Monday, November 30, 2015


DSC03565 (Copy)My homeless brother, his dog and his bike.

Wouldn't it be nice if the homeless could just disappear and we could pretend they don't exist?  Or that we, as a society, should not consider them citizens with any rights or anything of value to offer?

It is cold and I worry about Norman being on the ground somewhere during freezing weather. He belongs to a church where he can plug-in his phone and charge it every day and he calls me about every two weeks or so. He doesn't often complain, but his last call was a complaint. San Leandro no longer deals with the homeless. They've hired a company to do it for them.

Norman had been living near a freeway overpass with his tent and belongings hidden in some bushes next to the freeway. An ex-parolee, with jail tattoos found his camp and told him he had to move. Norman picked up his phone, backed up and said "By what authority, sir?"  He answered he was being paid by a  private company.  "What is the name of the company sir?" The guy said he didn't have to tell him but if he didn't move, he'd call the police, and he left.

The ex-parolee, (Norman's assessment of the guy) returned with the police. Norman was arrested for trespassing and held for 9 days in jail. The ex-parolee confiscated his tent, his stove, his phone charger, his letter writing materials, a small file cabinet, his clothing, is bike, everything he owned except what he held in his hand-his phone. The company took his stuff, gave him a receipt that told him where it would be stored. He could pick up his belongings from the  storage center and pay the fees; something he can't do without his bike.  He had two weeks to pick it up. He didn't keep the receipt because he knew he couldn't get his stuff back before he could find another place to put it.

The stove, of course is the big issue, even though it is just a pot dug into the ground with rocks surrounding it. He cooks with paper and twigs and charcoal. It is a fire danger.

Why is it that a dog can pee on a tree in a park, and defecate in public, but a homeless human is not allowed to stop there for a nap? The homeless are dirty and smelly and look unsavory. He isn't allowed to physically stand in any public place or find a place to sleep. Out, out black spot.

And, now Norman is without his sleeping bag, tarp and a change of clothing. What a way to treat other humans,  no matter what brought them to their current condition.

Norman gets social security because he worked and had a home most of his life. His income couldn't pay rent in the Bay Area. He must live in a city where there is public transportation and services.
But some states have learned that is far more cost-effective to offer cheap housing for the homeless than to grind them through the legal system and constantly hound them to go somewhere else.

What the conservative state of Utah learned:

The biggest group, 85 percent of the nation's 580,000 homeless are temporary, mainly men, but also women and whole families who spend relatively short periods of time in shelters or cars until they can get their life together, despite an economy stacked against them.
The remaining 15 percent, the chronically homeless, fill up the shelters night after night and spend a lot of time in emergency rooms and jail. Shelters have on average, 29 beds for every 100 homeless people. This costs roughly between $30,000 and $50,000 per person according to the Interagency Council on Homelessness. And, in extreme cases, like Reno's infamous Million Dollar Murphy, who cost the system-just one man- a million dollars. (Not figured into the average costs.)

The civil model for helping people is counseling, drug rehabilitation, programs to change behavior, medical treatment, but the homeless numbers keep going up and the treatments don't work. In Utah, in Salt Lake City, a guy by the name of Tsemberis thought, we've got schizophrenics, alcoholics, traumatized brain injured people; they can't even get into programs, they can't fill out complicated forms or applications. They can't get to therapy appointments regularly, or on time. Why not give them a place to live an assume they have a right to housing and health care. They ran a large test with 242 apartments.  No questions asked. They have to promise they won't hurt anyone or bother their neighbors. They have a choice to take part in rehab or detox programs. The results were remarkable. After five years, 88 percent of them were still in their apartments and the cost for caring for them a little less than having them on the streets.
New York City tried providing housing for 4,679 severely, mentally impaired individuals who cost the city $40,449 a year. They save an average of $16,282 per person by providing them housing. Denver found emergency service costs in their Housing First program, saved $31,545 per person.

California is supposedly a liberal, innovative state. Why are we treating our homeless worse than before by making it impossible for them to be warm and secure, even with a tarp and a sleeping bag  under a freeway overpass or in the bushes?

Saturday, November 28, 2015



Returning from Cedric and Virginia's at the end of Thanksgiving Day, the moon was bright and flowing light across the fields and road as we moved. Changing directions put it beautifully positioned through the trees and then with each turn it seemed livelier and brighter. It brought me in mind of the nonsense ditty by Edward Lear, The Owl And The Pussy-cat. As we rode along I began to sing it and struggle for the correct words. I'd get one stanza then another. And while I played with the words in the car, Jim said he had never heard the childhood verse. It was such fun to play with them I decided to look up the words on the internet.
OwlpussycatThis is the original Lear drawing from his book that he wrote for a friend's children. He was the first writer to introduce nonsense as a literary form. Oh, that we are richer for his playfulness makes me smile.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
 I remembered the "exotic" word runcible, but didn't know until I went to Wikipedia that he invented the word for his poem.

Friday, November 27, 2015


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Virginia and Cedric offered to host Thanksgiving. "Come early so we can play games and snack before dinner at 3:00 p.m. By 10:30, liars dice was the game of choice.
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Laurie and Jim just watched.
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The games changed through out the day. Virginia popped into the kitchen to do the side dishes...DSC06996 (Copy)

...while Cedric took care of the bird.
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Doug was the latest to arrive and added cans of cookies of his own perfected recipes. The game changed to Elevator. Theo learned the bidding game for the first time. Then some of us later played Ruckus.
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 Between games we did some beer tasting, one of Ken's brews and this one, the first home brew for Stewart. He was mighty pleased.
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Everyone takes a turn in the kitchen. Jim helped me peel potatoes.
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Out of the oven, perfectly done and tasty.

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Doug taught Owen how to part out and carve the turkey.
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After skyping with our missing family members, Kristanne, Austin, Alec, and  Mason; and Austin's dad, Richard,  Jim took a family picture of those of us present. In a ceremony repeated in most American homes, we held hands and told each other what we most wanted to be Thankful for. Not surprising, the family-each other-was the repeated subject on everyone's list of appreciations.
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Over indulging merits an after dinner walk, even though it was cold out.  The neighborhood trees were bursting with tangerines...
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DSC07037 (Copy)Grapefruit, pomegranates and persimmons.
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Two blocks from the house is a Community park with a gigantic cement slide. Owen, with bare feet took a couple very fast trips down the slide.
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Virginia went too. I, Laurie and Jim declined. On this fast moving ride. I remember hitting the ground so hard it gave me a headache. Playing on a slide was still and option when Owen and Theo were 7 and 5.
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It is higher than it looks.
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Theo shows good form with his frisbee toss, when we caught up with the rest of the bunch.
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Good catch, Stew!  Cedric plays tournament frisbee. They now have frisbee courts in many areas. A new court makes it popular in Murphys.DSC07040 (Copy)
Invigorated, we returned to the house for coffee...
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...and desert. Cedric made the pies and Virginia's specialty is the pear tart which is everyone's favorite.

Jim and I followed the Thanksgiving moon back to Murphys. More tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Absent these pages for two weeks was due to buttoning up my Oregon place for the coming winter. With back to back holidays, it made sense to close down.  A sign in the library had a "snowbird" book sale. I had heard the term in Yuma when we ran into gobs of Canadians and Alaskans.
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Aha! Now I learn I am one.

 I had a repair scheduled on my brand new dishwasher and it was a simple fix on the third try. But my major job was to clean up the 5th wheel I bought for Doug to live in while he built the house. His stuff is now in boxes in my trunk. The windows and blinds are clean, the rug shampooed, etc. The RV consignment guy was a bit hesitant about putting it on his lot.
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His son came by to look at it and ended up driving it away with a damp rug. I placed newspapers down for him to walk on. And within an hour he had closed it up and was driving away.

My van is tucked into the southeast corner of the building to get as much heat and shelter as possible. The carport will have to wait until next spring.

In past winters, I turned off the breakers to the well and went about my business. I must have lucked out. I had a sand filter installed on Saturday and the plumber told me Oregon is expecting extreme weather and the breakers will turn off the heating elements inside of the well house. He told me the holding tank can rupture in a deep freeze. I followed his advice, turned the water off at the well and drained all water in the house, closed down my frig and left the faucets on. The mini-split heat pump keeps the house at 52 degrees while I'm gone.

I'm becoming an expert on maintaining a house in a damp climate near a stream. I didn't have presence of mind enough to take enough pictures like I used to when I was blogging on the road. I did take insurance photos of the entire house and furnishings, though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


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My friend Dao Sang was supposed to come for a visit on Monday, but he had a complication, a broken wrist,  and arrived on Tuesday about 10:00 a.m. instead. He is an ordained (if that is the correct word) Buddhist Monk, but sadly, he hasn't had much time to gather with his followers because of multiple health issues.
I'm known him for years,  before he went to Thailand to become a Buddhist Monk. He was a Buddhist and  had health problems when I met him. Something called cluster headaches.  He is also a disabled Marine Vet and returns to the Palo Alto Clinic for treatments, a nine hour drive from where he lives in Newport, Oregon.
I had planned on taking him to my favorite burrito joint in Rogue River for lunch, but we settled for lunch at my house instead. I wanted a ride in his new race car that can easily hit 120 miles per hour. He has always had to have special cars because of his height, now at 6 feet 5 inches. "I've shrunk," he says. And he has lost 50 pounds. We spent the afternoon visiting and then I said, "Let me sit in the new bomb".
IMG_2677 (Copy)With my hands and feet straight out, I couldn't reach the pedals. His knees almost come up to his chin when he drives.
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I still wanted to vrooom, vroom around town. Maybe next time.
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He is a gentle giant and I tried to get him to break up his trip and stay the night, but he declined. He told me he loves his car and a nine hour drive is fine with him. He says he occasionally has to stop for a bit of espresso if he gets sleepy.

My friend Michal and I went to China in 2007. We ran into Dao at the airport on his way to Thailand. We had a table and he got on his knees and talked to us for 15 minutes. He was taller than both of us seated while he was on his knees. And my former partner, John, a tall lanky 6 foot four, said to him the first time they met, "I'm not used to looking up at people, it hurts my neck."

Everyone plays fun with his height, but it is the cause of many problems. He inevitably bumps his head on something, Too many times. Too many concussions. Thus, the cluster headaches.  His youngest daughter stayed with his oldest daughter in Stockton and he headed back to Newport without her. She'll join him later.

Monday, November 9, 2015


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Early this morning, I heard a big turkey fight going on. The two males were flying at each other and gobbling and kind of trilling. They were a long way off and I didn't get pictures. Later, this group of 13 was fending off another smaller group. But when I closed in for the picture, the other group turned and ran.
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They made haste and I barely caught them moving away. I guess my presence put an end to the scrap.
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I think it is territorial. The bigger group just continued eating as soon as the others fled.
Turkeys aren't as dumb as they are reputed to be. At least the wild ones. My son gave a couple of dudes permission to come on the property once, just once. One chance to hunt turkeys. He instructed them, "You can't shoot toward the road, my house or my neighbor's house." They were dressed in camo, and the minute they got out of the truck, the birds beelined for the neighbors property. They didn't get a chance at one shot. Do they recognize camouflage? Or the sight of a gun?

Sunday, November 8, 2015


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I arrived in Oregon yesterday about dinner time. I opened a cupboard and saw a package of English muffins I'd forgotten to take home. I looked at it carefully and the muffins had no mold, no sign of having sat in a plastic bag inside of a cupboard since the 26th of September. That is 44 days. Plus,  I'd had the package at least 4 days before I left, maybe more.

My stomach was turning a bit at the thought of tasting one. But, I put it in the toaster, buttered it and took a bite. No off taste of mold or spoilage. Just stale and a bit dry.
I read the ingredients and compared it to my package of San Luis Sour Dough bread that I often buy and had with me.  The difference was chemical dough conditioners and chemical anti-molding agents.

I began to think of other breads I've eaten that stay as fresh a week after I buy them as the day I brought them home. I actually noticed this phenomena especially since they are whole grain, seeded loaves, described as "healthy". I kept thinking that maybe they are irradiating bread, something tried in the 60's, but people were just afraid of the word irradiating as in radiation and irradiation failed.

Now, it seems like we are being fed a load of chemicals. I don't know who to call and ask about the dangers of consuming this crap. I do know I'm not going to buy bread products with so many chemicals in them. Hopefully I'll be able to find an answer and share it with you.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


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When I left Oregon, I put in a couple of hours working on this bridge across Evans Creek. Not that I could help very much. Now, it looks like the bridge has bigger problems, according to emails I've received.

I have nice neighbors there and they keep me in the loop. Today, I'm headed back to Oregon and luckily Jim is here to hold down the fort because the Butte Fire recovery helpers, dedicated volunteer Sara Watson, and her husband, is coming to pick up, four barbeque pits, one picnic table, two smaller tables, shingles, building blocks, pavers, my old sink, plastic chairs, umbrellas...little stuff. Suffice it to say downsizing has its rewards. And, I like that my things are going to the right place.

I'm very admiring of this young woman who says, her house is a mess, but its okay. "We've got a house."  Their house was in the path of the fire, but missed. So, she trudges on, helping others, temporarily neglecting her own needs until she can help the families on her list.

What a great community to live in. People always rally for their neighbors. Giving also has its rewards.

So, I'm on the road again, temporarily. Yesterday's blog elicited this comment:

An interesting piece on contributions and politics. So you really don’t think it’s wise to keep upping the ante as regular folk to counter the wealthy contributors in some fashion? I reckon the change/ movement or responses needed are far deeper and there is a need to address our circumstances in a manner that a $100 here or there by individuals will do much.

I answered in detail:

I’ve done it. And, I no longer do it. I send a note saying when you get rid of Citizens United, I’ll be glad to donate. Presidential races are an exception. I do send cash for my chosen candidate. It has been shown that brave and courageous people can win elections in spite of millions of Koch etc. money, but it is definitely harder. Instead I donate to the organizations that help by pushing various bills that I agree with, and push those same legislators for change. I send money to Public Citizen, American Civil Liberties Union, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Justice, Forest Service Employees for Ethical Environment, Free Press, NPR, and National Public Television; Planned Parenthood, Common Cause. I donate to trusts that buy up land to hold property in perpetuity for the public. Anything that gets the issues before the public and pushes. They are working on the ground and have the best chance of leveraging change with those dollars. I have a long list. I can’t donate to all of them at the same time but when an important issue comes up, like fracking and the Keystone pipeline, I’ll monetarily support those fighting on the ground against it. Same goes for political issues, like hold Goldman Sachs and Wall Street accountability. I'm glad she asked.


Friday, November 6, 2015


Jon Grinspan wrote an article for Smithsonian Magazine noting the comparable issues of America's disenchantment with their representatives now and during our historical past.

I've often used the phrase, Throw The Bums Out when I was disgruntled over some fumble from our local Board of Supervisors, but more often over our state and national legislators.  I'm excerpting Grinspan's article because it gives a different perspective.

"Voters are in a bad mood. Again." he writes.  "We are routinely (and justifiably) frustrated with our politicians, but “throwing the bums out” doesn’t seem to change much. And we are all bracing for another anger-pageant that will stomp through American life for the next 12 months until election day.

It was too easy, the muckraker Lincoln Steffens began to argue, to believe that bad politicians were just immoral people. The young writer had bounced from California to Europe to Manhattan...where  he honed his scorching prose, and learned about New York’s “low-life,” as a crime reporter in rough-and-tumble Manhattan in the 1890s.  One politico called him “a born crook that’s gone straight.”

Like many Americans, Steffens grew up cursing his leaders. Between 1865 and 1900, frustrated citizens pointed to the never-ending string of political scandals and stolen elections, as leaders failed to address the massive traumas of the Gilded Age.

Attacking leaders was an easy route to becoming one. Self-impressed tycoons, high-toned editors and rising politicians “greedy for power” all insisted that they knew how to clean up politics. Replace bad, immoral men with “the best men”—wealthy, God-fearing, respectable—and the democracy would fix itself. And by “the best men,” they meant themselves.

Angry voters tried this approach, throwing the bums out in election after election.  Control of Congress changed hands with dizzying speed in the 1880s and 1890s, yet politics only grew more corrupt.

But as a crime reporter who befriended crooked cops and scheming politicos, Steffens stumbled onto a new approach to journalism. Instead of moralizing, he listened. People would talk, he found, if you let them. Steffens hung around police stations and pool halls, absorbing everything he could. He even tolerated the ceaseless lectures of a young police commissioner named Teddy Roosevelt (though Steffens devised ways to shut his new friend up). And he refused to sit, isolated, in New York, setting out across the country to study dirty tricks from Boston to San Francisco.

Steffens came away with two major insights. Bad politicians were not necessarily bad people.  Steffens concluded that the angry public was focused on the wrong problem. Political dirty tricks were not “exceptional, local, and criminal…not an accidental consequence of the wickedness of bad men...," Americans—obsessed with individualism—liked to rage against immoral men, but really it was big, impersonal structures—like the steady drip of campaign contributions—that did more to buy power and harm the democracy.

Steffens began to write, furiously, publishing his “dawning theory” in his famous “Shame of the Cities” series in McClure’s Magazine between 1901 and 1904.  Often, angry middle-class citizens, looking for someone to blame, perpetuated the pointless cycle of reform and relapse, throwing out individuals but failing to make real change. ...a way to avoid considering the deeper problems with their political system.

American voters began to see that the country’s political problems were, really, social problems. Instead of hollering about immoral bosses, reformers simply went around them, introducing primary elections, ballot initiatives, recall votes, and eventually the direct election of senators. Progressive activists focused on improving political structures, not electoral “lynchings” of the bad guys.

And in our time of anger at politicians, it’s important to consider where bad leaders come from. ...politicians are, as a group, no better or worse than the rest of us. If they stink, something’s rotten with the system that feeds them. As long as we see politics as a war between good and bad individuals, ignoring the structures that reward or punish them, this will continue.

The most compelling words, "the steady drip of campaign contributions" and the word "activists."

We need to be activists, and it is easy on-line to sign petitions and reply as a group to leverage change. When asked to contribute, I answer that as soon as YOU get the money out of politics, I'll be glad to contribute. Above all,  we need to get rid of Citizens United. Every chance to sign a petition or to vote to rid ourselves of that unrighteous production of the court, will help restore balance in our democracy.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


It was cold all day yesterday. The night-time temperature sunk to 36* Brrrr!  I have wood, but I was too busy with inside projects to venture out into the cold and breezy weather to haul in an armload of wood. I read about a guy who rolled up magazines and kept his house warm with them and cardboard and junk mail. Hmm!  I grabbed four old phone books and twigs from the back deck, some cereal boxes from the recycle, lit a fire that did warm up the house enough to keep the chill off, along with papers that were meant to be shredded. The propane heater went on once. Passive solar worked well by mid afternoon.
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You know that collectiholics are incurable. And, if we have two of something, a little spring goes off in the brain and...whatta ya know? A catalog collection. I have an explanation of how this can happen. We lived off the land in a remote location when I was young and catalogs were the most appealing thing we had in our old log cabin. They were paper dolls, color, tracing material, cut and paste, reading material and the wish books of Christmas were the stuff of childhood dreams. Then, as an adult I'd read with humor excerpts from even older catalogs.  Dr J. Hostetters Stomach Bitters. Ida Wheelers Ladies corsets, guaranteed to give you a 20 inch waistline. Benjamins Rheumatism Cure. The pictures were hilarious and the cures such obvious shams. Catalogs had funny parts and tools and implements and inventions we never knew existed.
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Then, I coveted various "little" mail order catalogs. Don't ask me why. These I'm tossing. The big ones I'm offering free on Craigslist before tossing. Downsizing is turning into a lot of fun. This morning, I got an email from someone who wants my first day covers stamp collection that I placed in the free section 16 days ago. Yay!

This morning, I gathered wood and brought it in. The last papers I put into the stove last night were still smoldering, but I won't be burning catalogs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


We are in the midst of the sixth great extinction on ear. The sumatran tiger went extinct this year. It is 2015 and we are losing large predator animals. Extinctions of birds, insects, amphibians and smaller mammals almost go unnoticed among the thousands of species we've lost.
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This is lonesome George. A pinto Island tortoise that went extinct in the mid 1800s. George was discovered in 1971, the last of the breed. He lived until 2012, the only one of his kind.
A quaga. The face of a giraffe, the stripes of a zebra and the hind quarters of a horse.
Another giant tortoise, the seychelles. Their biggest fault is they taste good and were easy to catch.
A thylacine. I would have liked to have seen one of these in a zoo. A ferocious predator you wouldn't want to meet in the wild.
A barbary lion, with a unique looking tufted mane.
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An Asian tarpan, a small wild horse that stood only 5 feet tall.
We've lost forever two amazing tigers, the caspian, the largest tiger ever seen and the smallest, the Bali tiger, no bigger than an average dog.
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The beauty of the golden toad lead to its extinction in 1989.
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The black rhino gone-2011. We know that the Chinese superstition that powdered rhino horn is an aphrodisiac is what is responsible for the wholesale killing of rhinos, like elephants for their ivory. Elephant losses are frightening. Will they be next?  Only in zoos?
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With climate change, acidic oceans and rain, many fish and ocean animals endangered. Will various populations of humans go extinct for lack of food? I think that is a fair question.

A man... I'm remembering his name as Wilson, conceived the idea that we should return half the world in every country to its original wild condition. We've certainly made great strides in rehabilitating some of our most egregious mistakes, like the buffalo, grizzly bear, wolves, eagles. Wouldn't that be neat? 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


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Stamp collecting is not as passive as people think. Consider a stamp that indirectly brought about the Panama Canal-in Panama.
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My mother was an avid stamp collector,  a cheap and interesting thing to do during the depression. If you were poor you collected used stamps. If you could afford it, you collected new stamps. In my mother's case, she did both. Old stamps like these from the 1800's were pretty uninteresting compared to newer, brightly colored stamps like the sample below:
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 For the most part, stamps commemorate historical events. And, stamps have changed the world in interesting ways.
DSC06952 (Copy)Trout Stamps of the 1950's helped keep fishing healthy. Just as Duck Stamps supported wetlands. That money made an enormous difference even though they never landed on a letter.
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A protest poster against President Reagan for ignoring the Aid's crisis through both of his terms resulted in this stamp:
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Once the public swarmed to buy these stamps to support aids research and cures, the breast cancer stamp was issued and is still available.
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Like everything else, stamp collecting evolved. More expensive then simple stamps soaked off the envelopes, collectors began buying First Day of Issue envelopes. The post marks were educational,  geography, exotic. Dig out the atlas and look to see where Titusville is and read why they chose that location.
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If you collect, who wouldn't want better looking first day of issues than the old ones above? The way it works is a company would commission a drawing of what person, flower, building, etc. was being commemorated in a stamp and get them stamped for you. The presidential selections set me back $17.
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California Statehood cost $12 for this single envelope. Stamp collecting is no longer cheap. If you kept up with your philatelic magazine, you could buy the stamp address the envelope to yourself and mail it inside of another envelope to the post office designated and request the postmaster to stamp you first day of issue. Timing was everything. If you missed the date, curses!
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And regular stamps became more exotic. You can barely see the stamps among this beautiful scene. My husband would say, "...the US Postal Department is  pandering to collectors. You buy every stamp that comes along." It was true.  I promised him I'd quit after the year 2000. As it turned out, that was the year he died. And, I quit collecting stamps.

In the meantime, the Postal Department made a lot of money on stamp collecting since collectors didn't use the stamps. The popularity of  email has taken over the world. Now Postal Department revenues come from advertising. Email changed the equation for stamp collectors, as well. Selling a stamp collection is no longer an option. Young people have many diversified interests and aren't interested in stamps. Now, I'm using them on my letters and bills, and enjoying them anew, in a sense.