Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Jun 30 2008

Charter Communications takes new tact on digital?

From what I can perceive, Charter Communications has now flip-flopped on its former campaign to convince us that we needed its digital service in order to continue viewing our cable channels after broadcasts go all-digital in 2009. Now the TV commercials for this company tout the fact that those of us with Charter Communications service already have the perfect solution for viewing digital broadcasts and that we don't have to worry at all. Since the young man hired by Charter came to visit us this past winter, yet another cable channel appears to have gone dark on our service. This company continues to baffle me with their changing horses midstream and then bragging that the old pony was a better swimmer than the new one but that this journey will be the best ride of our lives. Confusion may be a good short-term ploy, but repeated leanings in that direction usually lead to mistrust and resentment.

At this point, all we want Charter Communications to do is offer us a basic package of local broadcast channels for a respectable fee and we'll take the rest of our viewing business to satellite services, or possibly to AT&T, if the latter gets their cable service going in our area. (AT&T currently provides our internet service and gives us what we need in order to run a web server, which is a major selling point.) If Charter continues to just take away channels and charge prices of more than forty dollars per month, that new wet pony of theirs is going to find itself bareback, lost and riderless in a few months.

I'm not concerned about the whole NebuAd issue. This hapless bunch hasn't marketed their own services consistently. I doubt they would have been any threat to my privacy when they might have attempted to determine which ads would appeal to my already-fed-up-to-here psyche.

posted at: 09:14 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 26 2008

Watsonville bans fireworks sales and use for now

I can understand the nervousness of the Watsonville City Council when it comes to fireworks this July 4. The council voted for an emergency suspension of the sale and use of fireworks in the city limits, until the high danger of fire has passed. However, I do know how many parents can be about wanting their children to experience the fun of fireworks, so I suspect we'll be hearing a lot of noise anyway this coming July 4. I just hope no ill comes of folks shooting things off. When people sneak it becomes even more difficult to keep track of things that might catch on fire. We don't live in the city limits and no use of bottle rockets and similar displays is permitted in the county, but we still get a lot of illegal activity every year. I hope people will be careful and consider the consequences of their actions after the fires we've just had to contend with this month.

posted at: 10:08 | category: | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 25 2008

Trabing Fire not due to arson

Arson has been ruled out as a cause of the Trabing Fire. It seems that vehicle exhaust was the culprit. It does feel good to know that no one purposely started the fire that killed animals and damaged homes and property. The loss remains for many, but at least now we know it was not some malicious act.

posted at: 08:05 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Jun 24 2008

More fires, mostly small

More small fires broke out Monday near Highway 17 and were extinguished near Highway 17, which is the main commuter route between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz County.

I did take note in the above-linked story the word that authorities were describing a motorcylist as a person of interest. If this turns out to be arson and the person isn't found we could all be in for a lot more fire scares this season. Why someone would do that sort of thing is beyond me. If someone set some of these fires on purpose I hope it's their conscience that gets a good scorching.

posted at: 11:45 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Jun 23 2008

More on Buena Vista area and Trabing fire

Unfortunately some animals perished in the Trabing fire and some homes (and other structures) were destroyed. But our firefighters and other emergency personnel worked with heroic speed to keep the damage to a minimum and some quick-moving neighbors helped rescue quite a few animals.

Our neighborhood was technically evacuated. Though many residents stayed home to protect their property, everyone was nervous about the possibility of winds sending the fire our direction and the eucalyptus leaves and burned bark raining down on our yards and roofs told us we were looking at a balance that could change at any moment. It's the first time we felt fire as a real threat in the nearly 14 years we've lived here.

To add insult to injury, a weather system came through on Saturday and we had isolated rain showers and a good deal of thunder and lightning, the last of which started several other small fires. With all the fire fighting personnel staged in our area most of the fires were extinguished quickly, but there are still some areas in the Mount Madonna area that are burning.

Cooler temperatures brought some relief to the area Sunday, after an unusually hot spell. We're all hoping this week is calmer. This is just the beginning of the official fire season in the state. I hope we aren't in for a wild ride all summer long.

There are banners and posters along the roads, thanking fire fighters and other workers for a great job. We are all blessed by their efforts and I hope they know how appreciated they are.

posted at: 14:02 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Jun 20 2008

Trabing fire threatened Buena Vista area

Our neighborhood had some unexpected drama this afternoon. The temperatures were much higher than we're used to and the heat made the fire danger worse than usual, though winds were cooperative. We did end up with a lot of ash in the neighborhood. Most folks stayed in the area and watered roofs, took care of pets and stayed watchful.

When we got the word we were at my spouse's workplace, usually about a twenty-minute commute. It took us more than two hours to get home and we barely got in before they blocked the roads completely.

My heart went out to those fighting the fire on such a hot day. It's sad to think that someone may have deliberately set fires that destroyed homes and killed pets. We found the reverse 911 messages on our answering machine after we got home (and after the power was restored to the area). We could have come back to something very different than just a bit of ash and smoke in the air, so all in all we had a lucky day.

posted at: 23:05 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 19 2008

High school student charged with 69 felonies

It's sad that high school student Omar Khan didn't use his skills for good things, instead of the string of felonies he's accused of racking up at his school. All those average-to-failing grades don't reflect his true intellgence, since he was apparently smart enough to make computers give him (and others) the grades he really wanted. But this sort of behavior does point out the often subtle difference between intelligence and wisdom. To know is not always to understand.

posted at: 08:01 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 18 2008

Hami melons are delicious

We were selecting produce at the grocery store earlier this week when one of the workers recommended the Hami melons as a nice treat. He promised we wouldn't be disappointed if we tried one. He was right. The flesh is aromatic, sweet and juicy and reminiscent of honeydew, though is closer to the color of cantaloupe. It wasn't the least expensive produce item, but I'm thinking it's a better bargain and carries more nutrition than those sugar-laden Kellogg's Froot Loops or Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies.

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



Tue, Jun 17 2008

Dead raccoon painted over by yellow striping

I think I once saw this in a cartoon. I've seen crews laying down striping before and they generally have at least one person actually looking at the roadway as they paint. In order for striping to go right over a dead raccoon there had to be a certain amount of either inattention or outright defiance. And aren't there usually at least two people involved in these striping jobs? Was anyone watching the road at all? I generally have great respect for these workers, in spite of all the kidding that goes on about them taking six people to stand around while one works. They put their lives on the line to work in areas where drivers speed right alongside them as they attempt to improve our roads. But someone, maybe more than one someone, was mentally out-to-lunch on this particular job and should have been heavily reprimanded, if not fired.

posted at: 07:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Jun 16 2008

Associated Press and growing pains

I agree with Ed Morissey. When newspapers use AP or Reuters stories I have tended to link to the original AP or Reuters material. Their notion of cracking down on quoting causes me to rethink my actions. New media isn't going away, but neither are major news agencies. We all need to find a way to encourage and promote the dissemination of news so that everybody wins. I'm glad AP is working on a more reasonable response to the traffic that bloggers drive their direction. It's a great start.

posted at: 08:58 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jun 13 2008

Another fire

The newest fire in the area is burning just inland from the coastal community of Davenport. We haven't gotten any ash from this one, but the smoke this morning caused our local fog to turned into smog, a rarity for our lovely California Central Coast. I hope everyone heeds the warnings when it's time to evacuate in those hills. This one is being dubbed the Martin Fire, and comes almost on the heels of the Summit Fire a couple of weeks ago.

posted at: 14:45 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 12 2008

Watsonville Fly-In snapshots

Someone posted pictures of the 2008 Watsonville Fly-In. If you look at the second photo with the helicopter you can look at the background and see my basic neighborhood. Do take a look at the photo of the flying lawnmower. I hear that it was a big hit with the crowd. You cross the road along the airport and go half a block up one street to get to our home. We get plenty of great views of the airshow from our yard and some serious window-rattling from the F-18 and other aircraft. The F-18s can't land at on our smaller runways so we just get a few passes and they head back to their base, but someone posted great video of an F-18 in action at the Salinas air show, which is about half an hour's drive from here and occurs in late summer. One can't help but be impressed by the aircraft's design and the skill of the pilots.

posted at: 07:51 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 11 2008

Live Oak School gets back its old bell

Live Oak School will have its bell back, thanks to some very kind local citizens. I've heard the bell ringing and its sound is very impressive. Many thanks to these folks who did a good deed for the kids.

posted at: 19:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Jun 10 2008

Swingtown doesn't swing with this viewer

I won't be tuning in to "Swingtown", now or any time in the future. No tip of the Stetson goes to CBS, but just a disappointed shake of the head. I'm tired of trash TV. With all the topics in the world, I can't believe no one came up with a better idea than plots based on wife-swapping.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Mon, Jun 09 2008

Free trash zapping?

We live only a few minutes' drive from the Buena Vista Landfill and I would dearly love to see this technology become a reality. There have been arguments about where to put a second landfill in the county and this project could possibly eliminate, or delay for a long time, the need for a second landfill. You can read more about AdaptiveARC at their web site.

posted at: 07:24 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Sun, Jun 08 2008

We love you both and we want works from both of you

I don't quite understand the reports of some hissing bewtween directors Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood. A film director brings his or her experience and background to the art of film in a unique way, much the way any storyteller would. If I told the Iwo Jima story it would probably be very different from the way Mr. Eastwood told the story. If Mr. Lee is actually upset over the way Mr. Eastwood directed the film, then Mr. Lee can certainly answer with his own story of Iwo Jima. The two gentlemen may not be on the same page in the telling, but they're certainly both capable directors. And we've certainly enjoyed remakes as an American audience. I hope Spike Lee will make his own version of soldiers in World War II. His art will last a lot longer and will say much more than any quip he can come up with. Actually, that goes for both of them. So, guys, just keep making more great films for us to enjoy. Better yet, how about a joint project? That would make for an extraordinary pairing of talent and a riveting piece of film art!

posted at: 09:42 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 05 2008

The big one is coming, at least in practice

The Great Southern California ShakeOut is coming. The massive earthquake drill is scheduled for the week of November 12-16. The actual time of the (supposed) 7.8 earthquake will be the morning of November 13. It's a fact of life in California that earthquakes can and will happen, and the likelihood that a large quake will strike Southern California is increasing with every passing day, so it's good to be as prepared as possible.

posted at: 08:18 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 04 2008

Drought and water conservation coming to California, but what would really help?

Many Americans came West to find relief from the great drought in the Midwest, back in the 1930s. Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for Federal aid. Now the state of California has our own drought to contend with. Some municipalities are starting to crack down on casual water use and not everyone is happy about it.

It seems like a small thing to ask people to water lawns in the evenings and to not let hose water run freely into the streets. I've noticed quite a few people in our area pulling their car onto the lawn and washing it right over the grass. If we all do little things we can probably fend off even tighter restrictions on water use. What's difficult for me to consider is the rest of us conserving while builders are allowed to put housing unit after housing unit on small lots and stack up residents who will use at least as much water inside as those of us on larger lots do outside. Many of these small lots will sport 2 bathrooms per housing unit as the state attempts to provide housing for our growing population. It makes little sense when you really think about it.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Jun 03 2008

And I thought vacuum tubes were gone

Audiophiles take note: Pathos Acoustics combines solid-state and vacuum tube technologies for a unique product that seems at once both classic in physical form and up-to-the-minute in terms of sound quality. What I'm not sure about is how to get one of these particular audio toys in this country.

posted at: 09:57 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Mon, Jun 02 2008



California drivers have less than a month to prepare themselves to give up holding their cell phone next to their head and talking on it while driving (except in the case where the are calling a number such as 911 in an emergency. My personal opinion is that even hands-free cell phone use is risky while driving, but the law is at least taking one step toward preventing accidents caused by distracted drivers. Not long ago we saw a young woman driving a high-profile vehicle with advertising painted on it, driving toward us on a winding road, holding the steering wheel at the top with her wrists and laughing and text messaging on her cell phone by holding the phone above the steering wheel. People seem willing to take strange chances when they're behind the wheel. The vehicle we saw is often parked in front of a local church. I hope the young woman thinks about the fact that she could have killed someone with her irresponsible behavior.

posted at: 15:43 | 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!