Sunday, June 14, 2015

Gravity's Rainbow

By Fred Owens
ducks geese and rice  Rice fields use water  -- we could force California farmers to stop growing rice and wasting water because of the drought. But it's not so simple -- where will the ducks go? Migrating geese and ducks depend on California rice fields as rest and feed stops.
Rice acreage has been cut 30%, down to 375,000 acres. This is bad for water fowl. Not good for rice farmers either.
My friend Warren, a ten-year veteran of the Santa Barbara Rose Society lives on one acre abutting the Santa Barbara Arboretum. He had 35 rose bushes. Now he has only 7. It was the water bill, he said, up to $400 a month.
Lake Cachuma has been the principle source of water in the Goleta Water District. The water flows by gravity from the reservoir to farms and homes. But the lake water is almost gone and the groundwater is being used more extensively.  Goleta is reasonably well-supplied with groundwater -- not facing problems of subsidence, not having to dig deeper and deeper wells.
But groundwater takes pumps and pumps cost money. Groundwater is more expensive than lake water, which flows by gravity. That's one reason the water district budget is going from $32 to $39 million this year.

Redwoods are dying in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Not dead, dying. The park ranger said they might just hang on for another year. And there is strong hope of a good El Nino year, to bring rains in November and the redwoods might not die.
So we're just hanging on here in California.
Drilling Down. They say follow the money. Look in the really boring places where things happen with little notice. The Goleta Water District spends $123,285 per year for liability insurance from the ACWAJPIA, a government agency no one ever heard of. That stands for Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority.
It simply means that the water districts pool their money for insurance costs  -- which makes sense, but with too many initials.
I am drilling down into the data as a public service, sure, but also for networking purposes. I want people to know I can understand this obscure but necessary agency.
Everybody Wants to be Lady Gaga. Too many nasty people in the news these days -- Dennis Hastart and Bruce Jenner, Miley Cyrus and the mattress girl, the white woman who thinks she is a black woman. I'm getting creeped out....

People don't seem to know who they are anymore. Who am I? Really, that's not such a difficult question, but it  seems we need to review the basics.
Your life is composed of three parts. The first part is the cards you are dealt  -- birth date, eye color, sex, and various physical characteristics. The second part is also fixed and that pertains to culture, upbringing and language -- you didn't choose that. If you grew up speaking English then that is your birth language  -- not changeable, no matter how well you learn to speak other languages.
The third part is what you make of it. This is where you are free to choose.  You can move to California, but you still come from a suburb of Chicago. You can become an ex-Catholic, but you can never become a non-Catholic. You can change your name but you can't change your pronoun.....
It's all about gravity. Gravity is crucial and relentless. Gravity is the law of nature. You can fly to the stars above, not in defiance of  this law, but because you obeyed it.

I am bewildered by this identity discussion and what manners we should use and how we should speak. I am in a strategic retreat. I am going wherever Tim Hunt is hiding out these days. He's the British scientist who said, "women, you can't live with them, and you can't live without them," and then he smiled and shrugged.
He resigned after that. I would resign too, if I occupied a position that I could resign from. But I'm already pushing a broom, and my speech is never recorded.
Maybe Hunt plays chess. He and I can get up a game wherever they put fellows like us, we have much in common. I have done poorly with women in the workplace. I flee, I hide, I stammer, I bow,  I let them win, and I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I have not managed to do it properly.

Balzac. The antidote to the current madness is a good 19th century French novel. Cousin Bette  was written by Honore de Balzac and published in 1846. The story illuminates the variety of gender roles in the prosperous levels of Parisian society. I use this book as a guide for manners and personal conduct. If it's all right with Balzac, then it's all right with me. The tone of the book is generally good-natured. Persons who fall from grace are often resurrected in subsequent chapters.
But there is no point in learning the current rules because they will change tomorrow. 
Gravity's Rainbow. Water flows downhill and seeks its own level, according to the law of gravity. Gravity is immutable and water is life. Water unites us. Every living creature needs water. All people. Think of all the people you know. Judge them well or judge them ill, but as they live they need water as much as you and I do.

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Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

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