Thursday, May 25, 2017

Back in My Day ...

I was 12 and I clearly remember going to see it.

I know I’m an old fogey, but how much things have changed since then.

Back then, which seems like yesterday to me, not only was there no internet, there were no personal computers.

No email!

No online shopping!

Not only were there no cell phones, there was no voice mail (or even answering machines, remember those?). All phones had cords -- and rotary dials, which my kids (18 and 21) don't even know how to work. They've never heard a busy signal. Phone book? Pay phone? What are those?

And you actually called people. No texting.

My children did not believe me when I told them cartoons were shown only on Saturday mornings. We only got three channels on our television and those channels turned off, remember the waving American flag?,  at midnight. Never mind recording a show, there was no such thing as a DVD or even a videotape. Wizard of Oz was shown on television once a year, period.

Banks closed at 3. Stores were not open on Sundays. And NOTHING was open on a holiday.

Pretty much every adult smoked and no one ever jogged. (Weirdly, we are fatter now than we were then.)


What have I missed?

Getting Political

So, I haven't been here for a while.

Part of what I've been doing is calling, emailing and commenting on the Facebook pages of my senators and congressman as regularly as I can.

Though I've always voted, I've become, for the first time in my life, politically active. (Thanks, Trump.)

The issue that most concerns me: climate change and how we are ignoring it.

According to The Indivisible Guide, which I highly recommend reading, contacting your representatives is one of the most effective things an ordinary person can do to get their voices heard. The 65 is also good.

Oh, and you'll get busy signals a lot with the phone calls. I've learned that you should call the representative's Washington, DC office but if you can't get through (or, maybe even if you can), call one of their in-state offices as well. And if your congressmen are like mine, Congressman Poe, to email them, you will need those last extra four digits of your zip code before their website will even let it through.

Making these contacts is not hard -- all the contact info is easily available and, on the very rare occasions when you will be able to get through to a live person at one of their phone numbers, their staffers are always unfailingly polite. Their job is to take down your thoughts and pass them on. It literally just takes minutes.

I honestly don't know if commenting on their official Facebook pages is helpful. But one of the things I like about that is, rather than sending your thoughts into the void, where, at best, a beleaguered intern will check off that yet another person is concerned about the climate (though those calls and emails are important too), on Facebook, other people can see the comments. My representatives routinely have thousands of comments on their posts, most telling them to start doing what's right for our country.

I do recommend ratcheting up the privacy settings of your Facebook account; I've been reading the replies to people's comments from pro-Trump people and they can be pretty unhinged and scary. Interestingly, the far-right Cruz has far more venomous supporters than the more moderate Cornyn.

And there is nuttiness. I had an Facebook exchange on another site, actually civil, with a woman who likes Trump because she thinks he is a sign of the end times. "Fasten your seatbelts," she said.

Back in the real world, I like that on my representatives' Facebook pages (Senators Cruz and Cornyn, Congressman Poe), when the representative's staff put up an innocuous post about, say, Texas history, the comments appear immediately and will be, over and over again,  "That's nice, Senator, but when are you going to have a town-hall meeting?"

I don't think what you write, how detailed of an argument you make, how good your writing is matters. What really matters is to make that contact -- repeatedly -- and make your opinions known.

Here is one of the longer emails I have sent to my representatives, just to give you a sense of what someone else is doing:

I am one of your constituents and I am writing to register my horror – there really is no other word for it – and absolute disagreement with your positions regarding climate change.

I’ve read Republican statements about climate change, from Trump’s claim that it’s a “Chinese hoax” to Republican legislators saying they are “open to debate” on climate change, but you all are ignoring the overwhelming facts of the matter.

For instance, Republicans claim they don’t want to control greenhouse gas emissions because you think it would place the US at a “global economic disadvantage.” However, 350 American major companies pleaded with Trump to not abandon the goals of the Paris agreement because it would harm American prosperity.

As one expert said, “President Trump seems intent on reviving a 19th century energy source rather than pursuing the promise of the 21st century.”

And experts, including the heads of coal companies, say that he won’t be able to bring coal-mining jobs back – not because of government regulation but because of market forces (natural gas is already and  renewable energy is quickly becoming more cost-efficient) and because of the increasing use of mechanization in coal mines.

Furthermore, recent headlines proclaimed “US Cedes Lead on Climate to China.” The Chinese know not only that protecting against climate change is the moral thing to do, but that it is also the economically smart thing to do.

43 bipartisan senior military leaders and national security, homeland security and intelligence experts pleaded with Trump to take climate change seriously because it is “a significant and direct risk,” not only to our military forces, but to our nation as a whole.

The science is, of course, overwhelming. Why else would the Trump Administration be so intent on destroying government research data that scientists had to scramble to save what they could? As one Arctic researcher wrote, “Each defunct page is an effort by the Trump administration to deliberately undermine our ability to make good policy decisions by limiting access to scientific evidence.”

And poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans believe climate change is real and want our government to do more, not less, to protect us from it.

Meanwhile, despite all this, you side with climate-change deniers, many of whom have blatantly obvious financial interests for their denial, such as the Koch brothers, whose companies are some of the largest producers of pollution, including greenhouse gases, in our country. And you have slimy financial interests too, when you accept their campaign donations.

How you look your children in the eye is beyond me.

Please reconsider your stance and protect our country from climate change. You are on the wrong side of history on this one.

Thank you.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Why Get A Dog

Missy's available, along with a lot of other adorable dogs
and cats, at Friends for Life. 
I have a snoring puppy in my lap.

My daughter and I found her, running scared and skinny, in the street. She is now registered with Friends for Life, a fabulous animal rescue, and we are her foster family.

I have been thinking about people and dogs.

First, don't even get me started on the piece of shit who dumped our puppy off to die alone.

And I understand people sometimes have practical considerations: they live in an apartment and need someone small or they have a child and need someone super-calm.

But so many have crap ideas. They want a "guard dog." A surprising number think a dog should live outside, loose or maybe on a short chain its whole life. Many think having a dog is like owning a doll.

Never had a dog before? Here’s what you need to know:

They do not make your life easier. You will need to run home to let them out. You will be out in the weather with them, even when you don’t feel like it. You need to teach them manners, which, no matter what the TV shows say, is an imperfect process. Even guide dogs, the most highly trained dogs on the planet, have been known to make messes where they shouldn’t. Dogs chew things, tip over garbage cans, tremble under (or preferably in) your bed during thunderstorms. They have personalities and their own ideas.

Don’t get a dog to intimidate people.

Don’t get one to match your decor.

Or to teach your children how onerous it is to be responsible for someone else.

Dogs are innocent beings who just want to love you with their whole heart.

If you think you can hold up your end in that relationship, then get a dog.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Do You Need A Little Cuteness and Sweetness in Your Life?

We found this little girl running down the middle of a busy street here in Houston on Wednesday.

We've been looking for her owner -- flyers in the area, at nearby veterinary clinics, online lost pet sites. She had no collar and is not chipped. It's not looking good. We haven't heard a peep.

So, on to Plan B: finding her a home. (We can't keep her. We already have two.)

Here's what I know about her, courtesy of our vet: She is in good health. She is 6-8 months old and is fully grown. She weighs 22 pounds and might, he thinks, get to 30 as she fills out. (He gave her her first round of vaccinations.)

She is as sweet as pie. She is not house-broken. However, she doesn't mess in the crate, including overnight, and seems very smart, attentive and eager to please. I don't think she'd be hard to train. She is affectionate and playful.

Were you thinking of getting a puppy? Know someone who is? Looking for a Christmas gift for that special someone? :o) Want to provide a Christmas miracle for a sweet puppy? Let me know. :o)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Home Tours

I am a nosy person.

I especially love looking at people’s houses. They are such a reflection of the people who live there.

And now that I’ve discovered home tours, I realize that I am not alone in being nosy. I’ve been to three so far – and all have been jam-packed with attendees.

Each tour is different.

There’s the annual Azalea Trail home tour, sponsored by the River Oaks Garden Club. These are super-posh houses. Gargantuan. Unbelievably fancy. Honestly, though, they tend to look a lot like each other. These houses belong to a certain demographic who share the same taste.

Then, there are the twice-yearly home tours in my neighborhood. Some are old bungalows renovated by young designers and architects. Some are filled, every available inch of wall and surface space, with the owner’s art collection. (Many of the people in my neighborhood are artists and/or gallery owners.)

And then there was the first annual Weird Homes Tour of Houston, which I just went on. Wow. One home, billed as a 5,000 square foot one-bedroom, belonged to an artist who incorporates the cremated remains of multiple people into his paintings. (Who knew? People’s ashes vary in color.) Then, there was one, which was left dark and was filled, to its loftlike ceilings, with carefully built piles of, well, junk, that made my husband turn to me and say, “You know, if you were ever on a first date and the person invited you back here, you’d be certain you were about to be murdered.”

Hats off to the people who volunteer their houses. They do inspire me (fleetingly) to set up my own house. (Five years in and I am, right now, sitting in sight of some unpacked boxes.) But then I lay down till the feeling passes. :o(