Monday, March 31, 2008

Um Pássaro Especial – A Special Bird

Ruth heard a terrible racket as she stepped down from the expedition bus onto Acara Street, still muddy from one of Gurupa’s morning downpours. She heard a terrible racket and looked across the street to where a scruffy-looking black dog was attacking a peacock. The peacock’s cries sounded like ten children hollering ‘ow! ow!’ at the top of their voices. The dog’s low, guttural growls were quiet by comparison, and yet more terrifying. Beautiful feathers were being pulled out and scattered about the street in a profusion of iridescent color as the poor bird tried vainly to escape the mongrel’s ferocious attack.

Ruth dropped her backpack and ran screaming towards the melee. “Stop, stop! Get away!” she shouted at the dog. It wasn’t until she managed to swat the mutt with her oversized handbag that the dog jumped back and scampered away, a large, fan-shaped feather hanging from its jaws. “Bad dog!”

Ruth bent over and put her hands out towards the frantic peacock, “Here, you poor thing. Let me see.”

The peacock was still turning in circles, but when it saw the large, white woman with her broad-brimmed straw hat draped with mosquito netting leaning towards it, another series of ‘ows!’ reverberated down the empty street and the peacock took off after them.

Did the peacock know something we don't? Read the full story under My Writings to the right.


Gurupa is an actual place along the Amazon River in Brazil. Everything else in this story is fiction. What is fact is that between May 2002 and May 2003, Brazil lost more than 24,000 square kilometers of forest - an area larger than Israel and since 1978, over 500,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. Why is Brazil losing so much forest? What can be done to slow deforestation?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Double Blind

Jason hikes through a shallow gully and up a rise dotted with sagebrush. He walks to the edge of the arroyo. He listens to the wind rustling in the birch trees. He looks out across the plains at the high, billowing clouds piled up over the Deception Mountains. The clouds are white as whipped cream on top, but dark underneath. He thinks he hears the singing then. It is very faint. He looks down and across the arroyo wondering where it is coming from.

Dancer is barking as if by habit, a constant bark, pause, bark, pause, bark, ad infinitum. The family is used to their dog’s ritual mongrel Morris Code, but it still gets on the parent’s nerves. Jason is oblivious to it, as he thumbs his hand-held game console. The father looks up from his book. He looks to his wife. She is sewing some garment he doesn’t recognize. Trying to make minor repairs. She feels his eyes and looks up at him. He wants to take her in his arms just then and tell her everything will be okay. He turns to his son and leans forward.
“Jason. Son? It’s dark out. Better put Dancer on the porch. And make sure he has water.”
“Okay, Dad.”

Jason gets up and moves slowly towards the porch, leaving his console on the floor where he was sitting. The mother starts to say something, but just stares after her son, watching him moving away from her towards the darkness.
She turns to her husband. “I don’t think you can fathom how I feel when you say something like that at the table,” the mother says, staring at her husband with her needle and thread poised above the garment she is mending.
The husband looks up from his paper. “What did I say?”
She drops her hands in her lap and shakes her head. She is trying not to cry.
He gets up and walks to her. Puts his hand on her shoulder and leans over trying to look into her face. She turns her head away. “Don’t.”
“What is it, honey?”
She looks up at him, suddenly angry. “Eat your vegetables so you’ll grow up to be a big, strong boy. He has cancer, for God’s sake!”

Steven Hawking changed his mind about information being lost when black holes expire. Work by several theoretical physicists suggests a strange universe -- a kind of hologram, in which information about what happens inside some volume of space is somehow encoded on the surface of its boundary. Ed and Sarah Hockley’s son Jason is dying. Why should they care?

Double Blind is the story of a family trying to come to grips with a bleak reality only to realize that they no longer know what is real.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Retreat from Reason

President George W. Bush, speaking before a military audience at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio this week, once again took his critics to task for suggesting it’s time to rethink the US occupation of Iraq. "No matter what shortcomings these critics diagnose, their prescription is always the same: retreat," Bush said.

In an exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney, also this week, ABC’s Martha Raddatz pointed out that two-thirds of the American people feel the cost of the war in Iraq is “not worth it.” Cheney responded, “So?”

So Messrs. Bush and Cheney, on Monday, March 24th, we reached the dubious milestone of 4000 dead US Armed Forces men and women. And for every soldier killed, it is estimated that 15 are wounded. Here again, the government cooks the books. The Pentagon claims only about 30,000 US troops wounded in action. But another 30,000 or so have been injured in non-combat related incidents, such as vehicle accidents and suicides (suicides among active-duty soldiers are at their highest levels since the Army began keeping such records in 1980). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) doesn’t count at all. The number of Iraqi dead is orders of magnitude greater, but essentially unknowable.

Over 90% of American deaths have come after Mr. Bush’s 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, in which he declared, “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” And multitudes more after Mr. Cheney’s pronouncement in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq “was in its last throes, if you will.” These deaths may be an abstraction for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, but for the families of the dead and wounded men and women they are all too real – flesh and blood, if you will.

It should come as no surprise that an Administration that manufactured the reasons for going to war in Iraq, grossly underestimated its projected cost, assured the American people we would be greeted as “liberators,” and belittled and quashed dissent, now manufactures reasons for “staying the course,” and refers to reasoned calls for ending the occupation with pejorative terms like “cut and run,” and “retreat.” Secretive, deceitful, and arrogant, the Bush Administration simply tunes out reasoned arguments for a different approach to fighting terror, which after all, was the original intent.

I fear we are in for another nine months of mismanagement, mayhem, and massacre in Iraq. I only hope we aren’t in for another hundred years.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

The Beatles

Monday, March 24, 2008

In the shadows of the moon

Picture was created using Dabbler on a Mac computer

I saw wild horses
Beautiful and strong
Prancing in the air
They whirled about
and then were gone
Lost in the shadows of the moon

I saw a wild river
White water dancing on the rocks
Froth, and foam, and mist
rising steaming in the startled air
Lost in the shadows of the moon

I saw a woman
Wild with grief
Waiting at the river
Watching for a rider
Who will never come
Lost forever
In the shadows of the moon

I see her still
Dancing, dancing
In the shadows of the moon
Shrouded in the shadows of the moon

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kootenay Creek

Kootenay Creek is full with spring runoff
The water cascades down the gorge in a riot of waterfalls
and boils in pools that in the fall will mirror the Bitterroot Mountains
and blue sky above
I clamber down a chaos of boulders and rocks to reach the sandy banks of the creek
drawn by some prehistoric longing to be close to water
The spray washes my face and arms of the bug repellent I slathered on before my hike
Mosquitoes circling my heat envelope suddenly swoop in to feast
Time to move on

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Starving

Dear Reader, the story you are about to read is true. I have transcribed it from the original manuscript as accurately as possible given the degraded condition of the vellum upon which it was written, and the English usage prevalent in that day, which opens to question the meaning of some words and phrases. You will be shocked by what you read. Those of you with delicate constitutions may wish to forego the reading altogether. I strongly recommend that this document not be shared with school children, for it is a part of our history best confined to the dusty corridors of academia. Nor would I recommend it for overly sensitive adults, or those whose mental faculties are frail or impaired in any way. That being said, I should explain to you how I came upon the manuscript from which I have transcribed the story.

Thus begins the story, "The Starving;" a horrifying tale of cannibalism and dementia, and perhaps ghosts. Don’t read it by yourself – especially at night.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

D Squad

Suspicious male in parking lot
Rear window of car nearby broken
Subject not located after area check

Complainant involved in argument
With her boyfriend
He was booked for assault domestic

Unknown suspect pried door open
With tire iron
Two cases of beer missing

No suspects or witnesses
One fingerprint was located
The suspect is the child’s father

Father states that he questioned his son
About why he wasn’t doing anything
With his life

Son struck the father in the face
Son claims it was in the shoulder
Son booked and released

Officers responded to third party report
Of suicidal, very intoxicated female
She wanted to end her life

Complainant reported that her son told her
He needed to die for Jesus
Officer issued a detain and transport

[Borrowed from a compendium of police reports]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Extraterrestrial Life

If They are there
If they are
Are they
In God’s image created?
Our God?

If we are here
In the immensity of the universe