Thursday, June 23, 2016

WICKED SISTERS.

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I attended a Calaveras County Arts Co. Music In The Parks event in Arnold. On the way I stopped to visit with my old friend Paul Moeller. He was tired after a day at Big Trees State Park with his caretaker, Nellie. She is a marvelous woman who makes his end-of-life issues tolerable. He talks about hopefully passing on to meet his Martha in heaven-soon. It saddens me but I'm aware of how lucky he is to have so many caring people in his life. He is a legend in our community.
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Cedar Center Businesses in Arnold built a stage for events, starting with the Arts Council 25 years ago. Cathy Mazzafaro is our current Director, a popular, personable and capable replacement for retiring Mary Jane Genochio.  The only funding for these free concerts comes from donations. I call it small town amazing.
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The Wicked Sisters is a group of teachers who turned to music. Originally four women, they have a couple of stand-ins for when someone can't make an event. All of them sing.
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An amazing variety of instruments are used. A banjo, ukulele, several different guitars, a mandolin, different percussion instruments, tambourine, a shaker.
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Musical numbers varied from "Summertime," to rock classics and radio pop tunes, country and folk.  Interesting diversity, such as "My Ex's Commin' Back To Me", and a couple really challenging pieces-I didn't remember the titles but the music still strums through my mind.
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I met a couple of friends at the concert, but I made a new friend as well. Her owner told me she listened to everything I said.  (Of course, I told her how pretty and well-behaved she was.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

WE ARE PHYSICIANS TO A DYING PLANET.

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During the 1970's, Wallace Broecker, of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, began warning anyone who would listen about the dangerous buildup of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere. Thirty years later we are witness to a dying planet as we know it. Losing great mammals like elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, tigers, polar bears, monkeys, gorillas, whales, oceans, coral, sand. We lose millions of small populations of plants and insects. We've lost billions of birds, dangerous numbers of amphibians, lizards and frogs. The rates of loss in every country is accelerating.

In Broecker's day, developers began working on a scrubber, a unit 10 feet by 50 feet that can scrub carbon from the air. It would then have to be piped underground beneath the saline layers and stored.  "Better yet, a way must be found to turn carbon dioxide into a mineral without using a lot of energy to do it," Broecker said. Gas seeping out and escaping into the atmosphere is one of the factors holding the technology back.

Fast forward to 2007.  An international team of scientists has investigated how basaltic rocks in Iceland's geothermal fields can naturally store C02. Dubbed the CarbFix project.  The researchers have happened upon a method of stowing carbon away that can fast-track the mineralization of CO2.  Researchers have come up with a technique that promises to turn the gas into a solid within two years,  a drastically shorter time frame than the centuries or millennia the current scientific consensus suggests.

The team at Reykjavik Energy's Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where the original study took place, says up to 5,000 tons (4,535 tonnes) of CO2 are now being stowed away each year.
What really surprised the researchers was not just how much of the CO2 was converted, but how quickly all of this happened. Through observations  researchers found that more than 95 percent of the CO2 had formed into solid carbonate minerals within just two years.
International Energy Agency describes this method of carbon capture as a "critical component" in combating climate change.

Five thousand tons sounds like a lot, but it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the billions of metric tons emitted globally each year. The good news is that basalt rock is present beneath the Earth's surface more than any other rock. It's not so common on land, with only around 10 percent of the continents made up of basalt, but almost all the ocean floors contain the material. So while it won't be simple, replicating the process in other locations is a real possibility.

Of course, the best way to stop climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet, is to remove CO2 spewing cars, cows, factories, fossil fuels, gas and coal, that produce CO2 gas.
All necessary technological components are available and in use in various areas, but carbon sequestration is yet to be applied on a scale that would make any meaningful difference to global carbon emissions.

It is up to us and our government to set things in  motion. We must get the word out by reporting to all the agencies fighting climate change, including our Senators and Representatives at all local and national levels. Change always takes place from the people up. We can't wait for government to do it all. We must push them to do it by complaining loudly
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The Reykjavik team's research was published in the journal Science.

Groups you may want to know about:  Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council,  Air and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, Wilderness Society, FSEEE, National Park Trust, Friends of the River.  There are hundreds of groups that are active on environmental issues.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

THE BINDING ARBITRATION CLAUSE.

The Binding Arbitration Clause is a very secretive way to coerce people into giving up the right to their day in court to redress any wrongs done to them. This is what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones, a 19-year-old soldier. She along with about 400 others was offered a special assignment in Iraq that offered high pay with free room and board to  work on an oil installation, a subsidiary company of Halliburton. She happily signed the contract and was shocked when she got to Iraq to see stark portable barracks where men and women were housed together, two to a room, with double bunks. But, she had signed and she went to work.

There were many more men than women, and she was constantly harassed by guys who would grab her butt, try to touch her breasts and make suggestive comments. She complained to her boss about the sexual harassment and was told he'd report it.

One day she found herself incoherent and in the nurses station. She had been drugged and gang raped. They gave her a rape kit which showed pubic hair in her anus and vagina. After filling out the paperwork she asked to go home. She was told she signed a contract and couldn't go home. She could go for arbitration, a part of her signed contract.

When she got back to her room, she was astonished to find that one of the rapists was still in her room in his bottom bunk.  It hit her that he was unafraid because there was no consequences. She again went to her  superiors and asked to go home thinking they have an obligation to see that she was safe in her workplace. She refused to work and insisted she be allowed to go home. They locked her in a storage container and held her there for refusing the arbitration which was all she was entitled to.  She insisted she had a right to a phone call.  Denied. After several weeks, a guard felt sorry for her and handed her his phone and she called her father. He called his congressman, Al Franken, and they got her back to the states where she had to have reconstruction surgery from the brutal rape.

Here is how an arbitration clause works.  When you sign the contract, you give up your rights. Arbitration is held in secret. The arbitrators are paid by the company and they tend to side with the company because if they don't,  they get black balled, and are not hired back. Arbitrators have no motivation to be fair. Furthermore, the results are kept secret and Jaime learned later that other women were raped in that installation but, because of the arbitration clause, that information is not allowed to be shared. A complete and total coverup ensues. Corporate bullying at its worst.
 The company hadn't counted on the fact that Jaime was only 19 years old and that she was a fighter. It took her four years to get her "day" in court.

Have you ever signed a binding arbitration contract? Have you bought a phone, or anything on-line?  If you have, you accept their legal contract with a click of the button. Most people don't take the time to read all that  boring, lengthy, usually small print, legal language. And, if you do, you may not find a binding arbitration clause-at first.  If it is a phone, especially, the binding arbitration clause comes in a jumble of later mail along with your bill as a change to your contract, in almost unreadable small print. You toss it in the garbage. Many companies do this. You give up your right to sue and you must accept binding arbitration to settle any disagreement you have with the company.

Democracy cannot tolerate such egregious wrongs as the secret Binding Arbitration Clause.

Monday, June 13, 2016

THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS.

Karl Rove had a horrible, Grinchy, ugly idea.  Supreme court judges are prohibited from spending more than $5,000 to run for re-election in some states. Why not outspend them and get rid of "liberal" judges?

John Grisham wrote a book on just how it could happen.  It was fiction and being a fan, when I read it, it was a scary prospect, IF it could really happen.

In real life, could a well-financed shadowy,  group,  get an ordinary judge, one who made decisions for people suing for redress from corporate neglect, be replaced by a corporate leaning judge?  They began their push in the Southern States of Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas which is how they caught the attention of John Grisham.

Grisham appeared on LINK public television, along with members of Public Citizen and explained that it is happening all over the United States.  The Chamber of Commerce funds these power grabs,  attacking judges who make decisions in favor of ordinary people and replaces them on the bench with corporate friendly judges.

Here is how they did it to Judge Oliver Diaz of Oklahoma.
The Chamber spent $19 million dollars distorting his reputation, using decisions he made for a defendant, and dishonestly twisting the results in the newspaper.  When Diaz tried to buy ad time on television in his area, the Chamber used all the ad time and squeezed him out.
 He borrowed money from an attorney friend, Paul Minier, to defend himself with ads in the newspapers. The Chamber of Horrors immediately filed suit against him claiming that he made decisions in favor of this attorney. He was suspended from the bench. But, he had recused himself every time his friend came before his court. The case got thrown out after the opposition pulled delay after delay after delay. Then they filed suit against him for tax evasion while he was still in suspension. Again, delay, after delay and the phony suit was thrown out, costing the judge a million in defense, and three years off the bench.
 When he finally got back on the bench, he lost re-election to Keith Starret because people believe, where there is smoke there is fire. There MUST have been something shady going on.

There was. The Chamber of Horrors.

Chamber CEO Richard Bush has turned the Chamber of Commerce into the leading lobbying group for removal of judges and tort reform, which is another avenue of attack on ordinary citizens in favor of corporate rule. (More about that tomorrow.)

If a defendant has his leg cut off by a piece of farm machinery that was defective and goes for a jury trial and wins in court. The court has the power to reverse the decision, lower the amount, or throw it out and the defendant has to start over again.  Corporations win over 90% of the time against people suing for redress. This is the only weapon the people have against corporate neglect and we are losing our ability to fight because corporate money is strangling the life out of our democracy.

Make your vote count. Vote for corporate regulation and protect judges in your community. Support every measure you can to keep money out of politics.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BERNIE WON!

I love Bernie Sanders because if one man can change the world, he can. I love it that he exposed the musty underbelly of how our corrupt system really fails working Americans and he is game to fix it.

He believes that breaking the law should not be profitable and corporations should not run the country. And, best of all, he brought Americans, sickened by the failure of our government to work for the people, into the fight.

No, he didn’t win the nomination, but we are renewed, we see what needs to be done. He got the dialogue going and he did it without massive pac money. And now we know, that money isn't the only thing you need to win an election. (He came close.)

We can help him hold Hillary’s feet to the fire so she will feel the "Bern."Voting for her will protect America from an adolescent bigot who has yet to grow up from his cozy, rich upbringing, and who has yet to make something of his life besides money.

Don’t waste Bernie’s hard work by bowing out. Let’s keep the revolution going. Remember his senatorial work from 2015 when he introduced legislation that would mandate that pharmaceutical companies lose FDA-granted marketing monopolies for their specific drugs if they are involved in illegal activity.  This is a far more effective deterrent against  big pharma who prefers paying their millions in settlements and then go on with illegal, and profitable activities. Ho, hum!  Between 1991 and 2015, they settled 433 cases paying $35 billion total. A drop in the bucket for them.

Monday, June 6, 2016

GOODBYE CALIFORNIA.

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My son Ken, in the bright blue t-shirt, hosted a goodbye California party for family, friends and neighbors Saturday. It has been nice having he and Laurie in Calaveras County, but his job required him to move to Reno, Nevada.
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What are the odds that when Ken bought the house on Vista Del Lago three years ago, he would find this man, Lynn Breitzman a neighbor on the same street. He, and his wife Sandy went to High School with Ken in Fremont. Lynn's sister, Dawn, was a close chum of my oldest daughter Kristanne, as well.
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This couple, Jeff and Debbie Machado also live on Vista Del Lago. Debbie is Sandy Breitzman's sister, who attended high school  in Fremont with Ken, Doug and Kristanne.
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Debbie and Sandie with Laurie, kind of enjoying my bewildered looks at the connections.
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But, wait, there's more. Jeff, it turns out, used to be a member of  Laurie's brother's band. Mike didn't know Jeff lived in the neighborhood until they ran into  each other at Laurie and Ken's.
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Mike and his wife Ramona, live in Lodi where he, Laurie, and her sisters went to High School.
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 Ken's buddy Dave Pinkett,  attended High School in Fremont with those mentioned but he remains a Fremont resident.  Daughter Kristanne was Dave's date for his  High School Senior Ball.
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We had the biggest driveway in the neighborhood and kids with paper routes folded papers on our driveway.  Doug, didn't smoke and he policed the driveway and forbade anyone to sneak a cig. None of the paper-boys were allowed to smoke at home, either.
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George and I were the first of my family to move to Calaveras County in 1978. Followed by Clark who settled near Camanche in Burson.
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Followed by Brother Bill, who lives about a mile from Ken and Laurie in Rancho Calaveras.
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My grandson, Stewart, missed all the coincidental tales and laughter since he is involved with his girlfriend Aly. They met on the job where they both work as writing tutors for college students. He won't be making many trips to Calaveras County now that his parents will move. Boo, hoo, for me. I will really miss them all.
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 Laurie's sister Michelle...
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...and her husband, Wayne, live about 4 miles down Highway 26 from Vista Del Lago.
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Laurie, too, has lifelong high school friends. This is Diane and Randy Cantoulupis
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Two sister's-in-law, Ramona and Theresa.
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I don't know all of their neighbors and friends.
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It was a fun day, as people spread out into the yard.
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I talked to this woman about her impending move to Oregon. I know Laurie told me everyone's name, I may even have marked names down-somewhere.
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I have an excuse. I'm still a bit disoriented. Out of my sling for hours each day since June 2nd.
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The food from a local Mexican restaurant-a standout. Laurie and Ken may be saying goodbye to California, but moving means you end up with a new crop of friends and neighbors. And, by chance, you might meet people you knew in a former life. Could it happen again?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

UNLEASHED

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On June 2nd, I got unleashed. Off the sling.
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Today is June 4th.
My biggest accomplishments…I took a selfie in the bathroom mirror because I put earrings in for the first time in over two months…
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…and, I voted my absentee ballot.
Small things mean a lot. LOL

Friday, May 27, 2016

TOURIST IN MY OWN TOWN.

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I feel fortunate that I have a friend who not only brings me brownies, but will, at the merest suggestion, drive me downtown Murphys where we pretend to be tourists. That is Jan Stewart. Always ready to seize the day.
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I hadn't been to Hovey's tasting room in ages, nor had I seen this clever sign.
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Inside I was pleased and surprised by the variety of craft beers they support. The public likes wine but they also like good beer.
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Another sign drew us into Frog's Tooth, a wine I'd never sampled.
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At 10:00 a.m. neither of us were in the mood for wine tasting, but they had a barrel full of good reds to be had for $12 a bottle.
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Of course, because of Mark Twain, frogs are a prominent feature in Calaveras County, but what I liked here is the warmth and friendliness of the staff. A very inviting atmosphere.
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This customer is wearing a shirt from a tasting room in  an old school-house, I believe she said in Grass Valley. It reflects the grammar school punishment of writing on the black board over and over again, I Promise Not To Hit Tommy, or some such. Cute.
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Town was loaded with motorcycles, all coming for the "Jumps", as they relate to the Calaveras Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee. Nationally famous after its small beginnings.  I remember a picture of Little Flower, Governor LaGuardia who attended the Jumps as fascination with jumping a frog spread far and wide.
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Both bikers, the guy on the left hugged Jan and said,"I know you!"  He is her chimney sweep. His buddy said, "If anybody had told me I'd be a biker with multiple tattoos on my body, I'd have said yer crazy." I had to laugh to find they are locals from Murphys. Tourists just like us.
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I liked this gal's leathers and took a picture and she said, "No, no. You caught me with a phone and I'm constantly pushing people I know to put their damned phone away and look up."  So, she posed for me on her bike.
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Creative. Guess we can call her Spider Woman, and, by the way, she is from Murphys.
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She looked askance at the big hogs lining the street and said, "If one of these guys tips his bike over, he will not be able to pick it up by himself."  We concluded they are for show and pride of ownership as well as performance.
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There were some out-of-towners.
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I wanted a picture of this guy's curled mustache because it reminded me of Joe Cardoza, a former neighbor and local character who grew his curled and waxed mustache about seven inches long for the local Whiskerino Contest. He had too much to drink and went for a haircut. Jack, the barber was a known prankster and cut half of his mustache off, I expect with Joe's consent. I thought it was cruel, even so.
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There were street musicians.
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The Murphys Hotel hired a band. The courtyard was packed with people eating, enjoying the music and even getting up to dance in the tight space around the musicians.
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A couple local vets told us they placed 400 flags on veteran graves with Memorial Day coming up. They do it every year.
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Among  those who served I knew Norm Tanner and a couple others. Norm was a good friend to my husband. I'll be sure to remember those close to me who were vets; I may not get to a grave, but there will be a knot in my heart has I put out the flag on my deck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I SAW A SHINING STAR.

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It is never the order of things that Stuart and Dolores (Quyle) Mast, or any parent should outlive their child.
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Sorrow and loss pinched hundreds of faces at the hilltop service at Quyle's ranch, the property where Robbie Mast grew up, but there was something else there.
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The unquenchable spirit of Robbie himself, who left an indelible print on the wide world around him in his short 25 years.
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Principal of Avery Middle School, Michael Chimente, reminded us of his leadership role, as honor student, class president as a sixth grader and a young high school student who applied to be Principal at Bret Harte High School.
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The gang of six friends he grew up with helped us relish the humor, the mischief, the love of nature, beauty and friendship he brought into focus for them. Robbie liked to ride a bike, but he wanted to build bikes and ride around the world. It took him twenty-two months from New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Istanbul, Bulgaria, Italy, France and England. As the son of  wine makers, he worked in vineyards wherever he went; volunteered at a self-sustaining farm and spiritual center. He touched people;  made friends; took lessons home with him.
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Ryan Anderson and Bryan Hitchcock, two older friends, remarked how Robbie came to them and said he'd signed himself out of Gym in High School. He preferred hiking and biking and camping and nature. They convinced Bret Harte that he had engaged in private Boxing lessons in place of Gym and he was allowed to graduate with his class. Robbie hungered to invent, to explore, to challenge himself, to enjoy life with humor. He was an artist,  an actor, a story-teller. Wise beyond his years, he made every second of his life meaningful.  DSC08164 (Copy)

Each speaker revealed another dimension to Robbie's  life.  In his own words, from eighth grade, "Life is a journey...judge not...help those less fortunate...stop and smell the roses...never be content...question and wonder...people are good...love is the strongest force in the universe...life goes fast...live like every day was your last...

If you see a shining star never let it fade away.