Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, May 30 2008

It's a scarf, people.

The whole Rachel Ray scarf-wearing episode is making me a little crazy. No one owns the idea of scarves and no one owns the colors black and white, including terrorists. Ms. Ray wore a paisley scarf with fringe and the pattern of the scarf was black and white. She did a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts wearing the scarf. Dunkin' Donuts pulled the ad (after it aired for some time). Why didn't they review the ad before they chose to air it? And if there were issues with colors or style, those could have been resolved by the folks at Dunkin' Donuts without making it look as though the scarf was worn for hateful purposes. And now the media is whining at the rest of us about how awful the scarf is. I'd much rather see a scarf around a woman's neck than the belly-baring, bosom-flaunting, derriere-crack-peeking fashions that have been all over the place lately. If you want to make a real political statement, ladies, cover your physical assets (which we still know are there), show us more of your brains and stop dressing like the corner kittens at Hollywood and Vine. Until that happens, I don't care what any of you have to say about fashion statements, political or otherwise.

posted at: 12:03 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, May 29 2008

8925 Tilt

My spouse and I took a look at the AT&T 8925 Tilt today. It's an interesting little device and would help my spouse a great deal with some business he needs to do online that requires Microsoft Windows software. We've browsed similar devices, but the bigger keyboard and bigger display are very seductive for one like me who doesn't exactly have 20/20 vision. It's drawbacks may be physical size and somewhat short battery life. But what good is a phone/PDA that has a long battery life if it doesn't have the other features you really need? We're still looking around, but the Tilt has definite possibilities.

posted at: 22:28 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, May 28 2008

Giving to Myanmar

It's heartwarming to know that some aid has been getting through to Myanmar, in spite of the issues with the military personnel there diverting supplies. Of course, I'm very pleased that Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been right in there with assistance, but there are other wonderful organizations also doing their part. The personal relationships that develop between aid workers and local citizens (and leaders) can be a great help in aid getting through to the people who really need it. It takes often takes a chain of one individual connecting to another individual to use our monetary donations in the wisest way. People are sometimes tempted to withhold a donation for fear that it won't reach someone who needs it. But with so many agencies doing their part, even some supplies being diverted won't stop all of the aid from its intended use. And maybe we'll even convince a few army members in Myanmar that our giving is something to be taken at face value, instead of their seeing it as a threat to their maintaining control in the face of a tough situation.

posted at: 09:20 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, May 27 2008

Underconfident and tired of it

Rick Newman writes about consumers being underconfident at a time when things are probably not as gloomy as we're treating them. Employment may be at a manageable level, but I know quite a few folks who have taken jobs for less pay than they're used to making, just to be able to be employed. Some are clinging to that job they have because their spouse works in the construction industry and has little work with the housing downturn.

And when one talks about gas and food being the main culprits of inflation, let's not forget that higher gasoline prices will eventually translate into higher prices for anything that has to be transported using that higher-priced gasoline.

Many of us have kept and maintained our vehicles for a longer period of time and have not run out to buy that new car every few years. We've been careful while others were using inflated home equity to finance trips to Europe and new cars. And we're still not feeling richer at this point. The most we might be able to brag about is having less debt than folks who charged everything in order to keep up with the Joneses. We made our mortgage payments on time, bought clothing and other items only when we found a good sale and behaved ourselves. And we're still not able to keep up with the economical pressures that are squeezing us. If we're having a hard time not feeling gloomy, I can only imagine how bad people feel who have a gas guzzling SUV, thousands of dollars of credit card debt and an interest-only mortgage about to pop like a festering boil.

Meanwhile, none of the political candidates dancing around the polls have any radical method or practical plan for truly revamping the economic situation. And if they do claim to have some cute little plan, they certainly don't mention where the money for it will come from. All we can imagine is higher taxes for the foreseeable future. So there's little hope for the economy to perk up any time soon. And some of us have been weathering the storm for three or four years. We're asking when it will get better—and even more frighteningly—will it get better at all?

posted at: 13:06 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, May 26 2008

To our troops

A big sweep of the Stetson today for our troops around the world, including those recuperating at home and in hospitals. We owe you all so much and we don't say it nearly often enough.

posted at: 17:07 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, May 23 2008

Summit Fire under better containment

The Summit fire conditions have improved a lot, as of this morning. Our marine layer is providing a moist canopy and the winds are not nearly as vigorous as they were yesterday. A little afer noon on Thursday we had a lot of smoke blowing down into our neighborhood, but the wind also served to desperse the heavy ash that had been sitting on roofs, cars and other flat surfaces.

Our Watsonville Antique Fly-in is scheduled to go on as planned this Memorial Day weekend, as is the Blues Festival in Santa Cruz. I know everyone feels grateful for the hard work of firefighters and other emergency personnel who have kept things going in the face of adverse conditions. We're also thankful that the trees and brush weren't even more dry, since it's early in the season for wildfires. And I know the folks in Corralitos were cheering yesterday afternoon as a steady stream of fire trucks from other cities converged on their community to assist in battling the fire. Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for the fire-affected areas, which helps get funding and state assistance rolling. We all fuss about taxes, but this is one instance where we get to see a glimpse of what taxes can do when many agencies come together to relieve a problem.

posted at: 08:22 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, May 22 2008

Brush fire affecting local air quality

We woke this morning to a lot of what I would generally call "poof". We thought it was from local trees and was being carried in on the morning wind, but it seemed as thought there was a lot of it. We finally realized it wasn't from trees, but from the skies. There's a vegetation fire going on in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the ash is blowing down our way. They are battling 40-mile-per-hour winds and trying to evacuate people in the fire zone. I hope everyone stays safe up that way as fire fighters work to control and contain the blaze. Meanwhile, I won't be doing any outside work that requires deep breathing in the midst of the smoke-darkened skies and falling ash.

posted at: 07:56 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, May 21 2008

Low end of higher-priced homes may be in a cooldown period

Even with a downturn in the housing market, luxury homes usually sell well in our state. That may be changing a bit this year, at least in the lower end of the luxury market. It wasn't so long ago that a million-dollar home in California was considered part of the luxury market, but now it seems that homes in that range are not out of reach for the buyer who is moving up a bit. That probably makes the higher end luxury homes more attractive to those who can afford them. There's probably a psychological aspect to all of this, as well as a practical one. If many people own a million-dollar home, a buyer thinking toward high-end luxury is going to be tempted to dish out serious money in order to stay above the average buyer in terms of what they perceive to be luxurious.

posted at: 09:11 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, May 20 2008

Internet, Email, text messaging right up there with network and cable news

I'm still catching up on the details of the whole set of comments President Bush made that have been characterized as a dig at Barack Obama. I do disagree with one thing that Bush counsel Ed Gillespie is quoted as saying: "It's simply absurd for people to have to log onto the Internet and stream video to get accurate information from NBC News." Mr. Gillespie is apparently unaware that many of us don't take 30 minutes of network (or cable) news as gospel anymore. And we have no trouble at all going right onto the internet to start fact-checking and researching for further information. TV broadcasts are now only a starting point for finding out what's going on in the world. If the White House spokespeople choose to ignore that fact they're going to find themselves characterized as slow on the draw when it comes to keeping up with world news.

posted at: 09:05 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, May 15 2008

Hot days and balmy evenings

We've had an early heat wave approach this spring. Those of you in the Southwest desert will think me daft for blogging about temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s, but that's quite warm for us this time of year. The good news is that it rarely lasts. We'll be back to our cool, morning marine layer and milder temps in a few days' time. We don't do a lot of "porch sitting" here on the Central Coast in the spring and summer months, because our evening temperatures tend to drop off rather sharply. But we're blessed with moderation on the higher temperatures, so we like that part.

I think the heat may have stressed some or other equipment in our power grid, because we had a brief outage earlier today. I'm headed off this evening to put a wee bit of extra water on our thirsty potted plants. One nice thing is that our few tomato plants love heat, so we're hoping this gets them off to a great start.

posted at: 18:33 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, May 14 2008

The way we wash our clothes just changed

I always think of a firearm when someone says "front-loader", but in this case we're speaking of washing machines. Our heavy-duty Kenmore washer began to give up the ghost a couple of weeks ago and we had to make the decision whether to have it serviced or to replace it. It's been here since about 1995 and it's been a real workhorse of an appliance. So, when we finally decided to go a bit greener and replace it with something more energy-efficient and that uses a lot less water to clean clothes, we went back and bought another Kenmore washer. Actually, we're replacing the washer-dryer set. Delivery is this afternoon and they'll take the old ones away for recycling.

The funny thing is that my spouse only really began to learn to operate the old washer a few months ago. Now he'll have a brand new gadget to play with, so maybe I'll stand back and let him practice on the new toy with the laundry that's been stacking up the last few days.

posted at: 08:53 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, May 13 2008

No guts, no glory?

I think it would be very interesting to see what would happen to any one of the people campaigning to be U.S. president who told their supporters to stop sending contributions to their campaign fund and to instead send contributions to one of the emergency humanitarian efforts (Myanmar cyclone victims, China earthquake victims, etc.) underway right now.

posted at: 07:34 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, May 12 2008

Smarter than an Iranian leader?

I know there are a lot of sue-happy people on the planet, but you would think that Iranian officials would be at least smart enough to remember one of the first rules of such maneuvers is not to change your story. How on earth they could go from saying explosives were leftover from an exhibition to saying that agents of the U.S. and Great Britian caused the explosions is beyond me. Even if their change of story was a pack of lies, they should be smart enough to keep running track of those lies so as not to look stupid. Until this moment, I thought we were at least dealing with Iranian leaders who were moderately bright, if a bit skewed in their thinking. Now I'm thinking I've been giving some of these odd little characters a bit too much credit.

posted at: 13:30 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, May 08 2008

New birds

A dear lady sent me a tip that the Rochester (New York) baby falcons are hatching just in time for Mother's Day. Go have a peek at their RFalconcam and enjoy the show.

posted at: 08:06 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Tue, May 06 2008

Now, that's a great moment in sports!

I recommending you to a link to a video of some wonderful young women doing the right thing in sports. I wish the media would spotlight these things much more often. This was one game where everybody won.

posted at: 08:21 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, May 05 2008

Congratulations in order

Congratulations to the Santa Monica High School students whose team won the Energy Departments National Science Bowl. More than 300 students participated in the competition. I hope newspapers will put these kids on the front page and shove the gang stories to the back pages. Let's lift up the kids who choose to do great things for a change.

posted at: 20:18 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Fri, May 02 2008

Resting on the Sabbath

It's been a long, productive week. I always enjoy the Sabbath hours as they approach. It's as though I allow myself to take a wonderful gift and set aside a lot of the cares of the week. It isn't that those cares stay away for good, but it's still important to put them to the side and take time for some spiritual rumination and relaxation. Perspective can make all the difference in our lives and I find that perspective and insight that comes upon us in subtle ways is often as moving as those "Aha!" experiences that we have from time to time. And subtle perspective and insight often runs deeper and lasts a lot longer than a sudden lurch in our spiritual walk. Both kinds of experiences are important. But the weekly Sabbath time is like opening the door to invite that spiritual perspective and insight in like a trusted friend. I hope each of you who reads this finds that kind of deep relaxation from your own spiritual journey this week.

posted at: 21:12 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, May 01 2008

Curiosity taxes the tax computers

I wonder why so many folks in Italy wanted to nose into what other people were paying in taxes. Apparently, so many of them hopped online to snoop that they overloaded the computers.

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

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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