From PG&E to NID? Let’s Not

It looks to me like any long term big deal involving a lot of money and people can become corrupt sooner or later… often sooner. If the social structure driving the long term big deal is powered mainly by the profit motive, it’s already corrupt in terms of social justice before you do anything.

DISCLAIMER: The people who work for PG&E anywhere but at the very top do not make and are not responsible for PG&E policy. Don’t take it out on them, please.

So PG&E is a construct to make money for its shareholders through an energy monopoly. It holds much of California hostage to this single end, to create fortunes for shareholders. According to John Olmstead, it was designed by three guys over drinks one Sunday on a riverside porch near Smartsville. Until recently, It worked well for the shareholders. It is expensive and progressively, even catastrophically dysfunctional for the consumer. The shareholders have sucked it dry and want us to pump it up again so they can suck it dry again.

I think we can leave PG&E to our Governor and Attorney General and we can shift our gaze to how rural electrical cooperatives have worked and are working ever since Roosevelt’s “New Deal” for places similar to Western Nevada County … a few medium and smaller towns and lots of rural life spread around the foothills of, in this case, one of the world’s mightier mountain ranges which endlessly pours copious amounts of rushing water down it’s innumerable canyons for us to interact with,

Don’t need PG&E.

Next question… NID wants to become the “facilitator” of this process to free us from energy bondage to a large corporation. Why should we trust NID to behave any better or smarter than PG&E?

We need help from rural electrical cooperative pros and such others as we discover along our path; the folk who make and run rural electrification systems… the data is readily available. Size us up and show us how its done. Bring the Board of Supervisors and all the players together before anybody gets a bit of control over the process. NID is looking to increase its turf. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what organizations like that do. Before we make them communications czar of the process, which is a very powerful position in the early stages of a project, we need to scrutinize them as well. NID sells us the water that flows down the mountainside. They didn’t make it. How came they to own it and sell it? I bet there’s large stacks of incomprehensible legalese to explain that one. Because they caught it in a ditch? The main ditches were already there when NID came along. How did they come to own the ditch system? Which by the way is a terrible scar on the mountains.

Enough said. I am not a fan. Even were I a fan, having the local water monopoly design our freedom from an electrical monopoly doesn’t make sense. we don’t need PG&E or NID. Of course NID will be a player, on a level playing field with the rest of us. We need each other… first in conversation for possibility and then for collaboration in action, beginning with design of experiment methodology to decide for and among ourselves how best to take the power crucial to so many aspects of our lives into our own responsible and capable hands.

Let’s not get in a hurry. We have hurried to where we are now. Looks a lot like a wreck to me. Let’s not hurt ourselves even more by crawling out of the wreck into a lion’s mouth! Hold off on letting NID run with this. Let’s take more responsibility for our own well being! We can do it!

What an 81st Birthday!

My best-in-the-world daughter-in-law, Heart, and I played and sang today for a very special wedding… The 72 year old bride, vibrant and warm and radiating Metta; living with a grim medical prognosis, asked us to do Kate Wolf’s “Give Yourself to Love”, as bride and groom entered separately (my second favorite song to sing after Amazing Grace) and Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to The End of Love” as they danced out together, having been pronounced, “Best Beloveds”…

Heart and I unpacked my elderly Martin and Che’s beautiful even older Gibson (Thanks Che!), made ourselves part of the wallpaper, noodling enjoyable little guitar runs for the ambience and observing the familes and closest friends of these two remarkable celebrants as they transformed our little community center meeting room into their particular kind of sacred space with lights and food and flowers and oodles of good will. And observing how our little community welcomed them and served them and are glad for them in very real and cherishing ways…

The ceremony itself was too beautiful, too intimate, too Holy for me to talk about. It’s a memory I will carry a good ways.

While they are both clearly remarkable people and I loved singing at their very real, deeply moving wedding, I don’t know either of them. I was there for my wife and our dear friend, the ordained minister who pronounced them “best beloveds”, When I heard that a lady was at a precipice and her lover and spiritual companion proposed marriage and our friend agreed to make the wedding happen, and would I please get Heart and come sing for these people on my birthday; I really felt like for a guy turning 81, that was about the coolest birthday present this particular person could get at this particular time.

People like our friend and my wife and them who pulled this wedding together in three weeks, people who have been so graced as to have truly immersed their actions in compassionate intention, even if they only do it for friends or only occasionally, are, I believe, very fortunate beings. For the effects their actions produce on other people are pretty to watch…

What a privilege it is to actually live and work and play with such people. Of course when you’re married to one of them, you can wind up donating a good bit of time; to which I say, so much the better!

Thank you, Life, for this absolutely extraordinary opportunity of the human experience. May Life squeeze out of me every last droplet of living and may I do somebody some good with it!

 

Something’s burning!

I startled awake.

Why?

No moonlight. Must be after one. My head instantly cleared.

“Something’s burning!”

Penny sat up in a rush. “It is!” she cried.

I was already out the door and halfway across the patio, the Airstream kitchen filled with smoke, the cat yowling at the nearly closed window. Maybe that’s what woke me up in time to avert the flames but not the brutal smoke… smells like a slaughterhouse fire… or a war sans cordite.

I snatched the door open and was slammed by a flying cat and a wall of smoke. The dog’s soup transmogrified by accidental alchemy from chicken carcass, sweet potato, and greens into greasy black, sticky, seriously stinky smoke over about 5 hours time on a low flame..

Sorry Amos. It’s a raw egg and yogurt with your breakfast kibble. 

We left a burner on and went to bed. That simple. 

We got away with it. This time… Barely.

On the good side…

We needed to build a better kitchen anyway. Canning and baking or cooking large on that trailer stove has been a nuisance from day one and they must have designed the kitchen sink and counters for people who always eat out. We, on the other hand, put up several cases of canned fruits and sauces and so forth, dry our own herbs and peppers and such, and cook and bake like the dickens.

And I needed the mental and physical exercise of designing and building something. Sitting around is a dangerous pastime. Leads to doddering. No doddering, thank you.  So this is good. And we both love the new kitchen. Check it out:

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Still a work in progress, but it works! See those peaches and pears on the bottom shelf? The five jars of relish on the top shelf? the ristras of Padron peppers hanging? Come on by and I’ll make you something nice… Like

Flank Steak with Papalo Sauce

My daughter recently discovered an ancient Central American herb that I’d never heard of… Papalo, and with said papalo and a lovely flank steak and several other well chosen ingredients, built a clean marinade, invented a brilliant sauce and prepared her old dad a most delicious and memorable meal, probably impossible to duplicate, except that, fortunately, her recipe published recently at trueself.com

https://www.trueself.com/papalo-an-alternative-to-cilantro-2606813426.html

I’m going to practice at it until I get it right.  

Wish me luck and check out that recipe. This sauce would be great on anything from vegan burgers to steak tartare to green beans to quinoa… I’ve had it on salmon, flank steak, tomato/fresh mozarella salad and by the spoonful… Yeah.

IF I CAN’T GET PAPALO, I will substitute 2 parts cilantro, 1 part arugula and a splash of blood orange juice for papalo in the recipe. It isn’t papalo, but it works.

 

 

One (at least) Liners of the day…

“If love isn’t the answer, rephrase the question.”

“You want a better world? Be nice.”

“The law of the jungle is not dog eat dog. It’s adapt or die.”

Which brings me to:

 

 

 

 

“aging in place”

Drifting happily toward dissolution, I note wear and tear… crumbling just a bit at the rub points and edges; weakening just a little here and there, then getting stronger again… Then an ordinary task becomes slightly more difficult. A little memory thing happens.

Then another and another until one happens with large consequences.

We already know we’re going to forget stuff so we set timers. But that only works when you remember to set the timer and are near enough to hear it when it rings and you aren’t wrestling a weed eater or some other noisy gadget. And that’s not going to be every time.

We’re very active people. We have a busy ceramics studio. My wife is a well loved teacher. We have a big garden. We live on a small farm on the knees of a very large mountain. We work. We play. Shit happens.

Mostly good stuff happens. As the fabric of this human gadget thins and frays, it also lets a light into me from a vast, quiet source beyond my usual knowing that smooths my thoughts and widens my smile. I love it. It is so pleasant to experience more presence and its attendant calm. 

Concurrently, I am dissolving like a dewdrop in the sun or a good idea in congress. Beauty surrounds me. So does death. I have lunch with somebody. By dinner he is no more. 

We elders keep half an eye on each other… It’s ridiculous. Invasive. Unnecessary.

Except it isn’t. It’s just good practice. Part of our adaptation. We adapt until we can’t…  I like adapting, being awake. I see  people giving up. Bad idea. Keep growing. Fill your life with living.  Learn something good every day. Do lots of good stuff. Stretch. Stretch your body. Imagine your mind expanding, knowing more, loving more.

I want to age in place alright; every place I happen to be at in the moment as healthily and happily as possible for as long as it makes sense! If you don’t have a way that you freshen and enliven your whole body and mind at least most days, go to Pilates or QiGong or something to get the hang of it, but move it! We elders have a lot to do yet unless we want to go to one of those warehouses, sit in a wheelchair watching 50’s re-runs and taking meds or an equivalent of that. Our country is in the shit. This is no time to bail, folks. This is time to gather our wisdom and become ever more wakeful and responsible. 

That’s what I think.

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This bowl is called “Instability,” something that happens in dynamic waveforms when the amplitude or frequency of the energies producing them increases or decreases… In this case, the blue wave form can be seen as either coming into the array or leaving it…

 

 

 

Why hatred is So much more popular than love or useful information on the Internet

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The algorithms that run your social media networks we’re designed to direct attention to where its makers wanted that attention to go. Mean, scary stuff gets more attention than nice news. So they synergize mean, scary stuff to get more of our attention. That’s just reasonable business in America, isn’t it?

That’s not the only problem.

The algorithms were written to continue redesigning themselves in real-time in interaction with users of the Internet, always modifying themselves, to influence the end-user and adapt to the changing situation of the internet…

But there’s a rub; to allow the Internet to become huge, they had to release algorithms into it which effectively control its structure etc so it can operate without interruption of service while it rapidly grew and still grows by orders of magnitude.

No human programmers can keep up with the changes, adjustments, tweaks, whatever that need continually to happen to meet the dynamic and expanding needs of whatever is transmitting and handling the data. So you flood it with self empowering algorithms that let the human programmers largely off the hook and, unfortunately, out of the loop… the algorithms don’t need the programmers to continue changing, growing, connecting with other algorithms…

Why is that a problem? In terms of our delicate and extremely dangerous relationship with AI, it is rather like asking a coyote to design, build, monitor and maintain your chicken coop. You will definitely feed more chickens than you eat. If you get to eat any.

AI is sociopathic at best and more probably psychopathic in that it is initially controlled and released into our lives informed only by the rapacious intentions of those who pay the programmers. No moral compass, no ethical boundaries programmed in.

So if you are the end-user and have anything at all of value that those rapacious people want, those algorithms are constantly constructing better ways to get it from you. You and I are then food for a self expanding algorithm of algorithms, vastly smarter and faster than us, designed to learn how to find ways to steal our attention, our identities and our money from us for sure, and we will probably never know what else.

These algorithms, and of course there are great many of them, feed on raw data which they are constantly teaching themselves more efficient ways to collect, memorize and utilize in support of greedy interests that care nothing for our well being and will enslave us utterly if they can.

It’s not even personal. No conspiracy is necessary to explain it. It’s just the reasonable outcome of the way we do things here where the coyotes usually build the chicken coops. Or is it sheeple screens?

Email really works for personal communication especially if you pay for it. You give them a little money and they give you a hassle free, ad free and reasonably personal Mail service. Can it be hacked? Sure it can. According to the news, so can everything else. We don’t stop breathing air because it’s funky. we find and correct the source of the poison… Then we consider our options…

If you’ve gotten this far here’s a primary source.

Jeron Lanier, “10 Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.”

He was the chief scientist on the project for expanding the internet from big to infinite and has no social media accounts and has gone to great effort to warn us.

Think about it.

 

………………..What is “Me”?………………………

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How do we know who we are? The nearly finished drawing above is my first approximation of  the ludicrous inner process by which I arrive at “personal” identity.

Why do I give a damn who I think I am? Because there are still some things in my “operating system” I’d like to change. Maybe because I walked across a parking lot on a freezing morning and passed a guy dressed in a threadbare blanket and ragged pants who was clearly looking in cars and everywhere else for anything that could warm or nourish him and I saw a thief, an intruder. We exchanged looks. He saw me see him that way… By the time I got to the door of my luxurious favorite bakery across the parking lot, I realized that a better description of what I had seen was a starving, freezing brother… And I wondered what in me makes such sudden, harsh judgements about people? And what in me sees that judgement and wants to make damn sure he doesn’t do it again? Who or, better, what is this me?

We need to wake up, take responsibility for our own lives, learn what’s really running things and come to terms with that and I’m saying most of us most of the time have no idea what runs this human gadget we live in, and rather routinely use to wreak havoc on each other, our habitat and, incidentally, ourselves.

Something inside me points at something inside me and calls it “me”. What’s up with that? What has separated itself to point at itself and call it a “Me”?

You may ask what difference does it make how I arrived at my identity? As Popeye said so eloquently, “I am what I am!”, With the implication of course, “and proud of it!”

As you can see, by the time the drawing got this far, it depicts separation, multiplicity, projection, circularity, the idea of disguises, and in that center circle, taking a most energetic role in this mystery, is “my” chop… the sign “I” put on my pottery or “my” graphic explorations so y’all will know that “I” did this or that.

My initials are GS. My chop lays a capital S onto a capital G to make one half of the YinYang image.

The point I’m trying to get to is not how clever my chop is but that before we go off half cocked making judgments about other people, especially judgments that affect their lives directly, like whether I proffer some guy a hot coffee and a pastry or a dirty look, we might want to consider that we don’t even know how we ourselves work. I’m an old man and I just recently decided that I’m an electronic device in a circuit from one perfectly reasonable point of view, an infinitesimal expression of infinity from another and a sac of bio-goo from yet another and we could go on for quite awhile…

So it seems to me that the definition of “I” is a moving target. However,

You bring this “I” hard evidence falsifying one of its main beliefs… the ones “I” paid for with blood, sweat and tears, and the rubber instantly hits the road… sideways. That’s just a startle reflex.

Try not to take it personally and I’ll try to shut my panic button off and hear your evidence…

But you and I both know that both of those things can be hard to do… either to let somebody react all crazy stupid about something you consider important enough to tell them about and still be authentically kind to them, or the other side of the “nonversation”… to face the fact that I have believed and probably pontificated a lot of mistaken notions about something dear to my ego. Maybe I even wrote a book about it and got prizes for thinking it up and it turns out to be a crock of crap according to this new information.

How do “I” and  the rest of me handle that…

Whatever this thing is, it doesn’t like to be mistaken and it definitely doesn’t like to be “Wrong!”, so when I’m trying to listen to better information than I’ve been operating on, it takes me a minute to relax my shoulders, take a breath and unscrew the opinions out of my ears…

Until I’ve done that, it’s no good driving even self evident points home, because “I” can’t possibly unscrew the blockading opnions out of my ears at the same time points are being driven into my ears… by “I” or anybody else…

Consideration communicates better than pressure.That’s  reasonable.

We’re in a war! Where is the army?

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Does this get the point across?

 

Our wonderful firefighters are wiped out exhausted. They’re short-handed so they’re staying out too long. Working a fire that tired greatly increases their risk and reduces their efficiency. In fact all of our firefighting resources are strained beyond the max and we are in the middle of what used to be the normal fire season. Unfortunately, the  reality is that we have not had a month since 2008 without a wildfire in California.

Our tiny community of North San Juan has a small but highly respected volunteer fire department. We have seven people out on strike teams at least a hundred miles from here. What do we do when fire attacks our high risk area? One of our guys is into his third week of EMT duty with strike teams on the Ferguson fire. When does he get a break?

We have 14,000 people fighting fire in California today according to Cal fire incident reports. By my count we are getting a new fire that becomes a major fire starting roughly every 72 hours over the last two weeks. And it’s getting hotter here.

When I see the pictures of the exhausted firefighters and then I look at the weather forecast I say it’s time for our military to take its place on these firelines and fight a real enemy actually attacking  the United States instead of running around the globe harming people who have never harmed us to further enrich a handful of bastards who are already way too rich. How much food do you eat from California? Guess what. That’s seriously at risk.

I think we are in a life and death struggle with fire fifty times beyond our capacity to handle it ourselves and we need the army or we’re going to lose it.

What do you think?

He said, “If it was in the newspaper or TV news, that’s not what happened…”

Foul play or mischance? We were in my suite in the Izmailova Hotel in Moscow discussing news of a missing scientist . The “retired” KGB colonel that Valodya, my Russian partner had brought to our staff party was very clear… the media was “no good”.

I was told he had doubled as a janitor in the US embassy in Moscow for over 20 years.  A full colonel in Soviet State Security swinging a mop and carrying trash for American diplomats. I would like to have seen that. I bet they loved him. I’m sure he made himself very useful.

He said he admired our enthusiasm for Gorbachev’s attempts to develop a prosperous Russia through cooperation with the West, which enthusiasm he graciously called “youthful” rather than “childish”. He advised me over a fried chicken leg he was happily munching that “Ultimately, George, a few guys get together for morning coffee in Geneva or somewhere and they decide what’s going to happen in the world that day…”

His pale, brilliant eyes said little about him and probed much into me. This man was very smart and very awake and the way he led the conversation led me to wonder whether he was vetting me or just enjoying the Southern fried chicken… I thought at that time that his cynicism was unwarranted and said that I believed that if you worked hard and paid attention that you could go all the way to the top.

I continued to believe that, one collapsed negotiation after another until we finally got it right and put together a deal that was going to save Californians money at the pumps of 35,000 independent gas stations and make us very rich indeed.

As we now observe, 35 years later, there are very few independent gas stations left in California. I’m not rich (in money) and we still pay way too much for gas…

The people who make millions of dollars an hour do not let people like me make millions of dollars a month. Believe it. Long story for another time. I’ll just say that the financial mechanisms of international commodity commerce are held so tightly by so few that I think that Valodya’s friend was right. “THEY decide what’s going to happen in the world that day…”

Catastrophe, worst enemy of the people and dearest friend of greed.

Catastrophe overrides everything else, doesn’t it? Suddenly nothing else exists in our minds. Investigations, birthdays, projects, hopes. Everything is instantly abandoned. When it’s over, and we find our weary ways back through the ashes or the mud and the wreckage, we must continue to forego other activities and rebuild. That costs lots of money and keeps everybody busy climbing out of trouble instead of creating thriving. Not so good.

War is the catastrophe of choice for the rapacious because unlike a hurricane or wildfire that just happens and is beyond even their control, they can plan, cause and somewhat control war, thereby making profit throughout the entire process… They agitate the populace with media… paid for by the populace, sell the weapons of destruction, uniforms, soon to be needed prosthetics, bandages, and all the food, ships etc to make the catastrophe, then after we regular people have murdered each other and blown up each other’s worlds to the point of utter exhaustion, both sides, losers and so-called winners pay the masters again with sweat and money to rebuild what they conned us into destroying in the first place. Now, that’s a hustle!

Communist era Russian joke

“Pravda” means “truth” in Russian. “Izvestia” means “news”. The two national newspapers were named Pravda and Izvestia. The joke is, there is no pravda in Izvestia and no izvestia in Pravda.