Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Atmospheric phenomena

Took these photos last might out our bedroom window, looking East, right at sunset. Not sure what the pillar of light was; sort of a rainbow, but no rain.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good tourist, bad tourist

What kind of tourist are you? Do you follow a strict plan, with no room for spontaneity, or show up ready for anything? Do you try to get a good feel for a place, or spend your whole trip in an alcohol induced buzz?
Do you really take the time to look around you, to learn the language, try to get to know a few of the locals? Do you ask people what there is to see and do and find nice things to say about where they live? Or, since you are spending a lot of your hard earned money, do you demand the best of everything and complain if you don't get it? If things are better at home, are you sure to make your hosts aware of this?

Do you seek out the McDonalds or do you try to find restaurants off the beaten path that cater to the locals? Are you there for photo ops or enrichment?
When you have to leave, are you a better person for the experience? Is the place you visited slightly better thanks to your visit?
Heaven is home. Here on earth, we're tourists.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why are you here?

You emigrated here for a reason. You, or your ancestors at least. For some it was the promise of better hunting. Others, the opportunity to worship as you saw fit. Some of you didn't exactly emigrate---you were forced here to work, driven from your native lands by slave traders or famine.
The American Dream. Does any other country have a national dream? Not that I've heard. There are variations, but the gist is---"If you work hard, and make sacrifices, you CAN do well here". Did anyone come here of their own free will to escape freedom? Why are people still trying to pour in---because of the promise of a totalitarian government?
The rulers that people come here to escape rose to power with a certain level of public support. Usually that support came from empty promises of what the government could do for them---how the government was going to give them the better life they deserved. If someone wants to rise to power, he needs to make the people feel the government cares about, even loves, them. It's a lie.
Our government has slowly but surely overstepped the limits set in place by the founding fathers. The Constitution spells out what powers the government does and does not have...Sure, there have been adjustments over time---equal rights, elimination of slavery, that sort of thing---which represent positive evolution of our government. Shifting things from personal responsibility over to government 'care', only leads to the kind of rulers people came here to escape.
The noblest goal isn't happiness, or sexual liberty, or robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The noblest goal is the heightening of human dignity. There is dignity in charity, but none in entitlement. There is dignity in rising up after failure, but none in penalizing success. Working towards a goal, earning true love, having the grace to pray---all requires one basic ingredient----freedom. It's worth fighting for and preserving. It's difficult now since we're not fighting foreign invaders to defend our freedom, but a domestic populace all too willing to turn too much over to the government; any opponents will be labeled 'haters'. I wish I could make people understand how much I hate poverty, homelessness, loneliness and intolerance. People like me simply believe the answer lies in personal responsibility---not legislation. It isn't the government's job to love you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Building update!

With a few days off (Thought it would be four but it turned into two) Had big plans to get work done on the driveway. Starting with a flat surface really speeds up the building process. Plus, I set a hefty pipe in the concrete for bending rebar later. This river of clouds stayed just below me so it was warm and dry.

A short while ago I talked about the impromptu concrete day with Byron. I gave him complete latitude for coloring the concrete. I had time to strip the forms the other day; the color will stand out more over time. Basically I thought if the concrete isn't all one color it would blend in with the stones better.

After stripping the forms, it was time to move stones. Zen and the art of stone moving---First, you need a reason to move them. Next, you have to make sure they even want to move. For some reason the smaller stones are much more willing to move than the big ones. They will move on their own but only downhill; most the rocks seem to be lower to start... After dry stacking the stones and getting all the rebar in place I planned to backpour concrete behind the wall about 1 foot thick. It locks them in place but still looks like a drystack wall.

Unfortunately the hardware store in Julian was out of concrete. Didn't feel like wasting the day driving to El Cajon, and not wanting to waste the perfectly good protective layer of grime I'd built up on myself, got caught up on some wood splitting and stacking. A neighbor had a beautiful white oak come down. The wood's almost too pretty to burn. You can't tell in the picture but the wood stack goes back nearly 4'. This is not quite half what we'll burn in a winter. I have more than enough oak rounds over at the cabin, just have to do some more splitting.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How I spent Sept. 11th

Well, my shift really ends at 8am but Chief Esquer needed photos of our 'station'. We're in competition for the crappiest work site---winner gets funding for new digs.

AnnaMarie got the kids off to school and drove down to meet me. We took advantage of the emptier beaches and warm weather and had a great bike ride. She packed a gourmet lunch. We set up towels and soaked up the last of the sun for the year. AnnaMarie ate her 'wraps' (chick food) I got a prosciutto sandwich and pumpernickel pretzels. The grapes, I had to earn---she was throwing them for me to catch (no hands allowed) with about a 40% success rate. The seagulls were either amused and/or looking forward to the ones I missed.

There are a few modern conveniences that are beyond me. Saran wrap kicks my ass, as do camera timers. This took about a dozen tries. It only gets harder as you start laughing at your own ineptitude.

In the late afternoon, AnnaMarie went home to greet the kids at the bus; I went to the 911 memorial aboard the USS Midway. A great floating museum and well worth the trip. My job was to call in Copter 1 and Copter 2 just as the last name was being read; it was fun timing the readers, figuring out an average, calculating flight times, counting how many readers were left, then cue-ing the copters. There certainly was an element of luck involved and I WAS getting a bit nervous, but it worked out perfectly.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Much ado about...Something

OK, so here's how it played out. I very much hope those of you that were upset by my taking a stand will read this all, and try to see where people like me are coming from.
After feeling like we were flapping alone in the breeze, other parents started calling me saying they'd follow my lead. Some even voiced some vitriol towards our President that, frankly, I don't share. Then the principal of the school called me last night.
He's an old friend. We've helped each other build homes, we have kids the same age. He said they wouldn't interrupt school to show something to the kids that they themselves hadn't reviewed. They would tape Obama's speech, and if a particular teacher wanted to show it, permission slips would be sent home.
Now that I've read the soft balled speech, I have no problem with my kids seeing it. Those of you that painted it like we were scared of Obama brainwashing our kids into attending school---classic misrepresentation. You identified 'fear mongering' that didn't exist. So what's this really about in the mind of a conservative?
It is with difficulty we send our kids to the government school in the first place. Short of moving, we have no options. I paid over $10,000 in property taxes last year, and about that in State income tax as well. Look at the pie charts---the biggest chunk of that, by far, goes to 'education'. That's OK, except for all the social services at the schools that have zero to do with education...But I digress. The school curriculum is VERY biased to the left. If you're a liberal, you probably don't see it since you consider it the norm. WE are mandated to pay for and send our children to a school that teaches things we disagree with. That's a hard pill to swallow.
What tool do we have? Well, the school board has a little influence. A little. However---if you take your kid out of school for a day the state withholds some funding. So the original plan---President Obama to give a speech about Lord knows what, to a captive audience, then the teachers potentially expanding on it to further their own political views (Firsthand experience with THAT.....) without any resistance, where's the check and balance? What I perceive as a liberal environment, with what I perceive as a liberal President, preaching to our kids. Or, they could miss a day of school, and the school thinks---"Gee. If we stay this course of only presenting things with a left view, it costs us".
Fortunately, the universe tends to unfold the way it should. We resisted. Obama dropped the part about "Write an essay about what YOU can do to help President Obama", and made the transcript public. Now something very valuable can happen---my kids can see their President, a Black American, tell them they should stay in school and work hard. Support for their President and support for Diversity---those are good, strong, bipartisan goals I want my kids exposed to. Exposing them to the unknown, from a man who has demonstrated a strong socialist agenda, would be irresponsible.
I will always trust a parent over ANY government when it comes to their children.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The most important things


"Doesn't everybody deserve healthcare?" yes. Everybody deserves lots of things---a healthy diet. A happy household. Ability to worship, or not worship, as they see fit.
When I oppose government run healthcare programs, I'm looked at like some like a monster, like I want people to die horrible deaths. Another mean spirited Republican parroting Rush. Fortunately, the ones whose opinion matter know me better than that.
Providing good healthcare to myself and those around me is up there with providing shelter, food, and education. These things are far too important to trust the government with. Living costs money; you have to make things happen. There are lots of things you can do to improve healthcare---first, live a healthy lifestyle. Get good insurance. Make insurance a priority expense ahead of beauty supplies, television, cigarettes, tattoos. If your job doesn't provide assistance, work towards a position that does. Want to improve healthcare for others? That's very noble. Work in the profession and do what you can for every patient you meet. Volunteer at a healthcare facility.
Government should provide safety, fair business practice, and help in dire emergencies. Our government was designed by some pretty smart people, to provide you opportunities to earn these things for yourself. The idea of trusting the government to take away more money and create a giant healthcare system is wrong.
I oppose it BECAUSE I want good healthcare and the freedom to decide where my money goes to take care of not only my own family, but others as well.