Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seventy Six Trombones Led The Big Parade . . .

Over at, reporter Colin Rigley's story ("Inventor, business partner abandon Reclamator") also asks the following question, "Does the system still stand a chance?"

Read it and draw your own conclusions. And as with all things sewerish and Los Ososish, Hide the Silverware, and . . . Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

EEEE, I Can't Pay The Rent! But You MUST Pay The Rent! But I Can't Pay The Rent! I Have To Pay My Attorney To File MORE Lawsuits!

Over at Ron Crawford's posted some interesting info titled, "Taxpayers Watch? We Want Our $9,247.50, And We Want It Now!"

Seems TPW wants LAFCO to give them an extension on the moola they owe the county when they attempted (and failed) to dissolve the Los Osos CSD right after the recall election. That attempt cost the taxpayers in Los Osos and throughout the county a pile of money. And LAFCO wants at least part of the costs back.

But I guess TPW is poor. Broke. No Moola.

If that's the case, where did they get the money to hire attorneys to sue -- personally and individually, not as a government entity -- members of the CSD? Taking depositions, filing motions, and all that good stuff, requires COIN OF THE REALM.

If PTW's so broke they need more time to re-pay the county, where's the dough coming from to finance this latest lawsuit? If you're broke, you don't hire MORE attorneys to file MORE lawsuits while claiming you can't pay for the LAFCO suit you previously lost.

Something's amiss here.

Click on over to Ron's blog entry, read it and weep and then maybe contact Paul Hood at the link Ron supplied, and ask him yourself.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yes, It’s Still The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Aw, and you you’d probably forgotten all about it, haven’t you Los Osos? Well, the latest update on the PZLDF case filed on behalf of the Los Osos 45,( you remember, those folks being hammered pointlessly by the RWQCB) plods ahead.

The Writ Petition was back before the Judge (Barbera) to respond to the AG’s Demurrer and Motion to Strike. Yes, the Attorney General of the State of California sends his two suit boys down to SLO (by plane, very expensive what with gas prices being what they are) every time anyone turns around, all on YOUR tax nickel. Anyway, the first cause of action challenging the issuance of the CDOs and the whole insane enforcement process is open to challenge so the writ of mandamus plods on.

Apparently the judge is still considering whether the second cause of action will be specific enough to take on the larger challenge of whether the process itself was fatally flawed (remember those official, time sensitive documents that went to people outside the PZ or ones time and date stamped a year off, or that arrived after due dates thereby putting the residents in legal jeopardy and/or limbo and other nutty procedural messes? ) so the RWQCB can’t screw up the community (or any other community) again with their present Mad Hatter procedures. So that will still be fuddled with.

What was most interesting to me is the court had to be told that the Official Administrative Record is missing hundreds of pages of documents, including a lot of the prosecution team’s own documents. Why is that so interesting? Well, all you folks who have been following the Mad Hatter Tea Party From Day One will remember the Sacramento Suit Boys standing in court and saying to the PZLDF folks, “Your Honor, these folks don’t need an administrative record, THE RECORD IS ALL ON THE RWQCB’s WEBSITE. All they need do is refer to that!”

When it was pointed out that, no, a lot of documents are NOT on the Website, they whined and swished around and cried, “Waaaalll, Geeeeezeee, it’ll take forEVER to put together the record (you know, the one you need in court because if it isn’t in the record it doesn’t exist in court?),Geeezeeee, whine,whine.” And when the judge said, uh, you’d better prepare the record, the Sac Suit Boys said, “Well, it’ll cost lots and lots of money because it’ll take forEVER, and we’ll have to get paid up front,” so PZLDF coughed up about six grand and pretty soon here came a CD – TA-DA! -- the OFFICIAL RECORD.

Only one problem; There were hundreds of documents missing and no index to sort the mess out. It was like they’d simply done a document dump, willy nilly and passed it off as the Official Administrative Record.

Yep, the RWQCB and the SAC SUIT BOYS were selling a fraudulent product! Like selling someone a car . . . with the wheels missing. So now will PZLDF have to file another motion to make the judge force RWQCB to put the wheels back on the fraudulent car they sold the good PZLDF folks?

This, dear and gentle reader, is Your Govvernment At Work. Jerry Brown
needs to be taken to the woodshed. And some wet noodles need to be distributed to our own Mad Hatters of Aerovista Place.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stick ‘Em Up and Say Ahhhh

The recent New Times story by Kylie Mendonca ( ) “Why Worry? Sheriff Hedges obtained the confidential records of medical marijuana users. Could that be a problem?” outlines an interesting case.

Seems that when the Sheriff raided the Morro Bay medical pot dispensary, they carted off medical records of the dispensary’s clients. And since those records are covered under federal privacy of the dispensary’s medical patients is Elaine McKellian who “ . . . On June 20, [ ] filed a lawsuit against the County of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff Hedges himself, seeking unlimited damages for his role in busting the dispensary.

“I filed the lawsuit to ensure that other patients in San Luis Obispo County have the same rights as patients in other counties,” McKellian said.

“Although it was a federal agency, the DEA that raided the dispensary, she can’t seek redress in federal courts. She claims she was denied medicine, but what California recognizes as legitimate medicine, the federal government considers nothing more than a fix of a dangerous, illegal controlled substance. So McKellian’s suit is with the state courts against a local agency over an allegedly illegal search and seizure of medicine records that was never warranted by the state.

“She claims invasion of privacy and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations. HIPAA is a federal patient privacy law. She also alleges violations of due process and alleges the raids violated equal protection statutes, arguing that the sheriff selectively enforced the law by choosing to ignore Proposition 215. McKellian is seeing compensation for the alleged privacy violations, as well as the time she spent without medical marijuana. She is also calling on the county to investigate whether the sheriff improperly used public funds for the investigation or the raid.”

If her case on the HIPAA violations holds, that may add another wrinkle to what has unfortunately turned into Another Fine Mess for the Sheriff – wiretapping employees, now illegal seizures? Somebody needs to chill out here? Maybe take a little toke?

Sadly for patients like McKellian, the American public remains completely insane on their failed and disastrous “drug wars.” They’ve had numerable opportunities to make changes at the federal level as well as the state level and instead they allow themselves to get demagogued into Reefer Madness and so we continue on this hideously expensive, pointless, failed and destructive path.

If successful, it’s possible Ms. McKellian can at least strike a blow for patient privacy, if nothing else. The protection of which is more and more sliding down into corporate hands because the citizens of the U.S. refuse to consider themselves citizens and instead are content to merely be corporate consumers, and as such, granted no rights, except what the corporations wish to grant them – after the fleecing, of course.

Signs! Signs! I See Signs

And while you’re at the New Times website, check out Patrick Howe’s wonderful story, “Is it a sign?” and ask yourself, Maybe Sheriff Hedges isn’t the only one running amok?

Seems the enforcement folks – you know, the ones after Dan DeVaul’s behind -- are now going after Bob Finley who planted a car in his front yard – Cadillac Ranch, anyone? And stuck on the back of it some lettering saying, “Slow Down.”

Well, first the enforcement people send Mr. Finley a letter declaring the car was on the county right of way and as such was a nuisance and if he didn’t remove it they’d sock him with $500 per day. When he notified them the car was entirely on his property, they chugged off for a while and then up popped another threatening letter telling him that the car was a “monument sign in Ag zoning with commercial use” (Mr. Finley owns a nursery wherein the car is half buried and nearby “white stones spell out the word ‘nursery’ on the embankment”) and not a “stored vehicle” and as such was out of compliance and he’d have to get a monument sign permit or remove it or they’d shoot his dog and burn his place down to the ground. (I made up that last part, but you get the idea.)

To Mr. Finley, the car is an art piece and thus a piece of free expression on his property, same as if he’d painted his fence puce and put up some garden sculpture or something. But to the code officials – pumped and steaming after the deVaul run in, perhaps??? – it’s an AFFRONT! AN OUTRAGE! And – wait a minute, hold on, fluffle, ruffle, fluffle of turning code book pages – AN ILLEGAL MONUMENT SIGN!

Mr. Finley notes that “. . . it doesn’t seem like code officials are trying to objectively enforce written codes, instead he thinks they want to get rid of his car, and they’re searching for a written code that will let them.” He plans to take his case before the Planning Commission on Nov 6. That’ll be an interesting meeting.

What was missing from this story is this: The car has been out front since 2004. There was no information as to whether all the neighbors were complaining, or had signed petitions because they thought it was an eyesore. Apparently “representatives from the county’s Public Works Department, the Sheriff’s Department, and the California Highway Patrol” all came out to take a look see and nothing happened. Until, the story goes on, “the family was told the county had received a complaint about a ‘stored, abandoned, or illegal parked vehicle along the county Right of Way.” Of course, the car wasn’t abandoned or illegally parked along a county right of way, which would have been clear if a code enforcer had paid Mr. Finley a visit.

So, a mystery. Who made the “complaint.” What criteria does code enforcement use to ensure that complaints aren’t a matter of someone running a personal vendetta against a neighbor? And how does a car turn into a sign? Or do we have a code department now running amok? We may get some answers Nov. 6.

Condolences to Al Barrow

And finally, I got word that Al Barrow’s longtime companion, Blackjack, went over the Rainbow Bridge after a long, eventful life. He was in attendance outside a gazillion CSD meetings, which I’m sure certainly made his life feel very, very long indeed, as it did all of us humans as well, but he got to greet folks coming and going and likely could hear the hub-bub inside.

It’s always hard to lose a dog that’s been such a part of your life for so long, so my condolences to Al for his loss. And to Blackjack, I’ll think of him as being free and happy and running over that Rainbow Bridge.

A Poem for Blackjack & Al

A Guardian Tanya
By Thomas Carper

Guardian animals . . . adorn tombs in every civilization, accompanying the soul
On its crossing of the river of death

Kenneth Clark, Animals and Men

Sensing when I must travel, she refuses
To sleep downstairs. She comes into the bedroom,
Nuzzles her biscuit into a corner,
Circles twice, and lies down at my feet.
Her sleep is sound, and I sleep soundly too.
As if we two were sculptures in an abbey,
Memorialized by a forgotten artist
Who understood necessities of friendship.
It’s likely she will die before I die,
And though I have no faith in streets of gold,
I have half confidence that I will meet her
On this side of a bridge across death’s river,
Letting arriving spirits pat and scratch her,
Or stretching out, her head between her paws
As if for sleep, but with her eyes wide open,
Watching, waiting, sure that I will get there,
Sure that I will find her among thousands,
Coming gladly with a leash to link us
So we can go to death as on a walk.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Uh, Ya Wanna Run That By Me One More Time?

When I read the ad in the 7/17/08 Bay News, the one by The Reclamator Service, I had to scratch my head. Ad said, "Call today and be one of the 333 to get a $15,000 rebate!" Ad encouraged us to "Join the Revolution!" and noted that this revolution would be:
"FREE from liability" (But not free from Roger Briggs of the RWQCB who, win, lose, draw, will have the Suit Boys from Sacramento -- on the taxpayer's dime -- arriving to drag your ass into court ENDLESSLY from now until the crack of doom.)
"FREE from the big, expensive County project" (Uh, don't think so. Not according to the County. According to them, you'll be assessed pots of money by the county even if you had seventeen Reclamators dotted around your property)
"FREE from high sewer bills" (See above)
"FREE from future assessments" (That's true of all of us Los Ososians at this moment.)
"FREE from drought-vulnerable municipal water." (Uh, o.k. until Roger Briggs hauls you into court and stops you from using the Reclamator as a "greywater" "discharge" system, that is.)

And the ad stated that your "Reclamator reimbursed by 100% upon the sale of our 2008th Reclamator!" an interesting sort of Ponzi Scheme, it seems to me. That is, what happens if only 2007 Reclamators are sold? Is the deal off? Do you get your money back?

Also unanswered in the ad is this: I was under the impression that Mr. Murphy, of Reclamator fame, isn't really selling a piece of machinery but is selling a 24/7/365 monitering/repair/replace servicing service. If so, what happens to economies of scale if only 16 units are sold. Or three units? Seems to me that the service costs would skyrocket if you had to keep a trained service person (and equipment) on hand 24/7/365 for 25 years to take care of, say, one or two units. Wouldn't the cost get prohibitive? Like waaaaay more than the proposed cost for the County project?

Just asking.

Also missing from the ad are any certified "discharge" test results vetted and approved by the RWQCB as being approved in the PZ, for example. I know Mr. Murphy asserts that they have no say in what he's "discharging," and we've waltzed around what the meaning of "discharge" means, but I don't see from this ad that any further progress has been made in resolving that particular issue.

Also no mention of any lawsuit being filed (or won?) in federal court indicating that the federal rules concerning "compliance" has been settled either.

In short, nothing in this ad makes me confident that this issue has advanced so much as an inch. Well, this is Los Osos so we all have to "stay tuned." But if it were me, I'd also count the silverware. A lot of people have been injured in this town on account of lies, bungles, blatant stupidities, Medean craziness and incompetent, run amok regulators. Don't need any more body parts flying about.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How Much Is That Deja Vu Doggie In The Window?

Excellent report by Bob Cuddy in today's Tribune on the recently released Humane Society's report on our local animal shelter. The report itself is at the Tribune's website at

If you are interested in critters or curious about the kerfluffle at DAS, I hope you'll read it. It's long but very, very thorough. And like all such well thought-out reports that outline detailed ways to solve problems, the solutions come down to Mo' Money. Better organization, yes, better managment skills and/or clearer lines of authority, better proceedures, yes. But so many of DAS's problems still come down to Mo' Money.

Mo' Money to hire a full time Humane Educator. Hire a full time Volunteer Staff Cordinator (vital since, as important as volunteers are, poorly trained or poorly supervised and/or run-amok volunteers can often cause serious problems to any organization. And animal shelter volunteers are particularly vulnerable to run-amokness since the temperament of "helpers" is to "help." Which too often runs athwart of the often harsh reality of a society that treats its companion animals like throw-away garbage.) Mo' Money to implement more and better training. And so forth.

All of the wonderful recommendations take time and time is money. The Supervisors will be considering this report at their regular BOS meeting on August 26. If you're at all interested in this topic (and as a taxpayer, you should be) you might want to read the report and let your Supervisor know what your wishes on this matter are.

One thing has been clear to me for a long time. Most people don't understand that when it comes to dealing with animal issues, we pay at the front end or we pay at the back end. Either way we pay. The choice is, do we invest more in the front-in programs that have a chance at reducing the problem over time so the costs (and the suffering) can slowly be reduced? Or continue with the same old same old, maintain the level of misery and then pay pots to kill and haul off all the dead unwanted animals?

And Now, Your Saturday Poem

By Nature

As if hopefulness
Were a kind of natural
Right instead of a

Sort of malady
Most incident to the mind,
We have looked upward

And then down again,
Looked under, and behind, for
Some acknowledgement

Of what it is we
Act as if we'd been promised.
The jack o'lantern

Grin of sunrise, noon's
Reasonable demeanor,
Night's apparently

Loving hand drawing
Her dark curtain between us
And what will come next --

These are what we get.
Having by nature both to
Take it and leave it.

The cold sky, having
Come in time to imitate
Our moods, will giggle

Or frown, as it will,
But without the convictions
We believe we have;

The relenting snow
Will yield to the gray green dark
Surface of the land;

The unforgiving
Land will leave us nothing much
To ground our hopes in;

And the water, wide
With Possibility and
With desperation

At once, can take back
What was never more than our
Borrowed buoyancy.

-- John Hollander

Friday, July 18, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, San Luis Obispo, CA for July 17, 2008

Fill ‘er Up? No Thanks, I’m Driving

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt

Junkie Nation and the only question now is, Has our moment of clarity finally arrived? From the politicians pandering and from too many letters-to-the-editor, I’d have to say, Nope. Instead of a serious, sober evaluation of what steps we need to take to recover, we’re still in full-blown junkie mode: More gas! Cheaper gas! Drill in the ANWR! Drill off the California Coast! Drill in My Back Yard! Pump! Pump! More! More! More!

Yep, in full meltdown junkie withdrawal mode, crazy as a bedbug, convinced that the cure for oil addiction is . . . . . . MORE oil.

Wrong. The cure for oil addiction is to understand that cheap and plentiful oil is what got us into this pickle in the first place. Europeans were paying twice, often three times as much for their gasoline years ago and as a result, they developed very thrifty, gas-sipping cars. They also maintained and expanded on their urban rail systems. In short, they understood the connection that market price could have on real-world behavior and consumer choices. The Japanese understood too.

Americans did not want to understand. They thought they were outside history and outside time, and that their exceptionalism would protect them from reality. That’s Junkie Thinking. I mean, only an American would actually buy and -- seriously -- drive a Hummer. Or be fooled by a slick marketing campaign into buying mass quantities of huge, roll-over-prone, dangerous, gas guzzling SUVs or ginormous, macho, engine-booted pick-up trucks that have nothing to pick up, except the kids after school. We became a nation of Work-a-Daddy corporate drones stuck in freeway traffic dreaming of becoming Mountain Men zooming up the side of the Grand Tetons in our whippy 4x4s, when, in reality, the only thing our 4x4s climbed was a curb outside our suburban homes.

Like all junkie thinking, when the drug wears off and reality sets in, our national addiction becomes painfully hilarious. And sad. Thirty five years ago, President Carter, an adult in his boring cardigan sweaters, told this nation of children that the pudding they were consuming would kill them. Told them they needed to eat their broccoli. But children, being children, wanted more pudding and elected a man who promised them lots of pudding and Morning in America, and so ignored the coming darkness while the party raged on.

By contrast, here’s what the New York Times reports Japan was doing at the same time:
“Japan is by many measures the world’s most energy-frugal developed nation. After the energy crises of the 1970s, the country forced itself to conserve with government-mandated energy-efficiency targets and steep taxes on petroleum. . . . It is also the only industrial country that sustained government investment in energy research even when energy became cheap again. . . . Japan taught itself decades ago how to compete with gasoline at $4 per gallon . . . it will fare better than other countries in the new era of high energy costs.”

Only now are we beginning to understand just what those 35 years of brain-addled neglect will cost us – an auto industry tanking because nobody wants to buy gas guzzling American tanks, an economy in disarray, fueled by the high cost of gasoline that caught Americans flat-footed. All the pain coming down now was totally avoidable, had we paid attention to the message during the 1973 oil embargo: junk will cost you your life and your nation’s life. It’s time to get serious and sober.

Are we now ready for our moment of clarity? It’s especially important since an incredibly lethal component has been added to our drug of choice. A Hummer and a Prius still burn gasoline which contributes C02 to the atmosphere, thereby increasing the effects of global warming. So while cheaper oil and/or more oil might keep our Junkie Nation going a few more years, the effects of global warming from the burn may well end the game permanently.

That’s the real connection that’s now becoming clear. The pudding that has us hooked is also the pudding that will poison the frugal and the profligate alike. But the response to the coming crisis will require a nation of sober, very clever, innovative, committed adults, not feckless, addicted children. It’s 2008. We’ve lost 35 years. The bell has tolled once again. Will we listen this time?

(added note: A commenter (below) noted it wasn't 1973, but 1977. So we lost 31 years, not 35. Wet noodle for me and thanks for the correction!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

We're Queer but We're Not Heeeeeeerrreee.....

Story in the July 13 L.A. Times: "U.S. Census Bureau won't count same-sex marriages. The federal agency plans to edit the responses of legally married gay and lesbian couples."

Bwa-hahahah. Bush & Company have disgracefully earned the reputation of letting political dogma trump science and even facts, those "facts" which Reagan said were "stubborn things." Now we have the U.S. Census Bureau, our official National Counting Office, you know, the neutral, accurate, detail-oriented department thats charged by Congress to look at reality on the ground, will now be fudging the numbers.

Notes the Times: "The U.S. Census Bureau, reacting to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other mandates, plans to edit the 2010 census responses of same-sex couple who marry legally in Caliofnria, Massachusetts or any other state. They will be reported as "unmarried partners," rather than married spouses, in census tabulations -- a policy that will like draw the ire of gay-rights groups..

"The Census Bureau followed the same procedure for the 2000 census, and it does not plan to change in 2010.

"Critics say the census plan will mask the records of legally married same-sex couple and therefore degrade the quality of the government's demographic data.

" ' I just think it's bad form for the census to change a legal response to an incorrect response,' said Gary Gates of the Willaims Institute, a think tank at the UCLA law school that studies gay-related public policy issues. 'That goes against everything the census stands for.'"

Gosh, ya think?

On the other hand, think of the possibilities. After all, we have an administration that had the head of the EPA, uh, "edit" some of those stubborn "facts" on its reports, spin the meaning, alter the truth, make things sound better, doncha know. So why not the census?

I say, get out those erasers and have all the census takers cross their fingers when they take the oath to record truthfully. Think fof the possibilities? Does the administration think there's too many Mexicans self reporting? Maybe the numbers would reflect badly on itself? You know, maybe raise too many questions about illegal immigration and just who's hiring all these south-of-the- border folks? Well, just tell the census taker to change the racial designation. Tell 'em, Sorry, the Mexican box is full. We'll make you Samoan.

Will too many poor people begin to show up? If so, then simply check the next highest income box. Too many low paying, dead end jobs being recorded? Simply set a quota for people reporting they work part time at Wal-Mart. Past a certain number, just start bumping people up to Denny's or Mcdonalds. Heck, why stop there, check the box, "Laywer," or "Brain Surgeon." Can't have too many of those!

Yep, Made Up Nation. It's a Photo-Shopped world. All those unpleasant facts -- global warming, failed banks, impoverished millions, crappy health care -- all can be brushed aside by the Census so we can end up with a rosy-cheeked, Panglossian picture of The Greatest Nation On Earth, made manifest by the amazing number of Samoan Brain Surgeons living in Million Dollar Homes in Detroit.

Only in America! Is this a great country, or what?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And Now, As You Bid Farewell To Your Money In The Bank

As the Fannie Maes sink in the west, and the banks close, and the taxpayer gets stuck again bailing out more failed institutions and stock market manipulations, time to contemplate a recent essay in the latest Harpers, an excerpt from his forthcoming book: “The Wrecking Crew, How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing,” by Thomas Frank. Frank, as you recall, wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” Well, what’s the matter with Kansas is now, what’s the matter with America.

Yes, it’s old Reagan, Abramoff, Norquist, Reed. Rove, Bush & Co, and all the associated neocon free-marketer, privatize-it-all, We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government Regulation Gang. As Frank concludes, “Take a step back, reader, and see what they have wrought.”

An excerpt: “Fantastic mis-government is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversions and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepeneurship not merely in commerce but in politics, and the inevitable results of the ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we’ve come to expect from Washington.

The correct diagnosis is the “bad apple” thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of corruption we have watched unfold for the past few years. Hang around with grassroots conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking people.

But put conservatism in charge of the state, and it behaves very differently. Now the “values” that rightist politicians eulogize on the stump disappear, and in their place we can discern an entirely different set of priorities – priorities that reveal more about the unchanging historical essence of American conservatism than do its fleeting campaigns against gay marriage or secular humanism. The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school. Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourceing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately pile up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action.”

Read it and weep.

A Real Farewell

Bill Morem did a very nice job on yesterday's Tribune article noting the passing of Los Osos resident, Margaret Mehring. Her death came as an awful shock to me. Yes, she was 82, but, heck, she’d just run for and got elected to the Democratic Central Committee. She also finished writing a splendid how-to manual, “How To Win: A Democratic Grassroots Handbook,” a book that can be used by anybody from any political party to get off their duffs and get involved in politics at all levels. And about a year before she had adopted a lovely greyhound specially profiled for her from GAC and was thrilled to death with her new companion. In short, she was the Energizer Bunny, so full of life, a smile always at hand.

Until, suddenly, she wasn’t. And the hole that leaves in my heart is a large one. On the other hand, she was a person I can honestly say, it was an honor to have known. She was someone who made a real difference in peoples lives. Certainly to the Native Americans at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where she packed up her beloved Sheltie and galloped off to the Dakotas to live for months while she developed plans for a Media Degree program there. She certainly made a difference to so many people by spearheading a committee to create a memorial sculptural garden on the USC campus to honor those Americans “blacklisted” by that lunatic, Joe McCarthy, during the 1950’s Red Scare Unholy Inquisition. In the obituary that also ran in yesterday’s paper, it noted Margaret’s remarks at the opening ceremonies for the monument, “It is the function of a monument to remind – whether it be to reawaken past glories, or to mourn, or to honor the honorable, or venerate the venerable, or to caution against repetition of any of the sordid lunacies of history.”

“. . . caution against . . sordid lunacies of history.” That monument is also a monument to Margaret’s sense of justice. And sense of what America should be all about.

Her obituary was a long one, outlining a long, well-lived, highly productive, busy life filled with honors and accomplishments. But what stays in my memory is her delighted laughter. It always sounded like, no matter what was up, she was having a whale of a time.

She will be missed.

Your Sunday Poem and for Margaret, too.

The Woodpecker Pecks, But The Hole Does Not Appear
By Charles Wright

It’s hard to imagine how unremembered we all become,
How quickly all that we’ve done
Is unremembered and unforgiven,
how quickly
Bog lilies and yellow clover flashlight our footfalls,
How quickly and finally the landscape subsumes us,
And everything that we are becomes what we are not.

This is not new, the orange finch
And the yellow-and-dun finch
picking the dry clay politely,
The grasses asleep in their green slips
Before the noon can roust them,
The sweet oblivion of the everyday
like a warm waistcoat
Over the cold and endless body of memory.

Cloud-scarce Montana morning.
July, with its blue cheeks puffed out like a putto on an ancient map,
Huffing the wind down from the northwest corner of things,
Tweets on the evergreen stumps,
swallows treading the air,
The ravens hawking from tree to tree, not you, not you,
Is all that the world allows, and all one could wish for.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ooooo, Noooo, it’s Deja Voooooo

Life is like a B movie. You don’t want to leave in the middle of it, but you don’t want to see it again.
Ted Turner

Poor Pismo Beach City Councilman Bill Rabenauldt. He’s suffering re-runs of the Hideous San Luis School Board and the Hideous pre-recall LOCSD.

In a story in the July 10 New Times “Rabenaldt muzzled, Take 2” Bill is complaining that the Board Majority is making it difficult for him to do much of anything as a city councilman. They’ve changed the rules so that it takes a majority of councilmen to place anything on future agendas. In the past, any Councilmember could request any agenda item be added. And the Board Majority has changed the council members comment time to the very end of the meeting, like midnight, when anything they say will be heard only by the mice still scurrying around in the back of the room – the public and press having long since departed.

Mr. Rabenauldt said, of the changes, “I’d sure like to be able to prove that there’s some kind of conspiracy.”

Naw, no conspiracy, Bill. Just business as usual for councils and boards in general. It’s part of the board dynamic – a majority soon forms and anyone who doesn’t go along soon finds themselves on the outs. If the Outie is a complete looney tune and starts wasting board/council time on a grand scale over nothing, he/she’ll soon find him/herself shut out completely (or censured, or recalled or unelected by angry voters)

Ah, but if the Outie starts spilling the beans or turning over rocks or bringing up unpleasant realities the Board Majority doesn’t want to hear or have discussed, then they begin maneuvering the Outie so far out that he/she’s effectively both muzzled and eliminated as an effective member. It’s Shut Up, Shut Down, Shut Out time.

And if you’re a bean-spiller or whistle blower, you can’t get critical items on the agenda, items the majority don’t want brought up, or aired out, when you have rules requiring that the majority only set agenda items. That’s the way lids are kept on things the public often really needs to know about. But won’t.

And the only thing an Outie can do is go to the press, or reach out to the public (newsletters, town-hall-type meetings, flyers,) to let them know what problems are there he/she feels are important but being ignored, and urge the public to show up to demand items be agendized, and, since that will fail since the Board Majority will lock arms and ignore the few people who do show up, the only thing left to do is start recall proceedings against the Board Majority (an extremely unpopular remedy, very, very, very difficult to do. SLO School District parents and citizens tried three times, got very close once, but were ultimately unsuccessfully. Recalls are one in a million since people hate them so. And recalls scare the Board Majority so that they clamp down even harder, thus hardening the battle lines and escalating all the original problems. By the time it gets to that, it’s a total no-win, with the voters the biggest losers.)

No, the truth is very few voters know or care when things start to go awry. If the issues being shut up aren’t important to them, they pay no attention. Rubber Stamp Board Majorities on the Hideous San Luis School Board under Superintendent Ed Denton resulted in the school district roaring off into a financial ditch – budget ruined, millions pounded into holes in the ground – despite huge efforts to stop the werck. And need I remind anyone what happened here in Los Osos? Yep, train wreck, more millions pounded into the ground even before the train left the track.

As Ted Turner said, a B movie. And just the way boards and councils can often end up. Especially if they have to deal with serious, controversial problems. And get out of the habit of following Mark Twain’s dictum to always tell the truth; it will astonish your friends and confound your enemies.

Transparency and honest in government at all levels prevents these kinds of Board divisions – wanna spill some beans? Go right ahead. Are there alternatives to look at? Let’s look. We gotta problem? Let’s turn the lights on. Was that a bad decision on Issue X? Yes, it sure was. Now, how can we avoid that in the future? And so forth.

Instead, too often, human nature dictates other behaviors that lead to Board Majorities locking themselves into place, arms joined, hips joined, jaws clamped with hands slapped firmly over their eyes, thumbs in ears, singing La La La La, I can’t heeeeear you . . . Until the wreckage makes so much noise everybody hears.

But then it’s too late.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Smile! You’re On Arial Camera (Oooo, nooo, a typo! It's Aerial, Duh, thanks, alert reader)

Didja get your nifty letter and photo of your property, taken from a Look! Look! Up In The Sky! camera, complete with (if known) a yellow dot where your septic is located and a little sticky marker you can peel off and place in your front yard as where you’d like your nice new septic tank, if the County decides to go ahead with a STEP system.

Plus a little Circle One survey that ranges from, Yes I like Step to EEEUUUU We’re All Gonna Die!

The letter notes “Initial cost estimates indicate that a STEP system may be a cost effective option for the community. . . . Specifically, estimators need to know where individual property owners would want their STEP tanks installed if this collection system option is selected. . . . The County’s project analysis has established that the STEP alternative is cost competitive and is potentially viable for Los Osos.”

Very interesting. The County states that, when the EIR is released, it “will be closely followed by a community advisory survey. The advisory survey will ask all community members their opinions on project options for technologies, enhancements, and locations. The advisotry survey will be sent to residents, property owners, and business owners, both inside and outside the Prohibiton Zone.”

But THIS document asks, Do the homeowners in the PZ support a STEP system right off the bat BEFORE they have any cost analysis comparisons to go along with it?

Does that then skew any subsequent survey results? Or skew any further work done on the various projects? For example, suppose a majority of forms are returned saying, Yes, I support STEP. Clearly, since STEP is “cost competitive and is potentially viable for Los Osos,” that system will move to the head of the line. (Why not? Cheaper and with community acceptance? Win-Win.)

BUT, suppose the majority of forms are returned saying, NO I don’t support STEP, will that move a STEP system to the back of the line? And then, when the final reports come out with the price tags for the various systems, will the community look at STEP and say, Woa, wait a minute, it costs how much less?? Wait, let me rethink this. Uh, Yes, think I’ll change my vote for STEP, since I didn’t know the price the first time, and now that you show me the price savings, I’ll vote, Yes I support STEP.

And so forth.

In the meantime, since there were no cost comparisons (STEP vs. gravity vs cluster systems, etc.) along with these photos, sticky notes and forms, homeowners returning the forms and “voting” are doing so blind. Which will make the results both interesting and questionable. But in addition, the forms will give the engineers valuable information as to what percentage of homes do or don’t have enough space for a tank in the front yard. (If memory serves, weren’t the majority of septic tanks in the PZ located in the front yard, which would make replacing tanks and the laterals easy since they’d be so near the street trunk lines.) That in itself will likely influence how the County proceeds.

In short, this survey raises a whole lotta questions about whether it’s giving a fair shot to STEP. After all, I’m sure a whole lot of people will base their ultimate choice on overall cost and with no overall cost guestimates given in this mailing, they lack that information. And if this survey result becomes “real,” will it influence the later surveys and/or even alter the selection process?

Well, stay tuned.

I had no trouble placing my little sticky note and adding written notes on possible other sites or sites that wouldn’t work due to ginormous invasive tree roots from the eucalyptus in the easements by the street and so forth. I also circled Yes! I support STEP and did so for a variety of reasons, among which is: I’m not afraid of my septic tank. My septic tank is my friend since STEP utilizes my septic tank to digest sludge thereby reducing the work needed to be done at the treatment plant ($$$$) and reducing the amount of sludge needed to be taken somewhere (mo’ $$$$); removing liquid septage only uses smaller bore pipes which reduces the cost of laying pipe (no need to dig ginormous holes in the streets ($$$$); if there’s any breakage, the operators are alerted immediately, since the liquid is under pressure, so it can be repaired immediately, versus hidden leaks from gravity pipes that may leak for ages before being discovered and the community is Fined! Fined! Fined! By Roger Briggs ($$$$$), and so forth.

Well, my particular die is cast. I hope yours is too. And now we’ll wait to see what the rest of the plans show and will “vote” accordingly. Chugga Chugga Chugga.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

CC's in Town

Uh-oh, over at , Ron Crawford has posted an entry, "Red Flag Warning For Coastal Commmission Hearings," and notes that the C.C. (the folks who acted like "Bait & Switchy" is NOP), is in town to vote on the "coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance (CZLUO) or Implementation Plan (IP) portion of its certified Local Coastal Plan(LCP.)

Ron's afraid, given the history of poor bait & switchy Los Osos that it's entirely possible that this new "amendment" could have an . . . interesting . . . effect on Los Osos.

Well, if so, that'd be about normal for our Bangaldesh By The Bay.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mis-History 101

Ah, yes, it’s a perfect example of why Americans remain so ignorant of their history, so oblivious to the realities that have shaped their lives, Alzheimer’s Nation.

LA. Times article, “A conservative who didn’t budge,” noting that Jesse Helms, “the former U.S. senator from North Carolina who for half a century infuriated liberals with his race baiting campaign tactics and presidents of both parties with his use of senatorial privilege, died Friday. He was 86.”

In the second paragraph, where everyone is sure to read it, President Bush is quoted, “Jesse Helms was a kind, decent and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called “the Miracle of America.” So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July.”

People who don’t remember Helms or don’t know history will read that and think, Gosh, a decent, kind, humble man.

No wasn’t. Jesse Helms was an arrogant, bigoted, jingoistic ignoramus whose policies and votes did real harm to real people and real harm to the U.S. He was a shameful blot on the Senate.

It isn’t until you get to the jump page, A 19, waaaaaaaay deep into the story, where few will ever read it, to find this, “When Helms announced his retirement in 3001, Kevin Siers, the editorial cartoonist for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, depicted the news with a drawing of a Confederate flag at half-saff.

Just as striking was the comment from Skip Alston, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. “Jim Crow Sr. is about to retire after spreading his venom of racism and hate for almost 30 years. Jesse Helms’ only legacy will be one of prejudice and mean-spiritedness.”

And there follows, waaaaay at the back of a long story, where almost no one will read it, are examples of Helms typical bigoted nastiness.

Decent? Kind? Humble? No. But guess what myth will now arise for Saint Helms, and that myth will become “Truth,” and in most American’s minds pass for “History.”

And you wonder why we keep making so many appalling mistakes. Not only to we not read history, we’re fed bunkum by our commander in chief, phony twaddle about a disgrace of a Senator who should have been given the boot out the senate door years ago.

The Finest Medical Care In The World

People who oppose any kind of single-payer national medical program constantly tout our health care system as the finest in the world. Apparently people from Canada are flocking across the border to get help from our system. Heck, even people from France are supposedly fleeing here by the millions to access themselves of our splendid health care system.

I bring this up because I got a 5:30 a.m. call from an old, old friend of mine. I knew her from Art Center School. She introduced my husband to me. She and her husband were the Golden Couple, smart, talented, creative. She had her own dress design atelier, the perfect life. Until adult onset paranoid schizophrenia set in and destroyed it all.

Year in and out I will get odd notes or phone calls as she cycles through a legal and medical system that believes she has a RIGHT to be insane and sleep in a gully somewhere out in the desert. That’s the problem both with schizophrenia and our system of health care. Treatment and medications either don’t work for long or have terrible side effects so the patient stops taking them, and then the madness returns and they fall through anything resembling a safety net. Since she’s an adult and has a RIGHT to her insanity, her parents (doubtful if they’re even alive) can’t help her, her friends have no legal standing to force her to get the help she needs, and so she slips into and out of madness, into and out of jail, into and out of often poorly regulated board and care homes, into and out of the streets.

And every year I wait for a phone call from a police officer somewhere telling me my phone number was found on her body, which was found murdered somewhere in a homeless encampment.

Thus do we care for the sickest among us in a system that isn’t really designed to help people insane enough to think they’re “well.”

Yep, those Canadians have it right. Welcome to America. And if you have your wits about you, say a thankful prayer and hope to hell you keep them.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Take Two Aspirins . . .

If you want a perfect example of just how creeping corporatism has taken over our lives, I offer the following AP story: “Regulators admit they didn’t try to collect Blue Cross fine.”

Remember in’ 07, when the Department of Managed Health Care, a STATE regulator, funded and created by the STATE OF CALIFORNIA to protect the PEOPLE of the STATE of California from predatory companies and consumer rip-offs and murderous health care practices that kill people?

Like the practice of “rescission,” wherein an insurance company takes all your nice money for years and when you get deathly sick, pulls the policy out from under you on the bogus basis that you accidentally misspelled your middle name on the application or forgot to mention on the same application that you had the flu in 1957 when you were 13 and so you’re left with no coverage, bankrupt, and soon dead. And so forth? And the STATE said, Nuh-huh, that kind of crap is ILLEGAL, you can’t do that. And a few smaller companies complied but Blue Cross didn’t so the STATE sued Blue Cross for millions of dollars in fines but hasn’t collected a penny.

Why? Here’s what the AP notes: “The [managed health care] department’s director, Cindy Ehnes, told the Associated Press on Thursday that, when it comes to rescissions, the agency has had success in forcing smaller insurers to reinstate illegally canceled policies and pay fines, but Blue Cross is too powerful to take on.

“’In each and every one of those rescissions (Blue Cross has) the right to contest each, and that could tie us up in court forever,’ Ehnes said of the approximately 1,770 Blue Cross rescissions between Jan 1, 2004, and now.

“They have the largest number of rescissions, so as a practical matter for the department it does present some practical challenges that are different from a Health Net (of California) or a Pacific Care,” referring to providers who, along with Kaiser Permanente, have made settlements with the state to reinstate health care coverage.

“That means that although Anthem Blue Cross has the highest number of alleged illegal rescissions, it may face the least regulatory consequence simply because of its sheer size, and aggressive legal defense.

Even though the STATE has been at the negotiating table with Blue Cross for a year, attempts to reinstate those ILLEGALLY rescinded policies had failed. I’m sure a lot of the policyholders have failed (died or gone bankrupt) also. And now the state has promised to pursue “vigorous enforcement.”

Bwa-hahahah. Sure. Maybe the STATE could ask the two suit boys from the AG’s office to drop the really, really, important case against the hapless Los Osos 45, and have them help out on a case that has trashed thousands of people most in need of real help.

And for the rest of us, a question: Just how did it come to pass that we citizens allowed ourselves to become corporate pawns, suckers ripe for corporate fleecing, with a government too weak to protect the interests of its own citizens? Worse, why do we citizens accept such behavior? Do we have low self-esteem issues? Self described, chest-thumping, Red-Blooded Americans with the mentality of abject serfs?

And Blue Cross is just the tip of the iceberg.

Flyyyyy Meee to the Moooonnnn. . .

Speaking of ordinary citizens, the ordinary citizens of SLOTown who want to fly somewhere have to finangle a seat on the only airline and flight left leaving this joint. High fuel costs have sent several air carriers scampering for financially healthier climes.

HOWEVER, if you’re very, very rich, and live in SLOTown and want to fly to Riyadh to visit your nice oil money, or bank money, the Tribune reports that “San Luis Obispo-based Le Bas International has expanded its private charter flight services with a new branch if Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“The company said it hopes to cultivate a new elite client base of high-net-worth individuals, royalty, heads of state and corporations base in Saudi Arabia.” Who apparently might want to fly into and out of beautiful SLO town on a wonderful private air charter to visit their grape vineyards and or get an order of incredibly delicious Belgian fries at Bel Frites. Complete with a selection of yummy dipping sauces.

As for the rest of us chumps, if we want to leave town, better stick out our thumbs and stand by the side of Highway 101.

And now your Saturday Poem, from the March 10 New Yorker

By Stephen Dunn

It’s like this, the king marries
a commoner, and the populace cheers.
She doesn’t even know how to curtsy,
but he loves her manners in bed.
Why doesn’t the king do what his father did,
the king’s mother wonders –
those peasant girls brought in
through that secret entrance, that’s how
a kingdom works best. But marriage!
The king’s mother won’t come out
of her room, and a strange democracy
radiates throughout the land,
which causes widespread dreaming,
a general hopefulness. This is,
of course, how people get hurt,
how history gets its ziggy shape.
The king locks his wife in the tower
because she’s begun to ride
her horse far into the woods.
How unqueenly to come back
to the castle like that,
so sweaty and flushed. The only answer,
his mother decides, is stricter rules –
no whispering in the corridors,
no gaiety in the fields.
The king announces his wife is very tired
and has decided to lie down,
and issues an edict that all things yours
are once again his.
This is the kind of law
history loves, which contains
its own demise. The villagers conspire
for years, waiting for the right time,
which never arrives. There’s only
that one person, not exactly brave,
but too unhappy to be reasonable,
who crosses the moat, scales the walls.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News,Tolosa Press, SLO, Ca for July 3,08

A Visit from “Uncle Phil”

It wasn’t my fault. Honest. It wasn’t.

I first noticed something was wrong when I grabbed a branch of my huge, beautiful pale pink mallow bush and the whole thing fell over. The main trunk looked like it had been gnawed off by a beaver. Then the mounds appeared in the front yard and I knew who had arrived – gophers.

I couldn’t use poison for fear the sick or dying creature would escape its burrow to become a deadly meal for my canine crew or any passing crow or hawk. Plus, poisoning is an ugly business, even if the critters are trying to eat up my front yard, so I thought I’d try a different tack.

For some reason, the gophers didn’t seem to bother the salvias, so I started planting salvias. Chemical warfare -- a no-kill method of discouraging the gophers while also xeriscaping the front yard with plants that were not only drought resistant, but came in an endless variety of colors and sizes. And lavender plants, too. Apparently, those didn’t appeal to the gopher’s palate either.

Oddly enough, neither did geraniums. Or rock roses. Or the giant four o’clocks, with their sweet-potato-sized tubers. And so our battle of the edibles continued until the furry beasts upped the ante by downing another mallow.

Then, out came the wallet. No more Mrs. Nice Person. “Kill’ em painlessly in their burrows,” said the package of smoke bombs. “Koff-Koff-Koff, ” said the gophers, gleefully digging more holes. “Environmentally safe castor oil spray drives ‘em away,” guaranteed the environmentally safe castor oil spray bottle. The gophers didn’t drive anywhere, but more of my money sure did. “Use those beeping gopher stakes. They work like a charm,” assured one of my blog posters. Pounding dollar bills into the ground would have worked better, since one gopher even pushed up a huge mound right next to the beeping stake. Clearly, my gophers were into heavy metal music.

Like some awful uninvited obnoxious drunk at your nice weekend party, no amount of less-than-lethal hints that maybe it was time to move on worked. Not smoke, not sprays, not loud music.

And then the gophers went too far. Coming out in the early morning to get the paper, I noticed a huge gopher mound right smack dab in the middle of one of the old wine-barrel planters. The arrogant, rotten little scoundrel had come right up through the bottom of the planter and there on the walkway lay a huge pile of gnawed off yellow nasturtiums.

Well, that was that. Nobody messes with my yellow nasturtiums. Nobody.

That’s when my neighbor Phil got a phone call. Soon his tall, lanky figure ambled down the dirt road. Was that High Plains Drifter music I heard wafting in the background or merely the metallic clank from a pair of evil-looking, deadly metal gopher traps dangling from his hand?

He gazed earthward with Clint Eastwoodian narrowed eyes, and with slow, practiced movements he probed the ground with an enormously long screwdriver, then dug and carefully placed the traps. All while counseling patience since, as he noted, it often takes a while to round ‘em up and head’ em up to Heaven.

Days passed, traps were triggered but empty, then moved and moved again. Finally, Phil and his wife Candy walked down early one morning to check the lines. A firm tug and out popped a dead, sickly-sweet smelling, thoroughly decomposing gopher, his damp fur matted, his huge incisors gleaming yellow in the sun.

Before I could even get in a quick prayer for the rotten little guy’s soul, the sight of my mallow-chomping enemy suddenly turned me into a goggle-eyed, growling, fist-pumping Tusken Raider from Star Wars. “ Rrrooooaaggghh, Rrroooaagghhh!” I howled, jerking my arms skyward. Then to add insult to mortal injury, I bent down to the tunnel to evilly croon in my best Baby Jane sing-song, “Yooo hoo, Oh little gopheeees, Uncle Phil The Gopher Killer is here. Sweeeet dreeeeeems. Heeee-heeeee-heeee.”

“Careful,” said Candy, sipping on her coffee. “Or PETA will come pay you a visit.”

“Let them,” I snarled, unrepentant. “I gave those rotten crummy little varmints every chance in the book to take the hint and go away. But did they listen? They did not.”

“I’ll be back,” said Phil, resetting the traps.

“Heh-heh,” I replied, taking my smelly dead prize to the garbage can.

Like I said. It wasn’t my fault. They made me do it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Adios, Mike!

On the next to the last posting comment section, regular commenter, Mike Green, is bidding buh-bye. Mike, (one of the few people to actually sign on and add his sane, sweet, often funny, sensible comments while posting his real name, instead of hiding behind some anonymouse persona) and his wife are going to "become vagabonds," for a "2 year meander across America, Canada and Mexico." They'll be renting their house out (so if you live near Mike, keep an eye on the place!) so they'll have a place to return to in a few years.

Maybe by that time most of the Hideous Sewer Wars will be over and while the streets will all be torn up and dust everywhere, life will be returning to "normal." Maybe.

Meantime, Bon Voyage, Mike. Do let us all know if you set up a blogsite to keep us informed about your rambles.

O.K. Bee Count

Been trying to spend as much time as I can in Kifani's Corner of my yard (koff-koff with all the sour smoke smell drifting down from Big Sur. State's burning, a taste of our future. Not good). And while out there, I've noticed about two or three bumblebees having a wonderful time rambling around on the lavender spears and tumbling about in the mallow blooms.

BUT so far this summer, I've counted maybe three honey bees doing the same. Scientists and beekeepers are all alarmed (and rightly so) with colony collapse, an as-yet unknown malady that's killing off the bees. This is truly an alarming problem since so much of the earth's plants depend on bees.

I've seen bee hives now out along the farms out on Los Osos Valley Road, but unlike a few years ago, there are almost no bees poking around in my yard.

So, Dear & Gentle Reader, let's have your bee reports. How's you garden doing, bee wise?

O.K. Trigger, Blow Into The Mouthpiece

Finally, racehorses will now be tested for steroids and other drugs. Well, sort of. Right now it's voluntary. Big Brown's stable has stepped forward to declare that their horses will run clean.

Notes the L.A. Times (6/24/08) "Whether other owners come forward and take a similar stance might not matter. The NTRA [National Thoroughbred Racing Association] and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium are pushing the 38 racing states to adopt a model rule that would ban all but four steroids considered theraputic in nature.

"Under the model rule, which could be in place in each of the states by the end of the year, horses that are administered one of the four approved steroids -- including stanozolol--would be prohibited from racing for 30 days. Once they return to the track, they must test under the allowable threshold for the drug or the trainer and owner would be subject to penalties and fines.

"If they're not going to do it properly, it's going to be imposed upon them," said California Horse Racing Board chairman Robert Shapiro. "I applaud anybody who can see the writing on the wall."

Of course, when it comes to Big $$$$$$, the writing on the wall usually gets so erased or covered over with loopholes, there ends up little or no wall, let along any writing on it.

So, we'll see.

Better To Move To France Than Change Your Internet

Oy, France is looking good right now. Been weeks since getting a re-done, updated computer and a new provider, and I'm still spending endless hours futzing with the new email program, still have to fully complete my address book, am still pulling my hair out over a program that's downright snotty -- follow its prompts to set up something, click all the proper boxes only to have it suddenly claim absolute ignornance of all that went before -- "Nuh-huh, I don't know anything about "categories," what are you talking about, don't look at me, Nuh, huh."

Or just gets balky and goes "Pfffttttt, ain't gonna, doan hafta, I'm busy go away."

Saw a card once with an enraged duck attacking a computer and keyboard with a sledge hammer. Open up the card and it said, simply, "To start, hit any key."


Where's mah ax?