Sunday, October 9, 2022

My Three Biggest Problems

Painting I did with gouache and pen on paper

Okay, as I embark on this journey towards self-employment and artistic expression, I have had to take the time to do some serious self-evaluation. I've come to the conclusion that I have three fairly significant problems that drain my time and energy, and handicap my ability to create.

1. Drinking:

I drink too much. I'm not, I don't think, what you'd call a full-blown alcoholic, but I am a pretty steady, consistent drinker of wine and beer. It's caused me to gain weight, lose valuable time, and spend a lot more money than I should on alcohol.

I don't expect to ever completely give up drinking. One of my favorite hobbies is wine and beer making. I'm hoping to learn how to moderate my drinking so that it becomes something I want to do occasionally, instead of a habit I have of having a few glasses of wine every night.

2. Exercise:

The flip-side of drinking too much, I exercise too little! This leaves me feeling slovenly and low energy. I used to be quite an athlete, but it is difficult for me to exercise when there is no "point" to it other than being healthy.

In high school I played three different sports - football, wrestling, and track and field, where I threw discus and shot-put. These sports kept me active in spite of my tendency towards sloth.

In college I took up surfing. Daily adventures in the ocean staved off the ill-effects of alcohol and marijuana consumption and this, combined with youth, kept me pretty fit.

After college I moved to the mountains and snowboarded for a season. My core has never been more solid than after snowboarding for several hours a day for months on end.

But then I moved to Los Angeles and became much more sedentary. Now I'm in the country, where I fool myself into believing that the work I do on our garden is enough, but I know it's not. I know because of the way I feel, and the amount I weigh.

I'm 51 years old, 52 in March, and the weight doesn't come off like it used to. I stand 6 feet tall and consistently weight between 220 and 230 pounds. I took a month of drinking this year and dropped 10 pounds almost overnight! So I know alcohol is an issue.

Cutting back on the drinking and increasing my exercise will definitely lead to more energy and creative output.

3. Social Media:

I spend far too much wasted time on social media. I like social media, and I think it can have value, but I don't think I'm using it well right now. I am planing on mapping out my weeks so that I have a dedicated amount of time I spend on social media, and use that time effectively to promote my own creations, instead of arguing with strangers over things I can't change anyway.

I'm sure there will be varying degrees of success and failure as I navigate this new situation. I plan on being kind to myself as I figure things out.

Thanks for reading!

check out my website at:

(It's crude af right now, Wordpress is a complete mystery to me. I'm going to be spending time each week updating it with my various projects.)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse and the Stupidity of Gun Culture

 I haven't written much about Kyle Rittenhouse. From what I have read it looks like he'll likely be acquitted, or the thing will end up in a mistrial. Apparently the jury has already requested a mistrial twice and been denied.

Frankly he probably did kill those two men and wound the third in an act of self defense. And this is my problem with gun culture.

Because we all know he never would have been there if he didn't have a gun.

And he shouldn't have been there, because a 17 year old boy doesn't have the experience to be successful in that environment.

His mom says he would have died if he hadn't "brung" his gun with him. Fuck lady, he also wouldn't have died if you hadn't fucking driven him there. How these people manage to tie their shoes is beyond me.

Gun advocates love to talk about how a "good guy with a gun" can solve a bad situation. It seems like that happens about once in every million shooting instances, but I'm not sure statistics go over real big in the gun crowd. I think you're something like 5 times more likely to be killed by a gun if you have a gun in your house than if you don't, but that figure doesn't seem to cause much hesitation in the gun-inclined group.

A gun is known in some circles as an "equalizer." Meaning some pudgy little shit like Kyle Rittenhouse can go out and be just as deadly as a highly trained mixed martial artist - even more so. All he has to do is squeeze that little trigger and now David is taking down Goliath.

I'd be willing to bet that the gun that is supposed to keep us all polite is in fact the object that starts a fair amount of fighting. People who have no business fighting get into fights because the gun they are holding tells them they can fight. It proves they can kill.

It's grotesque. How we got to a point where taking a life is so trivial, even celebrated - I'll never understand it. I'd never want that kind of blood on my hands and now this 18 year old, 17 at the time of the shooting, is going to be warped and twisted and perverted because he took lives, and one "side" thinks that's awful while the other "side" thinks he's a fucking hero. Of course he's going to go to the side saying he's a fucking hero. We all want acceptance in this life.

I hate it all. I hate the rioting, the looting, the violence. I hate that this is all solvable but we won't solve it. And I'm not talking about getting rid of guns, I'm talking about getting rid of poverty. That won't make every problem disappear, but it will sure go a long way towards it. People riot and loot because they see themselves in an economic situation from which there is no escape.

A whole lot of pressure could be released by simply easing poverty. By implementing fair wages, fair housing prices, by starting a universal basic income. People are getting richer than any human has ever been in this country. Why is the bottom still living on the streets? How is anyone in this country being allowed to go hungry?

I guess I've gotten off the gun culture topic here, but it all ties together. Poverty is at the root of the vast majority of criminality. Eradicate poverty and watch crime rates drop like they've never dropped before, and then law enforcement can focus on dealing with the actual criminal class instead of the victims of bad domestic policy.

The Resurrection of the Blog - Achilles' Chill

 I'm blogging again. My mental health is so shit right now. I dealt with Trump by drinking and the Pandemic by drinking even more and even though he's out of office Trump won't go away and the Pandemic is still raging, so the drinking hasn't really slowed. It's not good. The depression medicine I'm taking doesn't seem to be cutting the mustard, but how could it when I'm drowning myself in depressants every night? But damn I do love red wine. My Achille's chill.

Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can write some of this out of my system. Writing is creation, creating something from nothing. Putting words together, making sentences, trying to explain the whirring of the mind. Trying to reach across the chasm of nothingness and derive meaning from the void. Trying to make contact with the collective - trying to feel the oneness of the universe.

When the pandemic started I lost all ability to create. I couldn't bring myself to paint, to play music, to write. I sat, and stewed, and drank. I couldn't read a book. Long fiction was too much to try and take in. If I didn't have weekly beers with one of my closest friends I would have gone far more insane than I have, but still, as I noted, the mental health isn't good.

I believe more than anything it is the stupidity, the abject stupidity that a large enough portion of the country seems to have embraced. This weird fucking notion that science is no good and we should trust random idiots on the internet over an actual process that yields results through trial and error and a whole lot of study. People listen to Joe fucking Rogan for medical advice? What the fuck? I can't even begin to understand that. He is a television host and a podcaster, why would anyone trust his medical advice? Even Joe Rogan says not to trust his medical advice, but here we are. I don't get that.

So much I don't get and my brain seizes up trying to make sense of that which cannot be made sense of. I wish I could accept it. Accept and move on, people are fueled by emotions and will trust something one of their friends read on the internet over what some egghead in Washington D.C. has to say. I sort of get that, but I also rail against it. I want data, research, studies, and that's what the eggheads in D.C. are looking at before the get on TV and say what they have to say.

I'm writing again, so that's something. I really hope it grows into something productive, something that helps me, and helps you, if you're reading this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

That Time I went to a Donald Trump Rally

Trump Rally
Friday, June 3rd
Redding Municipal Airport, Redding, CA
So at about 10 in the morning of Friday June 3rd, I was goofing around on FaceBook and sort of threatening to go to the Trump rally in Redding when I looked at the information page and realized it started at 1 p.m. In that instant I decided I was going to go.
I guess I was sort of confused about how long it would take to get to Redding from Los Molinos so I more or less ran in, told my wife Trish I was heading to the Trump rally in Redding, to which she responded "be careful and don't buy anything..." in her defense she was sort of half asleep when I told her, and then I left.
I was talking about really dressing the part: Olive drab jumpsuit, American flag/bald eagle ball-cap, Redwing work boots - but I felt like I was pressed for time so I left as I was dressed - black boot-cut polyester Wranglers, camouflaged foam clogs, and my Pabst Blue Ribbon tee shirt. No shower, two-day stubble. Oh well.
Then I was on the road, heading north up I-5. I overestimated the time it would take to get there and ended up in a make-shift grass parking lot outside the Redding Municipal Airport by 10:45 - Trump was scheduled to speak at 1:00 p.m. - 2 + hours to go.
The first thing that really hits me is the largest American flag I've ever seen suspended from a two hundred foot high crane stationed in the middle of the parking lot. I walk right under it - the cable holding the flag is attached to a massive concrete block. I look up at this incredible old glory on steroids and get vertigo. What am I getting myself into? In a bit of a daze I stumble off towards the entrance to the airport.
I hit my first obstacle when I attempted to enter. I was asked for a ticket. Huh? I explained "I don't have a ticket, can I buy one?" (Immediately contradicting Trish's second directive). The lady sort of laughed and pitied me. She said, "no, you can download one for free and then show your phone to the security guards" to which I replied "I don't have a phone." Which is true, sort of. I have a $10 TracFone, but it doesn't really do internet - it barely does phone calls. The lady talked to another guy who then said he'd talk to the fucking secret service!
I'm like what, so I stand there for a while with my thumb up my ass wondering if I have driven out here for nothing. I'm watching all these people filter in past me. After a few minutes of me standing around feeling dumb, this really tall dude in a black suit, sunglasses, and a red Trump hat comes over and asks me a few questions:
"Are you a Trump supporter?"
"Sure I am."
"Sure. I mean, I'm really excited to see him speak." A couple of lies and a truth. I was excited to see the whole thing. The secret service guy gives me the once over and then says, "sure, go on in." After that we exchanged pleasantries for the rest of the event. He was perfect for the job because he was so tall he could look over the whole crowd and check everything out. He was probably about 6'7" or 6'8" tall. He was really nice.
Anyway, I'm in. Almost immediately I run into Doug LaMalfa, or current Representative, who has already blocked me from his FaceBook page because I was being an asshole about something. He doesn't know this of course. I stand there waiting for him to finish chatting with someone else and then I extend my hand, "Mr. LaMalfa, pleased to meet you." And we shake hands and I introduce myself and he sees my shirt and says "Pabst Blue Ribbon, I bet speaker of the house Paul Ryan would like that shirt, I think they're from Wisconsin." That doesn't sound right to me, but I'm like "yeah, I think they've been sold a time or two since then." I wanted to say something about how I think now maybe they're owned by a Russian company and globalism and LaMalfa's like "yeah, whatever." But he was cordial. All these politicians are smooth talkers.
So now I'm past LaMalfa and just figuring out what's going on.
I laugh as I realize the booming PA system is cranking REM's "It's the end of the world as we know it..." There's a podium set up and a couple of water stations and some shade, porta-potties, and a whole stage right in the middle of the spectating area reserved for the press. Press people are milling around, taking photos, talking to people. I met a photographer for the New York Times. He was really generous with his time and gave me a run-down on the whole affair - he'd been following Trump on this particular leg of the campaign tour. “He'll usually speak for about an hour,” the photographer informs me. “But he might cut it short today because it's so hot.”
I ran into Gregory Cheadle – he's a candidate for the California 1st District Congressional seat. His simple campaign signs feature the silhouette of the famous DaVinci sculpture called "The Thinker," and below that it the one-word slogan: "THINK." I always assumed he'd be kind of a stern guy but it turns out he's really warm. I was like "hey Mr. Cheadle, it's an honor to meet you," because I'm adept at glad-handing and he responded: "Call me Gregory, I don't do all these 'misters.'" Then he laughed and clapped me on the shoulder and I really liked that interaction. I'm telling you, these pols know how to work people.
[note: I had left the rally before the “there's my African-American” comment that the national media has siezed on. According to the Redding Searchlight it was Cheadle to whom that comment from Trump was directed.]
I recognized Summer Schapelle in the audience and fan-boyed on her a little bit - she is a terrific singer from Redding who was featured on the last season of "The Voice." Man, the who's who of Redding were in attendance for Mr. Trump.
There was a plane on the tarmac but it was kind of run-down looking. I asked my friend the secret service guy if that was Trump's plane and he answered "No, his plane says "TRUMP" on it" and I was like "duh," but I didn't say that out loud. "That's the press plane," he explained. Aha.
I spoke with a couple of reporters from a publication out of Paris. I won't mention the name because this next part might be kind of libelous, or slander? I'm not sure which. Anyway, I'm talking to a reporter and a photographer and the photographer says "it's hot." And I answer "yeah." It is about 104 degrees, which really for June in Redding is no big deal. It can get as high as 115. The photographer is sweating like a pig, obviously not used to this kind of weather. Then the reporter says to me "are you a Trump supporter" and I say, "no, not really. I'm more of a politics junkie." Then jokingly I say "I'll pretend I am if you want me to." And he goes: "Really?" I'm a little flabbergasted at this point, because yeah, sure I used to make up sources when I wrote articles for my high-school newspaper, but this is a guy from a real paper. He told me they were looking for a whole family of Trump supporters. I ended up saying "well, you'll probably find one here." I sort of wish I'd faked the interview for them, because it would be really funny to find the article and then tell people "that was me! That was all me!" But they'd probably think I was lying anyway. I swear that anecdote is true.
I had a lot of time to walk around and talk to people. I talked to a friendly man for awhile about our shared enjoyment of the author Michael Connelly, and a few others. Neither of us like Patterson. Too schmarmy. I can tell I am not the only non-Trump supporter here, I feel like I am sharing conspiratorial winks here and there, but nobody is here to cause trouble. This is Redding after all, as someone says "Trump Country." It turns out to have been a very safe place to go and take in this phenomenon. There are some hard looking dudes though - I see a lot of veterans, some genuine hill-folk, and a fair share of muscle-men sporting prison tattoos. These people look like if there was some trouble, they wouldn't mind jumping into it. But there isn't, this is a tame crowd. The atmosphere is mostly jovial, excited, under control. Aside from that the heat keeps everyone either crowding under the shade tents or gasping for breath.
"You Shook me all Night Long" blasts through the PA system.
People had absolutely tremendous t-shirts on. I so wish I'd brought my camera just for that, but I blazed out without even thinking about it. Here's a list of the ones I can remember:
Chairman Oba-Mao (with a picture of a smiling Obama in a Chairman Mao style hat)
GUNS AND MOSES (Guns and Roses, get it, huh? Huh?)
Hillary for Prison 2016 - which was funny because it looked exactly like a Hillary for President shirt and so people kept asking this guy if he was a Hillary supporter when in fact he was one of the more kooky, hate-filled human beings at the rally. I heard him sputtering something about "pedophile and serial rapist..." as I slowly edged away from him.
A really tall, big dude was wearing a shirt that read: "THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE TAXPAYERS." I got a terrific laugh out of that one.
There were a ton of Jefferson shirts, and a lot of basic "Trump for President" shirts.
But I think my favorite shirt of the evening featured a kind of a stylized picture of Trump's head and a caption reading:
(her's was better than this, but it was the closest I could find)
I would think that shirt would be insulting to Trump but the woman wearing it seemed to be a full on Trump supporter.
Later on I struck up a conversation with a couple of reporters from "InfoWars." One dude looked super hard. I wouldn't want to fuck with him. I was like "oh, infowars, I like that site!" Which was kind of a lie.
There was only really one agitator there, this one guy who frankly I think is kind of giving Sanders' supporters a bad name. He came in a Sanders' shirt, which was no big deal, no one I saw really cared. But he was acting sketchy, prancing around, getting in people's faces, then filming it the whole time.
Most of the people there were just laughing or bored with him, a few people reacted, but there was nothing physical. I tried to talk to the guy for a second but he was really weird, he wouldn't talk. It seemed evident to me he came with the intention of creating a scene so he could exploit it. My friend the secret service guy talked to him a bunch of times, I was right next to them as it happened. The secret service guy was assuring the Sanders shirt dude that "you're welcome to stay, but you can't be making other people uncomfortable."
Well as you and I could probably guess the guy kept pushing it until the security guards and the secret service really had no choice but to escort him out to the parking lot. At that point he turned on his camera and filmed himself, pointed it at the cops and the secret service, and basically created a scene that was way out of proportion to what had really transpired. A few people yelled at him on the way out, but it was pretty half-hearted.
I'm a little saddened to see that he has since posted a video of the episode, completely mis-characterizing how he acted and how he was treated - claiming he was kicked out solely because he was wearing a Sanders shirt. From my point of view that was not at all how it went down. Guy clearly came with an agenda.
Funny thing to me though, if you're going to agitate, at least have the self-control to wait until the candidate actually shows up. Trump was still an hour away when they escorted the guy out to the parking lot.
A local representative comes out at about quarter til and gives an invocation. I bow my head and sort of marvel at the surrealism of it all - thank you whatever weird lord thing coincidence or scientific serendipity put me here on this planet at this time to witness this bizarre marvel of human interaction. What the fucking fuck am I doing here?
A few minutes later someone leads us through the Pledge of Allegiance - right hand or left? Right, right? Fuck, elementary school indoctrination don't fail me now. I whiff on "indivisible" but I don't think anyone notices.
Anyway, now we're getting close to the big show. People are getting excited - it's 1:00 o'clock, still no Donald. Up until now the music had been mostly classic rock - AC/DC, Stones, Neil Young. Suddenly it changes to a huge, booming symphony of horns and drums. I don't know what it is, but Wagner-esque - though that would be too on the nose! 1:10, a gleam on the horizon, here comes the Donald! His Boeing 757 even looks golden in the early afternoon light.
The plane comes in low as if making to land, 50 feet off the ground, and then re-ascends, off into the sky! It makes a giant circle as it flies around the airport, around the city. For a moment it flies before Mount Shasta, ghostly in the distance, then it flies above the massive American flag in the parking lot. It probably takes 10 minutes for the plane to make the circle and then it is coming in for landing again. Everyone is awestruck, myself included. A fellow rally-goer leans over to me and exclaims: “That's what you do when you're a billionaire!” The PA is still blasting that crazy symphony music, on repeat, looped. I mean, it is a spectacle, this is big. Say what you will about Donald Trump but that motherfucker knows how to make a goddamn entrance!
The second time around I feel like the plane is going to do another fake-out on us, maybe they won't even land, but it does! People are going apoplectic. People are jumping up and down, young women are shedding tears of ecstasy! I have to admit a tear welled up in the corner of my eye - not because of Trump, but just that fucking majesty of the spectacle! It was huge! It was crazy! It was so much larger than life it was hard to even fathom. The music is still blaring as the plane slowly turns and makes it's way back towards the podium. It stops, someone is wheeling the stairwell towards the door.
The door opens! There's a white haired man there - the Donald? Of course not, Trump doesn't open the door of his own plane. The man signals for the people maneuvering the staircase to bring it closer, then it is connected. An entourage of men in suits descends and the people are going bananas! I'm laughing at this point, the whole thing is so fucking over the top!
Six guys cruise out, then seven, eight, looking rich, well fed, well bred, groomed, immaculate manifestations of wealth and power.
Then finally the Donald!
Moving a little slower than the rest, looking a little heavier, but so eminently recognizable, donning his newest ball-cap, this one a gift from the NRA in recognition of their recent endorsement.
The speech, I dunno, it gets a little anti-climactic at this point. He does the prerequisite "Redding! We love Redding!" bullshit. I appreciate the fact that Donald speaks extemporaneously - this is not your classic scripted, practiced stump speech. He is definitely talking off the cuff, and that's refreshing. He starts out with a statistic from a job report that came out yesterday and segues from there. The problem with a totally off the cuff speech though is that it's also sort of non-cohesive. He isn't really explaining policy but more or less bouncing from one hot button issue to the next. But the crowd eats it up. At some point he pisses me off because he keeps referring to the Warriors as "San Francisco's basketball team." He says it twice and after the second time I shout "OAKLAND!" to which the audience looks around as if someone is speaking in a foreign language but no one seems to pin-point me precisely. Donald doesn't seem to hear me at all, which is probably okay.
He does get a few good zingers in there, ridiculing Hillary for her tele-prompted speech - he repeatedly calls her weak and soft. He sort of gives props to Bernie "We love Bernie, what a mess he's got going there." At one point he gets into Hillary's e-mail stuff and then manages to wrap Huma Abedin, Hillary's right-hand woman, and her husband Anthony Wiener into the mix.
"I wouldn't want to get any tweets from Anthony Wiener," Trump states. "Would you?" The crowd erupts. I'm laughing. The guy is fucking funny. He definitely knows how to work a crowd.
I come to think about it after this speech, which was really just a ramble, and I think part of Trump's attraction lies in the fact that he is sort of like those ink blot tests - you see what you want to see. He shifts his positions so fluidly and consistently he is bound to say something you want to hear. He said a couple of things that I totally agree with - he said we should negotiate with North Korea. "Why not?" He asks, then adds: "I wouldn't go over there!" But then he goes on: "Maybe nothing good comes out of it, maybe something good comes out of it." Then in classic Donald fashion "I'm pretty sure something good would come out of it."
He makes some common sense arguments: "Vladimir Putin says I'm a genius and would be a great leader. And the critics tell me I should disavow those statements. Really? He's saying I'm a genius and I'm supposed to disavow that?" I'm laughing as I write this.
But he also says some things that send shivers down my spine: "I don't want Japan to have nuclear weapons, I want Japan to pay us the money that it costs us to defend them." He says the same of South Korea, the Ukraine... it sounds like he's angling the U.S. to enter into some sort of worldwide protection racket. (Then again, maybe we already are. I should talk to the infowars guys about this.)
He touches on the notorious wall, but he knows this is California, so he doesn't dwell on it. "We'll build that wall, don't worry about it," he says dismissively before moving onto the next topic. There are several spontaneous chants of "USA! USA!" The true believers have smiles on their faces stretching from ear to ear. I'm smiling from ear to ear too, but not for the same reasons.
I do sort of zone out at some point. The heat and the crowd and the general bombast of the afternoon have worn me down. Also I'm supposed to tutor at 5:00, which means I have to get back to Los Molinos, shower, change, then head back up to Red Bluff for the afternoon session. I decide to beat it to the door before he finishes his "speech" and beat the traffic. As I leave I hear him ranting about China and Obama, saying he wishes America could do the kinds of things China does. That gives me pause.
Then I am out, there are hundreds of people outside - the rally filled up. I hear disgruntled voices as I leave, they aren't letting anyone else in. "This is bullshit" someone opines. Bingo!
It takes me a little while to find my truck and then it takes me a little while to figure out how to get out of the damned dead-grass parking lot. But I'm off the lot by 2:15 and heading down I-5 and letting the old 2-70 air conditioner kick in. Home a little after three, call my client, she asks me: "Can we wait until Monday?" Sweet salvation - liquor store, beer, wine. Olympia is on sale for $6.99 a 12-pack. I'm a tall can of Mickey's and three Oly's in as I write this last sentence.
[final note - after spellchecking and Face-booking this I am now a Mickey's tall-can and 4 Oly's in, and feeling pretty good.]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

State of Double Happiness

It’s been just about one full year since Trish and I (with the help of an amazingly generous group of friends) packed up our lives’ accumulated goods and moved up the road from the bustling city of Chico, to the quieter rumblings of small town Los Molinos. The year has seen its share of trials and tribulations, with the good times far outweighing tragedy.

We had the “big burn” in March, along with a keg of Guinness beer. That event went well for the most part; but, in spite of best efforts to evacuate animals living in the pile of tree trunks, a handful of native bluebelly lizards may have been burned. This caused distress within the animal rights community.

Several smaller burns throughout the year helped both to clear vegetation, and release pent up spiritual energy.

We were the victims of our own poor planning when it came to the garlic and potato plots. We planted in the late winter and failed to take into account the shade that would result from the oak trees leafing out. The crops did not produce, and we have since relocated the garlic patch. We have yet to plant more potatoes.

There were several minor plumbing disasters that resulted in an outrageous amount of cursing. We anticipate similar problems going forward.

It would be difficult to count the number of trees that have been planted since our arrival. In a landscape that was comprised only of the one hundred or so, magnificent, mature oaks on the lot, there is now an array of trees: deciduous shade trees, evergreens, fruit trees, ornamentals. Add to this an equal number of shrubs and a plethora of bulbs, and we are on our way to reconstructing the Garden of Eden here in our little portion of the North State.

Easy-E - a 1953 "NAA" (N - Double-A)
A 1953 Ford Jubilee tractor was purchased in the summer, and promptly named “Easy-E.” (The official tractor model is “NAA” or “N double-A.”) A disc harrow was purchased in the fall. We are still in the market for a rotary mower.

A number of structures were erected on the property, and one particularly large and ugly structure, a half-barn, was demolished. A shade arbor, metal shop, and brick barbecue were built, and the construction of a small greenhouse is currently in progress and slated for completion early next month.

Aspirin consumption went way up since the move – and not (primarily) to assuage hangovers. A variety of muscles were strained and pulled in the process of digging holes, tearing out blackberry vines, and lifting heavy objects. In addition there was the infamous “barbed wire through the nose” incident that, fortunately, resulted in no permanent damage or complication.

We also picked up a new family member in the form of a chocolate Labrador named “Kiki.” Bill the black Labrador was not initially thrilled, Kiki’s nose has the scars to prove it, but their relationship has since mellowed.

Going forward, we now have a better overall understanding of the property – where the sun falls, and where the water flows. We anticipate growing a larger amount of crops to be sold and donated.

Mainly we plan to continue to create beauty and spread happiness.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More "Natural News" Ridiculousness...

I'm going to have to comment on this article. When I read it, it made me wonder if Natural News is the "alternative health" counterpart to the cultural eviscerations of the "Onion."

The title of the article is:

Study Proves 95% of People Really Are Sheeple...

And it just goes downhill from there. The article sites a limited study in which non-verbally communicative people organized themselves into herds, essentially. In the study, a larger group of people was willing to be lead by a small minority.

That's the study in a nutshell.

Here's the source:

From those facts, the author of the Natural News Article goes on to theorize that this tendency towards herding would lead to our susceptibility to being lead by political leaders, and to being taken in by con-men; to falling for political cover-ups, to falling for phony conspiracy theories. This paragraph has got to be the height of irony:

"Scary. Are we such sheeple that we allow a few "informed" people to lead us around without even knowing what's happening? Sadly, it makes sense. How many fall for scams of all kinds because of friends or "informed" sources, from pyramid schemes to religious hoaxes and political coverups. We seem to believe just about anything, or blindly tolerate it as long as the message is delivered with enough social credibility."

You've got to know a little bit about Natural News to understand the irony - this site consistently peddles fear to its audience. Articles routinely propose the idea that the government will be rounding up American citizens, illegally detaining us, forcibly vaccinating us with mind controlling agents, etc. The agenda is not even subtle.

I think what you have to do here, to see where the article is so far off base, is... you have to try and clear your mind. Then read the study first, the article's source. After you've read the study, go back and read the article, and see if the conclusions the author draws, from the limited parameters of the study, are the same as the conclusions you might draw.

Anyway - I'll expand on this later. I think it's pretty obvious that I have some serious doubts regarding the Natural News author's conclusions. Aside from that, the title certainly suggests that the article is being marketed to a relatively select audience.

Seriously, this article leaves me thinking: if there are sheeple, they are the ones buying into this story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Smoke and Fog

Moon at night, falling around the Earth

I've spent the better part of the evening worrying a chancre sore with my tongue. It's on the lower right side of my mouth; inside, on the gums. The sore feels huge, but I don't think it's really as big as my tongue thinks it is. Tongue feels huge. My whole head feels big.

There is often a low-hanging mist in the air when you drive into the small town of Los Molinos. We like to play the guessing game: “Smoke, or fog?” Lately it's been mostly smoke. I wouldn't take a bet on fog for less than five to one odds, and even then I think it would be a giveaway.

Starting to get a glimpse of some of the movements swirling around. We got into a strong current of dissatisfaction and demonstration, and that seems to be disseminating towards debate and strategy. “Strategy” is probably too conscious of a word to describe it – the thing is more fluid than the word strategy evokes. It is sometimes painfully confusing.

Sign of the Times

Word on the street has it that Representative Wally Herger is retiring from Congress, after something like a quarter of a century of service. I've written to Herger on occasion, and always received a prompt and polite response. They typically include the phrase: “and even though we may not see eye to eye on many of today's important issues...” somewhere in the closing paragraph.  I appreciate the effort anyway, and the stationary is very nice – thick, quality paper.
Representative Wally Herger has announced his plan to retire from Congress

I'd read that as a sign – the old way moving on. Even though another old-way advocate will likely take his place, it's still a dramatic shift. It's something worth paying attention to. Old people in new roles might be more receptive to change. But I am afraid sometimes that these guys play the same game. They've become entrenched. One begets the other begets the other. Even when one side takes power from the other, the arguments still stay the same. You could have followed the same thought processes in 1970, or 1930. Are we moving forward at all?

Dance for Rain

There's very little moisture in the soil and less in the air. Even though the plants and trees are mostly bare and dormant, they still need weekly watering. Water is what we need right now, in any form: snow, rain, sleet, fog, hail, drizzle, slush; we need it to knock some of this smoke out of the air.

Phenakistoscope - Waltzing Dancers
 click image to view animation.

The Quiet Revolution

You know I think, I hope, I pray that we can do this thing, that we can make this transition here with a minimal amount of violence. Violence, some people say it's necessary, but I don't know about that. That seems to be a circular way of thinking. It's a logical loop; someone is committing violence against you, you strike back at them. But it's endless, and hopeless. Violence always begets more violence, until someone decides to walk away... Can you really walk away?

I think you have to.