Saturday, April 30, 2011


I guess the Supreme Court wasn't satisfied with ruling that a corporation has the same rights as a citizen. They've struck another blow at you and me babe!
In a new ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Big Business to deprive us of our best weapon to fight back if we are cheated or harmed by corporate wrongdoing.
From my own personal experience, some time back I joined an expensive dating service called Its Just Lunch. They stiffed me before my contract was up. They quit matching me for dates. Of those they did provide, there were many contract violations, such as, I wouldn't have to drive over 40 miles to meet a date, no local people as promised, no one in my age group to date. When I complained, I got bawled out. Then they closed their office and were gone. I couldn't even get a return phone call from them. With some diligent searching, I found them in Florida, but couldn't get any answer but a machine. I couldn't afford to take on a big corporation for my $1100. When I went online, I found hundreds of people who were stiffed by  Its Just Lunch.
The court’s 5-4 decision Wednesday in AT&T v. Concepcion permits corporations to use consumer and employment contracts to take away your right to join class-action lawsuits.
You’ve likely entered into “agreements” like this without even realizing it. When you bought a cell phone or rented a car. When you opened a bank account, got a credit card or refinanced your mortgage. Or, even when you got hired at your job.
You didn’t get to negotiate the terms of these contracts. If you needed that car or that job, you signed on the dotted line. And unless you’re an attorney, you probably can’t make sense of all the legalese anyway.
Many of these contracts include what is known as binding mandatory arbitration clauses.
But in actuality, forced arbitration does not provide the protections of traditional trials, including the ability to gather information from corporate defendants. And the largest arbitration firms are heavily biased in favor of Big Business and against consumers.
So, what our Supreme Court has ruled, protects corporations interests while denying us the right to join together to seek justice in a court of law. How convenient. Now, you can bet, that every contract that hasn't had a forced arbitration clause, soon will. Hey, its a freebie for them, why not?

I lament what I used to be so proud of, the United States of America, by the people, of the people, for the people.The Supreme Court took away fair elections, and now the right to redress harm as a group,  looks like they intend to cripple the America we know.  Isn't a corporation a group?
Makes me sick.
If it angers you, try contacting Public Citizen, the only group working for you and me, public citizen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Since I've been complaining how radicalized the word sustainability has become, I was glad to receive a message from Marchmont discussing the skewed language of the green movement, positing it as overly misanthropic, the misunderstanding of climate change as the same thing as global warming, the basic insecurity about fuel, shoddy science, and so on. You've heard it all.
In fact, yesterday I read where the new electric cars will take hours at a "gas" station to recharge, that people will have to make a reservation to charge their vehicles, and other such bullpuckey!
 Filling stations will make their money on the new electrics, as they do in other countries, by pulling into a station, drive up on a platform that opens your bottom battery compartment, and in 2 minutes, the old batteries are removed and new ones inserted. You don't even have to get out of your car. Just like a toll road, you will be charged on your credit or debit card. Batteries will be rented instead of owned. Its all about cost effectiveness and the loss of oil. If you consider the cost of the wars we've gotten into over oil, oil is extremely expensive and running on low.
Now lets talk about Greenburg, Kansas. A small town that was literally wiped out by a hurricane. Everyone had to move out of town. Business was depleted. What to do? The citizens got together and polled, how many people wanted to stay and rebuild?  How many businesses wanted to rebuild? When they got the numbers they built the greenest city in America which has been proudly featured and promoted by then  Governor Kathleen Sebelius as a tourist destination.
Its about money. As they were building and choosing materials, and energy sources, they considered the costs and went with foam, and steel, and solar and wind and heat pumps, recycled aluminum, the new glass... in short, the proven benefits of green technology. Not only are they proud of their town, but they enjoy the great benefits of cheaper energy to sustain them.
Why do you think huge multinational companies like the Ford Plant near Detroit rebuilt with a roof covered by sedum, a small succulent plant that keeps the roof cool and requires little water. They have a solar power station on the grounds. Not because they are looking to be good citizens, though it doesn't hurt their image, its because they are looking at their bottom line. Its about money. And, for us, its about jobs.

Monday, April 25, 2011


This morning, we dealt with the failure of a 6 month old router, no signal, hard to diagnose problems, you know, we all have days like this. I'm beginning to feel like I can't wait for cloud computing. Hopefully somebody knows what they are doing in the cloud and we'll all benefit from not having software, links, applications and connections that conflict. Won't that be nice?
But, finally, back on-line, and I get a delightful e-mail from John Clapp, the owner of the Green Dream House from Mc Cook, Nebraska, pictured above.
When we visited in September of 2010, we were told the house was sold to a new owner and as far as anyone knew, the new owner wasn't giving tours of the place.
Well John Clapp is the new owner and he is definitely giving tours.  He's owned the house since 2004 and says requests have tapered off. A woman by the name of Judy Mahoney won the the Green Dream House from the American Recylers in a drawing a number of years ago. Many, many recycled materials went into the place. You can see the original blog of Sept. 12, by clicking on 2010 blogs, go to Sept. until you find it.

Here is an excerpt from John's letter:

The story that I heard about some of the history of the process of this home was that of the $200,000 winnings $40,000-$50,000 was used to purchase the lot (location) and to tear down an older rental home.  The original plan was for a finished basement and a matching garage in the back of the house.  I guess that the building funds ran short and these items were never completed when I purchased the home in 2004.  The actual builder, who I never knew, Tim Gilpin became ill before the house was completed and passed away due to cancer.  The basement is still unfinished, but in 2006 I completed a detached 3-stall garage behind the home facing south.  I used the same siding board and green metal roof that matched the original house as I was hoping the keep the recycled theme alive for me and any future owners.  An interesting  point was that these recycled materials were more expensive than regular materials in the building process. The home is all electric with two heat pumps and I have never had a bill more than $175.00 per month during the cold Nebraska winters and very hot Nebraska summers.

Thanks for stopping by McCook and posting the article as I found it very interesting.

Thank YOU, John, for the information.
Now recycled building materials and sustainable forest products are coming down in price. I've seen bathroom walls tiled with junk yard porcelain toilet lids, and wall board made from ground prescription bottles, and outside walls built from straw, adobe, lath and mud plaster, steel beams, foam blocks...the list goes on and on. Yes, many of them are as expensive as traditional materials but some are not. You can make the wallboard and adobe bricks yourself.  The good thing is the prices are getting more and more affordable as people demand "green" building. My daughter and her husband built their cabin out of mostly recycled wood. Old decking boards, "window mistakes" and wrong sized doors they picked up ahead of time were drawn into the plans.  You can buy used cabinetry and appliances that have been discarded when people remodel. They can be picked up at bargain prices. You can buy end lots, or close outs in tile and hardwoods cheaply that  blend and are beautiful, and new.  Warehouse carpeting that's new but not fancy. This Old House, a PBS television program does this all the time. Its worth a little extra effort to find the bargains and make a second use of what might otherwise end up in the landfill. In fact, some old reused products are better than what you can find on the market today.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I didn't know how much work it was going to be, but I finally completed four family heritage scrapbooks that I'd promised my kids eleven years ago. Finally, done. They are two inches thick and have about 150 pages each. Its part genealogy, family lore, many pictures, and the high points of their father's careers. It was worth doing and I enjoyed looking over the past, and making everything cohesive and readable. This project was why Jim was "banished" as he put it. Since he arrived, he's been very considerate, not interrupting my work and giving me space to proceed without distraction. (I thought it would take me three weeks instead of six.)
I'm not fond of champagne, but, I wanted to celebrate. I looked for a bottle of Celebration Ale-didn't have any. I mean, this is pretty low key stuff, anyway. Mostly just patted myself on the back that I had finished it before dementia set in.  And, I did find a bottle of barley wine, which suited me fine. Took a nice, long walk, and Jim downloaded a 1928 silent movie about Joan of Arc.
But, I'm blathering. Scrap booking has become an industry. Stores devoted to putting together memories and events are very popular and I think its because we need that connection to our family history to feel complete. It gives us insight into what made us who we are and how we arrived at our particular arrangement of  life.
Feat accomplished.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I got these pictures from an email. Now, tell me, would you drive your family over this OMIGOD bridge?
I think Jim and I should haul one of these behind the motor home in case we have a fight. I can send him to the "doghouse" for the night.
I'm glad Jim is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Hey, when you are in a fix, just fix it yourself.
Do you think the Highway Patrol would stop this load as unsafe? How did that guy get on top of that load of papers anyway?
When I look at these, I wonder what happens if the cow decides to move. It doesn't look like it's tied down, nor comfortable.
 If the sheep bolts....? There are two of them. That guy has to be strong.

This is what used to happen here before we had OSHA. (Occupational safety laws.)
Gotta get that refrigerator home somehow.
Can't we get one more person on?  Of course, I'm poking fun, but, its truly innovative how these people from poorer countries manage to make the most of their resources. Not safe, nor recommended, but admirable even so. Especially the loads the Chinese manage on bikes. Incredible.
Load hauling at its most economical.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Neighbor, Jan hosted other neighbors to a Last Supper, as it is celebrated by Christians on this date during the Easter season. Each person had a role. Sally was Jesus, and she broke the bread and offered the red wine. 
We had a wonderful dinner.
Two of the guests left temporarily to attend a service at their local church after we ate.
Among us were believers and non-believers. Often warned that any topic is safe except religion and politics, we conservatives and liberals, Christians and non-Christians, had an invigorating discussion about both.
 No one got angry, raised their voice or called names. Too bad our government cannot work with the same friendliness as we managed on such controversial topics. Oh, well. Maybe they need dinner and wine before they begin their deliberations. Have you all seen the email going around showing our congressional leaders playing solitaire on their computers while speakers are on the floor dealing with topics important to our lives? I'm such a cynic.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Some of you know I own a Prius, a 2001 model, the first to come to the U.S. I still drive it an appreciate the mileage savings. However, check this out:

The wave engine pictured above was developed by Michigan State University researchers, it’s the size of a cooking pot and can burn just about any kind of fuel. It does so in a way that shaves weight from the vehicle and is up to 3.5 times more efficient than an ICE engine, meaning better fuel efficiency and up to 90% less CO2. Spinning at high speeds sends a shockwave through the device, igniting air and whatever fuel happens to be used. Simple, light, cheap, and effective.
However, it will not directly replace an engine or transmission setup, but rather it could work as a range-extender for plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Wave Disk spins very fast, generating a lot of energy from a very small package that could dramatically lower the weight of hybrid vehicles while improving the fuel efficiency. For example, a Chevy Volt typically gets around 36 MPG in charge-sustaining mode, but with a Wave Disk engine, it could get closer to 100 MPG while in charge-sustaining mode.
All of this information comes from the blog Gas.2.0

The U.S. government has invested over 2 million dollars into this green technology. How is that for a transition from big oil to whatever other innovations coming down the line.

Another busy day for me. Its nice to be able to borrow information from others. I wanna drive forever. And, get a wave in my Motor Home.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Pardon me if I don't get it. I've been eating and enjoying strawberries that I purchase at my local grocers for a long time. Beautiful, delicious, enjoyable, good for you. What more could you ask of a fruit?  There is one thing, please don't let California growers pour a bunch of toxic chemicals on strawberry fields.  I know the chemical companies like to sell their stuff, and some of it has been beneficial poisons, but not methyl iodide. As a consumer, the first thing you can do to prevent this, is begin to ask your grocer if the strawberries you are buying are treated with methyl iodide. He/she may not know what it is, but will immediately be on the alert that customers know about it and are watching. Tell your neighbors. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is going to take another look at methyl iodide, a chemical approved during the waning years of the Bush administration over the protestations of more than 50 scientists, among them six Nobel Laureates in Chemistry.
 Methyl iodide is a known human carcinogen, as well as a neurotoxin and disruptor of thyroid function. It can be especially damaging during fetal development, and it has no business being used as a fumigant in our farm fields -- especially when there are safe alternatives. Even the strictest regulations on application cannot prevent exposure of workers, surrounding populations, and drinking water to this hazardous chemical.

If you love strawberries, and you love your kids and grand kids, contact the EPA and protest this lousy choice. To make it easier, I've copied the above information and an address where you can sign on and protest this decision before it becomes approved for strawberries.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Finally, Jim is released from his "banishment". (His term, not mine.)
  This week past, I took the last of the pictures to Anchor Printing to be copied, along with uncountable pieces of paper. This last half of the project took them over two hours to copy for me.
While I was out, I enjoyed the beautiful green hills surrounding us.
Near Mellones.
Across the bridge near Sutter Creek.
The beautiful pink ceanothus commonly called wild lilac blooms prolifically along the roadsides
Jim pulled into the yard around 11:30. I didn't know he was there until he came to the door. I had to go out and see my artwork he worked so hard on. He put in a new picture to greet me. I think I have a choice of 8 or 9 prints that store at the back of the frame.
We walked to Brownsville, which is a spot on my road. I never pay much attention to it, as most people who do not notice those things in their own back yards until its pointed out to you by someone else.
And, then, this morning, Jim spent hours getting my new router to speak to my new wireless device so we could both use the computers at the same time without being plugged in.
He looks a bit shaggy, but none the worse for wear from his "banishment". He promises to ignore me so I can finish my work. Now I'm even more motivated to finish so I can have some fun. We've already been invited to a "Last Supper" Thursday, since its Easter Week. Jim said, shucks, I just shaved five weeks worth of beard, had I only known.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors is at it again. Two teenage high school girls appeared before the board to ask that April 15th through the 22nd be declared Earth Week. I guess they didn't do their homework on the word sustainability, as it got maligned at an earlier board meeting. (See my blog of April 1st.) The text of the resolution, drafted by the student organization, explaining the goals of Earth Week, had the line "...a peaceful, just and sustainable world..." According to Supervisor Tom Tryon, a libertarian, in his opinon, using the word "just" means environmental justice. Which, according to him, has a whole agenda around it. Tryon said, "Sustainability, what it has become a term for, in my opinion, is economic stagnation. Sustainability is not about change. Its about having no change." And, on and on and on about free market capitalism, socialism, the climate change is natural, and bad government. Sometimes I think we vote in idiots.
The rest of the board voted FOR the resolution. And, our tea party guy, Spellman, much to his credit, pointed out that this high school club goes around recycling cans and earning money for their school activities. Thank you Spellman for common sense.
These girls are not exactly opposing capitalism and promoting Marxist socialism. The girls think its about preserving a quality way of life. Spellman recognized these girls and their organization as working together for positive outcomes.
Tom and I have been friendly adversaries for years. I'll have to ask Tom if he was ever a boy scout.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Tata Motors of India, has come up with some startling innovative automobiles. This one will make you green with envy as petrol pushes toward $5 a gallon. In India, you can buy this car for around $8,000 dollars. It  runs on compressed air. That's right. Compressed air, zero emissions.
It costs about $2 for a fill-up which will run about 10 hours, or approximately 200 miles. It has a glued body, fiberglass body instead of a welded, metal body, which is one of the reasons it won't get exported to the U S.  The 2nd biggest hurdle would be the powerful oil lobby we have here.

Its a great city car. If you don't live close enough to a station that can fill you up in 3 minutes, the six seater carries a compressor that can fill you up at home in 3 to 4 hours. Now, that's an auto to make the world a better place. In India, the Tata will be available in August of this year.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have ever attended "Magazine University". Most editors insist their writers research a subject and know of what they speak. Shoot, I learned the ABC's of writing, and how to flush a boyfriend down the toilet when I was younger.I learned how to decorate my bathroom, train the dog, to deal with car salesmen, produce a video, buy the best washing machine...the list is endless.  I've thrown thousands of them away, everybody has.  Some I can't part with. Its unreasonable at my age to still be enamored of any story about the tragic Diana, or those velvety movie stars of yesteryear. I like to look back and remember old Olympic triumphs, the wonderful golfer, Ashley who died too young, or the heady times when Corazon Aquino took over in the Philippines.  And remember Michael Jackson when he was beautiful, brown and healthy rather than that pasty-white phony with a silly thin nose? Yes, I've saved hundreds of old magazines. I'm fessing up because I had my son, Doug build me another rack. This is number five. Its mounted from floor to ceiling and made of solid oak. Magazines are heavy.
He installed it yesterday, and I started filling it this morning. Now, I save magazines about a world  in chaos, and how to protect myself in case of Nuclear Winter. I know the Sicilians are fighting the Mafia and winning.The Shriners and other Fraternal Organizations are dwindling as the young find other pursuits. Who will fill their shoes? Traditional management techniques are out, and wikileaks are helpful. Optimists look at dirt and alarm us to a new resource literally going down the drain. In a struggling economy, thrift store shopping is for everybody. And, Oprah is Quitting?  Oh, no! I save mags about  political slug fests with the hope that the next crop of mags has better news for the people in this insane political climate. To keep my sanity I can always read about the best hikes in our National Forests and continually learn from the panoply of human experience which is all on paper. I keep as much as I can close by so I can take a cruise through the past once in awhile.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Finished with my taxes, but still hammering away at neglected paper projects, makes for long days. I complain that I'm cross-eyed with fatigue. My only breaks come from short walks because the weather has been horrific. Somehow the daffodils remain unusually resilient. A storm drenched daffodil may not recover. Yet these have defied the snow, ice, cold, wind, and pounding rain. They do make life cheerier.

There was a time when daffodils were plain yellow. Now, hybrids provide variety.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Young and old theatre fans will enjoy Lend Me A Tenor, which plays at the Black Bart Playhouse in Murphys  two more times, tonight at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, a matinee. If you call the box office at 209-728-8422, you can reserve seats. I didn't take pictures because I was so captivated by the play, I didn't even think about getting my camera out. Until later. The cast of eight provided a delightful romantic comedy, a delicious romp! Fast action with a terrific set for this energetic play. Get thee to Murphys, go, go,go.
I have to mention that the director Terri Wilson did a magnificent job, as did a talented and flawless cast of this relatively young play company, Murphys Creek Theatre.
I attended the play with my neighbor, Karen, (left) whom I've known for three years. We met friends, Tami and David Chestnut there, whom we have both known for approximately 30 years, yet we did not know we had  friends in common. Karen and Tami attended each others weddings, and have many other mutual friends as well.
David Chestnut stood in front of the 1930's set, which made me realize I hadn't taken any photos of the cast. They flitted off stage quickly after a thundering, "Noises Off" type ending, and I couldn't go back stage because everyone was getting undressed.
Besides, it was happy old home week for Karen, and I got to take pictures of shoes in the lobby for my daughter Kristanne.
I love this series of paintings by the same artist, (whose name I could not read, Vern something,) because they tell a story. The paintings make you speculate at what is going on above the feet. A kiss maybe?
Maybe sharing that experience with a girlfriend over a glass of wine.
Or maybe the evening ended on a different note, personal reflection? Or something else?
Did he never call again?  Fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Its April 7th, its not supposed to snow!
 Well, that is, snow isn't all that likely this late in April. I've been here 33 years and remember a snowfall on April 1st. That was unusual. There may have been another April snow. Now this. No one knows what the weather will do, and as much as we complain about the white stuff interrupting our lives, nature has a different plan.
It pays to remember that we have suffered ten years of drought. The reservoirs are filling up. The snow pack in Bear Valley ski area is expected to last through July.  And they need the business, as do the small towns like  Murphys that service skiers.
My daffodils are obliterated; Its back to hauling in wood, but, I gotta say to myself. Quitcherbellyachin. Appreciate the snow. Its cozy inside and my projects get more attention and less distraction. And, that is something to appreciate.
Current project?  Family pictures, this time into scrapbooks.  There have been days I've questioned the wisdom of owning a camera. Well, not really. A message to all. Keep up your pictures with dates, names and place as you go. Don't wait until things get lost and dimmed in memory.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Good friends, Jose and Norma Tapia,  and my youngest daughter, Virginia, and her kids came up to the Mother Lode for a day to play. The weather was perfect, not hot, not cold, just coolish,  The kids played on the trampoline...
Owen, flying high.
 Nearly three year old Abbie trying for that higher bounce.
Theo going for the extreme moves.
Anthony waits his shot at the ball in a game of driveway two-square. Whoever goes out steps aside for the next person in line. That way no one gets overly tired
Everyone wanted to take a walk and see where I heard the singing waters from a previous blog. The water is running, but without much thunder and  low enough to easily cross over the washes on rocks and branches. Its fun to almost get wet while throwing rocks into the culverts. The kids fed the neighbor horses and caught a frog,, which was promptly returned to its puddle.
Before dinner, the two youngest boys managed a wobbly, high structure with stacking blocks while we got the table ready. Before dessert, we caravaned  downtown Murphys to watch the Rail Jam, a new event sponsored by Bear Valley Ski Area,  and the Murphys Hotel.
Snow was brought in and piled from the second floor of the Murphys Hotel into an obstacle course for skiers and snowboarders. The amateur contestants were from eight years to fourteen years old. Down the two story ramp, over the first bridge,
a sharp right and down a slippery, round pipe,
and, a shoot to the finish over the "mail box". Some of the older boys chose to finish on the edges of the blue barrier. Either way, a challenging, fun, competitive race with prizes.
Six year old Anthony confided, "I can do that," as he watched the boarders. In the future, I'm sure he will. On this day, it was enough to play with hunks of dirty snow. But, dainty Abbie...
stuck close to dad and bravely ventured one leg over the rope barrier.