The retired editor of Southwest Farm Press and his wife are a kind and considerate pair. The Texan and former editor of Western Farm Press' sister publication recently sent my wife and me a lovely little candle to light our way during rolling blackouts. Thoughtful of them...their concern for our plight as Californians.

Hate to keep harping in this space on the electricity mess, but California only grows as the nation's laughingstock. No one inquires about my well being anymore, only how many rolling blackouts have I personally experienced.

It is so heartening to see the little light bulb icon in the corner of the television screen as a reminder that the lights - and the television - could go dark at any time, without warning. Turn it off? The irritating icon would disappear and with it the constant reminder of California's moronic state.

At the rate money is being spent in Sacramento to keep the lights on, the state will soon become the most broke as well as dumbest state. The last power crisis legislation Gov. Gray Davis signed pledged $10 billion to buy electricity for our poor power utilities.

One of those broke utilities was recently audited and state regulators - the same ones partly responsible for the electrical crisis - found that financially floundering Southern California Edison mailed checks totaling almost $5 billion to its parent company over past few years.

Also not surprising, the crisis in the eighth ranking economy in the world is spilling across California's borders. Thanks to politicians' willingness to pay any price per watt of electricity, energy prices are skyrocketing outside of the Golden State.

California and its 34 million people are envied more than ever! Farmers, homeowners and business owners everywhere are thrilled at California's eagerness to pay any price for a watt and pay it for years to come.

At the recent National Cotton Council annual meeting, some Arizona producers were angry because the price of power was suddenly so expensive that they could not afford to buy electricity on the open market for use in their irrigation pumps. However, other producers were pondering the possibility of being paid by their rural electrical cooperatives not to farm this year and selling the power to California for a profit far greater than they could realize farming cotton or anything else. It would seem to be a no brainer: farm and hope to make $100 per acre or park the tractors and make $300 to $400 per acre. They probably could make enough to pay the electric bills in their homes this summer.

The latest is that the governor is asking businesses to reduce lighting. Many already have to reduce costs. Local stores have cut so many lights, shoppers wonder if they are open for business after dark.

Car dealerships will be ordered to cut outside lighting or face fines of $1,000 per day. One San Francisco dealer turned off his lot lights and lost two cars in one night.

Local law enforcement agencies will become electricity cops. Officers will be too busy writing electric waste tickets to worry about muggers and car thieves who prey on darkened car lots and shopping malls.

California's governor is asking his constituents to wait until the laundry hamper is overflowing before washing clothes. Can you imagine the family turmoil? School truancy will be rampant.

"Mom, where are my favorite jeans. I just have to wear them to school today."

"Sorry dear, wash day will be only on Friday from now. Gov. Davis says we have to conserve."

"But, Mom, I cannot go to school today wearing any other jeans. Call the office and tell them I am sick...please."