Try yourself to balance the state’s budget

The Los Angeles Times has come up with an interactive tool where you can try your hand at balancing the state’s $24 billion budget shortfall.

“Cut spending, raise taxes and/or borrow to get the state out of the red,” it reads. “For each choice — drawn from proposals from across the political spectrum — we’ve tried to give some sense of the effects. As you craft your proposal, the Deficit Meter will show your progress.”

The tool is here.

How lightning photo in GV was shot

I contacted area resident Dave Taylor, whose photo of the lightning storm in downtown Grass Valley ran in The Union on Friday.

I asked him to send the photo but also detail the information. It’s a spectacular shot.

“I arrived downtown at about 9 p.m., and according to the camera data the shot was taken at 9:56 p.m.,” he told me. “The camera was a Nikon D-300 and a 24-70 mm. f/2.8 lens exposure was 15 seconds at f/16 ISO white balance was set to a custom flash setting to warm up the scene a bit.”

Thanks Dave.

lightning

Where does $5 donation to Tea Party go?

The Nevada County Tea Party patriots are holding a gathering at the fairgrounds on Saturday and asking for a $5 donation.

But where does the money go? This group would benefit from more transparency.

I keep hearing how the group is “nonpartisan.” But if you go to the national site on Facebook you see links to the Republican National Committee. Another link is “LIFE – Let’s see how many pro-life people are on Facebook.”

Fine if that’s what you believe, but I’d prefer more openness.

•The national Web site is here.

•The national Facebook site is here.

•The local “Tea Party” Facebook site is here. You’ll find some prominent members of the community belonging to this group, including Dan Logue, Sam Aanestad, and the Editor/Publisher of The Union.

As a journalist, I would not join a group like this, because it might present a perceived conflict of interest in the community. Some newspapers have written policies prohibiting this as well.

Emgold stock plunges 36 percent on Thursday

No local media reports on this, but I noticed that Emgold Mining Corp.’s stock fell 0.013 to close at 0.022 in trading on the pink sheets on Thursday.

That’s a steep 36 percent drop, as reported on Yahoo Finance. Emgold’s ticker is EGMCF.PK. Volume was 60,000 shares.

As previously reported, Emgold’s plan to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley hit a delay earlier this week because of concerns about its draft environmental impact report.

The report likely will need to be revised, further delaying the approval/rejection process.

I’ve heard some prominent people in our area bought the stock when it was much higher, hoping that approval would be quicker.

I’ve invested in stocks for years, and this one is highly risky. They should have dug deeper.

The “fat lady/man” hasn’t sung on Emgold’s plans, but holding a stock like this must create some anxious dinner-time conversations for investors.

Still, let’s put this in context: General Motor’s stock (ticker symbol GM) is trading at N/A, according to Yahoo, as in “not available.” GM filed for bankruptcy this week.

Yelp at fair: “Enjoy a (bottom) expanding treat”

Yelp is a cool site where users review businesses, though some of the negative ones increasingly are drawing ire — or lawsuits — from proprietors. The background is here.

Yelp is more popular in urban areas than around here, but I was curious about what last year’s county fairgoers had to say about their experience on Yelp. This year’s fair is coming up on August 12-16.

Here’s some of the unfiltered and modestly edited comments:

•”I just went to the fair again this year this year, luv it. Again, go during the day (around 11 a.m.) and there will be less crowds and weirdos (well, it’s *ss valley, there will always be a few nutsos roaming about lol) but you know what I mean.”
—Mary C., San Jose

•”Oy! What a hillbilly-hippie fest! Walk along the midway and watch the meth-heads crawl out from under their rocks as the night falls. Watch as clusters of sheriff’s deputies search the crowd for ‘evil-doers’ and people off probation.”
—James B., Grass Valley

•”The prettiest fairgrounds I have ever seen! Shady from the big ponderosa pines and always nice crisp evenings. Have to try a cornish pastie!”
—Justin P., San Francisco

•So I am probably biased as this is my home county fair, but it really is the best in Ca. The grounds are so pretty, the food vendors are all local groups, the animals are cute and the giant cinnamon roll vendor is always there for an *ss-expanding treat.
—Chelsea J., Raleigh, NC

Celebrating our youth (aka our future)

I went to the Scholarship Nights at both Nevada Union and Bear River high schools this week.

As in the past, I handed out scholarships to students who are incoming Cal Berkeley freshman as chairman of the local Alumni Group’s scholarship committee.

I always am inspired by the success of the students who receive scholarships from dozens of generous community donors — a tangible sign of our youth, their parents and teachers and the community all working together.

Barbara Ross, who runs the show and has become a good friend, is an amazing coordinator and evangelist for the students when it comes to applying for the awards.

Nowadays it truly “takes a village” to raise a child and more so in a rural area. This year was special because a long-time family friend graduated with a scholarship to UC Davis.

She chose Davis over Berkeley. No problem, because she’s interested in animal husbandry, and Davis is a top notch school for that.

My wife and I also attended my son’s “step up” from first grade to second grade. All the children received certificates of achievement for one skill or another.

My son’s was science. I wish his grandpa, a geologist and engineer, could have seen that. It’s a real drawback of being an older parent: Your child doesn’t get to know his grandparents because they usually are gone.

The over-riding theme of all three events: smiles, smiles and smiles.

We need to rally around our youth, because they are our future.