Archive for November 2011

Turkey-Day Gratitude   Leave a comment

Hello all.  Lest I forget about the gratitude part of Thanksgiving, here it goes.  Today I am grateful for:

1. Time with family
2. A roof over my head
3. The rain
4. Good food
5. Friends
6. A relative peace in Davis today after the tensions of the last week….
7. A small, intimate, and delicious dinner with family at my parents’ house
8. Traffic only part of the way there, clear on the way back.
9. People driving (mostly) safely
10. A cool, spooky fog on the way home, but good visibility
11. Happy greeting home from the critters
12. Being around healthy behavior for the holiday.

Namaste,
Stephan

Posted November 24, 2011 by dragonbreathpress in Uncategorized

UCD sees massive protest over police brutality   Leave a comment

Well, it’s official.  By utilizing ham-fisted crowd-control responses, the UC Davis police department took a minor situation and made it far, far worse.  Turns out people don’t like it when protesters get pepper-sprayed for… well, umm… sitting down.  Nor do they appreciate having guns pointed at non-violent protesters, or just general excessive force.  And Chancellor Linda Katehi is in hot water for sending the police in the first place.  She now says that she takes “full responsibility,” but that resigning at this time or be held accountable are not options.  How is that taking full responsibility?  Typical politician!

Well, Chancellor Katehi and the UC Davis Police Department have accomplished a major thing.  They have gotten thousands of people off the fence.  Until recently, I had mixed feelings about the Occupy protestors.  I agreed with their anger about the massive fee increases (people should remember that the University of California system was designed to be free) while the richest one percent are shielded from any pain in the current recession.  I wasn’t, however, sure that protests would win them a lot of sympathy.  I now support them fully, and it seems like thousands of others do as well.

I attended the rally on the UC Davis Quad at noon today.  Thousands of others did as well.  I cannot really say how many thousands, as I am lousy at estimating crowd sizes, but somewhere in the neighborhood of  5,000 would not surprise me.  The East Quad was a sea of people, with probably three-quarters of it densely packed.  Many more people drifted on the periphery.  And it wasn’t just students.  Faculty, staff, retired staff and other “adult” Davis residents were plentiful.

I was pleased to see news vans of all the major networks present.  The BIG vans with the BIG dishes — not the ones they usually send to Davis for a “local” piece.  While I don’t watch TV, I think it is important that people see the size of the crowd, feel its anger and see it behaving in a peaceful manner.

And people were palpably angry.  Justifiably so. Calls for Chancellors Katehi’s resignation and a wholesale liquidation of the University of California police were constant and everywhere.  While the UCDPD still refuses to release the names of the two police officers who have been suspended, data mining on the internet has brought to light the name of one of them: Lt. John A. Pike.  I guess one of the videographers or photographers at the scene got a decent shot of his badge.  His name was on more than one sign.  The pepper spray victims spoke on stage, about how the pain and nausea lasted for hours… about how they could not help but breathe in the lingering clouds of pepper spray.  One young lady related how people were sprayed under their shirts, another was sprayed directly in the mouth and vomited repeatedly.  One young man could not see for twelve hours….  Another was roughed up and seems to have sustained nerve damage to one of his hands….  It was heart-wrenching and sickening.

The only potential fireworks I saw was when a ROTC became upset with a protestor holding an upside-down American flag and tried to take it away.  Hey!  Remember freedom of speech?  Private property?  And upside-down flag signifies a state of emergency.  I’d say than when we have a situation such as this, the protester may have a valid point.  In any case, it is not for the ROTC man to decide.

There were no (uniformed) UC Davis police officers visible at the protest, which was probably wise.

And through it all the chancellor refuses to resign or be held accountable.  She claims to be “sickened,” but then says we should “move forward.  Right.  Sure, two officers have been suspended.  With pay.  Sure UC Davis campus police chief Annette Spicuzza.  With pay.  Sure the Yolo County DA is investigating.  But we are talking about Jeff Reisig.  The man has personally failed me twice when I needed help.  He is so damn busy with his single-minded crusade against West Sac Norteños that other things seem to fall through the cracks.  He also doesn’t like going after cases where the conviction will be “difficult” (as with, say, a police officer).  Maybe enough people are angry this time, and we can get some due diligence.  I am not holding my breath.

See below for some of my pictures

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Peace,

Stephan

Update on UC Davis pepper spray incident   Leave a comment

First of all, here is another YouTube video which shows even more clearly the brutal pepper-spraying of peaceful protestors:

The video also shows the crowd chanting, “Shame On You!”  They are clearly angry, but remain peaceful.  I am proud of their bravery and their restraint, as the video also shows guns leveled at the crowd.  Unbelievable!

The news as of today is that two UC Davis Police Officers (who are not named) have been placed on leave “pending an investigation.”  Knowing how these things usually go, it is likely paid leave.  Unacceptable!  They need to be fired, fined, arrested and publicly named.  I would hope that after this they are never permitted to work in law enforcement again.  A public apology would be nice as well.  But things don’t usually happen this way.  A good example is BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who was only convicted of involuntary manslaughter for shooting an unarmed, restrained man in the back.  We cannot continue to accept this.  The police needs to be subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

Chancellor Katehi: do not fail the campus and the city of Davis in this!  It is your responsibility to bring these brutal officers to justice.  They do not deserve anonymity nor a job in law enforcement.  The officers who stood by must be disciplined as well.  Perhaps a new battery of psych tests on all University of California police officers is in order as well.  There are clearly some unstable individuals who slipped through the cracks.

Let’s see how this plays out…

At the same time, I want to give kudos to the City of Davis PD, who seem, to date, to have left Occupy Davis protestors in peace.

Peace,

Stephan

Shame on you UCDPD!   Leave a comment

WTF!  Where am I living? What year is this?  What happened to the freedom of assembly?  In the video below, obtained from YouTube and the AP, a University of California at Davis police officer calmly and systematically pepper-sprays a line of seated, passively resisting Occupy protestors:

(The video sometimes starts with an ad, so please be patient)

This is unacceptably brutal.  The officer responsible should be immediately and decisively punished: fired and arrested would be a good start.  A thorough dousing with pepper spray would also be a healthy consequence.  In fact, if each protester sprayed by him were to be given the opportunity to spray him back, I would not object.  All other officials who stood by without intervening should also face immediate disciplinary action.  If this does not happen, we face a slippery slope of escalating police brutality.  Does anyone remember Kent State?  Four Dead In Ohio.

The pain inflicted by using pepper spray is tantamount to torture when used on peaceful protestors.  We used to find torture unacceptable, but that is changing.  First it is okay to torture terrorists, then liberal protestors.  Who is next?

Any “civilian”  pepper-spraying innocent people would certainly be punished.  Let’s have the same justice served on brutal police officers, otherwise we risk becoming no better than the countries we criticize.  I do realize that this does not rise to the level of Libyan or Syrian etc. police tactics, but it does make us look like hypocrites.   A uniform does not give you those kinds of rights.

I biked by probably three minutes before this happened.  People were chanting and loud, but peaceful.  There was no riot.  Nothing to justify this disgusting act.  UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi has a chance to make this right, but to do so, she needs to act quickly

I am ashamed of my alma mater.

Waxing poetic…   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is quite amusing:

Waxing poetic….

Posted November 16, 2011 by dragonbreathpress in Uncategorized

Sacramento Mineral Society Gem Show Review, Part 2   1 comment

Hello again rock-heads:

On Sunday, I returned to the Sacramento Mineral Society’s 75th Annual Gem Show.  After not seeing people on Saturday (I had several other things going on — I will probably write about one of them in the next few days), I returned on Sunday to see people in high spirits — vendors, customers and club members.  The floor was not packed, but people came to spend some money.  This seems to be a turn-around from the last couple of years.  Does this mean we have an uptick in the rock-hound consumer confidence index?   Did we have the vendors with the mix of things people wanted to buy?  Hard to say, but as I mingled shopped and photographed, the feedback was positive.  Vendors made money and people went home with nice new prizes.

At the silent auction, business was a bit slower than on Friday, but for those who came up, there were deals to be had: labradorite, agate, jasper, thundereggs, geodes, jade, fluorite, sheen obsidian, vesuvianite… slabs, rough, specimens… I even acquired what I’m pretty sure is a fulgurite.  Toward the end of the  afternoon, the already cheap prices dropped further.  Rock bottom prices (bad pun intended) were available and taken advantage of

The “take” on the auction was a bit over $1200, clearing the $1000 needed to award the scholarship to a Sac State geology student in his junior year.  The student was actually unable to be there, as he was on a field trip.  Many thanks to our many customers who made this scholarship possible (some spend in excess of $100, returning again and again as new treasures went out onto the table).

At 4PM, the fun was over (not really), and it was time for the real work to begin — clean-up.

Rarely have I seen such chaos move so smoothly.  As the vendors packed up, and it was clear that they had done this once or twice before, club members lent a hand, assembled the club’s property (many folding tables, power cords and display cases, as well as left-over rock and various other goodies) and generally performed a thorough cleaning.   It was not necessary to have ADD to be there, but it probably would have helped.  By 7PM, it was hard to believe there had been a show with about forty vendors, a score of club members, and hundreds of customers.  We were all intact, tired, but in good spirits.  Vendor vehicles were riding low, though higher when they’d arrived; customers’ and club members’ vehicles were lower than they’d arrived….

Hope to see you next year.

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Sacramento Mineral Society Gem Show Review   3 comments

Hello rock-heads, and happy 11.11.11….

Today I attended and worked at the first day of the 75th Annual Gem Show for the Sacramento Mineral Society.   As in previous years, it is being held at the Scottish Rite Center at 6151 “H” St., Sacramento, CA (very near CSUS aka Sac State).

The show boasts dealers of slabs, specimens, beads and jewelery making supplies (findings).  The club also provides the ever-popular prize wheel for juniors, geode cutting, hourly and daily raffles, a grand prize raffle, educational materials and a silent auction.  The auction raises funds for an annual scholarship for a CSUS student majoring in Geology or Earth Science.  I worked this table, helping Joy who is always a gas (I will avoid the obvious pun).  And, of course, I also made a few purchases toward this worthy cause (some of which are shown in the gallery below):

(Joy helping a customer)

(Thunderegg slice with Montana-like agate)

(Blue lace agate)

(Colorful “Onyx” i.e. calcite, not actual onyx)

Sharing the stage on which auction takes place, is the skeleton of a Siberian cave bear (approximately 50,000-70,000 years old).  It is on display courtesy of Applegate Lapidary, and is the last time this skeleton will be shown to the public.

(I will also get a side-view when I return on Sunday).

As a lapidary, I tend to visit the slab/rough dealers.  A few of the dealers carried some slabs, but it is not their primary focus.  Garth Duncan, proprietor of Gems of an Idea, however, carries slabs galore.   With at least 20 linear feet of table space, largely occupied by tubs of slabs, one can purchase an astonishing array of jaspers, agates, jade, tiger eye, rhodonite, and some mystery rocks.  Among other purchases from Garth, I was unable to resist some very unusual old-stock a slice of possible Botswana agate, a heel cut of Dryhead agate,Stone Canyon jasper in deep orange colors and a piece of tiger eye embedded in some (Graveyard Point-like plume agate):

Further scrutinizing what dealers have to offer, I succumbed to the sweet siren song of some gemmy Utah dinosaur bone (“gembone”) from Tom’s Rocks:

Of course, any gem show is incomplete without visiting the jade dealers.  We are lucky enough to have Mike and Joan Burkleo of Friends of Jade come to our show most years.  Not only do they sell suiseki, slicks and cobbles, but also carved and crafted jade items.  Of these, my favorite (and completely out of my price range) are the jade knives, displayed illuminated to show their translucence:

Perhaps one day…

Since I was working, I was unable to get photos of all the dealers.  Some I could not get due to lighting issues or not wanting to interfere with customers.  In any case, I will try again on Sunday.  These fine folks include sellers of magnificent crystal specimens, a mind-boggling array of meteorites and other fine  materials.  To finish, here are some more assorted photos I did get:

Gil Gonzalez, benitoite dealer/club member:

Joy Shopping at Garth’s booth:

Carrie helping a lucky winner at the prize wheel:

Bobbie working the raffle booth:

Floor activity:

Green River Formation fossils atApplegate lapidary (owners of the cave bear):

Well, that is all for now.  I have other plans for tomorrow, but I will be returning on Sunday.

Peace,

Stephan