Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Allo, allo?

Je suis a Montreal, au vieux carre de la cite, Outremont. I am in Montreal in an old part of the city called Outremont. It's a ten minute bus ride down to the centre of the old city and the jazz festival going on now, or the art museum which I plan on visiting. Or you can take one of the city- supplied bikes at any one of many ubiquitous locations. There's one about three blocks from this leafy neighborhood of garden townhouses and friendly people. The Boissoneaus are lovely people, Robert and Francoise, and their darling 22 year old son, Nicholas, who is sweet and reminds me of my own gorgeous young man.

One needs a minute to get used to how casual the French are, how warm and unconcerned with the stuff that most americans get uptight over. But that may be because they have free, high quality healthcare here. In fact Robert, my host, availed himself of the local "urgence" (ER) today to see about some flashing lights in his eyes prior to flying off to Europe. He feared a detached retina, surgery, no trip. Goes to ER in a.m., well qualified opthamologist spends a half hour with him, not five minutes, a half hour. Examines his eyes thoroughly, declares it a case of the dehydration of the vitreous liquid behind the retina, typical of aging, and Robert leaves, well cared for, with little waiting time, and it's free. No charge. Sorry , people, this is just a better way to live. Period.

The house is charming, over a hundred plus years old, renovated with all modern amenities. Gorgeous floors, really lofty ceilings, a six foot clawfoot tub and endless hot water, kitchen to die for with every possible gadget and pan, (Robert was once a pastry chef comme moi!) high ceilings throughout, lots of light, lovely Georgetown/Charleston- like garden out back, my little room with a big desk for writing (I chose the small one with a balcony overlooking the jardin), and a five minute walk to every pastry, pate, cafe, epicerie, library, parks galore, and just general oh-thank-you-god-for -giving-me-this- ness you can imagine.

And I most certainly needed it after the super smackdown! I got from the agent in New York who simply found the notion that some women live lives of quiet desperation, with no family to rely on, no friends, devoted to some drunken slob who is mean to them, and with children they would die for, and sometimes do, too incredible to believe. I mean , HALLOO! And she accused me of sexism? Quoi? That agent lives in a tiny world of insular Jewish New Yorkyniss and wouldn't know a good story if it ran her down. Kept trying to tell me I had a failed thriller on my hands, when thriller was never my intention. Her criticisms didn't hold water as they revealed a carelessness on her part when she read, a failure, repeated, to pick up details, and then endless complaints that I left those very same details out of the story! Incroyable! She wanted me to give the reader more than I wanted to, spoon feed the reader, and I refuse to do that. I'm tryin to write something GOOD here, lady, not a fairy tale, or something that will sell to the lowest common denominator. I mean, how can people be so entirely full of sheets?

Needless to say, despite knowing she was very likely wrong and was just too narrow (we used to called them "straight") a person to "get" my characters' idiosyncrasies and humor, I was crushed. It was the snide quality of her comments that got me, never mind they were just plain inaccurate, revealing a prejudgment and careless reading of the material. What did I ever do to deserve snide?

Bet she needs meds to sleep.

I don't.

SO! What does any self-respecting aspiring artiste and foodie do when attacked so cruelly? Well, when in Rome....

I hied on down au Pain Dore ("gilded bread" or french toast, and is it ever!) of course to get me a rich, creamy cafe au lait (I think I'll call that cafe au laid from now on when in Frenchfied areas because it feels that good to drink it) and an eclair au cafe. When I bit into the eclair (my first since Paris in 06), tears -- I kid you not-- TEARS sprang to my eyes at the first taste of that perfect dreaminess.

And WAALAA! I was... redeemed... Screw that bitter old witch of an agent. No romance in that soul.

This cafe, this tiny menu of sweet succor, will be my morning ritual until my heart heals from that mean blow and I am ready to try again with someone new who might actually understand me.

And God bless the French. I would die without them.

truly i would..

please leave a comment.. i could use some.. thanks

Monday, June 28, 2010

Off to the North Country demain... to Montreal via Dixville Notch (above), to be exact. For five weeks or Frenchification and good food, at least I am anticipating that. Crepes at the very least. Like the dinner plate sized buckwheat ones they sell in Brittany at the marche for a euro with sugar or maple syrup on them. YUM.An eclair au cafe perhaps, a real one. With a creamy cafe au lait on the side in a cup you can relate to?

House sitting for a nice (if rather large) pooch and kitty and a couple who are headed for Paree. Montreal is a good second best to that fair city in the French speaking department, I suppose. Found the housesit on, a wonderful and useful website that costs 20 bucks a year to join and voila! you are bombarded with potential housesit gigs from all over the world, including the US. Check it out. One simply can't have a happy life without trusting one's instincts and other people from time to time, so I'm on my way....

A bientot!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Those Pesky Cells

Earth to reader... Busy day today, so I'm going to borrow Mo Dowd's column from the NY Times on June 25 about cellphones and how dumb we all tend to be when it comes to fads for ya'll to read and reprint it below.

Because forwarned is forarmed! Who knew tanning beds and cigarettes could kill us? Well...

June 25, 2010

Are Cells the New Cigarettes?

SAN FRANCISCOThe great cosmic joke would be to find out definitively that the advances we thought were blessings — from the hormones women pump into their bodies all their lives to the fancy phones people wait in line for all night — are really time bombs.
Just as parents now tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew that cigarettes and tanning were bad for you, those kids may grow up to tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew how dangerous it was to hold your phone right next to your head and chat away for hours.
We don’t yet really know the physical and psychological impact of being slaves to technology. We just know that technology is a narcotic. We’re living in the cloud, in a force field, so afraid of being disconnected and plunged into a world of silence and stillness that even if scientists told us our computers would make our arms fall off, we’d probably keep typing.
San Francisco just became the first city in the country to pass legislation making cellphone retailers display radiation levels. The city’s Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 in favor. The one against, the Democrat Sean Elsbernd, said afterward: “It’s a slippery slope. I can go on Google right now and find you a study that says there’s a problem with the Starbucks you’re drinking.”
Different phone models emit anywhere from 0.2 watts per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6 watts, the legal limit. The amount of radio frequency energy seeping into the body and brain is measured by a unit called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
“You see all these kids literally glued to their phones,” Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, told me. “And candidly, my wife was pregnant and on her cellphone nonstop. So I dusted off some studies and started doing research.
“That’s when I discovered that companies who make cellphones are already required to disclose that information to the federal government, and that it exists but somewhere on someone’s Web page on the 88th page.” Why not underscore it, he thought, by alerting consumers at the store, putting the SAR level in the same font as the phone price?
His alarmed advisers, accustomed to seeing the sleek Newsom diving into bold stands without calculating the potential blowback — as with gay marriage — told him to focus on jobs and the economy.
“They said: ‘There you go again. They’re going to mock you. It’s going to be another sideshow,’ ” he recalled. But stroking his baby daughter’s soft head and reading new studies on the vulnerability of children’s thinner skulls to radiation, he persevered.
One Swedish study that followed young people who began using cells as teenagers for 10 years calculated a 400 percent increase in brain tumors. But as Nathaniel Rich recently pointed out in Harper’s, studies about cellphones’ carcinogenic potential all contradict one another, including those involving children.
When Newsom proposed the bill, telecommunications lobbyists went to the mattresses, as did hoteliers, who feared losing convention business.
He said that lobbyists from Washington made it clear that they would invoke “the nuclear option” and come down “like a ton of bricks.”
“This is tobacco money, oil money,” he said. “But these guys from D.C. do not know me because that has exactly the opposite effect. Shame on them, to threaten the city. It’s about as shortsighted as one could get in terms of a brand.”
Months before the bill passed, he read me part of a letter that Marriott sent him: “CTIA — The Wireless Association, which is scheduled to hold a major convention here in October 2010, has already contacted us about canceling their event if the legislation moves forward. They also have told us that they are in contact with Apple, Cisco, Oracle and others who are heavily involved in the industry, as you know, about not holding future events in your city for the same reason.”
Sure enough, when the bill passed Tuesday, CTIA issued a petulant statement that after 2010, it would relocate its annual three-day fall exhibition, with 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and “$80 million” in business, away from San Francisco.
“Since our bill is relatively benign,” Newsom said, “it begs the question, why did they work so hard and spend so much money to kill it? I’ve become more fearful, not less, because of their reaction. It’s like BP. Shouldn’t they be doing whatever it takes to protect their global shareholders?”
So now we have Exhibit No. 1,085 illustrating the brazenness of Big Business.
They should be sending Mayor Newsom a bottle of good California wine for caring about whether kids’ brains get fried, not leaving him worried about whether they’ll avenge themselves in his campaign for lieutenant governor.
He’s resigned to that possibility, just as he is to his own addiction. “I love my iPhone,” he said cheerfully.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

'Cause you gotta have heart!

the human heart...
Rafa and friend doing the splits

the amazing thoroughbred, Secretariat

What does it mean to have "heart"? What's it take to go through life exhilarated by what you do every day? To truly live? To feel truly alive?

For the answer we turn to two reliable worlds of of time honored wisdom:
animals and baseball.

There's a lot we can learn from animals once we stop to pay attention, to tune in. Some people tune in to animals automatically and extend that to the world at large, while some restrict their "tuning in" to animals only (esp. pets), and dull their antennae (their "sensibility" if you will) when dealing with other human beings and life in general. Some avoid animals altogether. (This crowd has a long way to go.) Really tuning takes practice in a busy world full of tempting distractions and threats to your sanity. You need to be still enough to hear what's going on, inside and outside. But tuning in is just the beginning. Once you manage that, what does it take to truly be, to feel, fully alive? the kind of "alive" that's contagious.

When I was out at the VeeBar in Wyoming this month, I heard a story about a great horse. Most folks who follow horse racing at all agree that Secretariat was the greatest race horse that ever lived. His story is the stuff of legends. And his greatness (I mean he beat other horses by as much as 31 lengths in one race!) is, at least in part, attributed to the discovery after his death, when they autopsied him, that his heart was three times the size of a normal thoroughbred's. We are talking a 22 pound heart in an arena of great horses whose hearts generally weigh in at 8 or 9 pounds.

That's a lotta heart!

This is apparently a genetic thing, handed down on the equine female side (of course lots of heart would be a female gene.)

So Secretariat can teach us a lot about what it takes to be fully alive. To go for it every day. "You gotta have heart" , as the old song goes. * "Miles, and miles, and m i i iles of heart!" Hopefully a healthy one. But what else?

The photo above is a diagram of what horse racing calls the Stride Angle of a horse, in this case Secretariat's.

The stride angle is the maximum opening between the front and rear legs, usually occurring at push off from the rear foot. We have found that for every degree you increase the stride angle, you increase the stride length by 2%. This means that if you increase the stride angle just 10°, you will cover 20% more ground with each stride.

A 20% advantage is hard to beat! Was he born with that stride potential? Probably. But you can bet he'd never have perfected it, elongated it, without his trainer putting him through the paces every day. And just look at that stretch! Wide open to LIFE! How's your "Stride Angle"? How far are you willing to stretch?

Having tremendous "heart" is a good start. But what's really important is how that "heart" gets translated into action... or not. We waste a lot of good intentioned energy on sitting around without direction, in ouw own little restricted world, unfocused, without the physical ability to translate our "heart" into action wondering what we should do, afraid to stretch out, when our heart is right there, raising its hand wildly like the classroom geek and trying to get our attention to get us moving. My mom's (God bless her big heart) favorite saying was always "Mood Follows Action!" She believed in this with a zeal that was inspiring. It got me off my ass more times than I can remember. It literally saved me on occasion. Action engenders endorphins, real exhilaration, a sense of fulfillment, of fully living. Most of all, it puts you in motion, and unless you're walking backwards, it reminds you you're always moving forward. I'm not talking about running races, I'm talking about getting off our asses and staying alert and physically vital enough to get out there and do something that comes from the heart. Whatever it is.

So, to summarize: Heart + action =stamina = living fully, a good life

Here's some help to get you started:

When you feel like you just aren't gonna make it, sing along with this little tune from the Broadway musical Damn Yankees from the 50s about the heart you need to be a baseball lover. Throw your arms open wide and dance while you're singing it. And let the spirit move you.

"You've gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win
That's when the grin should start
You've gotta have hope
Mustn't sit around and mope
Nothin's half as bad as it may appear
Wait'll next year and hope
When your luck is battin' zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door, there's nothin' to it but to do it
You've gotta have heart
Miles 'n miles n' miles of heart
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you've gotta have heart"

*(Song by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, from the original broadway musical Damn Yankees.)

You can also buy the song on (Itunes doesn't have it) for 99 cents, and it might be one of the best 99 cents you ever spent. Just slap it on your iPod and listen any time you have the blues. Guaranteed to give you happy feet or I will personally give you your 99 cents back! And all you guys out there (and anyone who know me knows I mean MALES when I use the word "guys"), yeah, the ones who "never listen to the words"? Listen this time. I mean, I've got em right there for ya!

And do check out the Stride Angles of these other great race horses for inspiration, then think about the last time you managed to do the splits. If you'd like to be able to do them, see this and this. When's the last time you tried? Never? Too old? No way. Well what are you waiting for?

later, my dears, thanks for tuning in..

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Note to Jeb: Practice looking presidential, not petulant.

I just had to bring this to your attention today. It's a comment by a reader of Mo Dowd's excellent op ed today in the NY times about General "Bigmouth" McChrystal and the flap over an interview he gave to Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone?) wherein he badmouths the White House and refers to VP Biden as "Bite me". I mean, Bite me? His Vice President? Asst. commander in Chief? REally?

This guy has serious issues and I hope Osmiley fires his ass.

The commenter is a Commander himself in the armed forces and had this to say:

"Maureen writes, "Military guys are rarely as smart as they think they are, and they’ve never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military."

One needs to understand the culture and mindset of career military officers. They are taught to make war. They are taught that surest road to flag rank is to fight in a war. War is good, War is just. And as I observed in so many of my colleagues, war is better than no war at all. It is life that is attended with all of the bravado and posturing one would expect of would be gladiators.

Maureen then writes, "It’s just another sign of the complete incoherence of Afghan policy." Which exactly echoes what Michael Hastings wrote in his Rolling Stone article, "Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock."

I wish Maureen or Bob Herbert or someone would remind their readers that the 09/11 plot was not hatched in Afghanistan. It was hatched in Hamburg, Germany. And the Al Qaeda zealots who were the main players in the 09/11 attack did not train in Afghanistan. They trained right here in America at domestic commercial flight training schools. We were told that since the Taliban government in Afghanistan refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden that we need to invade that country to bring down the Taliban and to capture and bring Bin Laden to justice. Bin Laden has never been captured and certainly won't be no matter how many American troops are sent to die in that country.

Maureen also writes, "Yet we keep killing and making more enemies." Put an exclamation point consisting of the deaths of civilians caused by drone attacks on this statement. Stop and think about this for a minute. We have developed killer technology that puts no American lives at risk but that isn't so precise that it can discriminate between civilian and insurgent. The Afghans and the Pakistanis hate us for this. And that hatred will abide.

[This bit in particular snagged my attention:]

I wish Maureen had written more about the "outrageous cover-up" of the true cause of Pat Tillman's death that General McChrystal orchestrated.
The General lied through his teeth in an effort to hide from Tillman's parents and the world the fact that Pat Tillman was fragged by his own troops because of his anti-war views. That's not just outrageous, that is despicably evil.

Sadly, politics may well intervene in the McChrystal matter. Obama may choose to make the General "his man" by pocketing his resignation and then holding it over him while the blood-thirsty McChrystal toes the line and does the President's bidding."

Well... alrightythen. I say yea to this commander, and yea to any other military person with the guts to speak up against tyranny. Takes guts, the kind McChrystal seems to be sadly lacking.

In the Upside News Today: A cool old gal in Concord, Mass. is trying to ban the sale of bottled water in her town. The state attorneys gen are checking that one out. You know coke and papsi will have somethin to say about it.

Finally, back to the McChrystal flap briefly. I wonder what ol Jeb Bush is doing?And if he might have something to say about Owhiney's military problems? this Bush is the scary one people, he has a brain available for use if he needs it for anything. Whatever he does you can bet he's got one eye on 2012 (a frightening prospect, but, really. How much scarier can the country get?And the dynasty must continue!) and the other on defending bro George from Omama's "assaults", like blaming W for the financial collapse, or the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a dozen other problems he's ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR. Did you know that blaming others for your mistakes is one of the primary traits of a sociopath? This can't be news to everyone.

Just one more to chew on: It would appear their is a culture of child porn on the Disney campuses. No lie. It's too prolific to be believed. People getting jobs at various Disney venues so they can... watch kids? or what? Just plain s t r a n g e, people. dozens of incidents in the last year alone.

I gotta go take a shower..

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

YESSIREE, BOY, I NAILED THAT BABY! AT 10:40 p.m. tonight!

THERE IS IT, ON THAT LITTLE THINGAMABOB, UH, THUMB DRIVE ( I love that word. It's so confident and... opposable!)

The Water Carrier goes to New York tomorrow via the wonder of email!
All 61,138 precious words of it!

A fellow writer who makes a good living at it once told me the best days are the ones where you mail your manuscript out. He said that's the day you buy champagne. That it never gets better than that, no matter what follows, whether raging success or dismal failure. I didn't believe him when he said it, and now I know he was right.

Despite all other stresses at present, I had a moment editing tonight (overtired?) when a short passage of my own written words brought tears to my eyes and I said aloud to the echoing room "That's really beautiful, Cath." It was an intensely special moment, all by myself, and I wouldn't trade it for anything on earth. It was mine alone and I am very grateful. This is what we live for. This is why we write.

Thanks, Baldwin, wherever you are.

Cross your fingers, everybody!!
A very excited Cat...

Active Oil Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico ......

Alright my darlings...

In the wake of a series of rather seismic personal upsets (please don't ask) coupled with an agent deadline, and in lieu of my usual tirade, I give you this week's Harper's Weekly, for which I have not ask their permission but do not anticipate making one dime from, and which is more than enough to keep you entertained and laughing in your beer until I can recoup and get back to you... Mama always insisted one carry on, and so did Dad, and so we shall. Lots of love to anyone who cares enough to tune in, Cat.

Weekly Review

President Barack Obama premiered a new political narrative
of the BP oil spill during a nationally televised
address. Instead of portraying government efforts as a
cleanup, Obama described a "battle plan": the oil flowing
from the destroyed BP wellhead was not an industrial
accident but a "siege" and an "assault [on] our shores."
BP announced that it would cease paying dividends to
shareholders and instead hoard money for use in future
lawsuits. CEO Tony Hayward said that he cared about the
"small people," then went sailing. Americans remained in
favor of offshore drilling, members of Congress sold their
shares in oil and gas companies as quickly as they could,
and Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that he was a
politician and proud of it. Africans were accused of
wasting "obscene" amounts of food, and a "cooker
malfunction" in a Campbell's Soup factory in Paris, Texas,
forced the recall of 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs with
meatballs. An American man arrested in Pakistan in
possession of a pistol, a sword, night-vision equipment,
and Christian religious books, who was believed to be
trying to find and kill or convert Osama bin Laden, was
found to have a history of mental problems. Ali Larijani,
speaker of the Iranian Parliament, warned "certain
adventurous countries" not to inspect his country's cargo
ships at sea.

The Supreme Court of California heard arguments as to
whether only people capable of procreating should be
allowed to marry, and Catholics in New York State came out
against legislation that would abolish fault-only
divorce. "New York State has one of the lowest divorce
rates in the country," said Richard E. Barnes, executive
director of the New York State Catholic Conference. "While
we see that as a cause for state pride, sadly some may see
it as a problem to be corrected." The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration reported that "female Viagra" makes women
depressed, dizzy, and lightheaded but does not increase
their sexual satisfaction, and Harvard scientists
determined that American doctors will work harder if they
are paid less. A study commissioned by Mayor Michael
Bloomberg revealed that New York City's administrators
know far less about rats than previously assumed, and
Andrew Cuomo, a gubernatorial candidate in the state,
clarified his stance on pasta cookery. "As an independent
Democrat," he said, "I eat everybody's lasagna. I eat
conservatives' lasagna. I eat liberal lasagna." Research
showed that fat women have a much harder time finding
sexual partners than do fat men, and childhood educators
dismissed the importance of best friends. "Parents
sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend," said
Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute
and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. "We say he
doesn't need a best friend." In Munich, a young man
dressed only in his underwear mooned a group of Hells
Angels, threw a puppy at them, and then fled on a stolen

Incidences of suspected fraud by American soldiers,
mercenaries, and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan were
up 18 percent over last year, and a funeral-home director
in Findlay, Ohio, was arrested for failing to wear clothes
in the presence of a corpse. The U.S. Department of
Transportation debated the legality of serving peanuts on
commercial airliners, and food scientists at Penn State
University found that "supertasters" who "live in a neon
taste world" experience salty and bitter flavors more
intensely than their "pastel" non-supertaster
counterparts. In Chicago, the Honorable Richard M. Daley
told local reporters that they hate Walmart because they
live in the suburbs. A growing "epidemic" of Web
pornography prompted the decency group Enough is Enough to
lobby Congress in favor of censoring the Internet; as many
as 60 severed human heads were discovered on a Southwest
Airlines flight to Fort Worth, Texas; and Warren Buffett
and Bill Gates established a foundation whose purpose is
to shame rich people. Incarcerated men were spending more
time with their children. In Botswana, England's Prince
William agreed to blow a young boy's vuvuzela. "There you
go," the prince said after playing the three-foot
trumpet. "I've embarrassed myself again."

And here are a few more little items:

Harry Potter incarnates a la Disney. Yet more moola for Ms. Rowling. What does she do with her zillions, I'd like to know? Anything good?

And in case the Gulf mess isn't enough surreal fantasy for you, check out this shameful display of wealth and total lirrelevence (royalty? In this day and age? come ON) from Sweden. Oh and do watch the videos associated with this link. Priceless. That girl is dumber than mold! To quote Mr. Izzard (my favorite quotable personage), "and that's what happens when cousins marry!"

And if you think you know what you don't know, think again and read this. It's truly interesting and wonderful to think someone is thinking as hard as these guys. Why aren't they running DC? Whoever thought Don Rumsfeld would say something so seemingly unintelligibly intelligent? You have to love a word like anosognosic.

Finally, do you know anyone who is loaded with debt and going under financially? Be sure and send them this. You'd think all those mortgage brokers who weasled people into subprime mortgages or gave them too much asset value on their homes so the people would borrow against them would all be in jail now, right?

NOT. They've got together -- yes they have conventions now to plan their rackets more efficiently! - and created a whole new "market" -- "helping" folks get out of debt by helping them rack up MORE debt? (I have to say this is the single most shameful thing I've read about next to the BP mess all year.)

As soon as I get over this last trauma, I am getting my shoe out for real.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto..

On the up side? Wimbledon's on.. alas I have no TV at present. Next year... No ... really!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(photo courtesy

Happy Father's Day? I think not this year.

It will be the mothers who clean up the mess these greedy men have made.

George to BP: Who's your daddy?

"Under rules formalized by Bush, cleanup of oil and gas drilling is now purely voluntary."

This according to Tim Dickinson (who should get a Pulitzer for this one) of Rolling Stone Magazine, and whose coverage of the oil disaster in the Gulf is thorough and second to none. If you wanna know the real story, and it reads like a Grisham novel, of how this all came about, plan on being shocked when you read his articles (including this one on Ken Salazar, the guy in charge of fixing what Bush and his oil buddies deliberately broke like toddlers on a rampage) in recent issues of RS. But Salazar is no friend to the environment (as i recall a blogger, probably on , stating over a year ago when O'Barmy nominated him to the job at Interior. ) He talks the talk, and then toes the line of the oil industry lobbyists.

"... instead of putting the brakes on new offshore drilling, Salazar immediately throttled it up to record levels. Even though he had scrapped the Bush plan, Salazar put 53 million offshore acres up for lease in the Gulf in his first year alone – an all-time high. The aggressive leasing came as no surprise, given Salazar's track record. "This guy has a long, long history of promoting offshore oil drilling – that's his thing," says Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "He's got a highly specific soft spot for offshore oil drilling." As a senator, Salazar not only steered passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which opened 8 million acres in the Gulf to drilling, he even criticized President Bush for not forcing oil companies to develop existing leases faster."

The current President tells the truth when he says he should take responsibility for this mess. The drilling permit was issued under his watch by his Interior Secretary's department. But of all the oil companies doing bidness with MMS, the ONE they shouldn't have issued permits to was BP.

"Since 2007, according to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, BP has received 760 citations for "egregious and willful" safety violations – those "committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health." The rest of the oil industry combined has received a total of one."

And, God help me, there's more. (No, no, take it away! I can't watch!)

"BP, it is important to note, is less an oil company than a bank that finances oil exploration; unlike ExxonMobil, which owns most of the equipment it uses to drill, BP contracts out almost everything. That includes the Deepwater Horizon rig that it leased from a firm called Transocean. BP shaved $500,000 off its overhead by deploying a blowout preventer without a remote-control trigger – a fail-safe measure required in many countries but not mandated by MMS, thanks to intense industry lobbying. It opted to use cheap, single-walled piping for the well, and installed only six of the 21 cement spacers recommended by its contractor, (say it isn't so!) Halliburton – decisions that significantly increased the risk of a severe explosion. It also skimped on critical testing that could have shown whether explosive gas was getting into the system as it was being cemented, and began removing mud that protected the well before it was sealed with cement plugs."

Face it, the starstruck Obama didn't know what was in store for him when he took office. He doesn't look particularly crooked to me, just naive. A young guy trying to get kudos for bein a nice guy in a mean world. Well, Che was a nice guy in a mean world, but he wasn't afraid to do the hard thing when the situation required it. Obama strikes me as alternately genuinely grateful for the "opportunity" to serve and arrogant (arrogance being invariably the mask of insecurity). If you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen, guy. I mean, this is just insane.

"BP submitted for its Deepwater Horizon well only two months after Obama took office. BP claims that a spill is "unlikely" and states that it anticipates "no adverse impacts" to endangered wildlife or fisheries. Should a spill occur, it says, "no significant adverse impacts are expected" for the region's beaches, wetlands and coastal nesting birds. The company, noting that such elements are "not required" as part of the application, contains no scenario for a potential blowout, and no site-specific plan to respond to a spill. Instead, it cites an Oil Spill Response Plan that it had prepared for the entire Gulf region. Among the sensitive species BP anticipates protecting in the semitropical Gulf? "Walruses" and other cold-water mammals, including sea otters and sea lions. The mistake appears to be the result of a sloppy cut-and-paste job from BP's drilling plans for the Arctic. Even worse: Among the "primary equipment providers" for "rapid deployment of spill response resources," BP inexplicably provides the Web address of a Japanese home-shopping network. Such glaring errors expose the 582-page response "plan" as nothing more than a paperwork exercise. "It was clear that nobody read it," says Ruch, who represents government scientists."

Wow, like bummer... I do wish the fact that I didn't vote for O'Barmy saved me from the angst of buyer's remorse his supporters must feel these days. It doesn't. I feel bad for the country. This would not be happening if Ralph was president.

And there's more about the MMS under Bush, according to those now investigating the agency that was supposed to be preventing things like this:

"this is easily the worst instance of government misconduct we have ever seen."

"The coke-and-sex-crazed atmosphere at MMS may have been the most flagrant scandal at Interior during the Bush years, but it was far from the only one. "The place was like a vending machine," says Sen. Wyden. "The special interests could line up, and out would come the policies they were interested in."

These guys were all raking in serious money, your money, ripping off the American people. And you wonder where the Bush deficit before the 08 meltdown came from? I'll wager this is part of the one-third of the deficit they can't account for (the other two thirds being, they say, Social Security sans lockbox and the War on Terra.)

Anyone who was dumb enough to vote for Bush or McCain or any of the Republican government dismantlers since Nixon ever should be forced to read these articles... s l o w l y. So maybe they'll get it. That includes President Oblimey, whose apparent naivete about the oil companies' good intentions is mind boggling. Like I keep tellin ya, the main lesson of the 60s is that if you think the nefarious political shenanigans in DC that are screwing the average Joe are bad, remember: it's always way worse than you think. Always. And they do it because they can. Greedy politicians and their corporate handlers will use whatever power they can muster to steal the country's riches from the american citizen, unless you stop them. To do that you have to know what the hell's goin on!

So skip the Sunday paper today, turn off the faux "reality TV" and tune in to reading about what's going on, the stuff all these bloggers are trying to warn you about. Forewarned is forearmed.

My final thought: Every time in the past when something disastrous happens or decisions that feel really bad to me are made by the folks "in charge", I've wondered: Are they corrupt or just stupid? I just read that the Obama Campaign was the largest recipient by far of BP "campaign contributions". (It should be noted these were all from individual employees of BP.)

I guess I have my answer, and will never wonder that again.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Here's a little gem my son created when he was a youngun' entitled "At Sea", and I believe it was portentious. It serves as an appropriate introduction to the subject of the younger generation and some recent research on the differences they experience as they attempt to become self sustaining adults in today's world. I recall innumerable conversations with friends about our respective kids that always seem to include the complaint that kids today seem to be quite a bit more behind the curve of maturity than "we" were, we being the boomers. I mean, I had my first job at 13 and was self supporting, up until I had my second child, by the time I was 19 when I dropped out of college. (I had saved for, paid for, borrowed for and dropped out after two years of college only to return decades later to complete a degree in essentially the same major. Way to make your life harder, girl.)

Now, in these conversations with the friends with kids who didn't seem to be "getting" the grown up thing (still needing infusions of money from home, or a car, or living at home now and then for economic reasons, or being wishy washy about jobs or school, or just, well, just plain retarded about, say, living on a budget or saving money or maintaining a significant live- in relationship), we all of us always blamed ourselves. We figured it was our "smothering" that caused this lapse in our kids' personal responsibility, otherwise known as growing up. Of course when I say "we" I'm talking about women. Men, I find, are fiercely reluctant to blame themselves for problems. With them, it's always the other guy (see BP oil spill, Abu Ghraib prison, Blackwater, Halliburton, Katrina, Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Republican party, Democratic party, ex-boyfriends).

Well, ladies, take heart. It turns out that either we did a good job – considering the cultural odds against raising decent human beings – or that collectively, that is, on a global basis, we have all failed miserably as parents. The evidence seems to point to the former. And an article in the NY Times reassures us that this is not solely an American phenomenon, this "lagging maturity", this "lengthening road to adulthood" in our kids. Meaning, they're not leaving home, marrying, having kids, getting settled til way past the time we did, and when they do, fewer of them marry. There are reasons why, and the article and study are well worth your time.

I feel compelled to comment here that I have not witnessed much of this lagging maturity among the children of my more well heeled friends, especially the ones with gay (one member called it "fake") family gatherings with dozens of people, and few serious aspiring artists in the mix. But maybe there's something to be said for that faux gaiety and publicly paraded noblesse oblige. It tends to constrain the young to suck up and deal perhaps? At least until they get out of the house, are on their own, with good benefits that will pay for their breakdown later on and leave mom and dad off the hook. Money in the bank and a two parent supportive household can help insulate kids from the battering less fortunate kids take as they try to make their way in today's absurd (for the average worker) economic world. True, some of those well off kids are total screw ups. It's a crap shoot. But there are trends at work here, and we should be aware of them, and that we are all "At Sea" on an oil filled cultural ocean with a more immediate and invasive presence that the Cuban Missle Crisis ever was. And I seem to recall that being pretty intense and threatening... with longterm effects on the collective psyche.

Those "kids" in their twenties who were running the VeeBar ranch in Wyoming knew what was what. No one needed to tell them how to manage their lives. They live connected to a past and present of meaning and immediacy, no time for lolling about. If you screw up, someone or something loses a leg or dies. For most kids today, the only thing remotely close to that kind of responsibility is feeding the family pet, even then they know Mom is there for backup. It's token responsibility, and kids sense that once they get old enough. That's when they start to resent 'chores'. "This is something a moron can do" they tell themselves. They don't see how it fits into a meaningful plan for living. They want work that has the dignity of meaningful outcome, no matter how small. America is a nation of people who are really just longing for the dignity of meaningful work.

I feel that sometimes for young people this dilemma is really about what John Le Carre called lack of "impact", as in "The impact defines the shape." (From The Naive and Sentimental Lover) Kids now in their late teens and twenties live such insulated lives, even poor kids. They suffer from lack of "impact", coming up against something real enough (guns do not count) to test their mettel and thereby define who they are to themselves and in the world. Nothing builds confidence like meeting a challenge, a real challenge, not that "good job!" crap new parents tell their kids when they manage to brush their teeth. Brushing your teeth isn't a JOB, it's what you do so your teeth don't rot! Next thing you know they'll want to be paid for brushing their teeth!

... sorry. got off on a thing for a minute.

I dunno. I sense that kids (meaning, the under 30 group) today, for all their attitude of entitlement and obnoxious lack of civility and self-centeredness and bad manners, are sadly lacking something. The chance (and you can buy this for your kid if you have a few grand for Global Crossings, Outward Bound, internships) to come up against nature, against the world's real cultural challenges, to feel that impact and be "impacted" , i.e., formed, by it, and to have an impact themselves as well. It oughta be part of some gubmint program, peace corps/ VISTA for high schoolers. Give em something REAL to deal with. (Why I still support Scouting. Unfortunately the world is full of paedophiles. They could probably use a meaningful program as well.)

Jeez, how did I get off on that one?

On a lighter note: Here's an example of the kind of inspiring, open-minded pastor we need more of in the world. Found him on Gail Collins piece today about the crazy Texas Repub congressman who was close to tears the other day whining about how BP was a victim of Obama's "shakedown".

On a not-so-light note: This commenter No. 21) on Gail's piece stopped me in my tracks. He's someone who put two and two together and made four. Who knows more than the public is supposed to know about the BP/Bush- enabled "oil disaster". It's worth your time, but only if you're ready, as they say, to face the music. I don't think this guy sounds like an alarmist. It's what we're all really thinking but don't want to think could really happen. Like someone else said, it's our Chernobyl. So what do we do now? I mean, really. What should WE do?

"This isn't an oil spill. This is an oil geyser. This is a rupture of an oil migration channel at the bottom of the Gulf. The media is using the propaganda of BP to not upset people. An oil spill is a oil tanker, filled oil, that sinks, and then spills oil into the water..etc..Oil spills dont last this long, once the tanker or ship sinks all the oil in it will spill then its over! It doesn't go on for moths or years. We dont know how long it will take to cap this oil rupture ... The Gulf sits on one of largest oil migration channels in the world. This oil rupture could go on for years. What are the contingency plans to save us? How many people will die? Dont you think these are reasonable questions, that our government should provide us with?... Maybe some people dont care? The Obama administration conspired with BP to hide the extent of the oil leak, according to cited federal and state sources. This is treason. Submersibles monitoring the escaping oil from the Gulf seabed are viewing television pictures of what they describe as a “volcanic-like” eruption of oil. This is a volcanic oil eruption out of the sea floor! My God, this is an ecological catastrophe of unknown dimensions. The White House has been resisting releasing any damaging information about the oil disaster. What are they hiding? Arent you scared? Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers experts estimate that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. If this can't be stopped it could cause worldwide catastrophe and extinction of most life forms on earth, including humans. Obama's administration and BP, have been hiding the true nature of this oil volcanic eruption out of the sea floor."

I'm so tired of being lied to. Addiction is a state of being unable (unwilling) to quit something that's bad for you for fear of/without incurring adverse effects. We really are the nation in denial. A nation of junkies. Addicted to comfort, convenience, bad food, oil... We should know better by now. And we will pay for this willful ignorance. I'll wager not one person watching the geyser on TV sees themselves as responsible, or has vowed to cut way back on their energy consumption and get everyone they know to do the same. (Just a little more oil, please? I promise I'll go renewable tomorrow. ) As I read the comments from No. 21, I was taken with the image of a giant arm, the addict's seething, insatiable greed, a huge syringe full of oil plunging into a bruised vein, mainlined, overdose. Blackness.

Yet we simply can't believe that with all their money the oil companies can't fix this one. Ain't no rehab for this problem, folks. You shoulda been payin attention here all those years you were distracted by Osama. All you "small government" types out there? THIS is why we once had regulations and enforcement! Government regulations. The government the Republicans are out to dismantle and appear to have succeeded doing to a greater degree than anyone seems to realize or admit. All except a few lefty bloggers and honest GAO employees of course.

These boys are bound and determined to make me get my shoe out...

Gonna be a long trip back. Better trim the sails...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And we're back...!

High plains and plenty of sky...
a quiet cabin by a rushing river

Yes, we're back (at least I'm back) from a week of "living like animals" – how a friend described us waiting for WiFi to be installed in new flat. (Witty little thing, that Erika.) So now we have high speed, an apartment with a fireplace, a yard with a peach tree, and really good cafe au lait for two bucks (and a very nice, buttery croissant to boot) less than half a leafy mile walk away. What could be better? I adore my new city neighborhood at the top of its highest hill! Who'd a thunk it? Country mouse/ city mouse/ All Same! (My Chinese landlord lives up stairs and we engage in article-free conversations.)

Needless to say I am full of beans with much to say on a variety of subjects. But first let me give a BIG shoutout to the gals I met at the VeeBar.. HEY, wRiders!! How are ya? Bet you miss Wyoming and the terrific folks there as much as I do. It was a wonderful time, better than I could have imagined, and best of all, I met some wonderful, talented women, most of whom don't give themselves nearly enough credit for the work they do, the thoughts they have, their way with and love of words, and their general good natures despite the motley world we live in and the loads they carry around from day to day. So HEY Ya'll! I miss ya! And thanks to Page and Sherri for makin it all possible for us... next year...

I am workin on a final edit of my novel as an agent in NYC appears to be interested in it. Of course I am short on time, what with exploring my neck of the city every day in search of things like Tai Chi classes, chatting up the oriental rug guy, the cafe waitress, the hardware store guys. OMG! the Russian Deli I found yesterday!! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Everyone speaking in rapid fire Russian. They had smoked Whiting for like 4.99 a pound! Years since I' ve enjoyed that! And all these russian language jams and teas and herbals and medicinal things and dried fruit and fresh olives, and cheap! Caviar by the tub.

It's quite European feeling in this part of the city. Of course this makes perfect sense since it was settled by various waves of talented european craftsmen and women once the major landowners (early 1800s), after whom all the streets are named, moved on to greener pastures. Lots of flowers to enjoy, just yard after yard of them, and I don't even have to pull a single weed to revel in their fragrance and beauty. I'm working on ridding myself entirely of the impulse to have things, of the need to embrace them to the extent of ownership, something I used to do too easily. Now I just stop (and seem to be the only person who does this?? Maybe I'll start a trend) and hold a blossom in my fingers for a moment, smell, study it, compliment it, and move on. Minutely sanctified by its beauty. And it's everywhere I look. The gorgeous Lace cap hydrangeas I couldn't grow in Maine to save my life -- in blooming abundance by the tram stop here. Gorgeous.. Michio Kushi, the macrobiotic king, lives here. JFK was born just up the road.

So here are a few gems I came across yesterday that I thought I'd pass along. For those of you who are not yet acquainted with it, is a wonderful source for talks and lectures by innovative, creative people whose thoughts will feed your soul. If you're ever low spirited, and you don't have, say, Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring handy to blast full volume, tune in to TED and let Isabel Allende put life's purpose back in perspective for ya; or maybe hear whatEve Ensler (of Vagina Monologues fame) has to say about our (all of us, male and female) getting into our "girl" side. Or Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on creativity. And for all you recent college grads, how about hearing what JK Rowling (Harry Potter's creator) had to say to the graduates of Harvard about the importance of failure - yup, you heard right. There is no end to the amazing roster of inspiring artists and scientists, thinkers you can find on TED. Musicians? They got the best. It's where all the thinkers are hanging out. I indulged in a good dose of TED last night and felt much the better for it! So check it out. Mark this blog page for a rainy day...

Couple of funny pics I found rooting around in my archive today. (Oh, and yeah, Rumsfeld, you wish!)

Reminders of where we've been. So easy to forget..

London's Daily cover, Nov. 04

I better go try and get something done.

Later, cogitators.