Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, May 28 2009

Wherever it is, whatever we're calling it this year, how ever many we're having...

I've had a tough time getting posts to the blog this week, with it being what I typically call Crunch Week. This time of the month I'm very busy finalizing the next issue of the online festival magazine. I was also away from the office a lot today and then came home and found a new chapter in the ongoing berry soap opera that was the Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival at Watsonville, but is now called the Watsonville Strawberry Festival at the Monterey Bay. I'm sorry to say that there is yet another difficulty with the venue. This ill-fated event has seen more action than a merry-go-round during an 8.2 earthquake. I don't know how it has survived this long. At this point I'm beginning to just feel sorry for the people who sell and share at the festival and try to maintain some dignity. I hope the powers that be can work this into a single event that will satisfy the egos involved and still be fun. If the event splits into two, I vote we just move it all to Monterey County and watch them give the whole thing some first class treatment. Watsonville's handling and handlers are in danger of turning it all into a farce.

posted at: 21:16 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, May 27 2009

Eating (and learning) like a bird

We've been getting a human's eye view of a family of blue jays lately. The parents built a nest in a fruit tree in the back yard and have been busy taking food to the hungry mouths. The babies are now as big as the parents, but are still begging for a meal whenever a parent comes near. Sometimes they still get their treats, but the parents are beginning to peck at the young ones now and then, probably in an effort to get them to fend for themselves more.

We've been throwing a few raw peanuts in the shell to the parent birds for some time and now the young ones have realized there is food in those shells. They pick one up now and then, but they haven't quite mastered the art of breaking the shell to get a nut. And their beaks don't seem to be quite mature enough at this point to do the pounding on the nut that the adults do in order to get small bits to swallow. (We can often hear an adult pounding a nut on the house gutters or on top edge of the fence boards.)

It's fascinating to me that so much of life, for mammals at least, is learned through a combination of instinct, observation and good old trial and error. But apes and humans seem to get frustrated and pitch a fit much more often when learning than birds do. Birds and cats and even cows seem to just keep going back and practicing until they get it right. There's definitely a practical economy of energy in their low-key approach to life.

posted at: 21:00 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, May 26 2009

Newsy day, but nose to grindstone

Notable in the news today: California's Supreme Court and Prop 8, the continuing housing slump and North Korea's recent nuclear test. They're all ripe for comment, but I'm busy with festival listings this week. So I would ask for your patience while I devote less time to blog entries in the interest of meeting my deadline. You can still catch a few offhand remarks at Twitter.

posted at: 15:06 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, May 22 2009

Whole lotta flyin' goin' on

There is a lot going on this weekend, including the Watsonville Fly-In. We have an almost-front-row seat for that one, which makes it great fun. It's quite a special moment when you can sit on your back deck and watch Hornets come from out of nowhere at just under the speed of sound, listen to them buzzing your house and shaking your windows, and see them turn on a dime to go around over the hills nearby for just one more pass. Though I wouldn't enjoy having this happen every day. Once a year is plenty. But that once a year is spectacular.

posted at: 16:32 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, May 21 2009

Taking care of friends

I'm doing some assistance in the networking department today for a friend who is seeking particular employment. She's much more connected than I am in most ways, but since I spend a lot of time using specific online applications to aid my writing activities, we're hoping we can add my tidbits of experience as an extra widget for her already well-rounded skill set. It's great fun being asked to help someone achieve her career goals.

posted at: 13:07 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, May 20 2009

D.C. politicians have a spit-wad contest while Californians just say no

There's just too much name-calling going on in Washington this week for me to link to any of those current news stories. It's the type of silly drama I'd expect from little children, but not from grown men and women drawing a salary on taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, yesterday the citizens in California voted to make do with less on a state-wide level. I don't really think it was a knock against one politician or another here. Taxpayers are just feeling stretched on a rack right now. Some of us have given up cable TV and going on vacation. Many have traded eating out for eating in, and a few are having to also cut back on supplies for eating in. Some of us have tightened our belts so much that tummies are close to touching backbones. Of course, if we can feel our backbones, that may be the best thing for us, because backbone is exactly what it's going to take to get things done. And this time we're not in the mood to do it without stressing a few officeholders at the same time. Have you heard of the No Budget No Pay movement? I'm thinking that yesterday was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taxpayer angst.

posted at: 11:56 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, May 19 2009

California special election

I hope my friends who are working today to help people vote are staying busy, even though predictions were that there would be a light turnout. Californians are voting on six different measures. Meanwhile, Governor Schwarzenegger received an invitation to the White House and I hear he took advantage of using his absentee ballot.

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

Mon, May 18 2009

Catholic or not, help us understand, please

I'm not Catholic, but I attended Catholic school from grades 1-8. I can't say I understand Peter Roff's take on President Obama's visit to Notre Dame. I am concerned about separation of church and state, but on the level of individual freedom as established by our founding fathers. (By the way, there were also more than a few founding mothers who influenced things a bit.)

The only difficulty I can see thus far with President Obama's visit would be that he may have used taxpayer money to attend a church function. But that doesn't seem to be the crux of any of the arguments I've heard on this whole affair. People have a right to express their distaste of the visit. I'm just not sure I understand what it is that they find distasteful. Some speak of the right-to-life issue and some speak of other issues. If there is a larger issue over these, I wish someone would express it a bit more precisely so that the rest of us can understand. We might even agree if we knew what the exact issue was. I loathe feeling dense, particularly in church-state matters. But I do admit to feeling dense in this case.

posted at: 15:46 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, May 15 2009

Is there a little, or a lot, of faith in a beard?

Granted, most of us think of the Taliban as a militant, right-wing form of religious group. But if they're really shaving off their beards in an attempt to avoid capture, it's pretty serious. I suppose we can all have a great time making fun of them, or we can ask ourselves what we would or wouldn't be willing to do if we were being hunted down for our religious beliefs or our ethical beliefs. Would we give up some of the very practices that perhaps we've criticized others for giving up? It's really making me stop and think about the choices I make in my life when it comes to outward symbols of faith.

posted at: 16:37 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, May 14 2009

If you don't like Dick Cheney being the one on the soapbox...

There are so many strong personalities mentioned in this piece that I'm having trouble digesting it all. I'm neither Republican nor Democrat, but it seems to me that when you have a spokesperson, self-appointed or otherwise, who is so controversial that people don't know whether to trot him out or lock him up in a dark stall, maybe you need to push a few dozen more horses out of the barn and into the arena. Where are the up-and-coming Republicans who will either grab these issues and cast out the demons of the past or who will make us forget by focusing on the future?

posted at: 09:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, May 13 2009

Abusing the enemy: Is photographic proof just history is it more?

the whole detainee abuse issue has bothered me for some time, and I'm conflicted on whether we should have those photographs in the open. I know that horrible things happen in war, but I also can't help but remember the way Christ told us to treat our enemies, at least in a one-on-one situation. How does that translate into a national level and an international level? And if a photographic record of bad treatment of our country's enemies exists, should we look at it and show it around? Would we easily do this with any other form of mistreatment? Should we all visit the abuse or refuse to look at it? Is part of responsibility for abuse the willingness to look at it and own it? Completely aside from the national security issues for our troops, the moral and ethical questions rattle around in my head. This is a tough topic for me.

posted at: 12:18 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, May 12 2009

It's only words, but...

I watched with fascination a bit of an online tiff from the sidelines yesterday. The whole new media thing seems to make at least a few people pumped up and mouthy, much the way people feel invincible behind the wheel of their SUV. And one of the parties involved in the verbal exchange was acting out in a similar fashion. Of course, not knowing this particular person, I suppose I shouldn't assume. Maybe they're like that all the time. But it all really reminded me to stop and think about what I type and to ask myself if I really mean to say what I'm saying the way I'm saying it. There are real people on the other end of those emails, comments and blog entries.

posted at: 11:48 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, May 11 2009

The great tomato-growing season has begun

We started the vegetable crop this weekend with tomato plants: one San Francisco Fog, two Early Girl and one Sweet One-Hundred. We are close to the coast, and the tendency toward cool nights and morning marine layer plays havoc with almost all tomato growing attempts in this neighborhood. Commercial growers raise brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce and strawberries in rows you that go on for acres, but if you want a great canteloupe or tomato, this is not the optimum place to be. Still, some of us love a fresh tomato from the garden so much that we keep trying. We place ours in heat-attracting black planters and add a watering system that gives plenty of water without soaking the leaves and making them prone to mildew and wilt. We've tried all sorts of tricks for the inevitably cool nights, with varying results. We're a lot more dependent on the climate cycles than we'd like to be. Raising the plants on a platform or raised bed helps get that morning sun, when there is morning sun, to the plants a bit earlier, so we've added that tactic the last year or two. Hopefully, we'll get at least a few tasty treats for sandwiches or salad. It isn't a cost-effective way to get tomatoes, but the returns in taste always seem worth it when the fruit does well. Next year we may coaxing one of the plants into an espalier, since they have a natural tendency to vine anyway. If we fail with our experiments we can still visit the local produce stands, whose tomatoes probably come from hotter climates with less fog.

posted at: 08:46 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Fri, May 08 2009

Santa Barbara fire

My heart goes out to those in the Santa Barbara area who are in danger of losing their homes and to those who have already had homes burn. We had an area wildfire scare of our own last summer and I know from experience how emotional such a thing can become. The week is winding down calmly for me, but I'm thinking of you all in turmoil right now. If good thoughts and prayers count, they're already with you. I'm sure many others join me in that.

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

Thu, May 07 2009

Life imitating writing, imitating life, imitating not writing

This has been one of those days and it isn't over. Finishing notes for a Grange meeting that comes tonight has cut into my blog posting plans. A bit of learning on some "social media" also cut into my blog posting plans. It's great to be social in both media and face-to-face situations, but I do tend to get frustrated when life interferes with regular writing tasks. It's that same old balance writers face. We can't be hermits or we'll have no real life to pull from when we write. But we need that hermitage in our life too, that place, or places, where we can dig in and craft words into messages and stories and artistic conundrums. For now, I'll have to be content to tuck a few words into my thought pockets and run off to mingle with the crowd.

posted at: 16:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, May 06 2009

Voters soon to get explanation of (our) Air Force One flyover

I was glad to hear that we'll be getting a report on how that New York flyover for photos came about recently. We seem to live in a time where sensivity is either overdone or ignored completely. If we're going to err on one side or the other, I'd definitely prefer the former. And in this particular case, the confusion added to the lack of sensitivity made things worse. A swift accounting would have been best. Dragging in with an explanation at this point is probably still going to leave a lot of people upset.

posted at: 15:21 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, May 05 2009

Hostile social media?

I have mixed feelings about the bill proposed by Linda Sanchez (and others). I've had trouble with an intermittent form of hostile behavior by someone, but I think it was more an issue of inconsistency in the way they related to me. They were kind one minute and hostile the next. I don't really think it was worthy of something I would invoke a law to stop. The person who caused me issues has moved on to other things or other people. These types of folks are generally deeply wounded individuals who can't bond to people the way we think of bonding. The core of who they are has been injured by abuse or other trauma and they simply don't know how to behave in a socially friendly manner. They go through the motions of being friendly and they set wide boundaries for their treatment of others. Those they deal with, however, are not given that same wide latitude and are not allowed to approach them negatively or criticize their behavior. They become narcissistic, sabotaging relationships and then blaming the other people in those relationships, even casual ones. They never see themselves as the cause of the failure and they will use any means at their disposal to triumph in their own broken world. They're like frightened children, but one never knows whether they will just find another person to treat badly, or whether they will turn dangerous. I really don't see how yet another law is ever going to take care of things like that, unless it's used somewhat the same way as a restraining order, in which any further abuse can be logged and documented on the part of the one being hurt.

Would such a bill threaten free speech? Sad to say, at some point, it would probably come to that. I'm thankful that human-made laws are only applicable to this life, and not to eternity.

posted at: 10:23 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, May 04 2009

Stock as fun

Every now and then a person does something because it's fun. If it turns out to also be a good financial move, it's even more fun. I bought a wee bit of an entertainment stock in January because I enjoy certain aspects of the entertainment industry and because I also like education coupled with entertainment. I think I'm going to have a great time watching my stock pick do well. And the whole thing is giving me a boost right at a time when our country's economy has been on its sickbed. I don't always invest for fun, but I think it's important to have a little fun in every portfolio.

posted at: 16:18 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, May 01 2009

Power outage making online work difficult

We seem to be having a late (for us) spring rainy system that resulted in a power outage earlier today. Since I'm a bit pressed for time online this afternoon and haven't done enough research on any one topic that would render me an expert on said topic, I'm going to recommend that you enjoy one or more of the fine blogs listed on the right side of this page. Hopefully, things will resume with some regularity on Monday. We have now made it through the first third of 2009. It went by in a hurry.

posted at: 17:23 | 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!