Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can I Get a Witness in the Eco-Congregation Here?

Roy Spenser is a climatologist and former NASA scientist:

I have to wonder: Is Earth Day being used to teach our children the way the natural world works, or is it being used to indoctrinate them into performing rituals that will help absolve them of their eco-sins?

I am not opposed to cleaning things up. If there are things we can do that help reduce our impact on the environment without causing human suffering, then I am all for it. But it is that human-suffering part that those of us in more prosperous countries tend to forget about. For instance, there are no economically viable — or even practical — replacements for carbon-based fuels that can be deployed on a sufficient scale to substantially reduce our CO2 emissions. It will likely be decades before we do have such technology. And when we force people to use energy sources that are more expensive, it is the world’s poor who are hit the hardest.


Friday, April 9, 2010

A Time of Hyper Gratitude

I have a friend and former coworker with a couple of kids, one whom happens to be just a month or so younger than my son. She's vivacious, athletic, incredibly funny, humble and self-effacing, whip smart, and a gifted writer. She's one of those people who was 632 friends on Facebook and knows something intimate and/or funny about each one. Heck, she'd even "friend you up" if she half liked you.

She's also the last person, at age 35, that you'd expect to have stage 4 colon cancer.

Now her disease makes it easy for anyone to call into account her own mortality and to be grateful for life. Yet I contest that that state of 'being there' is momentary and fleeting for most, particularly for the healthy or those who have never walked down that path with Death. This is not to say that the healthy don't appreciate their lives, no, they most certainly do! Yet there is a hyper state of awareness or consciousness that my friend is experiencing that I too have experienced, and it's nearly indescribable. But let me try.

Ever paid attention to every little ache in your chest? ("Was that from working out, or is something happening?") Have you ever been conscious of your moment-to-moment breathing? ("Is it normal to be winded going up this hill or 3 flights of stairs?" "How long should it take to catch my breath?") Ever wake up with your shoulder noticeably stiff? ("Is that from sleeping wrong, or worse?") Who will take care of the dog?

Lights and colors are intense. Sleep seems unnecessary. You listen intently. Heck, one time on the way to work, I started crying on the bus because the morning light was so beautiful and bright and jaw-dropping brilliant as it streamed through buildings that I couldn’t. I got to work, tears still in my eyes, and I just sat at my desk and sobbed because I was so overwhelmingly grateful. (I felt foolish when a co-worker asked what was wrong, so I lied and made up some BS about being mean to folks.)

Today, my friend is going through the same thoughts and experiences. Every word on her blog is filled with a deep sense of appreciation and hyper awareness, dusted with her brand of slightly dark but lighthearted sense of humor.

Then I think about my health compared to my friend's.

My cholesterol is fantastic. A recent nuclear stress test revealed no blockages. And my Berkeley Heart Labs came back better than they were 2 years ago. I could stand to lose 10-15 pounds of extra blubber around the belly to bring down the glucose levels, sure, but God's renewed my lease for the time being. Unless a bus comes along, or a pack of pit bulls attacks whilst I'm mowing the lawn, I'm going to be A-okay for a while!

The word "grateful" falls woefully short.

Of course, the natural, guilt-laden reaction is, "that's not fair" and "what did she do to deserve this?” as if we all have some cosmic comeuppance coming to us for own perceived transgressions against God.

But I've grown to ask a better question, one that's helped me to cope with these times in life: "What's God trying to teach me here? What lesson does He want me to learn?" For now, the answer is simple and clear: ‘Be grateful for the life I've given you. Love me, and take care of yourself.’ I’m sure there’s more, but for now this is all I hear.

So I've been swimming in that deep pool of hyper awareness again. I look at my son and see how intimately he takes in every little thing, the joy he derives from every little touch (even the stuff he's not supposed to touch). I breathe in his hair and hold it in deep. I cherish his breathing as he falls asleep in my arms, and how he slurps on his thumb. Even his poop smells great! (Okay, sort of.) I look at my wife and feel overwhelming blessed to have fooled someone into loving me! I have a house! I have new golf clubs! Oh sure, I get lost in the trivial and mundane and I let small, stupid stuff bother me still (like hooking the damn golf ball!), but it’s only temporary and fleeting and I let them go. *

God's opened my eyes (again), this time through a very sick friend. I don't know what he wants me to do next, but I'm doing my best to listen. And I hope He's hearing my prayers for my friend. I'm certain He is. After all, He's heard them before.

*Mostly. Hitless hitters in fantasy baseball drive me nuts!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Look, My Fellow Americans! No Grandpa Jeans!

Many props for donning the White Sox cap! Very funny!

But Jimney Christmas, learn to throw less like a 10-year old girl and more like the president of the country where baseball was born, will ya? Sheesh.

A Few More Thoughts (and a Correction) on the 2010 Mariners

Correction first.

1. The M's record as 85-77 in '09, not 82-80 as I had said. But I still stand by my prediction of 82-80.

2. The M's were an incredible 35-20 in 1-run games in '09, which was by far the best in the AL. I don't see a repeat of that.

3. The most recent issue of ESPN cited how great the M's defense is and how that will translate into a post-season run. I don't have the issue in front of me but the stat they cited was something along the lines that 7-8 teams in recent years that lept into the top 1/3 in defense rankings ended up in the post season, and they cited the '08 Tampa Bay Rays as a prime example of that. Great! However, they failed to mention that the bats of Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Carlos Pena. The M's do not have that kind of pop in their lineup.

4. Ryan Rowland-Smith and Justin Vargas have had good springs. While I didn't state his '09 ERA, I thought Rowland-Smith's was worse than what it was (3.96). I thought it was in the high 4s.