Sunday, October 13, 2013

And Hijinks Ensued OR: Abiail's Tail From the Trail

Not working from notes today, and nothing profound is on my mind, so just a few observations. It has been a few weeks since Abigail and I walked our trail. This summer was hot, so days that we could leave early enough for the four milers not to be dangerous for one or both of us were limited. But I've missed it much. For some years I didn't have a car, so I would ride the bus to work and my husband would pick me up. Sometimes I would have him bring Abigail with him to pick me up, and she and I would walk home. But in August I bought an old, beat up car from a friend's daughter, and now I drive back and forth, taking that walk home option out of our life equation. I've also taken a second job in the evenings, so coming home to take a walk is also not an option. I know Abigail enjoyed this walk, but I know she can't know how precious this chance to do our little four miles today is.

I've observed before that when walking, other walkers; especially with dogs, are the friendliest, then come joggers, and the least pleasant of all tend to be bike riders. Today it was different for some reason-the joggers were the least pleasant. The particular trail that we walk most often has many bikers and bike clubs that ride, so they are used to seeing lots of walkers with and without dogs, and they are very good at announcing themselves and greeting us. But why were the joggers less friendly today? Not only did most of them not respond to greetings, they didn't even give an acknowledging nod. Was it the cloud cover? We certainly know that there is a level of joy in life that is attached to sunshine. And this week studies were published which also showed that getting "outside, in nature" also adds to happiness and positive outlooks. Could they have just been in a hurry to get their exercise in because of rain in the forecast? Who knows. I will continue to smile and greet. If the folks I pass on the way do not, that's about them. Innit?

I was pretty proud of myself before this walk. I remembered to take water for Abigail to drink afterward, which I forgot last time. I remembered a towel for my face. It has been a very long time since it was just Abigail and me, but our friend who often goes with us is out of town. So I could have listened to my music, which I just yesterday put back on my devices after having my hard drive wiped this summer and losing all the CD's I had recorded. But I forgot my earbuds, and an iPhone doesn't play music well without them. So, no music. I also didn't realize that my app for measuring the walks wasn't working-or I hadn't known to turn it back on after downloading the new operating system for my phone. It may not seem like a big deal, but that little voice telling me how far I've walked and what a good job I'm doing is helpful and motivating. I got it figured out when we got to Benbrook Dam, which is the halfway point. So it worked going back, and I kept a good pace-16.5 minutes per mile. I used to think that it was the music that kept my pace quick, but that's pretty good for an old fat woman!

I did see some things on this walk that were a little different; I saw a guy walking a Papillion.  Most people who have Papillions think of them as sweet little lap dogs, but this little girl's dad said that she is pretty athletic. I also saw Carole King and Richard Belzer look alikes. I found myself looking at the Richard Belzer guy, who came along shortly after Carole King, and wondering how that could happen so close together. Doppelgangers. Gotta love em. Considering that there are look alikes wherever groups of people gather, I think it comes down to having only a certain number of face and eye/nose/lip shapes, which reminds me that we are all related as humans, so we probably are seeing our distant relatives in all those look alike faces.

I also noticed once again that it is not dog smells that Abigail wants to scent roll in, it's in the scent of prey animals such as squirrels. Did human hunters get this idea from dogs; the way they rub "essence of female deer" on themselves to attract deer when they are hunting, and to hide the human scent? Maybe not, but I choose to believe that people have learned something from our best friends.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Great "Why," According to Me

Yah, I picked a rather arrogant title, because the truth is that I haven't a clue why. And I'm daily given to the despairing thought that sometimes it doesn't help to worry about it, or try to change things. But autumn is a time for reflection, and I, as usual, have some questions:

Why on earth is the inside of my dishwasher dirty and stained? Especially the door, which doesn't hold anything dirty, and is daily splashed with water and soap.

Why are there times when I am full and hungry at the same time? Does anyone else experience this? I'm not talking one of those bored times when I just want to eat to have something to do, I'm talking about a physical feeling of hunger when I've eaten and feel full. It's just weird to me, and I'd like to know why?

Why do people so often feel it necessary to spell out simple, frequently used words to people on the phone? Do most people not ask when there is a word they don't know how to spell? Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I feel offended when people offer to spell words for me when I haven't asked; why would they assume I don't know? 

Why do Americans seem to be incapable of reflection?  From the visceral reaction to Vladimir Putin's op-ed, to how insurance works, to the fact that stereotypes and anecdotes are not unimpeachable truth, why can't we apply reason and balance to the questions of life and reach reasonable and balanced solutions?

Why do folks continually say that they are not "defined" by this or that very large aspect of who they are? "My job does not define me." "My sexuality does not define me." "My childhood; body weight; height...whatever does not define me." Well, maybe whatever that is does not define you all by itself, but it most certainly does incorporate into the definition of who you are. And if it is what you are talking about, and then ending a tirade by claiming that "it" does not define you, then it probably is more important in the defining of you than you would like to admit. Being short, fat, the oldest of five, Leo, the first grandchild on my dad's side, the child of very young parents who married as teens, etc, etc, etc, defines me. I'm not defensive about any of it because it is all a part of who I undeniably am, whether I like it or not. This is also true of you. Why can't we embrace that instead of fighting it? And by the way, I like who you are, and what defines you.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Meterological Autumn

It's hot here. And not cooling down anytime soon. But tomorrow is "meteorological autumn," and autumn has always been a time of reflection for me. The days are getting shorter-well, the days are still twenty four hours, but the dark is coming faster and staying longer. So maybe it's time to reflect on some things. I'd like to dedicate this post (first time I've done this) to my BFF and my youngest sister. Some of the topics of this one I was feeling extremely passionate about when I started making notes for this post, and they are the two people on earth who are able to logically, lovingly talk me down when I get that way. My husband tends to agree with me, so I may get more wound up when I talk to him about  feelings, but you two show me the error of my ways, and help me to moderate the feelings before I get angry. And I've been both angry and scared recently about several things. Mostly regarding religion, but also about the inevitable march to war we are being pushed into by our political leaders right now.

On the same day that I was held prisoner by a man, and the subject of his religious fervor, I was also brutally forced to experience the very lack of compassion that made me begin to question the religion I was brought up with. There is a minister's wife who has showed a dramatic, extreme lack of compassion for someone who was clearly sick, and suffering terribly, and it made me hurt for the sufferer. Why was I, the atheist, able to feel for her, when this woman, whose guiding book tells her that "if I have not love, my faith is nothing but noise." (Paraphrased from Corinthians,) and "God is Love?" At the end of the week in which I had, not one, but two incidences with this woman, my sister and I talked on the phone at length about these incidents and my feelings about them. In my opinion, not loving one's fellow man is a choice. Any of us can learn empathy, if we have the motivation, which Christians allegedly have by the presence of Jesus in their hearts, and the Holy Spirit's presence inside them from the moment of faith forward. My sister reminded me of the Eastern religious point of view that we all have both dark and light within us, and that is the right way of the world. I mentioned that Paul, in the Book of Romans, wrote that we all struggle against a sinful nature, and that we can't always win, but becoming loving like Jesus is the goal that all believers have. This, I told her, is used as an excuse by many believers to make choices that they know their god would disapprove of, and they claim it is all okay because they are forgiven. I stand by that opinion. I've heard it used too often to excuse behavior that is hateful and wrong. But did I know, in this particular case, she asked me, did I have any knowledge of this woman's journey with the type of suffering that we had experienced this week? Perhaps she had a relative with the same problem who drained her family of resources and she was bitter about that, and emotionally unable to feel compassion in these cases. Perhaps she just had no knowledge of mental illness and didn't know how to spot it. She is a medical professional, so that would be inexcusable, but it is possible, I guess. Either way, my allowing this to mess with my energy was not helpful or healthy because her behavior is about her, and I was taking it on. But these whole events reminded me that compassion and love for our fellow man is not a religious thing, it is a human thing. Some people have it and some don't, and it isn't a matter of anyone's religion.

This season of reflection, and my "advancing years" has also lead me to regret the things we criticized in older people when we were kids. For example, we used to notice that many older women couldn't seem to put lipstick on anymore. It would often appear to be all over the place! Now, I, admittedly, have never had those lovely, desirable, pouty lips. So trying to shape a "pretty mouth" has always been a goal. But now, when I use a pencil to line my mouth, and then put on some color or gloss, it looks great for about five minutes, and then the pencil is faded and spotted in the lines around my lips. And the thinning lips as gravity inevitably pulls everything downward, never look as if I have any idea where my lips are...I can't see as well, so apparently what I, and all the old ladies of my childhood, were doing is trying to use the memory of where our lips used to be to put on lipstick. And they just aren't there. Now I know how wrong I was all those years. And I wish I could teach the young people in my life, when they make sarcastic remarks about old women and lipstick, that they too will have thin lips, and lines, and their lipstick just won't work the same way it once did. Sigh.

Mars is cold. There is some gathering evidence that there was water there, and perhaps even rudimentary forms of life, though we don't know that for sure yet. And my feelings about climate change and trashing our earth are clearly back and forth. But I do read the studies that say the last three-hundred plus years have been getting progressively hotter, and the people who deny climate change tend to look at very short term events, such as an unseasonal cold snap. I also know that in geological terms, less than four-hundred years is less than a blink. I've heard scientists talk about the "super volcanoes," and their historical regularity of eruption, and they're all late, so we'd better be ready. But what if all the volcanism and meteor battering that lead to historical extinctions and other climate shifts on earth were all just part of early earth, and all the energy that was spat forth from the Big Bang, and it is all slowing now? What if we are on an inevitable march toward becoming Mars? Just a couple of active volcanoes, but not enough of anything to make the changes that would lead to another ice age, or to the actual conversion of dead animals to oil again? See, I've been thinking for a time that the "super volcano" would take care of all the plastic in our landfills, and all over the planet. But now I'm not so certain. Just after the theories of the Yellowstone volcano being overdue to erupt, another story came out that postulated that geysers may be releasing the pressure that would cause the volcano to erupt. So maybe we are just a dying planet that will one day be dead, cold and just orbiting around our star, waiting for that star to die and take us completely with it?

I mentioned earlier our current march to war with Syria. Let there be no mistake, the sight of dead children is horrifying to me. It makes me question that our better angels will ever win the battle with our lack of compassion and understanding for anyone who is different than we are. But there is no excuse to cause that much suffering. Ever. But many bad things were done to the colonists by the empire at the beginning of this country, and we had to rise up and drive them out. Ourselves, no one else. We now have the capacity to wage war in which no one gets hurt? Yah, right! How many children will be collateral damage in our "targeted strikes," as they have been with our "surgical drone strikes" against "enemy targets?" How cynical can our government leaders be as they make impassioned speeches regarding the moral obligation of the United States to "punish" Syria for this abomination of power? Really? We have the moral authority to do this? The obligation to teach the Syrian president a lesson? No. We don't. We lack the moral integrity to teach anyone a lesson. We've been fighting a war in Afghanistan for almost eleven years, even though the enemy we were supposedly fighting there was defeated a year or two after we went in. So, who've we been shooting at? It must be non-combatants, which makes our moral stance ridiculous. So what do we do? Do we arm the opposition? How many times has the U.S. done that and lived to regret it? Saddam Hussein? Osama bin Laden? They were both fighting our previous 'enemies' and we armed them, only to have them rise up to fight us. There is no positive historical reason to do this. Not one. None!!! And we say that "regime change" is not the goal? So we're going to spend days and days warning President Assad that we're going to drop some bombs to punish him, and we're going to then drop a couple of bombs and he's going to learn his lesson and never commit war crimes again? Please!!! If we do that, he's going to kill more of his own people. In fact, let's watch, he may do it again just to let us know he's not afraid of our bombs. And who made us "parent" to all the naughty children in the world? Now we've warned the currently acting out child that he's going to be punished for long enough that he's had time to stuff tissue in his pants, so the belt is not going to hurt him at all, but he will become more obstinate.

On a lighter note, I have been preaching for years against our fear of germs. And there was a recent study that showed people who own dogs get sick less-even if they are outside dogs. Apparently exposure to germs helps our bodies to fight them better. So, this Labor Day weekend, I heartily recommend that we all go out and hug a working person. Or shake hands with a working person. We have lost our appreciation in this country for people who actually work for a living, while we lionize the people for whom these people make fortunes that they don't share with their workers. This is backward in my opinion, but that is not what I'm discussing here. I'm just suggesting that we hug and shake hands more, not less. It's good for our psyches, and good for our bodies. Not to mention what all those appreciative hugs and handshakes will do for the recipients.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life Is Caffeinated (Part Two of Two)

1. Now for the political part of this week's blog. I've noticed that we have an incredible, overwhelming obsession with sex. I'm going to call it "obsexing." All movement from the right seems to have some connection with trying to prevent people, especially women, from having it. New York City mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner,  can't stop "sexting," no matter what it costs him, and his poor wife and son. The mayor of San Diego can't stop himself from making inappropriate remarks, and touching women inappropriately. It is just wonder our legislatures can't get anything done. They can't get sex off their minds. Is it like this everywhere?

2. I do stand against all the government spying on Americans. Not as much as I stand against our drone program, but I don't like the idea of the government spying on us. But can you imagine how much sarcasm, loathing, bitching...whatever word you like, would be poured out against the president if we had another 911 on this president's watch. Not only because of the hand wringing over the fact that the black man won, but the stupid saw that democrats are always soft on national defense and/or crime?

3. Reince Priebus is a coward. Yes, I know that's not a question, but hear me out. There were 976 republican presidential debates in 2012, and then 3 or 4 debates between the president and Mitt Romney. They were horrible for the republicans. It was very sad, and demolished any chance the republicans had of winning back the White House. The republicans did absolutely nothing but show how little they had to offer the American people, how stupid their ideas (or lack of them) were. This is the reason that the head of the Republican National Committee is working so hard to find an excuse in 2013 not to have his candidates debate on NBC or CNN. It has absolutely nothing to do with the possibility of TV movies being made about Hilary Clinton. No one is silly enough to think that a movie made now is going to be remembered in 3 years, when it would matter. And these debates, and the networks that produce them have quite a bit of power over the elections. Proof of that is the fact that the networks prevent certain people from being included in their debates, and those candidates seem to have little impact on the actual votes. Reince...if you're worried about your candidates being overshadowed by anything, worry about it being overshadowing by their own stupid remarks. Find candidates who are electable, and lets have a real race. Give us some ideas that don't include exclusion or the denying of rights to large swaths of the electorate, such as women, gays and people of color. If your party continues down the road it is on, debates and TV movies are the least of your worries, Sir.

4. There has been a great deal of violence, now and historically against non-violent protesters. I remember my grandmother hatefully blaming Martin Luther King for the violence that rose up around the protests he orchestrated for equal rights. And it occurs to me now that the problem is guilt toward non-violence, as much as fear of the rightness of their movement, though there is some of that as well. But peaceful protests make the angry and hateful feel guilty and do stupid things. Because after all, using violence against peaceful protests makes the side in power look even worse.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

For Every Seven Days That Pass, A Week is Gone

I've been gone for a couple of weeks, mourning that I now feel older than I did three weeks ago, and my list of questions just keeps getting longer. As we've aged, many of my friends and I talk about how quickly time passes and how little sense it makes. The thing is, time passes one day at a time. So how we fill any specific day is the only thing that determines whether time passing is a good or bad thing. I hope that the things which make us happy are short term memories and not only things from our distant past. And remember to question everything-most of what we see is not what it seems. So, here goes....

1. There is a commercial for my favorite retailer to bitch about in which the hawker has tables of delicious summer fruits, all sliced for a group of "man on the street" taste tests. At the end he reveals to these unsuspecting taste testers that all the produce comes from WalMart. There is one customer who registers great surprise on his face. BEFORE THE HAWKER FINISHES SAYING HIS PIECE! One of the rules I was taught as a young drama student doing plays was, "Never answer the phone before it rings."

2. A friend needed to borrow some syrup recently. When she came to get it, I had an unopened bottle of dark corn syrup that I was going to offer her. As we stood talking, I noticed that the bottle has a disclaimer on it that says, "No high fructose corn syrup." I still can't wrap my head around that one. Corn syrup contains no high fructose corn syrup? Somebody help me-this makes my head hurt.

3. Many people are asking why we no longer talk to each other, but use texting and social media for all of our conversations. Has anyone else observed the reason for that? I've made a couple of actual calls on my mobile phone this week, once in the car and once in a public place, and it is almost impossible to hear on it. My hearing is not bad, so it's not being old and "deef" as some in the south call it. You just can't hear on these things. So text me if you really want to talk. Or send me a tweet or FB message. Because your call is very important to me. :-) I want to savor every word.

4. There is a television program on about lawyers. While that's nothing new, this particular one, called "Suits" is particularly bad. In that it takes every single negative stereotype about lawyers and multiplies them exponentially. Ugly stereotypes about lawyers are not new. Many years ago I read a book of Celtic folk tales, and one of those even made fun of the low morals and questionable honesty of barristers, so this is not new. But "Suits" takes it to such an extreme that I keep asking, why hasn't some lawyer sued?

5. This is not really a question, but a form of journaling a great fear of mine. All my shrinks have said that if one does not journal, it's hard to get feelings under control, and fear is one of the feelings I want to control more than any other...well, except regret. Anyway, historians, pundits, philosophers and analysts tell us that there are cycles in the story of human civilizations. There will be a moderate cycle, that leads to a libertine cycle, and then back to a very conservative cycle. We are probably in the moderate cycle right now, but moving toward the libertine, and I'm afraid. You see, I remember the 80s. I remember the Reagan years. In fact, I voted for Ronald Reagan for president. Please, stifle your gasps, my liberal friends. I was misguided, but found the light, during those self-same days. During the Reagan administration I began to see that "trickle down economics" don't, and the explosion of homelessness made me very sad in that terrible decade. Then let's think about the belligerence of the administration, and its secrecy. But these are not the source of my fear. My fear is going back to that horrible conservatism as a backlash to the current popularity of...TWERKING!!!! For any who don't know, twerking is a dance move, not terribly new, but becoming ubiquitous, with excessively sexual movements, holding most of the body motionless, bent at the knee, legs apart, quickly, repeatedly moving the hips back and forward. (I didn't do that description justice, I'm sure.)  Now there are YouTube videos showing many people twerking their dogs...this has got to stop. Kids, you don't want to take us back to the 80s, do you? My dad already complains that the dancing on "Dancing With the Stars" is too overtly sexual. If he ever sees twerking I hope Mom has a home defibrillator handy. Please, young people, can we stop this before it's too late?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yaaaaawwwwwnnnn, and a BIG Happy Birthday to Me

It's very hard to get older. This coming Thursday I'll be closer to sixty than I am to fifty, and the number sounds a little horrifying. But when joking about such things at work the other day, I commented to some work buds that you either get older or you die. So here we go. It's funny that as I get older, I find more things to ponder and fewer answers. Is this what finally gives us wisdom; that we realize just how few answers there really are in life?

Can anyone tell me how it is that books are now used as decor and not as objects that confer wisdom, joy, fantasy? In magazines and DIY (do it yourself) programs, books are not on shelves to be picked through by families eager to learn something new or escape a hard reality, but to accent one's shelves and knick knacks.

Speaking of DIY, my husband is a fan of the programs in which families get new kitchens or yards or rooms in a weekend, provided by extremely attractive young contractors (yes, all of the contractors are hotties.) But when he watches the ones about guys who restore autos, or "pick" junk yards, why patience wears thin. Very, very thin, over the unnatural remarks made as the stars break the fourth wall and address the camera. They come across as stilted, and just annoy the hell out of me. "But," you say, "they are real people, not actors." Okay-then why do they sound so scripted? If they are real people talking about their passion, let them talk about it in ways that don't come across so poorly. It reminds me of an episode of the 1960s TV series "Gomer Pyle" in which Gomer is gong to sing in a talent show, and Sarge tried to teach him how to use his hands as he sang. Gomer tried and tried to do as Sarge said, but it was just phony. So Gomer sang as he sang, and it worked. Hoodathunk?

I keep seeing commercials about a dating site for Christians. They promise to help members "Find God's Match for You." Does God need that these days? Is that the best "He" can do to get couples together? Really?

We saw another commercial yesterday that started a conversation between us, for one of those "Feed the Children" charities to feed children in LDC's (Less Developed Countries.) My husband commented that we really need to focus efforts on feeding children and getting medical care to children in this country. I had to respond, "Yes, but in America there is no poverty except among the shiftless, lazy folks who want to live off the government teat." I was joking. Or was I?

In the two weeks since George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin there has been much talk, almost daily, regarding racism in America. There are many on "the right" who say that racism is over, and black people need to stop talking about it, that all this talk about racism is stirring up negative feelings, and creating problems where there are none. They accuse blacks of instigating a "culture of victimhood," and blaming whites for everything that is wrong in their lives. Please don't misunderstand me, I have seen some blacks "play the race card" in ways that are clearly wrong and manipulative, and those folks do diminish real stories of true racism. But, it's odd to me...there are black conservatives, and I haven't heard one of them, not one, speaking out in agreement with their white compatriots who say racism is over. Not one. Is it because they too have been followed in department stores? Is it because they too have been stopped for "DWB" (driving while black) by both white and black police officers?  I remember my maternal grandmother blaming Martin Luther King for the violence that sprung up around his marches, even though the violence was committed by the whites against the marchers, who were both black and white. The remarks coming from whites in this current tirade sound like the same old stuff, same song, gazzilionth verse. While I essentially agree with Bill Maher that the racism that exists today must die out, there is no way to change the minds of people who hold on to these ignorant, arcane beliefs about racial superiority, we must look at all the subtle ways that racism is expressed by people who do not see themselves as racists. I have a friend who, when she has a problem with the behavior of a white person, it is a problem with that person. But when she had a bad boss who happened to be black, she assigned blame on that boss being "one of "those kind" of black women." This friend insists that there is no racism because she grew up with a black family that were good friends to her family. I have a serious problem with my friend, and my country's dishonesty and denial about the divisions between the races here. How can we fix a problem we deny the existence of?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Notion of Clarity is Unclear

I haven't hidden from my support for workers, here or anywhere else, or my distaste for Walmart. So I was kind of happy when I heard some news recently saying that Walmart had decided not to build a store in a city where there might be a minimum wage hike. This made me very happy, and caused me to ask, could this be a return for "Mom and Pop?" So many small businesses have disappeared due to the super low prices Walmart can charge, at the expense of the taxpayers, the workers, and those small businesses. Wouldn't it be nice?

In my house the TV is seldom off. And I've noticed a couple of small, nitpicky things about people I see on some of the programs that are on. There are some "reality" programs about pawn shops, and I've noticed that these programs really cater to some pretty awful stereotypes about both the customers and the staffs. For example, one of them takes place in Chicago, and one of the brothers who run it gets tips on the horses from a guy who is probably "mob  connected." On another there is a Jewish family, father son and daughter, who make sibling conflict look like warfare, and their customers, who are mostly black, look like a bunch of crack heads and reinforce every possible scary stereotype about black males. I just can't help thinking that these programs are not healthy for viewers. Not that I would cancel them; I don't want a "nanny state..." just sayin. Also unhealthy, the way somebody out there makes absolutely every female character walk-hips moving so widely from side to side that I keep thinking it would throw my back completely out. Why is that?

Is anyone else as tired as I am of the phrase, "A bridge too far?" It is so completely overused that it no longer holds any meaning.

We've had a nice period in my part of Texas with some slightly cooler than normal temperatures, and some glorious, sublime rain. When it rains here, there are spots with no grass where the dirt runs inexorably to the low spots on the sidewalk and creates major mud puddles. This also happens where the grass is "edged." This also happens in private homes where grass is "edged." It leads to soil erosion. This is not a good thing. Not a question, just an observation.

I love my friends. I have some awesome girlfriends who have been part of my life for longer than any of us care to admit. Sometimes we go places that bring us home late. At least three times I have arrived home late, only to find that my husband has gone to bed and locked the invisible lock. Is it passive aggression, not wanting me going out with the girls that causes him to do that? Is it just an oversight? How do I approach him with these questions?

Drones are in the news regularly today. Most Americans love drones because they can kill "bad guys" or "terrorists" without putting our young men and women in harms way. We, including me, don't want our children going to war and be killed. I would only ask if our babies are the only ones that matter. Drones are not exactly laser surgery, and there is almost always some of that loathsome to me term, "collateral damage," which includes children. Can anyone who values babies and children continue to see this as okay?

In listening to all the talk about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, it occurred to me why the witnesses for the defense were more convincing than the witnesses for the prosecution: clarity. While I'm operating on an assumption here, the division between the factions over Zimmerman's guilt or innocence has led to a conversation that is predictably ideological-the right being more convinced that Zimmerman feared for his life, the left believing that his reaction was based on racism/racial profiling, and that his life was never in danger. I don't want to get into Zimmerman's guilt or innocence, or into the racial questions it is bringing to the front, which is likely a very good thing. The 911 tape is where the prosecution broke down, and this is where right/left, science/anti-science intellectual argument divides. On the 911 tape, there was someone screaming for help. Some people say it was Trayvon Martin, some say it was Zimmerman. Where one falls on that question determines how one feels about the verdict. When Trayvon Martin's family was asked to testify as to whether those screams came from their son, they said they believed it was Martin. When pushed, they wavered, and said they couldn't be absolutely sure. But the defense paraded witness after witness who said that they were absolutely positive that the screams were coming from Zimmerman. They could not be moved from their positions, however pushed. This made me think of all the political and science conversations I've had with religious or political conservatives, and the problem is the same. If I watch programming on, say, The Science Channel, the hosts, who are usually scientists, often ask a question to which the answer is, "We don't know." Or "we don't know yet." On the other side, the answer is always clear; "God did it." This clarity prevents questioning anything, or seeing the need for questioning things. Not needing to question, believing that the problem is solved, can be very comforting. But it can also lead to narrow mindedness, and taking positions that have been proved wrong by those who continue to question. In the case of this particular murder trial, clarity may have prevented justice for an unarmed teenager. And the clarity of these witnesses may have been influenced by what they already believed, which is that a black teenager in a hoodie is probably up to no good. I hope the jury wasn't wrong, but it really doesn't matter now-Zimmerman was found innocent by a jury of his peers, and in our legal system, that means he is innocent. It's too late for questions now, but again, I am glad that this verdict is leading to a conversation about race in America. It has become too easy to rest in complacency and assume that the U.S. has got rid of the "race problem." I have absolute clarity that this is not true.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

With Great Consequence, the World Spins On

We are having some unexpectedly "cool" temps and rain in Texas this week, and it is wonderful! But rainy days give us much to ponder. For example, yesterday Abigail and I took a walk in the early morning hours. Some of our neighbors in the area have learned to run their sprinkler systems in the hours before ten, and so there were puddles in the street from their sprinklers. Good, clean, tap water. Abigail did not drink from them. Even toward the end of our third mile. But when we were nearly home, there was a trench that appeared to have been dug into the mud when a car jumped the curb, and it had filled with water from rain this past Thursday. She planted herself in that muddy water, and drank deeply from it. I've asked this before, why she who shivers at bath time as if she is being beaten, will drink as if parched and dying from thirst from the muddiest puddle she can find. I must conclude that there is something animals driven by instinct can taste in the minerals from the mud that they like or need. Any other theories, or any studies to answer this one? We do put mud masks on our faces-maybe they know something we don't about drinking mud?

And can anyone tell me the why of all our vitamins, and now some actual medicines, such as indigestion treatments, being in the form of gummie candies? I had some jelly candies at a British themed shop yesterday, and I'm just not crazy about the texture. What gives?

There is a very handsome guy who narrates some TV programming on channels I like to watch (Discovery, The Science Channel) who also shills for a certain car manufacturer. They are now advertising a large "dollars off" promotion on oil changes, with a mail in rebate. Why don't they just have a sale? Do they use a mail in rebate because they know some consumers will find that to be too much trouble, and they won't take the dollars off?

I went to the grocery store last week, and noticed a new shop in the perimeter stores around the Super Target in my neighborhood. It is an "E-cigarette" shop. I know some heavy duty (3 pack a day) smokers who gave up smoking using e-cigarettes, and that's what I thought they were for. But I also know someone who had a job interview a a famous "breast-aurant" and she told me that the wait staff were all in the break room smoking e-cigs as she was leaving. So are these thing a tool to quit smoking, or a way around smoking bans? Are they now a trendy thing to do, like a hookah bar? Am I so out of the "cool" loop?

I have overheard a couple of conversations at work recently that truly bothered me. One had to do with jury duty. I have never heard anyone talk about jury duty who feels, as I do, that this is the obligation of a voter who believes in our constitution. Everyone I've ever heard talk about jury duty complains vehemently of what a disruption in their lives it is. (Pardon me, please, if you've heard this before,) but I have been registered to vote since the Ford administration, and have never, ever been called. And I would be honored to serve my community as a "jury of peers" called to administer justice. Yes, it would disrupt my regular schedule, and my pay. But it is also what the framers of our constitution set as the way of guaranteeing justice (though it sometimes fails) is not administered by a ruling class who has no idea what the stories of our lives might lead us to do. An impartial "jury of my peers" is an important part of our democracy, and I wish more people would see it as such. We can all find ways to be thrown off a jury if we wish. But if you were accused of a crime, wouldn't you rather have people who understand your life, and don't look down on you from some ivory tower judging your guilt or innocence?

Another overheard conversation was from a coworker whose husband was in an accident in which he struck a horse with his car. She was ranting angrily that so many people's first question was, "Is the horse okay?" "How could they not care about him being in a car accident," she asked. Here is my take: Her first comment was NOT, "My husband is in the hospital because of a car accident." It was not, "My husband was killed in a car wreck." So it was clear from the get-go that he was not seriously, if at all, injured. If he had been killed or seriously injured, she would have been with him, and not there to talk about the accident, and her friends, family and coworkers would have heard about it from someone else. In that case, our first response would have been, "Poor ___." That is my first comment. Secondly, her husband was surrounded by 2000 pounds of metal with support beams, seat belts and airbags to protect him. The horse's body was struck directly by that 2000 pounds of metal. Who had the greater chance of being seriously injured or killed? When I lived in the corn belt, every year I saw the result or heard of people I knew who were involved in accidents with deer. The bodies of the deer were always left as evidence all over the highway. The cars were usually seriously damaged, and the humans were almost never seriously, if at all, injured. The biggest losers in this equation are always the animals, who have no protection from these killing machines that we drive around in. Yes, insurance rates go up. But the animals lose their lives, not the humans. Can we consider this before we get our feelings hurt that people ask if the animal is hurt, when it is fairly clear from the beginning that the human is okay?

My blessed state, with its colorful characters, and history, and beautiful mix of landscape and climates, and diversity of pioneering peoples-the Germans, The Scots, the Mexicans, etc.!!! We have been so much in the news lately, and for all the wrongest of reasons!!! Our legislators confiscate tampons and not guns in a heated debate about a horrible anti-choice bill being foisted upon the women of our state by a majority white male, majority bible-thumping legislature. We have been a laughing stock before, thanks to our moronic governor, who is trying hard to stake out his claim on a hyper-conservative national base for a presidential run in 2016. This is a man who shot a coyote for "menacing" his large golden retriever on a run, when he was running with a cadre of gun-toting Texas Ranger security people, and was never questioned for the lack of veracity of his story by anyone, despite the fact that his story completely lacked veracity. He is an embarrassment to anyone who treasures truth, intelligence or integrity. But enough of that-he won't  be our governor anymore after next year, so he's America's problem, and he's about to find out what a tiny minority the Tea Party actually is in Greater America. So, I want to talk about the Second Amendment as practiced in Texas. Texans, male and female, love their guns, and see our state as a place where the Old West is alive and well. I know a woman who recently got her CHL (concealed handgun license) and was proud enough to all but take it out and show it to us all at a recent lunch. Good for her. I have no problem with her carrying a gun for protection, and I'm glad she took the responsible path to have one. I hope she never has to use it, but in case she does, she's covered. Unless she's on a trip to Florida, and shoots a warning shot hoping to use their "Stand Your Ground" law. But I digress. The Texas state legislature has some women in it, and some people of color, but it is primarily white and male. These particular white males long for a time when women were seen and not heard, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. They continue to jam through legislation based on their fantasy world, and even though some voices stand up and make some noise, they are drowned out and out voted. It is not going to be long before these men are going to wake up and realize that lots of women in Texas carry guns. And they will be legitimately afraid of that contingent of women in Texas. They are going to take up legislation to ban the CHL for women, because they are not going to want, no matter how much a minority of women in Texas may be pro-choice AND pro-second amendment they may be, and bunch of pissed off, armed women running around this great state. So, ARMED women of Texas BEWARE!!!! They've come for your choice, next they are coming for your guns. Governor Rick Perry doesn't have much time left, and he can't have you running loose with his infuriating miscarriages of justice for women forced into law late in the evening on a weekend being left to digest. If we don't rise up now,  we may never be able to. It's time to bring Texas into the 21st century. Am I wrong? Dare we wait to find out? Whatever else we do, we can't let them convince us that this has anything at all abortion. It doesn't, in fact, most folks who are pro choice don't like abortion. It has to do with keeping us under control. They may cloak it in lovely language about looking after women's health, but when a "Good Ole Boy" tells us we need him to look after us, remember who Texas women are, and that we may or may not be armed, but they don't really want to mess with us. We can look after our own "health care choices," thank you very much.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Butterflies Die

A haiku: I don't know the lifespan of a butterfly.
But when I see one dead
I feel sad.

My apartment complex is on a very busy street in Fort Worth, TX. There is a mall about three blocks from where I live. It has been there since I was in high school, and it has gone through some major renovations over the years; adding some stores, removing some, added food shops, etc. The last three years it has added free standing restaurants to the perimeter, all chain restaurants, though not some of the worst ones. They are adding a new one now, and since I don't know the rules about naming names in blogs, I'll just say that it's a place that specializes in hamburgers. Big, over-stuffed, (juicy or greasy, depending on one's point of view about burgers) burgers. Since we have lived here there have been two other big name burger chains that went up in the same area. Mind you, I'm not talking fast food burgers. I'm talking about burgers where the sandwich itself is about eight dollars or more, let alone a whole combo meal price! My question is...why? Does America really eat that many hamburgers? Can any one of these places really show us anything different? My brother waxed poetic about one of the places, and so I tried it, and it really didn't do all that for me. I guess I've reached a point where a burger is a burger. So...why?

My state, Texas has been in the national news spotlight a lot lately. Not for particularly good reasons-our state government is set to severely limit a woman's reproductive rights, and to close all but a few of the places in which a woman can get a legal, safe abortion. Our governor, Rick Perry, who has held that office longer than anyone in history, crosses between joke and jerk in the national mind. But he's a hero to a majority of Texans. The people I talk to in Texas can't stand him, but we are a minority here. Even with a huge national hoorah over one of our female state legislators, Wendy Davis, who filibustered this bill for eleven hours, and is now considering a run for governor in 2014, in a poll conducted last week, Gov.Perry wins by 14 points. The thing is, when someone asks why Perry doesn't recognize the unpopularity of his position nationwide, the answer is that governors don't have to. And Perry knows this very, very well. He tried a run for president last year, and made a serious fool of himself. But often governors do well as presidential candidates. This can possibly be boiled down to having run a state, or having been an "executive." Senators don't often do well as presidential candidates; they must compromise in order to "get things done," and so it is easy to paint them as "flip-floppers," anathema for a president. But governors must make big decisions on big things, and even if they are wrong, they did what they believed is the minds of those who would package them as national candidates. So if Rick Perry (I'm working so hard to be respectful here, and not use the nicknames that my tiny cadre of liberal Texans use for him) is eyeing another presidential run, he is doing exactly what often works for former governors; standing by his "principles." However odious those principles may be.

Speaking of the big issue that has thrust Texas into the national spotlight, reproductive rights, it occurred to me this week that all these white, male governors who are signing these laws restricting women's freedoms keep using terminology that says things like "protecting women and children." Have forty years of advances since the women's movement of the early 70's gone unnoticed by men? Women get more college degrees than men, and in many cases are the primary breadwinners in the household-not only when they are single parents, but sometimes when they are married. We don't need their "protection." We certainly don't need this kind of protection. Reproductive choice should be the decision of the one whose life is forever altered by carrying a child and raising it. I'm not pro-abortion-but I am anti-a bunch of middle aged, white men telling me what my decision must be about whether to have a child or not. I am anti-seeing women killed by unsafe, illegal procedures, as has been the case throughout history until the Roe vs Wade case legalized abortion in 1973. I work in a doctor's office, and we bend ourselves into pretzels to protect patient privacy; privacy was the clause that the Supreme Court used to affirm that a woman's medical choices are between herself and her doctor. Why do we now, suddenly, need men to "take care" of us again?

Speaking of SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States,) after their ruling two weeks ago regarding the voting rights act, I can't help but wonder if they ever regret decisions they make. And if one of them did regret a vote, would he or she admit it publicly? What they did was strike down the provision of the voting rights act saying that states with a history of discrimination must get federal approval before making changes in voting laws, such as voter ID laws, moving polling places, etc. Within two hours of this ruling, my Great State of Texas showed its gratitude by initiating voter ID laws, and moving to redistrict (or gerrymander, depending on one's point of view) so that minority representation would be reduced. In many ways, my beloved state makes a mockery of social evolution and "Justice for All." Now, I'm sure that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would never, ever, ever admit to mistakes. But would a more humble justice, with nothing to prove to white America, perhaps say, "You know, looking back now, I should have voted differently."

Lastly today, in this mostly political post, I must ask about the farm bill. This is the bill that our congress could not bring itself to pass a few weeks ago, because they want so badly to reduce food stamps for the poor, which are attached to said bill. The farm bill has not failed in decades, and this is something that voters on both sides should look at carefully, as it includes what can only be characterized as corporate welfare because of the subsidies included for giant agri-businesses. I lived for over eight years in a farm state, in a heavily farmed region of the state. My husband worked for an ECG there, and he had considerable contact with some of the farmers who used seed from that company. These are large family farmers, and all of them had crop insurance. When they had a bad year, they could file claims on that insurance. Do they need government subsidies on top of that? Even many family farmers are under the thumbs of agri-business anymore, and many of these subsidies go to those giant corporate farm interests; this is not new. I remember stories in news magazines from the 80's regarding corporate welfare for agri-businesses, especially corn, soy and sugar cane. The republican complaint against the farm bill had to do with cutting food assistance to families, not cutting subsidies to farmers and their corporate overlords. Why, why, why does corporate welfare continue to be okay with republicans, and some help in buying food for families is so loathsome to them? Are there people gaming the system for food stamps? Yes. Does the fact that the small minority of cheaters mean that a program that helps people who work put food on the table should be cut? I daresay, the answer is no. If a few cheaters mean that a program that helps so many should be cut, what will we do with bank and oil subsidies? And what if the taxpayers could get all that corporate welfare money back? Can you say "budget surplus?" I knew you could!!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Theoretically Speaking....Sometimes We Get Bruised

On the argument I've made many, many times, that our germ phobia is making us sicker, a doctor I know told a group at a Q&A session this week that in LDC's (Less Developed Countries) they don't get the bacteria H-Pylori, which sometimes causes ulcers in people who have it. But in MDC's (More Developed Countries) like the U.S., lots of people carry this germ and some people get sick from it. Hmmmmmmm.

Twice lately I have accidentally smashed the loaf of bread on the way home from the grocery store. And both of those loaves, within a few days, were covered with mold. Why do bruises on bread allow spores to multiply? And how is it that I've been shopping for food all these many years, and only now have smashed the loaves? Weird.

I realized something this week. For lo these many years I believed that someone can only hurt one if their actions are unexpected. This week, watching both the Supreme Court and the slug of a governor that my state has elected THREE TIMES, they did exactly what I thought they would do, based on their actions since I've been aware of their presence on earth. And I was sad. Is it my hippie idealism, thinking the world might someday become a better place, that sometimes a person might actually do the right thing, that leads to disappointment? Why does it continue to lead to disappointment instead of cynicism, and the belief that people will never do the right thing, even when they are being watched carefully?

I was saddened by something else this week. Proof that the standing of the United States in the world is still as diminished by the current president as it was by the previous one. I do not see Edward Snowden, "the NSA (National Security Administration) leaker" as a traitor. I'm glad he exposed the activities of the NSA, and the extent of it, to the press. I don't think he should need to be seeking asylum in another country because he is not a criminal. But it was sad to me that none of the countries where he has traveled since leaving home, would agree to extradite him. I remembered the welcome that candidate Obama got when he traveled the world, and now these places see a man who has continued spying on US citizens, used drones to kill thousands of innocent civilians and black sites. He has lost his credibility on the world stage, and has taken away the standing in the world that we were so proud to achieve after the arrogance of the previous administration.

And...a couple of environmental points. First, a few years back we were all told not to throw old medicines in the trash or flush them down the toilet, but to take them to a pharmacy for "proper disposal." I asked myself then what the pharmacy would do with them. Stay with me....when I was a grad student in Environmental Policy I wanted to do my research on landfills. I wasn't able to finish that program, but I am still fascinated by landfill science. Fortunately, my next-door neighbor and good friend was once an administrator for a waste company, and she has filled me in on what happens to the trash we put n our landfills. She told me that the thing that breakdown in landfills eventually breaks down to a pond so toxic that it can't break down anymore, and is a powerful, deadly toxin. When I interviewed some landfill operators in those grad school days, they told me all the ways a landfill owner has to protect the ground water from those toxins, and I promise you, the safest thing we can do with our used medicines is put them in a landfill. Flushing them is bad, bad, bad. And once drugs have lost their potency, I'm still not sure what a pharmacy is going to do differently...can anyone tell me?

Lastly, I've talked a lot about what I call ECG's (evil corporate giants) that try to sell us all their GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops. When the wind takes some of those seeds to an organic farmer's crops, he can no longer be certified organic, so the organic farmer is the big loser because he will always lose a lawsuit against an ECG that has very deep pockets and lots of political connections. Many Americans, and many European countries are passionately against GMO crops being used for food when we don't really know the long term effects of all this "messing" with nature. My husband once worked for one of the worst ECG's, and he takes a very different view of, at least that particular company. Now, in the south western US states there is a huge heat wave/drought happening. We were hearing this past week about the record temperatures predicted for this weekend, and talking about global warming. He made one excellent point for which I must give him credit. As the earth gets hotter, and fresh water becomes more and ore scarce, we will need crops modified for drought resistance. And warmer weather makes insect problems much worse. So it is possible that seeds that can handle insecticides will be necessary. I'm still not completely sold, but his point did give me pause. I know there are drought resistant versions of most of the plants that we use as food crops, and that monoculture farming makes bugs have to work harder for their meals. But can anyone looking at the very visible evidence of a warming climate dispute that we must find new ways to grow food? And soon!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

On Super Moon Sunday

I was outside around 5:30 this morning, and the moon was indeed huge and glorious. It had awakened me and Abigail and caused her to insist that I get up and go out. But, as often when seasons change, I become reflective, and the beginning of summer this year was no different. I have always been fiercely independent. While my husband will ask for a back scratch, I will grab a comb, scissors, or an 'official' back scratcher when I have an itch. I have a few really close friends that I've known for many years, but I don't make very many new, close friends. I am "friendly" with co-workers, but find the notion of making people at work close friends a bit dodgy. So, what level of grade school am I still in that makes my feelings hurt sometimes that I'm not included in the workplace "cliques?" Independence has its costs, and at what age do we, or I, realize and embrace that rather than bemoaning it? I guess it is a question of self acceptance, as in, when do we achieve that? Or am I WAY behind other people of my age?

Speaking of summer, I keep seeing fragrances for sale as both colognes and room fresheners that are called "Linen this" and "Linen That." I love linen as a fabric, apart from the fact that it develops wrinkles between taking it off the ironing board and hanging it up, let alone wearing it! But I've never noticed a particular fragrance to this rough cotton fabric. Nothing rainy, or "crisp," or anything. I guess these fragrance names come from the same people who make sunflower fragrances. Sunflowers are my favorite flower-love them.  I've sniffed them wild, and sniffed them in flower sections of super markets, and I've sniffed the ones that people who know me send me when they send me flowers for whatever reason. They don't really have a fragrance. When I smell rose perfume it smells like a rose. Where does this idea of sunflower linen come from?

There is a commercial about a certain company that provides security systems for homes. The gentleman in the commercial is telling the story of the day his home was robbed, and how he arrived at home after he got the call, and the security company had already called the police quickly enough that they caught the robber coming out. Then he says how "lucky" he is to have this system. Lucky? I can tell you, he CHOSE to have this system installed in his home, and he pays them a monthly fee for monitoring. He also pays an extra monthly fee for having the privilege of the police being on call by the monitoring call center. What does "luck" have to do with any of that?

I have been among the many Americans who have accepted the arguments for Asian medicine, and the notion that it has worked for thousands of years longer than "Western" medicine, and therefore should be included or integrated into the medicine we use to heal in this country. I still think Yoga is a good way to discipline one's body, and I've heard some good anecdotal things about acupuncture. But a few days ago I remembered the use of testicles and horns of endangered animals being ground up and used as "medicine" to provide virility to males, and I suddenly experienced a real distaste for Asian medical traditions. Not only do I question the idea that virility comes from the testicles or ivory horns of macho animals, I cannot accept that  everything that is continued because it is "traditional" is good or valid, and this is why we must QUESTION EVERYTHING that we are told about such things. If there is a cost that is too large, or great harm comes from any type of tradition, it should be easily dropped. Asian medicine that uses parts of endangered animals and causes poachers to believe that destroying these animals is okay because of the money they can make doing it, then it is just plain wrong. Wrong.

As an environmentalist I have heard much about the wasting of water, in particular, when we send streams of water running down the concrete jungle. I can understand that when that water goes into sewer systems, it is essentially gone. But when water stays on the concrete until it evaporates, does it not return to the hydrologic cycle? Water is a non-renewable resource and should never be wasted. I'm not a fan of watering lawns, or planting grasses (such as St. Augustine in Texas...not native or drought resistant, much water is used just to keep it green when native grasses would do better here...) but big picture, can we be more realistic about what we choose to worry or fuss about?

And while we are on the subject of science, I made a brash claim to some friends a few days ago that I was going to scientifically prove with this post that dogs are smarter than cats. A few looked at me with furrowed brows, but I've been surprised that no one sent me hate mail or death threats. People can be so entrenched as "dog people" or "cat people." But this is not about my opinion, it is about science; in particular, evolution. Cats were only domesticated around four-thousand years ago. Dogs have been domesticated for around thirty-thousand years or more, so time is definitely on the side of dogs evolving to be more "human friendly" than cats. But the stand-offishness of cats has been occasionally used to prove that cats are smarter-not as deferential or "emotionally needy." But evolution is about organisms adapting to their environments in order to survive and pass on genes to a new generation. (Excuse me for anthropomorphising a bit here,) but there had to be a first "social, non-fearful" wolf that noticed how well they could eat when they hung around the encampments of early man.  guess we wasted food even then! Will we ever learn?) So, perhaps this wolf-couple was discussing this, and the alpha female said to her mate, "You know, if we befriend them, perhaps I can have our pups here, and they'll be safe?" And she was right. Once that was settled, and these friendly canis lupus' were on the way to becoming canis familiaris, a relationship of trust was built with the humans. And then when the humans were threatened, the canines guarded the camp, and the humans realized that these beasts had something to offer in exchange for being fed and housed with the human community. Cats still, though there are exceptions, haven't realized this. They get those benefits, but they look at their human benefactors at times with some disdain, as if they are entitled to this food and housing, clean water and the scooping of their waste. I've heard some folks refer to a cat's independence as proof of their intelligence. But I disagree (I know, opinions are not science,) I believe it is a sign of two things: 1. After four thousand years, they still don't "get us." And, 2. They don't understand that humans are the beings who won the dominance game. Dogs were prescient enough to catch on that we were going to win the survival game, and they signed on to let the dominant creatures take care of them. Cats aren't there yet, and whether anyone believes that my observations are scientific enough or not, well, you are probably right. I'm not a scientist, but this is my argument, and I'm standing by it.

Well, not really standing by it. I'm not sure why I decided to stir up this hornet's nest. The truth is that cats and dogs have different ways of dealing with humans, and I'm not certain that one way or the other really means that one is smarter than the other. We've all known people who are extremely intelligent but have very poor social skills, or they lack "social intelligence," as in, they aren't very good at picking up social cues. Dogs are very good at reading human faces, and figuring out what we want from them. This deference sometimes costs them dearly-their easy trust of us, hard-wired into their DNA for about thirty-five thousand years, as some humans do unimaginably cruel things to dogs. But the diffidence that cats have for us is also well earned. I personally remember some boys I went to school with bragging about doing horrible things to cats, and thinking such stories were quite funny. So, why should they trust us, and fawn over us? I've shared my life with both cats and dogs, and currently reside with one of each. We have to work much harder to have a relationship with the cat than we do with the dog, but I, in truth, don't believe one is smarter than the other. They are different, as are we all. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Kudzu, Bath Salts and Zebra Mussels

We live in an apartment complex that boasts a saltwater pool. According to the signs, this allows them to use fewer chemicals to keep the pool sanitary, and the saltwater is better for our skin and hair. I'm also a girl who enjoys a nice, soaking bath. A dear friend recently gave me some lovely bath salts from Grand Turk Island, which make for a very relaxing soak. My question is, when I leave the tub, or we get out of the pool, is the water level diminished? Does all that salt make us retain water?

Can someone explain to me the toilet paper commercial I heard this week which claimed that "you use four times less...? Is that 1/4 as much? What does that mean?

My husband loves to watch the Do It Yourself channel "crash" shows. These are programs in which the TV stars stake out home improvement stores, find someone who has an ugly yard, bathroom or kitchen, and then the contractor/TV star goes to that home and redoes which ever room that particular one works on. My question...well, I guess I have two:
1. Where do they find all these beautiful people? None of these contractors look like normal people-they are all gorgeous, buff, charming and funny.
2. Sometimes when the contractors are talking to prospective crashees, they are often told, "Ohhhh, my yard is full of dead plants...." Well, if your yard is full of dead plants, why don't you pull them? The chances of meeting one of these guys at your local home improvement store is pretty slim, so instead of complaining about your yard-CLEAN IT!
Uh-oh...I just thought of a third question: The contractors often talk about doing these redecorations in a 'sustainable' or 'eco-friendly' way. But then they use woods such as "Brazilian Redwood." Is that sustainable? Is it okay with the Brazilians?

I have a question that most women MAY be able to relate to. We've all had jeans that come out of the dryer kind of tight, and then through the day they loosen up and can become a bit baggy. But why doesn't the waist band stretch out like the legs and bottom? Aren't they made of the same material?

There is a columnist that I enjoy named Dan Savage. He was the guest on Stephen Colbert's "Colbert Report" last week, and he made a comment that suddenly made me very confused as  to why so many republicans are upset about President Obama's "Affordable Care Act." As Mr. Savage pointed out, the original plan was devised by a conservative think tank called "The Heritage Foundation," and it was actually intended to force people to buy health insurance from their buddies, the insurance companies. Which is exactly what it turned out to be. I'm thinking it's only anathema to the right because Obama did it. If Romney had been elected president, and he had implemented the plan, the right would have been happy about it. And perhaps the left would have been as angry as they should be now that the real winners are big insurance, possibly the uninsured who get the government subsidies, and for everyone else, having health insurance through our companies means less and less.

Lastly, a couple of science questions. In watching some programs this week about what it would take to give humans a new planet to live on when we've damaged earth beyond repair, one theorist claimed that all we need to make Mars amenable to human life is start putting plants there. He said that the two things required for the advancement of life are liquid water and plants. Yes, these two things gave rise to the life we see on earth; the water gave rise to single celled life that evolved into plants, which then gave off the oxygen we needed to arise from the oceans. But why do we assume that it would take that very same chemical equation to create life elsewhere?

If this one is repetitive, I apologize, but I always get upset when humans talk about "invasive species." There is certainly no animal on earth that is more invasive than we are, and we tend to destroy everything we touch with our greed and shortsightedness. We are the only species that has adapted to survive in every single climate, and on every single continent. So the ability to travel from one ecosystem to another, create a niche, and out-compete whomever is already living there. It is what life does-it finds a place to survive and reproduce, and takes its place there. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as an "invasive species." 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Code Words and Bogey Men

I heard a worker say these very words at Walmart yesterday, "I always never stop until it's done..." What was she trying to say, I ask, tongue firmly placed in cheek.

Can anyone tell me why, in police procedural television programming, the guy who snaps when a bad guy gets off, grabs a police officer's gun and shoots the criminal, they always have perfect aim? They never miss, they never hit an innocent bystander, their aim is always dead on.

I'm an animal lover, but mostly a dog person. I used to have only cats, but that was many years ago. I have a neighbor/friend who has cats, and occasionally when she goes out of town, I take care of them for her. I know that women who are pregnant are told not to scoop their cat's litter boxes because they can carry toxoplasmosis.  I have noticed from time to time that when I scoop the litter for my neighbor's cats, the smell is so strong that it makes my eyes water. I feel I should do as I've heard the people needed to do in Haiti to avoid the smell of rotting bodies, which was to smear a liberal amount of toothpaste under their noses. My question is, could these fumes be an actual cause for an actual syndrome that could be called "Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome?" We've all heard of the Crazy Cat Lady, with multiple cats and no human friends, but what if it's a real illness, and gases given off by cat urine is the cause?

I have a question that makes me kind of sad. It came to me after reading an article on "Hyperbole Post" talking about just anemic our economic recovery has been. In the United States of America, we have historically been an extremely innovative people. Our innovations used to create great wealth, and middle class status for most of our people. Now there is a huge division between rich and poor, with more people falling out of the middle class and into the caste of the "working poor." My question is; have we come to the end of our ability to innovate? When I was in grad school several years ago, I believed I saw the beginnings of new areas in which we could create new businesses, such as green energy and building. But the fossil energy companies spend billions (possibly an exaggeration) to tell us that green energy is too expensive and will never work. If a green energy company takes some risk and loses (Solyndra) it becomes a buzz word for blind optimism and stupidity. They don't want innovation, they want to continue with the status quo that makes them hundreds of billions (no exaggeration) of dollars per year. The new inventions that we see are on poorly produced commercials, and are mainly fodder for comedians...and the occasional humorous comment from someone like me. Is it too late for the next big invention, such as the automobile, to lift the American people up from poverty into the middle class?

What do we learn from every president's second term? Here I propose an answer to my question; we learn (once again) that the entrenched powers that be begin to all look alike when they stay in power. This is a big reason why I would be for a female candidate for president, but not Hillary Clinton. The two party system has blurred into a one, fuzzy, morphed party system in which the peace presidents act like war presidents, and giving up individual liberty for the sake of security against an enemy that we can never see coming. The two party system is broken and corrupt, and by the second term of any president, we begin to see that the idealistic language they used to get elected was just that; purty words.

Many of us eat out. A lot! We don't think about the conditions in which the food servers work, though there is a movement now, beginning with an excellent book called "Behind the Kitchen Door," that has contributed to the (hopefully) start of a conversation about how our wait staff is treated in their work places. Most of them are still paid a bit over two-dollars per hour salary, the alleged thought being that the difference between that and minimum wage will be made up by their tips. Their paychecks are taxed as if that is true, even when it isn't. Most of them do not get paid time off, even when they are sick. My question is this; why is this okay? Does it concern any of us that the people serving our food might be sick enough to stay home and not make the public, or their coworkers sick? Line cooks make a bit more per hour, but if the wait staff has to come to work sick, and makes the cooking staff sick, they could start an epidemic s just by not having this simple, basic rule applied to them; if you're sick, stay home. Don't make yourself worse, or anyone else sick. But if a person works for practically slave wages, with no paid sick time, taking a day off til the fever breaks is not possible.

There was some discussion this week of women in the work force after a couple of things happened. The first was a report that in a growing number of households, women are the only bread winner. In some of these homes, the men are stay home dads, and in some the woman is the only parent, and bread winner. The other was when representative Marsha Blackburn, R TN, stated that  "women don't want equal pay laws." I'm not sure which women she is talking to, but that's what she said. A libertarian friend of mine jumped into the conversation with the notion that laws aren't necessary if a woman is hired because of her qualifications, she should just demand equal pay or quit. I never would have guessed that my libertarian friends are living in such an ideal world, where employers pay fairly, based on qualifications, and they choose the person best qualified, no matter the race, gender or sexual orientation. The fact is that women still make .77 to the dollar as their male counterparts. When that was pointed out, my friend postulated that probably don't have the same education, length of service, etc. Another truth here would be that women are graduating from college at a higher rate than men, but these pay and promotion disparities still exist. But the big picture that came to me during this back and forth was that the man who was taking the side of the men in this conversation was advocating for the continuance of the "good ole boy" network...not what you know, but who you know, not how well trained you are, but longevity with the company. I suppose there is some bit of the "good ole boy network" in place at most work places, but is that how we want the country to go forward? Especially with more women as the only breadwinner in the household? In the study I referred to, those households were not doing so well..because the women make less than a male in the same job would make. I don't believe that unfettered, unregulated businesses will EVER make the "proper" choices on their own, and yes, there is apparently a need for some kind of laws to allow women who have families to support get the same pay as a man in the same position.

A nutrition question: how can we say that? I talk a great deal about health and nutrition, and my friends and I talk about these subjects a lot. There are groups of people now who say that we need to eat lots of whole grains, and some others who say that our dependence on grains is why we are so sick. The anti-grain folks say that our ancestors did not eat grains, and therefore we did not evolve with the ability to digest them properly. The consumption of grains apparently exploded when we began to develop agriculture, which lead to communities, cities and so on. So, how did our ancestors decide what to farm? Did they just go out and say, "Nah, we can't grow berries and melons, so lets farm grains?" It may be that they foraged when they first left the trees, hunting and gathering berries and other fruits because that's what they could reach from their new place on the ground. But growing melons takes work, so I'm not sure that early man ate that many melons. But I also doubt that they just went out, saw a wild grain and said to themselves, "Hmmm, maybe we can make this grow;" and then went out and created ways to make it dominate our diets. Even if grains have only been a major part of our diet for six-to-ten thousand years, how can they say grains weren't a part of human diets until "recently?"

I was born in 1957. I'm not sure if it is still true, but there was a time that my birth year held the record as the year more babies were born than in all of history combined. The birth rate in the United States is declining, and in 2012 the greatest decline was in children born to immigrant women. The so-called "baby boom" is what the children born between 1945 and 1963 is called-roughly the years between World War II ending and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We are now in 2013, which means that at the end of this year, the last baby boomers will turn fifty. They are now at middle age, and will soon need bone density tests, their first screening colonoscopies, and will likely be on blood pressure meds, statins, and likely a number of other prescription medications.  My question is, how will our aging change the world? Will we actually have made a difference?

1. Saru Jayaraman is co-founder and director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and author of Behind the Kitchen Door. She was featured on Moyers & Company in February 2013.

2. Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 7th congressional district

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Doctor Will See You Now

I have a question. Or two...well, more. Sorry! First of all, the History Channel now has "History 2." Why do they call it that, and not "The Conspiracy Theory Channel?" I've watched it a few times to help me fall asleep, even though the titles of the programs appealed to me, which might have meant that the programming would actually have kept me awake. But the narrators and the story lines seem to be full of inflammatory conspiracy theories,. and there is so much earnestness in the narration that if I weren't a natural skeptic, I might actually be convinced that there is "no other logical explanation" but that there were aliens landing on earth thousands of years ago, driving human history and evolution. Speaking of which, if there were advanced civilizations landing on earth thousands of years ago, why aren't they even more advanced now, and making themselves known?

Another TV question; I now have "National Geographic Wild" on for background noise as I write, and I just saw a commercial for "Fish Tank Kings." Do I really need to ask this one? How do guys making pretty fish tanks fit in with a channel supposedly devoted entirely to wildlife?

Secondly, aren't crackheads supposed to be skinny and emaciated? They are now saying that marijuana smokers tend to be thinner, which begs the question, how is that possible with the stereotype of getting the munchies and heading to Jack in the Box or the convenience store in the middle of the night for Ho-Ho's and Twinkies? Sorry, in case anyone reads the blog today...the first question is a reference to the mayor of Toronto being caught allegedly smoking crack with some alleged drug dealers. He's a hefty fellow; definitely not like the stereotype of crackheads.

There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about the persecution of whistleblowers. members of the media have been investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) as "co-conspirators" for being given "leaks" by government employees. My question is, is it only liberals who consider "whistleblowing" a good thing? My impression of that word is someone who sees wrongdoing going on, unchecked, and tells someone who can get the story out or get something done about it. I'm not sure when it became a bad thing to do/be. In fact, can anyone tell me why we wouldn't want to keep people safe who report on the laws that the government doesn't want us to know it is breaking?

I have a really good doctor. I don't remember the last appointment I had with him that took less than an hour, and the first, oh, third, of the visits usually consist of political discussion, (he's a conservative/libertarian, as far as I can tell.) Of course, his profession is pretty political these days, and he knows I occasionally broach political topics on my blog. One of his other patients told me that if he ever retires, this patient would probably stop going to the doctor. And he has swayed me scientifically on some questions, for example regarding vaccines. But in conversations about The Affordable Care Act, he has made some really (in my opinion) important points. His primary point has been that the focus was far too deep on the uninsured. Which is true, and truly matters! We all pay more because of the uninsured, and those who have no insurance and go to the emergency room for basic healthcare, and then can't pay the bill, get very poor care. That's because the "emergency" part of the name "emergency room" really is correct. If you're shot, or having a heart attack, or break a bone, you need the emergency room. If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, joint pain, or something simple like a cold or persistent digestive problems, it is most definitely the WRONG place to go, and you will likely be given something for pain and sent home with the instruction to see a doctor or specialist. Then we all pay more for health care and health insurance because of that person's unpaid debt to the hospital. But my doctor says that not enough attention was paid to reducing the cost of health care by providing for competition, which he says could lower the cost of basic testing. The way it is now, we choose a primary care doctor or specialist in our neighborhoods, and they send us to a certain place to get tests done. If we could choose a less expensive place to get, say, a colonoscopy, X-ray or MRI, it could drive down the cost through competition. There have been a few stories recently comparing the prices of basic tests in certain cities. It seems that they are based on the city, and not on a reasonable charge for the test. Of course, business has to make a profit, so please don't accuse me of communism or socialism-I'm not!!! But in a true capitalist society, competition serves the consumer, and companies that choose to serve the consumer survive by greater volumes of business. I'm not an economist, but it makes sense to me!

Speaking of socialism and trendy movements, I have a question about Small Business Saturday and the locavore movement. This one came to me as I was driving to a chain store yesterday to get some trash bags and a bottle of wine. I drove past many, many chain stores, some selling basically the same stuff-whatever their specialties must be. And it struck me that all this commerce thru chains is very bad for capitalism. The reason is that all those stores, Target, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Pier One, etc, etc, do not set their prices based on competition within the communities in which they reside. Prices and percent off sale prices and set by the corporation, not by the consumer. This is something that these giant corporations have lobbied very, very hard to do; squelch regulation that helps prevent monopolies. So they stop local stores from being able to compete, and then they don't even consider their close neighbors when setting those prices. So, Federal Trade Commission, Sherman Anti-trust legislation, congress, Mr. President, when do consumers get some help here?

I have seen many (I wish I had a way to emphasize how many without just typing the word "many" again) criticisms of the Chinese government's "one child policy." Now, a generation is defined as twenty years, and the Chinese policy went into effect in 1978. Theoretically, their population should have halved over just one generation, if I'm getting the math right (which is always an iffy proposition.) But it has not. And now there is a giant problem in China of too many men, and many of these men cannot find wives. This is going to create a real population crash in the near future. But I disagree with those who blame the one child policy for this. Normally the birth rates for girls and boys are roughly the same...well, actually a little higher for boys, because boys are slightly more likely to die in infancy. The problem in China is the appallingly antiquated notion that it is more honorable to have boys than girls. Girls are sometimes aborted, there have been stories of girls being abandoned to die, and there was a time, not terribly long ago when parents would give up their girl babies for adoption so that they could have one other baby that might be a boy. A cousin of mine was able to adopt her precious daughter from a Chinese orphanage about eight years ago for this reason. But didn't anyone in the government consider the cultural notion of the "betterness" (if it's not a word yet, TRADEMARK) of boys?

Lastly, I read an article this week by an awesome mom. Her name is Jackie Morgan MacDougall, and I saw her article on Huffington Post entitled "What I Finally Let My Daughter Do With Her Hair." Ms. MacDougall wrote that she grew up hating her hair, and when she had a daughter who had "perfect, shiny, black Asian hair" she was determined that her daughter would grow that hair long and proud. But her daughter wished a different statement, and wanted to cut her hair short, and perhaps even in a Mohawk. At first Mom said, "No way." But after thinking long and hard about it, and reading an article by Jada Pinkett Smith about HER daughter wanting to keep her hair short, and Pinkett-Smith's belief that girls and women are not allowed to own their bodies and their looks in this country, she decided that her daughter could wear her hair any way she chose. So Ms. MacDougall decided to allow her daughter to cut her hair short. As I read the article, I thought about Pinkett-Smith's comments about women not being allowed to own our bodies, even as young as seven-years old. We can't be fat, we can't be too skinny, we should have long hair, we should have curls, we should not need glasses, etc, etc. Girls are made fun of for being the slightest degree off from society's definition of "beauty." And it goes on and on, all the way to owning our uterus as adults. I've spoken before about how it always seems to be old, white men who make the laws, and the ignorant comments about rape and abortion. It is old, white men who make ultrasound laws for women in early pregnancy. Women are subject to abuse and mutilation, rape and death because we are not allowed to own our bodies, and the physical strength of men, and our having stood by and not used our voices for so long, allowing men to "run things" alone for so many years, we have somehow given up on our ability to control our destinies. It even goes down to not owning our looks; we look so fashion magazines to tell us how to dress, fix our make up, wear our hair, and what surgeries we should have in order to keep our looks longer. We let male doctors determine that, because we might get "moody" during menopause, we should take hormones that create greater risk of heart disease and certain cancers. I've seen articles and ads from the late 70s/early 80s, by male doctors, that actually said, straight up, that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) would keep women "likable." We can't even own our own process of aging? And so, I am middle aged, and wear my hair super short, and spiked. I will never again have long hair or a bun. Nor will I buy clothes I don't like because they are "age appropriate." I'm not trying to look like I did as a teenager, I'm trying to be happy.
I have never taken HRT, and never will. If I'm moody, consider this: Perhaps it's not menopause making me moody. Perhaps I've lost caring if you think my mood is hormonal. Maybe it's you! Either way, it's MY HAIR! And my body. Oh-I need a question don't I? Okay. You got a problem with that?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So....Where do the Fast Pedestrians Walk?

Where do the fast pedestrians walk? I've always wondered this when I see this sign across the street from my office. It's not one of the sidewalks that Abigail and I walk on, but I'm not sure at what speed we would be considered "slow" or "fast." I've always had the same thoughts when I see a sign on a residential street that says, "Slow Children Playing."

It's been another busy week, both politically and otherwise. And the questions just keep coming at me. But first, I have to say how happy I was when I saw two articles this week. One was about a large retail outlet that targets a particularly young demographic. They met with some bad publicity this week when a company executive made comments about not wanting something about fat chicks. Why this would surprise anyone is beyond me. I went into one of these stores in Champaign, IL once, in the midst of the Christmas rush, to buy a gift card for a nephew, and the staff there made me feel as if I didn't belong there. It was very humiliating, and I would never go into one of those stores again, even if I were a tall, skinny blonde twenty-years old again. So when I read that their sales had dropped a great deal after all the bad press, I couldn't help but smirk to myself. Hey, Dude, fat chicks may not be able to shop in your store, but we do have friends with jobs. We have people who love us, who have money. And we don't have to be oppressed by shallow jerks like you anymore.

The other article that made me inexpressibly happy had to do with how germy our dogs are, and how good that is for us. It seems that our best friends bring in microbes, introduce them to our immune systems, put them to work and makes them stronger. So, when my Abigail kisses me on the mouth, or I pet her, I am building my ability to fight disease. There are lots of medical professionals who have been voices in the wilderness for some years about our unhealthy fear of germs, and how it is compromising our ability to fight disease, and has also led to (theoretically) increased allergies in our children. This study on dogs has shown them to be right-it is exposure to microbes, not freaking out and using hand sanitizer every five minutes, and running to the doctor for antibiotics with every sniffle, that helps us fight disease. Would anybody like a kiss from Abigail? It will make you healthier!!! And she is usually willing.

Sometimes I start one of these things, and get bored with the stuff I've noted to write about. Or something happens to change one of the questions-I find an answer, or the question changes. This happened yesterday, due to a Facebook comment from an old friend. He is ex-military, and I am from a very military family. I've made the list before; my dad, two of my three sisters, two of my brothers-in-law, I think all five of my mother's brothers, etc, etc. I had something snarky to say about wishing people a "good holiday" last week, not because of what this holiday celebrates, but because so many people freak out about the word "holiday" at..."ahem," other times of year, when they want their meaning, and only their meaning applied to the word. But my friend reminded all of his friends what Memorial Day is really about; remembering those who have died in the service of this country. And so I thought better of my original comment, and would like to take this moment to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for us. I am grateful to them, and wish more than I can express that their sacrifices would not be in vain.

From there, the military has been very much in the news the last week or so, and how the current and previous president wage war. In particular, the use of drones to commit "surgical" strikes against enemies of the United States. The people of this country tend to be for the use of drones overseas because we don't like it when our soldiers die in battle. But drones have also been used to kill some American citizens without their constitutional right to due process and trial by a jury of their peers. This is a big problem to many people, myself included. However, there is a large matter of definitions here. What President Bush began was, as labeled by himself, a "War on Terror." I'm sure I've talked about this before, but the whole idea of a "War on Terror" is a silly one, in my view. As so many before me have said, terrorists are not soldiers, and terrorism is a tactic, not an army that we can face off and fight. This is why only drones can be used to fight them...we are not talking about "The Redcoats," with whom we can line up on a field and do
battle. This is why terrorism can never be defeated-the goal of a terrorist is to create terror. This being said, there will always be a crowded event planned wherein a bomb can be placed. It doesn't have to kill a great number of people in order to create an environment of fear in the community. There will always be a bus on which some guy can board with a bomb beneath his jacket and blow up himself along with the bus and all its passengers. If we have intelligence that says this will happen with an individual or a small group, it is possible that the only way to stop them is with a targeted strike, such as a drone. There will be "collateral damage;" a term I have always hated, because it makes it seem as if the people who were not terrorists and were killed anyway, did not matter. The babies, the innocent bystanders, the wedding celebrants are human beings who do matter. So we need to decide this Memorial Day weekend what kind of country we want to have, and what kind of wars we wish to wage. The world has changed, and our war machine must change with it, thoughtfully. Conventional warfare cannot fight terrorism. But surgical strikes, just like regular bombs, do kill babies and the elderly, and other innocents. I personally believe in the US Constitution, and the use of drones on Americans is onerous to me.

Another onerous thing to me is the Department of Justice's use of the phone records of reporters to get information on people who leak information to the press. I spoke about this last week, but this week the scandal got bigger. I was amused at hearing that a certain Fox News reporter was particularly picked on because getting his phone records would at least get true information, when Fox has just made stuff up about President Obama from day one. But I can't bring myself to see this as humorous in any way. What this is saying to me is that at least Attorney General Holder, and probably President Obama at some point, are so afraid of leaks that they are willing to violate the constitutional right of the American People to an unfettered free press. We need to remember that a free press is not for the benefit of the press, but for the benefit of the people. We need to know what the government is up to. In general it is people doing bad things who want what they are doing to be kept secret, and we want the bad things the government does to be exposed somehow. I truly hope this means that the press will change its more looking into what the government is up do, and less into what the Kardashians are up to. I'm not angry about this because the Obama administration has done it...this has been done for at least decades, if not longer. Using the press, using the IRS to punish people who do things the government dislikes. Both parties do it, and we need to remember a particular case, the Viet Nam war, in which it was democrats who were in charge of the war, and used the press, the DOJ and the IRS to get back at people. This is politics as usual, and the only way it will EVER change is for the PEOPLE to stop the two party system, and put these people out of work.

This brings me to the idea, being spouted everywhere, that Hilary Clinton will run for president in 2016. This seemed like a nice idea to me a few months ago. We need a woman to be elected, and I believe she did a good job as Secretary of far as the people can know. I have two big "but...s" here. First of all, I've emailed several news organizations immediately after the 2012 election and begged them to place a moratorium on discussing the 2016 presidential election until, AT LEAST after the 2014 midterms. Sigh. Alas. This was (unsurprisingly) not to be. The twenty four hour news cycle must have something to talk about, and so they have to speculate about stuff to fill all those hours of useless talking head time. But my light feeling of warmth at the notion of Hilary running, and polling so well right now,  was wiped out I saw an article entitled, "Clinton vs. Bush 2016?" Not that I really care who runs, since, as I just stated above, we will have business as usual in Washington until We the People decide to fire both parties and start over with parties who have not been bought by giant corporations and long ago stopped caring about "The People's Business." But those two names on the ticket again? That is just business as usual overkill. We need to move on. Barbara Bush was absolutely right when at  President Bush's "library" opening last month she said, "We don't need another Bush in the White House. We've had enough." I agree with her, but will the people say she was right? I certainly hope so.