Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The big city runs on electricity. This obvious fact tends to get lost in the hurley burley of everyday life as we go about our usual daily business of endlessly trying to make ends meet (a trick I've never fully managed to accomplish). However I have learned out of necessity to become an accomplished juggler, robbing Peter to pay Paul and robbing Paul to pay this overdue bill and that. This morning however I was once again rudly reminded of just how dependent we all are on the uninterrupted supply of energy to our homes.

This first week of summer we are caught in the grip of the first heat wave of the season, temperatures in the high nineties for at least the past three days with plenty more of the same to come. Today it is expected to hit 97 degrees. Heat warnings have been issued by the authorities. Stay indoors they say; stay cool they say; drink plenty of liquids; check up on elderly neighbors. All good advice that depends on the single most important resource - electricity.

I went to bed last night with the small window air conditioner in my bedroom humming along nicely providing enough cool air to allow me to actually fall asleep. I awoke this morning very early and noticed an absence of any sound whatsoever. No AC; no fan; At first I thought it was all my fault (what else is new?). Had I forgotten to pay the electric bill again? Did I ignore a shut off notice again? (I get so many utility shut off warnings that I have become indifferent to them; like the little boy who cried wolf too often, the utility companies have to have boots on the ground, and send a hard hatted workman banging at my door in order to get my attention. I'm not proud of this behavior; but it happens often enough whenever my financial juggling act is not enough to turn the trick and/or the utility company finally decides enough is enough and my bluff gets called).

In a panic, I jumped out of bed (in a manner of speaking, my aching knees permitting) and vaulted down to the basement flashlight in hand to check the breaker box to see if any switches had been knocked off line. To my relief the problem was not there, I was not at fault. The problem had to be external; In a flash (again, relatively speaking) I ran to the upstairs bedroom window to see what I could see. Hmmmm. Buses were running (a very good sign, especially as I had to be at work today for a very important meeting and I depend entirely on public transportation). However, the traffic lights were off and the street lights as well. I concluded that the whole neighborhood had lost electrical power. Oddly relieved that the problem was only a neighborhood power outage (and again, not my fault!) I prepared for my work day by going about my usual morning rituals (shaving in the dark with cold water!) As I was about to leave the house I suddenly heard the bubbling sound of my acquarium air pump kicking back into action! The power had been restored. Hallaluyah! I was soooooooo relieved. All the food in my refrigerator wasn't going to spoil after all. I would once again have air conditioning (especially during this dreadful heat wave!). I felt renewed, even born again! I was humbled though. All that was needed to expose my vulnerability and fragility was for the electric power to be out of commission (for whatever reason; perhaps a transformer somewhere in the grid had been hit by lightening). The good news was that the power was back on and all was once again right with the world. May it always be so!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have New Orleans on the brain. I find myself musing about NOLA constantly these days, not only because of the Big BP Oil Spill catastrophe though that tragedy continues to weigh heavily on my mind and spirit. As one wh0 has had a lifelong love affair with the wind, sun, ocean and beach I feel acutely pained by the sudden destruction of the Gulf Of Mexico water and land resources even though I have never visited the Gulf shore (yet).

I have been watching the HBO series called "Treme" with facination and awe. It is one of the very best HBO productions that I have ever seen that deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on NOLA. The acting is excellent and the dialogue rings very true. The fact that the whole shebang has been filmed in NOLA gives it a lot of authenticity. All the grime, and grief, and pathos of the residents and neighborhoods of NOLA
are portrayed with love and respect and compassion.

Conversely, I have fallen in love with NOLA as a result of watching this series. I really must visit NOLA come Mardi Gras one of these days. It's on my bucket list of must things to accomplish/do before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I can't wait to see the final episode in the next few weeks.

Last night President Obama spoke to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time in his presidency. He spoke about the Gulf of Mexico crisis and assured the country that he was on top of the situation (none of it his doing in the first place). He said wonderful things that people in such a desperate situation would want to hear. He will stand by his pledge to make the people whole again and to restore the marshlands, wildlife and wetlands to a pristine condition. All fair minded and right thinking people will wish him success in this commitment although, understandably, patience is in short supply these days. He deserves a chance to make good on his words. The consequences of failure are too depressing to contemplate. This is indeed one of those historic occasions when failure is not an option. All resources available must be brought to bear if this job is to get done. May it be done as speedily as possible. I am looking forward to my first trip to NOLA whenever I am able to make it happen.

Monday, June 7, 2010


There is a definite limit to how much bad news a body can absorb over a given period of time. The steady drumbeat of bad news coming out of the BP Gulf Oil Spill has become numbing; an overload of information; too much video of oil gushing out of the gaping wound along with the failure to just "plug the damn hole!" as Prez Obama has ordered in frustration. As of the writing of today's blog, the damn hole has not yet been fully plugged, although, according to BP, some progress has been made in siphoning off a percentage of the leak (we have to take BP's word for this). The video pictures continues to show billowing clouds of effluent pouring from the spout, seemingly as thick as ever.

The grim truth is that a goodly amount of oil is going to continue to flow from the source until a relief well can be drilled to intercept the flow from the original pipeline. This relief well is not expected to be completed until mid August at the earliest. Again, we have only BP's word on this. In the meantime a whole slew of anti-spill measures are being undertaken from cleaning up oil soaked wildlife to building giant sand berms to intercept and absord as much of the splilled oil as possible. We are told by BP and the Coast Guard that cleaning up the damage from the spill could well take several years perhaps as much as a decade. So ask not what the spill has done to you; rather ask what you can do to help clean up the spill. This work will provide many spring break college students with something else to do other than guzzling beer and smearing each other with sun block for years to come.

As for me, I am oversaturated with following the torrent of bad news. I have to start tuning out a good portion of the daily download, even though I have always been something of a news and politics junkie. I need to turn off the the evening news reports and maybe just read a good book instead. I need to find good news items that give me hope for the future. I have grand children now and I have to have hope that they will inherit a world that still offers clean air and clean water with habitats of animals that can sustain life in all of its magnificent diversity. Perhaps some lasting good will come from this calamity after all if we can marshall the political will to make preservation of the environment job number one as our gift to posterity. If we fail in this endeavor, there will be no posterity to pass anything to and the vision expressed in Rachel Carson's "Silient Spring", one of the most prophetic books ever written, will have become humanity's reality.