Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Apr 30 2008

Of pigs and politicians

Now here's a headline you probably won't see twice in your lifetime:

Pink Floyd's flying 'Obama' pig found

And of course, it all happened it California.

posted at: 09:10 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 29 2008

Buena Vista and Watsonville news

In our ongoing saga with the Watsonville's 2030 development plan, a new chapter unfolded when Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick stayed on the side of common sense and law this week with his ruling. I'm not saying that simply because he agrees with me. I'm saying it because Judge Burdick recognizes that the shortcut approach the city took in its continuing disregard for airport safety zones meant that the city has not fully done its homework on the Buena Vista area.

I hope the city planners will at least admit that they need to scale back their daydream for this semi-rural area with its small horse farms and rolling hills of greenery so that the area still has a unique quality that draws visitors and new residents who love the area for what it is. I've seen an example of the city's plan for dense housing in the area behind the Target store, which I believe is known as Seaview Ranch. The driveways are too short, the homes are tightly spaced with very little side clearance, the yards aren't big enough for kids to play in without having to spill over into the street with their games. If the city really wants to make Watsonville a great place to raise kids they'll think of these things in the future planning of any subdivisions. I'd like to think they've learned a valuable lesson and now I'm waiting for them to show me what they can really do now as they plan for the future of this beautiful coastal area.

posted at: 08:13 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 28 2008

No one should hold back the care of our state and of our kids

I appreciated the San Jose Mercury News article from Anna Caballero and Dave Holmes. They're right. This is no time to let a union group have the power to stonewall projects that will keep our state's infrastructure and schools going. We need to explore any alternative that gives us the power to make it happen. I'm not against unions as a whole, but hearing that unions may be holding back progress for all of us makes me ready to vote against any such union stronghold, especially if it involves the taxpayers' purse strings in our beautiful state of California.

posted at: 13:04 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 25 2008

Planned power outage

Our neighborhood is due to have a planned power outage this morning, while PG&E replaces an aging crossarm. That means a break in computing for me, so I'm off to do some non-electric-centric tasks.

posted at: 07:41 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 24 2008

Retired cops are coming back

It's good to see local towns getting creative with law enforcement positions. As budget crunches affect more and more municipalities, we may see a lot more of this kind of thing. I did note that the electric vehicle that Officer Ihlen may get to help him in his duties will be a high-tech solution compared to the officers on horseback that we used to see in downtown parks. The exhaust is a bit earthier when it comes to horses, but their approachability makes up for it. It's touch to feel much reserve toward a cop after you pat the neck of his or her horse. Still, we live in an age when technology changes from moment to moment, so maybe an electric vehicle will make Officer Ihlen even more welcome on his downtown beat.

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

Wed, Apr 23 2008

Energy costs mean sacrifice is coming

I observed an interesting perspective on oil prices and oil production this morning. I must confess that I loathe the thought of drilling for oil off our California coastline. It was a mixed blessing to learn that we might not get that much oil even if we did resort to endangering our shores. Then I read another opinion piece, in which the writer reminds us that oil companies do not pay an extraction fee in California.

A few months from now we'll be voting on the issues in Prop 87. We have to cut something somewhere or we aren't going to be able to keep public schools going, keep roads open and have affordable food. The cost of transportation means everything else costs more. I don't know what will happen in November when voters go to the polls, but I do know that our sense of entitlement to a cheap ride is just about over in California. If we can't at least admit that much, we're in total denial.

posted at: 10:21 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 22 2008

Your money or your gas. No wait. Your money or your car.

I know they're saying that high gas prices are leading to more gas theft on the part of criminals, but how about someone taking a whole car and holding it for ransom?

Speaking of gas theft, a special meanie award should go to the people who took gas from trucks opearated by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County. Locking gas caps will deter some theives, but now I'm hearing that some of the theives are simply cutting the fuel lines or punching holes in the tanks from beneath. And Many of the hapless desperados end up losing more gas than they gain when they turn out to be less than adept at siphoning.

posted at: 07:44 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 21 2008

Virtually, maybe. Literally, no.

The tools at Vehix.com are a great idea. But I'm tired of hearing the one woman on their TV commercial saying that going to the site means, "You're literally driving the car." Later in the same commercial she says, "You're practically driving the car." I'll go along with the word "practically" but not with the word "literally". That's just not true and is an incorrect usage of the word. I hope the folks at Vehix.com will realize their error and alter that commercial's one scene.

posted at: 22:11 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 18 2008

We feel (some) of your pain

I'm sending good thoughts out to those of you back in the Midwest who got rattled out of bed earlier this morning with the 5.2 earthquake. The difference between the quakes back there and the quakes out here in California is that our quakes would probably not be felt hundreds of miles away. I do hope all of you will make sure you have things secured and will keep some extra supplies on hand. And for those of you considering a home with one of those lovely brick exteriors, please think carefully before you go with that particular feature.

posted at: 17:55 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 17 2008

Oregon laws copyrighted?

What is this recent ruckus concerning the State of Oregon's copyright claims on the Oregon laws? If government is paid for by taxpayer money, then doesn't what a state government does also belong to the taxpayers? I thought that the people owned the state government and that the state government didn't really "own" anything, including laws. Those are owned by the people. I had no idea that a state could claim to copyright such things, unless perhaps it's somehow doing so in the name of its citizens. Did anyone on the government payroll asked Oregonians if they wanted their laws to be copyrighted.

I'm glad no one ever bothers to insist on a copyright for our U.S. laws. I love seeing the Preamble and the Bill of Rights written in so many places. The very nature of our country's laws has freedom and open access at its foundation. I'm very sad to hear that there are at least a few folks in Oregon who feel otherwise about their state laws.

posted at: 06:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 16 2008

Word puzzlement

Why don't devil and evil rhyme?

posted at: 06:44 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 15 2008

We pay more to pay but we get it paid earlier in 2008

If it's getting to be more taxing to pay income taxes, we can take heart in the fact that Tax Freedom Day is three days earlier in 2008 than it was last year, falling on April 23 this year.

posted at: 15:44 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 14 2008

Bible-carrying driver tasered and arrested after wild chase and a fight with a police dog

I wonder if this poor Bible thumping man really understands how many laws he (allegedly) broke, not to mention how many Commandments he (allegedly) probably broke during his encounter with human and K9 officers.

posted at: 21:45 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 11 2008

Salmon season ruined this year

If you enjoy salmon now and then you'll be disappointed by the cancellation of the salmon fishing season on our coast. The sad thing is that we all aren't certain why the salmon are so few in number. Is is an ecological issue? Maybe. In any case, fewer people will be able to make a living fishing and fewer people will be able to enjoy a grilled salmon filet on their plate for awhile. And if you can get a filet at all, you're likely to have to pay a hefty price for the privilege.

posted at: 17:52 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 10 2008

Color and design by a master

A dear friend sent me photos of the beautiful parrot flower, Impatiens psittacina. I went and browsed for more information and found that it is rare, beautiful, hard to grow and has very protected seeds by the local governments of the countries where it grows in the wild. I even found a few online wordy skirmishes over whether or not such a flower could have happened without a Creator. You're free to believe what you like. This writer chooses to enjoy the thought of the Lord leaving love notes and presents tucked alongside the litter we sometimes choose to focus on through our brief lives on this planet. We're a much more baffling species than Impatiens psittacina.

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

Wed, Apr 09 2008

Full of hot air

It's frustrating to hear that our legislators can be talked into spending taxpayer dollars on working to ban the sale of helium-filled metallic balloons. Besides, people will simply buy the balloons and also buy their own helium tanks so they can fill the balloons. Then we'll have a whole set of new problems. Why do we keep electing egotistical people who focus on fringe problems instead of working on core issues?

posted at: 22:15 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 08 2008

Money is a great motivator

There certainly has been a bit of growling abou the recent Absolut Vodka ad that depicted an 1830s map with parts of the current U.S. states still in Mexico's territory. I'm not surprised that a lot of Americans are fussing, but let's do at least face the fact that the folks at Absolut were trying to get Mexican people to drink their product. I think it's noble and admirable when manufacturers use their advertisements for the good of society, but let's be frank. We're talking about alcohol. Why would we be surprise at their no-holds barred efforts to open up (or at least increase) the market for vodka in Mexico? It isn't as though they're selling Bibles to the choir or making rescue equipment for earthquake victims. They're selling booze. It's hardly a product based on an attempt to the reach the higher mind of mankind.

And now I'm thinking that when the French company Pernod Ricard SA takes over the Absolut name that they'll tell the advertisers they hire to get back at Americans for all those digs we made about "freedom fries" not so many years ago. It will be interesting to see what they come up with to harrass us if that happens.

posted at: 20:32 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Apr 07 2008

IMAX coming to Cannery Row

Our Central Coast will soon have IMAX films, thanks to Bella Cinema. With the Monterey Bay Aquarium just steps away, many of the planned film showings will reflect the wealth of marine life and will educate the public about our oceans' irreplaceable role as part of Earth's healthy ecosystem. And of course, IMAX viewings are just plain good fun.

posted at: 08:14 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, Apr 04 2008

On wolverines

It seems that, like many California residents, a recent wolverine photographed in Tahoe National Forest was probably not native to our state, at least in its lineage.

Actor Hugh Jackman, who played the Wolverine Logan in the X-Men films, is also not a native of California and hails instead from Australia. This has nothing to do with true wolverines, but I found it to be one of those odd bits of trivia that intersects with other odd bits of trivia to keep everyday facts from becoming dull and easily missed.

posted at: 07:03 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 03 2008

Paws at the door

If you've ever had a pet walk in on you while you were in the bathroom you will appreciate the April 2 Cute Overload photo. Our outdoor cat, Austin, managed to open the slider screen door one day when we didn't have it locked. At the time I thought it was an accident, because he simply put his paws up the screen and leaned, causing the door to slide open. He looked genuinely stunned, but after reading some of the comments below that photo, I'm rethinking the whole incident and am wondering if he did, in fact, plan the whole maneuver, following it up with that "I wonder how that just happened?" look that cats do so well.

posted at: 06:53 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, Apr 02 2008

A point of light to sleep on

There's a product out there now for insomniacs who loathe taking sleeping pills. I haven't tried it, but the Glo to Sleep mask sounds as though it could be a reasonable alternative to drugs. I suppose we could probably train ourselves to focus on that "third eye" without the mask, but the mask might be a gentler way to achieve relaxation. After all, when you're already having trouble handling off busy thoughts at night it can be almost impossible to add one more thing to concentrate on without some help.

posted at: 06:47 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Apr 01 2008

More birthday twins

Though the years are different, I found another set of interesting people born on April 1, all of whom I can see sitting around having a conversation in some writer's mind. There's Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873), whose Prelude in C Sharp Minor is still one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. And we'll add Anne McCaffrey (1926), who bring a literary flair with her science fiction. Sammy Stein (1905) found fame in a number of fields, including professional wrestling, NFL football and movies. Wangari Maathai (1940) is an environmentalist, women's rights activist, author, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and more. And to complete the intriguing little mix of conversationalists we'll add Samuel Alito (1950), Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Have fun imagining the topics they might butt heads over, or just use them to inspire characters who become unexpected contemporaries traveling through your next novel.

posted at: 09:08 | category: /Writing Life | 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!