Water, Water Everywhere but…

18 Apr

Captain Kirk to the rescue! William Shatner, of Star Trek fame, is proposing a project on the west coast of the USA to build a pipeline from Washington State to Lake Mead in California. The cost? 30 billion dollars…which he hopes to raise through awareness, donations, government support… or whatever.

And I say, why not? We build pipelines for the flow of oil and gas all over the United States and no one ever argues about the cost or about building them in the first place. Below is a map of all of the oil and gas pipelines that we have criss-crossing the country now. That’s a lot of pipe! Only thing is you can’t eat or drink oil or natural gas. And where would you go with your car filled with either if there’s no water there, when you get to wherever it is that you’re going?

We have lots of water in some places and not very much, if any, left in other places and California is one of those places… and it has less than one year of water left! So what’s the plan if disaster should strike and our largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country and one of the largest economies in the world, runs dry?

Mr. Shatner admits that he doesn’t know how to build pipelines and he may not be able to raise 30 billion dollars but someone needs to get the ball rolling and he hopes to start rolling it by creating a conversation and raising some awareness. If Congress can support and advocate for more needless oil pipelines, and get behind the transport and pumping of billions of gallons of water into fracking holes to free up more natural gas just so we can all “prosper” a little more…then why can’t they come up with a plan to move potable water from where it is to where it ain’t so that we can all “live longer” too?

So, I agree with the Captain…with all engines, warp speed!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

16 Apr

Well, if she’s smart, and why shouldn’t she be? She’s in Latin America where she belongs. Why? Because that’s the most positive place on the planet! At least according to a recent Gallop poll in which an average of 7 in 10 adults worldwide report experiencing lots of enjoyment, laughing or smiling often, feeling well-rested, and being treated with respect…

If this is news to you, like it is to me,  then it might be time to move to those countries where folks feel the most positively happy about their lives…and that would include the country that is numero uno in happiness: Paraguay! As in Para-gay. As in Para-happy! Their positive experience index is a whopping 87! And they’ve topped the list 3 years in a row! Which begs the question…Where is Paraguay, anyway?

The United States is tied for 19th with a PEI of 78, which isn’t bad I suppose, but just about anyplace south of the border would be an improvement for us Northern Americans since Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador all scored higher. So go figure! Because whenever I read the paper or watch the news I’m told that they’re fairing so poorly down there that they can’t wait to sneak into here! but I guess…someone forgot to tell them!

Of course you could also take a quick trip up north to the only place up there, that would be Canada, and get happy too…but they’re only 1 point happier than us at 79. So why bother?

However, You definitely want to avoid the least happy place in the world which scored only at 36 in positive experiences per person. That would be Syria. Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan all scored in the 50s and Iran, and Israel came in at 63 and 66 respectively.

So all in all the world wide poll kinda shows us that the Holy Land is not a very Happy Land…while the New World is apparently worlds of fun! So it just goes to show you that if you’ve got something old, rather than fight over who gets to keep it, better to just trade it in for something new…and get happy!… No es así?

Double Identity!

14 Apr

Well, it has finally happened! I apparently am suffering from an identity crisis…and all because my bank has just informed me that I can’t withdraw any money from the drive-up or teller window unless I show them 2 forms of identification! Who do they think I am anyway?… Do I know?

They take my money just fine without so much as a how-do-ya-do…but when I ask for some…just some… of it back? They can’t tell me, from Bonnie and Clyde! The Teller was very nice, and I know it’s not her fault nor her policy, and she gave me my money (this time) with only my driver’s license as ID…(you know, the one that I could only get when I proved who I was by showing 7 points of Identification to the State of New Jersey) oh, AND MY FACE! Did I mention I had my face with me? My face??? The same one I’ve been wearing for 60 years… this May!

She said, “I can give you your money this time because we know who you are. But next time you’ll need to have 2 forms of identification. I guess It’s because of all of the bank fraud and fake IDs going around these day.”

Really? How is it possible that people are defrauding their own banks, where they do their banking,  with fake IDs…IN PERSON?!?! Did I mention that I was wearing my face at the time? And did you notice that her sentence had “We know who you are” in it? That’s probably because I have been going to that bank for 30 years, looking like I always have looked…except a little older each time…with the same ID and the same bank account and the same FACE! And…did I mention…THEY KNOW WHO I AM!

It is now easier to go buy a gun, with one ID (or none?) return to the teller window, and then just hold up the bank and get my money that way, than it is to ask for it politely with 1 ID and a bank check and a signature. And I’d probably get away with it too because when the police showed up the teller would be like, “Gee officer, I don’t know who the man was. All I saw was his gun and 1 form of ID! He could have been anybody… I guess?”

I just hope I don’t live to see the day when I show up to the bank with my bag of IDs, personal attorney and birth certificate and hear the words. “Money? What money?”

Lesser Children of God?

10 Apr

The holiday of Passover has always been one that has intrigued me because it seemed to me to be the celebration of, or perhaps the commemoration of, a truly horrible event. That being the slaying of all of the Egyptian first-born children as punishment by God for Egypt’s transgressions against the Israelites… I.E. hundreds of years of slavery

Anyway, as the story goes, the Angel of Death makes his visit at the behest of God and punishes the Egyptians by slaying all of the Egyptian first born children, while passing over all of the Israelite first-borns because their families had placed a mark above their doors (as directed by God) to let the Angel of Death know that they were not to be harmed. Otherwise, apparently, the Angel of Death could not tell the difference…I guess?

So this was a momentous occasion for The Israelites who have celebrated this event and their subsequent removal from hundreds of years of slavery, for thousands of years since…but not so for the Egyptians, who not only do not commemorate this historical happening but also have never even mentioned it in their histories.

But it always gets me to thinking… Thank God the African Americans did not strike this same deal with their god! Who, as luck would have it is the exact same god as the god in the Passover story….you know…God! The Africans were enslaved for hundreds of years too, right here in America and helped build the great USA, and mostly against their will, if not entirely! And was the first-born of every American singled out for slaughter as retribution for their horrible treatment? Thank God, no. Nor did our president have to send our soldiers chasing them halfway across the parted Atlantic Ocean only to watch the entire army drowned before his very eyes…along with himself! Can you imagine how sorry everyone would have been if that had happened? (Africans excluded of course) And how well we’d be treating Africans now?

Instead there are people even today who would say to the African slaves’ ancestors, “Hey, get over it already. That was a long time ago. And besides look how well we treat you now!”

I know, I know, a new covenant was in place by the 15th century and God did not do that mass smiting of people anymore and America did have to fight the Civil War which was a horrible and tragic event that cost hundreds of thousands of lives..but still…not all of those casualties were in the slaving business, so what was the point? And it’s not like we ever did or had to really let the African slaves go anywhere nor even really say that we were sorry, nor have to feel the actual wrath of God, nor answer to him like the Egyptians had to…so to speak.

I don’t know. Maybe it just wasn’t such a big deal 300 hundred years ago, like it was back in the day, 3,000 years ago? After all people have been around on Earth for over 6,000 years so maybe how we miss-treat people now-a-days just doesn’t get our blood, nor God’s, boiling like it used to. Or maybe we’ve just learned how to forgive ourselves for the bad things that we do. Or perhaps Jesus just runs things differently than his Dad did, or…maybe, just maybe, (and at the risk of blaspheming here) we weren’t all created in God’s image…you know, the way he sees himself… in the mirror…

And like I said, it’s just that those Bible stories and religious holidays always get me to thinking…but what do I know?

It’s Priceless

8 Apr

Duke 68, Wisconsin 63: 2015 NCAA Basketball Championship final score

$1.1 million: Duke university president salary

$525,000: U. of Wisconsin System president salary

$9,682,032: Duke U. basketball coach earnings

$2,946,000: Wisconsin U. basketball coach earnings

$1.67 million: amount earned per conference per team in the field of 64

$27 million: Duke basketball revenue

$800 million: annual NCAA tournament Net in licensing deals

$9 billion: Amount bet by fans on the basketball tournament

Priceless: What student/athletes earn yearly and for participating in the NCAA basketball tournament

No seriously… priceless… as in 0, zip, zilch, Nada, nothing. And for the fans in the stands…

$27,711.00: Average UW-Madison student loan debt

$21,884.00: Average Duke U. student loan debt

Here in the USA we love to be entertained, and we love our entertainers.

Education and our students?… Not so much…

Oh yeah, and by the way, The NCAA is a tax-exempt, non-profit association…their chairman earns 1.7 million dollars per year and they just signed a 10.8 billion dollar, fourteen-year, contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting just to televise college games.

Also Priceless: 501 (c)(3) charitable status…at least it can’t hurt.

What a Pip!

4 Apr

Charles Dickens desk chair

The desk of the late, great Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations and many other famous English novels, has been found! And purchased for £780,000! That’s 1,156, 591.US dollars…and 80 cents.

The desk where I write is probably worth closer to the 80 cents than any other part of that monetary amount…but more than likely it will end up in a landfill somewhere or as kindling for some local fireplace because, alas, I have not written anything famous…except for that last word.

Dickens’ desk however, and accompanying chair (my apologies to the chair…for which truly has the greatest claim to fame? The desk upon which the paper sat or the chair upon which the author sat?) were purchased by England’s National Heritage Memorial Fund and the furniture will go on display at the Charles ­Dickens Museum, one of the author’s former homes in London, where he lived for two years.

More than 1,200 items and places have been preserved by the fund, which exists to safeguard England’s heritage. My desk should at least be famous to some of the members of my family. It’s where I have spent many a moment in my life… when I wasn’t paying any attention to them, that is, so perhaps infamous, would be a better word.

Still…we humans have a strange penchant for wanting to preserve that which we think or feel has some special meaning… for all time. Especially if it is old. The older the better it seems. And the older, the more venerable or holy the object or place becomes. Although sometimes what we think as valuable becomes less so, if even valuable at all, after we die. Then the value of said object or place is up to whoever gets to possess it after you.

In the case of Charles Dickens’ desk, what was once just a desk, where once upon a time a man sat and wrote, is now a million dollar work of art. Whereas my desk?…well, somewhere in the future, someone might be cursing the man who somehow managed to get such a giant monstrosity through such a little door…while they search the rest of the house for the old man’s axe.

But still…a million dollars for a desk!?!!!

Ah well, Somewhere the ghost of Charles Dickens is penning a new novel about poor, hungry, disenfranchised and homeless souls searching for a place to sleep and a crust of bread to eat while somewhere nearby in a large country estate, well-to-do official sorts, sit and discuss over hot tea and crackers how to spend over 1 million dollars on one single museum piece in order to..as the newspaper article so aptly put it, “save the nation’s best heritage in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK.”

Goodnight sweet desk: And £780,000 sing thee to thy rest!…You’ve now got it better than most.

The Future is…Plastics!

1 Apr

I remember when I was very young most things came in bottles or cans or were wrapped in paper or cardboard. My dad would buy a crate of soda for family consumption every now and then and the sodas would always come in large glass bottles that he would clean and re-crate when finished so that he could return them to the store for the deposit, which he would in turn use to purchase more soda…and let me tell you, those sodas would last for a long time. Back in those days you opened a bottle of soda and shared it with the family. There were no sodas for guzzling individually. That was just too much soda for one person at one sitting…and as we all knew, not the healthiest thing for children, teeth and dentist bills.

But then sometime during the sixties something happened and I remember seeing advertisements in the stores announcing what “Everyone had wanted and had been waiting for!” And it was finally here! No deposit, no return, plastic bottles! What a modern convenience for a modern world! Except I had no idea who had been hoping, waiting and praying for no return plastic bottles. Glass seemed just fine to me, but there we all suddenly were. Guzzling sodas of all sizes and shapes and throwing away the bottles. How convenient! How modern! How…just what we asked for?

And before long everything was encased, bottled or surrounded by plastics, or some such derivative of petroleum, even food. And it’s gotten so bad these days that I often have to resort to the use of a hacksaw or blasting caps to extricate whatever new thing I have bought just to get beneath the plastic it’s wrapped in!

Anyway, fast forward 50 years and we now have more than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 metric tons, floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout our entire food chain, from large plastic pieces that can strangle large animals likes seals and turtles to smaller pieces that can be ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

There are plastic bags and plastic bottles and plastic pieces of all shapes and sizes cluttering up our oceans and landfills all around the world. There is even the now famous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” the size of Texas…yes, Texas…the state!!…hovering somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean along with 4 other giant plastic patches scattered about the rest of our world’s oceans and seas.

And researchers say that things are just going to get worse because…oh you know…we are increasing the production of throwaway plastics! Of course we are! Which takes me back to that grocery store sign that I wondered about oh so many years ago…”It’s just  what we’ve always wanted”, isn’t it?”

But on the bright side, okay, dim side, we now have recycling! Unfortunately despite my efforts to push the big blue can to the curb every other week, we only recycle 5% of the world’s plastic crap every year. So plastics are winning. But not to worry because on the flip side of this horrific ecological story is the even darker fact that if we keep on fishing our oceans and dumping our plastics the way we are fishing and dumping them now, (You know for profit) scientists say that by the year 2050 there will be no fish left to choke on the plastics… anyway!

Which is just what I’ve always wanted isn’t it?… because I don’t like fish! Nothing personal mind you. They just taste fishy to me… But sadly, the 3 billion people in our world who rely on fish for their major source of protein and sustenance will be rather put out, along with the fish of course, who together just might be facing the all too familiar, and all too plastic, fate of: …no deposit…no return.

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