Archive for March, 2009

Eco-friendly Transportation

Monday, March 30th, 2009

To drive or not to drive… that is the ecological question of our time. We definitely do not need a car for each person in the country. This is simply a waste of energy and resources. Here are some transportation alternatives:

  1. Share one car per household.
  2. Car-sharing—with strangers (google car sharing for more information).
  3. Carpool.
  4. Ride the bus.
  5. Ride a bicycle.
  6. Walk.
  7. Get a hybrid and drive the speed limit.
  8. Telecommute.
  9. Consolidate your work week to 4 days instead of 5. Ask your boss—you never know.
  10. Take care of your car. Get regular tune-ups, check your tire air pressure, tighten your gas cap, take off any racks on top of the car when not in use, roll down your window in hot weather in lieu of using the air conditioner, change your oil and your filters (air and fuel) regularly.

You can do any or all of these things once a week, one week a month— any small steps help. We can all do our part. Are you doing yours?

Are you my mother?

Friday, March 27th, 2009

It seems we all need mothering long after we have grown up. This may or may not be a reflection on how good or bad our biological mother was at being a parent. It may just be a lesson unlearned or an idea never shared, a moment lost in the busy of her day. It may have been the lesson you learned when she was too tired, at work, on the phone or simply having a bad day. Whatever the case may be—we all need mothering from time to time. Some of us more than others.

I am fortunate to have the most wonderful friends. We mother each other all the time. On Mother’s Day we celebrate one another because we have learned so many of life’s lessons from our experiences together. We have dried each other’s tears. We have calmed each other. We have pushed each other to be the better version of ourselves. And we are fortunate to have each other.

The 22nd of March was “Mothering Day” in the UK. It is the equivalent to the U.S. holiday “Mother’s Day”. It is a day where children celebrate their mothers.

Originally, “Mothering Day” was a day in the middle of Lent where the fasting rules were relaxed in honor of the “Feeding of Five Thousand” story in the bible. This day was referred to as Mothering Sunday. The word ‘mothering’ refers to a practice of visiting one’s mother church. About 400 years ago people used to visit the biggest church near them, the Mother Church, this was often referred to as “going mothering”. During Lent, young servants were only allowed to visit their families once a year, typically on Mothering Sunday. Often these servants were allowed to take home a cake or flowers or gardens for their mother on this yearly visit and thus became a day of treating one’s mother well.

My friend discovered this holiday and thought of me. I am always mimicking the baby bird in the P.D. Eastman children’s book, Are You My Mother? So, she decided to give me a “Mothering Day” present…

Her note to me on the last page...

Her note to me on the last page...

Suicide

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I have always been an unabashed fan of the late poet Sylvia Plath.

I love her poetry, her writing. I can relate to the way her mind worked. They way her thoughts weave into the darkness, reaching out for hope even if she did not ultimately find it. I feel her poems in a way many cannot. It speaks to an all-too-familiar pain.

But no matter how dark and horrible life can be, and it definitely can be, there is nothing after this life. It is simply  nothing. I do not believe in God or afterlife. Once our bodies expire—we are gone. Everything bad and everything good and everything in between ceases to exist. For me, there is far too much in this world to be fascinated with to choose suicide.

Even if the situation you are currently in is horrific and I know it can be unimaginable, suicide is NOT the answer. There are millions of miles of earth, billions of opportunities to explore, trillions of new situations to experience and a plethora of new people to meet. There is just so much more to this life than where you are at any given moment.

This is what keeps me moving forward through the difficult times. And I will not pretend to be anything less than moody. I am a profoundly deep person. I feel things more intensely than most people. I react to them. I am sensitive. I am introspective. I am the quintessential poet. I admit I am melodramatic in my thoughts, in my feelings. But when things gets so dark for me, I try to remind myself to hold onto the vast intrigue, the unread books, the unvisited destinations, the unwritten poetry, the unmet people.

Last week I was re-reading some of Sylvia Plath’s works, admiring her way with words, her uncanny ability to put into words my pain even before I was born. I was thinking how it is such a shame she chose suicide. It is heartbreaking really. I wish I could have known her. I wish we could have had conversations over tea. I wish I could have absorbed some of the darkness surrounding her. She felt there was no escape from her life except death. Unfortunately, she set an example for her children—an example she can never undo.

16,836 days later her son, Nicholas Hughes, followed her example choosing to hang himself in his Alaskan home. He was an intelligent man of science. A marine biologist whose love for fish, fishing and the science of fisheries he inherited from his father. It was this love for nature that inspired him to move to Alaska many years ago. According to his sister he battled depression throughout his life even while passionately pursuing his research. Suicide may or may not be inherited, they are finding some genetic links but most experts believe it is not so much inherited as it is taught through example. Depression is often inherited and whether you are a fan of Plath or not, the connection between her decision to kill herself and his ultimate choice to do so—is connected.

Both Nicholas’ mother, Sylvia Plath, and his stepmother, Assia Wevill, committed suicide during his childhood. This cannot go unmentioned. Depression is difficult to survive. Again, suicide is not inherited but it can be taught as coping tool. Children whose parents have attempted suicide, not just succeeded, are six times as likely to try to take their own lives.1 This is significant. This could not have been what Sylvia Plath wanted for her little Nicholas.

It is too late for them both now, no matter what did or did not contribute to their decisions. Suicide is the ultimate choice for too many. But it is not the only way out of the darkness. Each of us can help prevent suicide. We have the responsibility to do so both for ourselves and others. Suicide affects many people—not just the person considering it—but it is not your only option. If you are suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts there are other ways out. Get help now before it is too late.

Recognize the signs and symptoms. Know where to get help for yourself or others. If you feel suicidal or you know someone who does you or they can call 1-877-273-TALK (8255).

Here are some other suicide prevention / help links below:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Suicide Awareness Voice of Education (SAVE)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

Suicide hotlines in your area (and national hotlines)

  1. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2004-03-10-zinczenko_x.htm []

Order of Importance

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

I was doing some searching through the major search engines when I came upon the yahoo front page where it features the news. I find their order of importance a bit telling.

Yahoo needs to get their priorities straight...

Yahoo needs to get their priorities straight...

In whose mind is Michael Jordan crying at his son’s basketball game more important in the news than a plane crash killing 2 people? NATO troops killing insurgents? Lethal air pollution killing people? Is this simply one poor decision made in an overworked news staff room at Yahoo? Or is this indicative of our social order of importance?

10 Things I learned from TV

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

This time last year, if you had asked me, I would have told you I never watch TV. I rarely, if ever, did. I often went months without ever watching anything. This was my pattern for many years. But don’t fret! This past year I have made up for every electronically-induced-thought-coma-moment I missed. I have now clocked my television watching hours and then some. 😉 All in fun. Television can be useful. It gives us an outside view of our society, ourselves. This is what I have learned:

10. I live in an alternate reality, one completely unlike “Reality TV.”

9. You can watch an entire season of any show in a weekend with just enough wherewithal and Starbucks.

8. Even the intelligent and geeky are dumbed down eventually.1

7. Networks can and will make you wait an entire year or MORE to find out what happens next in your favorite television program.234 NEWS FLASH: This is not a cliff-hanger, its a drop-off. This is not about patience. This is simply ridiculous! By the time it returns—it is a brand new show for me and if I have not lost interest, I generally have to watch it all over to remember what the heck is going on.

6. DVR in any form is a friend—freedom from electronic slavery.

5. Those networks which have learned to put their ENTIRE episodes on their website, thus sharing, profit from the web traffic—those networks that opt not to in an attempt to force watching on their terms will lose out to pirated copies streamed on video sites.

4. The Nielsens do not acknowledge my watching choices as a credible source of good television and all rating systems seem to be entirely and mysteriously based around two criteria: American Idol and the number of commercial interruptions.

3. Good programming is very difficult to find.

2. Once you find it — it is canceled after one season.5

1. The Angels have the blue box.

  1. See the SyFy channel. []
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/ []
  3. http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/index?pn=index []
  4. http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/ []
  5. See Life on Mars and Journeyman. []

Food is fun

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Oh, yes. I do not much like to eat anymore so I have ample time to play with my food… and this is what I came up with today. (The angry sandwich is inspired by one I found on the internet…the rest are my own creations!)

My happy Sandwich -- Playing with my food

Crazy and/or Pirate Sandwich -- Playing with my food

He\'s scared...the mean sandwich will get him...

Sad-wich

Grrrrr....

I do so love to play with my food. It is fun. I’ll let you know what I come up with next…

(FYI…the sandwiches are made with peanut butter and jelly… the eyes with pieces of apples and green bell peppers)

The Birds and the Beast…

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

The Audubon released a report indicating the sad reality for the rapid decline in population of even the most common of birds. Instantly, I cringed. The thought of losing more birds quite literally brings me to tears. I am not a fanatic PETA member or animal loving freak but I can and do appreciate the living beauty that surrounds us. I do appreciate looking out my window and seeing the birdies peck on the seeds I leave for them. Thoughts drift to the Great Auk, the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo bird—birds we will only ever read about—birds we will never see. Extinction. It is real. It is harsh. And it is happening to all too many species and something must be done.

The fact that even our most common birds are declining drastically should serve as a big red flag warning us of what is to come. People ignore global warming because they think they can. It is a widely accepted delusion that our environment will slowly degrade—that we have many, many, many years until the effects of our actions really catch up with us. However, is it really that simple?

I think not.

Like anything in this world when pushed or bent far enough, something will snap–something will fall over. We are setting into motion things we cannot reverse or control and we certainly do not understand. I think rather than a slow decline, we are going to reach a point of no return, the tipping point–if we have not already. We are going to knock the earth’s ecosystem off balance and we will suffer the severe consequences of doing so. Today it is a 68% average decline of our most common birds, 40% less koalas, 1/3 of the amphibian population currently extremely endangered . Tomorrow, a complete energy crisis. What about in five years time? What then? When will we finally get the picture?

The culprit? Over-population. STOP HAVING CHILDREN. No one wants to say it. It is too complex, too taboo. But if we do not address this issue, the core issue, we will seal our fate and the fate of every species on this planet. We must stop popping out babies willy-nilly when we have no space or resources for them. The United States and all first world countries can do their parts by funding family planning and birth control efforts in third world countries. We must stop the conservative right from fighting against them here. This is so ridiculous.

As I write this the world population reached a smothering 6,767,700,260!!! That is billions folks! BILLIONS! We must find a suitable way to address overpopulation before it is too late, if it is not already. We will bring about the next great extinction–ourselves.

Machiavelli once wrote…

When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere… the world will purge itself in one or another of these three ways ‘listing floods, plague and famine.’

We have seen this come to fruition. According to Oxfam, more than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago. The religious deem it is the end times as set forth by their bibles and korans. The ignorant chock it up to coincidence. It is the earth purging itself the only way it knows how. The earth is a living organism, trying to survive. There is a balance in every organism that is optimal. We have skewed that balance for almost every living organism we come in contact with — and so goes the Dodo… and so goes the Quagga…and so goes the Irish Deer…and so goes the Cave Bear

And so it goes, until there is nothing left but the beast… and so it goes.

56 Days of Action

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If I had a nickel… for every time I have heard some variation of questioning Obama’s ability to deal with the mess the Bush debacle left for us… I would be rich.

It has been all of 8 weeks and 1 day since Obama was sworn in. It is unrealistic at best to think he can fix everything in such a short period of time. He has done more in this eight weeks than the last yahoo ten fold. He is keeping his campaign promises. He is restoring our country to pre-Rovian/Bush days to the best of his ability.

Let’s look at what Obama has done so far:

18 Executive Orders

January 21, 2009 Executive Order 13489 – Presidential Records

January 21, 2009 Executive Order 13490 – Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13491 – Ensuring Lawful Interrogations

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13492 – Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the GuantĂĄnamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13493 – Review of Detention Policy Options

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13494 – Economy in Government Contracting

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13495 – Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13496 – Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13497 – Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Regulatory Planning and Review

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13498 – Amendments to Executive Order 13199 and Establishment of the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13499 – Further Amendments to Executive Order 12835, Establishment of the National Economic Council

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13500 – Further Amendments to Executive Order 12859, Establishment of the Domestic Policy Council

February 6, 2009 Executive Order 13501 – Establishing the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board

February 6, 2009 Executive Order 13502 – Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects

February 19, 2009 Executive Order 13503 – Establishment of the White House Office of Urban Affairs

February 20, 2009 Executive Order 13504 – Amending Executive Order 13390

March 9, 2009 Executive Order 13505 – Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells

March 11, 2009 Executive Order 13506 – Establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls

17 PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUMS

3/11/2009 Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Related to the Continuing Conflict
in Pakistan

3/9/2009 Memorandum on Presidential Signing Statements

3/9/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies 3-9-09

3/4/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies – Subject:
Government Contracting

3/3/2000 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

2/27/2009 Transfer of Detainee to Control of the Attorney General

2/5/2009 Appliance Efficiency Standards

2/4/2009 Presidential Memorandum — State Children’s Health Insurance Program

1/30/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

1/27/2009 Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Related to Gaza

1/26/2009 The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

1/26/2009 State of California Request for Waiver Under 42 U.S.C. 7543(b), the Clean Air
Act

1/23/2009 Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning

1/22/2009 Review of the Detention of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri

1/21/2009 Freedom of Information Act

1/21/2009 Pay Freeze

1/21/2009 Transparency and Open Government

PROCLAMATIONS

3/13/2009 National Poison Prevention Week, 2009

3/3/2009 Women’s History Month, 2009

3/2/2009 Irish-American Heritiage Month, 2009

2/27/2009 National Consumer Protection Week, 2009

2/27/2009 Read Across America Day, 2009

2/27/2009 American Red Cross Month, 2009

2/27/2009 Save Your Vision Week, 2009

2/2/2009 American Heart Month, 2009

2/2/2009 National African American History Month, 2009

1/20/2009 National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, 2009

In these Executive Orders and Memorandums a plethora of change has been initiated:

  • He froze salaries for the top staff in the White House almost immediately.
  • Gave us a definitive date to close Gitmo.
  • He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 making it easier for people to get the pay they deserve — regardless of their gender, race, or age
  • He sped up the process for new fuel standards application.
  • He also is working towards allowing California to set its own auto emissions standards as long as they are stricter than those in place currently by the Federal Government.
  • Signed a detailed executive order to ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
  • He signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, better known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP. Once signed into law, this legislation will continue coverage for six to seven million children and increase that coverage to four million more.
  • He signed an executive order restoring the 30-day timeframe for former presidents to review records before they are released. It also eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews.
  • He implemented the Employment Qualification Commitment, a fail-safe measure in the governmental hiring process ensuring no one is hired or not hired for their political beliefs or ideological stance — age, sex, race etc. He did this by making those hiring sign a declaration that they will not choose upon arbitrary, unfair criteria. This is a small step but it will be beneficial for accountability later on.
  • He banned lobbyists from gifting politicians and restricted government employees from accepting a position with a lobbyist for a period of 2 years after leaving office to help reduce government corruption.
  • He lifted the ban on giving money to international groups that provide abortion services.
  • He signed the DTV Delay Act to allow ample time for millions of Americans to be prepared for the digital transition.
  • He signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which will jump start our economy in ways we really need such as creating alternative energy jobs and production, modernization of homes and federal buildings to improve energy efficiency, bringing our schools and hospitals up to date with
    technology, investing in science, research and technology — this is vital! We must be able to compete in these areas.
  • He restored public access to the Presidential records in Executive Order 13489 — revoking the order Bush put into place severely limiting access to Presidential actions by the public.
  • He signed the Freedom of Information Act — in which he set the guidelines for the government to adopt a “presumption in favor of disclosure” and take “affirmative steps” to make information
    publicly available.
  • He took the necessary steps to restore a transparent, participatory and collaborative Government in the United States.
  • He restored our commitment to treating prisoners according to Geneva Convention Standards.
  • He ordered a stop to all torture and most rendition.
  • He created a task force on detainee disposition to develop realistic, humane policies for the lawful detention, transfer, trial and eventual release of detainees from the war on terror. This task force must report to him within 180 days with its findings.

These are some of the fundamental steps Obama has taken towards restoring our national pride, our political legitimacy and bringing us into the 21st century while getting us out of this economic depression.

In the first 56 days of his Presidency, Obama has done more positive things for this country than George W. Bush did the entire eight years in office. Obama has been working diligently to undo, revoke, overturn, reverse the crooked policy of the last eight years. I say he is doing an excellent job.

Of birds and books…

Monday, March 16th, 2009

I have not been writing much. Sorry. I have been reading a lot and working on the first chapter of a book. I also have been watching the little birdies. =) Let me share with you some things I have been enjoying…

The World of Goo

The World of Goo

This game is fantastic! Really. I had so much fun. It is not like any other game I can think of… and the graphics and sound quality are both amazing. It is a game of physics, trying to get the goo to attach itself to itself or to other goo in order to reach a certain direction. I cannot possibly do justice to this. Try it yourself.  You will not reget it. I am anxiously awaiting a sequel.

I also have been playing this game:

1701 a.d. Gold Edition

This is fun. Exploration, resource creation and management… fight pirates, plant crops, set up trade routes, build your civilization 1701 style. This is worth hours of fun. And if you have a server, you can play this with friends. =)

This is the book I am currently reading:

Angels of Destruction by Keith Donahue

This is the long awaited second novel from Keith Donahue. His first “Stolen Child” left me waiting for more, waiting years! So far this book is enthralling — realistic, engaging characters; the story pulls you in. It is about a woman and a boy who needed someone and someone came. =) I do not want to spoil the story. Read it! You will not regret it.

Last but not least I have been practicing around the house taking photographs with my new camera, the Nikon D60. It is amazing thus far. I will some photographs soon.

Nikon D60

Photos I have taken…

Black-Capped Chickadee

Darkeyed Junco

Peanuts and death

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

With peanuts like these, is it any wonder they are killing people?

Peanuts=Death

Come on peanut people…get it together! I miss my peanut products. Sheesh!