Weeds

March 18, 2017

My grandson was helping me pull weeds.  But Grandma, these have yellow flowers.  Why do we have to pull them?  The line between weeds and wildflowers is a wavy one, or maybe a dashed one.  Had to kill all of the weeds at my last house, then move into another rental house, 4.7 miles away, only to get a note from the HOA that we have to have all of our weeds pulled by April 1.  No joke.


But speaking of wildflowers – while the east coast is covered in snow there is a spectacular wildflower display here in the desert wherever the housing developments haven’t scraped the ground and replaced the natural desert with a few trees, cacti, bushes trimmed into tight balls, and lots of gravel.  This photo from the Web of the flowers at Picacho Peak, where my daughter and family are camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, there to see the wildflowers and the reenactment of the Civil War battle at Picacho Peak.  (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/picachopeak.html)  Unfortunately, the hot weather (it’s 92° right now, at 5pm) has also brought out the rattlesnakes, so she texted me that they’re leaving after the roasting of the marshmallows tonight.

Backstory

My life has gotten just a tad busier the beginning of February.

Did dislike the last rental.  January’s gas bill was $148!!!  The insulation was terrible, and, in the winter, it was cold downstairs, with drafts, and hot upstairs.  But good news – hah!  So many things had gone wrong with it (such as the heat going out four times in one year!) that they decided to sell.

My lease was up end of January,  then was on month-to-month, but four families had looked at it in the first week, so I figured I better find another rental as my son-in-law won’t finish his training (to be a hospital CFO) for another year, and when the hospital chain assigns him to a hospital somewhere, if it’s a nifty place, I may move there too, to be near the grandkids.  Another move!  Much harder than finding a place to buy, as rental agents “own” their own properties.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Online, looked at 50 (!) houses near here (which means near my daughter and my grandkids), and chose five.  One zapped me for having a cat, so I looked at four.  Found a smaller, less expensive rental (but with a view of the desert and mountains) west of the last house.  The people were moving out the middle of February, so I started packing, yet again.

Here’s a photo from my bedroom window, after I got all of the windows cleaned.  (Not as good as the professional photo above, but it is 5pm, with its long shadows.)


Was chest high in boxes on that first weekend and I was sore to the bone, double-popping ibuprofen.  In order to get my security deposit back, had to have the empty house clean, including the tops of the fans (ten feet up in the living room), the outdoor lights, garage, you name it.  And no weeds.  (This all in the lease that I had signed.)  Of course, we had had our winter rain, and then the temperatures soared into the 80’s.  Never saw so many weeds.  Too many too small to pull, even with my grandson’s small hands, so I had to resort to the dreaded poison.  (Sorry Mitch!  It was that v. $2200.)  My daughter, having never read Silent Spring, had a poison sprayer canister, which I borrowed.

Final inspection.  A woman came to spend an hour taking photos of everything with cabinets open, lights on. Then she gave the set to the rental agent (the fourth one I’ve had, and never met) and he would decide how much of the security deposit to return in two+ weeks (per contract).  The photographer called me the next day and said that they had just put a check in the mail for the entire security deposit.  Guess I overdid it!

Speaking of rental agents- I mentioned to my present one that the garbage disposal was backing up and she said she’d get back to me. Four days later and no return call to my message left, so I tried it when the dishwasher had filled up the sink, and it magically fixed itself. What a way to get things done…  (There’s an apocryphal story that Napoleon opened his mail about once a month. Why? Because if it was still important after a month, he attended to it; if not, one of his minions had dealt with it, or it was just junk mail.)

Too Much to Protest, Too Little Time

As I was packing, moving, unpacking, etc I was feeling very guilty about not having enough time to protest!  Sure, I had emailed my senators regarding Trump’s appointments, especially of Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos.  (See my blog from January: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/trumps-appointees/)  As if Flake and McCain care about my opinion.  But my rep is Tom O’Halleran, and he’s a Democrat, so no prob.  Next was the protest against Monsanto, which is building a huge greenhouse near here.  https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/monsanto/

Then I sent off an email to my governor because he…

 …defended state laws that let parents use public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.  But he sidestepped questions of whether he would sign legislation to open up that possibility to all 1.1 million public school students statewide.
http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/27/ducey-depends-using-public-funds-for-private-schools/

Unfortunately,

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria, and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/02/08/republicans-fast-track-school-voucher-bill-arizona-legislature/97572798/

As I had pointed out to my governor, private schools, including Catholic or Christian, are segregated – either by economic inequality (with shades of race discrimination) or by religion.  As Wikipedia points out,

Separation of church and state is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Consequently, I believe that it is in our constitution that our taxes should not be used to fund private and parochial schools, and that includes the school tax credit, which comes out of our taxes.  But Arizona is a red state, so it’ll no doubt pass.

Zero to 1.34 Million

You must read Nicholas Kristof’s column from Sunday’s New York Times from a month ago, regarding Trump’s original travel ban:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/opinion/sunday/husbands-are-deadlier-than-terrorists.html

Peoples Climate Movement April 29th

This was in my Sierra Club magazine:

Michael Brune on the People’s Climate Mobilization, Feb 24 2017

Two years ago, the first People’s Climate March took place on a crisp, blue-sky September day in Manhattan. An estimated 400,000 people, representing the full display of American diversity, were united in the same righteous purpose: to demand that our leaders act fast to address the climate crisis.

The day was filled with promise, and in the following years our enthusiasm was reciprocated with progress. The Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. We could say that, powered by a movement of millions, the United States was truly leading on climate.

Now the political landscape is different. Donald Trump’s election will upend U.S. climate policy. I doubt that many citizens voted for Trump because they were enthusiastic about his views on climate change, but that’s beside the point.

The Trump-Pence administration has no mandate to roll back environmental progress. Polling before the election showed that seven in 10 Americans agreed the government should do something about global warming. Polling after the election showed that 86 percent of voters—including three out of four of those who voted for Trump—support “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

… we can’t afford to underestimate the Trump administration. Unchecked, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are a threat to our climate and the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. This is a dangerous moment in U.S. history.

…If the Trump-Pence administration attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made in the past 50 years, we do not have to stand for it. Instead, we will stand up against it. We will march, organize, and keep marching—and we will not give up.

The Tucson march:


https://www.evensi.us/tucson-peoples-climate-march-el-presidio-plaza-park/202310124

LOL

February 10, 2017

dogWhen I think something’s funny, I don’t say LOL, I actually laugh out loud!  Here are a commercial (especially the horse watching porn and this family scene)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kj-4F8pWfk
and an article from the New Yorker that had me laughing (especially the bathing suit):  Shouts & Murmurs, New Yorker February 6, 2017 Issue
Melania’s Diary 1/21/2017, by Paul Rudnick

…Then [Kellyanne] brought up the Tiffany gift box that I’d given Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day. “What was in that box?” Kellyanne demanded. I smiled in my alluringly mysterious way, which makes people wonder if I have wads of cash duct-taped to my body at all times, in case I need to flee the country.
“It was just a gracious parting gift,” I said. I will never reveal the box’s true contents, except in the pages of this secret diary: it was a framed photo of me modelling swimwear in a JCPenney catalogue, on which I’d written my cell-phone number and the words “Please come to visit. And never leave.”  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/06/melanias-diary-1-21-2017

Just a Grimace

Yesterday it was 86° here in Tucson.  Today 87°,  20° above normal.  Must be the overheated political climate.

trump-vacationTrump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million
The president regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine.
by Matthew Nussbaum 02/03/17

Trump’s multimillion-dollar trip, which comes just two weeks into his presidency, shows that Trump is not shy about engaging in the same type of jet-setting that he and other Republicans heavily criticized Obama for throughout his presidency…
“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment,” Trump wrote on Twitter in December 2011 (when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 percent).
“President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!” Trump opined again on Twitter a few days later.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

hidden_figuresFriends and I went to see a movie, Hidden Figures, the true story of the women who crunched the numbers for NASA. It was great!

Much better than La La Land, which we saw last weekend, and which has 14 Academy Award nominations.  A friend commented:  “…Why not get actors who can sing and dance?  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of them in LA…”  But hey, they have to keep the “Oscars so white”.

tom-bradyThis on Sunday, instead of watching the Super Bowl.  There were the controversies of Tom Brady having a Trump Make America Great Again baseball cap in his locker, and spending his four-month suspension sunbathing nude in Italy, but he was back, and the New England Patriots won, so who cares?  (Or as the Washington Post said, Tom Brady won this Super Bowl…)

Laugh, and the world laughs with you…

January 28, 2017

President Trump Orders the Execution of Five Turkeys Pardoned by Obama
2017-01-24 by R. Hobbus J.D.

turkey
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In another sweeping move aimed at undoing the perceived damage done by the Obama administration, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday directing the Department of Justice to revoke all sixteen Thanksgiving Day turkey pardons issued by the former president during his eight years in office.

…Of the sixteen turkeys pardoned by Obama, all but five are deceased. “These birds, despite their deaths, will have their pardons revoked posthumously during a ceremony in the Rose Garden,” Secretary Spicer explained. The remaining birds – Tater, Tot, Abe, Honest, and Cheese – are scheduled to be remanded into federal custody on Friday before they are turned over to officials from the Federal Bureau of Prisons who are under orders to execute the turkeys by firing squad…

http://realnewsrightnow.com/2017/01/president-trump-orders-execution-five-turkeys-pardoned-obama/

Somebody Edited the Invertebrate Wikipedia Page to Include Paul Ryan
by Madison Malone Kircher

paul-ryanSure, Wikipedia is good for easy-to-digest information about any topic your heart desires, but it’s also good for pranks against public figures. This week’s victim was Paul Ryan, by way of the Wikipedia page for invertebrates. As per the page’s definition, “invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a backbone or spine),” and for a brief period of time on Thursday, this included Ryan. Estimated members of described species: One.

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/01/wikipedia-invertebrate-page-edited-to-include-paul-ryan.html

That’s all of the humor I could find today.  But a touch of the serious: Please write a postcard to Paul Ryan asking him to say no to defunding Planned Parenthood, no to repealing the Affordable Care Act, and no to privatizing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security!  (He has blocked his office phones and fax numbers, and is turning away people who show up to deliver petitions; time to change tactics.)

Representative Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

Trump’s Appointees

January 26, 2017

scott-pruittI’m sorry – I’ve tried to stay away from the Trump cabinet, but today a rep called from the National Wildlife Federation, which I belong to, to please call my senators to oppose Scott Pruitt‘s confirmation as head of the EPA.  This is what I said, after pressing “1” to comment on an issue, and you can quote me if you want when you call your senators (Sen. Flake: 202-224-4521 and Sen. McCain: 202-224-2235).

I hope that Senator McCain/Senator Flake will not vote for Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt has tried to dismantle EPA standards that ensure clean air and clean water.  His super PAC has taken  money from the fossil fuel industry, corporate interests which he would be charged with regulating. We need someone who does not deny climate change, but is guided by science to protect public health and the environment to head the EPA.  Thank you.

In addition, the Sierra Club (to which I also belong) has a few videos here:
http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2017/01/scott-pruitt-should-not-be-head-epa

betsy-devosMany friends and I have agreed that the worst of President Trump’s nominees is Betsy DeVos, proposed for secretary of education.  This time I sent an email to each Senator McCain and Flake
(https://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form and https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff – and you may quote me at will):

Dear Senator (choose one) –
Please do not vote to confirm Betsy DeVos for secretary of education.

I am an educator, teaching at Pima College.  I believe in public education, something that Mrs. DeVos does not.  She did not attend public schools, nor did her children.  She advocates for public-supported segregation in the expansion of charter schools and programs that would allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools; she has  given millions to groups that support those issues.

She has also donated to at least four of the senators who heard her testimony on Tuesday, a bit of a conflict of interest.

In her hearing (the only one, as Sen. Lamar Alexander rejected Sen. Patty Murray’s request for a second hearing), she didn’t have answers for the most basic questions about her qualifications to lead the $68 billion federal education agency!  I shall not go into the details here – the Web is replete with them.  But, really, are schools in need of guns to protect the children from grizzly bears?

Thank you for your attention-
Your name here

Here is one of the websites that I referred to: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/how-did-betsy-devos-do-in-her-confirmation-hearing/  The article is actually a bit hilarious.  Well, maybe not the article, but what Mrs. Devos is quoted as saying!

You too can sign a change.org petition opposing DeVos’ nomination, which already has hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Can’t do anything about these:

The Senate confirmed former Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo (a Tea Party Republican) for CIA Director and Nikki Haley (born to an Indian Sikh family in South Carolina, who became governor of the state after I left it) for U.N. ambassador.  In addition, two of Trump’s Cabinet nominees have been confirmed — retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his secretary of defense and retired Marine General John Kelly to be secretary of Homeland Security.

tank_paradeTwo Generals!  President Trump did tell the Washington Post that he wanted to show off our military.  Then there is an unsubstantiated claim by the Huffington Post that he wanted the tanks for the inaugural parade!  (I couldn’t believe it so I check with snopes.com.)

The military “may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview . “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing…
http://www.snopes.com/trump-military-inaugural-parade/

His Cabinet moved a few more steps closer to being rounded out Tuesday when [three] nominees got approval votes from Senate committees: Ben Carson to head Housing and Urban Development (a famous neurosurgeon, who knows nothing of urban development, but has lived in a house), Elaine Chao (conveniently married to Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the Senate), for Transportation, and Wilbur Ross (an American investor, and former banker, known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles) for Commerce.

Black ✓
Asian  ✓
Brown person  ✓
A few women  ✓
But, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, the president’s Cabinet won’t include a Latino.

Sorry – I can’t stand any more of this today.

The March

January 24, 2017

img_6756The sky in Tucson intermittently drizzled on the morning of January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s Inaugural, but still 15,000 people (¡here, in this little cow town!) showed up at Armory Park downtown, for rousing talks and music, followed by a v-e-r-y slow “march” to the library, to merge with the Solidarity Rally.  Many imaginative chants were used to buoy our spirits, such as, We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!  Imagine how many more would have joined us if the weather had been good.

Stiltwalkers, I guess from TCA (Tucson Circus Arts), including a pussyhatbearded guy in pregnant woman’s garb, top right.  (You can click on photos to enlarge.)

Pussyhats.  I was rather clueless about that, even though the project4 started Thanksgiving weekend.

We were so crowded together that I only saw one couple I knew, but found out from friends’ Facebook posts that many more were there.  piñataBecause the downtown streets are so narrow, it took us more than an hour to go 0.6 miles.  (I didn’t get any good photos, but here are a few, including a piñata.  I was either shooting into the rain or the sun.  And wasn’t clever enough to have someone take a photo of me…)  Rain started to fall the moment Donald Trump began giving his first speech as US President.8  But the sun did come out here in Tucson; Annie had said that it would:

The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be sun…

 

Local law enforcement officials said more than 20,000 people participated in Phoenix … and 1,200 in Flagstaff, which faced a snowstorm the night before.1
nancy

San Diego police estimate 30,000 to 40,000 people participated in the Women’s March in downtown San Diego.  (Photo of a friend – center – who was there.)

 

But dwarfing us, of course, were the half a million people marching in Washington, DC!  (Left EarthCam.) More than the attendees to the inauguration! (Right EarthCam.)

Plus, unlike Trump’s failure to attract A-list celebrities, the DC March had Alicia Keys, Gloria Steinem, Madonna, Cher, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Kerry, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Moore.

march-on-dctrump-inauguration

It was 23 degrees and snowing in Park City, Utah1, which is hosting the Sundance Film Festival right now, but they had Charlize Theron and other celebrities, and thousands marching.

cousin-lynnlangley-waMy cousin (the other Lynn Blair) drove two hours from Sequim, Washington to Langley, on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, to march in her Pussyhat.  She wrote,cousin-melissa

I actually didn’t know about the hats until Greg said “they are running out of pink yarn”—well, not in Sequim, so I got mine made just in time!

The turnouts around the world were heartwarming-  now  let’s get to work!

There were approximately 100,000 participants at Women’s March on Denver.  (Photo of my cousin there – third from left.)

nyc-2New York, Trump’s home town, had 250,000 marchers, Helen Mirren and Whoopi Goldberg.  (My niece was there – her appliqué “Smash The Patriarchy”.)

Chicago had a quarter of a million too.  Boston had 100,000 marchers and Elizabeth Warren, among others.  But Los Angeles had more marchers than DC, with three quarter of a million!

President Trump tweets on Women’s March protesters: “Why didn’t these people vote?”

With all the numbers in, Clinton ended up winning 65,844,610 votes, which is 48.2% of the total votes. That vote total is good enough to give Clinton the third most votes of any presidential candidate in history (Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 elections are first and second, respectively).3

A friend posted this video on her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/omgfactsofficial/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

womenantarcticAnd there were also 673 marches around the world!  The estimate is 4,814,000 Sister Marchers!  Check out the website – it lists all of the cities in the world who participated!5  Even 30 people “marching” in Antarctica!  (Good video on this website.)6 Map:7

march-map
1http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/21/phoenix-womens-march-sister-washington-capitol/96849890/
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/01/21/sundancemarch/?utm_term=.e65b399b6f2f
3http://www.dailywire.com/news/11777/how-many-votes-did-trump-and-clinton-get-final-james-barrett
4https://www.pussyhatproject.com/
5https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters/
6http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/01/21/womens-march-around-the-world-orig-sg.cnn
7http://us.pressfrom.com/news/world/-20317-worldwide-people-rally-in-support-of-women-s-march-on-washington/
8http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-rain-speech-inauguration-president-us-sign-prophecy-a7538686.html

An All-Inclusive Church

January 17, 2017

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”  So I was delighted when the BBC read this the other night.  It is posted on the Hereford Diocese Inclusive Church, England, among others.

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rake or could afford to lose a few pounds. You’re welcome if you are Old Leigh, New Leigh, Not Leigh, or just passing by.

We welcome you if you can sing like Pavarotti or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury, or haven’t been in church since little Jack’s christening.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like ‘organised religion.’ We’ve been there too!

If you blew all your money on the horses, you’re welcome here. We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, ‘work too hard,’ don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost on the London Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!

Seen Today

bobcatI was in my bedroom (second floor, with a view of the relatively animal-less hillside beyond), and was so excited to see a bobcat ambling down said hillside.  I grabbed my camera, but there is a dreadful block wall behind, so all I got her his/her ears and back.  To think that I had them lounging on my back patios at the last house.  (Google bobcat notesfromthewest, and set it to Images and you’ll see a lot of the shots of bobcats I’ve taken over the past five or so years, with other miscellaneous photos from those same blogs.)

Reading

obama-booksCan’t remember if it was on NPR or in the NY Times, but it was mentioned that President Obama read books late into the night.  (Photo of President Obama reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to children at the White House in 2014. Doug Mills/The New York Times.) This wasn’t the article, but it mentions three books that I have read1:

And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction2.

I am just finishing Our Kind of Traitor, by John Le Carre, which President Obama mentioned in the interview that I heard, along with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz, which I also “read” (listened to the audiobook version, narrated by musical maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda), although it was very strange (magical realism).  Maybe I’ll try to read more books on his list.

Then I saw this: Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon nominated for book critics award.3  I just picked up Chabon’s Moonglow from the library.  Enjoyed his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  And Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.  I think we’ve all read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith are among the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle awards in the US…

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author of novels including The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye, will receive a lifetime achievement prize…  The winners will be announced on 16 March.

Patchett’s Commonwealth, Chabon’s Moonglow and Smith’s Swing Time were all fiction finalists, along with Erdrich’s LaRose and Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone.

So there’s more to add to my request list at the library.

Monsanto Continued

A friend emailed me this question: If they are growing genetically modified corn in green house, it should not need pesticides.  Are you concerned about fertilizer?

I answered: Watch The World According to Monsanto on youtube.  It’s way long and boring but skip to the section on corn in Mexico, 1:25:20; it’s an eye-opener.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6_DbVdVo-k

1https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/obamas-secret-to-surviving-the-white-house-years-books.html?_r=0
2https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/17/michael-chabon-zadie-smith-nominated-book-critics-award-margaret-atwood-national-book-critics-circle-
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/connect-the-dots/

Monsanto

January 13, 2017

A continuation from this blog: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/electronics/  (with Monsanto comments at the end.)  The county has set up a website about the Monsanto proposal at tucne.ws/h1b

Pima County will hold five community meetings to take public comments on the proposed Monsanto greenhouse facility ahead of a formal vote on the county’s support of a trade-zone designation that would result in a tax break for the company.1

monsanto-libraryStanding room only for first public Monsanto Meeting1

Went to the first of the first of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting.   And I, never getting anywhere early, was one of those standing (the short person circled).  Here are the dates and places for the next meetings:

  • District 2: 6 p.m., Jan. 19; Quincie Douglas Center, 1575 E. 36th St.
  • District 3: 5 p.m., Jan. 17; Ellie Towne Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road.
  • District 4: 11 a.m., Jan. 13; Green Valley Recreation Center, Las Companas Room, 565 W. Belltower Drive.
  • District 5: 6 p.m., Jan. 18; Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St.

The 155 acres of land that they bought in Marana is for a $100 million …seven-acre greenhouse facility where it would develop and grow genetically modified corn.  However, the Monsanto Product Strategy Leader, Amanda McClerren, who spoke did not rule out the use of pesticides and other chemicals1.  We do not want to risk one of the Monsanto spills here.

Monsanto Liable In ’79 Dioxin Spill… in Sturgeon, Missouri…  The jury awarded plaintiffs $16.2 million in punitive damages…  Dioxin is known to cause brain, heart and genetic damage in laboratory animals. The health risk to humans is subject to debate, although the form of dioxin found in the soil at the spill site has been called the world’s most toxic synthetic chemical.3

Then there’s Poca River Basin, West Virginia:

The level of cancer has reached abnormal numbers in the communities located close the Monsanto’s dump sites in Poca River basin. Almost everybody has a family member affected by cancer.

Poca River Basin is part of the area locally known as the “Chemical Valley.” During its peak in the 1950s and early 1960s, the area was the leading chemical producer in the world. Monsanto’s plant near the town of Nitro was the primary manufacturer of Agent Orange. The waste and residues from the plant were illegally dumped around the area. For years, the leaks from the dump sites have contaminated Poca River which joins Kanawha River, the largest inland waterway in West Virginia.4

And West Anniston, Alabama

For nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. Thousands of pages of Monsanto documents – many emblazoned with warnings such as “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy” – show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.

annistonA house, located close the former Monsanto Plant (Solutia Plant today), was abandoned due to a high level of PCBs. Monsanto’s facility was in a primarily low-income neighborhood and affected more than 20,000 people. Today, it represents the biggest population affected by a single contamination. In recent years, Monsanto has bought and demolished around 100 PCB-contaminated houses and businesses in the area, turning the neighborhood into a virtual ghost town.

In its 113 year history, Monsanto has manufactured everything from plastic to the now-banned Agent Orange, an herbicide used to destroy a large area of jungle during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange has since been found to cause miscarriages and birth defects in the children of Vietnam veterans. Today, Monsanto is a main producer of the herbicide glyphosate, which goes by the brand-name Roundup, and bovine growth hormone, both which have raised ethical and environmental concerns relating to the welfare of animals, humans, and the environment.4

I could go on and on.  These are just the first two articles I read after googling Monsanto spills.

The Women’s March On Washington Has Gone Global5

Amsterdam, Netherlands; Auckland, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; Edmonton, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; Geneva, Switzerland; Heidelberg, Germany; London, England; Malecon, Mexico; Oslo, Norway; Ottowa, Canada; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; St. Johns, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; Vienna, Austria; Wellington, New Zealand; Jalisco, Mexico.  So far.

See my blog https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/electronics/ for what’s happening in Tucson.

hello-kittySeen Today

A woman with short gray hair in a small black pickup with a Hello Kitty sticker.

1http://tucson.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/public-meetings-on-monsanto-proposal-begin-next-week-in-pima/article_7867ea4f-614d-530c-afe4-10aa5b2a71c3.html
2http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/34221416/standing-room-only-for-first-public-monsanto-meeting
3http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/23/us/monsanto-liable-in-79-dioxin-spill.html
4http://www.featureshoot.com/2014/09/compelling-photos-reveal-legacy-americas-hated-corporation/
5http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-the-womens-march-on-washington-has-gone-global_us_586e342be4b021b75256f0f1?

Women

January 10, 2017

planned-parenthoodI am trying hard not to say anything (yet) about our upcoming prez.  But I can’t ignore all politics.  This came to notice: House Speaker Paul Ryan announced yesterday that Republicans will once again push to cut off federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. Republicans have tried and failed to do this in the past. President Obama vetoed a similar bill last January.1

So now women are going to be punished for even running for President?  The underweight babies will suffer too.  And the children who no one wants.  An aside: One of the guys I worked with said that his sister had a deformed baby.  (I think the PC term is special needs child.)  One day she was driving by a Planned Parenthood center where there were protesters.  She took her baby out and walked down the line asking who would want to adopt her child.  No takers.  Just people who want to control others.

I had never read The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, but got it from the library and skimmed it.  Most of it you could get by following Betty Draper in Mad Men.

But  in the Epilogue I got an idea of why so many women voted for Trump:

At first, that strange hostility my book—and later the movement—seemed to elicit from some women amazed and puzzled me… if you were too afraid you wouldn’t really make it, too afraid to face your real feelings about the husband and children you were presumably living for, then someone like me opening up the can of worms was a menace.

Then there was an idea I had never heard of:

Society had to be restructured so ‐ that women, who happen to be the people who give birth, could make a human, responsible choice whether or not—and when—to have children, and not be barred thereby from participating in society in their own right. This meant the right to birth control and safe abortion; the right to maternity leave and childcare centers if women did not want to retreat completely from adult society during the childbearing years; and the equivalent of a G.I. bill for retraining if women chose to stay home with the children.2

poetryA friend of mine posts poetry sessions on her Facebook page.  This one hits the woman and the black:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/6/24/1396071/-A-black-man-and-a-white-woman-switch-mics-and-the-result-is-amazing

Aging

old-cyclist105-year-old man sets record by cycling more than 14 miles in an hour
Frenchman Robert Marchand, who previously broke record in over-100s category, sets time in new over-105s class2.

I had mentioned this guy back in 2012, when he was “just” 100.4

1http://www.npr.org/2017/01/06/508587569/republicans-prepare-efforts-to-defund-planned-parenthood
2http://www.nytimes.com/1973/03/04/archives/up-from-the-kitchen-floor-kitchen-floor.html?_r=0
3https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/105-year-old-man-sets-record-cycling-14-miles-hour-robert-marchand
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/book-festival/

Electronics

January 6, 2017

Suppose that aliens (not Mexicans or Muslims, but those from Outer Space) came in flying saucers and disrupted our earth’s electrical and magnetic fields?  It would crash our defenses and worldwide communications!  OMG!  No internet!  No phone, no messages, no twitter, no snapchat, no facebook, no google…

I’ve had my first smart phone for probably less than a year.  I decided, as part of a New Year’s resolution to get more current, to put all of my schedule on the phone’s calendar.  My phone had said that I was almost out of memory, so I deleted all of my messages, sent emails, deleted emails, and even photos, including a couple of phone photos (which I only recently have begun taking, as it’s more convenient than a camera) that I thought I had emailed to myself to drop into my desktop photo file.  Then, a week ago, I could no longer get or send emails with my phone.  Had not depended upon that before, having both a tablet and a desktop, but the email I had thought had gone through hadn’t.  It was in the Sent folder as failed.  And it wouldn’t let me download the photos, either.  Bother.

So… I called the techie (who was not in India, but Texas), and after she had waved her magic wand and some such, said that I would have to reboot the phone, and sent a page of directions.  Got them from my desktop email and followed instructions.  My phone email now worked (‘cept the one with the photos was gone, so you’ll have to imagine the Catalina Mountains shrouded with clouds, and a young man, in a chair at Dillard’s on its 75% day after New Year’s off sale, with a huge pile of women’s clothes in his lap, which family members are adding to).

And… you guessed it – my calendar was now empty and I had to find all of the dates and times which I had entered to reenter.  Took a long time.  Here are some events you might be interested in.  First, a free documentary film The World According to Monsanto tonight (January 6, 2017) at 6:30 at Green Fields School auditorium6000 N Camino De La Tierra, Tucson.  Here is some backstory:

Multinational chemical corporation Mon$anto has plans to move into the Tucson area (1.5 miles away from Marana High School) and is seeking a 66% tax break (also known as “Project Corn”) from the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Come to this free movie screening of “The World According to Monsanto” documentary and find out what kind of neighbor Mon$anto is and what you can do about it.
This movie screening will take place in a large auditorium with hundreds of seats in northwest Tucson (near Orange Grove and I-10).
After the movie, Going Against GMOs author Melissa Diane Smith will give an update on the local grassroots movement that’s building against Mon$anto’s plans: She’ll provide details about five open public meetings—one in each district—that begin January 9th to the 19th and explain many different ways to take action against Mon$anto.
This must-not-miss community event is organized by concerned citizens of Pima County in cooperation with GMO Free Arizona, GMO Free Baja Arizona, March Against Monsanto Tucson, and Organic, Sustainable Baja Arizona.
https://www.facebook.com/events/153079711842632/

monsantoNext, Public meetings on Monsanto proposal begin next week in Pima County. For those who live around me,  5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9, Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive.  More backstore here: http://tucson.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/public-meetings-on-monsanto-proposal-begin-next-week-in-pima/article_7867ea4f-614d-530c-afe4-10aa5b2a71c3.html

Then there’s Tucson’s version of the Women’s March on Washington:

The Women’s March will begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21 at Armory Park, 221 S. Sixth Street, and proceed for just over a half-mile to the Joel D. Valdez Library Park, 101 N. Stone Avenue, where marchers will join the Tucson Solidarity Rally at noon.1

In DC there shall be…

…more than 100,000 people [who] have registered their plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington in what is expected to be the largest demonstration linked to Donald Trump’s inauguration and a focal point for activists on the left who have been energized in opposing his agenda.2

That’s all for now.  More next week.

1http://www.arizonawomensmarch.com/tucson
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/it-started-with-a-grandmother-in-hawaii-now-the-womens-march-on-washington-is-poised-to-be-the-biggest-inauguration-demonstration/2017/01/03/8af61686-c6e2-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.d267458cd2b6

Who to Help and Who to Kill

December 31, 2016

Volunteering

Because we adjuncts are so poorly paid at Pima College, I have pretended that I’m getting twice the pay half of the time, and the other half of the time I’m volunteering.  But I continue, even though I meant to completely retire. When the head of the department, at the end of the semester, said that one of the instructors for the Writing Fundamentals class had bowed out, and asked if I would teach another class, I said yes.

senior-transI’ve also decided that I need to help more than my students.  (Did connect on of my students last semester to Helping Hands for Single Moms, which provides scholarships and services for single mom college student families.)  Shall be going through orientation for ICS (Interfaith Community Services) – Helping Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Stay Safe and Independent, as a Senior Services Driver – providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc.1

I know that it’s more than the transportation, but the companionship. When I had done Christmas at Primavera1, which has a temporary shelter for the homeless south of town, (with my mother and possibly my children – it was years ago), we were asked not only to bring food,  but to sit and listen to their individual stories.

Sure, this is through a church group, and most of you know that I don’t go to church, as I can plainly see that if there is a god, he or she doesn’t micromanage, or we wouldn’t have such horrible natural disasters, wars, diseases, and overpopulation, so prayer does nothing.  But if churches, synagogues, mosques want to help others, I’m all for that.

Charity

I believe that I got ripped off.  A few months ago a couple of young people at a table outside Lee Lee International Supermarket were asking for contributions to ChildFund International Guardian Angels.  The brochures were glossy and the pitch sounded legit.  But they said that I had to sign up for at least $30/ month to sponsor a child.  They took my email address to send the receipt, and since then I have gotten at least two junk emails a day for EnhanceMind IQ <EnhanceMind@nd1.kndrako.site>, Military Flashlight <Military@nd1.kndrako.site>, Choice Home Warranty <Choice@clouacierl.xyz>, and so on.  It took me a while of tossing them into the Junk Email folder to realize that I should Block them.  (Done.)  But after three months I tryied to cancel the money being taken out automatically on my credit card by ChildFund, and hadn’t gotten an answer since my email on December 18, nor a returned call from a message I left (with an actual person) on December 22.  Finally, a chirpy woman called on December 27 to say that yes, they’d cancel but wouldn’t I like to give only $10 a month.  Apparently that had always been a choice, but it was not given to me.  I declined.  Here is a lawyer’s take on the charity:

childfund
The ‘Kids Wish Network’… has doled out less than three cents for every dollar contributed over the last ten years. $110 million donated by people thinking they were helping sick kids has gone into their own pockets. Another $4.8 million has gone to the founder and his consulting firms. It’s rather shameless that on their own website they claim 100% of donations to “Kids Wish Network’s Guardian Angel Fund will go directly to supporting our kids through our services and programs.” I sense some lawyerly dissemination there. Do they mean the donations go directly to the kids, or that they go to their companies which operate the charity and ‘support’ kids? That second interpretation is MUCH different from suggesting the money goes straight to the kids and I suspect it’s what is actually going on.

The strange thing is that apparently watchdog groups think a legitimate charity should spend about 35% of donations on direct aid. If you’re good enough to really pick a great name, throw together a great website with a link for donations, and then get some great pictures of sick or hungry kids (remember Sally Struthers and the Child Fund?) you can operate a legal money-making machine on a grand scale. If you keep your overhead low you should have no problems tossing a few dollars here and there to real charitable causes to get close to the 35% guideline and stay off the bad list. I mean, hey – if you bring in $200,000 this year you can spare $50,000 if it goes to a soup kitchen or something. Of course running one of these fake charities really depends on your ability to stomach all that ripping off of well-meaning people who think they are trying to help some dying three-year old kid in Africa. But if you can do that then you are in business.3

Who to Kill

Interesting article: Self-driving cars are already deciding who to kill.4  I thought I had already written about the trolley problem, an ethical conundrum, but I can’t find it in any old blog.  This from Wikipedia:

trolley_problemThe general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

So the programmers of the Autonomous Vehicles have to decide who to kill:

The most well-known issues in AV ethics are trolley problems — moral questions dating back to the era of trolleys that ask whose lives should be sacrificed in an unavoidable crash. For instance, if a person falls onto the road in front of a fast-moving AV, and the car can either swerve into a traffic barrier, potentially killing the passenger, or go straight, potentially killing the pedestrian, what should it do?4

“Poetry”

NPR discussed Ring Lardner this morning.  He wrote poems about when each of the boys were born. His wife insisted they name Ring Jr. after himself, so he writes,5

When you are christened Ringworm, by humorists and wits
When people pun about you, till they drive you into fits
When funny folks say ‘Ring, ring off!’ until they make you ill
Remember that your poor old dad tried hard to name you Bill.

1https://www.icstucson.org/
2http://www.primavera.org/index_flash.html
3https://lawyerrant.wordpress.com/favorite-scams/fake-charity-scam/
4http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/technologyinvesting/self-driving-cars-are-already-deciding-who-to-kill/ar-BBxI6mq?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=mailsignout
5http://www.npr.org/2016/12/31/507595363/lost-journalism-revisits-the-golden-age-of-ring-lardner