Monday, May 31, 2010

Aiming a Dish

Some people have a knack for this and are able to do it faster/better than me. I am usually successful after several to many minutes and sometimes I actually do it without swearing. Sometimes.

I start by setting the skew and elevation with the dish in my lap. These settings I get either from a neighbor with a working dish (best method), off a chart from either StarChoice or off the Internet or from a neat website if I have a connection.

I then set the dish on whichever tripod or base I am using. These include a standard Winegard tripod, a homemade ground mount that I made out of PVC tubing and is windproof or a mast mount that my son welded to the car dolly. The latter is untested but will be the best choice if I have an unobstructed view south from the dolly and it is or can be made fairly level. This is my way of thumbing my nose at the Wind Gods who have blown my tripod over too many times. I now connect the cable from the motorhome to the dish. I usually place my satellite finder in the line except when I am feeling really lucky and have a good set of readings from a neighbor. In this case I have Norma watch the setup screen on the TV and tell her to yell when the signal is good. I also have a small B&W TV that I can bring out to the dish and watch this screen myself. If I am having lots of trouble, I do it this way.

Now I check to see what the azimuth (compass direction) where the satellite is suposed to be based on where we are. This recommended setting is never correct. I think the variation in azimuth settings is due to the difference between "magnetic" and "corrected" compass readings. The earth's magnetic field pulls compasses off in relation to a very complicated formula that varies depending on the density of the ground under you and the azimuth given on any chart is the "corrected" reading. It is very difficult to figure this out on the spot so I simply ignore it and after making sure the mast is as perpendicular as I can get it, I point the dish to the left of where it says to point it by maybe 10 degrees. I then swing it very slowly towards the west. In theory, this will bring it across the propagated satellite signal and we will see (or hear) a peak. When I get there, I lock down the horizontal adjustment. You have to be careful with this setting because if you go past the StarChoice satellite, there is another one very close by and it is very easy to think this is the one you want. It gives a very strong signal but no TV.

I then move the dish up and down a tiny amount by putting pressure on the top of the dish, without actually loosening the elevation bolt. If moving it up or down slightly gives me a good signal then I then either dig a small hole under the back leg or shove some extra material under the leg.

I find I usually have to move the dish "up" to get a better signal. I suspect this is because the dish is heavier towards the front and tends to pull itself "down" when it is set on the tripod. I have experimented with "correcting" this by always setting my elevation a couple of degrees higher than what is given. Sometimes it works and sometimes not.

If at this point I have a signal of about 28 or better, I leave it alone. If I have less than this, I will try a slight horizontal adjustment again followed by another try of pulling or pushing on the top of the dish. If I release the bolt holding the elevation, the dish will usually swing down and I will have to start over.

The best method was shown to me in Mazatlan by a guy from Manitoba. You find a neighbor with a dish of the same size and a good signal, get a sheet of paper and lay it on his dish. You place it so it lays under the shadow of the LNR and after making some marks so you can put it in the same place on your own dish, you trace out the shadow of his LNR. Now you rush back to your dish, place and tape the paper onto the dish and move it around until the shadow of your LNR lands on top of the tracing. You have to do this quickly as the sun (and shadow) is moving like clockwork.

You should let the neighbor know what you are doing because you will be interrupting his signal while you are doing this and, unless his dish is locked down well, you might inadvertently move his dish. Not very neighborly.

I have used this method a couple of times and it works well. It doesn't work at night or on a cloudy day.....

The absolute best method is to park beside someone with a dish already set up and ask to share it. This method is common in Mexico. I have used a series of cables totaling well over 100 feet and have gotten a good signal from three or four spaces away. In Villa Corona, four of us were using one dish (mine). O the other hand, in San Miguel de Allende I asked a guy from Quebec parked behind me if I could share his dish and he said "No". I thought about it for a while and decided he must not have understood me so I asked again in a different way. Again, he said "No, I would rather not". Seething a little, I set my own dish up a couple of feet from his. They ended up being a very friendly couple of gay guys from Montreal. I never did find out why they said no. Maybe he thought I would be reducing his signal by tapping into it or somehow using his StarChoice account, I don't know. If you ever park beside me, you know you can hook in without even asking.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The (Undamaged) Dish

When the StarChoice dish blew over in Corpus Christi I set it back up and tried to find the signal. I was unsuccessful and since we were leaving for dinner soon and leaving the next morning, we stopped trying. We did not know if the fall damaged the LNR or not. I had repaired the damage from the Satillo, MX blow-over with some two part epoxy and that repair held and there was no sign of any additional damage. I don't know why I could not reacquire the signal. We never had occasion to use the dish after that as we either stayed in parks with cable or were able to get off air digital channels the rest of the way home.

Testing the dish once we got home was on my to-do list and I finally got around to it yesterday. I brought the dish over to the patio outside the TV room and wired it into the big screen. I determined the settings using a new website I found that incorporates Google Maps. You simply tell it what system you are using, point to where you are on the map, hit "calculate" and Voila! Your settings appear!

I set the skew and elevation and then swung the dish a few degrees and there it was. I was getting a signal strength of 83 without much tweaking and the picture was good. Success! The dish was not damaged!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Forty Million Gallons

The motorhome uses one gallon of gas for every nine or ten miles it travels. That's a lot of gas and I used to feel guilty about this but the amount of oil British Petroleum has thrown into the Gulf of Mexico over the last month or so would take the motorhome almost four hundred million miles (actually far more than that because a gallon of crude makes much more than a gallon of gas, but lets keep the math simple). That is a long way, in fact it is 1,600 times around the world! I would never want to drive around the world 1,600 times as I suspect it would probably become very boring after the first hundred times or so. But with this amount of gas in the tank, I could.

If there was a highway to the moon. I could take the motorhome there and back with this amount of gas as well. I would rather do that than drive around the earth 1,600 times. I would feel guilty about burning up this amount of resources but I will have to get over that. The BP "man on the ground" who was "here for the duration" sneaked back to England for a birthday party and he didn't feel guilty. I suspect he used a private plane to make the trip.

It seems they may have slowed or stemmed the flow today, at least we are all hoping they have. Now comes the cleanup. The only thing that comes close to this disaster in the past is the Exon Valdez spill in Alaska. That mess never did get totally cleaned up as evidenced by the fact that salmon no longer pass by our house. They take the long way around the Island now because the water smells better over there. Who can blame them?

Will BP clean up the mess? Will they repay the seafood industry workers who will lose their jobs over it? Will they buy the seafood restaurants that go broke? Will they make changes to ensure it never happens again? Will they repay the Federal and State Governments for everything it spent on the spill and investigations?

Does anybody care if they do? Will the government force them to pay? They will plead poverty and complain about the costs of course. They will say they have to protect their profits to pay off the shareholders.

I Am Officially "Old"

I am now officially "Old"! My first Old Age Pension cheque was deposited last night. It will be $517 and is the second half of my Canadian Government Pension. The first half, Canada Pension Plan, started when I turned 60 and is $635 for a total of $1152 a month! This, combined with my Union Pension and Norma's pensions brings in a comfortable income. We can keep traveling!

This reminded me that I have now been retired for ten years. I "pulled the pin" the day before my 55th birthday back in April of 2000. Except for the one winter we stayed home to look after Norma's dad we have spent every winter in the "South". The first six winters in the USA and the last three in Mexico. It is hard to separate them in my my mind as they all blend together into one good time.

To celebrate the occasion I treated myself to a new lens for the camera. It is a Tamron 18 - 250 mm zoom. It will give me far more zoom range than the old Sigma 18 - 50 (which is for sale attached to a Nikon D70s). If Claudia takes me out on a "birding walk" in Mexico again I will be able to take bird photos without changing lenses. As Joe Biden would say, "This is a big f'
ing deal". And it is! Watch out birdies!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Three Readers Join Kiva!

Three readers of this Blog have told me they have been inspired to join Kiva! This is great news and many lives will be changed because of this. I am humbled.

Thanks Deanna, Nancy and Joan! You have made my week!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chiapas Coffee and News From Mexico

It is a cool, rainy morning here in Campbell River. I have a list of things to do but they all involve dry weather so I decided to instead bring out some of the Mexican coffee we brought back with us. It is a perfect day for it!

We brought back about five Kilos of coffee in all and the one I dug out of the freezer this morning is an organic coffee from the highest mountains of Chiapas. We bought it at a WalMart in Mexico on our way home but we actually did visit the Coffee Museum in San Christobal de Las Casas in the heart of the Chiapas mountains in early 2009 and remember passing the endless coffee farms near there.

Map picture

We heard some disconcerting news from our Mexican friends Chris and Juan this morning. Chris is on the west coast giving a presentation and got several calls from Juan. Juan had been driving on the highway near Monterrey when he was cut off by another car and was involved in a crash. Both vehicles were totaled and all the people in the other car were taken to the hospital. There was some concern that Juan would have to go to jail (a common practice in Mexico when there are injuries and blame is not easily determined) but the injured people were quickly released and came to the police station. Juan is shaken up by the experience but is now safe at home. They will now be shopping for a new car as well as a new trailer to replace the one they recently sold. We wish them all the best and wish they were here to relax and enjoy a cup of this great coffee!

Juan, Norma, Croft and Chris in San Miguel de Allende

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Harvey Milk Day

This weekend is the celebration of Harvey Milk Day throughout the State of California. Harvey Milk, a gay activist and San Francisco City Supervisor was murdered 32 years ago. May 22 is his birthday. There have been parades and celebrations in Harvey's hometown of San Francisco and throughout the state. It is a celebration of inclusiveness and tolerance and is a reminder to all of us to extend a smile and a helping hand out to any and all minority groups in our society.

Intolerance is one of the main causes of bullying in schools and in workplaces and many people are doing something about this. One such person is Rina Sundahl. Rina is a senior at Southridge High School in Beaverton, OR and co-president of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance. Rina has been active in her school and community by organizing a march to spread awareness of Uganda's gay genocide bill among other things. As a school art project she designed this poster to foster respect for gays:

It shows the faces of popular people in the entertainment industry who have "come out" in the hopes that it will spark discussion and thinking among young people.

It falls on all of us to spread this message of acceptance and tolerance. I also believe that it is even more important for those of us who are "straight" to do this because if people look at us and say "Well, if he/she can accept homosexuality, then maybe I should take a closer look at my beliefs". This is a basic Human Rights issue and we fight for justice simply because it is the right thing to do. I have always said and believe that an injury to one is an injury to all but this was put into far better words by Martin Luther King in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail:

"I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Martin Luther King

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kiva Loans

I just checked my Kiva account and see I have a credit from some payments on previous loans. This money does no good just sitting there so I went to the Kiva website and found three people and groups I feel worthy. There are many to choose from!

First is Francisco, a hard working man in Santa Cruz, Bolivia who needs a small loan to buy parts for his taxi which is having mechanical problems. He will repay the loan with monthly payments over a year:

"Francisco is married and has three children. He has been a taxi driver for 30 years and currently works as part of a fleet of vehicles that provides taxi services between Santa Cruz and Paurito. Francisco also works for the Mennonite colonies by delivering medicines, of which he earns a percentage. During the planting season, he helps his brother-in-law grow watermelons and cassava to earn additional income to maintain his household. His wife is in charge of feeding and acquiring an education for their three children. One child helps out by working half-days at the Ramada Market selling CDs." (Translated from Spanish)

Christina In Guatemala

Christina (far left in the photo) in Santa Rita Salcajá, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala makes traditional clothing which she sells in her village. She is a member of the “Cuatro de Mayo Sector 4” (May 4th, Sector 4) Group. When someone makes a Kiva loan as part of a group, each member of that group is responsible for each others loans so each loan is a group decision and has the backing of the whole group.

"Cristina is divorced and has a sixth grade education. She has ten children, five of whom are married and she continues to support the other five. She weaves traditional clothing and has been doing this for ten years. With great enthusiasm, she and some of her neighbors have formed a group in order to be able to obtain this loan."

" [Cristina] will use the money from this loan to buy [weaving] supplies to be able to increase her production. One of her biggest challenges has been the lack of working capital, but she has come out ahead with the help of her children. She hopes to expand her business and increase production."

My share of all these loans is $25 USA. She still needs a little more to buy her supplies so why not join me in giving her a hand. All my loans have been repaid in full so there is very little risk. Click here to see how you can help Christina or another deserving person.

After you sign up, why not join Felipe, Steve, Paul and a bunch more of us on the Ian Lee Dickson Kiva Group? You still get credit for all your individual loans but the group also gets credit. Join the Mexico Bloggers and friends crowd! Here is a link to our group.

Last Loan For Now

This loan will empty my Kiva account. I am loaning $25 USA to Bertha, Alicia, and Eulalia from Huancavelica, Peru. They are in the group below.

"Bertha, Alicia, and Eulalia are three of the twenty-two members of the Primavera de Cachi Baja Community Bank which is located in Huancavelica department.

Bertha is married and has five children. Her job is selling salt and grains in bulk which she takes to the capital city to sell. Bertha needs a loan to buy more grains to sell. She wants to begin saving money so she can start a small business raising guinea pigs.

Alicia is married and has two small children. She sells herbs which she gathers at dawn, dries them, and sells them by the kilo. Alicia needs a loan to buy more herbs and expand her business. She wants to begin saving for a machine that dries herbs.

Eulalia is married and has five children. She sells salt, grains, and herbs. She gathers the herbs in her community and takes them to the capital to sell. Eulalia needs a loan so she can increase the number of products she sells and thus earn more money. Her primary goal is to save enough money to buy a vehicle to use for transporting her merchandise to the capital."

Now I sit back and wait for the payments to come in so I can loan it out again. I earn no interest from these loans but receive the satisfaction that I have helped out some hard working people somewhere in the world. These are the best investments I have ever made.

If you want to investigate helping out yourself, click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Stormy Night

It blew up a storm last night! The winds were expected to hit 70 Km/hr and I suspect they just about did. I was awake on and off all night and finally got up quite early (for me) and walked down to the end of our driveway to take this photo. It is the ocean just in front of our house and the waves are seldom this big.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

It Happens Every Time!

Every time I do a major sell the Market is low. This morning I had a look and the TSX is down 270 and the Dow is down 80. Why? CHINA! China for God's sake! China enters a bear market and Canada drops 270 points just as I am selling!

Well, at close the TSX recovered to down 200 and the Dow is actually up 5. I don't know if my sale went through today or not. I have a stomach ache. I should get out of the market. Are bonds paying 20% yet?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another Pension Cheque

I turned 65 in April so that means my Old Age Pension starts in May. The cheque will be automatically deposited on the 28th of each month. Not much, $450 or so but it all adds up. We are now getting six cheques a month (three each). Not bad! My financial adviser thinks we should be spending a little less of it and saving more. He did not come right out and say that but I could see his mind working. I disagree with him but I guess that is his job. We have a stockpile of mutual funds for emergencies, home repair and replacement vehicles and we pretty much spend everything that comes in. Why not?

I was in to see my "Money Guy" yesterday. The market has been very good to us lately and we have way more than recovered everything we lost over the downturn. When we bought the new motorhome two years ago we (I) made a strategic decision to carry the cost of it as a low interest Line Of Credit loan rather than to sell funds for less than we paid for them. One fund was not performing as well as the rest at that time so we moved it into a precious metals fund (basically a gold fund) and hoped for the best. Talk about market timing! In a year and a half this investment almost tripled! Yesterday we decided to take some of the profits out and pay off the Line Of Credit. Putting the motorhome money into that fund instead of giving it to the RV dealer turned out to be one of the very few really smart financial decisions I have made recently. Norma hated it because she considered it a debt where I looked at it as a 4% interest loan to buy an investment that paid close to 100%. Norma thought it was like putting a ton of money in a slot machine and hoping a motorhome came out. In this case it did so thanks Dow, thanks Jones, thanks TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange). It could have gone the other way but in the end I was right. I probably developed an ulcer over it but I won. There is still some left in there as I do not think gold and other precious metals have finished their run. The bucket is filling again. It is a smaller bucket but lets hope it overflows. We made some other changes to get back onto the safer side of investing life as we think things might start retreating a bit. We shall see what actually happens but it does feel good to have my "umbrella" firmly in place.

I may be able to stop doing a weekly Quicken update on my funds and switch to monitoring them monthly.

Nice to Have My Workshop

I really missed my shop this winter. On the way to Mexico I lost the large pin that keeps the car dolly from dropping down while traveling and replaced it with a large bolt made of hardened steel. I spent months in Mexico trying to find either (a) a quality drill bit to drill my own hole through it for a hitch pin or failing that, (b) a machine shop to drill the hole for me. Neither was to be found after hours of searching and I broke six cheap bits (and got one bad cut on my hand) on it before I gave up. When I got home I accomplished the task in five minutes with my own drill and vice.

Yesterday I made a small platform for the new bedroom TV out of a scrap piece from Rae's winter renovation project. This lets the TV sit on top of the StarChoice receiver but still allows air flow. It is so nice to just be able to walk out to the shop to do these little jobs. In the motorhome even the simplest task becomes a major undertaking.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Arizona's "Breathing While Latino" Law

Arizona is starting to feel financial pressure after passing racist Senate Bill 1070. The California cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles have all passed laws boycotting Arizona based businesses. No new contracts will be signed until SB1070 is repealed. This will amount to hundreds of millions loss of businesses per year.

We have been spending a week or two in Arizona every year on our way to Mexico but we will be seriously looking for alternatives this winter. If we do continue using Lukeville, our favorite crossing place, it will just be a very fast trip through Arizona, spending as little money in that State as possible.

I know the loss of my few hundred dollars will not do much to force Arizona's 18.6 billion dollar tourism industry to talk some sense into their State Government but I suspect I will not be alone.

EDIT: I just saw that 28 conventions have been canceled in Arizona because of this racist law. Hotel and restaurant owners - talk to your Governor! This is money right out of your pockets!

Keith Olberman on the "Breathing While Latino" Law:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Good fences make good neighbors is the saying. This must be true because we are having “words” with the condo next door over a not-so-good fence!

Last year the fence that the condo built years ago started to fall down. We told them we would pay half if they wanted to replace it. Well it went to committee and then a vote and they decided not to replace it. Instead they decided to plant a hedge in it’s place. We had experience with hedges in the past and did not want one. They are messy, high maintenance and tend to spread both vertically and horizontally. We have an ocean view that we do not want to lose and as much of our land is unusable slope, we have limited level lawn and flower garden space that we do not want encroached upon by the neighbors hedge.

Our argument did no good and they planted a hedge along the property line, leaving three remaining sections of fence at the back. This last piece of fence was in fairly good shape and was protecting a slope onto the rear of their property.

This winter a tree fell and destroyed the fence. We arrived home to a letter from the condo stating that since it was our tree that fell, they expected up to replace the fence, entirely at our cost. Last weekend we had a close look as our son and Linda were up and would do the work for “free”, meaning gallons of beer and kilos of shrimp(;>) Brooks and I had a close look and determined the fence was well on their side of the property line and it was not at all clear whose tree it was anyway. It was either on the property line or maybe even on their side. It was almost like they were trying to pull a fast one. When it was up to them to replace the main fence, they refused. Now they want me to spend hundreds (plus beer and shrimp) to replace the piece they left standing.

Brooks called and explained all this to them. He said we did not feel it was our total responsibility to pay for the fence and that if they wanted to split the cost, he would give them an estimate (he has a fencing business) and they could do the work right away. This would work out because their half would pay for material and my half would be the beer and shrimp.

Failing an agreement on that that we said we would tear down the broken fence and replace it with the same hedge material they used last year. We all agreed that the exact location of the property line is unclear and a survey would cost many times the cost of a new fence.

Well, everyone went back to their respective corners with the condo people saying they were going to call their insurance company and have them take a look.

Today a couple of guys were looking at the fence but disappeared as soon as we went outside. It looks like the Hatfields and McCoys will be at it for a while yet!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Birthday Bash

Last night we celebrated my sixty-fifth birthday. It was a beautiful night and the patio was crowded. Brooks and Linda came up from Lake Cowichan and many friends dropped in. There were old friends and new friends. Some we have known for forty years and some for far less. people I worked with over the years, both in the Union and even my old boss from my first job in Campbell River back in the mid 60's. There was tons of food and great conversations going on all over. Linda made a stack of cupcakes and everyone brought appetizers. It was a great party. Thanks everyone!

I did not bring out my camera so unless people email me some of their photos that I can post later, you will just have to imagine the scene!

Thanks for the photo Linda! Wow! One beer in each hand! At least they are Mexican...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Internet has everything. Here is a site where us “aliens” passing through or visiting Arizona can download and print a "gringo" mask in order to blend in with the blond, blue eyed airheads who allowed their Governor to pass the racist Senate Bill 1070. This Bill allows, even requires Arizona law enforcement to question anyone they “suspect” may be in the country illegally.

They say they would never think of using racial profiling, but just in case we should have our masks ready to quickly put on whenever a police car passes.

By the way Governor, all us Canadians spending hundreds of millions every winter in Arizona are "undocumented aliens" as well. Is Sheriff Joe going to slam all of us up against the side of his car with the demand, "Show me your papers!"?

This is what Republican Gov. Jan Brewer thinks all Americans should look like so the masks will let us blend right in and avoid confrontation.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finally Finished Buying Tires!

This has been a bad (for us / good for tire companies) six months. We have replaced all six tires on the motorhome, two on the car dolly as well as all the tires on both cars since October of last year. We just did the second car today. That is 16 tires in all! The grand total is well over $2000 so I am glad it only happens once every five years or so! This retirement travel thing is expensive...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dear Vancouver Canucks

You cannot sit back on your butts with a two point lead! I thought you learned this last year. I and everyone else (obviously you as well) watched those two early goals and thought it was going to be a blowout, but then everyone went for coffee and quit doing what you are hired to do. PLAY HOCKEY!

Coming home tied is not all that bad but if you let the Blackhawks split the next two games I think that will be the beginning of the end for your fan's first real Cup hopes in years.

A Declaration for a Free Arizona

Huffington Post May 2, 2010

The Time is Now - A Declaration for a Free Arizona

By Gihan Perera

Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center

On Behalf of the day laborers, domestic workers, home care workers, laundry, and debris cleaners, who are the diaspora of the world economy,

On Behalf of the young people, who feel the difference between right and wrong in their veins, and who inherit our world,

On Behalf of the elders, whose bodies we must care for, and whose wisdom we must not lose,

On Behalf of harmony and dignity and the integrity of human life,

In the name of a decency that we still have time to salvage,

We must recognize that the developments in Arizona are the manifestation of a profound and growing sickness, toxicity, in the hearts and minds of our nation, promoted by a hateful few.

We recognize the loss of certainty by many, particularly White and working people, in the United States. The economy, politics, and culture are in a state of turbulence. Fear is easily channeled to hatred and blame. We understand, but we must resist this urge.

We recognize that the passage of Arizona state law SB 1070 represents a qualitative shift in this toxic state. Its passage is a clear signal to the people of Arizona, the United States, and to people throughout the world, that state sanctioning of racial, ethnic, and class segregation and degeneration is acceptable.

The lines have been drawn. But no person of good conscience can allow this to solidify in our collective consciousness or become socially acceptable. The law mandates interrogation based on racial perception - specifically targeting Latinos and those who 'appear' Mexican, Central American, and/or of indigenous ancestry. It puts them in the cross hairs of an increasingly militarized and policed state. It makes their existence in the state suspect; an illegal act to exist. The profound cruelty and irony of the measure is this: Arizona and its neighboring states are the ancestral homelands of these very peoples. They are the dispossessed and dehumanized within the lands that they are native to. They are here as workers, dependents of an economy that they were forced into, because of the destruction of their traditional ways of life.

History has taught us often about the outcome of this type of social control. It is an untenable solution to codify and criminalize racial status. It will only lead to dire polarization, desperation, and death. The lessons of the Jim Crow South, the South African regime, Palestine, and Nazi Germany are clear - apartheid is dehumanizing for all involved. It is not a sustainable mode of governance. It makes the owners of authority illegitimate; they are forced representatives of a captive people. We cannot control and repress the basic needs for survival. Security for a few will not be achieved through systemic suspicion and criminalization. In fact, the opposite is true. The yearning for life and freedom and dignity will not allow it. It never has. Not in Cape Town, not in Selma, not in Phoenix. It never will.

However, Arizona is a signal of greater danger coming. If Arizona's law stands, it will have a ripple effect. Policies modeled after SB1070 will spread to many more states. These measures will take our energy and our resources away from finding true solutions to our problems, and will further polarize us. It will take us back in time and reestablish a racial line of demarcation as the basis of politics in the United States, and we will have no choice but to choose sides.

And as always, it is the young people that first and foremost exert their right to be fully human. Over the last few days we have witnessed thousands and thousands of students assembling at the state capital in Arizona. They raise their voices for freedom, justice, and dignity. Understand that this is more than a political protest. It is a cry for life and a cry for a secure and free future for all people.

We must support their energy and their insistence on solidarity with their families. They have grown up, as generations before them, witnessing the daily indignity that their families suffer. They have seen the pride of their fathers, grandmothers, brothers, and cousins broken by the crushing force of history upon them, by the weight of their birthplace and skin color. They have seen years of hard work undervalued by fear and their wealth lost to laws that protect exploiters. They have watched the concern in their mothers' eyes for their safety,for their futures, for any signs of hope, and for all signals of danger. The mothers say: Cuidate. Please, be careful my child.

History shows us that the overwhelming forces of hate will try to provoke these visionary youth and turn their righteous indignation into a reason to repress them.

But the spirit of freedom and justice will prevail over hate.

We must help them keep faith and restore harmony and dignity. The restoration of the sacred connection to each other and our human purpose will not come by the politics of the now. But we must act now to ensure that a different future stays in the realm of the possible.

Now is the time for moral leadership, in high places and everyday places. It begins with our President. President Obama's role in establishing the moral compass of our nation is as important as any other he occupies. The indignity that the people in Arizona now face is familiar to him, in his blood.

We look to him now, to act in sacred reciprocity. We look for him to recognize and honor the tradition of the plight and redemption of his African forebears who suffered the greatest brutality that the world has witnessed. We look to him now, to simultaneously recognize and honor the tradition of Americans who throughout history have chosen their calm and conscience over fear that was fanned to spite. He must remember those good people in Iowa who were the first to propel him to electoral victory, proving that this country can act on a sense of dignity and purpose despite all the pressures and easy access to prejudice and petty politics.

The time must come now, not a moment later. President Obama must act decisively, clearly, with resolve. As commander-in-chief he must draw the moral line, and tell politicians in Arizona that they have crossed it. He must immediately and unequivocally say no to the use of any federal resources, especially ICE forces, to enable and enforce a hate-filled and racist pogrom. He must act now, to show that there is no compromising when our human dignity is at stake.

And we must support him in doing that. In every town and city and place of worship, we should be talking to each other about Arizona. We should be organizing vigils, and speak outs, and educational forums, and acts that display our moral outrage to the crime that is being perpetrated. We should be at federal buildings and immigration offices, calling on the federal government to act NOW.

In these uncertain times, I find that there is an important lesson in the ancient teachings of the First Peoples of the Arizona area. Their wisdom holds that we must consider the impact of our actions not just on the present, but on seven generations into the future. It is our obligation and our legacy for our children and their children. Therefore, we should all be making a moral pledge to act in good conscience to defy this law and stand for a much higher standard of being. We are the difference between harmony and disintegration.

On behalf of a historic and moral imperative to prevent humanity from taking a dire step backward. Enough is Enough!

Written for the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON), and the emerging youth movement in Arizona.

Higher High Speed Internet

I hooked up to "High Speed" ADSL Internet a few years ago and never bothered to check if anything better was available. I was evidently on 1.5 Mbps speed and was quite happy with it. It was a lot faster than writing letters and even faster than the old dial-up I was on before that.

A friend who works for Telus was over the other day to do some repairs and told me that there was something much faster available for almost the same as I was already paying and I should upgrade. I checked into it and he was right. I could upgrade to 6 Mbps for only a couple of dollars more a month, less my employee discount!

The switch was made today and WOW, is it ever fast! We had a bit of trouble "registering" my computers but Leanne from Telus Technical Support spent almost an hour with me on the phone resetting the router and making a bunch of changes and now I am on line at 6 Mbps! I can't even type that fast!

Brenda: The speeds I get from your site are:
Download - 5.22 mbps, Upload - 0.66 mbps and Ping - 129 ms

Earlier this afternoon I got slightly faster speeds, specially on the upload side which was .8 something. This shows traffic has an effect on speed as well.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hornby Island Bald Eagle Cam

Check out the webcam in a Bald Eagle's nest on BC's Hornby Island! There were two eggs, one of which hatched three days ago. The second is still waiting to hatch. The eaglet is named Phoenix and he/she seems very healthy and is certainly noisy! The parents have been taking turns tending the nest and are taking very good care of Phoenix! Daylight only or there is not a lot to see....

Hornby Island EagleCam