Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Mar 31 2006

Protest marches

Today is the birthday of labor activitist Cesar Chavez. We've have had a tough week or so of area protests because of the heating up of immigration issues. I'm listening to my trusty scanner as I write this and hearing of groups forming in the nearby city of Watsonville. They closed both our area high schools for the day in anticipation of turmoil. I'm wondering how folks reason that this marching will actually help their cause, as they snarl traffic and steal time from those who wish to continue working and learning. Tempers are rising as legal residents and citizens attempt to go about their daily lives with dignity. I also can't help but wonder what would happen if the illegal aliens who are part of these marches would be treated if they tried such things in the country of their birthplace.

The US is an amazing country and I can understand many wanting to be part of life here. It's a shame that what many are marching for will result in low-paying jobs that are almost guaranteed to keep them at poverty level for many years to come. I keep hearing that immigrants are doing the jobs that "Americans won't do", but part of the reason for that is that those who employ filed workers and other folks will not take a stand to pay decent wages. I have said for many years that I don't want to get a basket of strawberries for a low price if it means the person who bent their back to pick the berries is struggling to survive on what little they make. We can't blame only immigrants for these problems. We also have to face the fact that we will have to pay higher prices for products and services if we want to pay people a living wage for their work and we will have to encourage employers to pay that living wage to all workers. It's a shame that immigrants, and the rest of us, seem willing to settle for perpetualizing a caste system destined to demean each one of us.

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

Thu, Mar 30 2006

Divide and conquer—or not...

Each day the National Archives web site features Today's Document. The current offering happens to be a Russian copy of the Treaty of Cession on March 30, 1867, which represents the sale of the territory of Alaska to the United States. Note the title Russian America on this old map of the Alaska Territory. Oddly enough, Russia was one of the Union's biggest supporters during the American Civil War. A hundred years later the two countries were in such a state of tension that the threat of nuclear war between us seemed imminent.

World politics is full of whirlwind romances and stoic standoffs. It would be interesting to be alive two hundred years from now, to see what has become of both Russian and US borders and bounties.

posted at: 08:29 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 29 2006

Big Brother spends big bucks to watch tiny town

800 miles from Russia in ALaska's Nushagak Bay, the small fishing village of Dillingham has something Los Angeles doesn't have. It has something New York doesn't have. It has something Washington, D.C. doesn't even have. In has the equivalent of one surveillance camera for approximately every 30 people, courtesy of a grant from Homeland Security.

posted at: 10:03 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Mar 28 2006

Open door policy might bring crowds—to Mexico

I thought it was interesting that 400-450 high school students in Salinas walked out of class to march for illegal immigrants' rights yesterday. Watsonville, which has perhaps a third of the population Salinas has, but is growing rapidly, had some 800 students in the streets. There were other protests (including people of all ages) this past Saturday. There were marches in many states, although some states had much smaller numbers of people involved.

Our California demographics mean that we have a high number of both legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico. The logistics of our geographical location also contribute to these statistics. But folks who must fly into our country have immigrant concerns too. It's physically impossible for people from China or Russia or Australia to walk directly into the US from their own country. If the lawmakers here decide to make amnesty or guest worker status more difficult to obtain, because of the relatively easy physical access that Mexican immigrants have to our borders we may see immigrants from other countries begin choosing to go through Mexico or Canada first in order to gain access. It might eventually become a very large issue for the Mexican authorities as they begin dealing with an influx of immigrants from overseas.

posted at: 07:49 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Mar 27 2006

He drew, they drew

Boing Boing pointed to Robert Ullman's post about Entertainment Weekly publishing a graphic similar to the concept he had recently sent them. I've worried about this sort of thing before in my own work. I have read so many thing in my lifetime that I often get an inspiration to write something and then wonder if I've subconsciously ripped off someone else's idea.

I'm sure this sort of "creative collective consciousness" happens more often than we realize, but it would be horribly ironic if Entertainment Weekly did fuss at Robert Ullman for putting their graphic on his web site. It also might trigger a lawsuit. Of course, the good news is that this whole scenario is making me think of some great ideas for a story...

posted at: 09:44 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Mar 24 2006

Many shocked by resignation of Mary Anne Mays

Mary Anne Mays, superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District, has resigned. I noted, in an article from the Register-Pajaronian, that the superintendent chose to publically thank certain board trustees. I do not know if this was a pointed way of expressing disapproval of certain other trustees or if she was merely naming those close at hand, since I was not present to see and hear. What I do know is that when an extremely well-liked leader suddenly steps down it's usually time to take a look at some major issues and some other personalities involved in leadership and in closely-allied positions. These are issues that impact a whole community. And they're issues that impact the wallets of the taxpaying citizens. It will be interesting to see what happens with the local school administration next.

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

Thu, Mar 23 2006

Smooth as a baby's butt—but deadly

The Salinas area case of the cosmetic cooking oil is very disturbing. A woman died following such a treatment. I was concerned about people getting Botox injections, but who could have known that vegetable oil could be lethal? I can understand people wanting to minimize wrinkles, but at least wrinkles don't kill you.

posted at: 08:37 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 22 2006

Not quite a lady

Monday morning Monterey area police pulled over a driver they are now holding on suspicion of armed robbery. The alleged robber seems to have a penchant for black—black car, black evening gown&nmdash;the stolen money apparently even went into a black purse matching the robber's gown and fishnet panty hose, which were seen hanging from the driver door of the car. What I can't figure out is why someone would go to all the trouble to coordinate a rather elaborate feminine evening ensemble and then not bother to shave his face.

posted at: 08:12 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Mar 21 2006

I see no hero at all here

I don't create comics but I do work with words quite a bit. It's annoys me when a company decides to suddenly claim ownership of a word or phrase that has been used by many of us for a long time. However, this sort of thing does happen. Boing Boing reports that Marvel Comics and DC Comics want the hyphenated word "super-hero" to become their property.

Boing Boing's post suggests, among other things, that we adopt some other term to describe characters owned by Marvel/DC. I think I might prefer to spend my time thinking of a suitable term for those greedy folks who are attempting to pigeonhole a set of fictitious characters in order to strong-arm other comics publishers. The words "super" and "hero" definitely don't even come to mind when describing such people.

posted at: 10:12 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Mans says to skip that hip bone

While wandering about from one web site to another this morning I happened upon a hilarious voicemail recording that someone had tweaked and set to music. It seems that someone had visited a church and was a bit distressed to see that one of the female praise singers had incorporated a little too much hip action into her particular portion of the worship service. I guess the gentleman felt that one should be stirred by the Spirit in one's heart but that one's delight should not be allowed to extend to one's lower spine and posterior. I can't help but hum a few bars of "Dem Dry Bones".

posted at: 07:58 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, Mar 20 2006

Some private writing is later shared

Long before there were blogs there were written diaries, journals, letters and other means of expressing one's individual thoughts. I ran across a site that is promoting access to the private pennings of past and present writers. They even plan to put out a directory in the near future. If you value travel writing, family stories, genealogical information or folklore you might want to browse the Life Writing Connection.

posted at: 08:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Mar 17 2006

Green, Greens and Greenery

On this lovely St. Patrick's Day I wish you all the greenest of days. We'll be sporting lots of color on the Central California Coast, because the heavy rains of our winter months have resulted in lush plant matter in our valleys and on our hills. Later in the season the well-watered grasses will turn that soft golden-brown that California is so famous for wearing throughout most of the year. This also brings a long, difficult fire season, but we'll face that when we come to it. For now, we'll enjoy the season of green.

By the way, did you know you can get (or give) a gift of trees? If you join the Arbor Day Foundation with a $10 membership you will receive 10 free trees. Choose flowering varieties, oaks or others chosen to grow best in your particular climate. That's a nice bit of green we can all enjoy for generations to come.

I've been amused by the Roman Catholic clergy's various dispensations for parishioners wishing to partake of corned beef on this very St. Patrick's Friday. The green cabbage was apparently no problem, being a vegetable rather than a meat product. It does surprise me a bit that nothing was said about green beer and Irish whiskey, both of which have probably sparked a whole lot more trouble for Roman Catholic souls (and many others) than any bits of boiled, spiced beef roast.

Catholic or otherwise, if you insist on indulging at your local establishment this evening, I do hope that after you down your green beer you'll be sensible and keep your car keys in your pocket. Many hotels, cab companies, restaurants and other businesses now participate in programs that help drinkers get a safe ride home. If you are a drinker, or you're tempted to get into a car with a drinker, find out more about options like soberRide. That one is for those over age 21, but there are even programs for high school students who find themselves unable to get home safely after a night of drinking. One is Safe Ride, operated in cooperation with the American Red Cross—the latter of which is also a great organization to give your "green" to when you wish to choose a charity.

I wish everyone who reads this a happy, healthy, safe St. Patrick's Day.

posted at: 09:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Mar 16 2006

Please, Mr. Gates—applaud all efforts on behalf of children

I appreciate Bill Gates' expertise and ingenious ways of making things happen. But I'm a little disappointed in the stories I keep seeing today. They all seem to say that he expressed open disdain for the $100 One Laptop per Child program.

In a world full of willing hearts to help kids I'm happy that technically savvy folks are working toward this type of goal. It's also good to remember that the $100 laptops won't cost each child's family $100. I hope Mr. Gates will eventually be gracious enough to say that there's certainly room for more than one type of charitable program on our planet and that he isn't the only one who has great ideas and who wants to use their ideas to make this world a better place for kids.

posted at: 11:17 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sunshine, as seen through Blues

Since it's Sunshine Week I thought it would be appropriate to point to a post (complete with mp3) on The Open Record Blues. You can find out more about Peter Leidy's political songs by visiting his web site.

posted at: 08:23 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 15 2006

Passing bills—and bypassing that bothersome old Constitution

Norm Ornstein offers up some legislative hot buttons on the American Enterprise Institute's site, including one of significance to those who blog. We have so many federal laws now that the average citizen can barely keep up with any new bills that come along. If the House and Senate are going to start changing the way they pass bills there had better be a fast spotlight set up to point out any changes that violate our Constitution—no matter what bills they pass. This is one of those times I can see definite merit in having three branches of government. Let's hope the judicial branch steps up and does its job.

A grateful tip of the Stetson goes to Election Law for the pointer.

posted at: 08:07 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Mar 14 2006

Will a work walk-out work?

I can understand Santa Cruz County workers holding a one-day strike to underscore the rejection of management's contract offer. However, what often seems to happen in these situations is that people look around and realize that business is going on pretty much as usual. It can cause the public to wonder why we have so many people on a county payroll in the first place. Particularly in the case of road workers, I've heard several people say we won't even notice they're not working because some of the county roads have been in such bad shape for so long they doubted that there was much work going on to begin with. Ouch.

posted at: 07:04 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Mar 13 2006

He's got a billion and he knows how to use it

I loved the Monterey Herald's account of Ted Turner's local speech this past weekend. Whether you agree with Mr. Turner's political views or wish he'd hush, it's certain that he has a way of making his point by cutting out the adjectives and adverbs a lot of speakers use to fluff out their talks. I've always thought, from my viewing place, that Mr. Turner is the perfect kind of person to have a lot of wealth at his disposal. He seems to know that money is a tool to be used by humans and does not make the mistake of letting it be the other way around. He makes money and then finds a need and fills it. I meet people who are very jealous and disdainful of people like Ted Turner, but the truth is that we need more Ted Turners in our society—people who are responsible stewards of wealth and who recognize that money can either isolate us or bring us together. If the folks who attended the dinner understood only that much they should consider their $250-a-plate meal a real bargain.

posted at: 07:48 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Mar 10 2006

Cookies and More

Thanks to a lovely bunch of people just south of us, some soldiers in Iraq will soon be munching Girl Scout cookies. I've heard of other groups around the country pooling their cookie resources to ship similar treats. My own family will soon have a soldier in a neighboring country over that direction, so I'm starting my hunt for things to tuck into small packages. If you know of someone in military service overseas and you want to treat them (and their fellow troops) it's a good idea to choose items carefully. Books for Soldiers has a good suggested list that will help you get started. And Operation Band Aid has more information on sending treats and other practical assistance to wounded soldiers who have been transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

posted at: 07:12 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Mar 09 2006

Please don't drink and drive and/or sleep

If you, or someone you share the road with, is using the prescription drug Ambien, you should take heed. The stuff could be a contributing factor in certain traffic accidents.

And then there's that other very disturbing side effect, which seems to pass over the patient taking the medication and instead, tweak the people distributing the medication.

posted at: 06:31 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 08 2006

Introverts Anonymous

A tip of the Stetson goes to Michael at Orange Crate Art for his post on introverts yesterday. Michael pointed us to Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch, which was featured on The Atlantic Monthly's web site.

Having been incredibly shy as a child, plus having tendencies to be introverted, I can identify with the need to be alone a lot. Shyness is something I learned to combat by choosing to focus on easing other people's shyness. But I later found that I am, like the actors and other people Mr. Rauch mentions, actually an introvert who confuses people by becoming very extroverted at times. I'm also the one who can only stand a crowded, happy party for a limited time until I have to excuse myself to go to the bathroom for a few minutes of down time and renewal. It was nearly impossible for me to volunteer answers in school, but I acted in plays, sang in choruses and helped choreograph and execute a modern dance routine for a physical education class. It's actually tougher for me to speak in front of ten people who love me than it is to stand before an audience of ten thousand people who don't know me at all.

I can recall being labeled as both phony and stuck-up. It's not the fault of extroverts that we folks with a heavy introvert streak do this sort of thing. It's just one of those mysteries of life that extroverts can choose to fight or choose to embrace. If they can manage the patience to put up with our kind, they will gain some very loyal, supportive friends, particularly if they can learn to stop talking once in awhile and share and enjoy a tiny bit of very beautiful silence with us.

posted at: 07:31 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Mar 07 2006

Another kind of fire alarm

A recent story in the Register-Pajaronian illustrates the way local politics and editorial slant can take an isolated incident and use it to put a clever spin on a hot (no pun intended) local issue. In this case, a small boy helped save his family from a house fire. But the story finds a way to mention the city's future plans to close the very fire station that responded to the blaze.

posted at: 08:50 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Mar 06 2006

Waking up to snow

Our area experienced some unusual weather last Friday. Rain, wind, hail, thunder and lightning all seemed to make an appearance at one time or another within a 24-hour period. Thunderstorms are relatively rare on the Central California Coast, which would include Santa Cruz County. What is even more rare is the sight of snow at low elevations. We're accustomed to seeing a dusting and even an accumulation of several inches on the mountains surrounding our area, but snow at sea level, or even at 100 feet above sea level, is the kind of thing that makes people get their cameras out. One of my spouse's co-workers snapped this evidence near his home in the city of Watsonville.

Snow in Watsonville, California

Unfortunately, by the time I was up and around that morning the white stuff was long gone. So I'm glad a few people got some pictures to document it.

posted at: 08:47 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Mar 03 2006

Sometimes running with scissors is a good thing

I've taken time to mention a wonderful organization called Locks of Love not long after I began this blog. Local station KSBW also gave them a mention this week, in reference to support for a teen who has been battling ovarian cancer. If you ever know of anyone with long hair who is thinking of "going short", please ask them to wait. Ask them to walk, not run, to Locks of Love before they have go and have that major haircut. The organization arranges for donations of hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their own hair during treatment.

posted at: 06:48 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Thu, Mar 02 2006

Mark Mania Revisited

Once again, I see that a form of technology is being objected to because of its very existence. As I said in a post I wrote last year, it's tempting for any of us to get caught up in a scientific or technological focus concerning the mark of the beast. But if that mark has to do with spiritual issues, the accepting of that mark would seem to me to also have to do with spiritual issues. Choosing to be spiritual involves a conscious choice, unless I missed something. Again—if you can capture me, restrain (or sedate) me, and then put some device into my head (or anywhere in or on my person) and control me with it, that's not a choice I can make. And the Book of Revelation seems to indicate that there is a choice involved in accepting this mark. Of course, a technological device could be used to track those who do carry the device and be used to separate those who do have one from those who do not, but that technology has nothing to do with choosing an alliance with evil over an alliance with a loving Creator.

If all this good-hearted lady is meaning to say is that we are now closer to the Second Coming of Christ than we've ever been before, I'd be surprised if she got any argument at all from most Christians. But it's very tough for me to see how a man-made device that can be used for either good or evil can be described as something evil in and of itself.

posted at: 09:07 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 01 2006

Out of order?

In the past several days I found myself in several situations in which rather lively discussions arose concerning Robert's Rules of Order. So I looked up a bit of history on Henry Martyn Robert. I found it particularly interesting to note that what spurred Mr. Robert to come up with such a guide in the first place were the challenges he met with while attempting to chair a meeting at a church. That fact speaks volumes in itself.

There have apparently been many revisions to his original work and if you are about to attend your first church business meeting you might want to pick up something on this set of guidelines. Amazon has several versions, including:
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief
Robert's Rules of Order (Paperback)
Complete Idiot's Guide to Robert's Rules
Robert's Rules for Dummies

posted at: 16:26 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!