Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shady Characters

Here's one of my very favorite picture of the beloved and I, snapped by brother Lynn as we adjusted an umbrella during the Michigan graduation fete last spring...a candid moment of togetherness.

Pedal On!

After several years of cycling I finally signed on for an organized ride. I'm hooked! It was great having a new route, all mapped out, with stops for snacks and lunch, plus a whole mob of other enthusiasts to chat up as we stood in line at the porta-potty. By the end of the day we'd pedaled 49.5 miles, and my biking buddies were urging me to consider riding the MS 160 next years. I just may do it...the immediate goal being a 61-mile ride in my 61st year.

Bulbs, Bulbs, and More Bulbs

Some five years ago my friend Sam Rose gave me 150 or so day lilies; recently I dug them up to give them some growing space. How incredible the increase! I still had my 150 plants, but also mailed a boxful to Sam in Arizona and to Brother John in Nebraska, plus gave a wheelbarrow full to friends Bud and Mark. Mother Nature, thou art one prolific lady!

Monarch Reveries

For several years I've been on the lookout for a caterpillar of the monarch butterfly, with no success. I've even allowed milkweeds to grow in our fence row--the host plant around which the monarch life cycle revolves. Still no caterpillars (except for the plastic one my jokester neighbor planted). Then a few weeks ago as I was digging up the day lily bed there it was, the zebra-striped green-white-and-yellow crawler remembered from my childhood, when the Hannah boys grew them by the score. Fantastic! I transplanted it to the milkweed, where it began at once eating voraciously, just as I remembered. Then two days later it disappeared. I thought a bird must have eaten it, since usually they form their cocoon right on the milkweed. Bummer. Then a day or so later I happened to glance to the side as I was going up the back steps and there he was, our caterpillar, suspended upside-down, curled up in the beginning of a new life stage. Within two days the familiar gold-rimmed pale-green cocoon formed, and in my daily comings and goings I watched for signs of hatching out, only to come home one evening to find that my friend had taken flight. I didn't get to see him on the wing, but my imagination soared as I thought of his long journey to winter in Mexico. All of which has brought me to a new item on my Bucket List, joining the migration to see the wintering site firsthand. I've seen small monarch clusters in Iowa and in Michigan; how amazing it would be to see entire mountainsides robed in flutters of orange and black!

Guns, or Butter?

We shared in a United Nations peace vigil last Sunday. A display by the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) illustrated the cost in human life exacted by the war in Iraq—142 pairs of combat boots, each one representing a soldier from Missouri or Kansas killed in the war to date. A few pairs of civilian shoes were interspersed with the boots, representative of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have likely died in the war (but whose deaths we don’t tally, being only collateral damage).

And then there’s the financial cost of the war. Pointing out that one day of the Iraqi war costs $720 million, a series of banners fluttered the message that we could have instead done any of the following:
• Provided a $1,700 health insurance policy for 423,529 children
• Granted 4-year scholarships of $20,000 to 34,904 state university students
• Hired 12,478 elementary school teachers at $57,000 each
• Provide renewable electricity for 1,274,336 homes at $565 each
• Offered Head Start to 95,364 kids ay $7,550 per kid
• Built homes for 6,482 families at $111,000 each
• Provided free school lunches for 1,153,846 kids at $624 per year
• Built 84 new elementary schools at $8.5 million each
• Offered healthcare to 163,525 people at $4,400 per year

In just nine days of Iraq war expenditures we could do ALL of the above. Imagine what could be done with five years of war expenditures! Surely a trillion dollars should have bought us more than it has. (Unless you’re Shell Oil, who this week opened the first Western-owned oil company office in Iraq since 1972, when the nation’s oil supplies were nationalized. Now there’s a great investment!)

Decades ago President Eisenhower lamented that each bomb built is at the expense of needed social services, and in his 1961 farewell address to the nation he sounded a prophetic note of caution, saying "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Evidence that this counsel went unheeded is reflected in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking six years later about the Vietnam War and the spirit of militarism, saying “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Improve your vision today! Remove your glasses!

Hopped on the motorcycle this morning in heavy fog. Odometer: 7777. After about 3 seconds I couldn't see through my visor. Visor up. After 3 more seconds I couldn't see through my glasses. Glasses off.

Shitty vision + heavy fog + your body IS the crumple zone? Bad Idea.

Either I've never pulled that trick before, or I've forgotten. Eyelids are the best windshield wipers ever. Next time I'll bring contacts or Lasik eye surgery with me. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Windows Is Shutting Down

Windows is Shutting Down

by Clive James

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must be meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

"Windows Is Shutting Down" by Clive James from Opal Sunset: Selected poems, 1958–2008. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shrink, episode 1.3

New theory: I have a tape recorder in the back of my head playing my personal mix tape of Greatest Hits of Verbal Self Abuse. I think I constructed this system in high school when I started running 3 miles, 3 nights a week to lose weight to date girls. It motivated the hell out of me. I beat myself mercilessly with a wide array of creative self loathing. By any objective measure, my physical transformation was a great success. Unfortunately I never felt good about any gains I made because I was too busy hating the way I looked, and by extension hating myself, no matter what.

Over the last 18 years I don't think I've consciously recognized that the tape recorder is still back there. Still looping. Now I'm practicing recognizing it. And hitting the off button.

Maybe I can make a new tape. It will have some positive things to say about me. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Law and the Long War

A great book I'm reading: Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror. His excellent intro lays out the gulf between the two major opposing perspectives on the Bush administration's actions, and argues for middle ground. So far I'm on the human rights side of the argument and not in the middle ground at all, but I just started the book, so maybe he'll convince me.

Maybe Erin and Pete can find some middle ground too? :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shrink, episode 1.2.2

Huh, nope. I found a counter-example, and my example from earlier is working fine now. Maybe the crazy is sleeping. :)

Shrink, episode 1.2.1

Fascinating. I am unable to attach any positivity with emotional weight to my own actions. The clinician in my head finds this curious and intriguing. My emotional brain finds these attempts at physical therapy very painful. The clinician watches, enthralled by all the baseless, hyperbolic drama. It wonders why we choose to torture the poor creature.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shrink, episode 1.2

I offered my self diagnosis: (1) I have pinned my self esteem on my work for so long that now that my "career path" seems to be sending me through Chemistry (really bad) and Calculus (maybe won't be so bad?) my self worth is taking serious body blows. (2) While politicians have no sense of shame, or can ever point out any mistakes they have ever made, I have the opposite problem. I can tell you 3 things I screwed during my morning commute today.

Sue introduced me to cognitive behavioral therapy and Dr. David Burns 10 forms of twisted thinking. I definitely need work on "3. Mental filter", and "4. Discounting the positive". I'm going to keep a log of my crazy and see what I come up with. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Grassius debugus

Helped a guy at Grassius use -link and Bio/Graphics/ link_pattern() today. Yay me! :)