Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why, oh why...

This administration drives me crazy.  I was reading an article describing the methodology used in parts of Trump's budget. Mick Mulvaney has this to say... “We need people to go to work,” Mr. Mulvaney said this week. “If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.” At the same time that Mick is setting forth this 'common sense' ruling, he is proposing to cut job training, food stamps, child care, health benefits and more. He says that these moves will force people to get jobs and become part of a growing economy. This comes from a man that has never 'worked' a day in his life. He's never had to use his hands and his back to make wages that will, hopefully, feed his family and pay the bills.

This strategy was used in the 90's and it seemed to work... in a massively different economy. And when the economy went south, so did those jobs. It's odd, but the Republicans have been spouting this nonsense for years. And further back, when they weren't called Republicans, but were called Conservatives, they have been saying this for hundreds of years.

Homeless? How do you rent an apartment without first and last plus a cleaning deposit. How do you get a job without an address (and clean clothes). Can't get a job because of your prison record? The record you got for smoking dope ten years ago? Can't get a job because you can't meet the requirements? And they just closed the re-training center. You don't have a chance! Prepare to be hungry...and cold. Or, maybe you could call Mick and ask if he needs any help?. Any help at all?

Thursday, May 11, 2017


In a normal? Presidency, it takes 4 years to create a diary, of a reasonable length, telling of the highs and lows of that Presidency. We're into the 5th month of this Presidency and already that diary is in need of more paper to record the high crimes and crimes of omission committed by Trump. Those are the lows and there are no highs to record. I said, not too long ago, that Trump is mentally ill and I stand by that today. He is a psychopath. In all the days since his disastrous inauguration, he has done nothing positive. If he did, it wasn't an hour, a day or a week later that he negated it by doing something vile and negative to counteract it. Of course he surrounds himself with simpering sycophants to whisper encouragements in his ears and anyone that even hints that they might tell the truth is dealt with swiftly. "You're Fired!" was heard quite often when Trump was the star of his own reality TV show. Does he even know that he is no longer on television?

It's time for a Special Prosecutor. It's time for Trump to hear the words 'You're Fired!' and it needs to happen soon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

There is a light

Vive la France! Vive l’Europe! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hooray for us!

We're doing more for the economy than Trump even thought of doing. We have a landscaping company busy at work, front yard and back. The lawn has disappeared, as it should. It has been replaced by a curving pathway through flowering native plants and groundcovers. All irrigated by drip and mist. In front we have a short dry rock wall around the area that was once lawn. The rock has come from volcanic rock deposits not far from the Lava Beds National Monument. This is where Captain Jack, or Kintpuash, leader of the Modoc tribe held off the US Army for a year. It's a fascinating story.

The back yard is almost complete now and the crew of two is completing the tedious work of fitting the various sized rocks into place. Lots of hammering is involved.

I also have a fascination with all things volcanic. I think it started in elementary school in Manhattan Beach where we studied the story of the volcano that grew in a cornfield in Mexico.  ParĂ­cutin was it's name and it was a recent news event. The volcano made itself known in 1943 and I was in the 3rd grade just 5 years later.

Can you imagine a volcano poking out of the ground in your backyard? And it could have happened in my backyard; not probable but certainly possible as California is located on the Ring of Fire. The Ring is best described here "Geologic features along the Ring of Fire include not only volcanoes, but ocean trenches, mountain trenches, hydrothermal vents, and sites of earthquake activity." In my young mind, I knew it was possible and I would daydream about it happening in our backyard. I would never have to mow the lawn again!

I already have one souvenir of volcanos in my front yard. About ten years ago I saw a large chunk of basalt for sale at a yard sale and I just had to have it. It sat in the backyard of that house and then I moved it with us to this house. Why was I fascinated by this 100 pound hunk of rock? Growing up, our family would make a yearly trek up US 395 to vacation at Lake Tahoe. Driving that highway would let you see a portion of the Devil's Postpile National Monument and I thought it was a fascinating place, though Dad never stopped for us to tour it. Dad's are often like that.

I should post this and then  go and see how they are progressing.

Same old same old

I just  read in the WaPo that the House narrowly voted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I hope that the Trumpster understands that the replacement will be known as Trump Care. He's already made noises about his not liking that name. I'm sure he would rather it be called Ryan Care. So Trump Care it must and will be.

I was reading in the Economist that Steve Mnuchin is saying that the anticipated rise in productivity amongst the plebeian, due to a tax cut for the wealthier among us, will fund that tax cut and in fact the deficit will shrink because of all of the money that will pour in. I know I've heard it before...but I'm old, and a lot of citizens haven't heard it and to them it sounds magical! It is, in a way, because it was called Voodoo Economics way back then. Now Steve Mnuchin isn't all that old either, but he knows the term well and he knows that what he said was a lie. If he doesn't know that, he really should have flunked Economics 101.

This plan of his might work if world affairs didn't affect us. But they do. We are not immune to being influenced by events half the world away. This is not the beginning of the 20th century when the United States was able to produce just about everything it needed.

There are dozens of countries around the world that hitched their economies to oil and they are now seeing rioting in the streets because their economy collapsed. Who knew that was coming? We survived the oil disaster but where is the next disaster coming from? There will be one. Are we exposed? Shouldn't we be preparing for it by reducing the deficit right now, letting tax money roll in and not a pie in the sky growth in  productivity.    

Once again, I remember

It's just another 'normal' day around here. Go to the doctor and then wait for the other doctors to call and make appointments for me. During this time I sit and read the newspapers, including the 'failing' New York Times. The 'failing' New York Times has had its readership number explode in the days following the most expensive Inauguration in history.

Ah! A doctor has called and I have an appointment next week, just a few hours ahead of another doctors appointment. Just a typical day among the elders of this country; elders that can't possibly need all of this medical care.

I did have a small victory this morning as I left the family doctor's office with a large paper bag filled with samples of some of the drugs I need. Taking something from the pharmaceutical companies without paying is always a victory.

I was going to write about remembrances and I better get to it before I forget. As I read the news of today I can't help but to remember the 60's and 70's of the last century. In 1962 I had been discharged from active duty in the Navy and then had found some jobs that didn't pay much and had no future, but since Mom wasn't charging me a whole lot for room and board; just $20, I could get by. Then good fortune came my way and a neighbor, who I didn't know, asked me if I wanted to become an apprentice in the Carpenter's Union. If I did, he had a job and a career for me. It was going to cost me $50 to join the union and initially I would be making double the  dollars per hour that I currently 'enjoyed'. And that would change every six months, with a 10% raise if I didn't quit.

I bit at the thought of raises every six months and I became an apprentice. This changed my life completely. I had no idea as to why I was asked to do this by a complete stranger. Sure, I knew his daughter and since we worked for the same company, I told her one time that I thought the job I had was boring. Also, I  was in very good shape, I was six two and 180 pounds. That might have been the reason for the offer. Or, it may have been pure luck or it was a genuine blessing from God. Whatever.

After a week or two, I figured that the man who had hired me must have been looking for someone that appeared to be strong enough for the job, as this turned out to be the toughest job I had ever known and the money I was making was barely adequate for the labor involved. I was in the Carpenter's Union but I was an apprentice drywall installer and steel stud framer.

Many years have gone by since I made that fortunate decision and now I am enjoying the "fruits of my labor" and they aren't all good. My first spinal surgery was nine years ago; a fusion of the lower four vertebrae to correct the damage that lifting thousands of sheets of drywall inflicted on them. Then three more surgeries during those nine years. My neurosurgeon warned me, nine years ago, that the first surgery would not 'cure' me and that I could only expect pain, light to heavy, for the rest of my life. Irreparable damage had been done and he could do very little to help me, but he promised to help all that he could. And he has. Now the damage done to my cervical vertebrae has made its presence known with Level 8 pain in my shoulder every morning. This damage was almost certainly caused by all the times I installed (hung) drywall on ceilings (lids). You and your partner would roll the sheet of drywall from where it rested against your shoulders and up to your head. Then you would use your head to press the sheet against the ceiling framing and then begin nailing it or screwing it in place. I had a bald spot (not permanent) from a season of doing lids. And I had  shoulder pains that always went away when I stopped this harmful practice. Unfortunately, I did this kind of work for close to thirty years before I moved into office work where there was less chance of injury.

After seeing my MRI, my surgeon, a friend now, just shook his head and said "your back is just a mess!". Then he said, "This should be fairly easy to fix" and he took us into his office where he has the BIG monitor and gave us most of the details of his plan of attack. I will end up with 4 cervical vertebrae fused and all the nerve pathways will be widened and spurs removed. The pain will not end immediately as the nerves have suffered a major insult and may take a while to get over it. I will still have a pain in my lower spine and adjacent hip but he said he won't do any more surgery on my back. The amount of scar tissue there makes even a simple surgery a major risk because of the chance of severing a nerve accidentally. During my last back surgery he spent over four hours behind a microscope as he cut very slowly towards his target.

Now for the part of the story that I really enjoy. After showing us the MRI and giving us his plan, he sat back and we began to talk. We talked about the situation in the Middle East. We discussed the refugee problem. We talked about Jimmy Carter leaving the Southern Baptists. We talked about his childhood, growing up in rural Georgia and going to church with his grandmother and trying to figure out why there were two Southern Baptist churches in his town, less than a mile apart. We talked about Netanyahu. We talked about politics in Africa. We talked for close to half an hour before  he said, "I guess I had better let you go" and then we all stood and said our goodbyes.  This is the second time he's done this. He is one of the top rated neurosurgeons in Northern California. He was a teaching doctor at UCD Med school before moving his family away from the too busy life in Sacramento and yet, he is more than willing, almost eager, to have a normal conversation with two people. For myself, I am not a bit nervous when I know that it is my friend that is going to be doing the cutting, just millimeters away away from my carotid artery and my spinal cord.