Monday, October 31, 2011

Public works follies redux: anti-sustainability fee schemes

Irrigation dripperImage via Wikipedia  So, the city water department (the folks who insist on printing and sending paper bills through the US Mail to people who pay online and who don't want a paper bill at all) has decided that those among us who put in an underground irrigation system -- and who already must pay $40 a year extra to have our backflow prevention devices tested -- should also pay a special $15 a year charge to the city just to pay for paper-pushing by the bureaucrats who "administer" the program.

  We put in an underground irrigation system at LOVESalem HQ so we could install timed drip irrigation throughout our many gardens.  We paid extra -- quite a bit extra, actually-- for a high-quality, high-end, backflow preventer with redundancy, though we could have used a cheaper, less-reliable one, and still met the state requirements.  But we know that backflow prevention is important.  (Backflow prevention is about avoiding contaminants getting sucked into city water pipes if the system pressure dips, such as when fighting fires.)

  Drip uses a tiny fraction of the water of conventional sprinkler irrigation, reducing the demand for water substantially just when demand is most likely to strain the city's water supply system.  Instead of charging more, a city actually interested in promoting sustainability would waive the backflow prevention test fee for anyone who uses drip rather than broadcasting water into the air.  Or add the annual testing charge into rates for everyone, since everyone who gets water from the system benefits from the testing.

  The notice letter says that the $15 cost of pushing the paper in the backflow prevention program "were included in your utility rates" but "will now be charged on your utility bill on a prorated monthly basis."  Great -- so instead of figuring out how to reward or reduce the blow for those of us who are helping reduce the strain on the system in the drought months, the city has decided that we should pay extra on top of the extra we already pay for a public health measure that benefits everyone. 

  And they no doubt justified this brainwave by saying that those of us who have a backflow preventer should pay for the testing, not those households that don't.  Sounds right at first glance -- except that what it does is create is a fee system that gets the incentives wrong.  It hits people with an additional charge for doing what's right (protecting the health of the system) instead of raising rates generally, which tends to reward those who do what's right (such as use drip) and discourage doing what's wrong (using water wastefully).
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jump on this, no Jive

This was a show not to miss last time -- grab some tix, quicks, Nicks . . .

Midnight Serenaders

Jazz and Retro Swing
7 p.m. Friday, November 4
Loucks Auditorium
Tickets : $5 in advance/$7 at the door        On sale now at all Library Circulation desks
Doug Sammons and the Midnight Serenaders return to Salem Public Library for an evening recreating the Jazz Age. The swinging sextet presents a show combining old standards and their own original tunes that feel like they belong in the same bygone era.

For their Salem show the band will draw their repertoire from classics by the likes of Fatts Waller and Ethyl Waters as well as original songs from their new album, Hot Lovin’.  More information about this concert and the series can be found at or by calling 503-588-6052.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Here it comes

A scary preview of what's in store for a lot of American cities and counties. Especially those who think we can keep on pouring pavement and building things for cars and drivers,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seeing happens behind the eyes, not in them

... and it is not behind the door ...
So obvious once you find it J… so frustrating when you can't!


PS The answer is at
 if you absolutely must!

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Fair World -- a Salem gem


We are starting a Nativity Club at One Fair World.  In mid-October we will hold a special showing of our nativities after regular store hours.  If you would like an invitation to this event, please e-mail, call, or sign up in the store.  You will also receive a free nativity ornament with the purchase of two nativity sets. 

We will keep a record at the store, so you can purchase these sets at different times.  Our handmade nativities from around the world feature unusual materials (olive wood, recycled paper, ceramics, cloth, capiz shell, wheat straw) and interesting figures. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

As we watch the reactions to the Occupy Wall Street movement

First AmendmentImage by alykat via Flickr
Judges defending Constitution must sometimes share their foxhole with scoundrels of every sort, but to abandon post because of poor company is to sell freedom cheaply; it is fair summary of history to say that safeguards of liberty have often been forged in controversies involving not very nice people.

Snyder v. Phelps, 580 F.3d 206 (4th Cir. 2009)
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best bet tonight: Confluence Chorus "Classical Melodies"

Confluence: Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus will present...
“Classical Melodies,” on Saturday October 15, 7:30 pm, at the

First Congregational Church, 700 Marion St., Salem

Dear Friend,

Artistic Director Ray Elliott has crafted a special concert of classical music with choral works, madrigals, arias, cello and piano, including composers Rossini, Handel, Donato, Orff, and Benjamin Britten, among others.  The concert is designed to lift your spirits and soothe your soul.

Tickets in advance, online or from chorus members, are $15 General Admission, $12 Students & Seniors.  Tickets at the door are $18 and $15. For tickets online, or to make a donation, go to

You Are Invited

…to a special preconcert wine and cheese reception at 6:30 as well a silent auction which includes three separate coast getaways

one at Lincoln City with a gift certificate to Kyllos Restaurant

another just south of Salishan, within 250 ft. of Lincoln Beach

and a third near Waldport (on the beach and pet friendly).

kyllos restaurant background Lincoln-Beach-house-Fall-View-forweb Wavecatcher

All three can accommodate from two to six people. A great opportunity for families or groups of friends to pool their  resources and win a chance to spend some time together.


A fourth auction item is a  14,000 BTU Sportable Gas Grill, great for tailgating and camping. sportable grillsportable grill in trunk

All four auction items will make awesome holiday gifts for friends or family.

Your Support is Needed

Confluence recently purchased a cargo trailer that was stolen two weeks after purchase.  Although it was insured, the expenses of the deductible and ongoing secure storage are challenging the nonprofit chorus’s minimal operating budget.  Donations for the trailer are welcome as well as attendance at this concert, which is additional to the regular concert season starting in December. 

Donations may be made any time at or on the night of the concert.

Questions? Contact

Chorus Portland-cropped

Confluence: Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus
Building Bridges Through Song

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Amen -- Libraries strengthen communities in uncertain times. Join the Friends!

More than books: Libraries strengthen communities in uncertain times

. . . “What we’ve learned about libraries is that they fill a really important role in the community by providing an inviting space for people of all backgrounds,” says Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association (ALA). “They’re important for creating understanding across different cultures and pulling elements of the community into the space.”

. . . Libraries are also dedicated to keeping teens involved in library programs and activities and provide a safe, third place to go with targeted activities and areas set aside for them.  “Teens really want to be separate from kids and adults,” says May. “It doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly, just something apart.”

A free remedy for social and creative isolation, libraries are good places to go to get work done, offering a way to tap into the group productivity dynamic that has made co-working so popular.
“Libraries are important spaces for communities to gather,” says May. “There’s an intellectual energy that comes from hundreds of people working.”


. . . With some library branches increasing their focus on e-materials, others prioritizing their community offerings, and many trying to strike a balance of the two, libraries have some big budget and information-delivery questions to work out. Far from going away, they are as relevant to communities as they have ever been; perhaps more so.

“The question of relevance is out of sync with reality,” says May. “We’ll always be consuming new kinds of media, and libraries will always try to keep up with that. Libraries are changing to keep up with the times.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another SPFS don't-miss: Unnatural Causes

Unnatural Causes

soldiers of peaceThursday, October 13, 2011
7 PM

This documentary crisscrosses the nation uncovering startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social circumstances in which we are born, live, and work can actually get under our skin and disrupt our physiology as much as germs and viruses. Research has revealed a gradient to health. At each step down the class pyramid, people tend to be sicker and die sooner. Poor Americans die on average almost six years sooner than the rich. Through what channels might inequities in housing, wealth, jobs, and education, along with a lack of power and control over one's life, translate into bad health.

Monday, October 10, 2011

OCCUPY SALEM TODAY: You say you want a revolution, well, you know ...

Occupy Portland Image 35 jcjImage by Goldiefexify via Flickr
This crap keeps up and you might see some heads on poles soon.

Then there's this summary of our woes.

Combine those two pieces with the other recent reports showing banks and mortgage servicers have changed NOTHING and continue to fabricate documentation and commit frauds on courts when foreclosing people out of their homes and you wonder just how clueless these people are.

I am certain that the elites of Bourbon France sniffed that the message from the masses nearing the Bastille was incoherent.  Given Americans' propensity for violence and extremely well stocked gun racks, I pray that the elites here understand something about history, such as what happens to a society when the middle class is destroyed and impoverished.

High tech information processing and the globalization of trade, with the concomitant insecurity for all but the elites creates conditions conducive to tremendous and self- reinforcing inequality, like the positive feedback cycle that drives a microphone into a painful squawk of noise. The destruction of communities by the banksters and the corporate chieftains who insist that Henry Ford was misguided to care whether the people who built his cars could afford them is at the point where even relatively or apparently well-off folks are without any resiliency and cannot withstand any reversals, such as a serious illness or job loss.

Given that most people of a certain age played Monopoly as children (a game created during the Great Depression before this one), it's a wonder that more people don't remember that the game is a lot more fun when all the players have enough money to make deals and exchanges interesting and beneficial to both sides. Once someone establishes enough dominance to make the outcome a foregone conclusion, the fun stops and the grinding down starts, often right before people quit, often by turning over the table and scattering the game pieces to hell and gone.  It's not fun when it's a board game, much less when it happens in real life.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

TUESDAY, PDX: Margaret Kripke Speaks on Environmentally Caused Cancers

Worldwide Breast Cancer MapImage by The Mayor of Worldwide Breast Cancer via FlickrThe Lund Report is a rare gem -- someone with a lot of knowledge about the medical-industrial complex doing the deep, hard work in the trenches to report on the whole gamut of issues that coalesce under the heading of health.

The editor, who funds this shoestring operation mainly out of her own pocket, consistently runs rings around the captive media outfits who dare not annoy advertisers, which include both the big hospitals and many polluters who would be happiest if we kept thinking that cancer is the fault of genetics or personal bad choices.  These people prefer it if we don't recognize that cancer is primarily an environmental illness.

Hat tip to Lund Report for bringing news of this:

Margaret Kripke, PhD, a co-author of that report, speaks in Portland next Tuesday, October 11 at an event sponsored by Rachel's Friends Breast Cancer Coalition in collaboration with the Oregon Environmental Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. This free lecture takes place at 7 p.m. at Kaiser Town Hall located at 3704 N. Interstate.
According to the report, 'The incidence of some cancers, including those most common among children, is increasing for unexplained reasons,” while environmental cancers disproportionately affect women and members of disadvantaged social groups, who are more likely to be exposed to carcinogenic materials at work or who live in polluted environments.
Not only is more research needed into environmentally caused cancer, but environmental contaminants should be better regulated, and the methods of measuring such exposures improved, the report states. Currently such research is a low priority and receives inadequate funding, resulting in an inadequate number of environmental oncologists. Instead, most research emphasizes the genetic and molecular mechanisms in cancer.
The report is also critical of existing environmental cancer research, noting that most of that research investigates the effect of specific chemicals on adolescent laboratory animals – which doesn't really mirror real-world exposures to environmental contaminants. In addition, animals in these studies are exposed to doses substantially higher than those likely to be encountered by humans.
“These data – and the exposure limits extrapolated from them – fail to take into account harmful effects that may occur only at very low doses,” according to the report. “Further, chemicals typically are administered when laboratory animals are in their adolescence, a methodology that fails to assess the impact of in utero, childhood, and lifelong exposures. In addition, agents are tested singly, rather than in combination.”
Since Americans are exposed to tens of thousands of foreign chemicals throughout their lifetimes, studies should be designed to look at the effects of specific groups on contaminants in the communities most likely to be affected.
The report also calls for stronger regulation of environmental contaminants, saying that U.S. regulation is rendered ineffective by inadequate funding, fragmented and overlapping authorities and uneven enforcement, excessive regulatory complexity, weak laws and regulations and undue industry influence: “Too often, these factors, either singly or in combination, result in agency dysfunction, and a lack of will to identify and remove hazards.”
The panel advised President Obama “to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water and air that needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity and devastate American lives.”
Kripke is currently serving her second three-year term on the President's Cancer Panel – comprised of three people including Lance Armstrong, and LaSalle D. Lefall, Jr., the report's co-author. The panel,  created by former President George W. Bush, advises the President on the status and needs of the cancer problem in America.
Kripke is a professor of immunology and executive vice president and chief academic officer to the University of Texas MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston. Her research focuses on the immunology of the skin and skin cancer, skin cancer's relationship to ultraviolet light, and how the immune system influences the development of skin cancers. She holds a PhD in immunology from the University of California at Berkeley.
When I am sad about the people I've known and lost to cancer, I give to only those groups that recognize that blaming the victims for their cancers lets the polluters off the hook.  The group that has been sounding the warning about the environmental roots of the cancer pandemic the longest:  Breast Cancer Action.
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

LOVESalem HQ sees First Potatoes of 2011

For an urban farmer, there's no feeling closer to digging buried treasure than digging spuds.

The Yukon Golds and Red Clouds made a few nice big spuds but didn't produce a lot of tonnage for some reason.  But the Carolas -- a delicious creamy yellow variety -- sure are hitting big!  That book carton has just one section of a bed's worth, with lots more left to dig tomorrow.  Tomorrow I'll also be digging the All Blues and the Buttes (a great Russet) that were very heavy producers for us last year.

In other garden news, we also bought Crazy Neighbor an electric leaf "blower" -- not because she plans to be one of the idiots who stands around using electricity to blow leaves around instead of just picking up a rake, but so that she can use the blower in vacuum/mulcher mode.  This thing uses a heavy-duty metal fan that shreds leaves and twigs into fragments and dumps them into a big bag about the size of a king-sized pillow case.  The stuff inside is PERFECT for winter mulch on garden beds. 

Crazy Neighbor has several gigantic, decidedly deciduous trees and not too much garden use for the leaves.  LOVESalem HQ, on the other hand, has only dwarf fruit trees and but many garden beds.  Ergo, a symbiotic pairing -- we buy the leaf mulcher/bagger, she does the leaf cleanup on her yard and, instead of having to deal with bagging them and getting someone to take them to the leaf haul day, she shares the treasure with us. 

(I have read in several places that leaf mulch is like compost Viagra because trees have those ginormous root systems that pull up nutrients from way way deep and away from the surface, giving you the "good stuff" so often washed through the top few inches of soil in our heavy rain climate).

A doc no woman should ever see alone

Which is worse, doc's conduct then or his thuggish try at intimidation now? 
 Defamation suits against people who report on the misdeeds of powerful people are attempts to SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) people. 

Thank goodness Oregon has a strong Anti-SLAPP law.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Harvest Celebration at John Knox Community Garden, Oct. 8, 11-2

Harvest Celebration at John Knox Community Garden, Keizer
Saturday, October 8, 11 am - 2  pm

Tubers & Roots:  A Harvest Celebration at John Knox Community Garden

Open to the public, Saturday, October 8th from 11am to 2pm. 
452 Cummings Ln., in Keizer.  
Come for live music from Curt McCormack and Friends, tubers and roots dish tasting and recipes, kid's veggie art activities, garden tour and general merriment! 

Coming up Next Saturday, the final Harvest Celebration:
Super Squash!  Saturday, October 15th
Location: Oregon School for the Deaf. 999 Locust Ave. NE. Enter gate off Maple.  

Come for...draft horse plowing demonstration from Sweetwell Farm, dramatic performance from OSD students, squash dish tasting, hot apple cider.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another for the LOVESalem Bookclub

In this unique and insightful book Schlesinger analyzes the cultural forces that urge us to avoid critical thinking and independent analysis.  The media reduces politics to a spectator sport, standardized tests teach students to fill in the dots instead of opening their minds, and even the Internet promotes habits that discourage looking deeper. But the situation isn't hopeless. Schlesinger profiles individuals and institutions renewing the practice of inquiry--particularly in America's youth--at a time when our society demands such activity from us all.

"From her start in politics as a teenager Andrea Batista Schlesinger has asked the important questions. Now she asks her most important: are we teaching young people to value inquiry, and if not, what hope can we have for the future of democracy?"  -Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher, The Nation

Monday, October 3, 2011

LOVESalem Bookclub - like Oprah's, only better

The Salem Public Library had a little breakdown this year, having the book requests misdirected to a dead letter file instead of to a librarian for fulfillment.  So I got a bunch of my requests sent back to me -- don't know if that means they aren't going to find them for me or not.  But it makes it easy to recommend some new books (or new to me anyway).

The Abundant Community:  Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coal exports to China: The worst of all possible worlds

Oh, brilliant.  Let's export the coal to China, so that it is burned with zero pollution control and deposits the mercury, polonium and other radioactive isotopes, and smog into Oregon in about six hours after combustion.

The question we should ask anyone who wants to mine coal, but especially to mine and export coal is this:  Why do you hate America so much?  Why would you want to condemn our children to an impoverished and degraded future of poisoned food, acidified and barren oceans, and uncontrollably wild climate extremes?

Insanity.  If you have children or grandchildren, you need to understand this:  our only hope for moderating the worst that we've got coming is keeping the coal in the ground.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What will it take?

A Salem thinker asks, how do we wake people up to what's coming down?