Friday, June 30, 2006

I wish I had said that...

A friend sent this to me just a few moments ago. After a good laugh on my part, I thought to share it with you.

"Having been called names, one looks back at one's own angry outbursts over the years, and I recall having once referred to Republicans as "hairy-backed swamp developers, fundamentalist bullies, freelance racists, hobby cops, sweatshop tycoons, line jumpers, marsupial moms and aluminum-siding salesmen, misanthropic frat boys, ninja dittoheads, shrieking midgets, tax cheats, cheese merchants, cat stranglers , pill pushers, nihilists in golf pants, backed-up Baptists, the grand pooh-bahs of Percodan, mouth breathers, testosterone junkies and brownshirts in pinstripes." I look at those words now, and "cat stranglers" seems excessive to me. The number of cat stranglers in the ranks of the Republican Party is surely low, and that reference was hurtful to Republicans and to cat owners. I feel sheepish about it." GARRISON KEILLOR

Thank you, Garrison...and thank you, Julia.

Life...a deep subject

I’ve been reading the blog of the New Dharma Bums this morning and in particular, a post on “retirement” by one of the authors. I found it interesting to see that we have some things in common. My own comments about retirement? I think I can honestly say that I haven’t felt as “alive” as I do now, not since I was a child. Now that I have said that…I must amend it. I did have that unique feeling of being very aware of my innermost thoughts and actions at some other times; very special times. The births of our children would qualify as some of those times. Our wedding; that’s another. Some construction projects that still give me a sense of pride. Grandchildren. Oh, oh…I guess there’s more to this feeling “alive” than I thought.

One of the things I noticed about my own retirement was how quickly I lost interest in my previous life as a superintendent/estimator/IT tech/instructor. I didn’t hate those jobs at all, but now…they’re irrelevant. I’m someone else now. The large construction company that I worked for (PCG) continues on just fine without me and I do quite well without them. I think you’re supposed to say that you miss your old life, but I really don’t have time for that.


Friday is upon us and for some it is the beginning of a 4 day holiday weekend, ending on the 4th of July…with a bang! I imagine that the roads will crowded, along with the lakes and the rivers and so I will try to stay close to home for the majority of the holiday. I certainly have plenty to do around here.

I love this time of the morning! The darkness is slowly giving way to the light of dawn and I can hear the chatter of birds (and horses) nearby. Trees are silhouetted against the eastern sky and if I look close, I can see the quick movement of bats as they gather up a few more mosquitoes before retiring to the barn for the day.

I have invited Boo, the cat, in from the garage and after some lengthy stretching exercises; she is now sitting on the window sill and dreaming of birds and lizards. When outside; her bell keeps birds alerted to her presence, but lizards often fail to notice her stealthy approach until it is too late. If only she would hunt for gophers! Certainly a prey more worthy of her talents.

If I’m smart…no guarantee there, I will spend the early (and cool) part of the morning unloading the truck. I have about half a yard of custom soil mix in it and it needs to be in the garden. At the same time, I need to take some plain old dirt out of the garden and place it along the fence line to restore the “dike” that keeps the water in my orchard when I’m irrigating.

With the truck empty, I can move it out of the way and that will enable me to mow the front yard. It seems like I spend most of my time mowing during the summer. Not that I mind all that much; using the Dixon mower is a real treat for me. The Indy 500 with a field of one! I’m a winner every time…

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Business as usual

Of course...

AFP - The Bush administration has dug in its heels and refused to abandon military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay inmates, despite a Supreme Court ruling that its "war on terror" trials were illegal.

Does this mean that the president is above the law?

Power Play

A recent headline from the Christian Science Monitor

Report: US-led Afghan mission is failing
Drug policy analysts say 'militaristic' attempts to eradicate poppy crop driving farmers to Taliban.

Golly! Who would would have thought that might happen?

The Supremes

Those darn activist judges! Who can you trust anymore? (ROFL!)


I’ve been looking at the VA website and now I have downloaded an application form…only the government can call a 5 page (Single spaced) form, 10-10EZ. I wonder what the long form looks like?

No Way!

I really enjoyed my time on Vashon Island with Alex last weekend. Especially the time spent “discussing” different subjects. No one in my family enjoys the art of “discussion” and so I must rely on the very few friends that do. And one of the things we discussed was the current World Cup of soccer competition. Alex was anti-soccer and pro-football. Of course I took the opposite view (and the right one!). There’s a good reason for the fact that football is not an Olympic sport; it’s simply not a sport for the common man. Soccer (and a thousand variations) can be played anywhere and at any time while using anything for a ball…including the real thing, a soccer ball. My guess? More than 7/8ths of the world plays soccer. Football? Very few; in fact I would guess that Pop Warner football is experiencing a decline in membership these days, while the soccer fields are filled every weekend.

On a more serious subject, we also differed on the appropriateness of the death penalty. And there was no budging him; even with the facts. Facts are facts…but Alex wouldn’t budge.

Last; as we were going into Raley’s to get some groceries yesterday, I noticed a sign on the door that stated that Raley’s would be glad to accept and dispose of any soiled or damaged American flag “in a dignified and respectful manner.” I thought about that for a moment. Can they really guarantee that? What if the guy that has been assigned the task of burning all these flags decides that he is late for a soccer game and just hurries through the ceremony? Should he be shot?

OK; one more…I was researching the possibility of my having some VA benefits and was looking at the VA website. After all, I am a veteran, albeit a Cold War Veteran. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the information page was a bilingual one! (. I love it! And then I looked some more and found that I was now eligible to receive a medal for my service…Way!

Where's my tomato?

Thursday morning and life is getting back to normal again. Travel is a wonderful experience…but there is no place like your own bed! I wonder; if Columbus had a comfortable bed, would he have bothered to sail off in search of India? Of course not!

Even Boo, the cat, is back to being her normal self after her exile at the veterinarians office while we traveled. Affectionate one moment and disdainful the next. For her, that’s normal. I went looking for her in the garage last night; I knew she was in there. But do you think she would reveal where she was? No, she slumbered while I called for her and it took Laurae to spot her, lying on a shelf under a workbench. I had passed within a foot or so of her but she had never revealed herself. This morning? she is eager to come in the house and is quite affectionate, purring and weaving back and forth between my feet as she begs to be stroked. Fickle!

Since it’s time for the tomato growing contest updates, I will have to post some great photos on my garden blog today. I wish I had some color (red) to my tomatoes, but all are a boring green. But…some good news, the weather forecast shows that we have a week of high 90° weather ahead of us and that should help to speed the ripening.

I know that I’m being impatient, but I do love the taste of my own tomatoes in a dinner salad. And salads are what we crave at this time of year. Beef? Pork? Mac and cheese? Nope; a bowl full of greens garnished with tomatoes and onions and whatever else strikes our fancy.

And after our trip to the Northwest, I can see that I would value a tomato even more in those environs. The growing season starts much later and it takes even longer to develop a ripe fruit. By comparison, our plants seem to explode with growth.

And speaking of blogs, I have been helping our pastor with her blog; one that details her adventures in Guatemala. When she is not studying, she uses an internet café in the city of Quetzaltenango to create her posts and she sends me the photos so that I can post them from this end of the world. Odd; but when I search for “Quetzaltenango” using Google, the majority of the high relative hits is for Spanish language schools. And that is what she is doing in Guatemala, taking a Spanish “immersion” course.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I found this on one of my favorite blogs. A great way to look at LARGE numbers and actually make sense of them.

"...One day has 24 hours. That's 1440 minutes, or 86400 seconds. It takes 12 days for one million seconds to pass. It takes 32 YEARS for one billion seconds to pass."

The bad news? Now I understand our deficit. Perhaps the Republicans should read this.

Oh, Please!

"Republican Sen. George Allen attacked his Democratic challenger's opposition to a flag-burning amendment, and James Webb retaliated by calling Allen a coward who sat out the Vietnam War "playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada.""

Republican - Democrat. Don't these "boys" from Virginia have something better to do with their time? Flag burning is such a non-issue that I'm embarrassed to think that any of our so-called leaders spent any time or money on the matter.

Dinner at the "Point"

The garden has survived my absence, although I do have more than a few zucchini to harvest this morning. My gourds (or are they pumpkins?) have grown to a good size. Tomatoes are making their presence known and I need to take some pictures of them today for the monthly update in the on-line contest.

As I said earlier, our trip to Vashon Island was most pleasant. The temperatures were in the high 80’s and to our northern California bodies, those temps were quite pleasant. The “islanders” though, were discomforted by the heat and we politely agreed with them, “Yes, it certainly was hot.” And to combat that heat we had a great picnic dinner down along the shore. There is a park at the site of the Point Robinson lighthouse and it’s a wonderful location for a picnic, with views of Puget Sound, West Seattle and Mount Rainier. We saw freighters and yachts making their way past the point and we could clearly see air traffic making its way into Sea-Tac airport, across the sound from us.

Dinner consisted of delicious leftovers from Alex’s birthday dinner; chicken, kibbeh, stuffed grape leaves with yoghurt and two or three salads. We even had some more birthday cake. The cake portions had to be reduced in size due to a raid by hungry crows where one plate full of cake fell victim to the hunger of the birds.

All in all, a great vacation!

Return Trip

Wednesday has rolled around once more and we have made it safely back home. We didn’t doubt that it would happen…I’m just noting it here. And I’m trying to get my mind in gear. After a long travel day, I find it difficult to focus on any one thing.

I suppose I could start this narrative by relating to you the odd things that happened on our trip home, starting with our voyage across the waters of Puget Sound, making our way from Vashon Island to West Seattle. We began at an early hour (6:00) and found very few cars in line to board the 6:40 ferry. That made our wait quite pleasant as we were parked on the pier and could watch the marine traffic in the Sound while enjoying the early morning sunshine.

The double decked ferry pulled out on time and we headed over to the Fauntleroy landing, about a 15 minute trip. But then, about half way across…we were startled to see a Coast Guard patrol boat take up a position close on our starboard side. In a few minutes, Denise came down from the upper deck and said there was a similar boat on our port side. Both craft were armed with a .50 caliber machine gun, though no one was manning those guns. I guess we didn’t look dangerous. They did have flashing blue lights though and we noted that the ferry was slowing. And about 100 yards from the shore, the ferry came to a halt. There was no explanation from the crew and the other passengers seemed quite blasé about the events. We sat for a few minutes and then, slowly, the patrol boats drifted away from us. With a rumble, the ferry engines came back to life and within minutes the ferry was bumping up against the dock. What was that all about? A training exercise? Or had the ferry exceeded the speed limit and been “pulled over”?

Since traffic was light, it didn’t take us long to arrive at the airport and check in at Southwest. We had already secured our boarding passes the night before by using BoardFirst but we had to “check” our luggage. Now I’m not a technophobe or a Luddite, but I fail to see any advantage in having two clerks watch (and occasionally offer advise!...“Yeah, we changed that. Try it again.”) while I struggled with the intricacies of that particular electronic check-in kiosk. Very frustrating! Especially since I had used both Continentals and Alaska airlines kiosks the week before. Three different kiosks and three different methods of doing the same thing.  

With my boarding pass in hand and the luggage finally on its way, it was time to face the security line. During the past few weeks I have gone through this procedure about 5 times and this would be the 6th and final time for quite awhile. And I had already noted that the TSA agents had never looked at me and made a comparison of that image with the one on my driver’s license. They had only verified that the names on the two documents matched. Did it matter? Well, I have been questioned in the past by clerks in markets when, verifying my identity, they noted that I no longer had a ponytail or goatee. In fact, with my hair as short as it is, I could almost be described as bald.

And once again I wasn’t disappointed in the security procedures. The TSA agent never looked up at me and simply stamped an “OK” on the boarding pass. Then I heard from Denise who had gone through the line ahead of me. She had handed the agent her boarding pass and license, with the image on the reverse side. The agent didn’t even bother to turn it over to compare names, let alone images! We are definitely in good hands…

Friday, June 23, 2006


The GREAT Earthquake of 1964

It's been 42 years now and you can no longer see the damage. These pictures and text tell a compelling story.

I remember it only vaguely...I was 23 years old and Anchorage was a long ways away from where we lived.

OK, this is the end of the Alaska pic's

The light at the end of the tunnel...the railroad/vehicle tunnel between Portage Pass and Whittier

Another "Arty" Salmon

Lots of boats in Whittier, AK

Forest Service building at Portage Pass...this tube leads down to a water level view of the glacier at the end of the lake.

Just the usual road sign in suburban Anchorage.

Last Alaska...almost

OK, here's a few more photos from Alaska before we leave for a long weekend on Vashon Island. I will reload the camera with fresh "bits" before we leave and next week I can show you where we were and what we did...

Fighting the wind near Bird Point...

Salmon "Art"

It's easy to forget about the great quake of '64'...but not here.

More "Art"

Check out the Sunset/Sunrise times...

Hot and Hotter

Friday is here once more and it’s definitely warm! The terrible winds we experienced earlier this week were the results of this heat moving into the valley and now we’re going to see temperatures of 112° or more this weekend. That sounds like a good excuse for us to leave the state and enjoy the weekend in a more civilized fashion on Vashon Island, slightly south of Seattle (Sunny – no higher than 85°). And we will.

We’re not leaving without worry though…PG&E has notified us that they will be turning off the power for eight (8) hours on Sunday while they do some maintenance. No, we won’t be here to enjoy a hot day without AC, but the contents of the freezer and the refrigerator can’t make the trip to Seattle with us. And the timers for the sprinklers? And the pool filters? And it’s really Murphy’s Law that has us worried. Will the 8 planned hours turn into 16 unplanned ones? Oops! Sorry about that, folks…

We won’t have to worry about Boo, the cat. She is heading back to the local vet this afternoon to spend another weekend in air conditioned comfort; not that she will be happy about it. Will she forgive me? I think so; after last weekend at the vet she actually became a little more “clingy”, wanting to spend more time with me. And she has been avoiding any close contact with the pet carrier this week, although it used to be one of her favorite places to sleep.

The garden will be a worry of course. Will the routine sprinkler schedule ward off the effects of 4 or 5 days of temperatures over 105°? I’m going to change the timing on them for the duration of the trip and hopefully a little tweaking on my part will save the day when the power is off on Sunday.

I guess I should take the time to post some more photos to my garden blog. I will take the camera out as soon as I see enough light to shoot. And I need to prune more of the grapes from the vines this morning. This heat is boosting the growth of just about everything in the garden. Of course I have far too many zucchini, but I expected that to happen. And the tomatoes are doing just fine! Still green but growing…like weeds, which are also growing. In fact, I have thought about building a small covered stand to place in the front yard with a sign that say’s “Free Fresh Vegetables”.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The clueless…

“In Iraq war vote, Democrats fail…Democrats exposed their weaknesses in the failed withdrawal vote and played into Karl Rove's hands, an observer said.”

When will someone within the Democratic leadership wake up? Voting to withdraw from Iraq isn’t the answer. We need to fix the terrible errors made in Iraq by the current administration and that will take time. And more money.

Please sign the petition

Here they go again!

Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they've just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS—unbelievably, starting with programs like "Sesame Street."Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two years--threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog journalism. Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS again this year: Please!

Last year, millions of us took action to save NPR and PBS, and Congress listened. We can do it again if enough of us sign the petition in time.

Where do these people come from? And why are they elected? These are the same people that are eyeing a pay raise for themselves once again.


Busybodies move to smoke out pregnant cigarette users'
Hello? Don't these people get it? Nicotine is a dangerous drug; proven able to kill you. Same as meth and heroin and etc. Except for the fact that it's big business and big money...

One More Time

During our trip I also found time to read some more of Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It’s a fascinating book and well researched. One of the items in the book that I found to be timely was a story about the “Know Nothings” of the 1850’s. Yes, history always repeats itself. Sad, isn’t it?

Da Vinci

The Code…yes, I read it while traveling to Alaska last week and now I have passed it on to another to read. And I’m simply amazed that anyone found this book to be a threat to their faith. It was very much an “airplane book”, a description I used to use for the books I would buy to while away the hours in the airport and airplane; a book that you could forget in the seat back pocket and say, “Oh…well” when you discovered it missing and then go on with your life as if nothing had happened…because nothing had.

It’s much like the “Left Behind” series, poorly written, with odd dialogue. Do people really talk that way? And it seemed obvious, even after the fact, that it had been written for the sole purpose of being sold as a movie. In that way it reminded me very much of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming.

The furor over the book has to be the work of a publicist…and whoever did it deserves a raise in pay.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

If minimum wage is raised,

who benefits?

Let's see now...41 years ago the minimum wage was $1.50 an hour. Suppose we tied that minimum wage to the inflation rate...costs go up and the wages go up accordingly? Doesn't that sound fair? If that is fair, and I think it is, then the minimum wage should now be close to $11 an hour. It isn't even half that what is fair about that?

Positive Thoughts!

I've got to get over the disaster and move how about some more Alaska photos?

Here we are sitting in the Orca Cafe (Whittier, AK) while Bill scrutinizes us...or we, him.

Does this need an explanation?

Stray iceberg from the glacier at Portage Lake. It's stranded at the north end of the lake.

Did I mention that Alaska (and its senators and its representatives...) are owned by the oil companies?


Wind...and the fact that I irrigated the orchard today, has combined to topple my lovely fig tree. It was loaded with ripening fruit and I was sure that I would see two harvests this year. (Normal for a good tree) And then one of my pomegranates lost about 1/2 of it's limbs as well. Tomatoes were blown over and the squash were suffering mightily from losing moisture to the gales.

OK. I have to assume that it was meant to be and there's not a darn thing I can do about it! I will replant a brand new fig in the same spot. I just need to be patient...


Wednesday has arrived and once more life is routine. Anchorage and the marathon are now pleasant memories and some good photographs. Also, today is irrigation day and so I will soon be out in the orchard, hoping to kill that persistent gopher once his home floods.

But what about Anchorage? I need to get my thoughts arranged and down on paper, along with the photos. This may take awhile. I did finish a description of the marathon and posted that and now I need to post a few photos to go along with it. And some tourist type photos as well...such as these.

A view of Whittier...on the "other side" of Portage Pass.

On the road to Seward.

A view along the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Almost Home

It's been a long weekend...6 days! We arrived in Reno last night and then made it to Susanville about 10. After some coffee and breakfast we will make the last leg of our journey home. I hope to have some good photos and stories to share...after I get the orchard mowed in time for tomorrow's irrigating.

Short story; Alaska is a great place to visit!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Lexar JumpDrive Mercury
Have to get me one of these!


Wednesday has arrived and right on time. This is going to be a busy day as we prepare for our trip north to Alaska. And this trip will be a test for me as well; going without access to a computer for 5 days. I have decided that I really don’t want to lug that heavy laptop through the airports and onto planes. That was something I had to do back in the days when I depended on my laptop for…everything! But, if they made a full featured computer that weighed about a pound, I could be tempted.

Of course I just might find an internet café in Anchorage…for a cappuccino (wet) and some fresh e-mail.

In place of a computer, I’m going to bring along some books. Probably just as heavy as a laptop but without the need for a “brick”, a “wall wart” and an outlet to power it up. I want to finish Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And I bought a copy of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown to read. Surprisingly, this is a small book. How did something so small cause so much controversy? Small minds, perhaps?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


What's with Blogger this morning? I've been trying to post for the past hour and have been frustrated each time...But, hey, it's free!

Pax (Peace)

Tuesday has arrived in the usual manner and all looks to be normal at this early hour. It might be a little bit colder than normal, as an unusual weather system came through here yesterday, giving us chill winds and cloudy skies for most of the day.

The brief change in the weather hasn’t slowed the growth of the garden at all. Everything is growing well and it won’t be long before the first tomatoes will be seen. For me, that’s summertime – a tomato in my hand, warm, ripe and delicious! I eat them right there in the garden. On the negative side, summer also includes the tomato hornworm. Ugly!

It’s time to let the cat in. Boo has been acting quite strangely for the past few days. She wants to stay close by me and she didn’t spend any time at all in the garden yesterday. What’s that all about? I wonder what she will think after she comes back from being boarded at the local vets’ office over this coming weekend? That ought to be interesting! She is sitting in the window now, listening attentively to the early birds.

I was just thinking that since the high temperature today will only be 75°, it might be wise for me to get the rest of the soil mix for the herb garden. Shoveling dirt out of the back of the truck in this kind of weather will be much easier than doing it next week when the temps are back into the 90’s. I don’t need much; just one truckload will finish it.

That new garden space is big enough for more than just the usual herbs, and with the partial shade of the walnut tree, not all herbs are going to thrive there anyway. So we will need to find some colorful plants for that garden as well.

I was checking the news and haven’t seen much to comment on…though I did run across Salam Pax’s new blog. I used to read his old one almost every day and then got out of the habit. Too distressing to read on a daily basis. Odd; reading his new blog (after liberation) is more depressing than when I first found it. (before liberation)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bare Minimum

I found some of this information the other day; the minimum wage in 1965 was $1.50 an hour. If you took that number and adjusted it for inflation in the year 2005, the minimum wage should have been over $10.00 an hour if it had kept pace. It didn’t. It was about $4.00 less than that. It’s now a year later and the minimum wage is still the same as it was in 2005 and inflation has increased in that time.

What are we thinking? This is progress? No, this is Reagan’s legacy.  

Is it Monday?

Monday it is…and I just realized that with both of us now being retired, there is no one in this house that cares which day of the week it is. Oh, sure, there are calendars and I can always look down at the lower right hand corner of the monitor screen; Microsoft will tell me what day it is. But the importance accorded to certain days of the week is gone.

What is in the news? I found this piece of news yesterday afternoon. “3 million students who will graduate from American high schools this year… this number should embarrass us…nearly a third of students who began as freshmen four years ago dropped out of high school and will not receive a traditional diploma.” And the news from the urban areas of our country isn’t better; as usual, it’s worse…“According to a Manhattan Institute analysis of government data from 2003, at least 40 percent of students failed to graduate from the nation's 10 largest public districts.” It gets worse for minority students, especially boys. “Less than half of black and Hispanic males will earn a high school diploma at the current graduation rate.”

Think about it; over one million students who dropped out this year. They join the million that dropped out the year before. And how about those from three years ago? Four? How many have jobs or even a chance of getting one? Did you know that if you never had a job, you will not show up as part of the statistical number of unemployed? Yes, you had to have been employed and then lost that job before you can become a statistic. And it couldn’t be just any job; it had to be one where your employer paid into an unemployment fund. Jobs that pay cash only won’t allow you to become a statistic either. (Out of sight…out of mind)

What will it take for society to see this as a real problem and begin to do something about it? Uneducated and jobless; this huge number of citizens is a very real threat to democracy.  

Other news; “One of the Guantánamo detainees who committed suicide had been cleared for transfer to another country, a second allegedly was involved in an Afghanistan prison uprising in which a CIA agent died, and a third had ties to al-Qaida.” But why would I believe any of that?

Now locally; our acting governor is about to fire up the Humvee once more, roll it out of the Capitol garage and begin doing what he knows best; acting. Last, of course, is weather news…it looks like we have a good chance of seeing a wet and rainy marathon in Anchorage this coming weekend. “Friday Night...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Highs in the mid 60s to lower 70s.
Saturday...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Highs in the mid 60s to lower 70s.”

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Sunday morning and it’s already quite warm, 62° and rising. I’m awake at a later hour after yesterday’s long and grueling practice session on the Bizz Johnson Trail near Susanville. We did 19+ miles, making it all of the way from the Safeway store at the east end of town, up to the signpost at Devil’s Corral.

The trail is certainly not up to its marathon condition; it still has lots of ruts in it and the off trail detours for the tunnels make for slow going. Hopefully those will be fixed before the marathon in October.

We made one serious error yesterday; we didn’t have a plan as to how far we were going to walk and we didn’t bring any water with us. Dumb! But the good news is the fact that we didn’t die…we were simply uncomfortable for the last 7 or 8 miles. That tells us that we’re in pretty good shape, physically. Mentally? That’s a different story.

The short weekend started off with problems/irritations galore. First were the many traffic detours we had to put up with. Highway 32 is a disaster area from Orland to Chico and then there is a monumental road project on Highway 36, about 5 miles from Lake Almanor. All of these projects require waiting for a “follow me” vehicle to lead you through the mess. Then we heard from Bill as we got close to Susanville. Their water heater had just given up, and could we stop at the hardware store and buy a few supplies that would enable him to bypass the heater and get the water (cold) flowing again? After arriving at the house, Bill and I had to remove the old water heater so that the plumber (arriving on Saturday morning) would be able to install the new one. Unfortunately, the old heater had been the first item to be installed in the utility room. This meant that all of the things, like the furnace, the water softener, the well tank, etc…were now in the way of any easy removal. We would have to lift the tank straight up, turn it and snake it out between all of those obstacles. And the tank was heavy, dirty and wet. What fun!

On Saturday, Bill was able to start his framing project and Jill and I went walking. After a great dinner, we headed home and arrived here about 10:30 and greeted the cat, who had been stuck in the garage for the day and a night. I was wondering what kind of reception I would get from her? But she was distinctly happy to see us and held no grudges. In fact, she has been hovering around my ankles this morning, nudging me for some attention.

It’s time to see what’s in the newspaper…if it has arrived?

Friday, June 9, 2006


It’s Friday once again and with an almost-full moon I can see pretty far out into the orchard. I’m looking for whatever made a loud and startling noise a few seconds ago. It sounded almost like the gate closing, but I remember closing it myself late last night and it’s not windy? Could it have been a wandering cat jumping over it? Boo makes a similar noise when she leaps the fence at that spot. Or was it one of the horses from next door? They sometimes get into a war and begin kicking whatever is nearby.

Moving on…The news is filled with stories of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. This administration needs to make something large of the event, though from what I’ve read al-Zarqawi and bin-Laden were rivals, not compatriots. This makes Rumsfeld’s odd statement that his death was “a stunning shock” to al Qaeda not surprising at all.

Zarqawi was certainly evil and there is little doubt that he is guilty of crimes against humanity. And I found it interesting to hear that one of the people who knew him stated that Zarqawi’s “religion” had been learned by rote. That he had no intellectual grasp of it…

That made me think of a church we once attended where scripture memorization was paramount in importance. And even ordinary conversations with church members were quickly loaded down with scriptural references…but very few from the New Testament? Of course…that’s where Jesus said those tough things, like, “Love one another” and “do unto others…”

Well, the dawn is here. The sky is dark silver and blue and I have a cat sitting in the window. She’s paying close attention to the sounds of the early birds; the ones getting the worms and celebrating. And now I have to get ready for a walk in the park. This means a frustrating trip into Chico, past and through all of the road construction. And after that walk; a quiet time with newspaper and coffee before we head to Susanville for a long Saturday morning walk at altitude. Since Anchorage is at sea level, this kind of practice is going to help all the more during the upcoming marathon.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Lovenstein Institute

The Facts of the Matter

Brought to you by the same man who said this...

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden.""It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." -- George W. Bush 9-13-2001

"I don't know where he (bin Laden) is. I have no idea and I really don't care.It's not that important. It's not our priority." -- George W. Bush 3-13-2002


I just read that the FCC now has the power to increase the fines 10-fold for broadcast indecency. I love it! Now all we have to do is define indecency and that’s easy; I can do it… I certainly know indecency when I see it! Let’s start with all of those advertisements for prescription drugs; those are indecent. So are the home shopping networks. ESPN is another. The Lawrence Welk Show. FOX Network. Entertainment Tonight. The list goes on and on.

What do you mean, you disagree? What are you, some sort of pervert?

How Embarrassing!

Just buy the book? But why? June 6th is over...

Dawn is breaking

Thursday morning and I have a full day ahead of me. There’s nothing unusual in that. Retirement did not deliver the days of leisure that I imagined it would. But…I do get to choose those things that now occupy so much of my time. If only I would choose wisely! Although; if hard pressed, a nap will take care of any anxieties that are besetting me. Hmm? Perhaps that’s why I always found a way to sleep on the plane? At times I would be asleep before the plane had left the runway.

I need to get in an 8-mile walk this morning; a fast one with 12± minute/miles. The date for the Midnight Sun marathon is rapidly approaching and I only have 7 training days left before we head north, to Alaska. (Isn’t there a song with a title like that?)

There was very little election news in yesterday’s newspaper. Perhaps today’s news will reveal the reasons for some of the strange results. What wasn’t a surprise was the win by another Republican in the old “Duke” Cunningham district. Those voters have a long history of being dysfunctional…how else could Mr. Cunningham have fooled them for so many years?

Now for something entirely different; we tried using some tofu last night. I cooked it with an Indian (Korma) vegetable simmer sauce (From Trader Joe’s) and found it to be quite good. I need to do some more experimenting with it; although I’m already pretty certain that I can’t barbecue it. Hey! Make fun of it if you wish, but it’s good for you. Lots of protein and fiber without fat, or any of that “high fructose corn syrup” that you find in some of the oddest places. Take a look at the contents/nutritional value of any of the foods you are about to buy and if “high fructose corn syrup” is in the first four ingredients listed, you should return it to the shelf immediately. Yes, I know…”should” doesn’t always mean that I will. For instance; I have this overwhelming desire to eat Cheetos these days. I have no idea as to why? I love that first, sharp taste of completely artificial cheese that makes my taste buds tingle. And even after that fades, I’m still stuffing those orange bits of ?? into my mouth like a robot. Perhaps I will outgrow this…

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

It took awhile...

Finally! Blogger is cooperating again and so here are a few images...
First, the herb garden. I'm filling in the bottom of it with rocks and other construction debris I found on the other side of the fence. Then it gets filled to the brim with a mix of loam and compost. More photos later.

Here's Skippy, the 3-legged cat with great blue eyes. He lives down the road and was just visiting. He doesn't seem to know that he's 3-legged.

Let the flooding begin! The flood gates are open and the first bit of water makes its way into the orchard.

Ah! The berries are ripening fast. I pick about 2 cups a day.

Our 4-legged neighbors and a view of the water delivery system.

Sweet 100's

Sweet 100's, a cherry tomato and "The End"...for now. Posted by Picasa

I do have more photos to publish, but doing them one at a time is a pain. Maybe Blogger will heal itself? Anyway...I will try later. I know you want to see a photo of "Skippy", the three-legged cat.

(New link here...)

Missouri Pink

And this is Missouri Pink...I finally tried using Picasa to post the photos and that seems to be working better than Blogger Posted by Picasa The problem lies in the fact that you can only post one photo at a time.

Red Lightning!

Just one at a time...OK, this is Red Lightning Posted by Picasa

Tomato Photos - Installment Two?

Missouri Pink - Heirloom

And Red Lightning! Supposed to be red with white zig zags?

No go...Blogger is disappointing me. I will have to try again later.

Tomato Photos - Installment One.

Tomato photos as promised. They've been in the ground since 5/14/06.
(curses...Blogger! The post didn't work. Must try again with only 2 photos)

Tomatoes, in general...and in their beds.

Roman Candle - Heirloom


The Contest! I’ve got to get busy and post my tomato photos! I was so involved with the herb garden project that I simply forgot. Later this morning…

Wednesday Morn

Wednesday; it’s irrigation day once again and I will soon be out wading through the orchard, pitchfork in hand as I stalk the wily gopher. Where have my gopher snakes been? I know where one persistent gopher lives and I would be glad to give the snakes that info.

I checked the news first thing this morning and there is no bulletin to tell me which of the “bad boys” won the Democratic Primary contest for governor. Apparently it is too close to call. Sad, but not surprising; the library initiative (Proposition 81) failed to win approval. What’s up with that? As soon as people feel financially threatened, they think a library is a luxury. Just like music, art and science programs in schools. Luxuries, all! Readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic…that’s all we need and I’m not sure about that ‘riting. Perhaps we can get rid of that as well. It only leads to trouble. Readin’ we need so we can follow instructions (We already got plenty of those Dick and Jane books. Don’t need no more!) and ‘rithmetic is handy for keeping tabs on the number of our fingers and toes.

This was the heart of Proposition 81, “This act provides for a bond issue in an amount not to exceed a total of six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) to provide funds for the construction and renovation of public library facilities in order to expand access to reading and literacy programs in California’s public education system and to expand access to public library services for all residents of California.” And as of 4:00 this morning, the results are…1,718,896 / 46.8% Yes votes ...... 1,951,890 / 53.2% No votes. I would have been happier with a much closer vote. But I’m happy to say that no school sports programs were threatened. Sports, that’s where we teach kids that some people are talented and most others are simply losers, good life lessons! Well, that’s kind of harsh…some are not really losers, they get to be cheerleaders!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Early Light

Silly cat! She decided to stay out all night, last night, and now I hear her outside our study window, making plaintive “meows” as if she wanted in. So I walked out there a few minutes ago and called for her…but she ignored me. And while I was outside, I noted the bats were busy flying over the pool, gathering up any mosquitoes that were lingering in the area. I’m always glad to see the bats! They live in the barn next door to us, along with an owl or two. In fact, the barn is loaded with wildlife as no one lives next door and the bats, owls, snakes and ground squirrels have the place all to themselves.


Today, Tuesday, is Election Day in California. This ought to be a real sleeper. Predictions are being made that very few will bother to vote and that’s a shame. Why would you not vote? I don’t understand the reasoning that goes into such a decision. Especially now that you can vote by mail every time.

Our acting governor has been well coached for the past few months and someone took the keys to his Hummer away from him as well. He has made very few public appearances and those coaches simply let the two Democratic candidates make fools of themselves by default. All of this is going to come back to haunt them (one of them) when facing Arnold in the General Election.

Mudslinging is what the public says they hate in an election, but political analysts tell the candidates that isn’t true and the candidates are urged to go on the offensive early so as to generate excitement. The candidates, being politicians, love that kind of talk, so they jump in with both feet…public be damned! So what happened this year? Wrong kind of mud? The public just doesn’t seem to be motivated. Yawn…

I imagine that by the use of Exit Polls and early returns, we will know the results of this election by 9 tonight. And then it begins all over again as they prepare for the fall elections. I just hope they take the signs down for a week or two.

Monday, June 5, 2006


An oddity…I have a meter on this page that records the number of times someone lands here and it also records how many page views, how long on each page and various other odd bits of data. So one day as I was looking at the statistics, I noticed that I could also find out where the recent visitors were from. OK, not really; what I could find was the location of the server that they were using. I pulled up the data and was surprised at how detailed it was. If I wanted to I could even populate a world map with little dots representing the visitors and their locations.

Here they are. This is just for the past 80 visitors and I took out the repeats. Vina was in there about 10 times and so was Linn Creek, Missouri. Of course some of those locations had to be “me”, though I don’t have any idea as to where keeps their server. This is a satellite service, but I know there’s no server floating around in space. I’m thinking maybe it’s in Linn Creek?

Plano, Texas
Vina, California
San Leandro, California
Cockeysville, Maryland
Linn Creek, Missouri
United Kingdom Cross, Eilean Siar
Germany Leutersberg, Baden-Wurttemberg
Newburgh, New York
Bridgeport, Pennsylvania
Los Angeles, California
Charleston, South Carolina
United Kingdom Nottingham
Carlsborg, Washington
Chico, California
Washington, District of Columbia
Orem, Utah
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Rancho Cordova, California
Clam Gulch, Alaska
Charlotte, North Carolina
San Diego, California
Elk Grove, California
Seattle, Washington
New Knoxville, Ohio
Singapore, Dakar
Trenton, New Jersey
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cottonwood, California
Orono, Maine
Washington, District of Columbia
Chinle, Arizona
West Frankfort, Illinois
Montgomery, Alabama
Pahrump, Nevada
Downey, California
Blacklick, Ohio
Keswick, Virginia
Phoenix, Arizona
Sacramento, California
Lexington, Massachusetts
Cedarville, California

I am a little worried about the two from Washington, DC…who was that?

Fair is fair

Up front, I’m in favor of marriage for heterosexual couples and not for any others, no matter what they call their lifestyle. At the same time, I am for civil unions for any couple. This ensures that the law will treat them fairly as to property rights and any other matters that marriage would give them.

I am against politicians using this issue as a means to curry favor with the voters who are ignorant as to the history of marriage. And that history is actually quite short. It was popular at one time…when the rich and royal used it to further their ambitions. The poor folks didn’t have much need for it. It cost money to get married and they didn’t have much of that. Marriage for all was a relatively recent trend. And if we look at the data today, we see that it is losing favor once again.

The Divine Institution of Marriage? I don’t believe that Jesus spoke to this directly, but I do know that He loves us all, no matter what our marital state is.

There is one thing certain in all of this and that is the fact that Bush and Co. will milk this issue for all it’s worth in votes. It’s already a given that the bill prohibiting “gay” marriages won’t make it out of the Senate but that won’t stop the neocons from using this divisive issue to spread “terror” throughout the red states.

Can you think of…let’s say, half a dozen far more important issues for legislators to be pursuing these days? Oh yeah!

Almost Over!

Tomorrow is Election Day and that is most welcome. After the votes are counted, we will receive a brief respite from the political slandering while the politicians lick their wounds, gather up more money, polish their lies and prepare for the fall general elections. On the local scene, we have Proposition F, a plan to allow an Indian casino in Glenn County. What I most found interesting was the fact that during the past few weeks, each day’s mail brought us a large and colorful “No on F” flyer and an equally large and colorful “Yes on F” one. OK, who’s paying for these? Not the names printed on the flyer; that’s a sham, but who is behind those committees with all of the money needed to produce and mail these flyers? To be honest, I don’t think there’s enough money in Glenn County to produce the volume of “Pro” and “Anti” casino mail we’ve seen.


I was all set to post something on Sunday morning and then this happened…

“Here I am on a Sunday morning; a little bit later than usual as the internet server is down again. I have tried rebooting as I thought it might be a problem of mine, but that didn’t change things and I see that I’m still connected to the mail server. I wouldn’t recommend satellite internet service to anyone; far too slow and one server or another is always down. Oops! Now the whole network is down; no mail. No internet. What a joke! OK, I tried resetting the modem and now I will wait to see if that helps. Nope.

I wish cable service would arrive in this area. Cable or DSL, I’m not particular. Anything would be better (and cheaper) than this satellite service. Yes, I’m frustrated…does it show?

I was outside for a moment, to add water to the pool, and I see that it’s going to be a beautiful day. It’s about 63° and rising. The sky is mostly clear with just a thin band of clouds on the eastern horizon. Now I need to go out in front and look for the newspaper, I need some kind of news!” finally came back to life about 2 in the afternoon. No explanation.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

California Connected

Here's story on the rise of the independent voter in California and what it means...I watched this last night and was happy to hear that our numbers are now up to 23% of the total. 77% sheep and 23% thinkers! Oh, I know that was a cruel thing to say...but after watching this primary unfold, why on earth would you want to be a member of any political party?

For my next trick...

Mission Accomplished…Honest! The Fleet Feet 4 mile run/walk is over and I did what I wanted to do. (Almost) My plan was to do the race under 48 minutes and I came within 37 seconds of doing it. So my miles were done at 12:095 minutes. And I got a medal and a shirt, so all in all, it was a good morning. Go to Shortlaps to read the whole story.


NOW, at the libraries... And you think the Patriot Act is about patriotism?
Don't be fooled!

Name That Gourd!

It looks like it will be a great day for the garden…humid and warm. I checked it out last night and all the plants are doing just fine, with some showing signs of spectacular growth to come. My “unknowns” are growing like crazy and it won’t be long before I will have an idea as to what kind of plant I have on my hands. These are survivors of my greenhouse collapse and I have a feeling that they are gourds; very large gourds.

And here’s something I found on the GardenWeb.

"Soil Preparation
Immediately after the gourd harvest, I begin getting the soil ready for the next season. I begin by mounding all the fall leaves over the field. I have arrangements with individuals, and a city grounds dept. that I’ll dispose of all their leaves. They bag them, I dump them on the soil. Works great for all of us-ask your neighbors, they’ll probably be thrilled for you to have theirs. I also live near a cattle and buffalo farmer, and he’s good enough to give me all the manure I can haul. I mix this with the leaves, and allow them to sit on top of the field through the winter. About one month before I plan to set out plants, I till the whole area in. once that’s done, I gather up all brush, down tree limbs, any burnable yard waste, and start a huge bonfire on the field. Again, I enlist the neighbors...they don’t want to have to deal with old wood, and they nearly fall over themselves to give it to me. Once the fire has burned out, and is completely cool, I till again. This completes my soil prep part of the process."

Sounds pretty interesting and I certainly have plenty of leaves! But buffalo manure might be hard to find?

ps…Here is a link to a great catalog. Send away for it. Some things are pricey, but not all.

The Master

Saturday morning is here and it’s race day for me. The local Fleet Feet store is promoting a Masters 4-mile run/walk at Bidwell Park. I hope to do OK in it and why not? The race is restricted to those who are over the age of 40. (That’s why it’s called a “Masters” race.) I’m entered in the Men’s, 65-69 year old division and with any luck at all I will be the only one in my bracket. A local racewalker, Lin Jensen, who could beat me anytime, is older than that and I’m not even sure if he is entered in this race. There are a couple of others, nameless, who might be a threat…more later.

After the race, I will have to stop at Home Depot and buy two more pieces of treated wood for my new herb garden. I’m building a two tiered raised bed in the corner of the back yard; replacing an obnoxious but nameless shrub that once dominated that space. Of course nothing is ever simple; I will have to change all of the sprinklers in the adjacent rose garden to drip types so that I can use the same system in the herb garden.

Photos later…

Friday, June 2, 2006

Back Then

I was looking at some ephemera this morning, something I always enjoy and the Library of Congress website has many fine collections available to view. One in particular caught my eye and it was a photograph taken of the crowd on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City in 1922. The photo was actually taken to illustrate the capabilities of the R.C. Maxwell Company, an early outdoor advertising firm, and sure enough, there are some Maxwell billboards in the picture. But what I noted was the fact that there wasn’t one grossly overweight person in the crowd. In fact, I couldn’t spot anyone with a weight problem, gross or minor. And there were at least a hundred people shown. You’ve never seen so many skinny people all in one place! Someone once said that our economy must be a lot stronger because it used to cost a quarter to see a fat man at the circus sideshow but now you can see them anywhere…for free!

Safety First

Friday is here. And I’m looking out the window at a cloudy sky. The cloud cover has made for a much warmer morning; 67° and climbing. The forecast; high 80’s and low 90’s for the next week and that will make the garden explode. The tomatoes are coming!

Of course the weather will also accelerate the growth of the grass and that means I will have to mow more often…which is a good thing! I do love to mow with my new ZTR mower. What fun!

And it’s not just grass and tomatoes that are growing. I continue to thin the grapes (daily) and I see that the pomegranates already need bracing. Yesterday I pruned the walnut trees and the persimmon as well. They had grown down so low to the ground that mowing around them was becoming dangerous. Well, maybe it was dangerous because of the speed I was traveling at. Perhaps I should wear my bicycle helmet?


Putting Iraq in perspective?
And what a strange "opinion" this is...the statistics makes it a better war. And then he references Malkin and Hewitt as if they had a valid point somewhere. Scary people!

Then he goes on to say that the world would be a better place if we would just stop paying so much attention to events such as those that happened at Abu Ghraib and Haditha. He wants us to return to the days of WWII. But this isn't WWII and the majority of Americans (finally!) believe that we're not doing the "right thing" in Iraq.

Looking for a new ride?

A tale of two headlines…

“Surging US fuel prices crimp US sales of big sports utility vehicles leading to a drop in sales at America's top three carmakers.”

“Asian Cars Won 40% of Market Last MonthSales of fuel-efficient vehicles like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Hyundai Sonata all rose 20 percent or more compared with May 2005.”

(And another story, not exactly a headline. Toyota is valued at over 10 times what GM’s value is…while GM is now valued close to Harley Davidson.)

I read the other day that Americans need to be taxed more at the gas pump so that we would learn a lesson and demand more efficient vehicles. Hello? GM is proof that American manufacturers don’t pay a lot of attention to what the public wants.

Thursday, June 1, 2006


“The AIDS epidemic turns 25 this week and while new infections are declining in a few countries, the number of infected is still growing, especially among young women.” I was watching the second half of the Frontline special on AIDS last night and once again, it was the kind of television that didn’t put me to sleep. At times I felt like yelling at the screen as I watched the recounting of the history of this disease. There were so many opportunities for leadership during those early years and one by one, the leaders failed. Reagan; a moral coward. Jesse Helms; hiding behind the Bible. Congressman and Senators; all looking to see which way the political winds were blowing instead of doing what was right and honorable. Shame!

The so-called Conservative Christians? Filled with hatred and bigotry, they seemed to enjoy tormenting the victims. And it continues today. How ignorant can we be?

With over 45 million people infected worldwide and that number growing daily, it is a disease that should have our full attention. But it doesn’t. More shame.