Archive for September, 2008

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Thanks, Garth Stein

September 21, 2008

Minutes ago I finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which when I started, I expected to be another “Marley and Me.” In that it is about a dog’s love for its people and its peoples’ love of the dog, the two books are alike. But there is a sad undertone throughout “Racing in the Rain,” that I never felt in “Marley.”

Here’s why: from the beginning we know that Enzo (the pooch!) is recalling his life story on the eve of his death. That fact struck like an arrow in my heart because only a month ago I had to put my dog to sleep. A first for me even though I’ve been around for a few decades.

I’ve had other dogs die, but never before did I have to decide. This time I had to look my poor, sick, trusting Nikki in the eyes and tell her good-bye. Others have walked that walk and know how brutally hard it is. It was the right decision because she was a senior dog with a serious illness, but no less gut-wrenching.

Enzo’s tale helped me believe that if Nikki could have talked, she would have told me it was okay. She would have said that she was ready to stop hurting and to not be sick. She might have told me she loved me, our family, and would miss us, but she needed to rest peacefully.

For any dog lovers, the book is worth reading. For those who just like to read, I recommend it, too. It’s a life story, with the ups and downs and peaks and valleys of real life, yet it ends with hope. Something I always appreciate in my pleasure reading.

Especially for me, I am thankful for a newfound peace of mind from the book. My sense of guilt in making the decision to end Nikki’s struggle eased and I believe like Enzo, she will return to life in human form and I’ll bump into her someday.

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Check, balance and re-check!

September 20, 2008

What a frightening two weeks it’s been in America! The pile of “financial giant” rubble continues to grow. Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, our government rides in to the rescue.

I don’t necessarily disagree with that approach because we need to salvage our financial infrastructure; however, it is tiresome that we pick up after corporations while American families struggle to make ends meet. Many fail, and getting ahead seems a thing of the past to most of us.

Case in point: Lehman Brothers. As far as I can tell this was/is a publicly held company. The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) laws apply, right?

Those are the laws put into place after Enron and its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, stole millions from employees. Didn’t we learn then that many behemoth corporations and their leaders are not to be trusted? I believed, perhaps naively, that via the SOX act, federal government had done its job to protect Americans and America’s financial infrastructure.

Recent events seem to me to prove the point that we cannot legislate away every problem and potential problem as we are so wont to do in this country.  But once again as Congress and the President execute a plan to salvage Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc., this is my public plea to every U.S. senator and representative and to the President to put in place impermeable checks and balances that cannot be changed when selfish, greedy corporate leaders come up with new schemes and scams to fatten their collective wallets.

Our country, and its future generations, cannot afford to foot the bill for any more of these piggish scum concerned only with their own opulence. ABC News reported of one such executive who apparently feels entitled to sympathy from the rest of us because he had to give up his private jet.

Really? Gimme a break! We have millions in this country who would be grateful for a reliable car to get to and from a $25-30K job, and maybe an occasional vacation by commercial jet. Go to your room, Mr. Executive, and don’t come out until you fully appreciate the scope of your self-centeredness. Then start donating your excess to others in need.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle

September 14, 2008

Have you tried Craig’s List? The “mother ship” of all garage sales where my junk becomes someone else’s treasure! It’s a great way to reuse!

Of the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, I think I like reuse the best. When we reuse we are in a sense recycling and we certainly reduce our waste. Craig’s List lets us reuse others’ things.

Here are a few more reuse tips:

  • Repair items as much as possible.
  • Use durable coffee mugs or drinking glasses.
  • Use cloth napkins or towels.
  • Clean out juice bottles and use them for water (be sure to clean them regularly with hot, soapy water.)
  • Use empty jars to hold leftover food (be sure to clean them regularly with hot, soapy water.)
  • Reuse boxes.
  • Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
  • Participate in a paint collection and reuse program.
  • Donate extras to people you know or to charity instead of throwing them away.
  • Buy cloth shopping bags and use them at stores.
  • I’m sure you can think of more. The last one is fashionable now. Not so a few years back, when I was ahead of my time. So the cotton mesh bags I requested the family give me for a giftback then, I use proudly now after driving them around in my vehicle’s trunk for years.

    Add other ways to reuse as comments to this blog and I’ll post them.

    Source: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/home.htm

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    Patriot Day 2008

    September 11, 2008

    Immediately I thought of my husband. A police officer. We lived more than 1,500 miles away but nobody seemed to know exactly was happening.

     

    “We’re hearing reports of possible terrorism,” the DJ on my car radio blurted.

     

    Terrorism was not a word in my daily vocabulary on Sept. 10. Seven years later, it is a permanent part of my lexicon.

     

    This year is the seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That day in our history changed us all, and the world around us. It is a day we must never forget full of moments we must never forget.

    Stop for a moment. I know it’s painful, but recall to your mind’s eye the pictures of planes – jets – flying into those towers. See the burning Pentagon. Think about the hole left in the ground from the crash of United Flight 93. If you’re like me, tears come instantly even after all this time.

    We now call September 11 “Patriot Day.” We can and should always be proud of our country, but especially on September 11, let us stand proudly as Americans. Shoulder to shoulder, from coast to coast, border to border. We live in a land defined by freedom and courage that does not crumble when attacked.

     

    We stand tall and we fight back. We fight back to be certain our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren never know less than freedom and blessing in their lives.

     

    Still today tens of thousands of brave men and women in uniform fight in the War on Terror for our safety here at home—they are our family members, our co-workers, our neighbors. Hold them in your prayers and thank them any chance you get for the rights and privileges they protect for each one of us.

    Let us all be peaceful on this day, at least on this day. We are alive with our families while thousands of others are missing a loved one. They look at pictures taken since 2001 and see a hole where mom or dad or brother or sister used to be. They will never forget this day and neither should the rest of us.

     

    Hang your American flag. Wear red, white and blue. Don a flag pin. Promote your patriotism with pride and celebrate the memory of all those we lost that blue-skied, sunny September morning…spoiled so abruptly by black smoke and thick white dust. Be silent for a moment at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, when the first attack occurred. And always remember.

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    Lipstick?

    September 10, 2008

    I am not the biggest fan of Barack Obama…it’s unlikely I will vote for him. But I’m not really a fan of John McCain either. And as I wrote in another post, I truly hope none of us will vote solely on the basis of gender, color or age. Let’s just vote for who we believe will do the best job.

    That said, I can hardly believe the latest brouhaha over Barack’s “lipstick” comment. I absolutely do not believe he intended anything by it, toward Sarah Palin (or any other woman).

    I think it was one of those times – we’ve all had them! – where somebody says something (Gov. Palin mentioned lipstick), it sticks in your head and soon pops out of your mouth. No malice implied or planned. Simple human nature.

    It may not show orignal thinking on Sen. Obama’s part, but I truly do not believe he was being derogatory toward Gov. Palin.

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    Goin’ green back to school

    September 1, 2008

    Check out the Green Office Web site for school supply packages with green products customized by grade. I know every school and every teacher seems to have their own special supply lists, but these packages have the basics your student needs. There’s even a teacher kit. I’m not a teacher (yet) but I want to get that one since a I am a writer and writers need paper, pens, etc. I might as well reduce my carbon footprint since I’m buying them and using them anyway. For $49.99 I get:

    Green Teacher Kit
    This kit contains eco-friendly and non-toxic school supplies including:

    The K-2nd grade kit is $16.99, grades 3-5 is $24.99 and grades 6-12 is $29.99. We all probably spend close to that anyway for all those chemical-filled products. Less chemicals are better for each of us as people, young and old, and better for the environment.

    You can shop on the site for individual products, too, if the packages don’t interest you. And look for other household products, office supplies and even furniture while you’re there. www.thegreenoffice.com

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    Fill in the blanks

    September 1, 2008

    At last we know who both presidential candidates picked for VP. I’m not sure what to make of either one, but at least now all the cards are on the table.

    For the obvious reason, I like Gov. Palin. She’s a she…like me. But I never want to be the sort of person who makes a pick based on gender, color, religion, etc. I want to choose the best leader.

    Until about 10:58 a.m. ET Friday, I (and probably many other Americans) could not have told you who Alaska’s governor was, so I am reluctant to readily embrace McCain’s choice. All I’ve heard to date is she’a “hockey mom” with a journalism degree who hunts, has five children and has been governor for two years. Still nothing substantive on which I can cast a vote for U.S. president.

    Biden on the other hand has name recognition. But I have a feeling if this was a private sector deal and Obama had just been hired as CEO, while Biden only got a VP position, Biden would never last. He would be bitter because he didn’t picked as CEO while this young climber with little experience was running the show. That rarely works in business and I don’t see it working well in government. Government has its own unique and often bizarre operating rules, but at its core, the systems – and the people – function much the same as on the private side.

    As I see it, both sides now owe us some solid answers. I want Palin to tell us what she accomplished for Alaska and its people. I want Obama to tell us, without script in hand, what he will accomplish for America and its people.

    I want all four to answer tough questions with real answers. No buzzwords, no PR spin, no marketing fluff. Be real. Prove why you should be allowed the privilege of leading this great nation for four years. And do it soon, please–the clock is ticking quickly away to Nov. 4.

    (Oh by the way, stay out of the Gulf Coast. You’re not president yet, either one of you. Go on with the Republican convention, get on with a campaign that tell us what you will do for America and how you will do it. Let President Bush and his administration deal with the Gustav crisis.)