Posted by: twotrees | February 26, 2017

Admired from afar

bill-paxtonBill Paxton, the emmy-winning actor, died yesterday a 61 from complications from surgery. Bill was on the first cover of Ventana Monthly back in June, 2006. He lived, at least part-time, in Ojai. Every time we’d go up the hill to Osteria Monte Grapa at its former location on Signal Street with the large outdoor patio, Bill would be there surrounded by a gaggle of kids, which I assume were his. You could tell what kind of man he was simply by observing their dinner party, always lots of laughter and good will.

Life is full of complications, some that can be overcome, some that cannot. I feel sorry for his family and friends…  Read Ivor Davis’ interview with him in Ventana here:


Posted by: twotrees | February 19, 2017

The problem with torture

imageApparently torture is becoming more accepted by Americans, so says Darius Rejali in an LA Times Op-Ed piece today. In 2001, 56% of Americans were opposed to torture. In 2015, 58% considered it justifiable.
And the growth of acceptance is largely based on one’s political beliefs: eight out of 10 Republicans support it while four out of 10 Democrats do.

Professor Rejali and two of his colleagues analyzed 43 surveys released between 2001 and 2015 to arrive at their conclusions.

And when president Trump speaks openly of bringing back torture, it only helps to fuel the acceptance of such tactics, wrong as that might be.

This is not the American way. Our exceptionalism includes rising above what others may do.  Torture is barbarous and beneath us as a civilized society.   It is not how we are going to make America great in the future…

Posted by: twotrees | February 1, 2017

Get on John Lennon’s bus…

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The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus rolled into Ventura today and parked at the Sheridan Way Elementary School off Ventura Avenue. Working with students who participate in the Harmony Project, a handful of students from area schools came together to write, perform and learn about how to make a track and video of the experience.

The bus is a non-profit mobile recording studio dedicated to the providing students of all ages with free hands-on opportunities.

Today was special because Lawrence Juber, former guitarist for Paul McCartney’s band Wings, presided over songwriting, recording and mixing. Because public school music programs are all but extinct, this is a chance for young artists to live the dream for a day.  Now in its 20th year of service, the bus tours the country, driving over 200,000 miles annually around America. Cool beans!

Posted by: twotrees | October 24, 2016

The benefits of salmon you didn’t know…

Master gardeners know that fish emulsion is one of the best fertilizers to stimulate plant growth and health.   An editorial in today’s Los Angeles times explains how salmon swimming upstream’s adds to the overall biological health of the echo system of our mountains streams and even our oceans here in California.    It makes perfect sense and is one of those truths that has been hiding in plain sight since time began.

The recent droughts and the years of man made water diversion making it more difficult for Salmon to get upstream where they are either eating or die of natural causes.   In either case their nutrient filled remains  decompose in return back into the earth and our waterways to flow downstream to feed flora far and wide.

This cycle has been intact for thousands of years but is being threatened which in turn could diminish the bounty that the Golden State is known for.

Read about it here:

Posted by: twotrees | September 18, 2016

Reefer Madness

Here’s something new:  The Los Angeles Times is urging voters to approve  Proposition 64, which would legalize pot in California.   In their editorial today, the Times explains why and how they changed their position from six years ago to now agree with the current proposed legislation.

Eighty years ago the film Reefer Madness was released, extolling the horors of the bitter weed.  Filled with debaushery, gun play and murder, the movie affected public opinion for decades.  Then America’s longest war, the war on drugs, came into vogue  in 1971 and America has spent trillions of dollars fighting a war that can’t be won solely by trying to restrict supply.

Today, with roughly 15% of American adults consuming cannibas in some form, It appears that the Times sees the tipping point on the subject has come.  Will voters?


Posted by: twotrees | March 22, 2016

Our own worst enemy

]imageMy wife is reading a book on the subject of health entitled ‘How not to die” by Michael Gregor M.D.  Being someone who prefers life over death myself, I have been pursuing it as time permits. Chapter one speaks to the point that  most physicians are not trained in the science of nutrition. To quote from the text,  “It’s bad enough that most medical schools don’t even require a single course on nutrition, but it’s even worse when mainstream media medical organizations actively lobby against increased nutrition education for physicians.”

It goes on to discuss how certain corporate relationships with companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s and the American Egg Board  make and some donations to organizations in return for providing information and advisory edits to fact sheets before they become public.

It’s pretty clear that the American diet is a major contributor to illness in our country, yet there are those who wish physicians, those  in a strong position to advocate change,  remain ignorant on the subject.    To get a sense of what we’re talking about here’s an example of some testimony on a Senate Bill the came up a few years ago.   It runs about 36 minutes, but I think if you watch the first five minutes then roll back to minute 30 or 32 you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about.

I want to think that commonsense will come back in style soon, but I don’t know when…


Posted by: twotrees | March 3, 2016

Ahwahnee Forever

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Yesterday, March 1, marked the changing of the name of Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee  Hotel to the Majestic  Yosemite Hotel.   The move was done by the National Park Service to avoid a lawsuit with Delaware North, a former concessionaire at the park who claims rights to the name as well as the word Yosemite and other lesser names.   The hotel, which opened in 1927 is a masterpiece of big timber and stone architecture.   You know there’s  something wrong when corporate America threatens to destroy the heritage of such storied landmarks.    The national park and hotel  names, while not original Miwok, keeps  alive the now extinct spoken word of this Sierra based tribe of native Americans.   Their loss is a loss for everyone and we can only hope that the courts agree and allow the poetic original names to be used again in the future.   Until then…

Posted by: twotrees | February 25, 2016

FBI v Apple

Over the past week there has been much discussion about the dispute between the FBI and Apple regarding the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. A friend of mine is a G man. He forwarded me this letter written by FBI Director Jim Comey on the subject:

“The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice. Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That’s what this is. The American people should expect nothing less from the FBI.

“The particular legal issue is actually quite narrow. The relief we seek is limited and its value increasingly obsolete because the technology continues to evolve. We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land. I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that. Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.

“Reflecting the context of this heart-breaking case, I hope folks will take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other. Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure – privacy and safety. That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before. We shouldn’t drift to a place – or be pushed to a place by the loudest voices – because finding the right place, the right balance, will matter to every American for a very long time.

“So I hope folks will remember what terrorists did to innocent Americans at a San Bernardino office gathering and why the FBI simply must do all we can under the law to investigate that. And in that sober spirit, I also hope all Americans will participate in the long conversation we must have about how to both embrace the technology we love and get the safety we need.”

My friend adds is this for consideration:

“With respect to privacy, when a federal law enforcement agency is conducting an investigation its agents can issue a federal grand jury subpoena to obtain virtually any kind of record (bank, telephone, etc.). If the investigating agents can establish probable cause to a judge, they can obtain a warrant to search your office, your house, your safety deposit box, your computer – anything.”

The question here is why it is the request to open a phone any different?

Posted by: twotrees | April 22, 2015

We’re different but we’re the same

Every now and again I wonder why the world is so messy, at least from a human interaction perspective.
In large part it’s because people are not use to certain things, not exposed to other people, religions, customs, etc…

Today at lunch I mentioned to a friend that wonderful scene from Elmer Gantry where Burt Lancaster walks into a gospel church while the flock is singing On My Way to Canaan’s Land. Many in the pews pause, stop singing and look at the interloper.  He’s white, they’re black and may feel that he doesn’t fit in. That’s a normal response – we all fear the unknown, in this case, he’s unknown to them.

But once he starts to sing, everything changes and without a hitch, all get back into the groove and he is accepted.  It’s a great analog for what the world could be – all different but ultimately, all more the same that we know.

Posted by: twotrees | January 13, 2015

When 1/2% is bigger than 10%

National Public Radio percentagethis morning discussed a recent study  by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that shows that 75% of new home buyers only fill out one loan application when buying a home.  In other words, they don’t shop around.  That’s odd because most people will make a buying decision or change a habit for as little as $5 but when it comes to savings hundreds or thousands of dollars over time, they are less motivated.

This has something to do with the Weber-Fechner Law of Psychophysics says that the ‘just-noticable difference between two stimuli is proportional to the magnitude of the stimuli.’  In other words saving 10% on a pair of shoes might stimulate people whereby saving a half percent on your home or car loan may not.

Over time, most people would agree that a half point on a $200,000 loan amounts to thousands of dollars saved.  But because it’s over a long period of time, it’s less perceptible.

This is a great opportunity for lenders to educate consumers that small things can really add up.

This theory is not limited to buying things – it also applies to saving money – the difference between a 5% and 8%  rate of return on your investments could mean the difference of when and if you can afford to retire.  Financial literacy is generally not taught in our schools, which is why so many Americans run into money problems sometime during their adult lives.  If we were to change that, our whole society would benefit.  It’s that the best idea?


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