Parenting for the upcoming zombie wars

As my daughter approaches her teen years, my level of stress and worry increases: drugs, alcohol, guns, driving, high school drama, school shootings, men and boys that may want to hurt her, ineffective antibiotics, the bird flu, and who knows what else my mind can conjure up.

Wait, I do know: the end of the world and the complete breakdown of society as we know it.

I've been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood - Fotolia.com

I’ve been watching too many Walking Dead episodes. © Jeffrey Collingwood – Fotolia.com

There I said it. Throw me in an underground holding tank with a deck of Uno cards and the rest of the doomsday nuts.

However, before you do, I wonder if I and others haven’t been approaching parenting the wrong way. I mean we’re the protective generation of parents, aren’t we? We do everything we can to keep our children safe, which is a good thing. But I  wonder if we should have been looking at the “big picture” instead of worrying about our kids falling off a swing at the park, or riding a skateboard without knee pads.

Like doing more to make sure they inherit a habitable Earth.

I know other generations of parents have worried about their children and the future. However, are we the first parents to ever have the concern of our planet being so screwed up it won’t be able to sustain life?

And, as life heads to a possible end with food and water shortages, overpopulation, a larger percentage of poor, rising sea levels and global warming, what will those last years of life on the planet be like?

Yes, I worry too much. I know. I just wonder while the majority of us are working our asses off, and paying bills, and putting food on the table, and figuring out how to pay medical bills, and stressing about our jobs, who is keeping the planet safe from harm?

Was that up to us too?

I think it was.

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Cotton-Candy Flavored Grapes: A Sign Our Species Is Doomed?

At our recent summer dinners, my daughter and I fight over cotton-candy flavored grapes, seeing who can grab and eat the most from the bowl of mixed fruit. The winner is the one who grabs the last from the bowl.

Grape-fight Royale.

But then I got to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing in my case, why make grapes taste like cotton candy?

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, burp, yum, burp.

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, burp, yum, burp.

Grapes already taste great by themselves. It’s not like you need to convince most people to eat grapes – it’s not a hard sell, though I’m sure there are grape haters out there. But if I had to guess, I’d say grape lovers outnumber broccoli lovers.

So, why improve the taste of a smooth, green fruit that Mother Nature made ready to eat as is? That’s not to say she didn’t make broccoli ready to eat and full of healthy ingredients. She just gave the good taste to grapes, not broccoli.

It makes me wonder if these wonderful flavor-injected grapes aren’t a sign of something greater, something wrong with our world.

Like global warming and the end of our species.


cotton candy grapes 2

As in . . . the world is melting while we’re all marveling over how great cotton-candy grapes taste, and saying, wow, how did they make grapes taste like cotton candy? and, Aren’t these impressive? and the person who came up with this should get a medal . . . and meanwhile the world is heating up and a bunch of scientists are jumping up and down screaming, “the planet is in trouble and we’re hosed if we don’t act now,” but no one hears them because we’re all gorging on these amazing grapes.

Okay, so I’m pressing some boundaries here, but these grapes are telling me something about the way we live. Or, maybe, they’re just fruit improved by humans. I don’t know. But there is something about them that bothers me.

And until I figure it out, I’m going to eat as many as I can.

One reason to live in Los Angeles: Sunsets

It’s the last day of the year. Another one in the books. Yeah, baby.

To all of my friends and readers, thank you for reading my warped thoughts, and for your support and comments this year.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year. And may you achieve all of your goals this year and do it in the best of health.

I took these Los Angeles sunset photos this week. They seem appropriate for an end-of-year post. I know the sunsets here are influenced by the air pollution, but at least there is a visual feast in return.

Here’s to a great 2012.

This was my favorite of the dozen I took on my cheapo iPod camera. It says "L.A." to me with the two palm trees in the distance.

Hello, Moon.

My wife didn't like this one because of the trees, but I did for exactly that reason.

The simple bumper sticker that stuck in my craw

A bumper sticker from a week ago is still irritating me. I saw it on a Prius in the McDonald’s drive thru while ordering my breakfast of real champions, a McGriddle, which I’ll defend to my grave is the best breakfast sandwich in the world after eating over a 1,000 of them in recent years.

I'm eating one of these right now

Back to the bumper sticker, which read: “All you have is now.”

Harmless, you say. What’s the big deal? Exactly, I agree.

But then I started mulling it over in line, getting bothered by it, which may have been because I still hadn’t received my tasty goodness. Or, could it have been the bombardment of McDonald’s signs working me over to eat myself to an inner tube of jelly around my midsection?

Beef and bacon covered ice-cream sundaes, coffee desserts, quadruple burgers covered in chocolate, 50 oz. sugary smoothies, 10-pound bags of french fries covered in candy sprinkles and cheddar cheese.

The reason the bumper sticker bothered me was because the “all I have is now” attitude got me in a lot of trouble years ago. And because I have a daughter now, which made want to change the bumper sticker to the following: “All you have is now, but your children have tomorrow, Jackass.”

Clearly, when I see anything talking to me, it calls me Jackass, which is appropriate after a 1,000 McGriddles.

Here’s the rub.

We have a lot of conversations at our dinner table about the future of the planet: Oil production is peaking, global ice is melting, a very large pool of plastic is floating north of Hawaii, our natural food supply contains harmful chemicals, we’re getting bigger and have more ailments, and Earth can’t support its predicted population growth.

All of this adds up to a potentially bleak future, which is a post for the future, if I had one, which apparently I don’t according to the Prius driver.

So, when I see a bumper sticker “All you have is now” on a Prius, which is ironic as that car is better for the environment than most, I feel that’s the attitude that got us stuck in this mess in the first place and that if more people made harder choices and put the future higher on their priority list we’d be in a better place.

By the way, I’m doing my part by not taking as many showers and wearing the same clothes for a week, which saves water and keeps more detergent from flowing into the water supply or ocean. My wife clearly has mixed feeling about my strategy.

Back to the bumper sticker. Maybe I misread it. Maybe it meant “all you have is now to make a difference and that’s why I’m driving a Prius and not an oversized SUV, Jackass who eats McGriddles every day.”

It didn’t say that. But for my own sanity, I’m going to pretend it did and let it go.

There, done. It’s off my mind. I feel better now. Go about your day. There’s nothing to see here. Insane man back to enjoying the weekend. You do the same.

Packing Day

I miss the days when packing for a trip took 45 minutes, not all day, and didn’t feel like defusing a bomb, hoping not to leave anything critical behind. I did exactly that in Hawaii a few years ago when I showed up without eFlow nebs. I felt ill when I realized they were sitting on the counter back home. And our trip budget took a hit with overnight plane delivery on a Sunday. (Yes, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts can sustain you for a week, but you’ll never eat them again.)

Count 'em out, ride 'em in, Ride 'em in, count 'em out, Count 'em out, ride 'em in, Rawhide!

There are a lot of meds and devices to keep track of, and it’s taking all afternoon to round them up and triple check them.

We’re officially on East Coast Time now in my house. Dinner will be at 4:30 PDT today. Bed by nine or ten, not midnight. Transportation will be here at 4:45 a.m. I have to wake up at 3:30 a.m PDT and do meds.

I started cipro today. No streaks, but I’m not taking any chances. I decided to fire the gun at the enemy first and not wait for it to surprise me – yes, I could be President one day with that preemptive skill.

Theme of the day: Travel light. I bought a new, smaller suitcase at Target, and I removed all ballast from my backpack: coins; old receipts; individually packaged hospital meds I never took; and limited clothing.

Part of my green initiative is wearing the same clothes for a longer period of time before changing and washing them. I wear the same T-shirt, shorts and underwear all week. Remember, I can go three weeks in the hospital without showering. So, wearing the same clothes for seven days . . . piece of cake. The world can thank me in a few years for all the detergent I saved from the ocean, and the energy to run the washing machine and dryer. Just don’t sit next to me on day six.

I fly to AZ first. I chose the close layover so if something bad happens on the plane, I can drive home or go to a hospital there. I’m comfortable with Phoenix and know my way around. It’s also not far if my wife has to travel to see me.

With luck, my next post will be from a hotel in NJ, which is what we once code named the hospital when my daughter was young. “Daddy’s in New Jersey for a week.” Now, it’s where I’m really going, though given the choice today, I might choose the local hospital. At least I don’t need to board a plane to get there.

Shallow thoughts and deep fears

The birth of my daughter nine years ago made me see the world differently – good and bad. It was a great day. There have been happy moments that have made me feel guilty I’ve experienced them, like the squeal of pure joy my daughter makes over the simplest discovery and surprise.

When she was three or four, I would hide an object, usually a small stuffed animal, under a couch pillow and let her believe she had magic powers. “Say the magic words,” I said. And she would do her best to say words that sounded magical. I would press the object against the pillow, lifting them both, and “presto” it was gone. Then through some strategic tosses with my wife the object would make its way into another room in the house where my daughter would discover it. Magic; magical. To live and experience that moment and the look on her face of amazement and pride makes me the luckiest of men.

But not every story has a magical ending. There is the reality and responsibility of raising a daughter into this world and ensuring she experiences the joy of her own child’s mad happy scream one day. And I try not to be a pessimist when I look at the future that is not my own, but was part of my creation. I see peak oil capacity on the horizon, more people in prison than ever before, whorish government officials abusing their power, depleted fish in our oceans, and population growth this earth’s limited resources cannot support. And I worry. I worry a lot. And I feel helpless. A lot.

Couple these fears with my opinion of how low humanity can sink, including me, and I spend my days holding dark thoughts at bay. I’m not ready to buy a Mayan calendar yet, but I’m worried “something wicked this way comes.” And I feel like I should be doing more to prepare my wife and daughter for the day it shows up, though I hope it never does. I want to be proven wrong, but the math and science don’t look good.

I worry about my wife and daughter when I’m gone. They’re not as street smart as they should be. It’s not in them. They are good. I have seen more than I ever wanted to, or asked to. Been in situations I shouldn’t have been in. Done things in the past I’m not proud off. Sins may be forgiven, but they’re not forgotten.

I have no answers tonight. Just the need to get the thoughts and fears out and fill the open space in my head with solutions and positive thoughts. There is always a solution. Now I just have to think of one. People I love are depending on it.

Frack Off

I worry about the Earth my daughter will inherit and its condition when she does. Our oceans are filling with plastic debris; many of our streams flow with poison in them; the planet is getting warmer; and we’ve almost reached peak oil production. And now, thanks to a new film by Josh Fox, I’ve learned that many underground water supplies and watersheds contain poisonous chemicals from a drilling and chemical process called Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking.

Have you ever seen someone light tap water on fire? I hadn’t until I watched the film. It’s funny at first until you realize the water is poisoned and can’t be used. Then it’s not so funny. And it’s all in the search of clean energy – clean gas energy. The irony of this search for clean energy is that it depends on polluting techniques to unearth it.

(Would you like to see water catch on fire? Play the video below.)

The gas companies inject various chemicals into the ground to fracture the Earth’s crust and release the gas, where it’s captured by wells on the surface. Unfortunately, the majority of the chemicals they inject are dangerous to humans, not biodegradable, and poison water supplies – and the air above thanks to the venting of the wells.

It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched – simple, to the point, and revealing. Its sub-themes reminded me again of the power certain companies wield over our elected officials. Somehow our government continues to make decisions that are good for companies and bad for our well-being. This hypocrisy is very clear in the film, and makes me feel hopeless about our government’s ability to protect our interests and health.

Here is the link to the web site. Click on “drilling areas” to see how extensive fracking is in the USA: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

Here is the link to the HBO site if you’d like to watch Gaslandhttp://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gasland/index.html

Stay well.