Friday, April 16, 2010


Quick! Pull the window-shade on bad thoughts -- how much you weigh -- you're looking old -- those other things you don't want to think about, but YOU ARE thinking about -- private things about yourself you hate -- the feeling you're stuck, going nowhere in your life.

Everywhere you turn you're bombarded with FEEL GOOD stuff. And you're NOT IN THE MOOD for trying/doing any life-lengthening, self-help, health-preserving things -- Resveratrol that Dr. Oz swears you need, or FRS -- "Quercetin" pills that give you energy; or Jennie Craig, Nutrisystem, or any revitalizing creams, shampoos -- no! no!-- okay, yes to a Life Style Face Lift, but what is it? Is it like the latest jogger-stepper-upper you can pay off in a year, or some cheap, sure-fire thing that looks like poles with rubber bands?

Turn your back! Turn the dial! The charming, good-looking salespeople make it sound like fun, and easy, but you've already got too much junk on your mind, boring routines, boring clutter in your closet, in your drawers, a mountain of things you don't use, or wear.

Shut off the thought! Shut up these voices! Tell yourself I'm Okay, I Am What I Am.

Go out. Take a walk. Go buy a tiny notepad and a pencil.

I like lists -- it's a way of thinking and remembering what you thought. Make a list of things I CAN do, MIGHT do, might TRY -- write it down. Scribble away; put down anything -- mending, fixing, re-organizing, or maybe a vacation? Put down where. A food craving, household gadget, new shoes? You want pet? A hobby -- a calligraphy pen, a plant? Put it on the list.

Number things -- the 5 best, or 10, or number them all, in order of preference.

Be you, and like a good parent, get the child-you busy, not bored. Do at least 5 things you listed! Or even just 2. Tell yourself I AM WHAT I AM.

Sometimes that's what you need to do, in order to turn a time of accomplishing nothing, into a constructive, important, GOOD TIME.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Fran, my blog coach, sent me a link to this:

I don't know why it's so hard to look away; or turn it off. I watch and wonder if the cat's owner stood the cat up, and took the picture -- undoubtedly, it's not the first time. The cat knows it's doing something very special. And nothing that it does, indicates that it's been trained -- that the cat is waiting, expecting a treat or reward.

There's a sense of authoritativeness ... hard to believe, hard to accept ... the cat is so strong, silent, and in control. It's beautiful.

I know from our dog and cat (long gone but not forgotten), that your pets do -- or maybe they don't -- really understand what they seem to -- but they speak to us.

We had a Lhasa Apso. I named him Teechi, the idea being that our dog would teach our son some of the facts of life. And our cat, Helpy, would teach him other facts of life, as did the various fish that lived and died in our three tanks. We even watched one of them give birth -- suddenly there were more than 45 tiny Silver Tetra swirling around in the tank.

Facts of life: Things live, grow, and grow weary or older, and die. I loved to watch the fish. The one who was probably the most fascinated by those facts of life wasn't our son.

We had to give our pets away when we moved to Malibu. We lived there for nine years while JC was in the television series, "Northern Exposure," and "ER." I never heard about Helpy, but Teechi lived for about five years with one of our friends, and then -- our friend d said -- "he just didn't wake up one morning."

I still see him; I open the door and hear him; I remember things that I could have done better for him.

I see Teechi in the standing cat. Our dog, paws on my knee, looking up at me -- so alive and real when I say "Teechi." And of course, I find myself smiling.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I was staring at this picture of "our dear Leader" -- that's what the people call the "Supreme Leader" who controls everyone and everything in North Korea. Even if President Obama gets Russia to agree to limiting the development of nuclear weapons, will it ever be possible to get nuclear weapons out of the hands of this guy?

Kim Jong II -- one look at him and you feel his petulance, greed, and anger. He hangs over America and the rest of the world with illogical threats, and ignores UN sanctions -- how can we be safe, when a man like this has a country obeying his every whim.

Is he ill, on Dialysis, with a few months, or a few years to live? Am I wrong to hope he doesn't last long? The son whom he's named as his successor could be even more dangerous.

We know very little about Kim Jong-un (that's the son's name), except that he went to school in Switzerland. He's 27 or 28, and yes, he looks like his father, like a twin almost, with the same petulance, greed, and anger on his face.

This young man's elder brother, "the bulldog" his father calls him, according to the predigested, planned, planted public relations reports that our magazines and newspapers publish -- Kim Jong-chul, the elder brother, was thought to be the successor in 2007, but Daddy changed his mind.

We don't know why, or if the brothers love each other, or are rivals. We only know that Jong II was married once legally. With his wife and three mistresses, he made five children -- three sons , and two barely-mentioned, obviously unimportant daughters.

The oldest son is out of favor, for drunken, violent behavior. The sons have different Mothers -- two have been reported as dead. The third, formerly their father's secretary, is currently treated as Jong II's wife.

The more reading I do about Jong, his mistresses (who died when?), his favorite adviser who was put to death last month, and the luxuries, the palaces, the life style of this angry petulant-faced family, the more perturbed I am.

When you have a serious problem with a neighbor, and you can't move to another town, and the neighbor won't move -- what can you do? You have to act civilly. Say "hello" when you see him. You try to do some neighborly thing that wins you some kind of acknowledgment -- a nod, or perhaps a faint smile.

How can we not worry about this guy? I'm counting on Hillary and Obama, the best two talkers in the world, to keep talking with him -- not cut him off, the way the Bush administration did. Talking with him, inviting the "Supreme Leader" of North Korea to UN meetings, passing Jong the drink, or cup of tea is what they're doing.

I'm thinking about other trouble spots -- the unsolvable, tricky problem of Iran. And Pakistan, and Mexico. Talking, communicating, meeting with them -- that's what Hillary and President Obama are doing, and it's the only way the neighborhood will be safe.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


He's a journalist and author, and often a host, or guest on TV.

Have you heard him, seen him, read what he writes for Newsweek, and the Washington Post?

On television, interviewing a guest on his CNN show, GPS (Global Public Square), he's very direct, un-fancy, likable. And he gives me a different perspective -- he's Muslim. I don't know any Islamic Muslims.

Here's what I've learned about him:

He's a naturalized American, mid-forties, living in New York City with his wife and three children. His father, Rafiq, was a politician with the Indian National Congress and an Islamic scholar; his mother, Fatima, was, for a while, editor of India's Sunday Times.

He has a B.A. degree from Yale, a PhD in Political Science from Harvard. He's written on a variety of subjects for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and was a wine columnist for the online webzine, "Slate " (the only job in all this,that sounds like fun).

He's written three books -- "From Wealth to Power," "The Future of Freedom," "The Post-American World," (huge subjects, not books I'd grab and rush home to read). Forbes Magazine names Zakharia as one of the 25 most influential liberals in the American media.


Okay, I'm a "newbie" journalist; I'm commenting about current things in a daily blog; I've written five novels; I'm sort of on TV -- doing a video weekly that's un-fancy, and hopefully entertaining. I'm definitely trying to grow and expand, and on a smaller level, do what Zakharia is doing -- writing and talking about what's going on in the world

What's special, what I admire about Fareed Zakharia is that he's not promoting any ideology (liberal, or conservative, or a political party). He says, "I feel that's part of my job ... not to pick sides but to explain what I think is happening ... I can't say, 'This is my team and I'm going to root for them no matter what they do.' "

That inspires me. I write posts (it's a job I gave myself), to find out what I'm rooting for and what I'm against. And give voice to it. So I'm listening, whenever I can, and I'm reading what this guy writes.

Trying to -- what he writes for Newsweek and the Washington Post, is hard to read, After the first paragraph or so, it's thickly written, with references (complicated, scholarly), to the background, the history of his topic, and I get lost. I start to skim.

I'm going to try harder. I want a different, broader perspective.

If you see something written by Fareed Zakharia, read it. If you see him on TV, listen.

Monday, April 12, 2010


In 1923, a Montana newspaper reported: "The grasshoppers looked like a cloud, it was 300 miles long, 100 miles wide, a half-mile high."

Here's what it looked like to people in South Africa a few summers ago.

Grasshoppers, an infestation, is predicted for Wyoming.

(I've seen it in the movies (and "Fear Factor," a TV show that put contestants into tanks filled with vermin. I couldn't watch it -- it was too upsetting).

Hit them, bat them, swat them, cover yourself any way you can -- no matter what you do -- it's horrifying -- they're are an inch to 3 inches long.

Infestation means 15 or more grasshoppers per square yard. Last summer 2.9 million acres were invested. Experts are predicting the worst outbreak in 30 years -- at least 48 million acres will get it, and grasshoppers migrate -- they can fly 60 miles per day.

Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho are facing infestation this summer.

The creatures blanket highways, eat clothes off clotheslines, devour every scrap of vegetation -- grass, weeds, bushes, crops -- corn, alfalfa, soybeans, sugar beets, flowers, leaves, everything -- if they skip the stems, they come back and eat them.

People will use the pansecticide Dimilin 2L -- it has a low toxicity level for mammals, reptiles and birds, and little effect on bees. Even with state subsidies, it'll cost the landowner $1.65 per acre plus horrendous costs to clean up, re-plant, re-stock and rebuild.

What can farmers, and ranchers do? Pray for well-timed cool and wet weather to stifle the young grasshoppers when they hatch around May and June.

What a year we've had -- record-breaking snows, winds, and rain -- floods in places where there were never floods before, and devastating earthquakes..

I can't help thinking about global warming, and bible tales, plagues in Egypt, other awful plagues -- and wonder why we're being punished?

Like the plague of noise -- a car -- powerful amplifiers, bass reflexive speakers blasting music you hear before you see it with its windows open -- the driver, the passengers bobbing rhythmically as sounds they love are killing your ears, killing any affection you have for your fellow mankind.

Like man-made plagues -- plastic baby bottles, bottled water, plastic utensils, containers, bubble-protected products, Styrofoam, diapers, plastic bags -- piling higher and higher in bins, dumps, landfills -- poisoning land and air and us and our kids with deadly BPH (Bisphenol A).

Oh my ... I can't help feeling that the grasshoppers are Mother Nature warning us, telling us -- "Your plagues are worse than mine -- one plague begets another -- your plagues and mine go hand in hand."

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I recently learned that Barack Obama, ever since day two of his presidency, reads 10 "unvetted" letters each day.

I hadn't heard about "un-vetted" things, till McCain picked Sarah Palin without having her thoroughly checked by his campaign managers. "Worknik," an online dictionary, says "unvetted" has been looked up recently, 494 times, and generally refers to an appraisal by a veterinarian. (I'm chuckling -- a vet might have warned us that Palin's bark is worse that her bite.)

A black binder "briefing book" arrives every evening at the White House before 8 p.m. President Obama takes it upstairs to begin his nightly reading. The book contains printouts of speeches, policy recommendations and scheduling notes -- also a purple folder, which Obama often reads first.

A memorandum is clipped to the purple folder. "Per your request, we have attached 10 pieces of unvetted correspondence addressed to you."

What it means to me is that the man, the guy, the confident, energetic Obama who ran for President despite all the negative comments -- it won't work, it'll never happen, it's impossible, you don't have a chance -- and ugly remarks, attacks on him as a Black, threats against him and his family -- the man in the White House is still the same strong, confident, energetic guy.

It's hard to believe; but it's ... well ... it's reassuring, affirming, to have this bit of news tucked away in my side pocket (along with pictures of T-shirts printed with Psalm 109.8, willing wearers to assassinate Obama and his family.)

It means Obama is un-wavering in his goals, despite a very difficult year. The things that would confuse me, depress me, make me question what I'm doing -- polls, and the poorly functioning, stalled Congress -- are not distracting him.

What the President did with Health Care Reform was what he decided he had to do.

I think it means that Obama is not thinking about himself, and a second term. He is focused on what he knows the country needs

My sister Doro, my housekeeper, is Black. (I call her "my sister" because she is my sister and friend.) I hear her, nowadays, repeating what she's heard from other Blacks and the television news -- "Obama isn't doing what he promised. He isn't helping us."

I've told her, firmly, strongly -- he is. Doro nods, but doesn't believe me. She can't see the changes, or feel them. Although almost everything in her home-life is subsidized by the city, state and federal government, she is uneducated, stuck in the way that her family, her friends, her neighbors, and their friends and neighbors are stuck.

Yes, Em, her white sister, has told her about the unvetted letters, and I will keep telling her about the other ways Barack Obama is helping us at home and abroad -- saying "Thank God, thank you, and all the Americans who voted for him -- we have a great leader, a man we can trust in the White House.