Letters: Columnist seethes, thanks for sister city visit

Students from Gilroy’s sister city in Takko-Machi, Japan visited

Columnist seething over ignorant reference and lack of a heads-up on letter to editor

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the head’s up on the horrible letter to the editor that calls me “ignorant” and twice tells me to be ashamed of myself. Oh wait: you didn’t give me a head’s up! Despite my specifically asking for that last time we met for coffee over Alan Viarengo’s equally offensive letter.

To add insult to injury, you gave the letter writer a Golden Quill award. Your editorial judgment continues to amaze me.

I don’t know why this letter received a Golden Quill: it’s poorly written, and clearly M. Ayers didn’t understand my column.

First of all, “poor bastards” was an honorific term. I absolutely think those men at Pearl Harbor were heroes, and had M. Ayers carefully read my column, that would have been clear to him. According to the Collins English Dictionary, bastard can mean, in an informal and jocular sense – just as I was using it – “a person, esp a man.” Paired with the word “poor,” someone would have to be an idiot not to understand that I was lamenting the senseless loss of those innocent and brave sailors.

Secondly, M. Ayers takes me to task for “blaming others.” My column doesn’t blame a single person for anything. My column listed some atrocities of war and talked about how, through the healing work of time, we come to view former enemies as friends. I’m absolutely bewildered as to where in the column I blamed anyone for something.

Ayers refers to the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and asks if I justify this. Uh, no? Didn’t my column clearly outline how appalling I find acts of war? I went back and re-read my column to make sure I wasn’t missing something, or to see where what I wrote could have been misinterpreted.

Nope. It’s all clear to someone who reads carefully and who understands the extended metaphor in use. This situation reminds me of a time I brought an article from The Onion to a college classroom where I was teaching at the time. The students didn’t get it. They were incensed, in fact. Once I gently led them through it and pointed out the ironic language, they understood. I think maybe M. Ayers needs someone to explain my column to him.

Do I get a Golden Quill for this?

Erika Mailman, Gilroy Dispatch Columnist


Set aside the plentiful myths, historic preservation could help make downtown great

Dear Editor,

There are myths galore about historic preservation. Usually, these myths surface when somebody doesn’t want to think about something new and different; or do the work they think they will have to do; or spend the money they think they will have to spend.  “Ahhh,” they cry, “leave me alone.”

One of the funniest myths I have heard is, “This building has lasted a 100 years, so why do I have to do anything to it?”

Well, just because a building has lasted 100 years doesn’t mean it will last forever.  Just like any other building, historic structures need routine maintenance.  If you do the routine stuff, then you don’t have to do major, expensive stuff.

When you think about it, those unreinforced masonry buildings in downtown Gilroy have lasted 100 years and more and haven’t done so badly!  They’re still waiting around to drop a brick in the next earthquake and maul someone. “One for you!” they’ll cry and check it off. What other building that you know of can do that?

The myth I do hear over and over, and it is a serious one, is: If a property is designated as a historic landmark, it’s protected forever and can never be demolished.

Uh-uh. That would be too easy for us preservation advocates. Actually, National, State, or Local Register status cannot prevent demolition.Historic designation of buildings ordinarily requires more delay to allow more review as established under the local, state, or national ordinances. Those delays would allow time to find ways to retain a structure that satisfied both the owner and the district. If there could be no meeting of the minds, the demolition could legally proceed. There have been cases where the courts have stopped a demolition, but they are rare.

Another common myth is that “energy efficient” replacement windows will save money. The fact is that tests are showing that using weather stripping, and repairing the putty around the glass will do almost as much to reduce heating loss, and at far less money than replacing windows.

Judson Aley, of R.J. Aley General Contractors in an online article titled “Preserving Historic Windows: Shattering the Myths of Replacement Windows,”  writes, “In an effort to save on heating cost and reduce their carbon footprint, well-intentioned homeowners are often coninced by replacement window manufacturers that if they want to save money, new windows are their only option. This simply isn’t true. What these manufacturers neglect to mention is that studies show most homes lose more heat through inadequately insulated walls and roofs than through wooden windows, and that it could take a century or more for an investment in replacement windows to result in energy savings.” Other sources agree.

If you are interested in an analysis of the economics of replacing windows, search on the web for “historic preservation myths,” scroll down to the entry with “Utah” in the URL, and read Don Hartley’s breakdown of the costs and benefits.

There are many other myths about historic preservation floating about, like “it’s too expensive” and “the historical society isn’t going to tell me what colors to paint my house.” Research “historic preservation myths” before acting on what you think is true, when it probably isn’t. But only if you can handle it.

Carol DeSantis, Gilroy

Gilroy’s generous families

support the wonderful exchange with our sister city

Dear Editor,

During this past week the Gilroy Sister Cities Association was privileged to host the latest visitors from Gilroy’s sister city in Japan, Takko-machi.

Five young ladies from Takko-machi High School arrived in Gilroy on Wednesday, Jan. 4 and left Jan. 10, on their way home. The students stayed with host families who provided them with tours of Gilroy and the local attractions as well as a warm American home experience.

The students toured Gilroy High and Christopher High Schools, Christopher Ranch, had a day trip to U.C. Berkeley, and spent a full day with their host families and, in addition, had ample time to experience shopping at the Premium Outlets.

On their last night in Gilroy, the Takko-machi students were guests at a Sayonara party where they demonstrated Japanese calligraphy and entertained their host families with vocal selections. A special visit to the party was made by Japanese Consul Mr. Takemichi Nagaoka from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. Consul Nagaoka spoke to the students of his own experience when, at their age, he got to stay with a family in America and as a result decided to enter the foreign service as a career. He encouraged the Takko-machi students to continue to be good ambassadors for their country.

These student visits would not be possible without the Gilroy families who offer their homes and affection to their visitors.

The Gilroy Sister Cities Association wishes to thank the Lance family, the Clark family, the Huerta family and the Brown family for their generous support. The city of Takko-machi sends two groups of students to Gilroy annually, junior high students who come in October and senior high students in January and these visits depend entirely on the continuing support that Gilroy Sister Cities Association receives from Gilroy families.

Hugh Smith, president, Gilroy Sister Cities Association

Our high-speed rail plans on the ‘F’ side of the bell curve from the very beginning

Columnist seething over

ignorant reference and lack of a heads-up on letter to editor

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the head’s up on the horrible letter to the editor that calls me “ignorant” and twice tells me to be ashamed of myself. Oh wait: you didn’t give me a head’s up! Despite my specifically asking for that last time we met for coffee over Alan Viarengo’s equally offensive letter.

To add insult to injury, you gave the letter writer a Golden Quill award. Your editorial judgment continues to amaze me.

I don’t know why this letter received a Golden Quill: it’s poorly written, and clearly M. Ayers didn’t understand my column.

First of all, “poor bastards” was an honorific term. I absolutely think those men at Pearl Harbor were heroes, and had M. Ayers carefully read my column, that would have been clear to him. According to the Collins English Dictionary, bastard can mean, in an informal and jocular sense – just as I was using it – “a person, esp a man.” Paired with the word “poor,” someone would have to be an idiot not to understand that I was lamenting the senseless loss of those innocent and brave sailors.

Secondly, M. Ayers takes me to task for “blaming others.” My column doesn’t blame a single person for anything. My column listed some atrocities of war and talked about how, through the healing work of time, we come to view former enemies as friends. I’m absolutely bewildered as to where in the column I blamed anyone for something.

Ayers refers to the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and asks if I justify this. Uh, no? Didn’t my column clearly outline how appalling I find acts of war? I went back and re-read my column to make sure I wasn’t missing something, or to see where what I wrote could have been misinterpreted.

Nope. It’s all clear to someone who reads carefully and who understands the extended metaphor in use. This situation reminds me of a time I brought an article from The Onion to a college classroom where I was teaching at the time. The students didn’t get it. They were incensed, in fact. Once I gently led them through it and pointed out the ironic language, they understood. I think maybe M. Ayers needs someone to explain my column to him.

Do I get a Golden Quill for this?

Erika Mailman, Gilroy Dispatch Columnist


Set aside the plentiful myths, historic preservation could help make downtown great

Dear Editor,

There are myths galore about historic preservation. Usually, these myths surface when somebody doesn’t want to think about something new and different; or do the work they think they will have to do; or spend the money they think they will have to spend. “Ahhh,” they cry, “leave me alone.”

One of the funniest myths I have heard is, “This building has lasted a 100 years, so why do I have to do anything to it?”

Well, just because a building has lasted 100 years doesn’t mean it will last forever. Just like any other building, historic structures need routine maintenance. If you do the routine stuff, then you don’t have to do major, expensive stuff.

When you think about it, those unreinforced masonry buildings in downtown Gilroy have lasted 100 years and more and haven’t done so badly! They’re still waiting around to drop a brick in the next earthquake and maul someone. “One for you!” they’ll cry and check it off. What other building that you know of can do that?

The myth I do hear over and over, and it is a serious one, is: If a property is designated as a historic landmark, it’s protected forever and can never be demolished.

Uh-uh. That would be too easy for us preservation advocates. Actually, National, State, or Local Register status cannot prevent demolition.Historic designation of buildings ordinarily requires more delay to allow more review as established under the local, state, or national ordinances. Those delays would allow time to find ways to retain a structure that satisfied both the owner and the district. If there could be no meeting of the minds, the demolition could legally proceed. There have been cases where the courts have stopped a demolition, but they are rare.

Another common myth is that “energy efficient” replacement windows will save money. The fact is that tests are showing that using weather stripping, and repairing the putty around the glass will do almost as much to reduce heating loss, and at far less money than replacing windows.

Judson Aley, of R.J. Aley General Contractors in an online article titled “Preserving Historic Windows: Shattering the Myths of Replacement Windows,” writes, “In an effort to save on heating cost and reduce their carbon footprint, well-intentioned homeowners are often convinced by replacement window manufacturers that if they want to save money, new windows are their only option. This simply isn’t true. What these manufacturers neglect to mention is that studies show most homes lose more heat through inadequately insulated walls and roofs than through wooden windows, and that it could take a century or more for an investment in replacement windows to result in energy savings.”  Other sources agree.

If you are interested in an analysis of the economics of replacing windows, search on the web for “historic preservation myths,” scroll down to the entry with  “Utah” in the URL, and read Don Hartley’s breakdown of the costs and benefits.

There are many other myths about historic preservation floating about, like “it’s too expensive” and “the historical society isn’t going to tell me what colors to paint my house.” Research “historic preservation myths” before acting on what you think is true, when it probably isn’t. But only if you can handle it.

Carol DeSantis, Gilroy


 

Gilroy’s generous families support the wonderful exchange with our sister city

Dear Editor,

During this past week the Gilroy Sister Cities Association was privileged to host the latest visitors from Gilroy’s sister city in Japan, Takko-machi.

Five young ladies from Takko-machi High School arrived in Gilroy on Wednesday, Jan. 4 and left Jan. 10, on their way home. The students stayed with host families who provided them with tours of Gilroy and the local attractions as well as a warm American home experience.

The students toured Gilroy High and Christopher High Schools, Christopher Ranch, had a day trip to U.C. Berkeley, and spent a full day with their host families and, in addition, had ample time to experience shopping at the Premium Outlets.

On their last night in Gilroy, the Takko-machi students were guests at a Sayonara party where they demonstrated Japanese calligraphy and entertained their host families with vocal selections. A special visit to the party was made by Japanese Consul Mr. Takemichi Nagaoka from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. Consul Nagaoka spoke to the students of his own experience when, at their age, he got to stay with a family in America and as a result decided to enter the foreign service as a career. He encouraged the Takko-machi students to continue to be good ambassadors for their country.

These student visits would not be possible without the Gilroy families who offer their homes and affection to their visitors.

The Gilroy Sister Cities Association wishes to thank the Lance family, the Clark family, the Huerta family and the Brown family for their generous support. The city of Takko-machi sends two groups of students to Gilroy annually, junior high students who come in October and senior high students in January and these visits depend entirely on the continuing support that Gilroy Sister Cities Association receives from Gilroy families.

Hugh Smith, president, Gilroy Sister Cities Association


 

Our high-speed rail plans on the ‘F’ side of the bell curve from the very beginning

Dear Editor,

It is obvious that those who believe the high speed rail would have been excessively expensive are sadly mistaken.

 The California high speed rail plan is for first generation trains. Countries with courage are already on the third generation, the Maglev trains that have no wheels but float on opposing magnets. These trains have no wheels and thus, none of the friction and heavy wear that can be expected in high speed trains of the past two generations.   

Thus, we could have executed our designs by purchasing the slowest high speed rail left-overs.  There was actually an expected Bell-Curve in cost!   

The good news part is that we could have done what we have planned very cheaply. We could have built it from more modern countries’ scrap piles. The sad news is that America, which once shot men to the moon, has been reduced to nailing left-overs to the ground, and we can’t even afford to do that.

Oh! And remember the Bell Curve in school?  The A’s were on one end, and the F’s on the other.  

Our high speed rail plans were F’d from the beginning …

Tony Weiler, Gilroy

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