Thursday, December 18, 2008

Really, Barack? Rick Warren?

I like to think I'm pretty open-minded, fairly non-judgemental; but I think there are degrees of inclusiveness and I'd like to think that Rick Warren is a degree or two away from giving a benediction at the inauguration of Barack Obama on the Mall in the capital.

This isn't about raising taxes vs cutting spending to balance the budget. This isn't about free trade vs tarriffs. This isn't about states rights vs federalism. This is a man who advocates theocratic interpretations in the application of civil rights in direct opposition to the first and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution of the United States, and I cannot imagine why on earth my President-elect would give Warren a hearing, much less a pulpit on the platform at his inauguration.

This is your inauguration; think "setting the tone." I get that you intend to be the President for all Americans, but it's pretty clear that this guy hasn't got a benediction for everyone; he leaves some people out.

I read a comment somewhere today - I think it was in the Orange County Register - that you appear to be a bit challenged in your selection of clergy, and I've got to go along with that assessment.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Observing a Blogiversary

I saw a counter on Kay's blog, checked my archives, and - lo and behold - today this blog is four years old.

I have to say that keeping a blog isn't the stupidest thing I've done over the past four years... not by a long shot. I came into this with no particular expectations, with very little awareness of what I wanted to do here, and - given that - I think it's gone pretty well. I think I wrote some decent stuff over on the the other site before it crashed on me. I've 'met' some interesting people. We've lost some interesting people. (I still find myself wanting to tell Joycelyn Ward something now and then.)

I'm still trying to come to terms with blog maintenance, i.e. posting regularly. Ronni Bennett is my hero and role model, consistently turning out a top-quality product day in and day out, and I've disappeared for a month at a time. I am conscious that I don't meet the criteria to make her blog roll today, and then I get this guilt thing going. I know that I fret a bit when I check blogs and there are no entries for an extended period, and I don't want to be that guy.

I saw Ariana Huffington the other night on The Daily Show and was struck by her advice to just go with your first thought. I've had two big posts stuck in park for a year now trying to find time to do some research and develop them. I think I do better by just unloading whatever's in my consciousness and not worrying about the Pullitzers or whatever.

Four years... I had just gotten married on November 1st, 2004, so what the hell was I doing starting a blog? What if I'd discovered blogging a few months earlier?

Anyway, to my readers, thank you for your companionship.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Reflection on University City

I remember standing out near the flight line in 1970 shortly after reporting into Attack Carrier Air Wing Two at (then) NAS Miramar. Looking to the west I noticed and asked about the construction going on past the end of the runways, and I was told they were putting in homes. I responded with, "Who the (deleted) builds homes at the end of the runway of a Naval Air Station?" (At that time I hadn't experienced Point Loma where people move under the Lindbergh Field traffic pattern and complain about the noise.)

I am mindful of PSA Flight 182 that crashed in North Park about 30 years ago, and I seem to recall a couple of mishaps out of Montgomery Field up on Kearney Mesa. I think when you live under the flight pattern (not to mention at the end of the runways) of an airport - military or civilian - you need to come to terms with the reality that - sooner or later - gravity always wins and you could be in the bulls-eye.

It's a shame, certainly, when innocent lives are lost. On the other hand, I am thankful that the crew of the F/A-18 was able to eject and will live to fly another day.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Little About the Red Cross

I guess I haven't said much about my experience with the Red Cross, and that's kind of a shame because I know I used to only think of the Red Cross in terms of emergency leave (when I was in the Navy) and major disasters. I have been out on two national disaster responses (DRs) this year - in June and in November - and that was fulfilling work, but I've also been out on a dozen house and apartment fires and that was also - and perhaps more - fulfilling.

I spent two weeks in Columbus, Indiana, in June as a client caseworker in the aftermath of the flooding there. You may be asking yourself, as I did, "What flooding in Indiana?" Iowa and the Mississippi got all of the press, but I think we wound up helping more than 400 families in the Columbus area out of the science classrooms at the middle school.

For five days over the weekend before Thanksgiving I was deployed with an Emergency Response Vehicle (or ERV) to Sylmar. With my co-driver (pictured above) we provided snacks and beverages at the bulk distribution site near the client service center, provided meals to the volunteer staff, and drove through the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park delivering snacks, beverages and clean-up items (rakes, shovels, gloves, etc.) to clients.

The thing is that for every DR that makes the papers there are hundreds of personal disasters, and, when we respond to those, our Disaster Action Teams are responsible for the damage assessment, assessing the clients needs, and providing for their immediate needs consistent with the Red Cross mission and values. I know we did good work in Indiana and in Sylmar, but - pound for pound - I wouldn't trade working with a family through one of the worst times of their lives.

Now, the Red Cross does a lot of other things beside disaster relief: Services to Armed Forces is another program I make time for, Community Education, Health & Safety training, Blood Services, etc. Cop Car takes disaster relief to a whole 'nother level with regional planning.

I'm new to the Red Cross, and still working into my role as a foot soldier; but, on a personal level, my work as a Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) member has been some of the most fulfilling work I've done... which won't keep me from fighting for the keys to an ERV for the next DR.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm Not Smart About Economics

Years ago I took the tests for a Social Sciences teaching credential and I confess that Economics was my weakness, and apparently that weakness persists into the present. I'm not as dumb as I thought I was because there is an increasing body of evidence that everyone who should have predicted our economic meltdown could have predicted our economic meltdown; apparently they just didn't feel like it.

The thing I'm having a problem with today is the idea that the best financial minds in the world (if one believes that salaries are tied to competence) just got the bejeebers scared out of them by the "news" that we have been in a recession for over a year now. I'm just a guy, and I don't manage millions of dollars... billions of dollars in investments day in and day out, but I've got to tell you that I've suspected for awhile now that we were in a recession. I've actually been "planning" my retirement on the assumption that I wouldn't be able to get much - if anything - out of my paltry investments. Can anyone steer me to a decent explanation of why putting that out in public sent Wall Street back into the crapper?

By the way, we were talking over the holiday about Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination to be Secretary of State and decided that it was a bad idea. Hillary Clinton can stay in the Senate as long as she feels like it and possibly be the successor to Ted Kennedy as a liberal icon, or she can take on being Obama's Secretary of State subordinating her world view to his until she can't stand it anymore and then disappear into the landscape. Somebody help me here; has anyone since Jefferson gone from Secretary of State to the Presidency? (I know he didn't go directly from State to the Presidency; he served a term as VP.)