Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Jan 23 2008

Mini blogging break

Blogging will cease until Friday. I'll be busy having some health tests done. In the meantime, I encourage you to enjoy one of the fine blogs listed on the right side of this page.

posted at: 08:17 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 22 2008


I think I have Blogheimer's Disease. I completely forgot to post something today. I don't think it's as serious a topic as Cosmic forgetfulness, but it does concern me that I nearly let the whole day slip away without writing a few lines here.

I've never been a fan of talking about Big Bang theories as an isolated topic, simply because I enjoy the thought of a Loving Creator taking time to plan and execute the making of our universe. But when folks write about Cosmic forgetfulness and refer to loop quantum gravity and then go on to talk about time and space being in little chunks and how things are jerky and blocky, it does make me think of how human memory often operates. We remember in detail the contents of some school lunch tray from 50 years ago and yet we can't recall what we ate for breakfast this morning. We remember our first telephone number or first address and yet we can't remember the name of our cousin's husband when we see him on July 4th and at Thanksgiving. Memories often seem random and frivolous. There are certain things we'd like to forget and can't. There are other things we need to remember and yet we forget them within minutes.

I'm wondering if the folks who speak of Cosmic forgetfulness are doing a bit of wishful thinking in making the universe anthropomorphic. If the universe itself can be forgetful then it seems logical that its inhabitants also experience memory lapses and blank spots. It explains away the things we can't plainly see about the universe by making those things seem more like our own foibles and lets us pat ourselves on our jerky, blocky heads as if to reassure ourselves that we come by our forgetfulness naturally.

That's assuming, of course, that forgetfulness is a negative trait. Maybe we'll find out someday that forgetfulness really is a virtue and a talent to be nurtured and cultivated. Until then, I'll consider it mostly annoying and embarrassing.

posted at: 20:38 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 21 2008

Blue Monday

I didn't know it was Blue Monday until I read about it. However, I do have to say that I'm having a tough time staying focused and motivated today. I have some personal distractions this week that are particularly challenging, so that may explain my difficulty in concentrating. I find myself wandering from appointed tasks and so I've begun jotting down a few key words when my mind wanders. It somehow makes the wandering more purposeful and task-driven when I can put the thought to paper and make a little plan to deal with the distraction more fully at a later time.

Worry is a shadowy figure that hovers in the air like a bad stench, distorting our sense of the passing of time, poking our minds and bodies with sharp little sticks. I may not get rid of worry completely today, so for the time being I'm compensating by poking it back a little with the tip of my trusty pencil.

posted at: 12:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 18 2008

LOC photos: Tag one (or more) today

I loved the news that the Library of Congress is using the convenience of Flickr and everyday citizens to create The Commons. So many photos are tucked away in file drawers and boxes and never enjoyed by the general public. Not only will we all be able to see more of the photos, but we'll be able to help with identification and context. I would love for the next step to be to allow viewers with specific knowledge of a person or place in any given photo to add to the general information. (The photos of people may also be a great tool for folks tracking their family tree.) I've seen the power of shared photos and I have big hopes for this project enriching our ability to put history into perspective for our daily lives and our future.

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

Thu, Jan 17 2008

Election Board classes

I've just completed about six hours' worth of training for the upcoming February Primary Election. Now things have to simmer a bit before I go back and review my Electronic Voting Specialist manual and see how much of the technical information has held together in my head. For the first time this year, training for clerks became a 3-hour class and the classes for inspectors are being held separately from the classes for clerks. (The Electronic Voting Specialist classes are held separately from either of those sessions.)

Once again, we'll be using Sequoia Voting Systems machines. You can get a peek (PDF) of the touchscreen machine from Sequoia's web site. (We don't have the Advantage Plus, which allows better access to an audio-assisted unit for voters with low vision. Our audio-assisted unit is a little different. And ours does not come with wheels.) A version of the optical scanner we'll be using is also shown (PDF) on the company's web site.

Those of us who are Vote-By-Mail (formerly known as Absentee) voters get to bypass electronics and opt for the good-old snail mail method of casting our votes. Many of us have already voted. All of you campaign-trail people should have taken that into consideration when you planned on not showing up in California until late in January.

posted at: 08:25 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 16 2008

Fox Business Channel is not available to many of us

is reporting that only a few thousand people are watching the new Fox Business Channel. The reason for that could be that most of us can't watch it because our local cable provider doesn't offer it. That would be my reason.

Charter Communications has been more annoying than helpful to us. A very nice young man came to our neighborhood one evening a few weeks ago and knocked on doors, asking each of us in turn if we were having any difficulty with our cable reception. I told him yes. A couple of our channels have had nothing on them for months and one other channel had an almost week-old freeze frame from some old sitcom. (The latter has since been fixed.) Rather than assure me that Charter would promptly take care of these things, the nice young man used the dialogue to launch into a sales pitch, telling me that we would need to get ready for all-digital broadcast in 2009, and that Charter currently had an offer of installing one set-top box in our home at no cost for one year. I blinked. And I called my spouse to come to the door and listen. Within a short time we were all out on the porch and our neighbor from across the street came over and told the nice young man that if my spouse ordered the box, she would also, because my spouse is very knowledgeable about electronics.

Of course, we did not order the box installation. Two of the formerly active channels still have nothing on them. And I can't watch the Fox Business Channel because Charter doesn't carry it. The company's digital high-speed internet service is useless to us, because we need to run a web server on it. Charter forbids that.

Occasionally, Charter sponsors a free preview of a premium channel for a few days. When our bill comes in the mail it tells us that, as a service to us, free channel previews may be blocked. My spouse makes fun of that statement every time he sees it and says that the statement perfectly, if unwittingly, describes Charter's entire philosophy of service to its customers. I'm sorry to say that I have to agree.

posted at: 08:17 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 15 2008

Alabama's churches targeted by arsonists, vandals

My heart goes out to all the people affected by the recent streak of vandalism and fires at churches in Alabama. This morning there is word of yet another church burning. (As I write this post there is not yet a report on exactly what caused this most recent blaze.)

Those responsible for damaging any of the churches must not realize that this sort of thing serves only to bond church members closer together. And such violence on the part of arsonists often brings the rest of the local community rushing in to give aid and support. The perpetrators may think they can destroy with literal fire, but their power doesn't begin to match that of the kind of spiritual fire that drives others to comfort and help one another as a reflection of God's love.

posted at: 08:16 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 14 2008

How not to make friends at trade shows

A strange little war seems to have erupted over the use of a remote control that was apparently used to turn off video screens at CES 2008. Impulse control is probably one of the virtues we each attain only after years of careful parenting or our own painful self-analysis. And it would have been better if the offending folks from Gizmodo had developed that particular character trait more fully before they went into the candy store that was CES. For those who paid to display at the show and for those who paid to see the displays and interact with the exhibitors, the prank amounts to a really bad example of how to practice the Golden Rule. But it's interesting to watch people take sides now. Some folks even blame the folks who set up the screens at the show in the first place and that reminds me of people who talk about women who ask to be raped because of the way they dress.

The best pranks and practical jokes are those when, in the end, everyone gets to enjoy the laugh. Sad to say, we're probably not going to see that with this particular caper.

posted at: 10:24 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 11 2008

Free to be ID free?

I'm a wee bit confused about this National ID plan. If the rules will apply only to those born after Dec. 1, 1964, does that mean the rest of us will not have to comply? Are we all automatically considered less of a threat? Won't terrorists simply begin recruiting old people to do their dirty work? Maybe I'm misunderstanding things and the specific guidelines will come along later and enlighten me.

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

Thu, Jan 10 2008

Fun at Flixxy.com

Is Earth expanding? One man thinks so. But where does he think all the the water came from? As a believer in Creation, I find this theory great fun, and a chance to consider even more possibilities for the stories contained in the Book of Genesis.

One of my favorite perfumes is the classic Chanel No. 5. One commercial pairs a classic scent with a classic fairy tale.

I know someone else who was once mistaken for a valet parking attendant (while waiting for the valet parking attendant to return with his car), so this Nespresso commercial featuring George Clooney is particularly amusing to me.

posted at: 07:42 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 09 2008

Soaking up solar

From Super Soaker to solar efficiency might be a giant leap for some of us, but not for engineer Lonnie Johnson. It's rather comforting to realize that toymakers can change the universe as we know it.

posted at: 19:41 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 08 2008

Crying candidates

I have no difficulty with the fact that Hillary Clinton had an emotional moment back in New Hampshire. If a political candidate needs to shed a few tears it's fine with me. The negativity I'm experiencing is that her uncharacteristic display of emotion appeared to be for herself and her own stress when things didn't go her way.

Strength and clever phrasing is certainly attractive in candidates, but let's be honest. Even Hitler knew how to turn a phrase. Being polished and confident really comes down to window dressing. The ability to experience and show true empathy for others can turn a polished politician into a beloved leader of people who will be remembered fondly long after he or she has left the Oval Office.

posted at: 11:27 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 07 2008

Central Coast (and other) weather

We were without power for about 6 hours last Friday, due to complications from the windy storm. I believe our service was restored as soon as it was because of our home's proximity to the local airport. Certain neighborhoods seem to get priority under such conditions, including those with hospitals, fire stations and airports. We had come home from a necessary errand and had lit candles and were prepared to settle in for a dark evening. My spouse kindly went back out into the storm to pick up fast food from an area that still had power. By the time he came home with dinner the power was back on, at least for us. For those of you still awaiting service, I hope you have a good generator on hand to keep the cold foods from spoiling.

Locally, we all saw much of this type of scene last weekend. We didn't go over to the beach, but a few who did go got a good soaking.

They're worried about mudslides in Southern California, where 2007 fires stripped important vegetation from hillsides. We probably won't have much trouble with that in our mountains unless the ground gets a lot more saturated from future storms. We actually have some filtered sun this first Monday of 2008, but in Fernley, Nevada, where the storm brought flooding from a compromised levee, they're in for rain, snow and then more rain tomorrow. The flood waters they had in town froze overnight, adding to their woes. Our rains may return tomorrow, but at least we won't have frigid temperatures. And with no high wind warnings out there at this point we're less likely to have to deal with more power outages the rest of the week. That's a big plus for those of us whose work is computer-centric.

posted at: 11:25 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 04 2008

Wind and rain have arrived, and with them, busy time for emergency workers

My portable scanner has calls going nonstop this morning, with the wind taking down utility lines or tree limbs, or tree limbs that fall on utility lines. I heard a report that the tent was coming off a house that had been tented for fumigation. That would take some powerful blowing. But it sounds as though the home is a flat-roofed house, so water may be puddling on the roof and pulling the edges of the tenting material inward. In any event, I've made a mental note never to have this house tented in the winter here in California, if it can possibly be avoided.

At least our area isn't forecast to get 10 feet of snow. I can only imagine how high the drifts will be in the Truckee area, with winds forecast to gust to hurricane force in some areas. There was some talk among meteorologists that our coastline could experience 30-foot surf swells, so it's certainly no time to take a leisurely stroll along the beach. And for those of you who got a brand new surfboard for Christmas, do resist the urge to haul it out and take that virgin ride. I suggest ingesting steamy bowls of soup, as needed, until all such self-destructive urges pass safely from your thoughts. Come to think of it, steamy bowls of soup for everyone sounds good on this wet, windy day.

posted at: 09:04 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Jan 03 2008

Big rain on the way

It's one of those days when I'm away from the computer too much and can't seem to get my writing accomplished. We're preparing for our first really big set of rain storms and wind in about 2 years. I realize that sounds a bit silly to those of you digging out from beneath 6-foot snow drifts amid sub-freezing temperatures, but our little Central California Coast rainy season is just that—the only time we can count on significant rainfall during the entire year. A storm system capable of producing more than a half-inch gets us really excited about the prospects of adding to our local water supply.

The high wind gusts won't be that helpful. They contribute to falling fences, roof damage, power outages and other inconveniences. Being earthquake-savvy residents helps us pass the time in the event of a power outage, as long as we don't have to keep busy putting buckets beneath the ceiling) because we usually have plenty of extra batteries and battery-operated radios on hand for emergencies. Still, an evening of no power really cuts into one's lifestyle in this day and time. It's amazing how often we never think about reaching for a light switch, turning on the TV or using a hair dryer. (And I haven't even mentioned computer-related tasks yet.)

If the weather will cooperate with me a bit longer and leave our power alone, I hope to have a tasty layered enchilada casserole ready to take to a Grange potluck this evening. Once the food has been cooked and hauled in we can eat by candlelight if we have to. (Or perhaps by battery-operated lanterns, if the fire codes prohibit open flame in the hall...)

posted at: 13:35 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 02 2008

Oil, not humanity, should be the commodity

So oil prices rose to one hundred dollars a barrel, eh? I had predicted that this would happen before the end of 2007. So I've missed it by a few days. I think it would have been better, in a psychological sense, if it had come last month. It's a bit discouraging to see it happen the very first week of a new year. And it's sad to think that at least one major cause is violence in Nigeria. I guess we could live higher prices if we thought that it meant a better quality of life for people in Nigeria, but I think we're fairly certain that Nigeria is so full of unrest that the general population is doing well to survive from day to day. No wonder all those Nigerian scams have filled our Email boxes. People are financially poor, their ecological surroundings are on a downhill slide and the infighting among various ethnic groups is turning the region into a constant war zone. Corruption within the country's own government threatens to drive citizens to the breaking point. And now many of the poor know they are being lied to and taken advantage of while others become wealthy from the oil. All this, while we complain at the gas pumps and then drive away to keep going on with our daily life of relatively little hardship. After reading that one little article from National Geographic, I'm realizing that we don't even know the half of it, or we'd be whining a whole different tune.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Politics | 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!