Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Sep 28 2007

Getting the lead out: Rumors from Santa's workshop

In light of all the lead-in-paint woes in imported toys lately, one begins to wonder what the upcoming holiday season will bring in terms of popular toys. Toys R Us has come out with a list of projected favorites.

I wondered what Santa would say about all these lead paint reportings. Unconfirmed sources told me (via cell phone) that he's been hard at work to make sure the North Pole facilities turn out lead-free toys. And Mr. Claus insists that outsourcing toy production is, in general, a great way to get more toys made so that he can get them into the hands of children this December. And he's glad to know that adults are working to make play time as safe as possible for children everywhere.

I tried to get a feel for Santa's take on global warming, but the cell connection was suddenly lost. I couldn't help but wonder if that failure might be due to the tin whiskers forming from all that lead-free solder. With all this trouble in the world, how does Santa stay such a jolly fellow?

posted at: 09:16 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 27 2007

Enjoy the colorful views

I've had that rare lazy morning, so I'm thinking that some of the rest of you might enjoy a few minutes of down time as well. MSNBC.com has a lovely show of fall pictures sent in by readers. We don't get a lot of the fiery shades of autumn on our Central Coast, so it's great fun to see how the changing of the seasons is so dramatic in other areas.

posted at: 10:12 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 26 2007

It was kind of depressing to read about how the track of the U.S. presidential campaign really comes about. And the sad truth is that one almost has to be wealthy in order to devote the time needed for campaigning. I grew up being told that anyone could be president, but that's not really the truth, is it?

Of course, the other side of this notion is that in the future it probably won't matter quite so much who actually becomes president as who controls the wealth behind the attaining of the office. Those are the people and corporate entities we should actually be focusing on when we educate ourselves about voting. Maybe all those funny little votes for Mickey Mouse as president have actually been cast by people who understood the true monetary nature of how things work in today's world of voting. We told them they were throwing their vote away. We may be doing the same thing when we opt to choose from among a top few candidates thrust upon us by an outdated two-party system that masks the real world of wealth behind politics.

posted at: 08:16 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 25 2007

We need all our clothes all the time

Organize Magazine has been out for a month or two now and it's added a blog to its web site. I had to smile at the Sept. 3rd entry, in which the writer asks for ideas on how to handle the seasonal clothing storage and rotation. You can tell her home is in the northeastern area of the U.S. We here on the Central California Coast never have all our "winter" or "summer" clothing packed away at any given moment. We can have 58-degree days in June and 79-degree days in January. The trick here is having enough closet space to store everything for easy access as our climate takes us on a mostly-mild journey with a side trip of extremes that can pop up at almost any time of the year.

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

Mon, Sep 24 2007

Depressed? Get moving!

Another study has confirmed the benefits of exercise for clinically depressed people. What they don't seem to be sure of yet is why the exercise works. I'm sure there are some physiological reasons for its success, but there's also something in movement that gives us all a sense of empowerment. The human body is designed to move. Walking a mile is going to give one a whole sense of power that taking a pill just can't match. I'm not denigrating the use of pharmaceutical aids where they are clearly indicated. But there's just no feeling of personal accomplishment in taking a pill.

As for the group exercise yielding even better results than a workout on one's own, the social implications are probably quite strong, though tough to measure. Can you imagine getting the same sense of social support or satisfaction from taking pills in a group setting? Group exercise might even bring out a bit of the competitive spirit. An interest in pushing the body just a little bit further would encourage goal-setting and might give the patient hope that other life goals may not seem as far away as they did in the worst moments of depression.

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

Fri, Sep 21 2007

Win-win-win situation, for me

If they make the Do Not Call list permanent next year I'll be happy. If I have to register my numbers one more time for a 5-year period, I'll still be happy. If some miscreant tries to dodge the list and calls me anyway, I'll be happy to help see that they get fined. Those of us who work from home should help educate these intruders to the fact that our work schedule is not necessarily based on a 9-5 working day. If you're a legitimate vendor, leave your message at the tone and we can get back to you if we have an interest in your product or service. Otherwise, just don't call at what you presume to be dinnertime or any other time.

posted at: 09:08 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 20 2007

Don't harm fetuses, but scare the already-born half-to-death?

There was a story on TV the other night about a man who, in his attempts to protect unborn children, is terrorizing already-born children. Parents whose children at St. Matthew's Catholic School have been subjected to graphic images of aborted fetuses have begun holding sheets over Ross Foti's truck. Mr. Foti parks his truck in full view of elementary students while he attends mass on Notre Dame Avenue in San Mateo, California.

I know that the abortion issue is a hot-button for most people. But I do wish this man would consider the living children that he may be injuring with his display. Just because a child has already been born does not mean that it has no right to life—or to quality of life. Mr. Foti is an adult and may be able to handle viewing the images without psychological damage, but very young children are still developing their ability to separate abstract concepts from concrete images. They think Mr. Foti is like some axe murdurer trying to frighten them. If the guy gains some fetuses but harms precious existing young minds and hearts, where's the glory in that? I just don't understand these kinds of tactics.

posted at: 07:37 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 19 2007

Tough talk nothing new

Is the idea that Iran would suddenly announce plans to bomb Israel, if attacked by Israel, really news? We know fully well that the two nations are at odds with each other and have been for more years than one can count. Maybe Iran's saber rattling is just their amusing little way of getting in on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

posted at: 10:51 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 18 2007

Workers buy houses where they can afford them, so long commutes remain an issue

If one of the solutions to gridlocked traffic is having jobs closer to where people live, then we're going to have to find ways to discourage huge housing developments further and further from jobs, just so they can afford to own a home. And we're going to have to find ways to build incentives for businesses to come into heavily-housed communitites and plunk down their facilities where people are already living.

As the cost of living rose in Silicon Valley, many companies moved their facilities to other areas, such as Colorado and the Dallas-Forth Worth area. As employees began to cluster nearer those new facilities, the demand for housing rose, and the less expensive, large housing developments began to appear in those areas. It seems to be a cycle that doesn't want to end.

As for the telecommuting factor, corporation officers and managers have to be willing to develop trust in their employees. Many companies still project an old-fashioned attitude of managers wanting to walk around and see employees physically working at their desks. That might be necessary when clerking at a retail counter, but it's silly to assume that software authors and many other positions require a body to be in one place and one place only, in order to get the job done. Telecommuting and flex-time may be companies' only short-term answers, they insist on locating in large metro areas where traffic issues continue to hold workers hostage on the highways when they might otherwise be more productive at night or at home.

posted at: 09:49 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Sep 17 2007

After the fair

Well, the 2007 Santa Cruz County Fair is now history. The attendance numbers were good and the crowds seemed to be having a great time. There's a tremendous amount of work that goes into making these kinds of events successful and each person who works behind the scenes, paid or volunteer, receives a huge blessing. There are always a few political moves, power struggles and some frayed nerves, but most people work there to have fun and make the fair a delight for all who attend. And some of the most dedicated workers were seniors, who spent hours answering questions for visitors, decorating exhibit halls, driving tractors in the parade and even delivering ice to vendors.

Oh, and for those of you who didn't make it to the fair in person, the winner of the Giant Pumpkin Contest was grown by a 12-year old boy and it weighed in at a whopping 786 pounds.

posted at: 09:03 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Sep 07 2007

Barn in the USA is almost a reality

The Santa Cruz County Fair opens Tuesday, September 11, and those who attend will see definite touches of honor to our heroes. Watch for life-size firefighter cut-outs tucked among the happy-go-lucky lamb and bunny decorations.

This is the first time I've had the privilege of seeing the fair come together from the perspective of volunteerism and I can tell you that it gives one a sense of grass-roots American patriotism. While some county fairs seem to be on the wane, this fair will be filled with the representations of what makes it an honor to live in this country, in California, and in this beautiful coastal region.

But it's time for me to stop crowing and get back to work. Blog entries may be sparse the next few days as committees pull together for long sessions to put the finishing touches on decor and begin assisting with entries and displays. See you at the fair!

posted at: 09:28 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Sep 06 2007

The jury that never was

My spouse was scheduled for jury duty this week and ended up having to go in on Tuesday. The group was seated in the jury assembly room, which is a rectangular modular building behind the main court house building. The usual procedure is that a bailiff comes to address the group and goes over the general rules and procedures of the court before the group is taken to a court room. However, on this particular morning the group was surprised to see a judge in her official robe enter the room, speak briefly to the woman at the desk and then turn to address the prospective jurors. She spoke of the privilege and responsibilities associated with serving as jurors. My spouse began to squirm, thinking of what the upcoming trial must hold in the way of complications or inconveniences. Instead, the judge informed them that there had been a sudden resolution to the case and that the group was being dismissed and would be counted as having served their duty for two years.

I often complain about the bottleneck that is our court system, so in this case I decided to admit in public writing that sometimes an isolated case here or there moves so quickly that a jury trial isn't even necessary. Of course, if one ever does need a jury of one's peers, it's nice to know that the system has made provisions for such a group to assemble and serve. It does make one curious though, as to what happened that changed things in that particular case. A change in evidence? A change in plea? I suppose that's why criminal TV shows are popular. One never knows when court cases will pump the old adrenalin to the rafters and then turn and drop one's emotions flat on the floor.

posted at: 08:46 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Sep 05 2007

Is it all right for a journalist to be psychic instead of getting real statements?

Whatever the outcome of the battle over journalist Rita Cosby's new book on Howard Stern and Larry Birkhead, it's disturbing to me that she would do the work of a journalist to complete her book, not speak to Larry Birkhead personally, and then toss off the comment, "We also knew what Birkhead would say..."

It seems to me that it's a journalist's job to speak to the parties involved anyway and get their statements, instead of assuming that one knows what they will say. Maybe Ms. Cosby didn't mean to sound unprofessional in her comment, but such a remark comes across very badly in the context of a work being marketed as non-fiction.

posted at: 07:43 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Sep 04 2007

Lick Fire's smoke visible for many miles

We saw the smoke from the fire at Henry W. Coe State Park yesterday, brown and almost mushroom-shaped as it rose over the hills east of us. The fire is moving further inland at this time, but Cal Fire is working to contain it. Christmas Hill Park, mentioned in the latter article, hosts the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival each July. Fire in forests actually cleanses underbrush and encourages healthy regrowth, so it's good for the forest, but if you've ever seen the rapid way that fire advances in California's mountains, it's tough to think of fire as a good thing. The wind forecast is not good for today, so I hope the firefighters stay safe as they work to contain the fire so that it doesn't threaten homes or communities.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Felix is making life tough for folks in Central America. There's one thing you can say about Mother Nature. She's not a wallflower.

posted at: 11:09 | 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!