September 20th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

I have an appointment with the chemo oncologist this morning, just a check-up, and I feel really, really nervous.  It may be silly, and it is what is.  I don't want to go there, Sam I am, and, of course, I will.   Maybe it will be as delightful as my visit with the accountant, and I will get a refund.   I think I fear seeing the people.   It is not my favorite place.

On that note, when I went to look for the store that sells sexy things in Sausalito , to buy Jan's bachelorette party gift, I found it was turned into yet another store selling, in my opinion, ridiculous things for pets, and my two are in no way deprived, but, really.   Anyway, here is Mark Morford on the subject.

Dog Water, Tastes Like Chicken
Premium, meat-flavored bottled water for pets: silly trifle, or hot sign of the apocalypse?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Oh my God do I love dogs. Love-love-love them like Jesus loves chocolate and I happily admit that I am and will forever be a Dog Person despite how I don't yet have one of my own, and I adore the large sleek breeds to such a degree that I deeply respect their innate, you know, dogness, and hence I hereby vow to treat them exactly like dogs and let them romp and lick each other and eat random stuff they find in the park without me knowing about it.

Thusly respectful and attuned, I also vow to take it one step further: to not overindulge my future dogs, feed them well and train them solidly and set strong behavioral boundaries. Translation: I vow to avoid the increasingly common, rather insufferable practice of naively anthropomorphizing them to the point of abject nausea.

You know that point? Have you seen it all around? It's that juncture where people somehow let their canine adoration combine with the fact that they have no children, thus inducing the bizarre mutation of perspective whereby these lovely small-brained scavenger-beasts with soft eyes and limited emotional range and thick coats of furfy hair actually transmogrify into oversheltered spoiled-rotten human babies.

Here, then, is a new product. It is yet another line of premium bottled water. But there is a catch (there is always a catch). Did you already guess? Yes, it is premium bottled water ... for dogs. And cats.

It's true. This water even has a name: Molli's Choice. It is actually available in flavors/scents ostensibly "designed" to appeal to your pet: Beef Tenderloin. Bacon Delight. Roasted Turkey. Roasted Chicken. Yes, it is meat-scented water. Even your dog is right now going, WTF? Like Britney Spears to new moms, like Dubya to presidential integrity, like Hot Pockets to actual food, they make all sensible dog lovers look bad.

It's also just sort of embarrassingly unnecessary. As if quenching his sheer dumb animal thirst at the garden hose wasn't enough to make your dog blissfully happy. As if a world teeming with roughly 1 billion unclassifiable odors wasn't already a wondrous canine olfactory buffet. Did you know that dogs have over 200 million scent cells? And that humans have a mere 5 million? The last thing dogs need is for their water to smell like synthetic cow. I'm just guessing.

But, you know, whatever. Hell, we gullible humans already buy upward of $9 billion worth of bottled water annually, despite how the vast majority of it is merely refiltered tap water dumped on the chump's market by those grand purveyors of processed toxicity, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

What's more, it doesn't take a social scientist to note how all the upscale pet boutiques and extravagant animal treatments that are all the rage today (Americans spend a staggering $34 billion on pet supplies annually) merely reflect a culture whose basic needs are so overly glutted, so ridiculously overfed that we apparently can find nothing better on which to spend our money than bacon-scented water for a species that needs it about as much as a bird needs stemware.

Pet health spas, pet massage clinics, holistic pet medicine, boutique dog cookies that look better than anything from your local bakery. Designer accessories, diamond-studded collars, couture pet clothes, furniture that costs more than anything at Pottery Barn. There is, so far as anyone can tell, no limit to the silliness.

It's no secret that happily childless pet obsessors eat this stuff up, even though most dogs would actually love nothing more than a romp through a garbage bin and a swim in a lake and the bone of a large dead cow to gnaw on before rolling in a pile of rotten fish and taking a long nap on the lawn.

But since capitalism always trumps perspective, who's to chastise Molli's Choice for whoring out to this demographic? And what's more, if such pampering of pets means people will require fewer children in our overpopulated, Bush-torn world, can that be such a bad thing? More spoiled Chihuahuas, fewer babies. Not a bad trade-off, you could argue. Or rather, I could.

This, as usual, is the overarching question: Is there some sort of threshold? Some sort of point where all the excess and the overkill becomes so silly and surreal and ridiculous it all collapses in on itself and the gods decide to smite us all dead with a sigh and a giant lightning bolt? Didn't Rome burn because Nero was too busy sprinkling sacred rosewater on his cat? I'm sure I read that somewhere.

I would not care, you would not care, no one would care about any of this except as some sort of passing fancy, some sort of shrugging jaded yawn, were it not for the fact, repeated by animal behaviorists and dog writers such as the excellent Jon Katz and Cesar "Dog Whisperer" Millan that treating pets like people and spoiling them rotten and attributing to them a range of human emotion and psychological need they don't really have is, actually, quite bad for them.

It's true. Treating dogs like people causes all sorts of behavioral problems and health issues related to ill-respect for their animalness, from overly preening pet parents who can't control their temperamental animals, to the placement of a weird and terrible sort of pressure on the creature to behave and respond in ways of which it is simply incapable. It is, in short, a form of animal abuse. Not to mention just terribly silly.

But again, whatever, right? It's just bottled dog water, after all. Far worse examples of excess and bloat in the world, you might argue. I mean, have you seen the Cadillac Escalade XL? Las Vegas? Nicole Richie? Did you know the upcoming Lexus 600hL parks itself and has a backseat that reclines and gives you a massage? Did you know there is an American company that exports bottled water to fancy Japanese nightclubs, puts it in ornamental glass bottles and glues Swarovski crystals onto the cap and sells it for 50 bucks a pop? I'm just saying.

Here is the thing: You have merely to notice. You have merely to make a tiny entry in your mental and spiritual log, the one that tracks those lethal little details of the culture that would seem to indicate gleeful and unbridled cultural prosperity but that also, somehow, simultaneously indicate a weird sort of decay, a willful subjection of natural law, a sad spiritual hollowness. What, too dramatic? Nah.

Ready for more Morford? Mark can be seen (and heard) in various Bay Area theaters starting Friday, September 22 through Sunday, October 1, as part of writer/comedian Johnny Steele's "War On Error," a progressive political comedy show. See for details!
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Sage advice!!

If an experience calms your mind, slows you down, makes you more likely to be compassionate and kind, that experience is beneficial; you can enjoy it. 


If it agitates your mind, speeds you up, excites your senses, or makes you angry or resentful, it is not beneficial; you should avoid it.



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Calmed down -

I saw my chemo oncologist today and she is pregnant, very much so.   The baby is due October 8th, so she is planning to attend the fashion show.  That means all of my doctors, and there are quite a few of them,  will be there.  Hooray!   She says it is the most fun event of her year.  

All was calm in chemo land today, so that was good.   There was not much going on, so I slipped in and out, and felt how well I am doing.   Again, hooray!    What a difference in how I walk up and down those stairs.  

The oncologist said attitude is 80% of it, and I went through with a terrific attitude.   She also said the left breast is still swollen and scarred from surgery and radiation, and it will take awhile to heal, but I feel so good, that I feel completely well. 

Hip Hip Hooray!!!
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Commonweal -

Elaine directs me to a part of Heron Dance I had not discovered.  It is at:, and is a wonderful comment on the healing process at Commonweal.  Obviously, it applies to each of us, wherever we are in our lives.   You can also go to, and type in cancer in the search spot.  

Probably because I didn't have the energy, I chose not to participate in the offerings at Commonweal.  Perhaps, I still could.  I wait to see if it speaks to me.  

I particularly respond to this poem by Diana Rothman.   She wrote it at Commonweal.   It is so succinct, and true.

    December 1997

The night I got the call
to begin the journey,
I was afraid I'd disappear down
corridors of closing doors, afraid
I'd never hear trees talking softly,
or have a conversation with the wind again.
I packed my bags with "no more,"
"perhaps" and "maybe not,"
ready to leave life as it was forever.

Could I have known the secret then:
that cancer calls me here --
and not away -- to walk my life?

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Diana Rothman

I realize the three poems of Diana Rothman need to go together.    Here they are, an outflow of her cancer journey.

December 1997

The night I got the call
to begin the journey,
I was afraid I'd disappear down
corridors of closing doors, afraid
I'd never hear trees talking softly,
or have a conversation with the wind again.
I packed my bags with "no more,"
"perhaps" and "maybe not,"
ready to leave life as it was forever.

Could I have known the secret then:
that cancer calls me here --
and not away -- to walk my life?

August 1998

Yesterday, still as death,
young dragonflies hung
on manzanita branches,
energy focused in to turn
their crumpled tissue
into wings that knew already
how to fly.
When my year of treatment ends,
and I push through the prison
of this life and hang, exposed
and new, will I remember how
my hairless larval self
grew wings within its shell?

November 1998

When we picked persimmons
off the tree,
handling each orange globe
as if it were a sun,
leaves around your head
made a golden halo,
sky bluer than blue,
and we knew that soon
wind would scatter leaves,
bare tree'd stand naked
against grey sky,
and this golden ripening time
would leave us too.
Later, when you asked
what made me happy,
and I said "picking persimmons,"
you seemed surprised, and I
had no words to say how
whole and sweet these moments are
before the ripe fruit falls.
            by Diana Rothman

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Rachel Naomi Remen on Commonweal -

Rachel Naomi Remen on Commonweal:

All people are wounded, but the people who come here can’t cover it up the way the rest of us do, thinking we’re the only wounded people in the world, right? Everybody has pain, everybody is wounded. And because the (Commonweal retreat) participants can’t cover up their woundedness, now that they have cancer, they can trust each other. I can trust another person only if I can sense that they, too, have woundedness, have pain, have fear.

(When you have cancer) you feel separated from the whole human race. You feel as though you’re looking at the world through plate glass. You can see other people, but you feel as if you can’t touch them or be with them, because you are different. They say that the sense of isolation, of being separated from people who are well, is as painful as chemotherapy, as cancer itself. . . .

Years ago, when I was associate director of the pediatric clinics at the Stanford Medical School, one of my colleagues, Marshall Klaus, did a study which at the time was extremely innovative. He was chief of the intensive care nursery, where all the babies were these tiny little people you could hold in your hand. Each incubator was surrounded by shifts of people and millions of dollars worth of equipment. Everything was high-tech. Of course, we didn’t touch these infants because we’d get germs on them. But Klaus decided to do an experiment in which half the babies in the nursery would be treated as usual, and the other half would be touched for fifteen minutes every few hours. You’d take your pinky finger and rub it down the little baby’s back. And we discovered that the babies that were touched survived better. No one knows why. Maybe there’s something about touching that strengthens the will to live. Maybe isolation weakens us.

- Rachel Naomi Remen, cofounder and Medical Director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program as, interviewed by Bill Moyers, Healing and the Mind

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Wonderful news -

Wilderness road rule overturned

Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment Writer

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


(09-20) 14:09 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has overturned a Bush administration rule that would've allowed states to build roads through millions of acres of federal wilderness.

U.S. District Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte, in a decision released Wednesday, ruled that the administration ignored both the National Environmental Policy Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act in formulating its plan for roadless areas on federal public lands.

The ruling reinstitutes a policy drafted during the Clinton administration and implemented in 2001 that forbid new roads on almost 60 million acres of pristine wildlands.

It is unclear whether the administration will appeal the decision or try to draft a new plan that incorporates extensive environmental review.

Environmentalists hailed the decision, saying it vindicated their contention that the Bush rule was a simple attempt to open up public lands to mining, logging and off-road vehicles. Critics also said the Bush rule illegally overturned the Clinton-era plan.

"It's a great ruling," said Sean Cosgrove, the national forestry policy specialist for the Sierra Club. "It shows the strength of the 2001 rule, which was based on real science and extensive public input."

Opponents of the Clinton plan generally maintain that the new court ruling does nothing to break a long-standing logjam over national forest policy.

"We've been going over this thing for the eight years of the Clinton administration and six years with Bush, and what do we have to show for it?" asked David Bischel, the president of the California Forestry Association. "We're basically back to square on

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Afternoon thoughts -

Jane and I are planning to go more deeply into ourselves tomorrow to see what we can uncover.  We are devoting the day to it.  I sit with it, because so many people spoke on Saturday and Sunday of what courage we models for the fashion show have shown in dealing with our cancer.  Somehow, I can't feel it as courage.   It felt like doing what I had to do.   Is that courage?   Perhaps.   Also, we didn't do it alone.  Look at all the help I have had!   Even Steve admitted today that I have learned to receive.  

Though it may feel there was not much choice in it,  I again reflect on the words of my chemo oncologist on how attitude is 80%.   Anyway,  today, I am with how best to wrap all that Jane and I have written into one complete ball, that we can throw from us, to you.