Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Please Read

Many know that my husband and I lived in Alaska.  Much of my career was spent working on natural resource development.  I held political appointments to executive responsibility in both the regional office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and, later, the State Department of Environmental Conservation.  In a decade of consulting I worked with clients in both the timber and oil drilling industries.  I believe that resource development is compatible with the lifestyle and economic goals of modern society.  Resource development is always accompanied by debate over the possible risks.  In the United States we have a permitting process that incorporates important features of a regulatory program: unambiguous statutory authority; a documented basis for concern; protective standards; documented compliance; and a means of enforcement.  The public have the right and the opportunity to receive information and comment at every step along the way.  This process works well.  Since the passage of  major environmental legislation over thirty years ago the air and water are significantly cleaner.

Sometimes an issue draws so much attention that communications campaigns are launched by those for or against. This has happened with the proposed development of the Pebble copper deposit in Western Alaska.  I support providing information, describing personal values and offering a point of view.  I don't support creating false facts.  For an analysis of a recent campaign against Pebble, please read the November 29 post on Andrew Halcro's blog.  Please also visit the web site of the Pebble Partnership.  The Pebble project is moving through required permitting.  A truthful exchange of views is part of that process.  Created facts are not.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Sometimes words get over-used.  Too much exposure.  Before the events of Sept 11, 2001, "horrific" was seldom used.  It was especially not used by television broadcasters.  Someone used "horrific" in searching for a way to convey the dreadful events of that day, and since then, all frightful events reported on TV are "horrific". 

A word you don't hear so often is "thrilling".  Perhaps one man's thrill is another's ennui.  Perhaps the idea of a thrill has been trivialized when "thrilled" is used simply to accept an invitation to lunch.  As I prepared a meal this holiday, and fussed with table linens and flowers, I listened to Verdi's opera "Attila".  For me, Verdi is thrilling.  I catch my breath, wait for the chords to resolve.  I stop and listen to each crescendo.   I never tire of the music.  Roller coasters are not thrilling.  Not for me.  Are they for you?  Does the slow climb and heart-stopping plunge thrill you the way Verdi's music does me?  Lucky us if our thrills are within reach. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Go to Your Room

If they are going to act like children, let's treat them like children.  The members of the 112th Congress have squandered the first session and show no likelihood of anything different in the upcoming second session.  Their hand picked committee put the icing on the cake.  Representative Hensarling and Senator Murray can try all they want to suggest that their failure is not a failure.  It is.  They had blue prints from others.  They had the bulliest pulpit.  They had evidence daily of the need for action.  Frustrated, angry and scared constituents were ready to accept some concessions.  The wagon was ready to roll out of the mud.  And they failed. 

Don't blame the President.  Don't blame your party caucus.  Don't blame citizens advocating for their view.  Blame yourselves.  Go to your room.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2012

One year ago today I began this blog.  I have published 94 posts.  I have enjoyed thinking about each topic - sometimes researching something that caught my eye - sometimes just speaking my mind.  I have enjoyed hearing from you, only occasionally as published comments, but more often by email directly to me.  I have read other blogs regularly, and seen issues from a different perspective than my own.  I have almost completed by first turn around the board in my new capacity as "retired".  I am in better shape, sleep more, and am busier than I have ever been.  I am still very much a beginner - at Taekwondo, at sheep herding, at serious piano playing.  I see more of my children and grandchildren.  Tonight I will collect my $200 and start out again. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

First Song

I believe in evolution.  I particularly believe in the way living things change to take best advantage of their physical circumstances.  Read Jonathon Weiner's "The Beak of the Finch: a Story of Evolution in our Time" for a quick immersion course in opportunistic adaptation.  I follow with enthusiasm the continuing drama of new discoveries showing the evolutionary path followed by earliest man.  I stare at images of cave art. 

But what of cave song?  If they took the time to draw, surely they took the time to sing.  What early purpose favored individuals with the lung, larynx and head cavities necessary to song?  What evolutionary turn taught the mind to tune the voice-as-instrument without an external pitch fork?  What lullaby did the cave woman sing to her swaddled babe?  What triumphal aria did the early hunter offer as he carried home his prey?  What deep bass voice looked out at the clouds and forecast rain?  For surely they sang.  Surely they learned the joy of singing together, the power of unison and rhythm.  In my dreams I will hear these early songs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watch this in Awe

Alex Honnold ascends the legendary Half Dome without a rope.  I can barely watch this excellent video.  In his own words, "One wrong move, you fall, you die".  This is not a recent accomplishment, but I have just learned of it.  I thought you would enjoy.

Watch it here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Penn State, My Take

No explanation is satisfactory.  Penn State went on with business as usual today.  They played - and lost to Nebraska.  Former players stood behind the Penn State bench in what they called a "show of solidarity"  Solidarity with what?  What does football mean to Penn State now?  On behalf of football and the larger than life program it had become, Penn State subordinated the basic instinct to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  They knew.  They had to have known. Perhaps not the terrible details, but the fact that looking away was better than sacrifice of the program.  Football made them do it.  They should not play again.

No Running, Jumping or Playing

Those are the instructions for "At Home" care for my little dog, Floss.  She is a young Border Collie.  She herds sheep.  She can run hard for hours.  At home she has an assortment of squeaky toys.  She squeaks, tosses, stomps and throws them.  Our daily walks involve running to and fro, sniffing and stalking squirrels.  and now, no running jumping or playing for four weeks.

Floss's foot will heal easily.  She is young and the injured bone will be ready to begin rebuilding her strength in week five.  By week eight she will be back at her passions - sheep and toys.  But today - day three, no running, jumping or playing.  Just big eyes watching me type from the depths of the large Elizabethan collar she is wearing.  As with our dogs before her, and no doubt as with those who will follow, she adds joy to our lives.  I will care for her as she recovers, as she will care for me when I ask for her soft muzzle and warm company when I am blue.  We share our unconditional commitment.  And, in January, we will walk out into a field again, and share sheep. 

Here is Floss.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Namma Nessa

That is what my daughter's children call me.  I am heading to Anchorage for a visit.  I'll return to my blog next week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tony La Russa

If you read the paper or listen to the radio, or watch a sports cast on television you know that Tony La Russa is retiring  - from baseball.  You can read all about his impressive career.  Less mentioned is his lifetime of advocacy for homeless animals.  His passion was forged into commitment 30 years ago when a feral cat wandered onto the field during an Oakland A's home game.  The story is told on the web pages of "Dog Time".  La Russa and his wife founded the Animal Rescue Foundation to be sure that such creatures could have a safe forever-home.  Fortunately for the countless animals who have been rescued by Animal Rescue, he will carry on in their behalf.