Tuesday, December 22, 2009


(and then some)

Anybody who’s been to a gym has seen a medieval contraption called a stair master. This is a machine that simulates climbing stairs. They are a great workout, and a lot of fun, depending on your opinion.

If you’ve ever lived in an old apartment building in New York City, Paris, or any old world metropolitan region, then you probably had real stairs to climb. A lot of apartment buildings were built before elevators.

Stair climbing works your legs, gluteus maximus, (butt), heart, and just about every muscle and joint in your whole body.
I’ve only been climbing stairs now for two days and believe you me, I’m feelin’ it!
I’m on a cruise ship, which has plenty of elevators, but I have vowed never to use them! It’s vital to get your exercise while cruising because the primary activity is consumption! I have pledged to walk and climb stairs daily. There is a large, well-equipped gym on board, which I briefly toured and will probably never use. I will however swim and soak, but that’s not much exercise compared to climbing stairs.

The cabin is on deck 14, while most of the activities take place at least 6 decks below, so I’m doing plenty of stair climbing. I feel it everywhere! I feel it in places I didn’t even know I had feeling! My knees, hips, heart, arms, shoulders, feet, ankles, glutes, neck, fingers, toenails, eyebrows, and nose are all screaming:

At the moment the all-you-can-eat buffet is calling me. I will have to walk a bit to get there even though it’s on the same deck as the cabin.

After breakfast I’ll walk a mile, which is three times around the ship. She’s a big ship. Walking around the ship is wonderful. You meet your fellow passengers, feel that sea breeze in your face, breath the pure ocean air, and generally feel as though you are the first person to see this large expanse of salt water, which covers about 85% of Planet Earth. We’re in the middle of the Pacific, about half way between Los Angeles and Hawaii. No land is in sight. An occasional seagull flies overhead in hopes of a snack. We’re bound for Hilo, Hawaii.

We’ll sail about 2,200 nautical miles at about 19 knots (approximately 23 miles per hour). In my opinion, this is the only way to travel.

Stay tuned. To be continued. Bingo starts in 20 minutes!

Frank Landfield
December 22, 2009
From the Pacific Ocean

Saturday, December 12, 2009


for anybody who wants to buy me a present for hanukah, christmas, kwaanza, or just because, i'd LOVE an apple itablet! check with me first about configuration before you purchase please!
happy holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

quote of the day

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, December 04, 2009

"A Stiff Penis"

Spitzer, Letterman, & Woods
(not the law firm)

Obviously Eliot, David, and Tiger all have some things in common. Let’s see: They’re all pretty wealthy. They are all very good at what they do. They’re all college graduates, as far as I know. They are all married. They have all experienced tremendous success in their respective careers, and “the limelight”. They all have or had remarkable power. They have all cheated on their wives, as far as I know, and they all have a penis, as far as I know. No doubt there are more similarities.

Where do we go from here?

There are at least 360 different directions we could go, and that’s only in our Universe.

Why did these men cheat? Why does anybody cheat? I suspect there are as many answers to this question as grains of sand on the beach.

Perhaps human beings are not by nature monogamous? Few species mate for life.
The divorce rate is above 50%. What is really going on here?

Countless research has been done. Whatever the theory or belief, a study can be found to support or refute it.
And let’s not even get in to religion!

To this point we have about 203 words, and honestly, how many are really necessary for this? They cheated, purportedly. Is it our business? Must we know every dirty detail? I think not.

Why then am I writing about this? And why is this all over our media? Are too many of us “media whores”? Are we obsessed with watching people on pedestals tumble off? You’re asking me?
I haven’t a clue!

What is the point of this essay? That, my friend, is entirely up to you. Perhaps we should all simply focus on our own lives.

And lastly as my father was fond of saying:

“A stiff penis has no mind!”

Frank Landfield
Palm Desert, CA



Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hugh's Views

Hugh’s Views

The Future

One of the greatest human illusions is that with enough planning and effort one can determine one’s future. Yet when people honestly look at what defines their lives—whom they married, what house they live in, what job they work at--it becomes apparent that most of it occurred serendipitously, not through precise planning. What lies around the bend or over the horizon is impossible to know. We cannot see it and we cannot predict it!

No one has ever been very good at predicting the future. When one looks at time capsules left 100 years ago, the predictions that were made were wildly off base. I remember as a kid thinking that by the time I was a grown-up, everyone would have a helicopter in his driveway to avoid traffic congestion—not too sound a forecast as it turns out, and certainly not something that comes close to what is today’s reality.

No one predicted the computer and the revolution it has wrought in our lives. Yet today it is routine for people to walk around with computers the size of their hand that are not attached to anything but can access a universe of information on the internet, can send messages instantly to others, and can take pictures and also immediately send them to friends.

No one predicted the unending wars that have taken place over the last 90 years. In 1919 people thought that the end of World War I marked “the war to end all wars” because the trench warfare that characterized that war was so terrible that nothing worse could follow.

No one foresaw the breakdown of morality, of the family, and of social mores that so defined past generations. In the past 50 years, the changes that have transpired in our society in these areas are beyond belief.

Just two years ago how many people knew enough to take their hard earned savings out of the stock market to avoid losing half their money? Many pundits were writing about too much national debt, but who was prescient enough to see the collapse of the world financial markets?

Planning for the future is almost as difficult as predicting it. Problems with one’s own health or one’s partner’s health, or the loss of a job or of investments, have a way of intervening in one’s life’s plans to lead to a reality far different than anticipated.

Go back five years in time and imagine yourself to be living exactly as you were then. Then jump to the present and take an honest look at what is now transpiring in your life. How much of the new reality is what you had anticipated? When I do this exercise, I am astounded at how different my life is today compared to what I thought it would be. Some activities that used to be very important to me no longer have appeal. People whom I did not know have married into my family. People have been born and people have unexpectedly died. My attention has turned toward new interests and new friends, neither of which existed in my life then.

There is, of course, a certain amount of practical planning that is appropriate in helping one reach future goals. That is why one invests years in obtaining a higher education or why one saves money. But beyond these broad strokes, the specifics of future planning remain too uncertain to be made too precisely. Like a good sailor or pilot, it is important to have a navigation or flight plan to arrive safely at your destination. But as any sailor or pilot will tell you, be prepared for the unexpected because it is likely to occur.

Part of what defines our lives is the uncertainty that unfolds as time passes—it is in fact what makes for the awe and wonder that partly defines the human condition. Since we do not know exactly where we are headed, perhaps it is best simply to relax and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

more good news!


i am honored to participate in the circle of life.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

"Today is World AIDS Day 2009.

Each year, we mark World AIDS Day on December 1st, to remind everyone of the global pandemic that was first identified 28 years ago in the U.S.

Yet, more people than ever before are living with HIV today in America. As infection rates rise, the public's awareness of the very real risk for contracting HIV wanes. And stigma continues to prove as deadly as the disease itself, keeping people from getting tested and treated for HIV or AIDS.

Here's a snapshot of where HIV lives in America today, who is at-risk, and what's being done to curb this persistent epidemic.

Gender prevalence. Just over 75% of adults and adolescents living with AIDS are men.
Race prevalence. Those most impacted by the infection are black/African American at 44.1%, white at 35.1%, and Hispanic/Latino at 19.1%.

How are we infected? More than two-thirds of infections in the U.S. occur via male-to-male sexual contact. Heterosexual contact accounted for 83% of diagnoses among women.

Where does the infection live? The HIV/AIDS epidemic in America was once concentrated mainly in the gay populations on the East and West coasts. However, in recent years AIDS has become increasingly prevalent within black and Latino communities in many Southern states. Highest infection concentrations were found in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and New York.

What prevention efforts have been most successful? One of the most successful efforts toward prevention has been intervention of mother-to-child transmission and antiviral therapies.

Stigma. President Obama announced that America's 1987 ban on any HIV positive person entering the country would be lifted as of January 2010.

Government funding. The 2009 budget request for HIV and AIDS domestic spending is estimated at just over $18 billion. Of this, roughly 68% is for care, 15% for research, 10% for cash and housing assistance, and 4% for prevention.

Children and HIV. Approximately 9,000 children under 13 years of age have been diagnosed with AIDS in America. Of those, close to 90% were likely infected via mother-to-child transmission.

Today's a day to take action.
Talk about HIV prevention with your friends and family. If you've engaged in high risk behaviors, get tested for HIV and most importantly, support those living with HIV and AIDS with your compassion and understanding."

Thank You.

there is always HOPE


Sunday, November 29, 2009

first video chat

history is made. i had my first video chat just moments ago with Baby Noa.
ain't technology somethin'?!
what a wonderful time to be alive.
sweet dreams Baby Noa.
great uncle frank

Thursday, November 19, 2009


i am in such shock and awe and pain right now i have no idea how this will turn out, but here goes anyway.
yesterday i had my yearly eye exam. it had been three years since my last one. when all was said and done, my eyes are fine, my vision has not gotten that much worse, even though the eye doctor recommends a new prescription.
if i keep the frames i've been wearing comfortably for the last three years, i only have to pay for the two lenses that fit into them. that would cost $837.
if i bought a brand new pair of frames, then my total cost, for brand new frames, and brand new lenses would be $750.
something is very wrong here.
needless to say, i am unable to find a brand new pair of frames that i like. needless to say i am NOT paying $837 for new lenses to be put in my old frames.
i obviously do NOT understand what's going on here, even though it was explained to me about ten times by three different people.
today i am going to other eye glass stores to see what they will charge me for these new lenses.
i was told yesterday by the people who want $837 that other stores don't have what i need. i can only get those $837 lenses from them, and that their product quality is superior. apparently, according to them, these type of lenses can only be made by them, because of an exclusive contract (with El Diablo no doubt). if i "could" have them made someplace else, they would be even more expensive, because the $837 is a special discounted price.
at this point my head had already exploded three times.
by the way, where i went yesterday was a company that recently settled a huge class-action lawsuit of which i was a party to. my settlement amounted to a $25-off coupon.
something just isn't right here. something really smells rotten. it may be me. if i don't understand something, THAT is my responsibility. i know i do not understand why glasses have to cost $837.
in the meantime, i will comparison shop. stay tuned. i have no insurance that covers eye glasses. donations are gladly accepted.
$837. just thinking about this gives me a headache. i must stop now and go meditate and clear my mind before my head explodes for the fourth time.
hang in there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Ills Of Pills

The Ills Of Pills

At some point in our lives, we must visit a doctor. For some of us, it’s just once a year.
For others, it’s every six months. And for still others it may be every month or more often.

Chances are the doctor may be the last person you see in this life, which is why I always carry photos of my loved ones with me, just in case I wanna look at them one last time.

I saw the doctor the other day, unfortunately in his office, and the doctor asks me:
“So, what prescription medications are you currently on, Frank?”
I answer:
“Atorvastatin, for my high cholesterol.”
And the doctor says:
“And what else?”
“That’s it”, I say.
The doctor gives me an odd, bewildered look and says:
“Hm, most men your age are on more than one prescription medication by now. Congratulations, you must be pretty healthy.”
And I say:
“I guess I am. I feel pretty healthy, most of the time, except when I feast on the casino all-you-can-eat buffet!”
And he says:
“I know what you mean.”

Now I suppose I could lower my cholesterol by becoming a strict and devout vegan. I might even go with ONLY raw foods, because “they” say cooking destroys all the natural nutrients in food. I don’t know about that, but I do know you cannot beat lox and cream cheese and onion and tomato, on a toasted bagel. And I do know I will NEVER be a strict and devout vegan.

That established, I currently take one prescription medication, (atorvastatin, for high cholesterol), and the following over-the-counter supplements, which may or may not be doing a damn thing for me.

1 – a prostate formula for a healthy prostate
2 – fish oil, because “they” say it’s good for me
3 – fiber, because “they” say it’s good for me, and I must properly and thoroughly cleanse my colon, for some reason
4 – a multiple vitamin, again because “they” say it’s good for me, and it’s nearly impossible to consume all those fruits, vegetables, proteins, and nutrients “they” say I am supposed to eat each and every day
5 – spirulina, again because “they” say it’s good for me
6 – ginkgo biloba, because, you know…
7 – CoQ10, because, you know…

These days, if you have something wrong with you, there’s a pill for it.

In the good ol’ days if you were anemic, or had really bad diarrhea, or had the flu, etc…etc…, you had a good chance of dying from it.

Not today. There’s a pill for that. There’s no question that in 2009/2010 we’re living healthier lives. Yes, this is open to debate and opinion. Overall our life expectancy is longer.
Our quality of life is better too. And we do have a lot of pills that treat and/or cure illness.

That said, perhaps taking too many pills is not good for us? I’m no doctor or research scientist, I just know when I’m hurting, I have to take a pill, and count my blessings that it’s not every day, and it’s not a prescription pain killer. As of this piece, I count my lucky stars, and then some, I am only on atorvastatin.

Stay tuned.

Peace, love, namaste, shalom, heal the world, be the change, and whatever. Yada, yada, yada…

Frank Landfield
November, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

interesting facts and stats


according to my research, Taiwan has the best health care system on this planet.
are you happy with your health care coverage?
do you think there is room for improvement?
do you think we should do something? or nothing?
i think we should have the same system that Taiwan has.
that, for what it is worth, is my opinion.
what's yours?
heal the world.
be the change.
make a difference.
good luck.

Friday, October 30, 2009

a picture truly is worth a thousand words and then some!

Happy Birth Day

Dear Baby Noa,
Welcome to your universe, and it is YOUR universe, because you can be whoever you want to be, and you can do whatever you want to do. More specifically, welcome to planet Earth. We call her Mother.
You no doubt already know quite a bit about your birth parents.
Since you've been floating around inside your Mom for nine months, you've picked up a lot. As adults, we don't even know all that babies learn while in the womb. We're all still learning here. And speaking of learning, you'll be doing a lot of that every day of your life. I have read that babies born today, (you were born yesterday, October 29th, 2009), are expected to live 100 years or more! And speaking of 100 years, you will soon meet your Great Grandma Jessica who is almost 100! You've got the longevity genes Baby!
I am your Great Uncle Frank. You'll learn more about me as time goes by. One day I shall show you a photo of your Mom on my lap when she was about six months old. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy that! There are lots of things I can tell you. We will have lots of time for that. You should know this: You have lots of cousins! You've been born into a big familia! Your every move will be broadcast worldwide. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, not only do you have a village, but most of the villagers are your relatives. After all, we are all brothers and sisters. I have yet to determine if I'll write to you daily, monthly, or annually, on your Birth Day.
I'll get back to you on that. In the meantime, you enjoy all the new things coming your way. Mama and Papa will be there to cradle and cuddle you, and you can always text me! By the way, you will soon meet your canine brothers and sisters, so go easy on them. You will receive a package or two from us when you least expect it. We like surprising you. Your very arrival was quite a surprise in of itself. We waited and waited and waited! And now here you are. So welcome again, and we look forward to meeting you soon.
P.S. We love you!
Great Uncle Frank y Great Aunt Christyann

Thursday, October 29, 2009

3 generations in Vegas (1 photo), by frank landfield

I'd like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
Click here to view photos

Sunday, October 18, 2009

worth reading i think

prevention magazine, november 2009, page 79 to 85, the article "7 foods that should never cross your lips"
peace out.
on YouTube under "franklandfields"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hugh's Views

Hugh’s Views


In lieu of an article this month, the following quote is submitted for your consideration:

“The best way of preparing for the future is to take good care of the present, because we know that if the present is made up of the past, then the future will be made up of the present. All we need to be responsible for is the present moment. Only the present is within our reach. To care for the present is to care for the future.”
--Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk)

This quote embodies what Buddhists mean by mindfulness. If one can fully appreciate, understand, and apply the meaning of these few sentences, it will change your life. But be aware that accomplishing mindfulness is a lot more difficult than simply understanding the meaning of this quote.

--Hugh R. Winig, M.D.



I LOVE bagels, always have, always will.

When I was younger I rarely, if ever, thought about doing dishes or dirty laundry. In fact, I cannot remember EVER doing dishes or dirty laundry. I had too many other things to do, primarily revolving around fun. I had a wonderful childhood from what I choose to recall.

Today I LOVE doing dishes and dirty laundry. And bagels.
My life still primarily revolves around having fun even though my fun has changed.

When I was young, I LOVED to water ski and ride my horse. I can no longer do that. I think the last time I water-skied I was 18. I could ski slalom, on one ski, or on two skis. I have it on film and I watch it occasionally for old times sake. I am quite certain I can’t even get on a horse. I prefer my neck unbroken, thank you very much.

I used to LOVE to inline skate. I have finished a half marathon AND a full marathon on skates and have the medals to prove it. (A year apart. I needed to rest up after the half marathon, and train for the full marathon!) After a few falls I decided that perhaps my skating days were over, even though men and women older than I continue to skate. We’re all different.

Now I LOVE to walk and I LOVE even more my golf cart.
I’m finding that as we progress through time (age) we love different things. Our bodies are in a constant state of change and to a certain extent dictate exactly what we can do from one year to the next.

I find doing dishes and dirty laundry very rewarding and refreshing. I love that squeaky-clean sound a dish makes, and the smell of a freshly washed article of clothing. There may be something wrong with me; or not.

As we evolve (age) we find that different things catch our attention. What we used to like and love and do no longer interests us. We discover new likes and loves. We find other things to do, things that we can actually do.

The great UCLA coach and author John Wooden has said:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

This is one rule I try to live by. There are others, but none better than this one. What does it mean exactly?
It means obviously something a bit different for everybody. Basically though I think it means that we must focus on what we’re good at. We cannot waste our time on things we cannot do because they will only interfere with those things that we can do. I am not saying that we cannot learn new things. This is always true. We can always learn new things.

I have a friend who is now focused on becoming a Grandpa. This was not always his focus. He evolved into it with help. He is also a published writer with a book that sells!

As we grow from one year to the next, our focus changes, if we can focus at all.

I used to water ski. Now I LOVE doing dishes and going on long walks and riding around in my golf cart, and I LOVE bagels. What does it all mean? I haven’t a clue.

This life is a journey. I suspect the next one is too. I'm not sure how many lives we have, but I am certain that we can only live one at a time. It may even come down to moments, one moment at a time, one after the other.

In the meantime, I continue to do dishes, dirty laundry, walk, golf cart, and LOVE bagels. How about you? What do you love?

October 15, 2009, Thursday, Palm Desert, California

on YouTube under “franklandfields”
Enjoy. Peace.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

reform schmorm!

do we really need health care reform? you tell me. everybody has their own perspective on this one.
people with premium health care usually don't think anything needs to change. after their premium, they don't pay a penny more for anything. some of our senators don't think anything needs to change either. they have fantastic health care. how about you? do you pay for anything? well here's an experience i had today, and i am now convinced, even more so than before, we NEED health care reform.
i have been volunteering in schools for thirty years. i've even been a substitute teacher. i had a negative TB test from 1989. i am due again.
i phoned around.
place A wants $105 dollars for an office visit and $18 dollars for the TB test ($123 total).
place B wants $91 dollars, all inclusive.
place C wants $75 dollars, all inclusive.
place D wants $45 dollars, all inclusive.
place E wants $25 dollars, all inclusive.
place F wants $20 dollars, all inclusive.
place G wants $15 dollars, all inclusive.
i guess this is capitalism. it sure isn't much of a love story, unless somebody really loves making money.
after calling place G, i decided i couldn't bare to call one more place.
i'm going to place F. it's across the street from me.
so what do you think? do you need health care reform? are you getting the same care that senators get? do you even want it?
i just wanna understand why a TB test ranges in price from $123 to $15.
capitilism? smells more like greed to me.
what do you think?
i endorse the michael moore movie, capitalism: a love story.
it explains a lot!
my videos can be seen on YouTube under "franklandfields".
peace out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

movie recommendation

i HAVE NOT seen the new michael moore movie titled, "Capitalism: A Love Story".
i have read about it, and seen michael moore on the jay leno show. based on this, i will see the movie. i also believe the movie is worth seeing. one cannot have an opinion about a movie if one has not seen the movie, or so i have heard. i have also heard from people who refuse to see the movie. and they have an opinion. this i DO NOT understand.
michael moore has a reputation for fact-checking everything in his films. on top of that, those facts are available publicly. still if one cannot see their own nose, one cannot see their own nose.
if you see the film, i am interested in your opinion.
further info may be found at:
the film has already won some film festival awards. this means what it means.
you decide.
good luck.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Chance Of Pants

The Chance Of Pants

At some point in your life, you will fall or nearly fall while attempting to put on your pants or underpants. This is simply a fact of life.

This fall may be serious. You may break a hip, or your head, or your nose, or something else. And of course you’ll have to explain to the emergency room people just how this all happened.

If you’re lucky, this fall may not be serious at all. In fact, if you’re really lucky, you’ll catch yourself before you fall, and only blurt out a few choice expletives.
This is the preferred outcome.

So how is it possible to predetermine when this might happen? It is next to impossible. We think we’ll always be 25 years old and forever able to jump right into our pants and underpants, with one leap, both legs at a time, while splashing on aftershave. Well, enjoy this fantasy as long as you can my friends.

When you’re ready for reality, we’ll try to figure out how we got to this point.
I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that leg openings on underpants have been increasingly shrinking. At least you can tell yourself that one. Perhaps we simply can’t lift our leg the way we used to? Or bend over as comfortably as we did ten years ago?

We all have our reasons. I noticed the other day while attempting to first put my foot then my leg through my underpants that something had changed. My little toe was getting snagged and my leg didn’t remain up as long as my brain had asked it to. I began falling forward. The edge of the sink was rapidly approaching. I was stuck falling in mid air, or so I thought, until I figured out I’d better just let go of my underpants before my head comes in contact with the edge of the sink. It occurred to me at that moment in time that maybe, just maybe, if I sat down on the toilet and then put my underpants on, that this would be a much safer way to proceed.

Needless to say, it works well for pants too. But how did I get to this point? For as long as I can remember, I’ve been putting on my pants and underpants while simultaneously standing up. And by the way, on one leg!

I keep telling myself, “I’m the guy who did a marathon, on skates!” Then I remember that was nearly ten years ago. I drive a golf cart around town now. Or walk.

There is a bit of a transition period. One can, carefully, lean against something solid to put on one’s underpants. This is not as safe as sitting down, but it’s not as dangerous as trying to balance oneself on one leg at a time either. Sometimes I try this. Sometimes I sit down. I find the sitting down to be safest. But still, how did I get here? Seems like only yesterday I was 16 years old with no cares, aches, or pains. I’m two for three now. I have no cares, thank goodness.

Aging is a fact of life just as death is, although I like to call that “the transformation”. You call it whatever you desire. It is inevitable that we won’t run a 4-minute mile too many times in our life, if even once. We will not be able to always put on our pants standing up. We won’t be able to drive ourselves around town forever. Our hearing will diminish. Our sight will decrease. And as time goes by, we’ll basically fall apart and begin rotting from the inside out. Not to worry. It’s simply nature. We all go through it. Ain’t none of us gettin’ outa this life alive. Dust to dust. We might as well accept it and deal with it as soon as possible. Complaining and worrying only makes it worse. So, what’s the point here? That is for you to decide. It is not my job to make everything OK for you. I’ve got plenty to do just putting on my pants.

In the meantime, one must find comfort and guidance wherever it is discovered. Best of luck.


On YouTube under “franklandfields”
Copyright frank landfield
September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

link of the day


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Under Where?

Under Where?

For many people, underwear is not their most important concern in life. There are other considerations like, career, health, relationships, children, grandchildren, money, leisure time, retirement, shoes, bags, books, yada, yada, yada. Few people I know consume themselves with finding the perfect pair of underwear.

For me, this is my life quest.

I long to find underwear that is not continually trying to hide itself up my crack. I dream of underwear that stays in place from the moment I put it on to the time I (or somebody else) takes it off. I pray for underwear that won’t chafe my bits. And I cannot find underwear in the colors that I want.

I have noticed, quite by accident, that women have many more choices when it comes to underwear. Ever seen a men’s underwear section in Victoria’s Secret? Me neither. Perhaps we need a new store specializing in men’s underwear called Hugh’s Secret?

What exactly makes a perfect pair of underwear? For starters, it should be available in colors that you actually want. I am so totally bored with black and white and gray! Obviously it must also fit perfectly. It should be comfortable ALL DAY, and it should stay put, and it should cradle your privates like the finest of baby carriages. It should also breath and be moisture wicking.

There are a few different cuts of men’s underwear. There are boxers, briefs, and something called a boxer-jock, which is kind of a combination between a boxer and a jock strap. These come in 3”, 6”, and 9” lengths. Don’t ask. Do tell! They can be seen at, www.underarmour.com. Until recently, I never knew they existed. And now, I sing their praises!

I am currently wearing the 3” boxer-jock, and I must tell you it is heaven! They are completely supportive of my junk, and they are breathable AND moisture wicking!
Prior to my discovery of this underwear, I’d tried just about everything that Hanes and Jockey offered. Nothing satisfied me. I didn’t realize that what I really needed was specialized athletic underwear. Just as there are cars and there are cars, there is underwear and then there is UNDERWEAR.

You could drive a Prius or a Honda or a Ford, or you could drive a Bentley. My underwear is a Bentley. It’s roomy and comfy and responsive and firm and supportive and safe, and I just cannot find the words to tell you what a pleasure it is to finally wear this underwear. This is something you will have to experience for yourself, preferably in the privacy of your own home.

Again, the website is www.underarmour.com. This brand is not easily found in stores. Still I wish more colors were available. I have written the company suggesting/requesting they make more colors available. As consumers I believe the only way we’ll get what we want is to ask for it. Even then we probably have a 50/50 chance at best.

I feel now that my lifetime quest has come to an end. I have found the underwear of my wildest dreams. My fear now is that they’ll stop making it. Sometimes in life this is the case. You find something you love and can’t live without only to discover that they stop making it.

If you are anything at all like me, and if you are then I strongly recommend immediate long-term professional care, I believe you will LOVE this underwear as much as I do. It remains one of life’s greatest pleasures to know that underneath it all, your underwear is coddling you just the way Grandma did when you were a tiny baby, and that everything will be OK.

I recommend www.underarmour.com.
They have not compensated me in any way to say that, although I wouldn’t turn down some free underwear, thank you very much.

As always, you may see my films on YouTube under “franklandfields”.


Peace. Namaste. Enjoy.

September 9, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Thank You Mr. Prostate...

...for another healthy year.
At some point, somebody, somewhere, or most likely a whole committee of somebody's, decided that men (I) need to have my prostate checked annually, which basically means a finger up my ass. For those of you who need this spelled out, f-i-n-g-e-r/u-p/y-o-u-r/a-s-s.
This is important and I'm going to tell you why.
Turns out about 1 in 3 men, a third, will have prostate problems. This could be cancer or simply an enlarged prostate and the complications from that. Prostate cancer kills way too many men, and a lot of those deaths are preventable by "early detection". The good news is prostate cancer, when caught early, is quite treatable. Still, many men do not get their annual exam, so I am here to tell you my experience, and to CONvince/assure you that it's not that bad, and thoroughly (OK, 99%) worth it.
Realistically, what's the big deal about a finger up your ass for about ten seconds?
If you've never tried it, then you cannot say you know what it feels like, or that you don't like it. YOU HAVEN'T TRIED IT! It's all mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!
So yesterday was my annual exam. I happen to like my doctor and this makes things much more comfortable. The exam is literally about ten seconds long. I know this because I'm counting the whole time it's happening, while simultaneously pretending I'm on the beach in Hawaii, sipping an exotic drink out of a coconut. This is really no big deal.
Some would say the blood test afterward is harder. You know, where they stick a giant dull needle in your arm and draw blood. Part of the annual exam is this blood test. They are checking your PSA level to make sure that is normal. Your doctor can explain this all to you much better than I.
I'm simply here to recommend that you get your annual prostate checkup.
Think of it as an oil change. You want your car to run healthy, right? And I'm sure you want your body healthy too.
A prostate exam is probably easier than a colonoscopy. You only have to do that about once every five years or less. And you're sedated! But it is more costly. And just as necessary.
Look, it's all part of life. And after all, don't we all wanna live as long as we possibly can? I mean as long as we can still go to the bathroom by ourselves and wipe our own you-know-what? So getting your prostate checked will help you live longer. And it's only once a year.
I find that after my checkup, if I treat myself to a fancy lunch, I forget all about the exam, almost.
So do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and get your annual prostate checkup. It could save your life.
I've already made my appointment for next year. :-)

Peace. Namaste. Enjoy your life.

My films can be seen on YouTube under "franklandfields"

Thursday, August 20, 2009


this is post number 444, and that's a whole other story from what i will write about now.

why does somebody/anybody wear a gun on their hip in public? let alone attend a town hall meeting or political rally? in my opinion, there are just a few answers. fear, loneliness, insecurity, and hatred. it seems to me that loneliness and hatred and insecurity are all rooted in fear. in my biased reality, i would prefer a world without guns. there are communities without guns. it's not that difficult to do. a group of people decide they're going to live together without guns. pretty simple concept really. like not eating meat.
but why do a tiny minority of people insist on wearing guns on their hip? what are they so afraid of? are they afraid? as far as i'm concerned, guns have only one purpose. to kill somebody or something. look, if you wanna kill somebody or something, why not use your bare hands? now that's really killing. using a gun? that, in my opinion, is the cowards way.
people who wear guns on their hip, in my opinion, are terribly afraid of change, and other people telling them how to live, and other people coming into their "space". people who wear guns on their hip, in my opinion, lack confidence. wearing a gun on your hip, and even owning a gun, indicates that you are willing to use it, and probably willing to use it to kill somebody. whatever happened to, "thou shall not kill"?
i am not a gun owner. i will never be a gun owner. i believe we should destroy all guns on this planet. this may make me as radical a person as the ones who wear the guns on their hip. all i know is this:
i will not have anything to do with guns or killing.
i hope one day to live in a world where there's no need for them.
please join me in promoting and living peace, love, happiness, tolerance, and harmony.

and now 444. i used to drive cab number 444. she was a good cab.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yes, We Need Health Care Reform

The whole deal about death counseling for seniors is a hugely distorted lie being spread by Betsy McCaughey via email from Fred Thompson (one of many being spread by the right wing regarding health care reform).  As I understand it, it all stems from a proposal in the reform plan to offer financial assistance to create a “living will”.  That’s something we all should have in case of accidents, etc, no matter how old we are. 

Here’s another side of the story about Health care reform besides the one being circulated via email.  Health care reform is not a Liberal vs. Conservative issue. We must all ask ourselves “Who benefits?” when confronted with issues such as this.  Who benefits from “no reform”? Many in congress receive HUGE contributions from the present health care industry giants, like big pharmaceutical companies, and big insurance companies.  Who benefits from “reform”? Almost all of us average US citizens AND our children and grandchildren.

Health care in the US must be (and will be) reformed no matter what.  The costs are just becoming more and more ridiculous as time goes by.  Something must be done as more and more people are spending more and more money on less and less effective insurance and more and more people are losing health care altogether.  The free market ideal is just not working for health care.  Most authorities agree that we are spending twice as much (or more) on health care as other industrialized countries and all the statistics are worse than them in regard to adolescent mortality, life expectancy and other factors.

By the way, more US cars are being built in Windsor, Ontario than are being built just across the river in Detroit.  Why?  According to auto execs - less costly health care insurance in Canada.  We spent four winters with a group of retired Canadians in Southern California.  I made a point of engaging them in friendly discussions about their health care.  With the exception of one person who didn’t know the facts about American health care, they all were very enthusiastic about the Canadian plan.

We can’t afford not to reform health care in America.  The cost of goods in the US has a higher percentage of costs related to health care than any other industrialized nation.  No wonder we’re falling behind so fast!

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it -  it is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.
Like it or not, there will be health care reform.
Get ready.

Friday, August 07, 2009

responsibility and accountability

Is Bush still relevant?

Andie Coller Andie Coller Fri Aug 7, 5:17 am ET

President Barack Obama may “own” the economy now — but he’s not ready to let anyone forget who left it to him.

Supporters and defenders of George W. Bush have been waiting for the shot clock to run out on Bush’s critics since before the 43rd president left office; a headline on a Washington Times opinion piece in December trumpeted, somewhat over-optimistically, “Only 26 days left for Bush bashing.” But with six months in the Oval Office behind him and Congress off for its milestone summer recess, Obama shows no sign of letting the prior administration or its advocates off the hook.

At a recent town hall in Raleigh, N.C., Obama ripped his detractors thusly: “You hand me a $1.3 trillion bill, and then you’re complaining six months later because we haven’t paid it all back.” And last weekend, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers flooded the TV talk shows with reminders that they had “inherited” a $1.3 trillion deficit and an economy “in free fall.”

“The battle for the history is always an essential part of winning the future,” says Republican strategist John Feehery. “From that perspective, I think that is what Obama is trying to do.”

To those who contend that the administration’s regular references to the provenance of its woes is nothing more than a blame game, Democratic strategist Phil Singer replies that the president would have to engage in advanced yoga not to refer to the policies of his home’s prior resident.

“Obama has to talk about it, because it helps explain the agenda that he’s advancing every day,” Singer says. “The legacy of the Bush administration is driving the agenda of the Obama administration.”

If that’s the case, then the task for Team Obama is to walk the line between explaining and complaining, says former Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. She agrees that the administration has to put its efforts in perspective, but she notes that it also must be cautious, particularly while people are still suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and unlikely to have much sympathy for anything perceived as whining from the top.

“I think it is very fair to make that point, but I think you have to do a way that acknowledges people’s pain and frustration,” she says. “It is a delicate balance, and I think that’s why it has to be done in a very pragmatic way and not in a way that sounds like an excuse.”

And indeed, lately most administration references to the previous management have been carefully calibrated to convey the message that Obama is taking responsibility for the economy without being responsible for it. Officials don’t speak of “having” problems but of having “inherited” them — and always in the context of what they are doing to try to solve them. And although he alludes to Bush and his impact often, the president has mentioned his predecessor by name only a handful of times in his prepared remarks since taking office.

Democratic candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia have been less circumspect. As POLITICO reported last month, both N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine and Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds kicked off their candidacies with broadsides against Bush — a strategy that, if effective, will likely encourage other Democrats to follow suit.

Which leaves those who have long chafed at Bush bashing to ask: How much longer can it possibly last?

With respect to Obama, at least, reasonable minds may disagree.

It’s already over, says Feehery — at least in terms of its effectiveness: “My own personal opinion is that six months is an eternity in politics, and it’s never about what happened six months ago — it’s about what’s happening right now.”

It might last another month or two, but that’s it, opines Republican strategist Ed Rollins: “I think you may have a little bit more time, but certainly by September, October, that story’s not going to fly. It’ll be Obama’s war in Afghanistan, Obama’s economy,” he says. “Whether it’s legitimate or not, that’s the way it works.”

The public is already holding Obama responsible, says Democratic strategist Douglas Schoen, who stamps a fall sell-by date on the tactic. “When asked the question, 'Who’s more to blame?' the American people say, ‘Bush is more to blame than Obama — but we’re looking to Obama for solutions.’” Schoen says the strategy may still be useful now, but it won’t be indefinitely: “Do I think they can get through the midterms with that? No, I don’t.”

Not so fast, counters Democratic pollster Paul Maslin; it all depends on what happens between now and then.

“If, next year, as we head into the midterm elections, the economy really starts to turn around, then he’s got a story line that begins with 'We inherited this' that works for him, and there’s no reason why he couldn’t take it all the way through the midterms and even through reelection.”

Or perhaps even longer. Muses Maslin: “Ronald Reagan ran against Washington pretty much the whole eight years, and he was in D.C. the whole time, as the head of our government.”

On the flip side, notes Singer, the political risk to the president is relatively low. “One of the ironies about the Obama administration is, for all of the accusations that it’s all rhetoric and talk, a lot of its success will be determined on nuts and bolts metrics,” he says. “If the economy is stagnant in 2012, people aren’t going to be saying, ‘I’m not going to vote for the president because he only wants to bash Bush.’ They’re going to say, ‘I’m not voting for the president because the economy is stagnant.’”

The main caveat, says Maslin, is that even if the president can safely continue to score points off the previous administration, he should be aware that the buzzer on Bush himself has sounded.

“I’m a partisan Democrat, but even I don’t want to kick him anymore,” he says.

Monday, August 03, 2009

the bird and the fish

there's an old saying that goes something like this:
"a bird can love a fish, but where would they make a home?"
where would they make a home indeed. this is an excellent question. perhaps they could build a nest near the water? perhaps a floating nest? i do not know. i do know they can definitely be friends, while living their own lives.
i would imagine the bird knows about as much about being a fish as the fish knows about being a bird. they no doubt have common interests. they may even enjoy some of the same foods, like worms. of course they have different life expectancies. and they are both prey for somebody.
i suspect, if they really got to know one another, they would find that they have more in common than not.
i believe this is also true for people.
we can only hope, and have great expectations, and positive thoughts, and of course faith, if you so desire.
on the level of DNA we are all very close. maybe this is what frightens some people so very much? at any rate, we can all, and we must all, continue to promote understanding and tolerance for one another or we will become extinct.
best of luck.
my films are on YouTube under, "franklandfields".
enjoy. peace. namaste.

Friday, July 24, 2009

more progress please

July 24, 2009
Professor’s Arrest Tests Beliefs on Racial Progress

CHICAGO — Ralph Medley, a retired professor of philosophy and English who is black, remembers the day he was arrested on his own property, a rental building here in Hyde Park where he was doing some repair work for tenants.

A concerned neighbor had called the police to report a suspicious character. And that was not the first time Mr. Medley said he had been wrongly apprehended. A call Mr. Medley placed to 911 several years ago about a burglary resulted with the police showing up to frisk him.

“But I’m the one who called you!” he said he remembers pleading with the officers.

Like countless other blacks around the country, Mr. Medley was revisiting his encounters with the police as a national discussion about race and law enforcement unfolded after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s prominent scholar of African-American history. Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct July 16 at his home in Cambridge, Mass., as the police investigated a report of a possible break-in there. The charge was later dropped, and the Cambridge Police Department said the incident was “regrettable and unfortunate.”

In interviews here and in Atlanta, in Web postings and on television talk shows, blacks and others said that what happened to Professor Gates was a common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color. They also said that beyond race, the ego of the police officer probably played a role.

But more deeply, many said that the incident was a disappointing reminder that for all the racial progress the country seemed to have made with the election of President Obama, little had changed in the everyday lives of most people in terms of race relations.

“No matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism,” said Keith E. Horton, a sports and entertainment lawyer in Chicago who is black. “That’s what the issue is to me.”

To be sure, people have found fault with how Professor Gates responded to the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, who said he was simply fulfilling his duty in investigating the report of a burglary in progress.

The police and Professor Gates offered differing accounts of what happened after officers arrived. The police said Professor Gates initially refused to show identification and repeatedly shouted at officers. Professor Gates said that he had shown photo identification to Sergeant Crowley but that the sergeant had not appeared to believe that he lived there. He also said he had brought up race during the confrontation but was not disorderly.

Many comments posted online suggested that Professor Gates, 58, had made a tricky situation worse by not easily cooperating. Even some blacks acknowledged that he did not help himself by refusing to show deference to a police officer.

“It is unwise for anyone of any race to raise their voice to a law enforcement officer,” said Al Vivian, a diversity consultant in Atlanta who is black. “But the result at the end of the day is this was a man who violated no law, was in his own house, who is the top academic star at the top academic school in the nation, and he was still taken away and arrested.”

At a news conference on Wednesday night, President Obama said he thought the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” in the arrest of Professor Gates.

“I think it’s worse than stupid,” said Mr. Medley, 65, the retired Chicago professor. “I think it was mean-spirited and ill-intended.”

In interviews, blacks and whites of various ages and experiences with law enforcement showed a tendency to give a benefit of the doubt to Professor Gates over the police.

“It seems to me that Dr. Gates was simply arrested for being upset, and he was arrested for being upset because he’s a black man,” said Wayne Martin, 25, an official at the Atlanta Housing Authority, who is also black.

The way Mr. Martin described himself, he could be the very definition of a “post-racial” American. “I have children I’m trying to raise not to see race,” he said. “I’m beyond the whole black-white thing. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Yet Mr. Martin could not think of any other way than racism to explain what had happened to Professor Gates. He is fascinated by the story. On Wednesday, he changed his Facebook status to: “Wayne Martin is wondering when it became illegal to be angry at a law enforcement official.”

Mr. Martin said that he was heartened to see Mr. Obama — who said he was a friend of Professor Gates — address the issue, and that while he agreed with Mr. Obama’s interpretation of the incident, he thought the word “stupidly” had been poorly chosen.

“That choice of the word was something that I don’t agree with,” Mr. Martin said. “To use such a common offensive term, it almost lowers him down to the level of the folks he’s wagging his finger at.”

Sabine Charles, 37, a white cardiologist who lives in Hyde Park, is married to a black man and said that she could not count how many times people had interrupted the two over the years to ask her, quietly, “Is this man bothering you?”

“I say, ‘Guess what? He’s not! We’re actually on a romantic date, can’t you tell?’ ” she said. “Even here in this diverse area I’ve heard people say, ‘Look at those black guys coming toward us.’ I say, ‘Yes, but they’re wearing lacrosse shorts and Calvin Klein jeans. They’re probably the kids of the professor down the street.’ ”

“You have to be able to discern differences between people,” she said, criticizing the practice of racial profiling. “It’s very frustrating.”

Mr. Vivian, the diversity trainer in Atlanta, said that what happened to Professor Gates was “age old” in America, but that what was different this time was that it happened in a so-called post-racial America.

Mr. Vivian, 47, said that he had been unfairly stopped by the police in the past, but that he lived by “an unwritten code” for dealing with these incidents. And Dr. Gates certainly did not obey the code, he said.

Quiet politeness is Rule No. 1 in surviving an incident of racial profiling, he said. So is the frequent use of the word “sir.”

“People used to say, ‘Look, there’s a Colin Powell. There’s an Oprah Winfrey.’ Now they say, ‘There’s a black president.’ I say, I’m happy to see the exceptions. There’s always an exception. But I’m interested in how society treats the average person.”

That there is a well-known code of behavior familiar to most minorities who are stopped by the police, Mr. Vivian said, is testament enough of a problem.

“It clearly says that we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Susan Saulny reported from Chicago, and Robbie Brown from Atlanta.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson

"Heal The World"

There's A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need
To Cry
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow

There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why
There's A Love That
Cannot Lie
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving
If We Try
We Shall See
In This Bliss
We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread
We Stop Existing And
Start Living

Then It Feels That Always
Love's Enough For
Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me

i ask everybody to please watch the Michael Jackson Memorial Celebration, and,
take a look at yourself,
make that change,
look in the mirror,
make a difference,
and always remember,
Michael Jackson will live forever.
we love you.
i love you.
we will never forget you.
i will never forget you.
thank you.

Friday, June 26, 2009



we must stop this!

Horror of Kenya's 'witch' lynchings

By Odhiambo Joseph
BBC News, Kenya

Villagers, many straight from their farms, and armed with machetes, sticks and axes, are shouting and crowding round in a big group in Kenya's fertile Kisii district.

I can't see clearly what is going on, but heavy smoke is rising from the ground and a horrible stench fills the air.

More people are streaming up the hill, some of them with firewood and maize stalks.

Suddenly an old woman breaks from the crowd, screaming for mercy. Three or four people go after her, beat her and drag her back, pushing her onto - what I can now see - is a raging fire.

Burned alive

I was witnessing a horrific practice which appears to be on the increase in Kenya - the lynching of people accused of being witches.

I personally saw the burning alive of five elderly men and women in Itii village.
“ They point at me saying - that is a son of the witch ”
Joseph Ondieki

I had been visiting relatives in a nearby town, when I heard what was happening. I dashed to the scene, accompanied by a village elder.

He reacted as if what we were watching was quite normal, which was shocking for me.

As a stranger I felt I had no choice but to stand by and watch. My fear was that if I showed any sign of disapproval, or made any false move, the angry mob could turn on me.

Not one person was protesting or trying to stop the killing.

Hours later, the police came and removed the charred bodies.

Village youths who took part in the killings told me that the five victims had to die because they had bewitched a young boy.

"Of course some people have been burned. But there is proof of witchcraft," said one youth.

He said that a child had spent the night walking around and then was unable to talk the following morning - except to one of the so-called witches.

I asked the youths whether or not people involved in this supposed witchcraft should be punished.

"Yes, they must be punished, every one," said the first youth.

"We are very angry and that's why we end up punishing these people and even killing them."

His friend agreed: "In other communities, there are witches all round but in Kisii we have come up with a new method, we want to kill these people using our own hands."

I later discovered that the young boy who had supposedly been bewitched, was suffering from epilepsy.

His mother had panicked when he had had an attack.

All too common

The village elder was dismissive of my horror, saying that this kind of thing happens all the time in the western district of Kisii.

He told me about Joseph Ondieki, whose mother had been burned to death less than two months earlier.

I found Joseph and his wife Mary Nyaboke tending vegetables in their small shamba, or homestead.
“ If I visit my neighbours I fear they might poison my food ”
Joseph Ondieki

Mary told me that on the day her mother-in-law had been killed she had been visiting her own parents.

She had heard a noise and discovered the truth when she came home.

She said that in the 20 years she had been married, she had never had any reason to believe her husband's mother was a witch.

Joseph told me he has suffered a lot since his mother died.

"I was born here, but at this stage I feel as if this is not my home any more," he said.

"I cannot visit neighbours or relatives.

"Even when they see me standing by the road side, they point at me, saying: 'That is a son of the witch'.

"And when I go to town they also start wondering what has taken me there. Is it that I am going to give evidence against them?

"When I come back, they say I've been seen at the police station, but I've never been there. I've never reported the matter.

"If I visit the neighbours, I always fear that they might put poison in the food.

"So when I'm forced to visit, I make sure I don't eat anything.

"If I can't get my own food I just have a glass of water and sleep."

I set off with Joseph up the hill towards his house, which was far from the centre of the village.

On the way we passed his mother's house.

A neighbour was reluctant to talk to me and denied even knowing Joseph's mother.

"Here in Kisii, people are being burned on mere allegation and most of them are old," Joseph said.

"We now don't have any old people in the village to consult.

"Even me I'm now approaching 50 years old - I'm afraid that they'll come for me also."

Warning signs

I spent three days in Kisii trying to speak to the authorities, but nobody, neither the police nor the local government officials would talk to me.

As night drew in, and it was time for me to leave, Joseph walked with me from his village to where my car was parked.

When we arrived, he begged me to take him with me to Mombasa, where I am based.

It was very difficult for me to leave him behind.

As I drove away I passed signs pinned to trees, warning witches that they would be tracked down.

"We know you by your names", someone had typed in bold.

To listen to the full broadcast of Kenya's Witch Lynchings , tune in to African Perspective on the BBC World Service. The program is first broadcast on Saturday 27 June at 1106 GMT. It will be available online from 2106 GMT, for one week.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/06/26 07:17:36 GMT



we will never forget you.
thank you for the tremendous positive difference you have made and will continue to make throughout our world.
"if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that change."
Rest In Peace

story of the day

RI closer to changing state name over slavery
By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer Ray Henry, Associated Press Writer Thu Jun 25, 9:53 pm ET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The country's smallest state has the longest official name: "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

A push to drop "Providence Plantations" from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the "State of Rhode Island." It's an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it's an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island's tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

"It's high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don't want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name," said Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill.

Rhode Island's unwieldy name reflects its turbulent colonial history, a state that consisted of multiple and sometimes rival settlements populated by dissidents.

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his unorthodox religious views, minister Roger Williams set out in 1636 and settled at the northern tip of Narragansett Bay, which he called Providence Plantations. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America and became famous for embracing the separation of church and state, a legal principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights a century later.

Other settlers made their homes in modern-day Portsmouth and Newport on Aquidneck Island, then known as the Isle of Rhodes.

In 1663, English King Charles II granted a royal charter joining all the settlements into a single colony called "The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The name stuck. Rhode Island used that royal charter as its governing document until 1843.

Opponents of the name charge argue that "plantations" was used at the time to describe any farming settlements, regardless of slavery.

Rhode Island merchants did, however, make their fortunes off the slave trade. Slaves helped construct Brown University in Providence, and a prominent slave trader paid half the cost of its first library.

Still, Stanley Lemons, a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, said changing the state's name ignores the accomplishments of Williams, whose government passed laws trying to prevent the permanent servitude of whites, blacks and American Indians.

"There are different meanings for this word," Lemons said. "To try to impose their experience on everyone else wipes out Roger Williams."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

link of the day


Friday, June 05, 2009

good idea of the day


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

article of the day

June 2, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
The Howls of a Fading Species

One can only hope that the hysterical howling of right-wingers against the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is something approaching a death rattle for this profoundly destructive force in American life.

It’s hard to fathom the heights of hypocrisy currently being scaled by the foaming-in-the-mouth crazies who are leading the charge against the nomination. Newt Gingrich, who never needed a factual basis for his ravings, rants on Twitter that Judge Sotomayor is a “Latina woman racist,” apparently unaware of his incoherence in the “Latina-woman” redundancy in this defamatory characterization.

Karl Rove sneered that Ms. Sotomayor was “not necessarily” smart, thus managing to get the toxic issue of intelligence into play in the case of a woman who graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, went on to get a law degree from Yale and has more experience as a judge than any of the current justices had at the time of their nominations to the court.

It turns the stomach. There is no level of achievement sufficient to escape the stultifying bonds of bigotry. It is impossible to be smart enough or accomplished enough.

The amount of disrespect that has spattered the nomination of Judge Sotomayor is disgusting. She is spoken of, in some circles, as if she were the lowest of the low. Rush Limbaugh — now there’s a genius! — has compared her nomination to a hypothetical nomination of David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. “How can a president nominate such a candidate?” Limbaugh asked.

Ms. Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic civil rights organization. In the crazy perspective of some right-wingers, the mere existence of La Raza should make decent people run for cover. La Raza is “a Latino K.K.K. without the hoods and the nooses,” said Tom Tancredo, a Republican former congressman from Colorado.

Here’s the thing. Suddenly these hideously pompous and self-righteous white males of the right are all concerned about racism. They’re so concerned that they’re fully capable of finding it in places where it doesn’t for a moment exist. Not just finding it, but being outraged by it to the point of apoplexy. Oh, they tell us, this racism is a bad thing!

Are we supposed to not notice that these are the tribunes of a party that rose to power on the filthy waves of racial demagoguery. I don’t remember hearing their voices or the voices of their intellectual heroes when the Republican Party, as part of its Southern strategy, aggressively courted the bigots who fled the Democratic Party because the Democrats had become insufficiently hostile to blacks.

Where were the howls of outrage at this strategy that was articulated by Lee Atwater as follows: “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff.”

Never a peep did you hear.

Where were the right-wing protests when Ronald Reagan went out of his way to kick off his general election campaign in 1980 with a salute to states’ rights in, of all places, Philadelphia, Miss., not far from the site where three young civil rights workers had been snatched and murdered by real-life, rabid, blood-thirsty racists?

We’ve heard ad nauseam Ms. Sotomayor’s comments — awkwardly stated but hardly racist — about what she brings to the bench as a Latina. But how often have we ever heard the awful, hateful position on race offered up by William F. Buckley, the right’s ultimate intellectual champion? He felt comfortable declaring, in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision ordering the desegregation of public schools, that whites had every right to discriminate against blacks because whites belonged to “the advanced race.”

Right-wing howls of protest? I think not.

Ms. Sotomayor’s nomination is a big deal because never before in the history of the United States has any president nominated a Latina to the highest court. Only two blacks have ever been on the court, and the one selected by a Republican has been like a thumb in the eye to most African-Americans.

The court is a living monument to America’s long history of exclusion based on race, ethnic background and gender. Where is the right-wing protest against that?

It was always silly to pretend that the election of Barack Obama was evidence that the U.S. was moving into some sort of post-racial, post-ethnic, post-gender nirvana. But it did offer a basis for optimism. There is every reason to hope that we’ve improved as a society to the point where the racial and ethnic craziness of the Gingriches and Limbaughs will finally have a tough time finding any sort of foothold.

Those types can still cause a lot of trouble, but the ridiculousness of their posture is pretty widely recognized. Thus the desperate howling.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Arrest ordered for mom of boy, 13, resisting chemo
By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer Amy Forliti, Associated Press Writer 1 min ago

NEW ULM, Minn. – Authorities nationwide were on the lookout Wednesday for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing the chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy's life.

Colleen Hauser and her son, Daniel, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, apparently left their southern Minnesota home sometime after a doctor's appointment and court-ordered X-ray on Monday showed his tumor had grown.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg, who had ruled last week that Daniel's parents were medically neglecting him, issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Colleen Hauser and ruled her in contempt of court. Rodenberg also ordered that Daniel be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated by a cancer specialist for treatment.

The family belongs to a religious group that believes in "natural" healing methods. Daniel has testified he believed chemotherapy would kill him and told the judge that if anyone tried to force him to take it, "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them."

The boy's father, Anthony Hauser, testified he didn't know where his wife and son were but had made no attempt to find them. He testified he last saw his son Monday morning, and he saw his wife only briefly that evening when she said she was leaving "for a time."

As of Wednesday morning, the mother and son still had not been found, said Carl Rolloff, a sheriff's dispatcher.

Officials distributed the arrest warrant nationwide. Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffman said Tuesday that investigators were following some leads locally, but declined to elaborate.

"It's absolutely crazy. It's very disappointing," James Olson, the attorney representing Brown County Family Services. "We're trying to do what's right for this young man."

A message left at the Hauser home in Sleepy Eye early Wednesday wasn't immediately returned. But in an interview in Wednesday's editions of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Anthony Hauser said he knew places where his wife might have gone though he did not know where she was.

He said he and his wife had a plan for Tuesday's hearing and he was a "bit disappointed" she didn't follow it. "We were going to present a treatment plan to the court. If they didn't go with it, we would appeal it," he told the newspaper.

"I know many people around here who have had cancer, they did the chemo, it would come back," Hauser told the newspaper. "They did the chemo again and again and they are all in the grave. Chemo isn't foolproof."

Olson, the family services lawyer, had considered asking the judge to hold Anthony Hauser in contempt as well, but he said Wednesday he decided against that.

"I'm thinking that he probably doesn't know where his wife and child are," Olson said.

Daniel's Hodgkin's lymphoma, diagnosed in January, is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation, but the boy quit chemo after a single treatment.

The judge has said Daniel, who has a learning disability and cannot read, did not understand the risks and benefits of chemotherapy and didn't believe he was ill.

The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the "do no harm" philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians. Colleen Hauser testified earlier that she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.

The founder of Nemenhah, Philip Cloudpiler Landis, said it was a bad idea for Colleen Hauser to flee with her son. "You don't solve anything by disregarding the order of the judge," Landis said.

The family's doctor, James Joyce, testified by telephone that he examined Daniel on Monday, and that an X-ray showed his tumor had grown to the size it was when he was first diagnosed.

"He had basically gotten back all the trouble he had in January," the doctor said.

Joyce testified that he offered to make appointments for Daniel with oncologists, but the Hausers declined, then left in a rush with lawyer Susan Daya.

"Under Susan Daya's urging, they indicated they had other places to go," Joyce said.

Daya did not immediately respond to a call Tuesday from The Associated Press. The court also tried to reach her during the hearing, but got no answer.

Minnesota statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child, Rodenberg wrote. The statutes say alternative and complementary health care methods aren't enough.

Friday, May 15, 2009



questions questions

Prosecutor questions Rove on fired US attorneys
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Former White House aide Karl Rove faced questions Friday from a special prosecutor weighing whether to bring criminal charges against Bush administration officials for the politically charged firing of U.S. attorneys.

Rove met with prosecutor Nora Dannehy at the office of his lawyer, Robert Luskin. Rove did not speak to reporters as he entered the downtown Washington law office and neither did investigators who arrived about a half hour later.

Rove has said he will cooperate with the investigation, which is being conducted to determine whether Bush administration officials or congressional Republicans should face criminal charges in the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.

Rove and other Republican officials refused to be interviewed in an earlier Justice Department inquiry, which concluded that despite Bush administration denials, political considerations played a part in the firings of as many as four prosecutors.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president, but cannot be fired for improper reasons. Bush administration officials at first claimed the attorneys were let go because of poor performance.

The internal Justice Department investigation recommended a criminal inquiry, saying the lack of cooperation by Rove and other senior administration officials left gaps in their findings that should be investigated further. Then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey responded by naming Dannehy, the acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut, as special prosecutor in September.

Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers also have agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee under oath about the firings in closed depositions. As president, Bush had fought attempts to force them to testify.

In July, U.S. District Judge John Bates rejected Bush's contention that senior White House advisers were immune from the committee's subpoenas, siding with Congress' power to investigate the executive branch. The Bush administration had appealed the decision. The agreement for Rove and Miers to testify ended the lawsuit.


Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

me/class of 1977

Obama shrugs off honorary degree snub at ASU
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville, Associated Press Writer 28 mins ago

TEMPE, Ariz. – President Barack Obama says Arizona State University officials aren't the only ones who think he needs to accomplish more to earn an honorary degree.

Add his wife Michelle to that list.

"I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven't yet achieved enough in my life," Obama said in a commencement speech Wednesday. With a smile he added: "First of all, Michelle (Obama) concurs with that assessment. She has a long list of things that I have not yet done waiting for me when I get home."

"But more than that I come to embrace the notion that I haven't done enough in my life. I heartily concur. I come to affirm that one's title, even a title like 'president of the United States,' says very little about how well one's life has been led."

Obama challenged the graduating class to find new sources of energy, improve failing schools and never to rely on past achievement. He congratulated them on earning a degree, and said the next steps mattered more than a piece of paper or a tassel.

"I want to say to you today, graduates, class of 2009, that despite having achieved a remarkable milestone in your life — despite the fact that you and your families are so rightfully proud — you, too, cannot rest on your laurels. ... Your own body of work is also yet to come," the president said, wearing a black gown with red embellishments and a blue hood.

Commencement speakers typically are awarded honorary degrees as a sign of respect and appreciation. Arizona State officials, however, did not award any such degrees this year.

"His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency," university spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said after the school's student newspaper first reported the decision.

To quell the controversy, the university instead renamed a scholarship for the nation's 44th president. In his remarks, Obama thanked the school for the gesture.

He also met six recipients of the scholarship named for him, and commissioned a group of Army and Air Force cadets.

While the dispute over Obama's honorary degree colored the buildup to the ceremony, a sweltering — and packed — Sun Devil Stadium seemed to care little. About 63,000 people crowded into the stadium to send 9,000 students into a marketplace that has lost 1.3 million jobs since February.

Obama flew to Albuquerque, N.M., after the speech. He planned a town hall-style meeting there Thursday on proposed restrictions on credit card companies.

Obama plans commencement addresses Sunday at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on May 22.

Protests were expected at Notre Dame, a Roman Catholic school, over Obama's support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.

Monday, May 11, 2009

who knew?

Evolution is slowing snails down
Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Garden snails are evolving slower metabolisms.

Natural selection is favouring snails with reduced metabolic rates, researchers in Chile have discovered.

It is the first time that evolution has been shown to select for this trait in individuals of any species.

Snails with lower metabolisms are at an advantage because they have more energy to spend on other activities such as growth or reproduction, the researchers say in the journal Evolution.

Roberto Nespolo and Paulina Artacho of the Southern University of Chile in Valdivia examined a long standing biological hypothesis known as the "energetic definition of fitness".

"This predicts that animals that spend less energy will have more surplus for survival and reproduction," says Nespolo.
We could recover the dead because of their shells and because they did not move more than a couple of metres each year
Evolutionary biologist Roberto Nespolo

Few studies have tested the idea, and three done on rodents could not find any evidence it was true. "Ours is the fourth and the first to demonstrate significant directional selection on metabolism," says Nespolo.

Nespolo and Artacho measured the size of almost 100 garden snails (Helix aspersa). They also gauged their standard metabolic rate (SMR), by measuring how much carbon dioxide each animal produced while at rest.

The standard metabolic rate is a measure of the minimal amount of energy an animal requires to stay alive.

"Standard metabolic rate is the energy required for maintenance. In other words, having less maintenance permits you to have more energy for other activities, such as growth and reproduction. That's why less metabolism represents higher fitness," says Nespolo.

After seven months, they recaptured the animals, collecting the empty shells of those which had died.

Survival of the SMR

They found size did not predict which animals survived. But metabolic rate did, with surviving snails having a metabolic rate 20% lower than that of the snails that didn't survive.

And the lower each snail's metabolic rate, the greater its chance of survival. That means that nature is selecting for snails that are more energy efficient, says Nespolo.

Nespolo's and Artacho's study worked in part because of the snails they chose to study.

Previous research examined metabolism in wild mice. But it's impossible to know whether mice that disappear from a study have died, or simply moved away. So it's difficult to accurately measure how many mice survive year to year.

By studying garden snails living in purpose-built enclosures, Nespolo and Artacho avoided this problem, as their snails did not move far and left behind empty shells when they died.

"We could recover the dead because of their shells and because they did not move more than a couple of metres each year," says Nespolo.

Snail's pace

The researchers now plan to answer the ultimate question: is having a slow metabolism linked to moving slowly?

If it is, that means that snails are not only evolving to use energy more slowly, but are increasingly moving at an even lower snail's pace.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/05/11 10:44:49 GMT


Monday, May 04, 2009

who knew?

Vatican 'hampered new Hanks film'

Director Ron Howard has accused the Vatican of trying to hamper the filming of his new movie, Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks.

The movie sequel to author Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code features symbolist Robert Langdon helping to rescue four kidnapped cardinals.

But Howard said the Vatican exerted its influence "through back channels" to prevent filming near certain churches.

A Vatican spokesman said the director's claims were purely a publicity stunt.

Howard told a news conference: "When you come to film in Rome, the official statement to you is that the Vatican has no influence.

Filming barred

"Everything progressed very smoothly, but unofficially a couple of days before we were to start filming in several of our locations, it was explained to us that through back channels and so forth that the Vatican had exerted some influence."

Last summer, Rome's diocese confirmed it had barred producers from filming inside two churches because the movie did not conform to the church's views.

The director also claimed the Vatican got an event related to the film's premiere in Rome cancelled.

"There was supposed to be a reception or screening here in Rome that had been approved and I suppose that the Vatican had some influence over that," he said.

Speaking to the Associated Press the Vatican spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, refused to comment on Howard's allegations about church interference, saying his charges were purely designed to drum up publicity for the film.

Science vs religion

Catholic critics were unhappy with The Da Vinci Code which suggests that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, creating a royal bloodline that Church officials kept secret for centuries.

But Howard challenged them to see the new movie before condemning it.

"My only frustration as a film-maker is that we actually reached out a couple of times, to sort of offer opportunities for bishops and others just to see the film. And those opportunities have all been declined," he said.

"So far all the criticism, all of the complaints about the film have been coming from people who haven't seen it."

Over the weekend, a 102-year-old Italian bishop was quoted in the Italian media calling the film "highly denigrating, defamatory and offensive to Church values".

However, the storyline of Angels & Demons does not raise questions about Jesus Christ - it is billed as a "science vs religion" thriller that deals with an attempt to hijack a papal election.

Howard's adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, which was panned by critics, earned more than $750m (£505m) at the box office worldwide.

Angels & Demons will be released in the UK on 15 May.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

more good news

Senators want to expel junk food from U.S. schools
By Christopher Doering Christopher Doering 1 hr 10 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. schools with vending machines that sell candy and soda to students could soon find the government requiring healthier options to combat childhood obesity under a bill introduced on Thursday by two senators.

While school meals must comply with U.S. dietary guidelines, there are no such rules on snacks sold outside of school lunchrooms. Many are high in fat, sugar and calories.

Senators Tom Harkin and Lisa Murkowski said their bill would allow the U.S. Agriculture Department to establish "common-sense nutrition standards" for food and beverages sold in school vending machines, stores and similar outlets.

Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees school lunch and breakfast programs that cost an estimated $11 billion a year in federal money.

U.S. child nutrition programs such as school lunches and the Women, Infants and Children feeding program are due for renewal this year. An Agriculture Committee spokesman said one option would be to include the legislation introduced today as part of the broader reauthorization later in 2009.

"Poor diet and physical inactivity are contributing to growing rates of chronic disease in the United States," said Harkin, a Democrat. "We must take preventative action now."

An estimated 32 percent of U.S. children fit the government's definition of being overweight and 16 percent are considered obese, at risk for serious health problems. Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said the bill was a response to "the youth obesity epidemic."

Harkin and Murkowski have offered similar legislation in prior years. The measure could have a better chance of passing this year with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration recognizing obesity as a top U.S. health threat.

Consumer and health advocacy groups including the American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest support the legislation.

Reginald Felton of the National School Boards Association said states and local communities should determine what is sold beyond federal programs because a "one-size fits all policy" would not sufficiently address the needs on a smaller level.

He also noted that some schools rely on snack sales to help cover costs.

"It's intrusive for the federal government to establish requirements beyond the programs that they fund, particularly when states are addressing the issue," said Felton. "If local boards want to restrict they should."

(Reporting by Christopher Doering; Editing by David Gregorio)

this is a great idea, long overdue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

good news


April 22, 2009

From food scraps and paper to fertilizer

Local business, Costco pair up to transform green waste

K Kaufmann
The Desert Sun

It's an unlikely partnership — an environmental scientist from that bastion of tree-huggers, UC Berkeley, and a big-box discount giant.

But in the Coachella Valley, Thomas Azwell and Costco have forged a partnership — with the help of several million worms on a worm farm at the Salton Sea — turning green waste from Costco's Palm Desert and La Quinta stores into high-grade organic fertilizer.

In other words, it's an Earth Day story with real earth.

Paper, cardboard, food scraps — anything that was alive at one time, Azwell said — are collected at the stores and then sent to California Bio-Mass, a composting facility in Thermal.

The next stop is Salton Sea Farms, also in Thermal, where about 100,000 pounds of red wiggler earthworms chomp through the compost, refining and enriching it with beneficial microbes and bacteria.

“They stabilize the organisms,” said John Beerman, a partner at the farm and Cal Bio-Mass. “It's beneficial bacteria that help plants convert nutrients in soil, make them available.”

The resulting fertilizer, called Vermigrow, is now sold at 27 Costcos in California and is being used at organic farms.

“It worked well,” said Bill Jessup, an organic citrus farmer in Thermal who has used Vermigrow on his 25 acres of oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, in addition to organic compost.

“We had more fruit; our output increased,” Jessup said.

This model of sustainable business — environmentally and financially green — is all the more significant because of the valley's and Costco's more conservative profiles, Azwell said.

“It's really easy to do things (in Northern California),” Azwell said. “The best model for these programs is to do them in the Coachella Valley, where people don't expect it.”

“If a low-cost operation like Costco can do it, then everyone can figure it out,” said Chris Marmon, regional bakery manager for the chain who worked with Azwell on the project.

“We live and die on half a penny,” Marmon said. “We've developed the process where it works out in a good (way) for us as a big-box operation.”

Getting started

Azwell didn't choose the Coachella Valley and Costco as his green business laboratory at random.

After a varied career working on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, he landed at Indio High School, teaching environmental science to low-performing kids.

“It was profound for me to talk about rainforests — it's all doom and gloom — and we move on to the next chapter,” Azwell recalled. “There was no substance. I started building gardens. If you can get them involved in horticulture, they can learn real skills.”

His work in Indio eventually led to his decision to return to school for a Ph.D. at Berkeley.

The Costco project grew out of his valley connections with Beerman and Marmon, an old friend from his undergrad days at the University of Redlands.

With the success of the pilot programs in La Quinta and Palm Desert, green waste recycling will launch at Costco stores in El Centro, Fontana and San Bernardino, Marmon said.

“The sales product (Vermigrow) is doing really well, especially when we tell the story to members,” he said.

The Costco project also comes at a pivotal point for green or organic waste recycling in California — and the Coachella Valley.

Cities are already under a state mandate to divert 50 percent of their trash from California's landfills, and the statewide average is now 58 percent, said Charlene Graham, spokeswoman for the Integrated Waste Management Board.

But, the state Legislature could soon up the ante with a new law requiring a 75 percent diversion rate by 2020. Green waste will be key to hitting that target, Graham said.

“Organic waste makes up 15million tons of the waste stream,” she said. “If we can divert that waste into other uses, specifically compost, it's one of our goals.”

At Costco, one of the main challenges was training the employees to separate organic waste from cans, bottles and other recyclables, Marmon said.

“That's the toughest part,” he said. “We would look at our location almost as waste streams, plural — bathroom, break room, produce. Each one of those waste streams we attacked individually, one at a time, so we didn't overwhelm ourselves.”

Graham said, “Projects like this are incredible. It's a movement within our state, where people are trying to figure out — what can I do with this waste material? How can I make a profit from this stuff?”
Additional Facts
At the worm farm

John Beerman is standing on a heap of compost at the Salton Sea Farms — the worm ranch he owns with Steve Lee in Thermal — enthusiastically digging up a handful of moist, dark material loaded with small red worms.

“This is dead fish, manure, green waste-food waste,” Beerman says. “Whiff it. It's almost no odor. Once the worms get in, they deodorize it.”

Eating compost and turning it into rich organic fertilizer is the life mission for eisenia fetida, the red wiggler earth worms at the 5-acre farm. Measuring 1 to 3 inches long, the worms can eat up to their own weight in green waste every day — a pound of worms eat a pound of compost — and Beerman estimated the current “herd” at the Salton Sea weighs in at about 100,000 pounds.

Red wigglers are hermaphrodites, containing male and female sex organs. To reproduce, worms exchange sperm, which is mixed with their eggs to form a “cocoon.”
The cocoons can hatch 10 or more new worms, out of which typically only a few survive. But with new worms becoming sexually mature in eight to 10 weeks, a pound of red wrigglers can become two pounds in about three to four months.

And they can live and keep reproducing for up to four years.
They are also considered good fish bait because they survive under water longer than other worms, continuing to move and attract fish.Riverside County Waste Management will present a free workshop on backyard composting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the San Nicholas Gardens, on the corner of San Nicholas and San Pablo avenues in Palm Desert.

Attendees will learn how to recycle organic resources, fruit and vegetable waste and tree trimmings into sweet-smelling soil conditioner.

Info: 346-0611 Ext. 331

A carbon-free farm?The labels on the oranges, grapefruit and tangerines from B&J Ranch in Thermal cqalready say “organic.” But in the future, they could also say “carbon-free.”B&J owner Bill Jessup cqfertilizes his trees with organic compost from California Bio-Mass, a company that processes green waste from Coachella Valley cities and businesses. “It seems to be much better than using composted manure,” Jessup said Tuesday, picking up a handful of the rich-looking compost from the base of one of his trees. “The balance is better.”He is also working with Nate McKeever of McKeever Energy and Electric in Thermal, cq both on plans to make the 25-acre ranch a model project, with a solar installation to cover 100 percent of the operation's energy use. “More and more, people are interested in where their food is coming from, completing the whole cycle of food,” McKeever said.The project is in its early stages, but even with solar, Jessup's operation may not be completely carbon free. When he started out 30 years ago, the only profitable market for organic fruit was in San Francisco, and he continues to ship his crop north. The new farmers markets in the valley are great, he said, but not cost-effective for him.“Citrus has not been the best thing in the Southland; it's very competitive,” he said.