March 10th, 2008

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Good Morning

I have said before I am not a fan of daylight savings time.  I feel like I am behind the eight-ball all day, so the day is, by my standard already half-over, and I am not where I prefer to be at this time that the computer tells me it is, while the light outside says no, you still have time.

An hour is a great deal of time.  I read that it is a difficult adjustment for the cows with their milking schedule so the farmers split it down the middle and divide the hour in half until the cows get used to the change.  Perhaps I could better adjust to the change if it were a minute a day, sort of like the change in the time the sun rises.   Then, we could more closely follow the rise of the sun.  It is something which I am a curmudgeon about.  I am very aware of the light.

Speaking of light, check out this site.

It seems worth turning off our lights for an hour or more on March 29th.

Here is an excerpt from the site. 

Earth Hour 2008

Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

This simple act has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world. As a result, at 8pm March 29, 2008 millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv will unite and switch off for Earth Hour.

It started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change?

The answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour.

On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.

With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.

To support this event visit and sign up as an individual or a business and turn off your lights on the 29th of March. (text taken from the website)


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Geography of Hope -

I was sorry to miss the Geography of Hope gathering in Point Reyes this weekend.

Here is an article on it in the Chronicle today.

San Francisco Chronicle

Recalling Stegner - and worrying about ecology

Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, March 10, 2008

The ghost of Wallace Stegner hung over the rolling hills of West Marin this weekend, and judging by those gathered to honor his eloquent prose and essays about the American West, the ghost was not a happy one.

In forums and coffee chats all along the bucolic streets of Point Reyes Station, the 400 or so scientists, authors, and other Stegner fans at the three-day "Geography of Hope" conference seemed to feel that Stegner would be stomping mad if he saw how the ecology of his beloved West had been abused over the past decade.

They insisted that federal officials have allowed huge swaths of the West to be layered with pipelines, have trimmed endangered species protections, have refused to stiffen fuel standards, and in general have viewed the environment as a resource for exploitation, not preservation.

They don't see much of a future until voters elect a president willing to make needed changes.

There was also, of course, plenty of rhapsodizing about the hundreds of novels, short stories and essays the West's premier writer left when he died in 1993. That was half the fun of the "Geography of Hope" conference, staged by Point Reyes Books as a celebration of what would have been Stegner's 99th birthday a few weeks ago.

But, as with his writings, it would have been far out of character for this crowd to be contented just having fun.

Stegner's message in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Angle of Repose," his stirring 1960 call to ecological arms, "The Wilderness Letter," and other works radiated the virtues of responsibility, hard work and deep examination. Those who walk in his footsteps try to follow suit - including with his only son.

"I think my father today would find a geography of hopelessness, rather than a geography of hope," said 71-year-old Page Stegner as he toured the organic Straus family dairy, one of several field trips aimed at making sure people spent plenty of time outdoors instead of just cogitating about it.

'Shilling for oil companies'

"(President) Bush has waged a classic war against the environment since he got in, in not-so-subtle ways like shilling for oil companies, and in subtle ways such as not funding things," Stegner said.

The mere mention of Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, for instance, got Stegner - a soft-spoken writer of novels and environmental books known for shunning the spotlight - sighing and huffing. His father championed preservation of the world's greatest collection of dinosaur fossils in the 1950s, but today it is closed.

"All those bones everyone worked so hard to preserve? They're taped off because the visitor's center fell in and there's no money to fix it," he said.

Conference panels featuring 17 other renowned Western writers, from Barry Lopez to Robert Hass, as well as environmental leaders including former Wilderness Society Regional Director Joan Reiss, echoed the worries.

They admitted that, yes, there is progress being made to nurture the geographical legacy of the West, such as the Marin Agricultural Land Trust's success last year in preserving 178 acres of Tomales Bay farmland. But it was clear that among these mostly middle-aged true believers there wouldn't be many Republican votes cast in November.

'We're traveling in the dark'

"We're traveling in the dark here, and we're traveling at 100 miles an hour," Lopez, whose "Arctic Dreams" won a National Book Award, told one gathering. The absence of any recent major initiatives to protect the West - at a time when the Bush administration quietly turned over nearly half of the public open space in a corridor from New Mexico to Canada to natural gas drillers - has created what Lopez called "a reign of terror."

More than ever, he said, Western writers need what he called the three main virtues of writing: "justice, courage and reverence."

Those qualities were lauded repeatedly as being among the strengths of Stegner's work. Perhaps nowhere were those strengths better displayed than in his "Wilderness Letter." On Sunday, the man for whom that document was written remembered being stumped about how to advocate for the preservation of Western lands until he received it.

David Pesonen in 1960 was with the Wildlands Research Center, compiling federal research for what would four years later become the Wilderness Act - the seminal law that has led to the preservation of 107 million acres of American wildlands - when, desperate, he decided to write to the famous author.

Wilderness manifesto

"I said, 'You are the only person I know of who is qualified to articulate the wilderness idea,' " Pesonen said. To his amazement, what came back was a six-page manifesto arguing that wilderness should be preserved, if for no other reason than to remind us all that "such a timeless and uncontrolled part of the Earth is still there."

Keeping land pristine from civilization's trampling, Stegner wrote, keeps alive a "geography of hope." The letter not only served as the driving force for the Wilderness Act, but since then has inspired environmental movements all over the world, noted Philip Fradkin in his new biography, "Wallace Stegner and the American West," which helped inspire the conference.

One thing that shone through over the weekend in the recollections of his friends and family was Stegner's tenderness in nurturing his students in Stanford's creative writing program. He shepherded the careers of a gallery of stars there, from Ken Kesey to Edward Abbey, and his spirit remains in the gentle but incisive guidance of teachers including novelists Tobias Wolff and Elizabeth Tallent.

"After being at this conference, I have a much stronger sense of his generosity, foresight and desire for writers to be able to really write," said poet Kirsten Andersen, who is finishing a two-year Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. She and another Stegner fellow, Molly Antopol, chuckled about how their class regularly meets beneath a portrait of Stegner, but until this weekend knew little about his inclinations.

"I can see now that the teachers we have today carry his spirit," Andersen said.

owl - great white -

the moon -

Though the moon is a crescent tonight, I am seeing it as a whole.  Here is Billy Collins.

The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.
It's as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the baby's face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earth's bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.
~ Billy Collins ~


(Picnic, Lightning)


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Peace -

Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew -- however poorly used -
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we're fine, you'll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let's call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her -- southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies -- little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts -- out of her bag --
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo -- we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers --
Non-alcoholic -- and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American -- ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend -- by now we were holding hands --
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

a single person in this gate -- once the crying of confusion stopped
-- has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.