Monday, June 30, 2008

Private Note to Self: You are getting old

This last weekend, I spent about 60 hours loading/unloading/loading/unloading and finally off-loading donated items for a parking lot sale to raise money for our cat/dog rescue. I am exhausted. The sale, normally only one day, turned into two.

I live on a hillside and getting anything in or out or to the house requires serious reflection. The road is one-car wide.

The piano, which we had to bring in over a wall (a 3/4 upright) required 10 complaining people to move in and I was so scared I was tempted to leave and get reports later. Mostly I paced and fretted. I will never move it again, believe me, despite the fact that I adore the thing. This piano has an old-church and ballet-class sound which I happen to personally adore. This is an old two-pedal piano with soul and ivory keys that I taught young kids on (I only taught kids under 7, and they learned college level theory from me, though I never scared them with that or, perhaps more true, never scared their parents with that). It has also served alternatively as a great cat perch and basis for my mini shrine. It is the basic composition instrument for some very favorite songs written. It isn't a handsome piano, but I love it. Looks aren't everything as any sensible human knows.

So after this weekend, I had to finally admit I am getting old. I get up earlier, move less in one trip, wear more sensible shoes, and go to bed earlier when really tired. I even wear a hat (I swam Jr. Olympics as a kid and surfed... so a HAT???????).

The purpose of this self-imposed physical abuse is to raise money for the dog/cat rescue. We raised enough to neuter 24 male cats or 18 female cats or 7 dogs under 20 pounds or 4 dogs 70 lbs. Altogether I figure I spent about 40 hours, including 16 of those on my feet, to do this. A labor of love, absolutely, but I am not convinced this is the best use of my time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm one that moves 1000 lbs. of food or even double that at a time, by myself. I'm not adverse to hard work. And I know I cannot be. Were I to stop working, my body would protest in other ways. I work hard, and I don't mind it. I am grateful that I have a body to support my life's mission.

But private note to self: Is this the best way to earn this money, or are there other better ways? Investigate. And next time, think before you spend 16 or so hours out in 100 degree weather... mostly in the sun.

I am getting old. It's a relatively new notion I am seriously resisting and will no doubt resist until I flat-line. Nonetheless, the notion has some traction today.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

ENOUGH! Shrill voices from the Anglican Communion ditch God and lead in hate

I am a Christian by baptism. The sign of the cross was oiled on my forehead as a wee baby sealing me to Christ at the font.

I am an Episcopalian, the U.S. church which is a part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. We're a diverse bunch.

Over almost four decades, God stuck with me through atheism and agnosticism. I was terrified of Christianity which appeared to me to beguile science, revel in hatred for those not "in step" with their thinking, blame horrible natural disasters and human-caused disasters on certain "segments" of the human population, relegate anyone and everyone to a supposed fiery hell for the slightest error, and, in general, seemed to hate God by eliminating those created by God they did not agree with. Some thinking. Some ego.

Why in the world would I want to be a Christian unless I was so self-loathing that I actually believed I deserved this kind of treatment under God? Talk about hell on earth!

And if God created junk--me--why would such a God be worthy of my praise?

This guilt thinking--the thinking of blame, the thinking of hate and non-redemption--and these kinds of words are more appropriate to politicians in an election year than the words of any kind of clergy that claims to understand God and the love of Christ.

I am an Episcopalian because this thinking, and these kinds of words are not representative of my belief or my church.

Make no mistake, these kinds of words are weapons. They kill the love of God in the heart of man, woman and child and drive them into the desert of no return, the guilt of clergy on their heads. They drive them away from mercy, deprive them of salvation, and hold them hostage in real and literal limbo.

This is what is happening, and has been happening, in the Anglican Communion, specifically through a few individuals that, for one reason or another, believe that the winnowing 'down' of Christ's love, and God's forgiveness, is balanced on their individual understanding of God and that this understanding is true and final. As a Communion, and most certainly as Episcopalians, we are not called nor are we required to understand God as they do. That is not what I, as an Episcopalian, or perhaps an Anglican does nor does it allege to Anglicanism at all.

I cannot and will not dance on the head of that pin.

I was created by God, I live in God, I am sustained by God. My very existence and continuum defies their position.

My love of God demands that I speak against this thinking, but pray for them.

To those of you who step aside from Lambeth, stand before the world press in condemnation of the church and your sisters and brothers in Christ unable or unwilling to defend the least in your own nations, in fact supporting laws which are internationally categorized as human rights violations, I say ENOUGH.

You are setting God and God's creations aside for personal vanity. You have supported the jailing of human beings rather than protecting and shielding them from harm because you disagree with who those children of God "are". You pretend not to know, but you do know. In the face of physical conflict, you walk away from peace and consultation and threaten more violence in the way of the shadow. While alleging to save millions of people, you outright condemn millions more to hell.


If you cannot walk the path of Christ's love, then perhaps it is not Christ's path you walk at all.

It is one thing to disagree. It is wholly another to take the Anglican Christian message into the territory of hate.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It's a situation where we hate to say we told you so, but we told you so."

--senior research scientist, Mark Serreze, National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado commenting on the loss of ice fields at the North Pole and the possibility that for the first time, the North Pole may have no ice left by autumn.

You can read the whole article here.

Juxtapose this quote against Rush Limbaugh who, in his book entitled See, I Told You So (1993) penned, "Despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming ."

Everyone seems to have told us so... trouble is, they are telling us things on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Where are my feet planted? In science, of course. There is a reason scientists study the natural world and Rush is a radio guy.

NO Fat Cats!


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No, this is not a piece on oil company executives or politicos. It's really about fat (clinically obese) cats.

I don't want to reiterate the content of this fine article written by Dr. Lisa Piersen DVM on this subject, but I DO want to underline the importance of keeping a cat fit by feeding appropriate-to-species food. Dry food? Nope, never ever! Open feeding? No! No!

A few months or so ago, within a week's time, our rescue took in two clinically obese cats. These are hardly the first. Neither was able to properly groom themselves because of the fat, and one could not even jump onto a chair.

Tobie (neut male): 24 lbs. (estimate of proper weight: 9-10 lbs.)
Miss. Kitty (spayed female): 18.5 lbs. (estimate of proper weight: 8.5 lbs.)

Tobie has lost quite a bit of weight now, but still has a long way to go. He is grooming, and can now jump on the kitchen counter (enter training by me!).

Here is a chart we use to record and confirm weight loss. This chart is Toby's.

We thought it might be helpful to some if we actually showed the calculations and weights, over time, and how we dealt with them after you read Dr. Lisa's article.

Note that before we started the diet, we transitioned the cat to ANY kind of canned food he would eat, finally mixing in together Wellness chicken (a very high quality food) and Innova canned food. It took almost 2 weeks just to get him transitioned properly to a decent diet... not a bad amount of time--some cats take much, much longer. But be patient if they do or you will NEVER get this life-threatening weight off. But NEVER let a cat go without eating, especially an obese cat. It can have very dire--even life threatening--consequences.

Toby Target ounces: 160 ounces at proper weight.
Begin weight: 24 lbs = 384 oz. Weekly rate of loss: 1.5-2% of that weeks weight.


Week 1 weight 384.00 oz. lose 7.68 oz. weight lost: 4.50 oz.
Week 2 weight 379.50 oz. lose 7.59 oz. weight lost: 4.75 oz.
Week 3 weight 374.75 oz. lose 7.49 oz. weight lost: 6.25 oz.
Week 4 weight 368.50 oz. lose 7.37 oz. weight lost: 7.39 oz.*
note: at week 4, Toby began to lose more than 2% so we added more protein and very slightly larger portions.

Weight lost month 1: 22.87 ounces

Week 5 weight 361.13 lose 7.22 oz. weight lost: 7.20 oz.
Week 6 weight 353.93 lose 7.08 oz. weight lost: 7.20 oz.*
Week 7 weight 346.73 lose 6.93 oz. weight lost: 6.75 oz.
Week 8 weight 339.98 lose 6.79 oz. weight lost: 6.75 oz.
note: at week 6, Toby lost too much weight. He was also close on week 8. We again upped the protein and gave slightly larger servings the following week.

Weight lost month 2: 27.90 ounces
Total weight lost to date: 50.77 ounces or 3.17 lbs!!!!

I think you get the picture. Toby now weighs in at 16.8 lbs, with 6.8 lbs to go. As we approach that weight (10 lbs.), we will slow down his weight loss a bit to make sure we don't overshoot. As he has gotten thinner, he has gotten more active which is actually burning more calories, so we feed more protein and larger meals to compensate. He eats on a schedule, 2x daily. He is looking so much better already!

Good luck to you if you are starting your cat on a weight loss diet. Love is about taking good care of your cat or dog, and that includes a proper diet and a healthy weight. And don't forget teeth! Most dogs and cats must have their teeth cleaned annually to prevent organ disease. Take care of your companions teeth!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Can't see the War for the Rhetoric? Stay tuned, Iran is next

Iraq. Iran. Right now, thanks to the Iraqi war, in part, we're broke. We're way more than broke.

Continually comes the news that we can expect an Iran invasion (yep, by us, the US) soon. Swell.

Are we so personally entrenched in our own self-created financial misery that we cannot even ponder things getting worse or are we just in "modus avoidus"? Have we finally given into Orwellian-speak, grown tired of thinking, or are we just yawning waiting for the gas prices to come down so we can fire up the speedboat for the weekend?

Personally, it seems to me that we might just slap a yellow "Support the Troops" magnet ribbon on the back of our cars and call it a day while our troops are busting their butts--and some are dying--in locations where they shouldn't be in the first place.

Before you set your mind, either way, read this, which includes an interview on the subject with Scott Ritter.

Then read it again and ask yourself exactly what YOU are going to do about it today because the only person that can stop this, is YOU.

The Politics of Dogs

As I type this, the dogs are having a play fest and boy is it noisy. Here I have a few dog laws, one of which is that they ARE required to be a dog sometimes and playful shrieking and fun is required. And yes, for those that are dogs, but haven't accepted that notion yet, they are, nonetheless, required to learn it if possible.

Dogs are not always equal to one another and any human with a dog should know that. Owners with two or more dogs must know that. I have ten here, and the photo is of foster "The Redhead" (my tribute to Lucille Ball because she is not only a redhead but funny) sleeping against the paws of my staffie, Kacee.

Dogs have their own hierarchical order and, for their safety and ours, we are best to respect it. We, of course, as humans, are the head of the household nation. King, Queen, President, Premier, Amir... whatever. We, the two-leggeds, are (or certainly better be) the top dog.

That's the household politics of dogs. But the worldly politics of dogs are quite different.

I own a pitbull/border collie/lab mix and a high-bred staffie mix. The pitbull mix owns up to all the traits: A bit shy, athletic and a sweetheart. So, you ask, what is the pitbull part of this? Sweet and athletic. The shy and athletic and sweet is probably the border collie part. Sweet is definitely the lab mix. The hard mouth is the pitbull, but can also be the border collie (here I train to the term "gentle" from the time they come in, regardless of age meaning that no matter WHAT they are touching--my hand, a bone, another animal--they are gentle about it. This is all dogs, not just this dog).

I am currently fostering two pitbull mix puppies, now about 4-8 months of age. They have both been raised around eight other dogs on a daily basis, and 5-10 cats, depending on the number in rescue. One came at 4 weeks as an underage rescue with generalized alopecia, the other came at four months with demodectic mange. Both came as fosters.

Where I live, about 75% of the dogs in the shelter are pitbull or pitbull mix dogs. Most are killed by lethal injection. I do NOT use the word euthanized because that word, by definition means: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.

Pitbulls (or anything identified as such) are killed because of their breed. They are NOT killed to advance the notion as defined. Likewise with every other dog in a shelter that is not irremediably suffering.

And the other dogs here? Well, today, there is a labrador retriver mix, a husky mix, three chihuahua mixes, a German shepherd, a rat terrier mix, a poodle, and a min pin mix.

My dogs go to the dog park which has a side for the small dogs (wise) and large dogs. There among the scent and sight hounds, the retriever, bully, terrier, herding and other breed groups and mutts, my short-legged but husky politically incorrect dogs do just wonderfully. In fact, one of my pit mixes is the clown of the park. And why?

Some of it is genetics and some of it is raising. My dogs are heavily socialized from babies and are kept socialized to humans, cats and other dogs throughout their lives. I don't take risks. If I feel ANY rescue or personal dog, regardless of breed, is not capable of appropriate behavior at a dog park or other public place, they don't go until they are appropriate. Period.

One of my pit bulls is actually a staffie terrier, but most cannot tell the difference. Even dog people see a big head and a stout, strong body and jump to the conclusion it is a pit or pit mix dog.

When I enter the dog park and unleash my dog, I constantly brace myself for questions (because I eventually get them). I can feel everyone tense up. But my dog trots right up to the people sitting on the benches, with his characteristically funny gait, in the shade, to say hi. He wiggles into their hearts and minds, a diplomat of his breed. He engages humans for pets and scratches. He leaps around like a deer, cheerful and funny, only to take a nap in the shade. He saunters around the park, slowly, picking up the many interesting and unique scents absent here, and returns to say hi, once again. Usually, I practically have to peel him off of a human he has taken to. He loves people. He's a klutz, and I have to be careful with small children only because he has not been raised around them and frankly, I have not done MY job in training to respect size. My bad, not his. He would never hurt children unless, of course, kissing-to-death is a crime. He is a bull in a china shop, though, and I have to respect and deal with that reality.

So, what has caused the mass hysteria of people who are so scared to death of this breed? Media. They don't report every labrador retriever that bites, or the American eskimo dog or the poodle or any other dog. But identified (true or false) as a pitbull, it's on the front page. The San Francisco tragedy did not involve pitbulls. But it was made to sound as if it did.

Don't get me wrong, I love labradors (actually my favorite breed), Am Eskies and poodles (was raised with poodles) and I generally only take in mutts leaving the purebred dogs to pure breed rescues only taking them if I can, and they can't. But as a rescuer I do not approve of the kind of swamp fury that entices mob mentality with a supposed "pitbull problem" with more going unreported in other breeds. Why? Because, while I own labs as well, this has become political.

When was the last time you saw a picture of a gang member with a labrador, poodle or Cavalier King Charles? And what does that association mean? Think about it.

Two doors down from me lives an animal control officer for the county I live in. My dogs play with his. Recently, I asked him how many pitbull or pitbull mixes that are mean to humans he has had to corral and take to the shelter. In three years: None. Zero. Not one. Half the time, he says, they jump right into my arms or right into the truck.

As many of us in rescue have surmised, pitbulls are not only frequently misidentified (which my animal control officer friend says is a real common problem), but the media has so biased the public that even noisy play is identified as hostility. Good grief. If noise is an issue, my extremely noisy snoring dog should alert the National Guard and an amber alert should be immediately issued. There is not a human on this planet that snores like he does.

The last many years have brought us a plethora of breed legislation. Many insurance companies will not insure homeowners with certain breeds. Many cities and counties have endorsed breed specific legislation to ban breeds, and, in some cases, impound and kill them all within jurisdictional borders if found past the legislative date. This is reminiscent of China where authorities recently, prior to the olympics, shot or clubbed dogs to death to make sure China "looked" good to westerners. Rather unsurprising: We westerners are certainly more likely to care about looks versus content and our breed specific legislation is no different. As a dog-loving nation, we said little about the last Greek Olympics when Greece pitifully poisoned tens of thousands of animals and we say nothing now. What a disgrace.

So: take this test. Can YOU find the pitbull?

So do me a favor, would ya? The next time I go to the dog park (right after the greyhouds run... and be sure there are no little fluffy dogs in the park when they do, please), might you just once say... "boy, what a neat dog. What is it?"

I'd be happy to talk all you can stand about him and laugh with you as he inevitably wends his way into your heart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't Bother to Vote: God Will Take Care of it All. Not new, but still weird news

There is probably no other single statement about God that perplexes me more than the entitled statement. It suggests that we are nothing more than God-puppets, not stewards, devoid of free will, not responsible for personal decisions and worse that our political destiny is somehow religiously preordained. Taken to the extreme, I suppose this means that charitable works are not needed either because, after all, poor people are "supposed" to starve to death. Born to starve to death?

Ridiculous? Apparently not.

In the summer of 1990, and for the fist time ever, three soviet ships carrying approximately 800 Soviet navel personnel were welcomed into US waters in San Diego, CA. I was there, specifically, to help educate and leaflet on getting nuclear weapons off the seas. I had no idea, when going, how incredibly remarkable, in so very many ways, this event would be.

On the drive down to San Diego, days ahead of the event, it was clear something was afoot as the area around Camp Pendleton, which lies east and west of the I-5, was busied with military training. Having made the drive hundreds of times on this stretch of road as I commuted to (then) San Diego State University (SDSU), I was familiar with the normal goings-on on this section of the base.

Indeed, Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990 and by August 7, US troops were on the ground in Saudi Arabia. I'm sure many were there earlier, but this is the official date recorded.

An absolutely incredible thing happened while I was there leafleting prior to August 2. I was leafleting in a coastal park area, and a large group of people was picnicking in the park with a wee little habachi sort of BBQ. I approached them, and they invited me to have a bite. There were several generations of family in the party, all in middle eastern dress. I asked where they were from. They replied they were from Kuwait. The only real reason that this is memorable, today, is because this family was obviously here to avoid what was going on there; meaning I was probably amidst either diplomatic or royal family members without even knowing it.

As an aside, I knew a little about Kuwait as I had been introduced to their culture when living in an apartment in Whittier. I was 17, and it was my first apartment as I had graduated high school early. Most of the apartment building was occupied by Kuwati or other middle eastern families. They were wonderful people, their children just precious. A little one named Amina lived a couple of doors down. She was probably one of the most gorgeous little ones I have ever seen and I still remember he chewing on the leather frame of one of my photos. I suppose she was teething at the time. It probably wasn't healthy for her, but her mom didn't stop her, and neither did I. I kept that frame, teeth marks and all, for many years. It reminded me of her.

I modeled in one of their Middle Eastern fashion shows to benefit a club at Whittier College and had a great time. A friend of my mom's was a professor there in, I believe, middle eastern dance. I was introduced to a heaven of incredible foods (and ways of eating them). I was surrounded by middle eastern music, and middle eastern hospitality.

But back to the story...

While leafleting, I came across one naval man who told me that it didn't matter what we did (making me wonder why he was in the service to begin with!) that God made the decisions, not us, and that God would make everything okay. Well then. I suppose we could all stop voting, just let a dictator take over and allow this given God would set it right?

It was, and is, beyond my comprehension.

Taken to the extreme, I suppose I can just never work, never buy food, never make a house or car payment and voilà, God kicks in and takes over either protecting the refrigerator box I am living in in the Mission District or allowing me to scrounge food for me and the dogs by making it somehow available? THAT is my responsibility in this world? THAT is why I was created? Gads, what a disappointment!

Predestination doesn't figure at all into my theology. Further, I simply cannot explain my life at all in terms of predestination. It makes no sense to me.

The article's one-line conclusion about the relationship between what one believes God's role is in the world and voting is interesting, to say the least:

So while the belief in God in general is not a predictor of voter participation, the researchers say, whether this God is involved in worldly affairs does impact voting patterns.

I wonder how this will figure in the next election given this from the article:

The researchers found that a person who views God as more inactive and less involved in the world is more likely to engage in political activities. Jewish respondents and mainline Protestants, who commonly take this inactive-God view, scored higher on political participation than evangelical and black Protestants. Catholics also scored higher than Protestants.

I can only hope that most in the US don't believe God is active in the world, as strange as that may sound, until at least after the November election.

Quote of the Day

Trent Lott on defending McCain's oil policy, including off shore drilling from his interview today on MSNBC:

Is it going to hurt him?" During the subsequent discussion, Lott said: "It's time we quit fighting in America about having an energy policy. We have got to have an energy policy, and let's do it all. Let's do drill. Let's do nuclear power. Let's do clean coal. Let's do alternative fuels. Let's do solar, wind. Let's do conservation. Quit arguing over whether we produce more or conserve more. Let's do it all. That's the solution."

As Media Matters points out, neither Trent Lott nor MSNBC divulged that Lott is currently employed as a lobbyist for oil and gas companies. BTW, when you think of oil or gas companies, think oil, think oil shale, think coal, think nukes etc. because energy companies are diverse in their energy portfolios. Some also have a small percentage of wind or solar in their portfolios.

Meanwhile, the energy companies themselves say they cannot drill for more oil because drilling ships and other necessary infrastructure is in use or otherwise unavailable.

There are a couple more interesting things to consider, and this suggests that prices will not be stabilized, regardless of time, through more off shore oil drilling and in fact will rise.

For those in New Jersey, this suggests McCain's support of offshore drilling could whack the legs right off other GOP candidates (especially those foolish enough to support McCain's vision).

In California, well, forget it. It ain't gonna happen.

The real offense here, really, is that McCain and others are lying about about the whens and whats of drilling in terms of price effects, time frames and benefit. In a drive-through nation of we-want-it-cheap-and-now, we spoiled and (sorry!) generally uneducated Americans need to stop allowing ourselves to be pulled around by our political noses. It doesn't matter who suggests a bad idea. If it's a bad idea, it's a bad idea.

Offshore oil drilling is a BAD idea. Republican or democrat, it is bad. And for Americans, the majority of which live along the nation's coasts, the environmental, economic and political consequences are real and a really bad idea.

It is amazing, actually, that McCain fell on this sword. But then again, the oil lobby, which spends millions daily to influence oil in all it's political dimensions, is well moneyed and very powerful. Apparently, it is also very seductive. Seductive enough to derail McCain and a few wishful Americans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

McCain: Weird News... or maybe True News or?

What would you say if you heard from McCain's Vietnamese jailer (now a ballroom dancer) that he would vote for McCain, but that McCain lied about being tortured?

I don't know what to think either, other than this belongs in the Weird News Category.

Decide for yourself.

Quote of the Day: Charlie Black

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his [McCain's] knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black. [insert mine]

--Charlie Black

and decide for yourself.

Nice job, Charlie. Keep talking. Every single day you or McCain convert people to Obama by simply opening your mouths. You two are, without a doubt, the most underpaid and best Obama campaigners one could hope for.

Given McCain's position on the long-term US presence in Iraq, your Jurassic approach to the gasoiline/oil issue which includes off shore oil drilling in states that are critical to your campaign (Florida for instance... California is clearly Obama territory) I really hope that you and McCain just keep mumbling your way through your perceived "campaign".

If you want to win this election, Charlie, get a mannequin to speak through and a democrat to write the verbage. Otherwise, you could save everyone a lot of time and money and just give it up now.

Oh, and speaking of McCain (aka "the hot head") opening his mouth, we have a lot more to say about that in the near future. We're really concerned about having this hothead near any red button.

With God on Our Side

A recent comment on a blog site made me think about both the concept of God being on "our" side, and the theological repercussions and political repercussions of this notion. It also made me think of the Bob Dylan song by the same title:

With God on Our Side

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Well, if the last two lines are true, God isn't on "our" side as much as this might perturb and dismay the likes of Dick Cheney and others who somehow have the audacity to commit an entire nation to their religious vision.

Don't get me wrong, Cheney has the perfect right to believe in ANY version of God he choses. He does not have the right, however, to impose that religious interdiction upon a nation.

I am a devout Episcopalian. I am liberal in the sense that I don't expect you to agree with my view of God, the Trinity, the Bible or the implications of Christian history.

My liberalism is freeing... after all, it is your soul, not mine, at stake. I think no less of you for what you believe knowing that your beliefs today, if you are truly praying and in search of truth, will change daily. And if they don't, then you just aren't listening?

I don't like all Christian theology, nor do I like all Episcopalian or Anglican theology. I am not required to LIKE it. I am, I believe, required to tolerate it and hold those that are vehemently different than me in prayer. Why? Because that is what we Episcopalians/Anglicans do. We debate, yell, pray, stomp off, pray some more and kneel beside those different from us at the alter to accept God into ourselves. Accepting God means accepting all.

And I do.

Mostly, I have to pray for myself... for forgiveness in being judgmental (simple human!) and for peace among all people.

So, do I have God on my side? Yep. Absolutely.

Do you? Yep, absolutely.

Are we at peace, no, absolutely. But we are absolutely called to work on it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jimmy Carter Was Right 30 Years Ago

With all the political clap-trap and foo-fa being dumped on the American public recently regarding our (non-existent) energy policy and proposed solutions for lowering oil prices and increasing oil availability, it might be time to actually READ President Jimmy Carter's 1977 energy speech from (right click on this post title, or go Here to watch and listen to Carter's speech).

To set an example, in 1979 Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the Whitehouse's West Wing to heat water for the staff eating area.

When roof repair was done on the West Wing's roof in 1986, they were removed and President Regan did not have them reinstalled. Into storage they went.

In 1990, actress Glen Close helped pay for the panels' refurbishing, and they were subsequently installed at Unity College near Bangor, Maine to heat water in the College's cafeteria. Here they remain to this day, though they are now inoperable. Their future destination is undecided.

While the statistics from the Carter speech have changed--worsened--since his 1977 speech, the principles hold true today with the exception of his suggested reliance on coal.

Perhaps when gas gets to $6.00/gallon Americans will realize that we are in a position where we absolutely must develop a progressive energy policy for this country that does not rely on nuclear power or petroleum. There is NO oil shortage, though we have passed peak levels. But the remaining oil reserves known are more expensive and much more difficult to extract, and certainly more controversial.

So instead of relying on carbon into the future, it is time we subsidize clean energy and STOP subsidizing dirty energy. Oil companies, showing their highest profits ever, do NOT need subsidies, nor does the nuclear industry. But other clean industries DO.

Lets begin again, aggressively, to separate the wheat from the chaff and get on with the serious job of providing energy into the future. If we don't, we will continue to be involved in resource wars of all kinds in many locations into the foreseeable future. It is an investment we cannot afford, morally or economically, to ignore.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

We have a situation in which some members of the Anglican family think they are so superior to all others that they are above the law, they can do whatever they please with impunity.
--Archbishop Peter Akinola, 22 June 2008, GAFCON Conference, Jerusalem

Given the recent history of those absconding with properties and assets of The Episcopal Church, I can only assume he is speaking of himself, Archbishop Venables, Bishop John David Shofield, and a few others who will abscond with the candlesticks soon.

See? We do agree on at least one thing.

Telecommuting: Employers, Have a Little Faith!

In 1990, I took a long sought-after job 68 miles from my canyon home. There were very long days in my new job, plus 3-4 hour commutes. Fridays were predictable nightmares, and often it took me 2.5 hours to drive that 68 miles. Moving was not possible.

At the time I worked for an international environmental group. I worked on energy issues, among other things, and I could not justify the drive. Without notice, I just stopped going in on Fridays, telecommuting instead. On the third week of my new experiment, I finally "told" my boss, and she just asked me to write an explanation, which I did... a well researched one. I never heard a thing again!

Most of my work was independent with a great deal of my time spent writing, organizing, and planning when I wasn't on the road or in an airplane flying to meetings or to state or national/international capitals. When I was in the office, I was usually on the phone... something I could do from anywhere. I often had calls held just so I could concentrate on a speech or a fact sheet or simply to do some reading. All of this, I thought, I could do from home.

A couple months later, I began telecommuting on Mondays. Soon, it was the whole week. I would roll out of bed, make some coffee, and work. For lunch I would run, take the dog for a walk, or water the garden.

There is only one downside to telecommuting for the employee, and that is one tends to overwork. I never kept strict hours in this job, always working far more than was required. Telecommuting, I found myself working 14 hour days on a consistent basis, including most weekends when I was home. I finally put my foot down and ceased my weekend work unless it was an emergency. I began to take longer lunches, as well. Finally getting my work day down to 11-12 hours/day.

The benefit to my employer was incredible. More work, same pay. I didn't have to fight to use the fax machines and printers, didn't have delays with Fed Ex packages getting lost all the time.

I had three phone lines and a fax line (downside for me... but not too bad), a desk-top and a lap top and voice mail.

The benefit to me was also incredible. Gone were the long commutes of 136 miles/day (I tried the bus, the train, combinations of the two, but nothing worked... the commutes were actually LONGER and more expensive using mass transit, not unusual in the "car country" of southern California). At the time, I got 16 or so miles to the gallon of gas. So, it was an incredible savings of fuel, and the money to buy it. I was also far less tired all the time, and my work performance was much better. I was also much less stressed which was much better for me and everyone connected with me.

Telecommuting does require someone that works well without direct supervision and obviously requires a job where personal one-on-one attention is not needed. Employers have long resisted telecommuting, and I have this to say: Have a little faith!

Hire the right people, make the job technologically easy, and do it. Employees spend less of their income on commuting, clothing, and even on day care. They are better employees, do better work, are less stressed and more productive.

Even allowing employees to telecommute 1-3 days/week will help you, the employee, reduce energy usage, and decrease air pollution. Employers, it is time to think differently.

There is, of course, the option of 4 10hr/day work weeks. This helps, but not nearly as much as telecommuting.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quote of the Day: Los Angeles Times

What's really needed, though, is a moratorium on worthless suggestions from politicians for lowering gas prices.

Please take note, President Bush and Senator McCain.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain and Nukes: A Supersized Bad Combo

I am rarely surprised to read a politically inept comment, but I admit my jaw dropped today when reading McCain's statement proposing more nuclear power for the United States--his proposed "interim" solution to the energy problem included this statement: "It's a NIMBY (not in my backyard) problem, and a waste-disposal problem. It is not a technological problem," he said.

McCain proposes 45 more plants by 2030 (WAY too late, by the way), and another 60 "later". If it wasn't so life-threatening, it would be laughable both in terms of doing NOTHING (in reality), and proposing something so stunningly bizarre and antiquated.

In the world of credibility, McCain just dropped 100 floors at the speed of gravity. Why? Because his vision is plain wrong for both economic and environmental reasons, not to mention that there simply is not enough uranium to support his nuclear fantasy... unless, of course, one has reprocessing in mind to extend the absurdity a little farther, creating a whole bunch more waste and environmental problems. And this assessment avoids his obvious lack of vision. I accuse him of all three things.

Here, I want to deal pretty much exclusively with the waste issue. THAT is not a technological problem. It is an impossible problem. As my dad, who worked on the Manhattan project, told me before he died, "We never thought about the waste."

Yep, I know Dad. You left that to your daughter. Thanks.

Welcome to the late 1940s-1950s folks. Whip out your nuclear toasters. Sit down, and shut up because we're in for a helluva ride. Never mind those little snafus that we already know about. Keep your arms in the car and put your blinders on.

McCain's vision is no vision. Worse, it is a lie. It is the rehashing of failure dressed in false hope with justice's blindfold pasted awkwardly on the past. One can only surmise that McCain is either incredibly stupid (entirely possible), has extremely out-of-touch (not true), but well-connected industry policy makers and policy wonks (absolutely true), is a liar (true, imho), or he absolutely has NO PLAN for dealing with the (hardly new!) energy crisis and global warming realities because he cannot drag his sorry butt into this century and face the severe current realities which have existed for decades (true).

Drip. Drip, drip, drip. Drip.

The best way to describe nuclear power and it's far-reaching absurdities in terms of waste is to picture your kitchen sink trap with a constant leak that you cannot see or repair. Drip. Drip. Drip, drip, drip. Drip. The puddle cannot be wiped up. It cannot be pumped out. It cannot be decontaminated (whatever is used to pump and/or decontaminate one thing or area is waste which contaminates another). Drip. Drip. No amount of plugging, lining (which actually makes things worse in some instances), lying, praying, or talking it to death helps. Drip. Drip, drip, drip. It is carried by water, but contaminates otherwise, as well. Water rich environments are a disaster. Dry environments, while having different problems, are likewise a disaster.

It is a fact that every single so-called "low-level" radioactive waste dump (and dumps are what they are) in the United States leaks. Period. Drip. This low-level waste, by curie, originates largely from nuclear power plants (just about everything but the fuel rods themselves). Drip, drip. This shallow land burial approach has completely failed, and new "low-level" dumps have been fought off successfully in every state where proposed, despite the absurd state compacting concept where one or more states sometimes far... far... apart (e.g. Texas and Vermont) would compact together with one of the states proposing a dump for their state. (Note in this case, Texas, under Governor Ann Richards, was the culprit. Ironically, it WAS Governor George Bush--yep, true--that stopped it but not without years of work by Texas citizens. Even Kay Bailey Hutchison was opposed... I know--I drove halfway across Texas to deliver the information to her door in her first run for office. I never thought of Ann Richards as stupid, but in this case, I changed my mind. Her staff was strangely immovable on the matter.)

And why are failed radioactive waste dumps bad? Because plants uptake the radioactivity, animals then uptake it as well, and eventually humans. It gets into groundwater and poisons it.

Radioactivity is not visible, not detectable to the nose, tongue or ears. It is a silent killer. And unlike radioactive waste's transparency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is anything but transparent.

For decades, for instance, small savvy anti-nuclear groups like NIRS (Nuclear Information Resource Service), based in Washington DC, Committee to Bridge the Gap (Santa Monica, CA), and groups of scientists such as the infamous John Goffman (UC Berkley) and Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Washington DC), and international environmental groups such as Greenpeace have taken the NRC to task to protect the public's health and safety because the NRC either can't or won't. Your tax dollars at work.

Further, entire underground water basins can be rendered undrinkable for eternity. Drip. And this when global warming threatens the already dry states where water wars are well known (e.g. the Colorado River wars and Los Angeles v. Mono Lake) and the majority of water storage and future water is subterranean where these kinds of dumps, because of more desert environs, are usually proposed. Drip.

Not coincidentally, these dumps are often, also, proposed on Native American lands or their sacred lands. This has been true in the Southwestern Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact (CA, AZ, ND, and SD), in Utah, and in Minnesota just for starters. The Nevada "high-level waste dump also involves native lands as does the New Mexico facility. Drip, drip.

The US still cannot get the US/Native American sovereignty relationship right. First we kill them, then we take their land, then we make sure they live in poverty, then we take their kids, then we steal their BIA funds, then we pollute their land. Drip. Drip. Add more social and environmental genocide via their proposals on Native lands for radioactive waste dumps.

McCain has also advocated for more shelf drilling on the coasts, which should make the California hotel/motel/tourista industry take notice as they did when previously proposed under CA Governor Wilson (who was a San Diego Mayor prior to this, um, "role"). In California all I can say is... it ain't gonna happen. Our crowded and water polluted beaches don't need more oil. Further more, 80% or so of the permits that are already approved are not being acted upon. There are serious infrastructural problems with off shore drilling.

I remember Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (from the wacky "behind the orange curtain" California county) standing with his back to the 1990 oil spill in Huntington Beach in a television interview advocating for more oil rigs off the coast while white-toxic-suited volunteers were plucking oily, dead or nearly dead sea birds and mammals off the shoreline. But then, consider the source. When you have a history of Bob Dornan (aka "HIV is caused by airborne spores") and Rohrabacher, it pretty much invalidates any heavy lifting being done by the cerebral cortex in their vicinity.

So... can we move on now and just call McCain what he is? Out of touch and 60 years behind the curve. Most certainly, he is not the visionary we need for the next president. I got off his bus when he supported torture, but he just keeps piling on the reasons.

Go McCain go. Just keep talking. You are handing the election to Obama.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today, A Window Opens

The democratic primary has been a true example of fight it out to the absolute head-shaking, mind-bending end. And while Hillary Clinton has, as of this writing, refused to concede, the writing is on the wall.

Barack Obama will be the next democratic presidential candidate, and I believe the next president.

Before you go ANY further in this post, please watch this this . Remember this when anyone says things have not changed. They have... but things change, slowly. Today, a window opened for one man and the stuffy old-guard air of my generation has been blown out the damn door. And thank God for that!

I was a Kucinich supporter in the early primaries. Then an Edwards supporter. After that... it was wait and see for me insomuch that I DIDN'T support, and would never support, Hillary Clinton if there was an alternative, but I didn't "know" who Obama was, or what he stood for.

Hillary is, quite simply, too conservative and too pro-corporate for my stomach. I am, however, proud that a woman could run for president and I don't buy into the notion that she did so on the coattails of her President husband. She's bright (but not bright enough not to make really stupid mistakes), but Bill Clinton made MANY mistakes, among them supporting NAFTA and his nuclear arrangements with North Korea. The first helped to impoverish millions of Americans. The second, while understandably an attempt at appeasement with a maniac, has just caused further problems.

Yes, I voted for the male gendered Clinton twice, but my second vote is where I got off Al Gore's bus and I did NOT vote for him. Gore's staff, in meetings with many activists on nuclear waste issues, was insulting to the Native American communities whose sacred lands were designated as nuclear power's weeping diapers (every dump leaks... period) and in his appropriately rightful zeal to defend the planet from warming--even at THAT time (mid 90s)--were seeming blind to the negative consequences of nukes (not to mention the short lived ability of nukes to address even the most interim power needs) and REFUSED to address those negative consequences.

I was working for an international environmental group, at the time, and learned more in my seven years there than I ever wanted to about politics and influence. Not to mention outright dishonesty. I left stupidity out. Should have included that.

Realize, I was dealing with a "better" political situation than most political situations and certainly better than the last 8 years. The last 8 years, in my reading, equate to murder, evisceration of our Constitution and privacy rights, a black hole, financially, outrageous environmental degradation, and the handing over of incredible wealth to corporations. Not to mention the complete deconstruction of our international reputation at our own hands.

Apparently, we can afford to murder, spy and tap, but we cannot afford to educate or heal. That is not America. At least not the America I would support or have supported all of my adult life and through MANY elections and presidencies.

Thus, I associate Hillary with the policies of Bill (except far more conservative, and Bill was a definite conservative moderate). Worse, I associate the policies of Hillary to Hillary.

I honestly don't know if I would have voted for her in an election against McCain. I tend to be more scrupulous than to cast a vote for the better of two bads and likewise tend to the purist side with pragmatic withdrawals. I may have been forced into a third party write-in. I don't know. Now, I will never know, thankfully.

Congratulations, Barack Obama. You have broken barriers, incited a riot of new voters, and have some of the best speech writers since John Kennedy. You are truly the hope for the future and Barack, you got my vote. I have watched you over 16 months and am convinced.

If you are interested in reading his speech of tonight, here it is.

Blow wind blow... you blew the window open... now for the door.