Friday, November 11, 2016

Music for the Post-Election Blues

Like many of my friends, the election results hit me hard. Really hard. As to why, more on this later. But I have learned that Music can be a powerful non-chemical mood altering device. For me, some kinds of Music, like early John Gorka, can send me into depression. Other music can bring me out of it. So, what follows is my recommendation for things to listen to in order to bring yourself up off the emotional floor that was this election:
So go, grieve. Listen to music, and come to terms to the election. And then, next money, get back to work fighting for a better country.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Vote Picks for 2016 for Santa Clara County, Assembly District 28, Willow Glen (ish)

As many of you know, I obsess about politics the way other people do about sports. This has been the most interesting election cycle of my lifetime, both good and bad. I've been pouring over the my ballot, and I get excited when I get my State Voter Guide, which is online. and below are my picks for 2016 all the way down. Feel free to start a conversation on this.

My Picks:

  • President/VP: Clinton/Kaine
  • Senator: Kamala Harris. Look, I love Loretta Sanchez as a person, and I recognize and appreciate what she's done in Garden Grove. But Harris is a serious candidate, and a historic candidate
  • Congress: Zoe Lofgren, now and forever. Proud to have her as my representative in Congress.
  • State Senator: Jim Beall.
  • Assembly: Evan Low
  • San Jose Unified School District: Pam Foley.
  • East Side Union School District. Pattie Cortese
  • City Council: Helen Chapman. Dev Davis is a Republican.
  • Open Space District: Dorsey Moore. PLO is just ballot riding.
  • Prop 51: Yes. Its the only way we can legitimately fund schools in California
  • Prop 52: Yes. Why is this not in the legislature?
  • Prop 53: No. Would make raising revenue for worthy projects harder
  • Prop 54: Yes. Seems reasonable that legislation should be public 72 hours ahead of time.
  • Prop 55: Yes. Proud to extend this, and to pay it. We have to find education somehow.
  • Prop 56: Yes. Leads to a healthier population
  • Prop 57: Yes. Part of the on-going criminal justice reform
  • Prop 58: Yes. Preserves the status quo. Common language is a unifier. I'd also like to see mandatory Spanish as well. Maybe in the future.
  • Prop 59: Yes. Allowing for proposal and ratification of an amendment to overturn Citizens United
  • Prop 60: Blank. Ummm, really? I have to vote on this?
  • Prop 61: Yes. Lowers drug prices. 
  • Prop 62: Yes. End the Death Penalty. Seamless Garment.
  • Prop 63: Yes. Background check for ammo. Guns don't kill people, bullets do.
  • Prop 64: Yes. 420 dood. Then tax it. See Aquinas: "lex humana dicitur aliqua permittere, non quasi ea approbans, sed quasi ea dirigere non potens." (ST 1-2.93.3.3)
  • Prop 65: Yes. Grudgingly. The bag ban is an example of the nanny state. Do you know how many groceries I have left in the parking lot because of this ban? But this redirects money to environmental causes.
  • Prop 66: No. Seems to me like taking away due process rights
  • Prop 67: No. See Prop 65. How much pasta sauce do I need to leave in the Safeway parking lot?
  • Measure A: Yes. We have the largest per-capita homeless population. We need to fix it.
  • Measure B: Yes. Traffic is a mess, future generations need BART. Yes to the sales tax.
  • Measure E: Yes. Be fair on offering extra hours. I have seen this abused.
  • Measure F: Yes. Its a decent compromise. Lets rebuild SJPD.
  • Measure G: Yes. Yes to Business Tax.
  • Measure X: Yes. Supports Job Training
  • Measure Y: Yes. More Property Tax to improve San Jose Schools.

My Current Senate map:


As extra credit: At this writing, my Senate Map looks like this. My current prediction is  50/50 split with VP breaking tie.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Making a difference in Nicaragua

Earlier in the summer of 2016, I send out a call to my frends and family to help me raise money for medicine for the people of northwest Nicaragua. As many of you know, I have been working with a great organization, Amigos for Christ, to help the folks of this area.

Amigos has a systematic approach to helping folks. The have have five foundational areas they work on. Simply put: First, they start by working with communities to build water systems. This work is not charity, but a collaboration. The community must put up half the labor, and some of the money. Once the water system is in, they work on health issues. From there, it progresses to economic development. They have been working on this for 20 years, and the area is dotted with free-standing independent communities.

I have been working with the Health Team for a couple of years. I have been working on eliminating intestinal parasites in children and their parents, a disease which affects way to many people in this area. This year, the group had a special meal for me to celebrate the work we had done, and I was supremely moved.

So, to the donors, I say thank you. But more importantly, so do they. Here's a message from my friend Juanita, a nurse on the team:


My name is Juanita Patricia Gonz├ílez Picado, and I work with Amigos for Christ. I am in charge of the projects for eliminating parasites, and the elimination of Chronic Renal Insufficiency in the communities we work in.  This year, we worked with seven communities, 4 existing and 3 new communities. Thank you for your contributions and donations, which help us realize these projects and serve the people in these communities with stool and urine testing, which helps us in our mission to eliminate parasites and disease. We keep you in our thoughts always.
(Note: The translation is mine. I take responsibility for any mistakes)

The team also put together a slide presentation on the epidemiological data they have been collecting in the communities, which illustrates the level of service and professionalism that these folks provide:



(If you want a translation, post a comment)

I am proud to be able to help them, and I am proud that my family and friends who donated help to make the lives of these people better.





Monday, August 1, 2016

Notes on the 2016 Nicaragua Trip

The Saturday trip was about the same as past years. We had a red-eye flight from SFO to San Salvador, and I got to sit with my daughter, Anna, which was a plus. 

When we arrived at Managua, some old friends from Amigos For Christ where there to meet us. We then drove to Poneloya where all 40 of us had lunch at a friends house on the beach. From there, we drive another hour to the compound where the the dormitories are.

Sunday

Saunday was the climb up the volcano, and I have covered this in years' past. LINK. This year, however, I had both my daughters climbing with me. Both Emma and Anna went up the face of Cerro Negro. PIC  Anna made it in good time, and while it was difficult, she handled it with her usual steely resolve. I am so prod of her. She got sick later in the evening, but was better by morning. I think it was the food, rather than heat exhaustion.

Monday

Today we had a chance to go back to a community we've been working on for some time, the beautiful La Chuscada. Last year, we started putting in the boundary wall of a school. This year the wall is complete, as is most of the preschool. Our group was putting in the floor of the preschool, as well has putting in more of the plumbing for future buildings. They day was not a warm as it usually is, it was probably only 90 degrees, which passes for "cool" in Nicaragua.

The most beatific moment of the day had to do with music. Music is playing from load speakers and a generator while we're working. Seemingly spontaneously, the kids with us started doing a line dance. Emma was with some of the small kids from the village, like 8-9 years old, and was trying to teach them the dance, which varying degrees of success, but it was a joy to see. I am so proud of her. Most everyone was tired and went to bed after "devo" (devotional) in the evening.

Anna, even though she was sick the previous night, was hard at work in the fields. She took it easy, but still was in the trenches digging.


Monday evening the adults walked down the street to El Torito, the local bar/restaurant. A taable of locals weked what we were doing, I told them about our work on clean wather projects and our love of the country. WHen they heard this, they bought the table a bottle of 12 year Nicaraguan Rum, which costs about $50 here at a bar. It was a very generous gift indeed. We found out later that our benefactor owned one of the grocery stores in Chinandega, and was , by Nicaraguan standards, someone of unimaginable wealth.

Tuesday

Today was a good day. We got to work build a pig pen in La Chuscada. We were at the house of Dona Rosa and she had a bunch of children there. 2 Babies, Christopher and Alejandro, a little girl Milady, and older girls Petrona, X, and Y. (See VIdeo)

I got a chance to work with the Veterinarian, Carlos and his wife Annie the head nurse. The Pay It Forward program (LINK) has found that if you build pens for the recipients, you are more likely to be successful with the animals, and keep them from getting sick or hurt. We were part of the initial projects building pens, and the project was definitely no as strenuous as digging trenches.

During the day I played with the Baby, Christopher, and it did not start out well, as he had a lot of stranger anxiety. But I got him to warm up to be by the end of the day.

We also helped with the pen at a house nearby, and afterwards were treated to Bunuelos, which is Fried Yucca which honey. Its excellent.

One of the sad things is that they do not have fresh water, since they could not afford the buy-in. So they still get their water from a well which is likely polluted. That nothwithstanding, the pigs from the pay it forward program will increase the protein and iron in their diet, which will ultimately make a big improvement in their lives.

Wednesday

Old folks home in the morning, Teresa, when asked how old, she said 50. 

Evening was a bit of drama, but we ended up having a party at Shannon's house, which was excellent. We talked US politics, and because of the the guys on the trip was in finance, we talked about technology.

Thursday

Today was a work day. We spent the day making cement and pouring a foundation for the new pre-school. The work was fun, and we set up a system where we functioned like a team, and in fact finished a hour or so early, and got the foundation poured. I am deadly tired now, but happy.

Friday, Saturday

(No notes. Traveling)