GW Bush – Our Disingenuous President

[An older article about the two-faced, double-speaking Republican party. American public short-term memory forgets this insane period in recent history and the bald-faced lies, misdirected half-truths that poured out of Bush’s mouth.]

bushtelefonoEl Jefe spoke at the recent (2006) State of the Union address about a number of things that are out-right lies or just more George BS to let the peepul know he is on their side. Like we can really believe what comes out of his mouth?!? Let’s look at some of the jingoistic un-truths spewing from Dubya’s pie-hole, shall we…
Health Care in the US

“Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care”

And we are doing this without a free, national health care system — how? Bush has too many friends in the pharmaceutical business to really be taken seriously about this. If we socialize health care in the US (as our progressive, forward thinking friends in Canada), who stands to lose the most? The PharmaCons losing their nice, cushy government subsidies and kick-backs. The main thing that shows this is Dubya BS is talking about the poor: Little George could give a rat’s ass about the poor! Why else would he be gutting programs left and right and cutting funding to programs? He knows the poor don’t have a voice, so no danger, no foul! He just has to last another 1 1/2 years and then he can slink away with the millions he’s raked in off the backs of the poor and disenfranchised.

Bush on Energy in the US

Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” and “We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.”

All fabulous sentiments, but they belie the fact that Bush and Klan have made their riches off of oil exploration and petroleum refinement. Mr. President, how can you make these false statements while promoting legislation for the following?

Exploration for oil and freedoms to drill in Alaska: umm, haven’t we made a big enough mess in the pristine Alaskan wilderness with the Pipeline, Exxon Valdez oil spill. Of course, one way to get around the environmental impact on-shore is to take the exploration off-shore. Brrrr…

Bush is so obvious when talking out both sides of his monkey-mouth: one side says, let’s focus on becoming less dependent on foreign oil and develop alternative fuels and energy sources; the other, uglier side says we need to open the wildlife reserves in Alaska for oil expoloration. Hmmm, maybe he’s not such a bald-faced liar after all, I mean Alaska really isn’t a foreign country we have to end our dependence from, we can do whatever the hell we want with Alaska, we own the damn place! CNN has an interesting article here.

Dubya also talks up a good storm about alternative fuels and fuel-efficient automobiles — jeezus cheerist! This is the same guy who made sure that the huge monster death machines on our roads (AKA Sport Utility Vehicles) were exempt from fuel efficiency standards. His buddies at GM, Ford, and Chrysler were whooping it up, I’m sure. Now, the SUV balloon has popped and the American people are selling their big-ass trucks and SUVs in massive numbers. Look at the car lots around town–not the mainline dealers, but the resellers and used lots: jam packed with trucks, SUVs.

In Bush’s mind, ostensibly confused and addled from his years of alchohol abuse and concaine use, atomic energy from nuclear power plants is good for the environment. Here’s an excerpt from a story carried by Portsmouth Herald:

“In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Bush said he looks forward to working with Congress on an energy bill that includes incentives for the nuclear-power industry. ‘It [nuclear power] certainly answers a lot of our issues. It certainly answers the environmental issue,’ he said.”

Whoever is feeding this information to Bush is equally at fault, equally a foe of the American people. I mean really, our fearless leader can’t even pronounce “nuclear” (apparently, it’s a Southern thing or on par with Homer Simpson), how can we expect him to appreciate how dangerous and anti-life is is? Ya gotta give the guy credit! He is learned a few lessons from all his failed business ventures: ya gotta butter your bread on both sides. Here the president of a pro-atomic energy group comments (boot-licking lackey) about Bush’s pro-atomic energy policies.

Bush is also very comfortable with throwing business to his friends at General Electric so they can sell nuclear reactors to developing nations. What the fuck! We haven’t worked out a way to deal with all the toxic waste from our own nuclear reactors, how are we expecting developing nations to deal with this? Ship it back to us so we can bury in some huge-ass cavern 90 miles from Las Vegas? How’d you like to have that train passing through your neighborhood? Don’t worry, the government will have them transport the nuclear mess at night while you’re sleeping.

Bush on Education

“We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.”

There has been a great deal of coverage about the bullshit Bush spouts on education, especially his lack of support in funding NCLB. His disingenuous nature is clearly understood when considering how he asked for recent cuts to education programs, specifically asking Congress to completely dismantle the Enhancing Education Through Technology funding, but what we got was a 45-percent reduction in the programs funding. In essence, almost 3 billion dollars have been cut for education funding with the budget Bush is proposing.

Bush on Katrina and New Orleans

“the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We are removing debris, repairing highways, and building stronger levees.”

By “we,” Bush doesn’t mean he’s rolling up his sleeves and lending a hand, no, he means his good friends at Halliburton and Bechtel who are doing the work on contract to the government. Bush wouldn’t want to see people of color getting ahead, having a say and being empowered in their communities, he’s too much of a bigot to let that happen. No, Bush can’t see having these repair and cleanup contracts going to minority-owned businesses who have a vested interest in their communities. A nice, fat dividend from the Halliburton and Bechtel profits line his and Uncle Dick Cheney’s pockets. Apparently, the profits they are making off of the contracts Halliburton has in the Iraq Regime Change aren’t sufficient for Dubya and Uncle Dick.

Bush on Gays and Gay Marriage

“They (the pepul) are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.”

If the Bushites and Neocons aren’t actively fighting against gays having the right to marry (call it what you will, but it still is about commitment) or wasting tax-payer’s money introducing Defense of Marriage legislation at the ferderal and state levels, then they’re mouthing off about how evil gays are, how promiscuous gays are. If straight folk weren’t allowed to marry, wouldn’t they all be considered promiscuous and unable to commit? This is the same old story of demonizing the gay community, making them all out to be pedophiles and sexual deviants. Well, yes, if you aren’t practicing male-female, missionary-position sex, then you are a deviant and guilty of breaking the sodomy laws that were still on the books in 22 states until the US Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws in all states are unconstitutional based on the Lawrence v. Texas ruling passed down on June 26, 2003.

Bush on HIV/AIDS

“A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated.”

How this idjet hopes to accomplish this with abstinence-only education in schools, no promotion of safe-sex practices and condom use, I’ll never understand. George, of all people, should understand about prevention: he was an alcohol and cocaine abuser for years, a ripe combination for impaired judgment if there ever was one. He should understand that people aren’t perfect, that people slip away from their vows of abstinence — sex is a primary human urge, for christ’s sake. Was Laura Bush a co-abuser with George? What other explanation can there be for getting hooked with this immoral weakling who continues to ride on Daddie’s coattails.

I fear for our country. This pipsqueak of a man is using his office to further his own twisted, immoral agenda and make sure he leaves our country they way he left all of his failed business ventures: bankrupt! Let’s help him to the door of the White House while we can — he still has 1 3/4 years left in office: think of all the damage he can inflict on the American people and the world in that time! God help us! Give us the strength to do the right thing and begin impeachment proceedings on this man-ape as soon as possible.

Hell, Clinton only stuck a foreign object up a White House aide. Bush is taking this to the extreme: he’s doing the whole country and we’re taking it up the ass with a smile! Don’t you feel that?

The Nader Zombie has Arisen

[Here’s an older article that is once again pertinent during this current (2016) election cycle: This time around with Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, and the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson. I think, as much of the country does, that the stakes for our future as a nation are incredibly high: an America under the leadership of a buffoon like Donald Trunmp, or America under the solid, intelligent, strong leadership of Hillary Clinton?]

naderRalph Nader zombie to appear yet again and reek havoc in the electoral process. The 2000 election was pretty close, but Vice-President Al Gore was clearly the winner and would have had a much greater lead over Bush if Nader hadn’t sucked the number of important votes from Gore, especially in Florida. One of the darling slogans surrounding Nader at the time was, “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.” Republicans are jumping for joy again–votes will be drained off Obama (or Clinton if she goes any further after Texas and Ohio), giving McCain a chance.

It’s pretty incredible just how awful Nader looks these days. He’s 73 years old and looks every day of it–haggard, ghoulish, walking dead come to mind. This is me being bitchy, but really, think how much the office of president ages each person: can you imagine how much worse Nader would look after fours years in office? I don’t think he’s someone we would want to be the head of state–he might scare the bejeezus out of foreign heads of state and their children! Seriously, Ralph isn’t looking too terribly joyful in the above image from his campaign site. I’m thinking he’s on some serious anti-depressants, mood levelers, stoned? (Smoking some of the “commercial” hemp is so gung-ho to have legalized?)

I just can’t understand how Nader can really think that Barack Obama wouldn’t be great leader and wouldn’t be a real change from the political “business as usual” mentality. Obama has already shown that he has great leadership skills and genuinely fresh ideas and wants to affect a change in America.

Nader has been a courageous individual, speaking out against injustice, against corporate greed, speaking up for environmental protections and consumer safety. Nader is a great American, no doubt about it. But presidential material? The leader of our nation? A leader during this important time of national and international recovery?

Nader is simply too much of an individual and too divisive–he couldn’t get things done with either party. The 2008 election era is so different from the 2000 election period; There are so many more important issues and things at stake now: the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the economy is in the dumps with the huge deficit that Bush is leaving his successor (unlike the 2000 campaign when there was still a huge surplus from the Clinton presidency), Al Gore was right about his environmental stance back in the 2000 election, our foreign policy is a shambles, on and on.

So, please Ralph, think about what is best for America at this critical time: please withdraw your decision to run during the 2008 presidential race.

High School Sports and Education

What Price Glory?

I believe that extra-curricular athletic competion (team/intramural sports) has absolutely no place on high school campuses. I don’t have any personal interest in athletic competition (aside from watching the occasional local minor league baseball), but what galls me most is the time, energy, and money taken away from students reaching for scholastic greatness, achieving their greatest academic potential and goals and being flushed down the shower stalls in all the locker rooms across the country.

If we are serious about preparing students to compete with Japan, China, Korea and European countries, to be the best they can be, to mentally challenge themselves, why aren’t we focusing more on education and less on sports? What purpose do high school sports serve in our society? I think all sports (high school, college, professional) are about the entertainment for the beloved peepul. Of course, individuals participating in athletics believe that sports is all about the challenge, being their physical best–that’s great! Do it on your own time! I feel we aren’t getting the most bang for our education buck.

So what do I propose instead of school sports? City and/or county sports leagues! Students interested in athletic scholarships (oxymoron!) can still get recognition for their jock prowess and be scouted in city/county leagues — just not in school athletic programs. Sure coaches can still be employed — to concentrate on physical education classes during school, not athletic competition for schools, but for county leagues.

What are other issues of doing away with scholastic athletic programs?

  • Concentration on academic excellence by teachers and ALL students. No more distractions from announcements, pep assemblies, team members dismissed from class to take the bus to “away” games.
  • Renewed funding for ARTS — imagine that! Money that has been bled off from fine arts (or anything not resembling NCLB content areas, i.e., math, english, and now science) could be taken from the funding for sports programs and redistributed for music, dance, art, photography, and drama.
  • Increased funding for classrooms — renewal and repairs to infrastructure (I know of numerous locations on the high school campus where I used to work where there are instances of termite infestation/damage and asbestos contamination (floor tiles, insulation, etc.)), new furniture, refreshed technology, new books, smaller class sizes, teacher and support staff salary increases, field trips and guest speakers.

What other benefits are there for doing away with sports?

  • No more rallies and pep assemblies — great time to get-outta-class and chance to screw off, be entertained by the cheer leaders doing their bump-n-grind routines.
  • No more early dismissal for sports teams and cheer leaders.
  • No more (or essentially repurposed) Student Government whose apparent sole purpose is to promote sports and sport spirit on campus; StuGov never does any promotion of academics such Academic Decathlon, National Honor Society, school clubs.
  • No more cheer leaders — bimbos will have to concentrate on school work and developing their intellect instead of their sex skills.
  • Money savings from:
    • buses being used less: gas and driver salary savings
    • lessened field/stadium maintenance — save the environment from all the weed/bug spraying, field painting/marking; savings from less mowing, salaries, sound equipment and infrastructure support and maintenance. Grounds personnel could then be repurposed for developing the campus environment, upkeep and beautification.
    • gymnasium being used only by P.E. classes or renting out to city/county leagues and outside organizations. Savings from sound equipment and infrastructure support and maintenance, less custodial staff salaries for bleacher setup, clean up after the sports pigs.
    • no more school/district Athletic Director (and staff) — savings from salaries, office space freed up, technology no longer being supplied, travel expenses.
    • no more athletic department support staff — office personnel (cheer leader wannabes), equipment manager.
    • no more sports uniforms and cleaning systems — incredible cost savings and less environmental drain (water, gas, electricity)!
    • no more time away/transportation for marching band and color guards.
    • no more marching band and color guard uniforms.
    • no more paperwork for students involved in athletics: sign up forms, permission forms, doctor/physical forms, no more review of eligibility.

All told, this country could see a rebirth in our school systems. Bill Gates was only partly right — I’m sure he was never involved in any type of athletic program during his high school career, so the amount of support and waste for sports has never crossed his mind.

Technology Haves Have-Nots

[Here’s an older article that is still pertinent in today’s world, where access to technology, not speaking about the Pokeman Online or Ingress, is what helps to give students an edge in how education is done.]

I have an article elsewhere on Beelybox about more students using cell phones and those students being technically savvy. What about the students who have very limited access or no access to technology at all? What happens to them in this flattened world? Here are some points to consider and ideas that can be implemented.

I read reports about the huge numbers of teens and tweens who have their own cell phones (thanks to the plans for $9.95/month for additional phones/lines.) OK, that’s great, I’m OK with this if their parents are. But what about the families and kids who can’t afford technology: cell phones, a home computer with access to the Internet? Where does this leave us as a nation: a nation of technology haves and have-nots! Of course, this is nothing terribly new–the whole Digital Divide has been discussed over and over again without much of a resolution.

Families do have access to computers and the Internet at their local library branch or school library (that makes systems available for community use.) But you don’t learn and be competent on a computer if you don’t have one available at home. You don’t gain enough skills to increase your potential for getting a better job unless you have a computer you can use and learn on every day.

How about schools releasing their old, used computers that are still viable (for word-processing, surfing the Internet, using email) instead of sending them to the warehouse for auction. What family will wait for the annual auction and have enough knowledge about what they’d be getting with a school cast-off? I think the school technology staff should be able to remove systems from Inventory and make them available to families identified from the free-lunch records. These are families who are known to have limited income and can be contacted to see if they could benefit from a well-used but functional system.

Of course, school districts can’t release older systems with intact licensed operating systems (read Microsoft Windows) and licensed productivity software (read Microsoft Office). That should never be a deal-stopper. The tech at each school could invite technology class students to help securely wipe the hard drives of the cast-off systems and install/setup a well-rounded Linux distribution that has low hardware requirements (Damn Small Linux is a great option as is Slackware Linux, others are described here.) The student who would be receiving the the old system could help in this work as payment for the system.

The tech students could also set up and maintain a tech support network through the school’s web site with links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) via a wiki, discussion/help forums via a phpBB bulletin board system. They could even use the support structure to do house calls to these families and earn community service recognition for their resume/CV.

The foreign language department could involve students to translate the technology support info for non-English speaking families. Tucson has a large Spanish-speaking population and the tech students could work with the Spanish language class students to translate the wiki pages, the FAQs, and other pertinent info. Another opportunity for students to earn community service hours.

I have dozens of these older, viable systems sitting around because they’ve been replaced with a slightly newer system capable of running Windows XP. Isn’t this how we look out and take care of all the members of our communities? We can also take care of the community of current PC users who are being abandoned by Microsoft’s ending support for Windows 98 and the joke that is Windows ME. These folks may not be able to replace their older PCs, if they could they would have done so with systems that could run Windows XP. So, Linux is starting to look very good for these abandoned users. What are we waiting for?

Environment and You

Our day-to-day lives… What do we do that affects our local community’s environment?120px-biohazard

  • Our car exhausts smelly, noxious fumes because we haven’t taken the time/don’t have the money to tune up our cars.
  • We put plastics that are marked as recyclable materials into our regular garbage can.
  • We leave water running in our yard (the desert, you know!)
  • We have a tricked out sports ride with loud glass pack exhaust system.
  • Our car has a messy oil or coolant leak — there’s always a little puddle under our car.

You know what I’m talking about: the things you know are the right thing to do, but might take a little more effort on your part. Preachy? Well, maybe. But damnit, we all live in the same place, breath the same air, listen to the same noises (or lack of noises!), drink the same water – on and on…

We have so much in this country and there is also so much waste, so much taken for granted. What can you do to care for your planet?

Abortion Foes Make Their Big Play

[Another article that is still sounding like it was pulled from today’s news feed! When will this insanity end, right?]

Back Alleys and Coat Hangers

Apparently, South Dakota is hoping to put itself at the top of the list of places that women for choice (and their allies) will least want to visit anytime soon. Abortion foes are making their big pelvic push into the warm, moist nether regions of South Dakotan freedom of choice.

Big bucks from the Religious Right and anti-abortion/anti-Roe-v-Wade proponents are pouring into South Dakota, home of the incest and rape victims without voice or rights! Yes, under proposed legislation, women who are rape victims won’t be allowed access to abortion and the rapist will have the same visitation rights as a father of a non-rape child. How many women would want to live with that? Here’s an article describing this insanity! The New York Times (registration req’d.) has an in-depth article on the pumped-up pro-lifers who are just jumping for joy now that there is a set of true believers sitting on the Supreme Court bench. “It’s our time!,” I’m sure they’re blathering.

What’s next? Locking up condoms? Prescriptions for condoms? Mandatory abstinence pledges? If there was accurate sex education, promotion of safe sex practices in our schools and doctors’ offices, would abortion be necessary? If women were empowered with sexual choice and safe sex practices, how much of this legislation at the expense of womens’ health would simply not happen?

The pro-lifers are also very savy when it comes to using double-speak and outright lies to influence and emotionally blackmail women. They’re now spouting quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. to further their cause. This is right out of the Bush, grab-em-by-their-cajones playbook! The only important thing in the pro-lifer’s mind is to ensure that their women are kept in subjugation — barefoot and pregnant, indeed!

Teens and Drug Rx Permission

Trojan to the rescue!

[Another older article – too bad I can’t say we don’t see this type of behavior or measures being presented around the U.S.]

There’s an article in the Arizona Daily Star about a bill being presented by another one of our fine state congressional representatives that would provide additional male control over women.

The Daily Star article reports that State House Representative (Phoenix Republican, Stephen Tully) is proposing with HB 2707 that females 18 and under must have parent permission before they can get a drug prescription filled. An thinly veiled attempt to limit teen girls’ access to birth control pill prescription. Actually, this is not veiled at all! Some red-neck father, who probably doesn’t want to share his daughter’s ass with anyone else outside of the family, was incensed that his daughter had a birth control prescription. How dare she give it up to someone else!

This Tully is just another dumb-ass white guy who apparently hasn’t read teen pregnancy stats (LINK= TITLE: We’re number 2 with a bullet) lately — some report that Arizona is second highest in teen pregnancy, some report AZ as number 3 (Planned Parenthood.) He for sure hasn’t paid any attention to teen drop-out rate for Arizona teen girls. Tully is reported as saying that teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease infections are not as important as a parent’s right to know (read control) their daughter’s sexual health. White guy speak, “Our daughters aren’t sexually active, they’ve all taken the Abstinence Pledge and signed a holy contract with us not to drop trou at the first chance they get.” But they’re free to watch all the sex programming on TV, watch girls getting rubbed up in MTV videos; these impressionable teen girls won’t be affected by overt sexuality on TV, in fashion and lifestyle magazines, sex acts in school bathrooms.

Not that Tully, or the majority of the other Arizona legislators give a rat’s ass about education. They certainly don’t fund school districts throughout Arizona (well, qualify that as districts outside of the Phoenix area.)

So, here we are again with men dominating their women folk, telling women how they can take care of their bodies, what women are permitted to do with their bodies. There’s that bumper sticker again, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Keep the laws off of women’s bodies!

Tucson Housing Issues

Living Within Our Means

[An older post, from the pre-Obama Presidency, of some thoughts about the current state of life in Tucson and future possibilities.]

Central Tucson neighborhoods, around where I live, are changing and I think there are some very serious repercussions for my fellow citizens, especially folks who don’t own their own home.

Some of the current rash of TV shows on HGTV are all about the purchase of a home, doing some low budget renovations, and then selling for a significant profit with a quick turnover of houses (I’ve only recently seen the term, “flipping” used to describe this practice.) There was also an article in a recent (early August 2005) in the Tucson Daily Star where the “flipping” term was also used.

I’ve seen this happen before, but back then was known as real estate speculation and the gentrification of lower end neighborhoods. I saw this when I lived in San Francisco back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Housing costs went through the roof and low income folks where driven out of blue collar neighborhoods, resorting to residing in extremely high-crime, intense poverty ridden neighborhoods.

Everyone has a right to decent housing: to be safe and have a sense of security. Does everyone have a right to profit at the expense of their less fortunate citizens?

There’s the mindset of living with what you have, living within your means, being happy with your present situation of a comfortable life. Do we need the bigger house? Do we really need to drive the bigger car? the luxury car? Do we really have to accumulate more stuff? No, we don’t! The advertisers on TV and radio aren’t looking out for our best interests or even give a rat’s ass about our well-being or level of indebtedness–they just want to push a product, only pay attention to their corporate bottom line.

Is the concept of living in manner of being happy with what we have un-American? Are we here as citizens so we can help increase the earnings levels on the stock market? Is it our responsibility to keep General Motors, Ford, Archers-Daniel Midland, Beatrice Foods in business?

What if we turned things around and decided that American citizens, the very people who live here (and I mean all the people: poor, white, people of color, the rich, the middle income), were the most important and not our government’s policies or our President’s (GW Bush) values (or lack, thereof.) Novel thought, what?

Buddhism Bio

pre-Buddhist Years

buddha-sarnathA timeline of sorts about my discovery and connection to Buddhism and the Dharma.

Where do I begin? What attracted me to Buddhism? What drew me to continuing my study of the Dharma? Well, maybe a bit of personal history/background would provide a foundation for more historical info.

I come from a Catholic upbringing, the last of six kids, baptized as a Catholic, attended Catholic parochial schools until the end of my freshman year of high school. I was an altar boy during my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years and was never molested! Imagine that! I must be in the minority. So, never a squeal session under the cassock. I even had thoughts of becoming a Maryknoll missionary, going off to Africa (or some such) and being a priest. I went so far as to receive the Maryknoll’s propaganda magazines and attend some of the local seminary altar boy picnics. How exciting those were! Not! Imagine if you will… a bunch of pubescent, goody-goody boys running around playing softball, eating watermelon with priests and brothers. Zow! Ahh… the Age of Innocence.

Move forward to 8th grade graduation… I am awarded the “Most Religious” award from the pastor of the local church. His words to me as I accepted the little medal, “This is only the beginning.” A bit ominous, but true in many ways. What did he see in me?

In a word, warped! Not especially broken, but slightly bent, a little twisted. I went to an all-male Catholic college prep high school for my freshman year. One year was enough! Too damned much testosterone for my tastes. I stopped attending Catholic services my sophomore year of high school and rarely ever set foot in a Catholic church since then.

I grew up during the Vietnam war and was vehemently against the killing and destruction happening every day. My older brother was shipped off to ‘Nam and served during 1968-1969 year. I requested that a prayer be said for him and for his safety every day during my 8th grade school year. It was a horrible time. (He survived and returned physically unharmed.) I was classified 1-H in my senior year of high school. The 1-H classification is a “holding” category, my number would be up and I would have been put between a rock and a hard place, having to make a decision of serving (not freakin’ likely) or taking a little road trip to Canada.

My first real encounter with any teachings that was outside Catholic doctrine was when I read “Be Here Now” and “Grist For The Mill” by Ram Dass (Richard Alpert.) This was circa 1974. I was a little afraid of what I was reading, mostly concerned that Ram Dass’ words were somehow sacrilegious, I had no real previous exposure to teachings outside the scope of accepted Catholic doctrine. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t a total innocent nor completely clueless. I had read Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice” in 8th grade–the nuns were a little taken aback! I had attended anti-war demonstrations in my little home town, had numerous incidents of being chemically altered during my sophomore year in high school. I was deeply touched with Ram Dass’ obvious spirituality, how in touch he was with his connection to humanity; my lack of being totally cynical put me in a space where I was able to see the truth of his words. Ram Dass wrote beautifully and touched my heart, but I didn’t discern that he was providing any methods or practices I could use to make sense of my life and my place in the world.

A little side trip that was a real life-altering experience: my older brother, Michael, had AIDS and was seriously ill from AIDS-related opportunistic diseases. His partner received help with day-to-day care taking from a local San Francisco AIDS-support organization known as Shanti. I helped with respite care for my brother on a number of weekends and my heart was opened again, I rediscovered my compassion (or metta as it is known in Buddhism.)

I bring up Shanti because I later went through their volunteer/HIV-AIDS support training in my home town around 1992. This training was another vehicle that helped to open my heart, see beyond myself. I finished the training (one weekend of a Friday night, all-day Saturday, and the majority of a Sunday, and then an additional training session each week for eight weeks) and was chosen to be a volunteer. I was assigned my first HIV/AIDS client shortly thereafter. I worked with my client, Bo, being a listener, being an advocate for his health care, helping with errands, and finally being present while he died. My presence with Bo while he died was why I trained: he would have died alone.

I put my training to use again a year later when my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, colon cancer and ended up in a coma in the hospital after surgery. She passed away right as I passed her a rosary: she closed her hand around the rosary and took her last breath and expired. I was fortunate to be with her and to help her move along.

Flash forward about two years… I picked up a small book by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Buddhist monk/teacher from Viet Nam named Thich Nhat Hanh. I found a great introduction to Buddhism and mindfulness in his The Long Road Turns to Joy guide to walking meditation.

The Great Auto Alliance

[An older story, but still quite relevant considering how little we’ve progressed in fuel efficiency.]

“Look at what we’re doing!”, says GM, Daimler/Benz, and BMW

The big boys are making nice-nice and pooling their smarts and monies together to develop foundation systems for future vehicles. But, about these vehicles: GM and Chrysler/Daimler-Benz just don’t get the point about conservation, fuel efficiency, being responsible corporate citizens helping to reduce greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming.

“We believe that our two-mode hybrid is the best of the hybrid systems,” Truckenbrodt said. “I think all three of us can say it’s truly amazing what you can get out of if you bring wild, dedicated engineers together.”

They’re so wild and thinking outside the box, huh? Wow, hybrid SUVs getting high 20/low 30s MPG – what innovation! Howz ’bout giving people an alternative to the huge death machines rolling down the road?

DaimlerChrysler plans to use the new hybrid system in its 2008 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle.

Ah-hemm… Durango?!? Really? This is our answer to the U.S. scaling back and becoming more fuel efficient?

GM will use the hybrid in versions of the Tahoe and Yukon SUVs it plans to make available at the end of 2007.

Again, these are huge beasts! Have you ever seen one of these muthas roll on top of a compact car?

BMW has not committed to a timetable for using the new engine system, but has said that it will make vehicles available with the upcoming hybrid engine system over the next three to five years.

BMW will kick both of GM and Chrysler/Daimler-Benz’ ass with a high performance and efficient vehicle.