Sunday, October 30, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

The Old Age of Nostalgia

Those hours given over to basking in
the glow of an imagined future, of be-
ing carried away in streams of promise
by a love or a passion so strong that one
felt altered forever and convinced that
the smallest particle of the surround-
ing world was charged with a purpose of
impossible grandeur; ah yes, and one
would look up into the trees and be
thrilled by the wind-loosened river of
pale gold foliage cascading down and
by the high melodious singing of count-
less birds; those moments, so many and
so long ago, still come back, but briefly,
like fireflies in the perfumed heat of a
summer night.   

-- Mark Strand

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Write It Down, Write It ALL Down. Yep, All Of It. Right Down To The Very End

Mississippi has a constitutional amendment on the ballot for Nov 8 that would “declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.”

This amendment needs to be passed. Why? Well, when you craft a constitutional amendment, you’ve got to follow up with . . . laws crafted to enforce that amendment, and laws – unless they’re fake laws, hypocritical laws, phony CYA laws only there for political cover –must spell everything out in mind-numbing detail. And that’s where this law will be important in the ongoing abortion discussion.

Americans need to see, in all exactitude, EXACTLY what will happen in Mississippi, for example, when a woman has an abortion. Since she’s killed a “person,” she’ll have to be prosecuted for, what? Murder? Clearly, since the act is willful, the murder charge will have to be first degree, so the murdering Mummy will have to face the death penalty. How could she not?

Or, since causing the death of a “person” is murder, suppose a pregnant woman has a miscarriage and the Doctor suspects she did something that caused the “person” in her womb to die – drank some alcohol, didn’t get a flu shot and got the flu, carelessly exposed herself to a kid with German measles, whatever, surely the law will include a provision that the doctor be required to report the miscarriage to the county corner who will have to start an investigation. After all, without a complete investigation into any and all miscarriages, who could be sure they weren’t homicide? I mean, when fully grown people die of no known immediate cause, there’s an investigation into their deaths. Surely, that will have to be the case with any and all pregnancies that do not end successfully with a live birth.

Or consider, since some forms of birth control will be outlawed, the law must logically require all licensed pharmacists alert the authorities of anyone seeking to buy those outlawed forms of birth control. And if they don’t, they could be convicted of aiding and abetting in a murder of a “person.”

And so forth, all the way down the line. Including increased U.S. Postal monitoring of suspected of seeking to buy certain forms of birth control via interstate mail. And, certainly, the law would also have to include transporting anyone across state lines to secure either forbidden birth controls and/or abortions in another state.

See how far this is Amendment will have to go and why it’s so important to get passed? To date, so many anti-abortion laws are written more for political sound-bites, useful for waving like a flag to get votes. But laws have to be spelled out, each and every detail. They’re like large balls of string. You can’t just hold one end of the string and pose for the cameras as a staunch defender of “personhoods.” No, you’ve got to unspool that huge ball every since inch of the way and spell out EXACTLY how A connects to B and results in C which leads to E, and so on all the way to the end of the alphabet, complete with footnotes.

Then and only then, will voters get a clear idea of exactly what a State must do to control a woman’s body. And when that happens, when that’s spelled out in all the exactitude of The Law, most people mutter, “Uh, nevermind,” as the political gets personal, the general becomes specific and comes to roost on your daughter, your wife, your mom. Then, suddenly the whole idea begins to unravel as exception after exception starts creeping in.

After all, the law is always good when it applies to other people. When it begins to apply to us, ah well, that’s usually when we start changing the subject then change the channel.

Which is why this Mississippi amendment is so important. Go for it, Ole Miss. Write it all down. Every bit of it. Then hand it to your womenfolks. See what they make of the fine print.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your Wednesday Reading

Do yourself a favor, go to, Matt Taibbi’s blog posting – OWS’s beef: Wall Street isn’t winning, it’s cheating. If you need a reason to be mad, there it is. Then get a copy of Matt’s “Griftopia.” That’ll finish the job.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

Molly McGillicuddyMalone gets a new toy from her Aunt Sally in Florida

This Billy Collins charmer from "Doggerel; Poems about Dogs," (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)


I can hear him out in the kitchen,
his lapping the night's only music,
head bowed over the waterbowl
like an illustration in a book for boys.

He enters the room with such etiquette,
licking my bare ankle as if he understood
the Braille of the skin.

Then he makes three circles around himself,
flattening his ancient memory of tall grass
before dropping his weight with a sigh on the floor.

This is the spot where he will spend the night,
his ears listening for the syllable of his name,
his tongue hidden in his long mouth
like a strange naked hermit in a cave.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aw, Adam Hill Doesn't Like Los Osos Either, Does He?

So the Shredder sticks pins in what he calls the Los Osos Sewer Nuts.  Now New Times reports that on Oct 11th, Linde Owen came to the microphone to object to "what she said was a lax county investigation into a relationship between Public Works Director Paavo Ogren and former Los Osos Community Services District director Maria Kelly" and County Supervisor Adam Hill shut her down, claimed he wouldn't allow "slanderous" statements at public comment time.  So Hill cut off Owen's microphone and whistled up the sherrif's deputy who escorted Owens from the lecturn.

The following week Linde and others came back to the microphone to condemn Hill for cutting off Owen's 3 minutes and violating various public comment statutes and etc.  Then Erick Greening, The Most Amazing Civic Minded Person In The Room, Always, stood up and, according to the New Times article, said:

"I'm a grateful user of the First Amendment.  Whenever I hear speakers that I agree with I'm grateful for the First Amendment.  When I hear speakers I disagree with I'm grateful for the First Amendment.  When I hear people presenting illuminating information I"m grateful for the First Amendment.  When I hear people presenting what I think is misinformation I'm grateful for the First Amendment.  And when I get up there and correct what I think is misinformation I'm grateful for the First Amendment.  And I hope everyone in this room always treasures the First Amedment on that basis and we all have a chance to use it."

THAT's why I call Eric The Most Amazing Civic Minded Person In The Room, Always.

Apparently, our Mr. Hill didn't make a peep and, I'm sure, didn't hear a word Eric had to say. Poor Mr. Hill.  He hasn't quite figured out that it's impossible to get the public out of public comment.  I fear he's in over his head, has risen to his level of incompetence and just hasn't mastered the art all Supervisors need to master:  The art of the Snile -- you know it well, the just-slightly insincere smile crossed with a barely perceptible sneer, a deliciously subtle fake (but deniable) smirk that communicates the following perfectly: Thank you for sharing now shut the f--k up and go away thank you.

Instead, Hill panics and turns bully-boy and that never works out well. Not with Bearish folks from Los Osos. 

Somebody Get These Guys A Calculator?  An Abacus?  Some Fingers and Toes?  

Are you still here?  The world was supposed to end yesterday.  Yep, the Oakland-based Family Radio International, the folks who brought you the Rapture last May that didn't rapt, said their 90-year-old leader, Harold Camping, was at it again.  Sez the good reverend, "Thus we can be sure that the whold world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect) are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on Oct 21."

Well, bless Harold's little heart.  Here it is the 22nd and I'm staring at the computer screen and the dogs are snoozing on their beds and the sun is about to come upjust like it has for the past, oh, I don't know, gazillion years and will continue to do so for another gazillion.  Well, DANG! 

OH, Don't Worry, Take A Pill.  That's What We Do Here In  Toxic Nation

This from a Nation Roundup in the Trib:  "About 1 in 25 adolescents in the United States is taking an anti-depressant, according to a new government study billed as the first to offer such statistics on that age group. "  The ages studies were from 12 to 17 and was based on surveys and depression screenings of about 12,000 U.S. adolescents and adults, 2005 through 2008. 

The study also found that about 1 in 10 adults are taking antidepressants as well.

Wait, it gets better: From the L.A. Times:  A new report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, a leading health policy foundation, found that "The U.S. health care system is lagging further and further behind other industrialized countries on major measures of quality, efficiency and access to care." 

Even better, is this conclusion: "Despite the problems with access and quality, the U.S. continues to spend far more than other industrialized nations on health care, with per capital spending now topping $8,000 a year, more than twice what most other industrialized countries spend."

In short, we pay more for crappier health care and have poorer health outcomes than other countries.  Someone seeing that might conclude that Americans are stupid.  In our case, it would be more accurate to say we're overweight and sick and stupid-- fools just asking to be fleeced. 

No wonder we and our children are depressed. That's what living in a sick, fleeced, toxic culture can do to you if you're dumb enough to keep clinging to the status quo. So, eat up those Big Macs and keep shoving tranqs down your kids gullets. And whatever you do, be sure to vote for politiciams who will dismantle Obamacare and Medicare/Medicade, public health programs, and will remove all government regulatons on the health care industry as a whole.  After all, the free marketplace will solve all our health care problems.  True, a reformed and improved, innovative  Medicare for All type national health care program might be able to actually deliver better health outcomes for less money to everyone in our very, very sick nation, but that would be "socialized medicine" and in Toxic America, we can't have that. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Are We All The 99 Yet?

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for Oct 21, 2011

The blackest despair that can take hold of any society is the fear that living honestly is futile.
                              Italian journalist, Corrado Alvaro

Had enough? Seriously, have you finally had enough? Clearly, the people occupying Wall Street have had it. They’ve figured out that 30 years of lies were, well, 30 years of lies. Tax cuts for the rich will trickle down and raise all boats; An unfettered, unregulated marketplace will solve all problems; Give rich folks tax breaks and suddenly they’ll be transformed into “job creators;” Dismantle government and America will surely become the shining city on a hill once more.

Crap. All crap. What we’ve seen instead is the consolidation of corporate power melding with (and buying) state power. In short, We the People allowed our By The People government to be hijacked, our stock markets turned into a rigged crap game, and guess who were the first ones to be tossed overboard in the new reality of Corporate Casino America? Right, We The People. Yes, very funny. Hoist by petards all around. Ha-ha.

But now people are beginning to understand the price they’re going to pay to keep the Greed is Good ethos. They’re beginning to see what it means in real time, in real towns, for real people when the top Republican leader declares publicly that his number one priority for the next four years is to see President Obama defeated. Not jobs. Not fixing a dysfunctional, broken system. Not even fixing a bridge, a road, a school. Nope. Top priority: Obama gone by any means necessary.

As a result, Main Street’s finally beginning to feel in their pocketbooks what it means to have a majority of people in Congress committed to that priority and, in addition, sworn to fealty, not to the Constitution, not to their constituents, not to what’s best for the country, but to some corporate lobbyist named Grover Norquist.

True, Main Street voted those guys into office. And sent along even more rabid True Believers, people who ran for a government office with the express purpose of dismantling the government that created the office they ran for. Yes. More Ha-ha.

So, have they now had enough? Sure, there’s a few demonstrations in a few cities, but will any of it translate into votes come November? Without the votes there will be no change in Congress and hence no change on Main Street.

Except the distinct possibility that a Corporate Republican majority in House and Senate, with a Republican President at the helm will mean another conservative Supreme Court appointee will be added to the bench. And when that happens, the Citizens United Decision – Corporations are People, my friends. Corporations are People – will never be overturned, will be strengthened and added to by other similar rulings, and at that point the corporate takeover of our democracy will be complete.

While despair is certainly one option, Mat Taibbi, whose brilliant new book “Griftopia” hilariously illuminated just how the thieves on Wall Street helped bring this country down, has a terrific list of Things to Do in the October 27 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. Here’s a few of his suggestions:

1. Break up the monopolies. “The so-called ‘Too Big to Fail’ financial companies . . . are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous an unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.”

2. Pay for your own bailouts. “A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts . . . It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes . . . and force Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e. making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow”.

3. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. Repeal the “preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans . . . to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.”

4. Change the way bankers get paid. No more “bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up . . . later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company’s long-term health – no more Joe Casanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.”

That’s a short list, but it’s a start on the long, long list of what needs to be set right. But it all depends on Main Street taking back their government from Corporate ownership. And for that to happen, voters not only have to be finally wised up to the con that’s being run on them, they have to finally have had enough. Then vote like their life depends on it.

Because it does.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aw, Shredder, You Don't Love Los Osos Any More, Do You

The following is a "Viewpoint" response by Julie Tacker to  New Times' The Shredder/s Oct 13 swipe at "Sewer Nuts."  The Shredder's remarks are in italics) My response follows. 

Response to Shredder October 13, 2011

Dear Shredder,

I think I’m having a problem communicating. Every week I go to the Board of Supervisors and say the exact same thing and nobody seems to listen. Also, my application to lynch Paavo Ogren and Maria Kelly was rejected, AGAIN. What am I doing wrong?

—Los Osos Sewer Nut

Dear Nut,

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The same can be said for the sewer decision makers (1980-98, County of SLO, 1999-2005 LOCSD, 2006-today County of SLO) study after study, design after design, to still end up with an energy hungry gravity sewer IS insane.

I consider what I am about to say the most important piece of advice I have ever given: SHUT UP.

No Shredder, you SHUT UP! If you can’t be part of the solution, get out of the way.

For years I’ve listened to you rant about your sewer.

You may have heard the dedicated concerned citizens of Los Osos week after week, but you obviously weren’t listening. If you had been you would know why they go and perhaps have joined them in their plight.

You hate it. You really hate it.

We don’t hate the sewer, we hate the process (tainted by corporate greed, small town politics and now a love affair that revealed what we already knew, Maria’s vote to settle with mondo-engineering firm MWH let lover-boy Paavo off the hook (for illegally ordering the backdating of a contract).

We hate having our voices quashed by those who claim to be doing what’s “good” or “right” for Los Osos. Those who do not live with the complexities of the issues in Los Osos, those who do not care what the dissention has done to a community that is otherwise quite lovely.

You want more funding. You’re not happy about the funding you got.

“Funding?” What funding? Los Osos could have got a better loan from a loan shark than it’s getting from the USDA. The County’s “skilled negotiators” portrayed Los Osos as ‘deadbeats who defaulted on a $6 Million loan in 2005’. This is completely false. The loan in question was rescinded by the State when their own engineer agreed with the District’s engineer and newly elected Board that moving the sewer from downtown would reduce the project cost by $25 million. That engineer was quickly removed from the project and buried in a cubical somewhere in Sacramento.

I’m not sure what you want, and I don’t think you are either.

Los Osos has always wanted a fair process and a chance to build an environmentally friendly project. For example, this project doesn’t even provide for solar panels on the rooftop of the plant to offset costs of operation. When this was brought to the attention of the permitting authorities, the County’s response was to orient the building east/west to absorb the southern sun, but not add the panels. The rate payers would pay for the panels up front, but would also benefit from the long term cost offset…maybe you Shredder, can get the answer “why not?”

You’ve had years to formulate a cohesive statement, argument, manifesto, anything.

At one time (1998) 87% of voters were in agreement of one thing; to take the project away from the County. They were sold on “faster, better, cheaper” and are still in search of it.

Instead, all anyone’s heard for years is incoherent rambling against anyone and everyone even remotely connected to Los Osos.

Again Shredder, you haven’t been listening to those weekly speakers. Each brings something different. They come from all walks of life, political parties, religious preferences, and myriad life experiences. Some speak sewer, others water, some to cost, the complex details, or as of late -- the recently revealed love affair involving key players, Maria and Paavo.

And if they’re not on your side—whatever the hell side that happens to be—they’re against you.

Not necessarily. The Los Osos issues are very complex (if you were listening you would know that). Those citizens who march like lemmings to the podium to agree with the County ARE against those who bring forth the issues, concerns, and flaws. They like living like mushrooms; in the dark being fed compost. Clearly they haven’t taken the time to go through the studies, add the figures themselves, or look at the logistics of the permits (e.g. Harming/killing no more than 15 snails over the course of the 45 mile long project, emptying 5,000 septic tanks in under a year, tip-toeing through Native American ruins/burial grounds, daily dewatering of a million gallons of polluted groundwater from trenches, digging in sugar sand, the complex list goes on and on).

There are two ways to go about this. One way is to sit down privately and try to reach a resolution.

Which issue would you like “resolution?”

Gravity verses STEP? Good loan verses bad? Who is eligible for subsidizes and who isn’t? Farmers will take the wastewater or they won’t? Seawater Intrusion marches on while the County sits on $5 million intended for conservation devices? Denitrifying septic returned water for drinking? Selling our Solid Waste franchise to the County for a mere $2.8 Million, never to get it back? Paavo and Maria? Which?

The other way is to grandstand on TV and the radio every week clearly getting nowhere.

You obviously do not follow these dedicated citizens very closely; they attend many more meetings that are not televised than are. (They are not allowed appointments with individual Supervisors to take issues up behind closed doors.) They spend their precious time, days and often very long nights, reading documents, buying copies of documents, and mounting travel expenses to cross the state to speak to the State and Regional Water Board, Coastal Commission, and others to make their voices heard.

You’ve fallen in love with the sound of your own ramblings, and probably driven away people who might have something important to contribute to the subject.

What you call “Rambling,” I call free speech. You in the newspaper business are supposed to be the biggest advocates for the 1st Amendment. As for others who may have been “driven away,” I say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

You have managed to accomplish nothing, really.

Really Shredder? These hard-working, dedicated individuals have brought the overarching Los Osos issue of Seawater Intrusion to the forefront. While you sit comfortably on your porcelain thrown and don’t give flushing it a second thought, the informed citizens of Los Osos have to weigh flushing pollutants into their future drinking supply while depleting their current drinking water supply and paying dearly for it.

Might I suggest a hobby? Perhaps crocheting unicorns onto pillowcases; believe it or not, that’s actually a more substantial contribution to society.

Crochet away dear Shredder, I’d prefer to read the latest Water Conservation report.

I’m a cheapskate, but I’ll happily chip in for yarn if you’ll cork it.

I’m a cheapskate too. I’d like an affordable sewer bill so I can afford a hobby. You say you’ll chip in for yarn? Nice. How about chipping in to pay the bills? Sewer and water combined are estimated at $500.00 per month per house.

I’d rather be a “Los Osos Sewer Nut” than a mushroom. Thanks for the compliment.

Julie Tacker,
40 year Los Osos resident and longtime dedicated “Sewer Nut”

My response to Julie’s email “Viewpoint” to the Shredder’s comments is as follows:

Thanks I'll post it Monday. Sadly, "the press" has simply bought The Narrative -- All the sewer projects were/are all fine and anyone who complains about any of them for whatever reason is an Anti-Sewer Obstructionist Nut. Case closed.

And because it IS such a complicated issue, no reporter, except Ron Crawford, has taken a close look at and documented all the really interesting connected dots that illustrate some of the extraordinarily questionable aspects of these various projects as they morphed from the (fake) Ponds of Avalon (the original bait & switch that started the wrong train going down the wrong hill towards the wrong cliff) to the Coastal Commission's "bait & switchy" Tri-W (with the CC's staffer, Monowitz, having been lied to -- Aw, shamey-shamey-- with disastrous consequences) to the present county project. And did I forget to include Roger Briggs and the RWQCB's disgraceful electioneering via the Mad Hatter Tea Party & Torequmada's Auto d Fe "Trial" of the Los Osos 45?)

Lordy, it's a sickening, but dazzling tale, indeed. But one that went untold because while so many of the "Sewer Nuts" were acting as frantic signalmen waving red flags as the Sewer Train hurtled full throttle off onto the wrong tracks and headed for the cliff's edge, The Press labeled them "Sewer Nuts, then took a nap.

Well, understandable. Reading Ron's time-lines and cached documents does take time. Much easier to just call people Sewer Nuts. More fun, too. But hardly qualifies as "journalism."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

This from Jane Hirshfield's "Of Gravity & Angels."

In That World, The Angels Wear Fins

In that world, the angels wear fins.
Red hulls pass over like clouds, their shadows
angling down between ropes of sun.
When women who have dived there return,
they do not speak of oysters or pearls.
shaking their heads they say, "There is nothing."
They say, "We must look somewhere else,"
and twist their black hair in the world of men,
and wade heavily through the grass-scented air.
From this they know loss like salt:
how without it, the tongue grows stubborn and dull,
tastes nothing.
But the wild flavor, the sea, how it moves in them,
hip and thigh -- a soundless current, kicking
downward the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

I have two words for you. Harvest Gold. No, wait, I have five words for you: Forty year-old Harvest Gold. Sink, that is. I know. Bad as that is, it could have been Avocado. But Harvest Gold I’ve lived with for 25 years now and enough is enough.

After saving my shekels forever, buying all the stuff needed, the phone call was made and Kirk Sidner of Estero Plumbing arrived with his tools to buzz-saw through the ceramic trim and lift the old sink out and plunk in a new one. I found some tile trim at Matt Clark’s tile (a place where, when I enter, I think I have died and gone to heaven – gorgeous stuff) and the trim matched closely enough to look like a deliberate design choice.

And so the deed was done just in time to get out the mop: Molly McGillicuddy Malone, the new greyhound, brought with her more than just a smile and a wagging tail. Like the new kid in preschool, she likely came with some gut-bug variant and before you can say, Good Dog, everyone was down with diarrhea – trot city. And time to start the boiled rice, hamburger and Imodium diet. Within a couple of days all but Finn and Zuri were heading back to digestive health. Finn required some assistance with being pilled with Fagyl, while Zuri is bringing up the rear, running a fever and now on doses of antibiotic.

Both Finn and Zuri are always problem patients. Finn because you’ve got one shot at getting medicine into him and if it tastes funny, he’s done with you. You get the stink-eye and his jaws stay firmly clamped shut. And Zuri because Sloughi’s are notorious stoics – likely a survival tactic in a harsh environment. Their foot could be falling off before you’d hear a peep out of them. So you learn to watch them very carefully and in Zuri’s case, yesterday morning when she walked in to say good morning. tail tucked, ears drooping, back hunched, walking stiffly, I knew something was wrong and called Dr. Truax. So, it’s on to some liquid antibiotic which, happily, she doesn’t seem to mind. And now we wait. 24 hours should turn the corner with her.

Poor doggies. Well, Molly likely was the Typhoid Mary of this incident, but dogs often acquire and pass around any number of mutant bugs so if you’re a dog owner, you know the drill well.

Speaking of Dogs

If you have a dog or even if you don’t, come on out to El Chorro Off Leash Dog Park Sunday, 10 – 2 pm. for our 10th Anniversary celebration. There’ll be hot dogs, cake, lots of dogs and about 11 a.m. we’ll be having the dedication ceremony for the new expansion to the large dog area

The expansion was made possible by a generous grant from the late Harold Miossi’s Charitable Trust (The Miossi’s were long time dairy farmers in SLO County; their ranch starts at the base of Highway 101 and Santa Rosa Ave., and Harold was involved for years in the community.)

I’m on the Board of SLO-4-PUPs, the group that started El Chorro Dog Park, the first off-leash dog park in the County. When the dog park first opened ten years ago, a handful of the board members were faced with a whole lot of wood-chip-hurling and mulch spreading and so we were out there often in work parties with other volunteers, working day after day. Early on, I remember being out there hurling mulch when this nice older gentleman showed up with his dog Fred. Without waiting to be asked, he picked up a pitchfork and joined us as we tossed chips for hours.

From that point, I would often see him early in the morning, and as we chatted, I slowly discovered what a remarkable gentleman he was; Berkeley Graduate, County Probate Referee, County Grand Juror, he was also involved in all sorts of environmental and community organizations.

Many years later, I heard Harold had passed on and last year our Board was notified that Harold had loved that park and that grants from his Charitable Trust were available for park improvements. So we applied for a grant and now we have an expanded area, a new doggy pool spa area and lots more room to roam. All thanks to Harold.

So, stop by and take a gander this Sunday. Say Thank You to Harold’s Spirit, who I know is out there hurling mulch or walking up the canyon trail with his dog, Fred. Then have a hot dog. Pet a real dog and come wander around in the most beautiful dog park in the county.

We’ll even have our new SLO-4-PUPs / El Chorro Dog Park embroidered logo baseball hats available in waaay cool grey-green or grey-blue colors, all for a $20 donation.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

This charmer by Wislawa Szymborska, from "Monologue of the Dog."

A Little Girl Tugs At The Tablecloth

She's been in this world for over a year,
and in this world not everything's been examined
and taken in hand.

The subject of today's investigation
is things that don't move by themselves.

They need to be helped along,
shoved, shifted,
taken from their place and relocated.

They don't all want to go, e.g., the bookshelf,
the cupboard, the unyielding walls, the table.

But the table cloth on the stubborn table
-- when well-seized by its hems --
manifests a willingness to travel.

And the glasses, plates,
creamer, spoons, bowl,
are fairly shaking with desire.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Molly McGillicuddy Malone

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for Oct. 7, 2011

                                    In Dublin’s Fair City,
                              Where the girls are so pretty
                      I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

It was the petal ears and the dark liquid eyes, I suppose, that first caught my attention. And that “look” that spoke of the age-old woe of a good girl fallen on hard times. And the back story that resonated with me since her fate was a reversal on my other rescued racing greyhound, The Mighty Finn McCool. Finn’s mother had died of neglect shortly after giving birth at the track in Caliente, her pups tossed aside to die until the angels from the Greyhound Adoption Center in El Cajon swooped down to rescue them. In this case, Molly was raced while pregnant, then when her condition was discovered, she was discarded. But, unlike Finn’s mother, she didn’t die. Instead, she would end up giving birth to three healthy pups, nurse them tenderly until they were ready to be adopted to wonderful new homes, and then have her photo peer out at me from a GAC email to trigger a goofy conceit on my part.

You know the old joke? Play a country western song backwards and the wife comes back, the dog doesn’t die, the pickup truck runs again and the booze stays in the bottle. With Molly’s brindle striping, she looked like Finn’s twin, so I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to symbolically unspool Finn’s song: his mother wouldn’t die but would, instead, come to live with him forever and ever. Silly? Yes, but there it was.

                              As she wheel’d her wheel barrow
                              Through Streets broad and narrow

So I contacted Barbara VanDeventer, the local GAC representative and once Molly’s puppies had been sent to their new homes and she had been spayed, Barbara and I headed to Kettleman City to meet Jim Howell, GAC’s volunteer transporter. When we got home, Candy and Phil, my greyhound-owning neighbors came by to help with our introductions, a meet ‘n greet walkabout, one by one, until we had the whole gang walking as a pack up and down the street. Then, all in a line, two by two, we kept walking right into the house and out into the backyard before any of my dogs could even think about defending “their” territory.

And with only a few brief snarks at the other dogs for unauthorized butt-sniffing, Molly slid into the pack like she had lived here for years. Even Zuri, the Sloughi, a breed that is the canine version of a crow -- new-adverse and suspicious of all things—took to Molly like a long lost sister. And in no time they were play-bowing and hip-bumping and racing down the breezeway to fly out into the yard with a bound. Finn, of course, was ecstatic at his new fake Mom, a mom small enough to walk under her very, very tall fake son.

                     Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

And so the dynamic and energy of the household shimmered briefly then parted and sweet Molly McGillicuddy Malone slipped in without a ripple. Even a trip to the dog park jammed nose to tail into the back of my Tall Dog Car with the other thugs couldn’t ruffle her composure since it turns out she’s also a great Rider In Cars.

So there it was. From a silly conceit to a lovely reality, all because she’s a good girl, our Molly is. And why shouldn’t she be? After all, the McGillicuddy clan motto is Sursum Corda – “Hearts Upward.”

                             Alive, alive o!, alive, alive o!
                    Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Well, That Limb Mother Calhoun Went Out On Sure Wasn't A Very Long One, Was It?

Stuck at home while Kirk (Estero Bay Plumbers) was installing a new kitchen sink, at 1:30 pm., as announced, I tuned in the BOS meeting on the radio, curious to hear County Administrator Jim Grant's report on the Paavo Ogren/Maria Kelly Mess. 

Why did I tune in at 1:30?  Well, said Bob Cuddy's  Tribune Sept 30 story, , "It is my intention to report out after closed session, " County Administrator Jim Grant wrote in an email to The Tribune.  Closed session takes place after the morning session of the Bord of Supervisors and the report starts the afternoon meeting at 1:30. p.m."

So, naturally, any Los Osos folks interested in this issue would show up in the morning, waaaaay, waaaay before the official 1:30 report-out time, because they would know that the BOS would have arranged to have Mr. Grant report out in the morning, waaaay, waaay before the announced time, thus making sure nobody from Los Osos would be in the audience.  Then, in the afternoon, after closed session, oh, along about 1:30 p.m. the folks in the audience who specifically came to hear that issue would ask, "Hey, where's the report," only to be told, "Oh, we gave that report this morning, waaaay, waaaay before any of you guys showed up, so, sorry, you're too late, there will be no report now, so shut up and go away, thank you."

To which several Los Osos folks objected. Linde Owen even politely raised a point of order, in fact, only to be gaveled down by Chairman Hill. Mr. Grant did chime in to say he'd be happy to talk to audience members in the hallway, (away from the microphones and TV), which is how the County clearly wanted to handle this whole mess -- bury it out of sight with a brief 2 page report, declare there was no conflict at all, and above all, allow no questions in public.  Which is how the BOS likes to do business when one of their own steps in it.

Declared Chairman Hill after gaveling down the few irate commentors from the audience, "What's a Board of Supervisors meeting without a little bitterness?"

Really?  Bitterness?  Well, Mr. Hill., let me suggest a reason for the ire.  Let's start with declaring that you're preparing an above board, transparent report, that the report will be presented at a time and placed announced, the public will be allowed to review the report and offer public comment, exactly like you handle all other issues, and then you switch the time so there would be no transparency, no public comment, only citizens chatting with your CEO in the hallway. Ya think that might account for some . . . bitterness, eh?

Well, Mother Calhoun is not surprised by any of this in the least, especially not the old switcheroo without notice.  Par for the course.  And so we all troop off into the happy sunset, all smiley-faced, job well done.

 Except for Paavo.  This stupid mess made his employers look bad, look foolish, caused them to engage in the ridiculous ruse of shuffling presentation times so as to reduce the possibility that a public hearing would make them look even more foolish.  Afraid the public would drag up all kinds of troubling issues they do not want paraded in public. Employers don't like knowing that one of their bright, shining stars' messy private life has exposed them to a public mess, exposed them to embarassing questions in the public mind such as, "Why'd the heck did you hire that guy?"  Employers will remember that and consider, behind closed doors, during private employee evaluation reviews, that perhaps their fair-haired boy doesn't have the kind of mature judgement required for promotion up the line.  That he's demonstrated that he's a liability to them.  That perhaps it's time for him to consider employment somewhere else since his trajectory upwards in this County is over.

Well, now it's all back to business as usual, here in SLO County.  It's how we roll.  And comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone living in Los Osos.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

This from Billy Collins, "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes."

             Memento Mori

There is no need for me to keep a skull on my desk,
to stand with one foot up on the ruins of Rome,
or wear a locket with the sliver of a saint's bone.

It is enough to realize that every common object
in this sunny little room will outlive me --
the carpet, radio, bookstand and rocker.

Not one of these things will attend my burial,
not even this dented goosenecked lamp
with its steady benediction of light,

though I could put worse things in my mind
than the image of it waddling across the cemetery
like an old servant, dragging the tail of its cord,
the small circle of mourners parting to make room.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Mother Calhoun Goes Out On A Limb

So, I get home from a visit to my sister and there's the Trib's local page headline: "Report set on Public Works head."  Ah, yes, the Paavo & Maria story is heading to it's official end when Tuesday afternoon County Administrator Jim Grant issues his official investigative report on the claims that Paavo Ogren and Maria Kelly's private canoodling involved any professional conflict of interests.  The report is slated to start at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday,Oct 4. 

Based on the Tribune story and from what Mother Calhoun knows of both the Los Osos Sewer Wars and the County's business-as-usual M.O., let me speculate that here's what will Happen Tuesday.  1) Paavo won't be fired.  2) The report will find no conflict of interest, no laws broken.  The public will be told that everything is fine, that the complaints were unfounded (You know how those Los Osos Crazies love to file unfounded complaints.)   Nothing to see here.  Move along. 

Of course, the second cat was let out of the bag by the brief Tribune story:  "Grant said the alleged conflict factored into Ogren's annual performance evaluation but only in a larger context that also includes work products, leadership abilities, budgeting and feedback from staff, peers and the board, etc. So, yes this issue would be included as part of the annual evaluation," he wrote in an email, " but weighted based upon its overall significance determined by my findings."

Translation:  Paavo's career advancement in this County just hit its glass ceiling because his reckless, unprofessional lack of judgement went public and so this couldn't possibly have been swept under the "personnel rug" so everyone could just continue with business as usual.  So, after a decent interval, I suspect we may well read about Paavo accepting another well-paid job in another county so he can become their lawsuit-in-waiting problem. In SLOTown, there will be public smiles and congratulations to Paavo about his new job.  Followed by lots of private sighs of relief that once again, SLOTown ducked a bullet.

On the entertainment side of this sorry story, if public comment is allowed on Tuesday following the report, there could be lots of raised voices, gavel banging, red faces and threats of adjorning the meeting.  Happily, there'll be no hurled chairs, though, since the seats in the BOS room are bolted to the floor.