Friday, July 18, 2008

We Can Make a Difference!!!!!

Go over to Life At Star's Rest for an update on the situation regarding the wild horses that the BLM wants to kill. It seems that things are looking up and the BLM may be held accountable for some of its actions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Enchanted Back Yard

The live oak trees in my back yard have grown into a tangle of branches that have created a canopy over the center of the yard. I expect to see Titania asleep under it but she has eluded me and my camera so far. The light that gets through the leaves in the mornings makes delightful patterns.

I call this tree Daphne. Can you see her face?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Updates and Shameless Self Promotion

Update #1: Last fall I wrote about Lani's obsession with the hole formed at the bottom of two trees that have grown together in our back yard. She would bolt out of the back door and run to the back side of the trees and poke her nose into the hole the run around to the front side and do the same thing. We could see nothing in the hole and could find no reason for her obsessive behavior. After a while, we did notice some twigs that had been dragged into the hole by something but we still don't know what. Then a few nights ago, we were sitting on the patio when I was sure I saw something on the tree trunk near the hole. We got a flash light and saw that it was a frog or toad of some kind. We still don't know how the twigs got in there.

Update #2: The verdict is still out on my laundry soap. It seems to leave a slight build up on the clothes after a while and it may not be taking oily stains out of fabric as well as I would like. I am still using it most of the time but I wash things in Seventh Generation liquid detergent about once a month. This is OK with me as it still means that I don't have to buy a plastic bottle very often. I will most likely have to buy one about every six or eight months at this rate.

Update # 3: I am loving the home made shower cleaner. The shower is cleaner than it ever was with the stuff I bought and because it is so cheap and easy to make, I use as much as I want. It also has very little scent but I am being careful not to breathe it because of the borax in it.

Now for the shameless self promotion: I have started writing at Associated Content. Please click here to read my published articles and subscribe to my page if you feel like it. That way, you will get notified when I publish and I might actually get paid a little bit if enough people read/sign up.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Political Mumbo Jumbo

I sent an email to Barak Obama voicing my extreme disappointment at his voting for the FISA bill. Here is the message I got from his campaign:

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act. Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance - making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives - and the liberty - of the American people.

Paid for by Obama for America

I still don't know what to think about it all. It would have passed whether or not he had taken the time to show up and vote. It would have passed even if he had voted against it.

Soundtrack for this post: Spin by David LaMotte. You can listen to it here.

Six o'clock dinner,
the family falls silent
Move over a little
I can't see the screen
The man in the box speaks in high definition
Turn it up loud so I won't hear the screams
More about bad things the bad guys are doing
More about how I need what they sell
And right down the road they are building a prison
On the whole the economy's doing quite well
Give me the update, tell me again
Show me the difference between us and them
Give it a number between one and ten
Give me the headline
Give me the spin
A picture is fading inside of a wallet
Inside of a pocket in the pants of a man
Soggy with saltwater there in the dark
In a dead submarine from a faraway land
Saltwater runs down the face of a woman
As she thinks how he can't be all he could be
Need I point out the pointless pointing of fingers
And the point of a missile that's pointed at me?
Our side appears to be up for the moment
They taste defeat we decide they deserve
We shoot the horizon and catch our own bullets
And find it is only the hatred we serve
Give me the update, tell me again
Show me the difference between us and them
Give it a number between one and ten
Give me the headline
Give me the spin

Monday, July 7, 2008

We Can Do Better Than This

One of my favorite blogs is Life at Star's Ranch, written by Carmon Deyo. Carmon lives with a herd of mustangs that have been taken from their natural habitat and somewhat domesticated. She lives am amazing life and her writing fascinates me. She is, of course, passionate about the fate of the wild horses who live on BLM land. In case you have not heard, The BLM is making moves to reduce the herds to levels that many feel will threaten the genetic viability of future off spring. The following was copied from Carmon's blog. I hope you will visit Life at Star's Ranch and that you will send a message to the BLM expressing the oppinion that we can do better than killing horses.

Mustang euthanasia update:

A number of non-horsepeople have asked me what they can do to help. Our friend, Nancy Kerson, in California wrote this excellent letter to the BLM filled with well thought out suggestions and ideas. With her permission, I am posting it here for others to use as inspiration. Please read through it and whatever solutions and suggestions appeal to you, email or phone the BLM with your thoughts.

For the BLM comment link click here. BLM phone, 800-710-7597. Also, please contact your own state representatives to share your feelings and thoughts on this proposal by the BLM.


The Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971 was not, is not, and should not become, a program for treating wild horses as expendable livestock, or as a harvestable commodity. The purpose remains to preserve viable wild horse herds on America's public lands, as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that . contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people;" and to protect and find good homes for surplus animals removed from the range.

I am adamantly opposed to the killing of America's wild horses. The thought sickens me. I recognize that the problem has been allowed to become huge, seemingly ot of hand, with some 30,000 captive wild horses now being supported in holding facilities. Killing them off certainly offers the quickest and in some ways "cleanest" solution, but one that is abhorrent to me and many other Americans.

Let's think creatively. There may not be one single solution to so large a problem, but here are a number of suggestions for partial solutions, which, if enacted together, would take the pressure off the current crisis:

1. Add a checkbox to each taxpayer's 1040, next to "Do you want to contribute $3 to presidential election campaigns?" This box would ask if the taxpayer would like to contribute $1 for wild horses. This dollar could either come out of the taxpayer's tax bill, or added to it. I would venture to guess that several million dollars could be raised in this way each year - not everyone will say yes, but many will. Money collected would be used to support captive wild horses in sanctuaries as an alternative to killing them.

2. Ask every zoo or similar city or regional park to take a 3-to-12-animal wild horse exhibit. Several thousand of the older, unadoptable horses could be re-homed in this way. By providing public access to these animals via the zoo and its educational & interpretive displays, public awareness and interest in wild horses would increase, likely resulting in an increase in adoptions over the long term.

3. Provide a tax credit or similar monetary incentive for people or corporations with large land holdings to allow wild horses to be released and maintained on some of their land - similar to adoption, only these older, unadoptable animals would simply be allowed to live out their lives, not tamed and trained. As has been demonstrated in an industrial park outside Reno, the presence of a small herd of wild horses adds greatly to the ambience and pleasantness of the working environment for many people.

None of the above constitutes a complete fix, but they would greatly ameliorate the current crisis and could be implemented relatively quickly.

But what about the future? What will prevent this same crisis from happening again in a few years?

Large scale emergency gathers remain - two years after reaching AML - the main tool in use for managing wild horses. This has to change!

More attention paid to creative & effective on-the-range management, rather than relying entirely on gathers, is critical to maintaining thriving, genetically viable populations in numbers compatible with their environment, and with animals being gathered only in numbers that can be accommodated by the adoption program.

1. Birth control must be applied on a broad scale - not with the goal of zeroing out a herd, (as many will fear) but rather of preserving herd health and genetic viability, and reducing the frequency of gathers to maintain AML. If each wild mare produced a foal only every three or four years instead of annually, the mare herself would be healthier, the herd would still enjoy a normal functional herd "lifestyle," and the herd would increase in size at a much slower rate, resulting in less frequent and smaller gathers.

2. BLM and the individual states where wild horses are managed, should cooperate with other ecological and economic development agencies to address the bizarre irony of removing wild horses from some of the most marginal lands on the planet and shipping them off and paying Midwestern farmers to care for them on some of the finest grasslands in the Midwest - so that a relative handful of cattlemen can use this extremely fragile, marginal desert land to raise cattle, who are best suited to the very grasslands where the horses are being shipped. I realize that the Cowboy and his lifestyle in the Great Basin is a sacred icon in our culture, but so too are wild horses. Perhaps the promotion of Eco-tourism, focusing on wild horse viewing, could help transition cowboys into something a little more ecologically and economically viable, in which the wild horse becomes his friend instead a nuisance or threat to be eradicated.

3. Recognizing that climatic change will continue to create extended droughts in the Great Basin areas, while human development and minerals exploration will increase pressures on those same lands, it seems inevitable that we will continue to lose wild horse habitat, even without the cooperation of BLM. Given that, I would like to see the establishment of several Wild Horse Historical Parks throughout the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Management areas, managed in cooperation with another agency, such as the National Park Service. Such areas would be chosen for the special qualities of the horses living there, general historical interest and natural beauty of the area.

Exact areas are beyond the scope of this letter - and I recognize that everyone has their favorite herd area, as I do - but the point would be to guarantee that at least some of the better wild horse-producing areas in each state would be permanently exempt from pressures to zero them out or reduce them to a point of genetic non-viability. Ranching within the boundaries would not necessarily be eliminated but would be designated "demonstration" activities, for the education and viewing pleasure of visitors, and conducted on a smaller scale than currently.

Meg Getty of Reno tried to develop a "National Wild Horse Center" in the Pine Nut Mountains outside Carson City a few years ago. This would have been an interpretive center for tourists, complete with dining and souvenir sales, combined with a small adoption center and ongoing training center. To me, this is the kind of creative thinking needed to maintain & improve public attitudes toward wild horses and burros, which ultimately would result in improved adoption rates.

4. Currently the "Mustang Challenge" and "Extreme Mustang Makeover" competitions conducted by the Mustang Heritage Foundation are excellent, creative programs working to improve adoptions rates by showing the public the value and trainability of the animals. This kind of thing needs to be supported and furthered.

5. Wild horses must be re-classified as Native Species. This is consistent with modern knowledge. Laws written back when horses were thought to be invasive, non-native species must be revised to reflect the now-known reality that horses are indeed native. Horses simply had the good sense to re-establish themselves in their original territory at no cost to the taxpayer (unlike condors, various fish species, bighorn sheep, etc)

6. Since pressure from cattlemen & hunters seems to be one of the major reasons for continuing large-scale gathers, provide a tax credit, rebate, or similar monetary incentive for cattlemen and bighorn sheep hunters to allow larger numbers of wild horses to share the range. We now pay farmers not to cultivate their acreage. Why not pay cattlemen not to raise cattle (or simply to tolerate and not interfere with the presence of horses)? Assess each bighorn sheep permit with extra dollars that would go to habitat improvement to benefit wild horses as well as game species.

7. Expand the Cottage Contractor program, revive and expand the "Wild Horse Workshops" that used to be offered once a year in cooperation with BLM & volunteer mentoring groups, and expand the "Trainer Incentive" program currently operated by the Mustang Heritage Foundation, to improve the adoptability of horses who are gathered from public lands.

All of the above ideas are aimed at preventing the numbers of animals in long-term holding to ever again reach the disaster level we are seeing today.


Nancy Kerson

Active & Dedicated BLM Volunteer since 2001, working to promote adoptions through mentoring new adopters, performing compliance checks, bringing my own "ambassador" horses to adoptions, parades, fairs, and other events, halter training and finding homes for "reassignment" horses, producing events that promote adoption;

Writer and creator of Mustangs "4" Us!, non-political, educational, informative & inspiring website to promote wild horse & burro adoption and public appreciation for wild horses & burros on the range;

Adopter/purchaser of 6 BLM wild horses and 2 Burros

Here is the letter I sent to the BLM. I struggled to make it as positive as possible but I think I fell short in that regard.

I feel that there has to be a more imaginative solution to the issue of wild horses on BLM land than to kill them. Does anybody really want to do this? Do the people who make these decisions want to be the ones with blood on their hands? I sincerely hope not. We as a society have a choice as to whether or not we want to solve issues that we percieve as problems with integrity. I hope that integrity and imagination can be applied to this situation.

I know that the issue is somewhat complicated and that it is connected to ranching interests in the area. Does anybody really think that the horses grazing in the mountains keep them from having a steak or hamburger whenever they want it? Do the ranchers in the area realize that they are living a lifestyle of their own choosing and that no one is making them stay there? There are many other ways to live on this planet and not everyone has the opportunity to live the way these people do. Many would consider it an honor and a privilige to get to do so. In order to maintain an environment in which such a lifestyle can exist, doesn't it make sense to honor all parts of that enviroment? Are we only interested in species from which we can reep immediate financial gain? Do we see no value in life otherwise? Our past is full of incidents where we have taken the resources and the lives of others, human and non-human alike. Can't we do better than this now?

It is my understanding that I am writing this letter to the Bureau of Land Management as opposed to the Bureau of Ranchland Management. It is my hope that the well being of all of the inhabitants of the land will be taken into consideration.

Soundtrack for this post:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rattle Snake Vodka

This has to be one of the weirdest things I have read. It gives 'kissing the worm' a whole new meaning.

From the Fort Worth Star Telegram;
Texas Police Seize Rattlesnake Vodka March 20, 2008

Police in Texas seized a stock of moonshine vodka bottled with 10-inch rattlesnakes inside and reportedly destined for Asia, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported March 15.
Agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) raided Bayou Bob's Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch in Palo Pinto County and seized 411 bottles of the rattlesnake vodka. The agents plan to charge the owner, Bob Popplewell, with selling alcohol without a permit and possession of alcohol with intent to sell.
Popplewell has acknowledged exporting tens of thousands of turtles to Asia, where they are considered a delicacy, and alcohol agents believe the rattlesnake vodka was destined for the same region. An online search found Asian companies selling such exotic products as scorpion vodka, cobra whiskey, giant centipede whiskey, herbal gecko lizard wine, and eel wine.
"It's very bizarre," said TABC Sg. Charlie Cloud said. "We learned that these are believed to contain aphrodisiac properties. We heard that some people believe having a venomous animal creates hallucinations."

Soundtrack foro this post: Ray Wylie Hubbard's Snake Farm