Thursday, August 31, 2006
I have no doubt that he can do it. He has already accomplished some amazing running feats and one marathon each day will certainly challenge him, but shouldn’t defeat him. But what intrigues me about this story is the fact that all of this will cost a lot of money. 50 airplane tickets, 50 hotel rooms, 50 rental cars, etc, etc, and the only clue to his profession and wealth comes from this, “a professional windsurfer…” A what?
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Some news…not unexpected.
"Details buried deep in Census Bureau data show a sustained drop in earnings for 25- to 34-year-old grads, to their lowest level since 1997"
And this one…
“Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned yesterday that "moral and intellectual confusion" over the Iraq war and the broader anti-terrorism effort could sap American willpower and divide the country, and he urged renewed resolve to confront extremists waging "a new type of fascism”…"
“As the secretary of defense sharpened his rebuttal to critics of the war in Iraq, he alluded to those in the 1930’s who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany.”
Gee, Don…do you think it just might be people like… you…that are dividing the country? Telling me that I’m confused? And throwing in those comments about Nazi Germany certainly doesn’t help. But he is right in one sense; there is definitely a new type of fascism present in the world.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Ah! It worked. And with that functioning comes a story from yesterdays Christian Science Monitor. Among the 16 wealthiest nations, we are not doing as well as Mr. Bush and Co. would have us believe.
“In terms of the percent of its population living at or below the poverty line, for instance, the US ranks worst among 16 wealthy countries, according to the Luxembourg Income Study. That study found that 17 percent of Americans are poor. As for child poverty, the US also sits on the bottom, with 21.9 percent.” The number one nation? Finland. And in 2004, the official US poverty rate in 2004 was 12.7 percent, and that number translates to 37 million Americans.
“America spends more than all other nations combined on defense. It spends relatively little on alleviating poverty. It chooses a private health system rather than a socialized, or partly socialized, system.”
“The US spends more on healthcare per capita than any other rich nation...But about 16 percent of Americans have no insurance.”
Even with all of that spending, “the life expectancy in America shares with Denmark the bottom ranking out of 16 wealthy countries. Denmark spends about half as much per capita as the US does.”
And this, “Opium production is up 40% in Afghanistan and shows no signs of slowing. Despite official policies to the contrary, the drug trade is Afghanistan’s most valuable export. The country’s poppy crop yields some 450 tons of Heroin, constituting as much as 90% of the world’s supply and more than 50% of the Afghani GNP”
In the 1980’s, The Soviets learned that Afghanistan is not really a nation at all but is a collection of warring factions or tribes. And it cost the Soviets dearly to learn that. What will it cost us?
Examples of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays.
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three- inch tree.
8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. Instead of 7:30. 12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
23. The ballerina rose gra cefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
And here is a news story that almost didn’t make it…(another link at the top)
August 27, 2006
By Jennifer Ring, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of "Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball," to be published next year.
“If you’re a baseball fan, you should know what took place Aug. 1-6. Eighteen American baseball players flew to Taipei, Taiwan, as the best women's team in the United States — and returned to Los Angeles as the best women's team in the world.”
You missed that?...“The Japanese media covered the tournament, held at Tienmu Baseball Stadium, that included teams from Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Cuba and the U.S. But there was no ESPN booth, no U.S. reporters, and it was difficult to find news of the games even online, which probably explains why you missed hearing about the tournament. What a shame.”
And certainly not surprising…that’s the real shame.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
“Despite aggressive efforts to repair the New Orleans levee system following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, it isn't clear yet whether it could withstand a sizable hurricane this year, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers conceded Saturday.”
Well, no need to worry. Apparently there isn’t much left to damage if a levee fails.
“NEW ORLEANS -- When it was fresh, the epic wreckage of Hurricane Katrina inspired rallying cries of "We will rebuild!" But a year after the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, vast stretches of this city and the Gulf Coast are still largely abandoned, and many here wonder whether the...”
Everyone loves a good scandal and it looks like we may have one here...
What I found surprising was the fact that Glenn County was the second poorest county in the state. Is Tehama the leader in this category?
I shouldn't have been surprised though, wherever agriculture reigns, poverty is the harvest.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Remember the saying, “The lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.”? How about, “The patient who pretends to be a doctor…is a fool.” But what do you do these days when the doctors don’t have the courage that they used to have? Bring back the good old days!
What he says about writing is so true…and especially this; “Writing," I told them, "is thinking made visible, and the words you commit to paper are a representation of how you think,… I want you to take care because, if you don't care about what you've written, no one else will."
And you wondered why I dislike mispelling? He tells it all. And yes, I have been guilty of it at times. I can only promise to try harder…
And what’s new this morning? I guess it would be the fact that we have canceled our subscription to the satellite television service. It finally dawned on me that we were spending a lot of money just to put me to sleep in my chair every night. The process of canceling was interesting because, as expected, the representative tried all sorts of bribes to get me to stay on as a customer. How about $10 off your bill for a year? How about Showtime and HBO free for 3 months? But I was steadfast and told them that when they decided to allow me to subscribe to individual shows and not packages…I might return to the fold.
Please remember that this is not the first time we have left the world of television. We’re certainly not “holier than thou” on this issue. When we first moved to Orland we went without TV for 3 or 4 months before we succumbed to the allure of the “tube”. And we’re not throwing away…or giving away our television set. We’re maintaining our Netflix subscription for DVD’s and I will see if I can connect the existing antenna to the set. That way I can still see the PBS shows that I like; though I doubt that the Lawrence Welk Show (Saturdays) will hold much attraction for me.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
On a different subject altogether; I was driving into Chico the other morning, early, when I glanced over at the new bridge under construction on Highway 32. They were getting ready to pour concrete on the deck and I was suddenly reminded of the many times that I was on a similar deck, though much higher in the air, and working fast to stay ahead of the “mud”.
No, I never worked on a bridge, but I knew exactly what each person in that crew was doing. On a highway bridge or on a deck 30 stories in the air, the process is the same. I guess I will always be sentimental about that part of my career in construction. When I was working with my tools on, I was excited about each day at work. There was a very real danger in what we did and just sensing that made every day special. (I guess you had to be there…)
Enough of that…I have a blog that will cover all of those memories so I don’t need to write about them here.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
But they don't and so war coninues amidst the lies.
Yesterday, I was ranting about customer service and the lack thereof…and then I went to the VW dealer. I was already set for a “bad dealer day” as I have had plenty of those at this particular dealer. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the “Check Engine Light”, I would have been back at Jiffy Lube where I knew I was appreciated.
After signing all the papers and receiving an estimate of the $$$ damages, I went for a long walk in the park while they worked on the car. And while I was walking, I created a scenario in my mind; I already knew that they wouldn’t even bother to clean the windshield and so I was going to confront them about it. It was going to be great. I would wound them with my logic and have them on their knees, begging for mercy. I returned at the appointed time, all set to play out that scene.
The service rep greeted me and says, “I’m sorry; your car isn’t ready yet. It’s still in the Detail department, waiting to be washed.” Washed? They have never done anything like that before. Then the service rep goes to the employee lunch room and brings me a cold bottle of water! (I did look a little heated…)
Instant transformation! From angry customer to a happy one. Within minutes, I was wandering about the showroom, clutching my cold bottle of water and looking at the new cars. “Hmmm? Not bad. Maybe we should look at Volkswagens again. That’s not a bad price…Good looking car!” Behold the power of SERVICE.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Big Box Battle: Home Depot vs. Lowes
The home-improvement giants have been hammered by housing-market worries. Which can better withstand a slump?
A pox on both of their houses! At first, I was delighted by the appearance of Lowes in the home-improvement market. The stores were well lit and clean; they had plenty of stock. But, apparently they hired people with a Home Depot mindset and service went out the window. The stores are now as dirty as Home Depot and they rarely have the one thing I need.
Service is really the key and with good service a consumer can forgive just about anything. I was reading an article the other day about “service” and apparently we have raised generations of shoppers that don’t expect service as the norm. They actually expect clerks to be rude. And now some retailers have re-discovered service as a promotional item… “We Will Give You Good Service!” Not an original thought, but it is effective!
Of course this thought leads to the topic of the minimum wage. How do you emphasize service when you are paying the employees so little? Our acting governor thinks that a minimum wage of $8 is good enough, only because when compared to the federal standards, it looks magnificent. In truth, it’s about $3 less than it should be if the government had followed the rate of inflation through the years.
And what does that tell you about your own wages?
Monday, August 21, 2006
Just for fun...here's the data for Scottsdale AZ. Check out the Hispanic vs Caucasian population figures. That surprised me. Of course there is also a disparity in the seasonal temperatures. What does it all mean? I think it means you can't grow much in Scottsdale except cactus and turf for the golf courses.
Lucky for me, I had some good advice and I showed up early for my 7 AM appointment and within 5 minutes of my arrival, there were a dozen or more waiting in line for the office to open. I received the coveted “first place” and was in and out in just a few minutes. (She was good! Didn’t even hurt.)
One more cup and then it’s time to look at the news again.
Last night was the annual Ice Cream Social event to raise money for the Orland public library and I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd was almost all old, Anglo-Saxon, And Protestant. (More or less) Orland has a very diverse population but there is no mingling of cultures here. The people of different ethnic groups live and work side by side, but they never play together. Most Anglos think that by eating Chinese take-out or going to El Vaquero for lunch, they have bridged the culture gap. Sad.
I had but one complaint; an achy shoulder that bothered me…sometimes. Now I have blood tests, x-rays and physical therapy to endure. The shoulder wasn’t that bad! And now that I have visited a doctor, he has suggested all sorts of poking and prodding for me. All in the name of good health of course. Sigh.
The minutes pass slowly; I better check out the news to see if I can get my mind off of the missing coffee.
Here’s some news, but I don’t like it…"One meal high in saturated fat can impede the work of `good' cholesterol, impairing the ability of our blood vessels to react normally and protect against the build-up of damaging plaque."
Oh great! Now I find out…I’m having my blood cholesterol checked this morning and I had a big bowl of ice cream and cookies at yesterdays Ice Cream Social. And I had a good dinner of Shrimp and Grits on Saturday. The problem does not lie with the grits or the shrimp; it was the bacon that I added to it. As it is said; “you are what you eat.”
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Thanks! Click here to go to my donation page.
As you may have noticed, I have a Google Adsense ad space at the top of this page. It works by "reading" what I post and then coming up with an appropriate ad...Since it reads and does not think, it came up with this beauty. Of course it makes sense that Republicans would need a service like this.
I guess I had better see what is in the news; perhaps some inspiration?
I did read something about our acting governor; apparently he has attracted the righteous anger of the Republicans because he wants to spend money on schools. Bad governor! Why on earth would he think that schools need money? And if you live in the “right” school district, you might even agree with the Republicans. But wander away from Westwood Village and Granite Bay and you can probably find a school that needs help. Look in Fresno, Del Paso Heights and Orland. But Republican leaders don’t live in places like that. For that matter; neither do Democratic leaders.
As for the rest of the news; it’s all about World War III, which is being fought on 4 or 5 different fronts now. Good news? There is none.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The defendants "are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III," she wrote.
She further declared that the program "violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III." (OK, now can we impeach him?)
And isn't it odd that we don't hear a lot of support for Bush these days? Most people are sort of quiet, hoping that it might be forgotten that they were once rabid Bush fans.
Oh sure, there will always be a fan or two. Incredibly, even today, there are Nixon supporters, but their numbers dwindle. Nixon, Reagan, Bush...all will be revealed for what they truly were in time.
Now I think I have gone too far…I was browsing through Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that anyone can add to or edit. And I began to edit. Yes, I fixed the spelling and changed the sentence structure of an entry. I had to.
Now I can’t go back to Wikipedia. There are far too many temptations there.
The news isn’t what I had hoped for. “Wars Are Declared Illegal – World Leaders Arrested” In fact, the news is just about more of the same violence we have become accustomed to reading about, and that’s the sad part; we are accustomed to it. We don’t wake up expecting good news at all. Is that why so many Americans don’t even bother to keep themselves informed?
Critics Say TSA Must Catch Up With Technology
WASHINGTON-But Homeland Security wants to shift resources to hiring and training more personnel.
Faces, Too, Are Searched at U.S. Airports
Officials want to increase training for a new group of passenger screeners who look for suspicious behavior.
"There are infinite ways to find things to use as weapons and infinite ways to hide them. But if you can identify the individual, it is by far the better way to find the threat." KIP HAWLEY, director of the Transportation Security Administration, on using behavior observation techniques to spot security threats.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of government employees deciding who looks suspicious is scary. This is the same government that has brought us one disaster after another. (Want a list of those disasters? Read the newspaper.) A government that has increased in size by leaps and bounds…and they want to hire even more.
Think about it…what is “suspicious behavior”? And is there any data to support the idea that this wacko idea will even work? Any proven successes? Were the latest terrorism suspects in Great Britain arrested because they exhibited “suspicious behavior”? No. And I know that after spending most of the day in airports, missing connections and being treated rudely, even the best of us will exhibit suspicious behavior.
But, if I look at this positively…if TSA continues to increase the size of their payroll, there will come a time when we will all work for them and then, who will we be looking for? We can simply watch each other and file daily reports. I know you have heard it before, but this really is reminiscent of the novel, 1984 by Orwell. I think I will read it again.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
When I was mowing the orchard yesterday, I noticed that the prune tree was just about ready to deliver ripe fruit. The plum tree is now bare as are the peach trees. Prunes, pears, pomegranates and persimmons are all that’s left for the season. What’s with all of the “P” words? I forgot…apples are yet to come.
And, while I was mowing, I couldn’t help but notice that the neighbor directly behind us has cleaned up the old orchard there. It had been overgrown with weeds and the trees hadn’t been pruned in a long time. Now it is all cleared ground around each tree and you can see all of the way from back to front. I’m not sure how big a piece of property is there, maybe 5 acres, but it is looking much better. And while the property to the north of us, 20 acres, may end being offered for sale, I can’t imagine that it would sell very fast. The property market here is quickly growing cold, just as it is everywhere else. Plus, 20 acres of bare land is not the most desirable offering these days and the start-up costs for a new orchard have to be pretty steep.
Jill and the twins came down from Susanville yesterday, bringing their new car to show off, a bright yellow Toyota FJ Cruiser. Then I got to drive it into Chico when we went to Alicia and Kevin’s house to celebrate Kyle’s 6th birthday. What fun to be with so many grandchildren! (5) The negative? They are all growing up so quickly…
Every negative deserves a positive. So in this case it is the appearance of the Toyota. It’s really ugly! Why is that a positive? Because my son loved giving me a bad time about our preference for the Toyota Scion xB. So now we’re even.
OK, I have to admit that both of the Toyota models are ugly; most cars are these days. So many of today’s cars look vaguely “military”, with squared off corners and no grace at all. Spray them with camouflage paint and they would fit into any parade. And yesterday, as I was leaving the park, an old Austin Healey 3000 was directly ahead of me. Now that was a beautiful car! Well; almost as beautiful as the Austin Healey I once owned, the 100-4 (BN-1). I owned that car during the late 50’s and most sports cars were sleek and looked fast…even when they weren’t. The Jaguar was a good example of one that was both fast and sleek.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Am I obsessed? Of course I am. It’s my nature and there is no sense in denying your nature. And now that the coffee pot no longer requires my full attention, I will move on and become obsessive over something else.
Like this news…
Bush Defends U.S. Handling of Lebanese Conflict, Asserting That Hezbollah Is the Loser
“President Bush spoke as he and his advisers sought to portray the cease-fire deal as an affirmation of American foreign policy.”
The man lives in his own little universe and reality never intrudes upon his consciousness.
Or this… “The government’s order that all airline passengers put their shoes through X-ray machines won’t help screeners find a liquid or gel that can be used as a bomb because the machines are unable to detect explosives, The AP reports.”
This is known as the “closing the barn door syndrome”. Because one “terrorist” tried to use his shoes as a bomb, we all have to take our shoes off before boarding a plane. I read one comment that noted that we’re all quite lucky that he didn’t try using his underwear as an explosive.
I have the perfect solution for all the hassles of flying these days; don’t do it! That’s simple and pain-free. Don’t buy a ticket. Don’t go to the airport and don’t get in line. Use your computer to make those business trips. Get in your car and see America. You could even use the phone. Reserve air travel for emergencies only. Once the government sees the lines disappearing and after a few of the more deserving airlines go out of business, maybe sanity will return to the travel industry.
Yes, I have a flight or two scheduled next month and I’m not going to cancel them. But I doubt that I will buy anymore tickets in the future. Some will say that by doing that, by avoiding travel, the terrorist win. Not even close…get a life! This has nothing to do with terrorism and has everything to do with common sense. Or the governments lack of same. I’m far more worried by the poor security that exists (or doesn’t exist at all) in thousands of more vital places in our country.
Monday, August 14, 2006
More on the fallen Valley oak; I spoke to the previous owner of our house regarding the ownership of the fence that had been crushed and he mentioned that this oak tree had been grown from an acorn from the famous Hooker Oak, a northern California icon. I also heard that the neighbor had installed the fence under some duress and so now I wonder if we are going to see it repaired. The property is going to be for sale soon and they may not want to bother with fixing the fence at all. Or; after so many years, doesn’t the fence become shared property? I guess I will let the insurance company handle it…But I will want to salvage some acorns before this whole episode is over with.
Naturally, prisons are back in the news once more. And I was reading an article about California’s prison problems. Some facts: The current prison population stands at 172,000 and they are housed in facilities designed to hold 90,000. That number, 172,000, is more than the total number of prisoners in Germany and Britain combined. The imprisonment rate has risen 800% since 1970 and far exceeds any European country. And worse; two thirds of all prisoners are returned to prison within 3 years of their release. So much for rehabilitation. Our acting governor added the word, “Rehabilitation” to the Department of Corrections two years ago, but no money was allocated for the purpose. Now, because of the failure of the “3 strikes” law, the state can look forward to seeing 21,000 additional prisoners within the next 5 years.
What I find especially irritating is the fact that as soon as these horrific figures make the news, the politicians all point to the Correctional officers as being the source of all of these embarrassing problems. None of them will admit to the fact that it is the legislators and the governor that are in charge of the prisons; not the officers.
You would think that after proving that our methods of dealing with the “war on drugs” and the “war on crime” are a grand failure, our acting governor would want to explore some other options; but no…he has come up with a $5.8 billion dollar plan to add more prisons. Of course those new prisons will require even more of those pesky officers.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
And once more I am battling our coffee pot. Darn! All I want is a simple cup of coffee. I don’t use any of the other functions built into this expensive piece of Mr. Coffee junk. OK, I know I am sounding bitter, but I already dread the experience of buying a new coffee pot. The advertising will lure me with promises of dark and rich brews. The coffee makers will be bright and shiny with a lot of chrome and fancy dials to entice me. But…I already know that I will be deceived.
When I came into the study this morning, I found that my computer had shut down and restarted. There was a message on screen that told me that because Microsoft had installed an important security update, my computer had needed a restart. Wait a second…I don’t think I like that part of the “Automatic Update” program. It feels like I am giving someone too much control over my computer. As if I haven’t already done that! Once you’re connected to the internet, you have already signed away most of your privacy and that happened a long time ago.
There are a lot of on-line articles about the fact that the personal computer is now 25 years old. My first experience with a computer was in 1985, more or less. The Janesville School District had received its first Apple IIE’s and Laurae brought one home for the weekend. I was fascinated, but couldn’t think of how I could use something like that. It was a toy. I was a construction worker and my tools were strapped around my waist.
According to my journal, it was 1990 when I bought my first computer; an Epson Equity II with a 286 processor, a 40 MB hard drive and 12 MB of RAM. ($2,400!) I now had a computer on my desk at work and one at home and I knew I had to learn more about them. The world was changing and I didn’t want to be left out.
A thought; I understand that about 30% of Americans still don’t use computers. Is that correct? And why not? Case in point and one to ponder; we stopped at the stained glass shop in Gridley recently and after paying for my purchase, I asked the owner if she had a website. She then launched into a long explanation of why and how she didn’t use computers; that some younger employees of hers did that kind of stuff. Not her! Yet she had one of the most organized glass shops I had ever seen. She had color coding for each type, color and brand of glass. She could have been twice as efficient if she had used a computer. Computers are all about possibilities. Yet, millions don’t want anything to do with them.
I almost forgot to mention the big news from yesterday afternoon. The immense oak tree on the property next to us lost a couple of limbs. Those heavy limbs landed on the chain link fence and onto our grapefruit tree, smashing them both. The caretaker for the property has notified the owner and I have contacted our insurance company…now we will let them sort it out.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
There was a time when schools opened in September and closed in June. The Labor Day weekend was the last holiday of the summer and school always started the following week. Of course school schedules were once determined by the harvest dates for local crops…but that’s ancient history.
And it seems to me that a return to that old September/June schedule would save the schools a ton of money. The days that a school would need air conditioning would be reduced by at least 10 days. And kids wouldn’t be half asleep because of the heat. One teacher we know of keeps her thermostat at 70 or below just to keep the kids awake.
But none of that is really a problem for us anymore. Laurae won’t be joining the crowds in the chilly classrooms this year. She has better things to do!
In the news: Regarding the British terrorist suspects and their plans; I am keeping most of my opinions to myself. I think it’s too early to have a valid opinion as the facts aren’t available yet and I don’t a good feeling as to the reliability of British intelligence. These are the same people who fired seven bullets into the head of an innocent electrician because the policeman who was supposed to be identifying suspects leaving an apartment building had decided it was more pressing to empty his bladder that morning. But of course I have an opinion about the airlines. There is talk about the possibility of many airlines failing and disappearing from the business scene. And there are stories about how this latest incident will change travel forever. Are any of those possibilities a bad thing?
Suppose business travelers finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to start using existing technology to turn their face to face business meetings into “virtual” meetings. No travel needed. And perhaps, with the world becoming a more dangerous place, vacationers might opt for a more leisurely form of travel; automobile. “See the USA in your Chevrolet.”
With fewer airlines and much fewer customers, life in the friendly skies would have to change. I would certainly welcome a return to flying as it once was. A time when the customer was “king” (or “queen”) and you were treated royally. Imagine, if you can, airline seating that is comfortable! It once was. But I’m dreaming. The air travel experience will never return to the good old days. But I can still dream of it.
"The Israeli army said in a statement: "The use of cluster munitions is legal under international law and the IDF uses such munitions in accordance with international standards."
International law? What about moral law?
Why are we supporting terrorists?
Friday, August 11, 2006
The tech did give me a bit of good news…he had heard of a homeowner in Oroville that had a $1,200 power bill! Our $670 seems almost a trifle in comparison.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war. . . and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." : - James Madison, April 20, 1795
Why don't we ever pay attention?
The negative? I’m itching like crazy! Yesterday afternoon I foolishly wandered into the zucchini’s while wearing shorts and then compounded my error by reaching deep into the tomatoes to harvest a few more ripe ones. I thought that if I took a shower right away, I wouldn’t be affected. Wrong! My daughter told me that she thought the time of day had some relationship to the potency of the plants and from my latest experience; I would say it’s the afternoon. Harvest in the morning.
Or how about this for a solution; I’m giving away an idea for a great garden tool. Maybe it’s not really a tool? …it’s a set of long sleeves for your arms with loops attached. The loops would secure the sleeves onto your shoulders and the sleeves would end in a fingerless glove. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand to pick fruit while wearing gloves. A glove without fingertips would serve to protect and still let you feel the fruit. You could make the sleeves in all sorts of “garden fashionable” fabrics. How much would you pay for a pair of “Garden Arms”, $10? $12? More? If you take my idea and make a million dollars, just send me a check for ten percent.
In the news…
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oliver Stone's new film, "World Trade Center," got off to a promising start at the box office on Wednesday, grossing better-than-expected receipts of $4.4 million in its first day, Paramount Pictures executives said on Thursday.
I don’t get it. I won’t be seeing the film. Ever. Not in my lifetime. A movie only trivializes the unimaginable and turns the horror of that day into a “cash cow” for those who made the movie. I won’t be contributing $$$’s to reward the moral failings of Oliver Stone and his cast of actors. What happened on September 11th of 2001 was real. The movie? It’s only a movie.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
OK, she is gone. Her display of affection was only a ploy to make me feed her. She had food in her dish, but she only likes “fresh”. She will soon be asleep in her favorite spot in my shop, under a workbench and far back in the corner.
Some stuff from the net…
In This War, Technology Is Key
“Who is more tech-savvy—drug traffickers or federal agents? The answer may determine who wins the war on drugs. The war on terrorism grabs most of the headlines these days, but the war on drugs is still very much underway...”
Win the war? Who are these people that believe it can happen? It simply boggles the mind to think that there are people who believe you can use punishment (prison time) to change addictive behavior. It will never happen, and as long as we continue to fight this war, we will be spending billions of dollars on a hopeless cause. Money better spent on education, not prisons. I think it was Einstein that said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And he also said, “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.
And that’s what we are faced with in this “war on drugs” and all of the other wars, mediocre minds.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Lebanese direct growing anger at U.S.
Many increasingly blame the U.S. for its extensive military and political support of Israel.
As the only superpower left, America has the responsibilty to be the "World's Policeman".
We have failed. A real policeman would have stopped the fighting...and the rest of the world knows it.
By Louise Roug
BAGHDAD - U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her along with her family suffered from tremendous stress and were ultimately not responsible for the alleged massacre, defense attorneys said, as final arguments began in a hearing to determine whether the men should face a court-martial.
So who ever caused their stress is the guilty party? Is that right? I'm just trying to understand. And I heard a rumor that Iraqi cough syrup (mixed with alcohol) contributed to their behavior as well. So it's definitely an all-Iraq probem and all the citizens of Iraq must share equally in the blame.
I'm certainly conflicted here. If I had been a Connecticut voter, I would have wanted Lieberman out because of his pro-war stance. And at the same time, I really dislike "partisan" politics and applaud his courage and convictions in the face of those who prefer politicians who follow party lines and not their own minds. And then again, I dislike the fact that Lieberman was quite the celebrated "pork" producer for his state...
OK. Conflict resolved! All politicians are idiots. You heard it here...
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Monday, August 7, 2006
Now, what was on my To-Do list for today? Can’t remember. I guess I will have to make it up as I go along.
One item that needs doing is garden work; weeding and all of that dreary stuff. But, one of the brighter spots in the gardening day would be mowing, as I really enjoy my new mower. The wind in my hair and a long trail of grass clippings behind me.
Whoa! Just as I typed about the wind…a gust came along and in through the open window. Do we have a change in the weather? According to the forecast, nothing special will happen today.
And I just ran across this item in the Los Angeles Times…
Trading with the former enemy
Three decades after the last American helicopter flew into the Saigon sunrise, the final milestone in the U.S. reconciliation with Hanoi is within reach. There is no reason to wait any longer. Congress should expedite the extension of permanent normal trade relations to Vietnam.
Imagine that! Thirty years has passed and we’re still waiting for the Kissinger Domino Theory to come to pass. And there are still those in this country who would be quite happy to begin bombing Hanoi once again. Just to prove some obscure point.
And what’s this? It’s raining! And quite heavily as well. So now I know where the gust of wind came from. Of course there is nothing in the forecast about rain, but we will take it!
Sunday, August 6, 2006
I was just thinking that, perhaps, we should plan on going into Chico sometime during the next few days to buy an In-n-Out Burger. With the death of Mrs. Snyder, this great hamburger is in trouble! Her granddaughter has already made plans to change things…time will tell.
New Registration Rules Stir Voter Debate in Ohio
By IAN URBINA
Republicans say the rules are needed to prevent fraud, but Democrats say they are making it much harder to register the poor.
Oh, I would defer to the Republicans on this one. They certainly know more about election fraud than the rest of us do.
Of course; the less said the better! And stop calling them "civilian casualties". Collateral Damage is so much more descriptive...in a gentle sort of way.
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Cammie Donaldson, grew up as a Republican, but became one of the founders of Space Coast Progressive Alliance. The following came from an interview I read this morning.
“Like a lot of people, I'm very disheartened by both parties and essentially independent. I'd love to see a revolution in the Democratic Party and if it started to happen, well, I might jump on board. . Our local Democratic Executive Committee has seen a big influx of new people with energy and ideas and we're all very heartened by that…”
“…I wouldn't want to be labeled conservative or liberal, and I think my mix of views on issues would challenge anyone trying to pigeonhole me. Most of our members would feel the same way. I believe strongly in the broad public interest and reform orientation of progressivism and consider myself fairly populist. I believe government is fundamentally how we cooperate to take care of ourselves as a society, and I'm neither anti-government nor pro "big government.”
That is what I like! I’m always happy to see that I’m not alone in my views and it’s even better when someone can articulate those views better than I can. I think I will join. (Of course not...I'm not a joiner.)
With my second cup of coffee in hand, it’s time to browse through the news in my aggregator. And one of the first things I have read this morning was this piece from the Los Angeles Times. It should have been entitled, Economics in a nutshell.
Job, Salary Data Send Mixed Signal
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Anemic employment growth points to a slowing economy (*). But robust, albeit uneven, wage increases could spur another Fed hike (**).
(*) Couldn’t find a job? Economists and the stock market like it! Stocks increase in value. You don’t have stocks? Sorry.
(**) “Robust…uneven wage increases” means that the boss got a healthy raise but you didn’t. Sorry.
Of course the news isn’t complete without news from World War III’s latest front.
Airstrikes Hit Christian Area North of Beirut
By Kim Murphy and Laura King
BEIRUT - Israeli forces killed 33 agricultural workers in northeast Lebanon in a wave of airstrikes that pierced the country's Christian heartland for the first time and severed its last major highway link to the outside.
More “smart bombs”?
And if we don’t have enough to worry about, there is always some meddling going on somewhere else in the world.
In Broadcast to Cubans, Rice Tries to Calm Fear of Invasion By ANTHONY DePALMAIn a televised message, the secretary of state promised to respect the sovereignty of the Cuban people.
Of course. You do believe her, don’t you?
Friday, August 4, 2006
Last night, before I fell asleep, I had a thought or two regarding the effects of television on the minds of children. I’m not making any pronouncements here; just wondering about it. I suppose it’s because I have been thinking about the sad state of education these days. Plus the fact that two of our grandchildren are spending some time with us.
I have a subscription to Reminisce Magazine and I was looking at the back cover of it last night. There was a photo, taken in 1949, of a crowd of children at a Saturday matinee in a theatre. And in my memory, I could see myself at such an event. We didn’t have a television in 1949 and going to the theatre on a Saturday was the highlight of a perfect week for this 9 year old.
I think it was 1950 or 1951 before we had a television and until that time our evening entertainment came from books or radio. Think about it; our minds had to fill in all of the images required to enjoy a book, or listen to the radio. And I remember how thrilling it was to have a television; I mean, exciting! It was an event that changed our lives forever. And so it’s not much of a stretch to believe that how our minds work also changed…forever.
One hundred, or a thousand years ago, our minds filled in the visual information required in a story by using “imagination”. It’s not required anymore. That’s a huge difference in how we experience life and how we are molded by those experiences. Is there any correlation between the Age of Television and the decline in educational standards? What happens to our minds when we go from an “imagination thought” world to a more visual one? Even universities; institutes of higher learning, are now using PowerPoint presentations to deliver information. It’s routine for the professor to be absent from the lecture hall; his or her image resides on a television monitor placed in front of the students.
I wish I knew what the answer was. I only have suspicions that television has dramatically changed the way our minds work, and it’s not necessarily a change for our good. Will cultural anthropologists, a thousand years from now, tell the story of how civilization entered another “Dark Age” in the 21st century?
Thursday, August 3, 2006
As usual…I read the on-line news before I was actually awake; a dangerous thing to do. A mind without caffeine can easily run amok. And this was what I read… “Most Americans consider Israel's bombing campaign in Lebanon justified, but they are divided about what role the United States should play in the crisis and how closely the nation should align itself with the Jewish state…”
Of course I had to add my own thoughts to that statement. “Most Americans can’t find Israel on the map.” And, “Most Americans have never read the history of this region.” And last, “Most Americans have never been bombed.” Justified? Shouldn’t we be asking those who are being bombed how they feel about it? I suppose someone needs to tell me why the killing of civilians is OK. Apparently I’m clueless. As are “most Americans”.
And as I was browsing through the Sojourners website this morning, I found this quote from Abraham Lincoln, "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."
Since the Republican Party is known as the Party of Lincoln, I have to wonder if the Republican faithful have ever read what President Lincoln said. I think not.
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
And out in the orchard, my fig tree is resurrecting itself. A 12” sprout has come from the trunk and it’s looking pretty healthy. I wonder if I can let it grow into a fig bush? I wouldn’t want it to be much taller than 6’. In any case, that’s the general plan for the orchard. All new trees are pruned to keep them between 6’ and 8’ tall. The older trees will be pruned down (or replaced) over the years.
I was watching Oprah the other day…no, I don’t generally watch this show; I was stopping for a drink of water when I was working on the addition at Bill and Jill’s house. Anyway, back to the point of my story. Oprah’s guests were Bill and Melinda gates and the subject was the poor quality of U.S. schools. As I watched and listened, I was struck by the fact that I have heard it all before. Many times. The only thing that changes is the statistics; they keep getting lower and lower. Math skills? America is now 24th in the world. Yet, what else can we expect when we don’t value education? Are all students given equal access to education? No. Do parents work with the schools to ensure that their children are becoming educated? No. Are parents willing to pay for their children’s education? No.
And this “No Child Left Behind” debacle will only ensure that Mr. Gates will have to continue importing talent from other countries and/or move his operations to those countries that can provide the educated workforce he needs.
No Child Left Behind is the dream of bureaucrats. All the eager little minds molded and squeezed into a government approved shape. Knowing only what the government thinks they need to know. And a corps of mindless teachers, teaching only to the tests that will determine how much money the school district will receive. No worries about any subjects that aren’t on the government approved list!
It’s all about money, that’s for sure. We don’t pay teachers enough to demand the best. We don’t fund programs that enrich their minds; we only pay for winning high school football teams.
For instance. A school computer lab is a thing of beauty...when it’s brand new. What most people fail to understand is that the lab must be replaced every 3 to 4 years. The machines taken out, dumped and new ones with all new programs put back in their place. This is the real world. Due to the fact that Moore’s Law rules…
And teachers…they have to be masters of new skills. How many teachers can teach computer science at an elementary school level? That is where it needs to be taught! Yet we are still expecting the teacher to buy the paper and pencils from their own salaries. Why would they want to learn new skills? Are we going to pay them for it?
For myself; if I’m still around in 20 years, I expect to be able to watch Oprah and hear some new expert decry the state of American education, where we are now at 102nd in the world in math. But, first in football!
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
AP - Undercover investigators entered the United States using fake documents repeatedly this year — including some cases in which Homeland Security Department agents didn't ask for identification.
Same as the story below…
The sad part of this story is the fact that no one will be surprised at it.
Charlotte Church (the “old” Charlotte…not sure I like the new one)
Béla Fleck and The Flecktones
Hot Club of France
I suppose that’s enough for now. I didn’t include any of my symphonic favorites as there are far too many artists to include today.
“…Virtually all climate experts agree that it is impossible to attribute any single weather event — a heat wave, drought or hurricane — to global warming given the myriad factors that influence weather. The most one can say is that, in a gradually warming world, heat waves are likely to become more intense, frequent and longer lasting.”
Isn’t that comforting? No one knows. And what I also found interesting was the fact that most of the heat wave records that were being broken recently had been set back in the 1930’s.
My hands are causing me some small amount of pain this morning. My day trip to Susanville had me nailing sheathing; something I hadn’t done in many years. And although I was slower than I used to be, the basic rhythms of nailing were still imprinted in my muscles. I was able to finger and roll the nails into position and keep up a fairly steady beat. Although I’m not sure why that makes me feel proud? I suppose it’s because I’m always happy to find that my aging hasn’t taken away all of my skills.
Yesterday, when I left Chico behind and climbed the hill towards Deer Creek, I lost the radio signal for KVMR and had to switch to CD’s for entertainment. I was driving the truck and I can play the “Big” CD’s that I have ripped, filled with close to 4 hours of MP3 music. I haven’t listened to a lot of these tunes for months now and so it was fun to hear them again.
I have most of my favorites recorded on these CD’s. One that caught my attention was Randy Newman, singing “Political Science”. This one seemed perfectly appropriate for today’s news. Randy Newman has always been one of my favorites and if you want to see more of his lyrics, you can click here. And speaking of politics; of course I had some Joan Baez songs. Joan and I are almost the same age and I like to think we grew up together, musically…and politically. Her soprano has to be one of the best ever heard. What a fantastic range!