Sunday, January 31, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

This perfectly lovely Sunday sermon . . . er. . . poem is by Mary Oliver, from her 2006 book “Thirst.”

Making the House Ready for the Lord

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice – it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances – but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, I know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Psst, America

Before President Obama was elected, the voters were all one big whine, “Gaawww, we gotta have health care reform, we’re dying out here, dying! Help, Help, Help, We want single payer, we want a public option, we want, we want, we want.”

Then they elected Obama AND re-elected and elected a sufficient number of congresspeople who are philosophically and practically utterly OPPOSED to single payer, or anything even resembling real reform or any public options.

So Congress sets to work to make sausage without a veto-proof number that would enable them to actually deliver some sort of single payer, public option, medicare-for-all type plan the public said they wanted. The result was a sausage that sold the American public to the insurance companies, guaranteed their continued high profits with only minor tinkering around the edges instead of real “reform” in how we deliver health care, and a fat deal cut for big pharama – EXACTLY what one would expect when you have a non-veto-proof congress composed of anti-public programs, status quo, insurance company/big pharma water carriers.

At which the American people start whining, “Eeeeuuu, we don’t’ like THIS health care bill, we want ANOTHER one, we want a blue one, this one’s green, we don’t like green, plus we want a public option, we want, we want, we want.”

Errrkk, Sorry, America. Ya gits whatcher pay for. You elect people who do not believe the government has a role to play in people’s lives, who believe that the free market will solve all their problems, who believe that the status quo is just fine, who believe that their only job is not to actually govern but to do everything in their power to keep themselves in power, no matter how damaging that is to the rest of the country, then that’s exactly what you’ll get. So, zip it. There’s an election coming up. You want “real change,” America? Well, here’s your chance. Laws are made in Congress, not in the White House. In the meantime, stop whining.

Speaking of which . . .

How often have you heard the comment, “It doesn’t matter who’s president,” well last night’s State of the Union had an interesting example of how wrong that idea is. Right down front sat the Supreme Court who recently voted to grant “personhood” free speech rights to corporations. President Obama commented to their faces that he thought that was a bad idea that would open America up for more money corrupting the political process, plus allowing foreign corporations a huge foot in the door of our own home-grown national pastime: Buy A Congressman.

Weirdly, everyone stood up to applaud his whacking this recent Supreme Court decision, even Republicans who mostly remained seated throughout the speech, even when the President noted he had cut taxes, a Pavlovian phrase that usually automatically brings Republicans to their feet, cheering.

But there it was: Presidents who appoint Supreme Court members actually DO matter because the Supremes then go on to “legislate from the bench” and thereby impact real people’s lives long after the President who appointed them has gone.

How this recent ruling shakes out remains to be seen. But you have to admit, the idea of China, Inc. OWNING our Congress is delicious to contemplate. But that Chief Justice Roberts would make a ruling that would open the door for just such a “corporate” move should come as no surprise. Chief Justice Roberts was a “corporate” guy from day one. His promise to respect legal precedence during his confirmation was hokum designed to get him confirmed. But that’s how our kabuki theatre of Supreme Court confirmations go. As with all things, leopards don’t usually change their spots. And we shouldn’t expect them to do so. Once again, ya gets whatcha ask for.

Which is why . . .

America needs to stop whining about President Obama being some sort of flaming Liberal. That’s more hokum Republican talking points. Obama was and is a firmly planted centrist. And it’s no use whining that Obama needs to take the reins and just drive this wagon. He’s not a “driver,” either. Never was. He’s a “community organizer,” through and through. And while Sarah Palin sneered at that occupation, she failed to understand the basic mind set of “community organizers:” Bottom up, self-generated, consensus, centrist.

Community organizers don’t “lead.” They allow The Community to chose the path and the method and then enable movement. Which is exactly what Obama did with the health care issue. Congress was the “community,” representing the people who elected them, so it was up to Congress to craft a plan that would be bottom up, self-generated, consensus and centrist. And leaving aside the corruption of Congress by the health care/big pharma industries and other lobbying forces in removing key components (single payer, public option) even before the discussion began, that’s exactly the health care proposal they ended up with – bottom up, self-generated, consensus (all the wheeling and dealing designed to get everyone on board), centrist.

And, of course, that’s when the whining started. Eeeuuuu, it’s blue. I don’t LIKE blue, I want green. And so forth. Which is caused because the American people don’t seem to realize that our system of government is based on “community organization.” Congress IS our Community Organization and depends on all members seriously working together to craft laws that will solve problems. The system works only if all parties work to actually get things done (make sausage), understand that nothing centrist will please everyone, and know that pragmatic compromise is the name of any Community Organizing game. And the system fails to work if a sufficiently large number of organizers simply turn into a Party of NO and block any efforts that aren’t to their liking.

And seeing to it that our National Community Organization (Congress) functions properly is the job of the voters. If they want a functioning Congress, they need to vote in people who will actually work to get things done. If they want a dysfunctional Congress, they’ll vote in whole Parties of NO or keep electing or re-electing Wholly Owned Subsidiaries of Corporation X whose constituent isn’t The People, but is Corp. X, or they’ll keep electing strictly partisan, regional Bringers of Local Pork who don’t give a fig for the rest of the community (the nation).

In short, here in America, we get the Congress we deserve. The choices are always ours. So enough with the whining. Ya gits whatcha asked for.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I Almost Became A Land Baron

If you remember my previous posting about the poor dead tree in “no man’s land” on the right-of-way of the dirt road in front of my house, you’ll recall that that area operates under the County’s version of the Heisenberg’s Dead/Live Cat uncertainty principle – it is at the same time that it isn’t, so to speak. If there’re problems out there in the stretch of dirt from my property line to the middle of the dirt road, well, that’s my problem. But if I want to claim “my problem dirt” as mine, well, I can’t because it’s the County’s.

Sigh. All this land, just for the claiming, just out of reach. Or nearly so. In yesterday’s Tribune, Bob Cuddy reports a recent proposal by Public Works Director Paavo Ogren presented to the BOS that “Homeowners, not the county, should be held responsible for sidewalks, that run in front of their homes . . .. . Ogren told supervisors last week that state codes require property owners ‘to make any needed repairs to sidewalks fronting the parcel’ If they don’t, the government agency can fix it and bill the homeowner, he said.”

All of which is likely being proposed because the County’s broke and looking for ways to shove more and County responsibility/costs off onto private homeowners. Which seems to be the permanent mind-set of Americans nowadays: Get wanted public amenities without having the public paying for them by the phony slight of hand of sticking the costs to The Other Guy, which, ultimately, turns out to be All of Us anyway, which we don’t realize because it takes an IQ larger than our shoe size to figure that out, which sized IQ we’re clearly lacking.

At any rate, “[Paavo] suggested that the county create an ordinance that would ‘assign liability’ to the property owners.” “Asked later to elaborate on the proposal, Ogren reiterated that the state Streets and Highways Code ‘provides the ability to have property owners fix sidewalks, and many agencies do place the responsibility on property owners.” Although he also noted that at this time this county doesn’t have an ordinance that would invoke that State code. But the Supes looked askance at his present proposal and sent it over to County Counsel Warren Jensen to look into the whole matter.

Especially the “liability” issue, since it does seem patently unfair to force liability on a homeowner when he/she has absolutely NO control over public access. I mean, homeowners have liability over their own property, but then they can control who comes onto their property because they can fence it off and limit access. But you can’t do that with streets or sidewalks. With those, every damned fool in the world is free to traipse around on the thing and fall down and sue you and there’s no way you can keep the damned fools from doing that.

So it remains to be seen what County Counsel comes up with. But for a moment there, I had dreams of my new estates, vast swaths of land sweeping from my property line right into the middle of the dirt road in front of the house, all now filled with wild mustard seedlings, the odd coyote bush, purple wild pea-family type bushy thingees, some Matilija Poppies and lots of potholes. All of it now prey to drunken drivers who come careening down the “public” road, swerve off to play wheelies in the sloped sand-hill property up the street, then come sliding sideways to topple into the ditch across the street. Pass an ordinance and I and most of my neighbors will fence “our” property off, pool our money to hire an attorney to argue that liability must go hand in hand with control, and then start planting petunias and posting No Trespassing Signs.

Or, better yet, we could even set up a toll road. After all, I don’t want just anybody crossing Calhoun’s Acres and trampling on the petunias. Or run over me as I sit in my Adirondack chair out in the middle of the peace and quite of MY road, enjoying the nice sun while the dogs frolic around on my vast new baronial estate.

And mounted Outriders dressed in bright yellow waterproof slickers, gimlet eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, armed with high powered rifles, ceaselessly, restlessly patrol the borders of my landholdings, looking for some damned fool “public” to shoot.

Speaking of Shooting The Public . . .

Steve Paige has an interesting posting with a downloadable PDF, over at his website at I suggest you read what he has to say. It is most interesting and gets back to the heart of 83-13, a moratorium that was supposedly based on the danger of high-nitrates to our drinking water. Contained in the “zero discharge” requirements within the PZ imposed by the RWQCB are multitudes of contradictions, such as How can the RWQCB issue a permit to the county for a gravity system that they know “leaks” and “pollutes” within a “zero discharge” PZ? And so forth. Or, what evidence did the RWQCB have that Los Osos is filled with “leaking” septic tanks, hence requiring that if a STEP system were to be used (using sealed pipes that don’t “leak”) all the tanks had to be replaced?

Including legally permitted tanks that aren’t “leaking” anything, hence aren’t “discharging” anything in a “zero discharge” zone, and once their wastewater “discharge” were piped to a sealed pipe ("zero discharge") and taken away for treatment, there would be “zero discharge” in the “zero discharge” zone, hmmmm?

Questions like that. I suggest people really need to start thinking about this since the RWQCB and the County and, so far, the Coastal Commission have refused to ask and answer and/ or address (truthfully) any of those issues. And the answers become really critical when you look at cost issues.

Posted with permission.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

Ah, this sly and witty poem is too good not to be be shared. It appeared in the Oct 12, 2009 New Yorker and is by Vijay Seshadri.

Thought Problem

How strange would it be if you met yourself on the street?
How strange if you liked yourself,
took yourself in your arms, married your own self,
propagated by techniques known only to you,
and then populated the world? Replicas of you are everywhere.
Some are Arabs. Some are Jews. Some livea in yurts. It is
an abomination, but better that your
sweet and scrupulously neat self
emerges at many points on the earth to watch the horned moon rise
than all those dolts out there,
turning into pillars of salt wherever we look.
If we have to have people, let them be you,
spritzing your geraniums, driving yourself to the haberdashery,
killing your supper with a blowgun.
Yes, only in the forest do you feel at peace,
up in the branches and down in the terrific gorges,
but you’ve seen through everything else.
You’ve fled in terror across the frozen lake,
you’ve found yourself in the sand, the palace,
the prison, the dockside stews;
and long ago, on this same planet, you came home
to an empty house, poured a Scotch-and-soda,
and sat in a recliner in the unlit rumpus room,
puzzled at what became of you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Well, Kiss Yer Keester Bye-Bye, Dear Citizen

The Supreme Court has decided that corporations can spend as much money as they like on political campaigns of whatever stripe they wish. So, if you thought the citizens of this country were laboring under a de facto corporateocracy now, ah, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The sluice gates are now opened by an “activist court” explicitly ignoring its usual regard for stare decisis. So far, the usual “conservative” talking heads are remaining amazingly quiet about their usual hot-button rants about “activist courts,” which certainly was a huge part of this decision.

And I haven’t yet heard from John McCain whose McCain Feingold Act of 202 has now been eviscerated. Presumably he’ll make disapproving noises. But it now remains to be seen how or whether Congress will move to blunt this ruling by making more laws that can somehow balance corporate $$ power and a For Sale congress, though making such changes will require a fox rebuild his very nice, well stocked chicken cop.

So, I won’t hold my breath. Nor will I hold my breath in hopes that The Public will wake up and connect the dots that lead from corporate electioneering directly to laws that benefit corporations at the expense of the dear Public that can’t connect the dots. Or wake up enough to understand that Corporations are not People and shouldn’t have the same “rights” as people. And change the laws accordingly. Nope, no breath holding on my part.

But here’s a real simple dot that, I think (hope?) most people can connect? Imagine, for example, a ballot measure allowing the citizens of SLO County to form a non-profit municipal power company offering clean, alternative energy to all county residents. Imagine the amount of citizen-raised funds needed to publicize and promote support for such a ballot measure. Now, imagine the amount of money available from oil companies, coal companies, PG&E that can now be brought to bear, in unlimited quantities, to defeat such an initiative. Imagine how much finite media is available locally, the square inches of ad space in all the newspapers, ad time on TV and radio. It’s limited and all of it can be bought by one side or the other. And run 24/, thereby totally controlling the flow of information available.

Guess who wins that election? Guess who loses. Right.

Uh, Oh, Ron’s Asking Annoying Questions Again.

Over at

Sky High

Yesterday’s story in the Business section of the L.A. Times by W.J. Hennigan was about “A big bird, aging gracefully – The first 747 made its maiden commercial flight 40 years ago today.”

Forty years? Oy, how time flies. Seems like only yesterday, my husband and I went down to the start of the north runway at LAX , the longest runway at the time. We parked with several other people and walked to the fence and waited. You could do that in those far away days. We were waiting to see the very first 747 come in and soon enough she did. She sure looked big, she sure sounded big, she seemed to take forever to get overhead and touch down, but just how big that plane was didn’t really hit home until she had taxied back to the terminal and pulled in next to a parked 707.

With that juxtaposition, the size hit home, right in the solar plexis. It was interesting evidence of how critical experiential spacial “body sense” and juxtapositioning is. My body sense-memory already had a “feel” for the size of the 707, having stood next to one, have flown in them, so I internally “knew” how big that plane was. And it was big. But seeing the 747 next to the 707, it hit home; there’s Big and then there’s HOLY COW THAT’S BIG!

Indeed, George Lucas offered his own 747 moment in the opening of 1977’s “Star Wars.” Coming in overhead, (like I was again standing at the end of LAX’s north runway) was Princess Leia’s space ship and I said, as it passed over head, “Wow. That’s Big.” To which Lucas slyly replied, “You think that’s big, watch THIS!” as the theatre’s dolby sound system rumbled and Darth Vader’s massive battleship passed overhead for what felt like hours.

For quite a while afterwards, those big birds coming into the north runway (the longest one at the time that could accommodate them) remained startlingly unusual enough to trigger a double take. Now, of course, they’re considered the norm and 707s look like little puddle jumpers. Thus do we quickly adjust to “mission creep,” whether it’s size or anything else, the outlandish and outrageous soon becoming the new norm.

Well, happy anniversary, Big Bird.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bees and Buds

Calhouns Can(n)ons for January 20, 2010

Bees and Buds

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Thornton Wilder

January. Warm and sunny. I have returned from the market and as I start unpacking groceries from the car in the driveway, I hear it. Humming. Loud humming. I look around, thinking somebody’s got an electric motor running somewhere. Then I look up, surprised to notice that the whatchamacallit tree by the driveway is filled with cream-colored flowers. And filled with bees. Humming bees. In January?

In the front garden, I am startled to notice a large rock rose has suddenly covered herself with beautiful white blooms. Brazen hussy. Gussied up for Mardi Gras and it’s still January. While out in the sandy no-man’s land between the front garden’s retaining wall and the puddle-filled dirt road, a close inspection shows tiny sprouts from wildflower seeds hand-gathered last fall from a neighbor’s yard and scatttered what seems only a few weeks ago. They are jostling and elbowing their way into the world next to equally frantic wild mustard seedlings. It will be a tangled, colorful riot soon filled with more bees.

Last summer, while at Los Osos Valley Nursery, a serendipitous mixed up order for a Rogers Red grapevine resulted in my stumbling upon a vitex trifolia purpuea, or Arabian Lilac bush/tree. Not a true lilac, but a fragrant cousin of the chaste tree, it’s an astonishingly lovely plant, with groups of three oval-shaped leaves (hence trifolia) that are each slightly creased down their length and gently canted up on either side which allows the chaste tree to unchastely reveal her lovely secret: the underside of each leaf is a beautiful dusky lavender and because of the crease, the purple below and the olive green above are always both visible.

Quite enchanted with a plant that resembled a modest lady with her purple slip perpetually showing, I ordered several and stuck them in both back and front yards. I even planted one in a large pot in Kifani’s Corner. They started growing immediately, putting forth branches and more beautiful leaves and even sweet smelling lilac-like blooms on the ends of the branches.

But then an unexpected early killing frost hit before I could get them covered and the chaste tree was soon chastened back to dead leaves and bare branches. I left them untouched hoping that they were simply shocked to an early sleep, not an early compost bin, and waited. And along with the bees, there they were. Chaste little lavender buds peeping out from the base of the frost-bitten stems. Just waiting for a warm, sunny January day to start growing again.

Warm sunny January days and now rain. Days of rain rolling in from the Pacific. Days of rain called the “Pineapple Express,” rolling in from way out in the ocean somewhere near Hawaii and other tropical climes, full of water, meeting an “Artic Express” full of cold air. Rain. Rain. Rain. Much needed but capable of horrific destruction on the areas burned off in last year’s fires. Apocalyptic California of fire and flood. The evil and obscene televangelist Pat Robertson no doubt ready to declare that Californians are deserving of any and all earthly destructive natural forces because we all made a pact with the devil somewhere along the way. Evidence of which is we get warm sunny bee-filled days in January, no doubt.

While desperately needed in our drought-ridden and water over-drafted state, the rain now requires of me some major engineering of the back yard to rechannel the banked sand trails and sinks and holes the dogs have created in their Indianapolis 500 zooming to try to eliminate an now-inconvenient Lake Calhoun, and to get the water out further into the yard. For now, with the wet sand simply too heavy for any major earthworking, I can only dig temporary canals and hope for the best.

But at least now I am somewhat more prepared, having bought the last bright yellow hooded rain jacket left on the local Ace Hardware shelf. Looking like the Gorton Fish Stick Guy, shovel in hand, I am prepared. Sort of. And just in time, too. This early a.m. I can hear the thunder. A flash of lightning winks between the blinds. High winds are predicted. Never a good combination. And for the Pacific Gas & Electric repair crews, those Paladins of Power, I fear it will be a long, long day of dangerous circuit riding.

Another thunder crack. I can only hope the bees are safely hiding now and dreaming of more warm sunny January days to come. And when they return, the lavender and green chaste Arabian Lilacs will be there for them, shamelessly offering sweet blooms.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Your Sunday Recipe

Since it’s fixin’ to rain, rain, rain, it’s a perfect time for soup, soup, soup. This lovely recipe comes from a really great book, “Saved by Soup,” by Judith Barrett. Go to your local gookstore and order it. It’s a paperback, so not expensive. There’s 100 recipes in it, all are low fat, use fresh ingredients, yet are simple to make and, since it’s soup, you can play around with the seasoning, which is half the fun. I added curry powder, poultry seasoning, red pepper, garam masala. I had it both with and without the escarole. For crunch, add the escarole. For pure, rich satiny “comfort food” texture, try it without. Yum.

Lemony Chickpea and Escarole Soup

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 cups cooked or canned (drained and rinses) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (I used two cans)
4 cups no-fat chicken stock (1 box)
1 small head escarole, roughly chopped to yield about 6 cups
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste

Salt, pepper, seasoning
2 tb chopped fresh parsley to garnish.

Heat oil in heavy pot, cook onion and garlic, stirring, until golden. Add chickpeas and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
Use immersion blender to blend soup thoroughly. Add chopped escarole (or not) adjust seasoning, cook 7-10 minutes longer (until escarole is tender) Stir in lemon juice. Garnish and serve with parsley.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here Come de Novo, Here Come de Novo

Well, I'll be hornswoggled. The Coastal Commissioners decided there were sufficient issues raised in the appeals that they wanted to take a second, closer, de novo look at the Hideous Sewer Project.

The Tribune reports this morning that Commissioner Sara Wan from Malibu states, "There are some serious deficiencies in here." [the "here" in question refering to the project reports & etc, I presume]. If I'm not mistaken, Commissioner Sara Wan was a commissioner the last time around, during the old "bait and switchy" days, and if Ron Crawford of Sewerwatch has sent the Commissioners one of his annoyingly thorough and nit-icky and document-linked emails asking about the missing substantial supportive documentation behind the previous (now rescinded) SOC for the Tri-W project, she may be aware that her original vote may have been based on bad or non-existent information so this time she's going to take a much closer look-see?

The Tribune's brief report notes that one of the issues the Commission will be looking at is a "more detailed timeline of the water conservation plan . . ." Good. The Sustainability Group wanted a much stronger conservation element, one that starts now instead of years from now, which sure seems like a good idea to me. So, let's hope the CC will take a look at that and maybe tinker with the requirements.

I'm sure some will spin this delay into an hysterical wail of how we've lost federal funding and we'll all go die in the streets, but I'm pleased with the Commission's ruling. This is a Hideously Complex project and as former County Planning Commissioner Sarah Christie said, we've got one chance to get this right. I would much rather have a slight delay and end up with a far better project than hysterically run ahead and get mired down in messes later, which has been the M.O. in the past.

So, everybody, take a deep breath. There's some work still to be done and I have no doubt the County will be working with the CC staff to address the issues they've raised, then the train will chug forward again.

Breathe. And remember, this a a "cow-free' zone, so don't have one if you plan on commenting below on this turn of events. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Uh, Better Call Yer Lawyer

Yesterday was the start of an amazing “trial” in Federal court challenging Proposition 8, the California proposition outlawing gay marriage (after gay marriage was allowed, then, ZIP, gone, whoosh!). The outcome will end up going to the Supreme Court but in the meantime, if you’re married, I’d suggest calling your attorney.

After all, if the ban against gay marriage is found to be unconstitutional, your straight marriage will be over. I know, I’m sorry it had to end like that, but there you are. I mean, everyone knows that allowing gays to marry means that “traditional” marriage will be destroyed. O.K. so there’s no evidence that that’s the case, but that’s been one of the main arguments used by the folks who supported Prop. 8. And in the January 18th edition of Newsweek, Theodore B. Olson, the “conservative” attorney (one of two) who’s bringing this lawsuit before the Feds, wrote: “Another argument, vague and even less persuasive, is that gay marriage somehow does harm to heterosexual marriage. I have yet to meet anyone who can explain to me what this means. In what way would allowing same-sexpartners to marry diminish the marriages of heterosexual couples? Tellingly, when the judge in our case asked our opponent to identify the ways in which same sex marriage would harm heterosexual marriage, to his credit he answered honestly: he could not think of any.”

So, who needs evidence in a court of law? Right. Nobody. So, that’s why I suggest you call your attorney. Never hurts to plan ahead. It takes time to divvy up a household, so it might be smart to start now to put little Post-it notes on the furniture, His, Hers, His, Hers, The Kids, etc. That way you’ll be ready to break up the household if the Supreme Court finds that “equal rights under law” actually means “equal rights under law.”


Criicckkk, crrrcckkk, criccckkkk in the quiet of the morning. Then the Black Screen of Death. Yup. Catastrophic Hard Drive Failure. Luckily, I had back up on my little Magic Information Stick so all was not lost. Luckily, my Computer Tutor, Steve Vandagriff was able to come by and together we gazed on the smoking wreck. And being a Luddite, Steve was available to begin the arduous task of getting the thing up and going and we’re still struggling with all the tweaking and add-ons and de-bugging that has to go on whenever you (in effect) get a new computer.

Love ‘em. Hate ‘em. Criicckkk, crrrcckkk, crccckkkkk…

Hey, I’m just askin’

Jan 10 Tribune editorial, “Los Osos sewer project needs to move forward,” which notes that “The project is in line to receive $80 million in federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the form of a $16 million grant and a $64 million low-interest loan.” And further notes that the Coastal Commission needs to approve “the project” and issue a permit for “the project” without delay at the Feb hearing. (“To qualify for USDA funding, however, the project must have a permit from the Coastal Commission – and if issuance of that permit is delayed beyond February, it may be too late. The money may be gone.”

What “project” are they talking about? Do they have a “design” that the CC can issue a permit for? Last I knew (the Planning Commission) the county had settled on three generic components: a gravity collection system (no “design” or blueprints or engineering schematics, just “gravity collection pipes”) and, I think, an oxidation ditch treatment component (no plans, specifications, blueprints,) and tertiary treatment with disposal at Broderson and other places, but I don’t think that included engineered plans or designs or anything the CC could look at to determine if this particular dispersal or even if this collection of components would meet various coastal plans & etc.

Also not known is, do USDA funds require an actual “plan/design” or can funds be allocated on the basis of a generic collection of components, none of which are actually nailed down? Sorta, Give us the money now and we’ll let you know later what we decide to build and where it will be built?

Does the Coastal Commission need an actual designed project to give a permit to, or can they also issue a sort of generic permit, i.e. Here’s a permit for some sort of collection system, placement and design to follow; some sort of treatment plant, size, placement, etc. to be determined later, and a water disposal system that will be detailed later?

And if they can issue a permit for a “component concept,” can the project (or a component) be changed later down the line without losing the permit or the funding, since the permit and the isn’t based on any specific designed project?

Well, maybe the Coastal Commission can answer those questions at their next meeting. As with all things sewerish, stay tuned.


It's 2150 in a sealed laboratory/work station on a planet called Pandora. The work station/ lab is sealed because the air on Pandora is deadly to humans. Into this (presumably) "clean" lab, wherein the humans are creating avatars for use in the deadly outside world, comes our tough, smart head scientist, played by Sigourney Weaver. We know she's tough because she's SMOKING A CIGARETTE, in a "clean lab" filled with all kinds of sensitive equipment in a sealed work area that has to manufacture and constantly clean the air that's being breathed by the humans because the air on the planet is poisonous.

So, we know she's tough on account of the cigarette. But we now know she's really dumb and all the people running the station are also dumb. In films there's "gratuitous violence" and now we have "gratuitous product placement."

Not Avatar's finest moment.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Your Sunday Poem

Often, in spring, as I drive along Highway One between SLO and Morro Bay, I’ll see buzzards perched on the phone poles, their wings akimbo, soaking up the early morning sun. And always, everywhere, the buzzards soaring, wheeling, riding the thermals, looking for lunch. This poem by Mary Oliver, from her book “American Primitive.”


Like large dark
butterflies they sweep over
the glades looking
for death,
to eat it,
to make it vanish,
to make of it the miracle:
Resurrection. No one
knows how many
they are who daily
minister so to the grassy
miles, no one
counts how many bodies
they discover
and descend to, demonstrating
each time the earth’s
appetite, the unending
waterfalls of change.
no one, moreover, wants to ponder it,
how it will be
to feel the blood cool,
shapeliness dissolve.
Locked into
the blaze of our own bodies
we watch them
wheeling and drifting, we
honor them and we
loathe them,
however wise the doctrine,
however magnificent the cycles,
however ultimately sweet
the huddle of death to fuel
those powerful wings.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Battered Wife Nation

Calhoun's Cannons for January 8, 2010

People had ambitions to live in security and democracy, but those who came to power proved they were not worthy of the responsibilities.
Ghaith Saadi, Baghdad store owner

It’s getting really hard to even begin to find the words needed to describe the absolute contempt and disgust I feel watching so many of our hypocritical Corporate Pimps in Congress while they pretend to “work” on solving the health care “reform” issue. But just before my disgust shades off into absolute loathing, I have to remind myself that America elected these people and, more importantly, re-elected them. After all, if the voters had wanted real change, change that actually was change, they had a clear chance to do that in the last election by voting in a veto-proof, lobby-proof progressive majority . . . . and they refused.

So we ended up with our same old elected Corporate Pimps bitch slapping us around, selling us out and instead of rising up in righteous wrath and rage and smacking them upside the head with a chair leg, all we hear are the whimpers of The Abused Woman.

After over twenty years of falling for clever Grover Norquistian lies and manipulation and magical thinking, we have finally become a nation that believes that we deserve only the second-rate. Like all abusers, our Corporate Politico Pimps have isolated each from each, set one against the other via the ginned-up phony culture/class wars, stripped away any safety nets that might help us create financial independence for ourselves, off-shored good paying jobs, broke the unions, funneled the nation’s wealth up to the favored few until here we are: Battered Woman Nation, cowering in our isolated corners, convinced that we simply don’t deserve anything better for ourselves.

And while we’re out on the mean streets, our Congressional pimps are busy living the high life, receiving the best and finest of everything: great paying jobs that cycle from the halls of Congress right into highly lucrative work as lobbyists for their former corporate masters who then return to those hallowed halls to write legislation benefiting their new employers. It’s a perfect, well paid circle jerk. And while they’re busy selling the American people into the hands of the for-profit health care industry, for example, where profits not “health” rule, they get top of the line health care for themselves, while forcing the American people to buy a limited selection of overpriced, profit-driven crappy health policies, because that’s all they think we deserve.

Not only that, while the battered taxpayers are strapped for cash, losing their jobs, losing their homes, our Congressional pimps have taken our tax money and are back gambling on Wall Street, making sure that the guard dogs are all leashed so there’ll be no threat to the ongoing reckless partying that nearly brought down the world economy in the first place. It’s Pimp Time redux, at Goldman Sachs! ParTAY! ParTAY! all paid for by their tax-paying stable of “Ladies”-- us: Battered Woman America.

So there we sit, boo-hooing into our beers, nursing another black eye, and whining, “Other civilized nations have figured out how to get themselves decent, lower cost universal health care, why can’t we? Other civilized countries have safety nets for their citizens and watchdogs to keep their corporate and financial thieves in check. Why can’t we have that, too? Where’s MY pudding?”

Oh, well, sorry, Sweetie, no pudding for America. We have decided we don’t deserve it. For us, second rate is good enough since it’s our job to just shut up and make sure the money’s there to support the System we have created and continue to support, a system that guarantees continued trickle-up wealth for our corporate masters and their congressional pimps, and guarantees trickle-down poverty for the rest of us.

It’s a hard job, but I know we’re up for it. So, wipe your noses, Ladies. And put some make-up on that black eye. You look like hell. It’s time to hit the streets again. Uncle Daddy and his cronies need a new pair of shoes.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

George Orwell Would Have Loved It

Ah, Orwell would have loved it. Over at, Ron's at it again, proving Orwell's 1984-ish point that he who controls the present controls the past: simply rewrite history and, poof! it becomes "real." Or, in this case, simply IGNORE history, remain silent and you can avoid all accountability. Which also means that non-accountable past actions can continue to treat citizens like road-kill in the present, again with no accountability. No 'splaining for Lucy. Bury the evidence. Move along, nothing to see here.

Except all the documented "dots" that stand out as tracking beacons in the story of this small town's perfect storm.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Keeping Warm

Move over. Nuh-HUH, I was here first. No you weren't, I was. Nuh-Huh, Me. Move outta the way. Nuh-Huh, you move, Nope, you. Mom! she won't move over! Stop Pushing. Nuh-Huh, YOU stop pushing. Mommmm . . . .

Friday, January 01, 2010

Your New Year's Day Poem

While hope is always a nice thing to have to start off a brand new year, considering the past decade in relation to the urgent future bearing down on us all, here's a more apt New Year's poem by Kay Ryan from her book, "Say Uncle."

Winter Fear

Is it just winter
or is this worse.
Is this the year
when outer damp
obscures a deeper curse
that spring can't fix,
when gears that
turn the earth
won't shift the view,
when clouds won't lift
though all the skies
go blue.