Need a pirate expert?

That’s a subject line you don’t read every day: “Pirate expert available.”

It showed up on a press release I received in my email today, where a PR firm offered me an interview with a person who has expertise in modern piracy in the wake of another ship takeover off the coast of Somali. I doubt this guy talks like pirate, though. Continue Reading


Whoopee! Contra Costa gets new election web site

Finally. The Contra Costa County Election Department updated its web site, http://www.cocovote.us/

No offense meant to anyone involved. I’m sure it was state-of-the-art at the time … but the old site was horrid. It had a weird, frame style that was hard to read. And the funky colors and font styles, well, let’s just say, I won’t miss them.

The new site is a major improvement on the eyes and much easier to navigate.

The only thing it’s missing is a picture of Registrar of Voters Steve Weir and a biography page. Elected officials usually love biography pages and it’s a crying shame that Steve doesn’t have one.

I recommend using this picture by Times photographer Dan Honda: Steve is ironing mangled ballots that refused to feed through the scanners.

But can he handle collars and sleeves?


Water buffaloes make good stocking stuffers

Water buffaloIf you just can’t bear another trip to that crowded mall and your family and friends already have more stuff than they need, consider the gift of a water buffalo.


A friend of mine received a stellar present today in her name from Heifer International, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based organization with a barnyard of holiday gift-giving options that don’t involve driving anywhere or require you to search the house for that last roll of tape.

Buy a water buffalo for $250 and Heifer will give it to a needy family. Best of all, your loved one will never have to clean up after it.

“A water buffalo can lead a hungry family out of poverty and give them a chance for a bright future filled with hope and free from hunger,” Heifer’s site says. “In poor Filipino villages, water buffalo from Heifer provide draft power for planting rice and potatoes, milk for protein and manure for fertilizer and fuel. A farmer can plant four times more rice with a buffalo than by hand.”

What a great idea!

Not crazy about buffaloes? A goat is $150 and a Heifer Hope Basket with goats and chickens is $50. They have ducks and geese and rabbits, too.

Note to self: Return that set of golf clubs I bought for my husband and buy him a water buffalo.

Note: The water buffalo picture came from Heifer International’s web site at http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.204586/k.9430/Gift_Catalog.htm?msource=kw1844


Calling all NRA members: Buy wine?

This has to be one of the most unique political fund-raisers I’ve seen in long time: Join the National Rifle Association Wine Club and proceeds from every purchase will go to help support the organization.

Enroll now and for a limited time only, each new enrollment gets a chance to win a “handsome hand-signed copy of (NRA executive vice president) Wayne LaPierre’s book ‘Guns, Freedom and Terrorism’ or ‘The Global War on Your Guns : Inside the UN Plan To Destroy the Bill of Rights.’ ”

The club even offers an NRA Limited Edition Wine Series.

I confess, I’m perplexed.

I have gunowner friends and relatives and I’ve never heard a single one of them roll into the kitchen after a hunting excursion or a trip to the shooting range and declare, “I just have to have a glass of pinot noir or I will absolutely die.”

Hot coffee, maybe. Iced tea on hot day.

My brother used to hunt deer in Oregon with a bow and arrow. He and his buddies would smear themselves with deer urine, sit in trees and drink beer until they fell onto the ground. (Bambi was safe, I’m telling you.)

But chardonnay? Never.

I guess I just don’t hang out with the right hunters.