Monday, June 30, 2008

What could be more natural?

Well, I made the mistake of subtly criticising others for being ungrateful and depressed without sufficient reason, and subtly holding myself up as somehow superior and above all that. I know better than to do some boneheaded, stupid stunt like that!


....need I continue? You get the picture.

I'll be back after I start to dig myself out of my own stupid, ungrateful, unreasonable funk.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cosmic Convergence Gone Bad, or what?

I am not sure what is going on, but it seems as though everyone in my world is going through a particularly bad patch these days. I, on the other hand, have been especially energetic and positive.... that is, until I start to think about all the problems my loved-ones are having. Then I start to cycle downward.

We have so much to be grateful for, but certain people are not grateful unless everything is going smoothly. They want it all. They want it now. They want it to be perfect. I think that attitude is culturally conditioned into Americans.

Today I was privileged to have a conversation with a man from another state. He had a particularly bad day yesterday. His car was vandalized and robbed. The vandals broke out the windows in a driving rainstorm and stole a computer belonging to our company, a camera and a bunch of other stuff belonging to the man from his car. The man had to drive home in the rain with a busted out window.

He admitted to having had a bad day yesterday. He confessed that he had been irritable and frustrated. I ended the conversation wishing him a better day today. He said brightly, "I was able to get out of bed this morning under my own power. I had food in the fridge to eat. I have a job that pays my bills. Any day I can say that is gonna be a good day."

What a neat person. Having a conversation like that was a blessing for me. It was a pleasure and privilege to encounter someone so up-beat and positive as a counter-weight to all the negativity which fills my world. I am grateful for that encounter.

I wish more people ascribed to the "Every Day is a Gift" philosophy. I try to do so. I really try.

Some days it is harder than others. Today, blessed by the witness of that delightful man, was easier than most.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random Updates

Now that Graduation is behind us, DD is spending the summer registering for college. Evidently registering for college is as much of an ordeal today in the Internet age as it was for MOI in the age of computer punch cards and standing in line for hours, only to end up in Drop/Add. I'm glad to know that, while the details may be radically different, registration for college is still a right of passage that totally sucks. That's only fair.

Rainy season is upon us here in the Sunshine State. This year things are screwed up. It is supposed to rain every day at approximately 2:00 p.m. The rain is supposed to be over by 5:00 p.m. in order to allow for MOI to take my walk. The Weather Gods have not been cooperating!!! MOI is not happy. To which the Weather Gods reply, "So??"
The good part of this is: there is at least some rain in some places most days. This is terribly important for the purpose of preventing wildfires.
The writing Muse has returned with a vengeance. I've been writing fingers to the bone in every spare moment. That makes me so happy, I can't begin to describe it. Getting SOMEBODY WHO MATTERS to read said scribbling is less ecstasy-inducing. Sucks, to be honest. I'm considering posting my fiction on line. Might as well give it away since I can't find anybody to buy it. Still contemplating that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

I received the news of George Carlin's death with great sadness. He has been my favorite comic since his days as Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. To my mind, Carlin was the philosopher/poet for my generation.

I was particularly gratified recently to read that he had been awarded the Mark Twain Prize for social commentary. Isn't that just so appropriate?!

And so the Chronicler of the seconc half of the 20th Century has passed. He will be missed.

Party on, dear one.

What Seven Words can't you say in Heaven?

Friday, June 20, 2008

One Issue Voter

I am considering joining the ranks of the one-issue voters. The closest I ever came to that before was my general reluctance to vote for anyone who was totally opposed to abortion under any circumstances and also my reluctance to vote for any candidate who ever supported the war in Iraq. Reluctance does not equal refusal. I have gritted my teeth and voted for anti-choice candidates due to their positions on other issues. I voted for Kerry in the last election despite his initial support of the war, although it was difficult because I really didn't like him much.

One-issue voters always irritated and frightened me. I think politics is about seeing the big picture and compromising as necessary. Making one burning issue the one, unalterable factor in a candidate's platform seems dangerous to me. I'm leaning toward being a one-issue voter on the question of oil. Oil is my one issue. I will not vote for a candidate who favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. I will not vote for a candidate who favors drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Frankly, I don't think I could support a candidate who proposes to increase production of or search for more oil, period.

Beginning now and for the foreseeable future, I will only support candidates who favor development of alternative fuels.

I want a President who will lead America on an Quest for Oil Independence.

It could happen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pipe Dreaming

I know it will further erode my already questionable claim to being an all-out wacko, liberal, pinko, knee-jerk, bleeding-heart liberal, but I used to not have a totally and completely negative attitude about oil companies. My dad worked for one of the Biggies. The Corporation put food on our table, a roof over our head, and paid for tuition and room and board for my college education (thanks to an employee scholarship). I have always tried to cut the oil companies a whole lot of slack. It hasn't always been easy. It has now become almost impossible.

Fortunately, my dad is dead and the corporation he worked for has been gobbled up by an even bigger one, so I feel a lot less guilty about turning my full fury on the oil companies.

I'm not mad at them about $4/gallon gas. I place the blame for that at about 40% George Bush and about 60% the American people who have collectively managed to forget about the oil crisis of the 1970's almost immediately after it happened. We have had thirty years to conserve and to develop alternative fuels. What did we do with that time? We designed Hummers and every manner of SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle - the original theory was that they were for hauling boats and camping equipment; lately it seems they are mostly for hauling groceries home from the WalMart) and developed ethanol (which still involves fossil fuels, cuts into the food supply and takes more energy to produce than it saves -- say what???).

I am trying really, really hard not to bitch about $4.00-gallon gas. (I am thrilled to report, I paid $3.99 and 9/10 for gas today. I reckon that's the last time I'll see under-$4 gas, maybe ever.) I've been saying for years that gas prices were too low. I have been right. I have also been saying that the jig would be up someday for the American economy if we did not deal with the urgent need to develop alternative fuels. I was right about that too. Sucks to be right sometimes. It was hard not to be right about those things because it was so plainly obvious.

So, why am I so mad at Exxon and the other oil giants these days? Because they are raking in profits at unprecedented levels and they have the opportunity to take a significant role in leading us out of this mess. Why don't the "Oil" companies redefined themselves as "Energy" companies and use some of those outrageous profits not to drill for oil in Alaska or under the ocean (thereby both potentially polluting virgin earth and for sure feeding America's addiction to oil), but to develop alternative, sustainable, clean sources of energy that will take us into the future. If they play their cards right their efforts could insure that they continue to exist after the oil runs out (and it will run out). They could become the hero-corporations leading the world into a cleaner and sustainable future.

They could do that. What the hey, while I'm dreaming, what if the car companies joined in the fun by developing engines that run on fuels other than gasoline, such as electric motors fueled by light-weight on-board solar panels? I don't know. They're the ones with the scientists and researchers on the payroll. I'm sure they could come up with something.

The oil companies and the car manufacturers have the money to invest in these new ventures. You'd think they would have the motivation to do so for survival reasons alone.

So, what's the problem? IDK.

Something to do with not wanting to risk any of that cash in the bank on risky investments some of which might not pan out?

America came into existence because a bunch of people risked their lives and their children's futures on a gamble. It has thrived because in every generation since, entrepreneurs, explorers, adventurers, thinkers, and just plain nut-jobs were willing to try new things and chart new courses across not only our vast continent but into space, under the sea and into sub-atomic realms as well. Their stories are terrifying and inspiring.

Where are those leaders, dreamers, visionaries, and river-boat gamblers today, when we need them desperately.

Why can't the would-be Cowboys who run the Big Oil companies for once step up into their heritage and do something that will benefit all of us, including their employees and stockholders.

God, I am such a dreamer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm a Little Disappointed in Myself

I have always been the most potty-mouthed person I know. Maybe that's because I mostly hung out with a bunch of church-ladies, nuns and moms. I learned to cuss from my bosses and co-workers in my first office job. I had never heard the F*word spoken aloud before that. My direct supervisor could drop that bomb more often than Al Pacino in Scarface. I learned to swear, too, out of self defense.

Rita at Surrender Dorothy posted this on the subject of the use of curse words in one's blog.

I checked my blog for bad words and was rather disappointed to discover that I've cleaned up my act way more than I guessed.

My guess is that the closer we get to the upcoming election, my cuss-o-meter will go up.

Note: I did not take the test on verbosity. Some things you just don't want to know.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Smyrna Dunes State Park

Nearly every Sunday for the last three or four years, my husband and I have visited Smyrna Dunes State Park in New Smyrna Beach. We walk for a couple of hours through one of the most beautiful parks in the area. A one and a half mile boardwalk leads from the parking area around the north end of the peninsula. The park is bounded on the west by the intercoastal waterway, on the north by Ponce (de Leon) Inlet with its beautiful lighthouse, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. I never tire of walking the beaches and the boardwalk in this lovely park. Every week my walk is different because every day the ocean and the beach are different.

This is my church, the Cathedral of Nature, filled with beauty and blessing.

Smyrna Dunes State Park
From the Observation Tower, looking east

Smyrna Dunes State Park
From the Observation Tower, looking west

Smyrna Dunes State Park
Sailboats near the South Jetty

Smyrna Dunes State Park
Looking toward the beach from a dune walkover

Friday, June 6, 2008

What I Did On My Day Off

My Dear Husband and I have been visiting St. Augustine regularly since 1983. Since moving to Florida a decade or so ago, we have made it a practice to visit at least every few months. It never gets old. Today was particularly wonderful. Usually we visit on the weekends when St. Augustine is very crowded. Today we actually found a parking space, which allowed us to walk around the Old City. We also stopped at St. Augustine Beach. The only stretch of that beach I had never walked was from the St. Augustine Beach Pier north to the pass into St. Augustine. That's about three miles or so. I walked that stretch today. For the last two miles or so, I was the only person on the beach except for one lady on a bike.

It was a PERFECT way to spend a day off: going on a vacation close enough to come home for supper and to sleep in my own bed.

St. Augustine Beach, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos
St. Augustine, Florida

Intracostal Waterway
Matanzas, Florida

Matanzas, Florida

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Campaign 2008 - Yawn

The newspaper today carried a first page banner headline regarding the "historic" fact of Senator Obama clinching the Democratic nomination. They are making a big deal about the first black man to be nominated for a place at the top of the presidential ticket. I suppose that is true and worth mentioning.

If Senator Clinton had gotten the nomination, they would be saying the same thing, I think.

The fact is that -- God I hate to say this!!! -- I think one of the things that is clear in this campaign is that sexism trumps racism in our culture, even in 2008! That is not to say that racism is not a problem. On the contrary. Most of the people I know have already said there is no way in hell they will vote for Obama, because he is black. No apologies. No excuses. He's black, ergo, he is unacceptable. Period.

Most of those same people would also not have voted for Senator Clinton because she is a woman. Most of those people and a lot of others. Senator Clinton has got to be one of the most reviled women in America. I think she should get credit for having balls of steel for just running in this election, given the way she was treated when her husband was President. The woman must be totally and completely nuts to even consider running for the job. To my mind, that's a point against her: she's freaking crazy.

Regardless of which type of bias (gender or race), Senator Obama has a totally uphill battle in this campaign. I, personally, think that at this point the man does not have a snowballs chance in hell of getting elected. But, I have to temper that statement with the knowledge that I thought he did not have a prayer to get this far. Shows you what the hell I know.

I do know one thing, and I don't say this very often because I don't like to think about it: the "Glass Ceiling" is still very much intact for women in politics.

The fact that Senator Obama is the first black candidate is truly historic. He got the nomination over a woman. Somehow that devalues it a little in the big scheme of things.

I will vote for him with slightly more enthusiasm than I would have voted for Senator Clinton.

But, I have to say this, and I don't make comments like this often: it really sucks to be a woman in America today.