Sunday, August 31, 2008

The change we need

To hell with the same old "drill, drill, drill" -- it's time for some good old American innovation.

Wanna help?

Faux blogs

When is a "blog" not a blog?

When it's just another institutional web page. You'd think a university that uses the tagline "powering silicon valley" could do better.

Read my colleague Steve Sloan's comments on why this isn't really a blog, and what it would take to make this faux blog a real one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Obama's speech left me with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart. Maybe we can win America back. Just maybe we can redeem the American dream and America's promise, so damaged over the last several years.

My colleague, Dona, and I almost didn't make it in time for the speech. We were on the way to Lake Tahoe, listening to the convention speeches on NPR, the sound crackling at times among the mountains.

We heard Al Gore's stellar call to action. As we got closer, we wondered if we'd get there in time to see Obama's speech, not just hear it.

When we pulled in the drive, we left everything in the vehicle, ran inside and turned on the TV. The introductory video was just starting. Yes!

Obama's speech filled me with the hope. Maybe we can fulfill America's potential. Maybe we can get back on track. Maybe we can deal with our nation's problems now, instead of foisting them off on future generations.

As the TV cameras panned over the people in the audience, I was struck by how much they looked like California. All ages, all races. Black and white and Asian and Hispanic and more -- all cheering together. All looking ahead. I hope the rest of America sees the promise of that.

And now I'm listening to conservative Patrick Buchanan on MSNBC say, "This is the greatest convention speech. ...This wasn't a liberal speech at was beautiful."

Hell, if Obama can appeal to Buchanan, he can certainly reach Independents...and maybe even some disenchanted Republicans.

Yes, something in America is stirring. Yes, it is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Death on wings

I saw death this morning...just a glimpse, through my kitchen window.

Picture me in my bathrobe (light blue cotton), around 8 a.m., passing through the kitchen on my way back to the sofa and my laptop. I hear three sharp cries of distress through the slightly open kitchen window. I turn and see a flash of hawk ascending from dense shrubs bordering my front yard. It is rising skyward with something clutched in its sharp talons. Then it is gone.

I figure it must have nabbed a quail.

It's been a tough month for the neighborhood coveys of California Quail. Just last week, I was sitting on my sofa when I heard a clamor of quail in the back yard, followed by a mysterious thud. I got up to investigate.

As I stepped out onto the back deck, I was startled to see a hawk take off from the deck railing. At the same time, several quail burst out of their hiding places and buzzed off to find better cover. Another dull thud. I looked around, puzzled, then realized what that sound probably was -- panicked quail smacking into the picture windows overlooking our backyard.

I walked over to the windows and looked under the shrubs that border the foundation. Sure enough, a quail lay on the ground. Dull gray-brown feathers and a small plume -- a female. It made no move to get away, so I reached down and picked it up. Its head lolled, its eyes closed, its feet gave a little twitch. Then it was still.

I set it back on the ground and looked a little further. Yes, there was another one, a juvenile, lying on the ground behind the shrub. Clearly stunned, but still alive. When it saw me, it took off, a short dash followed by an unsteady hop of a flight that took it back onto the deck. I watched and waited quietly, not wanting to scare it off again. It sat on the bench for several minutes before flying up into one of the trees beside our house.

I picked up the dead quail again, and carried it over to the deck. I laid it gently atop the railing, a kind of peace offering to hawks, before going inside. The next morning, it was still there. Maybe hawks can't see quail unless they're in motion, or maybe they don't like them already dead.

The following morning, I noticed it was gone. I hoped perhaps a hawk had carried it off, but no. When I looked, I saw it had been blown off the railing onto the ground. The ants had already found it. In a few days, nothing would be left but bones and feathers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My WP tattoo

Yes, I'm having fun at WordCamp. Like my temp tattoo?

Wordcamp or the ER?

I had to make a tough choice to make early this morning...attend Wordcamp, or accompany my ailing husband to the local ER.

Wordcamp or the ER?
Wordcamp or the ER?

I hate to say it, but I went to Wordcamp...and my hubby went to the ER alone.

P.S. He was totally ambulatory and told me to go. I checked in; he's fine, now taking antibiotics.

P.P.S. Why am I blogging about Wordcamp on a Blogger blog? Because all of my school blogs are on that "pages" feature. Why haven't I switched this blog over to WP? Inertia...and ease of uploading photos.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pretty in Pink

It was one of those gorgeous evenings, when the late afternoon sun made the neighboring hills and the city below us glow and glint with light. Every time I looked out the window, something else was gleaming in the setting sun.

As twilight approached, the sky colored pink. I grabbed my camera and stepped out on the deck to grab some pics.

The top photo is the view over neighboring rooftops, looking north. The second one is a cloud formation over the bay.

I love those sensuous, puffy pink clouds.

Puffy pink

Sunday, August 03, 2008

May nothing evil cross this door

It's been a week since a man walked into a Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, pulled a gun out of a guitar case, and shot and killed two people.

It's been a week of realizing that religious hatred and violence are not just things that happen in places like Bosnia, Africa, Palestine or Iraq; they're alive and well in the United States of America...and sometimes they're directed at people like me. It's been an unsettling realization.

I'm a Unitarian Universalist. For about five years in the mid-'90s, I lived in Knoxville. I attended some Sunday services at that UU church, though I never became a member.

This morning at my UU church, we sang May Nothing Evil Cross This Door. The words carried a new layer of meaning. My eyes teared, at times my voice faltered.

In her sermon, our minister spoke about the Tennessee killings. She spoke of the usher who put himself between the shooter and the rest of the congregation, and was shot and killed. She spoke of those who made sure the children got out safely, and of the brave souls who tackled the gunman and held him down until police arrived. And of the woman interviewed outside the church shortly after the shootings, who was asked what the killer had said as he shot at them. She told the reporter the man said hateful things, but declined to elaborate. She told the reporter, "The hate ends here."

I've been thinking about that. Would I have had the presence of mind, or the "control of mouth," to have stopped myself from repeating -- and perpetuating -- those words of hate. Honestly, I doubt it. I even talk back to the TV sometimes.

As a former reporter, I understand why journalists asked what the killer said. But I'm glad she didn't tell them. If she had, those hateful words would have become lurid headlines, fodder for breathless newscasts and talk radio hatemongers nationwide. Some things are better left unsaid.

The day before the shooting, at the BlogHer conference, I attended a session on "Beautiful Blogging." One speaker defined it as staying open to the positive in spite of difficulties. Another put it more bluntly. Alyssa Royse of said, "Do I want to put my crap in the world, or do I want to put out something that will make people feel better and be better?" She said she chooses to focus on the positive.

And I guess that's what we did in church this Sunday. All the money in today's collection plates, along with notes of support and caring, will go to the Knoxville Relief Fund to help those affected by the shooting.

The final verse of May Nothing Evil Cross This Door:
With laughter drown the raucous shout,
and, though these sheltering walls are thin,
may they be strong to keep hate out
and hold love in.
The hate stops here.

Link to a story on the rededication of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.