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Only in a Public Library

Leaning against the Biography shelves at a staff training day at Napa County Library next to my elbow, from left to right, were biographies of Dorothea Lange, Cyndi Lauper, T.E. Lawrence and Gypsy Rose Lee.

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Happy Birthday Zerna. Happy. Happy. Happy.

Writer and elementary school teacher Zerna Sharp – best known as the mother of the Dick and Jane series of books for beginning readers — was born on August 12, 1889 in Hillisburg, Indiana.

Sharp didn’t write the stories that taught American children how to read from 1930 through the 1960s but she named the characters and selected their clothing – all of which came from the Sears and (Montgomery) Wards catalogues.    Read more »



March 4, 1864: “The Saint of the Pacific Coast” Lays Down His Burdens

That’s what contemporaries call Universalist and Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King, who  lies on his San Francisco deathbed, 160 years ago.  According to Charles Wendte’s 1921 biography of Starr King, the resonant orator — whose passionate sermons are instrumental in keeping California in the Union during the Civil War — tells his wife, Julia:

Starr King’s Tomb

“Don’t weep for me.    Read more »



On February 25, 160 Years Ago…

As soon as lawmakers deliver him the approved bill, Gov. John Bigler ends California’s five-year game of musical capitals by signing legislation making Sacramento California’s permanent seat of government.

The current capital is Benicia. Previously it’s been Monterey, San Jose, briefly Sacramento and Vallejo. Benicia’s representatives are eager to have Benicia remain the capital.    Read more »



Preventing a Final Indignity

Death certificates are the latest battleground for gay rights advocates trying to ensure that the gender a person identifies with in life carries over into death.

A bill introduced recently aimed at ensuring the death certificates of transgender persons reflect their chosen gender is the latest legislative effort to vouchsafe the rights of this small category of Californians.    Read more »



Is New School Vaccine Law Undermined By Reporting Rules?

Regulations implementing a new law aimed at reducing the number of unvaccinated kids attending school may do just the opposite.

A 2012 bill, which took effect January 1, requires parents seeking an exemption from vaccinations against diseases like measles and whooping cough, to first talk with a health care provider about the risks and benefits of vaccines.    Read more »



California Corporate Tax Collections Lag Estimates

It’s a litany of good news in Gov. Jerry Brown’s election-year budget. Safety net programs are being shored up. Debt is being repaid. Revenues are rising.

Except for corporate taxes.

In fact, business tax receipts are falling at the same time hefty profits are being posted by major companies across the country.    Read more »



Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)



  “Passing Through”……………………. 




Passing through. Passing through.

Sometimes happy, Sometimes blue.

Glad that I ran in to you.

Tell the people that you saw me passing through.


I saw Adam leave the garden with an apple in his hand, 

I said, “Now you’re out, what are you gonna do?

Plant some crops and pray for rain, maybe raise a little Cain,

I’m an orphan and I’m only passing through.”


I saw Jesus on the cross on that hill called Calvary.    Read more »