Thursday, September 22, 2005
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
If they're fortunate, it veers east and hits elsewhere, and they're looking at bad weather: heavy storms and maybe some tornadoes. If they aren't, then it would mean evacuation farther north before the hurricane hits.
Unfortunately, there are some complications: Mom has some acute-care issues that need monitoring and meds, so she would be moved with her nursing home's residents to a sister facility in San Antonio. Adding to that, sis is also expecting later this weekend and they will have their hands full with that; they would likely evacuate to my other sister's place south of Fort Worth.
This has been one of these years ....
Friday, September 09, 2005
This has been one of those weeks where it's been hard to look for the positives. Between watching the toll from Hurricane Katrina on the news and hearing of friends' personal losses (from Katrina and otherwise), it's been hard not to encounter someone who has lost someone or something dear to them, or who has lost everything. And this Sunday marks the 4 year anniversary of 9/11. I don't think any of us can truly say we understand what the survivors have been through, unless we have experienced it ourselves.
Looking for the bright spots, this Wednesday, I was practicing a piece I'll be singing in church Sunday. Called "Go Light Your World", it has this lyric: "There is a candle ... in every soul. Some brightly burning. And some dark and cold. And there is a spirit. That brings a fire. Ignites a candle. And makes us whole." For all the horror that we've seen on the media, for all of the political bungling, we've also seen giving on a scale not seen since 9/11. It's not a red state/blue state issue. It's not a Bush-hater issue. It's a human issue. In the years since 9/11, I have seen our country fragmented by soulless politics, by religous fundamentalism, by narrow- mindedness bordering on economic and racial prejudice, and by a dwindling share of compassion for others. It is my prayer and hope that for once, we see less politicizing, less divisiveness, and more compassion, and that our compassion for those in need, our candles that in recent years seem to have almost been snuffed out, are reignited and remain brightly lit.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I was looking at a story online this morning ... two, actually, which when paired together, underscore the tragic nature of extinction:
1. Geneticists have recently discovered that a very small portion of DNA (about 26,000 bits, I believe), separates chimps from humanity, and that both chimps and humans share 99% of our active genetic material.
2. According to environmentalists, within a single generation we could see the near-extinction of the great apes and certain breeds of chimpanzees in the wild due to human encroachment (logging and habitat removal, hunting, and the onset of Ebola, which can be transmitted to them).
I know in the greater scheme of things, we have other concerns (the ongoing war in Iraq, the economy and rising prices, caring for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina) which are pressing, but it saddens me that we've discovered how close we are to another species and, at the same time, are now just realizing how poorly we have done by them.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Okay, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've lived here for 6 years, and I haven't been to the local zoo once, so when a friend wanted to go see the new baby camel (born a week ago and quite cute to look at), I shrugged and joined her. What followed was a fascinating afternoon of checking out the animals (everything from the sea lions, to snow chimpanzees, to the aforementioned lions and tigers and baby camel, named Charlie), and an interesting philosophical discussion about keeping animals in zoos. On one hand, the discussion went, it would be really nice if these animals could be kept in or returned to their natural habitats. On the other, for some of these animals, a return to the wild would lead to an untimely death at the hands of a poacher. At the end, we agreed that at least in a zoo environment, they would be well cared for medically, would be fed well, and would have a better shot at surviving than out in the wild.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
President Bush said on Wednesday terrorists had converged on Iraq and that pulling U.S. troops out "would only embolden them". Now before you criticize me as a left-wing liberal, hear me out. I support the troops, and I agree that we have made some progress in giving the Iraqi people a better way of life, laid the groundwork for democracy, and started rebuilding their infrastructure (despite the excesses and waste of a certain company who shall remain nameless). But at what cost have we given the Iraqi's what they have gotten? It grieves me to see our military ground down on a yearly basis in a country where, despite the gains we've made, we've put our troops in harm's way because the justifications for the war have repeatedly shifted as the evidence for them has turned up empty. We ignored the risks (which were identified), prior to going to war, and we made some very bad assumptions about the conditions in Iraq following it, one of which was assuming that when the war was over, the fighting would be over as well and the troops could be brought home immediately.
Our situation in Iraq is rather like the story of the monkey that reached into a jar to grab a handful of nuts. Unfortunately, in grabbing a handful, the monkey realized he couldn't pull his fist out of the jar. Likewise, we've created a situation where we have no choice but to stay the course in Iraq; to leave now would likely lead to further destabilization and probably civil war. But we'll pay a price for what we've started.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
It's been an interesting week, so far ... with the 'net down, I've taken the opportunity to get out and about, and had a really good time with friends at the Iowa State Fair (the only State Fair that's had both a musical and movie made about it), made a few new friends, watched some familiar musical acts (including a really wonderful "Stomp meets touring band" called "Vocal Trash" out of Texas), and managed to stay away from most of the good but not good for you Fair food. It amazes me that they somehow manage to find something new to deep-fry every year, from the deep-fried Twinkies and Snickers bars, to the "naked" corn dog this year ( a deep-fried hot dog minus the corn dog breading), and also find something new to put on a stick (pork chops, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.). The official Fair website is http://www.iowastatefair.org, if you're curious.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The theme to this week so far seems to be "reconnecting". On Monday, I jumped onto Yahoo for chat, something I haven't done in ages because I'd resolved to spend less time online and more time getting out and seeking connections in real life rather than virtually (then back in the days when I was working two jobs and going to grad school and couldn't meet many people outside those arenas). In the last three days back online, I've encountered a friend from the West Coast who I lost track of for awhile after she got married and moved out to D.C. I'd heard from her once between then and now, and this time, I discovered that she had gotten divorced and is now in Tucson, pending a move next year back to San Diego. Then today, I had a nice chat convo and reconnected with a long-time friend from Oklahoma, who I met online when I used to live in Kansas. Funnily enough, we never actually "met" in real life until she had moved to Chicago and I had come to Iowa, but she was someone who was there for me and made the lonliness bearable during the first year following my breakup with the ex, and I realized today that I have never thanked her for being there for me.
Encountering both was a very pleasant surprise, and also a reminder that life has moved on for all of us. And a reminder that I'm still searching for (and yearning for) a sense of close connection here in Iowa. Yes, I've made some close friends across the country ... some from high school, quite a few elsewhere (some in MO, some in CO, some in MI ... all with some common interests and bound by the tenuous virtual filament of phone line and fiber-optic cables). I have also made a few close friends here as well, but seems like quite a few of my "friends" here are, in their own way, friends who come and go because they, like me, are also looking for a serious relationship, and when they get involved with someone, their other friendships get neglected. Why this is, I don't know, but I wish some people would be more considerate. After all, who is going to be there to cry with you when the relationship goes sour, or rejoice with you when the wedding invitations get sent out? Just a thought ....
Monday, August 08, 2005
Sunday, August 07, 2005
As a movie, I think it captures most of what Proffitt was trying to say about Vietnam and war in general: that we stereotype our enemies, the people who oppose the war, and the people who defend us, and we also romanticize the entire notion of going off to war while failing to acknowledge what it really is (something that Twain did as well in his short story "The War Prayer"). The reality, as Proffit notes, is that wars cause deaths, and as his narrator, Pfc. (later 2nd Lt.) Willow comments: "We lost three good ones yesterday ... it's always the good ones, isn't it?"
I saw that there's a new "reality TV" series about serving overseas in the Middle East ... it makes me wonder how future generations will view our war on terrorism. Will it be seen through the lens of reality TV, or, as with Vietnam, will they take the time to pause and reflect, decades afterward?