Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Media Bias

It's getting old. The more I read, the more I see the bias in what people write. For instance, just this morning as I was going through a stack of accumulated newspapers, I read the following sentence, which stopped me in my proverbial tracks:

“Coleslaw doesn't have to be a mayonnaise-laden mess of shredded cabbage and carrots.”

It's not as though I found this unkind comment on some undisciplined blog either. The comment appeared a week or so ago in the Island Packet in an AP article by one Alison Ladman. Regardless of the writer’s experience with coleslaw, characterizing the mayonnaise-dressed version as a "mess" is wrong, wrong, wrong if one expects to maintain an appearance of objectivity. Whatever her personal feelings about her salad history, a credible writer would in my opinion not indulge them.

Imagine if the writer had said “Those with erectile dysfunction don’t have to be lecherous old fools.” Would no one take offense? This article appeared in the Packet, where everyone takes offense (and where some readers support government subsidized Viagra but not government-subsidized lunch), so of course someone would take offense. Therefore, I am puzzled at the lack of outrage with regard to coleslaw defamation. Media-bias brainwash, I believe.

So having used a journalistic hatchet instead of a suitably sharpened culinary blade, at least Alison Ladman continued with a presentation of three tempting recipes for what she says are better alternatives to the slaw she so disdains. Actually, they sound pretty good. I have no idea why I couldn't find a link to the Packet's article and had to go with one from California. Maybe the Packet saw the bias and rejected continued association with this particular offering of the Associated Press. Doubtful.

For those who wonder, the slaw recipes are for "Fennel, Pea Shoot and Green Grape Slaw," "Apple and Celeriac Slaw," and "Beet Slaw."

Note: As I reread the Beet Slaw recipe, I think I'll try using fresh instead of canned beets. Very thinly sliced raw root vegetables offer a resistance in the mouth that I prefer. On the other hand, they can be hard to digest. So we'll see.

Monday, May 31, 2010

House of Revenge

I don't think this all started last night. More likely, these feuds are ongoing, with only occasional noticeable engagements.

What happened last night is that I saw a large, really large, "palmetto bug" crawling up the wall beside my back door, which I had inadvertently left open a crack. It quickly scuttled behind a mirror, and even though I was grateful to be alerted that the door was open when I'm usually careful to deadbolt it 24/7, my gratitude did not extend to coexistence with such a large intruder. At the next commercial, I got my spray tank and shot the door jamb and all nearby corners, baseboards, etc. Sadly, the pb succumbed. But wait, there was another one ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER! EWWW! So the next thing was to remove all the countertop items and spray all the wall-backsplash-countertop joints. More death. Now I realize that it's been a while since I sprayed the whole house, so I head for my bathroom, and of course found another one. This one was kind of sickly, as pb's are supposed to be in a well-sprayed house, but I gave it a dispatching shot and did that whole room too. Back to the tv.

So this morning, I'm thinking I'll have a swim and as I usually do, I get my pole skimmer to remove the night's accumulation of toad and frog carcasses, but suddenly I realize that there are a couple of those little guys who are alive and trying very hard to evade my reach. As I chase them, I suddenly start to feel like a powerful tyrant cleansing my world of "the other". Hitler comes to mind, and I remind myself of Godwin's law about the overuse of Hitler references. Anyway, I am relieved to see the froggies hop away after I dump the skimmer thing. And I'm thinking that I'm on the side of Good after all. Didn't I check on the crazy wren who crashed into my sliding door yesterday? Yes, I did.

But apparently some little body disagrees and has decided not to live peaceably in my queendom because as I walk around my pool, I see that all my portulaca blossoms are gone and so are my green pepper blossoms. The last time this happened, I blamed it on deer, but now I'm thinking it's whoever dug the holes in the same area. Deer I more or less tolerate because they come and go, but critters who take up residence will rue the day. They may try to avenge all the critters whom I have dispatched, but it'll cost them. I am plotting retaliation as I type this. St. Francis, please look the other way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Where's my honeymoon?"

"What happened to my honeymoon? Aren't I supposed to be getting one from you media guys?" With these nonsensical questions as he tries to clean up after his May 19th appearance on Rachel Maddow's show, Dr. Rand Paul reveals a smudge on his pure individualist principles. Although both Drs. Ron and Rand Paul have whiny singsong voices, I've never heard the dad complain like this.  Does reason really require media acclaim?  If you're right, you're right.  No need for affirmation.

Dude! You stepped in it. You voluntarily came to a national cable-tv interview. You were asked a direct question and you couldn't come up with an answer that would satisfy the masses who vote and yet be consistent with your extreme libertarian views. Welcome to the world that exists outside of theory, where we find that human beings do not behave as theoreticians desire. Ayn Rand's mental gymnastics are interesting but her thinking was often wrong. Her own life proved it. So does the recent life of fellow traveler Gov Mark Sanford, by the way. Life on the planet Earth requires more imagination than simply labeling people as "productive" and "other". Human beings are messy and complicated and while some people soothe themselves by denying the fact that they themselves are messy and complicated, anyone who desires to govern human beings had better prepare himself to have his mellow harshed at times.

Listen, Dr. Rand, I happened to see the Rachel Maddow interview and then watched it again the same night and I tweeted a reply to one of your disciples too, who had already tweeted to a #FreedomFighter, "unfortunately I don't think they'll EVER let him avoid it. This isn't good." I believe she was referring to a #FreedomFighter who had said "Dems are gonna use that transcript to target Dr. Paul. He needs to avoid this civil rights issue from now on."

Our world being what it is, the May 19th Maddow-Paul event took place at the same time that American Idol was airing, and so for those monitoring the "#FreedomFighter" tweets there was the need to comment on both, so that shortly following the above exchange a #Freedom Fighter said, "Crystal is safe! Yay! Go Crystal! (Damn she's hot!)"

Seldom do I agree with Sen. Jon Kyl, but I believe he was exactly right to characterize the nineteen-minute Maddow/Paul interview as "a debate like you had at 2 a.m. in the morning when you're going to college" which is IMO a wonderful thing when you are young and just learning about the world, not so terrific when you are selling your potential to be one of one hundred Senators who make decisions for 300 million Americans.

Grownups who'd like to read a brief and lighthearted commentary on libertariansm might enjoy the Guardian's Michael Tomasky.  He says that libertarianism is kookoo.  To Rand Paul's civil rights quandary, I like what he says in another blog post:
"And by the way, that's very nice, isn't it? Segregated facilities are just the price of a free society. It's free as long as you're not on the receiving end, which is maybe one reason why roughly 99% of Libertarians happen to be white.

For @anniecm and @TonyHaul, and their freedom-fighting (for or against, one wonders) followers, I offer the Ayn Rand Institute Q&A on her own views of libertarianism. Something to chew on between episodes of American Idol and other freedom-fighting events. Or maybe you could peruse it this Sunday morning, now that Dr Rand Paul, Kentucky's Republican Candidate for the United States Senate, has declared himself too exhausted to appear on Meet the Press.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Everybody should have a Dad like Stan Wright

Everybody should have a dad like Stan Wright, but he is apparently the exact right person to be Chely Wright's dad. They both appeared on Oprah today and he struck me as a model of strong solid silence, what we often think typifies men but doesn't really. His silence masked love and support for his child as she told him she is gay and has since shared her truth with the world. How sad that she ever doubted that he would be there for her, but I can understand why. How beautiful that she finally dared to risk finding out who loves her and who doesn't understand love at all. How telling that only two of her peer country singers have contacted her. I guess it's easier to write songs and sing about love than it is to give love.

The Wrights reminded me of the many times I've sat in church and heard homosexuality denounced and wondered how it would feel to be a parent of a beloved gay child and hear such judgment seemingly coming from Almighty God. The Wrights came up believing the preaching to homosexuals that says "the way you are is sinful...God wants you to be some other way...your desires and behavior are are disgusting." And yet, the power of Stan's love overcame all this indoctrination and allowed him to hear his daughter above all that noise.

From Oprah's web site:
Chely's lifelong secret also affected her relationship with her family. "When one lives a closeted life, there's a compartmentalization that happens. That's my experience," she says. "I became a skilled liar, and I lived two different lives."

Then, one day, Chely received a phone call from her father, Stan. "He said: 'Chel, what have I done? Are you mad at me? Is there something wrong? Why aren't we close?'" she says. Soon after, Chely found the courage to tell her father the truth.

After a concert in Missouri, Chely sat with her father and faced her fears. "[I said]: 'I have to tell you something I've needed to tell you my whole life. I've been afraid, though, to tell you because I'm afraid you won't love me, and I'm afraid you'll be ashamed of me. ... I'm gay,'" she says.

At first, Stan didn't say a word. "I grabbed her, and I put my arms around her," he says. "I told her it was all right. It would be fine."

Stan says he was raised to believe that homosexuality was wrong and sinful, but he found out quickly that was not true. "I knew her heart. I knew her mind. I knew her soul," he says. "You hear a lot of times unconditional love. Well, in this old man's world, it's true."

Before passing judgment on others, Stan offers one piece of advice to people in the same situation. "The simplest thing I can tell anyone is, do not close the door," he says. "Open the heart."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dancing with the Starz

The first couple on the dance floor were obviously enjoying themselves and were fun to watch. He was mustachioed, spry and dapper, wearing a long-sleeved white guayabera and tan pants. She was older-looking but still game, wearing a pretty black cocktail dress and black stockings. I really couldn't see their shoes because the ballroom of the retirement community was full, but I'm guessing hers were flats. Anyway, they moved and twirled and soon some other couples joined them. A few in the audience, including me, were dancing in our chairs.

Hilton Head Island is blessed with many good entertainers, but none are better or more versatile than Reggie Deas and the Guyz. This night there were seven Guyz on stage and they obviously were selecting carefully from their repertoire so that dancing was a possibility for people who might not move too quickly. One solo dancer moved unsupported to the music but then used a cane on her way out of the room. Deas-Guyz played on and on and on, for nearly two hours without a break and then returned for another set. They shagged a little, rocked a little, jazzed a little and mostly played and sang music that every American born since 1950 knows. Bless their hearts, there was no homage to Ronnie James Dio, late of Black Sabbath and mourned even on NPR. I love Deas-Guyz no matter what they play.

This was an evening meant to showcase the retirement community in its best light, and certainly it was pleasurable. Nice-looking people enjoying themselves, great music, wonderful food, but something bothered me and it is the same thing that has bothered me for the 20-plus years I've lived on Hilton Head Island: The people enjoying themselves all appeared to be white, and the people creating the enjoyment were mostly brown-skinned. Deas-Guyz is almost all African-American, the servers were African-American, the bus persons were African-American, the visible kitchen staff were African-American, and yet not one single African-American was among the dancers or the other guests.

No matter how nice, how elegant, how safe the community is, there is something distasteful about perpetuating such an obviously skewed division of the spoils. The fact that people like Reggie Deas continue to smile and share their gifts brings tears to my eyes. To suggest that they are victims of an unjust society belies their dignity, and yet something doesn't sit well. May God smile on them and on all the starz who quietly and generously work to provide some modern Tara moments.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Priorities, People. Priorities

As though I weren't already far behind in what I'm supposed to be doing, I see that the people I am voluntarily following on Twitter have tweeted up a storm while I put 700 miles on my car today. Maybe I'm not in the greatest of moods because I was too chicken to pass up the West Virginia gas prices in hopes of a better deal in Ohio, and paid $2.959 only to see a Pilot offering gas at $2.859 a few miles down the road. In Ohio I've been seeing $2.699, only now my tank is three-fourths full. So I'm grouchy.

I was not surprised to read US Senator Jim De Mint's three or four tweets about his border fence bill, as though it had a chance of passing and as though it wasn't completely at odds with his shrunken government philosophy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, some people think that securing the borders is one of very few legitimate government functions, but then again, some people think that the best immigration policy is no immigration policy. The thing is though, Senator, futile tilting at the border windmill might not really be the best use of your time. (I heard on my car radio that Senator Robert Byrd had secured a buncha millions for Homeland Security in West Virginia, which also doesn't fit with your philosophy, but maybe South Carolina could use some securing too if you're spending for a fence someplace in the Southwest? I'm just saying.) And pardon my nitpicking, but would "completing" your 700-mile section really do it for a 2,000 miles of border? According to Whoopi Goldberg, who seems to be as knowledgeable as anyone on this topic, including you, a fence with an end just invites people to walk around it.

But SC Senator Tom Davis' latest tweet tells me all I need to know about why, of all government entities everywhere, the SC State Legislature ranks high on uselessness. Here it is:

"senatortomdavis Compromise bill just passed in the Senate -- the code requirement that all new residences have sprinklers is suspended until January 2014. "

Sprinkler code requirement. Compromise. Suspended. For four years yet. Not even worth a tweet, IMO. OTOH, at least it's fewer than 140 characters, unlike this blog post. one of my favorite Tweeters: Toots, why are you, an esteemed journalist, fixating on Matt Lauer's rumored infidelity? Isn't there a yo-yo man somewhere to be interviewed?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An(other) Unfortunate Incident

If I lived anywhere near the Gulf Coast, and I saw the potential for massive damage to my lifestyle and livelihood, I don't think I'd use a phrase like "unfortunate incident" to describe the ongoing volcano of oil that is erupting underwater following the April 20th explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off of Louisiana.

American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard, however, is saying those very words this morning on tv, while an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil is fouling the Gulf of Mexico every day that the spill continues. Yesterday BP Group CEO Tony Hayward appeared, saying that while his company is responsible for the cleanup, the original oil rig explosion was not their fault because BP only leased the rig from a company called Transocean

I am thinking about the hundreds of plays of the BP commercials that tell us "we have the can do, we have the capability" and all we have to do is "find the [energy] solutions here" and I am wondering what it all means. Steven D at Booman Tribune provides some liberal commentary that is interesting, but in the end outrage at the way America is managing its resources to provide needed energy is futile, as are plans formulated by PR firms and lobbyists and politicians. What is needed is thought, serious thought, about what the "can do" and the "capability" of America's energy resources really are. What is not needed is a public so fixated on comfort and ease that we accept the rationalizations and spin and outright deception on the part of those who wish to exploit common resources for private gain.

And, oh yes, another eleven energy workers lost their lives in the explosion of the oil rig. April was a very bad month for those who work to provide the energy that runs America.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Miners Light the World

"Mining is a way of life in West Virginia"...Senator Jay Rockefeller, 4/25/10

It's all been said, and not enough has been done. Twenty-nine proud Americans died in a mountain in WV, doing the best work that was available to them, work that benefitted every American who ever flips a light switch. I will remember them every time I travel past Beckley, and I will try to remember the words of the Vince Gill song that was sung at their memorial today:

Go rest high on that mountain
Son your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010

The last time I saw my Barbara Mary, she was crying. That was four months after I said to her "Nothing worse will ever happen to you," as I tried to comfort her loss of her 29-day-old firstborn, Christian. Last week I visited their graves and was upset that the flowers I placed there on my last visit were gone. It was raining, and I had to go to the bathroom, and the flowers were gone. I stuck the new ones I had brought in the permanent vase and left. In the grand scheme of loss and misery, missing artificial flowers is bearable, maybe even a gift to distract from the actual reason for being in a cemetery.

Today is the 17th anniversary of my firstborn's death at 31 years old, just seven months after her firstborn died. I'm having a hard time, harder than usual. As I type this, I am soaking wet from working in my garden in an effort to soothe myself with planting flowers, and I have given in to the pain and disappointment. My first child was beautiful and smart, as are the three still living. The promise of a future was there in her bassinet, at her First Communion, at the spelling bees she won, at her high school graduation, but along the way her dreams for herself faded.

Not all of the memories I have of her are as adorable as the one where she said "delissa pie, Mommy" or as sweet as the note she left me on my washer the night her baby brother was born: "I hope you go to the hospital soon and you bring home a boy baby." There was also the time she screamed "Bitch!" at me in the street when I tried to stop the drug activity that was taking place where she was then living. Had she lived longer, she would probably have learned that mothering is a mixed bag.

We didn't always like each other, but we always loved, and I am so sad for everything she missed and is missing. She should be here to watch her son become a man, and to compare notes about life and parents with her sisters and brother. She should have the satisfaction of overcoming mistakes and rising above bad decisions. She should not be lying in the ground, sharing a plot with her own baby son, nearly forgotten by the world and mostly forgotten by those who said they loved her when they were really loving how she made them feel temporarily.

In the end, though, I am grateful to the child who first made me a mother, one of the things I love most about my life. I remember the feeling of running down the subway steps, knowing that I was no longer alone in my body. I hope Barbara had some moments like that too, and I hope she and Christian are somewhere at peace, maybe with my mother and father and brother and all the rest of the family who have passed on and are waiting for me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Cruellest Month

It is of course a cliché to resurrect in April the often quoted line from Part I of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, "APRIL is the cruellest month," but I swear April really is the cruellest month. For me a beautiful sight like the peaceful May River yesterday, with signs of new life everywhere, and the suggestion that God is indeed in His heaven, contrasted with disturbing personal memories of other Aprils, where death was very present, is sometimes too much to contain. And then there is Waco. And Oklahoma City. And now there is Montcoal WV.

I have been looking forward to my first Spring road trip this year and the "almost heaven" feeling of driving through the Appalachians in April, but next week as I pass through the area south of Charleston WV, I will be thinking more about what is inside those mountains than the life that is emerging on the hillsides. I can hardly stop thinking of the horror in the hidden mines now. The Scotch-Irish faces of the miners and mourners remind me of my own origins and clan. I remember that I am the daughter of a working man, a proud and dignified man, but a man who carried a lunchbox, a man who understood how his union empowered him. I wonder what I am doing behind gates on a resort island that does not really celebrate workers. I do not feel peacefully at home. Ah, cruelty. I relate to Eliot's despair.

Part V of The Waste Land is titled "WHAT THE THUNDER SAID" and it alludes to mountains and death, although more cryptographic types than I am might dismiss that simple statement in favor of Eliot's more complicated messages. For me, today, it's about mountains and death in the cruellest month.

AFTER the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fashion Friday

Popular historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is wearing the same jacket on "Morning Joe" that she wore on "Jon Stewart" last night. I like that about her, and I like the jacket. That's why I noticed its repeat appearance. The jacket is reddish and tweedy and fitted and kind of short.

It's not only the jacket that is making a repeat appearance, though. So are Professor Goodwin's remarks about the delaying tactic known as "filibuster": (paraphrased) "They can't even go to the bathroom... Strom Thurmond took a steam bath to get rid of liquids, but he finally had to end his filibuster by going to the bathroom." I guess there's not a lot of entertaining material about the filibuster, although the word itself has an interesting history. I'm kind of not listening to her anymore anyway because I'm trying to get a better look at the jacket. Maybe it's a suit? I hope I'm not going to feel driven to watch Jon Stewart on line to see whether there's a shot of her there that gives me more information about the jacket. Aha! She is standing, and I see that the jacket is just a jacket, not as short as I thought, and that Professor Goodwin is wearing it over a black top and black pants. A very attractive look: practical, stylish but not too stylish, colorful for tv. What's not to like?

Somehow the word "filibuster" reminds me of the character "Phineas T Bluster" who was one of Howdy Doody's Doodyville TX friends on Buffalo Bob Smith's tv show from the 1950's, my formative years. In those days, my fashion interest was expressed through paper dolls, but that's another blog.

Coming up on The View, the real place for "Fashion Friday" is Oscar de la Renta and his fabulous, feminine creations. I'm more of a Professor-Goodwin's-jacket type, but that's just a matter of lifestyle. Fashion! Friday! Yea!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the Unlikely Event

In the unlikely event that someone in the vast universe stumbles upon this blog, may I say right now that I am in no way affiliated with, a supporter of, or more than an occasional (one hour per week on Sunday) viewer of Fox News. I make that disclaimer because the way search engines work, it is possible that a query about Fox could bring an unsuspecting soul to this blog, probably bazillionth on any list of results, but heck, a hasty click could happen. Reading further will only reinforce my lack of association with Fox News anyway, but I am in a "let me make this perfectly clear" soap box mood.

That wordy statement made, I wish to make known my dismay about Fox's lack of participation in Friday night's Hope for Haiti TV Global Telethon two-hour telethon. Dozens of media outlets and networks, including CBS, ABC, NBC, CW, FOX, TNT, Weather Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, HBO, Showtime, Major League Baseball Network, Style Network, E! Entertainment Network, ReelzChannel, TNT, Comedy Central, Oxygen, Soap Opera channel, Bravo, National Geographic Channel, Sleuth, G4, CMT, TV1, BET, MTV, MTV2, VH1, GMC,FUSE, Current, PBS. And there was live streaming on and IMDb, Hulu and YouTube and lots of other sites. All these corporations showed their human concern by pre-empting their regular programming to air a show that included music and on-the-scene-in-Haiti reports.

Stars like Alicia Keyes and Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen and Anderson Cooper performed and pleaded, and IMO it would be a cold, cold heart that was not moved. Some of those cold, cold hearts were watching Bill O'Reilly anyway and absorbing even more of his crowing that Fox News Channel is a premier news source, based on high ratings and compared with the collapse of Air America.

Personally, I'm glad I watched the telethon. Because I believe that on a spiritual level we are all connected, I am grateful to all those who give of themselves and their wealth to reach out to those in need. Whether outreach should be personal or civic is another discussion, but destruction that takes more than 100,000 lives and leaves people dehydrated and starving for days is worth at least two hours of attention.

So Fox News, you can take your high ratings and your profits and spend them in hell.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cold enough for ya?

Coldish weather. Mostly, I like it. Maybe thirteen days in a row of sub-freezing temps is not exactly what I've come to expect of winter in lowcountry of SC, but mostly, I prefer it to August heat. I love the dry, fresh air. And the winter light. And the thinner foliage. And the sparsely populated windswept beach, where the low tides reveal all kinds of interesting stuff and lots of space to see it. This week there has been an abundance of live sand dollars and starfish.

On the other hand, what puts me off every single winter is that soon after the holidays, my fingernails go all to hell. Lotion, olive oil, rubber gloves for doesn't matter, my nails still go all to hell: drying, splitting, breaking, tearing. I specifically recall gluing on some fakes last March to help me through some social thing or another, but by Thanksgiving I once again had ten lovely naturally long nails of my own.

However, now I am once again sporting an assortment of lengths, all short, some shorter, and it may be time to do the gluing thing again. The problem about the gluing thing is that the chemicals make my fingernails dry out even more and so it's a dilemma and a vicious cycle. What cures the whole thing is summer, where I end up worrying more about my toenails than my fingernails and beach sand becomes an automatic smoothing treatment.

But I still like coldish weather.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thoughts on a line

The last day for payment without penalty of Beaufort County SC property taxes for 2009 is tomorrow, January 15, 2010, and in typical procrastinator fashion, I presented myself at the Treasurer's office yesterday, check in hand. There were six people in the line ahead of me, not counting the two who were being served by the lone clerk. The complaining began almost immediately, with the woman in front of me getting out of line to see whether there wasn't a drop box or some option besides waiting. She and the woman ahead of her discussed the inefficiency of the situation. The word "terrible" was used. Maybe five minutes had passed since I arrived.


As the wait continued while it seemed that the first two were accomplishing multiple transactions, the complaining continued too, and the two women ahead of me decided to leave and submit their payments electronically. But by now a man had joined the line and stood behind me, humming nervously before he too found his complaining voice. I think I had been there about ten minutes by then.


Two people who were not complaining were the young Latina now directly in front of me and the infant she carried in her arms, along with a huge tote bag. They cooed and clucked to each other, although I would imagine the woman's arms were tired and maybe her high heeled boots were painful, and just waited.

And a third person who said nothing was the bowlegged African-American in front of her. Again, he just waited. Of course, I don't really know what the quiet ones were thinking, but I do know that I was thinking I'd rather be with them than the spoiled, privileged people who were more likely in my demographic and who definitely had different expectations about the procrastinator payment experience.

So often we hear people describe Hilton Head Island and its environs as "paradise". That would be when we are not complaining about something petty yet "terrible".


Friday, January 8, 2010

"Less space, less things, more life"

Maybe I will move to Denmark...if I ever get shed of all the stuff I have accumulated. I don't need it, and I don't really want it any more. At least that's what I tell myself. However...there is a certain comfort that comes from knowing that if I feel like reading, I have books, tons of books, and magazines too. If I want to cook, I have plenty of food and equipment and dishes and utensils to do a lovely meal. If I want to wear red or purple or black or white or almost any color, I have clothes that will work for me. And shoes. And handbags. And costume jewelry. Ditto so many possible "wants" that can easily be accommodated with material goods.

But one "want" that is incompatible with all that stuff is the one that envies the near sterile order of Scandinavian homes. On a recent show, Oprah presented a view of life in Copenhagen, and was embarrassingly wowed by the lack of space that is the norm in Danish life. The husband and father in one of the homes she visited responded "Less space, less things, more life."

The American way of life is undoubtedly wasteful. We waste space, we waste natural resources, we waste people and we waste a lot of time. It is highly unlikely that succeeding generations will be able to consume and waste as much. But maybe there is an upside to being forced to rethink and relearn. After all, the Danes are considered by some to be the happiest people on earth.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Mr Jalopy"!

"Mr Jalopy"! Now this is a man I could love and admire. This is a man who could save the world. Quietly, without a whole lot of public acclaim, he fights a system of consumption that is filling local dumps as it empties personal coffers.

Mr Jalopy, whose real name is Peter "Something" repurposes things and makes things. A central tenet of the "Maker Movement" he leads is that if you can't open something, you don't own it. I take that to mean that if an object you purchase is sealed and/or needs special tools to examine its innards, IT owns YOU because it has control of the situation.

Now it's pretty well known that I have some kind of a VCR fixation. I bought my first VHS player/recorder when the price came down to $400, somewhere in the 1980s I think. It had a remote, but the remote was actually on a cord that plugged into the main box. In the past twenty years or so I've worn out a bunch of VCRs, but haven't given up on any of them without taking them apart and making a decent repair effort. I've also taken apart a couple of sewing machines, and yesterday I fixed a broken screen door latch. My most impressive fix-it of late has been an appropriate jiggle and wiggle of my vehicle hatch back lock after my son-in-law, an accomplished fixer, had given up on it. But there are a whole bunch of "new and improved" things around my house that I guess I do not own because I can't open them to fix them, and yet I'm somehow not willing to take them to the "convenience center" landfill.

I wish Mr Jalopy didn't live in California.