Sunday, April 19, 2009


Bloggers note: I previously transcribed a post from Sammy C. Lyon in January, 2008 in which he talked about the federal government issuing a death warrant for Sammy and his kind. I saw Sammy the other day while kayaking the Columbia River near Portland, and I could tell right away that he was very upset. Following is the post he dictated to me.

This is Sammy C. Lyon, resident of the Pacific Ocean. My family and friends are grieving over the death of my Uncle, Jack. C. Lyon. Uncle Jack was my favorite uncle, ever since I was a pup. He always told the best stories of his exploits along the eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean, his visits to California, his occasional trips to Canada and Alaska, and his discovery of the great salmon feed up the Columbia River at the Bonneville Dam. It was Uncle Jack who first told us the oral histories of our clan, going back in time to the days when the coasts were dark with huge trees, when food was plentiful, including millions of salmon, and the Machines had not yet been seen. Our ancestors, Uncle Jack told us, lived up and down the coast in great numbers, living off the bounty of nature. He told us about how our ancestors swam up the mighty river, now known as the Columbia, to follow the salmon, and gathered at the base of the Great Waterfalls to feed on the fat fish. The First People were also there, sharing the fat salmon with us. But the Great Waterfalls disappeared one day, so the story is told, and our ancestors could no longer feed there.

It was Uncle Jack who helped re-discover the salmon feast up the Great River. He and some friends decided to go up the river about 10 years ago, following some salmon. They made a great discovery, what they at first thought was the Great Waterfalls, where many, many fat salmon were gathered, trying to go further upstream. We now know that this place they discovered is called Bonneville Dam, something built by the Machine Builders; but as far as we're concerned, it is like the Great Waterfalls, a place for the annual salmon feed.

Uncle Jack was captured by the Machine Builders a few years ago, and was branded on his back with the symbols C265. This was very embarrassing for Uncle Jack, and he was never quite the same afterwards, tending to keep to himself as much as possible. I went up to the Bonneville Dam with Uncle Jack a few times. The salmon were fat and plentiful, and we ate our fill. But it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. The Machine Builders kept throwing things at us that made loud noises, and they shot things at us that hurt if we got hit. It's almost as if the Machine Builders don't want to share the salmon with us like the First People did.

The last time I saw Uncle Jack, he was caught in some kind of trap and couldn't get out. We all tried to get it open, but it was no use. Then the Machine Builders came and took Uncle Jack away - we haven't seen him since, and we think he's dead.

I don't understand why the Machine Builders are so selfish; after all, they catch and eat thousands more salmon than we do every year. Some of my other friends and relatives have disappeared after being caught in those traps, and it scares me. We're just doing what we've done for millennia - it's the Machine Builders who have changed so many things in our world.

I only wish the Machine Builders understood us better, and I wish they had taken time to get to know Uncle Jack - but the truth is, I don't think they really know Jack.

[bloggers note: Jack C. Lyon was killed by federal officials in March after being trapped below the Bonneville Dam. His skeleton was saved for research; the rest of him was shipped to a rendering plant in Tacoma, Washington.]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Ah, good old Bank of America, one of the largest financial institutions on the world. They're also a bunch of crooks!

It took me quite a long time to find a number for the amount of taxpayer money has been handed to Bank of America. I finally found a January, 2009 article on that listed the amount of bailout money given to Bank of America as $45,000,000,000 (45 billion).

In the mail today, we received a notice from Bank of America that they are raising the fees for a number of credit card transactions: ATM cash advances, balance transfers, bank cash advances, cash equivalents, check cash advances, direct deposit cash advances, wire transfer purchases.

The new transaction fee for the above will be 4% of each transaction, with a minimum of $10. So if you go to the ATM machine or walk into a BofA bank to get $100 cash with your BofA credit card, they will charge you 4% (4 dollars) - but wait, it will actually be 10% because the minimum fee is $10.

They are also expanding the definition of "foreign transactions" to include transactions in U.S. dollars made outside of the United States (this includes online purchases from foreign merchants). Bank of America will now get 3% on any of these transactions.

Doesn't it make you proud that $45 billion of our tax dollars went to Bank of America, and they thank us by raising the fees on our credit card transactions?

These folks are slime - sorry, but it's true. I recently caught them red-handed trying to cheat us out of $40. A $40 "late payment" fee showed up on a recent credit card statement from BofA. I called them to ask about this. We pay bills electronically, and the electronic payment was made about 3 days prior to the payment due date. But what I was told was that the payment wasn't posted by BofA until several days after the payment due date, therefore it was a late payment. It is up to me, I was told, to get the payment to Bank of America early enough to be posted. I didn't agree - if the payment was made electronically (i.e. instantaneously) then the day it was paid is the day it was paid. They did me a favor and credited the amount of the late fee!

I'd like to know why the government is giving these folks billions of dollars, and they turn around and raise their fees, and try to cheat people a few dollars at a time. Let's have some real regulation here.

(A day later: oh yes, I forgot. Another full-page add today in the NY Times by Bank of America telling us all how wonderful they are. My sources say that an ad like this is easily $100,000. No wonder they want more from me in the way of fees.)

Friday, April 03, 2009


The just released report, State of the Birds is a beautiful report that catalogues the alarming decline of bird species in the United States. There are a few exceptions, on a habitat basis, such as waterfowl and other species associated with wetlands, for which conservation efforts seem to be helping.

Here at our very urban home we put out a seed mix and suet cake for our fine feathered friends, and a few furry ones as well. If you know me at all, you have guessed that I keep a list, and here it is:

Oregon junco*
Scrub jay*
Black-capped chickadee*
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Western tanager
Pine siskin
Audubons warbler
House finch
House sparrow*
American goldfinch
Anna's hummingbird
American robin
American crow
Northern flicker
Downy woodpecker
European starling*
Sharp-shinned hawk
(overhead: Red-tailed hawk, Great blue heron)

* these are the most frequently seen, and are here throughout the year. Some are occasional seasonal visitors. The Sharp-shinned hawk was heard before it was seen - a bone-crunching sound - it was sitting on the back fence eating a small bird (a starling, we hope).

This isn't a huge list of species by any means, but it's many more than we thought we'd see here after moving from a more forested neighborhood a few years ago.

And oh yes, the furry visitors: some big red squirrels eat a major share of the seed. There was also a young opossum walking along the top of the back fence one evening. And our neighbors fought a battle with raccoons who came into their yard at night and rolled up the newly placed grass sod to get at the worms and bugs underneath.

I've sometimes wondered if feeding the birds is a good thing or not; maybe we shouldn't make the birds dependent on us for their food, you now, let nature be nature. But, on the other hand, this neighborhood used to be forest, and humans are part of nature, so feeding them is a good thing. It's hard to imagine a world without birds.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


I miss old Lord Darth Cheney - the guy I loved to hate while he was Veep. But wait, there's more: Darth is still at it, dissing Obama on T.V., issuing dire warnings - in that deep, scary, gravelly Darth voice - that the bad guys are going to get us because Obama ad the Dems are soft on terrorism; defending his OK of torture because of all the terrible attacks that were averted (we're all waiting for some proof of that).

And now, according to journalist Seymore Hersh in the NY Times, Lord Darth Cheney has a network of spies and informants in the Obama administration feeding him inside information about the workings of the new Administration.

If President Obama can force the CEO of GM to step down, can't he declare Lord Darth Cheney a threat to national security or something, and send him out to pasture for good?

At least Dubya has the decency not to bad-mouth the current President.


I learned from a recent interview of actor John Cusack, in The Progressive magazine, that he had made a movie about the outsourcing of war by the USA to private firms. The film, War, Inc., was out in the middle of last year, but I never heard or saw anything about it at the time. It's a good story, very political, with a great cast (including his sister, Joan Cusack - a personal favorite - and Marisa Tomei -another favorite since My Cousin Vinnie days). We just got it this week from Netflix, and I highly recommend it for those of you who like John and Joan, who like action thrillers, who like political films, and who like to rant about the relationship between government and corporations. And, if you substitute in your head Lord Darth Cheney for the actor Ben Kingsley, it's an even better rant.