I interrupt this virus for a cuteness interlude March 30, 2020
We now have 12 baby chicks in the living room. It’s amazing to witness how much they change and grow every day – sometimes, it seems, every hour! Only one day after I took this photo, some of them had suddenly sprouted teeny but real wing feathers.
No matter what else is happening, it can help to remember that Spring coming on is the ultimate good ground of our reality.
What loveliness have you encountered in the past few days that remind us of life, warmth and light returning?
COVID19 as Shabbat March 13, 2020
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
—Lynn Ungar, 3/11/20
A Thought on Coronavirus
by Andrew Somps
There exists a curious and poignant connection between the way in which this new virus targets the lungs and an ancient theory of traditional Chinese medicine which sees the lungs as the organs that house feelings of grief.
Given such a connection, one might begin to imagine how Coronavirus could be the earth’s way of nudging the world’s citizens to turn inward and grieve for the quite unprecedented disconnection that exists between modern, industrial society and the natural world…and the resulting loss of the body’s felt sense of home in a world desperate for healing.
That something so small and invisible can do what it’s doing serves as a terribly beautiful reminder of the fact that the individual body and the life of the earth are inseparably bound to each other, that we are all bound to each other.
I offer this connection between grief and Coronavirus to stir the imagination and bring reflection to something that seems hellbent on only inducing panic.
As the world puts on the brakes, we too are called into stillness and silence. Perhaps, hopefully, into grief as well…where grief is anything but a strictly personal emotion, but rather is world-oriented, living in the potential of every cell of the body to feel pain on behalf of the world and thereby gradually redeveloping a sense for what is essential.”
Finally, even if we should limit contact with each other as physical human beings for awhile, this does not apply to contact with other-than-human beings or nature at large.
As Tom Fleischner of Arizona’s Natural History Institute recently remarked, “Immersion in nature can boost human immune systems and provide many other health benefits. We encourage you to get outside and connect with the more-than-human world: practicing natural history, now more than ever, is good for you.”
Just wash your hands March 11, 2020
Afraid of contracting or passing Coronavirus 19?
JUST WASH YOUR HANDS.
For inspiration, check out the results of this science experiment, done at an elementary school in 2019:
“We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks,” adding that the school normally sanitizes their computers but didn’t for this experiment.
“Each slice of plain white bread — which was taken from the same loaf on the same day — was placed and sealed in a freezer Ziploc bag. Due to preservatives, they waited three to four weeks for results and found that most of the bread slices were full of mold. “This is so DISGUSTING!!!” wrote Metcalf. But there were two exceptions: The bread that hadn’t been touched and the bread touched by hands washed with soap and water looked fine.”
Soap and water is the best deterrent for spreading illness.
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has guidelines that back up that statement, adding, “Handwashing is a win for everyone, except the germs.”
The guidelines are to scrub our hands for 20 seconds. That’s long enough to sing a couple rounds of Happy Birthday, or 1/47th of an Irish ballad about love and death.
Hand sanitizer is useful, but mainly as backup when you can’t get to soap and water.
The average person doesn’t need disposable gloves, which will carry the horrific side effects of 1) making them harder to get for those who actually do need them, and 2) after they’ve been discarded and made their way to the Pacific Garbage Patch, killing sea turtles when they try to eat them.
On behalf of the earth and all of our health, thanks for doing the simplest thing that turns out to be the most powerful, and also carries the least long-term environmental consequences.
Stay healthy out there, friends. And peaceful.
Good news! Federal Court Rules Trump Border Wall ILLEGAL January 5, 2020
Here’s a report from the ACLU, an organization I’m proud to support. A federal court has ruled Trump’s abuse of executive power to bully his xenophobic wall into existence is illegal.
This is excellent news, not only for the human people, the US economy and the democratic process, but for all of the wildlife who are, and would be, devastated by this ridiculous wall’s construction and existence.
Here are details about a fraction of the environmental devastation it will bring from The Guardian, Dec.29, 2019:
Despite the potential for far-reaching long-term consequences, details about the plans are sparse since the government suspended 28 federal laws mandating protections and oversight, relating to clean air and water, endangered species, public lands and the rights of Native Americans, in order to expedite construction.
The waiver includes the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa), considered the cornerstone of environmental protection in the US, the Endangered Species Act, National Fish and Wildlife Act and Migratory Bird Conservation Act. These laws require robust scientific, environmental and costs analysis before projects can be sanctioned.
“With his wall obsession, President Trump has created an environmental crisis at the border,” said the Arizona congressman Raúl Grijalva. “Through environmental waivers and stolen funds, he’s building a wall that will deplete precious water resources, desecrate sacred sites and destroy the environmental treasures and biodiversity that make the borderlands unique.”
Jordahl added: “The wall could not be built without the waiver. Nepa requires the government to choose the least invasive, best option for taxpayers … surveillance cameras could be installed every hundred metres at a fraction of the economic and environmental cost. This wall is an unjustifiable project.”
Thirty-seven federally listed endangered and threatened species live around the Arizona-Mexico border, plus innumerable others who currently are in less danger but who would be added to that list in short order were this operation to go. And according to the US army corps of engineers, the wall would cost US taxpayers roughly $14 million dollars per mile. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a priority for something I want to see the government spend my hard-earned money on.
So glad that sanity is beginning to win out!
Here is the full article text about the federal ruling, which came from this ACLU press release:
DECEMBER 11, 2019
OAKLAND — A federal court today ruled that President Trump’s use of emergency powers to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the border wall is unlawful. The ruling came in a lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Trump, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.
In ruling against the use of emergency funds, U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. stated: “[T]he Court cannot blind itself to the plain reality presented in this case: the border barrier projects Defendants now assert are ‘necessary to support the use of the armed forces’ are the very same projects Defendants sought—and failed—to build under DHS’s civilian authority, because Congress would not appropriate the requested funds.”
The ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of the Sierra Club and SBCC challenges President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers to build a border wall using funds Congress explicitly denied.
“This ruling confirms that the president has no authority to raid military construction funds for his xenophobic wall,” said Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “By putting an end to the president’s power grab, this ruling protects our democracy’s separation of powers, the environment, and border communities.”
As part of the same lawsuit, the court previously blockedthe administration from beginning construction using $2.5 billion in military pay and pension funds under a separate statute. The ACLU was in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month to defend that victory.
The district court today also permanently blocked construction of the wall using the military construction funds, but has temporarily stayed that block given the ongoing appeals process in the case before the Ninth Circuit.
“We will be back before the Ninth Circuit very soon,” added Ladin.
A court in Texas yesterday blocked imminent construction of the wall using military construction funds. That block remains in effect.
President Trump declared a national emergency on February 15, 2019, to secure border wall funds Congress denied him. While declaring the emergency, President Trump stated that he “didn’t need to do this” but he’d prefer to build the wall “much faster.” He added that he declared a national emergency because he was “not happy” that Congress “skimped” on the wall by denying him the billions he demanded.
Below are additional comments from:
Gloria Smith, Managing Attorney at the Sierra Club: “Today’s decision is another critical step in permanently stopping Trump’s border wall. The court recognized that Trump’s reckless national emergency declaration illegally destroys our borderlands and border communities. By raiding money from the military for this wall, Trump is depriving service members and their families of essential government services like schools and retirement. The Sierra Club will continue to fight to protect border communities as this administration inflicts its relentless agenda to harm the people, places and wildlife along the southern border.”
Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition: “We welcome this decision against Trump’s blatant attempt to sidestep Congress. Trump’s senseless wall is destroying our natural habitats, endangering our communities, and eroding the quality of life of the 15 million people who live in the southern border region. The southern border is and always has been a place of encounter, opportunity and hope. We need a responsible border governance approach that begins with respecting the checks and balances in this country.”
The beautiful painting featured above is by Ron English See his “Welcome Wall” and other art at https://www.vinylpulse.com/2019/05/ron-english-and-friends-build-the-welcome-wall.html
Other full URLs:
- to ACLU article: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/federal-court-rules-trump-border-wall-illegal?fbclid=IwAR2W_N2sZ7txBvVTtW8nRp-2mps0B9IQ-AW0U-gBOqtq5ozWJbelVluGZEY
- to The Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/29/trump-border-wall-water-fish-species-threatened
I Adopted a Hero-Rat December 30, 2019
In good Hobbit fashion and in gratitude for my life, I like to give something good away on my birthday. This year, I’ve adopted a “Hero Rat” through the organization Apopo.
These are a large rat species who are trained to sniff out hidden land mines left all over after military conflicts, thereby allowing people to then dig them up and get them out of there.
The rats are highly efficient landmine detectors because they sniff out explosive chemicals but ignore uncontaminated scrap metal. Many lives have been saved, and now these communities can once more farm their productive land. And for you animal lovers like me, it’s important to know that these rats are not endangered by this project: they are light enough that unlike people, they don’t trigger the mines by walking on them.
The rat I adopted is named Magawa, and last month alone, he unearthed 4 hidden landmines in Cambodia. Apopo claims, “Magawa can search a 200 square meter minefield in 20 minutes. This would take a technician with a metal detector between one and four days.”
They go on to explain why this work is so needed. I think this also demonstrates why US Americans should help be part of the solution:
“Over 1,000,000 tons of bombs were dropped in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. More than 100km2 of the country is contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war, creating more than 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio of mine amputees anywhere in the world. …Cambodia is the second most mine affected country in the world, after Afghanistan.”
The $ gift was inspired by my wise friend Erfert Fenton who first told me about this worthy endeavor, and given in honor of my colleague and friend Sue Chambers Wallingford’s deeply life-changing art therapy work with victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia.
Thanks to all of you reading this for whatever you do to make this world a better place. These acts can be big or very very small, like smiling at those who check out your groceries or letting some car in ahead of you while driving, as those everyday gifts quickly add up to more happiness and kindness in this world, which is sorely needed right now.
Please feel free to tell us about your own acts, received gifts, and experiences in the Comments below. It’s great to inspire one another.
For further information, here’s a 45-second video about APOPO’s projects:
Yellow Stripey Stingy Things August 10, 2019
Here’s a useful guide to all wasp-like beings.
In my experience, they all ring true.
I’d add one important bit left out: the honeybee gives us (and bears) HONEY! Time to make a new batch of mead…
Thanks to http://www.greenandgrowing.org for this great graphic.