Saturday, May 31, 2008

About New York

- The Human Toll of a Building Binge -

A binge? I don't think so. It's a lack of safety standards and ethical contractors. Most contractors and I was one...think that safety costs money. I learned it didn't and that it actually saved you money. Sad, but work is far more dangerous than that of police or firemen. It's a macho thing...

(New posts are up on my other blogs...)

FLDS raid

appears to have backfired - Los Angeles Times

Just as I thought it would. It's almost too easy to predict that the government will get wrong. Every time. Think about it... the phone call that precipitated the raid came from Colorado and not Texas. This they discovered after the fact. And now, because they got it only makes it that much harder in the future.

Plastic Shield

Protects Your TV From Your Wii

Hmmm? I hadn't thought about this possibility. I do know, for a fact, that you can get pretty charged up with some of the Wii games. We were shooting a game of 'virtual' billiards on my daughter's Wii the other day and I can see where a mis-cue could lead to some damage, especially during the break! Aptly named.

But, another useful is this for the coming election season? Feel like throwing something at your least favorite candidate? Go ahead! In fact, I might even go back to watching television if I could throw things.


I suppose I should report that we are having a problem with our new car. The passenger airbag warning light keeps turning on, indicating a malfunction. We’ve taken it to the dealer twice now and yesterday they ordered a new seat sensor for the passenger side; of course. Other than that, we’re certainly happy with the mileage we’re getting (35.2) and the overall comfort of the car. Though it might have been fun, driving a Mini-Cooper to the store and back…I’m not sure it would have been that much fun to drive to Scottsdale. In the summer or winter.

And it’s funny, now that we own a hybrid, how many we see! Though most are Toyota Prius’s. (Prius’s?) And not that many people realize that the Nissan Altima uses the Toyota hybrid power package. So we get a better looking vehicle, in my opinion, with the Toyota quality. No, Toyota didn't make the seat sensor.

Later retirement

Making it happenfrom

Sounds like too much work for me!

From Time Goes By

This Week in Elder News

Some good stuff this morning, but I especially liked this...

"...a disagreeable nature may go hand in hand with better vocabulary and knowledge retention in older age."

Yes, I can be crabby as well as the next person. And I can feel good about it!

Summertime and the living is easy

This is the end of spring. Today. The calendar may disagree with me, but I know summer when I see it and next week will be summer. It’s 63° outside and will head up to 85° before the day is over. By Wednesday it will be in the 90’s.

And it’s very noisy outside. Despite the darkness, the birds are making a racket. I also heard the neighbor’s cat and that may be the reason for all of the bird’s excitement. Hmm? There’s an owl. And I’m also looking for bats. This is the best time to see them as they are silhouetted against the eastern sky. Finally! There was one at last. And another. They are returning to the old barn next door after eating their fill of mosquitoes; I hope. We are enjoying a mosquito free spring so far and I hope it stays that way.

Me? I’m quiet this morning. There isn‘t a whole lot of news to comment on and that’s nice…sometimes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Countries agree

on cluster bomb ban -

No, we didn't sign it. We like cluster bombs. We make cluster bombs. We sell cluster bombs. Making money is what it's all about, isn't it? No, it's not the Hokey Pokey!


Political Bulletin's not news at all. We knew (at least half+ of us did) what kind of president we were being sold in 2000.

From Time Goes By

Science and the Wisdom of Age

I knew it! I knew it!

Dinner Time

We went out for dinner last night on the Planet Orland and were very pleasantly surprised. A new restaurant has opened on the west side of I-5 at the Highway 32 exit. It’s the City Gates restaurant and they specialize in Portuguese food. If you live on the Planet Orland, that’s pronounced ‘Port a gee’. My first test for a new restaurant went well; I asked if they served O’Doul’s. No, but they had a Portuguese non-alcoholic beer! Would I like to try it? Of course…

I quickly had a bottle of Jansen to enjoy and an abbreviated menu. Abbreviated because the restaurant is in its first few weeks and their suppliers are not coming through with all that they require. But, we saw the whole menu and we are looking forward to trying some of the items on it. Lamb chops!

And it’s a nice looking place. New, of course, but pleasantly decorated and heavenly quiet! There is something to be said about dining while using glasses, utensils and dishes that haven’t gone through the dishwasher for the millionth time. Plus, we took a look at their desserts and those will be tried one of these nights as well. Did I mention that they also do breakfast and lunch?

But, as good as the meal was, I’m worried. Worried that they might not make it. The sign along the freeway is too small to see at 70 mph and the entrance to the restaurant is also small. Deceiving. They need a freeway sign in Willows and one in Corning. I’m not a big fan of signs, but I’m a fan of good restaurants and I hate to see one fail.

Medical Curiosities

Is it my imagination, or are the months really flying by this year? Yikes! It’s graduation time for one of our granddaughters; she’s moving on to high school next year. High school? How did that happen?

On the subject of ‘medical curiosities’, I decided to try acupuncture for pain relief. Acupuncture is no longer on the fringe of health services; MD’s do it but Medicare doesn’t touch it and that means you have to pay the whole bill. So you still have some ‘pain’ to deal with.

Anyway; back to the needles…since the physician doing the acupuncture was a member of the same medical group we use, there was no need for a lengthy repeating of symptoms and history and she quickly had about 14 needles stuck in my back and legs. And I only felt one going in! After that brief bit of excitement, it’s pretty boring after that. You lay there for about an hour while a TENS unit sends a mild current through some of the needles. Then the needles are easily and painlessly removed and you’re free to go. And in my case, with less pain. Now I don’t know if it was the acupuncture or the fact that I hadn’t been moving about for an hour that had reduced the pain. But I am going with the acupuncture. That’s my gut feeling. No, I’m not pain free, but I am more mobile and I’m coming back for another visit next week.

And more medical…we had a call from a friend who was rounding up volunteers with deep pockets. It seems that a local physician would be glad to distribute the Shingles vaccine to 10 people. At $200 per pop. She had secured 5 people so far. Zostavax, made by Merck, is a real moneymaker and no insurance is paying for it. So what is insurance for? Well, we know that in its present form, it helps the bottom line of the insurance companies. And to help all the parties become richer, the vaccine is recommended for all over the age of 60. And although it’s said that Medicare Part D will reimburse for the cost of the drug but not the physician, insurance companies are still studying their options and keeping their wallets closed.

As best I can tell, there are 44 million eligible elders and only 2.5 million doses of the vaccine. And there are approximately 1 million cases a year and of that million, about 500,000 are over 60. I guess that means it affects about 1.4% of the elder population… more or less. But, from what I’ve read, you don’t want to come down with Shingles! Did I mention the kicker? The vaccine is only effective for 51% of those vaccinated. Gotta do the math!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dotta Memories

How sweet! Dotta2 has posted her anniversary details on her blog...including a photo or two. Which is guaranteed to make her father grow misty eyed.(Wiping my eyes...) Now I wonder if she would like me to post some of her older photos? Ones taken when she was quite young? There is a Christmas photo that we all get a kick out of...

The Prosecution

of George W. Bush for Murder

And why not? Just wondering of course...

In a pickle

We distributed some of our excess cherries yesterday and I will try and get the rest of them off of the tree today or tomorrow. And I went searching for a pickled cherry recipe and found one that looked pretty good. I have four jars of pickled cherries in the refrigerator now and will let you know how they turn out after the required two week waiting/curing time has passed and I have sampled them.

I was going to find a photo of pickled cherries to add here, but I couldn’t find the perfect one to post, but I did find this! Now, that’s a brave cook!


During the past year or so I’ve been going back and forth between IE7 and Firefox, always looking for the perfect browser. I always ended up back at IE7 because of the way the RSS feeds were handled. But yesterday, following my sister’s advice, I searched the Firefox add-on’s for a better RSS feed monitor and I discovered that I already had it installed (Sage) but had never configured it to work the way I wanted it to. It’s working now!

Now I have the latest version of Firefox and all seems to be working well. Certainly better than IE7 was. There is a small problem of clutter as I have far too many toolbars from the various add-on’s that I have installed during the past year, but once I remove them (Spring cleaning) I will have a lean and fast browser once again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's the pits

Time, once again, to irrigate the orchard. And speaking of orchards and crops and all of that…we seem to be blessed with some abundance again this year. We have picked cherries and taken about 30 pounds just from the low branches of the one tree; the ones we can reach from the ground. Once we start using a ladder, there will be even more. I’m not sure why the birds weren’t taking them as they have in years past, but I’m grateful. Pickling cherries is on my list of things to do...

Apricots, peaches, apples, nectarines, walnuts and pomegranates are plentiful as well. I have to keep stripping the developing fruit from the overly laden branches before they break off. Plums and pears are the only fruit that are in short supply this year (Again) and I’m about ready to give up on those trees and plant some new ones. Maybe more cherries? The yellow Rainier’s would be a nice addition.


Scott McClellan rips Bush's Iraq 'propaganda'

Darn! Scott makes money telling us what we knew 7 years ago.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FOX Pundit

Wishes for Obama Assassination, Laughs - Media on The Huffington Post

FOX? Why am I not surprised?

Jobs at Intel


Well, at least we don't have to read about an Intel plant in Havana! We do have priorities after all.


Surpasses U.S. in Technological Prowess

Darn! I hate when that happens!

But, not to worry...I'll just ignore it and it will go away.


& Proverbs

More Americans

Fear Losing Their Health Insurance Than Being in a Terrorist Attack

That's might be able to survive a terrorist attack. But, on the other hand...

I'm in trouble

Yikes! What happened? It’s almost 5 and I just woke up. That means that I’m an hour late for everything! But what does that mean? I’m retired and have no place I have to be, no appointments to be kept. Yet…I felt that was behind in some way. And in my rush to get back on track, I quickly read Time Goes By. Oh, oh.

It may take me all day to recover from this failure to wake up on time. And tomorrow I have orchard irrigation duty beginning at 6 AM. Another intrusion into my well ordered life. At this rate, it could be weeks before my life is back to normal.

Ronni Bennett asks if this love for the ‘routine’ is a part of aging and I would have to say that it’s not. Aging only brings it to the fore if you already have that as part of your personality. Which I do. Strange; because I profess a love for change and I go out of my way to initiate change, but there it is…I still love routine. How can I explain the fact that these two feelings co-exist within me? Okay; I love change that I initiate and hate the change that you initiate. Yes, that’s it. It’s all about me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

See See Saw


It's one of my favorites.

The cost and the facts

From the Hightower Lowdown;

§ Amount of total world military spending by U.S. = 47%

§ BushCheney request for military spending in 2009 = $600 - $700 billion

§ Military spending of 10 next to-spending countries combined = $446 billion

Long March

to an Apology - Op-Ed -

Sorry. It will never happen. Those who make war never apologize. Ever.

Browser wars return

An Upstart Challenges the Big Web Browsers -

I'm a big fan of Firefox...except for the way it it displays RSS feeds. I really like the left sidebar approach of IE7 and if I could get Firefox to do that, I would change in a heartbeat. Firefox is simply faster and more secure.

From Joe Bageant

The age of working class art is over

Here's some good reading for you... You can substitute the Planet Orland for some of the small towns described here. Well, maybe not that bad. But, close!

Odds and Ends VII

Coffee time. I’ve verified that the world is still all present and accounted for, although it’s not in the same shape as when I went to bed last night. As usual, there’s been some damage. With a fresh cup in hand, it’s time to enjoy the morning by browsing the net for fun stuff, if there is any.

I’m still reading Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson. It’s a good book for a Memorial Day weekend. I’ll have it finished by this afternoon and then it will be time to read something less enlightening; less frightening. No, it’s not a fiction thriller. I only wish it were.

I’m also listening to the police scanner radio this morning for all of the local news. There’s a lot of excitement this morning as an apparent hit and run victim has been found in the roadway. Which road? Medical aid has been called for and there’s only conjecture so far as to why the victim was found in the middle of the road. Okay, it’s Dayton Road but I missed the cross street. Hmm? It’s 5 in the morning on a holiday weekend. Why was the victim walking down a country road at that hour? More to come…

Also, I glimpsed a headline that noted that it would save lots of fuel if telecommuting were to become more popular. Perhaps it’s time? There’s always that resistance that the ‘boss’ feels; he or she wants to see bodies, but if they could get past their egos and see the advantages, it would definitely save money and fuel. Money for the bottom line. When I first got into the IT business, my boss told me that I couldn’t work from home because…he couldn’t. Luckily, that didn’t last long and I soon switched departments and was able to do lots of work from home. My former boss was still angry about it and made sure that he gave me a bad time whenever he had an opportunity to do so. Ego always trumps wisdom.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No, not again...

Clinton Camp Stokes RFK Flap by Blaming Obama

And this…

Pastors pose problems for McCain and Obama

Jeekers! A pox on both of their houses! Who cares about any of that? No one does except for the news media…

Was there anything in the news about the candidates’ positions on the war, the economy, the environment, the war and the war? Are you telling me that this is all that they could come up with to talk about? Please! McCain and Obama are grownups and they are not influenced by their pastors. Are you? If you aren't, why do you think they are? And Senator Clinton mentioned RFK; get over it! Please…it was simply a thought, not a policy statement.

Doesn’t anyone remember what happened the last time we let the news media run the election process? Twice. And look what we got. Both times. You don’t want that to happen again do you?


of Dollars Unaccounted For in Iraq, Pentagon IG Reports

Hey! Is your school district out of money? How about the county budget? Well, all you have to do is go to Iraq and find it...they lost $15 billion so it shouldn't be too hard to find. And if you do find it, don't bother reporting it to anyone in charge. Because no one is!

Quote of the Day

People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history. - Dan Quayle

Oh, Dan…believe me, we know!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Clinton Remark

on Kennedy’s Killing Stirs Uproar -

What uproar? Why are we letting the MSM create these so-called 'news' bites? I'm surprised that the candidates are saying anything at all these days. (Mum's the word!)

ps. I used to have a lot of respect for reporters. I assumed that they were out there in the trenches, digging out the truth for us to read. I was wrong. And reporters criticize bloggers?

Teeth Gritted

Drivers Adjust to $4 Gasoline -

We were eating dinner at the restaurant, Grilla Bites, the other night when I looked over at the dozen or so cars parked alongside the sidewalk by the fountain. Jeekers! Not an SUV in sight! There was an old Ford pickup, but the rest of the cars were all 'normal' and smaller. Including ours, of course!

270 Illegal Immigrants

Sent to Prison in Federal Push -

"No charges have been brought against managers or owners at Agriprocessors,"

Check back in six months and you will see that no charges were ever filed against those who did the hiring. Business as usual.

Let's Talk

From the headlines…

Obama says he would meet with Cuba's leaders

Barack Obama wants "direct diplomacy" with the Castro government in an effort to bring democracy to Cuba. One critic calls the view "wishful thinking."

Sanity! The no talking method used by the current administration has failed! Failed and failed again! It’s as if the president was wearing a label on his forehead, “I’m STUPID and I don’t talk to strangers!”

Wishful thinking? Could be…or maybe not. But it’s guaranteed not to work as long as you avoid talking.

The 'dear ada' feed

I have dear ada as one of my RSS feeds and I look forward to seeing what she has collected each day. Great place for inspiration...

McCain's Age Problem

From the Pew Research Center:

Let's see...the senator is about 3 years older than I am. Which doesn't make him old at all. It's his attitude that makes this particular candidate old. Very old! He's only interested in keeping the status quo. Young old people want change and lots of it! Young old people embrace change.

Mixed blessings

The wind has abated somewhat, not gone all together but it’s bearable. And we have very cloudy skies with a forecast that includes some rain and that’s always a good thing. I’m not sure that the friends and relatives of the university graduates will see the rain as a blessing, but having experienced the opposite during the ceremonies; blazing sunshine, I’ll take a gentle mist for graduation anytime.

Although we have no family graduates this year, the graduation affects us along with everyone in this area. Traffic increases and restaurants are filled to overflowing. Even on the Planet Orland; traffic becomes an issue as so many cars are coming off of the interstate here and then taking highway 32 into Chico. Hard to make left turns here in town!

And then, in another week, Chico is returned to its year-round citizens for the summer and you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through downtown. Ah! Summertime, I love it!

New posts on Working and Short Laps

Friday, May 23, 2008


The Last Days of the American Republic

Good book. I just started on it and it will keep me going over the long weekend.

So many books! So little time!

Blowing In the Wind

They lied. The wind continues, unabated. I can imagine that graduation week in Chico has been affected by the weather, as this is the week that all of the graduates do their moving; loading trucks and trailers high with all of their possessions. I wonder how many pillows and cushions went flying?

Moving 101 is not taught at this university and so this ‘moving out’ week and the ‘moving in’ week, in August, are fun to watch as improbable loads are seen traveling the highways and byways of Chico. Exercises in Physics? Perhaps. This is also the time of year for ancient couches and chairs to make their appearances at the side of the road. Abandoned.

I was reading a post from the Crabby Old Lady this morning and I could ‘feel’ her pain. I am certain that we haven’t had an election season as rancorous as this one…ever! At times I feel as if some of the candidates are purposely trotting out their ignorance just to show us that they are ‘good old boys’ (and girls). Why? Intelligence is a virtue, a blessing; not a liability!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Slow Down Flights To Save On Fuel

"Southwest, which has an aggressive fuel hedging program, expects to pay about $2.35." (per gallon)

American Airlines, the ones with the new $15 luggage surcharge, didn't do that and they pay just about what you pay for gas. ($3.50+) I guess they weren't thinking ahead...

Party On

I was reading the news and spotted the story that Senator Clinton might take the nomination fight to the convention. Sounds interesting. For those who don’t remember, this is what happened all of the time back in the 40’s and 50’s of the last century. It was normal and it was fun. Yes, it was all politics as usual, but it gave a purpose to the convention. Now? If the candidate is already chosen, the convention is simply an excuse for a party. At the expense of the ‘party’. I believe that if I were a member of a political party, either one, I would be a little upset with the leaders wasting my money on a convention if we already had a candidate. Get on with job and party later. After and if you win.

Class Wars

Another very windy morning, though the promise of calmer weather is in the forecast for later tonight. It’s very tiring. Funny; rain is peaceful and so is fog. Snow is also calming. Storms, with wind, are exciting. But plain old wind? It tires you out!

The funniest news out there this morning is the American Airlines decision to charge $$ for checking your luggage. I am so glad that I’m no longer one of those flying businessmen. Back in the day when I was a traveling techie, I had to check my bags because of all of the electronics I carried. If I didn’t check them, it would take forever for TSA to deal with them. “Sir. What is this?” “That’s a mouse.” “Will you please turn it on?” “Umm…it doesn’t turn on.” “Sir. Are you being difficult?”

Being a ‘checker’ of luggage, I had to endure countless hours of waiting for the clueless people who used carry-on luggage. Waiting while they tried vainly to cram 16” bags into a 14” space. And of course there was the ever present danger of being hit by the bags that were coming back out of the overhead bins at the end of the flight. Everyone is in a hurry and the largest carry-on’s were always the property of the smallest passengers, making extraction problematic. “Oops! Sorry about that.”


Hospitals Compared - Search for a Hospital if you dare

OK, a good tool.

As usual, I began my morning with a visit to Time Goes By and that's where I saw the post about this new service of I compared the two local hospitals; Enloe and Saint Elizabeth's. Oops! Enloe loses. Again.

For us, we're in the perfect location, 30 minutes away from either one. We can choose.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take It -

The 2008 Ask A Working Woman Survey

Times Are Changing

Odd. You know it used to be that the shopper for a new car, the male shopper, would ask for the location of the hood latch. Even before sitting in the car. Viewing the engine and passing judgment on it was probably the most important task he had to perform. It mattered not that there was nothing in the engine compartment that he could fix on his own and he only needed to know where the dipstick was located. Surprisingly, this time I forgot to do any of that! So, two days later, I found the hood latch and opened the hood. Jeekers! What is all of that stuff? I couldn’t even see the garage floor through all of the machinery and plastic that was stuffed in there. And I’m a guy that has rebuilt entire engines by myself. Honest…

Panoramic view

of the earthquake damage in Beichuan

It takes awhile to load but it's quite revealing. Note that there is very little evidence of rebar in any of the concrete or masonry fragments. Sad.

(Use your mouse to drag the photo around and up and down)

Lou Dobbs

Is Clueless (Among other faults)

"Far from protecting kids, drug war-funded education programs have consistently misinformed our youth, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and disbelief. Despite 30 years of "Just Say No" rhetoric, half of all high-school seniors will smoke marijuana before they graduate."

The state of Washington recently did the smart thing and decided to tell the ugly truth about meth in some very well thought out advertising campaigns. And it's working. Yes, real education works. Just Say No is as simplistic and clueless as the person who first thought of it. And those who continue to repeat it.


We did have some fun with our choice of a new car. I believe, like most parents, we have usually embarrassed our children by our choice of vehicles. Or I should say my choice. For instance; when we bought a Buick, you would have thought we had decided on buying an Edsel. A purple one. Groans and wicked comments came from all of our children. Then there was the year that the company gave me a van to drive. And the Jetta station wagon didn’t impress them one bit. So for the past year, as we investigated vehicle possibilities, we would throw out names for their review. How about a Scion Xb? Yikes! And I could hear some moaning when we mentioned a Mini-Cooper. Well, the deed is done and apparently they like the new car, but they still found a way to get to me. Denise said our choice was ‘normal looking’. Oh, no! I hate normal! Maybe I can repaint it in shade of purple?


Americans ?

Who is she and where did she come from? What a sick individual. There's more things wrong with her 'opinions' than can be addressed in a simple blog post.

And this is only the beginning... November is a long ways off.


What a wind! And it’s still blowing this morning. Yesterday afternoon, we were turning onto Highway 32 to go east to Chico. And at that intersection, the recently plowed field was taking flight. Tons of fine topsoil were blowing high into the air and obscuring the road to the west completely. Probably 60 acres worth of good soil was now airborne. Some traffic pulled over to wait for the cloud of earth to pass and one driver was frantically trying to get the convertible top up. Me? I crossed my fingers and pulled out, hoping that no one was coming from within the cloud, and if they were, hoping they were moving slow. Whew! We made it...

And on a different subject, I found this quote from one of my favorite people…

No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.

- Lily Tomlin

Yes, I know it’s a challenge, but I intend to do my very best to prove that Lily was wrong. I am a champion! (Cue the music from Rocky)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Real McCain

Over Half a Million Views in 24 Hours!

What fun!

Iraq Vets

Testify to War Atrocities

From the article...

"On the same day of the hearing, a story broke that revealed a disturbing new strategy for dealing with the influx of veterans reportedly suffering from PTSD: Stop diagnosing it. In an e-mail dated March 20 out of an office of the Department of Veterans Affairs (subject header: "suggestion"), a VA employee wrote: "Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that we refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD."

Adjustment Disorder? Then all they need is a little Attitude Adjustment...right? Happy Hour!

Also from the article...

"Goldsmith was 16 years old when the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and he recalls thinking that the United States ought to use biological weapons to take out the entire Middle East. "I joined the Army to kill people," he admitted, "to kill Iraqis, to kill Muslims."

Who raises children like that?

(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents

Just Being Middle Class Is Becoming out of Reach

From one of the comments on this article...

"The frills of middle-class life, including suburban homes, multiple vehicles, vacations, and frivolous consumption, have had a hideous effect on the natural world, and they need to be curtailed anyway. Economic forcing, via increasing financial stress, might be the only way to achieve this."

Gosh! Who knew it was so simple? So that means that Bush has been right all along. He's just trying to help us.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Whew! Almost over

The spring heat wave is about over with and cooler days are forecast for the week to come; about 20 degrees cooler. But even this weather doesn’t hold out much hope for a mild fire season. It's really dry out there! The north state is very much at risk this year for fires we certainly can’t afford. Even more so if the fires occur on federal lands, as the feds tend to fight forest fires by smothering them with cash.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the possible use of trees for plastic. What a fantastic idea and one that needs to be pursued. If it became successful, we could start building all houses out of steel, the only logical and renewable way to build, and the forest product industry could focus on plastics. And that’s a market that wouldn’t have downturns as the housing market so often does. Hey! You can never have enough plastic! The steel studs for housing could be made from what steel we throw into the landfills today and we would still end up with better built houses.


I can now report that we bought a car on Friday. It’s a new Nissan Altima Hybrid and we’re quite excited about it. We will pick up the car this afternoon and then we start the learning process. How does it drive? What kind of mileage will we get? Power? Where's the radio? All sorts of questions for us. And of course the primary question; did we get a good deal? That will take a lot longer to answer.

Some odd thoughts that came my way after deciding to go ‘Green’ with a hybrid car. My memory tells me that it was in 1974 that I bought a new Oldsmobile Toronado. A car that gave us 8 miles per gallon. Mileage? Who cared! It also would wear through a set of front tires every 8,000 miles. Great car!

That generated another memory; a 1973 Toyota Hi-Lux pickup truck. I had paid $2,100 for it, new. And it had a ‘green’ ecology flag decal in the back window. And that, apparently, was the reason that two of LAPD’s finest decided to stop me on the Santa Monica freeway one afternoon. I had seen them for quite awhile in my rearview mirror, so I was quite surprised when they swerved in behind me and signaled me to pull over. First it was the usual; license and registration please. Then they wanted to know why I had that flag in my window. They gave me no end of trouble about that simple 2”x3” decal, intimating that I had to be some kind of unpatriotic hippie to display something like that. They questioned me as to whether or not I had ever served in the armed forces. I had and that answer seemed to irritate them. After they had vented their frustration with whatever demons were bothering them that day, they told me to ‘have a nice day’ and they left. No ticket and no explanation given for the stop. For me; just one more reason to be wary of those in authority.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

A saga

I'm just about one third of the way through this book but I was hooked after the first 10 pages. Absolutely thrilling stuff! And so nice to know that it's all true.

"A stunningly simple story of how to make peace" -Bloomsbury Review

The comment above from the Bloomsbury Review says it all. Can we learn anything at all from this book?

And this comment from the author;
"Mortenson advocates girls’ education as the top priority to promote economic development, peace and prosperity, and says, “you can drop bombs, hand out condoms, build roads, or put in electricity, but until the girls are educated a society won’t change”.

Doctors Say ‘I’m Sorry’

Before ‘See You in Court’ - New York Times

This is guaranteed to work. The corporation I worked for, before retirement, had a rule that if any employee was injured on the job, the Branch manager had to accompany the worker to the hospital and to contact the workers family. The injured worker was told (as well as his family) that his or her well being was the goal of the corporation. That the corporation stood behind the worker. That the worker shouldn't worry about the bills. And as soon as the worker was released from the hospital, we put them back to work at a job that fit the doctors orders. Guess what? Our Workmens' Compensation claims rate evaporated to a neglible amount. Insurance rates plummeted. Because we cared enough to do the right thing. And we made money by doing this! Duh!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Will Elder

This man was amazing. He really was one of the highlights of my youth...which tells you a lot about my youth!

Friday, May 16, 2008

From outside the box

More Right Wing Tricks

Oh, oh! Deviousness (Is that a word?) abounds! (If it's not a word, it should be)

From Time Goes By

The First Amendment and S.1959

Here's one that captured my attention...

"In 2005, Veterans Administration nurse, Laura Berg, sent a letter to a local Albuquerque weekly, The Alibi, criticizing the bungled rescue operations following Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. Soon, her office computer was seized, her boss reported her action to the FBI and the VA began an investigation into possible charges of sedition against Ms. Berg. All for nothing more than writing a letter to the editor critical of the federal government."

Charges and investigation were later dropped. Think it won't happen again? Sure.

Is that right?

Let me see if I have this right; Bush said we shouldn't talk to evil nations. Ever. Obama thinks we should talk to them if we want to know what they are really saying...not just the rhetoric. But Bush loves to talk to the Saudi's and the administration speaks quite regularly to the North Koreans and if those aren't evil nations, well...I guess I'm just clueless.

Richard Nixon

The fuel of power

Here's a book I have to read. Whenever Republicans get all snotty about the Clinton's, all you need to do is mention this guy. They didn't come much worse, though I must say that the Decider is giving him a race.

A necessary act

How necessary?

Here's one where I actually agree with the Decider. It's a nonsensical bill. Filled, appropriately, with 'pork'. And the corporate farmers thank Republicans and Democrats alike for their generosity. Business as usual.


The final story from The Children’s Blizzard is this, after the disastrous blizzard of 1888, settlers gave up on the Dakota’s and new arrivals slowed to just a trickle. The Great Plains were no place to get rich. It was a dangerous place and it still is. Citizens of that region today will tell you never to travel during a blizzard and homes and vehicles need to contain emergency gear at all times. And I really want to visit the Dakotas sometime. I like listening to the natives. All rightey dere den.

We used to know a programmer, a department head, who worked for Great Plains Software. She worked from her Roseville, California home and managed a dozen or so employees around the country. But she would have to go to Fargo, North Dakota every once in awhile for face to face meetings at headquarters and her description of the airport in winter was always funny. Luggage carousels rotating with just one suitcase. Hers. Empty terminals. And never a crowded flight! Despite the fact that there was perhaps just one flight a day.

Not so comfortable

I’m still undecided about Facebook. The technology is great; I can’t deny that. But it’s intrusive at times and I don’t appreciate that. Maybe it would work better (for me) if I could choose ‘comfort levels’. Right now, every application you might want to include on your page is looking to move in with you. Asking for all kinds of information and trying to send you stuff. Don’t want it! But, I think it’s a work in progress and so I will hang out and see what happens. (It's the same with Twitter...the jury is out. Does it matter what I think? No.)

The Decision

For me, this recent storm over ‘gay marriage’ is just one more good reason for a distinct separation of church and state. Marriage and it's definition should be dictated by the tenets of your own faith. The state should have nothing to do with it. The states job is to guarantee that all be treated fairly. And that's what the court decided. That’s all. If you’re gay, you would have to find a church that would marry you. No different than when Catholics and non-Catholics attempt to marry. But, I can already hear the right wingnuts, those with more voice than brain, as they will fill the news media with the kind of bigotry that the average voter loves to hear! I can just about guarantee that this decision by the California court will be presented as evidence that the Evil Democrats have a plan to destroy the family unit and turn us all into homosexuals. Sigh.

Follow the money

Well, that was certainly different; I had an MRI last night to see if that might help the doctors to determine where the sciatic pain has been coming from. Fascinating. And definitely noisy. I had heard about that and wasn’t surprised when the technician gave me some earplugs to wear. But I was surprised to hear that I would have to stay in the ‘tube’ for about twenty minutes. So once I was inside, I closed my eyes and tried to let my mind enjoy the experience. Odd; with my eyes closed, it felt as if I were moving ever so slightly, sideways. Back and forth in rhythm with the amazing sounds that came from the machine. I wasn’t moving. I opened my eyes a few times to verify that fact. And the sounds changed from time to time. First I heard a repetitious dahdahdahdahdah followed by, I swear, laptoplaptoplaptoplaptop. The finale was a grand nononononono overlaid with a faint but sibilant yesyesyesyesyesyes. Ain’t’ technology grand? And noisy.

And speaking of technology; there is a good chance that just as soon as the technician reviewed the image files created by the MRI, they were sent by T1 lines to consultants in India to be read overnight. Why not. Doctors in India are awake at those hours and you get results that much faster. Intercontinental consulting; I love it!

It had certainly been a different day, yesterday. We started off with a visit to the local Nissan dealer to look at an Altima hybrid. With tools from the internet to work with, buying a car is so much easier these days. Use before you shop and everyone, you and the dealer, knows the ultimate price of the car. The high pressure salesman doesn’t exist anymore. OK, he’s still around, but you can foil him with your knowledge of the right price for the car. Knowledge is a wonderful thing! And no, we didn’t buy the car; we’re still undecided as to color and options. Back in the ‘good old days’ you could choose your options from a long list of items. Today, you can only choose ‘packages’. Very much like cable or satellite TV. Frustrating. “I’m sorry, tires only come with the Technology Package.” And “Windshields are part of the Convenience Package.”

And later, after we exited the MRI factory last night, we decided to stop for dinner at Big Al’s hamburger joint. We had heard that the malts were amazing and the burgers good. OK, the burgers are good and the malts are thick, but the staff was surly and the place needs cleaning and painting; lots of it. We’ll take In-n-Out burgers anytime. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant and I usually avoid those like the plague, but it’s a chain with a difference; they pay their employees quite well. And it shows.

And, being a couple of Introverts, we sat in a corner booth at the back of the dining room to avoid any congestion around the cash register. There were only a few people in the dining room and there were plenty of seats available. Lots. But what’s this? Three people come in and decide that sitting right next to us is their only option. Did we look lonely? Are these people raised by wolves?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain Predicts

War Can Be Won by 2013 : NPR

Absolutely amazing! So why didn't we ask him earlier? Do you think if we asked real nice, he might tell us what month? The day? It would be nice to know that date because we want to make sure everyone is ready for the parade. We'll need permits and time to order the flags...and the bands have to rehearse. Next I need to ask him if I will win the lottery.


-outside the box: Dealing with a Snake Phobia

This was interesting. I don't have a snake phobia, never have. But, I've had phobias so I know whereof he speaks. And he has a great way of dealing with it...

Oddly enough, where we live, I'm the only 'guy' around that doesn't have a snake phobia. All the neighbors want to kill them and I've had to ask them to please call me before they do. I'll come and save them.


Election Losses Stir Fall Fears -

After three losses in special Congressional races, some senior Republicans urged their party’s candidates to distance themselves from President Bush.

So now they don't know him? Talk about your 'sinking ships' and rats!

Well, it's time for the voters to remember... remember Watergate. Remember Ford's pardoning Nixon. Remember Iran/Contra. Remember the Keating scandal. Remember 'Voodoo' economics and 'Mission Accomplished'. So many memories and so many Republicans...

From the article...Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said it appeared that lawmakers might have to fend for themselves. “You are going to have to run on who you are and establish some independence, and that is going to be tougher for some than others,” Mr. King said.

Now tell me if I'm wrong; wasn't that what they were elected to do? They weren't elected to join some 'good old boys club'! Republican or Democrat. Let's abolish them both!


I finished the book, The Children’s Blizzard and I certainly recommend it if you’re at all interested in the history of the Plains states. It’s really everyone’s history as what happened there shaped our countries vision. Not just the blizzards, but the grandeur as well. Imagine yourself, an immigrant fresh from a dying Europe and seeing that limitless expanse of grass. Not a tree in sight. Sod that had never been touched by a plow and 160 acres of it was all yours. All you had to do was to pay $18 and ‘prove it up’ within 5 years. But no one had told the immigrant of the blizzards and the prairie fires and the grasshoppers. They would soon find out all about those things and more, yet they persevered. Tough people!

A little fact to ponder. Between 1850 and 1900, 16.5 million humans left Europe for America. Most of these immigrants didn’t speak English and would settle among those that spoke their own language. Friesians, Mennonites, Estonians, Norwegians, Danes, Russians, etc. You would think that would teach us that if we left people to their own devices, that within a generation or two they would find a common language. And they did. Imagine that!


Let’s see. 76°at 4 in the morning. That should tell you what kind of day we’re going to have. The winds have done their job and delivered the heat, so now they are only blowing at 11 mph.

I haven’t turned the AC on this year; the house has good insulation and dual pane windows but we’re at that point where the AC is going to have to be on for awhile each day if we want to stay ahead of the temperature curve. And the curve is telling me that it’s 83° inside! So I’m flipping the switch. I sure hope I have some PG&E stock in those mutual funds. That would make the pain more bearable.

OK, the fans are blowing some cool air now and that’s when I realized that we have these great computers scattered around the house, but not one of them is doing a thing to help us be comfortable and to spend less money on power. Why aren’t there more software/hardware packages to allow us to retrofit our houses to be ‘smart’ houses? There’s a few, but competitive marketing is almost non existent and what is available is almost always a DIY proposition.

I would love to sit here in front of the computer and fine tune the AC system. I could designate startup times and temperature zones. I could see real time temperatures by room and servo motors would control the air outlets into those rooms. Let’s see; we’re going to Chico this morning and I could plan for a temperature rise while we are gone and a drop when we return. The software could monitor power pricing (on-line and real time) as well and offer settings that would maximize savings or comfort.

I think there’s a market for this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hacking Democracy

rebroadcast on HBO during month of May

I don't have HBO, but I do have Netflix. Good show... should be seen by all before November.

Land of the free?

How free?

All the info you need from Freedom House.

“For America to advance democracy abroad, we need to acknowledge our shortcomings, as well as tout our achievements."

Honesty works. Honest. Freedom is too important to let it slip away, lie by lie.

Baby, it's cold outside!

I’ve been reading The Children’s Blizzard and I’m about one third of the way into it. Fascinating! Of course I have to find a way to relate to it, I needed something to make it real to me and that’s when I remembered that our grandmother was born in Tower, Minnesota in 1890. That’s just two years after this tragedy. And Nana experienced blizzards; they were part of her story. Since she lived up on the Iron Range of Minnesota, she didn’t have to suffer through a winter living in a ‘soddie’, but she knew for a fact that a blizzard would kill her. I’m sure that Grandpa (x3) Seymour drilled that fact into her. Children were vulnerable.

And I’ve seen the prairie. Once, when driving west towards home from Kansas City, just after the 9/11 attack. I took the low road, Interstate 70 and saw the vastness of mid-America. And I have taken short trips from KC up to Iowa and Nebraska. Even today, with roads criss-crossing the plains and grain elevators seen on every horizon, it’s still an amazing sight. And one that we should all see at some point in our lives.

A great book to read if you want to get a good taste of prairie life would be PrairyErth by William Least Heat Moon.

photo from the Library of Congress...colorized. Family in front of their soddie.

Republican Revolt

Election 2008

The Republicans are revolting...yes, they are.

Hey! I didn't say it, I'm just repeating what I read.


the Gremlin

I think you have to be over 65 to appreciate any of this...Smilin' Ed and his Gang were my favorites on Saturday mornings. (Andy Devine was an impostor!) And although we rarely wore shoes at all in the 1940's, it was a treat to buy some Buster Brown's as that meant you could step up onto the Fluoroscope machine that would allow you to see the bones in your feet. Too cool!

And once the shoes were purchased, they went into the closet, not to be worn again unless you were forced into them.

Where there's might find a fire.

Caregivers blast Texas' treatment of polygamous sect's women, children - Salt Lake Tribune

Pastor John

says he's sorry for anti-Catholic remarks - Los Angeles Times

First, you have to believe him. I don't. He's still an Evangelical (with a capital E) and they don't care much for anyone that's not like them.


Since we’re looking at temperatures well over 100 during the next 4 or 5 days, it would make sense to find some innovative ways to cool off. I think the book I ordered from the library should do the job; The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin. I can tell you that just reading the prologue made me shiver. And Google Book has a good review as well, but the URL was longer than could be accommodated here, so if you want to see it, just Google search for ‘children’s blizzard’.

The lights are on

Jeekers! It’s another 4-light wind warning morning. The trees are really whipping around in the north wind (18 mph+). We’re supposed to have winds up to 40 mph this afternoon, bringing in lots more hot air. All of this activity will make the Planet Orland warmer than Scottsdale! But, just like Arizona…it’s a dry heat.

I have been looking at the political news this morning and after reading the pundit’s views I have decided to hedge all of my bets on who is going to be the eventual winner of the presidential race. In fact, I’m not even betting anymore. Getting real. This election is going to be decided by sound bites, innuendo and rumor. Thought will not enter into any decision by the electorate; the majority of the electorate. With 80 to 90 million Americans being functionally illiterate, what else can we expect? The news media will win.

The Doctor is in

From Times Goes By

Another perspective.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

From Robert D. Novak

- McCain's Christian Problem -

The Huckster rides again! Scary...

Mccain Vs. Mccain

The Arizona Scarecrow...looking for a brain!

Forces of Nature

Famous Forces

Last night, at dinner, the topic of 'what's happening to our familiar world?' came up with the usual comments that we are experiencing lawlessness and terrible disasters, like never before! Well, not quite true. The link above takes you to some disaster data and this one takes you to a Department of Justice data page. Yes, it just the same old stuff...

Another data page I looked at did show that our (human) impact is creating weather and biological forces. More people=more chance of disease. More people living where it floods=more death.


U.S. aid shipment reaches Myanmar - Los Angeles Times

And the rest of the sad story...Myanmar is normally a rice exporter. And Bangladesh was counting on this years harvest.

The Bush-McCain


Apparently I don't know the difference between the two of them...I got a 'goose egg'!

Science debate


You would think that the candidates would welcome the exposure, wouldn't you?
And although the majority of the citizens would like to see such a debate, the candidates hide. This should tell us all we need to know about all three of them.

From the Sciencedebate 2008 newsletter...

"First, a review of our primary season strategy and what we learned. We made this invitation as attractive as possible.
We recruited every organization that we six core volunteers (2 screenwriters, 2 scientists, a philosopher and a science journalist) have contact with, and we reached out and signed on 37,500 individuals.
We emphasized that it was about policy, not a science quiz. We took the intimidating word "debate" out of the invitations.
We joined with PBS and targeted an influential, educated demographic, through PBS's 350 member stations, that are well-attuned to science and policy issues and could be very advantageous to court. We enlisted high-profile supporters to make video appeals.We recruited America's leading science organizations and universities to sign on.
We proposed not one, but four dates - one in Philadelphia and three in Portland.
We told them the format was entirely flexible; it didn't have to be a debate, it could be a forum similar to the "Compassion Forum" the democratic candidates recently attended in Pennsylvania, discussing matters of faith and values. What matters is that they come.
We even told them we would show them our questions a week in advance, so they could prepare. That's like showing all our cards.
When even that didn't work, several Nobel laureates joined with the Chairman of Intel and the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund in a joint email that emphasized that this could simply be a "conversation," it should not take undue preparation and was important for the country.
Only the McCain campaign gave us the courtesy of a formal response: a polite decline that left the door open for the general election."