Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A new love...

Meet Patty. Patty is an early 70's Schwinn Hollywood Cruiser and is all original except for the grips on the handle bars. She is my found treasure from the Elks Club Rummage Sale. I got the saddle bags there also. They still had bits of hay in them. The tassels I added myself. I just don't think a bike like this is complete without them. And I'm happy to say, that Patty is now world famous. I had coffee the other day at the San Francisco Ferry Building, and when I came out, a group of tourists were taking turns taking pictures standing next to my bike.

Who'd of thought...

There's no argument that the health care debate this summer has heated tempers. Cable and online news sources continue to fuel the fire with disinformation or coverage thereof. The whole thing to me is disturbing.

I'm disturbed by the leaps and bounds conservative spin doctors have taken with their arguments. What use to be brokered through nuance has become a genuine campaign of misleading claims intended to scare the bejesus out of the uninformed.

I actually have to admire their tactics. First they convince their constituency that the only credible source of information is from them, by trademarking phrases such as Fair and Balanced. Then they spend years spewing hate-filled, and often racist speech, until it is an accepted norm. Then they introduce historically fearful words like Communist, Fascist, and Nazi, betting that the fear those labels invoke will override the lack of context in which the words are used. Next, add what one would think are normally outrageous and entirely incredulous statements, stoke fear and anger to create a collective frantic state, and then send out your scared, confused fearful masses to do your dirty work.

I find it extraordinarily ironic that they would use the term Nazi, considering this is the exact tactic that Hitler used. He took over the media message, created fear of Jews through a massive campaign of misinformation, stoked peoples anger about the reparations from World War I and then sent them out to do his dirty work.

I'm feeling quite helpless in all of this. As I saw a woman cry on television about the loss of her America it made me wonder exactly what it is she believes she is losing. And then it made me mad. She and others who share her fear deserve to not be lied to, manipulated and used by power brokers willing to do anything to win.

Who thought people could be persuaded to not want health care? It worries me and makes me what else could the misinformed be persuaded to do?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Benchmarks

Every year, since I've been back in my home town, I've cobserved benchmarks of summer. Fourth of July Parade, the County Fair, a trip to the Beach Boardwalk are all usual benchmarks for our family. But this year has been a little different. We didn't do any of those things. Blame scheduling, a bad economy, or a bad mood. All of it seems to apply.

But there is one last benchmark that I won't give up, the Elks Club Rummage Sale. Every year on the first Friday in August, a hundred or more people gather behind yellow caution tape that marks off the sale area in the Elks Club parking lot. By now, I'm an old pro. I bring my own coffee, my old lady shopping cart and no less than $50 in small bills.

This is the rummage sale to end all sales. It's so big, it actually has departments: appliances, tools, sporting goods, books, toys, clothing, kitchenware, shoes, furniture, plants, luggage and knick-knacks. When the caution tape comes down there's a genuine rush in, people actually run to look for that one thing they hope to find.

Most years I look for two things: books and supplies for Burning Man. And even though I'm not going to the playa this year, I will likely head to sporting goods first to check out the bikes. I love bikes. Especially vintage Schwinn bikes, and I've found more than one there before!

After the bikes, I'll peruse the other departments until I come to the books. Usually I look for classics, books like Tom Sawyer or To Kill a Mocking Bird. These are books I generally like to have on hand to give people, especially To Kill a Mocking Bird. I also like to have extra copies of books I want my kids to read, like Animal Farm, and Of Mice and Men. This year, I will probably look for Harry Potter and the Narnia Series. Should be no-brainer.

When my money runs out I happily head towards my car, usually with cart full of gems, maybe a manual typewriter to add to my collection, a really cool vintage jacket, the odd appliance. And it's always hard to do this, because I always want to go back and find more treasures. To feel that sense of glee when I see something really cool that just days ago was another person's trash.

In this summer of downturn, it's nice to look forward to a benchmark that I know I can afford. And although I may not spend as much as I normally do, the treasure hunt will be just as fun.