Sunday, June 27, 2021


Immigration is such a touchy topic -- all those illegals entering our country -- maligned by so many.  Do we benefit from low priced food because of the labors some provide?  

Some of them may make up the farm workers who harvest our fresh produce, vegetables and fruit.  Mostly they earn only starvation wages, have no health care, meager possessions, pathetic housing conditions.  Decades pass and these issues seem never to go away, ebbing and flowing from bad to worse and back again.

Living in the Midwest when I was young my awareness of the laborers harvesting our food out west was not in my consciousness.   I became accustomed to seeking ways to earn money that began in my early years as my mother incentivized me when I helped her with a sideline greeting card business.  This was long before greeting cards other than for the really big sellers at Christmas were readily available in stores.  

We took orders for the Christmas cards by the box, plain or name engraved.  The other cards we sold throughout the year when someone would phone saying they needed only one or the other card for some occasion from a box of "everyday cards" we kept on hand -- get well, birthday, anniversary, sympathy.  I delivered them on my bicycle and received a small amount of pay from my mother for my efforts.

We moved to the country the year I started Jr. High School.  One summer I learned of a farm down the highway from where we lived that was hiring workers to harvest potatoes on an upcoming Saturday.  I was enthusiastic about this opportunity to earn some extra spending money.  I was to be paid by the weight of the potatoes I gathered though I don't recall now the rate.  

We followed a tractor pulling a mechanical device unearthing the potatoes allowing us to pluck each one from the dirt  to add to the huge bag we drug behind us.  Our bag filled we took them to a wagon for weighing and emptying together with all the others.  

I remember how dirty, hot and sweaty the work was, exhausting me at the end of the picking day.  I hadn't set any records for the meager number of total potatoes I harvested so earned very little compared to the expectations I had when I took that job.  

I had, however, just added one more type of employment to the list I was formulating in my memory that I knew absolutely I did not want as a career when I became an adult.  By the same token, I had learned from my Mother's model I would be wise to be experienced in doing many jobs I might not find appealing in order to survive, to not be too proud to do so.

I think now of farm workers of varying ages harvesting crops day after day, all day long and appreciate the fruits of their labor with every bite I take.  I think of the meager wages for such exhausting work these people earn, limited if any benefits they have including health care, with only their basic living conditions at best.

A recent article by Nina Lakhani in "The Guardian"  shared photographs by Encarni Pindado from Texas' Rio Grande Valley:   "Meet the workers who put food on America's tables -- but can't afford groceries.  Undocumented immigrants are doing the backbreaking farm work that keeps the US food system running but struggle to feed their families."

Lakhani reports "About half of the 2.5m farm hands in the US are undocumented immigrants, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), though growers and labor contractors reckon the figure is closer to 75%."

One woman, Linda Villareal, (not her real name) written about:  "For this backbreaking work, Villareal is paid $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage since 2009, with no benefits " She has also had to cope with the debilitation of Covid 19 symptoms.

Villarreal works six days a week, sometimes seven, putting food on Americans' tables but earns barely enough to cover the bills and depends on food stamps to feed her own family.

Writer Lakhani reports, "Even before the pandemic, farms were among the most dangerous workplaces in the country, where low paid workers have little protection from long hours, repetitive strain injuries, exposures to pesticides, dangerous machinery, extreme heat and animal waste.  Food insecurity, poor housing, language barriers and discrimination also contribute to dire health outcome for farmworkers, according to research by John Hopkins Centre for a Livable Future."  Farmworkers are reported to have experienced "a disproportionate impact of Covid 19" during this pandemic.

"Many undocumented farmworkers have been toiling in the fields for years, pay taxes and have American children, yet enjoy few labor rights, have extremely limited access to occupational health services and live under the constant threat of deportation.

In truth, farmworkers here are never harassed while working in the fields, which advocates say suggests a tacit agreement with growers to ensure America's food supply chain isn't disrupted by immigration crackdowns.  It's everywhere else that these essential workers, who kept toiling throughout the pandemic, are not safe."

The NYTimes reports our US Supreme Court recently decided a California court case preventing unions from organizing at the farmworkers workplace since this infringed on employer's rights.  "The case concerned a unique state regulation allowing labor representatives to meet with farm workers at their workplaces for up to three hours a day for as many as 120 days a year."  The vote was 6 to 3, with the court's three liberal members dissenting.

"The decision did away with a major achievement of the farmworkers' movement led by Cesar Chavez in the 1970s, which had argued that allowing organizers to enter workplaces was the only practical way to give farmworkers, who can be nomadic and poorly educated, a realistic chance to consider joining a union."   I experienced my English as a Second Language (ESL) students having to leave as they followed the various crop harvests across California some years ago after only a few classes.  Is it any wonder they may have difficulty learning English?

Are those whose skills may be unappreciated and unrewarded going to be content to be taken advantage of forever?  

Will there be a day of reckoning for American's farm worker slave labor -- our food availability and how much we pay for that food?  I wonder what the situation is in Europe and the rest of the world?


Sunday, June 20, 2021


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all those great Dad's that many are fortunate enough to have, or had in their lives.  I'm pretty sure from all accounts both of my grandfathers were great Dads.  Unfortunately, my grandfathers had departed this earth before I was born or had a chance to know them.

JUNETEENTH DAY was declared an official national holiday beginning the 19th.  The commemoration recognizes the final end of slavery, that hadn't been established in every state until two years after Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 during the Civil War.

LUCKY ?    

Are some people luckier than others?  

Lucky is said by some to stress chance bringing about a favorable result.   

One online library definition differentiates between chance and luck.  

"Chance-oriented persons decide according to given or estimated odds that define the decision problem.

"Luck-oriented persons, on the other hand, rely on self-attributions of personal luck, and ignore the probabilities of decision outcomes"

Luck is often associated with gain or loss through gambling which I think must be a luck-oriented activity.   On the other hand, some forms of gambling as offered at casinos are said to offer a greater chance at winning than others.   The slot machines, which are the only games I've ever played in casinos, I understand to offer the least chance of winning.   

Drawings winning odds can vary based on the number of entries.  Possibly the least chance of winning a drawing can be found in some of the various U.S. state lotteries that have been offered in recent decades.  The potential $$$ winnings can be very attractive despite the odds. 

I think I'm basically a chance-oriented person although my occasional drawing participations and slot machine gambling may carry an element of being luck-oriented, though I didn't seriously expect to win.  (Maybe my lack of believing I would win adversely affected my odds -- introducing another element).  Of course, my slot machine gambling and years past friendly poker-playing card games occasionally with family members and friends had been for fun.  

I've never considered myself to be unusually lucky when it comes to casino gambling or in drawings.  I have won two drawings in my life.  One when I was in my twenties soon after I had purchased my first car.  The nearby newly opened Gulf gas station I had begun frequenting had a drawing (obviously only few entries) where I won a boy's bicycle.  I sold it.

Many years later after moving to the west I entered a drawing at a local news stand/video rental store I occasionally visited.  I was surprisingly delighted to win a transistor radio, especially since they were not inexpensive as the latest new tech device of the time before personal computers.   Months later my enjoyment was short-lived when our house was broken into with the thieves stealing my radio along with a journal gifted to me in which I had just started writing.  

I recall many years ago, soon after I was wed, attending the annual meeting of a business organization associated with my husband's work then.  Before we joined the other three owners and their wives at our table, my husband mentioned to me that the wife of one of the senior owners seemed to be uncannily lucky and just about always won when they had drawings.  Sure enough, from the hundred or more people present her name was drawn for one of the prime prizes.

Then, there are the gamblers like Marlon Brando's character who sang "Luck Be A Lady Tonight" in the movie version of the Broadway musical "Guys and Dolls". 

An acquaintance recently told me of her experiences going to the casinos with her much more affluent younger sister who she believes to be especially lucky.  Their most recent visit the "lucky" sister won some big bucks though my acquaintance is the one who really could have used the financial boost.   Her sister did share a portion of her winnings though my acquaintance said she was reluctant to accept the generosity since she wasn't inclined to accept such gifts.   

A friend of mine seems to have the magic touch when it comes to slot machines.  They've occasionally traveled to casinos, including Las Vegas for years during visits to family residing there.  They usually stop in a casino before returning home.  She, but not her husband, generally wins enough in only a short time to minimally gain the cost of their trip -- driving expenses, hotel bills if they've chosen to stay in one which they frequently do, dining out costs, and sometimes even more on their overnight or several day jaunts.  They have no really big wins but rare are the occasions when she hasn't won enough to cover all their travel outlay.  

Those are a few examples of individuals who may be considered to meet the criteria of some for being "lucky" that come to my mind.  

Do some people you know seem to be luckier than others?

Do you think you are a more chance or luck-oriented person?  

Sunday, June 13, 2021


I received an interesting phone call the other day.  A gal I know said she wanted to ask me a question.  She prefaced her enquiry by noting how we disagreed on a number of matters but she seemed to think the matter she was enquiring about was associated with views of mine, even though she repeated not agreeing with some of them.

Her query was, "What does woke mean?"   I explained I understood its use today referred to individuals becoming aware of realities they previously might have not believed to be true.  Probably one of the most significant areas of being "woke" was with regard to the prevalence of racism.  

She replied she had begun to think that was what the meaning was, then immediately related the topic to those today becoming "woke" to discriminatory actions, even racism in our law enforcement.  She noted those people who had that belief would be sorry if funding was altered which she seemed to assume would result in loss of the protection from our police -- as though any proposed change in our police department policies, functions, or re-allocation of funding would result in undermining the safety our police could provide.

I reminded her of a decade or so younger mutual acquaintance (deceased now) who had years earlier shared with us stories we all found quite appalling, even objectionable, of actions of some of her family members in law enforcement,  even one who had been a very high official in state law enforcement.  Yet, this person's overall beliefs were very much aligned with that of the gal with whom I was talking, that no change in law enforcement practices relative to discrimination was needed.

My caller acknowledged recalling our mutual acquaintance's examples she, too, found unacceptable behaviors, but there was no further progression of thought that just maybe something needed fixing.   Apparently, both of their beliefs are that those law enforcement individuals were just a couple of rare instances of bad attitudes but no recognition the system might need some overall adjustments to lessen the prevalence of such actions reported elsewhere, too.

How does that make sense?  If the problem is so prevalent not only with those two officials but most everywhere else, too, as is being revealed, perhaps there is more of an issue than just a few so-called "bad apple" law enforcement persons.  Something more may need reassessment and change -- hiring requirements, training, policies, to name a few areas that should be re-examined.

I mentioned to her that some years ago, here in California -- perhaps in some other states, too -- there had been significant decreases in our mental health care system services to decrease costs.  The unintended consequence placed more burden on law enforcement to criminalize some of these people's actions absent the health care they needed.  

Mentally ill patients were released from care settings back into ordinary life for which they were ill-prepared to function effectively.  They often did not have adequate access to, support for their mental issues, or receiving monitoring to try to ensure they take necessary medication.  Some individuals, unable to cope, initiated behaviors necessitating law enforcement being called to protect law-abiding citizens, and even these ill patients from themselves.

I think of family issues, neighbor quarrels, acquaintances squabbles, distorted thinking with poor judgement resulting in calls to the police to quell disputes -- social issues others might be better trained to resolve to avoid violence, the challenge of helping those with the inability to reason rationally.   

Perhaps some adjustments to our law enforcers responsibilities might not only be better for all by relieving officers from the responsibility of coping with such, though I don't profess to be an expert on such matters.    Officers might even welcome a focus back on more traditional criminal activity.   What do you think?

Sunday, June 06, 2021


Visiting family in Quito, Ecuador (9350 feet above sea level) I was introduced to numerous sights and experiences during that 1950s time.  This video reveals how much the city has developed, expanded into the countryside in the past almost seven decades since I was there.  I do recall never having seen as much gold in one location as I did in a church we visited, contrasted with the surrounding poverty outside.


In one interesting experience we drove a narrow two-lane dirt road out of the nation's capitol, Quito, occasionally passing cottage-like houses at the side of the road.   I noticed large carcasses of fly-covered butchered meat hanging under the roof covering front porch-like areas at some of those small houses.  Obviously, power for a refrigerator or freezer, electric lights and other features taken for granted in most U.S. homes was not present.

Our travel led us to a large cleared rough dirt area with the Ecuadorean nation's small plain marker in the center around which we could drive, also with ample room to park which we did.  There were no other structures or people visible, a very isolated nondescript site actually.  Stepping to designated areas I was able to stand spreading my feet simultaneously with each foot on purported opposite sides of the equator.

Suddenly, a small wizened-looking woman with classic witch-like appearance including long hair flying about her head appeared, apparently from the natural unkempt surrounding brush.  Startling us, she cloyingly but demandingly solicited a hand-out to which being mesmerized we did not immediately respond, still adjusting to her unexpected presence.  Her manner and facial features abruptly became very contorted into a wicked grimace with glaring eyes when we did not respond as promptly as she expected.

This truly witch-like-looking little woman waved around her arms and pointing long nailed fingers at us, shaking her hand menacingly, uttering Spanish-sounding curse words as she began casting a damning spell on all of us.  Such an intended fear inducing outburst in that brief period of time served to dampen any inclination we felt toward acquiescing to her demands leading us to not linger there longer.   I don't think we even had bothered to take any photographs at that point and never did.

Recently, I searched for an Internet photo of the small plaque/monument I recalled seeing to share here.  What has been revealed to me is the subsequent evolution of Ecuador's "Middle of the World" equator concept the nation has developed for their unique recognition in the decades since my visit.

The site we visited in the mid-1950s appears to have acquired a surrounding small town marking the area, but in Jim Ferri's NeverStop Traveling fun-reading short article is designated as "Ecuador's Fake Equator".   Wha-a-a-t !  ..... FAKE equator?  

Jim wrote:  "...the screw-up was caused by a French expedition in 1736 that marked the wrong spot.  And get this, the mistake wasn't realized until just a few years ago when the Global Positioning System (GPS) was invented."

But never fear you can go to the close nearby real equator at "the Inti Nan museum, which is about five minutes away" though "tourist trap" has been applied by some to that site.   " can stand on the line painted on the "real equator," plus do other interesting equator activities.

Wait a minute!  "...others say that neither spot marks the real equator and that the correct location is even further away."  Incidentally, Jim notes there are some GPS issues with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, too,  lest we become too concerned.

Quitsato Project describes "there is the possibility that the Quitu-Caaranqui indigenous people, Before the conquest of the Incas, they were able to reach the exact positioning of the equator in the archaeological site of Catequilla (see 27 sec. aero vdeo), which was possibly used as an astronomical observatory ... located exactly on the Equinoctial line, easily verifiable with satellite technology, GPS or Google Earth".

Hugh Morris of Great Britain's "Telegraph" describes the situation well, along with short paragraphs on numerous other sites around the world where designations of the center has become questionable.  In addition to London, other centres in Europe, there are complications with Alaska and Hawaii causing the centre of America to be in South Dakota, then there are 3 centres declared in Scotland.  Seems there can be some confusion.

Many of the links above feature some colorful photos accompanying mostly short articles.  The Quito countryside is surrounded by spectacular mountains with one inactive dormant volcano, Mount Chimborazo peak soaring to over 20,564 feet above sea level -- the highest peak on earth when measured from the center of the earth rather than sea level.


A brief recap before moving on to a different topic is what I expected to describe when I started writing this post.  This would be a simple account of my standing with each of my feet simultaneously on opposite sides of the equator.  Clearly, the matter has taken on unexpected complicating proportions.

Without the Internet most of us lay people would likely never have known about all these matters others now disagree about.  Ignorance can sometimes be bliss as the saying goes, simplifying life, not knowing what we don't know.  This applies to other topics, too.  Would you agree or whadda you think?