Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The only thing we have to fear, is Fear itself....

Last week, my nine year-old daughter was reading a bit of history on the Trail of Tears. When reading about a Nation of Native Americans displaced and forced to march nearly a thousand miles, with thousands dying along the way and on the reservations, she asked how could America do such a thing? How could we be so irresponsible, so selfish, so mean? I thought back in history to some of the other things Americans thought were right, but are now embarrassed as a nation to have been a part of: slavery, institutionalization of suffragettes, Japanese internment camps, segregation, Abu Ghraib. How could we have done such things?

Fear, that's how. Fear fanned by propaganda, misinformation, rhetoric, and bigotry. Fear of change. Fear of differences. Fear of the enemy. Fear of the unknown. In short, Fear of Loss, whether it be of life, property, security, happiness, opportunity, or status.

We are now faced with another national embarrassment, one that many good, hardworking Americans are too afraid to correct. Every day, people in our great country are suffering and dying because they cannot afford health care. How many of us have heard stories of family lost in the early 20th century from the flu, scarlet fever, polio, or other epidemics because the family simply couldn't afford the medicine? Do you remember how that made you feel when you heard those stories as a child? How angry, upset, and confused that that could happen in the United States of America? That tragedy has not ended. It is with us today, and it must stop.

Physical and financial ruin are but a string of Fate away for most Americans, even if they have health insurance. A waitress right here in my small hometown had to delay life-saving cancer therapy until she could raise the $32,000 dollars of out-of-pocket expense that her health insurance wouldn't cover. The whole town rallied around to help her raise that money. Can you depend on such support? Can your child count on such support? Would you have the energy, or the time, to rally that support while you or a loved one needs that care right away?

What are you so afraid of, America, that you would deny good, decent, responsible people life? We have laws that demand people have insurance on their cars, but not on their health. Isn't that backwards? How is property more important than life? Is Fear worth the suffering of millions of Americans, of our friends, our neighbors, our family, and our selves?

Don't let Fear guide you. Get informed. Look at the other countries that have universal health care. A great many are capitalist democracies. Examine how they work, how they address your Fear of Loss. Have some compassion as well as common sense. A national public option that everyone can participate in is not something to let Fear destroy. It's the right thing to do.


Saturday, July 25, 2009


Another groundtruth down. A few weeks of rest ahead.

This photo was taken by me near Mecca (California), a town of extremes. Polo ponies mixed with shacks in utter squalor. I don't know if the camps intermingle enough to realize just how much of a socioeconomic gulf lies between them. Are their lives so full of plans for the next diamond-studded dog collar or avoiding cholera that they don't have time, energy, or more likely will to think of what lies just across the street from them?

Me, I'm just glad I can escape. Mecca takes a lot of energy to endure. Empty of life. A virtual vacuum, as both extremes are so apart from my own. I don't see the pot of gold in either excessive wealth or suppressive poverty. I wonder if they do?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kid finds Paint

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

As if I needed another reason to love They Might Be Giants

I'm in Brawley this week. Think cows, and the accompanying smell of cows. Vast feedlots of bovinity. I pass the lonely nights during this quadri-annual hajj trying to convince my exhausted body to actually go to sleep instead of staying up until 2am watching train wrecks like "Tila Tequila's Shot at Love" that I wouldn't dare tune into at home.

Brawley = pit of turpitude (whereas Blythe is just a pit).

This trip, trying to avoid such reality tv horrors, I'm still staying up way too late browsing the net. This is how I found the They Might Be Giants gem "Turtle Songs of North America." It's a collection of imaginary turtle calls introduced in a soothing drawl by John Linnell. I found it on the TMBG ClockRadio application http://www.tmbg.com/radioIndex.html , but you can also download it or listen to it at http://tmbw.net/wiki/Download:Turtle_Songs_Of_North_America .

Even were I not to have an affinity for testudines, purely professional of course (remember, Brawley = pit of turpitude), I would still consider this .... offering (can't really call it a song) ... from TMBG pure genius. The Marty Stouffer-esque delivery of descriptive prose like "the blinding taste of sunlight on the hood of a truck" mixed with mention of Fibonacci sequence while a Tudlow turtle gasps out its call in mathematical glory is ambrosia for geeks like me. I snorted Diet Dr. Pepper through my nose, MY NOSE mind you! while hearing of Eastern fighting turtles aggressively coursing through miles of swamps.

Midnight nears, and I lay awaiting the call of the zombie turtle to send me to sleep.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Makin' it

You know you've made it into the Circle of GIS Geeks when you get a Defect ID number assigned to a bug you found in ArcMap.

Sure, it's caused me numerous extra hours at the office at unsightly times of the wee night as I work around the problem under a tight deadline, but I still think it's pretty cool that I delved so deep into the bowels of obscurity to find a glitch that probably no one else will ever be so unfortunate to bang their head against.

There should be little ribbons under our name tags at the annual User Group conference that say, "Discoverer of Defect ID #####". We could all have a secret handshake, and maybe our own catered luncheon.

Perhaps I should add it to my business card. Or at the very least my cv.

By the way, Dan Hopkins, ESRI tech support guy, is the Grand Funk King for sticking with me for hours on speaker phone as we worked it through. Thanks Dan!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I see thestrals

Death is a funny thing. Not funny ha-ha, just.... funny odd.

Breath, breath, breath, stop. Beat... beat... beat... stop.

Fuzzy socks removed to help warm another's heart. The last spoon used cradled like it's the Hope diamond. Tears, pleas, undying love pledged. Cold hands. Yellow skin. Mouth left open in one last, silent, impotent gasp.

The machine that goes ping still pings for no known reason.

Yet life around still goes on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One day to go!

In less than 24 hours, America shines again. Here comes the sun. La la la la. Excitement abounds! Even the inexplicable "Impeach Obama" bumpersticker we saw yesterday at a house (whom we didn't even bother asking if they wanted to order cookies. Glowering Brownies aren't good marketers, and we do have standards to uphold. May I parenthetically place full sentences within a sentence?) didn't diminish our glee. My folks, additional extended family, and even my boss will be in Washington D.C. watching our new President swear in. At least I'll get a good second-hand report on the events. We have fireworks at the ready for the celebration. A yummy dinner is planned.

The weather is *beautiful*. Our neighbor's son has defied all odds and after a near-death experience in a car crash on New Year's Day (PSA: wear your seatbelts!) is walking around at home, healthy and whole. My uncle is transferring out of ICU and will be home soon. Erin's home with Azucena. Our new hot water pipes all fit just fine without any drips or leaks. The folks at ESRI tell me they have a fix for the annoying "unexpected error message" (note to programmers: are there such things as expected errors in your software?) that haunts my working days. They Might Be Giants were nomintated for a Grammy. Even our tulips are growing well. Mere coincidence with the inauguration??????

Yah, ok. Maybe. Still, makes it all that more enjoyable.

Progressive Women's Blog Ring
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