Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bird Thought

don't brag about flying
the way we

They don't write books about it and then give
they don't take on disciples and spoil
their own air

Who could dance and achieve
liftoff with a bunch of
whackos tugging
on you?

Tukaram (c.1606-1649)
Love Poems from God
trans. Daniel Ladinsky

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another American Story

A 9 year-old girl goes to a Lake Havasu City  “Bullets and Burgers” outdoor shooting range.  She was on vacation with her family and had a “bucket list” and shooting an Uzi was on that list.  What a 9 year-old was doing with a bucket list, I have no idea.  Bucket lists are usually reserved for cranky but endearing old men with terminal diseases. But I digress. 

So the instructor, Charles Vacca , 39, set her up and began instructing her in the finer points of Uzi shooting.  The instructor and the little girl were  captured on video by, I presume, her proud parents.  There she is, cute as a button in her pink shorts, little pink barrettes in her hair ,which was falling in a long braid down her back. Standing next to her, bending down to help her hold the gun, is the instructor.

The first single shots go fine.  Then Mr. Vacca sets the gun on automatic and the young girl, with no idea of the strength and control needed to keep the kicking gun steady, loses control and it veers up and off and puts a bullet into Mr. Vacca’s head. He dies a few hours later.

At this point in the story, the first impulse would be to laugh and say something about “gene pool.”  But I kept thinking about that little girl.  Thanks to her parents, she will spend the rest of her life with the ghost of Mr. Vacca, the man she killed, haunting her dreams forever.

All because her parents did not know what my parents knew and what any sensible parent knows:  When children ask for dangerous, age-inappropriate things, the correct reply is a very short word that begins with the letter “N” and ends with the letter “O.”

Interestingly, the news story on this incident noted that in 2008 an 8 year-old “was firing an Uzi at a pumpkin when the recoil caused him to lose control of the weapon and he shot himself in the head.” 

That’s the problem with Uzis.  They were designed for adults with good hand strength that can control the recoil.  And they were intended for use as a weapon of war, a small, rapid-fire automatic, a highly maneuverable weapon designed to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible in a close combat situation.

They were not designed as a toy for a child to play with as part of her bucket list.  Except in America.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Garden Folly Redux

Yes, I know.  This all started going sideways from day one.  First it was the dogs that required fencing that turned the garden into Fortress America.  Then it was zucchini plants from Mars that grew to Brobignagnian size and started churning out zucchini on a production-line scale so I ended up with zucchini for breakfast, zucchini for lunch and dinner.  And ended up chasing my neighbors down with sacks of the stuff while they ran away, their hands over their heads, yelling, “I’M NOT HOME!”

And, all right.  The pumpkins.  That started out as a joke.  I had saved the seeds from last year's soup pumpkin and I thought, "Oh, there's no way these things are going to grow." But they did and broke out of the dog barrier and headed for the fence, trailing pumpkins behind them. It was right out of "Invasion of the Pod People." 

Next came the green beans.  Who knew they would grow so tall?  And since the support netting was only pea-pod high, they started mungling back on themselves into a tangled mess.


But that didn’t stop them. Nosir!  They were worse than the zucchini.  Beans, beans, more beans.  24/7 nothing but beans. Fortunately, I love green beans.  So do my friends and neighbors, but the plants were getting to be a serious mess and so tangled it was hard to find the beans before they'd turned themselves into little more than lumpty bean-filled pods. 
O.K., I confess.  Looking back, I should have sought out therapy, some nice Garden Counselor who could have talked me down.  But, no.  I was too far gone by this time, my green bean ambitions totally out of control.  Plus, it wasn't my fault.  The Universe was conspiring against me because when I was out walking the dogs, I just happened to stop and chat with a neighbor – about gardening, naturally – and he just happened to mention that he’d given up on growing green beans – something about not enough sun in his garden plot – and he asked me if, perhaps, I’d like his very tall bean-pole poles.

Well, what could I say?

bean pole, zuri, 003

So I carted them home, put in eye-screws , cable-tied them together into a bean teepee and planted them in  another raised bed and popped a few more bean seeds in the ground.

And today I'm planning on pulling out the old bean tangle. I think maybe a nice row of green peas might work there.  Mmmmm, peas.   

Meantime, does anybody happen to have Jack’s phone number?  I need to call him to get the Giant’s recipe for green bean soup. I think I'm gonna need it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Sunday Thought


Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers.
And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
                                                Bill Cosby, quoted in The Week

Saturday, August 16, 2014


All right, not rain, exactly.  O.K. O.K., it was mist.  Well, maybe more accurately it was . . . damp.  That's it, damp.  But damp enough over a long enough period of time to result in some dripping off the roof gutters.  Dripping off the roof gutters is good.  So, I'm counting that as "rain," O.K.? 

Hey, we're desperate here. Everybody dance.  Yaaaayyyy!

Then stare at the picture and focus . . . Puddles, we want large puddles, bring us puddles . . .

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Eeelgrass Week!


The 2014 Morro Bay Eelgrass Recovery Program is underway.  And volunteers will be coming all week to the Morro Bay State Park Marina (staging area to the west of Bayside Café, park well to the east of Bayside café.)

Eelgrass is a foundation species in the Bay and due to a series of problems (disease, sedimentation, temperature rise) the grass’s previous abundance is now dangerously diminished. So efforts are underway to re-plant the Bay.

The process is sort of like hair restoration:  The healthy beds are carefully combed and a certain amount of  eelgrass is carefully uprooted and gathered into sacks, ready for the volunteers to bundle.

 Then the volunteers, most working in two hour shifts, carefully pull rooted strands of grass out of the flooded work beds. 


Five or six strands are carefully noosed together with a cunning little tie rod that helps anchor the bundles into the silt.


The grass bundles are counted out and slid onto rods which the volunteer scuba divers will take out to the new beds to be planted. (A shout out here to Depth Perceptions in San Luis Obispo for donating (tank) air to all the volunteer divers.)  Since the Bay is pretty murky, much of the work underwater has to be done by touch.


The restoration project has been underway for several years.  It’s slow work since the success rate for the re-implantaion is about 50%, but already sections planted a few years ago are starting to grow and spread.

So, how important is the lowly, lovely eelgrass?  Very.  Eelgrass loss equals a terrible reduction in the overall abundance and productivity of the coastal environment. Eel grass shelters, supports and feeds a huge variety of critters, improves water clarity, produces oxygen, improves the bottom of the Bay by trapping and stabilizing sediment.  In short, it’s absolutely vital for the health of the Bay, which is a complex haven, nursery and cafeteria for countless species.

So, if you have an hour or two to spare this week, drop by the staging area and get your hands wet. The crews are  usually up and running by 9 a.m. and go all day, so volunteers can come and go when they have a little time to donate. Or call the MBNEP office to get latest work schedule updates. 

The success of this project depends on the volunteer bundlers and divers. So, lend a hand and go play with some eelgrass.  The Bay will thank you.


For further information, contact the Morro Bay National Estuary Program  at, call (805) 772-3834 or stop by their offices (upstairs) at 601 Embarcadero, Suite 11 (Marina Square) in Morro Bay.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sunday: A Garden Folly Mystery

                                                            That's a full sized shovel. 
                                                             Seriously.  Full sized. 
                                                            That's 2-year-old kale.
                                                                   Also seriously.
                                                       Normal Kale or Los Osos Mutant?
                                                              Move over, Audrey II

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Will the Real PAC Stand Up?

Well,  Ron over at Sewerwatch is sure having fun.  Reason # 10,398,374,367,382,923 why we desperately need campaign reform. And why the Fair Political Practices organization really should be either reformed or dumped altogether.  The problem with them is the public thinks that they are "watchdogs" keeping our Pols honest.  They aren't.  They're more like a "beard" that offers cover for the Pols and their operatives, buying them time to abscond with the silverware.  
It's a problem all over since our campaign laws have so many loopholes, put there by, you guessed it, the Pols who like the way things are and see no reason to change. Adding more wrinkles are the blurred lines between PACs, personal blogs, Face Book, the Twitterverse, free speech, the personal vs public/professional, and what the meaning of "is" is.  When does my Facebook Page or blog stop being "private-free-speech-personal" and start becoming a "paid-professional- PAC?"  Talk about "angels on heads of pins." Stephen Colbert had fun with all this, but, in reality, it isn't really funny at all. 

As for four awkward years?  Ummm, for any newbies in the room, maybe. But, politics ain't beanbag, Professional Pols (i.e. those serving more than one term) have developed the hide of rhinoceroses, carry shivs (or hire them) and if they want a friend, are advised to get a dog.

Bruce Gibson's "Evil Genius in the Back Room," and Why I Predict Four Awkward Years in SLO County Government

... now playing at a SewerWatch near you:

Friday, August 01, 2014

Darrell's Dashed Dream

Calhoun's Cannons for Aug 1, 2014 

Darrell ( I'm Ready For My Close Up, Mr. DeMille) Issa is dreaming.  That sweet, sweet dream.  He's the cynosure of all eyes, the subject of all headlines, his camera-ready teeth gleaming in the lights as he heads for the reporters and the microphones waiting just for him. And they'll be waiting for him day after day after day for months.  Every headline will be about the Select Committee he's heading.  He'll be the biggest thing since Monica Lewinsky! 24/7 Issa! Issa! Issa!

Suddenly, his eyes flutter and beads of sweat pop out on his forehead. " UhnnnNooooo," he moans. The nightmare has returned.  That awful, awful nightmare.  In it, the lights suddenly fade, the cameras disappear, reporters are nowhere in sight, and those who remain keep asking, "What did you say your name was?"  Then the halls are empty and he's alone in the dark. 

With a shriek, he sits bolt upright in his bed and realizes in horror that it wasn't just a bad dream.  That damned Boehner and his fellow Republicans -- those FOOLS! -- had blown it! And Darrell starts to blubber, Boo-hoo-hoo. 

Indeed, they did.  No longer content with spending years systematically poisoning Barak Obama and all his works, drop by drop, until the public's eyes glazed over and they gave Congress the lowest ratings in history, they sensed that even their base was growing weary waiting for the Prez to keel over, something he stubbornly refused to do, so they started teasingly floating the "I" word about the TwitterVerse.

Impeachment!  Ah, that magic word, glittering in all its power, promising a fabulous opportunity for Lies to get twice around the world before Truth could even put on it's shoes.  The perfect excuse for a Do Nothing Congress to continue doing nothing while self-righteously posturing in the public eye 24/7.  A glorious  piece of Theatre for feeding the Republican base with huge hunks of red meat.  Constant headlines, media punditry on steroids, this would be BIG.  Waaaaay bigger than Benghazi!  Bigger than ObamaCare!  Bigger than Birth Certificates!  BIG!

And what did the cowardly Republican Congressmen do?  Instead of a go-for-broke  Grand Spectacle, they file some sort of crummy lawsuit.   A lawsuit, for God's sake!!   No lights.  No cameras.  No grandstanding. After a flurry, no headlines.  Just dishwater-dull, mumbling lawyers -- LAWYERS! -- with their clause A's and sub-paragraph B's, endlessly  gathering in quiet courtrooms to argue and object over incomprehensible minutia until everybody's heads explode and they change the channel.

"Fools!" Issa mutters, peering glumly into his morning coffee.  "Not only are the Republicans in Congress unwilling to govern, they're now unfit to govern!  Can't even get an article of  Impeachment right.  Instead, a pissant lawsuit?  And now everyone is laughing at us.  Bwa-Hahahahah. Weenies!  Girly Men! Bring it on! HaHaHaHa!"

Meanwhile, both parties hit the airwaves. Eeek! Impeachment! Send us money, they cried.  No, send us the money!

Which absolutely blows Darrell (I'm Ready For My Close Up, Mr. DeMille) Issa's sweet, sweet dream of heading up the Select Committee running the impeachment proceedings. Poor Darrell. Camera-ready teeth and no cameras.

And poor America.  Two more years of wasting time while the world burns.  And now, no bread or circuses for the mob. Just a coterie of plodding . . . lawyers.