Category Archives: Current Events

Shift and Disrupt

woman walking dress sand sky

I have a disruption at my core, a gnawing sense that a shift is coming soon. I see a daily news feed full of civilian protest and police retaliation, while genuinely feeling the loss of a man I never met. I know now that my innocence was always fleeting, when a world of cartoon bats and grown-up Peter Pans is replaced by an inability to ignore rampant sexism, violence against black youth and the horrific invasion of fast food and obesity.

Some days I look over the ocean with an ignorant romanticism that says the Mother Land is better. Galway, Amsterdam and Malta whisper, then sing a siren’s song of ancient unity and forward-thinking innovation. They promise eternal life with unquestioned access to health care, better food and breathable air. I return to the task at hand, and remind myself that the antique couch and 10 year-old cat would never make the trip. My defiance against a time-sucking social network and all the drivel upon it is overshadowed by the desire to know what my friends are doing, and I wonder if I could ever really leave them for good.

My generation saw many careers nipped in the bud; parental retirements and travel plans obliterated in the face of a market that doesn’t cut it and doesn’t care. All the while the subsidized meat, sugar and cheese take their toll on the fading youthful vigor. Then we’re told to love these unhealthy bodies by a gimmicky “rebel” media that cares even less about the poor, sick and aged.

Salads and chocolate… a constant balancing game. I have to do something worthwhile with all of this “being alive” business.

We who feel plagued by information and platforms might also feel responsible. Responsible because, what would we have done in the shoes of another? I could have been that greedy Wall Street banker, that scared cop with a sweaty finger too hot on the trigger, that 1970s mom feeding her kids bologna every day… if only I’d been born other than myself. Responsible to speak out because I am not the banker, the cop or the 1970s mom, and really, truly do care. But no one wants to hear it, no one wants to feel like they’re being judged or their politics challenged. Can I blame them? Would I want that from the vantage point of their shoes?

There are days when I’m convinced we’re on the cusp of revolution, and days when I relax into the way things have “always been and always will be.” Then I remember that it really doesn’t matter either way, as my existence – and ours as a species – is a blip on the cosmic calendar. I’ve found a certain comfort in the fact that I’m a living collection of star stuff, and that my atoms will someday contribute to yet unfathomable lifeforms and structures.

The shift is already happening, and I know I’ve caused some disruption. I could go on and on about what disrupts me, and the shift for which I so constantly long. But you have your own business of being alive… look for shoes further walked than mine.

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Filed under AutoBio, Current Events

I’m Killing Environmental Activists

virgin rainforest Brazil

Virgin forestland near Nova Ipixuna, Brazil.

Oil in my car. The diamond in my engagement ring. Small metal components in my electronic devices.

I don’t know for sure where any of these materials came from. It’s possible no one was hurt in obtaining them. It’s also possible someone was killed trying to protect the land from which they were harvested.

“The world’s poorest countries are home to the resources that drive the global economy… It is poor people and activists who increasingly find themselves in the firing line.”

Many days, I try to remind myself of my good fortune. I was born where, when and the color I am – an unlikely scenario considering the length of human history and the current concentrations of the global population. I say good fortune because I do not have to worry about food or shelter or the likelihood that my daughter will live to her 5th birthday. Beyond sexism (which has not, as far as I know, endangered my life directly), I don’t fear any “ism” repercussions of my basic identity. So, so many people do. Everyday, everywhere.

Another aspect of that good fortune is access to a range of products that make my life more enjoyable. A relatively decent car. Pretty jewelry symbolizing a significant promise. The iPad on which I check my email while getting paid for my renewable plasma.

Yet another perk of being here and now? Knowledge. My position connects me to endless information, and an education for separating the valid from the erroneous. So when I read an article about why environmental activists are getting killed while defending their homes, I can’t ignore my involvement.

“Mexico may be an extreme case, but experts say it points to the connection between the consumption of goods in the rich, industrialized nations and the environmental and human toll in poor nations.”
Don’t be fooled. Like it or not, we’re deeply connected to distant countries and their cultures. No one’s saying you have to stop making purchases, but make use of the resources you’re so fortunate to have, and use them to make the world a little better. You might even find it makes you happier. A bit less “stuff,” a lot more focus on what’s important. Extra time to visit a thrift store or fair trade shop, and vote with your dollars.

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Culturally Acceptable Mutilation – Be Outraged

Egyptian teenage girl dead FGM

I’ve known about female circumcision, or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for a long time. When I was a college student, my hate for the practice was solidified when it was coincidentally discussed in two separate classes on the same morning.

After the talk in Geography gave me an upset stomach, the detailed written account in Child Psychology pushed me to the brink of faint. Even as my vision went black and my hearing faded, all I could think about was how wrong FGM is. If it could have such an impact on a 22 year-old white girl in hyper-Christian West Michigan, imagine what it does to the underprivileged Muslim women in Egypt.

Without going into too much detail, let me clarify what female circumcision is. Like male circumcision, it removes part of the genitalia. Unlike typical male circumcision in the west, female circumcision is often intended to preserve virginity, and perpetuate what you and I might see as oppressive and sexist tradition. More information is available on this Equality Now PDF.

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Required Watching

Cosmos eye in the sky logo opening

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me once again mention the new Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson and an amazing opportunity for free, entertaining education.

Three episodes have now aired, and are available to you, without commercials, online 24/7. Adults and children alike are experiencing the beautiful and fascinating presentation of science and humanity that is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Happily, so much more is to come. Like, 10 more episodes to come.

I’ve enjoyed all of it immensely, even those times that I tried to watch late at night and ended up falling asleep. NDT has a very soothing voice… it’s like the universe’s best bedtime story. The visual, audio and content are just beyond words. This stuff is epic – and real.

Further, I feel I owe it to myself, my daughter and my society to participate in this happening. Although the subject matter is literally, in part, light years away, numerous aspects of it take place within our atmosphere, and within our bodies. The work that people like Tyson are doing enlivens the past, clarifies the present and, hopefully, guides our future. Maybe a grade-school viewer will be inspired to help us one day breathe cleaner air. Maybe a high school babysitter will share some of what she’s learned with wide-eyed charges. Maybe someone who’s never heard the real, undeniable facts of evolution will encounter a new, fuller kind of spiritual experience. Cosmos provides the opportunity, and we have the choice to seize it.

All you have to do is watch.

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Filed under Current Events, Science

“A Fundamental Disconnect”

pork steak lamb counter display

Getting back to my roots here, in a manner of speaking. I was inspired by a recent article about the supply and demand of the meat industry.

The point of the article is that the current meat industry exists as it does because consumers demanded it. Meat has long been a status symbol, and the people of the United States went a little nuts when they could produce a lot of it, and then eat it for cheap.

Let this sum it up:

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Filed under Current Events, Health

The Fish and The Stars

sun ocean clouds space view My curiosities wriggle to the depths of the oceans,

And flit to the height of the stars.

Sharing niceties with the fish,

And begging secrets of the planets.

Listening to Sagan as if in a dream,

And hoping his sentiments do not go unheard.


Musing a little as we hear that NASA’s Voyager 1 is officially the first human-made object to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. Wooooooooooow. Words fail. Astounded. To only imagine what might be found… or what might find Voyager.

We watched some “tribute” videos of Carl Sagan this week, and were again put into that dreamy, inspired trance that his intonation and knowledge always impart. Science and humanity take on new meaning when spoken of by such a sage.

Also, because it’s pretty, and because stars… and fish:

red gray starfish under water

Also, because cosmic fish (the only clip of this I could find):



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Filed under Current Events, New Story

Life on My Mind

blue life molecules

As I said to a world-weary friend on Monday: “Being an adult with access to information is exhausting.” Work, family, Korea, taxes, questionable food sources, social obligations, blasts at public events… It’s a lot to take in every day.

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t turn it off most of the time. When there are people starving, dying, losing their homes and worse, I don’t feel right disregarding my privileged state and the information available to me. I need to do, and feel, something.

But that’s never where it starts.

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Filed under Current Events, Health, History Buff, Recipes

Everyone Deserves What I Have

Human Rights Campaign marriage equality logoYou’ve seen this image, right? It is a logo designed by the Human Rights Campaign, and signifies my support of marriage, and marital rights, equality for all adult couples.

I just need to be clear on where I stand. I’m not looking to offend any one out there, and I do not automatically equate opposition to same sex marriage with hate. But I’ve realized as I get older that it doesn’t generally pay to keep mum on a subject one feels passionately about, especially when it affects the lives of so many dear friends and relatives.

One thing at the outset: It’s way more complicated than this. Couples are not just gay or straight. Some people don’t want to commit for life, but should maybe have some benefits and recognition anyway. Some people want more than one spouse… Can’t see that one getting taken on in the mainstream any time soon, but it is another facet of the larger argument (unlike marrying one’s dog). The point is, the concept of marriage and its rights goes beyond two people, of the same or opposite sex, tying the knot and saying it’ll be for life.

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Filed under Current Events, Of Family and Children

December 14, 2012

one candle flame

Not all that long ago, I wrote a post about the state of mental health care in this country.

Last week, a young man brutally took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. I cannot imagine anyone doing such a thing while living in excellent mental health.

As far as I know, there is no confirmation on whether or not the shooter was officially mentally ill. Still, even if he didn’t have a diagnosis like schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder), there must have been something seriously wrong. Taking actions that so go against biological and social programming just has to be indicative of a problem.

I’m certainly not looking to condone what he did. I simply hope that there is an explanation, and one that points to a method of future prevention, naive as that may seem.

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“I’m Sooooo-o-o Tired…”


The title is a Beatles reference, in case you didn’t catch that.

I’ve been thinking about sleep a lot lately, mainly because I’m reading a book about fostering healthy sleep habits in babies and children. I would love to have a child that sleeps through the night, in her own bed, before one year of age, please.

Anyway, in that spirit, and because it’s cheat-with-links-Wednesday, I give you an article about sleeping on negative emotions:

Sleep Preserves and Enhances Unpleasant Emotional Memories

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Filed under Current Events, Science