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Dear GLBTQ community,

Please know that not everyone in California thinks the way those who voted Yes on Prop 8 do. Please know that the illogical decision handed down by the Supreme Court of California WILL be challenged. Please know that you have countless straight allies, such as myself, out there who are ready, willing, and able to continue to fight with you to gain equality in every aspect of the law.  Please know that you ARE valued individuals (not second class citizens), that who you love should NOT matter, and the fact that you continue to stand firm in your love in the face of this ignorance is still truly amazing to me.  Don’t be discouraged for too long,  don’t look at every person and wonder how they voted, don’t think that things will never change, and don’t give up hope.  Everything is just going to take a bit longer than anticipated or hoped for, but change WILL come and I look forward to being right there with you when it does.

Much love and admiration,

Laura Read the rest of this entry »

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Tomorrow is a HUGE day for those in California (gay, straight, trans, and everything in between!) who believe in equal rights FOR ALL, in this case the right for everyone to marry the person they love. Of course it isn’t JUST for those in California since this outcome will send a signal to the rest of our country and the world. Fingers crossed it’s a signal of equality and hope. Please watch the following video and TAKE PART in tonight’s vigils across not only California, but other areas of the country.

This anticipation of change is exciting folks, it’s REALLY exciting.

From Eve of Justice:

EVE OF JUSTICE

Candle

The Eve of Justice: Lighting the way for the Supreme Court

Chico Costa Mesa Delano Fort Bragg Fresno Kernville Long Beach
Los Angeles Mariposa Miami, Florida Modesto Napa New York Palm Springs
Palo Alto Phoenix, Arizona Riverside Roseville Sacramento San Diego San Francisco
San Jose San Luis Obispo San Mateo Santa Barbara Santa Cruz Santa Maria Stockton
Thousand Oaks Tulsa, Oklahoma Tucson, Arizona Tuolumne Ukiah Ventura Visalia

Wednesday, March 4 is the day before the California Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the validity of Prop 8. That evening, we’ll stand together and send a unified message to our fellow Californians, including the Supreme Court Justices, that individual liberties like the right to marry are guaranteed by the Constitution to everyone and cannot be stripped away at the ballot box by a bare majority. Just as important, we will give our love and support to all the families headed by same-sex couples who are threatened by the recent electoral outcome, as well as same-sex couples whose hopes and dreams of marriage and family have been frustrated by enactment of Prop 8.

To read the parties’ filings and the dozens of amicus ‘friend of the court’ briefs filed on behalf of Civil Rights Organizations, Bar Associations, Academics, Women’s Groups, Faith and Religious Groups, and many others go to http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm

March 5th – Supreme Court Oral Argument Hearing 9am to noon.

Television viewing: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8viewing.htm

Local Public Viewings: Check your local city for viewing locations as they become available.

Equality should not be put up for a popular vote.

• Prop 8 is a radical and unprecedented change to the California Constitution that puts all Californians at risk.
• Prop 8 defeats the very purpose of our constitution, which is to protect minorities and to make sure the law treats everyone equally.
• This is the first time the initiative process has successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take away a fundamental freedom from a particular group and to mandate government discrimination against a minority.
• If prop 8 is upheld, the courts will no longer have a meaningful role in protecting minority groups or women, since any decision prohibiting discrimination could be reversed by a simple majority.

Nationwide/Statewide Sponsors of Eve of Justice

Marriage Equality USA Human Rights Campaign EQCA Join The Impact
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation PFLAG COLAGE National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Courage Campaign California Faith for Equality Progressive Jewish Alliance Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, California Amnesty International Gay-Straight Alliance Network

 

join-the-impact1

Join the Impact  (Click the image or link to find protest locations near you.)

NO on Prop 8 needs ‘on-the-ground’ volunteers for Election Day visibility and talking with folks before they vote.  You can get your training this weekend (as I will be! :)), then do your part on Election Day.  For those of you who don’t live in California, but desperately wish you could help to defeat this hateful and discriminatory proposition, you CAN help by making phone calls to inform registered California voters on the facts.  Click here for more information on volunteer opportunities on both fronts

And it goes without saying that any financial help would be greatly appreciated.  I know times are tough (boy, do I know), but if there’s any amount you can spare it would be put to good use.  The Yes on Prop 8 campaign has had massive amounts of (mostly out-of-state)money come in over the past few days, so the NO on Prop 8 campaign is really struggling to keep up the airing of their television ads which bring the truth about this proposition to light and repudiate the barrage of lies the Yes on Prop 8 ads put forth.  PLEASE help out financially, if you can, or at least on the volunteer front.  Thanks!

The NO on Prop 8 Campaign has put together some great informational television ads, and has the endorsement of logical and forward-thinking groups, businesses, and individuals from all walks of life, but is now in DIRE NEED OF MONEY in order to push back against the massive influx of finances from those who are supporting discrimination: the backers of Prop 8, led in large numbers by Mormons. Please donate as much as you can afford (and as quickly as you can) to help make a bold and powerful statement on November 4th that California will NOT go back in time and tolerate discrimination of ANY of her citizens.  Thank you! (ADDED: Shout-out to my friend Jeanne who read this blog, then donated to the NO on Prop 8 campaign–and she doesn’t even live in California!  WTG, my friend, wtg! :))

Here is my previous posting on Prop 8, and the following is the latest from the NO on Prop 8 web site

New No on Prop 8 Ad Calls Upon Californians to Reject Discrimination
Ad is Narrated by Samuel Jackson

SACRAMENTO – The NO on Prop 8 campaign today announced a dramatic new television ad, narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson. The ad calls upon Californians to reject discrimination, and Vote NO on Prop 8.

The full text of the ad follows:

“It wasn’t that long ago that discrimination was legal in California.

“Japanese Americans were confined in internment camps.

“Armenians couldn’t buy a house in the Central Valley.

“Latinos and African Americans were told who they could and could not marry.

“It was a sorry time in our history.

“Today the sponsors of Prop 8 want to eliminate fundamental rights.

“We have an obligation to pass along to our children a more tolerant, more decent society.

“Vote No on Prop 8 it’s unfair and it’s wrong.”

The ad places Prop 8 in its appropriate historical context as a measure that would discriminate against certain Californians and treat people differently under the law.

“We believe it is important in the final days of an unfair initiative attacking individual rights, to remind voters that there have been other times in our history when we stood at this threshold of fairness,” said Patrick Guerriero, NO on 8 Campaign Director. “We know that most California voters do not want to wake up Wednesday morning to learn that we’ve taken a step back to a darker time. That’s why we believe on Tuesday, voters will resoundingly reject Prop 8.”

“Proposition 8 would take away fundamental individual rights, and I believe the historical analogies presented by the NO on Prop 8 campaign are completely appropriate,” said Congressman Mike Honda (D-Campbell). “I am opposed to Prop 8, and I hope my fellow Californians will reject it.”

“California used to ban people of different races from getting married under the law. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now,” said Fabian Nuñez, Former Speaker of the California Assembly. “Proposition 8 is a lot like that unfair ban on interracial marriage. And even though people may feel differently about marriage, everyone ought to agree unequal treatment under the law is a bad thing.”

“Proposition 8 eliminates equal rights for one segment of the population while continuing to grant that right to others,” said Maria Armoudian, an Armenian-American radio personality on KPFK in Los Angeles. “We Armenians have had to endure a century of discrimination. Let us now stand together calling for an end to discrimination for all people. Vote NO on Prop 8.”

Using historical footage, the ad reminds voters of three particularly bleak periods in state history:

— Japanese American Internment: Authorized by President Roosevelt in 1942, the Army ordered all people of Japanese descent, whether citizens or non-citizens, living in CA to be interned in permanent “relocation centers.” Those centers remained operational until the end of the war. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, who was California Attorney General at that time, later wrote that the internment was “not in keeping with our American concepts of freedoms and rights of citizens.”

— California’s Ban on Interracial Marriage: In 1948, California became the first state in the nation to wipe away a state law banning interracial marriages. In the 1967 case of Loving vs. Virginia dealing with the remaining state bans, the United State Supreme Court ruled that: [T]he freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

— Racially Restrictive Covenants: These covenants were widely enforced in the early 20th century to discriminate against African Americans, Jews and other ethnic groups by prohibiting the lease or sale of property. The covenants were widely used in the Central Valley against Armenians. They were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948.

In 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia decision, Mildred Loving wrote: “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving and loving, are all about.”

Sorry this is late in posting, but work got in the way.  (Darn that need for a paycheck. ;))  You still have 4 1/2 hours to get that postmark, so get crackin’!

Unfortunately I only heard about “A Day Without a Bag(links below for free giveaway locations) just now on the KTLA news. (And no, “A Day Without a Bag” does NOT mean a day without ME! ;)) While advance notice for readers in the Los Angeles area (where today’s event is taking place) would have been ideal, I figured it’s better to get some information out a bit late and possibly reach at least a few folks, rather than not promote this exciting and important event at all. If nothing else this late posting will hopefully raise awareness of the growing movement toward abolishing disposable plastic bags, and of the harmful effects created by them on marine life, our resources, and our environment. Perhaps it might also persuade some of you to not only go a day without disposable bags in your own life, but to also consider creating a similar day community-wide in YOUR neck-of-the-woods…just a thought (hint-hint).

I bought reusable bags at Albertsons (grocery chain) about a year ago for about $1 each, and I have to say they are some of the strongest, sturdiest bags I have ever come across. Not only do I feel like I’m doing my part in cutting down on the waste plastic bags create, but I also get a small rebate each time I shop and use them (something like a nickel). My local Costco also offered appropriately “Costco size” (and we all know how big Costco size items are! ;)) bags in a bunch of either four or six, but sorry to say I don’t remember the cost since I didn’t purchase them at that time. IKEA is also selling their very large bags, too.

I think the only hard part about using reusable bags is actually remembering to take them into the store! Countless times I’ve left them at home after emptying them of their grocery store visit contents, so I have now taken to forcing myself to return them to the car the minute I’ve put the groceries in the fridge or cupboards. Proud to say that it usually works. 😉

Here’s some information about “A Day Without a Bag” on the Heal the Bay web site:

Our holiday gift to the environment! Join thousands of shoppers in L.A. County in giving up disposable bags in favor of reusable totes for 24 hours.

Read Heal the Bay’s Op Ed, “Paper or plastic — better yet, neither“, from last Friday’s L.A.Times

Los Angeles County residents use 6 billion plastic bags each year and recycle only 5% of that total. Instead, they become part of the plastic-dominated litter stream, putting added pressure on scarce landfill, fouling our public spaces, degrading already weakened watersheds and threatening marine life.

Help reduce plastic bag usage this holiday season — and year-round — with the A Day Without a Bag campaign!

1. BYOB
Show your support for A Day Without a Bag by shopping exclusively with reusable totes. Join us on Thursday, December 20th at a bag giveaway location or a participating retailer (see “In-Store Promotions“) to receive a free reusable bag.

If you miss the free giveaway, you can purchase reusable bags online (see “Buy Reusable Bags“). Then, make it a habit to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) when shopping anywhere, anytime!

2. Get Informed
Discover why we should make every day A Day Without a Bag. Come to one of our bag giveaway sites and find out how to reduce plastic bag consumption and adopt sustainable practices year-round, or learn more now (see “Learn More” sidebar at right).

While this video is geared toward a particular area of Australia, the first two minutes hold some very powerful universal images and statistics showing the damaging effects of plastic bags on our environment and wildlife. Please take a couple of minutes to watch it…thanks!

Those of us in SoCal are in dire need of a little humor, so I’ll leave my update to the end of this blog posting and instead start off with a picture that is hilarious, yet dead-on with its portrayal of FEMA. Leave it to Pinky to find it!

(I always try to give credit to anything I use on this site, but couldn’t find a direct link to the picture on the icanhascheezburger.com site. If you’re the creator of this funny picture, just let me know so I can give you due credit.)

In case you’ve been living under a rock and have no clue what this “fake FEMA press conference stuff” is all regarding, here are a few links for you.

And here is Keith Olbermann’s take on it all.

As for the latest on the fires locally, we’ve still got the Poomacha fire south of us going on (60-70% contained), and the Santiago fire (80% contained per OCFA report 11/29/07) northwest of us. Unfortunately the Santa Ana winds are due to kick in again in a few days, but fortunately they aren’t anticipated to be as strong as the 90mph gusts we got last week.

Have to say it’s a tad disconcerting to read some articles that lead one to believe that those affected by the fires are all made of money; not the case folks! Please don’t jump to the conclusion that just because a lot of the homes shown are in pricier areas of SoCal (Malibu, Rancho Bernardo, etc.), there aren’t many folks in other fire-ravaged areas in need of our positive thoughts, our financial assistance, and help from our government; many who do NOT have the money to easily start over again. And as for all this talk about not rebuilding in “high risk” areas, where in the heck SHOULD folks be living? Most areas of our country have their “seasonal” issues, and also keep in mind that more than one of these fires was due to arson. Sorry, but I’m just a tad annoyed by some of the talk I’m hearing and reading.

For those of you who can see past all the BS and see the pain and suffering so many people and animals (here’s a Humane Society of the United States slideshow of rescue efforts) have gone through, and will be going through regardless of their socioeconomic standing, I thank you and ask that you continue to keep them in your thoughts. If you’d like to help, or are in need of help, here is a listing from the North County Times which might assist you. Best of luck!

“Sometimes when you cheer, you’re able to let some steam off, just to yell,” Tomlinson said. “So hopefully we give them a lot to cheer about on Sunday.”

(LaDainian Tomlinson on Chargers returning to Qualcomm.)

Are you ready for some football? I am! And I’m pretty darn sure that Chargers fans everywhere are welcoming the opportunity to escape the reality of the heart-wrenching scenes we have all experienced over the past week, most especially those directly affected by the California fires of October 2007. (***Update: Chargers 35-Texans 10!!!***)

There has been debate as to whether the San Diego Chargers should be playing today at home (Qualcomm Stadium, although it will ALWAYS be “The Murph” to old school San Diegans like me! :)), but I find it very hard to believe that not only the City of San Diego, but the San Diego Chargers organization AND the NFL would go forward with the game without regard to the health and welfare of San Diegans, all in the name of the almighty dollar. That’s just not the case. There was a lot of thought put into whether the air quality would be safe enough, whether public safety officers would be able to help with the much more urgent need of San Diegans regaining and rebuilding their lives while still able to cover the game, whether the stadium would still be needed as an evacuation center, and whether moving so quickly forward with the football game (which to some may appear to be quite trivial) is a slap in the face to those facing the life-changing events caused by the fires. San Diego Chargers president, Dean Spanos, covered such issues in this story.

The few folks who were still at Qualcomm as evacuees (less than 100 Thursday night) either returned home, were moved to evacuation centers closer to where they lived, or transfered to the Del Mar Fairgrounds which has said it will NOT close until each and every evacuee there (animals included!) is able to go where they need/want to. San Diego air quality as of 7AM this morning was “moderate” in only four scattered areas of San Diego County, with the “unhealthy” category being tagged onto Poway and Escondido, ground zero for two of the worst fires. And the mental health benefits of returning to something so “normal” for many of San Diego’s citizens can’t be denied. Of course it’s just a mere break, and the ramifications of the seriousness of what has occurred and how it is affecting the psyche of so many, is nothing anyone seriously thinks will magically disappear just because of a football game, but it CAN help, even if only a little, and only for a few hours. There is no denying the community-building that a good Chargers game can have, as is brought up by many Chargers players in this article.

One of my dear buddies, Pinky (pseudonym for her internet life ;)), did a FABULOUS blog today; so good that I just HAD to post it here. Pinky has an incredible sense of humor, so I would highly advise checking out her blog for that reason, but in this case her devotion to, and love of, San Diego shines through, despite the fact the poor gal is now living in Texas. (Sorry, Pinky, just HAD to get in that jab!) She and I both adore San Diego County and spent many of our best years (not that we don’t have many more “best years” ahead! ;)) in various areas of the county, but most especially North San Diego County. To say we are Chargers fans would be a total understatement!

From the incredibly talented Pinky:

san diego chargers…it’s more than football
Current mood: rejuvenated
Category: Sports

the bolts………the san diego chargers are playing this weekend. in their home stadium. as it should be. and just like when the new orleans saints took the field for the very first time after hurricane katrina, this game is about a lot more than football. it’s about showing pride. it’s about showing that we can get on with our life. it’s about showing that we can succeed, despite tragedy. so many homes were lost. so many lives were lost. and everybody’s lives were changed. forever. sure, as a native san diegan, fire is part of life. people say that california doesn’t have four seasons. we always joked that we did, fire, flood, mud and earthquake. and this year, we took our hardest hit. ever. and when the chargers take the field this weekend, they’re not just playing for themselves. they’re showing san diego and all the world, that we will get on with life. why do we rebuild? because it’s our home. and that’s what we do. san diego is about so much. the navy, the beaches, the zoo & wild animal park, balboa park, the padres, the chargers, trips to tijuana, the apple festival in julian, the mt carmel high school marching band (ok, just some props for my high school!), fish tacos, etc. but first and foremost, it’s about the people. and when things turn bad, that’s when people show their true colors. and today, our colors are flying……..blue and gold. go chargers! let’s go bolts! we love you.

So, for all our fellow Chargers fan across the globe, and for our dear San Diegans affected by the fires, here’s hoping our Chargers can give us all a brief break from the sadness, pain, and heartache, and give us a few hours of slipping away from reality and into the time warp of high energy, fun, and community our Chargers give each Sunday.

GO CHARGERS!

Hard to believe that pockets of SoCal are continuing to deal with possible threats from still raging fires. Here in Murrieta (part of the Temecula Valley/Riverside County) we’ve got the San Diego County Poomacha fire about 15 miles to the south, and the arson-set Orange County Santiago fire northwest of us about 20 miles or so. Granted, we are not in any immediate danger, and for that we are eternally grateful, but continuing to see the enormous clouds of smoke from both fires is something that reminds you daily that even if they are that far away, it’s still too close for comfort.

View of the Poomacha fire from a hilltop in north Murrieta on 10/27/07 morning.

I’ve continued to trek up to a nearby north Murrieta hilltop to videotape the view west (where the now-contained Rosa/De Luz fire was), then down south (where the currently raging Poomacha fire is), and seeing the differences each day has been interesting. Click here for videos from three different days from the same area hilltop.

On Thursday, Rudy (that dog LOVES to go for car rides! :)) and I headed north on I-15 to see what the area was like with the Santiago fire about 20 miles northwest of us, still in Orange County, not yet dropping over the Santa Ana mountains into Riverside County. Just getting on the 15 and heading north from the Clinton Keith on-ramp (in Wildomar, just north of Murrieta), allowed you to see that the normally clear Santa Ana mountains were obscured by smoke, which quite honestly would normally lead one to believe that there was a heavy marine layer hanging over them. I snapped a few photos of the increasingly pink/orange color on the western horizon atop the mountains on the way north, then opted to only go as far as the exit (pictured below), where local favorite, Tom’s Farms, is located. The colors in the photos are quite accurate: very pink/orange/brown.

As I headed toward a dirt lot across from Tom’s Farms to let Rudy relieve that constantly full bladder of his, I could see a few fire trucks parked nearby, which always gives a jolt of reality to the entire situation.


After Rudy gave the area his “expert sniffer on the job” okay, and marked his new territory alongside a small dirt hill (to the right in the photo below, and also in the video), I popped him back in the auto and took out the camera. As had been the case a few days prior in Murrieta (although not the case on Wednesday and Thursday), the air so close to the fire was not smelling much like a fire at all, nor were ashes flying about. Again, those erratic winds, which were much calmer that day, quite often kept the polluted air at bay.

The video I took isn’t the best, but quite honestly it was hard to see what the camera viewfinder was focusing on, once it was immersed in the orange/pink smoke over the mountains. You can even hear the camera itself trying to adjust and focus in on what it was taping.

The yellow spot you can see in it is the very eerie smoke-covered sun doing it’s best to break through.

 

As we headed back onto the I-15 south we passed a small convoy of fire trucks headed in the same direction, and after I passed them I snapped this shot of them in my rear view mirror. Those fire fighters deserve more respect, love, and thanks than we could EVER possibly give them; truly amazing, dedicated individuals.

As of today, Saturday (10/27/07), the latest news is that the Santiago fire is continuing its trek, albeit a much slower one, through the Cleveland National Forest. As Rudy and I took another jaunt north to Tom’s Farms today, we saw the Martin Mars flying boat Canada sent to help us fight the fires (here’s a video someone else posted of it yesterday as it loaded up with water at Lake Elsinore), as it was heading south toward the Poomacha fire–thanks my Canuck friends! And more good news is that we did get a slight misting of rain this morning in Murrieta, as did other areas along the Santa Ana Mountain region, and one can only assume this HAS to help the fire fighting efforts. (THANKFULLY we just now (5PM PST) are getting some SERIOUS rainfall and I couldn’t be happier!)

This is a short video of what you can see of the Santiago fire from the Lake Elsinore Outlet mall, along with a photo below of the same.

Here are some interesting articles. Was extremely sad to read that two animals at the San Diego Wild Animal Park did perish, but happy to read others were born!

And last, here is an incredible video montage I found on YouTube yesterday. Take care, everyone, and please continue to keep the victims of the SoCal fires in your thoughts. I’m off to go revel in the rain!!!

The Southern California fires are striking closer to home (I took these pictures today), and sadly it seems that arsonists are now playing a part in some of the newer ones. It also appears that the Southwest Riverside County area (speaking of Temecula/Murrieta), along with the the northeastern most section of North San Diego County (speaking of Fallbrook/De Luz) are getting short shrift in the local media. As some are saying, it’s too far north to usually garner attention in the San Diego media, and too far south to do the same with the Los Angeles area media…sigh.

This is due west of Temecula/Murrieta and probably the De Luz/Rosa fire. The plateau to the right is part of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

THANKFULLY the North County Times/Californian has bucked the trend of San Diego/Los Angeles media disregarding our area, and instead has done a FABULOUS job, with their reporters: Lauri Lockwood, Brian Eckhouse, Pete Zanko, John Hunneman (hope I’m not missing anyone!) taking turns staying up throughout Tuesday night(10/22/07) to post fire and evacuation information in the comments section of the North County Times story “Fire breaks out west of Temecula.” This truly was the ONLY “real time” and practical information (other than the Riverside County Fire Department site whose info was fairly static after the initial report) worried residents could get on the new “Rosa” fire, which broke out at Via Santa Rosa and Rancho California Road, west of Temecula, at approximately 11PM on Monday, 10/22/07. Readers could post information from their various locations, which helped others getting a better grasp of the constantly-changing situation. The reporters gave updates from the California Department of Forestry and also posted scanner information. The story and comments are continuing as of this posting, nearly 24 hours later! Thank you SO MUCH, North County Times/Californian!!

Poomacha/Palomar fire going south on I-15, just before the Winchester exit.

Poomacha/Palomar fire from the Winchester/15 intersection.

So I ventured out today after having spent the majority of yesterday indoors, and I have to say that seeing three different fires from a vantage point high atop a nearby hill in northern Murrieta (where I took most of these pictures) was a major dose of reality. As we all know, seeing something like the SoCal fires on TV NEVER comes close to capturing the intensity and shocking reality of seeing it in person. While I was many miles from any of the fires it was truly bizarre and jarring to see the actual smoke and crazy skies in person that I’d only been hearing about and seeing on television. I could see the immense cloud of smoke from what I believe to be the Poomacha/Palomar fire (Hwy 76/Pauma Valley in San Diego County) south of Temecula/Murrieta, along with seeing the smaller but equally frightening plume of smoke coming from what I believe to be the De Luz/Rosa fire (west of Temecula), and further north smoke from what I believe is the Running Springs fire in San Bernardino County. Three fires within view; disturbing and sad to see.

I believe this is the Poomacha/Palomar fire on the Hwy 76 corridor in Pauma Valley (San Diego County), south of Temecula/Murrieta (Southwest Riverside County).

Around 9PM this evening my poochie, Rudy, and I took a drive down the 15 (which was now open, but had been closed for a good chunk of yesterday and today), something, by the way I wouldn’t have done if there was ANY chance it would hinder any type of rescue efforts, but the fires had moved away and the I-15 was open and pretty deserted. I could see the red glow of the Poomacha/Palomar fire as I was heading south on the 15 from Murrieta, and as I got closer to Hwy 79 I could actually see the flames, but as I ventured south on the 15 closer to the Border Patrol check-point (for non-locals, there is a Border Patrol check point NOT at the US border…confusing, yes? ;)) you couldn’t see the fire at all. Moving a bit further south you could suddenly smell the smoke; something which had surprisingly been missing from the Murrieta/Temecula area over the past days since the high winds had been keeping it from us. I have to say I suddenly questioned what the heck I was doing driving down the freeway which had had the fire jump across it earlier, but realized it wouldn’t have been reopened if it wasn’t safe, and there was just something gnawing at me to see and experience the reality of what had been happening to my neighboring areas (without interfering with any rescue efforts or evacuations). I especially questioned not only my sudden trip down the freeway, but why the freeway was open when I came across a bright red glow which turned out to be a pretty decent sized fire flare-up about 100 feet from the freeway, just south of the Mission exit. No fire trucks were around, but there was some sort of police/sheriff/CHP car standing guard. Unfortunately there were also folks who for some reason felt the need to pull off the side of the freeway to gawk. Driving down the freeway and checking things out is one thing, but to risk the safety of anyone in your car or those in passing cars by pulling off the freeway is just nuts. Hopefully no one will be injured, and the flare-up will be knocked down soon.

Have to say it was great to see Nessy Burgers (locals know what I’m talking about ;)) still standing just off the 15 at the 76, since there were reports about nearby Pala Resort having suffered damage. In a way I’m glad I was around the area at night because I’m sure it would have been much more gut-wrenching to have seen places that are part of my history in this area, charred and damaged in the bright light of day. Although considering the heavy smoke that was still hanging around I wonder when the area will actually have a clear day again.

Short video I took from a Murrieta hilltop the afternoon of 10/23/07 of the Poomacha/Palomar and De Luz/Rosa fires. (The plateau to the right is part of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.)

View from a similar Murrieta hilltop the morning of 10/24/07 showing the overwhelming smoke filling the skies from the Poomacha/Palomar and De Luz/Rosa fires.

10/27/07 view of Poomacha fire from same area hilltop.

I would ask that those of you reading this blog entry, whether you’re a local just trying to keep up on the latest happenings in our area or former local concerned about your past stomping grounds, please continue to keep everyone involved in these horrific fires in your thoughts (1 in 6 San Diegans are currently evacuated!), and know that this is not something that will be “done” once the fires are finally out, but something that we will all be in for the long haul, helping our neighbors rebuild, renew, and recapture their lives. Be safe everyone!

Previous related blog entry: Southern California fires/resources (updated links/info)/Larry Himmel videos

Witch Creek Fire-nctimes.comWhat a difference a day makes; a huge chunk of my dear SoCal landscape has erupted in fire, most heartbreakingly the area where I’ve spent most of my life, San Diego County, with 250,000 500,000 (as of 10/23/07) people being evacuated so far! It’s jarring to hear about fires forcing the evacuations of friends, fires lapping at my alma mater, CSUSM, and especially fires endangering already endangered animals at the San Diego Wild Animal Park; a place which holds countless fond memories for me from the past two decades.

I’m currently living in Southwest Riverside County, pretty much in between all the chaos, and can hear the winds whipping at my wind chimes as I look out my window and see the smoke-filled hazy skies, but oddly enough I don’t smell the fires like I have in the past. At times like this, when you wonder if somewhere down the road you might have to evacuate at a moment’s notice, it makes you think hard about what in life is really important. I can tell you right now it’s not the material things, the things you can easily replace, but instead it’s the friends, family, and pets, that are what bring true joy to your life and could never be replaced.

I’ve been getting phone calls/emails from friends today wondering how I’m doing, how close the fires are (closest one to me right now is about 15 miles south in Fallbrook), etc., so I thought I’d post a few resources below which I’ve come across today while trying to access information. CNN seems to be doing the best job on a national level in covering the fires, by actually showing ALL the areas affected (live feed), and not just the Malibu fire which most networks seemed to be focusing on for obvious high rating reasons (star homes, etc.). I hope the resources I’ve assembled below will help those of you out there trying to find out information. I’ll update it if I find more.

I would ask all of you to let those you love know that you do, and please, please, PLEASE keep my fellow Southern Californians (and domesticated and wild animals!) in your thoughts, most especially those in the path of danger and those heroic firefighters putting their lives on the line.

***10/23/07: I’m updating and adding links as information changes, and also added this new post:California fires: Murrieta/Temecula perspective (pictures/video) AND Kudos to the North County Times/Californian for being a local lifeline for information***

Riverside County/Inland Area

Camp Pendleton

San Diego County

Los Angeles Area

Government

American Red Cross

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Added on 10/23/07

  • Fire breaks out west of Temecula“-nctimes.com (The Californian) This was the ONLY way for local residents to get information throughout the night on the “Rosa” fire which was reported at 11PM 10/22/07. An incredible job was done by the reporters who kept a real-time update constantly flowing in the comments section, along with allowing readers to add their personal experiences and information. Kudos to the North County Times/Californian!!
  • Fires force more than 500,000 from California homes“CNN.com
  • Videos of KFMB Channel 8 reporter Larry Himmel as his home burns in one of the San Diego fires, and a follow up later. This was especially heartbreaking to view since I’ve been watching Larry over the past couple of decades in San Diego. For those from the area you are well-versed on Larry’s humor, his touching and heartwarming “about town” stories, and probably also memories of his “Biff and Skippy” episodes from WAY back in the day. While anyone losing their home is a terribly sad situation, there’s something which tugs at the heartstrings more when it’s someone you feel you have a connection with, even if it is just via the television. The thoughts and good wishes of many fans are with you and your family, Larry.

Larry Himmel in front of his burning home.

Larry Himmel walk-through of burned out home.

onecareus.gifWhile AB 8 (horrible compromise bill) and SB 840 (infinitely superior bill) are California-specific pending legislation, the ramifications of which bill is ultimately passed (if any) will ring throughout our country since insurance companies, the medical industry, and politicians will be watching to see what they can get away with in YOUR state. Please take heed and most definitely take action. The following letters are reprinted with permission from the “Health Care for All” MySpace blog.

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ACTION ALERT!

TAKE ACTION to STOP AB-8. Everybody in California can go to: Legislator Search – Type in your zip code and call your Senator and follow up with e-mails no later than 9/11. And please forward this to all your e-mail lists off MySpace in California. Please see below the official Health Care For All opposition letter on AB8 for talking specific talking points.

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California’s Unhealthy Bill: Fake Healthcare Reform A Victory for Schwarzenegger — And a Boon for Insurance Companies

Posted September 5, 2007 | 10:10 PM (EST)

In alliance with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic leaders of the state Legislature, led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez are rushing to enact a substandard health reform plan that will not reduce the health insecurity of California families.

They’re apparently even willing to jeopardize Sen. Barbara Boxer and their own party’s slim hold on the United States Senate along the way.

Here’s the deal: Nuñez and some other Democrats are actively working with Schwarzenegger to put together a “compromise” healthcare package.

Schwarzenegger, the main architect of that plan, gets to claim credit for supposedly solving the state’s healthcare crisis using “bipartisan consensus.” As collateral damage to Democrats, Schwarzenegger can tout this deal to boost his candidacy against Boxer in 2010.

Nuñez could then get the governor’s support for extending his term as speaker.

This constellation of events may be dandy for a career politician or two, but it leaves behind a lot of other Californians, who will have to contend with a poor healthcare bill full of holes.

AB 8 does nothing to rein in rising insurance premiums — up 87% nationally this decade — or rising co-pays, deductibles and other health fees. Which means that costs, already unaffordable for far too many, would continue to spin out of control.

The bill fails to limit rising prescription drug costs, especially notable at a time when Schwarzenegger has just eliminated funding for his “voluntary” drug price restraints that were so ballyhooed last year by the governor and the authors of AB 8.

It is not universal, as many of the currently uninsured would remain without access to care. It fails to assure uniform, comprehensive benefits, and therefore perpetuates an increasingly multi-tiered health system based on the ability to pay.

It fails even to require insurance companies to provide insurance. They would not have to offer coverage to those with serious medical conditions — those people would instead be dumped into a publicly funded high-risk pool, earning big insurance companies millions in additional profits while bankrupting the public pool with the sickest, costliest patients.

The bill does not even protect patients’ choice of physicians, hospitals or other providers.

And, most critically, the plan reinforces and expands an insurance-based system — the source of much of the present crisis — thereby subverting real reform for years to come.

At the center of the plan is a mandate on businesses to either provide health coverage or pay taxes into a fund to buy it for their employees. The new tax would fall between the 7.5% of payroll costs favored by Nuñez and the 4% Schwarzenegger proposes.

No matter where the compromise figure ends up, it will be far less than many employers now pay for health benefits. One-fourth of all California businesses that provide health benefits currently pay more than 15% of their payroll for health premiums, according to the California Healthcare Foundation. As a result, businesses that now provide health coverage to employees would have an incentive to drop it.

Moreover, the mandate on employers is unlikely to survive a legal challenge; a similar Maryland bill was thrown out by the federal courts for violating federal benefits law.

Schwarzenegger continues to push his proposal to force most uninsured people to buy insurance or face severe penalties. So far, Democrats have resisted this proposal, but many expect them to accept some form of individual mandate as the final price for Schwarzenegger’s blessing for the term limits initiative.

Last year, Democrats united behind SB 840, a single-payer-style, enhanced “Medicare for all” bill that would have provided guaranteed healthcare for everyone, controlled costs, eliminated co-pays and deductibles, guaranteed choice of provider, and gotten the insurance companies out of the way.

Similar systems are succeeding in every other industrialized democracy — including Schwarzenegger’s homeland, Austria. If the politicians in Sacramento are concerned about patient care, they will not now settle for a bad healthcare bill that will further degrade our healthcare safety net. A bad healthcare bill is worse than no bill.

Deborah Burger, RN is president of the California Nurses Association.

Health Care for All California, a statewide chapter-based organization, has led the movement to pass single payer health care since 1997. HCA sponsors both SB 840 (Kuehl) and the OneCareNow Campaign, a growing grassroots movement to pass single payer health care. SB 840, now called the “gold standard of health care,” would solve the state’s health care crisis by providing for equitable and affordable universal health insurance and a single standard of high quality comprehensive care while preserving the state’s health care infrastructure of providers, hospitals and pharmacies as private and competitive businesses.

We oppose AB 8 for the following reasons:

  • AB 8 will expand the health insurance industry, not solve the health care crisis.

First and foremost, under the banner of moving toward universal health care, instead, AB 8 will leave millions uninsured or underinsured while strengthening and perpetuating an insurance system that currently rations health care by excluding those who cannot afford to pay the high cost of insurance premiums. Insurance companies decide what is covered and what is not. They deny care to the uninsured, the underinsured and the insured with preexisting conditions. Health insurance companies ration health care to secure profits.

The unsolvable issue for the status quo is that although health care is treated as such, it is not a commodity. It is a life-giving and life-saving service that is needed by everyone. Providing affordable and quality health care for Californians is not the mission of for-profit insurance entities. AB 8 will not alter the profit motives of this industry, nor will it change the responsibility insurance companies have to their stockholders. The reforms AB 8 proposes to place on current insurance practices will not solve the state’s health care crisis. Instead, they will result in higher insurance prices for individuals, businesses and governments.

  • AB 8 does not provide for the necessary cost controls to achieve affordable health care.

Both state and national studies indicate that including all residents in a single risk pool that is insured by a government administered non-profit insurance trust fund is the only method that will save billions of health care dollars–enough to provide affordable and comprehensive universal health care. Although AB 8 provides for preventative health care, disease management and administrative cost controls, it does not do enough to control costs. With its piece meal approach, AB 8 cannot achieve the significant cost savings that a single payer system can. In addition to the above measures, a system as provided by SB 840 can control costs by establishing evidenced based standards of care and by utilizing capital investment management, consolidated budgetary authority, system-wide health care planning and the state’s power to negotiate lower prices for durable medical devices and bulk prescription drugs for 36 million Californians.

  • AB 8 does not provide protections needed to guarantee affordability.

This bill leaves too many Californians vulnerable to health care reform that will be too expensive, will not provide enough coverage and for many, no coverage at all. AB 8 does not provide for guaranteed affordability and does not limit co-payments, deductibles or other out-of pocket costs. Although AB 8 does allow for premium subsidies for enrollees with household incomes at or below 300 percent of the poverty line, it does not provide a benchmark for cost sharing between employers and employees.

AB 8 requires that all defined employers spend 7.5 percent of Social Security wages on health care expenditures, which includes purchasing health care coverage for their employees and could include as well, contributions to health savings accounts and other health care programs that do not provide direct health care coverage.Many employers who currently provide health care coverage spend more than 7.5 percent of Social Security wages for the coverage they provide to their employees. AB 8 does not provide minimum coverage standards for the employer market, which could encourage some of these employers to reduce or drop the coverage they provide.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage have increased by 73 percent since 2000, while wages increased only 15 percent concurrently. AB 8 provides for no state oversight of health insurance rates.

A recent joint report by the California Budget Project and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research finds that “many families spend a substantial amount on health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and could face financially devastating medical expenses if they are not adequately protected.” The report states that health care reform legislation should take into account the income needed in California to pay for other necessities such as housing, food, child care, and the risk of extraordinary health care costs. The report suggests placing limits on out-of-pocket costs as well as full subsidies up to 200 percent of the poverty line and partial subsidies “well above” 300 percent of the poverty line. AB 8 does not do this.

AB 8 will place many individuals and families in harm’s way.

This is straight from the CA Healthy Pets web site. Please read and act ASAP! And here is my previous blog entry (with links and videos) regarding AB 1634-The California Healthy Pets Act.

Calling all volunteersit’s crunch time! The California Healthy Pets Act is to be heard in the Local Government Committee on July 11th at 8:00am. We must pass out of this committee or the bill is dead!!!! I know there’s been a lot of action to take along the way, but please do not stop now!

If you live in the district for any of the five Local Government Committee Members, please act immediately, fax and call now:

Members:

  • Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (Chair)
    916-651-4032 Office, 916-445-0128 Fax
    Chino Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Colton, Fontana, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Rialto, San Bernardino
  • Senator Dave Cox (Vice Chair)
    916-651-4001 Office, 916-324-2680 Fax
    Fair Oaks Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra Auburn, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Galt, Mammoth Lakes, Orangevale, Placerville, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Sacramento, Shingle Springs, South Lake Tahoe, Susanville, Truckee, Valley Springs
  • Senator Tom Harman
    916-651-4035 Office, 916-445-9263 Fax
    Orange Orange, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Westminister
  • Senator Christine Kehoe
    916-651-4039 Office, 916-327-2188 Fax
    San Diego, Del Mar, Lemon Grove
  • Senator Michael Machado
    916-651-4005 Office, 916-323-2304 Fax
    Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo Davis, Fairfield, Manteca, Stockton, Tracy, Vacaville, West Sacramento

Please send your support letters to your Senator and call them and urge their support, whether they are on this committee or not. If you do not know who your Senator is, please click here.

If you have a local or state official, organization, police dept., vet or vet hospital, humane society, SPCA, other shelter or rescue group, celebrity letter, (anything that is not an “individual constituent” support letter), please fax it to Assembly Member Levine’s office 916-319-2140. He is keeping the master set of letters and will provide copies to the committees.

If you live in one of the five districts above and want to help further please click here and enter your name as one of our “Big Dog” supporters! It only takes 15 seconds!

If you are available to be in Sacramento for the hearing on July 11th at 8:00am, please come and join the hundreds of other animal supporters who will be attending the hearing! Contact erin@cahealthypets.com for more information on traveling to Sacramento and check the site for updates.

This bill has the largest group of committed volunteers of any legislation in memory and I want to personally thank each and every one of you! So please, right now:

1) Call and fax your Senator

2) Get others to call and fax their Senators

3) Visit this website frequently to find out the latest updates and see what easy steps you can take to help

From the California Healthy Pets Coalition and dogs and cats of California, thank you!

Judie Mancuso
Sponsor / Campaign Director
AB 1634
California Healthy Pets Act

 

(***UPDATE from CA Healthy Pets Act official site: June 6 – AB 1634 passes the Assembly Floor, moves to the Senate.***)

I’ll start by letting Bill Maher introduce you to the VERY IMPORTANT pending legislation in California, Assembly Bill 1634-California Healthy Pets Act, in case you aren’t already familiar with it. Thanks, Bill!

I spent nearly seven years working in the veterinary field, and also spent a good deal of time volunteering with various animal organizations, including our local animal shelter. Saying I love animals is a huge understatement. Unfortunately during my volunteer time at the shelter, which also included interning with the shelter veterinarian, I saw far too many loving animals put to sleep because there was just not enough room to house them, and definitely not enough kind souls willing to give these pets a chance at a new life. Trust me, folks, it is not a pleasant thing for anyone to have to do–ending the life of a pet. And while this photo is disturbing, it is also the cold, harsh reality of what happens after a shelter pet is euthanized and awaiting transportation to either rendering or a mass grave, depending on the disposal service.

Quite often these pets were dogs who were brought into a new home as young puppies, but once they grew to full size (gee, don’t you hate it when an animal has the audacity to actually grow! [insert heavy sarcasm]), suddenly the owners decided they were too much to handle. Other poor animals were bred for fighting and were never even given a chance to show their gentle side. Of course there are the aging pets which usually are passed by as prospective owners seek out the cute and cuddly puppies or kittens. Regardless of why these 4-legged beings are brought to shelters, the reality is that had more stringent spay/neuter laws been enacted there would not be in the range of 800,000 abandoned pets in our state of California each year, nor over $250 MILLION dollars spent on their housing, with well over 400,000 of them ultimately being euthanized.

Animals cannot speak up for themselves, so it is up to us to do it for them. I urge my fellow responsible citizens of California to take a few moments out of their busy lives to help ensure the passage of AB 1634, the California Healthy Pets Act. This paragraph, from a Humane Society of the United States email, highlights the urgency of IMMEDIATE action:

Urgent! Opponents of this animal welfare bill have organized large numbers of people to target legislators in an attempt to change their votes and prevent its passage. They are even calling from out-of-state, and harassing particular lawmakers. We can’t let the puppy mills out-hustle animal advocates on this important pet protection bill. Legislators need to hear from their constituents—you!—so they know you support this sensible reform.

PLEASE check out the following sites for important information on the California Healthy Pets Act, and also spread the word to anyone and everyone you know in our great state of California, to CONTACT their State Assembly member ASAP!!! Thank you.

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(***Added on 6/7/07***)

The Truth About the CA Healthy Pets Act-AB 1634 Marty Catalano of Rescue Roundtable interviews guests Jane Velez-Mitchell and Ed Buck who dispel all the fallacies being put forth by the opposition to the California Healthy Pets Act AB-1634.

Missy Woodward of Critter Crusades interviews Judie Mancuso, Sponsor / Campaign Director of the California Healthy Pets Act – AB 1634.

Not Born to Die: California Healthy Pets Act AB 1634

So much for taking today off from posting and enjoying Earth Day instead. Was checking email and found news from the FDA titled “Update on Tainted Pet Food“, which included a link to the press release from the California Department of Agriculture, so I just had to come post about it. To read the articles in their entirety click on the links I’ve provide, and I would also highly, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you read a VERY informative article by Karen Roebuck at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. She discusses the melamine situation with the hogs in California, and sheds light on laboratories finding three additional contaminants in pets who were sickened or died after eating tainted pet food:

Researchers also have identified three other contaminants in the urine and kidneys of animals sickened or killed after eating the recalled foods, including cyanuric acid, a chemical commonly used in pool chlorination, three researchers told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Cyanuric acid is what most likely sickened pets, one researcher said..Researchers in at least three labs found cyanuric acid, amilorine and amiloride — all by-products of melamine — in the crystals of animals’ urine, tissues and kidneys…

Another interesting, yet not surprising, nugget in her article was:

The Chinese government told the Trib and the FDA yesterday that the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., which the FDA said supplied the tainted wheat gluten, did not export any wheat gluten intended to be used in food.

Anyone else getting some increasingly worrisome vibes about our continuously deteriorating relationship with China. Bad vibes I tell ya, bad vibes.

Okay, I really AM going to “try” and get away from the computer today, this beautiful Earth Day 2007, but knowing me I’ll keep checking for updates. 😉 In the meantime here is today’s (4/22/07) update from the FDA, and last Thursday’s (4/19/07) release from the California Department of Agriculture regarding the melamine and hogs. Usually, as a 14 year vegetarian, reading something like the news about the hogs would have me gently chiding non-vegetarians for eating meat, but considering many items vegetarians eat may be affected by the tainted glutens and proteins, there is really no one who can be happy about the state of our food supply. Until later, my friends.

OH-MY-GOSH, I am BEYOND addicted to this band!!! And I only heard about The Cat Empire for the first time last week when my TV crush, Craig Ferguson (sigh…drool…), had them on The Late Late Show. Bought “Two Shoes” on iTunes the next morning, and CANNOT stop playing it! Just wish iTunes had all of The Cat Empire CDs available…fingers crossed that will happen soon.

It’s hard to try and fit their music into any particular genre. To me they’re a cross between Sublime, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Common Sense (local SoCal band), Ozomatli, B-Side Players, with a heavy dose of the Buena Vista Social Club ensemble of musicians thrown in for good measure. (They did record “Two Shoes” at the same studio BVSC did in Cuba!) They are a high-energy, body-shaking, positive, up-beat band, with the frosting on the cake being the fact they have brass in their band! Gotta love it! (Well, except for you, Jackson! ;)) I can only imagine the energy created at one of their live performances…can’t wait to find out!

Guess they’re just starting to ‘hit it big’ in the US now with the release of “Two Shoes” stateside. They have been around a few years and according to their web site, have had a couple of tours in the US since May 2005. I was SO incredibly disappointed when I saw that they JUST played one of my favorite venues, The Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA, just ONE FREAKING MONTH AGO!! Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the video of The Cat Empire performing “Sly” on The Late Late Show last week (they also played it on Letterman), and another video, “Days Like These”, that’s bound to put you in a care-free, gorgeous summer day mood (takes about 20 seconds to start). And being the giver that I am, here’s a link to YouTube so you can have a blast discovering their fun, energetic, positive music for yourself. Enjoy!

Additional The Cat Empire-related posts:

Sniffin’ out the info

Photobucket

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