October 30, 2007

shake and bake

It was only 2.9 (my guess was 2.8 at the time), but the earthquake a few minutes ago shook my chair in my home office and gave the house a little "whump" as if one of the boys had ridden their bike into the garage door.

... and Bake
Last week I attended the BSR conference, one of the international conferences centered on the idea of corporate social responsibility (BSR actually stands for Business for Social Responsibility). I've attended many similar conferences recently, but BSR seemed to be very focused on climate, water, and environment issues with a little bit of labor practice thrown in. This was different from other conferences I've attended in that the others tend to be more focused on community development--workforce readiness, family financial stability, job growth, that kind of thing.

So it was with this heightened awareness of the challenges around the world (deforestation, population growth, water issues) that I received a link to this video from a friend. It articulates quite well what has been bothering me for some time: that the debate over whether global warming is caused by human activity is moot. As a species, we basically have a choice: Act to conserve resources and reduce pollution, or push forward with unfettered economic growth. Some would argue that we should not take action without proof positive that the costs are justified. That may be a good way to approach whether or not to add a new server to your network, but it is not a good way to approach the continued viability of the only world we have on which to live.

A few months ago, I read an op-ed in my local paper from an educated man who concluded that he would proudly drive his Hummer to Tahoe and back every weekend, leave his outdoor floodlights on even when no one was using them, throw plastic bottles in the regular trash, that kind of thing. Aggressive denial that his actions could possibly have any negative impact on the Earth. As if this arrogant selfishness somehow made him superior to people who recycle, who conserve, who care. Such an immature sense of immortality is unbecoming in an educated adult. And no, this was not Richard Pombo, though I have no doubt the op-ed writer voted for him. What steams me about Americans like this is that they view everything through the lens of Americans: We have abundance, we have riches, we have energy, we have water, we have forests and mountains and open, fertile, arable land. They fail to realize that the world's population is now more than 50% urban... that is, more than half the world's population is now living in cities. Vast cities. Crowded cities. Cities that are growing at an alarming rate around the globe--not only in size but in number. These Americans fail to realize that despite the growth of cities abroad, the United States produces a far higher percentage of the world's pollution than any developing country with many times the population.

But watch the video. It's 9:33, but it goes quickly. After watching it, let me know if you see any reason that conservation and environmental stewardship are not the better choice.

October 22, 2007

no dunk tanks!

I was recently voted "most wanted in the dunk tank" for the school carnival by the school student body (which was later defined as "whatever kids were standing around when [the PTA mom] asked"). Moments later, the school district, in a fit of efficiency unseen in academic administration, distributed memos to every lawyer and law student within four hundred miles, as well as the PTA mom in charge of the dunk tank. This memo said, "No dunk tanks!"

Fortunately for my constituents, the PTA mom found a litigiously suitable alternative whereby the students could drench me without making me susceptible to being hounded by injury lawyers. Also fortunately for me, the sun was shining. Unfortunately, there was a persistent, cool breeze that, due to the unique shape of the foothills of the nearby mountain and the peculiar way the houses are arranged in our neighborhood, was focused straight up the back of my soaking wet shirt.

October 19, 2007

Fiction Friday: Karma's A Bitch

This Week’s Theme: What happens when a character, while cleaning out a house before moving out, finds a roll of film?
Dear Crystal,

Since you weren't around today, I had to get my things from your closet. Remember my gray sweater you never gave back? Now I know why. Red wine doesn't come out. Just like your red lipstick didn't come out of Ricky's underwear. I'm sure you two will make a great couple, just right for each other. Conniving, backstabbing, klepto bitch and smug, arrogant, heartless prick.

Anyway, I also found that CD I lost months ago, you know, the one signed by Bruce Springsteen? That JJ gave me for my birthday last year? I can't for the life of me figure out how it fell into that shoe box behind your old suitcase. And my diamond studs, the ones my dad gave me for my birthday two weeks after I moved in here with you? Yeah, also in the same shoe box. Along with my shoes. Go figure.

Since you felt it was OK to "borrow" my things for so long, I thought it would be OK if I "borrowed" one thing I found while getting my stuff from your closet. Remember that disposable camera you bought one night, that night we went clubbing and you got wasted and all "curious" and brought home that Rachel girl from that gay bar?

Yeah, Crystal. Welcome to instant internet fame. See you on the Web, bitch.

Love forever,
Your newest ex-roommate, Shaundra.

get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday
Technorati tags: ,

October 13, 2007

October 12, 2007

Fiction Friday: sentimental endings

This Week’s Theme: Use this quote as the spark for anything you want. “I’m not one for sentimental endings. Not this time.”
"I'm not one for sentimental endings. Not this time."

It wasn't the tone of Adam's voice that chilled my blood, or even the words. It was the stark emotionlessness of his steel gray eyes. At just eight years old, he had already seen more pain and death than most men see in a lifetime. The problem was, he was the one causing it.

"Sedimentary what?" His sister, Grace, bless her heart, had just finished fourth grade but no one could quite figure out how. She glanced away from the mirror at Adam, then back to continue gazing at her own deep, stunningly blue eyes and golden hair.

Adam rolled his eyes in just the way that an eight year old shouldn't.

I knew what was coming, and I also knew there was nothing I could do to stop it. Adam had already sensed the fear and anger in my heart, so deep this time that I couldn't hide it from him. His mind was set. Poor Donnie. To Adam, Donnie would look no different from the insane pit bull that had attacked Grace last year. At the time, it was a blur, an unbelievable sequence. I found myself watching Adam watching me, his clear gaze appearing so empty yet hiding so much power.

The choking rumble of Donnie's pickup filled the darkness outside the window, and a brief flash of headlights reflected off Grace's mirror and then snuffed themselves out. The loud screeching creak of the old truck's dented door shut up the frogs momentarily, and the uneven scuffing of Donnie's work boots in the gravel let me know that he'd been down to Danny's tavern again. He'd have been better off getting in a wreck off the old drawbridge and drowning than coming home drunk and mean. Adam's gaze slid sideways to the door. I found myself wondering if Adam would wait until Donnie... did something bad. Like that crazed dog.

A knock on the door. Among the three of us only I tensed. My hair stood up all over my neck, and my feet tapped, ruffling the hem of my flowered dress and making an almost raining pitter-pat on the threadbare carpet.

"Manda!" Donnie's drawl clawed through and around the locked door. Maybe it was my imagination, but I swore I could smell the bourbon on his breath. "Ain't it time I met those cute little ones of your'n?" His voice dripped sarcasm. "How come you been hidin' them from me? You know we talked of this."

I didn't want to answer. My feet tapped, but my body felt glued to the sofa.

Another knock, more determined and threatening. Adam gazed at the door, impassive and curious the way a normal eight year old might look. Grace hummed to herself, twisting and twirling her golden hair in the pale light of the dim bulb hanging unshaded from the middle of the ceiling. "Manda! Don't keep your man waiting on the doorstep now!"

Adam swiveled his gaze to me. "Shall I let him in, Mom?"

I tried to think nothing, tried to feel nothing. Did I want Donnie to come in? Did I want what I knew was going to happen? Or did I want... what? More pain?

Grace tilted her head to one side and smiled at me in the mirror. "Let him in, Mommy." Her smile was so genuine and innocent, so untroubled by the past, so unconcerned with the future.

My eyes flicked to Adam, and he knew.

A moment later, just when the pounding on the door was about to begin again, the door vanished. It didn't explode or open or disintegrate; it just ceased to be. The children seemed not to notice, but Donnie noticed as his hand, in mid-pound, swung down where the door had been and carried his body with it, stumbling out of the darkness into my dim living room. "What the hell?"

He righted himself, wobbling slightly, his eyes squinty and his hair jagged from under his cap. He looked first at me, triumph and disdain mixed in his sneer, then glanced past Adam to have his drunken gaze rest on Grace. Just eleven, she had the body of a voluptuous sixteen year old, and I saw the hunger, the lust rising in Donnie's eyes. "Well, Manda, you didn't tell me you had a sister."

I tried to speak, but my mouth felt filled with dust, and my body began to quiver. Adam observed us both at once, watching Donnie with his eyes and watching me with... some other part of him. Donnie moved toward Grace, his hands greasy and his shirt sweat-stained, and I felt it then. The anger, the revulsion. I glanced at Adam.

"You're doing it, Mom." He watched, a little smile curling the edges of his mouth. "Don't hold it back. Let it happen. You can do it, too." His mouth didn't move, but I heard his voice in my head. "It's the right thing. You know it is."

As Donnie's hand reached out to touch Grace's hair, I let go of something inside. I didn't understand it, didn't know what I was doing. It felt like that moment when you've been holding in the pee for hours and you finally let it loose, a relief, a breaking of something, a flooding of energy. And Donnie vanished.

He didn't explode. He didn't disintegrate. He just ceased to be.

Adam's smile had made itself complete now. And I understood.

"I guess," I said to him, "I'm not one for sentimental endings either."

get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday
Technorati tags: ,

October 7, 2007

Cub scout time

fundraiser time!