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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

As the “survivor”, I too am confronted with the five stages. I seem to be following the classic path, but having that knowledge doesn’t seem to mitigate the suffering. I remain intermittently distraught and withdrawn. Anyone who has gone through the five stages knows you can bounce back and forth as you move toward the inevitable “acceptance”.

When I first learned of the illness, my initial reaction was indeed denial. There was just no way it could be happening. As the months went by and evidence of the disease manifested itself more and more, I gradually replaced my denial with anger, at times, fairly extreme. I’m sure friends wondered why I wasn’t my usual jovial self. Occasionally, I was overtly unpleasant.

As a non-believer, I wasted little time in the bargaining phase. I’ll confess that I did contribute a substantial sum of money in the hope that it would be used to reverse the progress of this ugly ailment, but most of my time was spent in anger. I have moved on to the depression stage. My sense of humor has gone dormant, hopefully, not dead.

The only remaining stage is “acceptance”. I’m definitely not there yet. In some respects, I hope I don’t get there. To accept is to surrender. Submission has never been one of my finest attributes.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday, January 20th. I truly hope it helps me get out of my current funk, but optimism is in short supply. The funeral takes place in Washington, D.C. as a new President is sworn into office. Together with many of my fellow citizens, I will mourn the death of civilization as we’ve known it for all my lifetime. It has been said that American democracy was an experiment. It appears that in the wake of our past election, that experiment has failed.

I mourn the death of civility in American politics. I lament the passing of a great country where people of all races, religions and lifestyles had nearly gained the respect of their fellow countrymen. I shed a tear at the departure of the era of truth where honesty mattered. I’m white, male, financially comfortable and in good health. By those measures, I should be celebrating. But I can’t bring myself to turn my back on others who face the loss of their hard earned freedoms. I don’t want to see the rise of hate, a new era of bigotry, the face of misogyny and a world of misology.

I’ve never liked funerals. I especially am not going to like this one. From dust to dust.

 

Obama and the Great British Petroleum Scandal

Damn Harry Truman! Harry was President when I was born. And here I am a mere 5’8” in height. Truman could have done something, maybe sent in the government to insist the hospital staff do something to accelerate bone growth. My basketball career was done before it ever got started thanks to Harry T. What is government for if not to help citizens like me? Hey, Harry – I thought you said the buck stops with you.

By the mid-fifties, I was playing hockey on the frozen ponds of Michigan. Hockey sticks weren’t cheap and I ended up breaking my share. Where the hell was Ike when this was going on? Those diabolical Canadians were obviously selling cheap “Northland” hockey sticks to the kids in the U.S. to keep them from becoming a hockey power. The proof can be seen in the results of the recent Winter Olympics where Canada beat the Americans by a goal. The whole time this was going on Ike was visibly absent. He could have stepped in, but he didn’t. And there you have it – we lost the gold.

In the sixties, I was at the lake when a freak storm blew over a tree which knocked over a power pole which sent a big electric transformer crashing through the roof of our neighbor’s house. There was only one way off the island with its five houses and the fire that burned in one of them blocked access to the bridge. We were trapped. No one came to the rescue for over three hours. Where was Lyndon Johnson as this was going on? Why didn’t he have an emergency backup plan ready to go? Wasn’t his job to anticipate such problems and deal with them when and if necessary? He fell down on the job. That’s probably why he didn’t run for another term. The incompetent bastard!

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Is the Sierra Club Pulling My Leg?

It wasn’t long ago, I wrote a piece about why I belong to the Sierra Club.  It proves there can be more to a situation than meets the eye. Membership carries certain privileges and benefits, one of which is the monthly magazine. I was thumbing through a recent issue when I came upon an advertisement that left me speechless and shaking my head.

Keep in mind the Sierra Club is dedicated to protecting the planet, promoting clean and green energy, activities and lifestyles. The image of a Sierra Club member is one of a young, fit, outdoorsy, tree hugging, activist working against anything and everything polluting or harmful to the world around us. Clean energy, green transportation, resilient habitats, and reduced carbon footprints are all prominent goals of this organization founded more than 100 years ago.

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Water on the Brain and the Politics of Shortage

I confess; I’ve been playing. I spent the past week driving up the California coast to get to a magnificent resort in Boyes Hot Springs about an hour north of San Francisco. I’d forgotten how spectacularly beautiful the coast is between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. If you know anything about the geography of California, you know Highway 1 along the coast isn’t the fastest route from point A to point B.

I didn’t have the luxury of taking three days to make the return drive from Sonoma to San Diego. I went east out of the San Francisco area and headed for Interstate 5 where I could set the cruise control at 0.001 mph below the speeding ticket limit and get a straight shot into San Diego. I’ve driven that road many times over the past thirty five years and remember it lined with agricultural fields and orchards from Stockton to Bakersfield. The San Joachin valley is commonly referred to as the bread basket of America. A substantial percentage of our nation’s food is grown in central California. Or should I say it used to be?

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Why I Belong to the Sierra Club

I don’t always agree with them. In fact, I frequently disagree with them. I have been to a couple of their events and found that many of them seem to be naïve, idealistic, air-heads on crusades to save the planet from humanity at the expense of humanity. The common thread in most of their campaigns comes across as the world will be a better place if every human holds its breath until he turns blue, falls over and mulches himself. They look to be visionaries, but only while looking down a length of sewer pipe. Sometimes they see the big picture; other times they can’t see beyond the ends of their noses. Yet I have been a Sierra Club member for many years.

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Still Don’t Believe in Global Warming?

We humans are programmed to make assumptions, to extrapolate, to assume things move gradually from the past and into the future. If we see an object rolling down a slope, we’re wired to conclude it will gradually gain speed and ultimately reach the bottom of the slope. This ability serves us well when shooting clay pigeons, jumping on escalators, and swatting flies with a newspaper. Problems arise when the phenomenon being observed is more complicated than the simple, linear events we’re accustomed to seeing.

Consider a couple of rather poignant examples. House prices will always go up so buying a house is the only safe and secure investment a person can make. For a long time, that was true. House prices bounced a little, but by and large they increased continuously for a long time. But nothing increases forever, not even entropy. Many Americans were lulled into a false sense of security, but have now learned the meaning of terms like “short sale”, “up-side-down”, and “sheriff’s sale”.

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Time to Panic – Part 4 of 4 – Now What?

In the first three parts of this series, I’ve tried to avoid the techno-jargon while addressing the absolute minimum I believe every American needs to know about the global warming debate. In Part 2, I emphasized that it may literally be a matter of life and death that we come to grips with the concept of a “tipping point” before we reach one.  Part 3 tried to shed some light on the most common arguments against anthropogenic (human caused) global warming and why they are fallacious.  In this final part, I talk about a couple of common sense considerations that should leave little question as the qualitative, if not quantitative, impact of our actions on the planet and mankind’s future upon it.

“I won’t drop it.”  [CRASH]

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