Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

A major victory was scored this week helping freedom of the press become a bit more free.

This week President Obama ended the ban on news organizations photographing the flag-covered coffins of American soldiers killed in Iraq as they return to the United States through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. NPR has a great segment this week with families discussing the freedom of press issue and the grieving process

The last eight years ate away the true picture of war with the Pentagon keeping any photos of flag-draped coffins out of the media. Afraid the pictures would become a testament to the toll of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of the sacrifice borne by those who serve in the military and their families. The ceremony known as the "dignified transfer of remains" performed nearly 5,000 times since the start of the Iraq is hidden from public view by the Pentagon. Air Force cargo jets land and taxi down the runway at Dover Air Force Base, Del., carrying the remains of fallen U.S. troops. After a chaplain says a simple prayer, an eight-member military honor guard removes the metal "transfer cases" from the planes and carries them to a mortuary van.

President George H.W. Bush's administration imposed the ban on media coverage of the arrival of fallen troops' remains at Dover Air Force Base during the Gulf War in February 1991.

This change will bring about the transparency missing from the reporting process. Nice to see the media given it's teeth back. As a photographer I hail this important policy change to bring a full story to the public.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Name Is: Priti Manek

TGIF. Let's lighten things up a bit. As we wait for the markets to cease the back flips for stimulus monies forth coming a little levity might bee the mental Burt's bees (chap stick metaphor) we all need. The BBC had a really funny article about unfortunate names.

The case of the name was changed to protect the innocent did not seem to occur to any of the following People:
Sue Mee
Pearl Button
Jo King
Barry Cade
Carrie Oakey
Tim Burr
Justin Case
Barb Dwyer
Stan Still
Rose Bush.

It sounds like a bad joke, but a study has revealed that there really are unfortunate people with the above mentioned names in the UK. Yes, it's true...we can't take credit for all of the stupidity on the globe. Just a bit. Just imagine having to introduce yourself to a crowd as Doug Hole or HazelNutt. I would hope that a line item exsists in the parents' financial spread sheet to cover therapy as the teasing would never end.

The names were uncovered by researchers from parenting group based in the UK after trawling through online telephone records. When the parents of some of those people mentioned named their children, many probably didn't even realise the implications at the time. Spare a thought for Anna Prentice, Annette Curtain and Bill Board the next time you sign your name. The brits don't hold the bag on this: a string of Americans also have very job-specific names, including Dr Leslie Doctor, Dr Thoulton Surgeon and Terry Bull, Paige Turner, Mary Christmas and Anna Sasin.

All of this nonsense is reminiscent of Sunday morning shtick Click and Clack. But the research is more upsetting because the researchers who uncovered these catchy names actually assume these oblivious parents will access a baby website? I suppose dental care might be high on the parents list too so we have the perfect referral : Dr. Les Plack - a dentist in San Francisco.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Act Now

The economy is bad when the pharmaceutical company's start sending sweet emails with rebate offers attached.

To augment my argument- Restylaneusa [parent company: medicis aesthetics] would like me to send off the box tops of this injectable spa product to collect 150 dollars. Typically the spa crowd isn't the same crowd clipping coupons or sending in rebates, but who trying times it's tough to say. It harks back to those nostalgic daze of collecting the cereal box tops for the prized piece o crap. Thinking back to the code decoder ring from Fruity Pebbles still pisses me off that it took a lifetime to finally ship..remember in child years 6 to 8 weeks was literally a big chunk of lifetime.

Not familiar with the product of which I describe? It's the backbone of the medspa crowd for filling in facial folds, wrinkles and most commonly lips. You really didn't think Angelina Jolie had a recessive gene did you? Should you seek out these enhancements, seek out Ms. Lynn Bartels. She trains the best and brightest in the use of these products and has an artistic eye unparalleled in the biz. How do I know? Suffice to say it's on a need to know basis.

So if you see me sporting the pole dancer (hey I resemble that statement) big pouty lip look you will know that I have succumbed to the sweet song of the pharma marketing dept.

Is it wrong? No, I suppose a little local stimulus helps my own "stimulus."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Y Drive The Yukon XL?

How can the community with the largest amount of overtly large vehicles have a transportation problem? What's the problem you ask? A ninth hour fire drill to round up parents to participate in a school field trip or cancel. I found it incredible that the local MILF faction can't take time from all the prim and primp of running clothing daze filled with who the f*%k knows what. I see a sociological dissertation in the making, or maybe I shall use it for my J school application but here's the Crux of my bitch fest rant: Couldn't a few more of the Yukon XL crowd pony up their school bus largess and play martyr mommy for the day at the Children's Museum?

I know the next thought from you will be" why be upset about something you can't control?"
You should know that the list is long with many things I can and can not control but my antagonist side says be equal opportunity in picking battles. So large and small I pick them all.
What else do I have to do that's more important than loading kids up for a fun day at the Museum. Nada. I LOVE the whole ah-ha moment of herding kittens which is exactly what K and 3rd graders are. Sans a taser .

The real impetus for this rant?

I must confess it involved my Mini Cooper in the car line of Dave's Ave school for afternoon pickup basically parked in by two (U guessed it, XL's)... It felt like a vehicular gang bang. Crankiness ensued and forced smiles traded with the taloned, tanned, and pony tailed velour track suits. "Oh, soo sorry to park you in. We didn't see you. Yeah, it's tough with your head that far up your, forget it.....Deep breath...soooo zen girl (me) has a plan to enjoy her hurry scurry day tomorrow and report back any other funny suburban stories that involve yours truly.

Cinequest goes live today..It's the best and the brightest of the independent film world (least in the concentric circle of the valley.)

It's all about the creative process and labor of love that encapsulates what goes into these little indie films and shorts.

Misery loves company, and what better place to go and wonk out about the solitary confinement that best describes the process of film editing. Imagine the scene from the Bill Murray movie
Ground Hog Day with real time gnats eyebrow focus frame to frame to friggin frame (sorry about that little burst of angst) until you can't imagine watching the edited piece because your head will explode. All for 15 min [short format] of creative bandwidth.

Cinequest is a creative end run...movies movies movies. Quirky surprises abound and the ability to ask a film maker her reason for choosing a certain camera angle to tell the story makes it a mini tutorial & therapy session all wrapped up nicely. If only I could just get to my biggest sticking points with my last two little film projects: sound editing but instead of crying the blues to the deaf and uninterested I need to get downtown and partake. You should too.

Remember those lightrail transit trains run quirky schedules but drop you door to door. The highlight of this festival always seems to be the film shorts. Even if you can stop in for a small bite of the offerings, you won't leave disappointed.
The Chicago playwright turned movie director David Mamet had this interesting piece to share about the magic of creating
movies. Mamet: “Now, we have two plans here. Which is simpler? Always do things the least interesting way, and you make a better movie. This is my experience. Always do things the least interesting way, the most blunt way. Because then you will not stand the risk of falling afoul of the objective in the scene by being interesting, which will always bore the audience, who are collectively much smarter than you and me and have already gotten up to the punch line. How do we keep their attention? Certainly not by giving them more information but, on the contrary, by withholding information-- by withholding all information except that information the absence of which would make the progress of the story incomprehensible.

This is the kiss rule. K. I. S. S. Keep it simple, stupid.
Kinda sounds like we could apply to real life too huh?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Spark Factor

The curious chemistry of attraction. Is it smell? Taste? Curious to learn what causes the spark factor?

I typically shy away from online polls but after listening to my crush du jour Michael Krasney interview Dr. Helen Fisher on KQED's Forum I made a beeline for her website because I was so intrigued.

A fun online moment. When is the last time you had one of those? Purely rhetorical..please no details. Her new book: "Why him? Why her?" Centers around research concerning the role personality and chemistry play in this intoxicating crazy little thing we all crave. Did I mention the unlikely idea of finger length figures in to all of this. Finger that one out. I know, I know it's wing-nutty but just stay with me for a moment. Let's say you or I for that matter know that we have the ability to shape our social outlet a bit by bending the norms, by knowing how other people view us or even how we view ourselves. Jeez, I really thought a larger piece of my personality was based upon being a red-head. Elementary years of teasing, jokes, and of course freckles
(yes, I like them today.)
What about our hard wired selves vs. environment.
Maybe we like certain things as a complimentary tip of the hat to Darwin.
Quantifiable? You decide....
Scientifically assured nutty professor- but continue with me for a moment.
Dr. Fisher has an online quiz. If you have any curiosity concerning the chemistry of attraction you will enjoy this. Go on goof off for a moment, you have permission. Here's what I wanna know after you imbibe my suggestion- any surprises??

Did the finished quiz tell you something you didn't already know?
Didn't think so.

Dr. Fisher's system is based on anthropological research that would dwarf the Manhattan project (Or for all post generation Xer's, the race to produce a 100GB MP3 player) Anyway, to simplify all of her complicated findings, Fisher boils the whole process down to the X's and O's of romance in layman's terms: The compatibility problems associated with four Fisher-defined personality types: the Explorer, the Builder, the Director, and the Negotiator. To give it some life, the text of "Why Him? Why Her?" is laced with personal and not-so-personal anecdotes and explanations about how different personality types interact or fail to interact in given social situations.

Could be the new iFun applet on my phone or simply the new tarot card.

Care to share your results with the class? Okay Okay, spin the bottle style: If you care to know it's all here, read this and my tea leaves then give me some feedback quid pro quo.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Little Film That Could

A night of glitz and glamour...We watched the awards last night from the bar at Restaurante Ducca in The City. Weirdly enough the hotel lobby boasted a bevvy of beefy adolescent girls attending something that reminded me of Tigerbeat magazine meets Princess party. But more on that later...
The highlight of the evening of course is that modern-day fairy tales due indeed come true, and last night Danny Boyle and his little indie film "Slumdog" drove that home in such a fantastic way. The little film that almost went straight to video, but was picked up by Fox Searchlight Films grossed only 98M vs. big gun Hollywood hit Batman of almost 600M.

My all time fave modern film American Beauty was unseated by Slumdog. From a film wonk perspective the editing alone won me over, but the beautifully crafted story and happy ending- well go big or stay home...Could not have been a bigger triumph of good vs. evil. It's a David & Goliath moment in a day and age of global mess, Mumbai in all it's glory and poverty trumped last night. The other triumph: Sean Penn and his exceptance speech for best actor. Shaming those who chose to support Prop 8, it was a lovely moment for prickly pare Penn. This is why I love him.

Bling bling my heart, best dressed last night: my yummy hubby french cuffed deliciousness and Zegna. Gotta run, room service awaits..

Sunday, February 22, 2009

.....And The Oscar Goes To...........

Why should movie stars snag all the statuettes?

While Hollywood suits up for the Academy Awards, POLITICO has been screening the tapes of the past 12 months in politics, looking for Oscar-worthy performances in the public arena. My favorite website has compiled the following list. Yes... It's okay to lift material as long as credited..
And the nominees are:
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Barack Obama ("Mission Impossible)"
John McCain ("A Bridge Too Far")
John Edwards ("Hollow Man")
Eliot Spitzer ("Analyze This")
Charlie Rangel ("Rent")
Rod Blagojevich ("Grease")
George W. Bush ("Gigli")

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Hillary Clinton ("Die Hard: With a Vengeance")
Caroline Kennedy ("The Wrestler")
Kirsten Gillibrand ("Snow White and the 11 Dwarves")
Nancy Pelosi ("House Party")

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Bill Clinton ("The Good Wife")
Fred Thompson ("The Hunt for Red November")
Roland Burris ("Witness for the Prosecution")
Rahm Emanuel ("Meet the Fockers")
Timothy Geithner ("Crash")
Bill Richardson ("Bolt")
Tom Daschle ("Dude, Where's My Car?")
Judd Gregg ("He's Just Not That Into You")

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Condi Rice ("Stand by Me")
Michelle Obama ("Patriot Games")
Samantha Power ("Monsters Inc.)
Hillary Clinton ("Baracky")
Sarah Palin ("The McCain Mutiny")
Nancy Killefer ("Gone in 60 Seconds")

Best Costumes
Isabel Toledo
Jason Wu
J. Crew

Best Director
David Plouffe ("The Candidate")
Barack Obama ("Rush Hour 2: The Stimulus")
Eric Cantor ("Mutiny Over the Bounty")
Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke ("Titanic")
Dick Cheney ("Gigli")

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Broken Halo

A discussion shared yesterday with a friend went straight to the heart of why so many of the social norms we carry into adulthood have been tarnished by childhood. The discussion point centered around Catholicism. As the child of Irish catholics, lent always brought welcome relief from the drunken family tirades so often experienced under the veil of Divine intervention while sporting patent leather shoes.

My life today is unfortunately void of the family trama-dramas that forged most of my personality. The unfortunate part you ask? Where did you think the old adage "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" came from...dis functional families perhaps but why take the "fun" out of dis functional? Parish the thought.

I still seek a shared vision of community, just not sure how to re create the vision.. Remember those delicious mushrooms we dabbled with in the early 80's? Certainly liked THAT vision but alas the only people to embrace that particular culture had the whole drug culture monkey on it's back. Not a great community to ingratiate oneself into.. The Episcopalians seem to be on the right track-open to individualism, embracing women and gays. Hey! What a concept, makes me wanna be a part of something so tolerant.

Dante's Inferno spoke to me the first read thru when I was 14 years old. A recent re read made me even more confidant that he was on to something really bold. I like bold.

So with Lent approaching, I will light a candle for Buddha, say a hail Mary or two, and toss down a few martini's to celebrate all thoughts and deeds Dante. Covering ones spiritual bases can't hurt right? See me sporting a forehead smudge this Wednesday? Never.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ross Creek Review

Last year a monumental environmental decision was passed down by the court concerning a local California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) case when a superior court judge overturned the approval of the development proposal on Ross Creek. The judge specifically noted “that the record contain[ed] sufficient testimony from local residents both at public meetings … and in timely written communications” to determine that the project may have environmental impacts that have not been adequately addressed. The time you took to write and appear before the planning commission and town council paid off.

A consultant for the town will now prepare an environmental impact report to assess the proposal and determine if the environmental impact can be reduced. On March 18th the town will host a “scoping meeting”. The meeting will allow community members and the planning commission to raise environmental concerns, ways in which the project impact may be minimized and potential alternatives to the proposed project. Please save the date, and attend with any questions or concerns you may have. Thanks to everyone for their community activism and continued concern.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Midnight Arm Wrestling

“This might be the end for me” politically, said Sen. Abel Maldonado, who cast the deciding vote to end deadlocked budget in Sacramento today......

Our own 15th district Senator is the poster boy for change: Sen. Abel Maldonado our Republican senator received assurances that lawmakers would support an election reform that makes it easier to vote moderates into office. In return, he cast the vote that ended a three-month budget deadlock that threatened the state’s financial solvency and gave new meaning to the phrase “political polarization.” In the end, a deal was done.

Looks like the "lock down" all-night negotiations in Sacramento worked. In short it means California will probably resolve its $42Mbudget shortfall (raising taxes on consumption) and by cutting spending( $11M from education.) The state has delayed thousands of construction projects, required furloughs of government employees, and saw its credit rating fall to dead last among the 50 states.

If, as expected, the Assembly approves the budget, and if the Govenator signs it, as he has said he would new tax hikes will kick into effect – about $13 billion worth in all. Californians will pay an additional one cent in sales tax for every dollar spent on merchandise and services, raising the tax to 8.25 percent. That’s the highest rate in the nation.

“This vote assures that it’s not the end for the people of California.” quoting Maldonado. No Senator, just for you...might be time to polish off the ole CV and get a hair cut.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Local Treasures

Spring is around the corner, and soon warm weather and open toe shoes which means the summer concert series that are quintessentially Los Gatos soon to follow.

The dynamic duo of Valerie Hopkins (Music in the Park) and Teri Hope(Jazz) are the tour de force behind Music In The Park, and the Wednesday evening Jazz in The Plazz series. Both of these women are icons of local philanthropy and without what they do for much of the year we would not have a seamless entertainment source here in our own backyard.
So my thoughts go out to the sultry summer scene that awaits. The organizing and fundraising these two women spear head is impressive and is to be applauded.

Can events be "too" successful? Apparently the town government thinks so. The town has strong armed the events in the past, and only the sheer force of elegant will from the organizing forces of each music venue succeeded by it's own gumption.
Why would the town government mess about with such bellwether good juju? I have my own theories, but most likely it's because an over paid staff member feels the need to micromanage.

Teri was instrumental in forming Los Gatos Music and Arts (LGMA), a registered 501(c)(3)non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire, nurture, develop, and produce educational programs, scholarships, concerts,and other artistic programs which promote music and the fine arts for the benefit of the community of Los Gatos. LGMA is a primary funding source for The Museums of Los Gatos and A Place for Teens. More on this new union to follow in another post.

Support is always welcome and you would be in great company supporting these fine events which now fall under the umbrella of Los Gatos Music and Arts. Barbara Spector just wrote a nice fat check to the tune of $5,400(monies she had left over from her campaign.) How's that for leading by example? Thank-you ladies, we are so lucky! Warm fuzzies abound.. We can feel the love for these ladies who really do embody a sense of community spirit and philanthropy unparalleled.
Thank you Arts Commission- This looks to be a kick-a*s season once again.
2009 Music in the Park line-up
June 21 "” To be announced
June 28 "” Tom Petty tribute performed by The Refugees
July 5 "” Mark Russo and the Classy Cats play big band sounds
July 12 "” Carlos Reyes on harp and violin
July 19 "” Santana tribute performed by Caravanserai
July 26 "” Houston Jones performs Americana/country
Aug. 2 "” The California Beach Boys tribute band
Aug. 9 "” The Unauthorized Rolling Stones tribute band
Aug. 23 "” Led Zeppelin tribute performed by Led Zepagain
Aug. 30 "” Journey tribute performed by Journey Unauthorized

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is Glickman The Grinch?

I have a big guilt trip at the moment, shall I share? Before I headed North for the mountains I left a mountain of library books in the boot of my Mini. No biggie you say? Cha-ching...a weeks' worth of over due fines could mean a boon for the financially strapped library. So in the spit in the face spirit of my guilt, I propose we all as a community commit to overdue books as a solidarity movement against the grinch like vice of Glickman and all that dark cloud discussion about another costly petition drive.

My stir the pot attitude embraces the ability to use political activism for bringing an issue to the fore front. I may not agree with recent petitions we have experienced in our community, but the ability to organize with a message is indeed powerful. The problem is the message this time harms more of the community than it professes to protect. Organizers of the most recent petition drive will try and rally Los Gatos voters to put a measure on the ballot seeking to curb the town council's ability to spend money on capital projects. It could directly impact the town's plan to build a new library.

The initiative's organizers(Glickman and his mineons ) are calling it the Capital Expenditure Public Oversight Act. Feb. 2 a "notice of intent to circulate petitions" was filed with the town clerk's office. Initiative supporters need 1,871 registered voters to sign the petition for it to get on the ballot. Steve Glickman repeatedly voted against the library before leaving the town council last November.

Mr.Glickman said the initiative would not prevent the council from making appropriate budget decisions. "But when [spending] reaches a certain threshold, it requires voter approval." Funny- this seems to fly in the face of what that last initiative Glickman tried to strong arm us into.. but i digress. The meat of the initiative seeks voter approval for any facilities costing $15 million or more and in which the town's investment would exceed $5 million. The other threshold is $7 million for facilities that would be built and funded exclusively by the town. Seems smart in this global financial mess we all find so distressing? Not if you examine where the monies come from and where (poof!) they may disappear to. Approximately $16.72 million of the cost would be covered by redevelopment agency funds ($14 million from a new RDA bond issue), with $1.66 million coming from the town's general. RDA monies will go back to the state.
It really is a use it or lose it scenario.

Dark rain clouds seem to follow this former town council person who was publicly shamed because he was caught violating Code of Conduct Policy and repeatedly boo-hooed about the lack of a skate park. Why is this relevant you ask? It's not...I just enjoy the opportunity to remind you, and refresh any details should you seek refreshing. Hint: Mr. Glickman is the poster child of offenses of Town Code of Conduct (Resolution 2004-59) repeated ethics violations.

When I return from Spring Break and settle my debt with our library, perhaps we will have the "Currie Wing" of the new library financed..wishful thinking. In the mean time, The Friends Of The Library are worthy of our time (and donations..)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cosmic Comic

How could presidents day get any better than reading commemorative comic books? As a nine year old my crush on the incredible hulk lead me to believe that big guys could be softies, and just because you get blasted by gamma rays doesn't mean that you lose your sense of humor or sense of style. Bill Bixby as the 70's version of my hunk of a hulk was what Farah Fawcett was for the other camp.
What's not to like with a new presidential holiday offering “Gettysburg Distress,” as a new six-page adventure featuring Captain America and Spider-Man as they witness Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address. The comic, written by Matt Fraction with art by Andy MacDonald, will be available online at
Marvel Comics will commemorate Amazing Spider-Man No. 583, in which the title character meets President Obama. That issue, which went on sale Jan. 14, was the top-selling comic book in January. On Feb. 25 President Obama will make two more Marvel comic book appearances. In Savage Dragon No. 145, written and drawn by Erik Larsen, Mr. Obama returns to Chicago, the home base of the title superhero, who helps provide security for the visit. In issue No. 8 of Youngblood, about a group of government-run heroes, the president puts the finishing touches on the team’s new roster.
Mad magazine may be gone,or at least the version that I adored. Politics and the punch of Captain America means that comic books have come a long way, and I have an excuse to purchase them for my children as my own guilty read slope side. A toast to Stan Lee and Marvel Comics and happy reading.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

You Can

Just when you think the weather can't get any worse, mother nature sends a curveball. With the car packed and the skis mounted like a plastic trophy atop of the pious prius it's the mental mantra: not rain, not sleet nor snow shall keep us from the slopes...unless the very real possibility of road closures.

Plan B, head to the boat...equally stormy with gusts of wind up to 45knots. Worry knot of angst slips away when we take a cozy refuge with the boat at the dock, until that too breaks away at 4;00 am. That feeling of being invincible is a fleeting one, so no matter how sheer tenacity plays out it will always be trumped by mother nature, tied to a dock floating out to sea.
It's always amazing to be gently reminded of just how little affect we can make when it comes to the great outdoors. Be it Pebble Beach, North Shore Tahoe or the SF Bay.. Stay dry today, and if you make it to the slopes, send me an email...we are making a plan to make a plan but feeling a little less than bulletproof.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Placebo Effect

Call it the placebo effect, but knowing that the school board is seeking dialogue just makes me feel better about the budget crisis. The time to weigh in is now. No excuses, just log in and make an effort to be informed.

Enjoy that post chocolate buzz and bask in the light of your computer monitor for the few moments it takes to log in to the discussion board link posted above.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Taser Gun or Cupid's Arrow?

Valentines is a loaded gun. Okay, I am a bit of a passivist but a bit of a sadist so Taser gun is more befitting. Sure love and flowers and candles make for a memorable evening, but that's my ordinary MO during the week (yes, I know..lucky) but still the question looms- to make a fuss?

I come from the no muss no fuss world for this hallmark of all holidays, party pooper I am not, but waiting for a certain holiday to profess my gratitude leaves me feeling like a fraud. If effort can be made each and everyday simple pleasures trump any heart shaped box of chocolates although don't get me wrong...I can inhale a box of chocolates with Olympic gusto. The Valentine pix fixe dinner menus always feel a little forced ( unless it's fleur de lys in The City.)

What I long for is the cafe experience, the glass of Cava as an aperitif in the evening with Mi amour in Barcelona celebrating La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George) patron saint of the six million inhabitants of Catalonia. This is easily the most most giddy and amorous day of the year in this most romantic of cities.

This April holiday
is like Valentine's Day "The Day of Lovers," La Diada de Sant Jordi. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts--men give roses, and women give a book to celebrate the occasion. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent marketing ploy. In 1923, a smart bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to honor the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on April 23, 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital of the Spanish-speaking world and this heady one-two punch of love and literacy was quickly adopted.
On Barcelona's principal streets, Las Ramblas, and Pasig de Gracia hundreds of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls have been hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 400,000 books will have been purchased in the name of love.
Now that's something to make a heart pitter patter.

So what's the ideal scenario to make the most of Valentine's day?.................................... Skip it, no not really. Enjoy. A signed book is always a sweeter gift for your sweetie btw.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

California Get-away Get-away

Chronicling the bourgeoisie is a rich and significant literary tradition. Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope and Edith Wharton measured the exquisite tension between love and money, integrity and comfort, holidays and adventure investigating the lives of women and men who used income as a measuring stick and marriage as a social upgrade. What would they write about today as the foreclosure pages pad the back of each weeks' Weekly and the adjectives to describe the current economy become scarier by the moment?

The current news leaves no mental escape valve, I can't even plan a sailing voyage to down under where koala bears fight for their little singed hides as flames engulf the island.

You can run, but you can not hide as the old saying goes. How true do you think that statement is? Think about all that Northern California has to offer, spring break is next week. Never been a better time to escape.. a little mental muscle of course will be necessary to actually shift gears into the escape mode but I think we are all capable.

Calistoga has great deals at the moment, and it's a perfect mix of kid friendly or sanctuary depending upon your mood ring. Tahoe skiing was reported to be stellar just a few short weeks ago. Craigslist is packed with adverts for rentals. This season people are actually returning calls AND willing to negotiate. How's that for good juju? A city hit always contains my creature of habit short list, which includes Angel Island (we sail, but the ferry shuffle is fun.) Alcatraz ROCKS this time of the year, sans crowds and abundant will have the place to yourself. Sunday morning brunch at The Ramp always a good choice. Best bloody Mary's and amazingly tatted & pierced service staff make for some of the best people watching while perched on the patio of the china basin boat yard (yes, that boat thing again.) I have my pet list of city vibe, should your interest be peaked. Send a quick email and I will elaborate a larger list.

All else fails, a little R & R on the home front with movies streamed from Netflix- e voila! It's a room service like moment from the comfy confines of the couch. Although if I opt for the home front holiday next week, I may lose whatever shred of sanity still available. What are you planning for the school break holiday, care to share?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Checks' In The Mail...

Or maybe not if you are the local government waiting for payment. California's budget woes will sweep over the state's 58 counties this week when they get promises instead of checks for $89 million in anticipated payments for services. Will an IOU offer a sigh of relief... nope, rumor has it that normal March payments might then have to be delayed for a month if no budget agreement has been reached. Things may get a little interesting around here.

Many counties are planning to go to court as soon as that first payment is missed. San Francisco will join a lawsuit set to be filed by San Diego and Sacramento counties, arguing that state CFO must release funds that already have been appropriated by the Legislature in the state budget.

Nothing like spending money you don't have to get money that the state can't give.

I personally like the gumption of Los Angeles and Colusa counties. Tight fisted controllers hanging on to tax payments and other funds that normally go to the state, while Riverside County plans to ask the courts to allow it to close social service programs until California resumes its payments. Interesting to see how this will play out. Think Los Gatos is insulated from the affect? Think again....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Transparent Approach

Wanna see who voted to support and finance Prop 8 in the Bay Area, Orange County and Utah? Well the beauty of google maps meets the ingenuity of using public political donation information that is all a part of the transparent political process has birthed

This is the most striking example of how information collected through disclosure laws intended to increase the transparency of the political process, magnified by the powerful lens of the Web, has given a powerful jolt to political activists everywhere. But is this the right way to go about educating and using the information disseminated? Could this creative application be undermining the same democratic values that the regulations set up to promote. With tools like eightmaps — and there are bound to be more of them — strident political partisans can challenge their opponents directly, one voter at a time. Yes, I suppose this recent developmental tool for politicos and public alike could discourage people from participating in the political process altogether but it also educates us with a deeper understanding of where political campaigns get the momentum to become a tsunami like force.
Iconic extremes painted upon a google map with zip codes- simply brilliant in examining extremes to which political transparency can be taken. The credit goes underground with whoever the creative activist is that brought eightmaps to light. Preferring to remain completely anonymous is noble, and if you are local- I'd love to buy you a beer and toast you but alas with the application registered anonymously through GoDaddy, I can't imagine the opportunity to buy that well deserved beer but to be sure, this blogger will take a very careful look to ensure my dollars do not support the local small minded and bigoted who helped get Prop 8 pushed through.
I don't consider hate mongering a neighborly value, and will gladly promote any and all information that supports equal rights in marriage. Love shouldn't be legislated.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dance, Dance Little Sister Dance.

When SSRI's fail, the health club scene tastes like the crust from the bread nobody wants to eat- and your creative mojo has left you what's a girl to do?

To continue feeling like ABC gum isn't a choice anymore.
A saucy dance class straight outta MTV is just what the doctor ordered. Never was a big fan of that train wreak of a pop tart Brittany Spears but what the hey....I can't keep from doing a mental dance rehearsal to her catchy little bubblegum sound so something clicked for me after this recent class I attended. After way too many years of not working "it" an epiphany of sorts made the decision for me. Embrace what moves you and consider it a cosmic kiss of colossal conscience for being lucky enough to think a little less linear and have a creative outlet where and when you can. A feel good for those of us seeking the fortune cookie answer sans the calories.

What's not to love when we girls can embrace all things flirty and feminine in a non judgemental arena... It's the endorphin rush that you crave with flattering lighting.
Catnip? No.. a local studio listed on my can't get enough side bar to the right.
The age demographic is all over the board (hooray) plus social variety a refreshing combination. Add in a flexible schedule, mix with equal parts opportunity and ingenuity voila it's the perfect cocktail... Can't forget to mention the ability to "drop" into classes on a whim to supplement my new habit. If everyone and her sister knows just how funky-fun- fabulous these classes are, well yours truly will be a bit bent outta shape if she can't score a spot in a class but this was too good not to share.

See ya 'round ladies...If your typical hang is court side, you don't know what you're missing. But as my friend Kyle likes to point out, the chickens all congregate in the same area. Why the veiled euphemism? I bet they don't dance to Womanizer by pop tart Brittney Spears. Meow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Window Dressing With A .ORG Domain

Inquiring minds want to know why the town government would dedicate time and community effort, enable a web presence and even register domain and then systematically cancel each and every meeting ?
The GPAC Committee has met twice. As I have written in past blogs, this is a committee that is complete window dressing. Many of these "committee" members have shared frustration and dismay at being appointed to serve in a volunteer capacity, make the prerequisite time available only to be blown off for the past eight months. The following is directly from the town website:
General Information:
On February 4, 2008, the Town Council approved a preliminary work plan and schedule for the 2010 General Plan Update. Part of this process involved the development of a General Plan Update Advisory Committee, comprised of the existing 9-member General Plan Committee (GPC) with up to 10 "at-large" members to provide broad communtiy representation. The General Plan Update Advisory Committee would be a separate committee from the GPC whose sole function is to advise the Council on the General Plan Update process. On March 3, 2008, the Council adopted a resolution officially establishing the General Plan Update Advisory Committee.

Committee Role:
The responsibilities of the committee members are limited to the review of General Plan issues previously identified by Council and minor modifications of existing policies. Specifically, members of the the Committee will be asked to:
  • Attend regular meetings at least twice a month
  • Participate in Public Workshops
  • Identify outdated information in the existing General Plan
  • Address key topics as determined by the Town Council, including: the environment, recreation, and the needs of youth and seniors.
The Chair of the General Plan Committee shall serve as Chair of the General Plan Update Advisory Committee. The advisory committee will determine its schedule (it is anticipated that the committee will meet twice a month). Committee members are expected to regularly attend meetings and public workshops. However, it is understood that on occasion, a committee member may not be able to attend a meeting. Three absences in a calendar year may subject the member to expulsion from the advisory committee upon approval of the Council.

So why bother? Well if you care to question, I say go straight to the source. Pick up the phone and call our Community Services Director and get the straight story. If you are able to get a return phone call and actually end up with an explanation we would love to hear. The lingering question for me is: what happens when a committee member may not be able to attend a meeting but what is NOT understood is what if the meeting is unavailable to attend? That's a new paradigm shift.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

...Let's Look On The Brightside

Workers took their first unpaid day off yesterday in response to California's deepening fiscal crisis. What do the DMV, Fish and Game, Food and Agriculture, Calpers (the biggest U.S. public pension fund) Social Services and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing have in common? Are they all partaking in Fresh Air Fridays ala the local elementary school children?

No, something a bit more fun: Furlough Fridays - all 200,000 employees. Why is this a big deal? It's sort of like Canada sending home it's work force. The International Monetary Fund says California has the world’s seventh-largest economy, with a $1.5 trillion GDP. The governor has declared a fiscal state of emergency, enabling him to order the furloughs of state employees for two days a month (first and third Friday's of the month) through June 2010 amid California's budget crisis. State parks, which generate revenue from entrance fees, will remain open, as will state courts, the secretary of state's offices, California Highway Patrol offices and campuses of the University of California, Cal State and California Community Colleges. Public safety employees are exempt from the Friday furloughs and can schedule their days off differently. Back of the envelope estimates show a savings of $1.4 billion through June 2010, the end of the next fiscal year - certainly not chicken scratch.

The Republican governor and the Democrat-dominated Legislature remain at an impasse over how to balance the state's budget. Any word on the Legislators taking unpaid furloughs? Thought not. Just when you thought your DMV experience could not become any more unpleasant.

I see a PR move for the Govenator. Bulging biceps sporting a cardigan sweater ala Jimmy Carter and setting the example with his own office up in Sacramento. Do you think he gave up his own admin? How about the smoking tent?

How might this affect my world? I see my friday matinee movie being over whelmed by these furloughed friends. On the bright side at least the local economy gets a mini boost.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hey Jump in!

Swim my stream of's not so bad once you're in.
Lately my brain is swimming in so many different directions that I have decided today is a perfect day for a matinee movie. Nothing like playing hooky in a dark theater, solo. Love the simple pleasure of enjoying a movie for the sake of sanity and a rest from the ebb and flow of everything mental. Oscar nominee movies abound, and no I have yet to polish off the list but when I get in a mental funk the best antidote is a brainac documentary or better yet a foreign film...Gotta really pay attention. Plus the lighting always seems better in cine sans english.

Perfect pitch timing on the movie jones. The San Francisco Indie film fest kicked off it's 11th season yesterday. The website has delicious deals: the festival runs thru the 22nd. Fret not local cine fans not wanting to make the trek into The City as we have a seamless transition to the local San Jose indie filmfest Cinequest on the 25th running films until March 8th.

The quality and quantity of local cinematography makes me happier than a handful of Prozac.

Filmfest passes and movie bios can be found at

Any suggestions forthcoming on anything rent worthy is always welcome. The Nixon/Frost film was well done, and inspired me to rent the original interviews available on DVD (thx Netflix)- yes, it's true I really know how to have fun. David Frost was a cuff linked early crush from my elementary school years. Seeing the movie simply reinforced those pigtailed memories of a time when others had crushes on David Cassidy and Donny Osmond.

Once weird, always weird: guilty...breathlessly guilt.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Transparent Process The Color of Mud

This past Tuesday evening 200 community members and fellow parents attended the LG school board "workshop." It was an interesting study in contrasts. Articulate questions from parents kick started the meeting. The idea of self policing and review standards for teachers was brought up by a parent.
Many in the crowd advocated small class remain a non negotiable. Class size at 20, was a marketing pitch we all rode hard when the bond measure was up for vote and passed. Textbooks and the need for a change in Math curriculum a major and necessary hot button issue, discussion about the potential pink slips to teachers, music staff, admin staff. Although I do wonder if the superintendent has his own admin, and if that position might be under consideration as a potential cut as well.
The glow of honeymoon wanes for the superintendent. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. From a budgetary stand point, any complaints (gee, imagine that) would be the lack of time & numbers. Instead the power point presentation was a bit too snoozy lacking any real bite of quantitative to back up the qualitative.
When questioned about a few of the data points, Mr. Whitmore was unable to regurgitate any of the figures or data necessary to carry home the points in the presentation overhead. My initial reaction was to ask, why would these numbers be so unfamiliar to him? State and school district knee deep in the business of nothing but budgets. You might imagine the numbers perhaps rolling rote from his tongue, so much practice.
A spread sheet with a few key points teased out of the mix to give all involved in this apparently "transparent" process a clearer picture of just how grave the situation is. In our community, I assume we would be hard pressed to find those non savvy to the spreadsheet. The state is still at a standstill with it's budget too.
Lastly, a few community members could not attend the meeting because they missed the "memo" about the venue of Dave's Avenue vs Fisher. Apparently the note left on the door of the district school office read Fisher...we have no way of knowing just how many missed out due to the mix up.
What's next? The time line is Friday (tomorrow) for submitting a rough draft of revisions with the public opinion taken into account, Feb1oth will be a "draft revision" for the board and staff. March 10th is the next regular meeting with a final draft for the community. March 15th is the deadline for any notice for potential termination of staff (teacher) positions submitted to the state. The superintendent said that he didn't have time to incorporate the suggested items from the teachers since he had to write the draft resolution by Friday, huh? They kept stressing that the public can continue to comment till March but it sounds as if those comments won't necessarily be documented, kind of frustrating. One savvy parent sounded off about the meeting simply serving as a box to be checked off a list.

Sorry about the cliffnote version of the event but should you seek a forum to learn, discuss, and digest the issues with the school board members and district please email or phone him; 408-335-2000.
A community user group or open online forum would be a welcome tool due to the depth and breadth of the subject matter, but noticed most of the eyes at the table looking a bit glazed over at the suggestion so.....perhaps you can email the board and superintendent any ideas you may have. Maybe you'll have better luck. I hope so for all our sake.

So after you read the presentation of this "transparent" process it should be clear as Mud.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"If The Shoe Fits" or " Is Custom Made"

Criticism; to accurately describe the negative. Irony; an interpretation of something negative to accurately share details with a dash of dry wit. Snark; a lazy and referential stab as a knowing reference sent to inflame or injury. "If you don't have anything nice to say about anyone, come sit by me dear." My favorite quote by Miss Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She would have been my modern day best friend if not considered the trend setter of snark in her time.
Snark: The title of a new book by David Denby and a fascinating interview on Michael Krasnys' Forum show this week is worthy of your attention, really. Why take heart?
Since my personality is to throw gas on the fire whenever necessary or seemingly in need of a fuel boost sometimes just to watch the carnage burn, free throwing anguish metaphorically speaking is part and parcel of what i love about the blogshere. Well it just seems to go hand in hand..this blog is a natural extension of an itch that never goes away.
To quote David Denby “The trouble with today’s snarky pipsqueaks who break off a sentence or two, or who write a couple of mean paragraphs,” Denby notes, in a snarky aside of his own, “is that they don’t go far enough; they don’t have a coherent view of life. Spinning around in the media from moment to moment, they don’t stand for anything, push for anything; they’re mere opportunists without dedication, and they don’t win any victories.” Well that sums it up for me. If the shoe fits, I suppose I shall wear it. What Denby’s really talking about is consciousness, the idea that writers, thinkers, commentators ought to have a point of view. This seems obvious enough, but it tends to get lost in the noise of constant conversation, all the commenting and cross-posting, the tiny feuds and insignificant disputes. I do agree with Mr. Denby, we don't want to legislate the web but the web has liberated the dark side.
How to teach grace or good on-line manners to people like yours truly? Good Luck.

Time to lob the rhetorical question, what would the written word be without William Shakespeare and his sense of snark? Another saucy snarktress Maureen Dowd goddess of snark in my book and a bright spot in the blight of editorialized media. My favorite author Jack London named his boat "The Snark" Okay okay sure my standards have on occasion slummed but the pejorative makes my suburban subsistence less of a snore and a bit more palatable. You wouldn't be here reading on if it were any other way. ( All four of you.)

Where does one draw the line with the teasing? Pointing to the flaws of local government is taunting but isn't this part of the public discourse? Our local political scene sorely lacks any critical eye. The emperor has no clothes analogy taken to the village affect.

So wtf ? Is it wrong to be snarky ?

Not gonna win any points for Miss Congeniality. Lost that hope long ago.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hooray 4 YSI

Twelve weeks ago the community had a 911 call from YSI. The great news is that the community rallied and the goal was met this week. Our local spirit of philanthropic endeavors is alive and well. One family kicked in a $5oK pledge..But I was surprised that in this well heeled community that takes a no holds barred approach at putting it's well manicured foot on most things civic only this one large gift. No complains or rants, just surprise. Assumed or hoped that we would see more of that scale of grandiose giving. Well thank you one and all, large or small. The goal was met. Long live science! Summer schedules are available online and the ability to make class e-reservations for local educators also available on line. A little love note for you: If you pledged to the Campaign, please watch your email or regular mail for a pledge payment notice. Fulfill your pledge by mailing a check to YSI, 296 Garden Hill Drive, Los Gatos, CA 95032; payment by check saves the credit card processing fee.
Or, fulfill your pledge commitment online by clicking this link. You can also call in your credit card information to 408-356-4945.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here Comes The Ax

This is a big week in the hamlet of the cats. State of the Town is this evening and a discussion of the budget and proposed cuts to the school district tomorrow evening. With the Govenator still at an impasse on the budget for the state, we can be double dog sure that the writing on the wall can mean only one thing. Not that I have a crystal ball, but we have been spoon fed the economic indicators now for a long while. Knowing this, why the three day notice of a budget "workshop" from the local school board? Seems to me a longer run way would be required, heck think outta the box, set up a gmail or google group for the community to weigh in on these uber important issues and have a launch pad for the Tuesday meeting? It is no surprise to me that the current statistic lifted from the school board website states the following: The LGUSD Board considers the concerns of parents 79%. Ouch. I thought spanking was unfashionable, but it certainly feels like we are getting bent over somebodies' knee?? No?

I thought for those of you sans children at the moment and not privy to the school email list would enjoy the letter from our school Superintendent Richard Whitmore.
Sorry if it causes your blood pressure to rise, as it did mine... or maybe you live in the other camp, and your eyes will glaze over reading it- either way we are in for a rude awakening. Something that affects us all. I hope to see you at the meeting tomorrow. It's in our best interest to ask the critical questions because if we don't no one else will. Dave's Ave School, 6 p.m.

Dear Parents:
We’re entering into the budget development cycle for the 2009/10
school year, and as you may have heard at your school site or from
other parents, there are new constraints emerging on our district.
There are the continuing pressures on the budget from enrollment
growth – for which we receive no additional unrestricted funds to pay
for additional classrooms or teachers – and from the ongoing impact of
salary increases and “step and column” (career salary advancement)
movement. Salaries and benefits comprise 84 percent of the
district’s budget. Our reserves have been significantly reduced from
this tightening of the revenues and increased operating expenses of
the district.
On top of the natural pressures on the budget, we now also have to
consider the impact of the economy on our local schools. The Town of
Los Gatos and the City of Monte Sereno are taking a close look at
their revenue projections for property taxes, and those property taxes
are the dominant source of money for us as a “basic aid” district. If
the forecast for property tax revenue growth is reduced, we face a
further deficit of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition,
the state budget is in unprecedented territory; the amount of money we
receive from the state – albeit relatively small – is in jeopardy for
both the amount and the categories in which we receive the funding.
We’re also fearful that our local fundraising efforts to support our
schools will find a dampened reception in the face of the recession.
What does this mean for our district?
It does mean that the governing Board of Trustees and I will be
engaged in a discussion about possible reductions in force, or
“layoffs,” in addition to other budget savings we can find in any of
the categories of expenditure. I know from my short time here that
the Board values each employee and his or her service to the district,
and I know from my own observations and work to date that we have high
quality staff in every department and every school. We enter into
this discussion with the goal of protecting each and every job that
exists today, and would enact reductions only with the deepest regret.
As a practical matter, we need to provide preliminary notices by March
15 to certificated teaching employees; those notices are not final
until May according to education law. The March 15 deadline
necessarily drives the timing of our budget deliberations. Because of
the uncertainty around the state proposals, we do not know yet where
we will have flexibility to use existing sources of money, that are
now restricted, to support our general fund needs. For instance, K-3
class size reduction rules are likely to be changed but we don’t yet
know how. We are also waiting for more clarity on the revenue
forecasts for our local sources of funding, including the property
taxes and redevelopment fund. All of this uncertainty may require
notices to prepare for a worst-case scenario. Our general approach
to the budget at this time is to prepare for the worst and hope for
the best – and take action to help facilitate the best outcomes.
The Board will begin its discussion in earnest at its February
workshop, which takes place February 3rd at 6 p.m. at Daves Avenue
Elementary School, located at 17770 Daves Avenue – please note the
change in location. The sole item on the agenda will be a budget
discussion. At their regular meeting last week, the Board walked
through an exercise in prioritization to help the district office
staff develop budget proposals. One of the primary outcomes of that
discussion was that no budget reductions are “off the table” or
protected by Board direction. This upcoming workshop will not be a
decision-making forum, but a chance to deliberate, set direction, and
hear public comment.
I want to emphasize that there have been no decisions yet, and there
is ample time for many voices to be heard in this process. There is
also not an absolute expectation that notices will be required; it
depends on a host of factors that include the revenue forecasts, the
state actions, and even normally routine decisions such as
retirements. My best guess at this time is that a number of notices
will be required but we are all working to protect each and every
position in the district.
You will be hearing shortly from the Los Gatos Education Foundation
about its annual campaign, and your continued support of LGEF, Home
and School Clubs, Art Docents, and other booster groups helps us weather any storm.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. If you
are looking for more detail, take a look at the board packets on the web site; Maggi Reser and Matt Mullikin in our
technology office have built a great system to access our Board
presentation material and the past presentations on the budget are
available there.Best regards, Richard Whitmore Superintendent

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What do Zappos & Girl Scout Cookies Have In Common?

It's February, which means my fave Girl Scout Cookies will be here soon!

But Thin Mints need a social networking site?

Intrepid Girl Scouts - and their status-updating parents - think so, and are Facebooking their way to increased cookie sales this year. “It’s amazing what this tool has done” to quote a mom.

Duh... a bit more traffic than the farmer's market on Sunday mornings, imagine that.

Brownie Nicole Newton, Facebook sales=Going Places Plush Pony. The 8-year-old had hoped to sell 85 boxes of cookies to earn the prize, but was stuck at 83 when her mom, Beth, posted a frustrated status update - “I’m tired of selling Girl Scout cookies” - and sold a fast 10 boxes. Do you think knocking on a few more doors would have been less than effective? “She actually sold 93 boxes. It was all because of that horse,”

The organization frowns upon an e-commerce site for its iconic cookie program because the point of the sale must be the girls. Well a quick E Bay search debunks that notion. eBay returns at least a hundred listings for Girl Scout cookies. Some sellers claim that they're selling on behalf of their kids. The Girl Scouts of the USA sell about 200 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies every year, generating about $700 million in revenue. And although resales are a violation of the organization's policy, the Girl Scouts has not contacted eBay or sellers about pulling down the listings.

This February Girl Scouts will have a lighter burden to lug around. As the costs of baking and transporting the group's famous sweets shoot through the roof, the Girl Scouts of the USA has decided to package fewer cookies into boxes of Thin Mints, Do-si-dos and Tagalongs and to shrink the Lemon Chalet Creme cookies.

In order to give the customer the product they're used to, instead of raising the price, this was the only alternative: lowering the weight of the cookies rather than asking the customers to pay more," said Michelle Tompkins, a Girl Scouts spokeswoman.

Girl Scouts now blog, and spend way too much time on Facebook but traditionally sell the cookies to practice setting goals, managing money and working in teams. Each local council sets its own price, sometimes as high as $4.50 a box, though the nationwide average is $3.50.

Would have been nice to learn that the partially hydrogenated oils were axed too, but I suppose that will be a future battle.