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How bad is it? This is how bad it is. I tried to find a better view of the map, but basically, there's no water anywhere, and there's even less water in the Central Coast and the southern Valley. I live in the Central Coast. One good/bad thing is that all our water comes from here -- no water from the Sierra Nevada, no water from the Delta, no water from the Feds -- probably mostly good this year because nobody's turning out water off but Mother Nature. There's other places where the feds have turned off the water, literally shutting down valves to the irrigation canals.

Personally, there's been something wrong at my house. Even though none of us are water wasters in general, we've been running 30% over the target (which allows 50 gallons a day for each person). So we've been undertaking various steps to decrease water use and look for problems. Keith found the toilet valve spewing water in a new way: I'm guessing it was leaking more subtly before too. Anyway, he fixed that. I fixed the dishwasher which needed a new door gasket so we can start using that: it's supposed to save significant water over handwashing if you only run it full. We're adjusting bathing and laundry routines. I'm sad to say I am now taking 8 gallon baths twice a week. Apparently that's a lot less than a usual bath uses. But there are consequences. That grey water gets really, really grey when you bathe only twice a week and you use so little water . . . and it means if I'm going to have enough grey water to flush the toilet I have to get pretty fanatical about scooping every drop of water into the buckets. With the water being so grey, I've taken to putting a drop of bleach in each bucket so they don't fester.

I'm actually going ahead with the summer garden, but I'm watering in drips and drops. I have not invested in a dripline because I believe I need to understand my garden better before I do it. Meanwhile I'm checking the soil before I water and only adding enough to make it moist down at the root level. No showering the whole bed to get it over and done with. Naturally I have bought mulch but it's not been applied yet.

On the laundry front -- the one roommate whose cat has a habit of peeing on her bed has decided to use the laundromat sometimes. I haven't had the guts to tell everyone to quite doing weird little loads of one color, because who wants to be the person who says "I don't care if your clothes all turn grey so long as I don't have to pay the fine for being over ration?" Though I've been doing it for years, and I almost never get  running colors or dinge from that source. I do have other issues with laundry, though, which are not relevant here but which would kind of undermine my position that sorting clothes is unnecessary with modern dye technology.

Meanwhile, my drinking water needs seem to keep growing. I'm up to "must drink more than four gallons  four quarts or I will [redacted for TMI issues]"
 But that's less than ten percent   three percent of my allotment.

Upshot! (or temporary upshot anyway) Remember we were thirty percent above our ration? The ration is 200 gallons per day for my house (and most houses in Santa Cruz). So we were using like 260 gallons a day, or more. Today I read my meter and then called the water department for help in understanding what's up with it. In the last twenty-six days we've used seven something or other units, which you multiply by 748 (no typo) to get the number of total gallons. Multiplying by 748 and dividing by 26 is 201, which is . . . wait for it . . .

one gallon per day over the ration!

That's 59 gallons a day less. Considering that the time included is transitional, that is before and after various changes we made, it bodes well.
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About six inches so far: by now we're usually pushing twenty around here. I figure if we got 20 in the whole season we'd avert actual disaster. With about twelve weeks left in the season, I guess we'll be all right if we get like an inch and a half of rain every week. That's possible. Is it likely?
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This from the BBC: Three sailors die and a fourth is missing during a California yacht race, only weeks after another fatal accident off the same coast.

The California coast is not a small place: 840 miles long.  So two fatal accidents in the course of "weeks" does not constitute a trend.

Yacht races still dumb, though, even though my brother in law loves them.
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I feel like an overprivileged brat for the second time today writing about this, but it's tropical out there.  Warm and muggy and very windy, with that weird light that comes from a certain kind of cloud cover -- like we're going to have sunshowers or even a full-bore rainstorm with the sun glaring through.  It's not very cloudy, but the clouds that are there are heavy looking.  Did I mention the wind?  It's not dropping palm fronds on my car, but it feels like it will.
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1. Facebook won't let me post this link, so I'm posting it here.  I think maybe facebook won't let me do anything, but since the only thing I wanted to do over there was post that link, I'm not interested in pursuing the matter.  I did try about six times over the period of twenty minutes or so.

2. I tried to send a note to Bill O'Reilly but the only way you can send him a note is to be a premium member of his site.   Here's what I wanted to say: "please cover the Shawna Forde trial."  Becuase he's so concerned about the media not paying attention to murders.  And he said so many nice things about the Minutemen and has never corrected them.

3.  Generally a frustrating day.  I have a cough, which wrecks me every time, and I was supposed to go and fill out a new W-4 (tax) form for Foirst Five for the stipend for the class I took, but I drove all the way out to their office and it's not there anymore and they didn't tell me over the phone.  I don't know where the new office is but I have a feeling it is in Watsonville.  Because she offered to do the whole thing by mail instead of having me drive out to their office.

4.  After four or five false new starts I think I finally know where to begin with Yanek.  I've been composing the first chapter in my head for the ast couple days and I think as soon as I have a couple hours of full competency to write it I will be happy with what I get.

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John Laird, who was term-limited out of a very successful assembly job excellently representing our area, has been appointed to do environmental good.

I'm pleased -- and relieved: I think we need John in public life.
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So I use my friends' list as an RSS list.  I read a number of progressive blogs this way -- The Sideshow, Crooks and Liars, Atrios, Digby, calitics -- a few others.  (I dropped DailyKos because I can't keep up with it).  I also have RSS feeds to some science blogs and The Scientific American, and so on.

Increasingly, I notice that there are right-wing political ads sprinkled through out my friends' list.  I finally got around to complaining.  I don't know if they are inserted at the LJ level or by whoever does the RSS feeds but it pisses me off that the content of my reading is dishonestly coupled with its opposite, in frequently misleading or disingenuous ways.

I'd like ti if everyone who sees this happen even once also complains.

We need to call the creeps on every little trick of theirs and not let them get away with anything,.  And no, these aren't just freedom-of-speech ads, they're, as I said, misleading little squibs that don't make their case honestly and by putting them on progressive blogs like they the implication is that whatever weird position is being pushed by the ad is consistent with the argument in the blog.

Speaking of dishonesty and not making a straightforward case, I listened to an aggregate ten minutes of the debate between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman today.  The woman is more devil the more I know about her.  She committed maybe ten lies in her four minutes of the time, and failed to directly address any of the questions.  Whereas Jerry Brown -- who is definitely not a left-winger, okay? -- came off as an honest bureaucrat with honest workaday procedural responses to real problems of governance.    I think I actually respect Brown now: I've had my doubts at various times in the past, though I can't think of a time when he was running for something I could vote for that I didn't vote for him.  So even if it wasn't that horrible, horrible, mean-spirited, dishonest, irresponsible woman he was running against,. I'd vote for him.
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You need to browse this list.  When you have heard "Honky Tonkin" you will know the truth of California.

Edit: forget "Honky Tonkin."  Listen to this and learn.  Now who is Emmy Lou Harris going to sing with in ten years?
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Not doing this in writer's block because that's not how I got the idea.  Bean montag personhead did it and asked for her readers to do it.
So, without further ado, 5 things I love and 5 things I hate about Santa Cruz.

1.My kids always had somewhere to go and something to do, and rarely needed a ride anywhere.
2.It's beautiful to walk around in.  It blooms all year, and there's an ocean right there and all that.
3. It has a civil and conversational culture. People will talk to you on the street even if you look funny.
4. People tend to be culturally and politically literate even if they haven't had much schooling.
5. Really good food isn't really more expensive than dreck.  And there are fruit trees right on the street.

6.  It's where I met, courted, lived with and raised children with the nice fellow.

1. It's one of the least affordable communities in the US.  Housing costs are way high and wages are way low.
2.  The veneer of decent politics is pretty thin when you raise subjects like wages and working conditions and de facto racism.
3. My friends moved away.  Mostly.
4. In Europe, you can take your dog on the subway.  In Santa Cruz, you can't take your dog on the street if you live downtown.
5. Too many yuppies thinking that the world revolves around them and demanding that everybody cater to their neuroses.

6. Gang stuff turned ugly lately.
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I hate hate hate keyboard shortcuts. I keep losing my text because my fingers trip and mysteriously replace everything with the letter N or something. I was saying, hey, it's Midsummer's Day and not the first day of summer. But at more length but I can't be bothered to do that twice.

Linkity time: a new online magazine all about Northern California. Another thing I can't be bothered to rewrite is a dissertation about how I think I live in Northern California but maps and the mainstream media (hah!) sometimes think I live in Southern California. I usually say Central Coast but some people think Central Coast only means San Luis Obispo and even Santa Barbara, which are way to the south of here. Anyway, I haven't really perused the magazine yet but I'm going to.

On another front, Percy ate my new shoes. My only nice shoes, both in looks and comfort. Shoes I cannot afford to replace. On the other hand, this weekend we had one not very successful dog park trip with all three of them and one very successful one. Pacheco Street Park -- which is one of those tanbark-paved, fenced-with-an-airlock dedicated dog parks worked once, but then when I went back there was an incident. Someone came with an alarming-looking little dog named Peanut and while the dog's owner understood what I was saying about not knowing if I could control the dogs who were not mine, her friend put the weird little mutt down on the ground six feet from where I was barely holding on to them, and Percy lunged at the little dog and wanted to play with him -- like a toy, and I have seen what he does to toys -- and knocked me over and it took all my strength to pull him and Lola back to control. So I had the woman pick up the little dog and go to the opposite side of the litle park while I took my dog and the temporary dogs to the giant car.

The successful dog park trip was to the park I had originally had in mind before I learned about the Pacheco Street one. This was University Terrace Park -- the other end of Meder Street Park. There's a fence, but on the offleash dog side of it (I do not unleash Percy and Lola, though I let go of their leashes: I need to have multiple ways of grabbing them as they do not reliably come when called or sit when told to, though they are improving with the generous application of treats and praise) there is a sloping hangout that leads to a hiking/biking trail. The dogs there were medium sized dogs and they got along fine though one of them got pissed off at Percy (It's easy to do) and chased him around snarling. I thought it was self-limiting but apparently it's a dog that has some issues and the people took their dogs away after that. Then we walked on the trail for a bit and then I took them home so I could go get Emma and she just about finished clearing out that front room while I struggled with the dishwasher which had developed nastiness again. Also, Emma put the beautiful desk her uncle made her into that room for temporary while she and Jason are going to be living in a studio that is too small for it. The room is basically ready for Frank, and by the end of the summer ought to be ready for a renter! Only a year later than I originally planned.

On another front, I cannot afford to replace the shoes because I have successfully paid for Frank's test! He has to take a test every year from here on out to qualify as a doctor in the US and in countries that use the US qualification. He's also taking the tests in Europe, so he will be qualified almost everywhere in the world when he is done.
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The second map in this posting at Strange Maps says it all.
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The murder was a "random" and "possibly gang-related" walkby shooting on the levee by Jesse Street (which is the next neighborhood across the river from here -- the one called "River Flats" which is our most notorious "bad" neighborhood now that Beach Flats is somewhat cleaned up. Zack lives in that neighborhood, and so did we thirty-some years ago, though the neighborhood wasn't nearly so desperate then).

The stabbings were in an apartment around the corner from me, both by the same person furing a party Saturday night. I didn't hear the ruckus though I was home, and that worries me, since I'm trying to be aware and I go to the porch to investigate every sound (that forty-five year-old Kitty Genovese case haunts me still).

The police are now saying this is a mysterious rise in violence after years of declining crime. I say it's not mysterious at all.

It's the inevitable result of systematic Republican and so-called "moderate" Democrat policies over the last twenty years. Policies that explicitly promised to "starve the government" and people went for them repeatedly out of what? personal greed, thinking that this grandiose plan of destruction would save them a little chump change in taxes? personal animosity towards those people they perceived as benefiting from a "bloated bureaucracy--" the poor, the disabled, the old, the young, the bureaucratswho process their drivers' licenses and cut the checks for their roadwork and design the improvements to their intersections when they complain about them? The teachers and the doctors in public clinics? I honestly never understood who they were so mad at.

Let's see what the starvation policies have done.

Reduced bilingual education to the point of effective zero in many schools, leaving only vestiges of it in other schools. So our many, many second-language learners are ata loss in their classes.

Reduced preschool subsidies and public preschool programs so that more of the kids enter school unprepared to get anything out of it (there's more to this later on, wait for it).

Reduced money to schools overall (each year claiming they were giving the schools more in some weird little plan or other while cutting the money greatly in other areas), forcing expanded class sizes, forcing schools to drop the electives that keep kids in school -- including the vocational programs that help young people ease into careers with or without college -- making it impossible for schools to buy enough new books or keep librarians (and libraries!) and classroom aides, or even to keep the schools maintained. Even to keep the schools physically safe. I've been in more than one classroom with wonky wiring and massive leaks, not a good combination! Most schools no longer have their own school nurse or psychiatrist, and if you think those are luxuries may I remind you that tuberculosis is coming back? And that it's been known for a long time that many problems young adults have -- that cost society dearly, if we're not going to care about the young people for their own sakes -- are visible in childhood, if there's anybody there to look at them.

Reduced community access to health care and mental health care.

Cut funds to higher education, forcing community colleges -- which at one time were as good as free -- to raise fees to the levels that used to be the norm for four-year colleges. When you consider that the community colleges have been the vehicle to get low-income and underprepared students ready for four-year colleges, and also the place where vocational education happens, it's a real blow to social mobility and to hope itself when you take easy access to community colleges away from people. Also forcing the state university and the University of California to raise fees, cut scholarship money, and cut programs(two separate systems. You can thank another Republican, S.I. Hayakawa, for the confusing name change of the State College system -- he was a professor of semantics before he was a politician, see, and he thought it would make people take the state college system more seriously if we called it a university system. All it does is confuse people.

Meanwhile, in the same bag of destructive tricks, we have: "let's deregulate everything! Let's have a free market and a smaller government!" and while we're at it, "Let's reduce worker protections, environmental protections, and consumer protections!"

So. Health care costs go way up. Housing costs go way up. Income, adjusted for inflation, goes down among the people who already have a struggle to pay for things. Unemployment rises as jobs are eliminated or contracted out -- and the contractees find themselves working harder to make less money with no benefits -- homelessness increases, families crack under the strain, people have to travel farther to work, leaving their older children with nobody to talk to when they come home from or drop out of school -- which they're doing at a much greater rate due to the above and more stuff I'll get to in a minute.

Enter the Texans and their "no child left behind." This is actually another financial attack, and not just becuase it witholds funding from struggling schools that can't pass the entirely bogus tests produced not by educators but by profit-making private entities (did you know that? All the tests that American students have to take to succeed in life are created by unregulated and untested private companies, including the SAT that everyone has to take to get into college, and including all the new tests mandated by NCLB). Because this requires proprietary "curriculum" materials aimed at supposedly-but-not-really preparing students for the tests, and proprietary "workshops" aimed at supposedly-but-not-really preparing teachers to teach to the tests -- which are written by people who have nothing to do with the schools or schooling, in case you missed that.

So the content of the school day is now mandated not just by the necessity to pass a test that has nothing to do with what students should be learning developmentally or with regards to their future, but by specific requirements to use specific materials and methods developed by people who don't even know what it takes to learn things at specific levels of development or even in general. There's no time for anything relevant or interesting or helpful. Students are bored, anxious, and hopeless.

They're dropping out in droves.

There's nothing for them in school or out of it. Nothing to aim for, nothing to hope for, nothing even to tide them over because the traditional kid jobs have been snapped up by laid-off or desperately moonlighting adults. Their parents are depressed and either overworked or out of work and not available enough either way.

Enter the big-time gangs. They're replacing the almost-inoccuous kid gangs of years past. Why?

You know, they're just entrepreneurs -- "find a need and fill it." White-collar workers want their coke, and desperate people want their weed and their junk and their meth. So they've got a market.

And they've got a much bigger need to fill. The need of young adults to have something big to do. Something risky, something social, something bigger than themselves. They want to be loyal to something and someone, they want to have a plan that stretches farther than four-twenty in the afternoon, and they want to challenge themselves.

The big-time gangs say "you want to be one of us? You got to burn your bridges. You can't be one of us until you've killed somebody to prove yourself and to make it impossible for you to go back on us."

And there you have it. And I'm late for work, so that's all for now.
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From the NOAA site, we learn this:

BOUC1 LAS CUMBRS PK 2760`......... 5.47
BNDC1 BEN LOMD RAWS 2630`......... 7.53
BUSC1 BURRELL FIRE 1850`.......... 5.24
DAPC1 DAVENPORT 10`............... 2.04
RRDC1 RIDER ROAD 1123`............ 4.53
EKNC1 EUREKA CANYON 1700`......... 5.63
SOQC1 SOQUEL 21`.................. 2.91
PVYC1 PLEASNT VALLEY 360`......... 2.56
CTOC1 CORRALITOS RAWS............. 4.35

Sorry abut the antiquated measurement system, those are inches. This is the first measurable rain since May. To put it into perspective, Ben Lomond gets about 60 inches of rain average (up to 80 in a really disaastrously wet year). Lower elevations get more like 30 inches a year, 20 in South County (the sites are listed north to south).

To put it another way, nine more days like this would fill our quota (but not end the not-quite-official drought, if we really got all the rain in ten days of storm: that would result in all the rain running out to sea and nothing left behind for the watersheds, streams or underground).

Stuff is going to wash down the hillsides, especially the burned-over ones.
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The State Supreme Court just upheld Proposition 8.

They're leaving in the several-many thousand marriages, though.
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I'm going to go vote against the whole shebang of propositions in a minute.
Then I'm going to go keep my mouth shut about it for nine hours while helping other people vote, and that's a half-day shift.

Dog will be upset, but oh well.

The battery arrived for my phone today and so it works again, which means that the poor tech who had to take the brunt of my frustration was right to suggest I take the gamble of buying a new battery without knowing for sure if that was the problem with the phone.
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A fire started near Martin Road in Bonny Doon yesterday around three in the afternoon. By four, they had begun evacuating the residents (1400 or so of them: this is an area often referred to as "rural Bonny Doon," though its social characteristics are rather more suburban).

This is not to mention the fire down at Hunter-Ligget military reservation, which is at the southern end of Monterey County. The thing is, within Santa Cruz County we don't usually get as much fire as the rest of the less-urban parts of the state, a fact I attribute to fog and redwood trees (which is sort of a tautology). The rain year was not that dry, but the spring was dryer than dry: it's the second dryish year: and there's a lot of tinder in those mountains, partly because of the many wet years we had before that, meaning a lot of growth and few little fires to control it, and also because there are a lot of dead trees standing around because of sudden oak death disease and pine pitch canker the last few years.

So you get a bad fire year.

On another front, I have successfully printed lovely little magnets with pictures of babies, for father's day presents. On still another front, the pilot batch of dried apricot wafers is transcendently beautiful and tasty.
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food porn ahead, I guess. Not quite irreproducible recipes. Almost.

Ambrosia variation: if Andrew Marvell wished a ton of minneolas and a half-ton of kumquats on you recently. You cut up a minneola (tangelo, right?) and an equal volume of kumquats, and add a palmful of grated coconut and about half a palmful of chopped candied ginger. Stir this together with a spoonful or two of ricotta. It holds together like haroset, rather than lying down prettily like ambrosia usually does, because the pieces are small.

Ambrosia variation I haven't tried yet: cut up enough kumquats (a cup and a half? for two people), or maybe kumquats and also some other less intense citrus, mix with sage (about 6cm square laid flat together on the cutting board: I haven't decided whether to cut the leaves large or small), and walnuts (a palmful, cut rather fine, not grated though). This will probably need sweetening, and I think that just some granulated or superfine white sugar might do it, though I'm really leaning towards using this event to get rid of that little pile of dried candied cranberries still lying on my counter.

Waldorf variation: an immense red apple, cut medium fine. Two small stalks of celery, cut medium fine. A large palmful of walnuts, broken into pieces a bit smaller than my little fingernail. A similar quantity of kumquats, cut about the size of the walnuts. Enough mayonnaise to spread all around and just touch the fruit, nearly disappearing: not enough to make a visible white suspension around the rest.

I talked about scooping out the innards, combining them with cream cheese and tiny bits of candied ginger, and then stuffing the kumquats with the stuff. The variation the nice fellow perpetrated, which was much better than his lazy ass deserved, was to simply smoosh tiny bits of brie across the topps of halved kumquats (the cut, flat part being the top).

Another antipasto variation: wrap a little strip of tasty meat around a kumquat and eat it. You might pin this together with a toothpick. I used "black forest" ham. If you don't eat pig, smoked turkey leg would work beautifully if you can slice it thin enough to wrap well.

On another note, I promised Emily Reilly in person that I would decide between her and Bill Monning within two weeks. They're both running for John Laird's seat in the Assembly. John Laird is another argument against term limits. Oh well.

So I'm thinking of sending each of them emails with questions. If you had personal access to somebody running for a State Assembly seat, what would you ask?

One question I've thought of is: What will you do if the mandate you've been sent to Sacramento with is opposed by the governor and the Republicans (that if should be when but I think the question is easier to think about as an if)? I need to word this differently. I want concrete thoughts about how each will deal with this. Democrats have a horrible tendency to crumple in the face of opposition. One of the reasons I love John Laird so much is that he doesn't. He's not a rhetoric and bombast man who never does a political thing, but he hangs in there.

So. Emily Reilly? Bill Monning? In Bill's favor is that he's a labor lawyer guy while Emily is an employer (not a bad one). Also in Bill's favor is that he's a solid left guy from Salinas,the southern end of the district, where it's really been hard to get any really progressive people elected, and it would be good for the political development of the Central Coast to get that to happen. On the other hand, among the progressive people who have not been elected to office from Salinas is Bill Monning. He has no history in office at all, though he does have a history of making brave runs. Emily's been on the Santa Cruz City Council for a while, and she's done a good job, and she's been on the right side a lot. And -- well, the other time I talked to her about her run for Assembly, she was at the NAAACP/Central Labor Council jointly sponsored labor day picnic (remind me to tell you one day how I and a few friends started Labor Day picnics happening in the county, what? thirty years ago, I guess). And this time was in the elevator of the Monterey Marriott hotel where we attended the volunteer awards for the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary "network" -- all the conservation entities that work together with the Sancuatary. She gave a speech, and I got an award. Anyway, the point is, those two things tell you something about what Emily wants to be spending her time on.

I'm leaning towards Emily, for pragmatic reasons. But Bill's possibly lesser connections and following might not be so deadly, since the Republicans don't seem to have an actual candidate emerging from anywhere.

I lost a chance to have anything to do with the Presidential primary (because my candidate dropped out!) but I want to do something about this.

finally, I'm working overtime tomorrow and the next day because we don't have any slack left.
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No, it's not my Bay, that would be Monterey Bay, but it's our Bay. The San Francisco Bay is the outlet for the whole Central Valley and two rivers which may not look mighty on your world map but which deliver (where's my California Rivers book? It's usually right here) astonishing amounts of water. The Delta system begins at the bay (or ends there, depending on how you look at it)and involves most of that Great Valley (the geologists seem to always call it that instead of Central). The habitat of the Bay is a complicated, beautiful intersection of plant and animal communities, so rich in past times that people could live on a couple of hours' work each day lifting fish and invertebrates right out of the water.

More than you hoped to know about the San Francisco Bay oil spill can be found here.

Baykeepers and their calls for volunteers can be found here.
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Del's right: I was dazzled enough by the first site I came to comparing Homeland Security figures that I didn't look at it critically or go looking for a better presentation. The Federation of American Scientists has a
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Apparently, if you're going to post a poll, you have to post it before you put in the content that leads up to it.

To restate what I had written before my poll-writing ate my post, something that bugs me from time to time is the way that California and New York get shafted in the national arena. It's natural for the more prosperous states to give more than they get. I'm not complaining about that. That would be stupid. It would be unacceptable for each state to get proportionately what they give to the country -- it would result in the poorest and most rural states having nothing much worth having but their own natural beauty and folklife, which is small consolation when you're starving and you have no infrastructure. This would not benefit California or New York in any way. We're all part of the same country (this reasoning also applies to the world, but the rest of this does not, since the prosperous nations are not getting world treatment that is analogous to the treatment California and New York get in the US).

The thing that pisses me off is the active hostility that politicians cultivate towards California and New York (and other urban, urbane, productive states). They go out of their way to harm us in small ways and large ones. They slander us.
They cultivate rifts between us and other states which share some of our interests. They routinely short us funding and kill projects which might somehow aid us. In pre-election times, they hit up our state for fundraisers and then don't even bother to promise us anything in return. The Calitics blog is monitoring this and raising the discussion.

Just for curiosity's sake I checked out Homeland Security funding by state, and I lucked into a listing. Following is the poll I made -- look up the answers after you've made your guesses, okay? Or in the middle or something. The link to the site is at the end of the poll, just to help you be honest.

[Poll #952121]

Now that you've done the poll, go see the answers on this cool interactive map which will tell you how much per capita all the states get.

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