Friday, February 27, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! - by Patty Mooney

I can't believe how bleary my eyes are right now, after spending the day at the editing bay creating a video introduction to our award-winning documentary, "The Invisible Ones: Homeless Combat Veterans," which is going to shown as a world premiere at the downtown San Diego library on Sunday afternoon.

It's very exciting and yet there are all these little black circles darting in the air in front of me. I think I need to walk away from the project and relax a little.

But it's very exciting. If you want to learn more about the project, go to The Invisible Ones website and check out the trailer. We want to put the full-length version online so everyone can view it for free, as this is a problem most people don't even know about. And they must know. They must know. Homeless combat veterans really draw our attention to the fact that there are homeless at all. Most people simply ignore them. My friend, Sylvia, told me this story of what happened to her yesterday.

"A while ago when I was rushing to a meeting downtown, I tripped and fell and not a soul driving by stopped to help me. But 3 homeless folks (a woman and 2 men) rushed to my aide, lifting me up, gathering my stuff, and trying to clean off the dirt on my face and arms. I tried to find them after the meeting, but couldn't locate them. Unfortunately I also didn't have their names. I would have liked to have taken them out for a meal as a small token of my appreciation for their kindness. But I never was able to find them. I have to tell you that one of the guys found a piece of paper, which appeared to be part of a hamburger wrapper, onto which he spit to provide me w/ a cleaning tool for my face. How sweet and how delicately I needed to decline the offer of his bodily fluid. I wasn't sure if I would laugh or cry." - Sylvia S.

I think the point is that homeless people are humans who mirror us. They are us. "I am you as you are he as you are me and we are all together." - The Eggman (Beatles)

They are down and out, making do with what they have. Yes, they made choices, and they brought themselves to that point. And their population is burgeoning. When we enter the downtown public library this afternoon, we will be passing the tent city of the homeless outside the building. We will smile, and say hi, give a tip of our hat. We have ignored them for all too long. It is time to gaze into their eyes and see ourselves in them. It is time to solve this problem of homelessness together as a community.

Posing Frog - Photo by Patty Mooney

I have never seen such personality on a frog! Look at that face! He's posing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Enjoy the Day! - Photo by Patty Mooney

“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” - Horace

Sunday, February 22, 2009

California Poppy - Springtime is Coming

Spring time happens a little bit quicker in California. I encountered this golden California poppy yesterday during a mountain bike ride in Sycamore Canyon. It was a muddy ride, featuring lots of water crossings. After a drought lasting decades, it's amazing to see water where there has been none. And the flowers are springing forth, too. This is a sensational time to be alive.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Letter to Obama from James Ray, the Harmonic Wealth Guru

“You can't sit around and wait for the storm to be over. You've got to learn how to dance in the rain.” - Anonymous

January 26, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your new position and for your willingness to step into office in this time of great transition and opportunity. I'm sure you're well aware of the magnitude of the job you've accepted, and I'm also certain you would not have chosen this path were it not for your true desire to contribute and leave a lasting legacy.

Never in my lifetime has a new president taking office created such a large sense of hope, excitement and anticipation in the American people. As you know, with great power comes great responsibility, and to that end, I respectfully write you today to communicate and encourage you in what I consider imperatives in the years ahead.

Please know that in order to bring lasting change, the path you travel must often be a path that many are unwilling to take. Much like hacking your way through a dense jungle, the first trip through is difficult and takes tremendous work and commitment. However, once the first pass is cleared, the second pass is much less difficult, and the third is easier still. Over time, the once difficult and non-existent path becomes the norm.

Read the rest of this amazing letter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still Standing!

I wanted to share an email with you all, from our friends who live near Melbourne, Australia, where the wildfires have been raging....... We who live in San Diego know all too well the horrors of a burning matchstick tossed flippantly out of a car window.


Hi guys,

Some shots of the devastation that hit our small community of Traralgon Sth, local areas are still under crime scene investigation ( searching for those that didn't make it ). A 39 y o fire bug has been charged with our fire, but other bugs are still active around Melb.

It came within 50 metres of us, we had to leave because even though we had a fire pump, there was no water supply ( tank water, we have an everlasting drought here, while Queensland is flooding ) We were prepared to walk away and lose everything with no regrets, later that evening we heard on the radio people in our estate who stayed to fight were talking of houses exploding ( LPG Bottled gas ) so we told ouselves " It's gone"............

Next morning our mobile rang, our neighbour who stayed to fight said it's still standing, after realising it wasn't a joke the usual fist in the air with a YES !!!.

The house above us on one side was gone, the other side caught but was put out. The CFA tried to save more but when the mirrors were melting on the truck there was nothing they could do.

The nature of the fire was:
100kph winds, long distance spotting 15km energy expelled, 60-80,000kw/m of fire, equiv to 500 Hiroshima bombs at once.
Flame height of 50 metres.
All this in an ambient temp of 46 deg C

Anyway, Still around to share the pics

Cheers ( lol )
Alan & Tricia.

The Beheading of Aasiya, a New York Businesswoman - by Patty Mooney

Did anyone else read about the woman who was beheaded by her estranged husband in New York? I try to steer clear of disturbing stories, but this one has been gestating in my mind since I first heard about it. There are stipulations that this was an "honor" killing, which is performed more often than one would care to know in Mideastern countries such as Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia. A Muslim man, Muzzammil Hassan, who had been served with divorce papers by his petite wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan, decided to behead her. Ironically, the two had together created a television network called Bridges TV in Buffalo, New York, to fight against negative perceptions of Muslims. Ya think?????

This is the true meaning of terrorism. To believe that such acts could never happen here on American soil, and thus turn a blind eye to it; and then to open the morning paper and be hit with such a story.

In case you may not have heard of honor killings, here is a for-instance. A young Muslim woman goes out shopping for groceries at the neighborhood market and happens to get mugged and raped. Her family then feels soiled, as though she has "brought this upon herself." Therefore, it is the family's obligation to murder her, thus "restoring honor" to the family. Until now, this is something that has happened far across the world.

We have known about the subjugation and abuse of women in the Mideast for many years. We American women suffered it, too, earlier in our history (of course, not the extent of being beheaded!) Think about how long it took for women to fight for the right to vote - 1920! [To see a good movie about this particular struggle, check out "Iron Jawed Butterflies." It's excellent.]

Women of the Mideast have less rights now than they did in the time of Cleopatra. I think we all need to shine a bright light on such reprehensible and unconscionable acts, no matter where they occur.

I do not understand the kind of hatred against women that seems to be so prevalent in the Muslim faith, claiming it as the "Word of Mohammad." The Taliban are probably the worst example, as they maraud their own villages burning down schools attended by women, destroying cultural artifacts and terrorizing their own people.

An eye-opening autobiography about the life of a Muslim woman - Ayaan Ali Hirsi - is called "Infidel." It will give you a good look at Islamic family- and community-life over there in those far-away lands. The problem is that when such fundamentalists emigrate to America, they bring their customs with them. They do not assimilate. Not all of their customs are bad or wrong, but the ones involving genital excision and honor killing, must not stand in a democratic nation.

The thought of a little girl being held down on a kitchen table so that her clitoris can be chopped off with a pair of wire cutters, and so her vagina can be sewn shut until she can be married off to a chosen husband, is indeed disturbing. And just that much more disturbing to think that it could be happening in our beloved United States of America right this minute.

Bread and Lightning

Hey, this is cool. One of my photos is now gracing the cover of online poetry ezine, "Bread and Lightning."

Go check out this marvelous and quirky site here:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear Dogs and Cats

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people;
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

56-year-old becomes 1st woman to swim Atlantic - by Danica Coto

This has to stand out as one of the most amazing stories I have heard. This is the woman who should dominate the news, not the woman with octuplets. This woman, Jennifer Figge, is quite an inspiration. - Patty

Photo of Jennifer Figge by David Higdon

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jennifer Figge pressed her toes into the Caribbean sand, exhilarated and exhausted as she touched land this week for the first time in almost a month.

Reaching a beach in Trinidad, she became the first woman on record to swim across the Atlantic Ocean — a dream she'd had since the early 1960s, when a stormy trans-Atlantic flight got her thinking she could don a life vest and swim the rest of the way if needed.

The 56-year-old left the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's western coast on Jan. 12, battling waves of up to 30 feet (9 meters) and strong winds.

David Higdon, a friend of Figge who kept in touch with her via satellite phone, said she had originally planned to swim the Bahamas, but inclement weather forced her to veer 1,000 miles (1,610 kms) off course to Trinidad, where she arrived on Feb. 5.

Figge plans to continue her odyssey, swimming from Trinidad to the British Virgin Islands, where she expects to arrive in late February. The crew won't compute the total distance Figge swam until after she completes the journey, Higdon said.

Then it's home to Aspen, Colorado — where she trained for months in an outdoor pool amid snowy blizzards — to reunite with her Alaskan Malamute.

"My dog doesn't know where I am," she told The Associated Press on Saturday by phone. "It's time for me to get back home to Hank."

The dog swirled in her thoughts, as did family and friends, as Figge stroked through the chilly Atlantic waters escorted by a sailboat. She saw a pod of pilot whales, several turtles, dozens of dolphins, plenty of Portuguese man-of-war — but no sharks.

"I was never scared," Figge said. "Looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way. I can always swim in a pool."

Her journey comes a decade after French swimmer Benoit Lecomte made the first known solo trans-Atlantic swim, covering nearly 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) from Massachusetts to France in 73 days. No woman on record has made the crossing.

Figge woke most days around 7 a.m., eating pasta and baked potatoes while she and the crew assessed the weather. Her longest stint in the water was about eight hours, and her shortest was 21 minutes. Crew members would throw bottles of energy drinks as she swam; if the seas were too rough, divers would deliver them in person. At night she ate meat, fish and peanut butter, replenishing the estimated 8,000 calories she burned a day.

Figge wore a red cap and wet suit, with her only good-luck charm underneath: an old, red shirt to guard against chafing, signed by friends, relatives and her father, who recently died.
The other cherished possession she kept onboard was a picture of Gertrude Ederle, an American who became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

"We have a few things in common," Figge said. "She wore a red hat and she was of German descent. We both talk to the sea, and neither one of us wanted to get out."

Figge arrived on Trinidad's Chacachacare Island, an abandoned leper colony, at 5:20 p.m. She plans to leave Trinidad on Monday night. During this brief respite, she has avoided the hotel pool and nearby ocean, opting instead for the treadmill.


Here is a youtube video I discovered about Ms. Figge before she embarked on her journey, which shows exactly how she intended to swim across the Atlantic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Congratulations Boston, on Your Smoking Ban! - by Patty Mooney

Uncle Jim, my mom and Aunt Jane all smoked - Uncle Jim and Aunt Jane died rather young

As a child, it really grossed me out that both my parents smoked, and I led the anti-smoking campaign in the household, joined by my two brothers and three sisters. Since it was a Democratic household, we nagged Mom and Dad into giving up the cancer sticks, cold-turkey, and we happily disposed of all the ashtrays they owned. I never started smoking myself, due to eating a pack of them at the age of four, and gagging on them vociferously (followed by years of recurring nightmares of me chewing on cigarettes). In fact, if you are a person who is serious about giving up the ol' nicotine, and have tried everything, maybe you should try eating a few. I guarantee, it will make you so sick you won't want to look at them.

In 1994, we California voters mandated a ban on smoking which was finally enacted in 1998. What a relief it was to all of us non-smokers, to walk into a restaurant or bar and not be assaulted with someone's second-hand smoke. Even the smokers agreed that it was the right thing to do. I mean, remember that old Steve Martin shtick: "Mind if I smoke? Not at all; mind if I fart?" Exactly.

Well, after getting used to the luxury of smoke-free public spaces, whenever I would travel back east to see my family, or on business, I would invariably walk into restaurants or bars that still featured the "non-smoking section," which as we all know, is like a swimming pool with a "non-peeing section." Hello! So you bite the bullet and sit as far away from the smokers as possible, but as you exit the building, the odor of cigarette smoke clings to your hair and your clothing and you feel like you have to run into a shower immediately, just to feel clean again.

The other issue that goes hand-in-hand with cigarette smoking is the butts. Here in San Diego, where we are always just a matchstick away from going up in flames, I have seen people toss their butts out of their cars like complete morons. I have also seen hundreds of butts at the beach, like it was a gigantic ashtray. People who smoke, I beg of you, please dispose of your butts like you care about where you live, and about your neighbors. In caring about others, you may begin to care about yourself and give up the self-destructive habit of smoking altogether.

It is fantastic to learn that today is the day that Boston has put its foot down and voted yes on improving its citizens' health. I hope that other cities will soon follow. Don't ask me to breathe in your cigarette smoke, and I won't ask you to smell my farts.

For further info on the Boston ban go to Anna Boyd's blog.

News From California's Border Congressman! - Bob Filner

Bob Filner with David "The Water Man" Ross and Rachel Jensen, Director of Girls Think Tank

When people say that ALL politicians suck, it is just not true. Bob Filner, whom my family have known for many years, is the most dedicated and amazing politician/ humanist you could meet. As Dave "The Water Man" Ross once said of Bob, "He is the ONLY elected official who ever bothered to come downtown and see, firsthand, the plight of the homeless."

The following little piece of news is a bit of sunshine for everybody living in San Diego, near the Naval Base..... Talk about a "David and Goliath" situation.....

Filner Seeks to Amend Clean Water Act:
Require DOD Compliance with Existing Environmental Laws

Congressman Bob Filner introduced the Military Environmental Responsibility Act, H.R. 672, which would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to fully comply with Federal and State environmental laws.

“Military exemptions from environmental requirements harm human health by polluting our water, air, and soil. Communities around military bases should be protected equally from harmful waste and by-products, just like any other American town,” said Filner. “Cleaning up after ourselves is the responsible course of action.”

In the past, the San Diego Naval Base piped more than 14 million gallons of raw sewage into the San Diego Bay. However, the DOD was exempted from paying for damages as a result of sovereign immunity through the Clean Water Act.

# # #

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Passenger's Account of US1549 - By Gerry MacNamara

There's no writeup of this on Snopes yet, but it was published in USA Today (at least online). This is from a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles who was on Flight 1549.

As many of you now know, Gerry McNamara (New York/Charlotte) was on US Airways Flight 1549 last week. We caught up with him to discuss the harrowing incident and - in a departure from our usual format - present his stirring account as told to us:

Thursday was a difficult day for all of us at the firm and I left the Park Avenue office early afternoon to catch a cab bound for LaGuardia Airport. I was scheduled for a 5 pm departure, but able to secure a seat on the earlier flight scheduled to leave at 3 PM. As many of us who fly frequently often do, I recall wondering if I’d just placed myself on a flight I shouldn’t be on!

Just prior to boarding I finished up a conference call with my associate, Jenn Sparks (New York ), and our placement, the CIO of United Airlines. When I told him that I was about to board a US Airways flight, we all had a little fun with it. I remember walking on the plane and seeing a fellow with grey hair in the cockpit and thinking “that’s a good thing... I like to see grey hair in the cockpit!”

I was seated in 8F, on the starboard side window and next to a young business man. The New York to Charlotte flight is one I’ve taken what seems like hundreds of times over the years. We take off north over the Bronx and as we climb, turn west over the Hudson River to New Jersey and tack south. I love to fly, always have, and this flight plan gives a great view of several NY landmarks including Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge .

I had started to point out items of interest to the gentleman next to me when we heard a terrible crash - a sound no one ever wants to hear while flying - and then the engines wound down to a screeching halt. 10 seconds later, there was a strong smell of jet fuel. I knew we would be landing and thought the pilot would take us down no doubt to Newark Airport . As we began to turn south I noticed the pilot lining up on the river still - I thought - en route for Newark.

Next thing we heard was “Brace for impact!” - a phrase I had heard many years before as an active duty Marine Officer but never before on a commercial air flight.

Everyone looked at each other in shock. It all happened so fast we were astonished! We began to descend rapidly and it started to sink in. This is the last flight.I’m going to die today. This is it. I recited my favorite bible verse, the Lord’s Prayer, and asked God to take care of my wife, children, family and friends.

When I raised my head I noticed people texting their friends and family….getting off a last message. My blackberry was turned off and in my trouser pocket…no time to get at it. Our descent continued and I prayed for courage to control my fear and help if able. I quickly realized that one of two things was going to happen, neither of them good. We could hit by the nose, flip and break up, leaving few if any survivors, bodies, cold water, fuel. Or we could hit one of the wings and roll and flip with the same result. I tightened my seat belt as tight as I could possibly get it so I would remain intact.

As we came in for the landing, I looked out the windows and remember seeing the buildings in New Jersey , the cliffs in Weehawken, and then the piers. The water was dark green and sure to be freezing cold. The stewardesses were yelling in unison “Brace! Brace! Brace!”

It was a violent hit - the water flew up over my window - but we bobbed up and were all amazed that we remained intact.

There was some panic - people jumping over seats and running towards the doors, but we soon got everyone straightened out and calmed down.

There were a lot of people that took leadership roles in little ways. Those sitting at the doors over the wing did a fantastic job…they were opened in a New York second! Everyone worked together - teamed up and in groups to figure out how to help each other. I exited on the starboard side of the plane, 3 or 4 rows behind my seat through a door over the wing and was, I believe, the 10th or 12th person out. I took my seat cushion as a flotation device and once outside saw I was the only one who did….none of us remembered to take the yellow inflatable life vests from under the seat.

We were standing in 6-8 inches of water and it was freezing. There were two women on the wing, one of whom slipped off into the water. Another passenger and I pulled her back on and had her kneel down to keep from falling off again. By that point we were totally soaked and absolutely frozen from the icy wind.

The ferries were the first to arrive, and although they’re not made for rescue, they did an incredible job. I know this river, having swum in it as a boy. The Hudson is an estuary - part salt and part fresh water - and moves with the tide. I could tell the tide was moving out because we were tacking slowly south towards Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty , and The Battery.

The first ferry boat pulled its bow up to the tip of the wing, and the first mate lowered the Jacobs ladder down to us. We got a couple people up the ladder to safety, but the current was strong pushing the stern of the boat into the inflatable slide and we were afraid it would puncture it…there must have been 25 passengers in it by now.

Only two or three were able to board the first ferry before it moved away. Another ferry came up, and we were able to get the woman that had fallen into the water on the ladder, but she just couldn’t move her legs and fell off. Back onto the ladder she went; however, the ferry had to back away because of the swift current. A helicopter arrived on station (nearly blowing us all off the wing) and followed the ferry with the woman on the ladder. We lost view of the situation but I believe the helicopter lowered its basket to rescue her.

As more ferries arrived, we were able to get people up on the boats a few at a time. The fellow in front of me fell off the ladder and into the water. When we got him back on the ladder he could not move his legs to climb. I couldn’t help him from my position so I climbed up the ladder to the ferry deck where the first mate and I hoisted the Jacobs ladder with him on it…when he got close enough we grabbed his trouser belt and hauled him on deck. We were all safely off the wing.

We could not stop shaking. Uncontrollable shaking. The only thing I had with me was my blackberry, which had gotten wet and was not working. (It started working again a few hours later).

The ferry took us to the Weehawken Terminal in NJ where I borrowed a phone and called my wife to let her know I was okay. The second call I made was to Jenn. I knew she would be worried about me and could communicate to the rest of the firm that I was fine. At the terminal, first responders assessed everyone’s condition and sent people to the hospital as needed. As we pulled out of Weehawken my history kicked in and I recall it was the site of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. Thankfully I left town in better condition than Mr. Hamilton who died of a mortal wound the next day! I stayed with my sister on Long Island that evening, then flew home the next day.

I am struck by what was truly a miracle. Had this happened a few hours later, it would have been pitch dark and much harder to land. Ferries would no longer have been running after rush hour and it would not have been the same uplifting story. Surely there would have been fatalities, hypothermia, an absolute disaster!

I witnessed the best of humanity that day. I and everyone on that plane survived and have been given a second chance. It struck me that in our work we continuously seek excellence to solve our client’s leadership problems. We talk to clients all the time about the importance of experience and the ability to execute. Experience showed up big time on Flight 1549 as our pilot was a dedicated, trained, experienced professional who executed flawlessly when he had to.

I have received scores of emails from across the firm and I am so grateful for the outpouring of interest and concern. We all fly a great deal or work with someone who does and so I wanted to share this story - the story of a miracle. I am thankful to be here to tell the tale.

There is a great deal to be learned including: Why has this happened to me? Why have I survived and what am I supposed to do with this gift? For me, the answers to these questions and more will come over time, but already I find myself being more patient and forgiving, less critical and judgmental.

For now I have 4 lessons I would like to share:

1. Cherish your families as never before and go to great lengths to keep your promises.

2. Be thankful and grateful for everything you have and don’t worry about the things you don’t have.

3. Keep in shape. You never know when you’ll be called upon to save your own life, or help someone else save theirs.

4. When you fly, wear practical clothing. You never know when you’ll end up in an emergency or on an icy wing in flip flops and pajamas and of absolutely no use to yourself or anyone else.

Thanks to all who have reached out …I look forward to seeing you soon!

Friday, February 6, 2009

God Sleeps in Rwanda - by Patty Mooney

A documentary film
Produced by: Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman
Distributed by: Women Make Movies

The title of this film, as revealed just prior to the credits, is based on a Rwandan saying that God may spend His days anywhere else in the world, but He returns to Rwanda to rest at night in this African paradise.

After watching the interviews and daily lives of five women who survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994 during which a million Tutsis were murdered by Hutus, the saying comes as a complete irony. One wonders where God was when the genocide was in full bloom and these women watched as their entire families were murdered in front of their eyes, their villages burned and neighbors tortured, and when they themselves were continuously raped, beaten and left for dead. A quarter of a million women were raped, mutilated and murdered. Where was God then? How these women, who following the genocide comprised 70% of the population, can still place their faith in a Supreme Being that appeared to abandon them during those 100 dark days of 1994, shows either how strong their cultural indoctrination is, or how deep their belief truly lies.

As He is known to work in mysterious ways, did God return after the genocide ended to orchestrate a new majority of females in Rwanda? The women appearing in the film are all strong and beautiful guardians of their families and due to necessity, they have been able to adopt roles formerly forbidden to them. They can now dance. They can pursue an education. They can conduct business. They can serve in politics.

Some things have not changed, however. They take the children that God gives them. In other words, they do not appear to use birth control. One of the women was unpleasantly surprised to learn that she had become HIV-positive from unprotected sex with her husband; he had not bothered to inform her prior to their marriage that he had AIDS. After he died she was left to care for their children, one of whom is HIV-positive.

None of the women had even a smidgeon of a chip on her shoulder about what had happened to her and all the sacrifices she must now make in life. A 12-year-old girl had to quit school to take care of her orphaned siblings. Her altruism shone in her last comment: “I do not think my parents would be happy to see me (quitting school and spending my youth as the caregiver for my family); but I think they would be proud.”

The story of one woman who had been raped by one Hutu after another and then found herself pregnant was particularly poignant. At first she wanted to abort the child – and who wouldn’t? Instead, she opened her arms and her life to the infant whose smile melted her heart. She never wants to reveal to her little girl that she is the daughter of a Hutu militiaman. The mother’s emotional anguish continues.

Another bitter irony revealed in the film was that the rape of the Tutsi women was the brainchild of the former Minister of Women and Family Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was later indicted for genocide and rape as a war crime. “Before you kill the women, you need to rape them,” she ordered her militiamen. How does a person cross that line where it is okay to impart such cruelty and tyranny? As a woman and a mother, her acts seem even more despicable. Did these ideas come from Nyiramasuhuko’s “God?”

I was impressed by the courage of all five women, and their lack of a “victim” mentality. They simply picked up from where the tsunami had tossed them, and went about their lives as best they could. They each have a very strong belief in family.

At this point in our collective history, however, an education about global warming and other ramifications of unchecked child-bearing would not hurt. When you compare a view of Africa from 5,500 years ago (The Humid Period), to the view today, you see big brown and yellow spaces (arid desert) which once were green (lush forest). Whether due to natural planetary changes and/or changes in the climate stimulated by man, this planet can no longer sustain a population that is exponentially multiplying. It has been said that the next world war will be fought over water. Africa already feels the effects of diminishing food and water, and ravages from disease. Why nourish this beast with more starving children who will be susceptible to AIDS and other untreatable viruses?

The next step in the education of Rwandan and African women must be the awareness of the choice that each of them has, to NOT bear children. Genocide, war and disease are foolish ways to trim the population. Now that we have entered into the 21st Century, why oh why can we not learn from all our past mistakes?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yes, Pecan!

The folks at Ben & Jerry's love to drizzle a little politics into their ice cream. They created "Yes Pecan!" in honor of Obama. In regards to George W, they asked for suggestions from the public.

Here are some of their favorite responses:
- Grape Depression
- The Housing Crunch
- Abu Grape
- Cluster Fudge
- Nut'n Accomplished
- Iraqi Road
- Chock 'n Awe
- WireTapioca
- Impeach Cobbler
- Guantanmallow
- imPeachmint
- Heck of a Job, Brownie!
- Neocon Politan
- Rocky Road to Fascism
- The Reese's-cession
- Cookie D'oh!
- Nougalar Proliferation
- Death by Chocolate... and Torture
- Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
- Credit Crunch
- Mission Pecanplished
- Country Pumpkin
- Chunky Monkey in Chief
- George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate
- WMDelicious
- Chocolate Chimp
- Bloody Sundae
- Caramel Preemptive Stripe
- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with nuts

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hemp Could Save Our Planet - by Patty Mooney

After reading this blog, "Michael Phelps Has No Business Apologizing for Taking Bong Hits," I thought it might be nice to bring the issue of hemp to everybody's attention.

If there were a natural resource that could be used in thousands of products ranging from varnish to lace, and this resource could dispel our reliance on trees for paper, wouldn't that be good?

If this resource were renewable, if it could quench our need for hundreds of imported products and provide jobs for thousands of Americans, then wouldn't that be good?

This resource exists! It is one of the hardiest and most versatile of all plants, and it has been cultivated for over 6,000 years. It is known as hemp.

In 1492, the sails and rigging on Columbus's Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were made from hemp. In 1776, the Continental Congress drafted the Constitution and Declaration of Independence on paper made from hemp. Later, during the 1800's, the covers of wagons carrying intrepid colonists westward ho would be made from hemp.

When Rudolph Diesel invented his famous engine in 1896, he and most engineers back then figured the diesel would run on fuels superior to petroleum, made from vegetable and seed oils; hemp was the most efficient.

In the 1930's the Ford Motor Company operated a successful biomass conversion plant that included hemp. About that time, a machine to strip the outer fibers of the hemp plant appeared on the market, called a decorticator. It could turn hemp into paper and fabrics quickly and cheaply. Hemp paper was recognized as superior to wood paper.

In 1941, fulfilling a desire to "grow automobiles from the soil," Henry Ford unveiled a plastic car. Hemp was a primary ingredient. The car was a thousand pounds lighter than a comparable steel car, and was reputed to withstand a blow ten times as great as steel without denting.

So what happened? In an effort to discover why Ford had steered away from plastic cars, and what had caused hemp's fall from grace, I phoned my parents in Michigan. Both of them were born in Detroit in the 1920's, so they were right at the epicenter of the auto industry when the plastic car was unveiled and hemp was still a household item.

My mother said that the big industries had coalesced to fight off an innovation that might deal them a death blow in the future. They easily quashed a fledgling industry that posed a threat to their formidable profits.

Well, my mother was right. While surfing the Web, I found the following passage:

"Hemp, once the mainstay of American agriculture, became a threat to a handful of corporate giants. To stifle the commercial threat that hemp posed to timber interests, William Randolph Hearst began referring to hemp in his newspapers, by its Spanish name, "marijuana." This did two things: it associated the plant with Mexicans and played on racist fears, and it misled the public into thinking that marijuana and hemp were different plants.

"Nobody was afraid of hemp--it had been cultivated and processed into usable goods, and consumed as medicine, and burned in oil lamps, for hundreds of years. But after a campaign to discredit hemp in the Hearst newspapers, Americans became afraid of something called marijuana."

Today, many people still harbor the fear. We fear what we do not understand.

Hemp is a cheap, clean and quickly renewable source for paper, canvas, rope, textiles, clothing, medicine, food, fuel, paint, varnish, building materials and plastic.

A single acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper as four acres of trees. Trees take 20 years to harvest while hemp takes a single season. In warm climates, hemp can be harvested two or even three times a year. It also grows in bad soil and restores the nutrients.

Hemp is softer, warmer and more water-absorbant than cotton, has three times the tensile strength, and is more durable than cotton. By the way, about 50% of chemicals used in American agriculture today are used on cotton crops. Hemp growing requirs no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies.

Hemp seed can be ground up into flour. With its high nutritional value and short growing cycle, it could serve as a food source for the masses in the near future as world food sources diminish.

It is estimated that methane and methanol production alone from hemp grown as biomass could replace 905 of the world's energy needs. The vegetable source is renewable, cheap and clean, while we all know that petroleum and coal sources are limited, expensive and dirty. By the way, many of today's race cars run on methanol.

How can a plant with so many benefits to mankind be considered bad? Because the blossom of the female hemp plant contains a narcotic. The irony is that their fear of that benign drug caused our forebears to trade off a non-toxic resource for a myriad of industries that have polluted our air and water, pillaged our planet and executed crimes on humanity that I believe are far worse than the effects of an herb!

We can keep striding down the path of destruction with those whose voracious greed has devoured so many irreplaceable resources. If a plant could single-handedly heal our world, it is hemp. A gift from Mother Earth and certainly nothing to fear.
Hearst, DuPont and their buddy, Harry Anslinger, the jacked-up-on-oil-and-trees greed magnates, are long dead now. Is it really doing anyone any good to allow their legacy to live on, and drag down our economy? Calvin Klein said “I believe that hemp is going to be the fiber of choice in both the homefurnishings and fashion industries.” The USA has always been known for its innovation. Let's get innovating on hemp!

Sunday, February 1, 2009