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December 23 - 30, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Fun With Power Tools

RATHER THAN commiserate about the difficulty of opening clamshell packaging or trying to engage legislators to solve another of life's little problems ("Shell Shock," Cover Story, Dec. 16), why not use the occasion to adapt and enjoy life in a creative way? If these difficult-to-open packages are a challenge to common household tools and common dexterity, why not purchase a good set of heavy duty scissors, or maybe a rotary Dremel tool equipped with a saw blade? Then hone one's manual abilities by performing the opening operation without damage to oneself or the items inside. The more of a test this may be, the more it becomes a rewarding learning experience. Personally, I find using a propane torch with pinpoint accuracy to burn through the packaging extremely gratifying. Be sure to do this outdoors—the fumes may be noxious—and be fire safe, which adds another degree of difficulty and some more challenging enjoyment.

T. Alan Kraus,


OxyContin Alternatives Already Exist

REGARDING the news article "Opium War" by Curtis Cartier (Currents, Dec. 16), my thanks to Curtis for bringing this problem to light. As a member of the Santa Cruz County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, I've become aware of many drug-related issues. OxyContin, along with other prescribed drugs, are not only potentially addictive but often abused (as described in Curtis' article).

There are pharmaceutical companies working with less abusive technologies, e.g., oxycodone in a sustained release gel-cap—like Remoxy, a Pain Therapeutics alternative in a gel-cap by Durect Corp. I hope the FDA will soon approve the use of less abusive versions of oxycodone and other dangerous drugs. I don't know why the FDA hasn't approved Remoxy. Again, my thanks to Curtis and to Santa Cruz Weekly for this article.

Al Richards,

Santa Cruz

Sickened by 'Reform'

THANKS for making us aware of the discount prescription card available to those of us forced to give up our health insurance (Breakdown, Dec. 16). I for one, I am sickened by what has become of so-called health care reform, and agree with Howard Dean that the plan in its current state has been "gutted," and that it is time to throw the entire thing out and start over. Even though the public consistently polls that it wants the public option, our elected officials refuse to listen to the will of the people and cave in to the insurance and drug companies that pump their endless coffers into campaign treasuries. Let your elected representatives, including our president, know you support health care programs for everyone.

Judy Slattum,


Ripping Off Kids

IN THE MIDST of climate crisis, economic meltdown, health care reform and various wars, a very important issue is bubbling furiously at our state universities. Fees for the UC system are being increased 32 percent, and for the State system by $1,000 per year, and student enrollment will drop by 40,000. Students are protesting, taking over buildings and being arrested to express their outrage.

These systems were established to make higher education affordable for all Californians. If the U.S. expects to compete in a global marketplace, we need educated and trained people.

The powers that be may believe they can staff companies with employees from abroad and/or outsource the jobs. Where are the patriots now? American kids need work and education is key.

An oil severance tax, which every other oil producing state has, could fund our higher education system among other things. I urge our legislators and the governor to do their jobs and quit colluding with a rip-off of our state and our kids.

Moss Henry,

Santa Rosa

Think for Yourselves

I ACCEPT the back-handed compliment of Tim Bustos ("Predetermined Conclusions," Posts, Dec. 16), who is on staff at Ecology Action, in regard to my op-ed piece ("The Trouble With a Bike Boulevard," Bullhorn, Dec. 9). I have done my research by reading the entire June 17, 2008, Bicycle Solutions Concept Plan, attending public meetings and using my own observations. I am baffled that he was disappointed that I dared to have my own conclusions. My paraphrasing of the report seems to be another offense.

As space is precious here, I will, admittedly, quote from the report in an "out of context" manner to clarify. "[The] Design (my emphasis) of a diverter-based plan ... is beyond the scope of the King Street bikeway study ... [and] would require a comprehensive analysis. ... For this reason, this report does not recommend any locations for diverters." (Page 14, Paragraph 1). "For three reasons, a successful outcome is not assured for a diverter scheme." (Page 14, Paragraph 2). "... Mission/Bay and Mission/Laurel signals ... already experiences intersection Level of Service (vehicle throughput) constraints." (Page 14, Paragraph 2). "Second, the city's West Side is one of the only areas available for development, whose additional traffic ... [would be] further impacting signal operations." (Page 14, Paragraph 2). "This situation differs from two frequently-cited 'bicycle boulevard cities'—Palo Alto and Berkeley, both of which have extensive street grids in the vicinity of their bike boulevard streets" (Page 14, Paragraph 3).

Oh, dear—who to believe, what to do? Use your brain. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or even have a degree. Get a copy of the Bicycle Solutions Concept Plan from the Santa Cruz departments of Transportation or Public Works, as a start. Read all of it. Do your own research. Try to avoid self-interests or politically correct behavior. Draw your own conclusions. Or, you can be lazy and complacent and let self-appointed pundits do your thinking for you.

Mike Speviak,

Santa Cruz

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