Friday, March 07, 2014
Nobody who's followed this guy over the years is the least surprised. They know him by his true colors --a bully-boy whose job isn't "oversight" or "reform," but is, instead, an opportunity to use the Committee he heads to manipulate facts in order to mislead the public and thereby further his personal and political career. It's ultimately all about Darrell, 24/7.
Like Joe McCarthy before him ("I have here in my hand a list of names . . . ."), Issa is a demagogue willing to wave about carefully edited "facts," misleading "findings," out-of-context details, all carefully crafted into fake, misleading sound bites and all carefully fed into the 24/7 news cycle to be amplified by the Republican/Faux News sound machine.
Meanwhile, the actual facts that the Committee uncovers (almost all of which runs totally contra to what Issa is claiming) sinks into the media Dead Pool. Which is what Issa is counting on. I mean, when you're conning the Rubes, you don't want them to catch on.
But, eventually, every demagogue goes too far. In this case, closing down the hearing without allowing ranking Oversight Committee member, Congressman Elijah Cumming, his (proper procedural) opportunity to speak. Instead he cut off his mic, told the sound-men to "shut it down." Which is the wrong thing to say to Mr. Cummings. Who had plenty to say and didn't need a microphone to say it.
This astonishing breach of Congressional protocol resulted in a call for Issa's censure and/or removal from the Committee. Fat chance. But the uproar did force Issa to "apologize" to Cummings by claiming that he "should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on . . . "
Like all things Issa, that statement has only a glancing acquaintance with the Whole Truth.
Ultimately, the great misfortune here is that, unlike the McCarthy Era, we don't have an Edward R. Murrow. Or a Joseph Welch to take the microphone and say to Issa, "Finally, Sir, have you NO shame???"
Shame? Not in this Congress.
And, finally, the greatest misfortune here is that Americans apparently are fine with a partisan "oversight" committee chaired by a guy who repeatedly cries wolf to advance his career.
And when an actual wolf, a real wolf, shows up during a committee's investigation?
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
And I'm especially glad that "Twelve Years a Slave" took best picture. "Gravity" was a game-changer, technologically, but "Slave" was in many ways, a kind of cultural place-marker, a book-end, as it were, to the original "happy darkies" narrative of "Gone With The Wind." Seventy-five years later, we finally get a far more honest picture of our dark history.
And in keeping with the seriousness of "Slave," I can't recall a better performed, more touching and dignified performance from a winner than the beautiful acceptance speech given by Lupita Nyong'o, who won for best supporting actress. The spirits of the long-dead were indeed watching. I hope that talented lady has a long, challenging, successful career.
With pizza for the starve-to-get-into-the-couture stars, a record-breaking group-selfie Twittering around the globe, hostess Ellen DeGeneres set the perfect laid-back vibe that reminded everyone that, Hey, this is an awards ceremony/party, not curing cancer, so lighten up. Toss in Mathew McConaughey conjuring up a picture of his late father proudly celebrating his son's win by doing a happy-feet dance in his underwear, lite-beer in hand, gumbo-pot nearby, and the image was "all right, all right, all right." Which about summed up the whole evening.
Including the one delicious jaw-dropping turn at the podium by Mrs. Baz Luhrman (Catherine Martin) who won the gold as best Costume Design for "The Great Gatsby." At the podium, she reached into the top of her gown and rummaged around her breasts until she finally located and pulled out a crumpled, damp-looking sheet of paper, upon which was her list of "thank-yous," and proceeded to read them off. Substitute a crumpled pack of Camels instead of the paper, add in a kitchen match for a light-up, and the move would have been pure Trailer-park Queen!
Give that woman a Fosters!
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Even after all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens
with a love like that --
it lights the whole
From "Love Poems from God," Daniel Landinsky, Penguin Press. Available at your local bookstore.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Ah, at last, a few glimmers of hope for our little Bangladesh by the Bay. Last night was an update on the sewer project, with the usual litany of dates:
2016 begin digging and hooking up laterals, 2017 full costs for the project arrive on your tax bills, the guestimate of which is now $125-175 or more, plus water bills.
However, there should be some grants available for the lateral hook ups. Including up to $7,500 of “free money” If you’re over the age of 62 and qualify as USDA Very Low Income, (1 person-$26,400). So that’s good news for many of our low income seniors.
But the best news as far as I’m concerned is that SLO Green Build and the County have moved the ball farther down the Tank Bank Road, with future plans to partner with the National Estuary Program for grants to make Tank Banking an seriously attractive possibility.
The little handout notes that the “County will be implementing a septic system decommissioning program within the Wastewater Service Area.” And that “the County will notify property owners about lateral connections and septic decommissioning requirements six months prior to hook up. At that time, you will start to decide whether to abandon your septic system (e.g., filling it with dirt) or convert it for an alternative re-use.”
Since 2016 will be coming up very quickly, I hope everyone in town will chooser the latter option. A cleaned, disinfected septic tank is a terrible thing to waste in a community already in water overdraft and in a state that is in serious and chronic drought conditions.
Right now, there are three options: simply fill the empty tank and render it useless for anything, cut holes in the bottom so it can serve as a passive rainwater infiltration sink., or, best of all, convert it into a cistern to hold harvested rainwater to be used for outdoor irrigation.
Imagine what an impact that could have on our community if the majority of our community decided to go with harvesting rainwater. The catch, of course, is both cost and, more important, the need for a focused, coordinated outreach program that will make transforming a septic tank into a water bank both fast, easy, and highly affordable. That means the County really needs to get solidly behind such a program since they have the bureaucratic resources to manage this complicated program.
I say complicated, because while the set up is pretty simple, the timing is a problem. The county has a small window to hook up each home and adding in retrofits at each home could create a real problem. However, if the laws can be changed to widen the retrofit window, and homeowners are fully informed of the options and resources available to them to do the retrofit, this would give homeowners some breathing room to complete the job. Right now the “window” is a matter of months. What would happen if that were expanded to a few years?
The reason why this is critical is because homeowners are going to be hit with considerable hook-up costs and it would be unlikely they would tag on even more money for retrofit on top of it at the same time. However, if they were given a few years to regroup, I suspect more people would sign on. (and if they changed their mind later, they could always backfill the tank.)
But unless the efforts of the County, SLO Green Build and the NEP makes retrofit more cost effective than simple decommissioning and unless the time allowed to complete the retrofits is greatly expanded so as to give homeowners time to get the money together to finish the job, the plan will fail
And that would mean that an extraordinary opportunity will be lost here. In OverdraftVille, in DroughtVille, a clean, empty septic tank is a TERRIBLE thing to waste.
So, stop by our local NEP office over in Morro Bay (upstairs at the Marina Square, across the patio from Windows on the Water) and urge them to really push for clean water grants that can help kick-start this project, get on the mailing list at Green Build (www.slogreenbuild.org, ) so you can keep up with their latest information, and send a note to the Supervisors and to our own CSD and let them know that time is critical on this, and failure really isn’t an option here.
And then take a look at your property and think “cistern,” think “free water all summer,” think “reuse,” think “reduced water bill.”
All of those very good thoughts for Sewerville
Monday, February 24, 2014
These amazing pieces were made by master-miniaturist, Gilbert Mena of Valencia (Gilmena@webtv.net), in case you’re a collector of very small, very beautiful, very magical things.
Here’s another, a table with carved figures on it, and a set of inlaid marquetry tables. The marquetry tables are 2 1/2” high.
Amazing, no? That’s why, on February 22nd and 23rd, when the Central Coast Miniatures Club (Contact: Miniature Cottage Shop, 1260 Main St. Morro Bay, firstname.lastname@example.org), held their 24th Anniversary “Dollhouse and Miniatures Show and Sale" at the Morro Bay Community Center, my first thought was, “Now THIS I gotta go see.”
When I entered the door of the packed Community Center, I entered a very big little world: A craft, an art form, an obsession, a hobby, a whole niche industry that ranges from minute, astonishing work by incredible, high-end artisan miniaturists to affordable mass produced products for hobbyists. And everything in between.
If you’re a novice, there is no end of magazine sand books you can buy that will teach you everything you need to know to create whole, complicated little worlds.
I say complicated because so many of these miniatures aren’t just “small, they’re made to a variety of scaled sizes, so everything must be matched to everything else, which means the hunt for items to fit into your scaled little world must get pretty challenging.
In addition, once you build your little tableau, all your amazing work needs to be protected. So, this is a niche filed by Cortland C. Doan (Cortland Cases: (626) 332-1747) who makes cunning cases you can use to build your display on, then slip it into the beautiful protective case for a wall mount or to set on a table.
Mr. Doan had on display an good selection of his own astonishing work. (In his own cases, of course.) Above, a garage/workshop; below, a (to scale) tableau of one of the last grey Caterpillars before the company switched to the signature bright yellow paint on all it’s equipment. Here, a welder is at work on the treads. And, yes, Mr. Doan included a flickering LED light standing in for the burning flash of the arc welder.
I spent a couple of happy hours peering into and inspecting many of these amazing little worlds. They are highly seductive places, these tableaux. It was so easy to slip into an Alice-in-Wonderland trance and place myself into the scene -- a miniature me wandering around in a garage or expecting to hear the pop and crackle of an arc welder. It’s the magical, timeless realm of make-believe that children enter when playing with toys, dolls, dollhouses. And it’s easy to see why people get hooked on this hobby. Building (or visiting) these little fairy realms creates a very Zen-like, out-of-time state of mind.
In the back room, was a display of doll houses from different eras (The theme of the exhibition), including a doll house from ca. 1940's that was identical to the one that my sister and I played with when I was four or five. This one was a higher-end model, made of printed light-weight metal, while ours was printed on some kind of heavy poster board. The plastic furniture was the same, although we didn't have as many pieces. And, for some reason, our bathtubs were bright pink.
Looking at that little abode certainly brought back memories. Including Joan and me playing with our doll house while it was on the bed (to keep it at our standing eye level) when my sister and I, for reasons that passeth all understanding, thought it would be a swell idea to play a game of bounce-on-the-bed. Or maybe it was a game of "Earthquake." So, what could possibly be wrong with that hair-brained combination of activities? Correct: a smashed flat dollhouse. And a mother looking into our fake-innocent faces ("What?? We didn't do anything. It just fell down."), rolling her eyes and declaring, "No more doll houses for you two."
Well, all was not lost. We had to use our imaginations a bit harder to conjure up a make believe doll house, but we continued to play doll house all over our real house, setting up our little bits of furniture to create wall-less rooms in the middle of the living room rug. And years later I re-purposed the bright pink bathtubs as food and water stations for my pet rats. An incongruous decorating choice, I must admit. Although, with rats, you never know.
When I left the exhibition, it was with a smile on my face and a comment to the nice lady selling entrance tickets, "That was the best $4 I've spent in a long time!"
There's something about spending time in the magical spaces of tiny Smallville that makes you feel like a kid again. Ready for magic, open to astonishment. And joy.