Archive for December, 2005


Click for a brief vidclip of some of the
wetstuff that fell to earth this last day of 2005.

That time already? Yes, it’s that day at the the dying of the year that I trot out the usual plans and ideas I have for the year about to come. I wouldn’t say I have a great track record in achieving everything I resolve to accomplish, but my average is perhaps better than some, worse than others.

Some of the things I did in 2005 are pretty monumental, like getting married and traveling to Africa — two things I never thought would become realities in what remains of my lifetime. Other things were unexpected surprises, both good and bad. On the good side I reconnected with my daughter. At the other end, I was fired.
For the new year, I’m planning on doing things I’ve been saying I’ll do each and every year for the last several. Above all the hopes and dreams and endeavors I’ll just resolve to know that 2006 offers me the unique opportunity to show I’m more than capable of turning my dreams into reality, of surpassing my potential.

But in the meantime as 2005 gets set to expire, in 2006 here are some of the braod and narrow things I hereby expect of myself:

  • To read 14 books
  • To cycle 1,000 miles
  • To hug and kiss Susan as often as possible
  • To climb to the top of Telescope Peak
  • To camp out in our backyard
  • To see beauty in most things
  • To look for the good in everyone
  • To refrain from hate
  • To give two pints of blood
  • To forgive those who have wronged me
  • And forget them
  • To put less than 8,000 miles on my truck
  • To respect alternative viewpoints
  • To photograph my world
  • To keep Susan in laughter and love
  • To pick up the litter of others
  • To listen to the blues
  • To go to museums
  • To agree to disagree
  • To never give up hope
  • To refrain from judging
  • To help others
  • To be thankful for each day
  • To practice patience
  • To go places I’ve never been
  • To avoid rash behavior
  • To avoid rash decisions even more
  • To never shy from standing up for what I believe
  • To be a better friend
  • To remember that for every valley there’s a peak
  • To contribute to my community
  • To be nice to strangers
  • To express myself
  • To dance often
  • To laugh more
  • To empower myself

Best wishes for a happy, safe and successful new year.

Susan and I just finished watching Grizzly Man, the documentary by Werner Herzog on Timothy Treadwell who found his life’s calling — and death — living for months at a time among the grizzlies of the Alaskan peninsula’s Katmai National Park.

Treadwell first came to my attention in the ’90s when his book Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska was published. I ate it up and found him and his passion for the bears and nature very appealing. But even before he met his end at the claws and jaws of a bear, I knew there was something wrong with his campaign as some sort of self-appointed wildlife protector, and the movie makes a fine point of it: indigenous people of that region have co-existed with bears for thousands of years — at a distance. In a brief interview with an employee of an area museum, the young man doesn’t mince words in saying that he felt Treadwell was being disrespectful and ultimately doing more harm than good in habituating bears, (and other creatures such as foxes) to humans.

For as much as I wanted to defend Treadwell’s motives, I can’t help but agree. And where the book showed me a troubled man whose huge heart was in the right place, Herzog’s compelling documentary doesn’t negate that, but it does show me another side of Treadwell, one who wasn’t necessarily interested in minimizing his impact on his adopted world and whose heart was overruled by a sense of entitlement to do what he did regardless of the danger to himself or the bears about whom who cared so deeply.

Nature ultimately showed him that such entitlements are meaningless.

It’s a little thing really. But I’ve had Sirius satellite radio for about a year. Susan got it for me last Christmas. Had it installed in my truck and even sprung for the boombox that the car unit can plug into so we have it in the house or just about anywhere.

Without going into too much detail, I gave up on listening to it on the road because the signal was weak and whatever music was playing too often skipped into prolonged periods of silence like a bad CD. I even called Sirius up and told them to cancel my subscription at the end of the quarter I’d paid for, but they just kept right on billing me after the agreed upon time — I know, that’s major bullshit on Sirius’ part. But I didn’t raise a stink because I found that I’d fire up the boombox on occasion and the reception was significantly better than in my vehicle. Still not perfect, but much better.

Now that I’m embarking on my plan to work from home, I obviously have lots more opps to listen to the channels Sirius offers (my current favorite is their Chill channel, lots of groovy electronica). But what I found is that where I had the unit’s antenna positioned on the sill of a west-facing window certain times of the day the signal would get weak than others (like a cellphone, reception strength is indicated by one to three bars, with three being strongest. At best I’d pull in two bars no matter where I moved the antenna along the sill and it would often drop down to one before vanishing all together and giving me that dreaded” “acquiring signal” dead air that I just wouldn’t tolerate while driving.

Sure enough it got really bad yesterday, but instead of calling Sirius and telling them to cancel my service — again — I unwound some of the 20-something feet of antenna cable wrapped around the back of the boombox and just moved the thing around the corner to a south-facing window. Since then it’s been three bars solid all the time.

Loud and clear.

In a few minutes Susan will be arriving from work to pick me up. We have a 4:15 p.m. appointment to get flu shots. It’ll be my first ever, but after both of us got knocked down by it last winter (and I mean really knocked down; I missed three days of work), getting them this time around is a total no-brainer.

Just a couple images I grabbed this morning of Pumpkin sitting and napping in the sunny section of the library, and one of the neighborhood strays we dubbed Pico grabbing a snack on the porch.

Pumpkin in resposePico

I think you can click on them for biggification.

Sorry to dampen your day if these two stories haven’t made their way to you yet, but the first two news articles to land in front of my eyes this morning are just so very very life-affirming. Makes me want to sing “Joy to the World” real loud.

The first detailed the “honor killings” committed by an entirely unrepentant Pakistani man who reportedly cut the throats of his three daughters, ages 8, 7 and 4, after first killing his 25-year-old stepsister who was alleged to be in an adulterous affair. Cradling their infant son during the slaughter, his wife Bibi said she was forced to endure the massacre or face a similar fate.

Bibi recounted how she was awakened by a shriek as Ahmed put his hand to the mouth of his stepdaughter, Muqadas, and cut her throat with a machete. She said she looked on helplessly from the corner of the room as he then killed the three girls — Bano, 8, Sumaira, 7, and Humaira, 4 — pausing between the slayings to brandish the bloodstained knife at his wife, warning her not to intervene or raise alarm.

“I was shivering with fear. I did not know how to save my daughters,” Bibi, sobbing, told AP by phone from the village. “I begged my husband to spare my daughters but he said, ‘If you make a noise, I will kill you.”‘

This fundamental muslim’s premeditated reasoning? Well, after his arrest the next morning, the “disheveled but composed” 40-year-old laborer told reporters that it just seemed like the right thing to do.

“I thought the younger girls would do what their eldest sister had done, so they should be eliminated. We are poor people and we have nothing else to protect but our honor.”

For whatever modicum of honor he now claims to have salvaged, I can do nothing but hang my head at the dishonor he brings to mankind. But as outrageous as his crimes is the reluctance of Pakistan’s political leadership and law enforcement to enact and enforce tougher laws against such killings which occur with some regularity (somewhat shaky statistics point to 569 occuring in 2004 and more than 260 this year). As late as last year this murderer might have gotten off paying a fine. Now he faces — oh joy — the death penalty.

The second story that made me disgraced to be a human being happened in Montana where a starved and abused cat was rescued by firefighters from a river into which it had been dumped after it was spotted in a cage weighted down with a heavy rock. Instead of sinking, the cage somehow stayed afloat on a section of ice.

Someone had put the animal in a cage, along with a rock weighing about 16 pounds, and tossed it into the Clark Fork River. But instead of landing in the water, it bounced several times on the ice and then became stuck.

Firefighters returned to the station with the feline where they found it in very sad shape but happy to be among friends.

“It was really skinny, nothing but skin and bones, and had collar marks where a too-small collar had rubbed the fur off its neck. But it was really friendly,” firefighter Philip Keating said.

Another firefighter decided to give it a home and this story a happy ending and that’s fine, but I want to read about cops dusting the cage for prints and doing everything they can to find the person who tossed that cat overboard.

Just when I think my disgust at our capacity to disrespect and destroy life can’t get any lower, someone cracks open another soulless subbasement and lets the darkness out.