Archive for the ‘Tucson’ Category

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!

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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/

Gotta love this country

November 17, 2016

20,000 People Have Donated to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s ‘Honor’…  Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman, has been criticized by some for restrictions on abortion, Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said Tuesday.1

trump‘Knife fight’ as Trump builds an unconventional national security Cabinet2  (Ran out of time in my writing class yesterday or I would have pointed out that’s a metaphor and a hyperbole.)  A friend in Denver cleverly commented, I saw where Trump is already treating his cabinet like the game show and firing people.

She also mentioned, last Wednesday, the day after the election, Tonight I meet with Drinking Liberally- then on Thursday, meet with Denver Pantsuit Nation. I hope that we are moved to action!  So of course, I had to look up those organizations.  There is a Drinking Liberally chapter in Tucson.

What is Drinking Liberally?

An informal, inclusive progressive social group. Raise your spirits
while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher.
Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place
to talk politics. You don’t need to be a policy expert and this isn’t a
book club – just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent
frustration and hang out in an environment where it’s not taboo to talk
politics.

Bars are democratic spaces – you talk to strangers, you share booths,
you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your
local democratic space – build democracy one drink at a time…

Drinking Liberally is a project of Living Liberally, an organization which builds progressive communities through social networks and events. Living Liberally also runs Laughing Liberally, the political comedy project; Screening Liberally, a series of socially-conscious films; Eating Liberally, events with good gab and great grub; and Reading Liberally, book tours for progressive authors. Living Liberally is a New York-based LLC, led by a team in NYC and fueled by the energy of hundreds of volunteers and partners around the country.

Drinking Liberally was founded in New York City in May, 2003 by Justin Krebs and Matthew O’Neill. With the help of David Alpert, DL went national in the summer of 2004; and with the work of Katrina Baker, that network expanded to 100 chapters by September, 2005. It is still growing today.3

hillaryAlso, had not known that Libby Chamberlain created Pantsuit Nation to support Hillary  less than three weeks ago, according to the New York Times on November 8.

Pantsuit Nation, a ‘Secret’ Facebook Hub, Celebrates Clinton

Some pantsuits were white, in tribute to the dresses of the suffragists. Others were mismatched or borrowed. Many were fished out of the back of a closet, along with a memory of a long-lost job or a somber occasion.

These suits were redeployed by thousands of American women on Election Day, when taking a photo of yourself in a pantsuit and posting it to the “secret” Facebook group Pantsuit Nation became the digital equivalent of slapping an “I Voted” sticker on a lapel.

“They’re coming in at about 1,000 every few minutes,” Libby Chamberlain, the founder of the group, said of the social media posts. “We have over 20,000 posts that are waiting to be approved. We have dozens of moderators and they can’t keep up.”4

celineThis ad was in the New York Times Magazine.  Would anyone actually wear that diaphanous dress (or am I just showing my age?)

punctuation-saves-lives

My daughter sent me that.

ART

Sunday afternoon the TMA CAS (Contemporary Art Society) group went to the renovated Axel building5.  One of our members is a photographer, and she, Cita Scott, has a gallery space there6.  Love these flowers (and carrots!).  She arranges them, then photographs them.

citacrane-day

This is Crane Day, the weaver.  His Ultimate Cocktail Ponchos are fabulous.7

Nicola Marshall was out of town, but I like her paintings8.

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1http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/20-000-people-have-donated-planned-parenthood-mike-pence-s-n685076
2http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/politics/trump-shortlist-national-security-worldview/
3http://livingliberally.org/drinking/about
4http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/us/politics/facebook-pantsuit-nation-clinton.html?_r=0
5http://www.centralbarrio.com/new-gallery-2/
6http://citascott.com/
7http://www.craneday.com/index.html
8https://www.facebook.com/nicolamarshallart/

STEM

November 1, 2016

Science Technology Engineering Mathematics

On Friday, October 28th, [the Pima College Northwest Campus] hosted the second AZ STEM Adventure.  We had over 1100 high energy 4th-8th graders on our campus.  The students participated in a wide variety of STEM related activities including dissections, making silly putty and liquid nitrogen ice cream, taking rides on a “hovercraft”, building rockets, and much more!

catapultI spent 4 1/2 hours with a group of 4th-8th graders from the Islamic Al Huda school1, which I hadn’t even been aware of until I was assigned to escort 22 of the kids (along with three parents and two Pima students).  Not as bad as herding cats, but almost.  Kids liked the talk on liquid nitrogen the most, no doubt because they all got a dixie cup of ice cream made (as we watched) with liquid nitrogen.  Second favorite was attempting to make catapults to shoot candy corn at a target.  (I’ve blurred out the kids’ faces.)  Had to eat lunch outside on the grass, and it was 93°!  Girls sweltering in their abayas and hijabs.

image3Halloween

On Sunday carved pumpkins with the grandkids.  (My granddaughter is ten, but as tall as I am.  She likes to borrow my shoes.)  Had no trick-or-treaters Monday night.  Not many kids in the neighborhood and I’m at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Are We Sick of the Election Yet?

Someone on NPR noted that he thought that Trump’s campaign has been a long infomercial.  He’s been showing his hotels off to the news media.  All that free publicity!

Then FBI Director James B. Comey has to bring up Clinton’s emails again, eleven days from the election.  And it’s not political?

1http://www.alhudaaz.com/about-us.html

The Elephant in the Room

October 9, 2016

Debate One/Won

I figured with the Second Debate tonight, I ought to send out this email.  Enjoyed these two takes on Debate One:
>SNL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPNOmIHKYHo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPNOmIHKYHo
debate-one
>Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnkRAd9aOAY

Then there was the awful Trump Twitter rant after the debate,

After the debate, he talked at length on Fox News about how Machado allegedly gained 60 pounds, and how he tried to support her after the pageant wanted to fire her.

Then early Friday morning, Trump chose for some unknown reason to unleash a series of tweets about her allegedly unsavory past, combined with a conspiracy theory about her relationship with Clinton. He called Machado “my worst Miss Universe,” and said Clinton was duped into referring to her in the debate.  http://fortune.com/2016/09/30/trump-twitter-rant/

and so on, and now Trump’s lewd conversation (yes, a long time ago, when he was “only” 60) with the Bush cousin, Billy, which was pretty misogynistic.

Plus the battle of the ads, which is rather funny:

Hilary’s: https://digg.com/video/josh-whedon-save-day-robert-downey-hillary
Trump’s response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5QbDk8EUWw

Overcast

img_6515img_6513Three weeks to a week ago it was still threatening rain here.  Either those lovely thunderheads or the typically-January overcast skies.  If it did “rain”, it was either countable raindrops on my windshield, or a 20-minute squall during my afternoon class.  The Texas Rangers were still blooming outside the Northwest Pima College campus, the Red Bird-of-Paradise still blooming outside the Northwest Y, where I exercise.  The owners of the house I’m renting planted neither of these beautiful, easy-to-grow plants.

Golf

Arnold Palmer just died, which reminded me of a story from my days at Michigan State.  A friend in one of my education classes had recently married a man studying Landscape Architecture with an emphasis on golf course architecture, so he was often out on golf courses.  The first part of the problem was that he looked like Jack Nicklaus, so golfers were always asking for his autograph.  The second half of the problem was that his name was Bob Hope, and people weren’t happy with what they thought was his joke signature.

Note: on their honeymoon, the hotel did not have reservations for them, as they thought that reservations for Bob Hope was a hoax.

The South

On a darker note, North Carolina has been in the news a lot regarding their law

charlotteAnd in Charlotte, North Carolina, police release video in Keith Lamont Scott’s fatal shooting.

Putney said video does not provide “definitive visual evidence” that Scott pointed a gun at police officers, including Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott. But other evidence and witness accounts support the police narrative that officers opened fire only after Scott refused to drop his weapon, he said.
The family says the video shows Scott acting calmly and non-aggressively on Tuesday. “When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side and he was slowly walking backwards,” Bamberg said.
Scott didn’t own a gun or habitually carry a gun, the family has told their attorneys, Bamberg said. Scott’s family has said he was reading a book in his vehicle when officers approached.
tulsa
At least Tulsa, Oklahoma, Police Officer Charged in Man’s Death.  We have to hold people (and cops are people) accountable.  Well, we’ll see how the trial goes.