Friday, May 31, 2013

Boston is Important

Boston is an important city. You might think it's not important, but it is. Although Boston is nowhere nearly as important as New York City. Chicago is important, being the center of the farm belt and the heartland. Texas is important -- that's just the way it is. And California is important. Here's a few reasons.

California is the number one farm state -- They grow more food here than anywhere else.

California has the most people.

And the most immigrants --- California will rise or fall on the strength of immigration -- but they all want to come here.

California is number one in baseball -- with five major league teams, the Padres, Dodgers, Angels, Athletes and Giants.

California has the best-looking women.

Texas is a close second overall -- they have Ted Cruz.

For countries, Mexico is important, but Canada is not important. Canada is a very nice country, but it's not important.

Other nice places -- Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, for example -- are good places to live, but they are not important.

But for some reason, Boston, not an especially large city, is important.

What is important?

“No, I’m not angry at anyone. No human being can do anything important enough for that. You get angry at people when you feel that their actions are important. I don’t feel that way any longer.”

–The Teachings of Don Juan

I need to point out what is obvious.

Being important is not really important.

Coming to Seattle and the Skagit in mid-August

Laurie and I are coming to Seattle and the Skagit in mid-August for about a week. We will need to bring sweaters and socks, I guess. Climate change! Culture shock! But it will be fun to see friends and family.

Figuring two nights in Seattle, two nights in Anacortes, two nights in Victoria, and then one more night in Seattle. We hope to see Butchart Gardens among other things, but don't want to over-plan this, just pay for the plane tickets and bring money.

My daughter lives in Ballard -- we will stay with her. We'll stay with friends in Anacortes. We'll book a lodge in Victoria -- anybody know a good place to stay in that town?

See ya,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Enjoying Wealth

There are two ways to enjoy wealth. The good way is the simple pleasure of owning something, whether it be a comfortable chair or a cattle ranch or a fountain pen. These material items can add pleasure to our lives.

The bad way to enjoy wealth is to relish the power it gives you over other people. You get to go to the head of the line. Other people have to get out of your way. You can brag about what you have and excite the envy of people who don't have what you have..

Here's how it works for me. When I encounter a man, let's say he's very wealthy, and I see him enjoying the simple pleasure of a fine piece of woodwork, then I don't resent him, I'm happy for him.

But if his wealth gives him an attitude like he can get something over on me, no, no, I hate that attitude. And I despise that man.

The enjoyment of wealth is like any other activity, it can be done well or done poorly.

Now we discuss the attainment of prosperity. The simplest way to acquire wealth is to take it from somebody else. Robbing a bank comes to mind. You grab a hold of somebody else's money and now it's yours. By force or by guile. You can cheat in a game of cards. You can make and sell a faulty product. You can deliver half of the promised service, but charge the full price. That's the bad way to make money.

The good way to attain wealth is by adding to the value of what already exists, by creating a better pizza, by devising a swifter delivery of same, or by dry cleaning clothes in a less expensive and more environmentally-friendly manner.

We applaud this kind of wealth creation because every one benefits. We condemn the "taking" of wealth from other people. What we don't do is agree on what is the taking and what is the making -- that's politics, and I'm not getting into that today.

Don't Be a Fool. David Karp sold Tumblr to Yahoo and made $275,000,000 on the deal..... He's 26 and he invented a clever app, so he on his way to a billion dollars, while the rest of you 25-year-old chumps are struggling as unpaid interns with $50,000 in student loan debt and no way in hell you will ever pay it off.

The youth of America -- all idiots! Look around, one of you makes a billion dollars, and the rest of you get to "explore your creative potential" and collect food stamps.....

Comforter-in-Chief. The news anchor described Pres. Obama as comforter-in-chief as he addressed the nation with concern for the people of Oklahoma after the tornado disaster. This is a waste of time. The people of Oklahoma have the resources --- material and spiritual -- to recover from this disaster. They don't need a flyover from Air Force One as if in benediction.

Pres. Obama needs to deal with the situation in Syria -- that is his unique responsibility, that is where he should apply all his effort.

We can fix the mess here at home, and Obama should take care of the trouble overseas.

I am not sure what Obama can do in Syria, to intervene or to wait and see, to back the rebels with economic or military aid, to forge a better alliance with Turkey -- these are tough decisions. He should be working on it as his top priority, but we don't need him to fix Oklahoma.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Barbara Cram Was Bored

Barbara Cram died in 2009, but this story is about a few years earlier in her life --- those few years after she retired from her part-time job at a women's homeless shelter in downtown Seattle.
She had been working at the shelter for several years and loving it, not being in charge of anything, just being useful. Then she retired with no pension at age 70, just her social security check. She had worked at Nordstrom's many years ago, and been a social worker for some years. She had long experience as the founder and director of Friendship House, the homeless shelter in Mount Vernon, but she scarcely got paid for that work, and nothing went into her social security account.
All that was past when she retired in 2005 -- I think that was the year. Just a SS check every month and glad for it too. She had a lovely home in the Mount Baker neighborhood. She and Pat Simpson lived together there, along with Pat's two daughters who were almost grown.
But she was bored. She didn't like being retired, not enough to do. She watched the baseball game every day -- she loved her Mariners. And she was always reading a book.
Her principle activity was making an old-fashioned sit-down meat-and-potatoes dinner every night. It was awesome. Barbara did better cooking in those few years than anyone in Seattle. I can't even describe the gravy, from a pork roast, ladled over garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of fresh cooked green beans, then a glass of wine or the beer of your choice, and baked apples for dessert. My O My.
I should mention that I was a frequent overnight guest during those years. I did the yard work under Barbara's direction, and I got the sit-down dinner for a daily reward.

In the garden, Barb was her total bossy self. She never actually went in the garden, she just leaned over the rail of the deck and barked orders at me while I pruned the grape vines. "That branch, no, no, the one higher up, that branch."
Time for another cigarette. Barb was a ferocious smoker. You didn't dare tell her otherwise. She and Pat had the last house in Seattle with ash trays where you could just light up at the dinner table, after the dishes were cleared.
Barb was happy during those years but she was a little bored. The trouble was she didn't have any money, just enough for the groceries and household expenses and gas for the car. Not enough for traveling. Not enough for eating out at any decent restaurant, or for clothes. She said she disdained fashion, but I wonder -- she had all those years at Nordstrom's and she surely had a good eye for a fine line in a dress, and might have wanted to shop, to buy, to own .... something.

My Religion Is Better Than Your Religion

My religion is better than your religion. You should join my religion, you'll be glad if you do.

That's terrible. All religions are equally good. One religion cannot possibly be better than the others.

Says who? You just made up a rule that all religions are equally valid, but they're not. My religion is true and the other religions are not.

Whatever, I don't want to argue.

Me neither.

Florida Orange Juice is Juicier

Coca-Cola will spend $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of oranges groves in Florida. Coca-Cola owns Minute Maid and other juice brands. It's not the evil empire and their orange juice is good for you.
I bought a carton of fresh Florida orange juice at the supermarket in California.

California grows oranges for eating and Florida grows oranges for juice. That drives the locavores crazy. Orange juice from concentrate probably comes from Brazil which is the world's largest juice producer..

There's a reason behind all this. Florida's climate is far more humid than the Central Valley in California, so Florida oranges are juicier. On top of that Florida oranges are hard to peel and they don't look pretty, so they're better for juice.

California oranges look better. Actually, we are all just prettier in California, but especially the oranges. And easier to peel.

Add in the economy of large-scale production and you end up with a freight train speeding across the continent carrying fresh California navel oranges to Atlanta, while another train brings the juice from Florida to San Diego.

Food miles! Carbon emissions! Agribusiness!

Calm down, take it easy. We can change it.

It might be better if we could grow some juice oranges right here in California, ya think?

Heck, we have orange trees growing in the back yard here in Santa Barbara, ripe and ready to eat or to make juice with.

Orange Buying Tips. Don't buy oranges or any other fruit just by appearance. Sometimes the funny-looking guys are the best-tasting. And only buy Ruby Red grapefruits from Texas.
Thank you --- Subscriptions can be paid at PayPal on the Frog Hospital blog for $25.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Monday, May 06, 2013

What’s the use?

What’s the use?

I invented a religion in 1971,

I called it the Church of the Holy Dawn.

We had dogma, scripture, liturgy and abuse,

But after a while I said what's the use.

I can't make promises,

I don't know the truth.

Worse and Worse. As of today, the war in Syria is getting worse.

Firefighting Skills Improve. The Springs fire in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, consumed 28,000 acres of brush with no loss of life or destruction of homes.

They're getting smarter about handling these blazes. Somehow a spark got it started on Thursday morning, a day of strong winds, high temperatures and very low humidity.

The fire quickly built up and began a race across the Santa Monica Mountains to the sea, twenty miles away.

It was that hot desert wind blowing off shore and pushing the flames -- it couldn't be stopped.

That's where the firefighters got smart -- they didn't try to head it off with a frontal assault. That only endangers and exhausts the fire crews and it rarely works.

Instead they dropped back and worked the sides of the fire to keep it on a narrower path -- steer it a little bit rather than try to put it out. They also ran defensive lines around a few housing developments.

The brush fire raged for two days. Then the weather changed. The wind died down, it got cooler, the humidity increased and the flames abated. With these more favorable conditions, crews were able to contain and extinguish the blaze.

It's just brush up there, it will all grow back. It's amazing how empty that country is and so near to Los Angeles. But you see why it's not a good place to live -- because of these brush fires, among other hazards.

Tampering with Nature. I support most human efforts to tamper with nature. It's just that once you start "fixing" things, you gotta keep fixing things.

When it comes to environmental issues, my belief is that every solution creates another problem.

So I favor whatever you propose as a mean of combating climate change. But I know your solution will create more problems, and the work will never be done.

This is not a discouraging message, not at all. It's just that we're always going to have work to do and we need to keep making adjustments. We can certainly control some of it, but never all of it.

Thank you --- Subscriptions can be paid at PayPal on the Frog Hospital blog for $25.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Robert Sund, Charlie Berg, Tom Robbins

Passages from the Fishtown Blues book -- soon to be published

Charlie Berg -- if you remember him -- lived in South LaConner and may have said something like this in 1982.

“Yes,” Charlie said. “We live under a volcano and we’re all going to die. That’s why I keep these lawn chairs in the front yard. This is how I figure it – when she blows, the mud and ice come racing down the valley, first Concrete, then Lyman, Hamilton, Sedro-Woolley, one town after another all swallowed up, cows flung about like matchsticks, sirens blasting, people racing around, but not me – when I see that mud flow coming at LaConner I just sets me down in this lawn chair and watch the show. The End. We go out with a bang. It will be like the last surfer riding the biggest wave.”

Robert Sund's poem -- Himself, making a bold statement of his art

“I am the heir of Walt Whitman and a first cousin to Gandalf.
I row the marsh and the sweet yellow iris calls my name.
I sing the tide and work the wind up the river,
To Disappearing Lake, around Bald Island,
Returning on the ebb tide and through Hole-in-the-Wall.
Aflame with thirst, I drive my oared skiff to the LaConner Tavern,
To shoot pool and quaff pitchers of Olympic beer.”

Tom Robbins makes a brief appearance in the Fishtown Blues.

He says, to his African girlfriend, while sitting on the bench on the landing of the Benton Street stairs:

“Hold on a minute,” Tom said. “Let me tell you something. I want to live forever. I never want to die. Even if I died in my sleep with no pain or memory, I wouldn’t like it. I would like to get out of my body if it rots, but where could I go? That’s why I came to Zimbabwe, to find you, because you don’t fear death. I don’t fear death either, but the idea of it really pisses me off."

Then I wrote this poem

Moses, Calling for Old Moses, He Ain't What He Used to Be

She was climbing trees,
Eating black-eyed peas,
Dusting the credenza on her knees.

She was watering the roses,
Talking trash with her poses
Of triumph over Moses.

She said, "Moses, who you kiddin?
Your madness isn't hidden,
You lost us in the desert,
And you're sins are not forgiven."