23 November 2009

Fall in NYC

Some pretty pictures for the weekend. Going away to watch family members eat turkey. I'll be eating the veggies. Have a good T-Day, y'all!

22 November 2009

Sarah Palin's Legs

Ms. Palin posed for this picture for Runner's World, wearing running shorts and a long-sleeved, fairly snug-fitting top, leaning against a chair with a flag draped over it, holding what looks like two Blackberrys in one hand. Newsweek reprinted the photo on the cover of a recent issue.

Predictably enough, Palin objected to the use of the photo (which ran right next to a huge headline asking "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?"), claiming Newsweek's use of the photo is "sexist" and "degrading."

Yet Palin posed for the photo, which ran in Runner's World along with several other photos of her in longer, but more snug-fitting, running attire. Not only that, her public persona is built around sex appeal, with those high-heeled shoes and boots, the snug little skirts, blouses, and blazers, fitted so as to accentuate her figure. Then there's the tousled hair and the famous wink.

It's not as if papparazzi snapped an illicit photo of La Palin in a bikini, and Newsweek ran that on the cover.

I suppose I shouldn't be in the least bit surprised. Why should I expect Palin to articulate a reasoned argument this time, when, in 18 months in the public eye, she has yet to suggest that she's capable of any such thing?

20 November 2009

Consuming Holidays

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Valentine's Day. The holiday season is upon us. The lefty websites I read are full of advice about how green gift-giving and fair trade food shopping; the newspapers full of dire predictions about how much weight we'll gain.

(If you're interested, check out some of the links under "Where to Shop" in the right-hand column.)

But what if we scale back on the holidays altogether? Give to the charity of your choice -- or your loved one's choice -- instead of buying a gift, green or otherwise.

Simplify holiday meals and avoid throwing away unused food. Skip a meal once a week for the season; put the money saved in a jar each week, and pull it out next March and do something nice for yourself or someone else.

As others have pointed out before me, buying different stuff isn't going to change the world. Changing our habits altogether, making the effort each year to reduce consumption, and then the following year to reduce consumption some more, is the only real possibility.

Paralytic Diagnostics

The Offspring:
The reason they can't find the bug that's making you sick is because it keeps moving around. It's in your lungs and they test your lungs but it moves somewhere else so they can't find it. So they need to do something to paralyze the bug, and then they will be able to find it.

Well, it's as good as anything the doctors have come up with so far. What could I say? "That's a very good hypothesis."

19 November 2009

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

EKG. Chest Xray. Spirometry. Blood test. EKG. Echocardiogram. CT scan. EKG. Blood test. Blood test. Blood test. Am I missing a blood test? Cardiac stress test. Blood test. Event monitor. Catheter angiogram. Lung function tests. Arterial blood gas test [failed]. Nerve conduction test. Electromyography.

And none of them show anything wrong with me.

18 November 2009

Time to Eat the Dog?

Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living is a new book by Robert Vale and Brenda Vale, authors of several other books about leading an environmentally conscious life. You can't buy it (yet) in the US, but you can look at it at the UK arm of Amazon, where it's described as "one subversive read," or read about it in The Guardian.

I'm not going to pay for international shipping, so I won't be reading the book until it's published in the US. And I'm not about to eat our pet, who has been a beloved member of the household since he adopted us almost two years ago. But here are some of my own ways of trying to reduce his environmental impact.

He eats vegetarian kibble. I researched dog nutrition when we got him and found out that dogs need taurine, an amino acid found only in meat. But the vegetarian dog foods contain synthetic taurine, so we're okay there. I also buy him a vitamin compound to mix with his food, just to be sure.

His dog beds consist of old blankets and towels. Easier to wash than one of those nice thick beds, and already around the house. Toys, leashes, sweaters, carriers .... you can go crazy buying all kinds of new stuff like that, or you can buy one or two items and stick with them until they've fallen apart.

No, I don't want you to eat your dog. And I have no intention of eating ours. But I am asking you to take the pet into consideration when you make decisions about consumption.

17 November 2009

Giving Thanks

My life came to a sudden halt three weeks ago, and I can't quite believe Thanksgiving is almost upon us. But there it is.

It's been a tough three weeks. I get short of breath at the slightest exertion (think: unloading the dishwasher, or even having a conversation), and the docs can't find an explanation. I've had a huge number of tests, some fairly invasive, and those are exhausting in themselves.

Yet I have so many things to be thankful for. The Mate is a pillar of strength. The Offspring is a joy.

I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. The bills are going to start coming in soon, and many of them will have been rejected on one or another technicality, and The Mate (it's always been his job) will be on the phone with the doctors' offices and the insurance company for days, getting it all sorted out. But I don't have to worry about going broke paying all the bills.

I have family. My mother and my mother-in-law each spent several days with us, helping with food shopping, cooking, looking after The Offspring, and being generally supportive.

I have friends. They have busy lives, yet they've taken the time to be with me, to send email messages, to talk on the phone, to help me hold up this burden. I have co-workers who have taken on my work with cheer and good will.

I have a home, I have warm clothing, I have plenty to eat (unlike one in seven Americans, and countless folks across the globe).

I will admit, I'm stressed out and I'm frightened. But I'm also immensely thankful for all that I have.

15 November 2009

Trying to Let Go of Needing a Solution

Wayne Froggart writes about core beliefs people hold that get in the way of happiness, or at least contentment. (Thanks to the writer of Lotsa Laundry for the link.) Stated in extreme forms, these are things like "I need love and approval" and "I must ... make no mistakes."

Here's the one that got me thinking: "Every problem should have an ideal solution."

Maybe not. Maybe every problem doesn't need a solution. Maybe some problems are for someone else to solve, and not for me.

I'm going to spend the next few days holding these ideas close, and see where they take me.

08 November 2009

How Do You Spell House Bill? R-E-L-I-E-F

One of my bigger fears, given that I'm responsible for a family in which every member has a chronic illness, is losing health insurance.

I've written here before about the hassles involved with being lucky enough to have health insurance; "errors" in billing mean roughly every second bill is denied for one reason or another, and The Mate has to spend half an hour or so on the phone getting it re-submitted.

It's not a done deal yet. It has to be further wrangled, and voted on, in the Senate. And it's not going to be perfect. But already I'm feeling immense relief, in political as well as very personal terms.

06 November 2009

The Power of One

Treehugger reminds us that one person can change the world in this article about Earthwatch.

Also, there's the importance of example. If you reuse a coffee cup, chances are a few people in your office will think about following your example, and someone will likely actually do it. If you let your friends and family know, in a low-key and non-judgmental way, how much lower the environmental impact of chicken is, compared to that of beef, maybe someone will eat beef a little less often.

And then from your actions outward, there's a ripple effect. The person you influence will go on to influence others. And so it grows. So hang on to your idealism and keep plugging away.

05 November 2009

Not Ready To Blog About This

Nicholas Kristof, in the Times today:
...our insurance companies evict people from hospitals as soon as they can stagger out of bed.
Guess that's why I'm staggering around at home.

03 November 2009

U. S. S. New York

I read about the arrival of the USS New York, with its tons of steel taken from the rubble of the World Trade Center, with mixed feelings.

I remember the morning, the second plane crash causing a wrenching shift in significance as everyone realized it was no accident: the city had been attacked. I remember the eerie quiet of the day as all ground and air traffic came to a halt. The streaming columns of people leaving Manhattan on foot. The attempts to contact friends and family as the city's tallest cellular transmitter had disappeared and land lines (and with them, internet service -- remember dialup?) clogged.

My mother was a war refugee as a child. On this day, she was aghast at the idea that her daughter, first-born child, brought to America to escape Europe's war ghosts, was living less than two miles from what was happening.

I was not among those who lost friends or family, though there were close calls. I can only imagine the horror and the grief for those who did.

I remember the day after, and the day after that, and the days that followed. The smoke clung to the city, hung over it, permeated doors and windows. Strangers were friendly. We sought to establish a "new normal."

The idea that the towers are back in the city today as part of the USS New York is comforting and exciting. I'm hoping to be able to go over and see the ship.

But I'm also uncomfortable about this: it's a war ship.

What if that metal from the downed towers had been used to create a ship of peace?