Saturday, July 30, 2005

Fresh Blog Posts

Hot topics and the freshest postings of the last few days:

Indochina Update from Tom Hutchings with the most beautiful picture of the Saigon River;

"Bill" Clarke has words of wisdom and comments about "peaceniks,"

Finally a public vote about something for Los Osos that's not about the sewer project!

Seems like downtown Lompoc is waking up! Ron Fink's post will get you smiling.

The women and men of the Lompoc Peace and Justice Coalition introduce you to critical thinking.
Suddenly lovely Lompoc is the hotbed of bloggers! We also understand there's more publicity coming this week to our community effort of online conversations. We'll accept all the local promotion we can get.

After all, this is for all of us Central Coasters who have an interest in our local politics and a desire to leave a comment, or email the editor. Go ahead, try it.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Masthead Picture

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Big Backyard Fence!

Howdy neighbor, thanks for reading the current New Times cover story and stopping by. We've got a new page with the latest in the Los Osos Sewer story. It's called "Los Osos Views" and features the contributions of Ron Crawford, former editor of the Bay Breeze, and reporter for The Bay News from 1990 to 1992.

Crawford's arrival makes a total of twelve locals writing for us, more than double since last week! This blog could be the largest virtual backyard fence where neighbors gather when they have time to share concerns. Chew the fat. Learn the facts. Plan some action. Get stuff done!

There's room for all the topics across this fence because it's a big, friendly, beautiful backyard. Post a comment or send an email, would you? And, please, tell a friend about our Central Coast blog! Thank you.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Media News, Governor's Blues, Ex-Pat Green and Lompoc Views

A media column by Dave Congalton, comments of a man going after Lois Capps' 23rd Congressional District seat and what it's like for a Vietnam vet to return to that war-torn country and teach English, plus two very different views from lovely Lompoc...all new blogging in this current edition! Welcome.

For some time, Dave Congalton has wanted to write a behind-the-scenes local media review of what's hot and who's not. Now Dave's "Medialogue" is on the web and right on target, including the latest ratings just released and which ailing North County air personality you might send a get well card.

Audiologist and Republican candidate, Dr. Don Regan, is trying to unseat Lois Capps. A state court ruling this week means Gov. Schwarzeneggar's redistricting initiative won't appear on the upcoming ballot. Could this be a total threat to democracy? Dr. Don presents his reasoned reaction.

Ever wonder where is Tom Hutchings, former SLO resident and Green Party candidate for the 33rd Assembly District? The decorated Vietnam veteran is providing English lessons for the people and learning lessons from the people U.S. forces once bombed and he's sending these dispatches home.

An outspoken Lompoc aerospace engineer and civic minded person, Ron Fink is a man with an unforgettable name. Ron presents us with a question: how bad can an oil spill be for the environment, if Mother Nature herself lets thousands of barrels a day seep into our coastal seawaters?

Psychologist William J. "Bill" Clarke of Lompoc takes on another local Lompoc columnist about terrorism. Should America "show no mercy" or does America need to demonstrate "Peace Power," since we've already shown "war power" for so many years? What's this have to do with Lompoc air quality?

The rest of the usual suspects are here: CrankyAnne is still cranky and "Newsstand Greg" gives you the particulars of who we look for to blog with us and use our commonsense style guide. This is your space, you make it happen! You are invited to click in and comment anytime. Or you can email us: centralcoastnewsmission at

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Tempus Fugits II

I recently attended the 40th reunion of my high school graduating class. The Class of 1965, for goodness' sake! How did four decades elapse that fast? What do I say to express that on the one hand, it seems pretty much like yesterday that we walked across the terrace of our all-girls Catholic high school? While on the other hand, there are days when I swear I look and feel ancient? Of course, "ancient" is relative, I know, but if I hold up my graduation picture next to my reflection in the merciless bathroom mirror I wish to be committed forthwith to the nearest facility for the intentionally insane.

When she was halfway through her 90's my Grandma shared with me her puzzlement about the difference between how she felt inside and the image she met in her mirror. "AnnE," she told me, "sometimes I don't understand how that can be me in a mirror. Most days I still feel like the girl I once was--not the old lady in the glass." Then we both agreed that you're only as old as you feel and that she looked mighty good for her age. Besides, I told her, she still had that wonderful sassy sparkle in her eyes, and age was mostly relative.

Grandma finally gave up the proverbial ghost when she was 105. It was her idea, believe me, because she couldn't wait any longer and she asked me constantly, "When is Saint Peter going to let me in?" Up until her passing, Grandma looked 20 years younger than her birth certificate asserted. Old but not that old. And the sparkle never diminished no matter how many wrinkles. A Life lived and never reduced by the living.

I'm picturing San Luis Obispo as I type this. Folks are so afraid of overdevelopment here. Even relative newcomers wax eloquent about the quaintness and wholesomeness of San Luis the way it was over 20 years ago--and they weren't even living here then. God forbid a WalMart invade our fair boundaries because it will single-handedly cause the utter and complete demise of San Luis as we have come to know and love it. Citizens rant and rally around the vision of a beautiful small town cradled in glorious green spaces between the Santa Marias and the Seven Sisters marching eternally to the Pacific. People glory in our weather, our air, our water, our proximity to truly pristine, uncrowded beaches, and the community itself.

Many are uncomfortable with the changing of San Luis' "face." As long as the changes appear gradual and minimally invasive, we're okay with change. As long as we continue to see San Luis through the eyes of humans afraid to age themselves, we're not going to be okay with change. And, just like humans who eventually and inevitably age--that is to say, change dramatically--San Luis is aging. San Luis is changing.

Even though I am a native Californian (born and raised in Los Angeles like my mother before me), I did not meet San Luis Obispo until the mid-80's. San Luis was my marketing territory and I loved it immediately and dreamed of moving here to raise my family. I bought fruit at Williams Brothers on Foothill, an outfit at Riley's, ate dinner at the restaurant on the hilltop now occupied by KSBY. Somehow I loved the downtown without The Downtown Centre. When I finally settled here in 1997 I wasn't impressed with the Centre because there were places just like it all over California and back East. It was nice but it didn't impress and I certainly didn't think that it somehow "made" the Downtown.

What makes Downtown special for me, and many others like me, has nothing whatsoever to do with chain stores. It is the sense of community that pervades the atmosphere. It is the Plaza with all the functions and events that happen there. It is Farmers' Market. The Christmas Parade. Poly's WOW festivities. A bonafide cigar store Indian. An authentic Mission. Even the parade of tractors protesting Measure Q. All the chain stores in the world can't spoil the fun. Happy faces up and down the streets because if you're a tourist here, you can't believe a place like this still exists in California; if you're a resident here, you're happy (and your face shows it) because you know you're not a tourist--this is home.

I honestly believe that neither the Home Depot and Costco "complex" nor the Marketplace development will change San Luis' face beyond recognition. All the development downtown did nothing to hurt our opportunity to shine as a "Small Town America" winner. Paul Brown (Mother's Tavern and City Council Member) eloquently declares that competition is good for downtown and I agree with him. As San Luis "ages," change is inevitable and development is certain. Do I want WalMart? No. I can hop down to Arroyo Grande for "those kind of stores." I'd love to see a Target here. Old Navy, too. Have you seen the inside of a Whole Foods? We can support that. Keep Target out of downtown, though. Put it out with the "big box boys and girls" down near all those car dealerships. (Where more of the same is going in soon.)

As for keeping the Dalidio farm as some sort of symbol identifying us as an agricultural community--let folks drive out Los Osos Valley Road and O'Connor Way and Highway 1--that's where we find the most gorgeous farmland in San Luis. The San Luis Obispo that we all really want to preserve is on those farms and ranches. The Dalidio property is pretty but really take a look at what bounds it. And try to understand the constraints forced upon the Dalidios by that which surrounds their farmland. Tractors and noisy farm equipment limited to certain hours, and appropriate anti-pest measures (spraying, etc.) dictated by others because the "neighbors" complain about the farm doing, well, farming.

I'm just perverse enough to suggest that The Marketplace would be a dandy way to "fool" all those Southern Californians and those "Valley People"--they would think we were pretty similar to a gazillion other growing communities across the state and they would keep going. But the joke would be on them because we've preserved our crown jewel--our true Downtown.

San Luis is aging, and aging well I'd say. Her face is changing and that is as it should be. Like my Grandma's face. The sparkle and sass are still there in the eyes. She's finding it more and more necessary to put more energy into "looking young" but the essence of community is alive and well Downtown. We need to help her remain true to her traditions without allowing her to become too dowdy.

I probably will be one of the oldsters one day who will say that I hardly recognize San Luis Obispo compared to when I first arrived here. But I bet you good money that I will still love San Luis Obispo however she ages. We live in Paradise. Even with big box stores arriving.

As long as we maintain our Downtown, all will be right in my world.
--"Cranky" AnnE

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Tempus Fugits

During the years I lived at home--until I wended my way off to college--my folks exposed us to some unusual euphemisms. Partly geographical due to my father's depression-era Iowan boyhood, and partly serendipitous due to my mother's facility with English as filtered through her dark sense of humor, these expressions peppered our familial lexicon and baffled those around us.

Like the word "biffy." Dad would ask us if we needed to go there. Or he would announce he was going there. Or we would guess he was going there when he strolled down the hall with the latest edition of Reader's Digest Condensed Books under his arm and make a left into the room that--for many families--functioned as a common person's library. Countless acquaintances throughout my life have queried me about the word and I am always surprised that everyone doesn't go to a "biffy." I finally found the word in my new dictionary--the one I bought because it contained the word "pissant." Turns out that my Dad's "biffy" is an Upper Midwestern word for an outdoor toilet (outhouse) or an indoor toilet, a possible alteration of the word "privy." So there.

As for my mother's contributions, they represented a variety of words and phrases that showcased her splayed humor. The title of this blog is something she used to say because she thought it more apt than the proverbial English "time flies." Any Latin scholar will tell you that there is no "s" on the end of "fugit" because it denotes a singular present tense on its own but my mother didn't care, and we've continued her mutilation of the phrase ever since. And she especially enjoyed the word "pissant." Both she and my Dad would occasionally encounter just the right person to whom they could ascribe the word.

I'm thinking about all this now for several reasons. Because language intrigues me. Words are important to me for myriad reasons, and I am increasingly sorry that some mighty good words are beyond the ken of ordinary people nowadays. I am especially annoyed by the loss of some words because they have been co-opted by some special interest group or other to describe something or someone that was spoken of differently in the not-so-distant past. And this week one of my bright seventh graders in our critical thinking class offered up her (mostly) unsolicited observation that "gay people are cool." (Right after we spent some serious class time defining the words "cool" and "uncool.")

This is the same class to which I introduced three of the foremost Greek philosophers and, in the discussion on Socrates, I remembered that his wife, Xanthippe, was rumored to be a shrew. The kids were quite surprised to learn that Xanthippe is sometimes used to denote a shrewish woman. And they had never before heard the word "termagant," which claims the same meaning. Ergo, we could suppose that Xanthippe was a termagant. (So is Nancy Pelosi sometimes but that's another blog.) To the kids' credit, their eyes did not glaze over and they asked if there were any other interesting words to describe people--especially problematic acquaintances in their spheres of influence.

So I offered up "pissant." With the caveat that this word was only to be addressed to really nasty peers with penchants for demeaning or denigrating others--others who, for whatever reason, are unable to defend themselves. Wow! The kids wrestled with the possibilities and came to the conclusion that there just might arise an occasion during junior high or early high school when the most powerful weapon against a verifiable bully could be the phrase "you are so uncool and a pissant, too!"

Granted, we all agreed to use discretion and make darned sure that we pulled this off in a very public place with lots of witnesses. Not too much of a stretch because bullies frequently operate in a fairly public square, so to speak. And we all agreed that the most powerful phrase uttered in public in school these days is "you're uncool/that's uncool." We also determined that it's not who's saying the phrase that causes heads to swivel, it's the recipient(s) who draw(s) the attention. We also pondered how the word "cool" has survived intact all these 40-50 years. Not a lot of popular words can claim such longevity.

Once upon a time within the past six or seven years I called a family member's behavior towards me "vituperative." My brother, after looking the word up for himself, agreed with me that the very best description for what he had witnessed was, indeed, vituperative. He called me recently to inform me that he found the rhetoric of some left-wingers to be, well, full of vituperation. I saluted his use of the word and commented that I found both sides of the national debate to be guilty of vituperating. I now have a new word for the kiddos this coming week because we have spent a great deal of time discussing how certain rhetoric and diction can cause polarization and make informed and intelligent debate nearly impossible. It can also destroy conversation.

Now if I can just avoid being a termagant about what I see as the erosion of perfectly good language, then I'll be cool. And if I can do my part to resurrect some more colorful words to deploy in what I perceive as a war on words (and language), that shall be really cool. And if some brave young person somewhere, sometime tells off an adolescent pissant, then I do believe that would be beyond cool. --"Cranky" AnnE

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

New Postings Of Note

Did you see Tom Cruise on television, jumping up and down on Oprah's couch? A man possessed! In media interviews, Mr. Cruise has also taken time to blast psychiatry. Our blogger from Atascadero, Craig Louis Dingman, gives us another opinion.

Our newest blogger is Dawn Ortiz-Legg, who checks in with information on what an eye care mission in Guatemala is all about. The San Luis Obispo resident lists upcoming action events of note on the Central Coast.

Always one to face a challenge head on, Ann Calhoun of Los Osos, tackles the topic of pit bull dogs and little children they maul. Oh, and the dogs' owners who don't seem to know what kind of animal they're dealing with.

How was your Fourth of July? Newsstand Greg reflects on what it meant this year from where he saw it in Lompoc, and how the Fourth was different than in years past, and--how it's the same.

More writers are signing up all the time and will be posting here soon. This is your space, you make it happen! You are invited to click in and comment anytime. Or you can email us: centralcoastnewsmission at

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