Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I was just reading a news story about the fact that Americans (as a rule) hate to wait in lines. Duh! And the story goes on to say that grocery store lines are the worst; along with lines at the DMV. Well, DMV lines are no longer a problem if you use their appointment system or use a DMV office in a remote town. But lines in stores (Any store) are particularly irritating to me. The store wants my money and I shouldn’t be forced to wait in line to give it to the merchant. Here’s the story…

“The Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. version of the old Soviet bread line, is among the top spots where Americans hate to wait. But grocery stores are the worst.

Almost one in four in the AP-Ipsos poll picked the grocery checkout as the line where their patience is most likely to melt like the ice cream turning to liquid in their cart.

And it seems people don't mellow with age. The survey found older people to be more impatient than younger people. (Aha! it isn’t just me.)

Nor does getting away from the urban pressure cooker make much difference. People in the country and the suburbs can bear a few more minutes in a line before losing it than city inhabitants can, but that's it.

In short, Americans want it all NOW. Or awfully close to now.
"If you ask the typical person, do you feel more time-poor or money-poor, the answer almost always is time-poor," says Paco Underhill, an authority on what draws and drives away shoppers.

"We walk in the door with the clock ticking with various degrees of loudness in our heads. And if I get to the checkout and if I have the perception it's not working efficiently, often that clock gets even louder."

Americans are demanding, too. Half in the AP-Ipsos poll said they refuse to return to businesses that made them wait too long. Nearly one in five owned up to speaking rudely to someone in the last few months when they weren't served efficiently.”

As I said; why should I have to wait at all to give them my money? Don’t they want it? My guess is that it’s all about power. As consumers, we need to feel as if we are in charge of the transactions. We already know that we are being cheated somehow (it’s all in our heads) and so it becomes imperative that we have some small success in the deal. Being waited on promptly and courteously is considered a success. Being forced to wait? Loser!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cookie, anyone?

An interesting comparison...(uses Flash animation)

Now Hear This!

The rooster is crowing…a little early? Perhaps he has a better view of the eastern sky than I do. He lives on the other side of the orchard, maybe 600’ away, but I can hear him quite clearly. And it sounds as if he is quite serious this morning. Wake up!

Most of the news this morning is about (Surprise!) illegal immigration. Now it appears that the Rebumblecans are a house divided. This is going to be a most interesting time for those of us who love to watch politicians stumbling about from firm position to another firm position as they do their best to stay in office. Integrity? Wherefore art thou?

The first big travel weekend of the year is approaching and from what I’ve read, a lot of people are going to travel despite the increased costs of fuel. As they are driving from gas station to gas station, they should remember these immortal words from Mr. Bush, “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply. Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.” That was presidential candidate Bush in the year 2000, describing how he would lower gas prices if he were elected. OK, I think we’re ready…let’er rip!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Current Crop

That's persimmon fruit...just barely visible.

Plenty of grapes once more.

Pomegranates and more pomegranates!

Let's see what is in the orchard...Lots of plums and a medium sized crop of prunes. Pears are doing well once again. Apricots are taking a vacation this year; I could only find 3 or 4 on the two trees. Peaches and nectarines have been hit by the "curly leaf" and are not doing well. I do expect to pick a dozen or more of the Red Haven peaches, despite the illness. Cherries are going to be devoured by the birds before I can get to them. It happens every year, despite my attempts to stop them. I should just consider the cherries a gift to the birds. Walnuts? Far too many! But the moths haven't attacked yet, so that may change. Pecans are also going to be plentiful once again. Pomegranates will need to be supported. The branches will never hold them all. And the persimmon tree has gone nuts! I had a dozen persimmon last year, but this year they can't be counted, there are so many...And apples; both trees need thinning as they have far too much fruit on them.

Got Milk?

I was just listening to a discussion on “assimilation” and the question was whether or not it was a good thing. And what does that word mean? Absorption, adaptation and integration are some of the synonyms. As a society, we have never done that. We still maintain our tribal ways and do not wish to change. We only expect others (immigrants) to change, to be more “like us”, whatever that means. We love our gated communities that keep assimilators out…unless they came to mow the lawn. We want them to speak English, but only so that we don’t have to use sign language to tell them not to cut the petunias. For myself, I don’t care much for assimilation and having differences makes us a richer society. Homogenization is for milk, not for people.


Darn dogs! I love to have the window open at this time of the morning, but it’s not open so that I can hear the barking of dogs. I don’t know whose dogs these noisemakers are, but I do wish I had my own dog right now, a Redbone Hound; a breed I once owned. What a voice! I would think that the magnificent baying of a hound would silence the petty barks of those common dogs and would give the neighbors something to think about.

Today is irrigation day and just before 6 I will make my way up to the canal and open the gate to our ditch. I cleaned out my section of the ditch yesterday in the hope that would help with the flow, but the section just before mine is still choked with weeds so the effect of the cleaning may be negligible. Despite the rain we have seen during the past few days, it’s still a good idea to irrigate. Besides the obvious good…irrigation drives the gopher’s nuts!

Boo, the cat has joined me. She’s sitting on the window sill and peering intently into the early morning darkness. What does she see? I have this thought that she sees the dark world in that ghostly green glow we see on newscasts when filming using “night vision” scopes. Could be. Her eyes are certainly green.

On a different note. I had this thought last night, just before going to bed and after watching Frontline. The thought is still with me this morning and it is; the world is certainly an evil place at times and we (Americans) are so blessed to live where we do. But that doesn’t mean we should rest easily and not be critical of those in power. Because power corrupts, we need to be vigilant. Of course, those in power claim the opposite to be true…how predictable.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sinister Thoughts

Tuesday is here again. Funny, how that happens. Every day a new day. And it’s quite obvious (to me) that I don’t have a thing to write about. I’m just typing some nonsense here to pass the time till a real thought occurs. I hope it happens soon…

Perhaps if I were to take a look at the news? Nope; nothing interesting there.

I might mention the education crisis in California and elsewhere. It’s really a complex problem, both social and economic. Although I do believe the social problems originated because of the economy. But that’s a really long story…

Or this; I had been writing something on xenophobia yesterday when I suddenly had a memory problem (computer memory) and had to shut the computer down. I hadn’t been able to save the document before I did this and so I thought the document was gone. Darn! But this morning my lazy memory came to the rescue. I had almost forgotten that you can search for lost Word documents by doing a file search for files with an .ASD file extension. Just type “*.asd” in your file search window and it will locate all Automatically Saved Documents. Once found, these files won’t have a familiar name; they use a combination of letters and numbers, but you might spot the one you want by the creation date. Then double click the file and it will open in Word. After you determine that it’s the one you want, save it under the correct name.

So what was I writing? Here it is…

Xenophobia = A dislike of foreigners.

It seems to be everywhere these days. And I’m still baffled by it. I’m just as different from my neighbor next door as I am different from the man who lives in Guangdong. And at the same time I am just the same as that man in distant China, or Hungary, or Mexico. All the things that make you and me human are experienced by us all in much the same way. We eat, we breathe, we sleep and we bleed – all the same.

But xenophobia has a long history. In my own case, my Scottish ancestors were hated by my English ones. Scots were lower than the animals, pagan savages and not worthy of breathing God’s fine air. They were tortured and killed at every opportunity. Some of those Scots made it to Ireland where they were just as despised as the Irish were. And of course once the Irish made their way to America, they found that they were no better off than at home, as far as social justice was concerned. The Irish and the Chinese were equally despised by the “Good Americans” and given only the meanest of jobs. Poles, Hungarians, Japanese, Hmong’s…all have suffered.

I doubt that there is any one group that hasn’t been touched by this hatred of petty differences. Believe it or not, at one time, even those who had the misfortune to be left handed were singled out to be mistreated – or killed. Things were so bad in the 1600's that “lefties” were burnt at the stake. In English the word left comes from “lyft” meaning worthless. In Italian, the word “sinistra” or sinister is used. (Over the year’s “science?” has claimed that the left-handed are prone to all manner of ills. Alcoholism, autism, bed-wetting and brain damage, immune disorders, even a shorter life span are just some of the problems linked to left-handedness.)

The Examining Room

of Dr. Charles
After reading this, I see a little hope for the world of medicine...

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's A Dog's Life

Racing through the park this morning, I spotted a unique looking folding chair. It was made of the usual nylon and metal tubing but the pattern was that of the American flag. The chair had been abandoned next to a garbage can and I could see that one corner of the seat had ripped away from the leg. But it didn’t look like it would be hard to fix…and wouldn’t it make a grand seat for one of those Minuteman patriots to park his or her posterior in? Place it right there at the border, next to the cooler, of course…and with any luck at all, you could see Bush come tooling by in one of the fancy Border Patrol dune buggies and he might even give you a wave.  

And that made me pause to think about the Minutemen and other neo-cons. I suppose they are somewhat like barking dogs…irritating, potentially dangerous, but of no value to anyone, except to their owners – Karl and George.

Believe it!

60GB Hi-Speed USB 2.0 I can only wonder as to how they are made? That would make a great TV special. Yeah, I know...I would be the only one watching it.

Something in Common

BAGHDAD - Weary from years of war and uncertainty, they see little hope government will ease nation's woes.

Doesn’t that look/sound a little bit like a headline from an American newspaper? Just remove “Iraqis” and replace it with “Americans” and “Baghdad” with “Washington”.

Safety First

Monday and it’s a noisy morning…lots of breezes whipping around the orchard and I can hear the rain hitting the roof of the metal shed that houses our mower. After all of the rain we have experienced, and continue to experience…it’s a safe bet that I won’t have to water for a few days.

And some technical good news…after removing IE 7.0 Beta, I found my old version to be in good shape and working just as it used to. Now that is rare! And I thank Microsoft for their wisdom in this instance. But I’m still not going to use IE 7.0 when it is supposedly ready for market. The program has so many safeguards that I was constantly being notified that I had committed some breach of security and that my computer was now at risk. I don’t need a nanny! But, because of the IE 7 problems, I do have a second news aggregator and that’s a good thing because I found Tom Tomorrow with it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gone, but not forgotten

All good things come to an end…and it looks like Pluck, my news aggregator has met its match. I made a fatal mistake and began using Internet Explorer v.7.0 Beta and that browser didn’t like Pluck at all. Links disappeared and I was unable to delete some feeds. Bah!

And because of all the complaints (major and minor) I found, I have decided that I don’t care that much for IE, so I have begun using Firefox once again. I also found a good new aggregator to replace Pluck, Newsgator Online. I immediately subscribed to most of my old feeds and found a few new ones as well. Here’s one that I have looked for in the past, but had been unsuccessful.

You gotta love it!

California Dreamin'

I just finished reading a good article on the rise of “Declines to state” voter registrations. It’s up to 18.3 percent in California and rising. And that is good news! Maybe, just maybe…the Democrats and the Republicans will get the message that the same old story isn’t getting the attention it once did. Maybe they will see that 18.3 percent of the voters are thinkers and not sheep and act accordingly. What if…in the future, there were no political parties? Sounds good to me!


- Found treasure map - a recycler's dream, a cheapskate's best friend, and a dumpster diver's companion.

Looking for anything in particular?

Sunday Morning

The day has begun…in its usual manner and that’s a good thing. I have my coffee in hand and have read the first bits of news from the Los Angeles and the New York Times. But things are stirring outside; I can hear the sound of large drops of rain hitting the patio overhang and I thought I heard the rumble of faraway thunder. Ah! A flash of lightning!

We had unusually good luck yesterday and the weather didn’t interfere with the graduation or the graduation party afterwards. Calm gray skies graced us all day long. We have attended other graduation ceremonies at Chico State and have been miserable while baking in the sun, not a tree in sight.

With diploma in hand, Shannon is “officially” an adult. She has been one for some time now, but the diploma adds weight to that title. An adult with degree has more responsibilities; the world has great expectations of them. But grandfathers have memories, and though we might wish them the very best in their lives, we really want them to be one year old again and happily snuggled in Grandpa’s arms. Safe.

And after the graduation party began to lose steam, I decided to close my eyes for a moment while stretched out on my daughter’s couch. A nice long nap ensued. Perhaps my energy levels are something that I need to see a doctor about as I really don’t know what is normal for someone my age. Not that I want to be normal! I only want to be normal “Plus”. Let’s see…I’m getting close to the age of 66 and I weighed 200 yesterday (on a 6’-2” frame). I also did a 12+ mile walk on Friday at an average speed under 13.5 minutes per miles. I walked a marathon distance race just a few weeks ago. I mow my lawn and orchard twice a week and I was rototilling the garden last week, then I spent an hour doing some trim painting at the Senior Center, followed by a nap. And it’s the naps that worry me?

How about my mental health? My short term memory loss still bothers me at times, but I can still function well…as long as I don’t open my mouth and reveal my forgetfulness. I have a tendency to repeat myself and I wonder if that is a part of aging, or is it a personal quirk? I have a book on aging and I should spend some time reading it…before I forget to.

All in all, the aging process is somewhat fascinating. It all depends on your state of mind at the time, but if you remain curious at all times, it can be quite pleasant. I try to remain detached from my symptoms and see them as a “normal” part of aging. “Oh, look…I’ve forgotten who I am!”

I should also report that I have cut my hair…off. I have just short stubble on my scalp now and it feels great. In fact, I like the looks of it. Very sporty! Change is good…

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Graduate

Saturday has arrived and it’s graduation day for Shannon. 4 years of hard work has paid off for her and she will receive her diploma this morning, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with an option in Legal Studies and an emphasis in Paralegal Studies. The downside? She will be an adult; no longer a student with hopes and dreams, but an adult with responsibilities. But with her attitude and work ethic, it will also be a time of great promise for her. She does “responsibility” well.

After today’s ceremonies, the city of Chico will sleep in the summer sun for 3 months. No students making headlines in the local paper, traffic will calm down, and going downtown to window shop will be an option once again.  

The weather is going to be great for this memorable day, cool and cloudy. The high temperature will be 75° and there is a 30% chance of showers. Normally the audience bakes in the sun for a couple of hours while an interminable list of names is read and diplomas received. I might even be able to be hatless today.

I can report that my cat slept most of the day after her night long adventure. The fact that it was raining yesterday kept her inside the garage and out of trouble.

The news? I haven’t seen much worth commenting on, except for a cheesy photo-op picture of Bush riding around the desert in a Border Patrol dune buggy. I’m actually surprised that he didn’t stop, raise his hands in the air and declare, “Mission Accomplished!”

Friday, May 19, 2006


Here's the first one..."Roman Candle" An heirloom that is supposed to be bright yellow and banana shaped. Sounds interesting.
And then this one, another heirloom with the name "Missouri Pink". I've heard good things about this one and I've always liked "pinks".

This is just a tomato...but I liked the name, "Red Lightning"!

And you have to have some cherry tomatoes. These are "Sweet 100's".

All were planted about 5 days ago and expectations are high. And we are experiencing a mild rain today. Shouldn't have any damage from it.

Here, have some peanuts!

I was just doing some searches for cheap airfare on Southwest Airlines and I was reminded of the small article I read in the paper the other day. Southwest is planning on doing away with the boarding pass and will use assigned seats in the future. (After 2008) How disappointing! Obtaining the coveted “A” group boarding pass was my challenge and with it securely in my hand, I was a happy traveler. In fact, it was the only moment of happiness available to me once I entered the airport. There will be millions of unhappy travelers once this news spreads. What’s left for us to enjoy? The peanuts? Oh, that’s right – it won’t bother me at all. I don’t fly for a living anymore.


Friday has rolled around once again and I can already hear the change in the weather. The wind chimes are ringing almost constantly now as a wind from the south whips through the orchard. This is the same wind chime that I disliked when we had it hanging at our previous house. This chime needs plenty of room and now it has it, to spare!

Change is afoot. My cat has decided to become an outdoor cat and I guess I had better get used to it. I’m sure she will change back to an indoor type as soon as the weather turns cold and wet, but for now, she loves the great outdoors. And she decided to stay out all night. Last night, she wouldn’t come when I called and I finally gave up about 10. But I just heard a “meow” outside the window a few minutes ago, is it her?

It's Only Money

Bush Now Favors Some Fencing Along Border
Visiting Arizona, President Bush declared that he supported fencing some but not all of America's 1,950-mile border with Mexico

Golly! Am I missing something here or what? Doesn’t Bush understand the dynamics of fence construction? That when you start to build a fence, you have to complete it if you want to call it a real fence? And why stop with Mexico? Don’t we have another border as well? Just how friendly are those Canucks? Did you know they are the ones that are responsible for all the French labels and instructions that you see on packages? That alone makes me plenty suspicious of their intentions. And draft dodgers? Isn’t Canada where the draft dodgers live? As you can see, there are a lot of questions we should be asking about those “friendly neighbors” to the north.

Well, we all know that a fence won’t work anyway. (We know – he doesn’t) The only sure fire method is to lock them all up! They broke the law; all 20 million or so and that means hard time! Cross a border – go to jail! Sure, we will have to build some prisons and hire some guards, but this is America and nothing is too difficult for us. (Or too expensive) If we need it, we can buy it. After all, we own the printing press for the money and if we need some – we can just print some.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tomatoes, anyone?

Here's a great posting from the New Dharma Bums...all about tomatoes.

It should be noted that I am well on my way to obtaining that first $75 tomato of the season. On second thought; with 4 tomato plants I may be able to reduce the cost to $63.50, simply by volume and the resulting efficiency of scale.


Here’s a blog that I enjoy, and this morning I certainly had to agree with the author. Try it yourself.

Making Money

Thursday has arrived once again. And it’s a pleasant morning, already 68° and warming. But I just looked at the forecast and it seems that we have a big change coming during the next few days. Rain is back in the forecast and the high temperatures will be back into the 60’s. In fact, with the window open now, I can hear the wind gusting through the orchard.

More on the snakes: Yesterday morning, on our way out to see the horses that live next door, we almost stepped on the larger of the two gopher snakes we had seen at the pool the night before. We stopped and gave the snake some room to maneuver and he slowly slid away and through the fence, heading for the red barn. And we didn’t see either one of the snakes at the pool last night. I hope I didn’t scare them away. Now that I know what kind of snakes I’m dealing with, I would be glad to allow them limited pool access as having them around for rodent control is a good thing.

Yesterday started out badly, as when I went out to get the newspaper, I saw that the CHP was covering a bad accident down the street at the intersection of Highway 32 and P. I went back to the garage and got my binoculars and then I was able to see the remains of a blue car, sitting in the irrigation ditch. There was one other car, lightly damaged and sitting along the shoulder. A little while later I heard from my daughter, asking if all was OK? It seems that the accident had actually occurred the night before, killing three people and putting four more into the hospital. The intersection had been closed all night, with traffic re-routed. Laurae remembered hearing a siren briefly that night, but the house is well sealed and with the fans going, not much is heard from the outside.  

At the time of the accident I was watching Frontline and that may have been why I didn’t notice the sirens. It was a fascinating program on the corporate abuse of the pension systems. In particular, how United Airlines gamed the system so that they would no longer have to pay pensions and the responsibility was shifted to the American public. And the program noted that thousands of other corporations were quietly getting ready to do the same thing. Why? Because they can.

The program also detailed how employees are led to believe that a 401(k) program will be their savior when retirement comes. And it could be…if the employees were financial wizards that knew all about the machinations of the stock market. I don’t know about you, but I know very little about making money in stocks and bonds. And when I was in high school, there were no classes on the subject. Yet we expect everyone to manage their own portfolios to provide for their old age. A disaster waiting to happen, and in some cases, the disaster is already in full swing.

Some news from outside of Orland…
Seeking to Control Borders, Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors
“Several large companies plan to bid on a multibillion-dollar contract to build a "virtual fence" along the nation's borders.”

Does anyone see the problems associated with this news story? Let’s start with the word, Multibillion. Scares me! And which large companies are bidding on it? Would Halliburton be one? And entrusting the government to build something complex? This would be the same government that handles hurricanes and looks for Osama, right? And don’t forget “Star Wars”, a project that has absorbed billions without any success.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


This is the one...A California Gopher Snake. My new favorite!

Swim? Anyone?

An interesting tale, or is it “tail”?
Just after dinner, maybe 7 PM, I looked out at the pool and spotted a large snake enjoying the poolside life. He had his tail in the water but since he was close to 5’ long, most of his body was on the deck. And he was really a magnificent specimen; maybe 3” in diameter. But what kind of a snake was he? I went out to investigate and determined that he wasn’t a rattlesnake. I have forgotten all that I once knew about snakes so I was unable to give him an identity. Using my pool net, I encouraged him to move along and out of the yard. He was quite unhappy about this procedure and hissed loudly, striking at the net in frustration. Once he was gone, I turned and spotted another one at the opposite end of the pool! Same thing…tail in the water. This one was smaller, maybe only 3’ in length. So once more I escorted a snake from the yard. Now I wonder; what kind were they and do they always come to the pool about that time? I guess I can Google snake images and with that information I should be able to figure out what kind they were. The good news is that snakes eat mice…lots of mice!

Where's Home?

And I have succumbed to another sort of temptation. New software. I just installed IE 7 Beta, though I haven’t clicked on the icon yet, I’m afraid of being disappointed once more. Should I? Shouldn’t I? OK, here goes…Hmm? Interesting screen; I have a message that tells me that IE 7 doesn’t like my security settings at all and to push the “Home” button at my own risk. I don’t mind living dangerously, but, where is that button? Everything looks different. And I installed the new Microsoft Phishing Filter as well, but now I get a message that the service is temporarily unavailable. Gone Phishing? The good news is that the install left my Google toolbar in place and Pluck is still my News Aggregator.

Garden Dreams

Wednesday, the middle of the week and I’m still here, in the same old place and at the same old time. The birds are making a springtime racket outside the window and the sun is making its first appearance on the eastern horizon, with just a pale band of silver outlining the trees in the orchard.

It’s quiet right now, but that won’t last long. The twins are asleep in the other room and they usually wake up at first light. We were babysitting last night and the twins will be heading home this afternoon. But we got a few things accomplished while they were here; one of those was to try out their gardening skills…and their grandparent’s patience. They have a full set of gardening tools, but with all of the new construction going on at their own house, there was no place for a garden. Aha! Grandpa has enough room in his garden so we dug and scraped and tilled a couple of spots to plant the seeds for Shasta Daisy’s and Bachelor Button’s. I suppose we will have to go out and water them again this morning.

Grandpa’s garden is almost complete for this year. I’m using raised beds for my tomatoes, two beds (4’x8’) and 4 tomato plants. I know…I had said that I would only plant two tomatoes this season, but the tomatoes were calling out to me and I succumbed to their cry. I’m a pushover for a tomato.

I really like the looks of the raised beds, and the fact that gophers and other varmints are challenged by them. I think I will build a few more this winter and have them in place for next year’s crop.

My garden isn’t confined to the beds and I do have Calabash gourds planted in the ground, along with some unidentified vines, survivors from my greenhouse failure. I’m hoping that some of those are melons. And I did buy a couple of melon plants at the nursery, just to be sure that I have some.

Gardening has to be the ultimate expression of optimism. I was so disappointed when my greenhouse collapsed and was immediately ready to call off the whole gardening season. But, spring arrived and the days turned warm, and before I knew it, I was digging and tilling and enjoying the dreams of the gardener. Some people accuse me of pessimism, but they really don’t know me. Pessimists cannot thrive in a garden.

Scoreboard: Gophers  0 - Gardener  2
I got another one yesterday. I used a “Bunker Buster” smoke bomb to do him in.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

China Invests Heavily

In Sudan's Oil Industry
This article is about a year and half old...but it tells the same story I saw last night on The News Hour. Currently, the US doesn't talk to Sudan and we have an embargo in place. So instead of buying American machinery, they buy European. In fact they are changing their currency to be tied to the Euro instead of the dollar. Lots of drama in part of the world...

George Crile III

Author of Charlie Wilson's War and a "60 Minutes" producer.

George recently died at the age of 61. Read the book if you want to see why we can't change Afghanistan...or Pakistan...or?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Unfit to fight

in Iraq?
Some horrifying statistics...

News From the Right

Some news…WASHINGTON-As the White House prepares to announce the deployment of National Guard troops along the nation's southern border to stanch the flood of illegal immigrants, President Bush tried to reassure the president of Mexico that the move was temporary and did not amount to militarization of the border.

And why would you believe him? Is it because he has a long history of always being forthright? Putting troops on the border is militarization and will result in deaths. That’s what troops have been trained to do. It’s their job.

A Treat

Monday morning. All is well…so far. Except that my Outlook reminder function is nagging me to buy filters for the Forced Air unit. OK, OK, I will. And I should, as the air conditioner is beginning to be used once again now that the temperatures are reaching into the 90’s.

We have been receiving quite a few recorded political messages on our answering machine. I wonder if anyone has done a study on the effectiveness of these? As far as I’m concerned, they create a negative feeling towards the candidate. But then again, how many candidates can claim any positive feelings towards themselves? Of course their campaign manager, and sometimes their spouse, loves them…but any others?

And we heard from Bill and Jill while they were traveling in Oregon this weekend. They paid $3.07 a gallon for gasoline and that includes an attendant pumping it in and then washing the windshields. Of course the gasoline pumping is a given in Oregon, but the windshield washing was a nice touch. With gasoline approaching $3.50 again in California, even mowing the lawn becomes a financial decision. But I did find the money and time to mow the orchard yesterday. A real treat! The new mower does it in half the time, easily. And with a great deal of fun. Just watch out for the low hanging limbs.  

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Telephone numbers

The story about *bush and the data mining of millions of American's telephone numbers is really all about presidential powers. We already know that all of the numbers can be turned into names in a short time; heck, go to Google and you can find out who belongs to which number. But what isn't being answered here is why didn't the president ask the FISA court before asking the telco's for the numbers? That's all he had to do...and it could have been done in secret; legally. He didn't ask because he doesn't think he has to ask anyone once he "Decides" what he's going to do. And the fact that a billion or so telephone numbers will provide so many false positives that the investigators will be bogged down for years...doesn't even occur to the nitwits that think this stuff up.

Great Sermon

The sermon was sort of about the Da Vinci Code...but really more about trust. Trusting in God and not yourself. The Da Vinci Code? Get over it! It's a book, fiction. Read it if you want, it can't hurt's only a story. And the sermon reference 1st John, 4:7-21 was perfect, especially the last two verses.
1Jo 4:20 Whoever says, "I love God," but hates his brother is a liar. The one who does not love the brother whom he has seen cannot love a God whom he has not seen.
1Jo 4:21 And this is the commandment that we have from him: the person who loves God must also love his brother.

On the Border

National Guard? Aren't they already sort of busy in Iraq?

What this means is...people are going to die. On the border.

La La

Here's the link...

This is still a Beta site and it will be open for business on the 4th of July.


Still Divisive - From the LA Times.

"A new website makes it easy for music fans to trade actual CDs by mail. Recording executives say the operation enables piracy and could hurt sales...
...Depending on whom you ask, — a new website that helps song lovers trade entire compact discs for less than the cost of a single iTunes video download — is either the music industry's salvation or yet another nail in its coffin."

I love it! I suppose the recording industry will soon be asking their favorite congressman (the ones they own) to allow them to open and search your mail; all in the name of justice of course.

That Special Day

Mothers Day is here and Laurae will be going off to a brunch with her daughters and grown up granddaughter, Shannon. I will be left behind…but no matter. I’m an adult (and then some!) and I can handle it.

I will be doing some babysitting this week as the twins will be here overnight on Tuesday. And they are bringing their gardening gear with them. They want to plant some things in grandpa’s garden and I’m happy to oblige.

Babysitting twins is a scary proposition. In a family where there is an age difference between children, one of the children will almost always “rat out” the child that is planning some mischief. That gains them favor with the parents, or so they think. Parents even learn to depend on that. Not so with twins…they plan it all together and then execute that plan! Three year old partners in crime.

Is there anything new to report this morning? My first glance at the news resulted in some laughter from me as the subject of the article was the California exit exam and the story I was reading had 3 words misspelled in the first paragraph. Probably written by someone from another state.

OK, now seriously…I heard the State Sup’t of Public instruction trying to defend the exit exam and he couldn’t think of a better way than this exam to measure the quality of instruction. This made me think about it again. It really is the system that is being tested and if 10 percent of the students fail, it’s the system that is failing. And why, oh why, are students passed from one grade to the next without a true evaluation of their knowledge? Why, oh why, do we wait till they are in their final year of school before we decide to evaluate their progress? And then punish them for acts of omission by their parents and educators? It’s unbelievable that this man can seriously defend the system. But of course he is an administrator…that’s what they do.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cat Time

Saturday is here once again; and already a warm day. And I need to get in a fast 4 mile walk this morning, before it becomes too warm. But first, it’s time to let the cat in. Funny thing about Boo; she was very much an “inside cat” when I first brought her home. Afraid to venture past the door and into the back yard. Now she’s a real fan of the outside life. She doesn’t roam very far at all, but she loves to roll in the grass and climb a tree now and then. She also enjoys sitting on top the garden shed, under the shade of the grape arbor while she watches what I’m doing in the garden. Yet, she still comes (usually) when I call for her by clapping my hands.

Pension Plan

I was reading an article in the AARP newsletter on the state of pension plans in America. It’s not good news. Most corporations abused the pension system unless they had a binding contract with a union that wouldn’t allow it to happen. In a non-union pension agreement, the corporation won’t actually put the cold, hard cash into a pension account…it simply becomes a bookkeeping charge. A “We owe you” note. The money stays in their vault and not in a safe place. In a union pension system, the money is due and payable every month. It goes into an account that neither the union nor the corporation can touch. Safe. Tell me what’s wrong with a system like that? Corporations hate it because it ties up their cash reserves. Tough.

Example; when I was a union carpenter, my employers put an amount of money, determined by contract, into a pension fund every month. If they didn’t, the trustees of the system (management and labor) would give them 60 days to put their financial affairs in order. If after that time they had not fulfilled their obligations, all labor would be withdrawn, effectively putting them out of business. Most businesses were ethical and did pay what they owed. Now, 40+ years later, I receive that money. My money; it always was. Compare that to what happened at Enron, with a non-union pension agreement and a reliance on the 401(k).

What people always seem to forget about pensions is the fact that they are part of an agreement, a contract, between management and labor. If management didn’t want to pay into a retirement fund, why did they agree to it? Why aren’t agreements binding? Union or non-union, an agreement should have the force of law behind it and no corporation should be allowed to walk away from their obligations.

Now, corporations are getting rid of the pension system altogether. Government will follow. Employees will be asked to make their own decisions as to how to invest their pension monies in a stock market. Guess wrong and the employee is out of luck.

Let me predict that the Twentieth Century will be known as a Century of Enlightenment in regards to organized labor and their successes. Labor is now entering a dark age…

Friday, May 12, 2006


(And this will do what for you and I?)

Senate Approves 2-Year Extension of Bush Tax Cuts By EDMUND L. ANDREWSThe tax cuts on stock dividends and capital gains, amounting to almost $70 billion, will mostly benefit wealthy taxpayers.

By the way, the approval rating for Congress is actually lower than that of the president’s…22% vs. 31%.

Now let’s all try and remember those figures in June, when we vote.


“AFP - The United States must talk directly to Iran about its disputed nuclear programme because Tehran will not negotiate seriously if Washington is not involved, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said…”

Now that’s a novel idea. Imagine “talking” instead of “bombing.” Nah! Far too simplistic…that kind of stuff sounds like a mush-headed liberal way of doing things. Black is black and white is white, I’ve never met a bomb I didn’t like!

Unclaimed Territory

More from - Glenn Greenwald

Is this the sleaziest presidency ever?

"the Government is still required to obtain approval from the FISA court in order to use pen registers; the only change mades by the Patriot Act was to lower the showing the Government was required to make to the FISA court in order to obtain permission to use a pen register."

A pen register collects telephone data. Did this president even bother to ask FISA?

Just Grand

Another day, a Friday to be exact. And today is “Grandperson’s Day” at Chico Country Day School. And I’m one of those…I’m a male grandperson, which in the old days, before politically correctness, was called a grandparent, or even grandpa. And I will be attending the festivities there this morning. I have a map of the campus and what’s this?…I just noticed that none of the women teachers use “Mrs.” In front of their names? They are all “Ms.” and I’m never sure of what that means? Is it more PC?

After my morning at school I need to stop at the store and buy the ingredients needed for Plaza III Steak Soup. That will be my entry for the Soup Cook-Off at church tomorrow evening. I know, it doesn’t seem like soup weather these days; and originally this was supposed to be a Chili Cook-Off. My guess is that out of consideration for the age of the congregation, it was changed to soup. Hmm? Sounds like more PC to me.

The sun is just now making it presence known with a silver glow in the east. The cat is blocking the view slightly as she sits in the window and listens attentively to the “early birds” that are greeting the light. She has a bell on her collar, so even if she was outside, she would have a hard time catching a bird. This is her second collar; she came in the other night without her collar and so I had to quickly buy another. They’re safety collars, meant to release if she snags it on something and is in danger of strangling. I don’t know how often that happens. I’ve never seen a cat skeleton dangling from a fence or in a tree.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

In the News

Yesterday, I was glad to hear that the legality of the high school exit exam was finally being challenged in court. And it looks as if the judge agrees. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has said that he is going to fight it if the judge rules that the test is illegal. And just the fact that he will use our tax money to fight it irritates me.

People who think you can quantify everything and everybody with a test are pervasive throughout the ranks of government workers. It’s that personality type that always looks for a government job where they can do that without challenge. They just love to make rules! And to have all of that power concentrated into this one examination must make them giddy with delight.

Think about it. This exam tells you what? It tells you what someone knew at one particular hour on one particular day. That’s all. Had a bad day? Too bad! You’re out! Where were the “testers” when Johnny was 7 and couldn’t read…but his teacher passed him on to the next grade anyway? Where were the “testers” when Sally complained that no one at home would help her with her homework? To ignore these children until that one fateful day is not just illegal, it’s immoral as well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


The flood is over. It took a little longer than I expected, due to excess grass and weeds in the ditch upstream, plus the ground was quite thirsty! And I got my one gopher ... shot him as he emerged to see what was causing the leak in his roof.


Wednesday already. Time is flying, as usual. And according to the wireless outside thermometer, it’s 66° outside. I have the window open here in the study and the ceiling fan is on “slow”, bringing in some of the cooler morning air. With the window open I can hear the wind chimes clearly now; that and the sound of the breeze in the trees is quite soothing. Not that I need any soothing…it’s time to wake up!

I mowed the orchard yesterday and cleaned out the ditches in preparation for today’s water delivery. I always look forward to the first flooding of the season and even more so this time as I spotted more gopher holes down in the ditch. Dumb gophers! Making a home in the ditch was not a good decision and I will be glad to see them move along; downstream.

This is also a day for the neighbors to gather in their respective orchards and make small talk over the fences while the orchard slowly fills. We all have our rubber boots on and with rakes in our hands; we talk about the weather and whether or not we will have a good harvest this year.

It’s also mosquito time! Darn things…I haven’t heard of any West Nile virus cases so far this year, but I imagine it won’t be long till it’s included in the newspaper on a regular basis. Before I head up to the canal this morning I will have to swab myself with repellant to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Teaching...A career?


"...The proportion of new teachers leaving has hovered around 50 percent for decades, said Barry Farber, a professor of education and psychology at Columbia University."

So, in one has figured out why? Of course they have. They just don't want to address the problem.

Odd Thoughts?

As I was pumping gas into my car the other day I had an odd thought. No, it wasn’t the fact that my gasoline cost more here than it would in Hawaii…it was the fact that I had become a servant to the machine. I heard a beep; I turned and followed the instructions given to me by a machine! What am I doing?

Then I read a blog this morning about a young lady that is fighting back. She wrote this, “In contemporary Western society, electronic devices are becoming so prevalent that many people find themselves surrounded by technologies they find frustrating or annoying… I designed two counter-technologies to help people defend their personal space from unwanted electronic intrusion…The first is a pair of glasses that darken whenever a television is in view. The second is (a) low-power RF jammer capable of preventing cell phones or similarly intrusive wireless devices from operating within a user’s personal space. (6 feet)”

Good for her!


The flood irrigation season is upon us. I start tomorrow at 6 AM and that means I need to make sure all of the debris is out of the downstream ditch today. I guess I had better go into town and get a burning permit as well. Then I can burn all of the junk I pull out of the ditch. But getting the permit is something I don’t like doing…you have to go to the “cat lady’s” shop to get it and it always smells so bad in there that you don’t want to linger there any longer than necessary.

The flooding will also help to discourage the gophers that I’ve been plagued with lately. I thought I had one cornered last week, but as I began to dig into his tunnel so that I could place the gas bomb…the trail suddenly disappeared. I couldn’t find the tunnel anywhere! And yesterday, when I looked at the same location, there was ample evidence that he had returned. Tomorrow, when the flood water reaches that spot, I will be waiting there with my trusty pitchfork.

I did learn that the water district had changed the gate at the canal to a screw actuated one. Just turn the handle and the gate opens. A great replacement for the old gate which you had to pull up and out of the canal, using a shovel to lever it up. This usually created a giant “burp” as the water rushed into the empty canal and that sprayed dirty water all over me. I had to brace myself for the expected cold shower each time I opened the gate.

Monday, May 8, 2006


And just in time... "A judge said Monday he is likely to prohibit the state from requiring that high school seniors pass an exit exam to graduate, siding with attorneys who say the test discriminates against the poor."

Another "Duh" moment.

The President's New Helicopter
And it's a steal at only $6.1 billion...
That's right, a steal.


It's pretty sad when these are the only pictures you bring back after a long walk in the redwoods.
A shot of the bridge over the Eel River near Dyersville.
The parade up the hill to the starting line.
Just the parking lot in the sand.

It's Over

The long awaited trip for the marathon is over and I’m back home in Orland. The trip over to the coast on Saturday was an easy one and we pulled into Eureka about 1:45 PM. It was only a 30 minute drive south to Fortuna and we found the hotel easily. Not much can be hidden from view in Fortuna. We checked in and found a place for lunch, and then it was time to head south once more, this time to the Dyersville Bridge, where race headquarters were located. We didn’t find it quite as easy to locate as the directions provided would have us believe, but after a few false starts, we found the collection of tents and awnings that made up the headquarters. We got our packets and a nice t-shirt and then headed back to Fortuna, crossing the bridge over the mighty Van Duzen River.

We hadn’t been very lucky with our hotel, as the only room they had was a “Smoking” room. Yuck! So we stopped in town and bought a scented candle and a large can of orange scented Febreze. This we sprayed in the room every few hours. By a little before 6 the next morning, we were ready to leave the smelly room and head to the starting line. Excited.

We were directed to park down on the sandy wash area of the Eel River where there was ample room to park hundreds of cars. It was a short walk up the hill to the staging area where we watched preparations being made for the start. But there was no coffee. No coffee? What was that all about? So we walked back and forth, down to the car, back to the starting line, etc. Finally about 7:30, a coffee truck shows up and since it’s only 30 minutes till race time, there is no time for that cup we wanted so bad.

You can read about the actual marathon here.

Since there was no food left for the late finishers, there wasn’t much sense in our hanging around so we headed down to the car, where we found a small sandstorm in progress…thoroughly dusted and sprayed with sand, we got into the car and headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower and something to eat.

There was a restaurant nearby and we both decided that we wanted BEEF and lots of it. So we ordered ½# hamburgers and that filled us. Well, we might have had a few other snacks as well…

It was raining this morning, just a light drizzle, but it helped to make the sand on the car into a mess.  We left about 7 and after an uneventful trip home we pulled into the driveway about noon, very tired and glad to have this marathon over with.

Say What?

WASHINGTON - President Bush's apparent choice to run the CIA ran into surprising opposition as congressional leaders expressed concern about his military background, with one top Republican describing him as "the wrong person, [in] the wrong place, at the wrong time."

This ought to be interesting. Apparently some Republicans don't understand that they are dealing with the "Decider" and no one crosses him!

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Cat Talk

What a cool cat…She’s a one-man cat, only comfortable around me; treating everyone else with suspicion and disdain. Boo is her name and she never answers to it. She won’t even turn around when you call her “Hey! You!” If she could talk, I wonder what she would call herself?

This is now her favorite time of year, a time for her to laze around on the grass, climb an occasional tree and catch lizards. She is supposed to catch mice and if she does, she does it silently and leaves no trace of them. Same with rats and ground squirrels. Not a trace.

All during the winter she was quite content to watch the “Cats Big Screen TV”; that is sitting on the windowsill and observing outdoor life from a safe and warm distance. But now that mild temperatures are routine, she loves being outside. She will follow me out into the orchard and then play tag with me, whether I want to or not. She hides in the tall grass, assuming that I can’t see her…crouching low until I pass by. She swats at my ankle. Then she races off in another direction to hide once again. When I get close to her, she rolls over onto her back, inviting me to scratch her belly.

Definitely cool…

Friday, May 5, 2006


The RFID Hackers are Underground
Things about RFID you probably didn't want to know...

Garden Time

It's that time of year once again. I bought the "Custom Soil" and I made the raised beds (2). As you can see in the photo, they are armored against gopher invasions.

And I have a photo here of the roses, but it doesn't do them justice.

I really enjoy gardening, but only on my own terms. I will never be the great gardeners that my daughter and grandson are. I do believe it's a gift.

Oh No!

From the Prairie Home Companion newsletter...a joke.

"These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars."

I'm sorry...I couldn't help myself! But, did I ever tell you the one about Roy Rogers and the mountain lion?

Unclaimed Territory

by Glenn Greenwald
Yes, I know it's also a book selling blog...but if you want to read all of the story and not just the "official" version on this administration's plan to re-work the role of the president into something more closely resembling that of an emperor, this would be the place to do it.

End of the Week

The end of the week has arrived once more. The week seemed to fly by very fast. I don’t know why, it just did. Maybe it’s because I really wanted the week prolonged. It’s almost time for the first marathon of the year and I’m not sure of how well I have prepared for it. And maybe, just maybe…another week of practice would have made me more comfortable. But these races are more a battle of the mind than the body and doubt is one of the things you have to conquer.

It’s very quiet at this hour and so I can hear a very faint sound that seems to be coming from my computer. It cycles on and then off again after about three seconds. At first I thought it was the microwave that I was hearing, but it’s at the other end of the house and no one is using it at this hour. Disk drive? Or just the fan from the power supply? I suppose I had better make sure that everything important is copied onto my back up drive. That drive, a stand alone Seagate HD with 250 GB capacity is my lifeline for important stuff. I think it cost me $235 a few years ago, but I just read of a new (and much smaller) Maxtor drive that holds 100 GB. My Seagate is approximately 8” x 8” x 3” in size and probably weighs 2 pounds, The Maxtor is only about an inch thick and resembles an iPod in size. It weighs close to 7 ounces and will cost under $200. With a USB connection, this becomes a great portable drive. Want to take all of your photos with you on a trip? And your music as well? I know…you can do the same thing and more with an iPod. But if you’re not interested in being part of the very proprietary Steve Jobs Apple world, this would make a great backup device for your laptop.

From that last remark, you can probably guess correctly that I’m not an Apple fan. I am a fan of the Apple computer itself; it’s a great design! And I really would like to own one sometime. I’m just not a fan of Steve Jobs and the Apple Corporation. When you buy a Mac, you’re really not allowed to “mess around” with it, as you can with a PC. It’s a feeling similar to not being able to modify your car…”I bought it. It’s mine and if I want to add three carburetors and a full-race camshaft, I can…” I also know that those days of hot rodding are long gone as well. A pity.

The news stories are all about the same today as they were yesterday…but I have been enjoying the roasting of Senator Frist, the sponsor of the infamous $100 gas rebate plan. Mr. Frist, who can apparently make life and death medical diagnoses via television, is not so hot at figuring out what the voters want and thinks that a $100 dollar bribe will shut them up. Perhaps this latest blunder of his will make him go away. One can always hope!

Also political…have you noticed that our acting governor, Schwarzenegger, has managed to stay off of the front page recently? His handlers must have a new strategy and low-key is the word for it.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Opinion on the Verdict

Peggy Noonan

She writes..."I happen, as most adults do, to feel a general ambivalence toward the death penalty. But I know why it exists. It is the expression of a certitude, of a shared national conviction, about the value of a human life. It says the deliberate and planned taking of a human life is so serious, such a wound to justice, such a tearing at the human fabric, that there is only one price that is justly paid for it, and that is the forfeiting of the life of the perpetrator. It is society's way of saying that murder is serious, dreadfully serious, the most serious of all human transgressions. It is not a matter of vengeance. Murder can never be avenged, it can only be answered."

It's sad to see how she tries so desperately to distance herself from the word, "vengeance". But calling the death penalty an "answer" won't do it. The death penalty has never answered anything and I applaud the jury.

United We Stand...somewhere

And now for the news. The electronic version, as the printed version hasn’t made it to our driveway yet. (We agreed yesterday that it just didn’t make sense to subscribe to a newspaper that arrives after 6 in the morning. What’s the point?)  

Here’s a good one! “The US vice president accuses Russia of reneging on democracy and using energy as a political tool.” How does Cheney keep a straight face when he says things like that? I guess it comes from practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Another headline… “After Protests, Backlash Grows; Opponents of Illegal Immigration Are Increasingly Vocal.” It’s going to be interesting to see how the Great Decider handles this one. After all, he promised to stop the division within the country. He was going to be a “Uniter” and not a “Divider”.


Another day; it’s Thursday, and one day closer to our marathon event on this coming Sunday. We’ll be traveling to Fortuna on Saturday and will pick up our pre-race packets that day. Because we’re racewalkers, we have an “early” start on Sunday morning and then, after approximately 6 hours, it will all be over…until the next one. (Anchorage – June 17th)

Since it is so close to race day, I won’t be going out for any strenuous exercise today. If I haven’t prepared for the race by now, it’s far too late to try catching up. And I have plenty to do around here today. I have some “custom soil” (60% compost – 40% loam) being delivered this afternoon and that will go into the raised garden beds. Also, I have to do some gopher eradication work…if I can. Perhaps I should take the cat along with me and point out the gopher holes? If I could interest her in the “hunt” then I could stop worrying about the little plant eating monsters!

We had sort of a late running day yesterday; going to watch Meghan’s game in Durham about 6 last night and getting home right at 9. While we were seated in the stands, the constant breeze kept us refreshed. Then, the clouds began to pile up overhead and during the 4th inning, the rain began. No downpour, just big fat drops that startled you when they hit. Most fans held their ground and didn’t run for shelter…we just sat and waited for it to be over. And we were rewarded with a magnificent rainbow in about half an hour’s time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006


for Common Sense
Those darn veterans! Can't they just be a little less vocal? Be Good Americans?


Wednesday has begun for me in the usual manner; a cup of coffee and the news. How many years has it been? 40 years? Maybe 50 or more? That’s really an old habit!

In 1952, I was 12 years old and the news was all about the Korean War. It’s 54 years later and the news is still concerned with war. World War III. Even Korea is mentioned almost daily. What have we learned during the last half century? That’s just a rhetorical question…don’t think about it for very long. It will only give you a headache.

It doesn’t seem to be as windy this morning; a good thing! Yesterdays wind seems to have cooled things off a little and the forecast is more spring-like.

And it was the wind that caused a little excitement yesterday morning when a small bird, apparently escaping the wind, flew into the garage. Since the garage is also the cats’ playground, it was definitely the wrong place to be! I was getting ready to leave and noticed that her water dish had been spilled? Then I noted some small feathers floating about. I spotted the bird, still quite alive but sitting on the floor and the cat was approaching once again. So I grabbed the cat and put her in the house; much to her dismay. Since the bird seemed shocked by all that had happened, it wasn’t too difficult to capture it and get it back outside.

The cat wasn’t terribly upset at losing a plaything and quickly forgave me. And birds are safe outside as she has a bell to warn them of her approach. I would be very happy if I could get her to turn her attention to gophers, my current nemesis. She seems to have persuaded the ground squirrels to abandon their usual route through our rose garden. I haven’t seen a squirrel in months now.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Today's Lament

After today’s walk in the park, I had to go by Alicia’s house to pick up a car seat (we’re picking up Kyle tonight) and I decided to get a cup of coffee at Steam n’ Bean. Nothing much has changed at this espresso house; the coffee is OK, but the scone was underdone and very doughy. It’s difficult to find the perfect coffee shop and I’ve tried most of the Chico ones at least twice. Cal Java with two locations is pretty good, but the quality is uneven. Bidwell Perk is also OK, but suffers from lack of parking. Peet’s would be good if they didn’t keep their bathrooms locked. Where, oh where, is the perfect cup of coffee?

And while I was sitting and reading the newspaper at Steam n’ Bean, I could hear a loud and lamenting customer complaining about the recent immigration protests… (I bet he would have enjoyed my comments!) But what I did get from his comments was the fact that he had given up on his government and his president. Why did it take him so long to figure it out?

Skewering comedy skit angers Bush and aides
Let's see now...the president is at a function where it's already well known that he will likely be roasted...and he is. And he's angry? "He's got that look that he's ready to blow." So why was he there? Faulty intelligence?

As Always

From the New York Times…And just when you thought the politicians couldn’t be any further out of touch than they already are.

“The public derision of Republicans' idea for a $100 gasoline rebate has focused on the desperate political pandering embodied in the proposal. But there's another view that makes it seem even worse…

…With the nation already deeply in debt — and with Congress angling this week to cut taxes for affluent investors by more than $20 billion — lawmakers would need to borrow $10 billion to make the rebates happen. Since more than 80 percent of the immense borrowing of the Bush years has been from foreigners, it's safe to assume that most of the rebates would be courtesy of foreign lenders, of which China has been one of the most willing…”

It's a great article...certainly well worth reading. And it ends with, "...pathetic recipe: borrow money from the Chinese central bank, and use it to give every voter $100 to buy more gas."

And who concocted that recipe? "Doctor Bill"; Bill Frist, the expected Republican candidate for President.

Once Said

Notable quotes…
“The real ideology that drives Mr. Bush remains less that of the hard right than that of his soft character, which is a product of a biography full of easy landings. A man who has never faced adversity - who has finessed Andover, Yale, Vietnam and brief careers in business and politics with well-placed connections and sweetheart deals - is not conversant with reality as most Americans have experienced it. The problem isn't that he's wealthy - so were F.D.R. and Ronald Reagan, whose hard knocks in life gave them an empathy for their fellow citizens - but that he's out of touch. He doesn't know how much he doesn't know and is in no rush to find out.” - Frank Rich, New York Times, July 7, 2001
“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important.” - Eugene McCarthy, former United States Senator.
“When people cease to complain, they cease to think.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

And last, but certainly not least…”Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” - Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president (1809-1865)


The breeze is blowing both inside and out on this Tuesday morning. I have the fans circulating the night air and I can hear the chimes stirring out in the back. There’s something very pleasant about the sound and feel of the air as it moves about the house, sweeping out the stale air. I do enjoy the fans!

I want to buy a screen door this year for the front of the house. Not a “safety” screen, just a normal screen door so that I can open the front door at about this time in the morning and get a full flow of air from front to back. And I would be able to look out to the west and see the mountains and the pasture every time I passed by that door.

I was just browsing through the news and I was reminded of one of my pet peeves…that would be the use of the term, “the former…” As in the recent stories about Anna Nicole Smith. She is always described by her former self. “The former Playmate of the Year” or the “Former Stripper”. As if her former self had any relationships to her present self. Not!

Wouldn’t you hate to be described to the world by your former personas? “Steve, the former 3 year old brat.” Or, “Steve, the former clumsy 8 year old.” And worst of all, “Steve, the former teenager.”

Of course there might be some value to the use of the “Former” descriptive…would we have elected a president who was always described by the press as “the former failed business man.”? Perhaps not. At the very least we would have been warned as to what was going to happen to our national debt.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Financial Wizardry

From the Daily Reckoning, my favorite purveyor of financial facts.

“…From the Financial Times comes a report on the sorry state of U.S. federal finances. The "President's Budget" shows a deficit of $319 billion for this fiscal year.

The U.S. Treasury Department also produces its own budget, called the "Financial Report of the US." It shows a budget deficit of twice as much: $760 billion. The difference between the two is that the U.S. Treasury Department prepares the budget more or less as every company must - on an accrual basis. It takes into account not only cash outlays, but contracts and commitments. The President's Budget is merely a statement of cash in, cash out. Were GM and Ford to account for their businesses that way, they'd be gushing profits, too!

The Financial Times goes on to note that it took 204 years for the U.S.
government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. Now, it adds that much every 18 months. George W. Bush has added more debt than any president who ever lived. In fact, he's added more debt than all the presidents who ever lived...combined.”

News Photo

Who does it?
Every time I see a picture of this "stuff", I wonder who is buying it and why? None of it's cheap. And these guys don't look as if they have regular jobs.


Another Monday has arrived, in the usual manner. And although it’s still spring, the weather is very summery. I’m actually checking the pool temperature each day, hoping to see the magic number “80” on the thermometer. And this morning I decided to turn on a few of the overhead fans and let them mix in some cool air from the outside. Very pleasant.

I was reading about the new movie United 93 the other day and I’m afraid that I have a very different opinion of this movie than most of the reviewers. No, I haven’t seen it nor will I. What every reviewer misses is the fact that the audience will pay money to enter the theater and take a seat. They will buy their popcorn and candy. The money will then go to some corporation and become part of a profit/loss statement. The reviewers can speak quite eloquently about the “gritty” and “real” aspects of the film, but the reality is that it was filmed to make a profit and nothing less. If the producers thought for one moment that it would be a “loser”, it would never have been made. Well, I’m not contributing…the passengers deserved better.