Friday, April 30, 2010

Offshore Oil Drilling: All those in favor, raise your hands

 Deepwater Horizon Leak An oil slick (lower right) in the Gulf  of Mexico threatens wildlife refuges around the Mississippi Delta. NASA

I can’t resist…………………..TOLD YOU SO! The BP oil rig that exploded and crashed in the Gulf of Mexico has been leaking A QUARTER OF A MILLION GALLONS OF OIL FOR OVER 7 DAYS! The slick has already begun reaching the shoreline. Is this finally the wakeup call that our elected leaders needed to make them start acting like responsible adults? Lately, they’ve all acted like lousy parents giving in to the whiny brats and letting them eat M & Ms for dinner because “that’s what they wanted.” The policies of “Give ‘Em What They Want” versus “Give Them What is in Their and the Country’s Best Interests” need to end. Is it possible for the American people to elect a veterbrate (someone with a backbone) instead of an invertebrate (a jellyfish)?

Early in the Presidential primaries, none of the Democrats supported offshore oil drilling and John McCain stood alone on the Republican side against offshore oil drilling. Florida’s Governor, Charlie Crist, was against offshore oil drilling. Fast forward just a bit and Obama, McCain and Crist flipped. Why? Because the political pulse seemed to have changed and some people (maybe those with the deepest pockets and aligned with the oil and gas industries???) pushed for energy independence. We got CLEAN COAL ads, let’s start building CLEAN, SAFE nuclear power plants again and let’s open up America’s coastlines to more drilling for oil because the technology is SAFE. What could go wrong? Apparently only those perennial naysayers, the predictors of Doom – Environmentalists - raised red flags. After all, why should Americans be expected to pay $ 3.00 a gallon for gas or have to downsize to a fuel efficient car? Sacrifice? That’s un-American. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. After all, God is on our side, isn’t He? Why listen to scientists? Everyone knows scientists are just elitist, ivory towered, and grant seeking intellectuals. They can’t be trusted. Instead, many Americans put their trust in those who speak the truth, religious leaders like Pat Robertson or good Christian women like Sarah Palin. DRILL BABY DRILL.

Even though the Earth is about 75% ocean and 25% land mass, the coastal areas are where the majority of sea life exists and is critical for the survival of life, not only in the oceans, but on this planet. Coastal areas serve as rookeries for many species of birds, the seagrasses and mangrove roots offer cover for all kinds of sealife from shrimp to newly hatched fish species, and the beaches are where sea turtles and horseshoe crabs lay their eggs. Coastlines across the world are already seriously damaged by stormwater runoff, dumping of raw sewage, leaking septic tanks, discarded trash from humans, aquaculture and development. Oil spills could be the final straw that decimates our oceans. If our total disregard for the needs of species other than humans continues apace, we will kill our oceans. When, not IF, our oceans die, we humans won’t be far behind.

You can read more about the advancing oil slick here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/29/louisiana.oil.rig/index.html?hpt=T1

Edited to add:  check out this perspective on the oil spill
http://challengeoppression.com/2010/04/29/quickly-quickly-kill-them-before-they-die/

Adding this too:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703572504575214593564769072.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories  Halliburton strikes again!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The American Dream

As usual, I was listening to NPR this morning and something caught my attention. Apparently, the President is going to deliver a eulogy for the West Virginia miners who died in a coal mining “accident” recently in one of Massey’s mines. No, I’m not going to rant about coal mining. I love a coal mining engineer and think that all coal mining (whether digging tunnels in the ground or blowing off the tops of mountains) should end. I personally see nothing good about coal. That’s another post…..maybe. What caught my attention was that the President will say, “These miners lived -- as they died -- in pursuit of the American dream."

The American Dream: it is used as if it is an absolute. It is what unites our nation. It is what every single American lives their life in pursuit of. It is what ALL of us want and, if George Bush was right (not likely), why non-Americans hate us. What exactly IS The American Dream? Why is it that only American’s want this particular dream? Is it possible that there is really ONE thing – or specific group of things - that all Americans, exclusively, dream of, agree upon, desire? Or is it just another fairy tale like “happily ever after” or that every little girl has a Prince Charming for her or that life was idyllic for everyone in the 1950s (except for maybe women and people of color – but They don’t really count anyway, at least not for the guys in power who write/verbalize our collective history)?

In his eulogy, the President is reported to define the American Dream for the men who died as, "All the hard work. All the hardship. All the time spent underground. It was all for their families. For a car in the driveway. For a roof overhead. For a chance to give their kids opportunities they never knew; and enjoy retirement with their wives." Were all of them married? Did all of them even have a driveway? Did all of them have kids or even want to have kids? How many of them even thought they would live long enough to retire?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and gross generalizations simply push one of my many buttons. Maybe I’m more about specifics instead of simplification. Do statements like these bother anyone else? Am I all alone in this? Maybe it’s just that I’m fat and, therefore, can more easily recognize that we don’t live in a “one size fits all” world. It isn’t just this American Dream idea, but all of the gross generalizations that permeate our world, from daily conversations with friends or co-workers to news reports. Phrases like ALL people, ALL Americans, ALL Republicans/Democrats/Tea Partiers/Environmentalists, ALL women/men/people of color, ALL Christians/Jews/Muslims, etc. say to me that specific groups can be categorized easily, which I don’t believe to be true. Of course, I could be wrong or completely off track and/or na├»ve (of which, I’ve been accused by the coal mining engineer). Then again, maybe it is simply genetic memory. Prey animals need to instantly recognize predators to avoid being eaten. Predators need to quickly recognize prey to avoid starvation. Maybe it all comes down to: eat or be eaten. If that is the case, can I opt out? I would prefer to believe that at least some of us have evolved past that. What I do know is that, as opposed to when I was in my 20s and knew Everything, now I have many more questions than answers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Really nothing exciting to share………………..

I really do live a very boring, drab and routine life. I live in the Land of Perpetual Litter Box Cleaning as well as a seemingly 24/7 Laundromat and Discarded Cat & Dog Hair Removal Service.

I went back to work last week after really enjoying my week off (? – that’s debatable to some of my friends – it was actually a week off from paid work, not unpaid LIFE work). Don’t let anyone convince you that the recession is over. Working for a nonprofit, it’s quite obvious that folks just don’t have the disposable income to donate like they did just over 2 years ago. It’s slow at work, with not as many phone calls coming in and the incoming mail diminishing as the year progresses. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like during our traditional slow season – the summer months. I realize that there are a lot of really good “causes” out there but it’s saddening, especially at this time. Last year was the worst year on record for the number of manatees who died in Florida’s waterways. With Florida’s extended winter season this year, the number of manatee deaths reported has already surpassed all those from 2009. I don’t even want to think what the final numbers will be by the end of this year. While more and more groups have jumped on the manatee bandwagon in recent years, it still remains a FACT that Save the Manatee Club is the only organization working day in and day out to protect this precious, endangered species. The Club has a small, hardworking staff, along with a very small annual budget (compared to well known groups with from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in their budget ). Even after nearly 17 years at the Club, it still amazes me how much the Club has accomplished in nearly 30 years of effort dedicated to manatee protection. To find out more about manatees and Save the Manatee Club, visit http://www.savethemanatee.org/.

I honestly wanted to rant about something, but I just can’t seem to get really riled up about anything. There certainly isn’t an absence of crazy people in the news lately that are worthy of ranting about (Newt Gingrich calling the President a secular socialist; Glenn Beck joining PETA; and John McCain announcing he NEVER considered himself a maverick – ‘nuff said). Am I getting mellow in my old age? Am I becoming used to the lunacy that permeates the media? Do I just not give a darn or am I going through a down cycle? Check back later to see if this worm has turned.

Any Designing Women fans out there? I adored that show and never missed it. Of course, being prone to get on my soapbox and share my opinions (normally), Julia Sugarbaker rocked my world. I was known to cheer and clap when she went off on someone or something. Dixie Carter played Julia brilliantly. Ms. Carter died yesterday at the age of only 70. She leaves behind 2 daughters and her wonderful, equally brilliant and talented husband, Hal Holbrook. I loved seeing the two of them together, whether as themselves or working together. When LOVE works, it’s a sight to behold.

To wrap up, some recommendations for my current favorite television shows. CHUCK is on Monday nights at 8PM. I’ve loved, loved, loved this show since its debut. Zach Levy, who plays Chuck, is totally adorable, funny and charming. IN PLAIN SIGHT has recently returned to the air with new episodes on Wednesdays at 10PM. It’s about the witness protection program and is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The lead character, Mary, can be caustic and difficult, but I LOVE her. I like a good dose of sarcasm and snark whenever I can get it – especially from a smart, strong woman. Also on Monday night (at 10PM) is CASTLE, starring the lovely, funny and marvelous Nathan Fillion (Captain Tightpants to the Firefly fans out there). Great show, watch it. Sunday nights from 8 – 10PM, LIFE is on the Discovery Channel. It’s from the same filmmakers who did Planet Earth. The cinematography is incredible and the science is accessible to everyone. Maybe if everyone knew more about the rest of the amazing species we SHARE this planet with, they would treat OUR HOME with more respect and place more value on the amazing assortment of lives surrounding us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone treated every day as Earth Day? And, finally, BONES which is on at 8PM Thursday night on Fox. They have just aired their 100th episode, and the show is in syndication on TNT nearly every weeknight. It’s a smart and witty show, with a great cast that includes three very intelligent and strong female characters, along with David Boreanaz (of Buffy and Angel fame).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

SAYING GOODBYE TO UNREASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

One final vacation day remaining and there are still EIGHTEEN tasks on my To Do List that I haven’t done. I haven’t even touched those 18. I knew going in that my expectations exceeded my abilities, but I chose to set the bar high in hopes of spurring me into action.

In the past, I would schedule vacation time off and make a list in my head. This time I wrote down what I hoped to accomplish. Even though there is still a mountain of work to do, this time I don’t feel like a failure. Yes, I spent way too much time on the computer and the internet. Several mornings, I just couldn’t get going. But this time it was different because I focused on what I have accomplished. I wrote down what I did daily. Some of it probably didn’t belong on the list, but considering just how much there is to be done I needed the positive reinforcement. I want to stop beating myself up.

My mother has been dead for about 15 years. For whatever reason, she always made me feel as if I was never good enough. No matter what I managed to accomplish, she rarely failed to point out what I didn’t do and/or what I did wrong. Since her death, I have taken on that responsibility for her. I figure it’s time to celebrate what I have managed to do, to cut myself some slack. After all, I am 60 years old, have serious problems with my spine, suffer from diabetes and hypertension, am about 100 pounds overweight and suffer from nearly constant numbness in my fingers. I’ve broken my left ankle twice and my right ankle once, along with having broken my left tibia and have a torn meniscus in my left knee. Pain is pretty much my constant companion. Adding to all of that, I am my sole support and have 30 cats and 3 elderly dogs in my home to care for and clean up after. No kids, no family and no safety net to keep my life on track. Oh, and my house is nearly the same age I am and in need of a lot of work. Not that I’m whining. Compared to so many others, I am truly fortunate.

I’ve been in this house for nearly 30 years. I’m a pack rat. I am not, and do not aspire to be, Martha Stewart. Hell, she has a staff and she only shows “us” what she wants us to see. Everyone has warts, bad days and shortcomings. Life is about acknowledging those, working with or around them and whatever obstacles we either encounter or create and try to do our best. After all this time, I am still a work in progress. I can do better, I can make changes and I can create better habits. But, sometimes, it is okay to just take credit for trying, for small accomplishments and a job well done. My goal is to rid myself of all of the unnecessary stuff, whether it’s tangible, emotional or psychological. So, I think I’m going to add “exorcised some of my demons” to my list of accomplishments during this most recent vacation.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sleeping with Cats

Philosophers and theologians have spent centuries asking the question, "What is the meaning of life?"  I don't think that's really the most important, nor relevant, question they or any of us should be asking.  The question that often keeps me awake at night is:  "why do cats always sleep on your chest with their butts in your face?"

I may be exaggerating a bit here.  They don't always do it.  Sometimes they drape their bodies across my mouth so that my lips and tongue are covered in cat hair.  The added bonus?  Generally, since now I must now breathe through my nose, I am breathing in cat hair as well.  Cats aren't stupid.  They know that I'm the bringer of food.  Do they not understand that breathing is necessary for me to be able to keep bringing them food?  They seem to have figured out pretty much everything else:  watching TV is a waste of time, why move furniture when it's fine where it is, getting put into a cat carrier means one thing - road trip to the vet, if I tangle myself up in her legs she will bend down and pick me up, naps are important as is good grooming.  Do you ever see a cat lying with their butt in another cat's face?  NO!  Do they cover another cat's face when they curl up to sleep?  NO!  They obviously like it when I lie down.  In fact, you would think I was covered in catnip.  Cats I haven't seen all day suddenly appear and proceed to plant themselves as close to my face as they can manage.  In fact, there is almost a stampede to get there first and get a front row seat.  Before they settle down, there is usually some jostling for position, a couple of slaps along with some hisses and growls. 

So this universal riddle troubled my mind last night as I tried to fall asleep with four cat butts in my face.  I realized that maybe we should consider changing the clothing size chart.  What size are you?  I'm a size 4.....because I can easily fit four average size cats between my left and right shoulders.   I finally drifted off to sleep, cozy and warm with my energy efficient, off the grid bed warmers. 

Here are a couple of the cuddlers/culprits: