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Happy New Year!

| It's a new year and a new decade, and I doubt there are many sorry to see the old one gone. It was a decade of wars — as in 'on terror', in Iraq, in Afghanistan — and pestilence — anthrax, SARS, N1H1 (aka 'swine flu'). It was a decade of leeches, as in the bankers and financiers of Wall Street who sucked the blood out of the economy. And it was a decade in which great numbers chose deliberate ignorance and irrationality over science and reality — as in the Palinites, the Religious Right, and most of the GOP. The decade of the aughts was one in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended lower than it started. Frankly, I can't find much good about the decade past, except my retirement from HP with lovely parting gifts.  more

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Dyslexia at ocsiC

| New year, new goodies. As devices in my computer closet have proliferated, they now outnumber the four ports on the back of my router, and so I bought a shiny new 8-port switch that will accommodate them and leave room for expansion.  more

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A new high (low?) in scams

| Scamps and scoundrels seem to be among the most creative people in the world. At the very least, they are astute psychological manipulators. Case in point: a brand new phishing email today purporting to be from Western Union.  more

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There's spammers

| A few days ago I acknowledged the creativity and perspicacity behind a new flood of phishing and spamming. Today I decry the ineptitude of yet others.  more

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Stacking the deck

| Here they go again! An op-ed by Edwin Meese III appeared in this morning's New York Times railing against the judge in the trial over the constitutionality of California's Prop 8, scheduled to begin today.  more

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Rain, and more rain

| What's that old saying, It never rains but what it pours? It has poured this week, amounting to over half the annual rainfall in just a few days. There should be wonderful wild flowers this spring!  more

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The state of our disunion

| My fellow Americans— We are in deep shit. The problems we face as a nation are enormous, difficult, and many. The people we have sent to Washington to solve them have shown themselves incapable and/or unwilling to do anything constructive.  more

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Déjà vu all over again

| Shortly after I moved in back in 2002, a leak in my neighbor's kitchen flooded not only their unit but mine as well. Tuesday evening I went to a show in Pasadena with Bob, and when I returned just after midnight, I found that in my absence the toilet in my bathroom had blown its top and water filled my bedroom and bathroom, the guest bathroom, and the closets in the hallway.  more

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Superbowl XLIV, Party XII

| Back in 1999 a group of us assembled in Twain Harte for a combination housewarming and Superbowl party. And thus was born a tradition that has continued for now twelve years (Superbowl Weekend XII)! The cast of characters changes slightly from time to time, but the hard-core remain.  more

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The urgency of 'now'

| As my mama used to say, "Time to fish or cut bait." A year ago Obama was swept into office with Democratic majorities in both House and Senate, by a populace fed up with George Bush and his cronies. Obama had campaigned on a promise of change, and it was change that people expected. He was seen as having a mandate to make big changes.  more

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Who knew?

| On the way home at lunchtime yesterday from a meeting, I stopped at the Subway sandwich shop to pick up a sandwich. Sitting on the patio munching on the sandwich, I noticed something very curious:  more

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A bold move

| I've decided to move. I love my house and was not expecting to live anywhere else, but when I gave the possibility some serious thought, it became a no-brainer.  more

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The case of the re-appearing lake

| Faithful readers will recall that when we went to Joshua Tree last August to visit the lake that Réal had seen, we found nothing but a dry lakebed. Considering that there was quite a bit of rainfall this winter, we went back on Sunday to see if the lake was there.  more

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Apocalypse now!

| To hear the Republicans tell it, passage of healthcare reform spells the end of civilization as we know it.  more

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The sun still rose

| Last night "yes we can" became "yes we did." The House voted to approve the version of heathcare passed by the Senate last Christmas eve, sending it to President Obama for his signature. As if he would veto it!  more

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Return of the hummer

| One year ago — to the day — I noticed a hummingbird nest atop a wind chime on the patio and watched with bated breath until the baby hummers flew a month later.  more

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Opera in the park 2010

| Sunday was the 12th annual Opera in the Park, and it was terrific.  more

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Stunning reversal by GOP

| In a stunning reversal, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner announced today at a joint press conference that they will do everything they can to protect Obamacare. The minority leaders of the Senate and House respectively denounced efforts to repeal recently-passed healthcare and decried the lawsuits launched by several state attorneys general to declare the new law unconstitutional.  more

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Last guests?

| A few days ago Angela left me a voicemail message saying that she would be "passing through" Palm Springs and would love to visit. Of course, when Angela said it it came out as "pahssing through" — she can be talking absolute rubbish and it woud still sound ever so posh, what with her English accent.  more

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Go negative?

| An opinion feature in tomorrow's Washington Post invites political experts to weigh in on whether Republicans can win in November with a negative strategy.  more

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Easter brunch

| Sunday being Easter, the Brunch Bunch opted to forgo a restaurant and convene Chez Paul. As usual, it would be pot luck.  more

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Garage door

| My garage-door opener gave up the ghost several months ago, and when I did some casual pricing of new doors I quickly decided that I could open and shut the door manually for a while, thank you very much. Then, as it happened, I was in Costco one day when they had a kiosk set up demonstrating their garage doors and openers, and I was quite impressed. But since that was still before I decided to sell, I filed the info in the remote recesses of my mind.  more

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Hatched

| Right on schedule, the hummer eggs hatched on Friday April 9, two weeks after Ms Hummer began incubating them.  more

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Rage in a teapot

| This bulletin from the New York Times just popped into my inbox:  more

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Cause and effect?

| They say it's A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and most days I'll agree, but this week the exception to the rule has been clearly demonstrated.  more

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Poppy-licious!

| On Sunday the usual suspects — Réal, Phil, Bob, and Paul, but not Ken — drove to the high desert near Palmdale to see the poppies at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  more

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Hummers update

| The hummer babies are 11 days old and growing. When I took the nest down to photograph them this afternoon, they were so still that at first I thought they might have died, but then I noticed that one of them was watching me intently with eye wide open!  more

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Hummers at 2 weeks

| The baby hummers are two weeks old today, so I wanted to get more pictures of them. They've become more active lately, occasionally standing up and flapping their wings.  more

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The prodigals' return

| Whew! I'm so relieved that both baby hummers are back in their nest and apparently none the worse for their adventures. Watching the homecoming was very interesting.  more

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Preflight warm-ups

| Since their adventure out of the nest a few days ago, the baby hummers have been much more active in the nest, moving about, fluttering their wings, and so forth. Could it be they just want to get out of here before something even more dire happens to them?  more

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The nest is empty

| Damn! I missed seeing them take off. When i got up this morning, the baby hummers were resting quietly in their nest. The mother came and gave them their breakfast and left. The babies did some more pre-flight training, then settled down.  more

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Happy birthday to me

| How did this happen? It seems like just yesteryear I was a callow youth, full of piss and vinegar. Now I find myself reminded that it is almost 50 years ago that I donned my first cap and gown for high school graduation. I find myself saying, "Well, remember when ..." and hearing the reply, "I wasn't even born yet then!"  more

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Toad Suck Daze

| While reading this morning's news, I came across a reference to the Toad Suck Festival in Conway, Arkansas. Have a "toadally" good time!  more

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Throw the rascals out

| Tuesday, voters in several states went to the polls to vote. Now the pundits are pontificating about what it all means, what "the message" was, and other generally tendentious explanations.  more

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Slo-mo

| Back in March when I decided to make an offer on a new house, I expected to need patience. I didn't realize I'd need to enter a state of suspended animation.  more

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Gusher in the Gulf

| For over a month now a blown deep-sea oil well has been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP, owner of the well, is unable to stop it. Nothing has worked, and it's painfully obvious that everybody's making it up as they go along.  more

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Gusher II

| BP's website today proclaims:  more

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If at first you don't succeed

| Friday night I made an offer on another house. I had become discouraged by the complete lack of progress on my previous offer, and decided I wouldn't just sit around helplessly twiddling my thumbs. I re-opened my search.  more

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The new, new house

| This is more like it! The offer I made Friday night was countered and accepted this morning. I am delighted on two counts: (1) I get a new house at a very nice price and (2) I get to tell BofA they just lost a deal.  more

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Barton bungles, bares true colors

| A remarkable thing happened this last week: Republicans finally found a level of cynicism they could not tolerate. Rep. Joe Barton (R-BP) began his remarks at a House committee meeting to grill Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, about BP's disastrous oil leak in the Gulf by apologizing to BP for having been subjected to what he called "a shakedown - in this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown" by the Obama administration to create a $20B fund to pay damages caused by the leak. "I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," declared Barton.  more

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Life in the echo chamber

| Polling is now ubiquitous. The percentage of people who agree or disagree with something has become the gold standard for judging virtually every issue. In some cases the polls are reasonably scientific, randomly selected from some model of a large population — think Gallup, Roper, NYTimes, CBS, Pew, etc. On the other hand, there are the "polls" of self-selected individuals who call in or click to register their response to some usually loaded question — think Lou Dobbs et al.  more

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96-wheeler

| A big blue part for the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix, AZ, is making its way through Palm Springs tonight. Bob called to say he was going to drive out to take a look, and did I want to come along. Sure, why not?  more

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The cost of doing business badly

| When I reopened my search for a new house I subscribed to a new-listings service at Realtor.com and, due to laziness, have not gone back to unsubscribe. The first property listed on today's update had me ROFLMAO.  more

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Potholes on the road to home ownership

| It was all going so well. Too well.  more

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More gotchas

| Niece Joni writes, "Reading your exploits about moving are making me tired....you must really want this..."  more

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Gotchas galore

| Today is Bastille Day in France. Off with their heads, I say. And no, I don't mean Louis and Marie — I mean bankers!  more

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Heat

| Enough said.  more

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Crisis has been good for business

| Today's chart of the day plots earnings per share for the S&P 500, the titans of American business. The financial crisis has certainly been good for business!  more

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Moving week: Monday

| Now that the house in Desert Hot Springs is mine, it's time to get the move underway.  more

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Moving week: Tuesday

| The fine folks at Schlage included an insert in the box, printed on bright yellow paper, suggesting that if you "Need Help?" you should go to their website, specifically: http://consumer.schlage.com/customerservice/howto.asp. There one would find, or so they promise, video clips on how to install and program, downloadable PDF instructions, and answers to commonly asked questions.  more

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Moving week: Wednesday

| For today:  more

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Moving week: Thursday

| On today's to-do list:  more

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Moving week: Friday

| Today's agenda:  more

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First load of laundry

| This afternoon I tried out my new washer and dryer for the first time. Blinking lights, chimes, and good design, oh me!  more

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The great unboxing

| After catching my breath for a couple of days, I tackled the enormous pile of boxes and corresponding empty shelves. Besides the natural desire to get settled, the Bunch are coming for brunch on Sunday, and a kitchen full of boxes just will not do.  more

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Judge to right wing: "No on prop 8"

| On Wednesday, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in US Circuit Court that California's Proposition 8, passed last November, is unconstitutional, and he didn't mince words.  more

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The spam-volution

| They're at it again! The spammers/phishers have ratcheted up their game — today's intray was filled with more enticing goodies:  more

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"Data center" organized

| It has taken a while, but the "data center" is finally organized and functioning. I brought the wire shelves and support arms with me from the old house, but had to install new mounting strips.  more

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Browsing al fresco

| A while ago Costco sent a flyer with a special deal for July, $30 off on the Hawking Hi-Gain™ Wireless-N Dual Radio Smart Repeater, advertised as "an advanced Wi-Fi connectivity solution that receives the signal of any 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi network and rebroadcasts it locally within your home or office." The product data sheet says it "Redistributes extended home/office wireless connection at 300Mbps using Hi-Gain™ Wireless-300N Technology," and the quick installation guide says that one of the ways to use the HW2r1 is to "eliminate wireless dead spots within your hoome or repeat the wireless signal from one area of your home to another." Sounded like just what I needed to get a good connection on the patio. I ordered one.  more

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Hurd resignation fails the smell test

| Late Friday afternoon, the news came that Mark Hurd, HP's chief executive, had resigned. Officially it was because he had violated HP's Standards of Business Conduct, something discovered in an investigation of sexual harassment, charged by a marketing contractor.  more

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Meteor watch

| Last night the usual suspects went up to Joshua Tree National Park in hopes of seeing the meteor showers. Frankly, they fell far short of a "shower," or even a "drizzle." More like an "isolated sprinkle" or two. Of course, we were a day late....  more

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The inconvenient Constitution

| There's a lot of loose talk about the Constitution these days. The "take our country back" crowd — the Tea Party folks, for example — is fond of playing dress-up and professing their love of the Constitution.  more

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For security purposes…

| This afternoon I called Fremont Bank to change the mailing address on my loan account. A perky "customer service representative" said she'd be happy to do that for me.  more

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No sale

| My Palm Springs condo was listed for sale almost two months ago. My agent has held an open house every Saturday and Sunday, and in the weeks since the place went on the market, many dozens have viewed the property. So far, nobody has made an offer.  more

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Gourmands and gluttons

| It being the holiday weekend, the Bunch decided to forego brunch at a restaurant — instead it would be a pot-luck at Ken's. Well, that didn't work out, so it turned into a pot-luck Chez Paul.  more

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San Diego rodeo

| On Sunday, Réal, Bob, and I went to the rodeo at San Diego. This year's rodeo seemed much better organized than in previous years, and the afternoon sped by.  more

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Dancing(?) with the stars(?)

| Last night was the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars (ABC), now in its 11th season. It's a season too far.  more

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Fairly chilly at the fair

| Bob, Réal, and I went to the fair yesterday in Pomona, where it was Senior Day (admission $6). Although it was unseasonably cool here in the desert, it was downright "brisk" at the fair. As soon as we went through the Banning pass, the skies changed from crystal-clear blue to overcast gray, and they stayed that way throughout the day, except for one brief moment late in the afternoon when the sun attempted, unsuccessfully, to break through the murk.  more

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Hello Carol!

| Carol Channing was honored with a star on Palm Springs Walk of Stars, right in front of one of our favorite restaurants, Azul. Several weeks ago Réal saw an announcement at the bar, so we reserved our usual table for the event. Although the ceremony was scheduled for 2pm, we arrived just before noon to claim our table and start the festivities.  more

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Rainy season already?

| This week has brought rain to the valley — heavy rains at times. The plants love it, of course. I do, too, for that matter. It's quite refreshing to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain on the roof, one big part of which slopes down to the back of the house, dumping the run-off onto the patio right outside the bedroom slider.  more

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From the frying pan into the freezer

| Brrr!  more

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Muddling through with Linux

| Last week the old Compaq refurb computer that I have been using as a development web server for lo these many, many years — died. I had discovered it rebooting at an unusual time and assumed Windows must have updated itself or something. But it kept trying to reboot: it would start to load Windows and get as far as displaying an empty desktop, then it would shut itself off and try again. And again. And again.  more

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The thrill of victory

| Having just completed the migration of my web development server to a reconstituted "real" Linux system, I discovered that not being able to print things was a considerable handicap. I'm a paper person, not a screen person, and I just find it so much easier to deal with code when I can print it out. But — there's always a "but" — my Canon printer doesn't support Linux. However, I found out that the HP Photosmart c6280 printer that I have does support Linux.  more

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Halloween jack-o-lanterns

| I came across some photos of intricately carved pumpkins, testament to one guy's imagination and creativity, not to mention skill with a carving knife!  more

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Rally for America

| It was a pretty audacious play: hold a rally on the Washington Mall featuring the two "fake news" anchors of Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Their satire works in half-hour segments, but would people actually come long distances to attend a rally with no cause except to "restore sanity" or "keep fear alive"? Originally, two competing rallies had been proposed, but were merged into one a couple of weeks ago (at least officially).  more

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Election day — yech!

| This election season has been the most dispiriting one that I can recall. Buoyed by the giddy euphoria that accompanied the election and inauguration of Barack Obama, I had high hopes that the country was pulling back from the darkness and irrationality of the Bush years.  more

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Mourning in America

| Tuesday night was not a happy night for those of a liberal or progressive political persuasion. The House of Representatives did a complete flip-flop and switched from a solid Democratic majority to an equally solid Republican majority.  more

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Palm Springs Pride 2010

| This past weekend was the annual Pride festival and parade. Parade day, Sunday, was a perfect fall desert day: warm and sunny with clear skies and clean air. The usual suspects had an early breakfast at Bongo Johnny's on Arenas Road, then went over to claim prime viewing spots on Palm Canyon Dr between Baristo and Arenas.  more

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"Too partisan"?

| Stop it! Right now! Since the election the amount of sheer poppycock said about it defies the imagination. Republicans can't help themselves from crowing about how the election has given them a mandate to roll back everything back to Herbert Hoover. And Democrats can't help themselves from drawing all the wrong conclusions. To wit:  more

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The self-destruction of John McCain

| John McCain (R-AZ) was once an honorable, reasonable man. He came to politics a genuine American hero, having survived the horrors of a North Vietnamese prison camp. He developed a reputation as a straight-talking and independent politician, willing to stand against his party when principle demanded it.  more

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Giving thanks 2010

| At least there is one thing we can thank the Pilgrims for — the good sense to gather together and observe that life is good. Certainly better than the alternative. We don't know what they really ate that day; some say it was eels (NYTimes, 25-Nov-2010), but the modern interpretation is that turkey is the sine qua non of Thanksgiving. Somehow the thought of getting a 20-pound eel for Thanksgiving isn't quite the same.  more

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Give 'em hell, Barry

| Mr President:  more

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Festival of Lights Parade 2010

| The annual Festival of Lights Parade almost didn't happen this year. The city budget is very tight, and the parade was cancelled, but merchants and others got together to raise the money to hold the parade anyway. Smart move — proven by the many tens of thousands who lined Palm Canyon Drive for the event.  more

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Obama, fired up!

| When I exhorted President Obama (Nov 4, 2010) to draw some lines and show some fight, I didn't mean that he should take aim against his own party! When Obama strode to the podium in the White House Press room Tuesday to give a spirited defense of the tax "framework" he had negotiated with the Republicans, he essentially gave the back of his hand to liberals and progressives who wanted to make a stand against giving further tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  more

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Unseasonably warm

| December — often cold and rainy here in the desert — has been positively balmy. Last Saturday it was so warm at the Light Parade that I never even put my warm clothes on. And since then the daytime temps have been around 80°F. What's not to like?  more

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What the %&#$! is it doing?

| Once upon a time, computers were pretty much lifeless things — you installed software, made a few settings, and that was that. Once in a while — once in a great while, actually — there would be an update to something, but I as a user had to find out about it somehow, then get and install the update myself. You knew what you had and what you had done.  more

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Seasonably wet and dreary

| Just a few days ago, it was summer in the desert — sunny, warm, clear skies. Over the weekend colossal clouds moved in bringing dreary skies and rain — lots of rain.  more

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Enisled

| Having been awakened several times last night by crescendos of rain on the roof and splattering on the patio outside the bedroom, I decided this morning to breakfast at Sidewinder and take my camera to capture watery scenes.  more

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Sun at last!

| When I woke up early this morning the back yard was bathed in moonshine, so I knew the skies were clear. And when the sun finally cleared the horizon, it was bright and cloudless. Sun, glorious sun! And after a week of rain, it couldn't have come at a better time.  more

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Merry Christmas

| And what did Santa leave in your stocking?  more

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Christmas at Ken's 2010

| The usual suspects — minus Bob and plus Kenny and Richard — assembled at Ken's for the customary holiday pig-out. It was our first chance to see Kenny and Richard since their arrival from Montréal. Poor Bob, alas he accepted a better invitation, with his nephew in Paris (yes, that Paris).  more

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