March 27th, 2008

alan's marigolds

Good Morning!

Jane and I had a good talk this morning about breathing and the pause.  She also mentioned a show that she saw previewed called Unnatural Causes.  It is on tonight at 10:00 on KQED where I live, and three nights thereafter.   It might explain Cheney and his continual grab for more power.  The alpha animal actually experiences less stress than the one who lacks control, wallows without hope.  It sounds like the show is worthwhile.  I am realizing now there is probably a book to accompany it.  I will check.

For now, the following is my morning exploration.  It allowed me to come to a place of peace, and see how my addictions to perfection and the "need to know" keep me functioning at a pace that is not always helpful. 

Notice today when your breath stops, when your heart catches.  Notice where you renew.   Lee suggested last night I take three breaths between each email.   Let's try to take at least one.  Inhale - Pause - Exhale - Pause.  Ah!   Awe!!



This morning something bubbles inside,

a permission not visible before.

Lee said last night,

“You can’t get rid of something until you know what it is.”

I moan, “I can’t do enough.”  Sigh. 

She says the obvious, “What’s enough?”


“I make extra effort to ….”

“What’s the extra?”

What’s the grip, the try, the holding on to rocks to climb

with such grit, determination, and gripped lips,  that everything stops,

and halts?

Nothing in nature stops or halts.  The planets rotate and revolve.

The dead recycle, always on a wheel turning.  Water lifts and falls,

moves through us, lakes, rivers, trees. 


What’s the struggle?

What am I wanting?

What is the need?


Explore with curiosity.

What does the moment ask of me?

How can I be where I am?


How can I be where I am?

In a pause, I feel the chair reach up,

and the moon raises my eyes

and the leaves just are.


The leaves just are.

I am.



just when I say no more posting news of unfairness -

$3 million tax cut on Larry Ellison's estate

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Larry Ellison, ranked 12th on the Forbes 500 list with a net worth of $25 billion, has bagged a $3 million tax break after arguing that his flamboyant Japanese-style estate in Woodside is functionally obsolete.

The chief executive officer of software giant Oracle Corp. will be paid from San Mateo County property taxes collected this year, which otherwise would have gone to schools, the county general fund and cities, among other things, Deputy Controller Kanchan Charan said. The hit to schools alone will be nearly $1.4 million.

Ellison's Octopus Holdings LP acquired the 23-acre site in May 1995 for $12 million and spent nine years constructing the lavish property, modeled on a Japanese emperor's 16th century country residence, according to the San Mateo assessment appeals board.

It consists of a nearly 8,000-square-foot main house with two wings, a guest home, three cottages and a gymnasium as well as a 5-acre man-made lake, two waterfalls and two bridges. Hundreds of mature cherry, maple and other trees were planted among nearly 1,000 redwoods, pines and oaks.

The assessor's office based its January 2005 valuation on so-called reproduction costs, the $166.3 million it should have cost to build, said Terry Flinn, deputy assessor-county clerk-recorder. Ultimately, after multiple delays and construction change orders, it ran more than $200 million.

Octopus Holdings, represented by San Francisco attorney William Bennett, asserted that it was worth only $64.7 million at that time, and in the two tax years since.

Why? How did Larry Ellison's palatial estate decline by more than 60 percent in value in a market where luxury homes are actually appreciating and single-family homes values in the county only decreased 6.3 percent in the last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems?

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Lilienthal declined comment, and Bennett, of San Francisco law firm Bennett & Yee, didn't return a call from The Chronicle. But Ellison's appeal claimed the property suffered from "significant functional obsolescence" because there is a finite market for high-end luxury homes, limited appeal for 16th-century Japanese architecture and the "over improvements" and "excessive" landscaping are costly to maintain.

The board ultimately agreed, slicing the valuation by around $100 million for each of the last three years, for a tax savings of more than $3 million, Flinn said.

The largest proportion of San Mateo County property taxes, 45.1 percent, goes to school districts, followed by 21.5 percent for the county general fund, 16.7 percent to cities and 7.5 percent to redevelopment agencies. Woodside will lose about $78,000 from the $130,000 in property taxes it collected on the Mountain Home Road property during the past few years, Town Manager Susan George said. Nevertheless, she doesn't begrudge Ellison.

"He went through a process that was laid out by the law," she said. "It shouldn't make any difference how much money he has if the process was fair."

That said, she added: "We'll miss the money; we always have good things we can do with it."

Ellison's refund is likely to come on top of falling property taxes tied to the declining housing market, said Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the California Tax Reform Association of Sacramento, which advocates equitable taxation and is supported by labor and education groups.

"We have such an irrational property tax system, we rely on the growing housing market, and then when it levels off, there's an awful lot of schools and services hanging out there," he said.

Doug Heller, executive director of Santa Monica advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, said that Ellison's success in this case underscores an important issue in the current housing market: many lower- and middle-income people whose homes genuinely lost value don't know they can or don't know how to get their property values reassessed.

"Three million dollars to Larry Ellison is the equivalent of $300 to your average home owner, who's probably being over-assessed in the wake of this market, but doesn't know the ins and outs and have the advisers getting them the tax break," he said.

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Joan just attended a Holodynamics workshop in Arizona.  She posted this from one of the handouts in a comment.

I bring it forward into the main blog.


What you focus on is what will manifest in life. What we cannot do alone, we can accomplish together. Choose your focus, team up and let's transform the past and bring the future into the present. If not us, then who?

deep sea turtle

Understanding -

Mike Huckabee
, offering his perspective on the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Source: MSNBC)

As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, "That's a terrible statement," I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I'm going to be probably the only conservative in America who's going to say something like this, but I'm just telling you: We've got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, "You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had ... more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

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pet food -

A friend was talking to me today about the byproducts in pet food.  It was nauseating and sobering to hear what she had to say.  I wondered if it could really be that bad, so I googled pet food byproducts.  Here is what came up.

It sounds like the ideal is for them to eat what we eat, if we are eating carefully and organically, and then, add vitamin supplements.  It has been easier to open a can, and supplement with Deli Cat which they love.  On the other hand, Mandu lived 22 years on bought pet food, and times have changed.   Each item we now buy requires education and awareness.
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Evening -

It's evening and time for bed.  I look for some last thought to tuck into my head as I sleep and here it is. 

The Buddha’s Last Instruction
“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(House of Light)