Friday, January 30, 2009

Exxon posts record income

Exxon Mobil did it again.  Their annual revenue for 2008 was an astonishing $45,220,000,000. That's 45.2 BILLION dollars. They took a hit the fourth quarter and only took in 7.8 billion.  Down from their previous quarterly record of $14.83 billion.  

Lest you think that Exxon is the only oil company raking in the bucks, let's review Chevron, BP and Shell.  Chevron took in $4.895 billion in the fourth quarter and $23.931 billion for the year. BP recorded $10.029 billion in the 3rd quarter.  Shell posted $4.785 billion for the fourth quarter and $31.4 billion for the year.  Of course, Shell is actually a Dutch company and BP is British.

So those two American companies earned a combined total of $69.151 billion in 2008.

Now unless you're thinking I'm against profit making, let me assure you I am not.  These companies are in business to make money. I know that.  However, when you think about how much their product affects so much of our lives, it's hard to reconcile these gross profits.  Much was made of the Big 3 auto makers and how devastating their failures would be to the national economy.  I beg to differ.  These guys are bigger.  Their failures would be far more devastating to the economy. Not that they're in any apparent danger of doing so.

Speaking of which, Ford posted 4th quarter loss of $5.875 billion and an annual loss of $14.571 billion.  Exxon Mobil could give them $5.9 billion and still have $1.9 billion in profit left over for the quarter.  Indeed they could pay off Ford's annual loss and have $30.6 billion left over!  GM hasn't reported their 4th quarter earnings, but they lost $4.2 billion in the 3rd quarter. Chevron could give them that much and have 695 million dollars left over for the quarter.  As a private company, Chrysler doesn't post its profits online so I have no way of knowing how much they lost or made.  But since they've gotten a big chunk of government money, I kinda think that should make them a public company, don't you?

At any rate, I think the solution to the auto manufactures woes lies with the oil companies.  They should have been required to offer up some of their profits to support Ford, GM and Chrylser.  It makes sense.  Without these American cars, we'd all have to be driving the more fuel efficient foreign cars and then they'd be selling less gas.  

Of course, they'd still be making huge profits from our obsessive use of all things plastic.

ExxonMobil's website says "Polyethylene (PE) is the largest volume polymer consumed in the world. It is a versatile polymer that offers high performance relative to other polymers and alternative materials such as glass, metal or paper. ExxonMobil Chemical is a leading global PE producer and supplier. We have the broadest PE product portfolio." What is PE?  Go look at the milk jug in your refrigerator. Somewhere on the bottom of that jug is a symbol.

This is high density polyethylene and is just one of the many forms of PE. Your plastic grocery bags are another.  It's literally everywhere.   ExxonMobil also makes polypropylene.  Those of you trying to stay warm in Michigan and points north?  Your thermal underwear is likely made of the stuff. Hell, in Australia it's in the money! Plastic polymers are in things that we don't even think of as being plastic.  If we removed all the plastic from our homes, we'd have no insulation, no speakers, no TVs, no refrigerators, fewer clothes and shoes and no computer from which to blog on.  The next time you have to go to get blood drawn think about the medical applications of plastics that have saved countless lives and made the sterile environment necessary for surgery and other medical applications readily available. Your car is filled with all sorts of polymers. And who makes those polymers?  Companies like Exxon.

When we think of how much the petroleum industry affects our lives, we usually think of the pollution caused by automobiles and how hard the price of gas hits our wallets.  Global oil reserves and oil production are really an unknown.  No one, except possibly the Saudi government, knows how much oil is beneath their sands.  Other countries think they've already reached their peak production. The US reached ours in 1971. The possibility that we have already reached the global peak oil production is a sobering idea and one that will most likely not be fully known until well after the fact.  But the inarguable truth is that there is only so much oil on the planet.  Sooner or later we will run out.  When we do, if we have not utilized alternatives, it could be devastating.  Some even predict the downfall of industrial civilization. Wars could be fought over strategic oil reserves. We're already fighting one war over oil.  As the world's oil reserves dwindle, it's entirely possible that wars like this will spread. 

Strange how this started our as a rant about ExxonMobil's record annual profit and turned into something else but we need to realize that our addiction to oil fuels the profits of companies like Exxon while it damages our environment and alters the very way we live.  

It's past time we, as a nation and indeed as a planet,  fully supported the creation of alternatives to oil.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

Today has been a good day for followers of the weird. We have poo flinging jail birds, a doctor making up a disgnosis, an intrepid thief imitating Goldilocks and more. Let's dive in.

Weusi McGowan didn't like his public defender or the jury. So he smuggled in a bag of feces and expressed his displeasure by rubbing sh*t in his lawyer's face and tossing the rest at the jury. The judge declared a mistrial.

While apparently there is such a thing as "guitar nipple" and may I just say ow, there is no such thing as "cello scrotum". Who'da thunk. In 1974, Elaine Murphy , now Dame Murphy, sent in an article to the British Medical Journal describing an ailment caused by the cello rubbing against the musician's parts much like the real ailment affects the nipples. Seems the BMJ was referencing the article recently and Dame Murphy decided it was time to fess up.

Alex Kupczynski got caught because he left his wallet in the pocket of one his victim's jumpsuits. Being confused and a bit concerned at this discovery, the homeowner called the police. They followed fresh tracks to another house and found Kupczynski hiding in a closet. He's been charged with four counts of burglary after breaking into vacation homes and living in them for an undisclosed period before moving on to the next. I think the best part is how he got caught. I mean really, how smart can he be to leave his wallet in someone's overalls?

Maybe you should be glad you don't live in Chicago. (And if you do, I'm sorry). A 14-year-old boy put on a "police uniform" , entered a local police station and was assigned patrol duty. He rode with a partner for 5 hours before someone realized that the "uniform" wasn't a real one. Chicago police say he never drove the car, carried a gun or issued any citations. And he looks older than 14. He's been charged with impersonating an officer while the police department tries to discover how he managed to pull it off.

Two weird ones concerning animals. A pet groomer in Allentown was charged with animal cruelty for giving kittens the Goth look by piercing their ears, tail and neck. And selling them on the Interwebs. Since her arrest her business has plummeted. Gee, I wonder why? Next, a couple in Florida spent $155,000 to have their dead Lab cloned. The North California firm BioArts International held an auction to clone a dog and Edgar and Nina Otto won. $155,000 to clone a dog. Now, I love my dog. He's smart, funny and affectionate. And slightly neurotic. Maybe more than slightly. But even if I had that kind of money, I wouldn't clone him. There's more than genetics that makes an animal, whether human or canine. I wouldn't have my dog back. I'd just have a dog that looked like him.

Here's one for the...uh...history books. Seems like Jessica Alba is teaching Bill O'Reilly about the history of World War 2. She asserted that Sweden was neutral during World War 2. O'Reilly disagreed. She called him an asshole. He called her a pinhead. Thing is, she's correct. Score one for the Hollywood starlet. Not weird, technically, but good for giggle nonetheless. Anything that shows up Bill O'Reilly meets with my approval.

And last, lest you think I was unfairly picking on Chicago, let it be known that my hometown was in the news as well. Hackers in Austin changed the message on a digital road sign to read: Zombies Ahead! Run!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Random Ramblings

So the 16 or 25 or more random things about you notes have been making the rounds on Facebook. Such fun. They're slightly more entertaining to write than a root canal.

One of the random notes has a list of 239 films. You're supposed to mark whether or not you've seen the film and if you mark more than 85 you apparently have no life. Looking at the list, it's clear that whoever wrote it can't be more than 25. And what kind of judgment is that any way? I can't have seen more than 85 films from the last decade or two (excepting sequels and series) without being a loser? Really?

Well, I beg to differ. That list left off scads of films. According to, there were 289 films in wide release in 2008. I'm a fan of American film. I know a lot of people think it's shallow and meaningless but I beg to differ. And don't even get me started on the Academy and their inability to see anything that makes big box office as worthy of a win. let's just say that I gave up on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when they gave the Oscar to Annie Hall instead of Star Wars. Please.

I will someday make a list of the films I think have been most influential and most meaningful. It will by its very nature be a subjective list. But it will be mine.

But for now, I'll just share 16 random facts via Facebook:

1. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the floor in my living room watching Star Trek-The Original Series.

2. My family was on vacation in Wyoming when Armstrong landed on the moon. My grandfather wanted to stay and watch. My sisters wanted to go see the movie/tv series set of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. They won.

3. I had exploratory surgery when I was 9 to try and discover what was the cause of my legs swelling. It was and is lymphedema.

4. I believe there is no such thing as idiot proof but that you can make something idiot resistant.

5. I have been to England, Scotland and Ireland.

6. I used to bowl for the University of Texas. Really. We had a bowling team.

7. I was convinced when my children were young that I was going to cause them so much damage that they would end up in therapy for the rest of their natural lives.

8. I drink way too much Diet Coke.

9. I'm trying to lose weight and am on Weight Watchers for like the fifth time.

10. I have never smoked anything- cigarettes, marijuana, nada.

11. I have however drunk so much that I've puked more than once.

12. Keeping your foot on the floor while laying in bed drunk does actually work to keep the room from spinning off into space.

13. I was a Girl Scout leader for 13 years but was never in Girl Scouts as a child.


15. I have been hospitalized three times with lymphedema related complications/infections.

16. I have never dyed my hair.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spin Cycle- Soundtracks

It may be an old cliche but I think of music as a soundtrack for my life. My family is big into three things: books, gaming and music. What can I say, we're geeks. I'm such a geek that I spent 7 hours on this post figuring out how to add songs and then finding them. My apologies if this kills your browser.

My daughters have been in school choir for years, we've sung in the church choir and we all have an amazing amount of music on our computers. iTunes counts your music by GB but also by time. Eldest has 8 or 9 days of music, Youngest has 7.9 and I have a lowly 4.4. The three of us are always on the look out for new music and unabashedly share what we find.

Music forms the background of memories for me. When I was young, my father used to watch HeeHaw and the Porter Wagoner show weekly. He generally dozed off while watching but snapped awake if you tried to sneak in and change the channel. So we start with Buck Owens and "Act Naturally".

My sisters were 9 and 10 years older than me and while I was used to country music from my Dad, they were typical teenagers of the period. They graduated high school in 1971, just in time for Jesus Christ Superstar to sweep the nation. I distinctly remember them playing that album rather loudly. Being all of 7 and not too interested in Rock of any kind, I didn't appreciate it. I banged on the wall and incurred the wrath of one sister who threatened to inflict severe bodily harm if I damaged her record. I don't think she turned it down, either. Add one "Superstar".

Of course, as I entered high school myself, music became far more important to me. I discovered all sorts of artists, some of whom I still listen to today. Chief among these was Billy Joel. I own just about everything the man has recorded, including his compilation "My Lives" on which are some rare recordings. Out of a vast body of music it's hard to pick a single song, so I won't. We'll start with the one that I always come back to: "Honesty".

Included in that soundtrack from high school are Queen's "We are the Champions",
Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son",

Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good",
Styx' "Grand Illusion",
John Denver and Jimmy Buffett. Those are two more that are really hard to pare down to just one song but I'll go with "The Captain and The Kid" for Buffett
and "Calypso" for Denver.
I was married to George Winston's "The Holly and The Ivy", no mp3, sorry. Put my children to sleep with Enya's "Orinoco Flow".
Shared a love of Bob Wills and Willie Nelson with my father. In his honor, I'll add "Roly Poly"
and "On the Road Again".
Discovered Mike and the Mechanics "The Living years" was a shared interest with my sister (she went from Jesus Christ Superstar to become a die hard Willie Nelson fan. Go figure.)

Back to Billy Joel. My mother was not a big fan of my music. Her tastes ran to Easy Listening and Big Band tunes. She did however like "Keeping the Faith". She said it was a song she could understand. I think it was the bit about the beer.

Garth Brooks entered the scene and left a lasting impression. "Unanswered Prayers" was Eldest's first duet. She sang it at a church event with an adult friend who got a huge kick out of singing with her. She was all of 8 or 9. He was also her first concert.

Our tastes, being broad and varied, saw us introducing our children to not only Country, but what to our chagrin was now called classic Rock and also to Jazz, New Age and Folk. They in turn introduced us to an amazing variety of music. We gave them Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".
They shared Bowling for Soup's "Ohio"
and Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends".
We countered with America's "Lonely People"
and the Corsair's "The Old Dun Cow"
and all things piratey and Irish. In return we learned to love the Dresden Dolls "Coin Operated Boy"
and Purple Haze's "My Immortal".

Eldest's iPod is likely to play Frank Sinatra's "In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning"
and move to Geoff Bryd's "Elusive Butterfly" and then on to Little T and One Track Mike's "Shaniqua". align="middle" height="50" width="150"> Youngest is just as eclectic going from Nickel Creek's "The Lighthouse's Tale"
to H.I.M.'s "Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly"
and over to Larry Allen Brown's "A Song for Kathryn".

We've watched our children sing in duets and solos with songs that have touched our hearts. Their duet of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" actually made me cry. "The Rose" came close as well. "Concrete Angel" was amazing. And the worst damn part is iTunes won't convert these to mp3s. So, no joy here.

Music has lifted us when we were down but not out. For a while it seemed like JoDee Messina's "Bring on the Rain" was the theme song to our life. Music has taught us and inspired us, made us laugh and cry and been an integral part of our lives.

Artists wide and varied, new and old have created the soundtrack of my life. I hope you've enjoyed listening as much as I have compiling. I leave you one last Billy Joel: "Lullaby".

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cedar Fever

If you live in Central Texas, you know the malady of which I speak.  Itchy eyes, runny nose and a head full of ... stuff.  Generally speaking, it starts in February, gets really bad in April and dies down in May.  This year, however, it got started early.  Due to a drought and mild winter (sorry Michigan folks), we've been treated to clouds of cedar pollen a month early and with a serious vengeance.

The last two weeks have been hell.  We've had record cedar counts. And when I mean record, I mean the highest in a decade.  One day, the count was over 18,000 grains per cubic meter.  A high count for cedar pollen is considered from 90-1499 grains per cubic meter and very high is anything over 1500.  So, needless to say, that day, at least around where the sample was collected, was pretty damn awful.

For two weeks running, we've had counts in the high or very high range.  What this means for me is sneezing and irritated eyes.  Unpleasant but with a daily dose of Claritin, I'm okay.  The spouse creature is altogether a different animal.  He has suffered from cedar fever for just about as long as I've known him.  Every winter and spring, he's miserable.  And like many men, he's so grumpy and irritable you'd think he was gonna die.  In his defense, he sometimes sneezes so hard with this crap that I'm afraid for his brain cells.  Or my life if it happens when he's driving.  Whee!

It's really hard to describe it if you haven't lived through it.  I often feel like I'd really like to be able to remove my eyeballs and dunk them in some cool saline solution.  They get so itchy and irritated that it's just a misery.  Top that off with sneezing fits and alternatively stuffy and runny sinuses and you have the general idea.

Central Texas is called the allergy capital of the world.  It's in no small part due to the annual cedar fever follies, but we also have year round mold with the occasional weed and grass pollen tossed in to keep things interesting.

Being an immunologist/allergist here is guaranteed steady work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary :

          Listen to the pronunciation of 1compromise
Middle English, mutual promise to abide by an arbiter's decision, from Anglo-Frenchcompromisse, from Latin compromissum, from neuter of compromissus, past participle ofcompromittere to promise mutually, from com- + promittere to promise — more at promise
15th century
1 a: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions b:something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
If I remember my history classes correctly, those documents that we claim to hold so dear- the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, even the Declaration of Independence- were written after much compromise.
The US Constitution, especially,  is a document of compromise. Our House and Senate representation was determined by compromise and represents one of the best examples of how this ideal is supposed to work.  One side wanted the larger states to have more say in running the federal government.  The other side, composed of primarily smaller states, wanted equal representation.  Thus, the Great Compromise was formed.  The House would have a population based representation and the Senate would give every state an equal vote.
Somewhere along the line, the popular definition and perception of compromise changed.  Now, we see compromise as failure, as giving in and losing our principles, an act in which no one wins.  The true meaning of the word is just the opposite.  With compromise, you find common ground.  Each side gives something up so that the greater good can be accomplished. Neither side loses. An agreement is reached. A promise is made that allows both sides to achieve some portion of their goals. It inherently seeks the middle ground and recognizes that there is often no clear winner or loser, no absolutely right or absolutely wrong, no black or white but instead shades of grey.
This is not something new to the last 8 years.  It has been a long, long time coming and the only way to root out the cancer of partisanship is to deliberately seek the middle ground. We must spurn liberal and conservative pundits alike; refute the labels of wing nut and socialist; strive to see the common humanity in each of us.  As long as we listen to those who believe their way is the only way, whatever that way may be, we will remain divided.  The great unheard mass of moderate America must learn to speak loudly and clearly in order to forcibly shed the partisan ways of the past.

If we can no longer see ourselves as Red State or Blue State; Democrat or Republican; Liberal or Conservative, then we can at last begin the work so desperately needed to rebuild our economy and restore the peoples' faith in government.  If we cannot make a conscious effort to change our ways, to seek the middle ground, our great nation will go the way of Rome.
Unless and until we can remember the true meaning of compromise that founded this nation, we  will remain a house divided and deserving of our fate.

Blog for Choice

One of the things that I find most disturbing in the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate is the use of language.  Being Pro-Choice is NOT the same as being Pro-Abortion.

Choice entails many things. Being able to choose from a variety of birth control methods that are covered by health insurance.  Educating our youth on how to prevent pregnancy with a variety of methods.  Abstinence is certainly a viable option and is indeed the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs.  It should not however be the only thing we teach.  It is completely unrealistic to believe that all teens are going to abstain from sexual intercourse outside of a committed relationship.  Some will, certainly, but others will not.  Those that do not chose abstinence deserve to know their options.  Educating them on the proper use of pregnancy prevention would greatly reduce the numbers who turn to abortion.  And finally, it is a woman's choice to do with her body as she sees fit. 

Pro-Life is all well and good.  I'm for life.  But it needs to include support for the mother before and after birth and not just criminalizing abortion. Telling a young, single woman that she MUST have her child and then doing nothing to support her is as heinous an act in my eyes as the abortion itself is to a Pro-Lifer.

Woman have been finding ways to end and prevent pregnancies for as long as man has been around.  Our knowledge of the human body and medical methods have improved to the point that we can be successful more often than not in preventing pregnancy or ending it without destroying the health of the woman.  If you look at abortion rates, legal and illegal, around the world you often find the highest rates where reliable birth control is limited or missing entirely.  With comprehensive family planning assistance that includes education and reliable birth control, abortion rates will drop.

This is what I mean by Choice.  It is not limited to abortion but instead relies upon education and access to birth control.  I support President Obama and his efforts.

When all is said and done, both sides want to see fewer abortions. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

Hokay. I'm late but it's still technically Wednesday here in Texas. Let's start.

In the gross department, an Illinois man raises money for charity by allowing people to shave his eyebrows. Si Burgher's eyebrows were so long he could comb them. The longest hair was three inches long. His wife says he looks 20 years younger sans the shaggy look.

A man in Alaska has come up with a strange way to make a point . Craig Compeau of Fairbanks has made an ice sculpture of Al Gore and invited the former Vice President to come to Fairbanks and explain his global warming theories. Apparently, Compeau still needs convincing. So he's made an 8 1/2 foot tall sculpture that will stand on a downtown street corner until Gore arrives or it melts. No comment from Gore.

This one falls into the "out of the mouth of babes" category. A Fort Pierce, Florida woman was arrested after a 4-year-old girl told police were she was hiding. Three adults had said she wasn't home when police arrived to execute an arrest warrant. The girl took police to where she was hiding under a bed . At least someone in that household is responsible.

Remember when Roberts fumbled the oath of office? Well, wingnuts can rest easy. He administered a second oath tonight at the White House. Even though constitutional experts believe the jumbled oath counted, it's always best to be sure. This is not the first time a Presidential oath of office has gotten a do-over: Calvin Coolidge and Chester A Arthur had a second try at their oaths because of similar mistakes. Not really "weird" news, I know but amusing nonetheless.

And last but not least is my favorite. George Huger bought the domain when it expired two years ago for $5. Needless to say, when the presidential library realized they had let this domain expire they were feeling a tad bit, shall we we say, stupid. They compounded that fact by re-buying their domain from Huger for $35,000. Not a shabby return on his investment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rev. Lowery's Benediction

Since I posted the transcript of Bishop Robinson's invocation (I'm not counting Rick Warren's), I thought I'd post Rev. Lowery's benediction.  I know many believe that there should be no prayers or religious trappings as part of these proceedings. but I found the good Reverend's words to be both profound and witty and a perfect counterpoint to Obama's solemnity.

So, via AP, here tis:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.
Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.
We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.
He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.
Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.
And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

Say Amen.


I have been witness, in the modern sense via television and, today, the internet, to history four times in my life.

I remember the Watergate hearings when I was 9 but the only impression they made on me was that they were preempting the only thing worth watching on daytime TV- soap operas.  Hey, in my defense, I was 9 and this was long before cable TV gave us hundreds of channels to find nothing on. I can't really count this one since it meant very little more to me at the time except as a disruption to my summer routine.

The first time I watched history (and knew it) was on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart on take off.  I've been a fan on the space program for years and tried to watch the Shuttle whenever possible.  That day was to be the first day a civilian went into space, a teacher, so I watched. Seeing that contrail break up was a physical pain. It took my breath away.  I knew instantly that all 7 crew members were dead or dying and that the space program had been dealt a serious blow.  

I next watched history made with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.  I watched CNN with a feeling of awe and utter amazement.  It's hard for those who didn't live through the Cold War to truly grasp how profound a moment that was.  The world as I had known it my entire life had changed.  Yes, we still had Ronnie Raygun in the White House but there was finally hope that we might not annihilate ourselves.

I next watched history on September 11, 2001.  I was en route to teach Day 2 of a 3 day modified American Red Cross Emergency Responder course at Applied Materials in Austin, Texas.  On the way to the class, I was listening to NPR and caught a news bulletin as I arrived that said a plane had struck the World Trade Center.   We had a TV in the classroom for the video portions of the class and we turned it on.  Through the static of a crappy connection, we watched the North tower burn and listened to the live commentary as the second plane struck the South tower.  My first thought was "we're at war".  I turned to my co-worker and told him to call the Chapter, they're going to need you.  He did and left moments later.  Three of us were there that day to teach, when David left Gina and I turned off the TV and taught the class.  It certainly had more meaning than it had the day before.  We were training these folks to respond to emergencies by teaching them CPR and advanced first aid.  We did so conscious of the fact that the knowledge they were gaining was something that they might very well have to use in case of another terror attack.  Let me end with one note.  I was an employee of the American Red Cross on September 11, 2001 and I believe that the funds they raised from the enormous outpouring of generosity of the American people after that day deserved to stay with the organization.  Funds accepted by the American Red Cross were never intended to be divided only among victims' families but instead to help in times of natural and man made disaster.  In the years following 9/11, the Red Cross has had to take out emergency loans in order to respond to disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Ike.  They deserve your help. Someday, they may be helping you.

And lastly, we come to today.  January 20, 2009 and the inauguration of Barack Obama.  

I watched the proceedings online via the Al Jazeera feed off Livestation.  They showed the proceedings from beginning to end without interruption or commentary.  Watching Cheney arrive in a wheelchair was one of the most satisfying moments of the whole thing.  Bush was so somber, he almost looked bored.  Biden was as giddy as a school girl and Obama was calm and cool.  Dude, what was Aretha Franklin thinking?  That hat was...words simply fail me.  The quartet was amazing.  Simple Gifts is one of my favorite hymns both for its music and its words.  To hear it arranged by the master, John Williams, and played by Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill was beautiful.  

Then we have the oath of office.  Even though Chief Justice Roberts messed up, and my first thought was oops there's an opening for the nut jobs, it was a glorious moment.  

Obama's speech was forceful and direct.  It was somber and stern, but I believe that on reflection it once again shows why we elected this man in the first place.   "The time has come to set aside childish things," he said. Time to set aside petty grievances, to "reaffirm our enduring spirit" and begin the work of rebuilding our nation.   He reminded us of the sacrifices of those that came before us and pushed us to continue in their footsteps.  But the best part came when he said,

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

He has set in place a new paradigm.  One that looks beyond partisan politics and political dogma and looks towards pragmatism.  He wants us to take off the rose colored glasses and look at the reality around us.  There is much work to be done, much sacrifice that must be made, but also much that can be accomplished. 

Let us begin this solemn work together, cognizant of the history that we share and looking to the future that is coming whether we want it to or not.  

At last!

Obama is President.  What more can be said.


Cheney is out!  YES!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Presidential Pledge

H/T to Willpen for posting the video.

MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst present The Presidential Pledge

This is truly inspiring.  If you haven't seen it already, please watch it.

I pledge to become a vocal advocate and ally for transgender youth.

What do you pledge?