Archive for Personal/Family

The Way of the Dodo?

Here’s what’s happening in the world – natural and unnatural. 

  • Planet earth is losing flora and fauna species at an alarming rate. Extinction is a phenomenon that occurs naturally, but the main cause of the current extinctions is the destruction of natural habitats by human activities, such as cutting down forests and converting land into fields for farming.
  • Scientists estimate we are currently losing species 1,000-10,000 times faster than normal attrition, which means that literally tens of species are vanishing from the face of the Earth every day. (worldanimalfoundation.com)
  • Across Africa, the U.N. estimates that 23.6 million people are facing food shortages due to the worst locust infestation in 70 years followed by torrential rains. (WSJ, Jan 31, 2020)
  • Australia is, after a month of wildfires that burned 12.35 million acres and killed as many as one billion animals, experiencing unprecedented rains and floods – 15.4” in 4 days. (AP)
  • Worldwide, 65.6 million individuals have been forcibly displaced because of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, per the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR 2017).
  • Arctic and Antarctic ice caps are melting at an astonishing rate. On June 13, 2019 Greenland lost more than two billion tons of ice in one day. (nationalgeographic.com)
  • In Brazil, between 15 and 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost, and if the amount of cleared forest land reaches 25 percent, there won’t be enough trees cycling moisture through the rainforest. (vox.com)

Why? Well, it’s complicated…but at its root it’s because we, as humans, haven’t been good stewards of each other’s welfare or the planet’s. It’s clear now; we have hard evidence that if we are to survive – if the planet is to survive – we need to make an urgent course correction. Instead, America has gone tribal, ignoring the evidence and doubling down on fossil fuels, extractive industries, unsustainable agribusiness, military industrial power, and isolationism. read more

Our Existential Moment…

As a college undergraduate I was enamored of Existentialism, that most romantic and nihilistic of French philosophies. I wore black turtleneck sweaters, smoked Lucky Strikes, and channeled Albert Camus, but my senior thesis, a derivative sophomoric critique of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, drew a disappointing response from Louise Gould, my tiny, intense, chain-smoking, comparative literature advisor.

Professor Gould was absolutely right, and I still blush when I think of it. She was simply pointing out that quoting established critics is not the same as rigorous analysis based on personal research. My thesis did not reflect the critical thinking skills required and expected of a college senior. read more

We Need the Newseum…

The University of Montana’s School of Journalism, established in 1914, is one of the oldest accredited journalism programs in America. My mother was one of its first female graduates in 1928, and though she never worked as a journalist she inspired me to be a writer and would be proud to know her granddaughter is a mid-career writer, editor, and freelance journalist.  

It’s not surprising then that we, as a family, are staunch supporters of the First Amendment and its important role in maintaining a free and open society. Unfortunately, our current president, thin-skinned and notably ignorant of the country’s founding principles and documents, views the press as “the enemy of the people.” read more

Admiration and Hope…

As the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of the previous twelve months. So much of our public discourse has been devoted to the ugly that I decided to end the year by shining a light on a few friends whose accomplishments and attitudes I find especially admirable. As I reflected, I was reminded of the serendipity of life – that random events and minor differences can alter the course of a life. Where you were born, when you were born, whether you inherit good genes or bad, are lucky or unlucky all play a part and remind us to focus and live in the present. read more

A Special Disappointment…

It was going to be a special shared birthday; drive to Portland for an upscale getaway dinner during a particularly bleak time of year in the Northwest. We enjoy everything from dive bars to special occasion restaurants so long as they’re unique. In September, we ate at four very different restaurants in New Orleans, all James Beard award winners, so when I told a friend of our birthday plans he suggested we try Jory, the restaurant at the Allison Inn and Spa, a luxury wine estate, near Newberg south of Portland.  read more