Most of us look forward to having guests, even those unannounced guests. You welcome them with open arms and accommodate them completely, but it would nice to be forewarned. You hope that they will find a clean house and spic-and-span bathrooms. The same goes for our community in welcoming guests to our Village, but every winter, we know that soon heavy snow will be coming to our doorstep, and we better be prepared for those unannounced guests. When we see the snow falls, we admire the beauty and tranquility it brings. The freshly fallen snow is beautiful to look at that first day, but we all know it requires work and frustration. We also know, “It’s Coming!” When the snow falls, Wrightwood knows there will be thousands of unannounced guests. The lowlanders bring up their children maybe for the first time. They, too, want to enjoy a day in the snow. In tow, they bring some supplies, but most are not prepared for the cold. They approach the idea as if no one else thought of it and head up HWY 138 to HWY 2 only to find a massive traffic jam. The gridlock stretches for miles through the Village. Many give up and park along the highway in “No Parking Zones” only to return and find a parking violation ticket stuck to their windshield for $150. They sled down the hills, make snowmen, and get frostbite. Even at the high cost of the ticket, this is still cheaper than a day at Disneyland with a family of four costing nearly $500. Over the Holidays, the CHP and SB County Sheriff issued tickets as fast as they could write them. I calculated that the revenue from these fines at nearly $75,000 for just that week. Those fines were raised this year from $14 to $150 by the recommendation from Wrightwood residents, hoping to discourage visitors from parking anywhere they pleased. Of course, the little ones need to use the potty and get hungry. The Village is inundated, the restrooms and porta-potty units are over-used, the roads are blocked. What can we do? This problem returns year after year. Newcomers who see it for the first time can’t believe it. They ask the same questions, and nobody has an answer. Sadly, we will face this same dilemma sooner than we want to, and the burden to serve these visitors will fall on all of us because the WCSD will have continued to deal with serving these lowlanders, using our tax dollars, and depleting our public funds. I think San Bernardino County should reimburse Wrightwood for the hardship we all have to deal with every snow-day caused by lowlanders. Maybe the fines of $75,000 collected by the County could go toward WCSD expenses? Who and how do we ask?
New Year’s Resolutions
Have you made yours? Have you broken yours? With all that is going on in the World (I shouldn’t complain), we have a lot to fear, and we have a lot to be grateful for. We all know the problems of 2020, and we had all to year complaining about it. So, this year’s resolution will be to stop complaining. Can we avoid the conversation about those things that make us mad? True, there is so much to complain about; but what will help is we all need to focus on the little joys in our lives and avoid the enablers of discontent. How do we go about making these steps work? First step - I’ll try to bite my lip and refuse to add to the conversation of politics. I have my opinion, and you may have a different opinion. However, in conversations today, there are such extreme differences in opinions that it results in anxiety and insults. I won’t complain. Step two - Those who refuse to give up the fight or continue to slam out insults have no place in my personal space. Facebook should be reserved for only happy moments and not slamming or cursing anyone or anything. We don’t want to read your bombastic posts. We’re not impressed. Don’t allow your personal space to be contaminated with pretentious posts. I won’t complain. Step three - The social and network media pounds annoying news at us every hour if we let them. They tell us about the racial inequities, the enablers, or the imbalance. Over and over again, they try to indoctrinate you to believe in their rhetoric. That’s their problem, and we can avoid not being part of the pity party. I won’t complain. Oops –That’s all complaining. Did I break my resolution already? I’ll try again and combat my complaining. Instead of pointing out the endless rhetoric thrown at us, we can take a deep breath and say, “Living the Dream! I can’t complain at all.” Remind ourselves that even in the mundane moments, there are things that we can be positive about.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert
December 9, 2020
In examining fake charities for a possible column, I came across dozens of scams to get your money. But the one that jumped out was the disgusting truth about Biden’s Cancer Charity that scammed millions. Fake charities are not just for the Clintons, it seems, as a report from the New York Post reveals that a cancer charity started by former Vice President Joe Biden spent most of the millions it raised on salaries but gave out no grants in its first two years. The mission of the Biden Cancer Initiative, which was founded in 2017, was to “develop and drive implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research and care and to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes.” The charity took in nearly $5 million in contributions in 2017 and 2018, according to IRS filings, but spent most of it, just over $3 million, on the salaries of former Washington, D.C., aides who were hired by the charity. His charity functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Biden’s business and political interests. The rest of the charity’s income was spent on expenses like travel and conferences. Dirty politics and dirty politicians will always be part of our society. These blood suckers will find a way to exploit anything to line their pockets, even connecting their charities to cancer. Yes, Biden never said the charity was a grant-giving foundation for research. Gregory Simon, the group’s president who raked in $429,850, claims that the purpose of the charity is not to give out grants, but to “accelerate” treatment for all, whatever that means. The charity effectively stopped running once Joe Biden started his presidential campaign. Don’t take my word for it, check out the federal tax records and see for yourself. Just be careful with your donations. When you decide to support a cause you care about, you want your donation to count. Doing some research and planning your giving can help ensure your donations get where they’ll do good. Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint. Find your state charity regulator at nasconet.org and report to them, too.
December 2, 2020
Schools are not just the three “R”s
The COVID-19 disruptions on our schools have been devastating. Our children are losing precious time and are losing their sense of community that is essential in their development. Without school, our children are losing their basic psychological needs to develop social and emotional competencies. Lack of social development leads to several behavior problems, including drug use, heavy drinking, sexual activity, and violence. Educating our children at home in the three “R”s lacks many vital details in a child’s development. Many studies have confirmed that building a sense of community in school benefits all levels of a student’s life. Academics alone do not create an ideal student. The positive effects on community school programs have shown that students are higher academically, motivated, and more likely to succeed in school and life. A school community is the heart of our schools. A school community stresses the development of qualities essential to good character and citizenship. Students learn collaboration skills, develop broader and richer relationships, and experience the many satisfactions of contributing to others’ welfare. The climate of a classroom is an intrinsically satisfying and complexity of citizenship in a democracy. Without a classroom atmosphere, our children are losing an important aspect of their development. Studies have proven that a school community builds an effective and robust complement to prevailing academic focus. Virtual schooling will have a devastating impact on our children. According to new projections, students will return with about 70 percent of the learning gains relative to a typical year, with nearly a year behind reading and mathematics. However, these studies don’t include students’ mental well-being and community development. Parents are naturally concerned about academic achievement. Many are worried about the long-term effects on their child’s education. Without the help of a trained educator in a classroom atmosphere, children will have difficulty achieving their goals. Academic achievement and community development gaps will have a more lasting impact.
White Knuckle ride
November 11, 2020: This election season and the pandemic have been a rollercoaster ride, and I’m ready to get off, but the carny man won’t let me exit. I’m getting a sick feeling deep inside. The only way I’ll be able to get off this stressful ride is to try to clamber out of my restraints, but that is too dangerous. I’ll have to hold on, with my white knuckles, grasping on tightly while the chaos of twists and turns continue. This ride keeps pounding, making steep slopes, and when you think it is about to stop, it just makes another sharp plunge. Maybe I should try to attempt to close my eyes and think about something else. I try to relax, watching re-runs on TV, but wait, a News flash tries to pull me back onto the rollercoaster. Quickly, but not fast enough, I change the channel, only to face another carny waving me on to inversion ride. I’m out of breath, my heart is racing as I am thrown back on the ride backward. I think I’ve exited the ride now. I journey upstairs and prepare for a night’s rest. I rest my head on the pillow and try to clear my thoughts. What will help as the silence around me makes me recall through each twist and turn again. I’ll change my thoughts to the Thanksgiving festivities. But wait, the carnies won’t let me have that either. There is another heightened sense of disorientation around another sharp twist; no family gathers, keep your distance, no hugs, no touching. I’m almost ready to give in, surrender to this insane machine. But wait, maybe I can fool the carnies and hide until it’s over. Is it possible to return to the time before, when we could all look forward to friends and family getting together without worries? I want to do that, but there will be confrontations that I’ll have to deal with if I attempt to join others. If I try to get off this nightmare rollercoaster and return to what I believe is everyday life, I am at risk of an ugly and micro-menace attacking me. The ugly truth is there is no exit. I have to stay on for how long, who knows? I feel incredibly agitated and worried. But wait, I do see a dimmer of light. The carny is holding up a syringe. Is this something that will turn off the rollercoaster? Can I get a hold of this magical ticket that will allow me and others to return to our everyday life? I’m afraid that this might be a trick, a hoax. Can it be true that a small drop of this magic dose brings us back to reality? I’m excited, and although it’s hard to believe, I think this rollercoaster is about to be dismantled for good.
I find myself in an uneasy situation with the impending electoral and post-election crisis. Like so many other voters, we cast our ballot early, but it will be days before we get any results. Everyone is nervous about the outcome. Businesses have prepared for the worst. They are boarding up their shops, cities are closing off streets, and families are making emergency plans. In the Tri-Community, we are somewhat removed from the possible conflict that faces the bigger cities down the hill, but that does not remove our anxiety. You don’t dare show your preference around Wrightwood and Phelan. Our small peaceful community is not far enough away to be sheltered from individuals who are so hateful that they deliver their hate by slashing tires or threatening a senior, causing him to have a heart attack. We are, too, infected by some that would instead cause damage and threaten those with a Trump or Biden bumper sticker. We won’t know for several days the results of this election. The results might be in the courts for months. (There is something wrong with that.) The cliffhanger election will keep our Country in the dark, without knowing the results of our votes. There will be apprehension and fearfulness that might result in dangerous conflicts in our cities. It could even spread into our communities. I have never missed an election, and whatever the results turn out to be, we accepted it. After the electoral results, the office was peacefully turned over. But I’m afraid that this will not happen this time. I am so scared that two Parties will continue to fight over the U.S. Supreme Court election. I am, with many others, worried that things could be nasty. Whether it’s Trump or Biden, the most important thing we face is the cure for COVID-19 and getting our Country back in order. We will return to normalcy no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office. The science does not matter, and they won’t stop their research just because their man is not in the Whitehouse. There will be a record turnout. Voters are coming to the polls. The first year of ballots that were mailed out across the Country will be a test for our democracy. The importance of our democratic system is we need to accept the results. There will be many people who will refuse to accept the results and might show their disapproval by rioting in the streets. There are many more who are just there to take advantage of the protest and take whatever they can grab and run with. Even as bitterly divided, we must come together and get through this.
One topic that was disturbing to me was the argument that nearly 545 migrant minors were separated from the parents, and claims that these parents have not been located. Both political sides use this scandal to smear each other. The politicians argue about who’s at fault, which exacerbates the situation. Meanwhile, the question remains – what should the federal officials do with children who are separated from their parents? The Los Angeles Times reports that a federal court compelled the federal government to provide contact information for the parents. The federal court-appointed a steering committee of non-government organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Justice in Motion, because the U.S. government failed to search. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central American without their children. Many of these families who crossed the border were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. How they arrived at the border is not an important issue. What is important is how we take care of them and reunite the children with their families. The Times reported that the 545 children are no longer in U.S. detention centers; instead, they are with extended family members in the U.S. or foster families. All of the 545 minors referenced were appropriately discharged. The Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said, “out of the parents, of 485 children, have been identified and those families have declined to accept their children back. Other families contacted have elected to keep their children in the U.S. with family members or sponsors” due to the fear of what will happen to their children if they return to the home countries. The ACLU and other organizations, part of a court-appointed “steering committee,” reported that more than 1,000 families were separated in 2017 based on the Department of Homeland Security data. The committee has been able to locate parents of nearly 550 children in South America. The committee believes that about 25 parents may have a chance to return to the U.S. for reunification. The U.S. is the safest place for these children. They receive better shelter, education, and health care than some U.S. children receive in their own country. I can’t imagine being separated from my children, but if I were in the same dangerous situation as these parents are in their home countries, I too would take any measure to get them to a safe country, even if it meant leaving them safely behind.
Flames of discontent
In the Tri-Community as well as across the country, there is heat. It’s not just the burning of our forests and cities. Wildfires caused by lightning strikes or powerlines have burned nearly a third of California’s forests. But there is a fierce fire in Washington DC. Our voting rights are under fire, literally. A ballot dropbox has been set ablaze, unofficial ballot boxes in multiple counties were found, and Mail carriers were caught throwing away thousands of ballots. There are reports that mistakes, fraud, and abuse of mail-in systems have occurred, and nearly 400,000 ballots in California alone have mailed to people who either moved or died. At my property in Arcadia, we still receive ballots and jury notices for our mother, who regrettably, 12 years ago, died, even though I have repeatedly reported her death to authorities. She may have a hard time filling it out, as she was a Republican and would have voted for Trump. Both sides of the aisle have expressed distrust of what may transpire; what might cause a less-than-accurate count? This election will bring contests, sparking allegations of fraud and angry clashes in the streets. This election process will create an impossible situation. I am sorry to say that some individuals believe that they must do whatever it takes to take down their opponent by flinging trash and even spreading lies. This all comes from both sides of the House. Tonight, there will be another Presidential debate. I want to run and hide from tonight’s event, but I must pay attention as a witness. The final head-to-head presidential debate rules have been set, with the organizer’s ability to mute the candidate’s microphones to allow them two minutes of uninterrupted time. So now we won’t hear “Will you shut up. Man?” The moderator Kristen Welker has said that the topics for the debate will be fighting Covid; American families; race in America; climate change; national security; and leadership. But I know that the candidates will speak out on other important topics rather than answer those questions. We’re in the final stretch of the race, and the polls now show the candidates are head to head. There is still a lot of mudslinging to happen in the next 12 days, with Twitter and Facebook blocking much of it, only to add to the flames of discontent. It’s a crying shame.
We have to share the mountains with many critters – so we can’t expect them to leave and must find a way to coexist with them. For the past few weeks we have had raccoons hanging around our home. One caught a squirrel and brought it back to his family home, in our yard. The only food source on our property are our apple trees. All sorts of critters have been munching on the fruit. We pull into our driveway at night and the headlights reveal a pair of tiny glowing eyes looking back at us. When relaxing in our living room, we hear the sounds of the small creatures climbing up our roof or scattering across our deck. Our raccoon family has grown. There are now two adults and two younger raccoons. That isn’t too bad – when they are just running around the yard. But now they have decided to take up residence in a comfortable dark and warm space that houses our water heater. We can hear them through the walls making the space fit for their family. I would like to encourage them to leave without hurting or killing them. We’re not supposed to catch them and relocate them. So good old Google came up with suggestions. There are various products guaranteed to scare off critters. There are several reasons why those backyard raccoons need to be evicted as soon as possible. Raccoons are capable of digging and scratching - they put holes in your yard or leave chew marks on your belongings. Beyond the physical damages, raccoons can potentially cause health issues for you and your family. Raccoons are the “rabies vector species,” according to the CDC, though only one human has been known to die from the raccoon strain of rabies. Raccoon roundworm is found in their feces that can affect humans and pets. Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that can infect raccoons, and humans can be exposed if in contact with infected urine. So basically, letting these masked critters hang around for too long just isn’t good for anyone’s wellbeing. I want to be rid of these raccoons as quickly and humanely as possible. Some research found a solution that will just scare off the critters without hurting them. I purchased a strobe light to put in the attic where these raccoons have made their home. The strobe light flashes on and off and is very bright. It is very irritating and makes staying in this room uncomfortable. The strobe light has a motion senser/timer set for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours. It also has a plug, so I won’t have to keep replacing batteries. Let’s see if this works.
July 30, 2020
Protesters don’t need to be violent and destructive
For nearly two months, Portland, Oregon, has been under sieged and trashed. Protesters have put themselves in danger, and in return, they attack police and federal agents. They terrorize their city, all under the theme of police-sanctioned violence, murder, and racial injustice. But why do they have to be violent and so destructive to get their message out? This made me recall my experiences in 1965. I was part of a protest against the Vietnam War. We had love-ins in the park where we sat on the grass and chanted, “get our boys out of Vietnam.” We had picket signs without terrorizing the community we lived in. We were concerned students that did not want any of our friends drafted, and we wanted our voices heard. As the opposition grew, that the conflict in Vietnam grew, the students had more protests around the country. I wanted to join the crowd because it seemed to be the right thing to do. We wore shirts with the peace sign. I was one of those “flower child” participants. It was custom to wear flowers, spread ideals of peace, love and belonging. We participated in antiwar rallies, but we were never violent. I was never part of the radical Weather Underground group, but I marched with some pretty serious students. We never broke the law, damaged property, or hurt police. As the days of unrest grew and the crowds became larger, there was violence as tensions divided America. I was shocked to see, on TV, the encounter at Kent State University, Ohio, where four students were fired upon and died. More violence happened in New York as construction workers attacked protesters, swinging clubs and other weapons, beating hundreds of young people, as police officers mostly stood by and watched. I wanted to be part of a protest that was peaceful. I saw the war as a pointless quagmire that could never be won. We just needed to get out of Vietnam as soon as possible. Politicians were contending that protesters had sabotaged the war efforts. In turn, the protesters forced the politicians to pull out of Vietnam. The war was lost, but the protest was a victory. I hope and pray that the people in Portland can come together peacefully and reconcile their differences without further conflicts. But for now, the nation remains deeply divided, and I see no solution for peace as this current situation in Portland continues.
July 22, 2020
Confidence over COVID-19 recovery
There are many, including myself, that fear COVID-19, but at the same time, don’t hold much confidence with our officials and the news media reporting. What can we really do? It’s better to be safe than sorry. We all need to take necessary measures and cancel plans for the next 20 months or until a vaccine is proven. Back in February we were planning our daughter’s wedding. She found her favorite location and we put down a hefty deposit. Then in March we made another payment toward this fab wedding. But then the coronavirus hit and her plans for her perfect wedding was thrown into turmoil and we were pretty much committed on this location and date. The wedding venue hasn’t been allowed to hold any events for the past 14 months. They were booked solid during this shut-down, and all the brides had to move their dates to future time hoping that COVID-19 would be controlled by then. We had the venue reserved for November, but it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 will be over. The venue was willing to work with her if the date of the wedding would fall into an isolation date. She could move her date, but it would be two years out to find an open date, as all the other brides had to rebook, between the pandemic dates, taking all the good spots. If there’s no vaccine for COVID-19, we can’t have any guests to share in her special day. We can’t gather as the pandemic spreads easily between events like this. Meanwhile, we have to wait until we get closer to the date and know if the shelter-in-place order is still in effect. If we’re forced to cancel her wedding date, she was smart enough to purchase insurance that would cover the costs. We’ll make alternative plans, a small gathering, for a wedding somewhere else, maybe in an open outdoor space with social distance, no reception. What a sorry image. Her wedding has been turned upside down by the virus what is supposed to be a wonderful time. She would rather wait until spring 2021 and have a memorable ceremony that no one is fearful of getting together or spreading coronavirus to particularly vulnerable guests.
July 15, 2020
I don’t want to write about Covid-19, how many people have died from Coronavirus, what are the symptoms, etc. But it’s a topic that haunts us all. Now new research finds that anyone infected with the new coronavirus can be infectious, even those without symptoms. You just can’t be friendly and socialize with anyone. The risk continues to increase and even the chance of bringing it home on your shoes or your handbag is present. The surfaces that you share, while in the public, are at risk of holding the virus and you tracking them home. As this insidious disease continues to play havoc with our lives, I am becoming more scared for myself, family, and anyone walking around in public. It wasn’t long ago that I had the naïve thoughts that this virus wasn’t so dangerous, and I could be safe doing simple things like going to the market. But now I learn that this virus can also exist on surfaces for a much longer time. The available evidence suggests that the virus can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days, according to the CDC. The best advice is to stay home and isolate yourself from other people. However, we are social people and physical contact is in our DNA. But physical distancing is so critical. It is safest to assume that people around you may have been exposed. It is difficult to know for sure unless they have been tested with a negative result. Most cases are occurring via community spread, often in homes or at places like the grocery store or hospital. This is why physical distancing is important. Normal conversations can spread tons of micro-droplets emanating from your mouth. And if you sneeze or cough, the volume of droplets move much farther and remain airborne in a room for 20 minutes. As far as self-protection, I’ve learned that a mask can do very little to protect you, as the virus enters the body through mucosal surfaces, including the eyes, mouth, hair and eyelashes. But masks do reduce the risk partially. When you return home, it is suggested that you practice good hand hygiene, and of course wipe those shoes, handbags, or even the coin change you received, that were taken out during shopping, with bleach or similar cleaning detergent before you touch them again. Be safe and see you soon. July 8, 2020
As defined by Google dictionary: the latest time or date by which something should be completed. Or a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot. What would our life be without deadlines? What do you do to meet your deadline? Synonyms for deadline: time limit, closing date, due date, sell-by date, expiration date, etc. Without a deadline, how much time would a person waste? Imagine, for a moment, what life would be like if an average person had no deadlines. The only true person not having a deadline is a baby. For the first 1-2 years, nothing is expected of them. Without a deadline, no one cares if you don’t get to it, you’ll always have time to do it later. Our world would stop as we know it. Every little thing in our life depends on deadlines. I’m guilty of procrastination. If I don’t have a forced deadline, it won’t be completed. Even without thinking about deadlines, seems that we all have to face them for so many things. To start with, I have a weekly deadline for this newspaper. I know my timeline, but every week I look at a blank screen on my computer and think, how will I meet the deadline? I’m afraid to say it, but I have anxiety over the content and whether or not I will have enough news and articles to fill the pages. But somehow it all comes together, within the deadline, and a huge weight lifts off my shoulders. People put deadline on all of us. They want us to meet them at a precise time, appointments for various reasons, or demands by our job. Even sleep has a deadline, with the timeclock at our bedside, waiting to start that deadline again. We all have dreams that don’t involve deadlines. Relaxing on a summer day with no worries and enjoying the company of family and friends. Some of these dreams require deadlines, too. We can only relax a certain amount of time before we have to get back to the harsh reality of deadlines. I guess we will all have one final deadline. Then for yourself, you can RIP.
June 11, 2020
Theaters soon to open
I’m happy to report that movie theaters will open this Friday. The State just announced the good news thanks to political and economic pressures. However, they will be limited to only 25% or 100 patrons, whichever is less. This is according to guidance by the State Department of Public Health to guidance issued on Friday for family entertainment centers.
I can’t wait to go to the theater and buy a large box of popcorn and soft drinks (even at an extravagant price) and stretch out on their stadium seating. But just because we have a combination of nostalgia and cabin fever doesn’t mean we’ll all go back if we are convinced it’s risky.
Anyways, are the movie production companies ready to supply theaters with blockbuster films? So many movies were put on pay-per-view. In the wake of the pandemic, the giant production companies rushed their films onto this new platform. The industry saw that it was just as profitable or even more profits than sending it out to private theaters. Home cable, satellite, Netflix, and Amazon streaming has put a damper on the theater industry. Before the pandemic, theaters were an $18 billion industry that would attract more the 20 million viewers weekly.
Rumors flew that AMC Entertainment, owner of America’s largest theater chain, was considering bankruptcy; the company even furloughed its own CEO as shutdowns exacerbated preexisting debt issues. The rents at the malls were extravagant, charging $35,000 to $50,000 a month. That calculated into higher ticket prices just to cover their nut.
It might be challenging to convince patrons that the auditoriums are being cleaned and disinfected correctly. Sitting in a windowless room full of strangers, expelling viral droplets for two hours, and grimy armrests are just a few public-health perspectives.
Are we going to have plexiglass guards separating each seat? What if someone coughs or sneezes? Will movie-goers’ temperatures be checked?
The bigger problems are Studios will not release movies until they believe they’re going to get the most bang for their buck.
Written May 28, 2020
What a treat to finally dine in. Restaurants are opening at 50% of their seating capacity. This opening is well overdue. We enjoyed our first meal out in over 12 weeks. Take-outs or dining in our car is not the same. Part of the restaurant dining is the personal service as well as the ambience. The closure of restaurants resulted in a chain reaction that went down the line from farmers to wholesalers, processors, and retailers. With restaurants, hotels, and schools closed, many of the nation’s largest farmers destroyed millions of pounds of fresh food that they could not process and could not keep on their shelves. Farmers across the Nation had to destroy their crops, smash eggs, dump milk. 750,0000 unhatched eggs were smashed from a single chicken processor. 3.7 million gallons of milk (5% of the country’s milk) is being dumped down the drain every day. Cows need to be milked multiple times a day, regardless of whether there are buy-ers. Tens of thousands of pounds of onions and potatoes are buried or left to decompose in trenches. Why couldn’t these products get shipped to those in need? The transportation costs would put further financial strains on farmers. Some of the surplus products were donated to food banks which have been overwhelmed with demands, but there is only so much perishable food that charities can absorb because of their limited refrigeration. Fresh vegetables had to plowed into the soil and then the same crop replanted again, hoping the food service industry will open by the time it is ready to harvest. The virus has had such a profound economic uncertainty to our farmers. Their struggles are enormous. Are we seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Will the economy restart by the time the next batch of vegetables are ready to ship to restaurants? With the food industry opening, is there hope for our farmers? The restaurants in So. California are now opening. This is only a bandage to the wounds affect-ed by this pandemic. We can only hope that this opening is not too late for our farmers.
Written May 4, 2020
Full Quarantine with your partner
Since we’ve been in lock down – it feels like that, we’re forced to spend to much time together. Thankful for social media, Facebook groups and video conferences. Passing the time during the quarantine, requires patience. We play a game, and there are not winners. Here are a few questions I hear every day: Where are you going? What are you doing in the kitchen? What is there to eat? Why did you eat all the cholate raisin? Why are you surfing the TV? Why don’t we go for a walk? Why are you on the phone so much? Why are you sad? Why are you mad?
Almost 80% of the world is quarantined, kudos to Corona outbreak, passing each and every day is becoming a hell of a task for all the people. Not only the quarantine period testing our ability to be patient during the tumultuous time but also checking our panic level with each passing day. Things you once found cute or quirky now become the bane of your existence. Small things like the way he eats loudly, that subtle whistle sound he makes when he sleeps, or the way he helpfully leaves the empty toilet paper rolls on the holder rather than changing the roll, all become inexplicably irritating. We also might find ourselves arguing over small things purely because were bored, like the name of the actor you saw in that movie that one time or the right way he can’t remember how to control the TV remote. The list goes on. Answers to the above questions: Nowhere, I’m stuck here too. I’m trying to think what I should make. How about getting off the sofa and look for yourself. I was bored, and they were calling me. I’m trying to find the channel of re-runs of King of Queens I’m tired of looking at the same scene. I’m only texting for proof of life. I finished my snack and have to wait 10 minutes until my dinner is ready. I’m sick and tired of you watching FOX News all day long I asked if deep down all this time together was bringing us closer. And then we laughed and laughed. At least we don’t have kids at home. A huge shout out to all the parents who are successfully managing to work from home despite of their annoying kids’ scrams and squabbles throughout the day. Parents may complain about their kids’ behavior and so the teachers of the world say, “I told you so.” Remember when you had a dream of working from home. Quarantine is basically your dream come true. First time in the history of the World, we can save the world merely by laying our lazy self on the couch and watch TV. The New Green Deal, forced by quarantine, because no one is driving or buying gas. If there is any company thriving during quarantine, it’s Netflix and Amazon Prime. Credit to Covid-19 for Baby boomers and millennials spending an enormous amount of time together in the quarantine household. I don’t know what it is about this global pandemic, but I’m feeling even more grateful for this life than ever. I couldn’t imagen doing this alone.
Written April 22, 2020
Your Newspaper is infected with the Virus
There’s so much information is going through my head. Being bombarded with politicians telling us what we have to do and what we can ’t do. Meanwhile, we are staying home all day, except for short trips to the market, Post Office, and a visit to a restaurant for grab-and-go meals. We go to our office for ½ day without any others allowed in the building. We’re there to answer phones, email, and mail from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What I want and what is safe to do is a question that can’t be answered without reservations. Like you I am sure we want to get back to our life prior to COVID-19. And we want to get the Newspaper back in print.
Today $482Billion have been added to the stimulate package over the trillions that was approved a week ago. We haven’t seen a penny and the Newspaper hasn’t seen any of the small business aide. Over a million businesses have received economical aide for small businesses with less than ten employees. After a dozen attempts, we were able to log in and create an account with SBA. We got our confirmation number but that’s as far as it went.
We (the Mountaineer Progress) have been impacted to the extent of a drop by 90% of our revenue making it impossible to operate at the same level prior to the Country shut down.
We still have a couple of independent writers working from home, but basically the newspaper is a shell of its previous self. Our nut (cost to operate an office) continues to be the same. Even in good economic time it is a challenge to put out the newspaper every week.
Many of our subscribers have inquired why they haven’t received their newspaper in their mail. They are understanding to our situation and have signed up to receive their newspaper online. But many of our subscribers are elderly and are not computer savvy. We’re grateful for their support and will extend their expiration dates when we’re back in print.
It is unfortunate that your community paper has been one of the many businesses sadly effected with this virus and struggle with surviving during this turmoil. We’re keeping faith that we will get back to the job of providing our community with their newspaper. The Mountaineer Progress has been a fixture for nearly 56 years. As stewardship to your community newspaper we have a sense of responsibility to make sure it does not become a victim of this virus.
We will do are best to continue to bring your newspaper to the extent possible.
Written April 1, 2020
Inside information on China over COVID-19
Three weeks ago I was talking to a friend, a Chinese doctor, who shared information she received directly from a friend in China, information that is not confirmed by a reliable source, but I believe she had the information given directly from someone in Wuhan before China shut off their cell phones. Dr. Van has not been able to get into contact with her sources. Inside information: Wuhan BSL4 laboratory sparks conspiracy theories that the health crisis could be connected to the army. Dr. Van’s contact in Wuhan suggested that Beijing made bioweapons in the Wuhan lab. She alleged that the virus created there was leaked (by accident or not). In an effort to stop the spread, the Chinese military set fire to the lab and surrounding neighborhoods, incinerating infected Chinese people in the process. She told me that a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army was flown into Wuhan, taking the helm of Wuhan Institute of Virology. China has stated that a top military biological-weapons expert has been appointed. This person took over a secretive virus laboratory in Wuhan after the outbreak of the COVID-19 in China. Facts: Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is where China’s only level-4 biosafety laboratory is located and which studies some of the world’s deadliest viruses, is located just 20 miles from the center of the original outbreak, according to some sources. China is a closed society, and the Chinese Communists tightly control information, particularly anything that may be damaging or embarrassing to the regime. It is relatively easy to spot the pro-Chinese media who are trying to shift the blame to the U.S. for the virus. And remember, they knew about this virus in December and January and allowed 15,000+ of their own citizens to fly on direct flights to the United States. The Chinese Communist Party is celebrating its success at quarantining 150 million people - killing many of them and infecting many more with an ineffective approach to containing the virus - but they always turn truth on its head. They are one-trick ponies. Also, the two Chinese Doctors who first spoke out about the lab have mysteriously disappeared. A suspicious soul might wonder whether China blithely spread the virus around the world, cynically calculating that the deaths of a few million Chinese people would be a small price to pay if the virus could lead to severe consequences for the U.S. and President Trump. Rep. Jim Banks thinks China needs to pay the United States for the spread of the coronavirus. The Indiana Republican told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Monday night that the U.S. needs to hold China accountable for the crisis the coronavirus has caused in the U.S., which could include making the communist country forgive a chunk of America’s debt. Last night I learned that the U.S. has opened an investigation on this topic.
Written March 11, 2020
Measure W If it looks like a tax and smells like a tax, it must be a tax. Or does it?
Wrightwood Community Services District, the local governing board, will be submitting a ballot, Measure W, for the November 3 election. WCSD will ask the voters to approve Measure W, Appropriation Limit. Upon first review, it may appear that this is an increase of your property tax. Before you set your mind to rejecting Measure W, let me tell you that it is NOT a tax increase. We must put the kybosh on any gossip that your taxes will be increased. You must go to the polls in November and vote YES on Measure W! The WCSD Board will be publishing the full Measure in the coming months. However, they cannot persuade you to vote Yes or No on Measure W; it’s against the rules. But they can explain how the Measure works and the benefits to the community. The purpose of Measure W is simple. The San Bernardino County Treasurer collects property taxes from us. A portion of this tax is allocated to Wrightwood citizens. For the WCSD to obtain our share, they must request it through a ballot measure. Though it may seem like a waste of time and money, the rules are rules and WCSD must follow them. Bottomline, if Measure W does not pass, WCSD will not get our full share of the property taxes. A simple majority vote is required. According to the ballot draft, the appropriation limits for WCSD are established in the amount of $660,612. This will cover the operating expenses of the WCSD which include Parks & Recreation, maintenance of the properties, streetlights, salaries, solid waste, improvements to facilities, and paying off debts. If you read comments on social media to the contrary, make sure you correct any misinformation. A public hearing on Measure W will be at the July 2 WCSD meeting. Any argument for or against Measure W can be submitted to the Registrar of Voters for publishing on the ballot. The deadline dates are July 20, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voter, 777 E. Rialto Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92415-0770. There is nothing to worry about or complain about Measure W. Go to the polls on November 3 and vote YES.
Written February 25, 2020
NEW Prop13 is terrible for property owners
You don’t have to be superstitious to fear the number 13. Both supporters and opponents of a proposed $15 billion school and college construction bond headed for the March 2020 state ballot are somewhat apprehensive now that the Secretary of State has designated it Proposition 13. The infamous Prop. 13 conjures strong feelings among California voters, even though many weren’t old enough to vote in 1978. It’s been over four decades since state voters slashed property taxes and set a cap on property tax increases. So why did the Secretary of State assign “13” to this Bill 48? Actually, it’s the luck of the draw under a 30-year-old state law, assured a spokesperson from the Secretary of State’s office. The Legislature decided that the numbering process for propositions should begin every ten years again, starting in 1998. In 2018, the first year under the latest cycle, there were 12 propositions on the ballot. Since the law dictates that bond measures appear first on the ballot, that put the school and college construction bond — the only bond on the next week’s ballot – as Prop. 13. Prop. 13 would allocate a BOND of $16 billion. There are 3,006,963 public schools in California. Out of the $16 billion, only $9 billion will be allocated for preschool to K-12, (with most of it providing matching funding for school districts’ renovation projects). That would equate less than $12,000 per school. Other distributions are: $1 billion for charter school and career technical facilities, plus $6 billion split equally among community colleges, California State University, and the University of California. Another problem with this Prop is – how will the General Obligation BOND be paid off? The BOND of $15,000,000,000 ($1 billion in interest) will be added to everyone’s property tax. This debt isn’t worth the effort. It significantly increases local property taxes – and embodies the opposite idea from the original Prop 13. In addition to creating state debt, it has a hidden and pernicious provision that raises the debt limit for local districts. Rather than the cap of 1.25% of assessed property value, the new Prop. 13 would raise those caps to 2% for elementary school and high school districts and from 2.5 to 4% for unified school districts and community colleges. This leads directly and significantly to our property-tax rate. Furthermore, bond funding is a particularly expensive form of spending, given the long-term interest payments. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, opposes the bond for several reasons. One reason, with a budget surplus, the state should be funding facilities on a pay-as-you-go-basis instead of accumulating more debt. As for the number 13, Coupal doesn’t know whether it will work for or against the bond. Though it is clearly labeled as a school construction bond, with arguments pro and con, it’s possible that some tax opponents may automatically vote for it. The state’s $21 billion surplus should be allocated to upgrading our school facilities. The Legislature and governor are wasting our money on their pet project.
Written February 12, 2020
Sunday night – what’s on TV The Academy Awards (Oscars) aired Sunday with viewership at its lowest TV rating for the Academy (less than 20% audience share). A line of black Escalades rolled up to the red carpet with the hypocrite celebrities attired in their designer gowns and priceless jewels. Many push their agenda on climate change while they themselves continue using their private jets and gas-guzzling vehicles, then orate the need for the world to step up! Leonardo DiCaprio has been criticized for his private jet use. During the 4 ½ hour show, 24 Oscars were awarded. The winners actually received a facsimile statue made by 3-D printer. The real Oscar, a 24-karat gold-plated bronze statuette on a black metal base (depicting a reel of film), will be delivered in three weeks with the appropriate name engraved on each award. 2010 was the last year that winners received the actual Oscar onstage wherein nameplates of all nominees awaited at the Governor’s Ball where the appropriate nameplate was applied. Brad Pitt received the first award for Best Supporting Actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Brad basically played himself, a Hollywood actor playing a Hollywood actor in this Quentin Tarantino film. Best Actor Oscar was awarded to Joaquin Phoenix, Joker. His meandering address was a bit strange and confusing. He rambled about cancel culture, cow insemination, and human selfishness, ending with a quote from his late brother, River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.” I wondered if Joaquin was still in character as a mentally ill person. The show was filled with the typical thank you speeches, a few funny moments, and a touching memorial. The non-English film Parasite won Best Picture, Best International Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Notably, no actors from this cast were nominated for any awards. Nominees are treated to the legendary swag bags that include luxury trips, personal training sessions, and copious health and beauty products. These bags have a six-figure value. Nominees will receive an ocean adventure to either Iceland, the Galapagos, the Amazon, or Costa Rica and Panama; membership to the first cannabis-friendly social club; private phobia relief sessions (what is that?); and thousands of dollars of lavish items from hand-crafted pretzels to hands-free dog leash; and last but not least, a Mister Poop Emoji Plunger. (I’m sure Brad Pitt will be thrilled with his bag of goodies.) Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, had a seat at the Academy. With Parasite available on Amazon Prime, did Bezos influence the vote? Exclusive invitations are used by many producers to promote their films and gain votes.
Written February 6, 2020
Why is our school system ranked 9th worst in the nation?
Sacramento is neglecting our children. Gavin Newsom proposed a $222 billion state budget last Friday which represents his priorities for California, including boosting funding for homelessness programs, paying for healthcare for undocumented immigrant seniors, and closing a state prison. The State budget estimates a $5.6 billion surplus by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in December. But what about our children? The state with the highest per-student expenditure was Vermont ($23K). California’s per-student expenditure was 11K. Adjusting for inflation, public school revenues have decreased 2.1 percent over the decade. California exceeded the national average in one area: In school-finance equity (largely attributed to Jerry Brown-engineered funding revision that awards more money to schools educating more immigrant and poor students), California earned a B+, above the national average of B. In an improvement overall, California posted a C, (previously a D+), thus ranking 41st in the nation. Newsom endorsed one new tax: a vaping levy of $2 per 40 milligrams of nicotine, which will raise approximately $32 million to be used for youth e-cigarette prevention and other healthcare programs. Newsom’s budget calls for a 3% hike in funding for K-12 and community college. The state ranked 41st in conditions that help children succeed, 39th in school finance, and 30th in achievement. California compares poorly to other states. It is important to prioritize the education of our children to better equip them to deal with the obstacles that often lead to homelessness. Allocate the California surplus to our underfunded public schools instead of funding undocumented immigrants.
Written January 22, 2020
The plight of the homeless
My plan for last weekend was to be with my daughter and visit the garment district of Los Angeles. It’s been a couple of years since we made the journey down 7th Street & Main. We wanted to search for unique fabrics and accessories for her November wedding. We knew we’d have to drive through the surrounding streets, with old rundown buildings with dirty windows where vagrants and panhandlers set up their tents along the dirty sidewalks. We’d lock our doors and proceed with caution through those streets. But what we found was worse than you could imagine. The homeless people did not venture into the garment district area. I’m sure the merchants made sure of this. We finally arrived in the district, parked, and started our shopping. The streets, packed with shoppers that Saturday afternoon, rushed around the booths. Merchandise of all sorts (nothing like our local mall), sell anything you might want. Sidewalk merchants were selling the counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags that look and feel like an authentic. We found beautiful fabrics at incredible prices; most merchants would reduce their price by 25 - 50 percent if we started to leave their shop without purchasing anything. But I kept thinking about the cruel plight of the homeless people on the streets. Reports show that within the last couple of years, the chronic homelessness has declined by 2%. But I don’t believe that report after seeing the streets (skid-row) overflowing with makeshift cardboard and tarp tents with people covered in filth. Their community was opposite from my community, but each of these individuals was once just like me. They were once children that went to school, had friends to play with, had food on the table, perhaps given the same opportunities and choices. But somewhere along their journey, they became something else. Was it that they didn’t take the opportunities that were given to them when they were young? Or, did they make choices that sent them into a spiral of hopelessness? Did they select an easy-way out (or rather a trap) with drugs? Perhaps they lost a job, while having lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and had nowhere to go. Many are mentally ill and should receive help; some refuse help. Some found themselves homeless because of relationship issues with parents, or out on the streets because they reached 18 and aged out of foster care. A few are better off than others, to live in their vans. The most vulnerable homeless are at risk of dying on the street. Another report states that L.A. county’s homelessness jumped 12% and in San Bernardino as much as 16%. These are not just numbers; they are humans who, even those who made bad choices over their lifetime, deserve basic respect and a roof over their heads. We finished shopping and drove through the financial district, just three blocks away, among new towering condos and lofts, with their shining glass windows, standing proudly. The streets were clean, and the trees were green, with a Starbucks on every corner where people in their designer suits stood on the sidewalks. A world of difference, just a few blocks away.
Six Days before Christmas
It’s six days before Christmas and all through the house a clutter of boxes lay all about. The tree was put up, but no one is there, who will decorate it? I shout with a flair. Holiday decorations, still snug in their bubble wrap, The tree lay bare, but with too much to do, I call it a rap. Last year’s stockings remain in their plastic bag - ready to hang with care. Little nutcrackers lined up on the mantel without fanfare. Wondering why they are standing alone with blank stares. Now out to the front yard that also looks bare. Find the crate marked holiday items fair. Packed in the back under tons of junk collected from years gone by. Moving each crate with care, making my way through them as I cry. Now darn it, now dag-nab it, now stupid, now why. . .I’ve got to get rid of this or die. The dust from the box flies around, making watery eyes and sneezing sounds. The temperature is dropping, and the wind blows the leaves My fingers and runny nose, as the cold bites them – I feel the freeze At last they are found - the colorful lights They’re pulled from the box all tangled and threadbare. Managed to untangle and lay them for hanging Climb up the latter, hook the first light to the nail, as I hear a clanging. Bulbs come lose, shatter and banging. Pull the remaining around the eves. Toss a few here and there – it’s a breeze. All done and it looks nice in the trees Now a trip to the mall as I rushed into the lot, only to drive in circles – as I look for a spot. There is a shopper walking to his car with his arms full of packages - could I dare. I raced around and followed the shopper hoping a spot will open – it’s rare. Car is parked and I walk into the store Finding shelves loaded with gifts to adore. Check off shopping list and head for the door. Another driver is waiting for my spot -poor soul. Return home to find to my surprise. The tree is decorated, and the boxes are not to be found. The lights are turned on and sparkle around. Christmas spirit fills our home, and good cheer abounds
Written December 11, 2019
Privacy through the ages
Not long ago, the term privacy was used only for situations like using a department store dressing room, a restroom, or a teen’s private journal. As a child, we wanted privacy from our siblings or parents. This type of privacy was harmless. We just wanted others to stay away from us and our stuff. As we got older, our privacy issues involved paperwork held by our school, employer, bank, or government. At school, if you misbehaved, it would go on your “permanent record.” When you got a paycheck, your personal information was on some paperwork. We didn’t give much thought to the threat of identity theft; data privacy threat wasn’t even in our vocabulary. Technology has created enormous conveniences for us, but we all have to be on guard. Attempts by criminals to obtain our data, misuse or compromise our personal information will continue. When we use the internet for purchases, our privacy is a concern, and we hope that the companies safeguard our digital information. Numerous studies show that when asked whether we think our data is less secure, more secure, or about the same as it was five years ago, 70% of adults say their data is less safe. Only 6% report that they believe their data is safer today than it was in the past. (by Pew Research Center) Whenever I use my cell or go online, companies are tracking my activity and profiling my potential habits, and then I get targeted advertisements. I’m not worried about this type of digital collecting. I’m more concerned about social media companies monitoring my posts. Even more concerning is our smartphones’ hidden abilities. These smartphones have the ability to record conversations even when we’re not on the phone. Even worse is the possibility that our smartphones can store information and thieves, using a swiping device, collect and sell personal and financial information. The phone manufacturers are continuing to block these hackers. Still, we continue to be bombarded with attempts from malware to infect our phones and allow these hackers to compromise our data. There are so many other (voice platform) devices that invade our privacy it is creepy. The Amazon Echo or Alexa are accused of spying on us. The device is listening to our kids, our intimate conversations and a host of sounds in our homes. Stronger laws are needed to protect people from these always-on devices. Meanwhile you can protect your privacy. Unless you unplug the device, it will continue to store conversations. You can manually delete some of the information on your Alexa or Siri but that is only temporary. Amazon confirms it retains your Alexa voice recording indefinitely. Unfortunately, while we continue to use these devices we forfeit our consumer privacy. To avoid potential criminal invasion, software companies are constantly updating their products. These updates fix bugs, improve security against data breaches and intrusions, and close off vulnerabilities. So, a good way to protect your data is to install updates without delay.
Written November 26, 2019
Thankful for our Ancestors
The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days, and as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. Going through old family journals that were saved by Steve’s Grandmother, Ruth, I found an account of her ancestor in the New World, the journey with the first pilgrims. The story of a young man that traveled with the Puritans in 1621, as written by Ruth, was a story that had been passed on to each generation. Joseph was not a Puritan but did help build the Colony. He sailed on the Fortune, the second English ship destined for Plymouth Colony. This ship brought many young men, useful to the settlers. There were thirty-five persons on board Fortune and of that only eight were Puritans. The rest were hired workers. Joseph was one of the hired workers, for his strength and ability to sail tall ships. When the first Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620 they began building their town. Much work needed to be done and during the first two months the weather was extremely bad and many people died. They found an abandoned Wampanoag community along a good harbor, with cleared fields and plentiful water supply. It was located on a hill, a favorable place for settlement. Ruth wrote that Joseph was a worker and was not allowed to eat with the Puritans or mingle with the settlers. Joseph had to build his own home outside the Colony and fend for himself. He found a cave, in which he built his home. He would return to the Colony each day to work for provisions. Joseph was young and strong and his cave home kept him warm during that first cold winter. Joseph, along with the other able men, would explore the area and hunt. Eventually, the Puritans accepted Joseph into their community and he participated in the religious practices. He joined the Colonists at their meals and was able to move out of his cave home and live among the Puritans. After a long period, Joseph was allowed to court a young lady, Elizabeth, believed to be the daughter of John Howland. The two received permission to marry and soon after they started a family. Many generations later we celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks to our first American generation that made this all possible.
Written November 20, 2019
The Kindred spirit of this newspaper
This newspaper gets its life from many sources. Like a body relies on each part of the body to survive. Comparing the newspaper to a living entity we can see that the life blood is the editorial, the brain is the publisher, the spine is the staff, and the internal organs are the presses. The nutrition comes from the advertisers & subscribers. Keeping the newspaper healthy requires each of these parts to work together. If one fails, the whole body of the newspaper fails. There are other factors that playout to keep the newspaper strong. One is the confidence and relationships of the people that create this newspaper. It’s like a kindred spirit that connects us. Terri Hill and I have just completed our 6th year with the newspaper together. We work as a team and together we brought new life to the newspaper. Working side-by-side we have developed a bit of a kindred spirit. We have made a special connection by sharing a bond that has drawn us together on a higher level of consciousness. We have a kindred spirit when it come to an underlying understanding of what the newspaper needs. Our kindred spirits began almost the moment we started to work together. The difference between kindred spirits and lifelong friends, is the ability to know what each of us need at a precise moment. Technically, we have developed kindred spirits that understand, alongside an awareness that is strong and positive. This might be my opinion, but I think Terri believes the same. She is not afraid to tell me the truth, especially if it means teaching me a lesson I need to learn. We put together this newspaper so well because we complement each other. Our kindred spirits are like two adjacent pieces of a puzzle. We both make each other more whole. In the near future Terri will be joining her son in Georgia. This decision hasn’t been an easy one to accept. But my kindred spirit understands. I will give her my support and encouragement that she needs. Let’s be honest, if the newspaper is a bit of a game, I need a kindred spirit to move forward and advance.
Written November 6, 2019
The family is growing by one, we are getting a son-in-law. Last month our daughter was asked for her hand in marriage. We were at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, where Ken proposed to Stephanie on the beach. It was a perfect afternoon. We knew in advance as Ken requested our permission to marry our daughter. That was a nice touch. Millennials don’t follow old traditions, so this approach was special. We’ve been to many weddings, from small gatherings to over-the-top affairs. Soon enough, reality set-in and Steve’s blood pressure slowly rose, I could see it in his eyes, “What’s this going to cost?” He is happy for his daughter and wants her to have a beautiful wedding, but how nice? He’s going along with the plans so far, but he keeps reminding me to set a budget. My reply is, “You can’t set a budget yet. You have to examine all the things that go with a wedding, and your choices are numerous.” So, last month, we started the process. Our first journey was to a Wedding Expo were hundreds of vendors showed their stuff. There were rows and rows of vendors with hundreds of brides and grooms going over honeymoon packages, viewing wedding location videos, sampling cakes, appetizers, and wines. The convention hall was full of booths with everything from photographers with incredible photo albums, to DJs with amazing techno lighting, and florists showing off their arrangements. Along the wall, there were a variety of limos of all models and sizes. At every turn, more booths for the wedding party, including photo booths for guests to dress-up, bridesmaid dresses, tuxes, accessories, and wedding gowns. There was nothing left to the imagination. I’m glad Steve stayed home that day, or he would have had an anxiety attack. Weddings are big business. The industry is expanding, and it’s expected to exceed $80 billion. Research shows that despite fewer couples getting married, increasing per capita disposable income has enabled those who do get married to spend more on their big day. There is a Wedding Wire’s Newlywed Survey that explored data behind 18,000 newlyweds married in 2018. It’s a massive industry. The survey also said that a wedding package would include 14 vendors for the special day. Just like the movie “Father of the Bride,” Steve was thinking of a backyard wedding with a BBQ like George Banks (Steve Martin). I, on the other hand, am wishing for a full-blown wedding - like Nina (Diane Keaton) planned. But there will be compromises along the way. In the following weeks, we’ll be touring wedding venues. Steve will join us for these tours.
Written October 23, 2019
Adopt-a-portion of the trail We all benefit from the village trail, even if we don’t walk the trail regularly, we can enjoy the beauty of it. It would be nice if more of the community would support the trail. But many people look at the trail and see too much work involved. However, if the trail was divided up into small sections, like an Adopt-A-Highway program, citizens, civic groups, businesses and clubs might be willing to take on a small project. Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp had some of the inmates (on good behavior) work on the weeding along the trail, and redistributing the crushed granite. Unfortunately, this service is no longer available. The Highway is controlled by Caltrans and the trail is on an easement controlled by Caltrans. I don’t know if Caltrans has plans to clear the roadside, but they do have a number of dead or diseased trees marked for removal. A version of smaller “Adopt-A-Trail” groups could step up and help out. DOT.CA runs the Adopt-A-Highway programs. Participation can include one or more of the following activities: • Removing litter (work frequency varies with location). • Planting and establishing trees or wildflowers. • Removing graffiti. • Controlling vegetation. Participation is free for all volunteers, and signs are included at no charge. However, they require a commitment of five-years and a span of two-miles. If Caltrans would reduce the span to ¼ mile (1320 feet) along the trail I believe more groups would be interested in adopting a smaller plot. Each year the trail committee faces challenges to maintain the trail. The damaging rain erodes several parts of the trail, leaving holes and making parts of the trail unsafe. With that, a small group of volunteers could tackle the necessary maintenance on their portion of the trail, filling in the ruts and holes with crushed granite. A smaller group could easily repair their part of the trail surfaces and remove weeds each year. The trail opened on October 8, 2011. The four-year project headed by the first committee consisted of Ron and Sue Parody, Lynn and Marcus Haile, Ernie Mogg, Chuck and Cathy Carroll, Kim Floyd and John Lenau. Over the years the Village Trail Committee has added numerous features including doggie bag dispensers for our four-legged friends. The committee built benches and added trail drain dips to divert any additional water off the trails. Boy Scouts used trail improvements for Eagle Scout projects. Each year Girl Scouts plant more daffodil bulbs, and the Property Owners Assoc. held a daffodil planting party last week. In spring the bright yellow flowers will bloom. They are a wonderful sight. The daffodils symbolize friendship and are some of the most popular flowers. The category ‘daffodils’ includes the cluster-flowered yellow Jonquils and the White Narcissus. Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans who thought that the sap from Daffodils had healing powers. Actually, the sap contains crystals that can irritate the skin. Daffodils are among the earliest blooms in spring. The effort, by a few volunteers, to maintain the Wrightwood Village Trail is a daunting task and we should remember to thank these volunteers.
Written October 16, 2019
Cost of Doing business rises
As president of the Timberline Lions Club, I face challenges to keep the Club financially strong. The Telephone Directory raises funds that support our many charities. Every year the Directory shrinks a little and our cost goes up. This trend doesn’t look good for the Directory. We feel the pinch just as other businesses feel the pinch in staying in business. I received an email that shows the concerns about our Directory. Vicky, Rumor has it that this might be the last year for the local Lion’s Directory to be published. The Directory has become a tradition for the community and should be continued without interruption. The residents I have visited with on the subject were shocked--as I was--to hear of that possibility. Most of us use the directory exclusively to contact folks who live locally. Matter of fact, we wish there were more white pages listings, but I guess most folks have gotten rid of their landlines and are using their cell phones exclusively. As an advertiser I would prefer to pay more for my ad(s) than to lose the advertising opportunity provided by the Lion’s Directory. I think most businesses who advertise in the directory know they are getting a bargain having their ad visible for an entire year! Please consider raising your advertising rates in lieu of discontinuing publication of the directory! Please forward my invoice for Kris & my ads whenever it’s convenient. Hank Hallmark Wrightwood Response: Hank, It might just be true; however, the Timberline Lions Club would like to see the Directory come back strong as it was a few years ago. The cost for printing and distribution has gone up and our advertising is down. We’re working hard to get it off the ground this year and hope that it will continue in the years to come. As with everything in California, the price for doing business has jumped ridiculously and the Timberline Lions don’t want to add to the struggles each business faces just to stay open. Therefore, we will try to keep the cost of the advertising at the 2015-2019 rates if possible. The Directory is a wonderful marketing tool for the area, as an example: one business decided to drop out of the Directory and the result was a disaster for them. He admitted that his business suffered greatly, and he believed that customers thought he’d gone out of business. He returned the next year and also apologized for his ignorance and would not skip a year again. Also, updating the white pages is a struggle. California privacy laws restrict us from obtaining telephone listings, so we must rely on residents in the Tri-Community to supply us with their information and changes. We can accept cell numbers as well as landline numbers. Street address and P.O. Box can be included, but they don’t have to. Thank you for your concern and we appreciate all the advertisers who make this book a benefit to the community. All profits go back to various community charities and scholarships. This is the only printed directory in our area, and we will fight against the internet-info giants making this Tri-Community resource obsolete.
Written October 9, 2019
The privilege of running a newspaper
Throughout our life, we create chapters that result in who we are and how we contribute to the human race. I’ve had many exciting episodes in my life, and as I look back, I realize that each chapter was just what I needed and could handle at that time. I am fortunate to have the opportunities to experience some incredible events, some of which I’ll share with the newspaper in future editions. The chapter that is now filling my life is this newspaper. Running a paper is more than just sitting in front of a computer and dropping in stories, photos, and ads, it is a stewardship. The Mountaineer Progress is the newspaper of record, of fact for the Tri-community - the recorded history and the record of identity for Wrightwood, Phelan, and Pinon Hills. This newspaper has a life of its own. All who contribute to its pages also add to the life of the community newspaper and its survival. This publication is more than information; it’s a public service meant to disperse important information and facts. It’s an honor to put together a newspaper, and more than that, it is a responsibility. It is a duty, a badge of honor to inform the public, as factually as possible, of the happenings in our area. I don’t worry about the news of the world. The Big Six media control 90% of the world news and what the public receives from them. Today, most of the mainstream news is determined by ratings and the whims of the political and corporate entities, as to what is considered to be in the public’s best interest. That is unfortunate. The public’s trust in the media has been declining for some time; however, local community news has remained steady. Local newspapers are a good alternative, or addition, to social media for community news and information. Often, posts on media like Facebook precede the release of details and facts. This newspaper, although small, will remain an unbiased news source where we can find impartial, fair words. I believe that the pages of this newspaper will remain an essential part of the area’s life and growth, and it is the support of our advertisers and subscribers that will keep it alive. This chapter, the newspaper chapter, is proving to bring out exciting challenges each week, and it’s a pleasure to contribute to the human race through this newspaper.
Written October 2, 2019
Public Comments at the WCSD
This past meeting of the Wrightwood Community Services District was attended by a large crowd ready to speak about topics of concern and suggestions for the Parks and Recreation. I found the public comments at this September monthly meeting very interesting. The WCSD board policy allows for 3 minutes per speaker on non-agenda items however, some speakers exceeded their allotted time on important issues. The first public comment was concerning a public bike path that would allow children and adults to ride in a safe area on trails that could be cleared in the mountains. The speaker also suggested that a bike path could be maintained by volunteers, i.e., bi-monthly cleanup days, that would reduce the expenses to the WCSD. The audience applauded in favor of a bike path. I recalled an issue a few years ago, Mountain High Resort attempted a mountain bike trail on the ski slope during summer months, but they were shut down by the National Forest for reasons that the Resort only had a land-use permit during the winter/snow season. The suggestion that WCSD could include a bike path, as part of their Parks and Recreation, surrounding the new park is an excellent idea. The next speaker addressing the Board asked that WCSD consider an opportunity to create a village vision with our local control rather than using the old County Vision for Wrightwood. Pamela Wright first thanked all the elected Board members for taking control of the Parks and Recreation of Wrightwood and then expressed her concerns to the Board about the plans for the community including the Community Building, the parking lot use and the treasure of the Village that is the Village Trail. She expressed her viewpoint as the Village Trail plays an integral part in Wrightwood and should be included in the Parks and Recreation plans. Pamela asked the Board to consider joining the National Recreation and Parks Association. This organization (NRPA) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recreation, and conservation. Public comments continued, with Leslie Mihalko, concerning dog parks. She asked the WCSD not to approve the suggested area for a dog park; her reason was the health concerns for dogs. She recognizes the social importance of a dog park however, the plans do not allow for enough space, and the expense to maintain a dog park would be too cumbersome. Leslie is concerned about the hazard to both animals and humans. She said that a veterinarian recommends that pet owners do not take their animals to a dog park or to Petco because of all the diseases. The contamination of dog feces and dog lice to the soil would require the removal of the dirt, regularly. Leslie commented on the importance of a proper amount of land, one for large dogs and one for small dogs, both enclosed with a six-foot fence, for the safety of dogs. Until dedicated dog park areas and funds are available for proper maintenance of a dog park, she implored the Board not approve building a dog park. Another important public comment that night concerned the bus stop in front of Vivian Null Park being blocked during events at the Community Building and in the parking lot. The WCSD staff was asked to keep the Victor Valley Transit Authority informed of all activities that would require a re-route of bus pickup. The General Manager said she would make sure they are informed of such. The Board members not only recognized members of the audience, I felt that they appreciated the comments and will consider these suggestions for the Parks and Recreation.
Written September 18, 2019
Try to scam me? I don’t think so!
Scammers are everywhere and if you are not hep to their fake claims you could lose thousands.
Scammers recently attempted to trick me. We listed our old boat on Craigslist. The interested buyer asked all the right questions and requested to see the boat. This criminal didn’t know who he was dealing with. Thinking I was an unsuspecting seller, he plotted to cheat us out of thousands of dollars. The warning signs were there but I was curious and asked how he was going to pay us. This was a classic check scam. But I thought it would be a good article and show just how cleaver these scammers are.
Under their pretext they would send us a check for full payment, and we were instructed to deposit the check and after the check cleared the bank, we would hand over the boat. If we were to sign over the title of the boat before the money cleared, the boat wouldn’t be ours anymore, and we would have basically given the boat away for free.
What was interesting was the fake buyer said he lived in the Valley and not to be concerned about an out of state cell phone number. He recently moved to California and wanted a boat for his family. He said our boat fit his needs and he didn’t care that it needed some minor work.
So, we waited for his check to arrive, and after five days UPS delivered the check. First warning sign, he said the check would be coming from another person. Second, the check was made out for the wrong amount. Third, he thought we were stupid enough that by making the check out for more than the cost of our asking price, we’d deposit the check and give him difference.
Scammers will do this, sending a fraudulent check and ask the unsuspecting seller to hand over the goods and the extra cash.
We looked up the company name that was printed on the check. It was easy to find it on the internet. The lady on the phone knew right away why we were calling. It seemed that her family business bank account had been used illegitimately. These scammers had checks printed with real bank names and account numbers that look very real. She had been notified by her bank, in the past couple of weeks, that hundreds of attempts on their account were made and luckily her bank had stopped the attempts. She was glad we called her and said she was blessed that her parents’ business wasn’t damaged by the scammers.
We still have our boat for sale. So, if you aren’t a scammer give us a call. We’ll make you such a deal!
Don’t forget our senior citizens
In many communities across the State seniors have a place to gather, providing them with healthy alternatives from just staying home. Here in Wrightwood we do not have that service. The community of Wrightwood does not currently have a center dedicated solely to be use by seniors, and the Wrightwood Community Services District (WCSD) does not sponsor any programs for the seniors of Wrightwood. WCSD does not have any plans to include a Senior Center in their plans for a future sports park. Their only suggestion is to charge the seniors rent for the use of the community building. There are no developed programs, type of activities and anticipated scale of any activities. There are no plans for any type of feasibility study for a senior center. Overall, WCSD has no future for senior citizens. The Wrightwood Community Services District is supposed to SERVE the community. Currently, a senior wishing to participate in any programs with other seniors must go to the Phelan Senior Center. Phelan Pinon Hills CSD supports the seniors with a number of programs and space in their community centers. Their Parks and Recreation works with the seniors and sponsors planned activities. Here in Wrightwood it seems the only way a Senior Center would be feasible is to take on the task by a few seniors, using their professional talents, and start the process on their own without help from WCSD. On September 24, at 6:00 p.m., a feasibility study will officially be initiated with a Kick-off meeting held in the Old Firehouse on Cedar. This meeting, will hopefully be attended by seniors interested in our plans, to elicit their input into the possibility of a senior center. The attendees will complete a questionnaire during the meeting and discuss their ideas. All citizens age 55 and up are encouraged to come. The senior group would ideally want to see this program provide a number of opportunities for seniors to stay active and fit, including low impact exercise classes, fitness equipment rooms available to seniors, ballroom dancing, and yoga. It could also provide for sporting activities including horseshoes, shuffleboard, softball, table tennis, tennis and pickleball, golf, bowling, and walking groups. Other activities could include various classes, games, a chorus, and health and wellness sessions. Likewise, if meal programs such as Meals-on-Wheels were added, it would be good stewardship to our aging citizens that are homebound. The Timberline Lions Club has agreed to be part of the task force as a Lions’ Project to better our community. Participation in the focus groups will be based on willingness to participate, as expressed on the questionnaire, and then sorted accordingly by the volunteer’s preferences on topics of discussion, and availability. The questionnaire will be available at the September 24 meeting and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written August 22, 2019
Education and discipline
The two go hand in hand. It is the responsibility of all adults to make sure every student receives a proper education. Even if the student is resistant or has no desire or is distracted, discipline measures are required. All distractions should be eliminated, and the school district must take action to ensure each student is free from disruptions that interfere with their education. After all, school is not a playground or a place to foster friendships between pupils and instructors. The school’s first, and principal objective is to prepare the pupil for future education and achieve a well-rounded person who is a citizen contributing to society. The School Board has been presented with a dilemma regarding smartphone use on Snowline campuses by pupils. The Board has been reviewing the pros and cons regarding the subject and a decision to allow or prohibit the use of smartphones on campus, during regular school hours, is still on the table. Scientific studies regarding Smartphones used by pupils have been published, proving that they contribute to low-achieving scores, promote cyber bullying, increase in teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide. These interferences can be devastating in the long run and affect their healthy social development. They found that test scores have improved significantly with the ban on mobile devices. In my opinion, the ban on smartphones is the only option. A few parents may reject this policy, believing they need their child’s ability to contact them in case of an emergency. There is a reasonably simple solution to control the use of smartphones without confiscating them. This procedure adopted by another school district that I have worked for and works perfectly without any parental complaints. This particular school district applies a phone jammer that interferes with the reception. The jammer is on when the school bell rings, turned off at dismissal and during any emergency. Students needing to contact their parents go into the administration office to make a call. These jammers are used by the military to stop terrorists from igniting a bomb controlled by a cell phone. It can effectively jam 5.8G and other cell phone signals, 18W high output power, jamming range up to 40 meters. It’s a very cost-effective jamming device, ranging in price around $650. I strongly suggest that the school board show a little more discipline and take these steps immediately and turn off these darn phones on all Snowline campuses.
Written July 30, 2019
Vacations are to Relax Renew and Rejuvenate
A recent study, conducted by the Kimble Applications (a U.K. based software company), shows that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time last year and 21% “left more than five vacation days on the table.” Approximately 1,200 full-time U.S. employees were surveyed for the research, which highlights four main reasons for this aversion to vacations, all of which resonated with me both from my own career and from what I’ve read elsewhere. Twenty-seven percent of respondents felt they had “too many projects or deadlines” and 13% fear “the amount of work they’ll return to. This was true with my family: too much demand for their time at work. Our 6-day vacation was all we could squeeze out of our busy lives. Even with that, we all had to put in extra time before leaving our jobs. And then at last minute, each of their bosses requested more time. My daughter was asked if she could postpone her vacation or at least come in on Saturday. “What? I’ll be in Tahoe on Saturday,” said Stephanie. Tyler’s jobs, he has two, both were pressuring him, even though he requested time off months ago. Chris had to work a 60-hour week to cover his job. And Gilda, my daughter-in-law, had double duty at the UCLA Medical Research Facility. It was if they were making them feel guilty about taking vacation time. After all that they all came through and put the jobs aside for a short vacation. Our first stop was Lake Tahoe for 3 days, and then another 3 days in Yosemite. Trying to squeeze in two destinations was a mistake on my part. After dealing with the details I learned I should have planned 6 days in one or the other place. Never mind the fact we were committed. If I wasn’t pressuring them to take this time off, they wouldn’t have used their vacation time. While in Tahoe we enjoyed the time exploring, dinning out, and shopping. Everything in Tahoe was overpriced. My son asked a waiter if there was anything to do that was cheap or free. The waiter laughed at him saying that the Lake caters to Silicon Valley and they spend money like there’s no tomorrow. He wanted to rent a kayak, but the rental was as high as owning a kayak. So, he went to Big 5 and purchased a two-seater, which was so much fun, and his daughter enjoyed it every day. We packed up the van for our second stay in Yosemite. We were entering Yosemite from the west, on the north side, and as the navigator I took them on some back-country roads. We headed west along CA-50, CA-49 then CA-120. Awesome drive. We didn’t realize that this would take us up one of the craziest, curviest mountain roads in California. On CA-120 from Moccasin to Priest there had to be 30 hair-pin curves for 12 miles on a narrow road going up 4,000 feet to the summit. All of us were on the edge of our seats as we squeezed by vehicles going downhill. When we arrived at Priest, there was a 100-year-old building converted into a small hotel and café hanging over the cliff. “I see why they call this place Priest because you pray all the way up,” Steve said. We took refuge there and found the café a much-needed stop to settle our nerves. Their food was great and their homemade lemonade very refreshing. Then we told the waitress they should sell t-shirts saying “I survived the climb up Priest Street. She said they were actually thinking about doing that. We arrived at the Yosemite Gate. The regular fee was $48 for a 7-day pass, but leave it to Steve to request a senior pass, which was only $20 for 12 months. Our vacation house was inside the Park and tucked into a canyon. Our goal was to arrive before nightfall as we would never have found the place in the dark. Once at the house, which was one of the first homes build in Yosemite (100+ years old) we found it to be perfect. One problem: mobile device and WIFI were dark. This was hard to deal with as the family could not use their devices while vacationing. They were off the grid and to see them constantly looking at the devices with no luck was funny. Our 3-day itinerary included hiking and exploring the iconic valley. At the Mariposa Grove, were the 4000-year-old massive, giant sequoias live, they actually found a spot and yelled out, “We have bars!” They couldn’t move from that spot while taking turns and connecting to the outside. I think they were more excited to have bars then to see these ancient giants. They got their fix for the day. We headed out of Yosemite for our return trip. Although it was a long-tired journey, we all enjoyed the experience and will chock this one up as a great trip. PS: Enterprise car rental got an ear full about the van regarding our disappointment, for which they compensated us plenty.
Written July 24, 2019
We made it! It was an eight-hour road trip to Lake Tahoe. Was it worth it, Yes, but the journey could have been better. Starting the road trip everyone arrived in Wrightwood on time (11:00 am), packed into the van Steve picked up at the car rental. The second problem (the first was the planning fiasco mentioned last week); the agency claimed they would hold a Chevy Suburban, with all the upgrades, but when Steve arrived the reserved vehicle was not there, in its place a 2018 extended Chevy van, seats for 15, remained on the lot. It looked like an institution vehicle for getting from point A to point B without any comfort. Steve thought he could remove the back seat to make room for our essentials, but he couldn’t figure how to get it out. My son read the manual and was able to get it out. (Hope we can get it back in). To say I was disappointed is the understatement; my idea was a luxurious ride on the 366-mile trip, but we got a generic vehicle, no Sirius radio, no USB, no comfortable seats, or head rests. Instead of enjoying the road trip we were riding in a van, very loud, and feeling every bump on the road. Steve tells me to just deal with it, but you could tell he was p-ed off. This vehicle should have been retired. We hit the road at 1p.m. and headed up Hwy 395. Traffic was light as we went from desert to green pastures. Two hours later we had to make a restroom stop. First place had a sign on the window “restrooms out of order due to the recent quake.” We were 8 miles from the epicenter from last week’s 7.4 quake. Back into the van to search for another spot. 30 minutes later we found a gas station that 50 other vehicles found, too. We spent a few bucks for the privilege of using their restrooms. My son, Tyler, took the pilot seat and we piled back into the van. It was now past 3 p.m. and we were hungry. I kept pointing out places along the roadside, but the pilot wasn’t interested in stopping. Finally, we reached a landmark BBQ place. Tyler made a U-turn and we stopped at the Copper Top BBQ in Big Pines. Their claim to fame is that YELP listed them as the best BBQ west of the Mississippi. Great Brisket and pulled pork. Piled back into the van, we hit the road. Steve took control of the wheel. My navigation took us through beautiful eastern California, grazing cattle in open fields. We went over the State line into Nevada and the gas prices were 30% cheaper but Steve didn’t want to stop. He was in his zone and focused on his destination. We approached the road that shot up the steep mountain and held our breath as we took each curve. After the exhausting road trip, we made it to our destination, and finally relaxed our sore backs, on the deck overlooking Lake Tahoe. Our next trip would take us on some wild back roads to Yosemite, which will take another 500 words to describe, next week.
Written July 16, 2019
Planning the family vacation can take all the fun out of the trip
All I want is to relax at a nice resort for a few days and enjoy the time with my family. However, the amount of work to achieve this makes you wonder if it’s worth the effort. I started 4 months ago. The first obstacle was finding a date that everyone had open. This was my first mistake. I should have set a date 6 months in advance and locked it up. Then they wouldn’t have any excuses. After going back and forth with emails and texts a date was set. I had a short window to reserve a vacation house, but most of the nice homes were booked. I lost out on the area I first wanted to stay and had to select another place. Wanting to stay on a lake or near a lake was looking more difficult. Plus, a rental home that would accommodate all of us seemed nonexistent. I was ready to text everyone and cancel. But I searched one more time and only found small homes out of the way and not to my liking. I narrowed my search, determined to find a vacation home. There was one vacation home that looked like it would work. The location was decent, would provide enough beds and the view of the lake was ok, not perfect. I would have preferred more bedrooms, but the extra loft would work. I almost selected this home, but I hesitated, feeling that I was compromising too much. It’s a vacation and I was determined to find my ideal home in the location on the lake or I wouldn’t go. I continued my search, but only small homes or condos were still available. I was feeling depressed. My anxiety levels were rising, and I was questioning myself that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my task. On top of all this I had to plan to get the newspaper out a day early. Only one day I thought wouldn’t be a big deal. Just ask everyone to up their game and get their ads and articles to me. It seemed that this would be a possible task. Everyone agreed they would do their best to accommodate my request. Writers, photographers, ad agencies, distributors, printers, were all lined up. Hope I didn’t forget anyone. After all that work, I had to find a vacation home that would comfortably fit all of us and was more than just acceptable, it had to be really nice, too. I returned to my search and continued to view all the homes. Click, view, click, view, click and view for an hour. I guessed I wasn’t going to find anything worth renting. No! I wasn’t going to accept this…. Search one more time. In my email, of which I get hundreds every day, my eye caught a subject line. VRBO sent a notice that a home I was interested came available. Surprising that it didn’t go into the junk file. Opening the file, I was amazed that this house was right on the water, would accommodate 10 comfortably, was well appointed, large kitchen, big decks, nicely decorated and had 50 reviews that rated the home 4.5 stars. I didn’t hesitate and booked this house. Now my vacation is falling into place, I thought, but wait. Another problem. The family was ready, the advertisers were ready, the writers were ready, and the newspaper would be ready. But my anxiety was up again as the details for delivering the newspaper were questionable. The day before going on our vacation our delivery person had a medical emergency. We feel sorry for her and hope she recovers soon. And, now how are we going to get this darn paper out? We scrambled and believe we found a solution. Hope it will work. Hope you get the paper on time. This has been one of the worst vacation-planning experiences I’ve ever had to deal with. I hope we have a good vacation. But I’m worried still. I’ll let you know…
June 26, 2019
Packages from Amazon
The number of Amazon packages arriving in the Post Office continues to grow. Customers waiting in long lines and the over-worked Postal staff are exhausted. Hopefully this scenario will have a remedy soon. In Wrightwood, Postal customers will soon be able to retrieve their packages using the new parcel boxes located outside the Post Office. Customers will receive a key in their P.O. Box identifying the box their parcel will be locked in. Using a key code, they will open the secure box to retrieve their parcels. It’s that simple, no more waiting in long lines, or missing the oppor-tunity to get your parcel because the Post Office customer counter is closed. Of course, oversized parcels will have to be picked up at the customer counter. If you are a regular shopper through Amazon you might also think about using “AmazonSmile” (smile.amazon.com). The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organiza-tion of your choice. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. AmazonSmile is a new and meaningful way for you to donate items directly to charitable organizations. With Charity Lists, all charity accounts are verified so you can take the guesswork out of giving, and donate worry-free. Local participating organizations include; Wrightwood Fire Safe Council, One Town Inc, Wrightwood Friends of the Library, Wrightwood Veterans Memorial, Wrightwood/Phelan Search and Rescue, Lions Camp at Teresita Pines, Volunteers of the Angeles National Forest, Phelan-Pinon Hills CERT, Friends of the Phelan Memorial Library, and Kiwanis Club of Tri-Community. These are just a few of the organizations that benefit from Smile donations. There are many more local and national organizations from which to select. Shoppers using AmazonSmile have already donated nearly $145 million dollars since the begin-ning of this year. Your $20 purchase might only equal pennies to your charity but over all this can add up to hundreds of dollars. Example: Wrightwood Fire Safe Council donations from Ama-zonSmile, as of May 2019, is $526.12.
June 12, 2019
Tariffs funded government for first hundred years There once was a country that had no income tax. How was that possible? U.S. Congress funded itself through tariffs. Tariffs were established after England refused to import their products to the U.S. In turn, it helped protect our manufacturing industries. Tariffs brought in the American Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t overnight but in the long run, America became the industrial giant. It started with the War of 1812 with England. American faced shortages and this forced Americans to rethink the way they lived. The War of 1812 helped convince even the most stalwart Democratic-Republican that the U.S. needed to attain economic independence. England did America a favor forcing the U.S. to build factories and end the dependence on Europe. The first tariff (called the Dallas Tariff) of 1816, provided the federal government money to loan to industrialists. It also increased the cost of European goods in the U.S. The tariff of 1816 helped level the playing field for American businesses and helped the U.S. to compete, at least domestically, for foreign products. This big step changed the world. Tariffs had two purposes. First, these funds allowed U.S. to raise money, second, tariffs protected the nation’s goods from cheaper priced foreign items. The money from the tariffs created jobs, built suburbia, built the West and initiated the American dream. Tariffs made America stronger and economically independent. The ugly face of the Income tax man showed up in 1913 with the 16th Amendment. Ratified by Congress, this Amendment permanently legalizing an income tax on individuals, however, it actually goes back even further. During the Civil War, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861, which included a tax on personal income to help pay war expenses. President Lincoln signed into law a 3 percent tax on income between $600 and $10,000 and a 5 percent tax on income of more than $10,000. In 1867, Congress cut the tax rate and a year later 90 percent of all revenue came from taxes on liquor, beer, wine, and tobacco. Ten years later Congress repealed that tax. But Congress couldn’t keep their hands out of our pockets so, in 1894, they enacted a flat rate Federal income tax. It was ruled unconstitutional the following year by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was a direct tax, not apportioned according to the population of each state. The 16th Amendment, ratified in 1913, removed this objection by allowing the Federal government to tax the income of individuals, without regard to the population of each State. During World War I, U.S. government raised even greater sums with the Revenue Act of 1918, by imposing a progressive income-tax rate structured of up to 77 percent. In 1942, President Roosevelt introduced the Revenue Act of 1941 and Congress passed it, increasing taxes and the number of Americans subject to the income tax. It created deductions for medical costs and investments. The next year Congress passed the Tax Payment Act, allowing tax withholdings from employees’ wages. History shows that tariffs were good for the U.S. in the past. Today Congress needs to raise the tariffs on imported automobiles, higher tariffs on cheap vehicles would protect our automobile industries. We don’t make appliances in the U.S. because businesses in foreign countries import cheaper products at low tariffs. They have put our industries out of business and created ghost towns where there was once a thriving community. Citizens can’t find good paying jobs because industries are outsourced where they can find cheaper labor, yet they import these products back to America with low tariffs undercutting our own industries. Dear President Trump and our law makers in Washington D.C.; We’ve had enough of other businesses in foreign countries getting rich while we at home get poor. Congress is always looking for ways to raise income taxes. They want to bring back inheritance taxes and remove investment and redevelopment deductions. Bottomline, raising personal income tax isn’t the answer – raising tariffs is. We must not allow China to become the industrial giant. Tariffs worked in 1812 and it would work in 2019. Side note: Tariffs on food products should not be raised.
Written June 5, 2019
It’s that time of year again when we have to roll up our sleeves and start pulling weeds, raking up pine cones and pine needles. We also need to clean out the rain gutters. Time-consuming and back breaking work if you have to do it yourself. If you are lucky enough to find someone to do the dirty work for you, it will cost a pretty penny. There are signs, posted at various intersection, for weed removal workers offering their service, but they must be very busy as none of them called me back. Weeds grow in gardens, whether we like it or not. They grow everywhere, making the garden less attractive. To solve this problem, they must be removed. So, I got down on the ground, along the flower beds, and I started pulling some of the bigger weeds. An easy enough project as the soil was still soft and the plants came out along with their roots. That’s a small job I can do. The question is how do we remove weeds effectively? And, once removed, how do we prevent them, as much as possible, from growing back? The following describes the different methods of removing weeds and preventing them from growing back, without using poison weed sprays. The best way, although the hardest, is to pull the weeds by hand. Keep in mind that for this method to be effective, you should remove the whole plant with its roots. For weeds with shallow roots, you can just hold the plant by its stem and pull gently. For those with deeper roots, such as dandelions, you need to take some extra care when removing them. You can use a small hoe to dig in the soil around the stem to loosen the soil, then get a firm grasp of the stem and pull. You may need to dig deeper and try pulling several times until you get the entire root out successfully. An alternative is to use gardening tools to help. For shallow-rooted weeds, you can use a regular garden hoe, but for deep-rooted ones, I recommend you use a special tool called a winged weeder. A personal grooming tip when weeding is to first run your fingernails over a bar of soap. This helps keep the dirt away from deep under the fingernails and they wash up fast.
Written May 29, 2019
Every time election years roll around; the debate continues on whether the electoral college is the right way to go about it. The Democrats have voiced their opinion to change the Presidential election voting system to a popular vote. Their logic is behind the fact the Hillary Clinton and Al Gore lost in the electoral college. This really becomes a hot-button issue to play with. But history tells us that this scenario has only happened five times, when a presidential election resulted in a candidate having gained more popular votes and still lost the electoral vote. In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared President. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House. In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the Presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes. In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the General Election and became the 43rd President, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266. In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral vote, over Hillary Clinton, by 304 to 227, but Trump lost the popular vote. Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump, according to an analysis by the Associated Press of the certified results in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. (Historical Election Results: 1789-2004 Presidential Elections) If there is an amendment on how our voting systems is calculated, to the popular vote, then only three or four key states would determine who becomes president. This amendment will face a challenge on its constitutionality, after all, the Constitution of the United States grants these electors the power to vote one way or another, and one would think that if it ever came up, the Supreme Court will have to make this final decision. In California, the electoral college system makes some people’s votes (my vote for instance) simply not count for all intents and purposes. And, would a popular vote tally each person’s vote nationwide, or might my vote still be tossed in a pool, with California’s popular vote awarded to one candidate? The way the system currently works, people vote in the elections in their home counties or parishes. These are tallied and then at the state level, one candidate wins or loses. The U.S. Electoral College actually elects the President based on the results of the state elections; the number of electors a state has is determined by their standing in Congress. All states have two senators, so this translates to two electors. The number of U.S. Representatives is based on the population of the state. These two numbers added together are the number of electors a state has in the Electoral College. If supporters have their way, and by popular vote their party loses, will they want to change it back to the electoral college system?
Written May 22, 2019
Magic Mushrooms What exactly is the argument behind decriminalization?
Last week, Denver narrowly passed the first-ever ballot measure of its kind: the decriminalization of mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin, better known as “magic mushrooms.” I’m not in favor of decriminalizing magic mushrooms however, I think it’s important to examine this fungus and what effects it has on people. An unusual item among our many different food sources, the mushroom is a fungus, not a plant. This means that it grows from a spore, usually in the dirt or on decaying plant material, such as a log. While some varieties contain vitamins and nutrients, mushrooms are mainly used to give an earthy flavor and meaty texture to everything from pizza to risotto. Some mushrooms, however, are famous for more than their taste. Known as magic mushrooms, shrooms, mushies, psychedelic mushrooms, psychotropic mushrooms or psilocybin, these mushrooms cause differences in mood, perception, and behavior - commonly known as “tripping.” Since 1970, psilocybin has been listed in the most heavily criminalized category of drugs, those that are considered to have zero medical use — a categorization that many medical experts have pushed back against. In an October 2018 report published in the journal Neuropharmacology, researchers from Johns Hopkins University suggested that psilocybin be reclassified for medical use, as studies have shown that even just one dose of the compound can help patients who suffer from resistant forms of depression. “It’s really unprecedented in medical history to see effects for depression that are caused by a single medication,” Matthew Johnson, who has studied psychedelics at Johns Hopkins University for more than a decade. (Other studies suggest that it could also help those struggling to overcome nicotine addiction.) A single mushroom contains anywhere from 0.2 to 0.4 percent psilocybin. Similar to an LSD trip, tripping on magic mushrooms can cause a distorted sense of space, time and reality. Magic mushrooms don’t technically cause hallucinations, or visions of things that aren’t actually there. Instead, they distort the perception of actual objects. Similar to alcohol beverages that cause a lack of self control and weaken decision making. A person might even say and do things that they would normally avoid (letting their guard down). Taking mushrooms can cause dizziness, nausea and other stomach problems, muscle weakness, loss of appetite and numbness. Driving under the influence would be extremely dangerous. Users who are in a poor mental state or a highly structured environment are more likely to have a bad trip, which is when you feel paranoid, anxious, nervous or even terrified, instead of euphoric. These symptoms subside as the trip comes to an end. I’m sure California will jump on the bandwagon and put this on the ballot too. Another step for crazy California (where all the nuts and fruits live). Those who need the most help; the homeless, the mentally ill, will most likely be the ones who use magic mushrooms and dig themselves into a deeper hole of hopelessness. It’s just what we don’t need.
Written May 9, 2019
During our lifetime we will meet some of the most interesting individuals. Some might even change the way we think. One of these individuals, Peter Hurkos, came across my husband Steve’s path – years ago. Peter Hurkos allegedly manifested extrasensory perception (ESP) after recovering from a head injury and coma caused by a fall from a ladder when he was 30. Upon regaining consciousness, he discovered he had developed an ability to pierce the barriers that separate the past, present, and future. He was considered by experts who tested him, at UCLA and University of Michigan, to have been the world’s foremost psychic. He gained widespread attention in 1964, when Attorney General Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts said he had come ‘’uncannily close’’ to describing the person suspected of strangling 11 women in Boston. Hurkos also helped the authorities in the 1969 Manson family murders. Hurkos began to devote most of his time to psychic crime detection. In one of his first cases as a psychic sleuth working with police, Hurkos had only to hold the coat of a dead man to be able to describe the man’s murderer in detail, including the assailant’s eyeglasses, mustache, and wooden leg. When police admitted that they already had such a man in custody, Hurkos told them where the man had hidden the murder weapon. Hurkos came to the United States in 1956 for psychic experiments, and lived in the Los Angeles area about 25 years. He had been a consultant to every President of the United States from Eisenhower to Reagan. Hurkos passed away in 1988. Steve met Hurkos in 1967, in his family home in Arcadia. A wealthy neighbor invited Hurkos to entertain some friends. Steve (a teenager then) and his buddies were amazed at Hurkos’ talents. Hurkos revealed secrets the boys had never revealed to anyone. They asked Hurkos questions about their future. Hurkos hesitated to reveal to much detail of what he saw for the boys’ future, not wanting to give away too much. But he did answer one of Steve’s questions. It was the memory, of a particular answer that Hurkos gave, that came up last night after watching the TV news about South America and the civil unrest in Venezuela. The pending threat of a civil war in Venezuela, as well as the involvement by China and Russia is a world-wide threat, for which Trump has expressed concern. Will the US have to get involved? What if Russia or China tries to advance their influence in South America? Back in 1967 Steve asked Hurkos many silly questions, about girlfriends, and cars, and other teenage issues. Vietnam also concerned the boys, as they were approaching draft age. Hurkos told them that wasn’t in their future, and he was right. Steve’s last question to Hurkos was “will we have a WWIII and will it be in Russia or Middle East? After hesitating, Hurkos answered the question; he said that neither Russia nor the Middle East would be the location of WWIII. When the boys pushed for more details, Hurkos gave in to their relentless questions and revealed his vision, saying, “WWIII will start in South America.”
Written April 24, 2019
Thanks to the community
For the past 40 plus years the Timberline Lions have put on the Easter Breakfast in Wrightwood. This year’s breakfast provided pancakes, eggs, sausages, and beverages for nearly 150 guests, mostly residents, and a dozen or so PCT Hikers too. The ‘all you can eat’ breakfast was served buffet-style, which proved to be a faster and more efficient way to get the breakfast served. Everything tasted delicious. I was the chairperson for the event. My team of Lions members and volunteers made my job easy. Lion Nancy Smith and myself stocked the kitchen with everything (except the kitchen sink) from pots and pans, bowls and utensils, plates and flatware, all the food stuff, beverages, etc. It all fit in three vehicles. The Lions team showed up at 5:30 a.m. to set up the room and prep the kitchen. Our Lions kitchen/cooks included Michele Kraenkel, Pam Wright, Steve Rinek and Dee Potter. Lion Sandi Hanlon brought her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson up from Palmdale, to help in the kitchen. Nancy and Carl Smith greeted the guests and Donna Alvarez, Dee Potter and myself served the food. Sandi, our floater, made sure the beverages were plentiful and the tables were cleared. Guests rolled in starting at 7:30 p.m. and people came and went until 11:00 a.m. Over the 4.5 hours Michele cooked nearly 400 eggs and Steve cooked 20 pounds of sausage. Sandy’s family - Vic, Kimberly, and Joshua flipped 30 pounds of pancakes. The Easter Bunny (Stephanie Rinek) arrived around 9:30 a.m. After spending time with the children in the Community Building, getting lots of hugs and photos, the Bunny made her way to the park before the egg hunt began. Stephanie came up from Downey to dress up as the Easter Bunny. She has done this for four years and enjoys seeing the bright smiles on the children’s faces when the Bunny appears, and she appreciates the hugs too. She commented that after she changed out of the costume, she found that she didn’t get the hugs from the little ones and she felt sad, but she’ll have to wait until next year to put on the bunny costume again. By 11:00 a.m. the team was ready to take down the tables and chairs. Thanks to the few remaining guests for helping put the chairs away and folding the tables. I almost forgot to thank the children who helped. They acted as busboys - cleaning tables, setting up placemats, and helping a little with kitchen duties. The team gathered in the kitchen to do the big cleanup, washing dishes, cleaning down the stove, and counters. It was 12:00 noon by the time all the equipment was packed in the vehicles and returned to the Lions storage bin across the street. We were all spent and ready for an afternoon nap. Thanks to all the volunteers and the community for another successful event. Next year’s Easter Breakfast will be on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Don’t miss it. You can’t find a better breakfast for only $6. We’re always looking for people to join the Timberline Lions Club. We are a fun group of men and women who enjoy giving back to the community. Our general meetings are on the third Thursday of the month at the Wrightwood Community Building at 6:30 p.m. Why not visit us for dinner at our next meeting on May 16 and learn how you can share your talents with the community and meet new people who have the same desire to make our community great. Contact me at: email@example.com
Written April 17, 2019
This week Robert Mueller’s report will be available to everyone. The release today, has many in Washington feeling uneasy. The long-awaited redacted report will no doubt reveal Russia’s involvement in our election. Although Trump and his team keep tweeting that there was no collusion with Russia, no obstruction of justice, and no basis for the Mueller probe to have begun in the first place, the report might reveal that Russia did do something to our election system that affected both sides of Congress. The report might reveal a cyber invasion with their attempt to upset our presidential elections or worse. It’s a guessing game and each side will come up with their conclusion after the lawmakers, journalists, and members of the public see it for the first time. Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private attorneys, has a team of a half-dozen lawyers and staff members who will split up the report, scan their assigned sections quickly, and issue summaries to help develop statements and talking points to be used by communicators throughout the day, officials said. Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, Russia didn’t need Trump. They played their game on their own, just to weaken and cause us to disbelieve in our government. They use social media to spread lies and confusion. They used our social media to flood their propaganda in an attempt to disrupt our way of life and create an outrage among our political parties. The more they can upset our system of government the louder they are laughing. The political divide between the Democrats and the Republicans is fueled by Russia’s cleaver game of deceit and underhandedness. Their cunning obstructions will be reviled in the Mueller report. It is unfortunate however, that the interpretation of the Mueller report will be judged differently by each side of the Congress. If only there could be an unbiased jury to examine the report, but that unprejudiced, nonpartisan group of people doesn’t exist.
Written April12, 2019
Last week my research revealed the beginning of cryptocurrency. In its infancy, the first 10 bitcoins were plunked out on January 9, 2009. Prior to bitcoins there were a number of digital cash technologies which all have disappeared. The bitcoin appeared to be safer. However, there was a major vulnerability spotted; a bug let users bypass the economic restrictions and 184 billion bitcoins were generated in a single transaction. This was a major security flaw, found and exploited, in bitcoin’s history. The bug was fixed within hours and the transaction log was updated to a new version of the bitcoin protocol. The first purchase made using a bitcoin was two pizzas delivered by Papa’s John’s. Bitcoin have been used as payment by nearly 200 merchants and some companies are letting employees take an option to receive portions of their salaries in bitcoin currency. In the US, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) established regulatory guidelines for “decentralized virtual currencies,” such as bitcoins, classifying American bitcoin miners who sell their generated bitcoins as Money Service Businesses that may be subject to registration and other legal obligations. Bitcoins are a risky business. In April 2013, payment processor BitInstant and Mt. Gox experienced processing delays due to insufficient capacity resulting in the bitcoin exchange rate dropping values of bitcoins from $266 to $76 and recovering to $160 within six hours. Mt. Gox was seized by the US authorities after it was discovered that Mt. Gox was not registered as a money transmitter with FinCEN in the US. By February 2014 Mt. Gox suspended withdrawals citing technical issues. By the end of that month Mt. Gox had filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan amid reports that 744,000 bitcoins had been stolen. Bitcoin has gained more legitimacy among lawmakers and legacy financial companies as a legal payment. The Eastern District of Texas of the Fifth Circuit ruled that bitcoins are a currency or a form of money and as such were subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Other countries have joined the bitcoin game. Hotels, casinos, restaurants, and Microsoft began accepting bitcoin (not to mention drug dealers). The number of businesses accepting bitcoin continues to increase. The hype of bitcoins may be facing reality. The market in 2009 skyrocketed by 900%. Bitcoin stabilized at $650 to $800 range in 2013 and reached a high of $3000 in June 2017. In January 2017 bitcoin briefly reached an all time high of $19,783. In the first months of 2019 bitcoin fell to $3930 and has been fairly steady between $3500 and $4000 since. Do I want to get into the game . . . I think not. After all, Bitcoin is a speculated object backed by nothing. On top of all that - how trustworthy is the Bitcoin Exchange? It sounds like a Ponzi scheme. In fact, on April 8, 2019, Bitcoin Ponzi scheme swindlers fleeced victims out of over $21.1 Billion. Artificial intelligence discovered the scheme.
Written April 2, 2019
Confusion surrounding bitcoin
Bitcoin, also known as cryptocurrency or blockchain, has me confused. It is a type of digital currency that is valued by generating a computational solution of mathematical problems. What the heck! I’m more confused. The explanation in layman’s terms states Bitcoin is a digital and global money system currency. It allows people to send or receive money across the internet, even to someone they don’t know or don’t trust. Money can be exchanged without being linked to real identity . . . for example, using Bitcoin Core, one can click “New Address” and be assigned an address. Again, What? That still doesn’t make it clear to me and how safe is it and are there any regulations? I continued to search for more information. Do you have to be a mathematical wiz? Do you put your own cash somewhere to obtain bitcoins? Is Bitcoin easy to use? Is Bitcoin a good investment? Is Bitcoin safe to use? Where can I use Bitcoin? There’s no central authority, such as a bank or payment gateway. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by computers all around the world, using free software. I have tons of questions and hopefully I will get a handle on Bitcoin. Bitcoin is potentially less secure because bitcoins are usually held by a third-party. Another aspect of Bitcoin is “Mining” for Bitcoins. The explanation is . . . By mining for Bitcoins, as long as the markets remain active, you can basically make money for nothing. Back in 2011, you could have bought Bitcoins for $10. Selling them at $1,000 today would have delivered a profit of $990 per Bitcoin. Basically, you should have bought about 1,000 Bitcoins back when they were cheap. Who came up with Bitcoins? A pseudonymous software developer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto proposed bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment system based on mathematical proof. The idea was to produce a means of exchange, independent of any central authority, that could be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable way. To this day, no-one knows who Satoshi Nakamoto really is. With bitcoin, the supply is tightly controlled by the underlying algorithm. A small number of new bitcoins trickle out every hour, and will continue to do so at a diminishing rate until a maximum of 21 million has been reached. This makes bitcoin more attractive as an asset – in theory, if demand grows and the supply remains the same, the value will increase. Okay, how do you Mine Bitcoin? When you hear about bitcoin “mining,” you envision coins being dug out of the ground. There are a lot of mining nodes (a sort of mathematical broker) competing for that reward, and it’s a question of luck and computer power. And the costs of being a mining node are considerable and it requires a large amount of electricity to run a processor. WOW! I’m not convinced, or maybe I don’t have the smarts to get into the Bitcoin game. I’m a slow learner . . . so the research will continue and if I figure it out I’ll pass it on.
Written March 20, 2019
Does a finger gesture fall under First Amendment protection
The story of a New York man, angry about a speed trap, extending his middle finger to the police officer to express his displeasure, was in the news last week. Apparently, the police officer said that he interpreted the gesture as a sign that perhaps there might be a domestic dispute in the car and went to see if he could provide help. However the police officer arrested the man for disorderly conduct. The motorist sued, claiming that arresting him for expressing his displeasure was a violation of his civil rights. So, is it your constitutional right to extend a middle finger to a police officer in a gesture meant (as most would understand) as an insult, and a rude one at that? The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech.” The spoken word is not the only form of “speech” that the Supreme Court has determined the First Amendment protects. In fact, the First Amendment protects a wide range of symbolic speech, including marching, wearing armbands, and even making expressive gestures. But that doesn’t mean that the First Amendment gives people the right to say or express anything at any time. There are limits. It is well-known that a person cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater because of the danger that the speech would cause a panic Similarly, the Supreme Court found that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the right to expression used to incite violence—those are called “fighting words.” But the Supreme Court said that to be considered “fighting words,” the speech would “tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” by provoking a fight, provided that the speech or expression, “when addressed to the ordinary citizen, is, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction.” If coupled with aggressive movement (like a move to jump someone), the extended middle finger could lead to arrest. Unless there is an additional aggressive action along with the middle finger gesture, (and the New York motorist showed no additional aggression), simply raising the middle finger would not count as “fighting words.” But an obscene expression is also not protected by the First Amendment. So, it’s not obscene by legal standards. As a result, the appeals court that heard the motorist’s claim found that he was within his protected First Amendment rights to make the gesture without arrest. What other foul gestures would fall under First Amendment rights? Will this ruling give students the right to flip off their teacher at school without any consequences? That’s a different debate entirely. Sources: (Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 1919), (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 1942), (Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 1971).
Written March 13, 2019
Why don’t they volunteer?
You’ve made announcements and phone calls. You’ve hung flyers and sent out social media messages. When the same familiar faces answer your pleas for volunteers, it’s natural to wonder why other people aren’t showing up. Your regular volunteers make helping out a high priority. Why doesn’t everyone else? It helps when an organization has a list of the tasks they are requesting a volunteer to do. If someone has stepped forward with an interest in meeting people, have that person assigned to a veteran volunteer who can mentor them into the job at hand. In most cases, assignments should also evolve or the volunteers are more likely to quit. In addition to understanding why people do volunteer, it’s important to examine why they don’t. One reason is that they feel like they don’t measure up to other volunteers, about whom they may have an idealized view. That non-volunteer might think, ‘That’s a higher calling than I have. I’m not really that way. I’m just worried about getting to my job and taking my kids to school. A lot will think ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘They don’t need me’ or ‘Someone else will come forward.’ Another reason for hesitance is that no one asked the person to get involved. One person directly asks another person—that’s really, really important. When you ask everybody—when you send out a message, ‘We need help with X’—you’re essentially asking nobody. As you assess your volunteer needs consider how to publicize these needs in ways that might match individuals’ goals. Need someone to help decide on the games for the spring festival? This could provide volunteers with a chance to gain experience in event planning. Need a person to log fundraising income into a database? Maybe that’s an opportunity for someone to practice basic functions in Excel. Need someone to become a website coordinator? That volunteer will get to meet other people in the community. Another cause for reluctance is that potential volunteers don’t clearly understand what they are being asked to do. Break it down into things people can picture, and they are more likely to respond. Suggest precisely describing the task and the time commitment, such as sitting at a table from 4 to 6 p.m. to check in volunteers for the game or writing up the minutes after each month’s meeting. Once people volunteer, ask what they’re hoping to gain and then match their tasks to their motivations. It’s helpful if volunteers periodically reflect on what they want to get out of the experience since motivations can change over time. If people do volunteer, be sure to contact them and give them something to do, preferably an activity that matches their interests and expertise. And whatever you do, don’t leave them hanging, contact them ASAP, and show them you are interested in meeting them.
Written March 6, 2019
Trip to Ikea
I needed a cabinet for a rental and Ikea came to mind. I saw the cabinet online but wanted to check out the quality before making a purchase. The rain finally let up and I was in West Covina and thought I would take advantage of the time and swing by. My husband was with me and I asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking a detour. Most of the time I would expect a decline, shopping isn’t something on his bucket list but he wasn’t disagreeable so he joined me. The first sign that I should have gone alone, which I should have heeded, was his complaint when entering the garage. “Wow what a huge place.” in a tone that sounded like “What have I gotten myself into.” I could sense he was rethinking his decision but was going to try and be a good sport. We found a parking spot near the entry and headed to the entrance. I received a look from him that was most disagreeable, then he said, “This is an interesting place,” and “It’s not too bad,” which made me think he was okay with the decision to proceed. We climbed three escalators to the main store. He wasn’t aware that once you enter there’s no turning back. There was a good amount of people lingering around the entrance. Mostly young families shopping for items for a new home. We, on the other hand, don’t want any more stuff for our home, as we are in the give-it-away mode. I thought that at lease we’d get a good walk around Ikea before heading up to Wrightwood. If you haven’t ever been inside an Ikea, let me describe it for you. The layout is one big maze taking you to every section before allowing you to exit. I forgot to mention that little detail to my husband before entering the giant furniture, gadget, kitchen, bedroom, etc. warehouse. First stop was the closet cabinets area where we examined them for a future purchase. The construction quality seemed to be fine. Steve’s immediate remark was “I’m not going to drag this into my car or put it together.” I could feel his blood pressure rising. I told him I had no intention of asking him to do any such thing. I said, “I’m done looking, so we can leave now.” He seemed to calm down and was looking for the exit. I said, “just follow the arrows on the floor and they will take you to the exit.” We wandered through departments with no exit in site. I could see his walking was uncomfortable on the concrete floor. “Would you like to sit down?” I asked. He replied, “No! just get out of here.” Making turn after turn into another department after department, “I’m going to go through one of the emergency exits pretty soon,” he said, “and I don’t care if the alarm goes off.” I asked him to just calm down - the exit is just around the corner. However, there were many corners and he was getting mad. “This is like a rat in a maze,” he said loud enough that other looked at him. After what seemed like an hour, finally there was outside sunlight that could be seen from a distance. “There’s the exit- straight through this line,” I said. He headed for the sunshine as he pushed through the crowd. He was in evacuation mode. But he was only disappointed as I told him he had to take the elevator down one level to the parking garage. He found his car that was parked near the entrance. Then we pulled out of the parking space and headed for another exit. When he finally reached it, I sensed he was so happy to have escaped that horrible trip and I know that he will never return to Ikea with me again.
Written February 20, 2019
Illicit drug invasion in America By Vicky Rinek Stopping the drug traffic over the border is a battle we must take on. We are losing citizens by the tens of thousands to this invasion and one way is to build a wall and reduce the means for this assault on America. Foreign drug traffickers are crossing our boarders and invading our neighborhoods pushing their products to our children. The number of people using illicit drugs is up 12-fold since the Regan Presidency. It is estimated that nearly 7.8 million Americans ages 12 or older have an illicit drug use disorder. 30% of these people who used illicit drugs, suffer from addiction; however, this number could be higher as many people fall through the cracks. More than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdose in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. This is double the number of U.S. soldier fatalities in Iraq. Drug trafficking is the largest employer in the world. The abuse of drugs in the U.S. affects nearly all aspects of our lives. The economic cost alone is immense, estimated at nearly $215 billion. Rates are highest for young adults aged 18 to 25, with 33.5 percent reporting illicit drug use in the past year. Nineteen percent of youth aged 12 to 17 report past year illicit drug use. Finally, 10.3 percent of adults aged 26 and older report past year illicit drug use. The consequences of illicit drug use impact the entire criminal justice system, taxing resources at each stage of the arrest, adjudication, incarceration, and post-release supervision process. Although drug courts and diversion programs in many jurisdictions have helped to alleviate this burden, substance abuse within the criminal justice population remains widespread. The most recent annual data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show that 12.2 percent of more than 14 million arrests in 2008 were for drug violations, the most common crime arrest category. The proportion of total drug arrests has increased over the past 20 years: in 1987, only 7.4 percent of all arrests were for drug violations. Approximately 4 percent of all homicides in 2016 were drug-related, a percentage that has not changed significantly over the same 20-year period. It is estimated that 80% of new hepatitis C infections occur among those who use drugs intravenously, such as heroin users. Premature mortality, illness, injury leading to incapacitation, and imprisonment all serve to directly reduce national productivity. Public financial resources expended in the areas of health care and criminal justice as a result of illegal drug trafficking and use are resources that would otherwise be available for other policy initiatives. Although it is difficult to place a dollar value on a human life, a rough calculation of lost productivity can be made based on the present discounted value of a person’s lifetime earnings. It is a National emergency and the politicians in Washington are not acting fast enough to stop this epidemic. The only fight in D.C. is between political parties. The division between parties is adding fuel to the increase of drug traffic. Opposers say the money for a wall can be used for more productive causes, but I say the $215 billion already spent on incarceration, health care, etc. can be better used for our citizens in need. Enough is enough . . . get the wall built. This is a National Emergency!
Writtten February 13, 2019
It’s a crying shame
“Joshua Tree National Park has resumed full operations.” The press release indicated that the tours and interpretive programs will commence this week and camping reservations can be made through the recreation.gov site. Previous press releases described the damage done to the natural wonder over the past 30 days; vandals treated the park like it was a toilet. Information provided by a friend of ours, who is part of the National Parks personnel, tells us just how bad the abuse was. It is a real shame. The bathrooms were so bad that they had to call in a Hazmat team, wearing hazmat suits, to clean each facility. Off-road vehicles made their own trails, rather than staying on the marked trails, and ran through the terrain destroying Joshua trees and other vegetation. Trash littered the park and human waste overflowed leaving the delicate ecosystems at risk. Besides the mounds of garbage, vandals took axes to some of the Joshua trees. What kind of thrill do theses idiots get from killing an endangered plant? Rangers even found a prom dress and champagne bottles left strewn on the desert floor. During the shutdown, the park entrance had no government employee to collect the typical $30 entrance fee. Just to emphasize the number of visitors, a Ranger at Joshua Tree counted 284,390 visitors in December 2017. Park Services needs those user fees to maintain the park under ordinary circumstances, as taking out trash, cleaning out toilets and maintaining the buildings and trails are all necessary to keep the park beautiful. The entrance fees collected at each park should stay in that park and not go into a big pot where the Rangers have to go to congress and fight for it. If we wait for funding to come by congressional appropriations, our National Parks will suffer. Joshua Tree National Park isn’t the only park that suffered during this shut-down, it took a toll on Yosemite, Death Valley and other iconic parks. Off-roaders drove in restricted areas damaging habitats, and trash was left behind that could attract wildlife, increasing the risk to their safety and of encountering disease. The Rangers and seasonal employees will receive their back pay but how about the Parks? Even during regular operations, our local forest has been abused. The restrooms at Table Mountain, for an example, were not only vandalized, but the steel toilets were stolen. Last year our Grassy Hollow Visitor Center was burglarized and serious damage was done to the interior and educational displays. In Joshua Tree, local volunteers have been emptying dumpsters, replacing garbage bags in trash cans, and even scrubbing bathrooms and hauling away the trash in their own pickup trucks. In our own forest, volunteers, and businesses like Mountain Hardware, collect trash and broken sleds after the weekends. Concluding the press release, the Rangers stated: “The park would like to thank the gateway communities, park partners and the hundreds of volunteers who stepped up to support the park during the lapse in appropriations. Joshua Tree National Park’s employees are happy to be back at work, serving the American people and welcoming visitors to the park from around the world.”
Written January 23, 2019
Continue Recycle Reuse Reduce
I hope you are now thinking twice before using a plastic item. I did further research to learn how I can reduce, reuse and recycle. Recycling is a fairly standard practice across households, but there are still plastics that cannot be recycled due to their chemical composition. It’s these types of plastics that we should all aim to avoid wherever possible. Generally, the most difficult plastics to recycle are the soft types, the ones that you can easily scrunch in your hand, such as food packaging (think pasta packets or individually wrapped portions of food). Polystyrene is another ubiquitous culprit that never gets recycled in the waste stream. So, let’s take this plastic-free, minimal waste momentum to the next level. Start small, take your time and build on your good habits one-by-one. Here is what I found. BYOB (Bring your own bag) Always take your own shopping bags to the supermarket or shops. These don’t have to be the canvas, environmentally friendly kind if you don’t have any. Even just reusing plastic bags from your own kitchen cupboard can still help to reduce waste. Bonus Tip: Recycle any soft plastics you do accumulate in the collection kiosks at the markets Use a thermos or a reusable drinking bottle If you regularly find yourself buying takeaway coffee, take your own clean thermos and avoid adding to the Styrofoam and plastic-lined cardboard rubbish pile. Cafe businesses usually appreciate not having to buy their own cups to hand out, and the environment appreciates being cared for. Some cafes will even give you a discount! Plastic water bottles are one of the most common items in the world. Don’t help perpetuate the market for this ridiculously wasteful product; take your own drink bottle when you’re on the go. Water comes out of the tap for free, so why on Earth would you pay for it?! Avoid individually wrapped products Don’t buy food in pre-portioned packaging, buy in bulk instead! Instead of buying 15 mini packs of biscuits or chips for school lunch, buy a large single packet and portion it into containers. Apply this theory to yoghurt, custards, and anything else that can be bought in a larger size. Every bit counts! Don’t buy fruit and veggies wrapped in plastic! Like buying packaged food in bulk, avoid buying pre-packed or pre-weighed fruits and veggies. You know the kind – cling wrapped bananas on foam trays and the like – unnecessary and wasteful. Instead, choose from the loose section and put them straight in the fruit basket or fridge when you get home. I mean really, why does a banana need any more packaging than what nature has already provided? Swap out the Glad wrap for beeswax wraps or containers Invest in some good, air tight storage containers that are both microwave and freezer safe, consider glass. It’s a good idea to have multiple containers in a range of sizes to accommodate all the different types of food you’ll be storing, as well as snack sized containers for lunch boxes and storing liquids, dressings, and so on. As a major health bonus, the phthalates in plastic wrap are really bad for you, so you’ll be doing yourself, your friends, and family a favor too. You can also get reusable wax-lined cloths that work the same way as glad wrap, and look great too – check out Honey Bee Wraps. Buy your meat or cheese from the deli and ask to use your own container. Pre-packaged meat and cheese are usually sold in plastic or Styrofoam trays, but if you buy direct from the deli butcher, you can bring your own container to transport your goodies. Refuse the straw! Use your lips. They may seem small and harmless, but they accumulate incredibly quickly over the space of a night out drinking. If you have to drink with a straw, try to reuse it over the course of your night. Even better, invest in a reusable straw, like glass or the stainless-steel ones from The Pampered Chef. We’ve found the stainless steel ones are a bit more durable, as glass isn’t the safest thing to carry around with you. Ditch disposable plates If you’re having a BBQ or party – don’t freak out – but avoid using disposable cups, plates, and cutlery. Use your own glasses and ceramic plates and wash them. If you must use disposable items, opt for biodegradable ones made from corn starch or paper, and compost them afterwards. Bonus Tip: If you write people’s names on their glasses you’ll have less washing up to do. Plus, you get to make up fun names for your guests – hello ‘Sunshine’! Grow your own Fresh herbs and salad greens almost always come wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. Try growing your own herbs and salad leaves at home to enjoy fresh greens when you want! Get to the farmers’ markets or bulk food store It really is a lovely weekend ritual to attend to your local farmers’ market, where you’ll find farm-fresh produce with no plastic packaging that’s come straight out of the dirt, into the farmer’s van, to you. Buy refills Rather than buying a new product each time, start buying refills for your cleaning supplies. If you use one spray bottle a month then that’s 12 spray heads a year that you don’t need. Reuse your spray head wherever possible! This also applies to laundry detergents and fabric softeners. Always refill rather than chuck it away! A bottle of Shaklee Basic H has enough concentration to make 250 gallons of window cleaner (like Windex) and a bonus - it is an environmentally safe household cleaner. Take your own container to the food court instead And refuse the plastic cutlery in favor of your own. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush. Never heard of a bamboo toothbrush before? Start by checking out Environmental Toothbrush and Biome. Use an electric shaver The plastic in disposable razors isn’t recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade, so they’re very difficult to dispose of. When you invest in a good electric razor, you’ll actually save money in the long run from not having to buy shaving cream, lotion, and replacement blades quite so often. Try natural scents If you’re a big fan of the air freshener spray can, try out some non-aerosol versions, such as this one from Orange Power. For extra brownie points, you could even make a DIY room freshener spray like the one Hello Glow. You could also try burning scented soy candles, incense, or essential oils instead. Step away from the microbeads If you’ve never heard of microbeads before, make sure you have a read about them at https://storyofstuff.org/plastic-microbeads-ban-the-bead/. These tiny beads are made from a plastic based substance and contribute to a lot of extra work at water treatment plants. Don’t throw away old toys Recycle old plastic children’s toys. If they’re not broken, don’t throw them away. Consider giving them to a local thrift shop, daycare, or kindergarten instead. Search for a toy library in your area to borrow from or donate to. Don’t throw away phones Don’t throw away old mobile phones. Most post offices have a special bin for recycling all mobiles and their accessories. If you can’t find one, look carefully in the box of your new phone – there should be a special recycling postage bag included in which you can place your old phone. Check out MobileMuster for more info. Avoid lighters If you really need a lighter, stop buying plastic lighters. Instead, purchase a packet of matches or a refillable lighter that can be reused again and again. Up to .4% of landfill is full of paper napkins (they have plastic in them), which aren’t likely to decompose in your child’s lifetime – or even your grandchildren’s lifetimes (about 150 years). Yes, you may have to use extra products for sanitizing and washing, but there’s nontoxic laundry powders, that come in a cardboard box, that have less impact on the planet than plastic napkins. Just make sure you actually use the cloth napkins you purchase, as if you just leave them in a drawer somewhere the resources required to make them means it isn’t worthwhile.
Written January 16, 2019
Texting with my granddaughter, who is in middle school, was interesting and educational. She first texted me at 6:12 p.m. “Who is Chuck and Nancy. Can you give like a summary of the shutdown?” I knew right away that she was asking about Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. I texted her back “Nancy Pelosi is the California Representative and is the Majority Speaker of the House for the House of Representatives and Chuck Schumer is the Senator from New York and the Senate Minority Leader.” The shutdown refers to Federal operations like National Parks, Military, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and other Federal government offices and their employees.” This led to more questions. Her next text was, “Why are Chuck and Nancy in the news so much.” I replied, “News reports on important issues involving the Country, and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are big political leaders involved in the shutdown of the Federal government.” Next text, “How did the shutdown begin?” Trying to make it as simple as possible I explained. “The Democrats and the President have been working on the budget and can’t agree on funding the Wall.” The President refuses to sign the budget until he gets the funds for the Wall.” Her next text, “How much does Trump want for the wall? Was it 18 billion or 6 billion? Wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for the border?” I replied, “Yes, Trump said he was going to get Mexico to pay for the Wall and he still plans on that by raising import taxes.” But it still needs to go into the budget. The amount has not been agreed upon.” Her next text, “In order for the government to stop the shutdown they have to agree on one side or find a compromise?” I replied, “Both sides have to negotiate and agree. The Democrats are not willing to talk without insulting the President. He asked Nancy Pelosi how much money would she agree for the border wall and her reply was “I’ll give you $1.” So, the President walked out of the meeting. The Democrats hold the majority vote in the House. They have refused the budget that was presented by the President. The House has written their own budget. Her next text, “What is a Majority and Minority Leader? I replied, “The U.S. Congress has two houses, The House of Representatives and the Senate. Each state elects two senators but the House of Representatives is based upon population and has 435 seats. Right now, the House of Representatives has the majority (235 seats) meaning that the Democrats have more seats than the Republicans (193 seats), which in turn means the Democrats have more voting power than the Republicans.” The Senate has 100 seats total and the Republicans have the majority (53 seats) and the Democrats have the minority (47 seats). Chuck Schumer is the minority leader for the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi is the majority leader for the Democrats. The final budget has to be approved by the President, the House of Representatives and Senate. Her next test, “Sorry I’m asking a lot of questions. Thank you!” My final text, “Until the Representatives and the President come to an agreement the shutdown may continue for a while longer.” “Ohhhh I get it.” Text ended at 6:46 p.m.
Wriiten January 9, 2019
I promise to reduce, reuse and recycle. I am guilty of over-using plastic for just about everything in my daily life. I would love to eliminate plastic from my consumption but it is used in many products I can’t live without. If I could reduce my consumption by 10%, where do I start? Looking around my desk I see plastic pens, highlighters, plastic book binders, plastic folders. I can reuse most of these items. I use plastic cups for the water and I try to use them a couple of times but better yet, I can replace them with glass cups. I have a box of plastic flatware which I can replace with metal. At home, plastic is in every room. The bathroom is the worst. There are shampoo bottles, lotions, toothbrushes and plastic liners in the waste bucket, and Q-tips. Most of these items get tossed into the trash. I’ll make an effort to rinse out the bottles and place them in the recycle bag. In the kitchen plastic storage bags, bowls and cups are in abundance. They are convenient and help store leftovers. Water bottles are a serious problem. Did you know that 90% of bottled water’s cost comes from making the bottle? I will try to eliminate disposable water bottles and use filtered tap water stored in sustainable water bottles. The plastic industries have been successful in convincing us that we can’t live without plastic. But did you know that it takes 17 million barrels of oil to make one year’s supply of bottled water? That much oil could fuel 1.3 million cars for a year or power 190,000 homes! Americans consume more than 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water and only 1 in 5 bottles are recycled. It is estimated that 38 billion water bottles and more than $1 billion worth of plastic is wasted each year, not to mention that plastic water bottles can take between 400 to 1,000 years to decompose. Plus 38 billion water bottles (more than two million tons) end up in U.S. landfills each year. The waste of plastic is shocking. After seeing the news report on the plastic waste floating on the oceans and washing up on the shores of tropical islands I was shocked just how much trash has accumulated in those areas. The waste is accumulated in areas that don’t even use plastic. Many South Pacific islands have tons of plastic washed up on their shores. And the plastic that stays in the oceans harm the sea life and bird life. They suffer the most. Images of the small helpless creatures suffering from tangled plastic nets or dying on the beach with plastic junk in their bellies. It is estimated that 1.1 million marine creatures are killed annually from plastic trash. Plastic is everywhere, from the first thing I use in the morning until I go to bed. When plastic bags were taken away at the grocery stores I felt the inconvenience at first but now have become accustomed to bringing my own bags. Eliminating plastic straws in restaurants seemed silly but now I am convinced that every step taken to reduce plastic is in the right direction. There is a new industry coming up with a better solution for plastic. I’ll share that with you in my next week’s column.
Written January 2, 2019
Slyly spreading gossip doesn’t turn rumors into facts
Posted on Social Media a few weeks ago was an inference that the Mountaineer Progress was in trouble, or might be going out of business. The truth is, we still have a strong pulse and are ready to take on 2019. In fact, the Mountaineer Progress is doing better, in comparison, than most of the major newspapers in the nation. However, I had to do damage control and reassure our writers and readers that this posting was a hoax and had no basis in truth. As stated in my column on Dec 20, 2108, news on social media is not just unreliable, but can be downright damaging. I hope internet surfers eventually come to realize the fact that they are being deceived (even brainwashed) when they rely on the “news” posted on Social Media. The web is full of wanna-be journalists that have little or no integrity. We received calls from clients concerned for us. The Publisher explained that the posting was from an out-of-state person who said he heard that the paper was struggling and he “always wanted to start a paper there” (Tri-Community). It was posted on Bright Red in large letters. Where did he get his information? Was his purpose to spread rumors of a pending failure and put lack of confidence in the newspaper? Would this rumor-spreading algorithm on the net cause damage to our paper? It is a rumor without a leg to stand on but remains on the internet today. Have you ever been a victim of malicious gossip? You know how quickly it seems to spread. Rumors and gossip make you sick. It damages reputation, livelihood, or relationships. It’s miserable to work under these circumstances even when the rumor is proven false. It isn’t the first time an outsider has attempted to put the Mountaineer Progress out of business. That is unfortunate, but it’s a free market. “We don’t have any intention of closing the paper or selling the paper,” said the Publisher. But he joked, “Everything is for sale at the right price.” This baseless rumor does make for interesting gossip to circulate and there is some truth in the saying that even bad news sells.
Written December 18, 2018
I find a lot of news broadcast through the cables by major networks to have fallen from the principles of news. They flash a scene of burning cars, trash, and riots in the streets of Paris but fail to give us the complete story. They go for the drama or shock factor, and it’s up to the viewer to dig for the complete story. Searching the web isn’t always reliable either, it too is stuffed with opinions rather than facts. How can one rely on today’s news when it has fallen so far from the true principles of news? Investigative news has taken sides on positions rather than simply reporting the events. What are the principles of news writing? Journalists have established guidelines that are easy to follow but the cable news and the big news papers haven’t been using these principles. The first principle is KISS (keep it short and simple). According to this principle, news should be short and simple with the necessary information that one can understand without any difficulty. News should have the “Five Ws,” Who, What, Where, When, Why. The use of adjectives and adverbs, unfamiliar words, and jargon should be avoided. News writing has evolved over the years from carving on walls, to writing on papyrus, to print on paper, to broadcast on T.V. and Radio, and now online. And along that path the news has become deluded with perspectives, persuasion and viewpoints. You can rely on most of the news to be accurate however the reader should examine the article for biased content. The writer may favor one thing, person, or group compared with another. This is unfair and the partisanship makes for bad journalism. Americans believe the vast majority of news on T.V., in newspapers, on the radio and online. However social media is biased, according to new polls. The survey revealed that almost 64% of news reported on social media is inaccurate. Those surveyed found that PBS News and the Associated Press were the least biased outlets. Your perceptions of bias and inaccuracy differ based on your political persuasions. MSNBC, CNN and Fox have all be accused of having the most perceived bias. The networks need to return to the Principal of News reporting and KISS off their hidden agendas.
Written November 20, 2018
Thankful for our blessings
Being thankful is not just for Thanksgiving. We should look around us and be thankful for all things great in our lives, no matter how small or trivial they may seem. I am most thankful for my sister who escaped the Paradise Camp Fire. Although she lost her home, she is safe and will recover. Many of the contents can be replaced but it was devastating to lose 25 years of memories. Family photos, oil painting she created, collectables from her travels, and the beautiful little community she has grown to love. She has a large group of friends and family who have come to her aid, giving her all the support and love while she struggles with her loss. We can be thankful for our community members for pulling together their resources and raising more than $4,000 for Paradise. Our local musicians stepped in and pulled off a magical benefit concert. I am also thankful for our community, Wrightwood, and how blessed we were that our mountain was spared from the Blue Cut Fire. We could have been in the same situation as Paradise. It was the first responders, along with the wind shifting, that we can be thankful for. In the Tri-Community we can be thankful for the wonderful volunteers that bring us together with events that create an atmosphere of community spirit. You don’t find this much support in other communities. We all pull together in times of need, from feeding seniors, providing food for the needy, giving coats for those who need a little warmth, and toys for children that might not have Christmas, our volunteers endeavor to make sure the work is done. We should also be thankful for all the young men and women in the Armed Forces, who keep us safe at home and away, for their commitment to face danger so we may have days like today, free from terrorists, and for sacrificing their time away from their families for the good of all of us. So this Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks for all our blessings this past year and the blessings to come in 2019.
Written November 14, 2018
It’s not too early to start your Christmas Shopping
You know that the winter holidays are approaching when the Mercantile on Highway 2 has the Christmas Reveal & Spirits party. Debbie and Leo Hordyk started off the shopping season, with their shop packed to the brim with holiday gifts and Christmas tree ornaments and home decorations. Leo was pouring hot coco and spiced wine, while guests enjoyed a variety of sweet treats. There is a good selection of unique items to decorate your home. Charming items stacked in the shelves and hanging from the rafters. Debbie also has warm clothing, sweaters, hats, gloves and jewelry. The Mercantile is located next to the Grizzly Cafe. Another shop in Wrightwood is the Mia Bella Fashions on Evergreen, near the Mexico Lindo Restaurant. There you will find women’s clothing and accessories at very reasonable prices. The new owner Susie will continue offering unique items but she is contemplating changing the name of the shop. Until then, you will fine tasteful items for your shopping list. Looking around the Village you will come across the Calico Kitty shop located in the middle of the Park Drive. Sharon, the shop owner, will have a selection of Christmas items and flowers for your home. Next door you’ll find handmade soaps, lotions, and lip balms at Whole Life Soaps. Down the street is Terry Briot’s Cabin Fever, an eclectic assortment of gifts, jewelry, crystals, and wine. At Happy Kat, you will find all your party supplies. Around the corner is the Highway 2 Antiques shop. Make sure to visit them. You might find an old treasure or two. They are located 1300 Highway 2. Cedar Street Craftiques is another exciting find. There are many handmade items and vintage collectables. They are located on Cedar Street and Helen. Across the street is the Wrightwood Vintage and Oddities shop. There is a large collection of antiques and estate jewelry. It’s a fun shop to look around and you might find that special item that will fit perfectly in your home. Jensen’s Market has Christmas and Holiday Cards, wrapping and all package supplies. They carry some Christmas items and goodies for your pet too. Don’t forget to visit the Mountain Hardware, they have gift items too. Maybe your Honey-Do needs a new hammer or flashlight. You can never have enough screw drivers. There are hats and gloves for the cold days that have arrived. They will have Fresh cut Christmas trees and potted pine trees. All the lights you will need, and ornament hangers can be found at Mountain Hardware. One last thing. If you are shipping your gifts - UPS Mountain Hardware will help you with your packages. Before you shop at the Big stores or shop online remember to “Shop Small” and support our community businesses.
Written November 7, 2018
Continuing the music scene in Wrightwood
First of all, I would like to make it clear that Music in the Pines is not shutting down. Its venue, the Apple Farm, will not be available until matters of concern have cleared the air. The music groups have big plans for next year’s season and plan to provide the community with their annual Christmas concert on December 16, 2018. Their music venue is to be determined. I and many others are truly grateful for the work that the Music in the Pines volunteers and musicians have done over the years. Our community is richer for their wonderful work and performances. We enjoy the events tremendously. The location, Apple Farm, was beautiful, with incredible views of the mountains as a backdrop that made the experience unforgettable. The property owners (I will not mention their names out of respect) provided the community with a special venue at no cost to the community. That alone is remarkable. The family only wants to give back to the community for everything they have received over the years from Wrightwood. We, the community, have been the benefactor to some of the best music performances in the county. They hoped that the venue would be used by the community for other entertainment purposes, maybe a Shakespeare festival or other similar productions. The success (or failure) of the concerts depends upon community support. After all, it is not a “for profit” organization that operates the concerts. It is not funded by any government agency or a private group with a hidden agenda. Most of the artists perform without any expectation of payment. They perform for the pure enjoyment, sharing their talent with an appreciative audience is their reward. The raffle or bucket passing is a means to cover the minimal operating expenses and maybe cover gas monies to the artists. The group of volunteers want to make the music experience in Wrightwood unique and enjoyable. I know what’s involved in putting together an event and it’s not an easy task. Trying to please everyone is daunting. It is unfortunate that there were some individuals quick to criticize while failing to give a hand or provide any solutions. They blast their options on social media, as it is easy to slander someone without confronting them in person. That is a shame. Their bullying is hurtful and not constructive. One final thing on this matter, as a friend of ours said, “If you give a Wrightwoodian a brick of gold, they will complain that it is too heavy.” Now on a positive side: Claudia Campbell, the unofficial music lady of Wrightwood, is excited about the coming year and looks forward to working with her volunteers, musicians and business supporters in 2019. For information of the coming year visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/MusicInThePines/
Written October 31, 2018
Music in the Pines had a good run
The Music in the Pines organization in Wrightwood, a not for profit volunteer group, arranged top notch music groups to perform free of charge. Each season, from June through September, we were privileged to experience, in the mountains, a variety of musical genres. As small as Wrightwood is, we are blessed with a creative environment that many communities can only dream of. Music in the Pines started in the parking lot between the two bank buildings. The first organizer was Dan Campbell and his musical friends, and we were introduced to the band Chicken Bone. The parking lot venue had its moments and the makeshift stage was on a flatbed trailer. It was a few years later that musical groups received good news that a family who purchased the Apple Farm, on Hwy 2, was going to build a small music venue north of the apple trees. In 2014 concept plans were drawn up and the side of the hill was marked as seating. Large shipping containers were delivered and placed to make a stage. The landowner, at great expense, build the stage and seating area making it possible to move Music in the Pines to the Apple Farm. After that first year they obtained used artificial turf from a football field, and covered the dirt. Parking around Apple Farm was an issue, so a shuttle service was provided from the Community Building parking lot to the Apple Farm. Later they installed a 30’ x 30’ wood dance floor. The coordinator, Claudia Campbell (no relation to Dan Campbell), volunteered an incredible amount of time toward the success of Music in the Pines. The event was memorable for music fans and community members alike. The Wrightwood Community Services District was invited to take over the music events at the Apple Farm. It seemed logical that the summer music program would easily fit the description of a Parks and Recreation department. The owners of the property would rent the land for next to nothing and the volunteers would continue to operate the summer music program. There wouldn’t be any cost to the WCSD, however, there appeared to be disagreement on the insurance and handicap access regulations that put a halt to the idea. After months of discussion, between the property’s owners and WCSD, the property owners withdrew their offer and told Claudia that Music in the Pines would not have the Apple Farm as its venue. It’s unfortunate that an agreement between WCSD and the land owners could not be reached. We can all be thankful for the years we had Music in the Pines at the Apple Farm venue. The family was wonderful for allowing the community to hold their music summer concert events on private land. They went out of their way to allow the music community to create a quality experience of music and dance. Thank you for an very enjoyable and thoughtful music journey.
Written October 23, 2018
It’s a felony to break into the post office but that didn’t stop the burglars who broke into the post offices in Wrightwood and Pinon Hills. Over the years, mailbox vandalism has become increasingly common. In the Tri-Community cluster boxes have been broken into numerous times. Now the burglars are more brazen, as they broke in and pried open boxes inside the post office. They ransacked the inside of the building, stealing the contents of mail boxes. In Pinon Hills the burglars removed the entire cabinet of boxes from inside the building. Investigators think they could be connected to a string of box burglaries throughout the area over the past few months. The post offices have had to take extreme measures to secure the buildings such as closing the entire building after business hours. You will no longer be able to get your mail from the PO boxes 24/7. But it’s not just your money they’re after; they may also want your identity. Not only is it incredibly scary to think that a thief has access to all our personal data from credit card bills and bank statements, but it has been very frustrating dealing with the endless calls to flag fraud on our various accounts, requesting new checks to be issued and explaining to providers about why payments have been missed and requesting the reversal of late fees. Unless we can curtail this and find out who’s doing this, I would expect some of the rural areas to be hit again. The Sheriff has no lead, only a roof top video cam, from the hardware store, caught a small white vehicle parked near the post office in the late night/early morning hours. In the meantime, we might consider taking steps ourselves to protect our post office. We have to think like a crook. We have to harden our post office. Burglars admit they’re normally scared away by loud noisy alarms. In as much as this building is privately owned, why not install a surveillance system, so we do have some decent video footage of suspects. A suggestion would be that organizations, such as WPOA, Lions Club, Chamber, etc., or the owner pull their resources together and install an intrusion-detection system at our post office. An alarm (extra loud) might help to scare off the burglars. How about the Neighborhood watch program expanding into the business area? As it stands today we are an easy target as this is the second time within the month that our post office security, or lack of, has been compromised. I thought I’d share what I learned about how to better manage my personal information. Check your mail every day! Pay your bills online and set up alerts on your accounts so you know when payments are due. A thief who intercepts your credit card payment can get the information he needs to take over your account or can make counterfeit checks using the account number on the bottom of the check. Monitor financial statements daily for any potentially fraudulent activity and keep an eye on your credit report to ensure that identity theft is not occurring. Lifelock, Equifax, Experian, and other companies offer monitoring programs that help guard against identity theft and fraud.
Written October 10, 2018
New Bond Propositions I highly recommend that you study the ballot carefully. With a yes vote, on most of these initiatives, we are putting the obligation to repay these bonds on the laps of our children. A bond that has to be paid by 2060 won’t be paid by me, but by my children and grandchild. They don’t have a say in these initiatives but they will have the burden to come up with the taxes to cover them. If our government representatives can’t find it in the budget to cover these initiatives now, then they should not spend the money. There is a surplus in Sacramento but our Governor won’t cut the purse strings open. A responsible family works within their own budget and doesn’t plan projects that would force them into debt, struggling to make the payments, or even more ridiculous, ask their grandchildren to pay for it. Our government should work with what they have and be financially responsibly. Most of the planned projects in the 2018 election ballot should be budgeted within the State’s yearly revenue. Our lawmakers use the ballot as an easy way to work around tough budget items. New bonds will put the financial burden on future voters. Our children will have enough financial burdens to face as they enter adulthood. We shouldn’t add to that burden. Most of the propositions are funded by big corporations and organized unions, attempting to skirt the legislative process. They use hot-button language and advertising to elicit an emotional response from voters. Proposition 1, if passed, would allow the State to issue $4 billion in bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans and farmworkers. Guess who’s backing this initiative? Silicon Valley tech giant Zuckerberg. They should just pay their employees a living wage and not put the burden on our children. Proposition 2 is another housing Bond. In 2004 a proposition was passed to levy an additional 1% on income above $1 million to finance metal health programs. Again, Silicon Valley tech giant Zuckerberg is behind this initiative. If you read last week’s Word column you know my position on the Water Bond. It’s a NO! Final Word. If the proposition on the ballot has “BOND” in it I’m voting NO!
Written on October 2, 2018
Word from the Editor
November 6th election Propositions
We’ll have to decide on 11 statewide ballot initiatives that may or may not affect our pocket books. New bonds, rent control, gasoline taxes and even a mandate that eggs are laid by chickens who roam cage-free. Prop 9, to divide the State into Three States, was removed by the California Supreme Court because of significant questions regarding its validity, however the measure is not dead, and it could show up in future elections. The Supreme Court agreed to take up the case. Prop 1 Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018. I’m in favor of helping our Vets. Prop 3 Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. It sounds good - but wait a minute. It is unfortunate that the State feels the need to throw more money into a broken system. The $29 Billion bond measure of 1996 did not go toward future water supplies. Not one new dam, or the repairing of the nearly catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam last year, was part of the ‘96 bond. What did they spend the money on? It did nothing to solve our water shortage. Reading the details of Prop 3; there’s nothing about new dams, $4 billion to go to “disadvantaged communities” with no explanation of who, how and what its program is to increase their own water source. This bond will cost taxpayers $433 million per year for 40 years. That has to mean more taxes! On top of this the State will limit residents’ indoor and outdoor water consumption in 2020. What happens to our landscape and trees? Most important what will happen to our San Joaquin Valley, which feeds much of the Nation. We need a proposition that will build dams and not give the politicians another $9 Billion to go to their special interest groups. Prop 5: Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer Their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. I’m in favor of helping our seniors keep the lower property tax rates when moving to another county in California. If you are 55 or older and own a home in San Bernardino, you can move to another county and maintain that same low property tax rate to another county without any restrictions. Under the old regulations, a senior could not afford to downside to a smaller property because of the sky-rocking real estate property value and reappraisal of their new residence. Example; you are 55+ years old, have owned your home for 30 years, and under the old Prop 13 were protected against rising property tax appraisals annually, your home was taxed at the original tax base plus 1% per year. Today you might be paying $1000 a year in property tax but your home is worth $750,000. If you sold your home and purchased another home for $749,999 ($1 less), without this protection, your new annual tax rate would start at $7,500. This proposition would allow seniors to keep their original $1000 property tax bill. This proposition would protect them without costing the tax payers a penny. I’ll study the other propositions and decide if I oppose or support them. I’ll let you know.
Wrightwood Community Services District is sharply criticized for not having their website, posting agendas and other critical information, published.
WCSD was established in July 2017 and the district residents have been patiently waiting for the development of the official WCSD website.
As per Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), community services districts with websites are required to post their meeting agendas on those sites.
Lack of a website makes it very difficult to quantify what this district does or who should be contacted for more information.
The absence of a website seems odd because this district performs many vital functions and operates with a large budget. CSD oversees street lighting, solid waste collection, parks and recreation and property management of the Wrightwood Community Building, Old Fire House/Museum, Vivian Null Park, Hollis Steward Park, The Skate Park, and Veterans Memorial Park, and any associated parking area, equipment, maintenance equipment and facilities associated with Parks and Recreation.
It is also noted that nonprofits in Wrightwood, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Snowline Schools, and various service clubs with agendas, calendars of events, and bill-paying information, all have up-to-date websites.
The WCSD meets the requirement, to have available the board agendas, at the minimum. They provide their board meeting information packets and agendas through email request and at the WCSD office during business hours. The procedure makes it awkward for residents not on the CSD email list to locate District agendas and information.
WCSD should at least have a basic website that includes the important details of the operation. Facebook, a media entertainment website, does not provide the detailed information District residents are searching for.
WCSD’s lack of establishing a website, after 15 months of operation, is unfortunate. It’s WCSD’s obligation to build a website and publish their pages ASAP. District residents expect no less.
Phelan Pinon Hills CSD is commended for providing a website that meets Board agenda posting requirements, as well as calendar details. They also received awards for their website and its part in their effort to meet transparency requirements. Has WCSD asked their neighboring PPHCSD about their website template?
So, the question is, why can’t WCSD complete the process of building a website? It does not have to be a work of art with all the bells and whistles. A temporary website, with its basic requirements, is all that we ask. It’s not rocket science. Just do it!
Written October 10, 2017
Surprising benefits to meeting new people
For many, participating in, as well as becoming a member of, a club or organization is not in their comfort zone. Staying at home, doing those things that fit into your life style feels rights. Why not continue with the status quo, and avoid the risk of new or unfamiliar surroundings? Why brother to venture out and meet new people? Making new friends may take a back seat to other priorities, such as work or caring for children or aging parents. Or maybe you’ve moved to a new community and haven’t yet found a way to meet people. At the end of the day there are many advantages in meeting new people and getting out there to take chances. While it can be daunting, meeting new people can actually be good for your health. Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to build or maintain friendships. Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also: Increase your sense of belonging and purpose Boost your happiness and reduce your stress Improve your self-confidence and self-worth Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections. (source Mayo Clinic). Enjoying a diverse network of acquaintances isn’t just a young person’s game. Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile. How can you develop new friendships? Start by visiting local clubs and organizations. They always welcome guests and are happy to give you information about their activities and service projects. They are individuals like you, that took the first step to find new friends. Some of the Tri-Community clubs you may visit include: • Chambers of Commerce for Wrightwood, Phelan, and Pinon Hills. They are open to business owners and individuals. • Tri-Community Kiwanis. They meet in Phelan on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays at the Pizza Factory • The Timberline Lions Club. They meet in Wrightwood on the 4th Thursday at the Wrightwood Community Building Benefits to joining are numerous, and you may even fine a few truly close friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961