t-shirt. And I had a chance to observe what was happening to all of the trees. Spring is what’s happening and it was very much apparent. All of the trees are “pushing leaves” as it is called and the bees are everywhere, pollinating like crazy. The two apricot trees are loaded with miniature apricots. The only holdouts that I see in this spring fling are the two pecan trees and they are stubbornly holding back their leaves.

And let’s discuss compost…beautiful compost! I dug my shovel into the pit, which had dropped about 6” in depth, and turned over a shovelful of rich black soil, teeming with red wigglers. I will turn this compost into the soil of the garden soon and the seedlings I have in the garage, will have a great new home. And that means tomatoes in our salads once more…

Monday, March 14, 2005

Still the same old...

In case you have seen the anti smoking ads paid for by Philip Morris, and had assumed that they had seen the error of their ways and had decided to become the "good guys"...

Phillip Morris International, a unit of the US tobacco giant,
announced its entry into Indonesia's lucrative cigarette market with a
$5.2 billion purchase of 40 percent of PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna.
The latter is the third-largest cigarette producer in a nation where 70
percent of males smoke and an increasing number of women are taking up
the habit.

Really nice, aren't they?

Those Darn History Lessons

Lebanon and Syria by Charley Reese

I try not to use Libertarians for quotes as they are usually quite inflexible in their thought processes and it shows in their writing...but this piece has some history that needs to be told again.

Just Say No

I was reading an article in the Sunday edition of the Sacramento Bee that made me quite angry. No, that’s not right…I chose to be angry. Was it righteous anger? You be the judge. The story was about the fact that the federal government is fining the state government a little over a billion dollars (And more to come!) because the state of California hasn’t complied with a federal mandate to have child support data on a computer system that works to federal guidelines.

This fiasco started in 1988, when the federal government passed a law requiring all states to create such a database. As of this date, only 3 states have been unable to comply and California is one of the 3. Of course, the state used Lockheed Martin to build that first system in 1993. Who? And that system never worked and was abandoned before it was ever born; although I’m sure that Lockheed Martin was paid handsomely for their efforts.

The story goes on, detailing even more ludicrous attempts by the state to do something right…but the short story is that all has failed so far and the earliest date that IBM can come up with a working program is sometime in 2008.

Another short story…our government is fining our government over a billion dollars. We, the taxpayers have to pay that money. Why? Does any of that make sense to you? And where does the governor stand on this? It’s a billion dollars and we have heard very little from arnold. In the meantime, the fines and the waste continue. And that is why I choose to become angry.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I have been reading quite a bit lately and one of the books that I am currently enjoying is entitled Stories of Emergence, a compendium of stories by various Christian authors. Mike Yaconelli was the general editor of this book and it was his name that drew me to it. Mike died in an automobile accident a couple of years ago and the world is poorer because of that loss. I suppose Mike’s name is more properly “Michael”, but after reading his books, I can only think of him as Mike. Although I never met him in person, I “knew” him by the words of his books. Now I wish I had spent the time to drive north and hear him preach at the small church he pastored near Yreka.

Anyway, back to the book; one of the authors had an interesting story to tell and that was Frederica Mathewes-Green. In this too-short of a story, she describes her passage through feminism to her current life as the wife of an Eastern Orthodox priest. She also describes what she calls the Superman Cape attitude…"The Superman cape is our culture’s most common fashion statement. Feminism is only one of its many expressions; the causes, as I said, are interchangeable. It’s an intoxicating costume. For one thing, the Superman Cape works like an invisibility cloak in reverse: put it on and you can’t see your own faults. Instead, you see everyone else’s with lightning clarity and presume the authority to judge them."

Her website...

Now that was a wake up call! So I will take this space to apologize for my comments yesterday about Republicans. That was mean spirited of me. To be honest, I had no specific Republicans in mind when I wrote that. But that doesn’t make it right…

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sounds like

Dr. Karl Menninger, in his book, The Vital Balance, talks about what he calls the "negativistic personality," the kind of personality that at first says "no" to almost everything. "These are troubled patients," says Menninger. "These troubled people have never made an unsound loan, they have never voted for a liberal cause, or sponsored any extravagances. They cannot permit themselves the the pleasure of giving." He describes them as "rigid, chronically unhappy individuals, bitter, insecure...

Hmmm? I could be wrong, but that sounds like Republicans to me.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Good Eats!

Yes, Alton Brown is my favorite TV star...

But this recipe is one that I made up on my own. Try it, I liked it!

1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small pieces. (1"x1/2"x1/2")
1 large Granny Smith Apple, peeled cored and cut into similar pieces...just like the squash.
2 tablespoons of Butter
4 tablespoons of Trader Joe's Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Mix squash and apple together and place in casserole dish.
Place pats of butter on top.
Cover and cook at 350 for 1 hour.

Remove from oven, stir lightly to coat the apple and squash mix with the butter that is in the bottom of the dish...lightly!

Cover the dish with the Cranberry Orange Relish.

Return casserole (covered again) to oven and cook for additonal 15 minutes.

This is too good to call it the vegetable course. It's more like dessert!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Wheel in Action

very cool...

The Falkirk Wheel and Millennium Link - A guide to the world's first rotating boat lift

The Falkirk Wheel and Millennium Link - A guide to the world's first rotating boat lift

This is just way too cool! I love this kind of stuff...and I love the imagination behind it all. It's not just a simple "boat lifter", it's art as well and it creates a smile for the spirit of the beholder.

I will post another photo I found that shows it in action...

Sorry about that...

Idaho shouldn’t get this kind of negative publicity. It’s really a lovely state and definitely worth visiting if you have a chance. I know that I want to go back. I have been to the north of that state, to Coeur De’ Alene, and to Boise in the south. Boise is a small city and the river makes a spectacular run right through the middle of it, close to the university. Once I took a trip from Boise, up the state on route 55 to the Cascade Lakes. Coeur De’ Alene reminds me of Tahoe and is only 30 minutes from Spokane, another great destination. If there is anything negative to say about Idaho it would be that it’s too bad that Mr. Jack Simplot owns all of it. But, he simply bought it…someone else sold it. Shame on them!


OK, the Turbo Tax experiment is over and we e-filed our returns yesterday. Now, if the refund money we expect to receive shows up in our bank account, the experiment will be deemed a success. It was a pleasant experience except when I needed to review an entry that I had made early on and the navigation seemed to take far too long…but that might have been “user error”.

As is usual, we get some money back from the federal government and pay some to the state. But what I found really interesting as I reviewed each question that Turbo Tax threw at me; was the fact that tax law is almost entirely made up of exemptions for special interests. Each question revealed a bias. Oh, I’m sure that you already knew this…but since I had been protected from this information, by having an accountant do my taxes for years, I found it quite interesting. What if we all just paid the same percentage? Oh, Oh…I’m thinking like one of those “Tax nuts” aren’t I? One of those wackos that make up the far right and usually live in Idaho.

Judge Not...

As I was browsing, I found this information...

True? You should see for yourself.

"Here's a brief summary of just the first three of the 20 partisan judges re-nominated by President Bush.

William Myers III has never been a judge and spent most of his career as a lobbyist for the cattle and mining industry. [1] He has written that all habitat conservation laws are unconstitutional because they interfere with potential profit. [2] In 2001, Bush appointed him as the chief lawyer for the Department of the Interior. In that role he continued as a champion of corporate interests, setting his agenda in meetings with former employers he promised not to speak with, and even illegally giving away sacred Native American land to be strip mined. [3]

Terrence Boyle was a legal aide to Jesse Helms. As a judge, his signature decisions have attempted to circumvent federal laws barring employment discrimination by race, gender, and disability. [4] His rulings have been overturned a staggering 120 times by the conservative 4th District Court of Appeals, either due to gross errors in judgment or simple incompetence. [5]

William Pryor Jr. served as Attorney General of Alabama, where he took money from Phillip Morris, fought against the anti-tobacco lawsuit until it was almost over, and cost the people of Alabama billions in settlement money for their healthcare system as a result. [6] He called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history," and has consistently argued against the federal protections for the civil rights of minorities, lesbian and gay couples, women, and the disabled. [7]

Notes: [1] "Unfit to Judge," Community Rights Council, 4/2/04.
[2] "Myers Troubling Legal Philosophy," People for the American Way.
[3] "Environmental Group Calls on Senate to Block Myers Nomination: Ethical Problems and Anti-Environmental Activism Make Him Unfit for Judgeship," Friends of the Earth, 2/5/05.
[4] "Federal Judge Terrence Boyle Unfit for Promotion to Appeals Court," People for the American Way, 2/23/05.
[5] "Eastern District of North Carolina Terrence Boyle Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit," Alliance for Justice.
[6] Eric Fleischauer, "Pryor Called a Tobacco Sellout," Decatur Daily News, 10/30/02.
[7] Ann Woolner, "Bush Judicial Candidate Shows How Things Change," Bloomberg News, 5/16/03.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Bringing Home the Bacon - Real Online Hunting, Exotic Game Hunting, Internet Hunting

Just when you think you have seen it all...

And Speaking of Republicans...

Here is another name to remember...Clark Kent Ervin. Former head of internal investigations within the DHS (Dept of Homeland Security). Poor Clark! He was let go...his contract wasn't renewed, no options for Mr. Ervin. Although a fanatical Republican still...he loves his president!

Why was he dumped from a job where he seemed to be doing an excellent job? He was doing it too well. He exposed the waste and that is a no-no. He managed a team of 459 auditors/investigators and they found, for instance; a $100 million contract to hire new screeners had suddenly become a $600 million contract. Boeing received $49 million addtional for a contract to oversee other contracts. TSA executives awarded themselves 1.5 million in year end bonuses in 2003. At one point he was told to call "failure rates" at airport screenings, "success rates" instead.

And Tom Ridge, his boss...met with him twice, to complain about the negative publicity that he was generating with his investigative zeal.

Ya gotta love them!

Jose who?

Who is Jose Piñera? Well, once upon a time he was the Labor Minister for August Pinochet, one time military dictator of Chile. And in August of 1997, he received an invitation to meet with the Governor of Texas. What did they discuss? The privatization of Social Security. Imagine that!

It has been over 20 years since Piñera left the Chilean government and since that time he has become a globe trotting advocate for privatization. What most don’t know about the Chilean pension system is chilling to read…(And so is the story of his role with the Chilean dictatorship)

The Chilean system was begun in 1981, 24 years ago. It was initially funded by slashing government programs, selling off of government assets, selling bonds and raising taxes. Those costs continued of course and averaged more than 6% of Chile’s GDP all through the 80’s and are expected to average more than 4% of GDP through 2037.

The news from Chile today? It is forecast that as many as half of Chile’s workers won’t be able to save enough to receive the minimum pension when they retire. Right now, 17 percent continue to work past retirement because they can’t afford to and 7% are looking for work after retirement.

Just a note of interest…The World Bank, which is usually enthusiastic about privatization, found that fees and other costs ate up about 15% of the contributions made by the workers. They have suggested that Chile should subsidize the private system to “increase its role in preventing old-age poverty.”

Ya just gotta love those Republicans!

Tax Time

Did I tell you that we are using Turbo Tax for the Web to do our taxes this year? Now that is an experience! It is going well, but it is a good thing that you can stop whenever you want and take a breather for a day or two. Our two personality types are in conflict when it comes to filling out these forms. I like to round off numbers to the closest $10 and my wife works everything out to the penny. For years we have used an accountant for this yearly torture and have grown used to his shepherding us through the process. We’re on our own now and since we think our tax situation is simpler, the Turbo Tax solution seemed appropriate. And the nice part (one of many) is that the software is not on your computer. Yes, you can buy their software and do it off-line, but why? This way (on-line) the cost is only $20 and you are assured of having the latest version. Plus, next year, all of the information is already stored and ready for use in preparing the forms for that year. It should be a piece of cake next time!

Yes, I hear you... “But now Turbo Tax has all of this personal information”. But I have to ask; do you really think that government computers are more secure than private ones? Do you know how often the Pentagon computers are attacked by “crackers”? I will take my chances with Turbo Tax. (I hope I'm right!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2005


A moral failure on the part of Congress and the president...a pox on both their houses!

Two efforts to raise the national minimum wage were defeated in
Congress Monday, with both Democrats and Republicans offering proposals
for increases that failed to win passage. The Democrats saw their plan
to raise the basic minimum from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 over the next 26
months fail first, as Republicans argued that the increase would
negatively impact the entry-level workers it's designed to help. Then
the Republicans presented an alternative for phasing in a more modest
$1.10 increase in two steps over 18 months. The minimum wage was last
raised in 1996.

(9 years later and they still can't see the pain this has caused.)

Springtime wonders

Yesterday morning, I spent some time preparing for the coming gardening season by planting seeds in small peat containers. This soon became a time of worship as I opened the seed packets and saw the size of the seeds that would eventually grow and deliver the crop that I had planned in the dark of winter. I can’t imagine anyone gardening and not believing that there is a God. The seeds for the tomatoes were just specks, yet each one contains all the information needed to produce a huge plant, bearing dozens of tomatoes. Each seed a miracle in itself. In a few weeks those seeds will be plants of about 2” in height and when I plant them in the garden, they will be close to 8” high. Even though I should be immune to these feelings of wonder, I am struck by them each and every spring.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Plenty of sunshine

And the sunshine has brought out the mosquitoes! Now we need to buy ourselves some mosquito repellant and I need to look into the possibility of buying a mosquito killing machine, a mosquito "magnet". It’s even more important this year as the county has decided to drop mosquito abatement from the budget.

Talking about budgets and government makes me crazy! I do not understand how people can expect the government to operate without taxation of some kind. I think I can conclude that most people aren’t anti-tax; they are just not willing to tax themselves for anything that doesn’t hold the promise of gratifying some basic and immediate need. And even then, they send mixed signals…they appear to be quite willing to spend tax money on military budgets, even when the military spends money like a drunken sailor; to use an appropriate metaphor. They are not willing to spend money to help the poor survive. They are quite willing to spend tax money to help elected officials retire in luxury. They are not willing to spend tax money so that their own children might have a secure future. They are more than willing to spend tax money on price supports for farming and steel, but not interested in healthcare. The list of inappropriate and inadequate taxation goes on and on.

When will we get it? This is not the 18th century and we are no longer a nation of just 4 million souls (1780). The yeoman farmer model that Jefferson espoused is long dead. We don’t need less taxation…we need responsible government.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Manhattan Beach Morning

First, I read the news that the TV program CSI: Miami is filmed in Manhattan Beach and that made me chuckle. I haven't seen the program, so I will have to check it out.

Why would I want to laugh? Because I grew up there and I can't imagine it ever looking like Miami...but I suppose it has been a long time since we left that city (1963) and things change...

And then as I was Googling more Manhattan stuff, I ran across a book on the history of that town and ordered it for just $7, from one of the Amazon partners. You can anticipate some scans showing up here plus some stories from my memories of life at the beach in the 40's and 50's.

The book...

The last!

I wasn't sure before...but after reading this excerpt from w's speech, I'm onboard the Social Security Reform bandwagon! Count me in!

"Because the--all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those--changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be--or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the--like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate--the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those--if that growth is affected, it will help on the red." (Tampa, Fla., Feb 4, 2005)

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Country Club Plaza History

Country Club Plaza Art & History

If you are ever in the midwest...this should be one of the places to visit. Oddly enough, I was prompted to think of the Plaza just the other day when I had to visit downtown Chico. That was when I suddenly realized that I had no change for the parking meters! So I went shopping elsewhere. And at the Plaza that wouldn't have happened, as all parking is free, both on the street and in covered parking garages. And it's clean. The merchants want you to enjoy the whole experience of being downtown and shopping. The tall buildings of Kansas City surrounds the Plaza and so you feel like you are in some sort of oasis while you stroll the sidewalks...yes, it's a shopping center, but at the same time it's an integral part of downtown.

Chico really has the potential for this kind of development. The buildings, the parks and the trees would all contribute to a great experience. But right now it's simply old and dirty. It needs a visionary like could happen.

Friday, March 4, 2005

More memories

The news from the Middle East is encouraging these days as it appears that more and more people are speaking out in opposition to the powers that have controlled them. Palestine and Lebanon are on the cusp, as it were, of becoming free from the rule of terror.

But will it last? Americans may not remember these events, but the people of this region certainly do...see the article below.
Bah! It is raining this morning…cloudy and damp, no real storm at all. And I’m late with my post for the day.

A couple of things; one, the book I ordered, Myths America Lives By (Richard T. Hughes) arrived yesterday and awaits a time for me open it. Oh, I did look at a few pages and I’m eager to read it now. But it is book #3 in order of arrival and so it must wait a day or two. Two, I was musing as I brushed my teeth and I thought about all of the jobs I have had through the years. Not really a long list at all; mower of lawns, newspaper boy, dish washer at a Chinese restaurant, service station attendant (You can trust your car to the man who wears the Texaco Star!) delivery boy and clerk at liquor store, warehouse clerk (forklift driver), carpenter (sheetrocker and metal framer), estimator, foreman, superintendent, owner, IT tech, instructor…and then I thought about what I tell people when they ask what I used to do before I retired. I always tell them I was a carpenter.

It seems to me to be the only answer; the one that I’m proud of. It has been many years; almost 20 years since I actually had my tool belt on but it seems like yesterday.

And how would I like to be remembered in the future? As an artist…

Carpenter, artist…creative.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Early times

I awoke early because of my nap time in front of the television last night. I wish I wouldn’t do that. But, what is there on television to keep me interested? “Vast wasteland” indeed! I’m glad we have the set in another room and the temptation to watch is tempered somewhat by the fact that you have to go to a distinct and separate room to do it.

I’m already on my third cup of coffee and have now posted to my blog 3 times. Is there a correlation? And speaking of blogs…would someone please come up with a better word for weblogs than “blog”. It does not roll off the tongue easily and it has an “ick” factor of about 8. I hope someone is already working on that.

Speaking of separate rooms; we use our study for most evenings. The room was going to be called the office and that sounded far too businesslike for a retired couple, so it became the study. We have both computers, lots of desk space and about a third of our library in the room. And I was thinking of moving a comfortable chair into the room as well, placing it in the corner by the bookshelf.

In the future, I see such a room becoming the focal point for all interaction. The television would be a part of the computer system and the telephone would be integrated as well. Books, computer, television and telephone. What else would you need? Oh, yes…the microwave!

Valdemar Poulsen

Valdemar Poulsen

Hail to the hero! This is the man that invented the answering machine...and apparently the floppy disk as well.

the 1904 date came from the World's Fair where the machine was first demonstrated.

A sample of my research...
…the first telephone answering machine was probably created by Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen; he modified his Telegraphone (first patented in 1898) to answer the phone automatically and record a message. The Telegraphone was eventually advertised as "the phone with a memory."

And this!

"For in Utopia, except by previous arrangement, people do not talk together on the telephone." So that is why it was called Utopia!

From Men Like Gods, by H.G. Wells.
Published in 1923

A real hero

Now that we've mentioned A.G. Bell and yes, it's his's time to celebrate the birthday of a real hero. The man who invented the telephone answering machine! I have been able to find the date for that invention...1904. But who did it? Surely it wasn't Bell?...unless he was trying to compensate for the evil he had unleashed upon the world, and had invented the answering machine as an apology? Could it be? I certainly hope not!

Well, I'm going to keep looking and see if I can't find out the name of a real hero.

Alexander Graham Bell

Bell, Alexander Graham. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001

OK, Mr. Bell did a few more things than just invent the telephone...but he shouldn't be let off the hook for that crime. He is guilty! The telephone has annoyed millions of people ever since that fateful day when he interrupted poor Mr. Watson. And it only seems to get worse, as now we are surrounded by the evil instruments and no one seems to be without one somewhere on their person. (Yes, even I)

Try to imagine a world without telephones...beautiful, isn't it? A world where people would write to one another and the written word would regain its importance in civil communication. A world where we wouldn't feel the compulsion to "reach out and touch someone"...but I'm dreaming.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005


People who are willing to give up freedom for the sake of short term security, deserve neither freedom nor security. - Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it. - H. L. Mencken
Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade in public. Never clothe them in vulgar and shoddy attire. - Dr. George W. Crane

So sad

It was Trader Joe night at our dinner table…First course was the Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. Excellent! And then we had the Spinach Linguine, with a light coating of TJ’s Olive Oil, combined with a garlic pesto. To add a great flavor, I used some of the Prosciutto Kisses from Trader Joe in the Linguini. These are small bits of the flavorful Italian ham…Topped it all off with shredded Parmesan!

Now, if only we had a TJ near us…the closest is more than 90 miles away. Too far to go for a cup of soup. Woe is me…that was the last of the Prosciutto!

Tuesday, March 1, 2005


I just read the papers and they both contain a litany of complaints about the lack of government services because of a lack of funds. I hate to say it, but there is a real solution for this…actually two solutions. First; reduce, control and halt governmental waste. OK. We know that won’t work. Those words are the property of politicians and are only to be used while campaigning. Never while in office! Second; raise taxes to pay for those things we need. Let’s face it; if we are a society oppressed by taxation, we certainly hide it well. Those $4 lattes are still being consumed in record numbers. Seen any Starbuck’s store with a “for sale” sign on it? The number of SUV’s on the road appears to be the same as last year, maybe even more. Home sales continue and new houses can’t be built fast enough. Best Buy stores are thriving! There is a ready market for $90 Kings game tickets. Theater receipts and CD sales are at an all time high. So where’s the problem? The problem is where it always is…greed.


After my last post I saw that my Scroll Lock light on the keyboard was lit. Scroll Lock? When was the last time I used that function? And why is it still on keyboards? I used to use it with early spreadsheets, such as Symphony; the precursor to Lotus 123. I decided to look at my keyboard again and see if there are any other keys that might be unnecessary. Hmmm! What’s that Pause/Break key used for? And what did it used to be? Back in the days of DOS, every key was used to navigate through that black and white world. And you could do Keyboard Mapping, giving new assignments to the keys. Sometimes I miss that feeling of being in control of my computer; a feeling that only the DOS command language can give you…

That reminded me and so I went to Run and typed in cmd and pressed Enter. There it is! The back door to my computer. I typed in dir and now, in beautiful white letters on a black screen, the contents of my c drive are revealed. How very cool. In my library I have an old book entitled “Voodoo DOS”, but I think I should leave it on the shelf.


Didja notice the news that Martha was about to be released from the slammer and she has already begun re-inventing herself? And at the same time, we still haven’t heard much about the Enron crowd. Kenneth Lay, or “Kenny Boy” as w likes to call him, is still footloose and fancy free, enjoying the good life. Oh sure, the Lay’s had to sell off a couple of the Aspen houses to make ends meet, but there’s plenty more where those came from…

And speaking of CEO’s…here’s a quote that should be framed and hung on the wall behind the desk of every chief executive officer, just as a reminder that it is their job to know about those things.

"I don't know about technology and I don't know about finance and accounting."BERNARD J. EBBERS, former chief executive of WorldCom, at his trial.

Hey! Honesty is always the best policy...but probably not the smartest defense.