Monday, March 26, 2007

Eric Volz's story on The Today Show!

Please read/watch:

My Apartment Complex Needs Work

It's been driving me nuts, but as essentially lazy person who can barely manage to keep her own apartment clean, I've not made a big fuss about it beyond a phone call. But my apartment complex, and my building in particular, is looking decidedly seedy. I live in the back on ground level, and the condition of the siding is appalling, to say the least; the paint is peeling off in great strips and looks positively leprous. I think they've let it go because it's hidden from view; better to spend funds on upkeep where new tenants can see it!

The thing that annoys me the most at present is the carelessness of the grounds crew. They ripped up all of the drainage around the building and buried plastic flexible drain pipes... but tossed the old concrete basins upside down and left them. They've been there almost 2 years now.

At the front center breezeway, they have some monkey grass and 2 hosta beds, one on each side of the walkway. But they have allowed tree seedlings to sprout in the beds, and have made no effort to uproot them.

Figure 1: Hosta bed with small tree sprouting.

In my annoyance with said seedling, I decided that perhaps it needed to draw attention to itself: "excuse me... I don't think I'm supposed to be here...!" So I crocheted a shawl for it. Pehaps the grounds crew would uproot it now...

Figure 2: Unidentified tree with Shawl

As you can see, it's growing quite fast!

Figure 3: Wide view of Tree with Shawl

This past week, the shawl disappeared. Perhaps someone was as frustrated with the lax grounds crew as I, but did not realize this was an effort to draw attention to the need for uprooting. Perhaps they thought it no longer needed a shawl with the bright, sunny spring weather we've been having.

So, the volunteer tree still stands. I now watch it to see how long the grounds crew will continue to show complete indifference.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Eric Volz Update

From the family:

Eric Update – 3/21/07 -- Day # 119
With great excitement and hope we share with all of you the recent media developments surrounding Eric’s case:

Wall Street Journal
Front page

The Tennessean

San Antonio Express

WSMV-Channel 4, Nashville
video, San Diego video

New YouTube video – send this to everyone you know!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wilderness Experience

Work dried up a couple of weeks ago, as I was sort of expecting it to do; I mean, after 3 months of intense activity, it was due to slow down... but I hadn't anticipated such a complete drop-off. I wish I'd made an effort to save more money to get through this lean patch (I don't know how successful that would have been!) but I didn't, and now I'm dealing with minimal cash and way more free time than I like.

What makes it worse is the fact that I'm forced to be more alone than usual. I'm an introvert by nature, but without contact with other people throughout the day, I don't enjoy my down time very much. Other people help keep me from focusing too much on myself. So, no clients, no company, no conversation. I have my part-time job in the morning (Thank GOD) and can talk with people there, but since I usually am toodling along in my office on the computer, there's not a lot of conversation.

So I feel like I'm in a big empty desert. In the desert, there are no tools, no distractions, no resources to help you cope... it's just you and the big emptiness. I generally take this as an opportunity, to try and reconnect with God, to become aware of what he might want to teach me right now... but I don't like it. I always come out on the other side stronger, but the trip across sucks.

Especially when you've got continual drainage from allergies. All my usual treatments and solutions are failing to have the desired effect. I'm so doped up on benadryl and other allergy-related meds that I'm quite mellow right now, but my throat is so swollen and sore after a week of drainage, that my tonsils have swelled up to the size of golfballs and I can feel them rubbing against each other. It's unnerving.

What makes it worse is that I can't afford to go to the doctor. I'm now part of the great Whatever% without healthcare in this country, although I do have a cushion for emergencies through Christian Healthcare Ministries so if anything big happens I'm ok... but I have to pay for little things. So a visit to the doctor isn't in the budget this month.

Pity poor poor Susan!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dear Mr. Gore:

Dear Al,

I have just watched An Inconvenient Truth. I believe you are telling the truth. But I feel an almost overwhelming sense of hopelessness despite my understanding; that of a person trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

I learned, years back, that if I do very well when I am given one specific task; one seemingly innocuous but neccessary component of a bigger picture. My parents remodeled an old house, and I took on the job of finding new plates for every single electrical switch and port in the house. I measured, I counted, I picked colors, I downloaded catalogs of available styles... it was my one task, and I did all of it - I bought them, I installed them, and it's my one small piece of ownership in that house.

Can you please suggest to me one small but necessary task that will actually make a difference in turning the tide of global warming? Something with an actual result that I can look at and know it's doing some good?

You came and spoke at my high school back in the 80s, and you were the only politician to do so who didn't talk down to us, who gave sensible answers to unpleasant questions, and who actually said something interesting. I have been a Conservative, I am now a Moderate, and I wish to work with my supposed enemy to fix this.

You know, if you had succeeded to the presidency, this film would not have been made, and the Republican House and Senate would have shot down all your efforts to make significant environmental changes. I think God had a better idea in mind.

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sampler Update

Making good progress on my Tennessee sampler... Still have a verse, 3 bands and various bits to fill in, but I'd say I'm almost 2/3 done with it. I occasionally have to step away from it and work on something small that I can finish quickly, because to work month after month on something and never finish is discouraging. Plus I keep seeing things I'd like to work on! Right now I'm doing a miniature sampler on 32-count cream linen that will only be about 2 x 2.5 inches when finished. Bit of a contrast.


OK, my friend Mike in MI already mentioned this in his blog, but it begs further discussion.

Everyone's offended by something, somewhere; last time it was South America being offended by Apocalypto because it painted the human sacrifice-loving Mayans as BAD. I'm sure the guy having his heart cut out as he lay on an altar was comforted by all their wonderful advances in science and the arts!

This time, it's Iranians being offended by 300, because it makes the Persians out to be pillaging monsters. Granted, this was back in the BC, but apparently it's still very much a part of their modern society. "Why, back when we were invading Greece..."

Here's one - someone should make a point of being offended by Ivanhoe, because it puts the Norman invaders of England (1066 AD) in a bad light.

In a lesser but no less newsworthy incident, the CEO of Fox News made a joke about Bush mistaking Obama with Osama (he was implying Bush was so dumb that he didn't know the difference between the two! This, from Fox News!); can you imagine the glee with which people jumped on the Offended Bandwagon? "He's equating Obama with Osama! He's anti-Democrat! Let's get him!" There's been brisk sales of pitchforks and torches at the Home Depot.

"She's implying that Home Depot is a haven for mobs... Get her!"

Berke Breathed of Bloom County did a great Sunday strip about taking offense at every little thing - he called it "Offensensitivity." It's a good word for the world we now live in.

Friday, March 09, 2007

History... Teaches Everything

Just read this on James Lileks' site, and it goes a long way towards articulating the way I've been feeling the last few years...

I drove home listening to Bob Davis on KSTP; he was revisiting one of his favorite topics, one that mirrors exactly something I’ve felt for some time: the lack of any prominent cultural direction, and the strange incoherent sense of anticipation that lack produces. It’s as if the culture is treading water, with nothing truly new to give it focus and purpose. That’s not exactly a good thing when you’re competing with cultures that have both, in large quantities, and a sense of historical momentum the West has lost. I grapple with this from time to time, usually in the morning; it’s the odd suspicion that the West is exhausted. Not done or over or dead or resigned, but simply exhausted. We live in the end stages of the application of the Enlightenment, at least as applied to our own culture; what now? If you’ve ended debate on the great issues, you’re left with smaller ones, like 720 vs. 1080i; you concern yourself with indistinct dreads and assign to them a moral component; you luxuriate in the hot springs of partisan politics and redefine the issues so the gap between left and right looks like Gog v. Magog territory.

We're due for a societal upheaval, based on the rise and fall of world history - some catastrophic event, some crucible like the French Revolution or the Great Depression/WWII to remake our flabby, selfish, bored society. We're due for a revolution; what shape or form it will take I cannot guess, although terrorism looks to be a likely player. I almost wish it would hurry up and be done soon... I'm tired of such abject cynicism. It's an ugly world and I'd like for some sense of hope or joy to return. (Why do I think this? Read The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe. Plus my beloved Dean Simmons and my history degree. I think about this stuff a lot.)

In a related topic: I've been re-watching the
A History of Britain series, written & hosted by Simon Schama, and reading History in English Words by Owen Barfield, and had an epiphany. England has been overrun by various conquering societies so many times that the actual "Britains" are long, long gone. Romans, Scots, Picts, Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, Vikings, Saxons, Normans, and various others. They come in, they steal and/or settle, and a hundred years later another group does the same thing.

But is modern British society upset about it? No, it's pretty much been forgotten. No-one knows where they're from beyond a few hundred years; they have no real clue if they are Saxon or Celt; the historical memory has pretty much been diluted. So nobody's angry at the descendants of the invading Normans for having taken away their properties and rights ("The Normans are keeping us down!"); after all, they as Saxons had done the same thing themselves to the Angles, and so forth and so on. Slavery? pretty much everywhere. Your village got raided by the Invading Group du Jour, you were captured and sold into slavery.

So what might this mean for America? To me, it means that someday the sins of our forefathers will no longer be applied to us. In the far distant future, the dreadful years of slavery and the white man's theft of this land will simply be a fact of history, and not an ever-present reality. I'm not saying we'll forget or it will diminish in the force of its horrors, but new things will happen, and old crimes will slowly recede into the background of history. We're still so young; everything is still so fresh. Give it 500-1000 years, and we'll have new prejudices and new outrages to be angry/guilty about.