Local Energy and Corporate Power (Part 3)


From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In my last article about PG&E furiously trying to stop counties from developing their own energy sources, the ending thought was about how the recent Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations to put unlimited funds into the political process will affect us:

Speculation has been raging over whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent junking of federal campaign spending limits on corporations will be very bad for democracy, or not so bad. With this huge ballot campaign launched by our biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, we can say this: It’s going to be worse than you can possibly imagine.

And not only that… PG&E Corp, the parent company, of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. utility is raising the stakes again.

David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, February 20, 2010

PG&E CORP. PLANS TO SPEND $25 MILLION TO $35 MILLION ON A CALIFORNIA BALLOT INITIATIVE
that would limit the ability of cities and counties to go into the public power business, the company reported Friday. PG&E has supplied all of the proposition campaign’s funding so far, totaling $6.5 million. On Friday, PG&E took the unusual step of telling its investors that funding for the campaign would affect the company’s 2010 profits, lowering them by 6 to 9 cents per share.

Book Review: Fat – An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes



From SUZY’S BLOG

Healthy eating. We all know what that means: no added salt, no added sugar, no added fats. We know it, and it makes us grimace. If I were forced to that awful diet, my first step would be to caramelize a heaping mound of onions. I crave for those added chemical wonders that make food sparkle.

Well, to be accurate, it’s the first two I think I need: salt and sugar. It’s elemental that salt adds a new dimension to food. And sugar. I do love the crinkly sweetness of granulated, the seductive smoothness of confectioners, and the molasses underpinnings of browns. I have to have all those.

But fat? Ah, it’s easier to dispense with fat. Think about it, fat is not pleasant. Imagine a piece of bacon streaked with that opaque, sticky substance that does not even taste good. It’s hard to put in your mouth.

Uh, actually, oh dear, it’s the other way around. It’s good to put in your mouth. It can be very good. And fat includes butter. Certainly all those combinations of butter and chocolate we bake are essential for human life.

So, just how are we to think about fat? Why do we have such a schizophrenic view of fat and how did we all get to this point?

Travels With Frisbee


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Anderson Valley

Fredrick Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee, died at the age of ninety on February 11, 2010. I still carry a Frisbee in my knapsack as I have since 1965 when I bought my first one at Woolworth’s for 69 cents, a flimsy little thing much smaller than the smallest Frisbees sold today.

Though it may seem a preposterous boast, I am very likely the first person to introduce Frisbee to the University of California Santa Cruz in 1967. If perchance someone came before me, I was certainly one of the pioneer users there, and took it upon myself to teach dozens of young men and women the fundamentals of tossing the holy disc. I used to joke that I majored in Anthropology and minored in Frisbee, but the reverse is true. The happiest hours of my two years in college were spent running over hill and dale in pursuit of far-flung Frisbees, my college buddy Dick Mead capable of prodigious tosses across the Elysian Fields of that cattle ranch turned university.

In 1970, a year after I dropped out, I traveled through Mexico and Central America as a translator for a marine biologist and his family. I brought along a dozen Frisbees because they were easy to lose and I thought it would be fun to introduce new friends to the delights of the floating disc. Little did I anticipate the sensation we would cause whenever and wherever we started flinging our Frisbees.

Perhaps our most memorable demonstration of the art

Microbusiness Independence: Invent your way out of the rat race


From ANNA HESS and MARK HAMILTON
Wetknee Books

Did you know that people in pre-Industrial societies worked only 3 hours per day on average?  Why are you working 40+ hours per week when you could feed yourself and your family on just a couple of hours a day?

With less than a thousand dollars in startup costs, we built a small, home-based business which started paying all of our bills in just six months.  I’m here to tell you that you can make money from home too, and in a way that fits a simple, homesteading lifestyle.  In fact, using all of the tips in this book, I’ll bet we could have reached our current work at home income level in half the time.”

Microbusiness Independence is not a get rich quick book. 

Not Just Food: Saturday Farmers Market in Ukiah


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

When it’s sweets you crave, the best toffee in the whole world is to be had at the Saturday Farmers Market.   Just try to resist after tasting it . . . impossible!

But, let’s say you want a toy.  This sheep bah-ed “Snuggle me!”  Poor little sheep, I took its picture instead.


Whiling away a few more minutes before picking up my share of vegetables from the MendoOrganics Winter CSA, I noticed a young man, Eric Cinowalt, with an intriguing knife sharpening gadget that holds a knife at a steady angle while sharpening it on a traditional sharpening stone.

Local Energy and Corporate Power (Part 2)


From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

PG&E Spending Millions to Block Local Utilities

From San Jose Mercury News: PG&E is spending millions of dollars on a statewide initiative that would make it tougher for you to get your power from anyone else. The initiative, one of several appearing on the June 8 ballot, would require two-thirds approval from local voters before cities or counties could choose an alternate energy provider. The utility says the initiative, which it refers to as the “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act,” will ensure that voters have a final say on big energy decisions.

“We value our customers very much and we are going to stand up and resist efforts to take over our customers,” said Chairman Peter Darbee.

PG&E has so far spent $6.5 million on the initiative, according to documents on the California secretary of state’s Web site, and has signaled it is prepared to spend millions more. It says money spent on the campaign comes from shareholder dollars, but critics charge that customers are essentially footing the bill.

Pacific Gas and Electric is supporting California Proposition 16 to create a virtual stranglehold on its monopoly.  In a blatant thumbing of its nose at the political process, this corporate giant is attempting to use the proposition system to cement its own power and maintain its monopoly.

The Briarpatch Way


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah
Excerpt from To Be Of Use

During the seventies and eighties, two businesses I cofounded, Briarpatch Cooperative Market and Smith & Hawken, were members of the Briarpatch Network, an informal business association centered in San Francisco. The network was a group of like-minded small-business owners who shared ideas and values about business. I also cofounded a branch of the network on the San Francisco Peninsula, soon to become famous as Silicon Valley, and met weekly with small local businesses at Jesse Cool’s Late for the Train restaurant in Menlo Park. We were a thriving community that shared expertise and resources in the best tradition of mutual aid, and that periodically got together to square dance and whoop it up.

One key to Briarpatch values was the ability to live on less. By participating in a community that supported and valued frugality and rejected the symbols of material success and conformity that demanded one’s participation in their acquisition, we gained the freedom to experiment with alternative ways of doing business. In short, changing the rules of the game made the game a lot more fun. Radical political analysis had taught us the direct connection between the bombs we were dropping on other people in Vietnam and the materialist addictions of our culture. But rather than just protesting and picketing, we were creating new, alternative models for human livelihood. Along with these values, we embraced voluntary simplicity in our personal habits, living conditions, and buying patterns, which made it possible to focus less time on generating income to pay the bills.

What About Bob? (Video)



Fr0m ABC NEWS

Bob Gives Away The Store… To His Employees

In the age of corporate consolidation, one business owner has refused to sell his multi-million dollar company, and instead has handed it over to his 209 employees this week, who he considers a ’second family.’ Bob Moore, owner of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, started his business selling organic whole grain products in Portland, Oregon in 1978.

“Its the only business decision that I could make,” Moore told ABC News. “I could not sell the company. I don’t think there’s anybody worthy to run this company but the people who built it.” He continued, “There is a lot of negative stuff going into business today. There is a good old basic Bible lesson, and that is that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil.’ And unfortunately our entire philosophy today to get as much money as you can any way that you can has caused people to do a lot of things just for money that they feel in their hearts is just not the right thing to do. I’ve just truly tried to set some of that aside and do what I thought was the best thing for the group of people who made this all possible.”

Go to Civil Eats for video here
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