10.24.2010

In the future, you'll spend a lot of time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside a grocery store

Douglas Coupland is a Canadian so when he says something completely in-your-face radical, it doesn't sting. It doesn't stink, either, which is what I first wrote. Well, to be honest, no writing actually stinks, even mine. But Coupland is like what philosophy could be if it weren't so pleased with itself.

My title quote is from his NPR interview, talking about his Radical Pessimist's Guide to the Next Ten Years. Seriously, read it. It's short, one page, as this is not a long-winded guy. Or don't if you prefer to get your information spoon-fed like a baby and yes I mean all TV news, not just Fox.

Remember Generation X? If you do, one of his tips is make sure you have someone to change your diaper. Okay, that's something you'd expect from a radical pessimist.

How about this? It is going to become much easier to explain why you are the way you are, due to structural and chemical functions of the brain. I like that, although I don't want to live in a world where too many more people go around explaining why they are the way they are. I live in California, after all. There's too much self-absorption, way too much, especially by people who have nothing to say but say it over and over again.

Another one: enjoy lettuce while you can. Yeah, I suppose any pessimist could predict the end of trucked produce with the probable success of the old energy technology monopoly completely squashing the green shoots of energy innovation.

How about this one: dreams will get better. No explanation. If you have one, please share.

My justification? My dreams are better (how about that for being self-absorbed? oh, just read on - I can't give an example I haven't actually experienced, can I?), being older.

My husband said, "You were crying in your sleep last night, did you know that?" I remembered transferring Burma VJ into my imagined REM vacation. It's good to empathize with other people, far away without a voice, trapped in a shitty country with no way out, though. I felt - feel - like I lived that experience. I woke up grateful for living in the United States, Tea Party rights-removers and all, and energized about working for people less fortunate.

My husband said, "You were laughing, too." I think that had something to do with getting revenge on bad guys, but that does nothing except make me feel good enough to get out of bed and make a difference, maybe, hopefully. When I was younger, my dreams all occurred in the same place, like same neighborhood kind of place, and they were always stressful.

So in that way, it is just better when you're older. You feel things more deeply but it doesn't feel like the first time, thank you Foreigner. You deal with whatever hits the fan because you've been sprayed before, better and harder, and you can use that hurt to help. It's not just me explaining the way I am. I'm no different - no better than anyone.

10.15.2010

Words about Water

It's a wet day in the bloggy world.

Instead of scary, fear-building, depressing facts about the devastating environmental impacts of water scarcity and pollution (that comes later), there's a great documentary on the subject that does what words, at least my words, cannot. It's Tapped and it's not boring so don't make excuses. Watch it and love life.

My wish is that somewhere deep in our heads and hearts Americans will soon comprehend the luxury of life we take for granted while we flush our toilets with completely good, drinkable, potable water. Ever since living overseas where such a wasteful idea is considered stupid, this complaint slips out of my mouth inappropriately during social settings involving too much family or alcohol. Don't kill the messenger. Even Republicans know that much of what we take for granted as Americans is thought of as wasteful and stupid everywhere else on the planet.

It is stupid. It is wasteful and we know it. We whine, "What can I do about it?" while we flush and waste and drink bottled water and whine some more and say inappropriate things around family members.

Here's something to say to those family members who push you over the edge with their assumptions about how much better they are and how justified they are to live better than 99% of all humans who have ever lived on planet earth. (If you don't have family members like this, I feel badly for you. They are good for learning patience and learning how to disagree without disrespect).

This information is from Treehugger.com, and if you think treehugger is an insult, then you more than anyone in your family needs to read this, over and over while enjoying your day living in the richest country ever to exist on the planet where even poor people (not you, of course - you worked hard for your money, if you can justify luck as hard work) live better than most kings in history:

  1. Every week, 42,000 people die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
  2. Students in developing countries lose 443 million school days each year due to diseases associated with the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. Repeated episodes of diarrhea and worm infestations diminish a child's ability to learn and impair cognitive development.
  3. More people have access to cell phones than to toilets. As a result, tons of untreated human waste make their way to water sources causing a litany of diseases, and even death.
  4. The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.

These facts are disheartening, but they don't have to be the norm. Even in the darkest depths of the water crisis, we found positive solutions that are already being put in place.

  1. Organizations like Water.org and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world by not only building wells in remote villages but also creating sustainable infrastructure to maintain those wells.
  2. The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. But by educating yourself about where you are most wasteful in your water use, you can begin to reduce that waste.
  3. There are small steps we can all take to help keep pollution out of our rivers and streams, like correctly disposing of household wastes.
  4. Communities around the world are saying no to bottled water. Doing so not only drastically reduces water bottle waste, but also saves taxpayers a pretty penny. For example, the city of San Francisco saved $500,000 per year by terminating all of its bottled water contracts.

While the realities of water issues around the world are grim, the organizations and individuals driving positive solutions show us that it doesn't have to be that way. Thank you for joining us, and for all of your work for a future filled with clean water.

Drink, Fish, Smoke: preparing for a life in law enforcement

Here's where you can get my new book. Please buy a copy. It's cheap!

A somewhat general sort of description kind of thing:

Charlie was good at only two things: shooting a gun and driving fast. Cops get to be on a team with a bunch of other guys and wear the same uniforms like in football. Law enforcement would be like hanging around friends all the time without any girls telling you what to do, always saying, "Why are you doing that? Why don't you be with me?" Helping others starts with helping yourself, he thought. All he had to do was turn twenty-one, the minimum age to be a cop. Until then, living in Florida in the seventies, there was plenty of time to grow up.

Why I wrote this particular story:

Law enforcement is a career like no other.

Rarely do you get a honest explanation of what it takes to become a cop. You're told you have to be a good boy scout, an upstanding citizen, polite, get good grades, be confident but not judgmental, command presence but not be overbearing, and most of all, be truthful. There's no such person.

It isn't like a regular job. You're part of a family, part of a team, regardless of your private life. Your previously private life doesn't matter. Now when you go to parties, you'll hang out in the corner with other cops and talk cases or, rather, bitch about your department. While considering a career in law enforcement, details such this would be good to know. That, along with one young man's experience of growing up, is why I wrote this book.