Sunday, June 17, 2018

blues @ the RR Xing

Monday, April 23, 2018

DOWN RANGE~ A Music Festival ~ Celebrating Veterans

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Sacramento, Calif. -- Down Range Music Festival, a one-day event benefiting the Sacramento Chapter of Guitars For Vets, is debuting on May 19, 2018 at The Park at The Murieta Inn and Spa. The all-day event, produced by Blue Gaucho Project, will be a multi-genre event and feature a number of successful performers. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Sacramento Chapter of Guitars For Vets, a nonprofit empowering veterans through music. 

Thousands of our war Veterans are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, more soldiers have committed suicide since the Vietnam War than have died in actual battle. But many are finding hope in an unlikely place: behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar. The healing power of music helps soldiers cope. That’s why we provide veterans with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. But we can't do it without your help. 


Pete Anderson & Friends
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For further info see
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shulkin Out At VA!

President Donald Trump is firing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and replacing him with the White House doctor Ronny Jackson. (March 28) AP
WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is being replaced, President Trump tweeted Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation and uncertainty about his fate.  
Trump said he is nominating Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, official physician for the president and his predecessor, Barack Obama, to be the next VA secretary. 
"I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin's service to our country and to our great VETERANS!" the president tweeted.
He said Robert Wilkie, an undersecretary at the Pentagon, will take over the agency as acting secretary.  
Shulkin had been locked for months in a power struggle with a group of Trump political appointees among his senior staff. 
Shulkin had pledged the VA would not be privatized on his watch but would provide veterans expanded opportunities to get private sector care. The Trump appointees want a more comprehensive overhaul and to give veterans more access to VA-funded care in the private sector.  
Trump had praised the Cabinet secretary several weeks ago for doing a “great” and “incredible” job leading the charge to fulfill his pledges to improve the VA.
Shulkin himself provided the critical opening that led to his downfall. After touting Trump's campaign pledges to increase accountability at the VA, he balked at the results of an investigation released last month that found he and his staff committed ethics violations in planning and taking a European trip last year.
He blasted the VA inspector general’s findings that he improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and airfare for his wife during the 10-day junket. He refused to accept the determination that his chief of staff misled ethics officials to get clearance for his wife's airfare, suggesting that her email had been hacked. Shulkin later expressed regret and repaid the cost of the tickets and airfare. He also complained that the appointees were targeting and undermining him.
His response left many lawmakers, veterans groups and others who might have come to his defense in a tough spot, and they remained largely silent for days after the investigation report's release Feb. 14. By the time they did speak out, it may have been too late.
Two days after the report's release, the White House unilaterally installed a new VA chief of staff, Peter O’Rourke, who was a member of Trump’s transition team and an ally of the Trump appointees. VA spokesman Curt Cashour said “additional personnel accountability actions” were possible.
The White House never removed that cloud over Shulkin's future. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Trump supported the work Shulkin did as secretary but that the situation was "under review." 
Shulkin made it roughly 13 months in Trump's Cabinet. He was appointed by Obama as undersecretary for health at the VA in July 2015.
During his tenure, he directed increased transparency efforts, including a new website revealing wait times for VA care and quality comparisons to the private sector. Shulkin upped accountability efforts, swiftly removing hospital directors when problems with care were revealed, including in Manchester, N.H., and Washington. He set up a data-tracking center at headquarters in an effort to intervene before problems became crises.
He fulfilled some of Trump's campaign promises on veterans' issues, overseeing the creation of a 24-hour White House hotline for veteran complaints and an Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Office, which drew praise for its early efforts.
Shulkin ordered the rewriting of decades-old policies on hiring and reporting poor medical care providers to authorities after USA TODAY revealed massive lapses in hiring guidelines and in reporting substandard practitioners to state licensing boards and a national database created to stop them from crossing state lines to escape their pasts and potentially harm other patients. 
Shulkin had been working with Congress to pass landmark legislation that would expand — if moderately — veterans' access to private sector care, and the measure was poised to pass the Senate before the power struggle between Shulkin and Trump appointees erupted into public view.
He ordered plans for the largest restructuring of the VA in more than 20 years after the VA inspector general uncovered failures at the Washington VA medical center that had festered for years under VA officials at local, regional and national levels who knew about them but didn't fix them.
The fate of the legislation and reorganization after Shulkin’s departure is uncertain.
The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said he thinks Shulkin did a "fantastic job, and I hate to see him go.
"That said, I respect President Trump’s decision, support the president’s agenda and remain willing to work with anyone committed to doing the right thing on behalf of our nation’s veterans," Roe said. “I am in the process of reaching out to Dr. Jackson, and I look forward to building a strong relationship with him also.”

Sunday, March 25, 2018

 Wolfdog Winter
a short story
                                          By Steven Masone

The morning sun peeked bravely over the eastern peaks with an almost steely resolve to shine in spite of the cruel biting cold. The old man with the white wolf dog set about getting over to Trapper Clyde’s place to get his help in going after that fool chechaquo that took off for his friends camp after they told him not to try it by himself in this freeze. His own dog was anxiously looking up at him...she barked a short, half growling, rebuke. “It’s alright girl, we're gonna take the sled and round up Clyde’s team to head off this darn fool fore he kills himself and that dog a his, I like the dog more …” muttered the Old  Man to his dog. He affectionately tried to scratch the nape of her neck, but the retreating blood in his fingers made it more like a poke than anything else. He went to pick up his snow shoes, but his exposed fingers were already too numb. He had to clumsily put his gloves on and beat them together until he felt a tingling in them again, then he grabbed up the shoes and put them in his backpack. The morning light was not accompanied by any warmth. He knew if he didn't talk that yahoo out of going by himself and coming back with them, by twilight, it could be seventy degrees below zero. He reasoned it was fifty below .
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 He could see Clyde’s chimney smoke by now and continued on the well worn path between the two places. Clyde had been living here over sixteen years and was one of the best trappers and wilderness men he had ever known. Clyde used to be a Mountie. The path took him right up to Clyde’s barn. He wiped the ice crystals from his eyebrows so his eyelids could keep working his tear ducts keeping their fluid from freezing. “I knowd dat was you ya old coot!” yelled Clyde, as he came around the side of his only out-building.  Clyde's dog team set off to barking wildly. “Smelled ya ten minutes ago,” he joked. “Hows that possible, when my nose is so froze I can’t feel my whiskers no mo?” said the old man. The two got all the gear they needed and hooked the team up to the sled after the old man quickly told Clyde the pressing need to head off the chechaquo. “Mush! Mush!” Clyde shouted and with the white wolf dog in the lead, they bolted into the freezing snow packed trail that would take them up an old logging trail,  hopefully catching up with a fool and his poor dog. The two old timers usually wouldn't suffer a fool for long, but the dog was a different matter. Dogs in the Yukon were more than man’s best friend. They were partners in business...the business of staying alive. At the summit, Clyde stopped the team and gave the old man his spyglass. The old man began scanning the valley trail across the chasm between them, and saw him. “I don’t believe it!” he said incredulously,” He’s built a fire under a tree whats full up a snow!” “Too far to yell to him, and can’t fire the rifle...might start an avalanche and kill us all!” The old man lamented.
We’ll take turns under the blankets and drivin the team every so oft and we be ok,” Clyde said. The old man shouted suddenly “Holy smoke and fire! It all fell on him just like I knowd it would” he said as he could see the fire and the chechaquo buried by the snow that cascaded from the top of the tree branches one layer at a time, bringing down the next with it, one after the other. “You get in the sled and cover up”  Clyde called out, “if we don’t get him in an hour or so he might be dead!” “Mush! Mush!” shouted Clyde. The sound of the sled dogs barking and their pained howls as the sled raced downhill made Clyde think of the time he was chasing the payroll robbers through the Klondike. He caught up to them them near Glenora. What was left of them that is. He shot all three of them.

Image result for painting Yukon stage holdupHe had to shoot them all in the back as they were shooting at him from their sleds over the sixty mile chase.Two died before they got them to the doctor in Glenora and the other was unconscious for two days from blood loss. He was hung soon after that...  “Watch out Clyde! The old man screamed in a terrified voice, snapping Clyde back into the present. “The bridge is out!” “Hold em back hold em back!” “Tarnation!” yelled Clyde as he reigned in the team, barely keeping the sled from going over the gorge where the bridge had recently collapsed under an apparent rockslide.  “Well, looks like that chechaquo is a dead man unless them boys from his camp is on the way after him, no way we can get to him now”  Clyde jumped from the rear of the sled and began bringing the team around in a u-turn . “We gotta rest the dogs, lets get em in a huddle over here by these rocks” Cyde urged. Both old timers worked feverishly to gather wood to build a fire that would allow them to stay alive while they rested. There was plenty wood to take back with them too.The sun was setting and neither of these two old timers had ever seen it get this cold. Clyde took rations of dog food and began melting snow in a pot taken from the sled’s saddlebags...and took care of the dogs. All of them circled around the roaring fire they made from the broken wood off the old bridge that had been splintered and smashed by the rockslide. The old man drank some of the broth Clyde heated up and warmed up some of the frozen jerky he could now chew. They each took turns getting shut eye while the other watched the fire. That’s why they told the chechaquo he needed a partner in this fifty below cold snap. The warmth of the angry fire began to allow him to close his eyes for a moment, exhausted, soon the old man was asleep and dreaming. He dreamt some usual disjointed dreams of his old Navy life and some familiar banjo music changed his dream to a time sailing into San Francisco from Anchorage, sounds and smells of the shore leave from many ports melted together until his dream turned into his old nightmare. He dreamed again of him being lost out in a blizzard back in 1988.
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It was his first winter also when he was a chechaquo, a newcomer, novice to the cruel and unrelenting violence that these frozen badlands will put on a man... to the brink of madness and or death. Only took one mistake or wrong decision. He had dug into the snow, remembering  his military training in Alaska of cold weather survival tactics, escaping the cutting wind and freezing cold. Digging shelter in the snow was all he could do. He dug and used his axe and rifle butt to hollow a nice deep place for himself. Luckily he was dressed properly, free from the blizzards pounding assault against him, he curled up into a ball and soon fell asleep. He was awakened by her warmth as much as any noise she made when she found safety also in his snowy den. She was on her haunches, ice blue wolf eyes staring right into his. But there was no bared teeth, no growl, no apparent fear on her part either. She just sat there and panted, looking at him with an almost quizzical expression. He thought she was part of a dream, and fell back asleep. When he awoke, they were cuddled together, he and the white wolf dog have been together ever since. Her howl woke him from this present dream as he saw Clyde getting his rifle and finding a defensive position behind the sled.. “Wolves!” Clyde warned, at least one so far as I kin tell.” The howl from a few hundred yards out and woke the rest of the team and chaos ensued, until Clyde calmed them all down. The old man got up and looked into the darkness as the white wolf dog was at his side wagging her tail excitedly. “Ain't no wolf” the old man said, “tis a wolf dog” “betcha it’s the chechaquo’s dog!” Just as he said it, out of the shadows came the grey coated wolf dog. He went right to the fire and the white wolf dog followed sniffing at his heels and wagging her tail happily as the two had first met back at Sulphur Creek. The two dogs settled and curled up together. The Old man threw a chunk of thawed meat to the grey and the dog ate it hungrily. It was when the old man came back a few minutes later with an arm full of wood for the fire, did the grey wolf dog look intently into the old man’s eyes,  just as the she-dog did so many years ago. The old man smiled at his new friend. In the distance the mournful wail of a wild wolf was heard as the fire offered it’s sacrifice of crackling sparks upward, into the icy cold night sky.Image result for black 7 white painting freezing winter  campfire

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tacovore of Eugene, Oregon: Best Taqueria!


 by steven masone

Tacovore is probably the best taqueria in the Northwest. Call it it trendy, call it gourmet, call it innovative, call it fresh, call it anything you want, but you must call it ... second to none! Another reviewer labeled them the best Mexican/Latin Taqueria in Eugene, Oregon. But... Amy, the General Manager said; "they prefer to be called  a  Pacific Northwest Taqueria." When I heard several raves about Tacovore as as one the best places to check out in Eugene for Mexican food, I chose them first when I was was told that they smoke their own Meats. 

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With their own Smokehouse on location, and owner Steve Mertz's  concept for this unique Taqueria, it's out-of-the-box recipes, the ambiance, Tacovore created as much an experience as well as a purveyor of great food! With excellent friendly professional staff, Tacovore made my first visit...a must come back soon to do this review visit. 
Photo of Tacovore - Eugene, OR, United States

 I could go  into into all of the superlatives about the subtleties and layered flavors and fresh ingredients, and try to paint a picture aimed at achieving a mouth watering desire for my readers, heaping on many more praises, however, just let me tell you the smoked carne asada taco, mole verde chicken taco, would still make them the best taqueria in town if all the rest of their ingredients we're not at par with their Smoked Meats. However, all the rest of their ingredients are on par and Tacovore could be the best Taqueria I have ever had the pleasure to eat at... and review. The wait is a little long at peak hours of course, but well worth the wait. see their website here

Norcal-Southern Oregon Media Group 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eugene East 18th Street House Fire

 Oregon Bureau Delta News & Review                                        10/12/17                                              7:15 am by Steven Masone

Many residents of the  E. 18th & Ferry St. in Eugene area woke up this morning to a house on fire at 555 E. 18th St., near Ferry St. The fire was pouring smoke out the top area of the home's house, but the Eugene Fire Department had the situation in control very quickly. The house was evacuated and there were no injuries and the lower household area suffered minimal fire damage. However the firefighters had to extinguish the fire in the attic area by breaking through the roof and some water damage will be expected. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Disability Rights In Schools Are Civil Rights Too!

Land Park / Pocket News

Disability Rights In Schools Are Civil Rights Too!
Disability Rights In Schools Are Civil Rights Too!Are we still leaving disabled students behind?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was signed into law on July 26. 1990. More than fifty million Americans have some kind of physical, cognitive, sensory, or mental disability. The ADA’s extensive provisions for employment, state and local governments, transportation,public accommodations, and telecommunications, has helped end discrimination towards those with disabilities tremendously. Congress' concern to eliminate intentional and benign discrimination against disabled individuals is evident in the findings and purpose of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12101. The purpose of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act is "to include persons”.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was signed into law on July 26. 1990. More than fifty million Americans have some kind of physical, cognitive, sensory, or mental disability. The ADA’s extensive provisions for employment, state and local governments, transportation,public accommodations, and telecommunications, has helped end discrimination towards those with disabilities tremendously.      
However, the fight is far from over, and even in our public schools, we find that faculty and educators are many times, inadequately trained to understand, and conform to the ADA.  In a Northern  California High School, a young student with Asperger's Syndrome (a form of Autism) has developed an aversion to wearing footwear, which is symptomatic to his disability, and has been denied the right to finish and graduate at the public ceremony barefoot. The student had been attending classes barefoot with de facto acceptance from teachers until the Principle discovered him barefoot in the halls one day. The Principle refused to accommodate the student’s symptomatic issue even after the student’s parents requested accommodation.  The Principle and his superiors claim it is a safety issue and the school's financial liability overrides reasonable accommodation. The parents offered to sign a release of liability, which at first was acceptable but then they were told it was not sufficient.           
                                                                                                    The student would not be allowed on campus nor even attend his graduation ceremony barefoot. The ADA states: “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs,or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” (42 U.S.C. §Section 12132)    There have been many cases where school districts and other public entities waste taxpayers money fighting the ADA, only to lose in federal court because reasonable accommodation is not understood. It is reasonable accommodation to accept a waiver and release of liability from the parents of the student. The school has a football team and other sports activities that require athletes and participants sign such releases.  
It can be argued that many injuries have occurred through those programs. How many times has a barefoot student posed a danger to others, much less injured themselves and the school was harmed?  The student's diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome is recent, although the school was aware of the students Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis earlier and failed to start the Individual Education Plan (IEP) as required by law.  The Principle told the parents that by the time they can redress the ban from campus, the school year will be over. The school is also rejecting the Asperger’s diagnosis until the school’s experts can now evaluate him. Had the evaluation been done in timely fashion as the law prescribes, time would not be against the student to have the resolution completed. 

The ADA utilizes a three-pronged definition of disability. For the purpose of coverage under the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as an individual who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or has a record or history of such an impairment; or is perceived or regarded as having such an impairment.                                                                                       The phrase "major life activities" means functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks. Whether or not an impairment substantially limits a major life activity is made on an individual basis, and is not based on the existence of a condition or impairment but rather by its impact on the individual. A substantial impairment will be found when the conditions, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed by the individual are limited when compared to most people.
 The school cannot claim a safety issue is not addressed by liability waiver as they have published on a website that all graduates attending the official graduation party hosted by them, have a waiver of liability all students must sign: “By signing the Release and Assumption of Risk Agreement, you are releasing Project Graduation of all liability and accepting responsibility for any action by your son/daughter with respect to bodily injury and property."  There will be dancing and as customary, shoes will come off.  Shoes are not worn in some activities on campus and at sports games and events which come under the jurisdiction of the school and their surrogate agents. 
The school district maintains they have a right to keep their rule on the barefoot issue as an absolute rule.  It has already been decided in one ADA court case that waiving an age requirement and safety claim for a disabled student to participate in football, a contact and dangerous sport, was reasonable accommodation.  JOHNSON v. FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVITIES ASS'N, INC.899 F.Supp. 579 (1995) United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division September 6, 1995)   
Also, reasonable accommodation can be made where the student may be restricted to areas deemed threat free from nails, glass and foreign objects avoiding areas beyond  maintenance workers control. 
Swimming area’s are kept free from glass and sharp objects, but in this day and age the entire campus is relatively monitored and policed well where students often go barefoot while in-between classes. 
Twenty seven years after enactment of the ADA, one would think we would be closer to ending discrimination against people with disabilities in education. This writer has experienced it as well in undergraduate institutions because administrators feel it is more important to protect academic standards, and school policy, than civil rights. 
Whether it is lack of empathy, training, or by administrators, who have an "us against them attitude" seems we will always need advocates and organizations that monitor and intervene on behalf of our disabled.  Congress' concern to eliminate intentional and benign discrimination against disabled individuals is evident in the findings and purpose of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12101. The purpose of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act is "to include persons”.