Archive for the ‘Tucson’ Category

In the Pink

April 21, 2017

Palo verdes are still flowering, but the desert ironwood (top) that I pass every day on my way to work or the Y is in gorgeous bloom.  And the almost-dead desert willow in my side yard, which I severely trimmed, with the help of my son-in-law and his chainsaw, is in bloom, although not as dramatic.

Critters

I love the view from my computer.

A common kingsnake just glided along my fence, on the inside.  Don’t know how it got in, but it kept testing the welded wire along the fence, so I figured it wanted to get out.  Opened the gate and edged it along with a rake handle.  It then slithered away into the desert in those S-shaped curves.  By the 4½ inches  between the posts, it appeared to be three feet long.

Yesterday it was a bobcat, a wriggling quail in its mouth, which stopped at my fence to peer in.  I did not go outside to take these photos, as it would have disappeared.  (The snake just became stationary.)  I had thought a couple of quail had nested under a huge Texas ranger in the side yard a week ago, as whenever I went out the gate, in a rapid flurry, one flew out.  But the next day it didn’t happen, and there were a few feathers about.  I couldn’t figure what had gotten the bird until I saw the bobcat.  It could have easily jumped the fence.

Taxes

I got some money back on my taxes – enough to pay the accountant!

But let’s consider tax reform.  How about if we had no deductions? (This list mostly from Five Tax Deductions that Favor the Rich1.)  No charitable-giving deduction.  If you want to give your Picasso to the art museum, do it, just don’t deduct it.  Same goes for your church, or UNICEF, or your kid’s school.  If you believe in it, donate to it.  (Bill and Melinda Gates do, although they have gotten a small tax break, they could probably do find without it.  From 1994 to 2006, Bill and Melinda gave the foundation more than $26 billion. Those donations resulted in a tax savings of less than 8.3 percent of the contributions they made over that time.2) Long-term capital gains, which derive from the sale of investments such as stocks and bonds held for more than a year, are taxed at 15 percent.  They should be taxed as part of your income.  Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, which encourages people to scrape more of our biome (a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat) to build large houses, thus making our earth less habitable.  No deductions for children.  If people want to have children, they should pay for them.  The government already provides schools.  No deduction for yourself or whomever you care for, as head of household.

No

  • State sales taxes. …
  • Reinvested dividends. …
  • Out-of-pocket charitable contributions. …
  • Student loan interest paid by Mom and Dad. …
  • Moving expense to take first job. …
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. …
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) …
  • State tax you paid last spring. …
  • Refinancing mortgage points. …
  • Jury pay paid to employer. …3

(I don’t consider tax-deferred retirement plans a deduction, as you end up having to pay tax on the money when you take it out.)

Then everyone who makes at least $31,200 (52 weeks of 40 hours at a logical minimum age of $15/ hr, married or not, old or young, dependents or not) pays 20%.

So for Trump’s 2005 return where

According to the Form 1040, Mr. Trump paid $36.6 million in federal income taxes on $152.7 million in reported income in 2005, or 24 percent…  Significantly helping matters back in 2005 was the fact he reported a $103.2 million loss that year…4

Without his deduction of losses, he’d pay on $152.7M + $103.2M = $255.9M, of which 20% is $51.18M.

Sure, that would hurt me.  I’d be paying almost 4 times what I paid, as an old person with deductions.  (But I wouldn’t have to pay an accountant.)  However, if that happened to everyone, we could take a bite out of the national debt, which is presently $20.1 trillion5.  Kay Bell in 8 tax breaks that cost Uncle Sam big money says that there’s a $4 trillion giveaway in tax breaks.6

I have a feeling that most of my friends will disagree with this proposal…

1http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2011/12/07/five-tax-deductions-that-favor-rich.html
2http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-FAQ
3https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Tax-Deductions-and-Credits/The-10-Most-Overlooked-Tax-Deductions/INF12062.html
4http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-tax-return-leaked-rachel-maddow-what-accountants-think-alternative-minimum-tax/
5https://www.google.com/search?q=national+debt+today.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
6http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/8-tax-breaks-cost-uncle-sam-big-money-1.aspx#ixzz4eqKyTARS

Easter 2017

April 17, 2017

Dyed eggs with my three grandchildren.  It’s trite, but they do grow up so fast!

Spring Flowers

Some of the palo verdes in the wash behind my house have turned yellow.  One of mine is now in flower.  The tiny backyard is looking beautiful.  A friend gave me a yucca and two prickly pear cuttings to fill in around the huge barrel cactus and rocks (see photo).


I think the quail have nested under a large Texas ranger in the side yard.  “Dad” was patrolling along the wall.

There is 18″ of 1/4” welded wire wrapped around the backyard wrought iron fence, and I assumed, when I planted a vegetable garden in a corner of the yard, that no rodents would get in.  Then I spied a rabbit, frantically trying to get out, until he realized that I was watching him through the window, and he froze. When I went out to open the gate to shoo him out, he was gone, and a dent in the top of one section of the welded wire.  He was so scared that he didn’t eat anything!

 

I enjoy seeing neighbors’ yards in bloom when I walk to the mailbox.  My next-door neighbor has this cactus in a pot, where it’s happily blossoming in fuchsia.  Orange flowers on a cactus down the street.  And this purple prickly pear is squeezed between an ocotillo and a saguaro.  My own prickly pear flowers.

 

Art

Can’t remember what I was looking for when I found Erwin Wurm’s One-Minute Sculptures on the Net. Check out all three websites – there are lots more.

 

http://publicdelivery.org/erwin-wurm-one-minute-sculptures/
http://www.stuk.be/en/one-minute-sculptures
http://sculpture.artapsu.com/?p=1581

Smoke Bomb Photos

Then I somehow got into these smoke bomb photos.  Above, by Julie SmithAviphile, “Lover of Birds.”

And this one: Se me escapan las ideas by Marina Gondra
http://marinagondra.com/

But that’s enough for tonight. http://myportraithub.com/smoke-bomb-photography/  And you can google for hundreds more…

Dearly Departed

April 5, 2017

No, they’re not dead, just gone.  “My” baby doves got so big Mom couldn’t fit in the “nest” (a small pile of twigs) any more, but stopped by occasionally to give them some pigeon milk.  That was something I didn’t know about previously.  According to Wikipedia:

Crop milk is a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to young birds. It is found among all pigeons and doves where it is referred to as pigeon milk…

Then I didn’t see them in their nest, so I went out to trim some bushes outside the window of my breakfast room (which I am using for an office), and they were sitting on the windowsill, across the narrow side yard from their nest.  But I had upset them, so they flew away.  They returned in the evening twice to the wall outside the kitchen, but I think Mom had decided that they could be on their own, so they’re gone.


A week ago it was so windy that people with respiratory problems, old people, and young children were asked to stay indoors and refrain from exercise.  I heard that on the news as I was driving to the Y to exercise.  The mountains were almost obscured, but I still loved looking at them.

The soil is pretty sandy here, which is maybe why the cactus grow so large.  Here are three on my street, on the walk to the mailboxes.  The biggest yucca and century plant I have ever seen, up to the house eves!  And a plump and happy saguaro.

Spring has hit Tucson with a splash of yellow.  It started with the brittlebush and desert marigolds at the side of the roads (with  an occasional slash of red or pink penstemon), then on to the palo verdes, heavy with flowers (with intermittent stripes of gaudy magenta bougainvillea – this in my back yard, the same color as all of the bougainvilleas in my subdivision).

I stopped in a parking lot yesterday to take these photos with my phone, but the wind was blowing pretty hard, so they look “painterly”.  The blooms started in the washes, and have been climbing up to the higher elevations.  Beautiful along La Cañada and La Cholla, and River Road especially!  Oro Valley is a bit higher than Tucson, so my three palo verdes are still covered with buds.

Seen Today

A quail couple, apparently looking for a suitable place to nest, he on the fence, alert for predators, but giving his mate helpful suggestions, she checking out the purple Mexican petunia in the backyard.  (These beautiful flowers only last one day.)

A bulky guy with blond hair past his shoulders, in shorts, shirt tied about his waist, walking along the road.  (It was cool this morning, and I was wearing a sweater!)

The area behind the fenced-in part of the back yard is riddled with holes.  Saw the first round-tailed ground squirrel today, but he didn’t stick around for a photo op.

Sculptor Ira Weisenfeld’s Boat in a Tree, on Wetmore.  Must take my own photo of it.  This from the sculptor’s website, https://www.circleofironforge.com/about-me.

Ubiquitous clutches of cyclists in colorful lycra.

At a light, a taxi-yellow sports car in front of one of the palo verdes overladen with yellow.  I was turning, and couldn’t stop for a photo.

A roadrunner skittering along the outside of the fence.  There are now many lizards in the yard, a few zebra-tailed lizards recently (this photo from Wikipedia), so I was surprised he didn’t want to venture in.  Maybe the 18″ of chicken wire wrapped around the base of the wrought iron fence deterred him, although he could have jumped over.

A hawk sitting on a power line, watching the traffic on La Cholla go by.  Looked like the hawk on the cover of the book I recently finished, H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.

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

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

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?

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

Santaland

December 23, 2016

xmas-colorsStarted this two days before Christmas, then got busy.  (Photo of Tucson’s Christmas colors.)

It’s not even close to beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  The desert outside my window is in shades of tan, grey, chartreuse (Pantone 362 – the palo verdes), and a turquoise green (Pantone 374 – the prickly pears).  But after our rain the past few days, the clouds got snagged on the mountains, so Mt Lemmon probably has snow.

david-sedaris-as-elfAt least I’m not tired of Christmas carols yet.  Did not even step into a mall. Tried to find a kid’s toy at Target and got frustrated. Plus I don’t even remember what cheery music they were playing.  So got a couple of gift certificates and ordered everything else online.

But what made my day today (so far – I shall be making Christmas cookies with the kids soon) was hearing David Sedaris read from his Santaland Diaries on NPR this morning.  (Photo here of author David Sedaris in his actual Macy’s elf costume.)
http://one.npr.org/?sharedMediaId=506475364:506687049

La Encantada

I thought it would be nice to take the kids to see the lights at Tohono Chul (Holiday Nights, A Million Lights!) the weekend before Christmas, but it was pricey ($16 apiece, for six of us), so my fake-snowdaughter suggested seeing La Encantada’s “Enchanted Snowfall”, which was free.

Enchanted Snowfall will take place in the gorgeous Tucson Lifestyle Courtyard at La Encantada… delicate sprinkles of snow will cascade to the ground and fill the shopping center… keep toasty with hot chocolate from Williams Sonoma.
http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/tucson/tucson-travel-and-leisure/1561-la-encantadas-enchanted-snowfall.html

Don’t ever do this!  There was one Christmas tree, “artistically” decorated (read sparingly), and some garlands on the second floor handrails.  The “snow” was made of soap bubbles, which did not fill the shopping center, but made us cough.  The free hot chocolate was in 4 oz paper cups.  And there were three women with screechy voices, singing Christmas carols into a not-very-good sound system.  (Photo of me, my daughter, and granddaughter, taken between coughs.)

Cookies

img_6643 img_6644img_6642This is always fun, but having seven people (my son was in from out-of-town too) in my daughter’s kitchen was cozy.  We made walnut kiefel, pecan butterballs, chocolate spritz, and peppermint cookies, as well as the decorated sugar cookies.

img_6640 img_6638 img_6635I took a plate of the cookies to my next-door-neighbor the next day, and heard a bit of gossip about the neighborhood.

CAS Holiday Party

bear-grassThe TMA Contemporary Art Society Holiday Party was a couple of weeks ago at Tucson’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is housed downtown in what used to be a fire station.

creosoteThe current show, Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson | Meeting the Clouds Halfway,  is quite nice.  Terrol Dew Johnson is a Tohono Oodham basketweaver, and this new work blends traditional Native  American craft with contemporary design.  (Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch, who collaborated with him, are architects, http://arandalasch.com/, as well as artists.)  The show runs through the end of January.

Terrol’s favorite is the endless knot with creosote (top right), but I liked the hanging one done with bear grass.  His work is in permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., and the Heard Museum
http://nationalbasketry.org/artist-profile-terrol-dew-johnson/, so it is quite pricey.

Christmas Day

My daughter and her family drove up to Fountain Hills (northeast of Phoenix) on the day before Christmas, to exchange gifts with the inlaws, so the grandchildren already had a surfeit of toys, but with Santa’s presents, their parents’ and my presents, there were enough toys (and clothes, and books) for all of the children of Gabon.

But everyone seemed to like their gifts.  My granddaughter liked the hamster T-shirt (she has a pet hamster), the cat liked the boxes, the middle grandson liked his bicycle helmet with a Mohawk, the youngest can’t be pried away from his Pretend & Play Cash Register, the decor was fun (including the fake fire in the fireplace), and the breakfast (my daughter’s traditional sticky buns), dinner (scalloped potatoes, roast, veggies, mostly prepared by my son), and dessert (rum cake, with whipped cream) were fab.  All in all, one of the more successful holidays.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

img_6675img_6676img_6666

img_6654img_6650

Yes!

December 1, 2016

Charlie Rangel was being interviewed on NPR two weeks ago, but here is the web version from CBS:

Rangel, Boxer Propose Constitutional Amendment Abolishing Electoral College

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) — Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has introduced a bill proposing a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College.

The move would allow future presidential elections to be decided by the popular vote.

“It is time that we do away the antiquated and obsolete Electoral College system. True democracy should guarantee one person, one vote,” Rangel said.

Rangel’s bill is a House companion to S.J.Res.41 — a bill that was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) earlier this week.1

Animals Run Amok

Runner gets hit by deer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGwwxD_vD_8

queens-coyoteCoyote, that denizen of the desert, hangs out in Queens, NY.

Squirrel attacks bicyclist.

Bicycle-Riding Chicago Alderman Injured In Squirrel Attack. Howard Brookins had raised the alarm about “aggressive squirrels” wreaking damage on trash cans in his community. The Chicago Tribune reports that two weeks later he was jumped by a kamikaze squirrel.2

finn-recital-2Family

Went to grandson’s piano recital.

 

 

 

 

rusalkaTook granddaughter to the Arizona Opera to see Rusalka, a very dark version of The Little Mermaid.  Definitely not Disney.

 

 

 

 

 

Then dr-strangetook grandson to see the recent movie Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, a Marvel Comics superhero, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.  I like superheroes.  But Marvel got ‘whitewashing’ criticisms over Tilda Swinton’s casting.  The mystical character is of Tibetan descent in its original Marvel Comics depiction, so Marvel’s casting of Swinton, a white Scottish woman, for the role has generated controversy.3

park2
My daughter had a combined birthday party for all three kids at the park down the street from her house, complete with a jumping castle, a cotton candy machine, and piñatas.  That was Sunday, when the clouds blew over from California, and it grew “cold” (which in Tucson is 57°) and windy, so that all of the candles on the cakes could not be lit at once.  Luckily it did not rain until nighttime.  I will add that it got down to freezing the past two nights.

me-lyn-price2Thanksgiving

As I usually do, spent Thanksgiving and the next couple of days with friends in San Diego.  (Photo of the three of us at my birthday party.)  Great dinner for ten.

 

 

 

 

 

Next me-butterfield-horseday went to Balboa park to see the museums.  First to the San Diego Museum of Art, which was showing Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture.  Then my friend got a photo of me with a Deborah Butterfield horse which was different than her others (dead). My hand is above it as we can’t touch the art. (I have mentioned her horses in many blogs.3)

 

 

 

Aftererik-gronborg3 a lovely lunch at The Prado we were on to the Mingei International Museum.  Here a photo of Erik Gronborg’s living room in Solana Beach, complete with wooden crows.  The exhibition covers…

…Danish-born American artist’s creative life over fifty-five years… this project brings together examples of Gronborg’s sculpture in cast bronze, carved wood, and other media, as well as studio furniture and a comprehensive survey of his ceramics.

Another exhibition we enjoyed was: Layers of Brilliance: The Journey of Japanese Lacquer Tools.

Thatwhite-xmas evening we went to the Spreckles Theatre to see a stage adaptation of the classic film, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.  The plot was from 1954, but the dancing was fantastic!  I would love to be able to kick straight up!

1http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/11/17/rangel-electoral-college/
2http://www.npr.org/2016/11/23/503108904/bicycle-riding-chicago-alderman-injured-in-squirrel-attack
3http://variety.com/2016/film/news/doctor-strange-whitewashing-tilda-swinton-marvel-1201762267/
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/denver/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/palm-springs/
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/taking-flight-again
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/quirky-art/