Tuesday, November 30, 2004

My Kind of Town

San Francisco is considering charging grocery stores 17 cents each as a tax to use plastic grocery bags. These bags pile up in your house and are difficult to recycle as few places will take them (or dry cleaning plastic, for that matter.) The City of San Francisco's Department of the Environment estimates that San Francisco customers use 50 million bags yearly, with a clean up cost of $8.4 million. Obviously, the grocers and plastics manufacturers oppose this proposal.
When you drive along the main roads in Phoenix, you see plastic bags scattered in the desert, stuck on bushes, cacti and trees, with other litter. My daughter took a Desert Hummer trip last summer out into the desert to view native animals, plants, scenery, etc. When she came back, I asked what she saw. She told me she saw "lots of plastic bags." How depressing.
When you are asked "paper or plastic?", please take the paper ones or bring your own bags. If you must take plastic, reuse it or recycle it. Imagine some poor desert animal or bird caught in a carelessly discarded plastic bag. It is really unnecessary.
I could not figure out how the little clipping about the plastic bags appeared in my piles of paper, but my husband confessed that he put it there, along with stating it was "old news." But, with my piles of paper waiting to be read or recycled, there is really not any old news, just stuff waiting to be read. And he is wondering if those pink plastic bags used in San Francisco's Chinatown are recyclable. That is an excellent question.

Dolphins and Whales

Reading that hundreds of dolphins and whales were found after beaching themselves for unknown reasons is so sad. The scientists worked through the night to save dozens of whales and dolphins after three separate beachings in Australia and New Zealand. There are many of them dead, buried in huge mass graves.
The reason is unknown, but there has been seismic testing (bombing of the ocean floor) nearby recently to explore for oil and gas. They (the infamous they) state the data on the impact of the seismic testing on the animals is inconclusive. Environmentalists are urging this to stop until the impact on the animals is determined.
Given that dolphins have been used by the US Navy to find underwater missles, we know they are sensitive to smell, vibration and sound. So, this has to have had some impact. And because they travel in groups, and stay close together to help one another if any of them encounter a problem, large groups of these beautiful, smart creatures are dying. G-d bless those in the rescue efforts and shame on the rest of us.

Horrors - I Had No Idea!

Environmental and disposal issues with old tvs as people buy flat-panel, plasma tvs! I have only imagined this horror -- now I don't have to imagine it anymore. I am including the whole story from USA Today, Nov. 29, since I don't know how to do a link. I had no idea and this is terrible.

.....story follows in full...

As flat-panels oust older TVs, disposal fears arise
Mon Nov 29, 6:30 AM ET
By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY

Soaring sales of flat-panel televisions this holiday are expected to spark one of tech's toughest environmental challenges: disposing of millions of old, toxic TVs. Almost 4 million flat-panel TVs are expected to be sold worldwide this year, says researcher DisplaySearch. Most will replace traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs, which usually contain 4 to 8 pounds of lead and other harmful substances.
New TV buyers have historically stashed old units in bedrooms, basements and closets instead of throwing them away, says Sheila Davis with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an environmental group. But the move to flat-panel makes old sets less desirable; so does a switch to new digital broadcasting signals, which older TVs can't pick up without a converter.
By the time flat-panel and digital TVs are mainstream in 2006, more than 163,000 TVs and computers are expected to become obsolete in the USA every day, the SVTC says. That's 3,500 tons of material that can contaminate groundwater and soil if tossed into landfills. But recycling a CRT set costs $20 to $30 - which means the bill to properly dispose of them would be about $100 million a month.
What to do with all that toxic trash "is a big, big question," says Jim Sheire, government programs manager for TV maker Philips.
No major TV maker regularly lets consumers send back old sets for recycling. Philips, Sony, Panasonic and others sponsor recycling collection days held by cities and other groups, but have no ongoing collection drives. Hewlett-Packard and Office Depot earlier this year let customers drop off electronics for free recycling, but the program ended in September.
To get rid of old sets, consumers can take them to:
•Recycling agencies. Many third-party recyclers will take your old TVs and computer monitors. But expect them to charge you about $30, because breaking down old sets is tough, and few components can be resold.
•Charities. Non-profit agencies such as Goodwill will take working sets. But don't drop off old or broken sets without asking. Recycling unusable TVs costs Goodwill thousands a year, it says.
•Dumpsters. The cheapest way to get rid of an old TV is to toss it in the garbage. But that could cause the harmful chemicals in the set to contaminate groundwater and soil, and it could be illegal. California recently passed a law banning residents from throwing away old CRT sets. At least 26 other states are considering similar legislation.
Getting rid of old TVs might not always be hard. Sony, Panasonic and others say they're working to reduce the number of toxins in sets to make them more recyclable. Next year, California will tack a $6 to $10 surcharge onto new TVs and monitors to fund recycling programs. TV manufacturers like California's plan because it doesn't make them responsible for old sets. But other states, such as Maine, might require them to do more. "

....oh my goodness, we bought a new, flat screen tv last year! We have not given any old ones away for a long time except to be used for Patient Education at the UCSF-Mt. Zion Cancer Center.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Stem Cells, Again

A success story for stem cells today! In Korea, a woman who had been paralyzed for 20 years, was able to walk again, after stem cells were obtained from umbilical cords. How amazing that it worked with something that happens anytime a baby is born. All you 59 million idiots should rethink where you are on this topic, and you are most likely not in Korea.
And I was saddened by the knowledge that more species of tigers are facing extinction in China, due to dwindling prey, land where they can live, their capture and use of parts for medicine, and overall lack of interest or effort to save them. Three species are already extinct. The white tigers, saved by Siegfried and Roy are one tremendous rescue effort because someone cared. I toured their display zoo in Las Vegas and was so impressed, but, sadly, never had the chance to see their show.
Closer to home, holiday lights sprouted up around the neighborhood, from simple to extremely elaborate. I look forward to walking at night to view the various lights and displays, though I cannot help but wonder about the impact on the electric power supply. Our weekend concluded with viewing of "Pimp My Ride." It is a family favorite and X to the Z is so funny, though each show has lots of "bleeping" over the inappropriate words. Each show ends with us smiling as the recipient of the pimped vehicle is so delighted when the crew at West Coast Customs does more outrageous stuff than the time before. And I just have to assume these vehicles top those stolen in the LA Area, as they load them with plasma tvs, stereo and computer equipment and an occasional waterfall, sink and fireplace.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Toast to Dolphins as Lifesavers

The fact that a pod of dolphins circled around a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark is fantastic. I believe that the dolphins, who are always compared to humans in their mental capabilities, reacted instinctively as if the people were their fellow dolphins. That is such an amazing reaction for them, and makes it doubly sad when they are caught in the tuna fishing nets.
My daughter and I have wanted to do one of those tours where you swim with the dolphins in a controlled situation, and get the chance to hug them. I think it could be overwhelming and has been said to be therapeutic for some mental disorders.
Last year, I had wanted to ride the Safari Train at the San Diego Wildlife Park. We were in the middle of a herd (or is it gaggle?) of giraffes, reaching into my hands for food, breathing on my face and neck, looking at me with those giant eyes. I kept screaming "I think I have gone to heaven." And a swim with the dolphins could be right up there in unbelievable and memorable experiences.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Flooding the Grand Canyon

Tears came to my eyes as I read about the water from the dam being released into the Grand Canyon, in order to create silt to try to stop the extinction of native fish and plants. How sad that placing the dam there has altered the eco-system permanently, already making some fish extinct and reducing the native plant population. How could we have made such a short-term decision, impacting such a magnificent natural wonder?
I visited the Grand Canyon twice, and did not expect to be overwhelmed by it. I ventured part way down on a donkey trip, but had to stop due to memories of two previous (and not pleasant) donkey journeys. The one on the island of Patmos, Greece, ended in a fall, with me and my donkey rolling all the way down a mountain. The trip in Petra, Jordan, ended up with me leading the donkey, as the owner rode down. I admit the treacherous journey down was worth it, as Petra had just recently been re-excavated and was truly a jewel as described.
I guess, since I majored in an independent study major entitled "Environmental Politics" in 1973, I know the answer to why the dam was built, despite long-term environmental impact. And it makes me sad. I will look forward to the studies and reports from the scientists that research the benefits of the water and sediment release, and hope, perhaps, that a few more releases of water could reverse the erosion.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I Must Confess

I must confess that I was surprised to find out that John Kerry had millions of dollars left over from the campaign, and it might be used for another run in 2008. I would have figured they would spend all that they collected to try to win in a big push at the end (even though it may not have changed the outcome) rather than having excess funds. As we are among those that contributed for the final GOTV, I am puzzled that it was not spent, either on the Kerry campaign or on helping other Democratic candidates that may have needed some last minute cash. No wonder the eyebrows are being raised by fellow Democrats. Based on "an autopsy" of the election that I had the privilege of hearing today, it would have taken alot more than money to have won the White House this time around. Let's get smarter next time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Politically Correct

This year's "trick or treat" bag did not yield any "Good 'N Plentys". It did have a flyer from KentuckyFriedCruelty.com showing some gruesome pictures of chickens being killed, with lots of facts about how the chickens are housed, drugged, etc. It seems a bit strange to use Halloween bags for kids as the venue for distributing this literature. I don't want to repress the freedom of speech, or disagree with the horror described on the flyer, but it could have really scared some young kid with an upsetting picture among the candy and goodies. Pamela Anderson was among the celebrities weighing in on the topic of animal cruelty, along with Paul McCartney, a noted vegetarian. I agree that the treatment of the chickens is abominable, as well as some of the other animals that people mistreat for no apparent reason. The world is full of rescue agencies to get these animals to their FOREVER homes, and in the hands of loving souls. Halloween is an odd time to spread that message....but, is this a case where the end justifies the means?" I guess the flyer was someone's idea of a trick.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

59 Million Idiots

As I volunteered yestereday at Mayo Hospital, we had CNN News on, showing pictures of the troops storming Fallujah. I was struck by the fact that I felt ill, looking at that footage (maybe they just stuck in Vietnam footage?) and watching one of the receptionists. Her husband is being shipped to Iraq this week, after being activated and trained as an Army Reserve nurse. She is trying to hold it together and be so brave as he ships out and cannot call or be in touch daily. She will get no consolation watching the tv news, as she hopes that he is assigned to a medic station, way back from the front lines. It made me sick and think of the 59 million idiots that re-elected George W., allowing him to do whatever he wants -- line-item veto, gay marriage ban, other cavalier moves based on the fact he does not ever have to run for election again and is accountable to no one.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

I'm Not The Only One

I am not the only one that hates George W. Bush, as evidenced by some poor, distraught guy that committed suicide in protest. I don't necessarily agree with the strategy, but certainly know how devastated he must have felt, helpless to fix anything and having to look at the giant, jerky, smug, smirk for the next four years. I feel badly for his family, having to live with the outcome of the election and the loss of their son. Meanwhile, we will sit and watch GWB dismantle the Supreme Court and threaten targeting of any senator that dares opposing his way. Again, I must repeat --- I hate George W. Bush and his political machine.

Relocation to California

Following the election results, we have been discussing re-relocation to California, in order to live in a blue state and have access to the benefits of stem cell research. That is, of course, in addition to farmer's markets and great food choices.
Surprisingly, lots of people with similar views of the world emerged during the final days of the election, which was so awesome. And there are more farmer's markets and good coffee available in Arizona.
But California beckons....we also have to work to try to turn Arizona blue as well.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Final Thought on the Election 2004

For the record, I hate George W. Bush

Polling Place Reflections

Working in the polling place is an eye-opening experience. It is a long day, with little pay, but that is not why people do it. We, as I speak for the group at my polling place, did it because we believe in the process and participation in democracy. There are those in line that are rude, talking down to you as if you are an idiot. But there are also those that thanked us for volunteering,and one who brings treats each election in appreciation.
We had some really long lines, lots of provisional ballots and many first-time voters. These were mostly college-age kids, many coming home just to vote. We thanked them for registering and voting, giving them a brief orientation on ballot completion. They were mostly excited and nervous,not knowing what to do and often came with a parent. When people thanked us for volunteering, we thanked them for voting. Kids came with parents to learn the process and get stickers.
We ate our breakfast at noon, our lunch at 6 pm. We were all sore and stiff from sitting and writing. Our throats were sore from giving the same instructions from pre-dawn dark to evening dark. The stars were bright when we arrived at 5:20 am. We all agreed to see each other again at the next election. So a giant jerk won the presidency this time. There must be hope for the future.

A Day of Mourning and Tears

I weep for the fact that Kerry-Edwards did not win. I weep for my disappointment. I mostly weep for our country -- and the horrible things that the monkeyboy will do in the next four years. Don't even mention the lost jobs -- it's the damage to ecology, conservation, lack of concern for anything but money. Another four years of a smirking marionette, controlled by his father, his evil and criminal friends and anyone with an agenda that is willing to pay. Four years to totally ruin the rational, thinking nature of the Supreme Court and put on party-speak conservatives. It is a sad day, indeed.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I Don't Like Him Anymore

I rooted for the Red Sox in the World Series, as I have liked Curt Schilling and admired what he was doing for the good of his team. Yes, he was getting paid handsomely, but to put yourself at medical risk of a long-injury was silly. Today, his appearance with, and in support of Bush, cost him my support. I had done some volunteer work for a skin cancer foundation created by he and his wife for melanoma. I admire the cause, but don't like George Bush. Have I mentioned that before?

Election After Party

It is hard to know what will be the most enjoyable --- celebrating the election, hopefully a Kerry win, at home or at the campaign party! After a 15-hour day working at the polls, which will be busy all day in contrast with the primary, I will be tired, but totally energized and excited. I went to the Howard Dean after-party, and it was discouraging, but I got to see some of the people I met during the campaign. Later, they all turned up on the Kerry campaign. That is optimism which I admire. Rambling a bit, but the bottom line is: go to the polls tomorrow and vote for Kerry-Edwards. This is a case where change will be better than we have now.

Signing off. It's a big 10-4-Good Buddy.