Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thank You, HP, for Totally Ruining My Month

It was this or a rendering of the Spanish Inquisition. HP has be raped and strapped to the rack and is holding me hostage. I either have to wait for them to deliver the replacement for their faulty desktop or wait for them to give me a refund (5 to 10 days to process). The first way I don't get a computer before the 30th of December. And the latter way I don't get the money to buy a new computer before it is too late to get one before the end of the year from another computer company.

HP management is very fond of the word escalate, which too me brings to mind wars and hostility. And yes I am hostile now because I seem to be the only one escalating. They seem to move on at their funeral dirge pace. So I went to Wiktionary and looked up the word. Please note that definition one is my understanding.

to escalate (third-person singular simple present escalates, present participle escalating, simple past and past participle escalated) (transitive and intransitive)
  1. to increase (something) in extent or intensity; to intensify or step up
    Violence escalated during the election.
    The shooting escalated the existing hostility.

  2. in technical support, to transfer a telephone caller to the next higher level of authority
    The tech 1 escalated the caller to a tech 2

 HP has definitely escalated the hostility I feel for them at this point. They have been playing with my $800 without payment of interest. All other on line companies do not take the money from your account until they ship. So technically HP ought to have credited me the money back when I returned the non-working computer and then not taken it back out until they shipped the new (hopefully working) computer. But no. They gave me a $70 credit for my time fighting with their faulty computer this call but that does not get put into my account until 5 to 10 days after they ship my new computer (hopefully a working HP Pavilion).

Nothing seems to escalate the pace at which HP is handling their problem. And make no mistake it is their problem. They built and shipped a faulty computer. May I, HP Management, suggest another word - Expedite. Once you escalated my problem (which is fact your problem) you should have expedited my claim of faulty manufacturing and expedited the shipment of a replacement to me.

to expedite (third-person singular simple present expedites, present participle expediting, simple past and past participle expedited)
  1. (transitive) To accelerate the progress of.
    He expedited the search by alphabetizing the papers.

  2. (transitive) To perform (a task) fast and efficiently.

Your people do not perform fast and efficiently. I will be without a computer for 24 days longer than necessary. A company computer that should be updatng my website during the holiday season, that is needed for preparation of end of the year paperwork and tax documents, that should be available for photo editing to prepare submissions to spring and summer fairs (my bread and butter). But not only do I not have a working computer capable of such tasks but you won't ship it till the 28th of December.

In point of fact you are also making it impossible for me to get a refund and order another brand of computer in any faster time frame. You have ruined December and are well on your way to ruining half of the new year, because your build of a grossly inferior product has put me 30 days behind at the least.

Don't expect me to ever purchase another HP. You have escalated this issue to total hostilities as far as I am concerned.

PS - I used to work for corporate American and I know how the game is played. What I totally understand as a small business owner is that it is not a game from our point of view. And even if you think you have won all these little escalations you have ultimately lost the battle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why, HP, Must I Be Punished

I all fairness let me first say I am not really neutral on computers right not. I have been dealing for over a month with a three year old HP desktop computer that a local nerd, in the business to save computers, killed after losing 3 years of data.

Yes, I backed up, but to an external hard drive that failed. So I was forced to go shopping for a computer when I did not have the time nor the money. Nor quite frankly was I feeling warm and fuzzy about the boxes or the people that worked on them. But computer shopping I had to do. I am a small business and while I have a laptop for play I need the desktop for lots of year end business stuff and beginning of the new year submissions of art for fairs throughout 2011.

HP had a cyber Monday sale that extended through the following Tuesday and I found a computer, that while not the one of my dreams, met my minimum requirements, fit my budget and would be delivered within a week. The HP Pavilion arrived on December 6th and I unpacked and plugged it in. Suffice it to say I am not a novice at this, but the HP computer with Windows 7 would not boot up so I called tech support and was shocked to find that in spite of all promises to move their tech support back to the United States they are in Manila.

After 2 1/2 hours of trying to become belatedly bilingual I threw in the towel. The HP desktop would not even complete a short smart disk check and would not even begin a long one. I asked to speak to a supervisor. NOW. That took about 10 minutes of waiting. The supervisor, after getting my summation of the problem, wanted to refer the matter to a case manager (they are in the US) so they could get approval to repair my brand new, non-functioning HP computer.

Up to this point (well, accept for the NOW demand) I had been rather nice in spite of carpel tunnel from hitting F8, F9, F10, and F11 keys while rebooting. But repairing the HP Pavilion was not my problem. I bought and paid for a working computer not a repaired computer. They played broken record that they could not okay this. I played broken record that the only acceptable solution was a brand new working computer or a full and immediate refund. The Case Manager would call me back before 48 hours. I could only think of all the files that had to be rebuilt before the end of the year for my small business. Tick Tock.

Twenty-four hours, and two case report reference numbers, later I was called by a case manager. And like being in a doctor's office I had to again repeat all the symptoms of my still born HP Pavilion. I think they had the file in front of them and were looking for any discrepancies so they could negate my claim. Ok, I was getting paranoid. They did approve a new computer which they told me would be $35 more expensive. "Oh, no you don't," I said in a voice that made all the fur kids run and hide, "You eat that." We compromised on $5.35. Let them win the little issues.

I packed up the HP computer in its original box, printed out the approved pre-paid return label and dropped it off at the designated Fedex pick up spot. HP got it the next morning. Time was of the essence because I was informed they would not build my new replacement computer until the non-working HP was returned even though they have kept my money. I was pleased this morning to see they had processed my order. Build Date: December 28th! Maybe.

So I have two questions, HP. One, is why am I being punished for your errors on this Pavilion Desktop? And two, given that I would go pencil and paper before I went Dell, which computer company do I go to when I want to replace my HP Pavilion Laptop? Currently you are out of the running.

Customers used to be right. Now we have to prove we are not guilty and we are still punished via time and money for our mistakes. This mistake, HP, could cost me way through next June because of the fairs and exhibits I cannot apply for because through no fault of my own my old HP failed and my purchase new HP was trash. And your response to a small business owner that used your products has been hostile and frustrating.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Evidence That I am Strange

WARNING: This blog is not politically correct. I will probably be accused of defaming a national holiday.

Mother used to stare at me from time to time and then pronounce that I was a strange child. Her early decision has been seconded by others. And today, on this eve of Thanksgiving, I am going to just supply more evidence that I am strange. In fact, I take a rather perverse pride in it.

Case in point: I am not fond of roasted turkey. Oh, I love the dressing - well, most dressings. Some families just have really strange tastes in dressings.  I don't like stuffed celery or jello salad and I get barfy just looking at candied sweet potatoes. Why would someone want to ruin a perfectly good food item that way? And I will eat only about an obligitory spoonful of the tradition French cut green beans with slice almonds and canned mushroom soup (see previous statement about ruining sweet potatoes).

I was an adult before, out of courtesy only, I would have a thin slice of pumpkin pie. Not my favorite. Mom always did two pies for this All American stuffout and I preferred the pecan. Really preferred the pecan. Mom made a superb pecan pie. I soon found out this is not true for all people that attempt this delicacy. For self-defense I have learned to cook a nut topped pumpkin tart (made from fresh pumpkin and not canned) to take to all invitations to Thanksgiving dinner.

All that said I love this holiday on one major level - all the men are out of the way in front of the bowl games, and all the women are in the kitchen cooking, sampling, and dishing the dirt. The TV is on loud enough they cannot hear the peals of laughter. If the men knew what we were up to (beyond cooking) they would never let us alone! Even clean up is fun. Men are back in front of the TV (awake or snoring) and us women are washing dishes while telling horridly funny tales of Thanksgivings past spiced with a few instant replays of the feast just over.

Tomorrow's Thankgiving is all women, and we are mostly thankful we have survived this year thus far. We have relationships that go back 20 years or more. I have known my sister all her life, and Dianne since 1972 and the incident of the burnt lentils. Not a single football game will be watched though Macy's Thanksgiving Parade will be on for the random tea break while cooking and catching up goes on in the kitchen.

I am not sure historically what the men did on that first pioneer thanksgiving. Probably pitched horseshoes in the barn, but I am willing to bet the women did about the same thing we will be doing minus the temperature controlled oven and the microwave. I am taking along all the fixings for that pumpkin tart I mentioned. And I have been assured the sweet potatoes will be baked as they should be.

May your Thanksgiving meal include all your favorites and that Aunt Alice leaves home the cool whip and jello fruit salad with the miniature marshmallows.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Need Change

No this blog is not about you choice between Republican or Democratic candidates. This blog is about how we allow politicians to campaign. Three years ago I turned off television service in part due to political ads. Haven't missed it a minute. And more and people are disconnecting from their satellite and cable services for any number of reasons ergo politicians are looking for other ways to get your attention: calls on your cell phone so you have to pay for the minutes, calls on your land line if you still have one, fliers, junk mail, e-mail spamming, and billboards and yard signs.

The "off-year" elections have to be the absolute worse for yard signs and junk mail. I appreciate the political contribution of junk mail to my stack of paper for lighting fires since you vetoed my SS increase again this year and the local electrical coop is again raising my rates. Just a tip: I hardly ever bother to open it except to make it burn faster.

Every state has rules about the placement of yard signs but as far as I have noticed they are never followed. One of the rules in my state is they have to be taken down within 48 hours of the election. Like that ever happens. And they are suppose to have the property owner's permission. I know that doesn't happen. I say we just ban them. The candidates can spend their money on holding town meetings and explaining their views if they have any.

But I think it is past time to do away with the 2-year term for congress. I worked for a United States Senator and it is virtually impossible to get up to speed on all the issues within the first two years. What representatives do the minute they take office is begin running for the next term and collecting money to pay of the yard sign bill so they can start ordering more.

Let's change their term to 4 years and elect them on off years from the president. And limit their consecutive terms of office to just two for a total of eight years. If they want to hit the ground running their first term they should maintain 50% of the previous representative's staff for at least the first two years. Believe me it is the staff members that are up on all the procedures and legislation. The only thing the newly elected representative knows is how to get elected.

We are wasting entirely too much time and money on this election stuff and not spending enough of our resources or attention on solving the problems of this nation or world. And that, my friends, goes for both parties!

Oh, and voters - don't select who you vote for based on name recognition. Know their campaign promises. And if you don't know that candidate then don't cast a vote for or against. You can leave blanks on your ballot. Make an informed choice. Not a choice based on that yard sign

Monday, October 11, 2010

I think I am in Love!!!

LED Light Bulbs
I am getting ready for winter and part of that is replacing outside light bulbs. Some years back I had bought the propaganda about the energy efficient florescent bulbs and replaced my incandescent bulbs as they went out. I have been less than happy with the results. They are dim, do not dim with a rheostat, do not get to full brightness before I turn them off, and outside in cold weather are just impossible to see by. And in a motion detector fixture they are impossible. I am frequently out of my car and in my house before the lights on the walkway get above a very faint glow.

And one of the big controversies over replacing our light bulbs with fluorescent "eco" bulbs, is those bulbs aren't really very eco friendly. Sure they save on energy in a fixture where you turn it on and leave it on for an extended period, but they also contain mercury, and dropping the bulb or improper discarding of the bulb is an environmental hazard. Besides they take twice the materials to make and are dangerous on stairways and entries where they often are not on long enough to come to full power before the owner stumbles down the stairs.

So today I was in the hardware store looking to stock up on light bulbs - the incandescent ones - since I had used all my stock up replacing florescent bulbs and I keep hearing this rumor they are going to outlaw light! I was standing before the huge array of light bulbs trying to remember all my light fixtures inside and out so I would get enough and of the right variety when a clerk asked if he could help. I explained I was looking for LIGHT bulbs and that did not include those horrid florescent ones. And he informed me that he hears that a lot these days.

This was in Taos where the trust fund babies are definitely eco-terrorist connected. I had almost whispered I wanted the OTHER bulbs. He pointed me to the LED bulbs. I know LED. They first made an appearance in little things like book lamps that clip on your book cover, or personal headlights for crawling in attics, or solar fixtures, etc.

But LED's have gone big time and come in all shapes and sizes and to fit all fixtures. Top watts seems to be about 1.5 as compared to the 75 watts for an incandescent. And they last 9 and 10 times as long. I am test driving two for that dark walkway from the driveway with the motion sensor, and if I am happy it is off to get some more. Meanwhile I am collecting the florescent bulbs in a bag to take to the transfer station with a note that some of them still work within the parameters they were designed for which isn't light.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jet Noise: The sound of freedom?

Low flying military plane over Wales
In April North Wales farmers called for a ban on low flying RAF military aircraft because of damage to livestock. The RAF route was also used by the United States as well as other countries. Now the United States Air Force is seeking to fly low over our mountains here in New Mexico claiming there will be no damage. Been there and done that. They have tried this before. Before they invaded Iraq the second time. Who are they planning on invading this time? Iran? North Korea?

Low flyovers means 500 AGL. That is 500 feet above ground level. And the ground level in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, like in North Wales, changes rapidly and drastically. That is rather the point. They want to train pilots of C130 and CV-22 Ospreys to fly such variable terrain. I have flown in a C130. That lumbering troop and cargo carrying aircraft does not change directions rapidly, let alone pull out quickly. And the Wales route was approved for one set of air craft and opened to others - and other nations as well. Besides what happened to simulators. People don't die when a pilot makes an error in a simulator.

The routes the Air Force proposed for these "training" missions before included the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, the Val Vidal Wilderness and Wildlife refuge (you cannot even hike in that area some months), the tops of chair lifts at Angel Fire, Taos and Red River Ski areas. Also effected were the migratory flyways of the Canadian Snow Goose, the Sandhill crane, and the endangered Whooping Crane. Our area has become a refuge of Red Tailed Hawks, Golden and Bald Eagles and Great Horned owls which are threatened in other areas.

And tourists. Let's not forget their migratory patterns. They would definitely be endangered. The mountain communities of Angel Fire, Taos, Red River, Raton, and Las Vegas, New Mexico plus Trinidad, Pagosa Springs and Crede, Colorado depend on tourists for revenue. They flock to the mountains for bird watching, fly fishing, golfing, hiking, hunting, skiing, horseback riding, and just plain old peace and quiet. All would suffer from noisy aircraft flying low.

In addition to tourists we have ranchers with cattle and buffalo. And large herds of antelope, Big Horn Sheep, mountain goats, deer and elk. And humans. As an Air Force officer's brat I have lived on bases and at the end of runways. When in the third grade near Ft. Briggs in El Paso, Texas the subject on the playground all too frequently was another crashed jet, another lost parent. One jet crashed just a half mile from our house. We biked to a hill to overlook the crash site. The pilot did not eject because he was trying to guide the malfunctioning plane away from our school.

You can have choices sometimes in flat open land but not when a mountain suddenly appears in a cloud.
One of Larson's Best

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Students of Comparative Religions?

Mother always said a lady should never discuss politics, sex or religion especially if she wanted to keep her friends. My father on the other hand informed me that I should study all about these subjects before making an arbitrary decision.

And so at a very young age I became a student of politics and religion. Sex didn't interest me until far later. And I admit to putting of the major decisions on all three for longer than my classmates. Being a student of sociology and anthropology in college certainly added fodder to my comparative religions studies.

So when recently a friend declared that the Serenity Prayer was the words of God I quickly informed her it was written in the 1940's and appears no where in any religious tome of which I was aware. Since, I was by her definition a pagan, I was of course wrong. I have been declared wrong before like at lunch with some very religious friends that were talking of the miracles of the gospels. Actually only one miracle is common to all four of those that appear in the Bible. I have always maintained that the most "religious" of my friends are the least informed about their own religion let alone those the declare wrong. Now a study proves that: A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

I probably learned more about religion in my study of religious art and icons than most members of a religious sect learn in church. They get the watered down chapter and verse view without the overall picture of the context of that verse. And in most cases they take the opinion of their religious leaders. They do not think for themselves.

Ever play gossip as a child? As the "Word" gets whispered around the circle the mean changes until everyone breaks out in giggles when it is revealed what the original message was. Well, gossip has been going on in religions for thousands of years. And to that has been added translations from one language to another, and the edicts of religious leaders to include what they want in the various tomes. For instance in the King James version of the Bible only four out of 104 gnostic gospels are included. And most Christians think that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were four of the disciples.

Now these "students of their religion" and are telling us what the Constitution of the United States says or what is written in the Koran. I doubt they have read all of either of those documents or all of the Bible. Heaven help us if a man from some pulpit makes it to the oval office of the White House.

So do you know which of the miracles of Jesus appears in all four included gospels?

Friday, September 3, 2010

News Recess - same o', same o'

I have not been checking up on the news in the last month. Too much reality going on in my own life. It was the explosion of yet another oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that drew me into the slush pile of news.

Earl seems to be much ado about nothing. Huge storm but it seems to be staying away from the Eastern Seaboard thankfully. Course it doesn't take much to make it turn and head inland. Better safe than sorry.

And there was a sniper and another hostage situation, and a suspicious package in the Miami Airport. I had a suspicious package once. At the Toronto airport. I had purchased and had gift wrapped a hand crafted jack-in-the-box for a dear friend. The x-ray machines did not all the mechanics and springs and cogs. It had to be unwrapped and put into baggage. Like the airplane is safer with a bomb below the seats instead of in the cabin? Almost a decade later I boarded a domestic flight with the spare clip of my Walther PPKS in my carry on. Fully loaded clip. The gun itself was in the trunk of my car. Nobody batted an eye.

The latest real news, in my opinion, is sneaking in under the radar - or under the sniper and the hurricane. I think drug companies pick their times to release bad news. Seems the drugs given to women for osteoporosis are now guilty of increasing the chance of esophageal cancer. There was a time that medicines were episodic. Now the drug companies have mined a how population of people that are put on a drug for the remaining days of their lives. Don't change your life style or diet - just take this little pill forever. If on no other level this "cure" is very damaging to liver and kidneys that were designed to filter toxins from our bodies.

On another note, Tony Blair is on a book tour and actually saying bad things about his old bud GW. The good news is GW doesn't have a book out. It is all, however, rather depressing. I miss almost a month of world news and nothing seems to have changed. Maybe I will tune back out.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Corporate Profits and Religion

Protesters have been rallying outside Target Corp. or its stores almost daily since the retailer angered gay rights supporters and progressives by giving money to help a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Liberal groups are pushing to make an example of the company, hoping its woes will deter other businesses from putting their corporate funds into elections.

I am not much for protests because I think the protesters run the risk of looking irrational. However, I am crazy about boycotts. I vote with my money essentially. I don't go to Denny's since their racial acts and policies some time back and I cannot see me frequently Target because of its obvious homophobic stance. Still there is an on line retailer I buy from that puts a bible quote in the upper right corner of its on line invoices. I continue to purchase from them even though I have eliminated every business in my neck of the woods that puts a fish on their business card.

Why this dichotomy you might ask? Well, thus far Sierra Trading Post has conducted itself like a good Christian where as local Christian businesses think they get to rape anyone that does not go to their church. So it is not just about who Target gave money too but whether that support of a homophobic politician extends to their treatment of their employees . . . or heaven forbid, their customers. I have a feeling it does.

You can either be in business, religion or politics. Not any combination of the three, to my way of thinking, (though there are a lot of religions that have become businesses) if you you want to avoid controversy, and boycotts and protests. Maybe I should add actors and actresses there (also a business). I don't go to Tom Cruise movies any more because of his announced views on women and his religion.

Mother always said that if you wanted to keep your friends you should not discuss religion or politics. Businesses should want to keep their friends/customers and yet of late with the religious right there have been some major errors. Hobby Lobby began closing on Sundays and I am sure lost a big market share to Michael's as women shop for things to do during Sunday football games. Target is no doubt taking a back step in its battle with Wally world over this. And Tom Cruise is losing out at the box office. If being a green business is smart then being an opinionated business is dumb.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It isn't nice to waste water

Las Vegas, Nevada is rapidly becoming known as the city of fountains here in the United States. I am not quite sure why a resort in the middle of the desert is going so hog wild for these water features. Especially since they are so short of water in Las Vegas that they pay residents to take up grass on their lawns and plant rocks instead.

The town of Las Vegas is negotiating with other areas in northern Nevada and even other states for water rights. Like Phoenix did they want to build canals to bring water to their fountains, and swimming pools, and golf courses and sidewalk misters. Heaven forbid that people visiting the desert should get hot and dry.

The Bellagio and Caesars Forum, two of the big fountain owners, say that the fountains use recycled water and ergo don't waste this precious resource in a town without it. Evaporation they say is negligible. Which brings me to my little fountain inside my studio in the mountains of New Mexico.

It is under two feet high and does not dance like the water at Bellagio. The water cascades over the edge of the upper pot and into the base where it is pumped back up. I have had it running for less than a week and have resupplied the water twice. About a half gallon each time.

Evaporation is not negligible.  I rather think that the mega resorts in Las Vegas hire the same public relations people as BP uses to underplay their oil "spill."

I am sure that Caesars and Bellagio do not pay undocumented workers to carry buckets of water to replenish their fountains. So the question is whether the water pipe is metered for usage. New Mexico is a desert state and all public water usage is metered even on your own well. So come on let's hear the real figures of how much water is wasted in the desert to make it dance for the tourists?

The inquiring public wants to know. Especially those areas that are being harangued by legal officials to sell their water to a city that desperately needs it supposedly. Oh, and while we are on the subject of evaporation let's ask Phoenix how much it loses in its canal from the Colorado River to its 150 golf courses.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Will the gulf floor erupt?

May 24th, 2010 from space

Everyone is celebrating that the Horizon Deep Water well has at last been capped. My friend on the Louisiana coast hoped that everyone cheering did not think the problem was solved. Too much oil was spilled for that. Wiki posted an update with figures just a couple hours ago. The rate of the "leak" equaled the Exxon Valdez every one to two weeks. BP has not dealt with the enormity of that oil eruption from the gulf floor.

But of greater import is to keep in mind this is just a temporary fix. They sort of underplay that in the new don't they? Gulf geyser stops gushing, but will it hold from the Associated Press. But the stuff of nightmares is what they are not saying. BP is good at hushing up what it does not want the world to hear.

The Horizon Deepwater rig which exploded and sunk drilled through 1300 feet of sea floor 5000 feet down. It drilled into what the old oil men used to call a gusher of a pool of oil which may or may not have also included a pocket of explosive gas. Nobody knows what damage was done to the pipe below the sea floor or the exact extent of the pressure being created by the oil that now wants to desperately get out. Is that pressure so great that it ill actually crack the sea floor and release oil in a manner that cannot be contained with a cap?

And since nobody knows the answers to these questions do we have any right endangering life on earth by drilling below the surface of our seas?

This huge ecological disaster is not over. And there are thousands of wells still running the same risks with our fragile ecosystem.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Life in a Southern Border State

This morning's news, if you read through all the BP oil eruption stuff, mentioned the growing turf war among the drug lords in the Nogales area.

Nogales is a border town with part of it in Arizona and part in Mexico. It has been a relatively quiet area of the northern border of Mexico. It is one of those gateways to the south that US snowbirds take to their winter homes on Mexico's Gulf of Baja coast. It is also one of the routes used by drug lords for exporting drugs to the United States. Oh, and the coyotes use the same routes for bringing illegal immigrants to the US.

Running of drugs and illegals is money. And in the currently impoverished northern Mexico states money is something to fight over. And they see the border between our two countries as a small obstacle that has to be breached so they can make money to send home.

Because of the US economy with the construction industry slowed to almost a standstill we are using less migrant workers legal or otherwise. They have no money to send home across the border. Some are going home and some are finding other work in illegal drug trafficking. Mexico drug gangs have set up distribution centers in Albuquerque. They add a whole new twist to gang wars because they come after the innocents - and violently.

A lot of people have said a lot of negative things about the new Arizona law against illegal immigration. They are people that do not live in a border state. They know illegals that have tried to appear as citizens, people that have opened businesses and integrated into the community. These people without documents are different than may of us who live in border states know. They are not the hardworking landscapers and construction workers you can hire in southern months to do the work you could not afford to have done by licensed US contractors.

I think there are many problems with the Arizona law but they had the guts to run it up the flagpole and see who shot at it. It is a cry for help. Something has to be done about our southern border. The states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California bear all the cost and consequence of not doing something. And the situation is creating some strange bedfellows. I found myself agreeing on this issue with my friend that listens to Rush Limbaugh.

Oh, and making them all US Citizens is not the answer any more than Arizona's approach.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

There is a rumor on the net that betting sites are taking bets on the first creatures in the Gulf of Mexico to go extinct. I don't gamble but were I to place a bet it would be on the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.

The Kemp's Ridley, pictured on a south Padre Beach on the Texas coast,  is the rarest of all sea turtles and one of the two living species of Lepidochelys kempii. The other being the olive Ridley sea turtle, the most abundant.

Kemp's is one of the smallest sea turtles and ranges from the north US seashore to Rancho Nuevo in Mexico. It spends much of the year around the Louisiana coast where BP's oil "spill" is wrecking havoc.

Reports are they are being swept up in the drag oil booms used in clean up and set afire. Environmental groups out in the Gulf of Mexico trying to rescue marine life, turtles included are outraged that BP officials are setting fire to the amassed oil before checking for turtles rounded up with the oil. Ergo the outrage on the net that BP is burning sea turtles.

As the oil "spill" (a term used with leak by BP to minimize the effect on the public of this undersea eruption) spreads along the Florida coast more Kemp's turtles will be endangered and also the Florida Manatee which has had other issues before this.

All the oil coated brown Pelicans are making the news because of their visibility. Once on the threatened list they have made a remarkable recovery but who knows where this destruction of their habitat and food sources will lead. I certainly would not be willing to bet on their survival after this disaster. Would you?

So while we talk about this $20 billion fund that the government of the United States has required BP to set up for aid to those people on the gulf whose way of life and incomes are threatened by BP's negligent rush to get oil and ergo profits, what has been provided for the rescue of the creatures that cannot listen to the news? What a loss it will be to future generations if these creatures vanish. Who pays for that.

I love the brown pelican and I thought I would end this rather sad blog with a picture of one like they should be - free of oil.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My New Dream Machine

Almost 14 years ago I bought my first "Harriet Homeowner" tool - my 12 volt DeWalt battery powered drill. Only I was not your average Harriet Homeowner. I worked as a new construction electrician and did my own remodeling of my newly purchased aging home, and added additions.

Yesterday I finally accepted that it is dying. It was a sad moment. Close to losing a fur kid. This drill and I have been through so very much together: I have built a woodshed and privacy fence, screwed down hardibacker on a 2346 SF floor, replaced doors, dropped it from one roof and countless ladders (one of which was with me), drilled holes and screwed on electric boxes for dozens of posh cabins, and used it for numerous home repairs.

I would like to build a deck soon and have been looking at a new DeWalt. The 18v pictured above. If the 12v lasted 14 years what will I get out of this beauty? I am waiting breathlessly for my income tax refund so I can drive to Lowe's and bring it home to reside beside my DeWalt compound 12 inch miter saw. I am a DeWalt person.

And since we are on the subject of products that please me let me briefly mention Wright's bacon. It is BLT season and only Wright's peppered bacon will do. I always struggle with packaging. Like opening it. And bacon can be one of the worst. And lately I have come to loath the trend toward zip lock packaging on lunch meats and sliced cheese. Anyone found on that actually zips locked after the first use? But Wright has come out with a new resealable package that not only reseals, Shock, but opens easily to begin with. Way to go Wright! And so green because you don't have to put it in yet another plastic bag to keep it fresh between BLT's this summer while I am building that deck with my new DeWalt.

Course that gets us into the IRS slow response time on my refund. But I will save that for another day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dealing with Compassion Fatigue

The term compassion fatigue was one I first heard more than a decade ago. It is a term normally used to define a condition of caregivers who struggle to function in care giving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. But it is now seen in those of us trying to affecting positive change in society and seeing little positive movement and coming to the realization that our mission, perceived as so vital, is elusive, if not impossible. This painful reality, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society's flagrant disregard for the safety and well being of the feeble and frail and helpless, takes its toll. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail. And what seems like chronic fatigue and indifference sets in. We shut down, turn out.

How many images can you see of oil-coated pelicans dying on a once pristine beach before you just shut some part of your mind off in an effort to save a modicum of your sanity? This shut off point comes earlier if you are dealing with personal issues that require you to care or even just function. We cannot all sit at our computers or in front of the television and cry over the horror.

Organizations dedicated to aid and rescue like the American Red Cross see it in their workers and provide counseling for them. They also try to rotate them so they don't have to show up for every disaster. And they know the third earthquake will get fewer donations of money than the first.

When did you start shutting down? After the Haiti Earthquake? Or the Chilean Earthquake? Or the one in Tibet? (Somewhere along there news began to more finely filter and we didn't get the whole story.) Or the 11 oil workers that died in the initial Deepwater Horizon explosion? Or the first oil killed pelican? I think they are up to over 300 in Louisiana alone.

They discovered after 9/11 that you can get post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from just watching the World Trade Centers collapse hundreds of times. And you can get compassion fatigue from being bombarded by images of situations you want desperately to change but feel helpless to do so. Both of these can trigger old issues you have not dealt with. Awareness is the first step toward relief.

It is especially important to normalize your life as much as possible with exercise and meditation and getting away from the televised and e-mailed  images for just a bit. And doing something! Even if it is just signing a petition or writing your congressman about reforms in off-shore leases and liability limits. (Yes, Virginia, there are legal limits to what BP's liability in this disaster are.) 

Remember accepting the presence of compassion fatigue is validation of the fact that you are a deeply caring individual. We need more of those in our world today to balance all the uncaring SOB's heading companies.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Moment of Silence for the Earth

While I was totally aware of the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon on April 22, 2010 I have come late to the total scope of this disaster. Perhaps we all have. We were so willing to write it off as just another oil spill. But now it is officially our largest ever.

It is only within the last couple of days as the reality of the volume of the oil spill upon the waters of the Gulf of Mexico has reached the news, despite BP's efforts to minimize coverage of this event, that I am becoming fully aware of the horror of this. It isn't just the pictures of the oil slicked dying birds, or the soiled beaches I have walked upon in better days. It is the screams of the earth as the ecological microcosms of salt marshes and bayous are chocked off from oxygen and life which are such a disturbance in the force for me.

A cycle of birth and renewal begins in the shallow waters and inlets of the delta of Louisiana - or did. There are the things we can name like crayfish and clams and oysters and crabs and shrimp. And the things which are so tiny we are not aware of them - a veritable soup of amoeba and protozoa and micro-organisms which are the basis for a food chain like the tiny krill that feed the huge whales in Antarctica.  Without the marshes the sea dies.

The Gulf of Mexico is the 10th largest body of water on our planet. It comprises 582,000 square miles of sea water and coasts from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Florida Keys. Those that think this is just a few birds which have to be washed with Dawn are fooling themselves. The oil on the surface also decreases the exchange of water vapor between the sea and the atmosphere where clouds build to bring rain. Oil upon the waters disrupts oxygen exchange and because it is dark it effects the reflection of light and the penetration of that light below the surface where phytoplankton live. And given the size of the Gulf of Mexico and the spill which continues it is bound to effect climate and ecology of the area and the world for years into the future. And I am not even taking into effect the black smoke coming from the oil fires BP has set in an attempt to burn it before it reaches shore.

And all because of too many people that want to live life as they have always lived it and oil companies that are willing to cut corners to give us what we don't require - just want - at a price that lines their pockets.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thank you BP

I was in the pristine Colorado Plateau area of Utah when the full extent of this ecological disaster hit. And when the oil rig blew I was into one of my "ignore the bad news" phases. 

Throughout my vacation and the subsequent period after it I only got bits and pieces of this disaster. And BP's inability to cope with it. I think on some level I was on an "oh, here we go again" level. But this is not just another Exxon Valdez oil spill.

This morning I went to a link I found on Facebook and actually looked at what is happening. The oil has it the Louisiana Shores, marshes and bayous.

We can drill for oil in deep water but our oil companies seem totally unprepared for clean up when their ill-thought safety measures fail. They have been going for the big payoffs and record breaking profits hoping the worst never happens. Well, the worst has. Safety measures either did not exist or failed. And how to stop the spill was not thought out fully. Equipment needed to stem the flow was not easily available.

Part of BP's solution for the oil on our waters is to burn it and pollute our skies. Isn't it the emissions from automobiles that have been most harmful to our ozone? And the greatest cause of global warming?

So this plume of black oil smoke is like 400 idling diesel buses in front of the white marble US Capital. Only it is not just darkening the marble (eating it with the acidity in the smoke) but joining the trade winds and changing not just the weather in the gulf but the entire world.

Meanwhile the grasses and marshes and bayous along the coastal areas just recovering from Katrina are being devastated by oil.

We all are familiar with images of oil coated birds. Ecologists have developed techniques for rescuing and washing those hardest hit, but we have never dealt with an oil spill this large or this extensive in its reach due to tides and winds. Green plants scrub out air - the air burning oil is polluting. This marsh grass will die.

And all the small creatures which contribute to the ecology of this area will die. This is just one you can see and identify. There are thousands and thousands of other almost microscopic creatures coated with oil.

I read a comment by a friend on Facebook which compared this disaster to Chernobyl. Remember the melt down of the nuclear energy plant in Russia? I think he was just nipping at the edge of how bad this could be. They contained Chernobyl. This is not contained. It has hit the loop current and will hit the Gulf Stream. We will be living with this mistake on the part of an oil company for decades.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Memories of a Dawn Walk on Biloxi Beach

Biloxi Beach before Katrina and major oil spill

I was combing my photographic files for a suitable picture to enter in an on line photo contest and came upon this on taken on a dawn stroll along a empty beach. My sister and I took our first Thelma and Louise Road Trip on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We traveled from Houston, Texas to Pensacola, Florida taking the coastal roads as much as possible. When Katrina hit this area I cried for days every time there was a news item. 

Most of those focused on New Orleans but I could only think of the more coastal areas: the beaches and bayous and marsh lands that are the bridges between land and the sea. The winds and tidal surge and scouring waves devastated this area. An online friend of mine recently posted pictures of some of these areas which have yet to recover from Katrina. Now these same areas and the wild life that inhabit them are being coated with black oil because of the waste and greed and corporate irresponsibility of man.

I can forgive Katrina, she was a product of the mysteries of nature. But I cannot forgive BP and Haliburton.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Eyjafjallajokull is the name of the glacier over the volcano currently disrupting air travel across Europe. I must tune into a world news program video to see if anyone dares try to pronounce it. Few reporters seem to attempt to spell it. I went to Wiki to see what they had to say:

Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced [ˈɛɪjaˌfjatlaˌjœːkʏtl̥], translated as "island-mountains glacier") (About this sound listen ) is one of the smaller glaciers of Iceland. It is situated to the north of Skógar and to the west of the larger glacier Mýrdalsjökull.  Easy for them I suppose. I listened four times and am no wiser. But I feel that a volcano under a lessor glacier on an island that can totally shut down air traffic in Europe and disrupt everyone's travel plans deserves some respect. But that is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about what happens after the ash stops spewing -- though volcanologists say they see no end. What will happen if history is any indicator is all the airlines effected by this will claim they are on the verge of bankruptcy. All the countries where they are based will panic about the collapse of an essential transportation/communication (mail) link and bail them out. It is what happened after 9/11 because airplanes were grounded for two weeks.

What should happen is the same amount of money and effort should be expended to lessen the dependency on air traffic. Geologists tell us we have just been through a 200 year period of relative quiet on earthquakes and volcanoes. We have already seen an uptick in quakes and there are here in the United States no fewer than five volcanoes being closely watched especially since recent activity on faults could increase the chances of eruption.

The world needs to stop putting all its eggs in one basket. Coordination of alternate forms of transportation and use of alternate routes needs to be a top priority of the G8.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not Nice to Abuse Mother Nature

This is a picture of the Rhyolite-Cook Bank a major feature of a ghost town a nice day trip from Las Vegas, Nevada. The town of Rhyolite was a gold boom town that as quickly busted for lack of gold. It existed as a town from 1905 to 1920.

Now it seems that its neighbor, Las Vegas, may well bust for lack of water. One of those little fluff pieces that USA Today and Yahoo News are so fond of doing says that Lake Mead, built to supply water to Las Vegas will be totally dry by 2021. Yahoo Green bemoans this tragic event as the death of a vacation spot. I thought it needed a more extensive treatment especially since wasted water in the west is one of my soap boxes. I just happened to have this map of the Colorado River Basin on hand.

The watershed of the Colorado River covers 242,900 square miles, parts of seven US States and two Mexican States. Not only does it fill Lake Mead but any water that Las Vegas does not take out from that reservoir is then channeled out by Phoenix to turn the desert green. Those two Mexican states are lucky if they get anything which has been a major sticking point in water treaties between Mexico and the United States.

The Colorado River is dammed above Lake Mead by the Glen Canyon Dam which forms Lake Powell. California gets a large amount of its electrical power from the generators in the Glen Canyon Dam. Droughts in the Four Corners area and increased electrical usage in Los Angeles has significantly lowered the level of Lake Powell where water is released on demand to turn on the lights.

Speaking of lights back to Las Vegas where the lights are on because of the Hoover Dam and water released from Lake Mead to create electricity for the city of lights. Oh, and fountains. Fountains upon fountains lit up like day by spot lights in all colors in the city that never sleeps. But what Las Vegas doesn't waste Phoenix will.

Las Vegas, fearing the worst, has started trying to buy up water rights north of it. Nothing new there. Denver, Colorado, which has exhausted the South Platte and is on the wrong side of the mountain for Colorado River water and too far north of the Rio Grande watershed, has been trying to buy up water rights from New Mexico for decades. We even passed a law forbidding transfer of rights between basins.

This is not a matter of global warming or not. It is about the fact that we are a very wasteful species and our populations have been allowed to grow unchecked. And we are not geckos that can collect the early morning dew of the desert on our skins.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Florida Flip Flops

The headline said: The RNC Attacks Florida Flip Flops. That is as clear as a sandy beach any morning during spring break.

I read the headline and figured at first blush we were talking about a conference of podiatrists. The have long held that flip flops are absolutely the worst thing you can do for your feet. Or orthopedic surgeons who maintain that the flip flop and specifically the wedge style are responsible for a bloom of ankle breaks every summer, which no doubt keeps them and physical therapists busy all fall.

Then after a couple more sips of coffee I got that this is the Republican National Committee that was running adds exposing Florida flip floppers. I flash back to the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. It certainly can be said that Florida's vote count flip flopped daily. And in 2004 it seemed Republicans could use no other words in reference to Presidential candidate Kerry. But no it seems the reference is is regard to members of the Republican party that abandoned the party line and voted on the health care bill. Clearly they should have! All those youthful uninsured wearing those dangerous flip flops are going to need medical insurance to cover the expensive orthopedic procedures this fall. You have to consider your voters.

Meanwhile the snow is melting and I am collecting items to go in the Moab, Utah bags. The wedge flip flops are staying home. The hiking sandals and boots are going. The Bass flip flops that hurt my toes are going in the sack of no longer wanted items I am taking to the thrift store. Too bad I cannot put the RNC in the same trash bag.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bondage Gate

I was taking a few days off from the reading of news for Lent. It was so boring. Everyone spewing hate over the passage of the health care reform bills. Except for Sarah Palin being hired to host a Discovery Channel program about wildlife. That was rather interesting: she kills wildlife and she is unable to put a complete sentence together. But it took only three minutes to be fulling informed on that.

I wanted something uplifting and more in the spirit of Easter. So I missed the breaking of Bondage-Gate. Hey, what could be more in celebration of the torture and Crucifixion of their savior than the Republican National Committee visiting a west Hollywood bondage club and putting it on the expense account? How very far they have fallen. Weren't the they moral majority in the days of Nixon? But then we know his history and fall from grace.

 The best part of this whole scandal is it clearly defines how Republicans feel about women's rights. As Palin defines how they feel about preservation of wildlife when she shoots wolves from an airplane. Know a member of the RNC? Send them some rope as an Easter gift. Maybe they will hang themselves with it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not Over Until the Fat Lady Sings

They say it is never over until the fat lady sings. I think Joe DiMaggio said it first. But like Dirty Harry and "Make my day" it has been said by so many people since does it matter?

The health care reform bill - or should I say the silly and often irrational fight against it - has gone on for so very long that I had almost forgotten about it until I was reminded this Sunday by a friend it was coming up for a final vote. President Obama is planning a signing party for today. Then he goes on the road to sell what it is that has been passed. McCain is launching a national campaign for its repeal already and asking for $25 donations from everyone that doesn't want access to health care? I am a little unclear on the concept. Another friend of mine into holistic medicine (as am I) is protesting the new bill because it will not cover acupuncture and herbal remedies. Hard to find insurance not that does.

Amendments to this very new bill loom in the wings already. It was a pass what you can and then modify as able effort. But we are no longer the only developed country in the world without open access to health care and insurance. The mere outlawing of exclusion for pre-existing conditions makes it worth the fight. But clearly the fight is not over.

A friend of mine noted recently that the world seems to be speeding up with all the technology and communication available but when it comes to laws and legal matters the wheels grind ever so slowly. I maintain something needs to be done. My relative small legal issue in the scheme of things has lingered on for two and a half years and already taken a full day in district court and likely to take another. And then there is the judge's time in considering the matter after both sides rest. My legal aid council figures roughly $50,000 spent to defend me against my house being taken from me. I estimate that opposing council has billed $36,000 to his client for an original $21,600 lien with no back up proof that has already been amended to $14,000 by the plaintiff because of an accounting error.

I believe that now we are on the road to a reformed health care and health insurance system we need to work on reform of litigation. Our legal system is almost as screwed up as the health insurance industry. It is just that people don't die waiting for decisions from judges like they do HMO's. A book I was reading about a murder in Victorian England has the accused tried and hung within three months. Average wait on death row in America today is 9 to 15 years.

On other news there is an extreme Cabernet shortage because of the Chilean earth quake, sharks lost their bid before the UN to be protected (did a legal shark plead their case?), and a Nazi man in Germany was convicted for 1944 murders. Now there is a legal case that has taken forever.  And Google China has decided to leave the Chinese mainland and relocate in Hong Kong. Fear of reprisal?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A quick review of recent news

I have a headline mind. I first noticed this in college when I would sneak off from the dorm with faked parental permission and then imagine disaster: College Coed found in Juarez Jail: Mother said she thought daughter was safe at college.

There does not seem much in my life that I can not reduce to a banner headline with caption.  And it appears that our busy lives means that even the news media is following my example.
I really have only a few questions I would like answered on these headlines: Is ex-governor, Sarah Palin, the one that shot the two wolves? And can spring be far behind if Fargo is already ordering sandbags? I already know that John Paul Stevens is the associate justice of the Supremes believed to be the leader of the liberal wing of the court. So retiring with a liberal president in office is a good move. And of course health care will be a fight to the wire because all people voting yea or nay have it already.

I am not interested enough in the missing woman and son on the Washington beach to follow the story further. They probably did something incredibly stupid. If further abandoned vans on beaches prove a serial killer in the area I may backtrack to this on Google. And of course, Toyota dismisses the California man's runaway Prius report. They are into denial, denial, denial. One of the amazing things about the disaster in Kansas City in the early 1980's when the Hyatt walkways fell and killed and maimed hundreds is that Hallmark, owner of the hotel, admitted guilt immediately. I guess those days are over. On to the Exxon Valdiz manner of handling things: Oil, what oil.

And the days of bayonets are gone too with the cavalry sword and horse. I suppose the Kevlar vest made them rather inefficient. And they don't mount well on the standard issue AK47's these days. Still a sad moment. But what is this about bust abs? Poorly written headline in my opinion. Probably just trying to lure in the entertainment news crowd with thoughts of Madonna.

 And that my friends is an in depth look at the news of the day. Go back to Facebook and enjoy yourself with who just planted potatoes in Farmtown.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What if this gets worse?

Geologists and vulcanologists say we have gone through a 200 year period of relative calm on earth. So calm in fact that some have theorized that the earth was going through a cooling down and settling in.

Others have studied the records laid down in layers of earth and sediment and warned that it is cyclic and the calm will soon be over. To bolster this argument monitoring of activity around the Pacific Rim would indicate things are already "heating up."

I have a friend that volunteers for the Red Cross and gets sent to places requiring aid following a disaster. She has been in the disaster counseling team following two hurricanes, dodged being sent to Haiti because of the unrest, and fully expected to go to Hawaii if the tsunami from the Chile earthquake had materialized as expected. She may yet be called up for Chile but they seem to be doing a pretty good job for themselves.

But disaster rescue and relief teams are finite. Due to the post traumatic stress they suffer their deployments are short and there is a lag time before redeployment. Stock piled relief supplies are also finite. And in this world economy giving of money or goods to non-profit relief organizations is down. How many more disasters can the world respond to in a given year? What if the Chile earthquake had spawned the tsunamis predicted? There would have been multiple "Thailands" out there for the world to deal with on top of the earthquake relief, especially if Chile had been as needy as Haiti.

I believe it is time for all of us to individually take responsibility for our own relief. We all need to have emergency supplies and be prepared for evacuation. Living in the mountains it has been a concern of mine since I lived on the front line of the Hondo fire for 22 days following the human initiation 13 years ago this May 5th. I keep enough food in the pantry and freezer winters to again be cut off from supplies by 6 feet of snow in 24 hours. If you live on the gulf or eastern coasts of the United States now is time to check those hurricane emergency supplies and evac routes.

And California, Oregon and Washington are on the Pacific rim. What if the Chilean earthquake had triggered the precarious San Andres fault, or triggered Mammoth Mountain to erupt, or just those tsunamis? Are you prepared to be your own disaster relief?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

They Lie to You ALL the Time

The new consumer protection law governing credit card shady practices went into effect on Monday. And given that they had nine months to prepare for it they of course found other ways to cheat their customers.

Now, thanks to a long-awaited law you'll know that if you pay the minimum on a $3,000 balance with a 14 percent interest rate, it could take you 10 years to pay off. And they have to give you warning that they are going to raise your interest rates but it probably will still be in that incredibly small print at the bottom.

And during the past nine months, credit card companies jacked up interest rates, created new fees and cut credit lines. They also closed down millions of accounts. So a law hailed as the most sweeping piece of consumer legislation in decades has helped make it more difficult for millions of Americans to get credit, and made that credit more expensive.

Cannot just blame the credit card companies for lying and cheating. Let's talk television. During the economic depression many people have dropped their subscription TV services. I beat the rush. I watch the programs I like either on DVD's a season late but without commercials or on my computer via my boardband internet service. I was looking forward to the Olympics seen this way. No staying up for hours, just watching the performances I was interested in, etc. But ABC that has the exclusive has decided to post only very inferior videos of events like the figure skating. They are so blurry they make your eyes hurt. Sponsor of their video page for the Olympics - DirecTV. Guess I will wait for the DVD.

I am used to the telephone company lying to me. They have done it for decades. And there is nothing new about banks doing the same. But it frankly seems that everyone - especially all the "service" companies - lie all the time. Qwest is moving in with DSL into my neighborhood and telling everyone it will be cheaper than our satellite servers. But do read the small print. The price is only for two years and only with bundling with other services like DirecTV. So now all the companies are getting together and forming bands to lie to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Justice is blind, deaf and dumb

Went through another session with my lawyer to prepare me for trial on the 19th of March. First time we did this is was a lot more about fact finding for her case preparation. This time was more about posing questions that would actually be asked while I was in the witness box by either my attorney or the opposing attorney on cross. We prepped for two hours and then she informed my that my direct would likely be 2 1/2 and then it would be the other attorney's turn.

They want to prove that my intention was from the beginning to never pay my contractor. I want to prove that his intention was to cheat me because he thought he could. My attorney is confident I have the documentation to prove my point.

What amazes me about this whole process win or lose is the sorry state of our legal system (I deliberately did not use the word Justice because since OJ Simpson I don't think there is Justice in the system). Win or lose it will have taken more than two years of my life for what I regard as a frivolous claim. And if I had not gotten legal aid because of my financial situation it would have cost me $30,000 thus far. I was actually told by an attorney when all my efforts to arbitrate had been refused that I should just pay him because it would be cheaper than fighting him.

Too often people just do that. They bow to the "blackmail" and pay the piper because it will cost less than fighting for the truth and JUSTICE. Some years back a friend of mine was sued because a dog staying at her house (not hers) bit a kid that hurt it. The person bringing the suit was also a friend. Her line was, "But I am suing your insurance company. It won't cost you a thing." It did. The insurance company canceled after paying up out of court and she was forced to take the mortgage company "over the top" insurance premiums.

Lawyers and contractors think all they have to do is threaten and it will be settled out of court for some pricey but factious amount (the mother of the girl that got bit once claimed it ruined her ugly daughter's acting career - 20 stitches cost $30,000 plus plastic surgery). And who of us can afford to defend ourselves these days. My contractor wants enough more to have built my studio three times. And he never finished it once but I have already paid him twice his original estimate.

My friend with the dog abusing child has a home she bought with the pain and suffering money and still an ugly child who is now adult. The friend she sued has gotten cheaper insurance finally but the lawsuit of 20 years ago comes up every time she applies for any insurance. I may lose my house if I lose but my contractor is still a snake in the grass and no longer working as a contractor.

And the justice system is still really sick and up for sale to the highest bidder.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who do you trust?

So what? Two blogs in two days, you ask. After like ten days with no blogs! Just goes to prove you cannot trust bloggers. And we don't have deadlines like newspapers. So live with it.

It just so happens that I found two closely related issues that inspired me in two days. I certainly do not trust Sarah Palin as readers of the blog before this clearly understand. And Gallup announced the results of its December poll on trusted occupations. That one is almost as much fun as the winners of the Darwin Award.

Seems the least trusted occupation in the United States is (drum roll please) Members of Congress. They narrowly beat out HMO Managers, car salesmen, Senators, lawyers and advertisers. Lawyers and advertisers have been on the bottom of the list for a long time. And Used Car salesmen in particular are not popular. Put you have to take this with a grain of salt because opinion pollsters were toward to bottom too.

Another poll rated the least trusted banks. Which brings up the question as to why bankers were not in that scum skimming list. One independent poll, the same one that rated pollsters so low, put stockbrokers in the bottom five. But I digress. The least favorite and trusted banks are: Bank of America, Chase, Capital One, TD/Commerce, Fifth Third, Citibank and HSBC. No surprises there other than who would name a bank Fifth Third? I certainly think the current economy, bank bailout, mortgage freezes, foreclosures and the constant increasing of "fees" on credit cards had a lot to do with this list. The economy coupled with executive bonuses probably even more so.

But not trusting your banker is nothing new. The old melodrama villains (like Snidely Whiplash above) were often bankers come to foreclose on the house of the poor struggling heroine Nell. And my parent's generation were raised with putting your cash under the mattress. My brother and I hid ours in different volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia when young. Where to keep your savings is no longer an issue as there are no savings anymore to keep.

A pollster called me recently to ask if I had 401K or mutual funds. Not any more. Did I foresee a time when I would have either again. No. Did any of my friends have 401K or mutual funds. This one took some thought because I do have some rich friends but they seem to have moved on to other investments like real estate and art. Did I know if they would be putting their funds back in investment firms in the future. Absolutely not. Especially after this new list.

So where in your house is the best place to hide money? Assuming, of course, you have some to hide at sometime in the future?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It has been too long, Baby

I will admit it. I have missed Sarah Palin. Say what you will about this future candidate for the highest office of this nation, but you have to admit she is entertaining. So were the Marx Bros. But fortunately none of them every tried to run for higher office.

Sarah, that Alaskan moose and wolf hunter of the previous campaign, who has denounced President Obama for using a teleprompter, was caught using crib notes on her palm. Quite obviously she failed to learn to cheat properly in school. Probably home schooled. There are serious loopholes in home schooling. You never write the answers on your palm, Sarah!

Palms sweat and you wind up with ink all over. But if you are going to use black ink the black dress was inspired. But like the key under the potted palm on the front door stoop the palms of the hands are all to obvious a place to hide the answers for a test. And unless you plan to keep your hands in your pockets it is quite definitely the wrong place to put your notes for a speech. Every junior debater knows that. And never use black ink. I was fond of the inside of my wrist under a long-sleeved shirt in red ink. Some teachers thought I was into self-mutilation.

And what was it Sarah feared she would not remember? Energy, Budget cuts (with "budget" crossed out), Tax, Lift American Spirits. Such a waste of palm space. And cheating. If you are going to cheat, cheat big. Things like the dates of all the Russian Revolutions, or all of Tolstoy's novels (or just the main characters of War and Peace), or all the countries of Africa and their capitals, or the spelling of words with more than four syllables. But if you cannot remember four big issues like energy, budget cuts, taxes and spirits of the American people go back to Wasilla, Alaska and shot moose.

Please note for future reference, Sarah, that moose are those huge things with the long hooked noses, and not the fleet, furry, dog-like creatures you shoot from a plane.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yes, there is a law - several

Back to the issue of water and the west. Water, because of increasing demands on aquifers and surface water, will become a serious problem in most of the world. Even rainfall amounts are decreasing because of the clear cutting of rain forests in the tropical belt.

But I know best about my own backyard which is currently flooded because the man living downstream two lots decided to dam the little Coyote so he could have a pond. It was this summer a fairly crudely built dam and our major issue was a water thief that was diverting water two lots up stream and not putting it back until it skipped over five lots. The state engineer got him to stop his diversion just about the time winter settled in and the creek froze. Which meant the water logged earthen dam built down stream also froze. Which made it a lot more effective.

Now we have more water than we want. The Little Coyote topped its three to four foot banks and is spreading out across the lowlands to widths of 30 and 40 feet and about a third of my property. Upstream of me it is lapping at the sides of County Road B3 (Osha Road). And now we are a bit beyond the mandate of the state engineer's office.

New Mexico governs its water quite closely. The early Spanish settlers set up an acequia or water ditch system that carefully meted out surface water on the basis of acreage of land used for grazing and agriculture. The Mayordomo, or ditch boss, made assessments at the spring run off every year as to just how much water it appeared would be available for use. People that stole water, wasted water, spoiled water or impounded water were criminals on the level of horse and cattle thieves. Mike Nichols wrote humorously about it in his book Milagro Bean Field War. But it is a deadly serious topic here in the mountain west. People have been killed over less.

The problems arise in getting transplants for other states to take it seriously. "It is just water," is likely to be said by a Texan that relocated to the Sangre de Cristos and sees what appears to be abundance here as opposed to the panhandle. In the immortal words of John Wayne, "Those are fighting words." Here their are water rights, both surface and subsurface, and there are wrongs. Nobody owns a stream. You just borrow it as it rushes past you. And technically the same amount of water that entered your land has to exit it.

But at the moment we are into a jurisdictional issue. The stream is governed by the state engineer as part of the Mora Watershed. Fish and game also have a say because my tiny little trickle in mid summer is a nursery for baby Brown Trout. And then the EPA gets a say because the Little Coyote passes through a wetland which is protected by law. My property on the far side of the stream is marsh and attracts the most wonderful collection of birds and a species of the endangered salamander. Then there is Colfax County and the road department. The water is backing up through the culverts under a county road and forming another lake which daily keeps rising.

And it is a warm February. We keep having these little wet snows high in moisture and then warm days that melt it off and it all heads downstream - well, as far as that dam made for that pond which is impounding water and definitely impeding flow. Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of The Incident of the Little Coyote soon to be a major motion picture.

Meanwhile I am e-mailing this blog to all relevant authorities.