Sunday, February 21, 2016

Goleta Pier

FROG HOSPITAL -- Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 -- unsubscribe anytime
Goleta Pier
By Fred Owens
The fishermen on Goleta Pier are Transcendent Beings. They live on a higher plane than us earth-bound folks. The fishermen wait  -- that's what they do.
In America, stillness is likened to prayer and religion, to be guarded by rituals and contained. Meditation is suspect. Doing nothing is a crime called vagrancy. Notice what the cops say, "Sir, what are you doing here.?" Nothing is the wrong answer and you gotta move along.
But fishing is doing something. You take the same man sitting on the pier doing nothing and stick a fishing pole in his hands  -- ta da! -- he's fishing, an honorable pastime.
And of fishermen, the pier fisherman is the highest order of transcendence because he waits.  The guy with a boat and a net chases fish all over the ocean, burning gas, killing dolphins, smashing into turtles. The guy on the pier throws his line in the water and he waits.
The highest possible level of doing is that doing which is closest to not doing. The man on the pier is doing that not doing. He sits, or he stands. He might lean against the rail. He might listen to the ball game. But he doesn't read  -- reading creates mental static. He waits. He checks his line, he puts fresh bait on his hook. He might drink a beer.
Fish are attracted to structures -- rocks and reefs, oil well platforms, and the stately underwater columns of a pier. The fish are lured to the pier and they mouth flashing objects, or bite them, and they are caught and heaved up on the deck of the pier, flapping madly. It's a cruel thing to watch, and they kill it with a bang and put it in a bucket. A dead fish.
The fisherman baits his hook and puts his line in the water again. Waiting.
El Nino.  The weatherman is waffling. He said El Nino is coming and El Nino would bring strong winter rains. Everyone believed him here in Southern California. We bought rubber boots and plastic tarps. We did soil control projects on steep hillsides. We broadcast seed for new plants to stabilize the soil. We stockpiled sandbags. And we wanted it to rain so badly. The weatherman enjoyed the power of telling us what we wanted to hear and we made him a hero because he knew El Nino was bringing strong rains.
The ocean warmed up, just like he said, but it did not rain. Here it is almost March and there has been scant relief. Today the weatherman has another explanation, but why should we trust him? I would fire the weatherman if I could -- and give him six months picking up litter on the freeway in an orange vest. He's a disgrace. We all wanted to believe him.
Prophets. Poets. Pioneers. Pays Poorly. Occupational hazards abundant. Find some other way to make a living. Never be the first.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They won this weekend, so you can imagine them as nominees and possible Presidents. Picture Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton giving the Inaugural Address on the steps of the Capitol. I wouldn't vote for Trump. I have a personal dislike for Mrs. Clinton and her husband, but I would vote for her. I think she would take a measured but strong response to Middle Eastern threats, which is the most important thing.
The Court. I want to downplay the importance of the Supreme Court. The best changes are made in the Congress and the states. It's too easy to go to court with a dispute, when it should be the last resort. If you cannot get a victory in Congress, you probably deserve to lose. And don't get smart with me and point up some good court decisions -- of course, and they have been good because they were necessary. But don't go to court. Walk away. Take a loss. Compromise. Forgive. Wait. Wait. Suffer. And only then go to Court.
Apple. Apple is the biggest, strongest, richest corporation in the history of the world, and yet we love it. Not me. I fear Apple and all its power. We feared the railroads when they were almighty. We feared US Steel and its power. We feared the Union Pacific. We feared General Motors and then IBM and even Microsoft  -- because they had so much power.
But we love Apple (and Google). That is so frightening -- to place an innocent trust in such an enormously powerful being. We fear the Catholic Church, rightly. We fear the power of our federal government, rightly. And we trust Apple? That cannot be. Never has a corporation been so powerful and so popular.
Do you notice Bernie Sanders attacks the banks, but he never touches Apple, Google, Amazon or Facebook? It could be that  it's safe to attack the banks, but it would take courage beyond Bernie's abilities to challenge the Tech Masters.

Griping. Isn't griping wonderful? What a country.

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Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara CA 93105

Thank you

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sweeping the Sidewalk

Sweeping the Sidewalk
By Fred Owens
Jacaranda trees make pretty purple flowers, but they leave a mess on the sidewalk, so my job is to sweep up the leaves and twigs. The Mexican crews all use a leaf blower for this job. Leaf blowers are noisy and they blow up dust and emit noxious fumes. People hate the noise, but they hire the crew to get it cleaned up, and they put up with the noise because they don't want to sweep their own sidewalks.
Mexican crews use a gas-powered blower rather than a broom, because the blower confers status. A broom is for sissies, but a noisy gas engine has power and power confers status. As it is, landscaping work is pretty low on the scale of success. A Mexican fellow might brag about his construction job and buy a good truck and sweet talk some lady, but if all he does is mow lawns -- well at least he has a job and he might rise up someday, he hopes, and some lady might think he was all right just the same  -- but still, you don't brag about mowing the lawn.
I got status to burn myself, so I use the broom when I work for somebody. I enjoy the simplicity of this labor. It's good outdoor exercise and I get paid  -- nothing wrong with that.
I was thinking about this after I watched Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have their debate. Man, can they talk! A couple of professional talkers. I couldn't do that much talking in a month, my jaw starts getting tired after a while and I get tired of the sound of my own voice.
It's hard for me to recognize talking as honest work, if that is all you do. I heard Bernie and Hillary talk for two hours  and afterwards I got a little agitated. I couldn't figure out why. It's not that I disagreed with them, but don't they ever stop talking? They each one of them got two ears. Do they ever listen? And when do I get to talk?
They kept going on and on about what they were going to do for working families, but they don't do any work themselves. W.O.R.K. This is a concept familiar to most of us. For instance, if we see that the trash bag is full, then it becomes our task to carry the trash bag out to outside bin for pickup. That's what we do.
But Hillary doesn't take out the trash. Instead she gives a speech about how much she cares about the people who do that for her.
And Bernie doesn't take out the trash. Instead he has devised a three-part plan to improve working conditions for the people who take out the trash for him. Plus a pension.
Why don't they do some of the chores themselves?  It would do Hillary and Bernie a world of good to come and help me sweep the sidewalk under the jacarandas. She could take the broom and he could take the dust pan -- thus achieving gender parity.
And they could the both of them shut up while they were doing this chore and then listen to me talk for a change. That's fair. That's taking a stance against income inequality.
Then the Mexican fellows could come over with their gas-powered leaf blowers and join the effort. Now I'm afraid that Hillary and Bernie, being elderly, and not being accustomed to manual labor, might have to struggle using this noisy machine. They might want to stick with the broom like I do.
I know how to handle the gas leaf blower myself and I do use it from time to time  -- I am not some kind of environmental extremist that goes around picking up leaves with his bare teeth.
No, although I much prefer the broom, the gas blower has its place.
What we don't need is a couple of nonstop talkers with pretensions of leadership. Bernie and Hillary have plans for us! They know what is good for us!
I don't hate 'em. I just wish they would touch the ground and grab a hold of the same rope in my hands.
Greetings to all. First of all I send greetings to my many friends in LaConner, Washington -- I am gone five years from the Skagit Valley, but I still have the spirit. I salute my friends in South Texas. I was there for a year and a half working at the Wilson County News. People were kind to me and I hope to see them again. I salute my pals in Columbus, Ohio. I was there briefly but very intensely for two months, working around the clock for John Kerry in his failed bid for the Presidency in 2004. I bonded with my co-workers and we are all still friends.
Finally I remember very fondly the friends I made at the Tikkkun group in Boston in the 1990s. This was a Jewish reform and discussion group. I am not Jewish, but I joined anyway. Of course they argued with me. We all argued with everybody. That was the fun......
So, saying hello to my friends around the country and around the world -- a librarian in the Vatican, vintner in Israel, a radiologist in Qatar, a doctor from Cuba -- it takes all kinds of people on the Frog Hospital mailing list. The list is strongly tilted leftward, but we keep a ten percent conservative balance  -- not so much to be fair, but just because we like them too.
My greetings to all of you from Santa Barbara. We are blessed to live in this beautiful city near the ocean, and all we are saying is that we are four years into a drought and sure could use some rain.
It will rain. The drought will end. Every drought that ever was has ended. And the same for the war in Syria. It will end. All the wars that ever were have ended.
love to all,

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Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital