Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Oct 31 2008

Years of undelivered mail for Bonny Doon residents found in a parked van

Some folks up in Bonny Doon, a community in the Santa Cruz Mountains, have not been receiving all their snail mail in recent years, and it's apparently due to the actions of a private, contracted delivery person who had the mail stored in a van. I guess the old adage about storm and sleet and all those difficulties that plague postal workers just didn't extend to unreliable people who had a contract to deliver the mail in place of real postal workers.

I hope most of the mail was junk mail. I'd hate to think some hard-working writer up there was having acceptances sent to them from publishers and never seeing them.

posted at: 09:46 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Oct 30 2008

Early on, brains make up their minds

If only I could tap into this sort of thing on making choices I could probably make my FOREX trades work more in my favor, as I choose to click on buy or sell, open or close. I do know that most of us give off signals in our body language that occur prior to spoken clues. Therapists, good communicators, salespeople, mentalists and even con men/women use this to their advantage. Poker players are often said to have "tells" that gives other players a hint as to their confidence or their next move in a card game. It's unfortunate that most of us can see these things in others much more quickly than we can see them in ourselves.

posted at: 12:46 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Wed, Oct 29 2008

Charter doesn't seem to care about what customers really want, unless they want exactly what Charter offers

Apparently, you can take EWTN off the line-up, but you can't take EWTN off the table (of issues) when it comes to our local Charter cable service. A number of Catholic seniors want EWTN back. While I don't watch that channel very often, I do miss viewing the TV Guide Channel once in awhile and they've removed it from basic service. I'd dearly love to have the Fox Business Channel, which I'm sure they have packaged into the digital service, if they have picked it up at all. We're paying for cable service from a company that keeps dropping channels, one by one. They have pushed the digital service, but they can't give us the internet services we really need, such as static IP addresses, with digital service. We've kept the basic package until now, hopting they would sell a bare-bones basic with just the local broadcast channels. But I'm thinking it may be time to move on soon. With a two-dollar raise in cost coming in a few days, this whole thing has become the digital equivalent of making the candy bar smaller and smaller and raising the prices higher and higher.

posted at: 07:33 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Mon, Oct 27 2008

One foreclosure story is better now

The story of the woman who bought a foreclosed home at auction and will help the struggling family stay in its home is my choice for the "feel good" story of the day. I know that a lot of us are angry and frustrated over the issues concerning folks who got into mortgages they knew they could not afford, but for people who just fell on hard times, the mortgage crisis has been a blow to their dignity and their family life. As someone pointed out, this woman wasn't like company executives who made their 7-figure incomes off the mortgage business, got their hands slapped a bit and then walked off with part of their fortune and helping no one. She put her own money into use while (even successful) banks are playing their own cards close to the vest. And she's using her own good credit to help someone else. How many of us would attempt that in this market?

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



Fri, Oct 24 2008

Down, down, down until it's up, up, up

If you're writing for the news, this is a great day to pull out all those words you can think of for "falling". Reports this morning say the stock market opened just in time to plunge, panic, dive, do a tailspin, plummet, nosedive, dip, tumble, drop and take a header, among other things. But the fact of the matter is that the market has already come back up quite a bit as I write this entry, so I'm sure we'll see words such as "rally and "rise" before the end of the trading day. There's one thing you can always say about news headlines. If you don't get in on the first wave of bad news you can always be ready to be first when things go the other way.

posted at: 08:03 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Oct 23 2008

U.S. dollar decline: A symbol of our departure from founding principles

I found a link to an informative video on the history of our U.S. dollar. There's a nice review in it about how we have circumvented our own national law. Some days I think the most important document we should be teaching children in school is our own U.S. Constitution. This document carried a lot of wisdom. It wasn't perfect, but it was a great standard with which to create a country that could ebb and flow with events and still stand strong. Maybe one of the reasons we've seen so much go wrong lately with our financial structure is that each one of us, leader and follower, needs to go back to those basic laws. We don't need the many new laws that are invented, passed and signed by our government each year. We need fewer laws, based solely on our Constitution. And if our elected and appointed officials don't want to do that, we need to demand an answer from them as to why they don't want to do that. And if they won't do it, we have a responsibility to oust them and elect individuals who will do it.

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



Wed, Oct 22 2008

California's falling home values dragging down rest of country?

The Wall Street Journal carried a great story driving home the point that areas of California have had a much deeper decline in home prices than in much of the rest of the nation. One thing I would point out is that prices have not declined this much in every area of the state. Friends who live in Silicon Valley tell me that Sunnyvale, Mountain View and other nearby cities are still sporting some pricey homes.

A few years ago I met some of the people who were working in Silicon Valley and buying first (or even second) homes in the Los Banos area. They were all immigrants who took a trip back to their homeland every few years, and I recall at that time how I wondered about their ability to afford a home. They were encouraging us to buy a second home in Los Banos, using our current home's equity to help us get another house. We didn't do that. I don't know what happened to all those families, but my fear is that their Los Banos houses are now part of the Central Valley statistics.

A lot of folks in California treated their skyrocketing home equity as something that would never go down in value. They cashed it out and took trips, bought personal watercraft or put a down payment on a new car or even another house. Now even some of their retirement funds have dwindled in value, and this isn't the first time that has happened. We simply can't assume that home values will always be on the upswing in California. This state brings a lot of wealth to the U.S., but it saddens me to think that this time our state may be one of the major contributers to the current financial sinkhole.

posted at: 13:49 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Oct 21 2008

Was it something he ate or something they said?

We've had a bit of gastrointestinal bug, or possibly food poisoning, intruding into the household this week. We're rabid about safe food handling and haven't eaten out for awhile, so it's difficult to know exactly what the source of the discomfort is. My spouse seems to have been the major sufferer, and while I won't violate his privacy with unpleasant details, let me just say that he spent at least one prolonged session in the bathroom not knowing which symptom to tend to next. We both ate much the same things the last several days and I even shared his glass of water at one point. And I remain symptom free. In light of those two things, I'm wondering if what he's been having is a migraine, which could have been brought on by the stress of watching so much election year rhetoric. There are many medical mysteries and I think we'll have to consider this one of them.

posted at: 09:41 | category: | link to this entry



Fri, Oct 17 2008

Taq1A1: Predisposing people to overeat?

If dopamine receptors really do play a significant role in overeating, it sounds as though we're headed toward calling it an addiction. This could work against obese people as far as their respectability in society, but if genetic disposition becomes a proven factor, I'm hoping that this information might work as a positive influence to get medical help, and financial assistance for that help, for people who have battled obesity for many years. And in the future doctors be able to help babies who are born with the gene by identifying it early and getting them some help before obesity taxes their heart and other organs. For the rest of us, it sounds as though we need to be mindful of our food intake in order to keep our own dopamine receptors in the best possible condition. And how nice it is to be told that we should focus on and enjoy every bite we take.

posted at: 09:06 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Thu, Oct 16 2008

Santa Cruz refuses payment

The story of the Santa Cruz senior who tried to pay his parking tickets with rolls of pennies, which were refused, is the most charming tale of civil disobedience I've read in a long time.

posted at: 08:32 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Oct 15 2008

Unencumbered coastal art invitation opens up after original artist demands royalties

California Coastal Commission needs a new license plate image, after the artist of the original whale tail license plate demanded to begin receiving royalties. It's too bad that things came to this, but since the commission didn't get artist Robert Wyland to sign anything giving them the right to use the image for as long as they wished, maybe the best thing to do is to move on and find a new image. And I'm fairly certain the winner of the competition to find a new image will be asked to sign a waiver of their right to profit from the new image in the future. I would hope that other artists who wish to donate their talents to a cause would take note of this whole thing and would opt not to bait and switch when it comes to the use of their work. Mr. Wyland probably meant well in the beginning, but choosing this sort of maneuver could easily make an artist look insincere and manipulative to the very folks they're attempting to assist with their donation.

posted at: 12:14 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Tue, Oct 14 2008

Brain activity and web searches

If it's true that middle-aged and older adults have increased brain activity when searching on the internet, I could probably catapult the MRI into the stratosphere. I do research online almost every single day. But I was curious to know that reading didn't cause the same type of activity. Reading has always been important to me, though I haven't read a "book" from cover to cover in quite some time.

I sometimes wonder if lots of activity is the only true measure of a brain's health, or if it's perhaps the notion that we can awaken new areas of activity in the brain that is important. Scientists are also taking another look at meditation and its effects on the brain. I can recall meditation's moment in the sun in the 1970s and the fact that some Christian people I knew rejected the whole idea because they feared that meditation was too connected to other religions. But if we really can increase our ability to become, for instance, more empathetic by meditating, shouldn't we at least consider its merits? It seems to me that prayer is very close to meditation in that it takes us outside our comfort zone and makes us vulnerable to the possibilities of what is beyond our own known capabilities. And if we can reduce stress and learn to focus on the true priorities in life we become much more likely to be able to navigate spiritually and to use that skill to help others along the way.

posted at: 14:50 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Mon, Oct 13 2008

Are Citibank and Sears doing their part to kill the economy?

It seems that my spouse is not the only one to get strange letters from Kendall E. Stork of Citibank. My spouse does not have a Citibank credit card, but has a card issued by a retail store that became a Citibank Gold Mastercard at one point. Last week my spouse was told via a letter, "your credit line is being lowered to reflect your spending" after telling him "since you are using a small portion of the available credit, we have lowered your credit line..." There's a bit more fluff, but that's the crux of the letter. It's signed by Kendall E. Stork, CEO and President, Citibank (South Dakota), N.A.

This is odd behavior in an economy where consumer spending should be encouraged. And I should add that the card was originally issued by Sears and only became a Mastercard later. I guess Sears is not interested in my husband spending more money there, which is odd, since we recently purchased a washer, dryer and a vacuum cleaner from them and we also ordered siding and windows a year or two ago. We've never been late on a payment. If this is how loyal customers are treated, I can only imagine what kind of letter that bad customers are getting...

posted at: 13:39 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Fri, Oct 10 2008

Episcopal congregations making moves to stay close to, or part with, traditional ties

Being in love with music as I am, I've had the opportunity to sing with lovely Episcopalian church members, so it saddens me that their congregations are undergoing such upheaval at this time. David Virtue did an interesting piece on the turmoil that is producing division among the members in our country in particular. In some cases, whole congregations like the one in Tonawanda, New York have made an open break.

It hurts to have one's church home in such a state. But the good news is that people will take a good look at their own spiritual beliefs and think about their relationship with their Creator and how that relationship translates into service to other people. I hope good things will come from these tough times. It may not make the Episcopal congregations feel any better to hear this, but there are folks in many churches in other denominations going through similar self-examination.

posted at: 16:32 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Thu, Oct 09 2008

Clothing: A trend against trends?

In reading that mall-based apparel chains have not done well with sales lately it would be prudent to remember that a lot of mall-based retail stores all have similar items. And mall stores draw heavily on teen and young adult customers for income, so they carry styles that appeal more to teens and young adults. I doubt that this is as much an economic problem as it is a style problem, particularly when it comes to women's clothing. Very few of us look good in the current crop of tops that make a woman look as though she's practicing for maternity wear. Many of us have just quit going to look in the stores. And let's be honest. If we aren't shopping for clothes as much these days, then we're not shopping with, or shopping for, men. A lot of us are just waiting out the current styles and so we avoid the mall chains because we know they are going to be full of those trendy items. Combine that mentality with budgetary concerns and maybe we're finally affecting those mall sales a lot more than the trendy-buying merchandisers thought we would. I think it's great news.

posted at: 08:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Oct 07 2008

Borrowing to educate kids and keep cops on the beat

I guess California is trying to borrow from the federal government to the tune of seven million dollars. I think we need to bite the bullet along with everyone else right now. I'm for bake sales and other fundraising in communities instead of going into more debt. But I do realize that Americans have become addicted to debt, personally and collectively. I just hope we can learn to stop demanding an increasingly higher standard of living if it means we'll be in constant debt in order to maintain that standard. Unless we have the cash to afford it, "having it all" should be a phrase we use when ordering burger toppings, not a demand we make every time we want a new toy.

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



Mon, Oct 06 2008

Shot through the heart pocketbook

My spouse doesn't currently have a blog, so I'm filling in for him by letting a few more folks know some important news. The (supposedly) emergency bailout that we were told was needed to keep our economy from collapsing includes a repealing of a 39-cent excise tax on wooden arrows for children, which was procured with the help of Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith and which will give a big help to Rose City Archery (and possibly other toy arrow makers) in Myrtle Point, Oregon to the tune of about two-hundred thousand dollars per year.

Even in (what they call) a crisis, the politicians just can't seem to help themselves when it comes to angling for a little pork. I'd like to suggest that we consider paying their salaries and retirement packages with truckloads of these little wooden arrows they managed to think of in their hastily contrived scheme to save the U.S. economy.

posted at: 14:39 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Fri, Oct 03 2008

Let banks do business

If Wachovia and Wells Fargo can work out a deal between them, without government intervention, I'm all for that deal.

posted at: 09:06 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Oct 02 2008

Some, but not all, car dealers give it up

Hard times have hit San Francisco Bay area ar dealers. And this report doesn't even take into account dealerships that never opened, such as China Motors in the Capitola area. On the other hand, if you sell the right car you might make enough with one sale to warrant staying open for a very long time.

posted at: 14:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Oct 01 2008

Oh, the pain...

I can't tell whether it's a typo or a pun, but I love the headline in Gary Ater's opinion piece. Campain it is.

posted at: 13:32 | 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!