California, the new desert

I live in California, a state soon drying up in many ways but most greatly in the water type of way. We are currently experiencing what is to be one of the worst droughts in the history of the state. Everywhere I go, there are street signs reminding people not to waste water. There are programs to assist residents with replacing lawns with drought resistant plants. There are articles daily in every newspaper & News clips daily showing the effects of the drought in many areas.

About 1,000 more wildfires than usual have charred the state, including some unusual ones in the spring. The drought is likely to inflict $2.2 billion in losses on the agricultural industry, according to a July study from the University of California-Davis.

Popular vacation spots such as Lake Shasta are becoming arid dry spots where one can only hope to get their feet wet.

In some areas of the state- wealthier areas– people aren’t even aware there IS a drought. I guess money can buy happiness..or at least it doesn’t buy awareness. Even those that are aware, seem to act with a sense of entitlement – washing cars that aren’t visibly dirty, daily watering of lawns to keep them green, etc. There seems to be an attitude among this set that if they can pay for it, its theirs to use. A Commodity. The fact that Jerry Brown is in talks to reroute water to LA- a place where the most water wasters seem to be, water their green lawns, keeping their pools filled- does not help drive to home the point that water IS a limited resource for EVERYONE now. You cannot simply have the government give you more because your pool needs to be refreshed. I think it’d be much more educational if the wealthy elite in LA were told to reduce water waste the same as those of us in northern CA, central CA, etc are being told to.

I Think theres so many folks who dont want to acknowledge it, or are ignorant. I think when people have to think ab our very basic need for water and our dependence on nature it can be scary. It reminds us how human we are. IT reminds us that we cannot simply make more or buy more of a necessity simply because we need it. Indeed that is a very scary place to be. I know, I feel it too. The alternative thought may be among such folks is that we are so used to government/corporations/whatever managing things ppl just think there must be a plan to get more somehow.

There was rumblings about desalination of the ocean water since California is conveniently located next to an ocean. The problem is that desalination is a costly & quite honestly, impractical solution to our long term problem. Trucking in water from out of state, as some have suggested, is even more so impractical.

The reality is that we need to treat water as we do money–money on a budget. People would do well to develop a wider world view in thinking about our water situation. The water we have is the water budget of us all in the state. We need to spend it carefully. The water you waste washing your car could be the water your neighbor needs in order to wash their dishes.Yes, we all have water coming through our taps when we turn them on….but for how long?

Budget your water now. You will not end regretting it later.

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Godspeed Ferguson, MO….

So Ferguson, MO …seems to not completely be going down in flames today. I am always a person to fact check before opining on situations like this but honestly its been hard to wait through the opinions. I def am for people questioning government, taking (Positive) action when they see wrong & def police can be wrong,. IN this case I do not think the officer was. One commenter on Yahoo put it quite succinctly :” re the Michael Brown autopsy results: 4 shots to the arm to stop an assailant are what happens when you shoot to disable by aiming for the side of center mass, since they are less likely to kill the assailant, if not disabled and the target is closer then you go for a head shot, sounds like good training to me to explain the location of the bullets…. I am sorry for this it is now true that he was not running away, the witness has been discredited. we have to wait for the rest of the reports.” All very valid…and it substantiates that the officer did his job. End of story. I don’t think there is a conspiracy here. I live in a state that has seen a fair share of officer involved fatalities & I have oft sided w/ the victim in those cases or heavily sympathized. (Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Andy Lopez) I certainly do sympathize. Its sad when ANYONE dies. However if you die in the commission of a crime, or being questioned for one, it warrants a bit less sympathy on my end. I was not impressed with Mr. Brown’s parents on Good Morning America either. They seem to fault only the officer, be in support of the rioting & showed little concern for their son’s activities that day. This coupled with the autopsy results & the very valid comments I Quoted above, lead me to believe the officer was not in the wrong here.

NOT TO MENTION….rioting, looting, stealing, defacing property in the name of justice for someone is backwards & WRONG. If Mr Brown were innocent than people committing crimes in his name will not sway observers favorably. In my opinion, the rioters are nothing but criminal opportunists looking for an excuse to do damage while police resources are stretched managing all that is going on. This is not justice. This is shameful. Godspeed, Ferguson.

Earth Day..recycling the same lip service

This week marks Earth Day in the United States. While I love the Lorax story, and feel Dr Seuss was a man ahead of his time, I think Earth day has evolved into little more than lip service and a chance to have parties/events. I love free stuff as much as anyone of course. I believe issues should start by being solved locally and moving forward into bigger expanses of government/areas. Federally (worldwide) at issue is global warming and the people that chose to deny it. This is not something only local efforts can stymie. This needs to be taken seriously by several powers that be.

Statewide, in my home state of California, the most pressing issue is our current drought situation. While other states have had flooding, blizzards and rain, California has had lovely spring weather all winter. I’m not complaining. I hate the rain. I hate the cold. However we need it and thats why there are seasons. Not to mention that’s how there are crops, water, indoor plumbing….In California, everyone is aware of the looming drought but it seems people just are (figuratively) standing around and looking at each other, wondering whose going to do something about it. In the meantime, farmers and people dependent on water supply are in hysterics. Whats wrong with this picture?  Governor Jerry Brown has barely acknowledged it. In January Governor Brown declared a drought emergency and signed some legislation to make water transfers easier from county to county. This was one step in what should have been a series of measures to deal with the drought situation. My own town and county have remained mum on the idea of conserving water. There is n mandatory conservation. No one is suggesting closing a pool or easing restrictions placed by HOA’s to keep lawns pretty & green for the sake of home values. Nothing. Unfortunately the result could well be that we will soon not have a choice in the matter. While the governor cant be expected to produce rain, he & local governments, can take  more measures to conserve what water we do have. This would be the best way to celebrate Earth Day locally in my opinion.

 

LGBT‬ retirement community opens doors in ‪Santa Rosa, CA

I’ll blog more on this later, I just saw the headline in my Facebook scrolling & thought “wow! how cool for LGBT people” and thought I would share. I’m working my day job today so more later….

#‎FountaingroveLodge‬, ‪#‎LGBT‬ retirement community opens doors in ‪#‎santarosa‬ http://bit.ly/1g8xtzh

Peace & Prayers for Andy Lopez, for the police and for everyone

Today in Santa Rosa, CA there will be a rally in Courthouse Square with open mic for those wishing to express their views, condolences etc in regards to the shooting death of Andy Lopez.  I think peaceful protest, open mic and rallies are excellent ways for people to express themselves in this regard. Martin Luther King Junior & Mahatma Gandhi were both peaceful leaders who made an impact. While I am not going to be present at today’s events, I say prayers for all. I truly hope that people will gather, mourn, support one another & express themselves in a good way. There is an expected crowd of 1000 so its somewhat ironic police presence will be needed to ensure public safety. I implore all attendees to refrain from insults or any abuse of officers.  Please consider the safety of your fellow attendees as well as how your actions may affect the public perception of the entire group. Yesterday there was a small group of people protesting with plastic replica guns. This is not peaceful! This is not positive! It simply shows the entire thing just went over your head. As I type this, the first rally should be in full swing. I pray for everyone’s safety.  As a community, everyone is grieving for Andy. Everyone wants answers. Answers will come certainly, but please lets let the investigation take its course so facts can presented in full.

Gone too soon…. Andy Lopez

Its been a very sad week in my hometown of Santa Rosa, in fact all of Sonoma County seems to be abuzz with news of the shooting of a 13 year old boy, by the name of  Andy Lopez.

There are facts that have come out but due to the high emotions and risk of officer safety and an ongoing investigation, not ALL of the facts have been disclosed. I dont know anyone involved but I will be referring to Andy Lopez by first name because I feel it reminds people that he was a real person.

In lieu of facts it seems all internet stories related  to this  turn into crazy accusations from both ends of the spectrum. I haven’t read any news article or internet thread that doesn’t dissolve into debate about cops, gun control, parenting. This is of course typical of the internet. Its easy for people to  have an opinion based on news clips and sound bites.  It would be  prudent to collect all of the facts before weighing in but I would like to address some of the bigger critiques I have read. But first would like to start with facts:  The police were driving through the neighborhood in question. They  saw someone carrying (what appeared to be) a (high powered very deadly) gun. If you can see an AK47, you’re already too close to it. They responded according to the situation as they would if you, me or the guy across the road had been doing the same.  Police are people too, and even in their line of work, they don’t actually want to get shot or killed. This does not make it anyone’s fault nor does it make the situation any less tragic. The officers in question I am sure feel incredibly remorseful. No matter what one might think of police, no officer wants to be the guy (or lady) that shoots a child. No one.

Per KRON4 news “A timeline released Thursday by the Santa Rosa police shows that only 10 seconds passed from the moment that the sheriff’s deputy and his partner called dispatch to report a suspicious person to the moment they called back to say shots had been fired.” Admittedly I don’t know much about police procedures but if only 10 seconds went by one wonders how they gave a command twice in that period. I”m not stating an opinion but merely putting a question mark on something I hope the official report will answer.

There’s unsubstantiated reports that Andy may have had on an IPOD and simply may not have heard the officers. Police stated that when they pulled up, Andy was in the opposite direction of them-which seems to imply they pulled up behind him. THEY have NOT said he purposefully walked away from them or ignored them. Regardless it seems their choice to pull up behind him was another unfortunate decision that could have changed the outcome.

There are people in this world evidently with the extreme view that any toy gun should not be allowed outdoors. Its a sad day when the lines between toy and real guns are so blurred one cannot tell them apart. If life or death weigh on that difference than this should concern us all.  The average toy store stocks dozens of varieties of toy guns. Children every day can be seen with Nerf, Super Soaker or Flying Disc guns.  There is no societal outcry from this. Additionally,  thirteen year old go places alone every day.  Andy was walking down his own street to a friend’s house unattended to return something that belonged to said friend. This is hardly the mark of bad parenting.

Evidently we now live in an age where its becoming harder to tell he difference between toy & real. This should be cause for concern. If a child walking down the street with a toy is cause for hysteria and his death then lets pause and consider the consequences of this. Toys should not look real. Real should also not look like toy. Recently I saw a photo a powder blue pistol marketed to women. My son’s friend saw the picture and leaned over to look at it then asked “is that real?” Enough said. This is not abut gun control. I don’t begrudge anyone the right to bear arms or defend themselves. However I do call into question how serious someone takes gun ownership when they feel the need to stamp Hello Kitty on a pistol or bedazzle it. Guns are serious business. They should not be “cute.”

Furthermore if the difference between a replica and a real gun is little more than an orange tip, this should be changed.

Many people have criticized a number of other things such as “why wasn’t Andy in school?” Frankly these things aren’t relevant.Police do not roll up and shoot children for being truant. For what it’s worth though the shooting occurred at 3:14pm. Andy’s character and parents are not on trial here. The POLICE have not given any indication that they were called because he was truant, or because Andy was doing anything with the replica in a threatening manner.  They were not called because he was a gang banger or any of the other myths that have sprung up in the internet rumor wheel. There are people out there claiming conspiracy theories and cover ups. Its a bit early in the investigation to call it a cover up. No mater what people want to believe about police, it’s far fetched to suggest they roll around looking for children to shoot.  Again, I remind people on BOTH sides of the fence  to stick with FACTS not conjecture.

It is a fact that police were called to respond to a report that someone was carrying a (very high powered, very deadly) gun. Police responded to said call. Police saw confirmation that someone was carrying (what they thought) was a high powered very deadly weapon. They responded according to the information they had at the time, which is no different than how they would respond to ANYONE carrying something of that nature.

It is also a fact that  it is against the law to carry a replica firearm or to sell one to a minor (CA Penal Code 12556) Its unfortunate that society in general takes some laws so casually. that we forget.  Its unfortunate that people don’t always know the law. Its unfortunate that a kid cant walk down the street to return what amounts to a toy without police being called. There are many unfortunate events at play here but lets call them what they are. NO ONE from the police department has stated Andy was at fault, so the internet jury should not be saying this either. NO ONE from the police department is saying the officers weren’t at  fault, so the internet jury shouldn’t either. It seems to me though, if we are basing opinions solely on fact  that this was all huge tragic misunderstanding. There are several agencies investigating what happened. The public will get facts once they are gathered. There’s no cover up here, there is caution, as well there should be.  I would like to know what happened in its entirety. The police need to gather those in order to present them, its that simple.  I trust that with so many agencies working on this that there will be a thorough investigation.

I always remind my own children to ask themselves first “does this make sense?” when trying to weigh information. There has been a lot of press regarding school shootings, and shootings in general. I understand that people are on edge about guns. But if you saw a neighbor kid in Santa Rosa calmly walking down the road casually carrying (what looked like) an AK47….does it make sense? If only Andy had not been seen that day, none of us would know who he is. I can only hope there’s some Greater Good that can come from this.

“The quality of the investigations that the Santa Rosa Police Department conducts is of the highest standard…I know we have strong working relationships with all law enforcement in Sonoma County, but we’re also professionals and we know what our task at hand is, and that’s to find out the facts.” – Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm

Note: if this seems like I’m bouncing around I apologize. I’m not taking sides. I”m searching for understanding. I will render a complete opinion when I have all the facts, and remind everyone to try and do the same.