Wednesday, May 31, 2006
“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!...so 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
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
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.
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
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.)
Monday, May 22, 2006
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.
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”.
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
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!
Looking for anything in particular?
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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!
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
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 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
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.
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
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.
What this means is...people are going to die. On the border.
"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, Lala.com — 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.
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
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
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.
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!
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?
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
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
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
"...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 decades...no one has figured out why? Of course they have. They just don't want to address the problem.
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 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
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.
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
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.
Friday, May 5, 2006
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.
"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?
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.
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
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.
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”.
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
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
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?
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?
“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.
“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)
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
“…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.”
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.