Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Long Must they Wait?

It's been two years since Katrina. People are still without homes. Without water. Without medical care. Without.

Private agencies, individuals, churches, even foreign governments have stepped up to the plate. But our government is doing... what?

Here's a video from Brave New Foundation. It left me speechless. Please watch it. Then call your Congresspeople.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Read This: "It's Not About The Hair"

Coming soon: my good friend Debra Jarvis's wonderful book, "It's Not About the Hair" which tells about her experience with breast cancer in the way only Debra can tell it. Which is to say: with love, tenderness, compassion, courage and wit.

Debra is an oncology chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which gives her insight on many levels. Her courage fills me with awe, as does the special bond she has with her husband, which she shares in the book. She writes powerfully about her relationship with God and her experiences with prayer. She can make you laugh out loud, and just as quickly have you on the verge of tears.

I think any woman with breast cancer — whether she's just been diagnosed, is in mid-chemo, is considered a survivor or is now living with advanced disease — will benefit in some way from reading this book. As will their spouses, partners, parents, co-workers and friends.

You can read more about Debra, the book, her thoughts about life on her blog: It's Not About the Hair

The book comes out in September. You can pre-order it at Amazon today. Go do it. Scoot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Taking the Bus

It was like a chain reaction. Link number one: Sixth grade son is in a school that for many reasons (and with no malice aforethought) turned out to be the wrong place for him. So he's transferring to another school in the fall. It's much closer to home. He'll be able to take the Metro. Or even walk, if he gets up early enough.

Link number two: The new school is one of our "international schools," which means that, among other things, the kids take three years of a world language. Pretty exciting. Link number three: instead of picking something simple — say, Spanish, which I speak — he wants to take Japanese. OK, fine, but he has to do some serious catch-up. Link number four: we locate a really good tutor. She teaches in the evenings at the Central Library. Um. Gee. Hmmm... Downtown Seattle at rush hour? Parking downtown before the meters free up at 6? And then it hit me: wait! Our neighborhood bus route drops us right in front of the Central Library.

So, no problem. We got bus passes, we checked the online schedule, found out what time to leave home to catch the bus, and it's been working fine. Even the return trip isn't so bad, and we have two options for getting out of downtown.

There's just this: the entire tutoring "event" takes nearly three hours. 45 minutes each way on the bus. And 90 minutes of intense tutoring. And that's if we don't miss the 7:10 return bus, which we usually do. So make it more like 3-1/2 hours. It's worth every minute—Yukie is that good—but it's hard not to think of the 45 minute bus trip as wasted time.

And yet, it's not wasted. My thirteen year old is one of those adolescents who still likes hanging with his mom. He's not embarrassed to be seen with me, and he's generally cheerful and loving. He's interested in everything that goes on around him, and somehow riding the bus has turned into a special time for the two of us. It's a blessing. I'm looking forward to next month when he starts taking two lessons a week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why I Drive

The time for gloating about the Biodieselmobile is past. Last week I put 100 miles on the thing in just under three days. Granted, some of those miles were because of two trips across the Lake (in horrific traffic, I might add) that I take infrequently but just happened to occur on the very same day! And my bus-riding son had a scheduling problem that required my (and the car's) attention. But it got me to thinking: what is it that makes me jump in the car, when we live in a walkable neighborhood with two great bus lines and one mediocre one within easy walking distance.

The answer is: time.

The bus doesn't go where I'm going when I need to get there. The bus takes too long. The bus has a bad connection with another bus that requires me to stand and wait. The return trip puts me back at the house later than I can reasonably get there. I get in the car because I want to GET THERE FASTER. I do not want to be inconvenienced.

Another part of the answer is: poor planning. As in "Ooops, I worked on this article for far too long and now I have to be across town in 10 minutes." Leap in the car, drive impatiently in bad traffic, heart pounding and stress level rising in direct proportion to how late I left the house to begin with.

When I was a suburban driver of a minivan (a bigger gas hog than I ever wanted to admit), I planned my errand days very carefully. I made a loop. I never back-tracked. I tried to do errands in a central place, found dry cleaner, grocery store, pharmacy and even coffee shop all where I could drive and park just once. No zig-zagging for me. I was proud of that.

Now I'm urban. Two grocery stores within walking distance. (Three, actually, but the third is kinda scuzzy and I don't like shopping there.) I have been known, recently, to send the kids to pick up bread, milk, salad items. They like it and (don't tell them) it's exercise.

It's the other stuff. Getting across town to pick up my orthotics. Going to the doctor (whose office is not really on a bus line, but it's close). Getting to the downtown library in time for my son's Japanese lesson. Going to the movies, church, choir, meetings, and so forth. It's just too dang convenient to jump in the car. And yet...

...when I was younger, and had no car (and no driver's license), I rode the bus all the time. I carried a book. Later on, I carried a tape player (today it would be an iPod) and listened to music. I lived slower.

Living slower - is that such a bad thing?

Change that bulb!

Here's something almost anybody can do. Change a lightbult - or two - or ten - from incandescent, which spends most of its energy as heat, to compact fluorescent, which spends most of its energy as light.

No, they don't flicker... or take five minutes to warm up... and yes, they give out lots of light to read, work, and play by. Trust me. My husband used to take them OUT of the lamps I put them in. At the beginning of this month, we got some bulbs and changed everything we could.

I'd like to know if anyone knows where to get bulbs that work in recessed lighting "cans." I'm checking out some web sites and will report back. In the meantime, you can use the energy savings calculator at One Billion Bulbs and see how much good you're doing when you change just one bulb. Or two. Or ten. Or...