Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Fri, Oct 31 2003

I'll See You In Hell

I used to have a religion class professor who had a habit of saying provocative things like, "I'll see you in Hell. We'll all be there, you know." His point was that Hell was the natural culmination of the consequence of folks' ongoing choice not to align themelves with their Creator/Savior in this life, and that they would simply not be able to exist in the presence of a perfect, loving Heavenly Father (and they would not really wish to live in Heaven). The professor said we'd all be there until the end, when the folks who had chosen to turn away day after day in this life simply self-destructed when they couldn't handle the brilliance of Heaven's perfect love in the person of the Lord.

If a Heavenly Father chose to conjure up a place like this, He/She wouldn't get my alliance for an instant. Would you human mother and fathers (who love your kids) want to see them suffer forever, or would you want to see their suffering end? Could you just "put another log on the eternal fire" and still be happy? So how could a Perfect Being do just that? If you really want to be scared on Halloween, contemplate the type of human mind that could conjure up the likes of a Creator who would allow His/Her created children to suffer eternal torment and still expect to be loved by the "saved" survivors who "make it" into Heaven. Now, that's scary.

posted at: 13:31 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 30 2003

BPO: Offshore Flow Is Changing Business And Job Climates

If you don't know what BPO stands for, you will soon. And it may be because you've lost your job to it. BPO is Business Process Outsourcing, and in places like Bangalore, India it's changing the way people train for jobs. It's also rapidly reducing the number of low-end tech jobs available in the United States and Great Britain. When you look at wage comparisons like the ones on page 2 of this PDF document, it's easy to see that your minimum wage job (which won't do much to elevate you to a high income bracket here) could be lowered by a dollar or two, and still look like big bucks to someone applying for a job at an IT call-center in India. People are trained to speak English with an Americanized accent, and they adopt simple first names to put American callers at ease.

As with any greedy enterprise, change favors those who are prepared to take advantage of such a new frontier. The big business players realize that cheap labor is a boon only so long as workers are satisfied. As soon as workers begin to use their new job experience as a stepping stone and move on, big business will have to adjust its tactics. The outsourcing may even do a 180 at some point.

posted at: 11:08 | category: | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 29 2003

Fighting Fire With Humor

Everything is so tense where the Southern California fires are concerned. I guess I needed to know that fire fighters have fun sometimes. I found a great page of Wildland Fire Terms, which include lots of slang and acronym-substitutes. My husband has always talked about "O'Dark Thirty", but I didn't know it was left over from his days as a volunteer firefighter back in Tennessee.

posted at: 11:13 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 28 2003

The Game Must (And Did) Go On

I loved reading stories like this about how Monday Night Football went to Tempe, Arizona. It doesn't bother me that the San Diego Chargers lost the challenge, because a lot of people pitched in and won something much bigger. Football is fun, and it's big business, but when the announcers talked about "teamwork" last night, they were talking about a lot of people coordinating efforts to make the best of a tough situation. It reminds me that humans are capable of fantastic things when they are motivated. I hope we get motivated a whole lot more often.

posted at: 06:35 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 27 2003

Fire News

You can find out more about the Grand Prix fire in Southern California here. If you can get to this busy page, the Daily Bulletin has articles and a photo gallery. You can get California Highway Conditions information by the hour (refresh the page if you've visited before). The National Park service has some fire news, but they don't seem to be updating frequently.

If you're traveling by air in the next few days, you'd be best advised to check with your airline. Flights in other areas may be affected by delays or cancellations of flights in and out of LAX and ONT. (I hear that some airlines were trying to help people connect by bus to points within the state, whenever possible).

Just in case you thought you'd be a hero and run down to help fight the fires, please read this.

For more information on wildland fires throughout the country, check out the National Fire News.

posted at: 08:52 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sat, Oct 25 2003

More On Current Energy

I mentioned in an earlier post that Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has a site showing supply and demand of electricity. They don't cover the whole USA yet, but you can browse what they do have here. And I found a list of USA power companies (including cooperatives).

posted at: 19:45 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Brief Power Interruption

We had a brief power outage earlier this afternoon, and though it may be due to the load on "the grid" after two degrees of 90-degree-plus temperatures, it may also be due to the solar spot activity, or even the wilfires burning in Southern California. It may be none of the above, but I know I'm glad for the invention of UPS devices when this sort of thing happens.

Some folks at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are putting together a good site that shows more information on supply and demand of electricity. They have limited areas at this time, but are hoping to add more U.S. material.

posted at: 16:03 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 24 2003

California Summer Right On Schedule: October

I've been distracted with offline activities today, so have been unable to address recent news. We're having our typical October summer on the Central Coast, so I was hunting down a cold salad idea for lunch, and ended up making a modified version of Taco Salad. I didn't use any ground beef or French dressing (yuck). The dressing I made was a mix of taco sauce, bottle ranch dressing and light sour cream. With no chili beans on hand, I used canned kidney beans. And I snipped in a bit of green onion. It was fresh, cool and easy, which is my idea of a great lunch on a busy, hot Friday in October in Santa Cruz County, California.

posted at: 14:08 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 23 2003

Now They're Holding Water Hostage

This would be a local rant for Santa Cruz County, but the rest of you may read and see issues similar in your own area. Measure U was voted in by people in the city limits of the town of Watsonville, and those of us who live in county unincorporated areas were not allowed to vote on the issue. It was touted as "restricting growth", but what it actually does is restrict certain areas while allowing rampant development of other areas-- areas which are closer to the coastline and which are currently inhabited by a unique system of plant and animal life, with low-density housing in a beautiful area of rolling hills adjacent to Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway, also known as PCH). Measure U will come back to haunt everyone, with its push to develop more and more rural areas of the county in favor of high density "low-income" housing. (In case you're reading this from another state, I should point out that "low-income" still means homes in excess of $200,000). The local people of need in the county will still be hard-pressed to purchase a home of their own in these mega-developments. What we're going to have is a county full of rural high-density cookie-cutter two-story (view destroying) homes, with very little thought given instead to attracting businesses with jobs that would produce wages reflecting the very real California high cost of living. What appears at first to be a hand up is actually a way to keep low-income people labeled as "low-income". Those of you who opt to read thismight be interested to know that County Supervisor Tony Campos, who is mentioned in the article, is in the real estate business and was former mayor of Watsonville. And you can bet he won't be living in (or next to) any of the cookie cutters they build in this rush to bulldoze every strip of green land left on this side of town. I don't get to vote against Watsonville politicians, but because I live in Watsonville's "sphere of influence" I have to put up with their politics anyway.

When we moved to this neighborhood less than a decade ago there was a moratorium on certain kinds of new construction, because there is a growing problem of water quality (mostly due to salt-water intrusion). Now they've seen fit to push water conservation aside in favor of adding new homes to their local tax base. The numbers will be impressive. You can cram a lot of two-story homes (and people) into 500 annexed acres. You can call them "low-income" or "affordable" or any other politically fertile name you wish. But The real cost to the area is not going to be measured in dollars and cents.

posted at: 08:35 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 22 2003

Dude, Where's My CHP Car?

I'm sorry, guys. I have great respect for CHP officers, but this one is just too good to pass up. A local newspaper also reported that the officer who placed the guy in the cruiser had apparently just been trying to let the perp enjoy a little air-conditioning on that very hot day, while the officers finished up their outside work at the site of the arrest. The paper also described Smith as 5'9", 180 pounds with brown hair, and bearing several tattoos--including "100% Honky", "666" and "DOA".

Unfortunately, that last one would also apply to the car.

posted at: 12:16 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 21 2003

Whatever Happened To Just Asking For A Picture First?

Should you be able to take your camera cell phone everywhere with you? A health club in Wisconsin doesn't think so. I say it was only a matter of time until the paparazzi attitude toward "celebrities" began to be a problem for everyone else. People flock to buy rag-sheet tabloids full of pictures of public figures--pictures which have often been taken on the sly (and without permission) by someone trespassing on private property or staking out emergency rooms. Do you ever look at tabloid papers? If you do, you're essentially peeping. So don't cry about it when you suddenly become the equivalent of a stalked "celebrity" while you're changing clothes in your gym's locker room.

posted at: 08:27 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 20 2003

These Youthful Offenders Are Real Girl Scouts

This article is a beautiful example of the difference between punishment and rehabilitation, and how one kind deed led to a ripple effect in Wisconsin's justice system.

posted at: 06:15 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Oct 19 2003

Cooking Slow, Cooking Well

I keep trying to remember to put things in the slow cooker and take advantage of letting this nifty appliance cook all day (or all night) while I write or do other things. I went nosing around at Amazon today and found a cookbook I hadn't seen before, and it sounds like a great way to add style to comfort food while keeping the preparation fairly simple. It's The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World.
Everybody told me to get a good size cooker when I finally bought one, so I did. I opted for the Rival Oval Programmable Stainless Steel Crock Pot (5.5-qt). I love that thing! I can put a whole roast in it and have room for plenty of veggies, or I can do baked beans for a big crowd. It's one of the best kitchen appliances I've ever found. I wish I had gotten it sooner. I'm determined to make use of it often this fall and winter.

posted at: 15:00 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Sat, Oct 18 2003

The Habits Of Cabbits

After taking a trip down memory lane to visit the jackalopes, I found evidence of another fantastic creature, one of which has apparently been spotted in my first home town of Cuba, Missouri. Like the jackaplope, the cabbit has its origins based in rabbitdom, and though its existence as a hybrid has been soundly pooh-poohed by zoological experts, sightings of cabbits continue to be reported all over the planet. Articles such as this one have whipped some people into a frenzy and they are demanding the cessation of animal experimentation on these creatures. Still other people are just demanding to have a cabbit pet of their own. Anime fans now have a cabbit character to enjoy from the Tenchi Muyo series--Ryo-Ohko. Note that this particular subspecies of cabbit seems to have much more pronounced ears that the former varieties--here's a plush version.

So now we're left to ponder. If a jackalope and a cabbit mate, do they produce jackcabbits or cabbilopes?

posted at: 08:55 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 17 2003

Fourteen Years Ago Today

The third game of the World Series was starting. I can't even remember which teams were playing that day, but like everyobe else who experienced the Loma Prieta quake, I remember exactly where I was when it happened.

The USGS has pictures of the widespread damage. Most of the media attention was focused on San Francisco and Oakland, but smaller towns such as Watsonville, Hollister and Santa Cruz were greatly affected. The Watsonville Community Airport was the only way in and out of the southern end of Santa Cruz County for days, due to damage on roads and bridges. The National Guard and other agencies flew in supplies and provided additional security in the first few days when power was out and there was fear of looting. We live almost "next door" to the airport now, but were in Campbell (near San Jose) at the time of the quake. That first night we slept in a hallway (because nothing was in it to fall on us during aftershocks). We kept flashlights along side us and played a radio for news and comfort. The floor felt like jello. Later we were told by "experts" that a lot of the shaking we thought we felt was not caused by aftershocks, but was our own nerves giving us "micro-quakes ". These transcripts of 9-1-1 tapes from that day gave me chills as I read them.

A lot of people talk about "the big one". I hope that was the biggest one I ever have to go through.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 16 2003

Are They Fighting A Man--Or A Mouse?

It looks as though we have a company based in Peoria wanting to stifle creativity. They're going after a fictional character, but not just any character--a superhero. Is it Spiderman? Batman? Wonder Woman? Well, no. It's just poor old George of the Jungle--that guy whose daring, primitive yells are always cut off in mid-swing as he crashes into tree trunks. I've always had a lot of respect for the corporation who filed this lawsuit--until now--they are one veteran company battling another veteran company--for--what? Maybe they wanted some generic brand of dozer to plow down trees and be trounced by George. Or maybe they wanted their brand of dozers left in the film with a storyline that included George welcoming them with open arms. Actually, George is somewhat a victim of modern technology. This would never have happened to Fred Flinstone (who is not affiliated with George's home company, as far as I know), who rode dinosaurs in his work in the quarry (none of which carried the particular logo of the company based in Peoria). I can't imagine what the company filing the suit really hoped to gain from all this. Maybe they just felt the need to stand up and beat their chests to show themselves to be leaders in their industry.

You know what they say. It's a jungle out there.

posted at: 10:36 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 15 2003

A Definite Maybe

Twelve years ago today Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. We know what he's been doing since then. But what became of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harrassment in the workplace? A lot of people would say that she lost her battle. But Anita Hill is doing something really important now. She's been with Brandeis University since 1997--writing and teaching. Clarence Thomas has tremendous influence these days in his position. He is assured a place in history textbooks. But writers and teachers create subtle, unrelenting changes in society that work from the inside out. Clarence Thomas's postion is a relatively cloistered one in many ways. Anita Hill's life work is to reach young minds precisely when they are poised on the edge of choosing their own life work in society.

Did Professor Hill lose her case against Judge Thomas back in 1991? We may have to wait for a generation or two of her students to graduate before we know the real answer to that question.

posted at: 10:58 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 14 2003

Tricking The Media Goliaths, Treating The Media Davids...

When President Bush decided to give interviews to regional media earlier this week, he worried me. I had visions of a school in which the principal puts his arm around the yearbook editor's shoulder and quietly says that he's going to tell her something to pass along to the rest of the students, because the journalism sponsor is biased and can't be relied on to convey the principal's thoughts in a correct and fair manner. The chosen child is, of course, highly flattered at being singled out as a pivotal figure in his or her class. It reminds me too much of the authority figure who uses position and authority to both flatter and control. I have never met President Bush, and I certainly can't read his mind. Maybe he intended no disrespect whatsoever in what he did. But the whole thing is nagging at me in very dark ways. Was this a nudge behind the knee to the major media outlets in general? Was it a coaxing to garner favoritism from regional news dispensers? Was it a message to the general public that we can't trust the big bad media, but we can trust President Bush? Why did he feel the need to do such a thing? And why now?

posted at: 17:29 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 13 2003

Does Money Grow Out Of The ATM? Kids May Think So

I read an article about elementary and middle schools making an effort to teach students money management. What concerned me was the statement that kids are not learning about money from their parents. Why on earth would parents send kids to softball practice, judo camp and Vacation Bible School, and not teach them about money? What scares me is that the reason may be because parents don't handle money very well themselves. I talk to a lot of people who never put anything into savings. If a child grows up watching this behavior, he or she is likely to handle money the same way. Maybe schools will be able to help offset some of the bad habits kids learn from adults. The state of New York is even enouraging credit unions for kids.

posted at: 14:26 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Oct 12 2003

Native American Blues

I love stereotypes. I love what they tell me about the person who uses them to describe other people. And I love the way you can take any stereotype and turn it 180 degrees and make it say new things. It's especially effective when the "twist of the wrist" comes from someone who's been on the receving end of that stereotypical remark at some point. Enter a man named Bill Miller. I haven't seen him perform in person, but I love the way this guy has taken terms like "Indian" and "Native American" and then has cooked up a musical buffet that will leave you with a sense of healing and reconciliation, no matter what your own ethnic or racial heritage might be. As the United States observes Columbus Day this week, many people are calling for an end (or a change) to a holiday that seems to glorify the oppression and displacement of people who loved this land long before Columbus stepped off the boat. Bill Miller seems to think it's time to stop the blaming and the shaming. He's using the early musical influences he had from Bob Dylan and B.B. King (among others) to lift us all to higher ground. And he may be just the man for the job, because his Indian name is Fush-Ya Heay Ka, or "bird song". But you can just call him Bill.

posted at: 09:35 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 10 2003

Meet Me At The Back Of The Blue Bus

When Jim Morrison penned those words for "The End", I wonder if he ever thought that someday people would be taking buses from the U.S. to Canada, to buy prescription drugs. I found a fairly good 3-part piece on The Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs, with Part 3 being especially provocative. I know that there are also people who go to Mexico to buy their prescriptions, because the cost is much lower there. The truth is that they wouldn't bother to be doing this if the drugs cost less in the United States (where most of these drugs are made in the first place). If the drug companies can afford to export drugs at a cost to them which is low enough for the other countries to sell the drugs (where prices are regulated) and still make a profit--and if that end cost to a consumer is still less than what consumers pay in the country where the drugs are made, there is something wrong. For answers, I have a feeling we won't need rocket science--probably just political science.

posted at: 09:31 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 09 2003

It's All About Me

I rather liked Kaplan's Black Like I Thought I Was. I've often wondered if we woke up one day and had no racial (or similar) tag to put on ourselves if we would continue to live much the same way we have been living anyway. How many of our personal choices in life are limited by our perceived ancestral origins or perceived family influences? Do we ever use our background as an excuse not to be the marvelous individual we really want to be?

So who would you be if you had no notion of where you came from or who you were "supposed" to be? Thinking about the endless possibilities is great fun!

posted at: 09:26 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 08 2003

But The Marionettes Never Had A Budget Like This

If you were/are a Thunderbirds fan, you might enjoy the Thunderbirds At The Movies FAQ. Don't expect the film to be a faithful representation of the old series in every detail, though Lady Penelope (played by Sophia Myles) will be there, as well as other old favorites.

posted at: 13:38 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 07 2003

Keeping Kids Out Of The Loop

Back in about 1953, yours truly was almost a casualty of a drapery pull-cord. Apparently I was too stubborn to just stop crawling when the thing got looped around my silly little infant neck. There are steps you can do to prevent this sort of thing. In the interest of saving some other baby from doing iself in, I would direct your attention to National Window Covering Safety Month.

posted at: 11:12 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 06 2003

Life's Been Good To Him Until Now

Check out Snowflake while you can. The rare albino gorilla won't be with us much longer. Snowflake is dying of melanoma.

posted at: 09:34 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Oct 05 2003

Is That A Train You're Dragging Behind You, Or Just The Duvet?

I have been laughing a whole lot this morning, after finding a blog entitled Ugly Wedding Dress of the Day. Guys, now you know why the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in her dress before the wedding really got started. Someone knew you'd refuse to be seen standing next to such monstrosities. I don't agree with each and every one of her choices as being really ugly, but check out the one that looks like the gal wrapped herself in a bed comforter.

posted at: 10:38 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Sat, Oct 04 2003

Cops Didn't Get Him Until He Met Determined Woman

After reading this, what I still want to know is:
1) Why didn't the police pick up this predator before now?
2) How did a guy with that many charges (and a prior conviction for rape) get out on bail?

posted at: 15:42 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 03 2003

End Of Week Slowing

Been busy with other projects, but I found a couple of things to view...

I enjoyed Science as art

A friend who enjoys birding told me that there is some great viewing in the state of New York at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.

posted at: 20:22 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 01 2003

Right To Vote Accurately And Securely

Are you voting with touch-screens this fall? There continues to be ongoing discussion about the Diebold Election System. Writer Bev Harris over at blackboxvoting has been telling us all for some time to take note of these issues--to the point where I hear that Diebold's legal representatives wanted her to shut down her site and to stop pointing to sites that contained material describing past security issues with Diebold's software. Have the folks at Diebold now assured us that there are no problems? Well, no. So why is Maryland okaying the use of the machines this fall when it also says the system has some problems? Are we using these machines in California for the Recall election? Is your state having an election soon? It would be wise for you to find out the voting methods your state or district plans to use.

posted at: 09:12 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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