Sunday, November 29, 2009

we've reached that point

sometimes enough is enough.

thousands of calories at one sitting, for example.

not that we don't appreciate having enough to eat, mind you. we do. in fact, this year we had too much--at a time when too many have too little.

who steals from a food bank? and how incredibly deep will some dig to make sure that shortfall isn't felt by others?

sometimes, "you're kidding, right?" is enough.

tiger woods and sarah palin leap, unwelcome, to mind.

sometimes enough is too much.

a friend of mine in flagstaff, az, is battling leukemia. she is fighting it hard, with very mixed results. her blog is a mosaic of self-deprecating hilarity and heart-rending reversals. the accounts of her physical and emotional pain are impossible to read without feeling the hope, uncertainty, and fear she's coping with every day. she's afraid, she said, that she's not going to make it. at a time when things are at their worst, she just keeps putting it out there.

sometimes enough is still not enough.

another friend has a nephew who recently disappeared in germany. he's been missing, in frankfurt, for days. not a trace, not a word. significant resources--from the state department to the fbi to the german police to u.s. and german tv to the internet--have been brought to bear. with nothing to show for it thus far. the family is keeping the pedal down, because that's what's required.

five seattle-area police officers killed, execution-style, in the past five weeks is ghastly. it's too far beyond "enough" to even get a handle on.

sometimes "you can't be serious" is enough.

barack obama, the "change we can believe in" candidate, seems poised to escalate a war that's been going nowhere for eight years. by all accounts, obama is a brilliant man. i respect this, and still have high hopes for his presidency. but it's hard to reconcile those things with an epically bad idea. afghanistan, as one historian noted, is where empires go to die. the former-soviets would concur, one imagines.

on an unrelated-but-related note, what is wrong with the secret service? do they not take their job seriously, or do they just not like this president?

every day, even a holiday, it's always something. enough, demonstrated time and again, is never enough.

and tomorrow is monday.

so it goes.

hysterical footnote

'bin laden was within our grasp.'

thanks, W. heck of a job! again.

you'd almost think capturing bin laden was never really part of the plan.

because then who would've played the role of boogeyman for the rest of the bush administration? besides the hapless saddam hussein, that is.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

the little things

avery got a lesson in life, and death, today.

one of her hamsters, never very healthy, took its last spin on the hamster wheel.

to her credit, she was very pragmatic about arranging a funeral back behind the garage. she even made sure her brother attended the service. we supplied the little tin, wrapped in a pink bow, and dug the hole. she put the tin in the ground, and covered it with dirt. she picked some hydrangeas and carefully put them in place. then she cried.

i was sad, and i didn't even like the little rat.

apparently i'm moved by the rituals of mortality, no matter who they're for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

hard day's night

nov. 21, 2009
seattle, wa
sunrise: 7:24 a.m.
sunset: 4:26 p.m.
* * * * *

we've become nocturnal.

we get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, come home in the dark.

i walk kate in the dark, throw the ball for her in the dark, pick up poop in the dark. (public hygeine note: i take along a flashlight for that.)

around here, when daylight savings time turns into left coast standard time, it's like someone threw a switch. suddenly we're all creatures of the night. (on the upside, this does cut down on UV-related skin damage.)

the change also seems to trigger the return of winter storms. siberian pacific fronts, wave after relentless wave. lowering, ominous events in their own right. which means there are afternoons when you look out the window at 3:30, and darkness is already upon the land.

science is still trying to explain how seattle can remain so green this time of year, given the total absence of light for photosynthesis.

on the first work day following the time change, people instantly forget how to drive. a predictable hour-long commute suddenly takes an hour and 20 minutes. or more. if a snowflake is spotted, anywhere, add another 20 minutes. or more.

sales of vitamin d spike, as folks try to ward off seasonal affective disorder, cardiac events and spontaneous cases of rickets. we're fortunate to have a medic one paramedic just down the block. you never know when you're going to need resuscitation from a spontaneous case of rickets.

ever heard of human hibernation syndrome? yeah, i hadn't either. we've got that here, too. lots of it. people wandering between cubicles, eyes vacant, no purpose evident. then again, maybe they're just zombies at home in their natural environment.

good news note: werewolf attacks go way down, november through march, probably because the impenetrable cloud cover obscures every full moon.

could be worse, you say? yes, we could be living in alaska. that would be darkness on a whole 'nother order of magnitude.

then again, it could be better.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

homeless woman, super-villian

i gave five bucks to a homeless woman yesterday.

as i was walking away, someone heading the same direction said, "giving them money just encourages them."

i made an ugly face at him. "yes," i said, "she looked real encouraged, didn't she?"

he shook his head at me and walked on.

seattle in november is a lousy place to be homeless. it's cold and wet and dreary. that combination has to weigh particularly heavy on someone in an already-precarious mental state.

did you know that up to 25% of homeless people are seriously mentally ill? i'm no psychiatrist, but i'd bet real money that "serious mental illness" makes it difficult for one to participate in the american dream. even if they're not mentally ill, i'd bet that going to sleep under a bridge and waking up in a dumpster makes it difficult to interview for a job.

Q: if a mentally sound person is scrounging for food and sleeping outdoors every day, how long do you think it'll be before they're mentally unsound?
A: not long, i bet.

did you know that about 25% of the homeless are u.s. military veterans? we make a big show of supporting the troops and honoring veterans, and yet somehow tens of thousands of them end up on the street, holding a sign asking for spare change. i'd bet that the reason they do this has nothing to do with them being "too lazy to work."

did you know there are 1.3 million homeless children in this great nation of ours? that's bad, right? but wait, there's more. almost half of those kids are under five years old. how do you suppose life is going to work out for those kids? not a lot of harvard grads in their ranks, i bet. maybe, if they're really lucky, they'll end up in the u.s. military, emptily patronized, and kicked to the curb. again.

assuming they live that long.

more times than i care to count, i've heard otherwise intelligent people sneer at a homeless person, as if their homelessness were actually a clever disguise for indolence and treachery. as if the guy sitting on the corner in the rain were saying, "ha ha, you have to go to work and i don't, and when you're out of sight i'm going to take the money suckers like you have given me and go buy a fucking yacht."

why otherwise-intelligent people equate homelessness with "a great scam" is hard to fathom. it makes me wonder whose side they'd be on if they came across someone kicking a litter of homeless puppies.

(i mean, you people would defend the puppies, wouldn't you?)

* * * * *

i wasn't thinking about any of these things when i handed five bucks to a homeless woman yesterday. i was just thinking she looked exhausted and miserable and hopeless. i felt bad for her, knowing five bucks would change her circumstance not one iota. probably i could've handed her five hundred bucks, with the same net result.

maybe she took that money to the grocery store and bought as big a fortified beer as she could afford (because that's what all those lazy bums do, right?).

i wouldn't have blamed her one bit.

dick redux

liz cheney thinks her dad should run for president in 2012.

dear god, yes. please let the gop run that murderous fuck out there one more time.

run, dick. run.

* * * * *

while we're at it, let them run palin. or gingrich. or pawlenty. or rush. democrats would love several more seats and a lockdown majority for a few more years.
* * * * *
david brooks, who seems to be a "moderate republican," doesn't think much of sarah palin. doesn't he know moderate republicans are passe? shush, david. palin is the future of the gop.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

another shot, please...

i got a flu shot at work last week.

the next day, it was announced that the company had been sold.

the next day, the u.s. house passed an historic healthcare reform bill.

these things are all connected.

ordinarily i wouldn't have bothered with the shot, because i'm not in a high-risk group and i'm not fond of shots.

but mrs. spaceneedl has asthma, and if she gets the flu the repercussions could be very bad, indeed. "but if she gets a shot, shouldn't that obviate the need for you to get one?"

you might think so. but you'd be wrong. because the shots don't cover all the permutations of the flu. and even if you get the shot, you still might get the flu, and pass it along. and if someone near you gets it, your odds of getting it go up.

so to minimize the chance that the missus might contract this year's version of a seasonal virus, i got the shot. it was free, sponsored by my employer.

but as we've all learned during the recent "discussions" of healthcare, costs are rising exponentially every second. in the time it takes you to read this sentence, the cost of a simple flu shot has gone up an order of magnitude. don't trouble yourself with the math: no one really knows how to calculate it. but rest assured, it's a lot.

project that cost over a company's entire employee population, and suddenly it becomes prohibitively expensive to stay in business.

to avoid the inevitable severe losses, the only prudent option is to sell the venture to a much larger conglomerate.

the reason this makes sense is that the really large interests can better afford to absorb mind-numbing losses. for those interests of a certain size, if the decline gets too steep the government steps in and declares them "too big to fail." the losses are subsidized with taxpayer money, and everyone goes home happy. because as dick cheney famously opined, "deficits don't matter."

where was i?

a shot of capital. that's what businesses, trying to do the right thing by their employees, require in a world of healthcare costs run amok. and that's what leads some to "wholly owned subsidiary" status.

so on thursday, the shots. on friday, the announcement. we'd been bought, lock, stock and needl. if only someone, or several someones, in a position to make a difference, could have done something to turn the tide of history in another direction. some body like...the democrat-controlled congress, for example.

in classic fashion, these well-meaning souls rode over the hill hoisting the banner of healthcare reform. one day late.

well, one day late for the wholly pwned spaceneedl sprockets, that is -- sold into subsidiary-hood.

so what's the the takeaway here?

it's all mrs. spaceneedl's fault. if she were more discriminating about her pre-existing conditions, none of this would have been necessary. for want of some non-inflamed bronchial passages, a company was sold.

and somewhere a butterfly fluttered by, unperturbed.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

soccer? i don't even know her!

i used to be indifferent to soccer.

suddenly, i love it.

or, maybe it's just elizabeth lambert i'm enamored with.

"don't elbow me."

"don't pull on my shorts."

"in fact, let's just stipulate if you're anywhere near me, you're in a high-contact zone."

* * * * *

update: liz has been suspended from the team. "This is in no way indicative of my character or the soccer player I am," Lambert said in a statement.

it's not? i mean, how do you figure? it's totally indicative.

no apology necessary.