Friday, July 27, 2007

Put It Back on the Table, Nancy!

Last week's Drinking Liberally get-together gave birth to a brilliant grassroots lobbying effort. Local DL regular Marlene Phillips gave an impassioned speech about impeachment of President George Bush. She and others urged the group to write letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi encouraging her to put impeachment "back on the table". You'll remember that soon after she became Speaker of the House she told George and the nation that impeachment was "off the table".

Letters are a great idea-- if you can get enough people to write custom letters. But Ken, another DL regular, offered a different suggestion. Instead of (or in addition to) letters, he suggested sending Nancy napkins with the handwritten message, "Put it back on the table" Or "Put impeachment back on the table." I love the napkin idea. Here's a link to Blog for Arizona where Marlene outlined the campaign a few days ago. At multiple political gatherings this week Tucson liberals were buzzing about the "Put It Back on the Table" idea. Let's do it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Green Mayor for Tucson?

Life is full of disappointments. This spring I was seriously disappointed that the local Democratic Party did not have an opponent for Republican Mayor Bob Walkup. Tucson has a city manager form of government; consequently, mayor is a symbolic, ceremonial position. Ok, so Walkup really doesn't have much power, BUT Tucson is a city of Democrats and other independent-minded folks. Why do we have a Republican mayor who used to be a big-wig at Hughes Aircraft Company (now Raytheon)?

Personally, I believe that Walkup has survived as mayor because he knows the Dinosaur/Cockroach Theory of Survival. The dinosaurs stood tall and walked slowly through the forests. Cockroaches, on the other hand, lurk in the darkness and keep a low profile. When the lights are turned on, they scurry under back into their hiding places. The dinosaur's high-profile made them vulnerable to attack by preditors and eventually became extinct. Cockroaches have learned how to avoid preditors, adapt to their suroundings, and survive. They are still with us and stronger than ever. (I learned this survival theory toward the end of my long tenure as a State of Arizona employee. I was a dinosaur, though, and was laid off in 2004. That's a story for another time.)

So, since I am obviously unimpressed with BW, I am dismayed that he has no Democratic opponent. Enter the Green Party. Last night I went to a meeting of the Sonora Progressives and met Green Party Mayoral Candidate Dave Croteau. Normally, even though I agree with Green Party policies, I would not vote for the Green Party because I see them as a fringe group that can't win.

With no Democratic candidate, the Walkup-Croteau race is different story altogether. Here we have a lukewarm, unexciting, do-nothing Republican incumbent running against an unknown Green, who holds values that are closer to those of the Tucson citizenry. Here's a link to the Green Party's Ten Key Values, which include grassroots democracy, social justice, ecological wisdom, non-violence, decentralization, economic justice, gender equity, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility, and sustainability. Croteau is a candidate who is knows that sustainability is an issue!!!! He also understands the concept of basing economic development on growing local businesses and working with our city's strengths, rather than spending millions to compete with other cities for the major corporations looking for cheap labor and tax breaks.

Walkup didn't beat Tom Volgy, his last opponent, by much of a margin. Here's an interesting blog post about Walkup's honensty (or lack of it); it also includes some information about the Walkup-Volgy and Walkup-McKasson races. If enough of us liberal thinkers organize, work for, and vote for Croteau, I think he has a chance.

Croteau is currently trying to raise donations from Tucson residents so he can get matching funds. He needs matching funds to be a viable candidate, since he doesn't have the corproate sponsors that Walkup undoubtably has. I urge you to go to the link above, print out the donation form, and send Croteau $10 - $390, so he can run a decent race against Walkup. Let's go Green, Tucson!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monsoon Update: Delightful Downpours

This has been a great summer for rain. We have had several days with steady, hard rain-- not the teasing 2-minutes sprinkles that we get some summers. Last Saturday, it rained so hard you couldn't see the buildings across the street. Yesterday, it rained so hard that water was pouring full force out of the scupper that empties my roof.

Much to my dismay, due to construction at my house, I have not installed a rainwater collection cistern yet. When I saw how much water was pouring off on my roof yesterday, I decided to set up a collection container. With my umbrella, I went out in the pouring rain and placed a large plastic bin in line with the scupper downpour. About 5 minutes later, I checked the progress-- to make sure the bin was placed correctly. To my surprise, the bin was full! I went out again, got a large plastic garbage can, and placed it under the scupper.

Unfortunately, when I tried to move the bin, I fell in the mud. I was so wet and muddy that I decided to stay out in the rain the dig some drainage ditches. My new patio is lower than the yard, and the water coming off the patio roof tends to collect near (or on the patio.) Also, water was forming lakes in the yard but not flowing toward the tree basins that I dug months ago for the grey water.

After about 45 minutes, I was a wet, muddy mess, but digging and slopping around in the mud and puddles was fun and exhilarating. It reminded me of playing in the puddles when I was a kid. After I got cleaned up and dried off, I looked outside my kitchen window. Several of the neighborhood children (and a few parents) were playing outside in the puddles. The desert is beautiful.

Here's Ding watching the newly created rivers flow through the backyard to the pomegranate tree.

By morning the bin, the garbage can, and several other containers in the yard were full of water. It was so exciting that I spent my morning exercise hour watering and planting seeds and cuttings. I'm looking forward to having a cistern and gutters installed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


On January 31, 2006, I was pushed into digital photography. I had two digital cameras, but I primarily used my film cameras until dispicable burglers robbed by home and took almost all of my professional Nikon camera equipment-- two F2s, multiple Nikkor lenses, filters, flashes-- thousands of dollars worth of equipment. This was a very sad day. I had been an award-winning professional photographer from 1978 - 1996. The only film cameras that they didn't find and steal were my Nikormat (circa 1965) and my Mamaiya C3 2-1/4 (circa 1940s). I digress...

Thanks to the burglers I now primarily use my Nikon digital camera. The resolution and flexibility are not anywhere near as good as my old F2 and Fuji Film, but it's fun, simple to use, and light-weight. It's also much easier to use Adobe PhotoShop, a high-end photo editing software, with digital images. My favorite feature on PhotoShop is "liquify". Here is a liquified, cropped version of the bottles above.

The ice plant in my blog header has also been liquified. Here is the full pic.

Liquified barrel cacti...

As you can see, I've had loads of fun with liquify. It reminds me of the old Polaroid SX70 film from the 1970s. As this film was developing (before your eyes), you could alter the image with a blunt tool. (I used to use a wooden crochet hook.)

Arizona Sells Solar Energy to Other States

Ok... maybe you realized that this is a fake headline. Arizona is not currently selling solar energy to other states, but why not? Arizona -- more than any other state in the US -- has an abundance of sunshine that could be harnessed to create electricity. (In mid-July, some might say we have an over-abundance of sunshine. LOL)

During the 2007 session of the Arizona Legislature, Representative Steve Farley sponsored a bill to subsidize installation of solar panels for all Arizona residents who want them. According to Farley, if Arizona had around 90 square miles of solar panels, the state could sell solar energy to other states. Sounds like a great idea to me. We would be using something (sunshine) that we have plenty of, promoting the renewable energy, and making some money for the state coffers.

So, why wasn't this bill passed by the Legislature in 2007? The simple answer is that Republicans killed it. (Since they are the majority party in the Legislature, they control which bills get out of committee and which ones receive a fair hearing by other legislators.) Farley plans to introduce the solar energy bill again during the 2008 session.

I'd also like to know where the media was on this? I knew nothing of the solar energy bill until I heard Farley speak at a local Democratic Party event. I believe that many Arizona voters would see the benefit in this legislation. The media let the citizenry down my not publicizing this important bill.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dancing Update: Swinging, Two-Stepping, and Salsa

A few months ago I wrote about dance lessons at Arizona Ballroom Company (ABC). The dance lessons have blossomed into several new friendships and many nights of dancing at local clubs.

Through friends at ABC, I learned of the Tucson Swing Dance Club. This is a lively and very friendly group of folks who get together every Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Tucson Women's Center for West Coast Swing Dancing. For 5 bucks, they offer beginning and intermediate West Coast Swing lessons and a dance with DJ musci. Up until April or so, I didn't even realize there were two types of swing dancing-- East Coast and West Coast Swing. I had only danced East Coast Swing. I like both dances. East Coast is freer and bouncey. West Coast is more stylized, slower, and very sexy.

In addition to dancing West Coast Swing at the swing club dances, I've discovered the Maverick. The Maverick is a cowboy bar that has been around forever, but until June I had never been there. Outside of the rodeo, I'd never seen so many cowboy hats and big belt buckles in one place before. (I thought I had stepped back in time to the old John Travolta Urban Cowboy movie the first time I went there.) The Maverick has West Coast Swing lessons on Saturday evenings, and two-step classes during the week. Many of the Swing Club people go there on Thursdays and Saturdays to dance. They have live music on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The three regular bands are all great C&W groups-- Full House, Jadi Norris Band, and Robert Moreno Band. Much of the music consists of covers of Dwight Yokum and old country standards like Meryl Haggard, George Jones, etc. Two-stepping and swing dancing to this music has been loads of fun. Everyone dances with everyone else.

Besides the Maverick, I've also been swinging at two old favorites the Boondocks Lounge and the Chicago Bar. The Rowdies played the Chicago Bar the other night. They have been around town for many years, but I had never heard them. They played mostly oldies covers from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Cream and others from my teenage years. I hadn't danced to that music (except in my living room) for many years.

Another old favorite for dancing is El Parador. With all of the two-stepping and swinging, I haven't forgotten my love of Spanish music. Two different bands usually play at El Parador-- Descarga on Fridays and Salsarengue on Saturdays. The cover charge is a little steep at $7, but the bands and the dancing are hot and exciting. Descarga plays primarily salsa music, where Salsarengue plays more variety of Spanish music--salsa, marengue, cha-cha, rumba. Again, as with the Maverick, everyone dances with everyone else--regardless of age.

Here are some reviews by the Arizona Daily Star:
Chicago Bar
El Parador

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I must admit that when I moved to the desert more than 25 years ago, I thought monsoons were limited to India. (Or at least that's what I had learned from old Hollywood movies and geography class).

I moved to Tucson in November of 1981. The winter was glorious-- riding bicycles in February, instead of shoveling snow or sliding on a sidewalk slippery with the remnants of a freezing rain shower. The spring was perfect-- giving birth to our first child around Easter, enjoying the sunshine on the patio of our little adobe near the University. By June, the desert was hot, dry, and brown. Over the years, I have decided that June is really the worst month of the year here-- HOT as an oven and very dry. Obviously, the person who originally dubbed Tucson the "Baked Apple" coined the phrase in June.

Now it's early July, and the monsoons have started-- hallelujah! In 1982, on the first day on the monsoons, the three of us sat outside on the patio in the rain. My brother called from Ohio while we were outside. He asked what we were doing. I said, "Sitting in the rain." People who do not live in the desert can't relate to this refreshing activity. Yesterday and the day before, I sat on the porch in the rain. As Petey Mesquitie would say, "The desert is beautiful."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

In the News!

June was a big media month for Wind Dancer Design and me.

One of my shrines was featured in the "At Home" section of the June 3, 2007 Arizona Daily Star. I would link to the story, but the Star has an annoying policy of selling access to all stories that are more than a week old.

The lead commentary in the the June issue of The American Journal Of Medicine is an article co-written by my boss and me. "Who Will Care for the Frail Elderly?" discusses the current dismal state of long-term care in the US and the impending crisis in care as baby boomers leave the workforce and retire. Not only will the US be in dire need of workers to take their places, but we will need additional doctors, nurses, and healthcare attendants to care for them. There are dozens of government websites with data showing the coming crisis, but there doesn't seem to be any recognition of the problem in Washington, DC.

Lastly, the June 14, 2007 issue of the Tucson Weekly included a letter of mine on immigration-- "The United States Needs Foreign Workers, Not an Underclass." The letter basically pans the US Senate compromise legislation on immigration (which eventually died).

New Mosaics in the Works

I've obviously been in arrears with my blog posting. Things were really crazy before the Tucson Folk Festival craft show. It was a fun event. My booth was situated so I could see people coming and going-- plus see and hear the main stage. Sisters Morales (the Saturday night headliners) were GREAT! They were by far my favorite act of the whole show. Local bands such as String Fingers and the Last Call Girls also were top notch. I bought CDs from Sisters Morales and the Last Call Girls. Playing them reminds me of a pleasant weekend.

To recuperate after the show, I vegged out for about a month. Now, I'm back in the studio. Last weekend I started an ambitious project which I plan to enter in an upcoming art show. I'm building a three-dimensional mosaic waterfall. The finished piece will be just under four feet tall! The water part of the waterfall will be tile and cascading light rope. The base of the waterfall will hide the electrical cords and a CD player which will add sound to the artwork.

I'm also working on a large shrine entitled "La Mano Mas Poderosa" (the most powerful hand-- the hand of God or the Holy Spirit). The vertical section will be 16x20, and I'm going to grout tapered candle holders into the base. I will be entering this piece in the same show competition.

Today, I'll be grouting two pieces that I finished assembling last weekend. One is a Day of the Dead shrine and the other is my "What Would Jesus Do?" political statement. The DOD shrine is for entry into a different show. Busy, busy....