Friday, February 28, 2014

The excitement today was the rain... and wind.  We 

Rain was our excitement today.  I didn't go far for my photo du jour.  This is our backyard, which hasn't seen enough rain this season.  I checked on our hummingbird off-and-on throughout the day. So far she has stayed on the nest sheltering her two eggs whenever the rains swept through the area.  Several times the clouds parted and the sun brightened 

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I rode out to Ocean Beach this afternoon in the lull between a small band of showers that began just before dawn and the “big storm” we’re told will come tonight. The great blue heron seemed to sense something unusual was coming.  I got close, and it didn’t flinch. 

Back at our house I’ve got a tiny hummingbird nesting again this year in the tendrils of my hanging ivy.  I’m worried,  We get very little wind where I live.  How could this little half-dollar sized bird have known her choice of place for a nest wasn’t good. The hanging planter will toss wildly if the wind that has been predicted actually blows tonight.  There’s nothing I can do that makes any sense.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The Chinese New Year has begun and the Buddhist Temple on Fanita Drive in Santee is still celebrating.  The Goddess of Mercy,  Kuan Yin, is the central figure in the front courtyard. I stopped there on my afternoon bicycle ride and remembered the great experience of living four years in Singapore.

I rode back through Mission Gorge... wondering how long it will be after the coming weekend of rain before these hills are green and the San Diego River is finally full again.  

The Kumeyaay People who lived in this gorge for hundreds of years before Europeans came to the continent had wonderful stories about these magnificent rock formations. I can imagine they made this pile of close fitting rocks into a mythical being as powerful and as important as Kuan Yin was to the early Buddhists in India and China.  Kuan Yin's name signifies her compassion, literally meaning "One who hears the cries of the world."  I wonder what these rocks signified to the Kumeyaay People.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Our nation sometimes seems to have resigned itself to having the Republican myth making machine have its way with us.  Critical thinking citizens usually recognize B.S. like the recent cry from Arizona scaremongers about freedom to exercise religion of choice being in grave danger if a law isn’t passed by the legislature that allows businesses to refuse goods and service to LGBT folks.  It’s not likely to pass because the governor is getting a clear message from a significant number of business owners that such a law would cost the state and business a whole lot of money.

When the myth makers create a story that sounds like a good old Ronald Reagan movie, even critical thinking citizens sometimes assume some of it must be true.  

For example, most people have heard about the death tax and assume that out there in the population there must be people being left gobs of money by rich uncles only to have Uncle Sam snatch it away.  I just learned today from Paul Krugman: “Remember the “death tax”? The estate tax is quite literally a millionaire’s tax — a tax that affects only a tiny minority of the population, and is mostly paid by a handful of very wealthy heirs. Nonetheless, right-wingers have successfully convinced many voters that the tax is a cruel burden on ordinary Americans — that all across the nation small businesses and family farms are being broken up to pay crushing estate tax liabilities.  You might think that such heart-wrenching cases are actually quite rare, but you’d be wrong: they aren’t rare; they’re nonexistent. In particular, nobody has ever come up with a real modern example of a family farm sold to meet estate taxes. The whole “death tax” campaign has rested on eliciting human sympathy for purely imaginary victims.”

Other fictions that many people seem ready to believe are described as the plights of ordinary Americans who are being driven into bankruptcy by the Affordable Health Care Act.  Read the whole story… HEALTH CARE HORROR HOOEY.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Doing a little more research following my blog writing yesterday about Arizona’s new attempt to discriminate against LGBT persons, I stumbled onto an important WEB site. Take a look at it. When you go to the WEB site, please read beyond the following brief description of the problem which I’ve included here:

“Qualified, hardworking Americans are denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).  There is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination; there are no state laws in 29 states that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 33 states that do so based on gender identity.  As a result, LGBT people face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job.”

We may have come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go before social justice is secured for all citizens.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm just saying'

L.A. Times reported today that the Arizona state legislature has introduced a bill that bolsters the right of businesses to refuse service to gay customers.  The governor says she will decide by Friday if she will sign the bill into law.  She and Republican legislators say their bill is intended to protect religious freedom. Will these people never learn?  I’m beginning to wonder if somebody has been putting stupid pills into the drinking water systems of some of the regions of our country… specifically in Arizona .  Studies show that an equally ridiculous piece of discriminatory immigration legislation SB 1070 that was passed by the legislature in 2010 and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer cost Arizona more than $23 million in lost tax revenue and at least $350 million in direct spending by would-be attendees to cancelled conventions and other events. The state is hosting Super Bowl XLIX and several other major events in the coming year.  Haven’t they figured out that reasonable people, including some companies not in the Koch Brothers’ camp will boycott Arizona if they actually pass this blatantly discriminatory bill.

The other thing that mystifies me is that with all the very real troubles in the world that need to be urgently addressed these people remain focused on same-gender love relationships.  What’s that about?  What’s the problem? It’s not possible that they really believe the Leviticus shit was dispensed by God.  If they actually believed those absurd laws are legitimate, they would be regularly burning, stoning or otherwise executing citizens for committing adultery, for wearing clothing made of the wrong stuff, for eating shell fish and pulled pork sandwiches, and for banging farm animals in hard times. Their focus on same gender relationships is at least odd… preoccupation with how same-gender people “do it” is downright perverse... if that's what's bugging them.  Hasn’t Arizona Republican State Representative Paul Boyer heard about the very real problems faced by his state and by his neighbor states in this time of serious drought?  Has he been drinking Michelle Bachmann’s kool-aid and decided to believe God is punishing American because LGBT individuals are recognized as legitimate citizens by the Federal Government and are allowed to marry whomever they love in many states?  If that's it, take a little time and try to get over it. Breathe deeply.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I had a good reason
to be in Claremont
on Saturday
with good people
and other living things

standing at a building
designed and built
mostly by students

with faith
that rain will come
maybe as soon
as Thursday… 

or at least Friday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Longing to be free
huddled masses yearning
tempest tossed
imprisoned lightning...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The pictures today have nothing at all to do with the journal writing.  I got the San Diego Harbor pictures just before seven o'clock this morning.  I got the  Jimson Weed flower pictures on my way back from MOPA this afternoon around four forty-five. These beautiful toxic flowers are blooming on the north side of Camino del Rio South between Texas Street and Mission Center Road.  

UBIQUITY OF POVERTY… Rambling thoughts:

Así es la Vida… Sometimes it just bees like that…  人生はそのようです… Такова жизнь… 
So ist das Leben… Telle set la vie… Sådant är livet…  هذه هي الحيا…  It is what it is.

Yesterday over coffee, a friend said earnestly about something that is happening in the life of someone important to him, “It is what it is.” I’ve been thinking about it, and he’s right… profoundly right in the same sense that the grandmother of a woman with whom I worked years ago would say, “Sometimes it just bees like that,” when something happened that she couldn’t change… but saying it, believing it, doesn’t get us off the hook. “Asi es la Vida” or “Такова жизнь” doesn’t excuse me from active concern about people, especially children, living in poverty.

I was on my way back home from dropping my two Davids at the airport when I began to count the number of homeless people still sleeping in the nooks and crannies of San Diego and the panhandlers at intersections (one man near the harbor held up a small piece of cardboard with nothing printed on it)… and I tried to remember if I had ever seen panhandling or anyone sleeping on the street in the little Arkansas town where we lived before my parents moved to Live Oak, California… or if I had seen it on the trip across the country when I was twelve… or when I was a teenager in California. I remember hearing talk from my parents’ and grandparents’ generation about the “great depression” and about hobos who sometimes came to the front door to ask for food.  My family told those stories to emphasize that there was a time when extreme poverty was prevalent in America… as if that time of poverty was past and wouldn’t ever come again.  When I was a junior in high school, Mrs. Laney required her students to read The Grapes of Wrath, and later as a teacher I included Steinbeck’s epic novel and his Of Mice and Men on my reading list when I taught American Literature. Mrs. Laney wanted us to be aware that times had changed and that life could be good for anyone who worked. I’m trying to remember if I really believed we were safely past the time when some Americans would live in abject poverty.  I think I must have believed it at least for awhile.  The fact is, however, that poverty has never been gone for even a fraction of a generation in America.  The poorest Americans are now more visible than they have been in the recent past.  Perhaps a clearer way to say it is that the poorest Americans are now less invisible. 

I had a conversation today with someone who self identified as a conservative Christian, and he told me that I should believe the wisdom of his Holy Bible and relax… that nothing can be done to solve the problem of poverty.  He told me Jesus said there will always be poor people… that it would be foolish to believe poverty can be eradicated.  He said a government war on poverty would be against God’s will. I asked him if he believes his god has designed poverty into human cultural and economic systems and if poverty is with us by design, what might the purpose be. He referred me to the Gospel of Matthew, so I decided to check it out; and sure enough, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John have the Jesus in their stories telling people that there will always be poor people. Matthew has Jesus saying, “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me” (Matthew 26:11);  Mark says Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me (Mark 14:7); and John says in chapter 12, verse 8, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 

I personally refuse to believe that poverty is necessary to achieve any kind of moral and ethical balance in culture. I refuse to believe that poverty is in any way an appropriate punishment for anything.  Working the “poor will always be with you” bit into a Jesus story several decades after Jesus actually lived was probably an effort to relate his Jewish life to Jewish history. The story tellers obviously knew about Deuteronomy, Chapter 15, verse 11, and it made sense to have the Jesus they were describing work as much ancient wisdom into the story as possible; so they had Jesus repeat the words about the poor never ceasing to be in the land.   Deuteronomy, Chapter 15, verse 11: “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.” We can be grateful that they didn’t work some of the Leviticus sayings into the dialogues of Jesus.

Even though the writers of the Gospels focused mostly on kindness and love and reconciliation, some latter day revisionists, like the Westboro nincompoop pastor Fred Phelps, are busy trying to weave the Leviticus hate passages into the Jesus story.  Sadly, an alarmingly large percentage of people in fundamentalist America are believers in the angry, hateful god that Phelps describes. His followers (mostly members of his family) carry signs inspired by the Leviticus exhortations which they believe came directly from the god of the ancient Hebrews. Explicit instructions are given by the writer(s) of Leviticus, speaking with instructions from God, to put to death “a man who lies with another man as if she were a woman (both men must be executed), Leviticus 20:13; any person who curses his mother or father, Leviticus 20:9; a man who cheats on his wife, or vise versa (both the man and woman in either case must be killed), Leviticus 20:14; a man who sleeps with his wife and her mother shall be burned to death, Leviticus 20:14; a man who has sex with an animal (both the man and animal must be killed), Leviticus 20: 15-16; Psychics, and wizards must be stoned (Leviticus 20:27; any priests daughter who is a whore must be burned at the stake, Leviticus 12:9; anybody who curses or blasphemes God shall be stoned to death (apparently all the people in the community are required to participate), Leviticus 24:14-16. 

The guy with whom I spoke today… he wasn’t, by the way, the guy I saw yesterday rolling a cross around the Plaza de Panama; but he is a seemingly good soul, a kind person, someone who insists that “God is love” and that someday in the sweet by and by he will learn why God says there must be people who are poor… so he can justify his strong Bible-based objection to an American government’s war on poverty.  He needn’t worry.  If there is a war on poverty going on today, it seems clear that poverty is winning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

O.K., O.K., I'm not even going to try to explain how or why I got the pictures I did today.  They don't fit neatly into a reasonable explanation.

This is the Wednesday of the month that I go to the Civic Center downtown to help with voter registration for the people who have just been given their certificates of official citizenship in the United States of America.  The end of "B" Street is a gathering place for homeless people,  people whom I have seen other Wednesdays in other months.  Several of these people have pets.  The two cats belong to the lady whose belongings are piled onto the cart in the picture.  The gay cat is Sky and the black and white is Ariana.  The lady and her cats are there every time I go to the place. She is nice. So are the cats. She says they really love each other, the cats.  I believe her.

The little boy is an American citizen because he was born here.  His mother became a citizen today.  I liked everything about this little guy... his pacifier with the mustache, the soft cuddly stuffed animal, his sweater... everything. I asked his mother for permission to take his picture while she filled out the voter registration paper.  She smiled proudly and said I could get the picture.

In a lull before the new citizens came out of their naturalization ceremony, I took the "selfie" of the President and me with my cell phone.

I went back over to Balboa Park in the afternoon to have coffee with Karl, and this guy carrying (sort of... notice the wheel) a cross paraded around the Plaza de Panama with an attractive girl on his arm...  How could I resist getting a picture...  I wanted to ask about the wheel on the bottom of the cross... but didn't.  I wanted to ask what the .... is going on?  Why?... but I didn't.

There was a wonderful little dog learning to ride a skateboard, and I wished I had got a picture... but I didn't

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

and some photographs aren’t a picture of anything.
A soaring, enigmatic eucalyptus tree in my backyard 
is a moveable Rorschach test defying interpretation.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Looking west from our place I can see another hill on which once stood the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast of what is now the United States.  A fort established by Commandant Pedro Fages for the Spanish Empire and known as El presidio Reál de San Diego (The Royal Presidio of San Diego) no longer exists.  None of the original buildings of the settlement remain. The San Diego Mission de Alcalá which was located near the site of today’s Junipero Serra Museum, was moved in 1774 out to Mission Gorge where it stands today. With Mexican Independence in 1821 the fort was relinquished by the Spanish, and the Presidio served as residence for the Mexican Governor until 1829 when the Mexican presence in San Diego abandoned the hill in favor of the level area nearby that is now Old Town San Diego State Historical Park. It's typical of the way we do things in America that there is no mention in the names of the original Spanish or Mexican occupation.

Presidio Park belongs to the city of San Diego and is not part of the State Historical Park. My bike ride today took me out East for a few miles, then up to the areas known as Talmadge, Kensington, City Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, University Heights,Hillcrest and Mission Hills before I turned into Presidio Park before heading back home.  Of the original native Americans nothing is left there but a couple of plaques and a bigger-than-life bronze statue of an Indian that’s probably not a fair representation of the Kumeyaay people who lived in the area before the Spanish came and pushed them out to the East or used them as slave laborers. Most of the trees in the area are not native to the region.  I like the view of the University of San Diego across Mission Valley from the Park.