Thursday, April 30, 2009
It always happens, though. Eventually spring chases winter back into its cave and the first green shoots peek above the dirt.
Even in Jersey City on fifth floor balconies zucchini and beets and lilac and inexplicably brussel sprouts peek above the edge of their containers to watch the sun rise over the Hudson River.
Life turns toward life.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Here's what bothers me about this story.
The Catholic school immediately sent its students home, closed its doors and started cleaning things up just in case exposure had occurred.
Why didn't the Catholic church, several years ago, send its masses (of people) home, close its doors and immediately start cleaning things up when the first little boy showed up with signs of abuse?
Rhetorical questions, of course, require no answer -- just pensive shakings of heads.
The game started. There was a lot of whooping, whistling, hollering and yelling. Fans had bat-like toys that, when slapped together, made a unique loud noise. Every basket elicited crowd uproar. I was so caught up in the excitement that I was disappointed when the game was over. The Lakers won something like 115 to 109. The very excitement of being caught up into joining the noisy crowd and hollering for the Lakers to win, has left me an advid fan.
Monday, April 27, 2009
So I'm at this bar in Los Angeles last night, which is not the sort of thing I usually do, and it it the sort of place no doubt Tom Waites hung out in 30-40 years ago, writing lyrics on the cocktail napkins as Ricki Lee Jones dozed against his shoulder coming up with her own lyrics, and my beloved and I are watching a magic show.
Not only magic, but the North American Champion Yo-yoist, and tumblers/jugglelers are all performing in this vintage space under the slow small disco ball and dim lights. Now this was not the too-hip-to-be-hip-vaudeville-revival stuff, this was kids just old enough to get into bars doing the wonderful strange things that they can do and we got to watch and applaud, and experience that plenty of hope is in the world, because this crazy stuff is going on.
So I commend going to a live performance of ANYTHING, as long as the people doing it love it. The world is a very big place full of just wonderful stuff and we are far too likely to mistake our little corner of it for the whole thing. So wander around a bit. Invitations to play are everywhere.
It was so surprising. I'm not one to let my car go to pot. I keep up on maintenance. That's why the repairs were astonishing. I truly hope I'm not being taken for a ride (no pun intended).
Now then, I could have taken the $1,700.00 and put it down on a new vehicle but, in these financially strapped times, it's not feasible for me.
So...when you see me driving down the street, please stop me to admire my "new" car. At least, it's new to me even though all newness is under the hood.
After a month or so of this type activity, a squirrel ran out and grabbed the fry. Others followed soon.
Squirrels defiinitely have various roles they play in their colony as do humans. Some were hunters while others would let out a noise much like a bird to warn of danger. Some were the house cleaners (keeping their holes in the ground clean from debris, etc.) and some were moms tending to their babies. What a sight.
One day as I was studying the squirrels, a woman dressed in army garb, driving an army jeep, approached the squirrel colony, sat under one of the colony's trees with a big bag of pnuts. Soon the squirrels were on her lap eating the nuts. I began talking with her and she showed me two squirrels in cages she brought back to health and was about to release them into their own territory.
This experience gave ma a whole new outlook and appreciation of Mother Nature and her squirrels.
Friday, April 24, 2009
But let's back up. The words we choose matter. With words we create much more than whatever mundane bit of information we wish to share. We create mood and images. We are judged by others and by ourselves based on the words with which we speak.
Speaking of phrases. I love the phrase 'I found myself''. It speaks of dissociative fugue states from which we emerge to literally find ourselves in unexpected hopefully pleasantly exotic places never before visited.
So I kind of like saying 'I found myself''. I chuckle at my private image as I speak those words often forgetting where I'm about to say I found myself.
That's not the problem. Here's the problem.
I've been beginning sentences with the phrase "Well, you know...." and then I go on to state what the person to whom I'm speaking clearly does not know or I wouldn't be telling him in the first place. Or her. Or even worse, if the person to whom I'm speaking does know what I'm about to say why do I bother saying it?
I don't know how this phrase crept into my repertoire of spoken words but, you know, it's got to get out before I find myself becoming an embarrassment to myself and the English language.
But then, of course, you know what I mean.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
TheGoodHuman.com apparently wondered the same thing and decided that nothing had changed and no one was planning any changes and so presented some suggestions for change.
Some of them don't seem quite possible for us living in metropolitan Los Angeles. Others seems fairly easy. At least the list gives us something to think about.
1. Line dry your clothes. Dryers don’t even come with an “Energy Star” rating - that’s how bad they are in terms of energy consumption. Line or rack drying your clothes saves a ton of energy and thus CO2 from going into the environment. Cost: $20 or less.
2. Compost your food scraps. Small indoor composters are very inexpensive and save a ton of waste from going to the landfill. The newer ones don’t even smell, and worm bins are even more effective! Cost: $40 and up.
3. Replace your light bulbs with CFL’s or LED lights. A small upfront investment can save hundreds of dollars (an a lot of energy) over the lifespan of these bulbs. Cost: CFL’s cost about $5 each.
4. Install a programmable thermostat. By having the temperature in your house automatically regulated, you can save money on your utility bills. Cost: Starting at $50.
5. Install sink water aerators. These cheap little things slow down the flow of water out of your sink, saving you money and saving us all water use. Cost: $2-$3
6. Replace the weatherstripping on your doors and windows. Stop the cold air from getting in and the heat from escaping during the upcoming winter. Cost: $5+ per roll.
7. Plant some native trees in your yard. By spending some money on trees, you not only shade your house so you can use less AC, but you also help to absorb CO2 in the air. Cost: $30 and up.
8. Insulate your hot water heater and your water pipes. This can help keep the heat in your house down (in the summer) and help your heater to work less to heat your water. Cost: $50 or so.
9. Keep your fridge coils clean. Do you clean the back/underside of your fridge? If not, it might be working harder than it needs to to run efficiently. Cost: $0.
10. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Make sure you make the best use of the water and energy needed to run a dishwasher! Cost: No more than your regular use!
11. Make sure all your major electronics are on power strips. Even when they are “off”, stereo equipment and computers continue to draw electricity. Turning off a power strip at night or when you leave the house reduces energy use and saves money. Cost: As little as $10.
12. Wash your clothes only in cold water. I don’t use hot water for anything anymore, and our clothes are just as clean. Cost: Nothing, really!
13. Stop junk mail from coming to your mailbox. Services such as Opt-Out Prescreen and Catalog Choice are both free and do a good job of stopping that flow. Cost: $0.
14. Buy a convection oven. Using a convection oven for smaller meals instead of the big oven can save a ton of energy use. Cost: $50-$150.
15. Use rechargeable batteries. Recharging batteries keeps dead ones out of the landfill and saves you money in the long run. Cost: $10 and up.
16. Be sure you have a low-flow shower head. Today there are great ones available that actually provide a great amount of pressure but use less water. Cost: $39.
17. Spend some money on houseplants. A lot of plants inside your house both clean the air and provide fresh oxygen. Cost: $10 and up.
18. Make an all-purpose cleaner from baking soda and water. Combine 4 spoon-fulls of baking soda and a quart of water in a spray bottle, and you can use it to clean almost anything. Cost: $1.50
19. Use washable rags instead of paper towels. Using old rags to clean up messes not only saves you a few bucks but also keeps paper out of the landfill. Cost: Potentially $0 if you have rags laying around.
20. Invest in a barrel to collect rainwater from your downspouts. This water can then be used to water any and all outdoor plants. Cost: $50 and up.
21. Use both sides of computer paper. Once you print something and no longer need it, cut it up and make a notepad out of it. Cost: $0.
22. Stop the bottled water use! Bottled water has been shown to be no better than your typical tap water - it just costs more and leaves a trail of empty plastic bottles everywhere. Invest in a faucet water filter and save money and the environment. Cost: $20
23. Bring your own bag to the store - any store. Most people talk about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but why not bring them everywhere? Cost: A few bucks, if not free.
24. Use online banking. Online banking saves you time, money for stamps, and reduces the amount of paper mail coming to your house. Cost: $0.
25. Rotate your car tires on a regular basis. Keeping your tires inflated to the right PSI and rotated regularly saves fuel. Cost: $25 a couple of times a year.
26. When painting, choose low or no VOC paints. Volatile Organic Compounds are what makes paint smell so bad and make it hard to breath. By choosing low or no VOC paint, it’s healthier for your home and yourself. Cost: The same as regular paint.
27. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine online instead of receiving the paper version. Even the NY Times is now free to read online. Cost: $0.
28. Get yourself a library card and use it. Self-explanatory! Cost: $0.
29. When buying big ticket items, spend the money and buy things that will last. Buying a toaster that will last 5-10 years is a better use of money than buying a cheap one that will break in a year. Doing so keeps things out of landfills for longer.
30. Shut off your computer and monitor when you leave work for the day. Unless your company backs up your computers at night on a network, there is no need to leave it on.
31. Unplug your cellphone once it is done charging. Once that light turns green, you are just wasting electricity. Cost: $0.
32. Buy recycled paper toilet paper. The good brands (Seventh Generation, to name one) feel just as good as virgin paper, but save tons of chlorine pollution from the bleaching process and conserve millions of trees and gallons of water. Cost: Exactly the same as virgin paper TP.
33. Have a small yard? Why not try a push lawnmower like grandpa used to use! Cost: $50 and up.
34. Install outdoor solar lights. Instead of lighting the path to your front door using electricity, try some solar lights that charge all day and light up all night. Cost: $25 and up.
35. Buy it used. Anything - furniture, clothing, electronics - can be bought used in good shape. This saves one more thing from going to a landfill! Cost: Cheaper than new!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
For most of his adult life, Dr. Hawking has suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He is almost completely paralyzed. He cannot speak and communicates through a voice synthesizer activated by his fingers.
He is 67 years old and according to ALS predictions should have died 25 or 30 years ago. Instead, he lectures around the world and is revered for his work on celestial black holes, cosmology and quantum gravity. He reached celebrity status with the 1988 publication of A Brief History of Time.
Coverage of Dr. Hawking's chest infection and hospitalization speaks to compartmentalization in the extreme.
Perhaps I'm just fixated on the minutiae of language, but hasn't the guy been seriously ill for most of his life?
Don't get me wrong. I'm a great fan of Stephen Hawking and I'm thrilled the chest infection is clearing up. But since he was seriously ill before he got the chest infection, shouldn't there be another way to describe the impact of the chest infection? Perhaps serious illness squared or something. I mean, it just seems to me that a mathematician would want more quantifiable precision when describing his health.
Or perhaps I'm just tired.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Pulitzer Prize is a United States award for achievements in newspaper journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University. It's a really big deal to win a Pulitzer Prize and amazing that a newspaper in Mesa, Arizona, received one.
If prizes were given for irony, the East Valley Tribune would doubtless receive one of those, too.
Three months ago -- during massive staff cuts -- the newspaper laid off it's now Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Paul Giblin.
Associated Press writes that, "While he is relishing the honor, Giblin admitted he wondered what it would have been like to find out he won from within the Tribune's Mesa, Arizona, newsroom.
Giblin is quoted as saying, "It is kind of sad. I wish I was still at the Tribune. I'd have a party with them right now."
You gotta wonder if the newspaper still thinks Giblin was a good lay off choice. But then, in these times, are there any good choices?
Last night I got home from work a little after nine. When I turned into my neighborhood it took me a second to realize that what seemed different was the complete darkness. It's an eerie feeling to drive on streets normally well illuminated by street lights and house lights. Everything seemed so still. As I drove up my hill I started itemizing my shopping list of emergency supplies. Of course, the first items on the list would be a battery powered radio and more flashlights. I couldn't remember where any flashlights might be aside from my emergency powered one which was upstairs and of no help getting into a completely dark home.
Unable to open my garage door from the outside, I pulled into a parking space -- and was greeted by my neighbor. You remember that she's the one who didn't run for vice president.
"Here's a flashlight,"she said. "You shouldn't have to go into a dark house."
I added that to my list of essential emergency supplies -- a good neighbor.
Here's the thing about having a good neighbor. You can't go out a buy them. And they don't come along very often. But they're always there when you need them.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I like artichokes.
I mean, who wouldn't want to eat a thorny thistle?
The first time I ever saw an artichoke I was in high school nervously eating dinner with my boyfriend, John, and his family. I'd never met John's parents before that dinner. John's father was a Gila County Supervisor and quite a political wheel so the meal would have been tense enough without the artichokes. Their arrival just about finished me off. I had no idea of how to approach the thing on my plate so I just waited to see what everyone else did. I caught on fairly quickly.
As life worked out, my relationship with John didn't last long but my love of artichokes has withstood the test of time.
Almost ninety percent of the artichokes in the country are grown right here in California. Well, not exactly right here in California. More specifically, almost ninety percent of the artichokes are grown right up there in Castroville in the heart of California's Central Coast farm country.
Each year the town hosts its Artichoke Festival. During the festival the town crowns its Artichoke Queen. In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean wore that crown. She, of course, later called herself Marilyn Monroe and apparently didn't brag too much about that bit of artichoke royalty.
The town even has a statue of the largest artichoke. It's twenty feet tall and twelve feet across. If you don't believe me, just go to 11261 Merritt Street in Castroville and see for yourself.
I think one of the bravest people in history was the person who ate the first artichoke. That person must have also been one of the hungriest people in history because nothing about that plant invites consumption.
Anyway, should I get around to going to the grocery store tomorrow, I think I'll buy an artichoke if for no other reason than just to prove that I'm brave, too.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Remember when we could decide which cereal to buy without calling several intimate friends to consult?
Remember when living in the moment meant without electronic devices?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Not even a week has gone by since she realized her life long dream of 'singing in front of a lot of people'.
She's all over YouTube now. Within minutes of her performance someone had set up a website in her name which immediately got thousands of hits. Oprah wants her on her show. She has captivated a world so in need of hope. Who knows if this simple, unsophisticated woman will endure such drastic life changes.
What she has done, however, is show us all that dreams are worth taking risks and worth even being treated badly.
Long live the dream.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The guy was growing a tree in his lung.
I once tried to grow a nectarine tree on my roof. I never thought of growing it in my lung. I might have gotten better fruit had I chosen some internal essential organ in which to begin my garden.
According to the Komsomolskaya Pravada newspaper, Artyom experienced severe chest pains. When he started coughing up blood, he sought medical attention.
I can't help but wonder if he would have gone to the doctor sooner had he started coughing up pine cones.
Anyway, X-Rays showed some sort of growth in his lung. Doctors pronounced the growth cancer.
"We were 100% sure," said surgeon Vladimir Kamashev.
"We did X-rays and found what looked exactly like a tumor. I had seen hundreds before, so we decided on surgery."
Before removing the lung, they decided to biopsy the growth just to make sure.
When the doctor made the incision the first thing he saw -- after the usual, you know, blood and stuff -- was a small fir tree.
Dr. Kamashev understandably thought he was hallucinating.
The two inch tall tree had been touching capillaries and causing severe pain.
Doctors called in a lumberjack who cut the tree down and removed it from Artyom's lung.
Three chipmunks and a crow remained behind to look for better digs.
Current belief is that the guy accidentally inhaled a seed which settled into tissue and started growing. Apparently no one currently suggests that he deliberately planted the tree.
Sidorkin later said that he was just glad it wasn't cancer.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
She had a ball with the newspaper yesterday. "Pirates!" she happily declared, "Captured by pirates!" I am not sure my mother always recognizes chronology or knows the difference between reality and fantasy, but yesterday I was having a little trouble with those things myself. On the same page as articles regarding mass unemployment, more bank failures and a couple of multiple murders, we've got pirates.
And three U.S. Navy snipers, with three perfect shots, rescued a merchant marine captain from those pirates. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of those snipers. So would Peter Pan.
Monday, April 13, 2009
One press release asks whether or not the choice of first dog broke one of Obama's campaign promises. Apparently President Obama at some point in his campaign mentioned that the family would rescue a dog. So the hot topic today has been the definition of 'rescue' and whether or not Bo, the current name of the first dog, was really rescued. Another part of this alleged broken campaign promise had to do with breed. The President apparently referred to himself as being a mutt and stated the desire that the first dog also be a mutt. The first dog is definitely not a mutt.
Another big question of the day is whether or not Senator Kennedy played a role in the alleged deception related to rescue and breed and lineage.
Really, is this any of our business?
I think not.
Let the kids have their pet and the dog its day.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.
It's named for Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer who isn't known for much aside from having a beautiful bridge named after him.
When it was completed in 1964, the Verrazano Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world. It's center span is 4,260 feet. Its towers are visible from parts of each of the five boroughs of New York City.
The bridge played an important supporting role in 'Saturday Night Fever'. It's performance was unforgettable.
I'm fascinated by bridges in part because they are beautiful and also because I on not one single level understand how they work.
I'm surprised no one ever tried to sell me this bridge. Too bad. I would have bought it. No questions asked.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Showing complete disregard for dignity, he jumped up and down in the drifts and ran back and forth through them.
Impossible to restrain on a leash, he ran freely between the family humans who could do nothing except feel as jubilant as did he.
Laughter touched the trees of the forest.
Hooray for The Family Dog.
We could all learn a thing or two from him.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Does misery, though, really love company?
No. Misery only thinks it loves company. What misery really loves is a ladder to climb out of its bleakness toward day's light.
Try this, then.
As long as you've decided to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, decide also to put one positive thought in front of the other.
Optimism is a choice.
It's also the only logical choice once you've decided to get out of bed in the morning.
Give it a try.
Keep me posted.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It's cold. It's wet. And, it's snowing.
Perhaps all of this unseasonable stuff are just reminders that things are not always as simple or as orderly as we might desire.
And so we celebrate!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
If a person wants to sit in a recliner, drink cocktails, and eat lobster I'm thinking that person should stay home.
Baseball games aren't about comfort or good food. They're about, well, baseball.
When we go to a game, we don't slide into home plate but we should expect to get just as dirty what with mustard dripping out of the hot dog and the guy behind us spilling his beer.
Come on! Lobster?
This isn't just a New York thing. The Dodgers and the Angels are just as guilty of selling out to our desires for comfort and fine food.
But wait a second. We're the ones willing to pay for all the comforts of home and the cuisine of a fine restaurant at the ballpark.
So what, exactly, is the national pastime?
Monday, April 6, 2009
Seasons, when they exist, can be capricious things. Today proves the point.
Over the weekend a Family Human rejoiced that Spring had arrived. It was in the air, she proclaimed and pointed out incipient and actual buds.
Yesterday sweaters and jackets got stowed. Even long sleeved shirts, here in Central New Jersey, seemed just a tad bit too warm.
Today tells a different story.
During one of our hurry before we get soaked walks, the Family Dog and I couldn't help but notice the creature approach us. Ear flaps flew around the face and threatened to become wings for the cap to which they somehow remained secured. The creature's coat was so bulky he could barely move so instead lumbered from side to side while somehow maintaining forward motion. The boots seemed so heavy and huge it was hard to believe they held only one pair of feet. Surely a yard or two had also sneaked into them.
I solved the riddle only seconds before the Family Dog figured it out.
This was no creature from outer space but instead was a man soaked to the skin dressed for the recently declared departed winter.
Also soaked to the skin, Family Dog and I clearly were dressed seasonally appropriately. Shirt sleeves and fur.
Fashion trumps comfort.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Gay advocacy groups hailed the decision as another example of same-sex marriage gaining traction in an increasing number of states, despite a ballot initiative in California last year that banned it there. They also said the emphatic ruling probably will sway other courts, including California's Supreme Court, which must decide by early June whether the November referendum was constitutional.
"Justices look at opinions from other states," said Jennifer C. Pizer, the national marriage project director for Lambda Legal, which brought the Iowa case. "There's a significant likelihood that [the decision] will influence other states, like California."
The above is from The Washington Post.
Clearly good news can come from the most unlikely places. Yay, Iowa.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
We read books, worked puzzles, stared into space, dozed, engaged in pointless conversations with people we'd never seen before and generally hoped we'd never see again, checked e mail, listened to music or books on various mp3 devices and engaged in the numerous other activities people stranded at airports or at train or bus stations do in such situations. Occasionally our pilot came into our area to assure or answer questions.
I'm imagining that the wait was just as tedious for our plane as it was for us.
After all, who wants to get all cleaned and gassed up only to be left out in the cold for hours.
I still hate to fly and still love Jet Blue.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Here at the Jet Blue gate passengers are affable enough. Of course, we're only two hours into our delay. These waiting at the gate friendships involving shared chips and magazines are likely to turn sour if the flight is delayed further.
Two boys brought along a suitcase full of toys. They must travel frequently.
Airports are surreal in routine mode. Airport delays take us into a completely different mode of being.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
She, apparently, was thrilled because she needed to upgrade her current iPod anyway.
Okay, so Gordon Brown wasn't so happy with his DVDs and he couldn't play them on his DVD player anyway. Big deal. Who hasn't gotten a less than great present?
I also think it's terrific that our first lady broke protocol and put her arm around the Queen.
This, now, is progress.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The first thing in which I found her name was a New York Times wedding announcement in 1986. How nice! The second was also from the New York Times, a notice of her untimely death in 2005 "following an illness of several months". I gasped when I saw it.
Even though I haven't seen this person for well over thirty years, or even thought of her until yesterday, knowing that she is no more has brought a shadow to my day.
We populate the world within our own minds, and when we are not in communication with people we know, we assume that all stays the same outside our field of experience. But of course it does not, and I received a reminder of that today.