Sunday, July 27, 2014

Orchid Bar, Grand Tradition

Leslie and I were graciously invited to attend one of the soft opening nights at the new Orchid Bar at Fallbrook's Grand Tradition. I believe that the new restaurant/bar is set to officially open this week.

I am happy to report that as critical a curmudgeon as I am known to be, both the food and libations at the Orchid Bar were wonderful during our visits.

The Grand Tradition, which is known far and wide as a superlative wedding venue and for its wonderful gardens, has been serving lunch in its dining room for some time, by reservation only. I must confess that I have never gone there for lunch but I have eaten some special event wine pairing dinners there that were fun.

I believe that they decided to create the Orchid Bar area in order to create some business for some of the first of the week "off nights." At least initially it is my understanding that they will only be open on wednesday evenings and for lunch. The nice young voice on the phone said no reservations, walk-ins 5 to 9 p.m..

This is going to be a very nice and pleasant place to hang out and have a drink and a casual nosh with your friends.

We were originally invited to visit last wednesday but I thought that I had other commitments so we went earlier, on the beautiful people, perfect body, very short skirt night the week before. I think that they were trying out test demographics and I was first slotted as old and fat. Cool. I can hang with that. Cultured, round and silver tipped, lets call it.

I don't have a menu in front of me so this is from memory, off the cuff, but we started our evening with duck quesadillas with a really delightful smoky sauce.

Longtime readers know that I am a freak for duck and these were very delicious.

Leslie ordered a ginger beer based spirit called coyote on the rocks and I tried a De Luz area cabernet which was surprisingly delicious. De Santi or something like that. Would order it again in a heartbeat.

Temecula area reds have long been sniffed at by the cognoscenti, the nose of the appellation often being typified as tasting like "dirt." Or mineral, what ever? De Luz reds, perhaps because of the cool mountain downdrafts, seem to have escaped the nasty effects of the inland empire terroir.

We followed the duck with a first class charcuterie plate - sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, delightful cheeses, including both blue and goat, prosciutto and salamis. I can't see how they can put this tray out for the price frankly. It was filling and fantastic.

Leslie opted for an Avo Maria, a signature beverage that features Fallbrook's first fruit, the avocado, along with tequila, cointreau and lime. She was crazy about it.

It was your basic, perfect summer night and we saw a whole bunch of friends. Dave and Robin were sitting next to us and I hope that one day I can hear them play music there. Faro Trupiano showed up and seemed to have a great time chilling and working the room.

By the way, the music is one thing that will be slightly problematic dialing in, with the wide demographic range of the clientele. We were treated to some thumping disco/club base notes and I think you have to be of a certain age of which I am definitely not to appreciate it.

Did I mention that the food and drinks were all gratis for us test subjects? They were and it was very kind of our hosts. I was starting to feel a little guilty the first night, didn't want to be a glutton but Leslie said, "Hey, they need to know," while ordering one of the best shrimp cocktails I have ever sampled. What a trooper she is!

The shrimp was gigantic and fresh and the remoulade/cocktail type sauce was perfect. Accompanied by a nice little corn mango chutney number.

The owner's son Mark was apparently the brains and vision of the Orchid Bar and he and his beautiful wife engaged in some rigorous hard time at trendy Las Vegas clubs and eateries distilling his own conception. Now that is a job I want!  But he has truly done a great job here. First class.

I sat with the owners and talked about some of my observations and offered to come back another night and take some pictures of the food. I sense that they figured out what I was up to but were gracious enough to accept my offer and even invited Leslie to accompany me once again.

I knew everybody that second night, one of four test sittings that they held. Most of us had our AARP cards this night.

People bopped around, all seemingly and literally old friends and we had a marvelous evening.  I know what you are thinking, Robert hasn't written in months and now he is waxing prosaically about an appetizer tray. Can he really be bought for the price of a free shrimp cocktail? The answer of course, is yes, absolutely he can.

Beef sliders

Mahi mahi tacos

When pigs fly, I give you "hog wings…"


The place really feels tropical. We had the same great table with a waterfall behind us both nights, my wife's favorite spot.

I met the long time flower vendors for the Grand Tradition. Apparently they are one of only five officially designated Preferred Gardens in the whole United States. When you visit you will see why.

I believe that the McDougals have secured two first class chefs for this undertaking and it shows. I look forward to seeing you there when it opens. Thank you Don and Alyson for the kind invitation. I am really very impressed. I think that the Orchid bar is going to become a great habit for many of us Fallbrookians. Great food, drinks, beautiful atmosphere at very reasonable prices.

Some people take forever to decide.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday

T.S.S. Nea Hellas

My father, Amos Sommers, arrived in America in 1939. He came over from Piraeus on the Greek ship Nea Hellas.  The Nea Hellas was originally the Turbine Steam Ship Tuscania but was rechristened the year of my father's passage, 1939, the year the Nazis started their campaign  across Europe. Later she served as a troop transport. She was targeted by torpedo twice by an Italian submarine, and attacked three times by Nazi aircraft in the Mediterranean, she completed her wartime service without the loss of a single life. Eventually she was rechristened the T.S.S. New York.

The TSS Nea Hellas / New York the ship of dreams for thousands seeking freedom and a new life in America

"...Coming to America was the dream of millions. The Greek Line passenger ship, Nea Hellas was the ship of dreams to thousands fleeing Nazi Germany, Greeks and other Europeans yearning for freedom and the bridge to a new life in America. During World War II she served as an allied troopship. After the war she resumed her service on the Piraeus New York route, until 1955 when she was renamed the New York, and served the northern Europe to America route."

My father was 12 years old. His name was then Amos Kaitz. Kaitz means summer in Hebrew, his native language. My father was born in 1926, in Tel Aviv. Accompanying him on the ship was my grandmother Pessia and his four year old sister Tirtzia, known forever as Terry. My eyes may be deceiving me but I believe that one can see a tiny jewish star next to his name on the naturalization slip he received after the war.

Pessia, who we called Pessa, may have actually been named Pola. She came from the town of Wyszkow in Poland, from a very large family, the great majority of whom were later decimated at Auschwitz. According to some family lore, Pessia was the name of a deceased older sister.

My father described the ship as very spartan. My grandfather Israel, must have already been here, working for a time as a chicken farmer in New Jersey and then finally with Uncle Julius in Detroit. My father enlisted in the U.S. army in 1945 as a 19 year old with a year of college at UCLA behind him. He was reticent to say much about the war but I heard some stuff at a family gathering between older relatives that was pretty hush hush.

He went back to school after the war and graduated from UCLA in 1950. He played football, soccer and wrestled there and met my mother Adelle Roberts as well, who was in the UCLA Theater Arts department.

My father now resides in an Alzheimer's group home in the Central Valley of California.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dan Flynn

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...."  

It will be a whiskey day. Dan Flynn passed away this morning. I got the text early from Bill W, his best friend had left this mortal coil somewhere between 6:15 and 6:36 a.m pacific standard. His dad and brothers had fortunately just flown out from his native midwest and were with him in his last hours. As were Bill and Ann.

Dan was a good friend. Sometimes you get to pick your friends off the ideal friend template and sometimes you associate and develop friendships after long periods spent in the same foxhole. The nature of my relationship with Dan was of the latter sort. We fought in many of the same campaigns.

Dan's passing was the quickest I have ever seen. Fine a matter of mere days or maybe weeks ago, then his stomach bothered him, and then we come to find out that it is stage four pancreatic cancer that has already firmly established in his liver. A short timer, as they say in the trade.

He called me and I guess we shared a bit of gallows humour as our sort tends to do. "Beats getting hit by a bus old friend, you get a chance to say goodbye." I tried to give him the benefits of my experience with cancer but there wasn't much I could really say.

Dan is survived by his wife, who was a doctor, many friends and his family. I don't think he had any enemies. He wasn't that type of guy. He had a great hearty laugh that he used liberally. He was one of the titans in the jewelry trade and was known as a square shooter who always gave a square deal, high praise in a pond known for its rapacious predators. Smart as a whip.

Two years ago I met Dan at Valley of Fire in Nevada. I was with BigDave, fresh from his own chemo stint for the lymphoma. It was an amazing day, scampering around the rocks and petroglyphs. Jimi Hendrix's song fire came on the radio in a fortuitous synchronicity as we entered the park. It was a day that all of our collective spirits soared. I am grateful for that very special day we shared.

Dan had an interesting sense of humour, he loved Divine and John Waters, a cocktail, Waikiki, had a great ear and taste for music, I remember a wonderful night at Streetscene watching Cake with Dan, Bill and Leslie. He had a very ordinary palette and I enjoyed taking him to chinese restaurants with Cam and eating weird stuff in front of him that was sure to make him gag. Jellyfish put him over the top every time.

I'm going to miss Dan Flynn. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance sir, I am sorry that you are going to miss the rest of the performance, you played your part excellently and you were loved by many.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Transferring Ink III

Ron Pokrasso Old Studio New Tree – work on panel – Intaglio, monotype, collage on paper, acrylic, drawing – 42”x30”

There is a wonderful new art exhibition opening this weekend at the Fallbrook Art Center. Titled Transferring Ink III, it is a juried show of prints created and submitted by some very outstanding local and national printmakers.

The show juror is the renowned printmaker and instructor, Ron Pokrasso, who currently resides in Santa Fe. Pokrasso has an MFA from Pratt, with over 40 solo shows and participation in over 150 group shows in his resumé. He has a show within a show at this exhibition with I believe fifteen of his own creations on display.

Pokrasso is giving a workshop this week at the Fallbrook School of the Arts as well, something he does on a near annual basis. The show submission prospectus allowed for many different media techniques but printmaking had to be the major element in each piece of art.

The show consists of a wide variety of printmaking techniques, woodcuts, chine collé, etching, relief, stencil, lithography, serigraphy, monotypes and intaglio among others.

The Blue Heron Gallery has loaned some historic pieces for the exhibition including works by Edouard Manet and Grant Wood.

I co juried the first show and had some input on the second. This show is by far the best to date, just an outstanding body of work. I highly recommend that people with an appreciation for art take the time to visit and see its rich offerings for themselves. The show contains 88 works from 53 artists from across the country including several works by the juror himself. Link to a comprehensive show catalogue here.

Ron Pokrasso - Who’s Pulling My Chain?, Intaglio, collage on paper image 16”x12”

I am in my fourth or fifth decade of selling artwork, Forgive me if I don’t give you an exact tally. It is my experience that printmaking is by far the most misunderstood medium in visual art.

I often have to deal with incredulous buyers who don’t understand how for instance, Gene Kloss drypoints and aquatints are often far more pricey and valuable than her oils or watercolors.

You have a job getting the public at large to grasp that prints are created to stand on their own. They are truly the redheaded stepchildren of the art world and deserve better understanding and recognition.

Too many people still equate prints with reproductions, they have a hard time wrapping their collective heads around the concept and notion that these are singular works of art that can sometimes be created in multiples but that fact in itself in no way diminishes their individual power and artistic merit. They are unique creations.

Prints have a long history, they were first pulled in the fifth century in China. The etching was probably first introduced in Germany in the early fifteenth century, lithography in eighteenth century France.

I had a chance to speak with the juror for a few minutes yesterday about his considerations in picking the show and about printmaking in general.

An intense but affable man, Pokrasso said that in selecting works he was not really interested in the already trod pathways of “traditional printmaking.” In fact very few of the selections for this show were multiple editions, a fact that he said pleases him. He said that to him printmaking was merely another tool for creating art, like a brush or stylus. He is, however, very interested in artists developing technical expertise, a proficiency he admits being drawn to.

Pokrasso confided that there was a misconception that being capable of using a press made you a printmaker. He said that in Santa Fe in the eighties there was a monotype boom that he felt partially responsible for and admitted that he had to occasionally cringe when these artists called themselves printmakers.

Mastering complicated printmaking techniques such as the making of aquatints for instance, can take decades and a lifetime of work and study. The printmaker believes that each artist’s intention in approaching a piece is what is truly important.

Gregory RadionovA Soul’s Ruffle  Linocut 40”x50”
I include pictures of some of the work that I found most wonderful in my cursory walk through the show. The linocut piece pictured above was particularly strong and appealing. I am told that Radionov is a Russian emigré who now lives in Northridge.

Dakota Clay Nanton – ‘The Seduction of Holofernes’ - silkscreen, monotype, acrylic, pastel 15”x19

Nanton’s The Seduction of Holofernes is a striking mixed media work, the almost german expressionist main actors juxtaposed against a powerful madras silkscreen backdrop.

Neal Ambrose Smith HiYo Inverse intalglio-type, watercolor, india ink & color xerox transfer. Akua non-toxic intaglio ink printed on dry paper 39””x64”

Neal Ambrose-Smith is showing Hi Yo. a large and topical piece that is extremely strong. The Kirk meets John Lydon character stands out under the slightly ironic and possibly tongue and cheek heading, War against War. The sgrafitto in the background evokes Diebenkorn, Steadman and Twombly, at least to my eyes.

If you want to see a show of merit, with an extremely high caliber of submissions, I strongly advise you to visit Transferring Ink III. One of the great things is just how many different techniques and visions were employed by the different artists, all with their own unique perspective. I personally need to spend some quality time in front of these prints as I barely scratched the surface in my first pass.

The show is being held at the Janice Griffiths Gallery at the Fallbrook Art Center. It opens this Saturday the 28th, with a reception from 5 to 7p.m.. Admission is $10 for the public and free to Premier & Friends Level Members. Regular admission is $6.

The exhibition continues June 29 through August 10, 2014.  Hours are Mon-Sat 10am to 4pm | Sun Noon to 3pm.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Time to do something else for a while. Blog is going to sleep. Thanks for sticking with me all these years.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Little Sadie

Sweet Jane

Former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos is known to have sexually assaulted at least thirteen women while threatening them with arrest. The City of San Diego has reached financial settlement with twelve of the women. The thirteenth, known as Jane Doe, has not settled at this time. She testified that Arevalos demanded her panties during a drunk-driving stop, then took her into a 7-Eleven bathroom in the Gaslamp district and violated her. Google Jane Doe and Arevalos for all the salacious details.

To date, the city has forked over $2.3 million dollars to the victims of this creep, who happens to be doing eight years in the slam for his egregious conduct. So what does the San Diego CityAttorney Jan Goldsmith do? He has this woman followed. He videotapes her at the gas station. He puts her, her family and her friends under a surveillance dragnet.
"They have private detectives following me around, videotaping myself, my family, my friends, my co-workers," said the woman, only known to the public as Jane Doe.
To make matters worse, it appears that the city is dragging this woman's name through the mud, accusing her of flirtatious and promiscuous behavior, not to mention bribery, in essence making the victim responsible for the reprehensible behavior of Arevalos.  Their surveillance showed that Doe was "kissing and hugging her boyfriend in public; attired in shorts and bending fully over ... on several occasions." Horrors! The traumatized woman should have been strapped to a gurney in a mental ward, how dare she try to lead a normal life after what she went through? The official position appears to be that they know they had a bad egg but this girl had it coming.

Lawyers with the City Attorney's Office even filed legal documents claiming Doe "bribed officer Arevalos with her panties" to get out of a ticket, but eventually the city attorneys filed a strike motion to take back that phrase.
Goldsmith called surveillance in a case like this routine. He said it was not meant to intimidate Doe, and is simply standard legal practice in a civil lawsuit.
"Some people think it's insensitive," Goldsmith said. "I can't address that. That's what practicing law is."
Goldsmith said Doe and her lawyers leaked the surveillance footage to apply public pressure for the city to settle the case for more than was prudent.
"We're responsible for what this dirt bag did, and we have a victim who is a hero. But that doesn't mean we make a bunch of people wealthy, rich over it," Goldsmith said.
The woman's attorney, Browne Greene, even accuses the Police of withholding evidence from his team and shielding the Officer.
Doe's attorney's claims the police department withheld and mishandled those notes to protect Arevalos.
They're also accusing the city attorney of misconduct by hiring a private investigator to follow and secretly film Doe for a month in an effort to attack her credibility."Their person that they had that they knew was a sexual predator, they chose not to surveil. But go ahead and surveil the victim so they can find something maybe to smear her," attorney Browne Greene said.
So the girl won't play ball and we have to paint her as an ungrateful slut. All in a day's work, I suppose. People are calling for the City Attorney to step down. During an interview with Channel 10, the interviewer had a great question for Goldsmith:
"Why would you profess to Jane Doe to do her civic duty and turn state's evidence against Arevalos. But when she files suit against the city, you had her hounded down as if she was the criminal instead. Doesn't that erode the faith the general public has in any way of becoming an witness for law enforcement." 
Great question. Yesterday the judge handling the case refused to grant a gag order requested by the city on the case. City needs to step up.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jennifer Warnes

Written by Stephen Foster in 1854. Blast mentor and stellar musician Mike Finnigan on background vocals along with Kenny Edwards and Blondie Chaplin.

Outrage part two

Governor Bobby Jindal - (R)  Louisiana
Daisy's Dead Air has done some interesting homework on the sex scandal currently being swept under the rug at Bob Jones University. Daisy has parleyed an excellent blog into a radio career and stardom in South Carolina.
From the NYT: GREENVILLE, S.C. — For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.
Union Tribune, of all papers, ran a good investigative piece this week, on nursing home abuses and the utter failure of the state bureaucracy to regulate or punish them.

Bobbie Jindal knows who butters his bread. Louisiana has lost 1800 square miles of coastal marshes. But don't even think about holding anyone accountable.
"The new maps document a disturbing trend Louisianans have witnessed for years. The state has lost more than 1,800 square miles of its coastal marshes – an area larger than the size of Rhode Island – since the 1930s, due to sealing off the Mississippi River with levees to protect towns, natural subsidence and thousands of miles of transport canals carved out by oil and gas companies.
In another rare move, a New Orleans area flood control board filed a lawsuit last year against 97 oil and gas companies, claiming they should fund billions of dollars in coastal restoration projects for their role in wetlands loss. Similar lawsuits by Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes followed. Only a fraction of a $50 billion, 50-year state plan to restore the coast has been funded.
The move to make oil and gas companies liable has been fought by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, who refused to re-appoint members of the flood control board involved in the suit. Garret Graves, Jindal's coastal chief, didn't return several requests for comment."
Of course in Louisiana, the state and federal agencies won't even look for offshore oil spills. That work must unfortunately be borne by volunteers.
“We don’t have people whose job it is to go out looking for spills; we rely on people to report things,” said Gregory Langley, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which says its mission is to protect public health, safety and welfare “while considering sound policies regarding employment and economic development.”
The state Department of Natural Resources has 12 inspectors who check wells along the coast for compliance with regulations, a spokesman said. Though those checks are conducted without notice, the industry is so large that the department’s goal is to inspect each one every three years.
 According to a consortium report, the companies that filed 2,093 spill reports from October 2010 through September 2011 estimated the total pollution at about 250,000 gallons. The SkyTruth evaluation put the figure between 1.5 and 2.2 million gallons.
“We have problems with non-reporting, but also with under-reporting,” Manthos said. “They’re operating pretty much on the honor system out there. The Coast Guard has limited resources. If the amount is small, they are less likely to go out and take a look.
Remember the leak in West Virginia? No, not the new one, the one from last month, Freedom Industries, the company that went bankrupt right away? Well, the principals have a little bit of a sordid past. Hey, who hasn't had a cocaine indictment?

Speaking of the new leak, it appears that the regulators think it's much ado about nothing.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a "significant spill" from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
"This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River," said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. "This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill."
"When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out."
Earlier in the day, Jimmy Gianato, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he didn't have a lot of details on the incident but was under the impression it wasn't that serious.
"I don't think there's really anything to it," Gianato said. "It turned out to be much of nothing."
The spill occurred at Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle operation.

Could they have been testing for the wrong chemical at the site of the new spill?
For most of the day, the DEP was operating under the assumption that MCHM, the chemical that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians last month, was included in the spilled slurry. Huffman said that they learned late in the day that the facility had stopped using MCHM just a few weeks ago, so a different coal-cleaning chemical was involved.
Huffman said that the new chemical was polypropylene glycol, although he also referred to it as polyethylene glycol. He said that that chemical is such a small part of the slurry that they don't believe it, specifically, will have an impact.
Huffman said they had been testing for MCHM, but will now have to change their testing protocols.
Residents near the spill had complained of MCHM's telltale licorice odor, but Huffman said that the odor was from a tank of MCHM that the company was moving off site.
Oddly, in Patriot's statement the company mentioned testing for MCHM in Fields Creek.
"Recent testing initiated by the Kanawha Eagle mining complex confirmed that the level of MCHM is far below the 1 part per million screening level set by the Centers for Disease Control and in most instances was non-detectable," Orf wrote. "We will continue to work with the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the containment and cleanup activities."
This is at least the third slurry incident since 2010 at the Kanawha Eagle cite (sic). In late November, black water was discharged into South Hollow Stream, and ended up in Fields Creek. The company was fined $663.
In October of 2010, there was a slurry line break that discharged into Spicelick and Joes Creek, impacting about 3 miles of stream. The company was fined $22,400.
On Tuesday, Huffman said fines alone were not enough of a deterrent to prevent spills.
"A some point companies will just pay. We have to do more than that, we can't just send them a bill and say you have to pay this to continue operating, there have to be fundamental changes made at a facility that's had multiple incidents," Huffman said. "Maybe there needs to be a top down review of all their processes. Maybe there's a cultural change within that company that needs to take place that has more of an emphasis on safety, environmental controls, things like that."
OSM investigators also found that other strategies -- including settlement agreements with mine operators and federal criminal prosecution -- don't always work in stopping future blackwater spills.
"It appears that the consequences for violating the law, even when the violations are intentional, willful and blatant, are not significant enough to be a deterrent," the OSM report said.Residents of W. Virginia affected by the first spill are getting a funny licorice taste in their water and still are apprehensive about drinking it, although some regulators think that it is safe.
North Carolina has its own problems. The recent spill into the Dan River has upset a sweetheart deal that the State had with Duke Energy. The Governor, Pat McCrory, is a 28 year employee of the firm and has stacked the government environmental agency with ex employees.
"My administration is the first in North Carolina history to take legal action against the utility regarding coal ash ponds," McCrory said, following a private meeting with company officials. "We have been moving on this issue since the beginning of my term and will continue to do so."The environmentalists suggest his administration's real goal has been to shield the governor's former employer from far more severe and expensive penalties it might face if the cases ever made it to a federal courtroom.Amy Adams was a regional director at the state environmental agency in charge of enforcing surface water standards for 21 North Carolina counties before she resigned in protest last November. A nine-year veteran of the agency, she said she was directed in her last months to help polluters meet compliance standards, rather than issue violations or fines."We have a governor right now that has very close ties to Duke, the state's largest polluter and a major political contributor to his campaigns," said Adams, who now works for the environmental group Appalachian Voices. "Under the new administration, North Carolina has changed the definition of who its customer is from the public and the natural resources it is supposed to protect to the industries it regulates. There's been a huge push away from environmental protection and toward promoting economic growth."Since his unsuccessful first campaign for governor in 2008, campaign finance reports show Duke Energy, its political action committee, executives and their immediate families have donated at least $1.1 million to McCrory's campaign and affiliated groups that spent on TV ads, mailings and events to support him.
The North Carolina fiasco has been one mixup after another, intentional or not. The state reported faulty numbers and was found to have made its tests far downstream of the spill. And it turns out that they allowed the Duke lab to conduct the chemical testing. No wonder the people are scared.
DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina environmental regulators acknowledged Sunday that they had erroneously reported results of early toxic tests in the Dan River after a huge coal ash spill, specifically, that arsenic was within safe levels.The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had incorrectly reported that results of water samples taken Feb. 3 were within state standards for arsenic, a toxic heavy metal. In fact, the agency said, two samples exceeded the standard of 10 micrograms per liter.“We made an honest mistake while interpreting the results,’’ Tom Reeder, director of the agency’s Division of Water Resources, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.The leak at a retired Duke Energy power plant dumped up to 82,000 tons of ash into the river in North Carolina and Virginia. It was reported Feb. 2.Tests of samples collected since Feb. 3 have found arsenic levels within the state standard, and those levels have continued to drop, the statement said. The department has recommended that people “avoid prolonged direct contact’’ with the Dan River in the spill area until further notice.“The bottom line remains that we are concerned for the long-term health of the Dan River,’’ Reeder said. “We will continue to test the water in the river as we assess the spill’s impact and determine the most appropriate ways to clean up the river. We are in this for the long haul.’’The state had said Friday that it had earlier found levels of arsenic, copper, iron and aluminum above state standards for surface water quality. The state failed to note that it was correcting the arsenic levels inaccurately reported the previous Monday.Environmental groups have criticized the state and Duke Energy, the giant utility responsible for the spill at the company’s retired coal-fired plant on the Dan River in Eden, N.C., near the Virginia border. One group, Waterkeeper Alliance, says its tests of water samples have found levels of arsenic, lead, chromium and other heavy metals that far exceed safety standards for humans or wildlife.Environmentalists have criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for working closely with Duke on spill response and water sampling. The agency sued the utility in August for improper discharge of coal ash from containment basins at 14 Duke-owned plants, including the Dan River facility.
 The Washington Post reports evidence that North Carolina's move may be a shield for the big contributor:
The state agency has blocked the citizen lawsuits by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority under the federal act to take enforcement action. After negotiating with Duke, the state proposed settlements where the nation’s largest electricity provider pays modest fines but is under no requirement to actually clean up its coal ash ponds.
His appointee to oversee the state environmental department, Raleigh businessman John Skvarla, describes his agency’s role as being a “partner” to those it regulates, whom he refers to as “customers.”
“That is why we have been able to turn DENR from North Carolina’s No. 1 obstacle of resistance into a customer-friendly juggernaut
in such a short time,” Skvarla wrote in a letter to the editor of the News & Observer of Raleigh, published in December. “People in the private sector pour their hearts and souls into their work; instead of crushing their dreams, they now have a state government that treats them as partners.
What have we learned today, kids? If you are a betting man in a contest between ethics, environment and money, take the money play every time.

And from Huffpo. This income inequality business is so bad that even the rich are getting screwed by the superrich.


Outrage, part one

You will have to pardon me, I'm a little behind on my outrages. I can't get the bread I want anymore at Subway because they have removed the azodicarbonamide, the plastic chemical that not only strengthens the dough but  bleaches yoga mats and stiffens the soles of your shoes. Now that's a dual purpose chemical! Yum.

Maybe McDonalds will soon get rid of Dimethylpolysiloxane in its french fries, the silicone ingredient that is also found in Silly Putty? Nahhh. A link to some other neat chemicals found in food.


I would assume that most Americans have heard about the little town of Negreet in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. This is the part of the United States where there is absolutely no separation of church and state and where the establishment clause does not apply. Well, here and South Carolina, anyway.

The story of the Thai buddhist kid at Negreet High School who was basically given the choice of finding Jesus or moving to another school really floors me. Read the actual lawsuit here, it is an eye opener.

I have read every news account of this story I can find. The student's father is a local and he himself the son of a preacher. The science teacher is a young earth creationist christian who feels that other religions are stupid. It is mind boggling that this stuff still occurs in America.

It has been interesting to read the comments people have posted on these stories. Because it must be said that the great majority of people, christians included, find this behavior over the line and reprehensible. One woman said Welcome to America, majority rules but most people are frankly appalled, as am I.

Get Along Home Cindy

She was a fixture at coffee, a large woman with a hearty cackle, perched on the bench outside every morning with the smokers. She sure needed the nicotine, man. She rolled into town a few years ago, think she was from Missouri, drove a sparkling clean green Volkswagen.

I got along with her well, she had an infectious southern laugh, which she displayed on a daily basis. Sang her this song 'bout every time I saw her, which was often. She sometimes sang back. Seemed a little nervous at times, a fish out of water and miles away from the home pond.

She disappeared a while ago, I thought that maybe she had died, perhaps she had been hospitalized or was convalescing, I know that for a few days she was in a wheelchair. Then there she was back on the bench recently like nothing had happened. Except she couldn't walk very well.

Tuesday was Cindy's birthday. Maybe she gave herself a present. What she did was she shot her son in law dead. Heard the cop cars scream by, didn't know where to. Folks say she went to the casino after the deed was done, then came back to Primo and had a coffee like nothing ever happened. Stashed the gun and went on with the rest of her day.

Papers say she didn't like his manner with the grandchildren. Heard he left her in town to fend for herself for interminable lengths on occasion. Perhaps there was some bad blood. Maybe she wasn't in her right mind. Maybe she was reacting to some weird meds. Maybe she had simply had enough.

Who the hell knows who was right or wrong in situations like this? Who knows what causes people to snap? I do know you don't go round killing your kin, murdering your daughter's husband and your grandchildren's' father. Not for being too strict. And when you do take the law into your own hands, you can expect to pay a big price. Who knows, maybe she would like to take it all back, but now the deed is done. Might not be seeing her for a while, if ever.
An autopsy revealed seven .38-caliber bullets in the victim's body as well as four other holes where bullets had entered and exited, Prior said.
"She (the defendant) then left the residence, tossed the gun in a nearby drainage ditch and threw the ammunition away," Prior alleged. "She then went to Denny's for breakfast, she went to Pechanga (Casino) for gambling, she went to the liquor store for cigarettes and she went to her favorite coffee shop to end her day."
Around 5 p.m. that same day, officers caught up with Cdebaca, who originally denied knowing that Eustaquio was dead and denied any involvement, Prior said.
Later that night, however, Cdebaca told police she was responsible, stating that the victim "better be dead," Prior alleged.
Cdebaca told police that she didn't like the victim and that "if he were here, she would kill him again," the prosecutor told reporters.
Get along home Cindy, Cindy.